Last week, the ACRS Local Government Network hosted its first online Open Mic session, where attendees could tap into other Network members’ experience and expertise on a range of local government related questions. Previously submitted by members, the questions included topics on local government National Road Safety Week initiatives, use of social media to engage public, Safe Systems communication, implementation of the Movement and Place framework, strategies to accommodate roadside users on rural roads, evaluation measures, and analysis tools for investment prioritisation.
Councils have planned several exciting activities to be undertaken during National Road Safety Week (NRSW). Events are taking place bringing together the community and road safety stakeholders to make the pledge and listen to relevant speakers and road safety topics. The Liverpool City Council (NSW), for instance, has spread street pole flags and lit some landmarks in yellow to promote NRSW as well as organised child restraint check and story time education events.
Social media and other communication strategies are being used to promote road safety, advertise events, and attract survey participants with variable levels of engagement. As some LGAs have a variety of topics posted on social media channels, the road safety content can get diluted but aiming for consistent and regular messages is important. Other successful initiatives used to attract participants include offer of shopping vouchers and tapping into established relationship networks of specific user groups and demographics.
Members reported some challenges regarding communication of Safe System objectives and focus on fatalities and serious injuries as opposed to all crash severities. Some communication strategies implemented involved use of the survivable speeds concept and explanations on the kinetic energy the human body can withstand. Australian and New Zealand road safety organisations have been developing relevant education material, including videos, to promote Safe System understanding.
There has been a keen interest from councils to implement the Movement and Place Framework in urban areas, including in high pedestrian zones, new cycle pathways, bypass projects, newly urbanised areas and as part of the update of speed zoning policies.
On the topic of accommodating roadside users (e.g. pedestrians, horse riders) on rural roads, wider sealed shoulders have been proposed but the requirement for education programs and funding models that allow implementation of facilities to address the needs of these road users have also been raised.
Councils and Road safety Officers are using a variety of measures to evaluate success of road safety initiatives and improvements. In terms of infrastructure and speed management implementation, examples of measures include kilometres of roads with barriers or appropriate speed limit and number of intersections with roundabouts. Specific surveys have also been an important evaluation tool, collecting quantitative data on interventions’ extent and impact as well as qualitative data on demographics and issues encountered.
The Open Mic session was wrapped up with a discussion on analysis tools used to prioritise road safety investment. Some councils are using crash data analysis in the development of their Network Safety Plans for that purpose, with some road authorities providing web applications to support such analysis and treatment selection by LGAs, an example is CrashMap developed by Main Roads WA. Other councils are looking at implementing frameworks such as Infrastructure Risk Rating and Star Rating. Similarly, WALGA is currently developing a Road Safety Rating tool to support local government in WA.
The session was very productive, with a wealth of knowledge shared. If you are not member and would like to learn more about the ACRS Local Government Network, click here. A number of regular meetings and webinars are planned throughout the year, with the next Open Mic session scheduled for Wednesday 9 August. Make sure to register and submit your own question!