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Europe Warning On Road Casualties

I am starting to really warm to this theme now. It isn’t just me banging on about my concerns regarding road safety, it now seems that – whatever the outcome of last week’s referendum – similar views are being expressed abroad.

A major UK road safety organisation has added its voice to the European warning that the decline in the level of police enforcement of traffic offences is a key reason why casualty numbers are not falling.

Apparently more than 26,000 souls lost their lives on EU roads in 2015. This is the first increase since 2001 according to the European Transport Safety Council’s annual road safety performance index report. Exceeding speed limits, drink, drug or distracted driving (think devices) and a failure to wear a seat belt are still the leading causes of death and serious injury across Europe, according to the research.

In a separate report on enforcement, the ETSC found that, in more than half the countries where data is available, the number of penalty tickets issued over the last five years for use of a mobile phone while driving has reduced, suggesting lower levels of enforcement not just in Britain but also across Europe. There is no point in having laws if they cannot be enforced.

The UK road safety organisation issued a statement saying, “Police enforcement is a vital component of an overall road safety strategy. Reductions to road policing numbers in recent years sends a message to drivers that they are less likely to be caught speeding, drink-driving, not wearing seatbelts, using mobile phones or generally not conforming with the rules that have been put there for their safety. We echo the ETSC’s clear warning that reductions in road death and serious injury will not be forthcoming unless there is a new commitment to policing the roads. Levels of compliance improve when police are there as an effective deterrent to risk-taking behaviour. When compliance improves, there will be fewer collisions.”

It must also be a police priority to identify and sanction those drivers who pose unacceptably high risks. Whether they are disqualified, uninsured, or simply demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the rules, there should be no place for them on our roads. The laws are in place to deal all offenders, whether habitual or not, but it is continually frustrating that dwindling numbers of traffic officers clearly make their enforcement very difficult. Speed cameras are not the sole answer. They only do one thing.

As someone who loves driving and does it as often as possible, it sickens me how much politicians talk these road safety issues up and yet do nothing about fixing the problems of safety on our roads. By starving the police of money, personnel and resources they can make as many laws as they like; the police can’t be effective and recidivist drivers are not listening to all the talk. Geoff Maxted