I have been a keen horse rider since the age of 7, when my family relocated from Devon to Llanddewi-Brefi, Ceredigion. Over the years I have experienced my fair share of near misses on the rural roads of Ceredigion whilst out with my sisters or friends on horseback or on bikes. I’ve always thought there’s more that could be done to educate and advise people in order to make a difference to the safety of all road users, in particular vulnerable road users. Having said this, I never imagined I would start a career in road safety; I had initially been keen to pursue an equestrian career!
I saw the advert a few years ago for a new Road Safety Project Officer and decided I had nothing to lose by applying. Now, I work in this field I cannot think of a more diverse or rewarding job. I work alongside a wonderful team of people. Heulwen is the Road Safety Assistant who provides admin support in the office and is a very knowledgeable child car seat advisor. Between the two of us, we stay on top of the day to day office and admin work, and venture out to various locations across the county to deliver the Road Safety message. There’s two Kerbcraft staff; Neris delivers training in the South of the County and Rose-Ann delivers the training in the North. Two cycle instructors for the county are Graham and Owen, and eight fantastic, reliable School Crossing Patrol Officers. Between us all we make up Ceredigion’s Road Safety team, with Chris our manager at the helm.
Where do I begin with what’s involved within my role as Road Safety Officer? Road Safety affects everyone; there are so many aspects to road safety that no day is the same for us and we cater for all ages. I visit schools on a regular basis, either to pop in to deliver an assembly or spend half a day with groups of children discussing road safety matters which impact on their lives. I also enjoy encouraging active travel, and will happily help to organise a walking bus with a school, to try to encourage pupils to walk, scoot or cycle to their school at least once a week. School Crossing Patrol Officers (SCP’s) make up the backbone of our Road Safety Team. They are out every day braving the elements ensuring that all pupils that do walk to school are crossed safely to their destination.
Both Heulwen and myself are qualified child car seat advisors, and we regularly attend family centres and play groups to discuss issues parents may be having, and offer checks if the child car seat is fitted correctly. We offer this service from our office in Penmorfa, Aberaeron, so if you want to check your child car seat, simply give us a call to arrange a day and time!
We receive funding from the Welsh Government for certain schemes which are available across the county. These are very important schemes and help us in getting the message to the residents of Ceredigion.
• Kerbcraft is training aimed at 5-7 year olds, teaching them to identify safe places to cross the road, crossing between parked cars, and crossing at junctions.
• National standards cycle training teaches year 6 pupils vital road safety skills when out cycling on the road, as well as basic bike maintenance and playground skills.
• Megadrive is a free event which is aimed at 16 and 17 year olds. This is organised by the Road Safety Team, but is a multi-agency event, with talks from Dyfed-Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Barod (Formerly known as Drug Aid), First Aid and other organisations. This event is offered to all secondary schools and colleges in the county. Not only do these pre-drivers have the opportunity to talk to the various agencies, they are also offered a free driving lesson with an instructor on the MOD base in Aberporth.
• PassPlus Cymru is a fantastic initiative aimed at newly qualified drivers. The course is in two parts. The first is a presentation led discussion, which outlines the laws and challenges facing newly qualified drivers. The second is a 6 hour driving experience with an Advanced Driving Instructor, where they will be given the opportunity to drive on motorways, big roundabouts and urban environments – experiences they do not get driving around Ceredigion.
• Ceredigion Enhanced Rider Scheme. Motorcycle riders are considered one of the most vulnerable road users, therefore we, in the Road Safety Team, are keen to target riders to attend a training course which is recognised by the DVSA. This training is tailored for the individual, where they will discuss areas of their riding they would like to improve in a small discussion group, followed up with heading out on the road with a qualified instructor. This course is completely free for the rider.
• Biker Down! is a ‘class based’ course which we have recently started to offer as an additional motorcycle course in the county. It is held in the evening at various fire stations across the county, based on demand. On this course, motorcycle riders are shown basic first aid for what to do if they come across a biker who has come off their bike. Riders usually travel in large groups, therefore it is not uncommon for another biker to be the first on scene. This course is delivered in partnership with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
A new and exciting course, the Mature driver course, is to be piloted in the Ceredigion this summer which is aimed at mature drivers aged over 65. The one-day course consists of a discussion session in the morning, explaining the changes seen in the Highway Code, and discussing difficulties older drivers may face. The afternoon involves a free drive with an instructor, who will give the driver helpful advice with the aim to keep people driving better, for longer.
We regularly find ourselves in meetings alongside the Police, Fire Service, and other stakeholders and agencies, all with the same ultimate objective - to further reduce casualties through collaborative working. I personally am always looking for more opportunities to give talks on road safety, or to be involved in a community activity where a road safety presence would be seen as useful or beneficial to the community. I am a keen horse owner and fully understand the difficulties faced when riding out on the road. Changing road user’s attitude and behaviour is an extremely difficult task, but ultimately if behaviour can be changed it would result in far fewer road traffic collisions.
This is only a flavour of myself and the Road Safety Team’s work in keeping the residents of Ceredigion safe whilst out on the road. For more information, find out about courses mentioned, or if you would like to volunteer to assist your local Kerbcraft trainer or organise a walking bus to your school, do not hesitate in getting in touch. We are always looking for new ideas and schemes to be involved with, spreading the road safety message in Ceredigion.
Visit the Road Safety page on the Council’s website for more information on the courses mentioned. Ask for Kayleigh and the Road Safety Team when calling the Council on 01545 570881 or email firstname.lastname@example.org