The initiative was initially focussed on the Edinburgh, Falkirk and Stirling areas and now includes the Lothians and Scottish Borders. Following positive feedback, Police Scotland has decided to roll this out nationally in 2019.
The initiative is aimed at educating bus drivers, passengers and family/friends/carers of those that may be affected.
Police Scotland is alive to the risk surrounding injury to older passengers on buses. There is a desire to work with key partners to ensure that we are doing all we can to minimise these occurrences which can have severe consequences and adversely impact national road safety performance. During the year prior to the initiative launch, two people died and many others were seriously injured following falls on public transport. In addition to the tragic human cost, these incidents are resource intensive and put a physical and economic strain on the road network.
It is important to appreciate that every injury sustained to an older person, no matter how innocuous it may seem, has the potential to have serious or even grave consequences for that individual. Falls often result in hospitalisation and months of treatment, and recovery can be long, arduous, and with varying degrees of success. Such individuals are our parents, grandparents, neighbours and friends and the tragic human cost of these incidents can be very high. The affected person may lack the confidence to continue using buses and then find themselves having less social interactions and a reduced quality of life.
The initial aims and outcomes of the project are:
An initial meeting with the Head of Risk at Lothian Buses provided reassurance around developments in vehicle standards and safety whilst also highlighting opportunities around driver and passenger education. A short life working group was formed and a series of multi-agency meetings were thereafter chaired by Police Scotland and attended by representatives from Lothian Buses, First Group, Transport Scotland, Road Safety Scotland, RoSPA, Edinburgh Council and also older person charities Age Scotland and Roar for Life.
Following discussion it was agreed that success could come from education work aimed at:
The group designed a leaflet which incorporated key messages for passengers. Funding was secured from Road Safety Scotland and 20,000 copies were distributed to the target audience and promoted through various channels.
An educational training film for drivers was filmed by the Police Scotland AV Unit and has been produced to national broadcast standard featuring a professional voice over, volunteer actors with Police and Bus Driver inputs. The package was well received by partners and is now fully incorporated in Lothian and First Bus driver training. A media strategy was set and includes a series of clips and animated GIFs to be used on social media. The Police Scotland media team coordinated a public launch event in May 2018 at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. An article was published in local newspapers. The initiative was launched in the Edinburgh, Falkirk and Stirling areas but both the leaflet and video were ensured to be suitable for national distribution.
The project has received universal praise from bus companies, relevant local authorities and age related charities. The project was not a ‘tough sell’, with all parties very keen to be actively involved when approached.
The success of the project will be determined by year end casualty statistics and awareness shown in social media reach analysis. Due to the relatively recent launch the full extent of the impact in relation to casualty statistics is not yet known. Analysis carried out on 1 March 2019 for the areas impacted by the project is encouraging, revealing that the time since launch has seen the least number of relevant persons killed or seriously injured in these instances in the past 5 years.
Analysis of the social media activity shows:
Engagement Rate: 2%
Video Views: 18,119
The development of this project was initially challenging but highly rewarding. From a personal perspective, it has revealed a real desire in both individuals and key organisations to positively impact in Road Safety and the lives of older people in Scotland.
Police Scotland Headquarters Tulliallan Castle