Helsinki – Hel yeah!

Blog post posted on 26/05/16 |

Neil Greig - IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research

Much to my delight, I received sponsorship from the FIA to attend the FIA Regional 1 meeting and Mobility Conference in Helsinki earlier this month. IAM RoadSmart is in fact a member of the FIA Mobility (the non-sport arm of the FIA – open to motoring clubs around the world), and I was proud to represent us amongst 200 delegates from across 70 different countries.

Helsinki itself was lovely, clean and very cool – in architecture terms anyway. Only the Brits talk about the weather more than the Fins, and the unusually excellent weather spawned a rush to t-shirts and shorts that made this red headed scot feel quiet at home! On our visit to the Helsinki traffic control centre they had hoped to show us snow on the roads in the north, but it had all gone. It’s also been an early end to the season for the many icebreakers tied up in the port.

The conference always attracts a stellar line up of speakers and this one was no different. I had the opportunity of listening to several presentations from top executives at Uber, BMW, British Airways, the United Nations and Toyota. Alex Cruz the new CEO of British Airways held the hall spellbound with his enthusiasm and knowledge - it made you proud to be British, although he is actually Spanish! His views on the need to reward loyalty chimed beautifully with our own ideas on road miles. 

There was also a big focus on United Nations Sustainability goals and the needs of developing countries, but plenty of other useful insights for us all at IAM RoadSmart. The most exciting of which were from Uber.  Uber see themselves as challenging the very concept of car ownership and not just the taxi trade! They have noted that ‘millennials’ have less money and don’t want to spend so much on owning a car. They are fully committed to driverless cars and have set up an Independent Safety Advisory Board and plan a “Self Driving Coalition for Safer Streets”.  For them, safety is “crowd sourced” using ratings from passengers and apps to pick up the worst driving behaviour which is then fed back to the driver. All very impressive, but they don’t seem to have factored any remedial training into the equation!

Uber have also set themselves the lofty ambition of eradicating drink driving by making it easy and cheap to travel after a few drinks – for Uber drivers the ‘rush hour’ is around midnight. A study from Temple University shows a six per cent reduction in drink driving in the cities in which they work.

It was certainly a very useful and enjoyable experience. You can find out more about the conference here: using the access code mc2016helsinki.

Until next time...