Top cop's plea to young drivers

AN impassioned plea has been made to young motorists after 40 per cent of road fatalities in Suffolk last year were aged between 17 and 24.The appeal - along with a warning - came from a senior traffic officer, after the age group accounted for 17 out of the 42 people killed.

SUFFOLK: An impassioned plea has been made to young motorists after 40 per cent of road fatalities in Suffolk last year were aged between 17 and 24.

The appeal - along with a warning - came from a senior traffic officer, after the age group accounted for 17 out of the 42 people killed.

In addition to the tragedies, a high percentage of the people arrested or convicted of death by dangerous, or careless, driving in the past 12 months were also aged 25 or younger.

Inspector Trevor Sharman, of Suffolk Constabulary's serious collision investigation team, hopes that speaking out will help reduce the number of deaths on the county's roads.

Although stressing he was not seeking to demonise young people, Insp Sharman said: “It's been identified for a long time that 17 to 24 year olds are over-represented in killed or serious injury cases. Not only are they a casualty, they are quite often the offender.

“There were some fairly high-profile cases involving younger drivers last year and a number of young drivers were prosecuted for causing the death of others. The loss of a loved on is beyond words to be quite honest.

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“To lose a young person who has got their whole life ahead of them is the single most devastating thing a family can go through and is something they just have to live with for the rest of their lives.

“Some people never recover from it. When grief affects you there's nothing that can prepare you for it.

“For the offender and their family they have to live with the consequence of that action. For the offender it can mean jail and a criminal record, but the point is it can impact on them for the rest of their life in terms of employment, relationships, everything.

“In addition that person's family also has to live through that ordeal as well as the stigma that's attached to it.

“I think there are a number of issues. Because they are young drivers they are naturally inexperienced and as national figures show they are more inclined to be involved in collisions. It is important to point out that in the eyes of the law inexperience is not an excuse.

“I think people need to look at their driving and ask themselves a serious question along the lines of 'if I was driving like this in my driving test would I have passed?'.”

Suffolk Police in association with the county council, the NHS and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has done a lot of work through the Roadsafe campaign to educate teenagers about the dangers driving can pose.

Insp Sharman said: “Young people don't think about the consequences of what could happen, because they don't expect it to happen. However, the harsh reality is that it does happen. When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle the reality is things do go wrong.”

AMONG those convicted over road deaths in 2009 was 20-year-old Scott Nicholls who was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court in September.

Nicholls, of Ipswich, was given eight years in detention after killing Emma Harold, 26, of Foxhall Road, Ipswich, and Kate Wasyluk, 25, of Irlam Road, Ipswich, when the car he was driving ploughed into them in Foxhall Road on February 20.

Emma's sister Rebecca, 25, was left seriously injured by the crash, which occurred as the women walked home from a night out.

Nicholls admitted death by dangerous driving.

Last month 18-year-old James Sadler was given 28 months behind bars after he mounted the pavement in his speeding car and collided with Carol Myhill, in Victoria Road, Aldeburgh, on February 25.

Sadler, of Andrew Close, Leiston, had admitting causing the 61-year-old's death when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court earlier in the year.

Another teenager, Mark Greggs, of Yaxley Road, Mellis, was also jailed after pleading guilty at the same court to death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit on September 19, 2008.

Disqualified driver Greggs, 19, killed his friend Daniel Lupson, 18, also of Mellis, when the car he had borrowed without his father's permission hit a tree on the old Ipswich Road, in Yaxley.

Later this month an 18-year-old male and 19-year-old female are due to appear in court in connection with the death of Sian Ryan, of Alan Road, Ipswich, who was killed last August. Miss Ryan, 16, died when the car she was a passenger in hit a road sign on the A14 at Nacton.

Next month a 21-year-old Ipswich man is due to appear at the same court charged with death by careless driving.

He is accused of being responsible for the crash which killed 51-year-old motorcyclist Joseph Gray, of Lindbergh Road, Ipswich, in the town's Landseer Road, Ipswich, on October 5.

SUFFOLK Constabulary's figures show that from January to August 2009 23 per cent (52 out of 228) killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties were aged between 17 and 24.

In 2008 it was 23 per cent, 2007 28 per cent and 2006 it was 25 per cent.

Nationally in 2007 29 per cent of KSI casualties were aged under 25.

According to figures for road safety charity Brake, crashes are the biggest killer of 15 to 24-year-olds.

Former road safety minister David Jamieson has been quoted as saying: “In the UK, the biggest single killer of young women is their boyfriend crashing while he is at the wheel.”

Mr Jamieson has also said: “In the year after passing their test a young driver is about 10 times more like to crash.”