Going the extra mile for safer roads

Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety is on a mission to prevent traffic injuries and fatalities on our roads, and it won’t stop until it has reached its target of zero collision-related fatalities and injuries. To get there, the Office works with an expert world-wide team, cultivated over years of cooperative efforts to resolve traffic safety issues. To maximize the benefits of that network, the City initiated the annual International Urban Traffic Safety Conference, which ran April 27-30, 2015 at the Shaw Conference Centre.

The seventh annual event attracted 250 law enforcement, traffic engineering, academic and community delegates and speakers from Canada and several other countries including Egypt, US, Sweden and Australia. The benefit of bringing specialists together is the City can take best practices and ideas generated through presentations and discussions and apply them to improve Edmonton’s roads.

“Bringing this calibre of leadership to our city is an effective way for Edmonton’s traffic safety team to learn from world-class authorities. Likewise, we share Edmonton’s research and methods for reducing collisions,” says Gerry Shimko, Executive Director of the Office of Traffic Safety.

Some of the sessions highlighted work Edmonton has been using for several years, including video analytics, which identifies causes of collisions and ways to mitigate them. This year, Edmonton also showcased its expertise through Office of Traffic Safety officials, who spoke about Edmonton’s evidence-based approaches to road safety.

“We’ve got some great things happening right here that we are sharing with the global community,” says Bev Esslinger, Edmonton City Councillor and co-lead of Edmonton’s Traffic Safety Initiative. “But we need to learn and improve, and it’s great if we can work smarter and don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

One attendee is taking back some techniques he learned about to his team in Morinville. “I’m impressed with Edmonton’s speed management system and the citizen feedback process.  It’s just what we need,” says Dave Schaefer, Director of Community & Protective Services for the Town of Morinville.

Edmonton works very closely with local and regional police and government partners to address traffic safety issues.  The Office of Traffic Safety is a member of the Capital Region Intersection Partnership, a group committed to improving intersection safety through collaboration. Tim Vandenbrink is Chair of the Capital Region Intersection Partnership and has attended the conference for the last four years. “We work to create a consistent approach to traffic safety issues we face in our region. Nothing we do is on a whim, and the quality information we learn at this event goes a long way to make our roads safer, faster.“

Gerry Shimko says the conference has evolved over the years and it’s interesting to see how relationships have led to new projects, solutions and opportunities for Edmonton. “We’re currently looking at adopting ideas from our colleagues in Australia, and we pay attention to trends and ideas from other countries like Belgium.” Edmonton City Councillor Dave Loken attended the conference and agrees, “We have made great strides but it’s exciting to share ideas so we can all improve safety measures. The advantage of events like this is being able to learn about tried and tested ideas an incorporate them into our own strategies.”

No matter how traffic safety approaches advance and change, Shimko says one thing will stay consistent. “We are committed to Vision Zero in Edmonton: Everyone leaves and comes home safely.”

This year’s conference was hosted by the City of Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety in partnership with CRISP, the Edmonton Police Commission and the Yellowhead Highway Association.  The next conference is slated for April 25 – 28, 2016.

This video from Belgium demonstrates an approach Edmonton is considering for future traffic safety education campaigns:

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