Kent Highways Manager, Toby Howe, recently swapped East Kent for Eastern Europe in a 3,500-mile journey to deliver potentially life-saving, high-visibility clothing to EASST’s partner in Moldova for distribution in Moldova and Ukraine.

Following a visit to Moldova in November 2012 by John Burr (Director of Highways), Kent County Council agreed to supply their used high-vis clothing to EASST. Toby Howe took 10 days leave from his role as Highways Manager in Kent to transport the goods across Europe. With a van supplied by AMEY and funding provided by the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), Toby set off in late June 2013 accompanied by Bryan Dearsley (a Canadian free-lance journalist and author).

Toby in Chisinau with Virginia and Natalie of the ACM team

They travelled 3,500 miles through 12 countries to donate the unwanted safety kit – mainly jackets and vests – no longer required by Kent County Council. EASST partner The Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM) received over 350 high visibility jackets which will be used during their pedestrian visibility campaigns. Road deaths are three times higher in Eastern Europe compared to the West. With cyclists and pedestrians often sharing the same heavily-burdened roads as speeding vehicles, it is often these road users whose lives are tragically cut short, making up 41% of road deaths in Moldova and 55% in Ukraine (2010, WHO).

The high-vis goods ready to go

Toby said: “As well as being a road trip of the lifetime, it is so fulfilling to know that our donations will potentially save many lives. Although we still have too many people being killed on the roads in Kent, when compared to these developing countries, we just don’t realise how lucky we are. The simple safety equipment we take for granted, such as high viz jackets, can really be the difference between life and death.”

Taken by Toby during the journey

The trip wouldn’t have come to fruition without the generosity of AMEY who kindly donated the redundant high-visibility clothing and transport for the journey. While the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation kindly covered the costs of fuel for the trip.  EASST is enormously grateful to Toby Howe, Kent County Council, AMEY, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation.