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Could road deaths and injuries fall by 20%?

By Kyle Linsay
Monday, March 9, 2015 - 09:49

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Report states obvious by saying that eradicating speeding, not wearing a seat belt, drink/drug driving and mobile phone use could cause fewer road death or injuries

The report, commissioned by the Joint Thames Valley and Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, found that annually more than 460 fewer road users would be killed or seriously injured (KSI) each year

In 2013 there were 112 deaths and 1,848 serious injuries on the roads of Thames Valley and Hampshire.

The Joint Thames Valley and Hampshire Roads Policing Unit asked TRL to produce the report to “ensure its approach to enforcement is evidence-based, so that resources can be prioritised appropriately”.

The focus of the review was on speeding, non-wearing of seat belts, drink and drug-driving and mobile phone use while driving which are “known to contribute to the likelihood and severity of a significant number of collisions”.

The result is a series of recommendations for the Joint Roads Policing Unit to consider and use to adapt their strategies in an evidence-based way, including:

  • The randomisation of locations and times of general roads enforcement to increase road users perceived risk of detection, and consequently decrease offending behaviours
  • Mobile phone enforcement focussed towards weekdays during working hours
  • Campaigns to reduce mobile phone use should be aimed at employers and work-related road safety and should highlight the dangers of both hand-held and hands-free phones, since the general collision risk is similar (although hands-free phones are legal)
  • More priority given to evening and weekend enforcement of drink-driving.
  • Fixed speed cameras are a deterrent for general offenders and further fixed camera locations should be considered where a particular speeding issue exists.
  • As digital fixed speed cameras are introduced in the region, a smart approach could be taken in terms of operating these at the times of highest risk.

Chief inspector Henry Parsons, Thames Valley and Hampshire Police, said: “With a reduction in resources due to budget constraints, we realised that the impact that we can have on reducing traffic offences and consequently collisions can only be sustained if we become more efficient at protecting the public.

“The figures are cold hard evidence of the number of lives and serious injuries that can be avoided through improving driving behaviours.

Dr Louise Lloyd, TRL’s principal statistician, said: “Our collaboration with Thames Valley and Hampshire Police has demonstrated that the number of people who are injured or killed in road accidents could reduce substantially if road users recognised the risks involved in dangerous behaviours such as using a mobile phone while driving, drink-driving, exceeding the speed limit and not wearing a seatbelt.

It can be argued however that the interpretation of the results by the authorities further reveals a counteractive approach to enforcement of the Highway Code, as the Thames Valley and Hampshire police seem gung-ho to use technology to persecute road users as opposed to investing time and money into educating, training and instructing drivers at fault.

The full report, available to read here, also reveals that non-compliance with speed limits does not increase KSIs on the road as evidenced by the summary table on the penultimate page of the report which leads us to question why it was included in the ‘Fatal Four’ catchment when the figures released in the report reveal that it is not.

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