Cambridgeshire police will hold its biggest road safety event today (Friday, November 2).
The 24-hour multi-agency operation starts at 6am and will include enforcement activity targeting the use of mobile phones while driving, speeding, failure to wear a seatbelt and driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
More than 350 officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers are taking part in the event, including Specials, police cadets, neighbourhood officers, road policing officers and representatives from a number of charities and local organisations.
As well as enforcement activity there will be a number of events promoting road safety.
Last year 48 people were killed in Cambridgeshire, 436 were seriously injured and 2,307 were injured in collisions.
Superintendent James Sutherland, who is leading the operation, said: “The purpose of the operation is to save lives and reduce the number of people seriously injured in collisions on the county’s roads.
“These are our roads and we can all play a part in making them safer for all road users.
“The operation will be a combination of enforcement and prevention activity, all focused on driver and road user behaviour.”
Jason Ablewhite, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, said: “There are still sadly too many people whose lives are devastated by collisions.
“Whilst I continue to do all I can with partners, introducing educational initiatives such as Cambs Drive iQ and funding a casualty reduction officer, days like today are a good reminder for all of us to drive safely and respect other road users.
“Keeping people safe on our roads remains one of my top priorities.”
As well as focusing on the ‘fatal four’ contributors to collisions – mobile phones, speed, seatbelts and drink/drug driving - the operation will target disqualified drivers who continue to drive, those driving without insurance and poor tyres. Eyesight tests will also be carried out to check motorists are fit to drive.
Prevention activity includes:
· School visits in around 40 schools and pre-schools carried out by PCSOs in conjunction with road charity Brake and Zak the Zebra.
· Road safety event at Huntingdon Campus, Cambridge Regional College, including Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and Magpas, during which there will be a crash reconstruction and first aid training.
· Events in Huntingdon and Cambridge to encourage cyclists to use lights in winter months and stay safe. Cambridgeshire County Council has donated a number of bike lights.
· An wvent at Cambridge Regional College, involving police and Mick George, showing students how to pass HGVs safely.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service station commander Kevin Andrews said: “We’re pleased to be supporting Cambridgeshire police and ‘Op Astragal’ in conjunction with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership by educating drivers on road safety.
“As well as taking part in the road safety event at Huntingdonshire Regional College, crews will be out and about in our communities throughout the day offering valuable and potentially life-saving road safety advice, particularly around rural road safety. We’ll also be sharing our top tips on social media throughout the day on how we can all help to keep the roads in our county safer.”
The operation involves Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership, the Road Victims Trust, Brake, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, Tyre Safe, Mick George, What3words, VOSA and Volvo.
Supt Sutherland said: “One of the key factors that leads to poor driving is driver error and a lack of fear of prosecution, and our hope is that by holding a day of action on this grand scale we can make a long-term impact on people’s driving habits.
“Road offences are a highly emotive topic for the public and in the current policing climate we are in a position where we have to juggle the public’s expectations around enforcement with our own local demand.
“However, if we can empower people to change their behaviour and make poor and dangerous driving unacceptable, this operation has the ability to make our roads safer.”
Mark Turner, chief executive of the Road Victims Trust, said: “The devastation and suffering caused to so many people as a result of road fatalities is immense. Lives are changed in the blink of an eye yet so many of these deaths are as a result of poor driving or complacency.
“We are proud to support this initiative by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, with whom we work closely in partnership.”
Activity on the day includes:
· Road side ‘speed gun’ enforcement throughout the county, with a focus on rural areas.
· An intelligence-led operation targeting disqualified drivers who still drive in the county.
· Peterborough – enforcement activity focused on vehicle-related criminality, uninsured drivers and road safety related offences.
· Tyre checks, supported by the Highways Agency, to check unsafe and illegal tyres.
· An operation in Sawtry targeting HGV offences.
· Op Velo in Cambridge targeting cycle safety and the ‘fatal four’ using plain-clothed cyclists.
· Community Speedwatch checks across the county in 45 local towns and villages.
· A test to find Cambridgeshire’s safest driver through advanced driving sessions with Cambridge Advanced Motorists.
· Drink and drug drive checks across the county.
Supt Sutherland added: “This operation has pulled on the expertise of a number of charities and organisations to ensure we can have maximum impact.
“We will not only be checking vehicles are roadworthy and drivers have the right documentation but also carrying out roadside tests on drivers, such as eye sight tests, to ensure people are safe to drive.
“Within 24 hours we want to take as many dangerous vehicles and drivers off the roads as possible while at the same time sharing those important messages around road safety to make a longer term impact.”
Matt Staton, highways projects and road safety manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We are proud to be supporting Cambridgeshire police’s event which will highlight the importance of staying safe on the county’s roads.
“Our road safety team will be supporting events in Cambridge working with the police to promote cycle safety and the importance of being bright to be seen on the roads in the winter months to stay safe.”