Suffolk death toll rises

POLICE and road safety bosses will tackle the rising death toll on Suffolk's roads with renewed vigour this year following a sharp rise in the number of people killed in crashes.

POLICE and road safety bosses will tackle the rising death toll on Suffolk's roads with renewed vigour this year following a sharp rise in the number of people killed in crashes.

Final figures for 2006 show 47 people were killed on the county's roads in 40 separate collisions - 30 per cent higher than in the whole of 2005, which saw 36 killed in 33 accidents.

The grim death toll is the highest in Suffolk since 2003 and has dismayed road safety campaigners.

But Suffolk police pledged last night to do all it could to reduce collisions during the next 12 months.

Superintendent Mike Shields, the force's operations manager, said: “Suffolk Constabulary wants the people of Suffolk to be safe - safe in their homes, safe at work, safe on the streets and safe in their cars -and we will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to do what we can to reduce collisions on our roads in 2007.

“However, to make Suffolk's roads safe we need the support of all road users.

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“By maintaining vehicles in a roadworthy condition, concentrating on the road, adhering to speed limits and not driving when tired or after consuming alcohol, drivers in particular can play a significant role in reducing the numbers of people killed or seriously injured.”

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, described the increase as “disappointing”.

“The figures are not unexpected but are obviously a cause of concern,” she said.

“However, it's important we look at serious injuries as well as people killed and in fact on that indicator we are doing about the same as last year, there is not an increase.

“Every death is a tragedy and is taken very seriously. It's disappointing we have had an increase so far this year, particularly as on occasion more than one person has been killed in a road accident.”

The most horrific crash seen in the county last year was on the A12 at Blythburgh in July, which claimed the lives of three Lowestoft girls - 18-year-old Claire Stoddart and her 15-year-old sister Jennifer Stoddart, along with their close friend 18-year-old Carla Took - as well as Simon Bonner, 40, and Kim Abbott, 41, both from Yoxford.

Suffolk police teamed up with the county council to launch a hard-hitting campaign in the run-up to Christmas in an effort to stem the soaring number of deaths on the county's roads.

They said they wanted to “shock” people into realising how their bad driving habits could have fatal consequences.

One event saw firefighters stage a re-creation of a serious accident scene in Sudbury to demonstrate the trauma of a road crash to Christmas shoppers.

But road safety campaigners insisted last night even more needed to be done to make motorists graphically aware of the consequences of driving at dangerous speeds.

Brigitte Chaudhry, president of charity RoadPeace, said: “As a charity for road crash victims which has to deal with shattered families, we are saddened each time we hear that not only are the numbers of people killed or injured not going down but that on the contrary, they are rising.”

The number of fatalities on Suffolk's roads already sparked an inquiry from Suffolk Police Authority earlier this year.

Further initiatives are expected to be launched this year.

Road deaths by year

2002 43 (42 collisions)

2003 60 (50 collisions)

2004 42 (40 collisions)

2005 36 (33 collisions)

2006 47 (40 collisions)

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