Police warn drivers to take care this winter

10:22 17 October 2012

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Police are warning drivers take care this winter when taking to Devon’s roads.

Be sensible and be prepared this winter - don’t be a statistic”. That is the stark message for motorists from police as winter approaches.

In Devon and Cornwall, over the last five years, the number of fatal collisions has steadily declined but so far this year there has been a reversal with a small increase. At this time of year, roads demand increased attention from motorists. This winter could see the number of fatalities increase further. It is vital motorists are reminded of the dangers to try and stem the increase.

Police are encouraging motorists to check the condition of their vehicles to ensure they are ready for winter. Basic checks are necessary on things such as tyres. Drivers must make sure there is plenty of tread to displace water – too little can lead to a car becoming unstable on wet roads. This can cause a loss of control which can lead to a collision with potentially fatal results.

Tyres need to be properly inflated. If not, it can increase fuel consumption and affect a vehicle’s handling when being driven on the road.

Drivers’ must take responsibility not only for their vehicles, but for themselves and their passengers. Leave adequate space from the car in front – wet and icy roads increases the distances it takes to stop. Rear end collisions are common due to drivers’ failing to leave adequate space. Anticipate the car in front making an emergency stop. Ask yourself, would I be able to stop in time without colliding with its rear? Remember the two second rule!

Beware of icy conditions particularly during early mornings. Road conditions can change dramatically in the winter months, from being dry and in the sunshine to icy and in the shade. This is an even greater hazard at the beginning of the day when a road has had little traffic.

Inspector Richard Pryce who has responsibility for policing Devon and Cornwall’s roads said: “As winter approaches and the weather gets increasingly colder, drivers’ need to pay more attention to their driving. With darker mornings and evenings now coming, driving to and from work presents greater challenges than previous months. I urge motorists to carry out the necessary checks and to modify their driving so it’s appropriate to the road’s conditions. It’s important to arrive at your destination safely, so consider leaving a little more time for travelling. Rushing your journey can lead to errors of judgement which is only a step away from a crash.”

“In these times of austerity, some will feel savings can be made with their motoring. Fuel efficient driving I would recommend, however don’t compromise with road safety. If for example your tyres or wipers need replacing, then do it. It’s not only your life, but your passenger’s lives which are at risk”.

Police are quick to point out however that it is not the slippery roads that kill. Driver’s are in control of their vehicles.

Inappropriate speed, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, not wearing seat belts and driver distractions such as using mobile phones are the main causes of serious injuries and deaths on Britain’s roads.

Inspector Pryce said: “These are called the ‘Fatal four’. In the vast majority of collisions, one of these is the primary factor. My advice is simple – if you’ve had a drink, don’t drive – make arrangements beforehand to get a lift or a taxi. Always wear a seat belt and modify your speed – if you want to drive fast, don’t do it on public roads; book a track day.

“Drivers get distracted primarily by their mobile phone. Calling, texting or on-line social networking; its use in whatever manner is a lethal combination with driving. When caught, a driver knows they’re not making a mistake. The act is deliberate. Driver’s know it’s against the law and should not be surprised when they’re prosecuted. It means a fine and three points on your licence. The simple answer is, don’t be tempted and don’t be another fatal statistic.”

Devon and Cornwall Police will be increasing efforts to reduce deaths and injuries on the road network this winter. This will include robust and high profile enforcement of road traffic offences, especially around the ‘fatal four’ to influence drivers’ attitudes and behaviours.

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