An idea which started six years ago on a busy road in a Welsh village has developed international recognition as a major road safety programme.
Llyswen, Brecon resident James Luckhurst is the driving force behind Project EDWARD, which has been adopted throughout Europe and has even attracted road safety campaigners as far afield as Mongolia, where there are few roads but the driving standards are basic.
Standing for Every Day Without a Road Death, it took place last week throughout the United Kingdom with safety campaigners, 43 police forces, ambulance and fire services and communities lending their support to a variety of events all designed to draw attention to and reduce road casualties from a variety of causes.
Speed is a factor in many accidents but poor driving standards, using mobile phones, poor concentration and badly maintained vehicles are also causes tackled by Project EDWARD.
This year’s week-long campaign last week was supported by Kia Motors UK with Nextbase Dash Cams and James Luckhurst was again in the driving seat and as enthusiastic as ever after six years of raising its profile.
“I was out running in my village in 2015 and as I passed the primary school the idea popped into my head that we should at least make a dedicated week to reducing road deaths,” said James.
“ I was working for a European road safety organisation at the time and thought of creating European Day Without a Road Death. It just took off in 20216 and all the member states, which included the UK at the time, adopted it.
“After Brexit I decided to modify it quite easily into Every Day Without a Road Death and it has been held ever since in the third week of September.”
He now hopes to work with European partners and seek long term funding to keep it running on foreign roads but he’s also getting enquiries from outside the EU to incorporate Project EDWARD into their safety programmes.
Schoolchildren are particularly vulnerable and St Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School with its 250 pupils is close to a busy road on the South Wales coastline and hosted a Welsh stopover for the Project EDWARD team.
Headmaster Duncan Mottram explained, “We have a very good local community here with the parents group and have worked with the police and their partners, local council, bus operators and we have an on-going programme to improve road safety and reduce the risk of accidents.
“We managed to get the bus stop moved from outside the school which narrowed the road and created dangers to other traffic and crossing pedestrians and had a car park created by residents to get their cars off the road.
“We have also worked with the local stone quarry and their HGVs are now voluntarily routed around the village but the latest development is the introduction of a 20mph speed limit throughout the village, which will make a big difference to reducing accidents.”
Speed enforcement is carried out by the GoSafe Wales partnership and spokes woman Teresa Ciano stressed they fully endorsed Project EDWARD as part of their year-round monitoring of roads.
GoSafe Wales monitors about 600 sites for speeding using 32 vans and 11 motorcycles with nearly 150 officers and they use the latest camera technologies to identify and log speeders.
“Our vans and motorbikes are very clearly marked up because we are there to deter speeding not just catch the speeders,” she said.
It is funded by Welsh Government and also receives a percentage of the funds paid by motorists who attend Speed Awareness Courses instead of receiving fines and penalty points.
“We are not in it to make money but to make our roads safer and our aim is to make safety a choice rather than a chance when someone is driving,” she added.
Inspector Jason Williams of Gwent Police, who was also involved in Project EDWARD, concluded, “The last thing a police office wants to do is knock on someone’s door and tell them a family member has died in a needless road accident which could have been avoided.”