Police appeal to young drivers

ESSEX Police last night appealed for young motorists to take extra care in the wake of a series of tragic deaths on the county's roads.Of the 59 people who have died in crashes so far this year, almost a quarter have been aged 21 or under.

By Roddy Ashworth

ESSEX Police last night appealed for young motorists to take extra care in the wake of a series of tragic deaths on the county's roads.

Of the 59 people who have died in crashes so far this year, almost a quarter have been aged 21 or under.

The force's call came after two terrible, single-vehicle accidents in recent days claimed the lives of three young people and left three others badly injured.


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Sarah Johnston and Richard Ellis, both 20, died when the car they were in went out of control, careered through a central reservation and overturned in Chelmsford on Sunday evening.

Richard's 19-year old fiancée, Claire Castle, was also injured in the accident and two 18-year-olds, also passengers in the Fiesta, were injured – one of them critically.

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The next day another youngster was killed when a car in which he was passenger overturned and careered into a field.

Paul Coleman, 17, of Broad Oaks Park, Colchester, was taken to Colchester General Hospital after the crash in Straight Road, Boxted, but later died of serious head injuries.

Yesterday, a police spokesman said that 14 people aged 21 or under had died on the roads so far this year.

Six of these had been driving the cars in which they were killed.

"There has been an unusual recent spate of crashes where young people have been killed, particularly in the north of the county.

"Young people may still be used to getting used to the power of their car, whether it be a Ford Fiesta or a Golf GTI.

"Road conditions play a part, but there have been a few incidents where young drivers have lost control of a vehicle while performing a manoeuvre.

"This can be because of unfamiliarity with both with the vehicle and the road layout."

He added inexperience in driving could also be deadly.

Last month, there was shock when Camilla Hamilton, 15, from Littley Green, near Braintree, died after a car being driven by another 15-year-old collided with trees near Halstead.

The Felsted School pupil was a passenger in a Mercedes ML 4x4.

In February, Daniel Chadwick, of London Road, Marks Tey, was killed when his white Citroen car was in collision with another vehicle in Tollgate Road, Stanway.

Yesterday Andrew Howard, head of road traffic safety for the AA Motoring Trust, said he felt drivers who had recently passed their test should face tougher sentences in court if committing offences in certain situations.

"There has been talk of a legal curfew or a restriction on the number of passengers, but we do not believe it would be workable.

"Instead we would like to see young people issued with a code saying what is expected of a young driver, and asking them to think before driving a powerful car, carrying lots of passengers or driving in the early hours."

He added if the police then spotted a young driver committing an offence while in contravention of the code, they could refer the matter to court instead of issuing a fixed penalty notice.

There the young driver would have to give a good reason to magistrates as to why he or she was in breach of the code or face a tougher penalty.

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