Dave Conway's Jet-Setting Road Safety Journey

Well…Christmas and the New Year have now disappeared into the rear-view mirror, and having caught up with everything after the long break, it seems a good opportunity to update you on my road safety work.

The big event, for me, was my December trip to Nepal with ISO for this year’s TC241 Technical Committee plenary and ancillary meetings.

These were our first face-to face meetings since 2019 and it was wonderful to once again meet some of the people I have been working with over the past three years, in addition to all the local people involved in Road Safety in Nepal.

We had four very busy days in our agenda, but I did manage to walk into Kathmandu in the evening to get a slight flavour of the city and experience local food, beverages, and shops!

Day One was the meeting of the working group that I am the Convenor for, WG6, continuing our work on the development of the ISO39003 standard for the “Guidance on ethical considerations relating to safety for autonomous vehicles”. It is now at a very advanced stage with our time spent addressing and resolving comments received from the “Draft International Standard (DIS)” stage ballot.

I was delighted that we were able to resolve every comment to the satisfaction of all parties. 

The amended standard will now go forward as a “Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)” for ballot… there will be no further commenting…and if successful will be published as a full ISO standard in the Summer.

For me, this is the culmination of seven year’s work, from first having the idea, through proposing it as a new work project at UK and then International levels, before leading the project through to publication. I am advised that it is a World first in being the first standard ever to give guidance on ethics…determining what is right and what is wrong.

Day Two was Working Group WG4. This group looks after the marketing for the ISO39000 series of standards and I have been an active member for as long as I have been a committee member.

It was another busy day for me as I developed a full set of training slides for ISO39001 and a utilisation matrix to show which slides are for top management, which are for system managers, which are for fleet/transport managers etc, which will enable those bodies that are encouraging uptake of the standards to all work form a common baseline when dealing with potential users of the standards.
Day Three was the day of the Plenary Meeting when all the member countries of TC241 come together to review progress on Road Safety in their countries, and the TC updates them of its ongoing work and makes resolutions for the year.
It was another busy day for me.

I had two presentations to give. One on behalf of the UK to TC241 on the state of road safety here, and one on behalf of TC241 to the members on the progress of WG6. It was very interesting to hear how other countries are doing and also to know that we can take some pride that the UK is certainly one of the better performing nations in respect of crashes, deaths and injuries. We still trail Sweden and, currently, are showing the lowest rate of improvement of any country in Europe, which is sad….so all in all, still much work to do.

Day Four was the most fun, and the hardest work.

Traditionally, TC241 has always held its meeting in countries with much work to do, but who are enthusiastic to make improvements. We rely on being invited to the country and are somewhat reliant upon the hospitality of the host nation to provide meeting rooms etc. Usually, they provide snacks for breaks, and lunch, but that is all.
By way of thanks, and support for their hospitality, we use the fourth day to contribute to a workshop with the local road safety influencers. These range from Government ministers to the head of the Nepalese standards body, via road experts and academics. This is a key audience for the work of ISO but also it gives support to the local individual and demonstrates that a world body recognises and respects the efforts they are making.

I had my two presentations to give.

The first, a case study on how FM Conway achieved its ISO39001 certification, and the benefits it saw, and the second one on what people might expect from an audit on an ISO39001 system.

The session ended up with an hour of Q&A panel discussions which certainly kept me on my toes! I promise you, there is no way that you can prepare for these. No matter how well you think you know your stuff, there is always a question that will catch you completely off-guard!

I was able to enjoy a nice evening with the TC241 Committee Manager, with a stroll into town and a very nice curry dinner, but had to be up early the next morning for my flight home…no time for sightseeing!

I must say, the Nepalese people were wonderful hosts and positively embraced the message we brought. Mindful of how high ranking some of the local dignitaries were, I think there are plenty of work opportunities for me there, if I wanted them!
My road safety work does not end there.

My first job back after the new year was to get the company through its FORS Bronze Audit. We have FORS certification for our Transport for London contracts and it is important that we hold it, even if we do not see it as the road safety system of choice. Happily, we did pass first time, without issues, but it is always challenging.
And last week, I had the honour of being a headline speaker at a webinar for the Institution of Engineering and Technology on the new ISO 39003 standard and what it will mean to the automotive industry developing autonomous vehicles. 

I gave the opening presentation on what standards are about, the role of BSI and ISO, and then the background to, and development of, ISO39003.

I was delighted that several of the members of WG6 gave presentations on the workings of the standard itself and the underlying philosophy that has led to the guidance therein.

A real contrast for me, from talking road safety to a country that has yet to fully embrace seatbelt and crash helmet legislation, to talking to engineers how to teach their artificial intelligence systems how to decide what is right and wrong in driving behaviour.

I am just happy to be given the opportunity, with the ongoing support of the FM Conway Group, to help drive improvements in road safety at all levels.