Taking road safety seriously in Sussex
Road safety experts in Sussex have pledged their commitment to making the county’s roads safer after the first Road Safety Summit was held in Chichester yesterday (November 27).
There were 1,003 people killed or seriously injured on the county's roads in 2018.
Residents from around the county were able to question Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne about how the Force and partner agencies planned to reduce the numbers and tackle other issues around dangerous driving.
Mrs Bourne commented:
"We talk about a fear of crime, but there's also a fear around road safety, particularly for the elderly and more vulnerable.
"We are putting more money into the roads policing unit, so I want to make sure we're spending it in the right areas.
“Today allowed me to hear the concerns of the public which will help me set the roads policing priorities for next year.
"We want to stop people drinking and taking drugs then getting behind the wheel and we don't want them using their mobile phones or being distracted whilst driving.
"We certainly don't want them speeding and we want to make sure they're wearing their seatbelts.
"Those are the fatal four killers and I know, from today and other conversation with residents, that they want to see more enforcement and preventative education in these areas.
“Their concerns were heard by all members of the panel and will be acted upon.”
The meeting, at the Chichester Park Hotel, covered everything from the 'fatal four' - drink/drug driving, driving while distracted, driving without wearing a seatbelt and speeding - to issues around routes in rural villages and provisions for cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.
There was also a chance to learn more about the volunteer Community Speedwatch schemes that have been set up to patrol speeding drivers. In Sussex, there are 263 schemes ran by over 1,500 volunteers. In 2018 they sent out 36,193 warning letters to speeding drivers and only 10% have been caught speeding again.
District Commander for Chichester and Arun District, Jon Carter, revealed that 50,990 people were prosecuted due to speeding offences in the county in 2018 with over 20,000 attending speed awareness courses.
Officers also arrested 1,292 on drink-drive offences, 568 on drug-driving offences, 797 for not wearing a seatbelt and 473 for using their mobile phone while driving in 2018.
The force is shortly due to launch Operation Dragonfly, its annual Christmas campaign aimed at tackling drink and drug-driving during the festive season.
Mr Carter commented:
"I'm particularly aware of some of the more remote communities where we will be focusing extra attention around drink driving. It’s a significant threat to road safety.
"The nights are darker earlier, there's a risk of ice on the roads.
"My message is simple: treat the roads with respect and treat your fellow road users with respect."
The overriding theme from the event was partnership working. The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership brings together teams from Sussex Police, East and West Sussex County Councils, East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services, Brighton and Hove City Council and Highways England.
Neil Honnor, Operations Manager of the partnership, has pledged to act on the recommendations made in the meeting.
"Sussex is a really safe place to live, work and visit. But understandably people have concerns.
"One of the demographic things about Sussex are the villages and more remote, beautiful places.
"But people forget that main roads snake between and through these areas. This creates traffic, noise pollution and a enticement for those who wish to use our roads irresponsibly.
"You don't always need to see the police to be aware that they are active and enforcing the law.
"There's a lot going on out there that the community may not always see and hopefully we have made some assurances around that today.
“With Mrs Bourne putting extra investment into Sussex Police we will, however, see improvements to visibility which will offer that welcome deterrent and public confidence boost.
“Education is also crucial. We work a lot, as a partnership, with all road users to help keep them safe. Our campaigns have always proved successful but maybe this work could be amplified and that is another take-away from today.”