County's road deaths hit 13-year high
By Mark HeathPOLICE and a council have pledged action after the number of people killed on the county's roads hit a 13-year high.Official figures revealed 59 people died on the roads of Suffolk last year – compared with 43 in 2002 – making it the worst year since 1990 when 61 people lost their lives.
By Mark Heath
POLICE and a council have pledged action after the number of people killed on the county's roads hit a 13-year high.
Official figures revealed 59 people died on the roads of Suffolk last year – compared with 43 in 2002 – making it the worst year since 1990 when 61 people lost their lives.
A further four people were killed on the county's roads last year, but they were not recorded in the official figures because they do not include people who die more than 30 days after a road accident or whose death is attributed to illness or natural causes.
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Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, Peter Monk, said the death toll was so high because of an "unfortunate" number of multiple death accidents.
He added the council was doing all it could to reduce the figure, but said it needed the help of every driver in Suffolk to reach that goal.
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"It's disappointing, but we must keep trying to get the message of driver responsibility across. Although innocent people often get caught up in these accidents, 95% of crashes are caused by driver error," added Mr Monk.
"We will continue to do all we can, but we can't do it on our own. We spend an enormous amount of money on road maintenance and safety, but at the end of the day people are responsible for their own actions.
"Cars and motor vehicles bring with them a huge amount of freedom, but a massive amount of responsibility comes with it, and people must remember that.
"The car is a lethal weapon, and people must take care when they are in control of it. If everybody drove with due care and reason, we would have fewer accidents."
But Jeffrey Stansfield, who served as the county surveyor for Suffolk County Council for 12 years before retiring in 1995, claimed the condition of the region's roads was also putting lives at risk.
"Millions of pounds need to be spent to bring the roads up to standard. The number of fatalities on Suffolk's roads this year is shocking and it's a damning indictment of the condition of the roads, as well as the driving," he said.
"There is a hell of a lot still to be done in terms of improving our roads in regards to both quality and safe capacity, but nothing has been done. Traffic volumes are ever-increasing and the local authorities have done nothing to accommodate that.
"In my view, much more money definitely needs to be spent on both improving and maintaining our roads – the Government should have been doing that for years, but they have failed abysmally."
A spokesman for Suffolk police echoed Mr Monk's view and stressed the force would continue to crack down on dangerous drivers.
"Suffolk Constabulary, along with partner agencies such as the county council, is committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county's roads," he said.
"Police will continue to concentrate on the two key areas of enforcement and education to make our roads safer. Officers will continue to target those motorists who show a disregard for other road users by blatantly ignoring the law.
"At the same time, they will be working with road safety partners to educate drivers about dangers such as speeding, drink-driving and tiredness in an effort to prevent the many avoidable accidents from happening."