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Extra terrestrials help highlight risks to pedestrians

Photos from the launch of the "we believe in little green men" campaign by Claire Williams

NRSI’s latest campaign began on the 5th of September 2005 with high profile bus advertising across our region proclaiming "we believe in little green men - get there safely, use a pedestrian crossing".

The "little green men" campaign is being officially launched in Albert Square, Manchester at 10.30am on Monday the 12th of September and we have enlisted the help of four "extra terrestrials" to help us highlight the dangers to pedestrians on our roads.

Our "aliens" will be carrying placards to protest at needless pedestrian road casualties and to encourage those on foot to avoid risks and to cross our roads safely.

NRSI spokesperson Andrew Wake commented, "People are still taking risks on our roads and increased use of mobile phones, personal hi-fi systems and even being engrossed in conversation can take our attention away from the dangers."

"As pedestrians we need to be aware of traffic and the danger it poses. The safest place to cross any road is a pedestrian crossing and where possible we should be using them."

"The fact that children often play on our streets and have to cross busy roads on their way to school is also part of the issue and risks tend to increase at this time of year when many children are encountering unfamiliar journeys as they travel to new secondary schools.

"Each year over 15,000 child pedestrians receive serious or minor injuries on the nation’s roads and we think this is unacceptable.

"Our latest campaign is purposefully lighthearted but we’re hoping our "little green men" will help raise some serious issues and make people think twice about taking risks on our roads."

The campaign will be visible throughout Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and there will be opportunities to spot our aliens in other towns and cities throughout September. We’re using bus advertising along with over five million bus tickets to raise the issue of pedestrian road safety and offer the opportunity to win one of ten monthly bus passes.

MMU design students help NRSI target the biggest killer on our roads

Contrary to popular belief, speed is not the major cause of road casualties. The greatest single factor is driver inattention caused by distractions both inside and outside of our vehicles. It’s estimated that distracted drivers account for over a quarter of all crashes although inattention may well be a contributory factor in many more incidents.

In April 2005 the Neighbourhood Road Safety Initiative (NRSI) launches its’ latest campaign to highlight this fact and offer simple advice on how we can all minimise distractions when driving.

Bus backs proclaiming "Don’t look at this", "Don’t stare at this" and "Take your eyes off this" together with billboards featuring the strap line "Stop staring" will be highly visible across our region. All feature secondary messages that qualify and reinforce the point and are designed to be read by stationary drivers.

The campaign is the result of a unique partnership between NRSI, students from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Design and Art Direction course, and award-winning Manchester design agency True North.

Students at MMU’s D&AD course were briefed in January and a panel of representatives from NRSI, the media and True North judged their concept ideas the following month.

The winning concepts were produced by a third-year duo, 26-year-old Tom Rowley from Didsbury and 22-year-old Neil Ritchie from Warrington, who received a shared prize of £1000 and spent a fortnight with True North refining and readying their designs. Six students were additionally commended for their ideas and each received £100 awards.

MMU’s Head of D&AD Lenore Gristwood said "This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to work on a live issue-based brief which will actually help save lives in our region. The project really caught everyone’s imagination and we were happy to get involved as the safety of our students as drivers or pedestrians is always close to our hearts."

Ady Bibby, Creative Director of True North added "The overall quality of work presented was phenomenal and is testament to the talent generated by MMU’s design course."

"Unfortunately there could only be one winner but we all felt Neil and Tom delivered a beautifully simple and clever solution to what was an extremely tough brief. It?s been a real pleasure to be involved in this project and we believe Neil and Tom have a bright future ahead of them."

Winning student Tom Rowley said "This has been a fantastic opportunity for us and seeing our work used in a major regional campaign is an incredible buzz. More importantly, we hope our designs will persuade drivers to think about the inattention issue and make our roads that little bit safer for everyone."

His design partner Neil Ritchie added "The placement with True North was brilliant and has given us a great deal of invaluable experience. I’m sure having this campaign under our belts will really help us both when we begin looking for work later this year."

NRSI spokesperson Andrew Wake said "This project is a great example of a creative partnership which could easily be replicated elsewhere. Young minds tend to cultivate the kind of fresh, innovative ideas NRSI was tasked to achieve and I feel this campaign raises the driver inattention issue in an unashamedly direct and thought-provoking way."

Inattention is anything that distracts us when we’re driving. It has been defined as "a shift of attention away from stimuli critical to safe driving towards stimuli that are not related to safe driving". In simple terms it includes such things as day dreaming, not looking properly, distraction by other people in the vehicle, trying to read maps, eating, drinking, lighting cigarettes, applying make up and fiddling with the stereo.

External distractions tend to be visual due to the enclosed nature of modern vehicles and can also lead to driver inattention and increased risk of collision. These include rubber necking, sight seeing, window shopping from the vehicle and even eyeing up pedestrians and other drivers!

Use of "hands-free" mobile phones, although legal, still divert the driver’s attention away from the road and we would therefore urge people to switch them off and change their voicemail to say they may be driving and will return calls later.

Andrew Wake added, "Driver inattention is the major cause of collisions, injuries and deaths on our roads. The saddest thing is that these casualties were avoidable if only the drivers had been concentrating at the time."

"We hope this campaign helps raise awareness of the issue and encourages all drivers to remain focused and concentrate when at the wheel."

How can you reduce the risk of distractions?

- Avoid tuning your radio or changing tapes or CDs whilst driving. Select your station or tunes before you set off.

- Don’t eat or drink at the wheel. Make time for refreshments before you start your journey or stop off along the way.

- Using a mobile phone even with a hands-free kit reduces your reaction times. Why not record a voicemail message saying you might be driving and will return calls when it’s safe to do so and then switch off the phone.

- Lighting cigarettes takes your attention off the road. Removing lighters could help you avoid temptation.

- Grooming yourself or applying make up in the rear-view mirror is not advisable. We suggest you do it before leaving. You’ll probably look a lot better!

- Don’t let passengers or pets distract you. Try to restrain pets and ask passengers to keep quiet so you can concentrate on the road.

- Avoid referring to maps or directions as you drive. Plan your journey in advance or pull over and park up somewhere safe to get your bearings.

Bus back, billboard and leaflet designs can be found in the "download" section of "Campaigns". We would also welcome your views on this or any other NRSI campaign. For a feedback form please click here.

Bex - Road safety is everyone’s business

On the 17th and 18th of November, the Neighbourhood Road Safety Initiative (NRSI) took a stand at BEX (Business Enterprise Exchange), the North West’s largest small business conference, which is held annually at the Manchester International Convention Centre.

The Department for Transport estimate that one in three road collisions involves someone who is driving as part of their job and are taking the issue so seriously that next year they will be mounting a national road safety campaign to raise the issue of occupational road risk and the obligations of employers and employees.

Andrew Wake of the NRSI said

"We’re passionate about reducing road casualty rates across the region and we believe BEX will provide a perfect opportunity to engage businesses whose staff are often traveling through our neighbourhoods. We all have an obligation to drive responsibly and we believe businesses can play a significant role in reducing road injuries and deaths in areas where people live and children play."

When the clocks go back, it’s rush hour in casualty

A major new regional road safety campaign began on the 1st of November 2004 to tackle the increase in road casualty rates which result from the darker winter mornings and nights.

The NRSI launched the campaign in conjunction with Manchester City Council’s £100 Days of Road Safety initiative at the City of Manchester Stadium. Manchester City players David James and Robbie Fowler joined members of the junior blues to encourage the public to think about their visibility at this time of year.

Striking images of bandaged arms and heads were visible across the region to highlight the substantially higher risk of injury on our roads in winter.

The Neighbourhood Road Safety Initiative (NRSI) campaign used bus and radio advertising throughout Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire to urge people to increase their visibility and remind drivers that pedestrians are much harder to see in the dark.

Commenting on the campaign, NRSI spokesperson Andrew Wake said -

"We can all improve our safety this winter through a simple decision to wear light, bright or reflective clothing when we?re out on foot or cycling."

"When driving we also need to be mindful of the reduced visibility and weather-related road conditions and allow ourselves greater reaction time by simply slowing down. We should also take the opportunity to check our lights are clean and fully working to ensure our vehicles are visible to pedestrians and other road users."

Chill out, slow down

The NRSI’s first campaign began in August 2004 and targeted young drivers with a month of one minute long radio adverts on local dance music station Galaxy 102. As infectious as sunshine and sounding unlike any road safety advert before it the ad featured a specially commissioned laid-back summer groove and talk over by DJ 3Style urging young drivers to "chill out, slow down".

A free CD containing versions of the tune along with a chance to win a top of the range in car stereo system was available via a specially constructed Galaxy micro website in return for listeners’ views on the issues of driving in residential areas.

In early September the radio campaign was supported by unmissable "chill out, slow down" billboard advertising throughout areas across the North West with the additional strap line "respect our neighbourhoods, ease your speed".

The campaign has been hugely successful with over 1000 applicants for the free CD and hi fi competition. The billboard ads also resulted in contact from a car cruise club who wanted to lend their support to the initiative and have featured the NRSI logo on their own website.

An analysis of driver’s viewpoints will be added as an update in the near future.

Chill out competition winner

Nineteen-year-old Helen Roberts from Whalley Range, Manchester is the lucky winner of the "chill out, slow down" car hi fi competition. Helen was presented with her system at Galaxy radio and also enjoyed a guided tour of the station.

We’d like to thank everyone who entered the competition for filling in our questionnaire and providing such useful comments. The information has given us a valuable insight into your views on residential driving.

A document analysing the opinions expressed in the 1000+ questionnaires we received is available in the "images and downloads" section under "campaigns".


Bus photo by Claire Williams

"I believe in little green men" wristbands will be given away by our aliens in a town or city near you




















Margaret Appleton, Neil Ritchie, Tom Rowley & Andrew Wake

Tom & Neil at the MMU/NRSI exhibition

Driver inattention leaflet available from NRSI road safety units or downloadable on this site































MCFC photo courtesy Damien Maguire