In 2022, a total of 28 people were killed on the roads of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. That is 28 too many! The number is down from 38 in 2011, but we need to work together to push the number down even further.
Rather worryingly, the number of people seriously injured per year has not declined in the past ten years, but remains at around 280.
The causes of road accidents are varied, but some consistent themes can be seen. Younger drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than older drivers - and the prime cause of an accident for younger drivers was careless or reckless behaviour, while for older drivers it was failing to look properly before manoeuvering. In December 2022 a total of 170 people were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol - the highest ever Christmas drink-driving figure.
Of course, it is not just motorists who use our roads. The number of cyclists involved in an accident fell from 170 in 2012 to 80 last year. Pedestrian injuries have similarly fallen from 180 to 90. Welcome trends, but more needs to be done.
Escooters have become a recent issue. It is currently illegal to use them in public without insurance and without wearing a crash helmet. However, catching escooter users is not always easy and case law does not encourage stiff penalties. Part of the problem is that the vehicles have only recently arrived in numbers so there is no real data about how dangerous they are.
Many of the factors affecting road safety are beyond my control as PCC. The design of road junctions, location of street lights and phasing of traffic lights are all controlled by others. However, I am determined to play a full role in making roads safer for all users as part of my drive to make our streets safer again.
- Working with the Road Safety Partnership. This body covers Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and is a joint operation by Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council, National Highways and Leicestershire Police. We have recently introduced new, high-tech mobile speed vans and identified a number of new locations where they can be deployed.
- Educating Road Users. I will continue to push forward schemes to give road safety education to all road users, providing subsidised roadcraft lessons where appropriate.
- Enforcement. I will ensure that the police continue to enforce speed limits and other rules of the road, prosecuting offenders when possible.
- Community Speed Watch. This programme allows parish councils and other community groups to monitor the speeds of traffic in their local area and to deploy enforcement action short of prosecution for offenders.
- Enforce the law on e-scooters. The law is not always clear in all circumstances, but I will support police action to prosecute the worst offenders riding e-scooters or illegal e-bikes.
- Work with partners. Many aspects of road safety are in the hands of others. I will work constructively with councils, Highways England and others to make our roads as safe as possible.