Talking safety with vulnerable road users

The on-going Volvo Group Safety Dialogue series gives us the opportunity to engage with stakeholders actively involved in urban safety and learn how we can work together to make our roads safer for vulnerable road users.
Peter Kronberg

There are few universal truths in the world, but I am confident that one of them is that traffic safety requires a shared effort. Our ambition is to be leaders in safety and as long as there are still fatalities on our roads, more needs to be done. But we cannot fix it alone; we need to work together with others. We regularly meet with other groups, such as research institutes, our customers and suppliers, as well as government and regulatory bodies, to discuss and identify the necessary steps on the road towards zero fatalities.

Now we are extending that collaboration to special groups who are experts in their field or who represent the interests of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Late last year, we held our first Safety Dialogue in Gothenburg, followed by further dialogues in Copenhagen and Amsterdam in early 2017.

The purpose of each event was to bring together key safety people from the Volvo Group and representatives of vulnerable road users and urban safety specialists, to discuss how we can make a difference. How can we, as an OEM, contribute more and beyond our role as a manufacturer? It is both a fact-finding mission, learning directly from other groups who are thinking long and hard about these challenges, and an effort to identify areas where we can make a difference together in the short term – finding new ways to address an old problem.

All three sessions generated a lot of interesting ideas and discussions. We talked about the importance of city planning and infrastructure that allows for safer interaction between different road users, the importance of education and awareness, and the challenges and opportunities posed by new technology.

I found that the groups we talked to could offer unique perspectives. For several, this was the first time they had spoken directly to an OEM, so it created a very nice dynamic. It was also a chance for us to learn some best practices, since both Copenhagen and Amsterdam have long experience managing cyclists and road traffic.

Some of the ideas raised through the dialogue meetings revolve around expanding our safety awareness programmes to more people. For example, in Gothenburg, the NTF (National Society for Road Safety) suggested establishing a permanent exhibition of our child safety programme Stop Look Wave at their facilities and supporting their efforts to raise awareness amongst newly arrived immigrants in Sweden.

In Copenhagen, innovative ideas arose on how to improve safety for bicyclists in intersections. And, in Amsterdam it was suggested that the Volvo Group look into partnering with NGOs working on safety projects in low income countries, and to support the UN’s Road Safety Week (8-14 May 2017).

As I write this we’ve just returned from London, a large and bustling city where urban safety is at the top of the agenda. I am inspired by the fact that we agree on what needs to be done, and thanks to our different perspectives, we can most likely learn a lot from each other about how to get there. One idea that came up in London is to spread the collaboration program CLOCS* to other fast growing cities in Europe.

These, and many of the other ideas that were raised during our dialogues, we will continue to explore further. Overall the sessions have been very illuminating, and I’m eagerly looking forward to incorporating these learnings into our urban safety plans.

*Construction Logistics and Community Safety (www.clocs.org.uk)