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Applying road safety solutions in systematic way, can optimise benefits Australian Professor tells CNA

We can optimise the benefits by applying road safety solutions in a systematic and strategic way under the umbrella of one agency, Judith Charlton, Director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) told the Cyprus News Agency.

Charlton was in Nicosia last week where she signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of road safety with CERIDES ( Centre for Excellence in Risk and Decision Science) of European University. The Memorandum was signed in the presence of the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Vassiliki Anastassiadou and the Australian High Commissioner, Sam Beever.

Under the MoU the partners will share best practice, develop road safety science, draft common projects, explore joint educational programs and encourage engagement between academia and civil society to assist authorities improve local road safety conditions.

Charlton spoke to CNA and pointed out that measures to tackle road fatalities such as road cameras, heavy fines, awareness campaigns, all have a potential, but we can optimise the benefits by applying road safety solutions in a systematic and strategic way.

“Road users are vulnerable – humans are not built to withstand the forces of a crash, so the system needs to be ‘forgiving’. We don’t achieve a great deal by blaming the driver.  Yes, we expect road users to be compliant – to stop at stop lights, drive within speed limits etc, and the majority do, most of the time. On the other hand, humans are prone to error.  So, it’s important to build a forgiving system – designing 5 star roads, promoting 5 star safe cars, and managing speeds so that when mistakes are made this does not cost their lives. We know a lot about what safety solutions work in each of these parts of the road system”, she said.

According to Dr Charlton there’s considerable research evidence to guide road safety initiatives and with a deep understanding of crash and injury patterns in Cyprus, it’s possible to design a strategy applying an optimal package of solutions. “We can’t expect to achieve zero tomorrow but we should expect that this is possible, set realistic targets, and measure progress”, she pointed out.

She said that undoubtedly this should be a collective effort with a shared vision and shared commitment not only to make Cyprus safer, but to make it safe. This vision, she underlined, must entail that the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries is zero. “This is the starting point”, she said.

Asked why some countries are pioneers in preventing road accidents and others are not and if this has to do with impunity, a better transport system or better education, Dr Charlton told the CNA that what MUARC has observed in those countries which have made great strides in road safety is strong leadership and commitment to make a difference.

“And while road safety is a shared responsibility, there needs to be a lead agency”, she pointed out.

Dr Charlton expressed her excitement about the partnership with EUC.

“We have already an excellent working relationship with Professor George Boustros’ group (Head of CERIDES). Our respective research centres have a great deal in common in our objectives around injury prevention. What we plan to achieve through the MOU is to work together to support the government agencies in Cyprus with their road safety efforts through high quality research and training”, she said.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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