Shock tactics in battle for road safety

TRAFFIC cops have launched a determined crackdown on those who flout the laws of the road in a bid to radically reduce the spiralling numbers of major accidents in Suffolk.

TRAFFIC cops have launched a determined crackdown on those who flout the laws of the road in a bid to radically reduce the spiralling numbers of major accidents in Suffolk.

While the numbers of fatal collisions are down compared to 2007, the frequency of crashes which result in serious injuries has rocketed by a staggering 30 per cent.

The dramatic increase, combined with the arrival of autumn's inclement weather, has prompted police to appeal for caution and sensibility on the county's roads.

The renewed plea to motorists comes on the eve of National Road Safety Week, which begins on Monday.

To mark the week, journalists were invited to a disused airfield at the Rock Barracks in Woodbridge to test their driving skills.

Each took to the wheel while distracted by a ringing mobile phone or after donning goggles which made the wearer feel the effects of alcohol.

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The group was later shown graphic and disturbing images of accident victims to illustrate the importance of the police message.

Deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer, who was at the Suffolk Roadsafe event, called for increased vigilance.

“We have to get people to think about their decisions,” she said. “It's not simply about preaching. For instance, 12 people lost their lives last year that we believe would have survived had they worn a seatbelt.

“Every single road collision is one too many. The media have a vital role to play in getting the road safety message across.

“By experiencing what it is like to drive while talking on a mobile or with the goggles you get a different insight.”

The mandate of Suffolk Roadsafe is supported by The Evening Star, which earlier this year launched its Save a Life campaign to cut the numbers of road accidents in the county.

The Suffolk Roadsafe board comprises representatives from Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk Safecam, the Highways Agency and the East of England Ambulance Service.

These agencies work together to provide the best possible use of resources and road safety expertise.

For more information about Suffolk Roadsafe, visit www.suffolkroadsafe.net

How can police crackdown on dangerous driving? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

PAUL Fletcher knows better than most the importance of wearing a seatbelt, not driving under the influence of alcohol and avoiding using a mobile while behind the wheel.

The Suffolk police traffic officer is the man given the painful task of breaking the news of a fatality to the victim's family.

Pc Fletcher said: “When a serious accident is reported, my role is to contact the family. I will go to the person's address and, because I am 6ft 2ins and wearing a yellow jacket, most people know why I am there.

“It upsets me because I am going in and ripping the heart out of that family. The families will often want to see the bodies and, as a parent and a married man, going down the corridor to the mortuary time and time again with loved ones is very hard.

“Seeing these people fall to their knees is what gets me. It's very difficult, especially with young people. When you stop people for driving offences, you get the ones who ask why we're not out catching robbers.

“I understand their frustration - but they wouldn't do it if they saw what I see year in, year out.”

I WAS fully aware of the challenge which awaited me - but nothing could prepare my senses for the booze goggle challenge.

The chunky glasses create a kaleidoscope effect impairing the driver's judgement - to such an extent that I found the process of getting into the car a task in its own right.

Slowly - very slowly - I manoeuvred the Ford Focus around a basic course. But the cones I was instructed to drive through seemed to move and multiply as I approached.

And the car, motoring at no faster than 5mph seemed to lurch forward and from side to side for no apparent reason.

Somehow, I managed to reach the end of the short course without crushing any of the cones - but the 50-yard journey took a full ten minutes and extreme concentration.