Drivers warned to take care on county’s roads this Christmas

A plea has been issued to motorists planning to take to the road this Christmas and New Year to take care and stay safe after it emerged there has been a rise in the number of deaths on Norfolk's roads.

Figures released by Norfolk Constabulary reveal there have been 42 deaths on the county's roads between January 1 2011 and December 12 2011, compared to 37 in the same period last year.

Statistics released by Suffolk police show there have been 30 deaths this year compared to last year when there were 20, although in Cambridgeshire there have been 26 deaths compared to 34 last year.

The Norfolk figures, which do show a decrease in those seriously injured from 302 in 2010 to 295 in 2011, have prompted calls from police and road safety chiefs in the county for people to take care as thousands of people prepare to hit the road for the Christmas holiday getaway.

Inspector David Ball, from Norfolk roads policing, said: 'Norfolk remains a safe county but only because the majority of drivers take care. My message would be to recognise the responsibility that comes with driving a vehicle and make sure you're safe to do so. Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained and keep your attention on what you're doing at all times.'

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Insp Ball urged people to 'stick to the speed limits, keep your distance from other vehicles and be patient in slow traffic'.

The plea for people to take care on the road follows a recent spate of deaths, with three people being killed on roads in the county last weekend alone.

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Annabel Laws, 17, from Watton, died after the car she was travelling in hit a tree at Sporle at about 12.30am on Saturday.

The teenager, who had been to the McDonald's restaurant on the outskirts of Swaffham with friends, was a back seat passenger in a car which clipped a verge, seemingly after skidding, then hit a tree and ended up in a field.

Hannah Wollaston, 24, from Burgess Gardens, Newport Pagnell died following a crash on the A11 at Besthorpe in the early hours of Sunday morning. The car she was driving hit the central barrier, but as the driver and passenger tried to get out of the car, which no longer had its lights on, it was hit by another car.

Meanwhile June Scotting, 54, from Ely Road, Modney Bridge, Hilgay, was killed on the A1122 Downham Road in Nordelph at about 8am on Saturday. Mrs Scotting was driving a van towards Wisbech when it collided with a lorry carrying sugar beet, heading in the opposite direction.

Iain Temperton, chairman of the Think!Norfolk partnership, an organisation which works to try and reduce the number of road deaths in the county, said the onus was on road users themselves to stay safe.

He said: 'We all have a responsibility to use the road as safely as we can and that does mean giving it a bit of thought. Every death or injury on the road is avoidable and that's the biggest tragedy of all.

'With the right amount of planning and right amount of thought is doesn't have to happen. If it's going to take you four hours it will take four hours. There's no point in trying to rush it to get there any quicker: that's when it all goes wrong.'

Mr Temperton said people could take simple steps to ensure they remained safe on the roads this festive period.

He said: 'None of this is rocket science or black magic. Make sure the vehicle is ready for the journey, but just as important is making sure the driver is too and make sure you're not tired and there's no alcohol in the system after the office party the night before.'

The Think! Norfolk Partnership is made up of representatives from Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk Constabulary, East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Safety Camera Partnership, and Highways Agency. Together our aim is to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Norfolk roads.

The partnership exists to reduce the level of collision and casualty severity by education, encouragement and enforcement.

There are approximately 3500 injury collisions a year, the vast majority being slight injury. Serious and fatal road traffic collisions fell to 370 in 2007-8.

Driver error contributes to over 95pc of collisions. Errors in judgment, lapses in concentration, driving offences and inconsiderate use of the road increase the risk of collisions and casualties.

Reasons for road crashes

The vast majority of injury collisions in Norfolk are caused by:

<t> Excessive and inappropriate speed

<t> Pedestrian action

<t> Disobeying junction controls

<t> Alcohol

<t> Seat Belts

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