Design Thinking applied to road safety.

By FrancisKodak Design Lab - 18.02.2020 - Company


Our journey towards where we are today started back in 2014. We’re designers first and foremost, and we apply human-centered design principles in our daily work.

As a first step towards applying design thinking in this way, we visited the hot-spots in London where most people died in a cycling accident. The idea was that we would reconstruct the events that took place before the fatal collisions happened so we could better understand what the problem was, what needed to be done, and how we could help.  

We interviewed transport professionals, cab drivers, and lorry drivers to find out their perspectives and the issues they faced. It was during this period of research that we received the sad news that one of our industry peers, the talented Aron Jancso, had died in a cycling accident. Although we only had a working relationship with him, it was a huge shock. It was at that point that we decided we needed to do more.

“ Innovating requires identifying the problems that matter and moving through them systematically to deliver elegant solutions”. (Larry Keeley)
Protecting vulnerable road users

Cycling and cycling safety is a huge trend at the moment. There are many new products and services on the market that help make our roads safer, but we still need more high-quality innovations.

At FrancisKodak Design Lab, we are focus on protecting vulnerable road users (VRUs). But who are the Vulnerable Road Users? "non-motorised road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists as well as motor-cyclists and persons with disabilities or reduced mobility and orientation".

Road safety for cyclists vs fleet operators

We never expected this to be an easy process without challenges or hiccups. As part of our research, we were contacting fleet operators to ask for their feedback on the cyclists vs heavy goods vehicles issues, which is when we started collaborating with infrastructure services company FM Conway.

One of the biggest roadblocks  fleet operators such as FM Conway face is the Work Related Road Risk (WRRR) requirements that Transport for London (TfL) introduced with the aim of improving freight safety standards. In 2011, as part of these standards, TfL launched the Safe Urban Driving (SUD) training course, which all lorry drivers have to pass. As part of this training, all drivers have to undergo a practical cycling element where they have to cycle on public highways to get a cyclist’s perspective of riding in London. TfL used to provide this course for free and only required drivers of vehicles over 12.5 tonnes to complete the training. This course is no longer free and all drivers – no matter what size their vehicle is – are required to complete it.

Fleet operators now have to pay for the course and face having a driver out for a day on full pay while they complete the course. It’s a massive investment, which has led some fleet operators to question whether it is really necessary for all vehicles, such as vans.

Raising awareness on the roads

To try to protect vulnerable road users, and to bridge the gap between VRUs and vehicles on the road, we offer a safety awareness course that we have been developing in collaboration with Transport for London Delivery planning (freight) and city planning department. Our Virtual Reality Safe Urban Driving Course is based on scientific studies in ergonomics, human behaviour, and neuroscience. We have an experienced team and advisory board, and we also apply the latest cognitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to create a unique, engaging and immersive experience.

One way to applying design thinking into driver training is by transferring existing training into an experience. The FrancisKodak Training Experience Initiative is the one sets our training experience strategy, which is based on three key phases:

- Know
- Flow
- Grow.

In order to make this course as engaging as possible, we have designed different group activities. We also use method cards and virtual reality technology to ensure we can deliver as realistic and useful a course as possible.

Our ambition

Design thinking and human-centred design are starting to lose their meaning and become buzzwords. Everybody is doing it (or say they are doing it).While companies need to make new discoveries and come up with new strategies to drive growth and survival, it doesn’t mean that if they use design thinking methodologies they will find what they need to eventually lead them to growth.

Our ambition is to reinforce innovation as a systematic approach, making human-centred design less of a mysterious art and more of a disciplined science. We are focusing on providing an elegant solution, an innovative way to deliver safety awareness training. But we are not just focusing on safety awareness training, our new products and services will offer even more than that. Watch this space.

Drive confident.

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