The number of killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties on Northamptonshire roads in 2019 was the highest it had been in eight years.
Overall KSI figures increased by 59 from 288 casualties in 2018 to 347 last year, while the number of people killed on the county’s roads rose from 31 to 42 in the same period.
Despite this, road safety in Northamptonshire has improved significantly since the turn of the new century with more traffic making our county road networks busier than ever before.
There were many years during the 1970s and 1980s where close to, or more than 100 road deaths were recorded in Northamptonshire, however in the past 20 years KSI figures have fallen by 55 per cent.
A countywide partnership between Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service, The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Highways representing Northamptonshire County Council was set up in November 2018.
The Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance (NSRA) brings key partners together to work on initiatives which aim to improve road safety across the county through education, engagement, engineering and enforcement.
Over the past 18-months the alliance has worked tirelessly to reach as many road users as possible by visiting schools and colleges, giving presentations to business groups and attending numerous community and sporting events.
Last year the NSRA launched a new workshop for working drivers with a particular focus on those driving HGVS and vans, as well as supported national campaigns such as Tyresafe, drink/drug driving and Highway England’s Operation Tramline.
It was also another successful year for the Community Speed Watch programme, which saw more than 770 volunteers from 62 groups, give up their spare time to complete 686 sessions.
Pupils joined their local Neighbourhood Policing Team and Fire Crews on special patrols to help discourage inconsiderate parking near their primary schools, Cycle Northants helped deliver Operation Close Pass events to improve road safety for cyclists, while CarKraft continued to provide free driver improvement sessions for 15 to 30-year-olds.
The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner launched a community road safety fund, providing small grants of up to £5,000 to enable parish councils, schools and community groups to address road safety issues in their local area.
So far this fund has assisted with speed warning signs in rural locations, materials and activities to improve the safety of children on route to schools, road safety awareness campaigns and the subsidising of young drivers to become advanced motorists.
All the campaigns have centred on the fatal four offences – speeding, drink/drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone at the wheel – the main contributing factors in the majority of road traffic collisions in the UK.
In June last year, the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner provided funding to enable Northamptonshire Police to set up a new Road Crime Team made up of 18 officers.
The main focus of the team is to deny criminals the use of the roads by disrupting and targeting organised crime groups and county lines by responding to ANPR hits and carrying out planned, proactive operations.
However, the team also works alongside the Force’s Safer Roads Team and the Alliance to reduce the number of people Killed or seriously injured on our roads by clamping down on the fatal four.
In 2019 there were 1042 arrests for drink or drug driving and 348 for other driving offences; 59,719 fixed penalty notices issued for excessive speeding, 888 for other fatal four offences and 2594 vehicles seized last year.
The Force has also made significant investment in its motorcycle fleet and training of police motorcyclists and, together with funding from the OPFCC, allowed for the resumption of BikeSafe workshops being delivered across the county.
Motorcyclists still make up a high proportion of those killed or seriously injured on our roads. They represent around one per cent of all road traffic in the county but accounted for more than 17 per cent of KSI casualties.
Many of these are caused by other road users, however the NSRA will continue to work tirelessly to upskill riders and influence their mindset to ensure they are as safe and as responsible as they can be out on the roads.
Chair of NSRA, Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper, said: “Our main priority is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and to see the number of people killed on our roads rise last year is deeply upsetting.
“Every person who dies on our roads is one too many and we must never forget that behind each statistic is a grieving family or someone coming to terms with a life changing injury.
“We understand this and are working hard to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in Northamptonshire, and the alliance has worked hard to try to improve safety on our roads.
“Through education, engagement, engineering and enforcement we will continue to reinforce this message. However we cannot do this on our own as it is only road users who can change their driving behaviour.”
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “Road safety is one of the key priorities of my Police and Crime Plan and I understand the enormous impact that someone being killed or injured has on their family and friends.
“I am proud my office has a pivotal role in the Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance and I will continue to invest in programmes which support communities to promote road safety in their local area and in initiatives which enable Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue to continue to work with their partners to make all of us safer on the roads.”