Police inspector hits out at drivers using phones as road deaths rise
PUBLISHED: 15:18 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 January 2020
Road traffic officers will continue to push the 'fatal four' message this year after 26 people died on Suffolk's roads last year, and 44 were killed in Essex.
The figures from Suffolk Constabulary show a 45% increase in fatalities compared to 2018, however, senior officers were keen to highlight that the previous year's figures were an anomaly and that the current number was down on the average over the last five years.
The official statistics exclude medical incidents.
In Essex, road deaths fell by 15% from 52 to 44 according to provisional figures released this week. In 2019, 808 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads in the county.
Road policing investigator Inspector Chris Hinitt, of Suffolk police, said that even one death is one too many.
"In 2018 we had a bit of a freak year with nearly half the number of road deaths. This year it appears that we are moving back towards the normal level."
He added: "With more cars on the road every year it is an achievement to not have an increasing number of road deaths each year."
He believes the fact the number is not rising yearly is thanks to advances in technology and the way road accidents are treated.
Insp Hinnitt said: "The other emergency services have changed how they do things slightly, meaning that first responders are getting to the scene of the crash to give help more quickly.
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"People are being taken to Addenbrookes Hospital straight from crash scenes so they receive potentially life-saving treatment more quickly.
"Also, cars are being made to be more safe which helps protect those involved in collisions."
Insp Hinitt also praised his colleagues for their efforts over the year, and hit out at those who are still risking their lives behind the wheel.
"It makes me angry when I see the toxicology report from someone who has died in a collision and I see alcohol or drugs involved," he added.
"It is a needless death.
"Personally I'd like to push more on people using mobile phones at the wheel. It is a really easy thing to do, but it is so dangerous. It is one of the fatal four for a reason.
"Our plan for next year will be much of the same. We will continue to push out the message of the fatal four."
Drug and drink driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using a handheld phone at the wheel are the four main causes of serious crashes and as such are known as the fatal four.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said they would also be continuing efforts to reduce fatalities.
"The number of fatalities on Essex roads this year so far is 44 - that is still 44 deaths too many. More people in Essex die on our roads than in any other kind of accident or crime that's why it is so important that we continue to work in partnership with key agencies across Essex such as the Safer Essex Roads Partnership to reinforce road safety and safe driving messages."