More crashes result in serious injury, but death toll down over last year
Norfolk and Suffolk Police
More people have been seriously hurt on Suffolk roads over the last 12 months than in each of the five previous years, according to government figures.
Yet the death toll currently stands at a seven-year low – with 23 lives lost in 12 months to November, compared to 33 by the end of 2017.
The Department for Transport estimated 290 people were severely injured – about one in seven of all 2,061 crashes, compared to about one in eight of 2,139 in 2017.
Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt said the constabulary’s own sums registered a 3% fall in fatal and serious injury crashes up to November 4 – from 224 to 217.
“We’re talking about small numbers against an increase in traffic on the roads,” he added.
“Although fatalities are down, serious injuries were slightly up.”
When measured in 2017, traffic levels were higher than ever – up 7.6% since 2011.
While no obvious reason can be attributed to a fall in deaths and rise in serious injuries, advances in emergency care and changing behaviours could be factors.
“We’re seeing better response times and a difference in where people are taken after an accident,” said Det Insp Hinitt.
“Serious head injury patients are generally taken straight to Addenbrooke’s Hospital – and emergency services now conduct a lot of joint training.
“Fewer people die as a result of not wearing a seatbelt – but you can still drive down any road and see someone using their phone.
“Most people wouldn’t get in a car with someone who’d been drinking. Fewer would feel as comfortable challenging a driver for using their phone.
“Speed is always an issue. We live in a rural county where a lot of single vehicle accidents are caused by speed on country roads.
“We’re also seeing a really high number of positive drug wipes.
“It staggers me that we have to keep putting the same message out – that speed, drink or drug driving, using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt are most likely to cause fatal accidents.”
Although road conditions worsen in the winter, when police around the country also crack down on Christmas drink-drivers, Det Insp Hinitt said fatal accidents were no more likely in December.
“There are still people willing to take that risk at Christmas, and we always think ‘please be careful’ when more motorcycles come out in the summer, but there’s no time of year we consider better or worse than any other,” he added.