The hardest aspect of any community road safety campaign is achieving results that require significant funding or changes in local policy. This includes campaigning, for example, for pelican crossings, lower speed limits, and speed cameras. Below is some guidance on getting these results including, at the bottom of the page, some links to guidance and reports used by officials so you can talk their language.
Different roads are often the responsibility of different officials. Trunk networks are often looked after by a different department to roads in towns and villages. Call up your local council and ask which department has responsibility for a particular road. You will usually want to talk to the department with responsibility for highway engineering.
Will they do what I want?
The first thing to consider is: 'Do I know what I want?' What is the problem? What are the possible solutions? And what is the best solution for my street? Like all challenges that need to be overcome, the most important thing to do is research and be inclusive of others. That means finding out what has worked best in other places, talking with officials at local and possibly national level, and studying research on your own, if necessary, to find out more. It also means consulting with neighbours and other stakeholders to find out their road safety problems and suggestions. Some of the best road safety schemes have been prepared in partnership between officials and a community. It's better to do your research and work together than wade in with a demand that is not very valid, so arm yourself with information and collective support.
What if they say no?
It's not uncommon for an official to say 'no' to community requests for action. But this is just the first round in what might be a long fight. You know you have a problem, and a solution must be found. Don't be afraid to question what you are told by local officials. For example, a local official might tell you that a road safety measure cannot be implemented because a road isn't wide enough or there isn't a certain amount of traffic useage on a road. Or they might say there is no budget. Ask to see a copy of whatever guidance they are claiming to be following. If necessary, check at a national government level that the guidance is still up to date; it might have been superseded by better guidance. Budgets can often be found from somewhere for a measure that will save lives at some point. An official may be prepared to implement a road safety measure if your community and local businesses raise the funds to pay for all or part of its cost.
But no-one has died; yet!
In Brake's experience, one of the most common reasons for telling communities that a measure cannot be implemented is that 'no-one has died here'. If an important road safety measure is turned down by an official on the basis that no-one has died, keep fighting! Tell officials that all good risk audits and prevention measures are conducted and implemented on the basis of current risk to life due to existing hazards, not on the chance circumstance of whether someone has actually died as yet. Your community is, in effect, being told that a life or lives must be sacrificed before something will be done. This is not acceptable, humane, nor civilized. If traffic is going too fast, it is going to fast. It is only luck that no-one has died, and luck is no security at all.
Keep going, and keep talking
Don't give up at the first hurdle. Many successful campaigns have been turned down repeatedly, but have used these disappointments to fuel their efforts further. Keep copies of all correspondence, and build on it, rather than forget it, let it die, and then have to start all over again in a year's time. Keep writing and keep talking. Set up an email or social networking group of supporters. That way, you will be able to formally exchange views and information and pass on findings to others in your group. Keep talking in a positive way to all concerned, including those who hold the purse strings. Mutual understanding and persistence based on facts and support is often the secret to success. Don't be afraid to get political - engage the support of a local politician or businesses for that final push to success. A good person to engage is your local MP. Follow this link to contact them.
Have I done 'my bit'?
Often the drivers behaving dangerously in communities are the same people who are living in those communities. Have you done your bit to educate local drivers and try to encourage them to behave more safely? For example, sent letters home to parents if you are trying to make a road outside a school safer? If you can demonstrate your community's involvement and efforts, you will have more justification for demanding an engineering solution.
Sometimes communities get exactly what they ask for, and quickly. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. For example, your group may want a lower speed limit but an official may say ‘no’ and offer, instead, a sign asking drivers to ‘slow down’. They may suggest an alternative such as this without being prompted. If not, and your request has been turned down, ask what your highway engineer is able to do. An alternative road safety measure may work just as well as your original suggestion, or it may be a wholly inadequate but cheaper way of getting you out of an official's hair. Sometimes alternative measures are implemented because they are cheaper and easier, not because they are going to be as effective. Invite the safety engineer to speak to your group to explain the reasons why they think an alternative is a good idea, and answer your questions. If an alternative measure is implemented, consider whether there are ways to research its success. Has it slowed down traffic or enabled children to cross the road easier? You may have to enter a new round of research and consultation to take your campaign to the next level if a measure has clearly not been effective.
Talk their language
Below is a selection of some of the reports, regulation and guidance uses by road safety professionals in the UK. Please note that these documents may change or be subject to updates over time, and the list may not include the most up to date versions; ask your local officials.
Traffic-calming schemes are successful when local people are involved, says this Scottish Government study.
For more research findings, visit our road safety library at www.roadsafetylibrary.org
General road safety planning guidance
Advice about Local Road Safety Strategies, published September 2009
Who is responsible for the deployment and operation of safety cameras?, published April 2007
Who manages roads in the UK, published February 2006
Setting speed limits
Update to circular guidance on setting 20mph speed limits, published December 2009
Setting local speed limits: DfT Circular 01/06, published August 2006
Aide Memoire on Speed Limit and Safety Camera Signing, published July 2006
Traffic Advisory Unit Leaflet 01/04: Village Speed Limits, published January 2004
20 MPH Speed limits guidance DETR Circular 05/99, published July 1999
Traffic Advisory Leaflet 09/99: 20 mph Speed Limits and Zones, published June 1999
Use of speed and red-light cameras for traffic enforcement: guidance on deployment, visibility and signing, published January 2007
Home Zones: planning and design, published November 2004
Vehicle activated signs, published March 2003
The traffic signs regulations and general directions, published December 2002
Road Humps: discomfort, noise, and ground-borne vibration, published December 2000
The Highways road humps regulations, published March 1999
The Highways traffic calming regulations, published March 1999
Puffin crossings: good practice guide, published August 2006
Pedestrian facilities at signal-controlled junctions, published June 2005
The installation of puffin pedestrian crossings, published January 2002
Puffin pedestrian crossings, published February 2001
Good practice guide: engeneering urban and rural roads, published February 2006
Good practice guide: rural villages, published February 2006
Good practice guide: vulnerable road users, design and economic justification, published February 2006