Why now is the time to embrace the newest technology for road safety

Roadscape 12

“There was a defect. You missed it.”

“No there wasn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m a qualified highway safety inspector.”

“Ah, but you still could have missed it, couldn’t you?”

If you’ve ever attended the trial of a Highways Act personal injury claim, this is an exchange you’ve probably witnessed.

Or been a part of.

Going back and forth over whether or not a defect was present when a road or pavement was last inspected; whether the inspector should have spotted it; and whether or not someone had repaired it.

The problem with traditional methods of safety inspection is there’s scope for things to be missed – even by the most experienced safety inspectors.

But that’s just one of the reasons why, when it comes to road safety, you should embrace the newest technology. And now is the time to do so.

In this article, we’ll look at how Gaist can help you:

  • ● improve road conditions in preparation for the push towards active travel

  • ● slash the number of claims you face and make you more effective in responding to them

  • ● and help make your budget go further.

Bringing resilience to safety inspections

Traditional methods rely on the human eye and the human brain. Exclusively.

There are benefits to that. The human eye and the human brain are incredibly good at filtering, assessing, looking at things in context, and making judgements. Which is great if you’re able to walk every single bit of your network and examine everything with the utmost care.

The problem, though, is that it would probably take you a couple of years to do that. If not longer.

Much of a safety inspection regime is usually done by car, in pairs. One person concentrating on driving, the other only able to look in one place at a time. You never know whether you’ve missed something or not.

And since COVID-19 and social distancing came along, that traditional method has proved to be not very resilient. Unless you have, for instance, a team that lives together, you’re unlikely to have two inspectors who live together and can share a car.

But there’s a better way…

The art of the possible

Using 360° camera technology, Gaist’s SafetyView
captures high-definition images of every single part of your inspection routes – removing the need for two council inspectors to conduct an inspection.

From your desktop, you can view the whole roadscape in context, pivoting as if you were standing there on the spot. No defect is missed and you can zoom in on problem areas.

What’s more, our team of highly-experienced inspectors will pick out potentially hazardous areas for your assessment. We effectively triage the video recording for you. And by carrying out surveys at traffic speed, not only do we free up valuable time for highway inspectors, we can also remove the need for traffic management.

It may be that in the future AI will become so sophisticated that it can be trained to identify a safety defect without fail. But we’re not there yet.

What Gaist gives you is the art of the possible, combining state-of-the-art technology with expert human-led analysis. So you can make the right decisions for your network every time. More easily and much faster.

And because SafetyView doesn’t rely on mobile phone footage, it’s not at risk of being subject to legislation around the use of mobile phones in vehicles

Cutting the cost of claims

Gaist helps you proactively maintain the condition of your carriageways and footways, and prioritise the areas which need fixing first. With better data, you’re in a better position to improve road conditions. And by improving road conditions, you can cut the number of claims people bring against your local authority.

The benefit isn’t just that you can reduce the amount of compensation your council has to pay out. It also means you can slash the amount of staff time lost to dealing with claims.

In fact, it’s the latter figure which is particularly relevant. According to the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey:

  • The total spent on road user compensation claims in England and Wales in the 2022/23 financial year was £22.7 million.

  • Of that, £11.6 million was the actual compensation paid out.

  • But a further £11.1 million was spent on staff costs dealing with claims (72% of which related to potholes).

So for every £1 paid out in compensation, another £1 is spent on staff time. Imagine what you could do with all that lost resource.

Levelling the playing field

But there’s another way Gaist can help you: by enabling you to respond to claims effectively and efficiently – and bring a swift end to unmeritorious ones.

With high-resolution imagery of your entire network captured on a monthly basis (or whatever frequency you require), you’ll always know whether something was missed or not. And you can monitor deterioration and intervene before potholes develop.

Having a clear visual record of the condition of your carriageways and footways is not just a plus point. With the public having better access to technology, it’s fast becoming a necessity.

Cameraphones are now ubiquitous and there’s an increasing number of drivers with dashcams and cyclists with helmet cameras. So, not having high-quality video and photographic evidence could place your council at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to rebutting claims.

Meeting your active travel targets

Another major reason why now is the time to embrace new technology is the current drive towards active travel.

If more and more of us are going to be getting around our towns and cities on bikes or e-scooters, the road infrastructure needs to be improved to support this. Because what might not be an issue for a car could present a significant risk for a cyclist.

While a pothole might cause a few hundred pounds worth of damage to a car or its tyres, if it were to cause a cyclist to come off their bike, the consequences are likely to be far more serious.

Not to mention, far more costly for your local authority.

According to Cycle UK, the average amount of compensation paid out to a cyclist in 2019 was £8,800 – nearly 26 times the average payout to a motorist at around £340.

A safe choice

Gaist’s SafetyView works to help highway managers. Not expose them. It helps you improve your roads, keep road users safe, and keep claims and compensation down to a minimum.

For our customers, SafetyView is an essential part of an essential task. Choosing to use new technology to support your safety inspections is the safe choice.

For more information on SafetyView and how you can use it to upgrade your safety inspections, please contact: christina.liassides@gaist.co.uk.

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The services we provide can easily be procured under the RAMS (Road Asset Management System) framework. The Procurement of the RAMS framework has been undertaken in accordance with Public Contract Regulations, 2015. The tender process was carried out under the Open Procedure following the publication of Find A Tender Service contract notice, publication number 2021/S 000-000293 dated 07/01/2021. This framework is available to any Contracting Authority in England and Wales that is a ‘Local Authority’ as defined in Section 270 of The Local Government Act 1972, and the Department for Transport.

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