Action to tackle rise in road deaths

By Mark HeathA COUNTY council is to introduce a range of safety measures aimed at cutting the carnage on the roads in Suffolk – after the number of people killed last year reached a 13-year high.

By Mark Heath

A COUNTY council is to introduce a range of safety measures aimed at cutting the carnage on the roads in Suffolk - after the number of people killed last year reached a 13-year high.

The authority was stung by criticism in the wake of last year's grim death toll and is determined to do all it can to reduce tragedy on the region's roads in the future.

Figures for 2003 showed 60 people were killed in road crashes in the county and another 382 people were seriously injured - up on the 43 fatalities and 360 serious injury accidents in 2002.


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Now the council has put together an 18-point action plan for road safety, which will be presented to members as part of the Suffolk Local Transport Plan annual progress report this week.

Peter Monk, the council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: "We know where the improvements need to be made and where the hot-spots are - all that data has been analysed and then we've come up with this 18-point plan.

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"Some of it is education, some is information and other parts are structural. A lot of the plans are ongoing, while others are liable to funding. There isn't any simple answer."

Among the planned improvements is an increase in the number of mobile speed camera sites and speed indicator display units, along with more signs at accident blackspots.

Driver training will also be offered to employees of businesses near to accident hot-spots and U.S. Air Force personnel at the region's two American air bases.

Motorists who are caught by speed cameras could find themselves referred to speed awareness courses, while motorcycle training will be more widely available.

A huge range of information about accident trends, casualty reduction targets and road improvements will also be made available to members of the public through a variety of ways.

"Last year was very disappointing," said Mr Monk. "One death is a death too many and that's why immediately we look at the cause - and a lot of the accidents were down to driver error.

"We are honest and pragmatic and say that if a crash is caused by the driver, then we have to educate them. We will do the best we can as an authority, but we need people to work with us. We can only do so much.

"The biggest problem is driver behaviour - 95% of all accidents are caused by driver error. Roads don't have accidents, the people on them do. That's part of the plan - to help people and reduce the number of accidents that way."

It is hoped the council's road safety action plan will prevent 60 fatal or serious injury accidents by the end of 2004.

"Obviously, we hope to see a reduction in the number of fatal and serious injury accidents," added Mr Monk. "We also want to make journeying better, safer and easier for all our road users, whether they be motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.

"We would not have as many accidents if we all took a little more time and care with our driving - that's the main message."

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

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