Loughborough academics aiming to reduce road deaths in Belarus

Loughborough University academics are set to work on a 1.4 million (£1.15m) euros project aimed at reducing the number of road deaths in the Republic of Belarus.

Professor Andrew Morris and Dr Jo Barnes will collaborate with the University of Rome and the National Technical University of Athens to help the east European country develop a Masters degree in Road Safety for their own universities.

Loughborough will receive a £100,000 grant for the project whose aim is to produce road safety professionals for the future in an attempt to cut the number of fatalities on Belarus’s roads.

The estimated number of deaths on their roads is 14.4 per 100,000 people compared to the UK rate of 3.7.

“Our figure is one of the best in the world, but there is clearly room for improvement in Belarus,” said Professor Morris, a member of the renowned Transport Safety Research Centre in the university’s Design School.

The project is being funded by the European Commission’s Tempus programme which supports the modernisation of higher education in partner countries like Belarus.

It will run for three years and four Belarus universities are hoping to have the one year Masters course up and running by October.

The courses will be funded by Tempus for two years and assessed by a Quality Board, comprised of international road safety experts, set up by Professor Morris and Dr Barnes.

“We have to assess the quality of the delivery and make recommendations about changes for the next time it is delivered,” said Dr Barnes, a Research Associate in the Design School.

The Belarus universities are developing the curricula and will tap into the knowledge at the universities of Rome, Athens and Loughborough this summer.

Some of their representatives will visit Loughborough in July to talk to Professor Morris and Dr Barnes about road safety management and practices, data collection, safe vehicles and human road-user behaviour.

They will also visit several key institutions working in road and vehicle safety including the UK Department for Transport, the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) and some of the vehicle manufacturers.

“They will have a grand tour of the UK looking at best practices,” said Professor Morris.

“They clearly have significant road safety challenges and it is really good to see that they are trying to do something about it from an education point of view.”

Dr Barnes added: “It’s about educating their road safety professionals of the future, making sure that there are people progressing through the system who can work in these areas.”

Dr Barnes said many fatalities were among pedestrians, possibly due to the wider roads and poorer suburban crossing facilities.

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