Lessons not points for speeders

ONE of Suffolk's top traffic police officers today called for speeding motorists to be given lessons rather than penalty points.Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey was speaking as it was revealed the number of deaths on the county's roads has fallen by 30 per cent this year – to its second lowest level in the last ten years.

ONE of Suffolk's top traffic police officers today called for speeding motorists to be given lessons rather than penalty points.

Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey was speaking as it was revealed the number of deaths on the county's roads has fallen by 30 per cent this year - to its second lowest level in the last ten years.

In 2004, 42 people lost their lives in 39 accidents, compared to 63 dead in 50 accidents in 2003.

Although the figures indicate progress has been made in making the roads safer, Ch Insp Pawsey believes more could be done.

And one of the key themes of his crusade is making speeding socially unacceptable.

He said: "The thing we need to change is people's perception of risk. People who break the speed limit don't see the risk. What we're trying to do is engage them to make them think again about their judgement.

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"I do see changes in the rules to allow us to force people to undertake an education programme as opposed to a points penalty. It's something I'd support and I can see it happening in 2005."

While catching speeding motorists remains a priority for the police, Ch Insp Pawsey warned reducing limits alone does not improve safety.

"It's only part of the solution," he said. "Speed limits have to be seen by the public to have a purpose, otherwise they won't succeed.

"But in the absence of expensive investment and road straightening, what else can be done?"

The Department of Transport is due to begin a consultation on proposed changes to speeding penalties this year, but it is thought this will only look at varying the number of penalty points given depending on how far over the limit a driver is.

Motorists currently receive three points on their licence, regardless of how fast they are going. But new proposed penalties are reported to range from two points for those just over the speed limit up to six points for those driving much faster.

Other avenues explored by Suffolk police this year have had a greater impact on reducing road deaths. These included promoting safety messages to heavy goods vehicle drivers and Americans based at United States Air Force bases in the region.

Ch Insp Pawsey said: "We did a lot of work with heavy goods vehicle drivers to make it plain to operators they've got to stick to their hours. We were aware some were exceeding them.

"The other focus has been working with the Americans. We found in 2003 there was a disproportionate number of Americans being killed.

"By getting into their community, we've been able to influence the way they drive on British roads and it has helped."

Ch Insp Pawsey said the force will seek to continue to reduce the number of motorcyclist deaths in 2005, partly by providing a visible presence when biker rallies take place.

What is the best way to reduce deaths on the roads? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Fatalities on Suffolk roads in the past 14 years

1991 - 53

1992 - 34

1993 - 45

1994 - 50

1995 - 35

1996 - 58

1997 - 44

1998 - 24

1999 - 48

2000 - 56

2001 - 53

2002 - 43

2003 - 60

2004 - 41

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