Police concern over young road deaths

A SENIOR police officer responsible for Suffolk's road policing unit has said he is “very concerned” by the high numbers of young people killed on the county's roads this year.

Colin Adwent

A SENIOR police officer responsible for Suffolk's road policing unit has said he is “very concerned” by the high numbers of young people killed on the county's roads this year.

New figures obtained by the EADT reveal fifteen young people, aged under 25, have died as a result of collisions on Suffolk's roads since the start of this year.

They come as tributes have been paid to a former amateur boxer who was killed in a double-tragedy on Saturday.

Matthew Anderson, of Holbrook, and Sarah Lee, who taught art at the village's Royal Hospital School, were killed in a crash between an Audi and a Ford Focus.

The 24-year-old drivers died in the head-on collision in Manningtree Road between Stutton and the Brantham Bull public house.

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Miss Lee's partner, a passenger in her Ford Focus, was taken to Colchester General Hospital suffering minor injuries and shock.

Following Saturday's tragedy, Frannie Peake, who runs Ipswich Amateur Boxing Club, said the former Holbrook High School pupil had trained at the club on and off for around ten years.

He said: “I am very sorry to hear about it. All the boys will be upset. I liked Matt. He was very happy-go-lucky and reasonably talented. He got to the finals of the Eastern Counties Championships a couple of times at light-middleweight. He was a hard worker and always up for a laugh.”

Mr Peake said Mr Anderson, who was a keen footballer, had trained as a carpenter at college, before going on to work in other areas of the building trade.

Another friend of Mr Anderson's, Sarah Pink, of Holbrook, said: “Matt was a great character, with his distinctive posh voice and cheeky smile. He always managed to put a smile on people's faces.

“I still can't believe he's gone. He is already sorely missed and will never be forgotten.”

Mr Anderson's parents, who also live in Holbrook, were too upset to speak about their loss.

Chief Inspector Mike Bacon, head of Suffolk's Roads Policing Unit said: “I am very concerned, every fatality is a tragedy for the families involved, and the impact is felt all the more when the casualty is a young person, especially at this time of year.”

So far this year, a total of 40 people have died on the roads as a result of 35 collisions, compared with 30 fatalities in the whole of 2008.

Sixteen of those killed were car drivers, six car passengers, 11 motorcyclists, six pedestrians and one was a cyclist. Fifteen, equal to 38% of those killed have been under 25 years old.

Chief Insp Bacon said: “It can be a combination of inexperience on the roads and there are a small percentage of young people who maybe prepared to take greater risks,” he said. “Some young people show off on the roads, it is a generalisation, but unfortunately it is not only the driver of the vehicle committing the offence who could be killed, other innocent road users could be killed as a result.”

He added that the fatal four offences, speeding, drink driving, using mobile phones while driving and not wearing a seat belt are contributory factors in serious accidents.

Chief Insp Bacon said: “So far in 2009 speeding has been a contributory factor in 50% of the fatal crashes in Suffolk. It only takes a moment of inattentiveness for a collision to happen.”