Conference poses dilemma – and informs choices

Jeremy Phillips Director of Research, Road Safety GB & Road Casualty Reduction Team Manager, Devon County Council

Jeremy Phillips
Director of Research, Road Safety GB & Road Casualty Reduction Team Manager, Devon County Council

Speakers at the 2016 National Conference provided delegates with something of a ‘dilemma’, according to Jeremy Phillips, who was called on to summarise at the end of the two-day event.

The 2016 National Road Safety Conference was held in Bristol earlier this week (15-16 Nov). A record number – 317 people – attended the event which was organised by Road Safety GB South West and co-sponsored by Colas, Jenoptik Traffic Solutions UK, Insure The Box and Jacobs.

Jeremy Phillips, Road Safety GB’s director of research, was called upon to summarise in his capacity as chair of the 2016 National Conference committee.

He told delegates it is “always inspiring to hear about work that seems to come with a robust evidence base, or where work is being done to establish the truth behind the theory…because our enthusiasm for those projects feels justified, it feels comfortable – it feels like less of a leap into the unknown.”

He went on to say: “Hopefully our twin objectives for this conference have been met: that every presentation has a clear, practical value for us as practitioners; and that each also had an evidence base – or a clear methodology for developing one – that would give us confidence in applying what we learned.”

He explained there were two distinct areas in the conference handbook to enable delegates to record “what we’ve learned and what’s inspired us, and what we’re going to do about it”.

He added: “We (road safety practitioners) are duty bound to make a leap from knowing into doing. Sitting on what we know and failing to act on it is not a luxury any of us has.”

Among the conference’s principal themes of Road User Psychology, Public & Social Media and Public Health he identified “a common thread that links the contributions, which is actually a question – or perhaps a dilemma”.

He closed by saying: “Have a flick through your handbook and see where you’ve written something in the ‘what have I learnt?’ box.

“Now look underneath it to see if you’ve said what you’re going to do about it.

“Lastly, in the box marked ‘other notes’ write down the things you’d be prepared to sacrifice to make the list in the middle box happen.

“It might be everything. It might be nothing. It might be something – one or two things you’d be prepared to stop doing right now in order to pursue the new idea.

“Whatever our individual answer is – and only you can answer it – it’s one that we all have to address.

“Unless you’re the one that we all want to work for – the one with unlimited resources and time – then if you walk away from here having learned something new and with an idea about what that could look like in practice you’ll have to decide what, if anything, you’re prepared to stop doing in order to make it happen.

“But that’s not the dilemma. As hard as that is, the real killer question is – how do you decide?

“Because whether the answer is everything, nothing or something the same test still applies – how do we decide what to keep, and what to let go?

“And how do we justify that decision to ourselves; our partners; our stakeholders and our customers?

“These are exciting times – changeable, dynamic, hard to predict.  But I would lay good money on none of us getting through the next 12 months without being asked to make a choice about something.  And it will be an either/or choice.

“Our hope, for this conference, is that we’ve been able to go some way towards informing those choices.”

Read more about each of the conference sessions:

#RSGB2016 | Road User Psychology – as it happened

#RSGB2016 | Publicity & Social Marketing – as it happened

#RSGB2016 | Public Health and Road Safety – as it happened

#RSGB2016 | Question Time – as it happened

#RSGB2016 | Round-up session – as it happened

Videos of all of the conference presentations will be uploaded to the conference website in the next few days.