it Starts here

FACT: Too many adult pedestrians are killed, or experience life-changing injuries on Liverpool's roads And, whilst the overall number of collisions is reducing , pedestrian casualties in Liverpool  have plateaued since 2008.   

So-Mo have been asked to address this challenge.  For this project, we have joined forces with Road Safety Analysis who are providing us with support to analyse the data and will share their not inconsiderable experience in the field of road safety.

What we know so far…

If anywhere needs a solution it's Liverpool.   The equivalent of 221 adult pedestrians are injured per 100,000 people each year.  This is one of the highest rates in the UK.

2017 saw 8 fatalities involving collisions, 2016; 3 adult pedestrians were killed and a further 74 were seriously injured.      

The year before, there were 8 fatalities, which is almost twice as many as Manchester (5), double the number for Leeds (4) and 8 times as many as Hull (1). 

But it's only when you consider the fact that every fatality costs the tax-payer around 2.5 million pounds, that you realise there exists a compelling financial, as well as a humane imperative to try to address this problem. 


image courtesy of  Local Gov

image courtesy of Local Gov


Why does the problem exist?

There are many different reasons why collisions occur in Liverpool but none of these are unique to this city, or indeed the rest of the UK:

Alcohol and drugs
We often think about 'drink driving' but how often do we stop to consider the impact of 'drunk walking'?    Crossing a busy road can tricky at the best of times - add 8 pints to the mix and you are looking at a whole new level of risk.

Failing to look
Both pedestrians and drivers regularly fall foul of the Smidsy factor – "Sorry mate, I didn't see you" this reason is cited in 20.5% of fatals involving driver error. 

Poor road layouts
We've all experienced road layouts that are a nightmare to navigate; multiple roads converging, poor lighting, pedestrian crossings in the wrong place… the list goes on. 

Not using crossings correctly
And, even when crossings are in the right place-  guess what?  A high number of pedestrians aren't using them.

Speed + pedestrians  don’t mix
 At higher speeds both 'thinking' and 'breaking' distances reduce.  The speed a vehicle is traveling at the moment of  impact also  determines the severity of the injury a pedestrian sustains.  Beyond 20mph the increase of being seriously injured, dramatically increases.

The ultimate distraction
The last five years has seen a huge increase in mobile phone use, not just by drivers, but by pedestrians as well.  As a team, we've observed people, so focused on the phone in their hand, that they appear to be completely oblivious of their surroundings..  So is 'zombie walking' at the heart of Liverpool's problem?

pedestrians at a busy Liverpool crossing

pedestrians at a busy Liverpool crossing


So What's the solution?

At this point we don't hold enough insight into  what's causing these high levels of pedestrian KSI's in Liverpool to really tell; so it should come as no surprise that we don't have  a ready-made solution to roll out.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.   In fact, I would strongly argue that this is a good thing.    it's highly likely that any solution we presented in week 1 would  fail.  Without good quality insight, without considering all possible solutions and then testing the best of these in context, how could we tell if the solution we started out with was the best one?

In our view far too many road safety campaigns don’t spend enough time defining the problem they’re attempting to solve, or articulating why solving that particular problem is important.   These 'best guess' campaigns often end up being costly failures or they deliver seemingly breakthrough results that ultimately are impossible to implement.

Where next?
So given all of this, our first priority will be to ask the right questions.   

As Albert Einstien once said. "If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,”.

What questions would you ask?


Nicola Wass  So-Mo