Concern at spike in road injuries and deaths across Devon and Cornwall

  Posted: 15.09.21 at 08:30 by Philip Churm, Local Democracy Reporter

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There has been a spike in serious and fatal road accidents across Devon and Cornwall in the last two months.

The emergency services have expressed concern at the rise, at the launch of a local initiative to reduce injuries and deaths on the area’s roads.

Project Edward – Every Day Without A Road Death – is a national campaign which is currently holding a road safety week of action.

On Monday, September 13, an awareness raising event was staged by Vison Zero South West, a partnership of emergency services, councils and other organisations, who aim to cut road deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2040 and to reduce current numbers by 50 percent by 2030.

To highlight the scale of the emergency service response to a serious road accident, police cars, fire engines, ambulances, National Highways vehicles and emergency service motorbikes drove along the A38 from Plymouth to the Devon Air Ambulance base at Exeter Airport.

Drivers ‘simply not aware of their vulnerability

Inspector Olly Taylor from the team said it is impossible to focus on a single cause of the road traffic accidents, but most involve drivers simply not being aware of their vulnerability.

He said: “It’s very difficult to look at a specific reason, because the collisions we’ve had lately – the serious and fatal collisions – haven’t had a specific pattern to them.

“They’ve been on all road types. They’ve involved all road user types … two wheels, four wheels, pedestrians.

“There just appears to be a complacency around road use at the moment where people aren’t thinking about the actions they’re taking behind the wheel. And it’s ending absolutely catastrophically.”

Natalie Warr, the local transport and road safety lead for Cornwall Council, agreed that there were many reasons for the accidents, but added that the ending of lockdown restrictions may have been a contributing factor.

“Certainly in Cornwall, there was a bit of a spike after the lockdown eased in May,” she said.

“So, it might be people just getting back to the road after periods of time at home. I think behaviours are a key thing that we see and often it’s driver error. Or people just making mistakes.”

The founder and project manager of Project Edward, James Luckhurst, said he hoped the awareness-raising event would make motorists think about their safety behind the wheel. “I think anything that might lead to somebody reflecting on their own vulnerability and just sparing a moment for road safety is good,” he said.

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