Drivers 'ignore emergency services'

Travelling at more than 100mph in a police car with flashing lights and sirens, you would expect drivers to get out of the way.But police officers in Suffolk say that motorists are not doing enough to prevent collisions or to clear the way for the emergency services to get to accident scenes.

Travelling at more than 100mph in a police car with flashing lights and sirens, you would expect drivers to get out of the way.

But police officers in Suffolk say that motorists are not doing enough to prevent collisions or to clear the way for the emergency services to get to accident scenes.

PC Jerry Abigail, from Suffolk's road policing unit, said that he and his fellow officers are fed up with drivers who do not move aside to let police cars past and that the problem is getting worse.

He said: “We have big cars with blue flashing lights, but people don't even seem to see us. I can only assume they don't look in their mirrors.

“But that means I have to slow down, change gear and lose vital seconds trying to get to the accident scene.”

He said that drivers are not alert to what is going on around them and spot the approaching police car too late, causing them to pull over in a panic.

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And while the police do their best to catch drivers who are breaking the law, there is more that every motorist can do to make to prevent accidents.

Forty-seven people died on the county's roads in 2006, but PC Abigail said that most road accidents were avoidable and caused by people driving carelessly and not paying enough attention to the road.

“We deal with the ugly face of crashes day after day, but we still seem to be struggling to get the message across to motorists.

“Every person speeding, every driver texting a mate or not wearing a seatbelt, is using up police time and making the roads a more dangerous place,” he said.

He and his fellow officers are fed up with people speeding - motorists are frequently stopped for driving at more than 110mph on stretches of dual carriageway around the county - and he said that their excuses soon wear thin.

He said: “There is no excuse; people know that they're breaking the law. Motorists are happy to jump on the bandwagon and moan about the police, but instead they should look at how they drive and see if they can make our job easier.

“We don't stop drivers for nothing, but you will be spotted and fined if you're breaking the law.”

Crackdowns on drivers using mobile phones while driving resulted in 2,500 fixed penalty fines being given out last year.

A motorist who was stopped by PC Abigail yesterday afternoon for using a phone while driving said: “I'm not going to give you an excuse, I was in the wrong.

“I didn't realise I'd get an on-the-spot fine and three points on my licence, I'll definitely think twice before doing it again.”

PC Abigail said that everyone had their part to play in making the roads safer. “The summer is always a bad time for road accidents because it's windows down, music up and away we go.

“We want people to enjoy their holidays, barbecues and trips to the coast, and not become the next victim of a fatal crash,” he said.

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