EuroRAP must step up to the challenges of 2020 says new chairman

EuroRAP must deliver tailor-made solutions for its members that meet the challenges of urban living and address rapid developments in transport technology, according to the organisation’s new chairman, Ferry Smith.

‘We are seeing dramatic changes in transport modalities in cities,’ said Ferry, who officially took over from founding chairman, John Dawson, at this year’s annual conference and general assembly in Ljubljana, Slovenia. ‘There are new forms of transport using urban spaces such as electric boards, more electric cars and increased numbers of cyclists but only limited space for all road users.

‘We can’t predict the moment when electric becomes cheaper than petrol but when it does it will have a far reaching effect on the road environment. EuroRAP’s job is to develop insights that ensure that when these changes do happen the road infrastructure can meet these demands. In order to do this we need to be carefully monitoring the 5-10 key developments in mobility such as intelligent transport systems.’

Ferry is well-known in European road safety circles through his work as Director of Public Affairs for the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB). The club and its members are a powerful lobbying force in the Netherlands – in 2014 ANWB members took part in a national campaign to prioritise 1 and 2-star roads in their provinces – and Ferry believes this type of partnership is important if EuroRAP and its members are to lobby successfully for infrastructure improvements across Europe.

‘Members have played a valuable part in driving forward EuroRAP targets in the Netherlands,’ he said. ‘There’s a multiplier factor that comes into play. When you have your members standing behind you, politicians are much more likely to listen to you.’

Ferry believes this collaborative approach between members, their national clubs and EuroRAP is important to help bring down the recent spike in European road deaths – which he describes as ‘worrying’ – and meet the target of halving the 2010 total of European road deaths and serious injuries by 2020.

‘We are facing difficult challenges. I think we’ve taken most of the easy wins in casualty reduction. However there is still a huge amount that we can learn from each other and from engaging with what I call “the unusual suspects” such as employers and health insurers.

‘For instance, in the Netherlands we’re working on a scheme with companies that employ pizza delivery boys to ensure that they are fully trained and not exposed to unnecessary risk. Schemes like this, on a European-wide scale, could make a significant difference. We need to be sharing our knowledge as widely as possible but without compromising our quality control standards.’

In order to deliver these benefits, EuroRAP will need a tailored advocacy approach that speaks directly to the priorities of national policy makers, Ferry said. ‘We have to make people think that they can’t afford not to work with EuroRAP by clearly showing them the benefits of our work – the 3-star or better campaign has an important role to play in this.’

Ferry describes John Dawson as “an inspirational figure whose work has helped to prevent thousands of deaths and serious injuries across Europe.” Following in the footsteps of such an influential founding chairman is never easy but Ferry seems undaunted by the challenge of stepping into John’s shoes.

‘The impact of road traffic crashes affects not just the victims but those around them,’ he concluded. ‘Every day people are dying unnecessarily on Europe’s roads. Trying to stop these deaths is what engages me – I hope that what I do will make a difference.’