Road accidents are a global issue: each year approximately 1.2 million people worldwide die as a result of road traffic collisions. Traffic accidents are the second leading cause of death for people aged five to 25 years.
This has a devastating impact on families and communities. It is estimated that the current average cost of a fatal road traffic accident in the UK now stands at £1.9m.
Nick Newton at work
Britain continues to be a world leader in road safety. The United Kingdom has one of the best road safety records in the world thanks to the dedication and hard work of many road safety practitioners in engineering, education and emergency services.
Despite these efforts, far too many are still killed on the UK road network every day. There is still much work to be done to reduce the casualties resulting from road traffic collisions. In order to continue the good work achieved in the last twenty years it is vital that those involved in road safety are not only recognised but are well trained in order to achieve further reductions in the number of casualties on the highway network.
The Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) understands the need to keep professionals fully trained and accredited to help the profession achieve the standards required by today’s road safety practitioners. The lack of any formal road safety qualification has been a long standing issue and some form of accreditation is long overdue.
The need to demonstrate competence is an important aspect of any professional and is further heightened by the European Directive, which calls for road safety auditors to be competently assessed and accredited, which resulted in the launch of the IHE Register of Road Safety Engineers.
The new introduction of the Road Safety Professional Certificate will further strengthen the IHE’s role in being the leading professional home of those involved in highways and safety and, while it may not be a direct safety measure to reduce road casualties, it will ensure that those at the forefront of road safety are not only fully qualified but are also given the appropriate knowledge and tools to implement appropriate road safety measures to make Britain’s roads safer place to travel.
This is particularly the case given the current roll-out implementation of the smart motorways programme and the projected spend in Britain's infrastructure in the coming years. It is vital that we are ready for the challenges ahead and develop the necessary staff with the skills needed to deliver a challenging workload.
Nick Newton is a road safety engineer and member of the IHE Council.
This is the last of a series of articles to mark Road Safety Week.