You may have seen an enormous piece of sand art on one of the South West’s beautiful beaches recently – a 50-metre wide circle consisting of 47 hearts. While it is obviously a stark and stunning image, it also conveys a very serious message.

The hearts represent the number of people who lost their lives on Devon and Cornwall’s roads last year. A further 741 were seriously injured.

Road safety is very important to our communities – and consequently very important to me. Wherever I go in Devon & Cornwall, road safety is always brought to my attention by residents.

It’s one of the reasons I was so heavily involved in the creation of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, which I have chaired since its creation in 2019.

As you probably know, the partnership – which includes the police, fire services, NHS Trusts, Air Ambulances, councils and many other organisations – shares a commitment to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads by 50% by 2030, and eventually to zero.

The sand art, created on Saunton Beach in North Devon, was commissioned by Vision Zero South West to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 19.

The World Day of Remembrance is also the start of Road Safety Week. Organised by national charity Brake, the week encourages people to think about road safety and how we can all help make our communities safer. The theme of this year’s campaign is speed and there will be a hive of activity on this topic throughout the week.

Our dedicated team of Speed Detection Officers (SDOs) has grown rapidly and they have both the intelligence and freedom to enforce where they see fit – so please don’t get caught out.

Also out in force this week will be the Community Speedwatch (CSW) teams of Devon & Cornwall. This scheme empowers neighbourhood road safety advocates to monitor speed in their communities and feed that information directly back to the police.

Since Vision Zero South West was founded, CSW has been on a big upward trajectory. We now have over 240 groups across both counties, boasting more than 1,400 local volunteers – all of whom give up their time to help make their communities safer, often in the wake of horrendous collisions. I’d like to say a personal thank you to each and every one of them.

I know there are some people out there who see speed detection as a revenue scheme, but this isn’t about money – this is about keeping people safe.  Travelling too fast gives drivers less time to react if something happens and significantly increases the risk of being killed or seriously injured in the event of a crash.

And if you’re in any further doubt, just remember there’s a very easy way to avoid getting caught - stick to the speed limit.