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Debating the impacts of the biggest ever overhaul of mandatory vehicle safety requirements: Watch the online webinar

Charlie Norman

Policing Insight readers are invited to watch the recording of our recent webinar, hosted jointly with Drivetech, in which a panel of leading figures from the world of roads policing considered the potential impact of changes set to be made in 2024, which will require the installation of mandatory safety equipment in all new vehicles. Drivetech’s Managing Director, Charlie Norman, gives his reflections on the event.

Drivetech was delighted to be able to assemble such an expert panel to discuss changes to vehicle safety requirements in our recent webinar, hosted jointly with Policing Insight. The subject of the webinar was our white paper, which I described in my recent article. We were pleased to have an excellent attendance for the event and are extremely grateful to our guest speakers, Dr Helen Wells, director of the Roads Policing Academic Network, John Apter, chair of the Police Federation and Ruth Purdie, Chief Executive of the not-for-profit company, UK ROEd, which conducts the management and administration of the NDORS Scheme on behalf of the police road safety charity, Road Safety Trust.

A lot of technologies work really, really well in the laboratory but less so when let loose on the public

Dr Helen Wells, director of the Roads Policing Academic Network

After hearing from the report’s author and former head of roads policing in South Yorkshire, Ian Bint, delegates heard interesting and insightful views from the panel. Dr Wells focused on the human reaction to technological changes: the “sociology of technology”. She expressed some anxiety about the risks associated with transferring technologies from the lab to the road, pointing out that “a lot of technologies work really, really well in the laboratory but less so when let loose on the public”. This risk, she pointed out is compounded when even in the laboratory, the equipment only works 95% of the time.

Responding to the report, Mr Apter agreed with Dr Wells’ view that it is dangerous to focus blindly on speed limits as the ‘be all and end all’ of road safety: the mistaken belief that you can’t possibly hurt anyone if you’re not exceeding the limit. He told the audience that he had been a roads policing officer for many years and had often had cause to tell a motorist “the speed limit isn’t a target”. John tracked the evolution of technologies in vehicles that he had seen during his roads policing career to the point today where he felt that manufacturers were “overloading the motorist with technology”. As an aside, he pointed out how this problem of excess technological complexity had affected the police fleet, with too many chief constables having fallen into the safety trap of “turning police vehicles into mobile offices”.

The webinar also looked at the way that the driving test equips a driver for a lifetime of motoring with several speakers and members of the audience questioning whether a single test is enough, given the technological complexity of the modern vehicle. There was a great deal of sympathy for the view that motorists should be the subject of periodic requalification.

Ruth Purdie, for UKROEd, said that the recent stalling of improvements in casualty rates called for leadership in this space and said that she thought the new regulations were a good example of that leadership in practice. With 70 people in Europe and 5 people in the UK losing their lives on the road each day, she said the need for a response was very clear and pressing.

Closing the webinar, Policing Insight’s Bernard Rix said “I’ve got a minute to summarise 57 minutes of fantastic input from great contributors and some great questions as well.” He went on to highlight the number of questions that the webinar had thrown up – going well beyond simply roads policing into the fields of serious and organised crime. 

Overall, the webinar shone a powerful and insightful light into a recently neglected subject and broadened the discussion from the specifics of new regulations into a wider examination of road safety and roads policing. Drivetech has been delighted to be able to host the event and we very much hope that you will take the opportunity to watch the recording here

Watch the webinar: Are we ready for the biggest ever overhaul of mandatory vehicle safety requirements?

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