Help us make our roads safer

TONIGHT The Evening Star launches a major campaign slamming careless Suffolk drivers who repeatedly flout road safety laws and constantly put people's lives at risk.

TONIGHT The Evening Star launches a major campaign slamming careless Suffolk drivers who repeatedly flout road safety laws and constantly put people's lives at risk.

Light Up, Belt Up and Shut Up aims to make the county's roads a safer place for motorists by raising awareness of the dangers of breaking laws put in place to save lives.

The campaign aims to -

n.Ensure drivers use their lights in the early morning and teatime darkness.

n.Always wear their seatbelts.

n.Never use handheld mobile phones when driving.

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This year there has been 36 deaths on Suffolk roads and yet not a single person has died from a house fire in the region.

The Star's campaign has been launched in partnership with the Suffolk Constabulary as the nights draw in and the clocks are put back by an hour leading into winter driving conditions.

Authorities including the fire brigade and Suffolk county council have also joined forces to ensure the roads become a safer place.

In November Suffolk County Council will also team up with driving instructors in the region to offer a £75 discount to recently passed drivers for carrying out the Pass Plus exam.

Police are set to enforce fixed penalty notices for drivers caught using hand-held mobile phones and introduce them for those not wearing seat belts.

Neal Atwell, chief inspector for Suffolk police, said: “Occasionally we give the old finger wagging when it comes to using mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts but now we are going to get a lot tougher.

“There have been 36 deaths on Suffolk roads this year and the majority of them have been through human error.

“Causes include drink driving, not wearing seatbelts and chatting on mobile phones and we have to do all we can to prevent deaths on the roads.”

Gary Phillips, assistant chief fire officer in Suffolk, said: “Going to the scene of a serious road accident is always a harrowing experience and firefighters should not have to do it.

“We want to concentrate on preventing deaths on the roads and have this year launched two schemes to try to prevent accidents.

“Roadkill is a reactive approach where people going through the youth offending team come for a day learning about the consequences of behaving badly on the roads.

“Learn and Live is a proactive scheme and is aimed at all ages of drivers and in all situations.

Road safety charity Break has set up a National Road Safety Week which will run from November 6 - 12.

Did you know -

36 people have died on Suffolk's roads this year so far.

33 people died on Suffolk's roads in total last year. 40 people died on Suffolk roads in 2004. 50 people died in 2003 and 42 people died in 2002.

If you have to drive in bad weather or the dark you should -

n> Slow right down - if visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you longer to react to hazards. If you have a temperature gauge in your vehicle that is showing zero or below degrees, then presume that a road will be icy.

n> Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front - stopping distances are double in the wet and ten times greater in icy weather.

n> Look out for vulnerable road users - be aware that people on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather and in the dark.

n> Look out for signs warning of adverse conditions - including fixed signs, such as those warning of exposure to high-winds, and variable message signs on motorways that warn of fog, snow and which may display temporary slower speed limits.

n> Stay in control - avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care.

n> Switch on lights as soon as it starts to get dark or the weather is gloomy. In urban areas use dipped beam. Use full beam on other roads at night but dip them when there is someone in front or coming towards you.

n> Slow right down to 20mph where they may be children or drunk pedestrians - if you hit someone at this speed they have more than a nine in ten chance of survival, compared with about a 50/50 chance at 30mph.