Babergh drivers 28% more likely to crash

DRIVERS on roads in one Suffolk district are 28% more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal accident than elsewhere in the country, shocking statistics have revealed.

Laurence Cawley

DRIVERS on roads in one Suffolk district are 28% more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal accident than elsewhere in the country, shocking statistics have revealed.

An investigation into why the district's roads are such an accident blackspot has been launched with Babergh District Council listing road safety as a major priority over the next ten years.

The figures, revealed in the council's draft strategic plan, which sets out its priorities until 2018, come after a major police vehicle crackdown in west Suffolk in which more than a third of all vehicles pulled over came from the district.

Road safety chiefs pledged to look at the figures in an attempt to identify why motorists were 28 per cent more likely to be killed or seriously injured on Babergh's roads compared with the national average.

A council spokesman said: “I can't say whether it is worrying or whether Babergh has a high level of dangerous roads. The statistics we are using are essentially per head of population which is why the figures are a little higher.

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“This is something we want to investigate further to find out why this is. It is something we want to understand better to see what it means for the people of Babergh. We will now look at how these figures compared to more current ones.”

The figures, which look at accident rates per 100,000 population, were taken from the Babergh Health Profile 2007, published by the Department of Health.

Babergh's draft strategic plan read: “One specific area of concern is that compared with its population, there are a high number of people killed or seriously injured on Babergh's roads - 28 per cent higher than the average of England.”

Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads and transport, said he was surprised by the figures and that the number of serious accidents across the county had gone down year-on-year.

“Sometimes these district figures for accident rates can be artificial especially when the figures across Suffolk are on a downward trend thanks to a vigorous road safety campaign across the county,” he said.

The one-day police crackdown, called Operation Guardian and held on Friday, saw more than 100 rogue motorists fined across west Suffolk ranging from speeders to drivers using their mobile telephones while on the road.

In addition one man was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. Paul Frost, 37, of Nayland Road, Bures, was also charged with driving without insurance and is due to appear before magistrates in Bury St Edmunds on May 1.

Chief Inspector Neal Atwell said: “The aim of this operation was to raise the awareness of offences that can and often do lead to serious injuries or deaths.

“We wanted to get the message out that if you continue to speed, use your mobile phone while driving, fail to wear your seat belt or drink and drive, you will get caught. This is proven by the results of this operation.

“Police officers based in west Suffolk will continue to work closely with our colleagues in roads policing and other agencies to ensure that this message is understood by the minority of drivers who act irresponsibly and put themselves or others at risk.”

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