‘Optimise what we can control’ – James Cracknell MBE

James Cracknell LRSC conf

James Cracknell MBE, president of the London Road Safety Council (LRSC), has called on all road users to ‘optimise what we can control’ in order to improve safety.

Speaking at the evening reception of the LRSC’s Centenary Conference on 24 January, Mr Cracknell said he was ‘greatly honoured’ to be involved with the organisation.

He described road safety as vital, adding that, no matter what education, laws and restrictions are given to all highway users ‘we can’t control the actions of others’.

Extracts from James Cracknell’s speech:

“As the London Road Safety Council enjoys it’s 100th birthday I thought it might be useful to reflect on our century of safety to remind ourselves of the journey we have been on.

“Whilst 2017 is the anniversary of the Counci’sl first meeting, we were actually conceived on 1 December 1916. A public meeting had been called to discuss ‘the alarming increase in traffic accidents, and the direct connection therewith of the restricted street lighting which had been necessitated by the War conditions’. The meeting took place in London’s Caxton Hall and a decision was made to elect a ‘Safety First’ Council to tackle this rise.

“The ‘London Safety First Council’ held its first meeting early in 1917.  

“One of the very early examples of the Council’s work was a flyer with the title ‘Hints to Drivers of Horses and Motor Vehicles, and to Cyclists’. The leaflet explained that there had been 46,199 accidents during 1916 of which a staggering 833 proved fatal. Drivers and cyclists were given advice on hand signals to be used, coming out of side streets and yards, front and rear lamps, keeping to the left of the road as well as advice on overtaking and turning.

“People will point out that 100 years on not everyone has got the message about using lights or overtaking and turning. That said, road safety was a much simpler affair in those days, without smart phones and distracting games such as Pokemon Go to worry about back then…

“The council evolved and grew over time and spawned other regional safety first councils and even the national safety first council that later became the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

“We have seen name changes along the way, firstly to the London Accident Prevention Council and then in 2009 to our current name, the London Road Safety Council.

“Uniquely made up of both elected members from London’s Boroughs and road safety professionals, the Council’s historical aim was reducing death and injury on London’s roads by producing education and publicity materials for road safety officers to use.

“More recently we started to provide high quality training for road safety officers including the use of social media, undertaking risk assessments, child car seat fitting and the School Crossing Patrol service.

“We are currently working with TfL on an ambitious programme of training for London’s elected members to enable them to become road safety champions within their own local areas.

“A new website with a dedicated members’ area and forum has been developed so best practice and advice can be easily shared and regular training sessions are taking place. We are also developing a suite of e-learning modules to help elected members become familiar with key road safety issues and messages.

“I was greatly honoured when the Council first approached me to ask if I would consider becoming its president. Road safety is vital because, no matter what education, laws and restrictions are given to all highway users we can’t control the actions of others and therefore we have to ensure that whether a pedestrian, cyclist, driver, passenger or driving an HGV, bus or train we understand our transport environment, have empathy for other users and optimise what we can control.”

30 January 2017

London Road Safety Council Centenary Conference • Guildhall, City of London • 24/1/17
Click here to access the presentations delivered at the conference, or here for a live report containing a series of sound bites from the event.