Posted: 22.05.20 at 15:21 by Joseph Bulmer
Sidmouth drivers are being warned that this weekend will see the start of a new crack down on speeding motorists as part of a new national campaign launched as lock down restrictions begin to ease.
Devon and Cornwall Police will be stepping up its education and enforcement of the ‘fatal five’ with a focus on speed as part of a National Police Chiefs’ Council operation.
With the gradual relaxing of lock down restrictions, police forces throughout the UK are reminding motorists of the importance of travelling safely and within the speed limit, and will be carrying out education and enforcement measures to target those not sticking to the rules.
Sites receiving attention from officers will either focus on locations where collisions have occurred in the past, or areas highlighted to the Force that are of concern to local residents.
While the national campaign is focusing on excess speed, this is just one of the ‘fatal five’ which also includes drink/drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, being distracted at the wheel and careless and inconsiderate behaviour. Officers will be engaging with road users and enforcing where appropriate on all road safety areas to encourage everyone to stay safe.
This operation is deliberately timed as travel restrictions start to ease, to keep people safe as the volume of traffic increases.
Chief Inspector Steve Lenney, Head of Roads Policing across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, said: “Over the past two months we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads as a result of lock down measures reducing the number of vehicles travelling.
“However, we have seen examples where some drivers have used the lack of traffic to drive in an unsafe way, or travel at significantly excessive speeds, which can often result in tragedy.
“As the country begins to move out of lock down and we’re beginning to see more road users on our network, we’re stepping up our education and enforcement to remind drivers of their responsibilities.
“We recognise that some drivers may have not got behind the wheel in several weeks so alongside our enforcement activities, we will also be educating road users on vehicle safety as well as the effects of excess speed.”
During 2018, figures show that 1,624 people sadly lost their lives on roads in England and Wales, with 58% of deaths occurring on rural roads. A further 25,000 people were seriously injured in collisions.
At 30mph, vehicles are travelling at 44 feet or about three car lengths each second. Even in good conditions, the difference in stopping distance between 30 mph and 35 mph is an extra 21 feet or 6.4 metres, more than two car lengths, this could make all the difference in avoiding a collision. The distance required to stop safely significantly increases at higher speed which could cause greater injury to pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions.
Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, is also the national lead for the road safety for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
She said: “Although there has been a dramatic reduction in traffic levels in England and Wales since the lock down started I remain very concerned about the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.”
“I have been working closely with the Government to help develop its programme of education and engagement, and at a local level by leading a road safety partnership of organisations that is committed to a ‘vision zero’ - regarding any injury or death as unacceptable.
"Ultimately this work will save lives and prevent the terrible trauma but in the short term I would urge all those taking advantage of an easing of restrictions to take a few practical steps to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and to exercise extra caution, bearing in mind that they might not have ventured onto the roads for some time and traffic levels are increasing, with more vulnerable road users such as cyclists sharing the highway.”
Area Manager Darren Peters, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Every serious road traffic collision has long-lasting consequences for those involved and their families.
"We would urge motorists to follow the advice and take extra care, especially if you have not driven for some time.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: "It's always shocking to hear of fatal and serious injury collisions on our local road network, but even more so during this pandemic when the roads are quieter than usual and you think they would be safer.
"The gradual easing of lock down restrictions has seen more vehicles returning to our roads and traffic levels are now around half the usual amount for this time of year.
"We're reminding everyone to think about whether you need to make your journey, but if you do need to drive, please slow down, drive safely and consider other road users.
"There are more walkers and cyclists around and we’re trying to improve road space to support people who are choosing active travel on their return to work as well as for daily exercise.
"If you slow down, drive safely and take extra care you can protect the NHS and save lives.”
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for transport, said: “It’s so important that motorists follow the rules of the road as lock down eases and traffic starts to increase in Cornwall.
"Please take extra care – especially the first time back in your car after a period of not driving.
"We have welcomed the reduction in casualties on our roads during lock down and we welcome this initiative from the police. Be aware of those around you and stay safe.”