Dr Helen Wells is changing and saving lives. By using her expertise and leading-edge research, Helen is working to solve urgent road safety problems, such as cutting the number of deaths and injuries caused by mobile phone use whilst driving.
Helen, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and a specialist on roads policing, is working with police forces and other organisations across the country to develop new approaches to help keep our roads safe.
One such project which Helen is leading is Mobile:Engaged. Funded by the Road Safety Trust, the project is collating, enhancing and sharing approaches from around the UK that seek to address the issue of mobile phone use whilst driving. By bringing innovators together with academic experts, Helen’s work is increasing the amount of research-informed innovation in the field of road safety.
Helen said: “The use of handheld devices has been illegal since 2003, but with declining numbers of traffic officers on our roads, we cannot rely on enforcement alone to change driver behaviour. We need to think creatively about getting the message about distracted driving across to drivers, so that they can make safe and informed choices.
“Through the Mobile:Engaged project, we’re liaising with as many of the innovators driving these interventions as possible, with the aim of blending together our academic expertise with their practitioner expertise to create projects that are effective and have the potential to save lives.”
Another project that Helen is involved in is Project Galileo. Jointly-funded by Highways England and the National Police Chief’s Council, Galileo is a fundamental rethink of how the problem of harm on the UK’s roads can be tackled. As the project’s Academic Advisor, Helen is working in collaboration with a diverse team from across the country that is drawing on expertise from a range of backgrounds, with the aim of creating new and innovative approaches that will change and save lives.
Speaking about the project, Helen commented: “In almost 20 years of working in, and conducting research on, roads policing topics, I’ve never felt such a genuine desire from a team to add value from the unique contribution that each team member can make. We’re bringing together insight from a wide range of areas such as aeronautics, digital communications and academia, alongside a wealth of specialist policing knowledge and experience, all dedicated to reducing harm on our roads and ultimately saving lives.”
Helen’s talent has been nurtured by Keele, having studied here for her BA, Masters and PhD. Her work is a prime example of how Keele University is able to utilise its skill, knowledge and talent in order to make a difference locally and nationally.
We are helping improve public safety by creating new ways of policing the roads
Keele is helping to change the world for the better by engaging in cutting-edge research, tackling some of society’s most urgent problems.