2nd August 2022
Ruth Gore, Sue Smith & Rachel Darling Love
Ruth, Sue, and Rachel: Working together to make roads in Humberside safer
There are a few regional road safety partnerships around the UK, but Humberside’s is special, as it’s one of the few where the key team members operate in the same office, making Safer Roads Humber highly effective in working towards reducing crashes and casualties.
The partnership has four priority areas: young drivers and their passengers; motorcyclists; driving for work; and core offences such as speeding and drink driving. The partnership also manages fixed and mobile safety cameras for the Humber region. It is made up of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, National Highways, Hull City Council, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Humberside Police, North East Lincolnshire Council, and North Lincolnshire Council.
On average there are 35 people killed in the Humber region each year, with a further 560 people seriously injured and over 2,300 people slightly injured. Whilst the rate has dropped significantly over the last 20 years the casualty rate has plateaued over the last few years.
The partnership also takes on a range of casualty reduction work which includes enforcement, education and communication.
Rachel, Sue, and Ruth bring a wealth and range of experience to the partnership team.
Rachel Darling Love describes herself “living the dream” – and it’s easy to see why. After two years of postponing her wedding because of Covid, she married two months ago but has still to go on her honeymoon in Hawaii.
From the age of 17, she worked all over the world with the Royal Military Police, then followed that with 24 years in firearms, traffic, and general duties in Humberside Police.
She retired two years ago but soon realised that, with Covid closing the door on travel and other activities, sitting at home was not good for her mental health so she returned to work with Safer Roads Humber, initially as a speed camera operator.
Rachel is now one of the Force’s civilian Enquiry Officers responsible for tracing those drivers who decide they don’t want to pay for a speeding ticket or try to pass it off as someone else’s liability, even when faced with clear photographic evidence.
She talks at length about the big difference between the drivers who break the law inadvertently, and those who choose to operate illegally. She says: “More often than not, the deliberate law breakers are the drivers with no tax, no insurance or fake insurance, or not wearing a seatbelt. The days of having to display a visible tax disc made these drivers easier to identify. And these are the ones we feel should be fully investigated.”
Rachel is clear that most of the HGV and van offences she saw as a Traffic Officer were related to loading: “No matter how big or small the item, if it can move, it’s insecure” she says. “Gravity alone won’t make a load safe.”
A keen cyclist, Rachel takes part in the Police Unity Tour charity cycle ride which represents officers who have been killed or died on duty. She’s also an advocate for cycling safety and the wearing of helmets. She was cycling to work decked out – as she described “like a Christmas tree” – reflective gear, helmet etc – when a bin lorry passed aggressively closely, and the driver shouted at her to use the cycle lane. The updated Highway Code says that cyclists “may exercise their judgment and are not obliged to use them.” This has always been the case.
“I was quite shaken up and noted his registration. When I got to work, guess who was there to empty the bins at my office? We had words…”
Rachel was also in the first ever series of Traffic Cops filmed in Humberside which showed the day-to-day pressures and dangers faced by officers on each shift.
When asked about the difference between men and women in her job she says: “I’m quite fit, but I do have physical limitations, so when I was a Police officer sometimes a smile, standing back and asking questions was a better approach and often got good results.”
Sue Smith has been involved in Driving for Better Business since 2017. She works for Humberside Fire & Rescue Service as a Road Safety Advisor and has previously been seconded to Humberside Police as a Casualty Reduction Officer.
In her role she goes out to engage with people in schools, colleges, training establishments and businesses as well as members of the public giving advice and information to all types of road users of all ages regarding road safety and casualty reduction matters.
“We get invited into sixth form colleges to discuss the risks of being a new driver and how to be a positive passenger – someone who doesn’t distract a driver, who isn’t afraid to speak up if they’re not happy or don’t feel safe,” she says.
Sue is currently undertaking a work-related road safety project and is offering free road safety presentations to local businesses aimed at people who drive for work or commute. She is a big advocate for Driving for Better Business, pointing organisations to valuable free resources such as the Van Driver Toolkit.
“When we go into businesses, we research in advance the types of driving for work there – grey fleet, company car drivers, van drivers,” says Sue. “We will talk to employers about their role and responsibility, and we always recommend Driving for Better Business for more in-depth information. We talk to employees – sometimes as part of a well-being programme – about the type of transport they use, so they can understand the needs of other road users. We cover both urban and rural areas and encourage all road users to ‘Share The Road’.”
Ruth Gore is the Marketing Manager and has worked for Safer Roads Humber for over 18 years and supports the engagement team to deliver road safety to a wide range of casualty groups. At the heart of their engagement strategy is using behaviour change methods to help all road users.
“Our job is to give those different road user groups – young and older alike – the right strategies to reduce the risk they present and the risks to them to improve their safety. It’s important to have a range of people working in partnership for safer roads,” says Ruth. “We’ve recently had a welcome shift in demographics in the group, with some new recruits in their late 20s/early 30s, which can make a big difference when we visit schools, colleges, community groups and businesses.
Safer Roads Humber also works with road safety teams across the Yorkshire and Humber region to help raise awareness the risks faced by those on two wheels who often will travel between the various areas. Ruth was part of the team that developed the Someone’s Son campaign aimed at drivers to look out for motorcyclists and cyclists which won a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award.
The campaign aimed to ‘humanise’ two-wheeled road users to make drivers take extra care to look out for them. It also urged riders to make themselves visible to drivers through the wearing of high vis clothing.
The Safer Roads Humber engagement teams interacts with over 45,000 people each year delivering a wide range of road safety activities. This includes formal presentations, fun interactive school assemblies, road safety plays to attending a wide range of events and shows. In addition, the partnership also delivers over 25,000 speed awareness courses which are offered to drivers in certain circumstances instead of a speeding ticket. This reflects the partnership’s philosophy that it is better to educate people rather than penalise them to help them make correct travel choices