Danger and risks on the road ahead

Just to Say… (published previously in the Bridport News)

As I sit and write this I can see a long line of slow moving traffic including disgruntled holiday-makers and frustrated lorry drivers making their way up South Street in Bridport. There’s been another accident and a diversion is in place.

Official government statistics show that there was a 3% increase in fatalities on British roads last year. That equates to 1,760 lives ended prematurely. Other statistics are even more worrying.

Adding those seriously injured to those killed and the figure goes to 24,800. The national number of ‘casualties’, that is those injured but not seriously or killed, is a staggering 193,290. Although these figures include pedestrians and are at their lowest level since 1926 that’s the equivalent of 10 Jumbo jets crashing a week.

Imagine the debate in the newspapers and the arguments amongst the political parties if that mayhem had been caused by the actions of terrorists. ‘Cobra’ would be meeting; there would be calls for the Home Secretary and Transport Secretary to resign and commentators would be going it full blast on the new channels.

And yet there is a strange silence. Why?

It is little solace but the number of fatalities is actually down on the three thousand or more average number in 2008. Better car design, more efficient brakes and more rigorous testing have all had an impact.

It’s too soon to say if less investment in our national infrastructure is having an effect. It may just be there are more cars, more journeys and therefore more accidents. Build a new road and vehicles fill it.

One of Dorset’s ‘proud’ boasts is that it is the only English county without a motorway. On the one hand that makes for a delightful rural idyll. Yet anyone who has driven on the A35 to Dorchester, especially in foggy conditions, will know what risks some drivers take to gain a few seconds.

The County Council’s Road Safety Plan aims at ‘Making Dorset Roads the Safest in the Region’. Let’s hope it succeeds because the grief and pain felt by families is terrible indeed.

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