Partnering for safety: Saferoads

Saferoads’ CEO, Darren Hotchkin, talks to Roads & Infrastructure about their partnership with the Australian Road Safety Foundation.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced a $2.2 billion investment in road safety infrastructure.

The proposed funding package allocated $1.1 billion to the Roads to Recovery program for investment in road safety in regional Australia, and a further $550 million for the Black Spot Program.

According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Black Spot Program has reduced serious road incidents by 30 per cent since its inception – highlighting the value of road safety investments.

The remaining funds will be used to establish a new Office of Road Safety, which will function as a national point for collaboration and leadership on key road safety priorities.

Mr. Morrison said 2018 saw 1,000 avoidable deaths on Australian roads. Furthermore, Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) statistics show every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the road globally.

Saferoads CEO, Darren Hotchkin, says that while awareness of road safety issues and proactive initiatives are having a positive effect, some statistics are still concerning.

“Improved safety measures and equipment have to be put in place to reduce trauma and fatality – this is a national issue and shared responsibility,” Mr. Hotchkin says. “That’s why we partnered with ARSF.”

ARSF is a not-for-profit organisation committed to achieving positive road safety outcomes through inventive awareness programs, driver education, advocacy, research, community engagement and commercial partnerships.

The Australian Road Safety Awards is an example of ARSF action.

The event is designed to acknowledge the achievements of leading road safety stakeholders and recognise their commitment to responsible outcomes.

Mr. Hotchkin says the awards are intended to function as a motivational tool to further encourage corporate professional development and action towards the reduction of road trauma.

“Nominations in each category are evaluated using a number of criteria including commitment, application, innovation, scope, sustainability, engagement and overall effectiveness. Winners and highly commended recipients are selected by an independent judging panel,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“The awards are a vehicle to promote road safety activities on a national scale and unite those programs under a single banner.”

According to Mr. Hotchkin, ASRF’s commitment to supporting material outcomes was the driving force behind Saferoads partnership with the organisation.

“Saferoads has been working in the industry for over 27 years, and as a company we recently made the decision to find a charity we could start donating to,” Mr. Hotchkin says. “We wanted to find an organisation we could support on a long-term basis and form a real collaborative partnership with.”

According to Mr. Hotchkin, after a short search period, Saferoads settled on ARSF.

“We were very impressed with the work they do, and after meeting with CEO Russel White, we decided it would be a great fit,” Mr. Hotchkin says.   

He says ARSF is the only not-for-profit organisation working within the road safety space and, as such, is highly valuable.

“As a company, we were particularly excited about ARSF’s work on Fatality Free Friday, an annual event that raises awareness for safer road use, with a focus on individual actions,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“ARSF’s values align perfectly with ours and we’re proud to be a commercial partner.”

Earlier this year, Saferoads was invited to present a gong at the award’s luncheon.

Mr. Hotchkin says that while there are a number of award categories presented at the event, such as the Innovation Award, the Community Programs Award and the Corporate Fleet Safety Award, he and the wider Saferoads team wanted to support the Local Government Initiative Award.

“Local governments are a key part of our customer group, so supporting that award made sense to us,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“Additionally, we felt we could provide more value to the council with access to our products than we could with straight cash.”

Mr. Hotchkin says the award facilitated a symbiotic outcome.

“The council won access to life-saving products, while we got to be sure 100 per cent of our sponsorship was being used for road safety devices.” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“On the night, I presented the Local Government Initiative Award to Strathfield Council.”

Located in western Sydney, Strathfield Council was selected for its Road Safety: It’s a Shared Responsibility program.

The interdisciplinary program involves education, enforcement and engineering works, and has proven to be highly successful.

Mr. Hotchkin says Strathfield stood out in a pool of exceptional councils due to its inclusive approach to road safety.    

“In addition to the Road Safety: It’s a Shared Responsibility program, Strathfield runs a Road Rules Awareness Week,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“The week offers drivers the chance to refresh their knowledge of road rules and develop better car, pedestrian, cyclist and bicycle integration strategies.”

According to Mr. Hotchkin, Strathfield Council was presented with multiple vouchers for use on any Saferoads product.

“They purchased various traffic calming products manufactured to control and lower speeds in urban environments,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“One product they selected was our rubber speed cushions, which reduce the speed of cars going past high pedestrian occupied areas.”

Mr. Hotchkin says the choice aligns with the council’s attention to better vehicle and pedestrian integration.

“The speed cushions are great because they provide a road safety system that engages the driver to reduce speed with minimal driver discomfort,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“This makes the product stand out from other speed reduction devices.”

According to Mr. Hotchkin, Strathfield Council also purchased Saferoads’ customisable Kangou Signs and multiple blockout barriers.

“Blockout barriers are designed to redirect foot traffic and protect pedestrians from hazards on the walkway,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“The barriers are economical to transport and easy to install. Weighing only 18 kilograms when empty, they can be stacked in the back of trucks or trays and filled with 250 litres of water once they reach their destination.”

Mr. Hotchkin says knowing Saferoads products are being used in Strathfield is a great result for the ARSF partnership.

“It’s rewarding to know our products are being used by a proactive and engaged council,” Mr. Hotchkin says. “We are looking forward to supporting a lot more initiatives throughout the course of the partnership.”

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