Subject to the greatest number of external hazards, road safety is by its very nature highly complex to improve. This is why it is central to all RATP Dev's safety initiatives
A pedestrian crossing the road, a car jumping a red light, a boar passing by... In terms of transport, from the moment it takes place on a public road open to other users there is no such thing as zero risk. RATP Dev is nonetheless far from leaving the question solely to benevolent fate. While greater rail safety was the first focus of attention, the improvement of road safety is now the subject of many initiatives within the company.
In the eyes of Sofia Chami, Head of Rail and Road Safety, the point is illustrated by three measures and procedures in particular: road safety assessments, internal control and the Safety Committee. She explains, "For road safety assessments, we are now asking subsidiaries to report safety indicators to ensure centralized monitoring, whereas until now this has been done at country management or BU level. In addition, internal control, in line with the RATP group's approach, is designed to measure the quality of the inspections carried out within each subsidiary: medical examinations, maintenance, working hours, etc.—everything related to road safety. Lastly, the Safety Committee brings the safety experts together. Its objective is to enable subsidiaries to exchange experiences. Because many local initiatives have everything to gain by being shared…"
Everyone must be exemplary!
"The particularity of roads is that they are not a closed system", says Georges Despaigne, Deputy Director of RATP Dev's France/Switzerland Business Unit. "We cannot guarantee 100% safety, since we are sometimes in a position where we have to sit back rather than take action… As soon as there is a safety issue, however, the company's policy gives it priority. It's a rule: everyone must be exemplary on this!" There are thus three spheres of work that emerge as permanent focus areas. At the forefront of these, the managerial aspect is considered to be of the utmost importance. "We are still confronted with human error", continues Georges Despaigne. "It is difficult to compensate for some well-identified human phenomena (reduced vision, lack of anticipation, lack of concentration, speeding, etc.) with technical tools, even though sleep detection systems are starting to appear." RATP Dev therefore places people first when it comes to safety issues, and emphasizes the role of management. In this context, risk and accident rate monitoring tools provide insight for managers; they help them to identify the risks specific to each subsidiary. The safety perspective extends into work organization: if the pace is such that it tires drivers, this can also create risks…
Concerns go beyond pure regulation. It is a question not only of introducing controls, as mentioned above, but also of organising personalised training, of detecting and responding to harmful practices and actions and to accident-inducing behaviour (speed, alcohol, narcotics, fatigue, as well as customer relations that can compromise driving quality). In order to raise awareness of the subject among all audiences, RATP Dev and its employees discuss safety within the companies and in the press, and carry out local initiatives.
A second fundamental area of work concerns the technical field, i.e. vehicles, their maintenance and everything that can be done technically to prevent a number of problems from occurring. "In terms of maintenance", Georges Despaigne sums up, "lives depend on the operator’s work. It has to be perfect!" RATP Dev therefore gives safety a special status within maintenance. As soon as a sensitive mechanism is affected, maximum traceability is required to make the person who takes action—whether a mechanic or an inspector—more aware of their responsibilities.
A more realistic perspective
Finally, the third permanent focus is on the technical and political environment surrounding the BUs or subsidiaries. "This concerns the way we interact with highway managers", explains the Deputy Director of the France/Switzerland BU. "They are often our clients, and we must forge partnerships with them to develop the places we pass through. In a way we have a social responsibility, we are partners with our organizing authorities. We work with them on accident occurrence by providing them with a level of knowledge that they do not necessarily have. It goes beyond the driving aspect and is a collective subject. Communicating on this and showing that RATP Dev has a broader and more realistic vision than other transport operators can also make a difference", he believes. "Safety is not an issue that can be solved with new technologies alone."
Planning, innovating, raising awareness
Innovation, however, is also in the company's DNA. With Drive2zero, the Group's North American subsidiary has just developed a revolutionary new tool using technology for hazard analysis and management before incidents occur. "The industry tends to focus on accident response rather than proactively understanding and managing risks before they generate accidents", says Michael Anderson, Vice President for Safety and Security at RATP Dev USA. "Drive2zero provides the structure, culture and technology for thinking ahead."
Research is being conducted everywhere. For example, RATP Dev won a competition in London last year, which enabled it to obtain funding from the organiser for three new measures or devices to improve road safety: a sleep and distraction detector, psycho-technical tests to identify high-risk drivers, and a safety campaign aimed at pedestrians and cyclists.
Whether internal or external, road risk awareness operations take new and varied forms. A safety day designed by the subsidiaries of the France BU is now being developed abroad. Based on fun, interactive activities (rolling cars or overturning buses, seats in a suddenly halted vehicle, eyeglasses simulating alcohol levels or fatigue, etc.), it makes the approach to safety issues more real. As active internally as externally, RATP Dev was also a Silver sponsor of the first African Road Safety Forum held in Marrakesh on 13, 14 and 15 November 2018… In the background, the battle is fought on every front!