The biggest (and smallest) causes of crashes on Norfolk’s roads revealed

A vehicle on its roof close to the A47 at Middleton. Picture: Ian Burt

A vehicle on its roof close to the A47 at Middleton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Drivers in a hurry, slippery surfaces and sudden braking are among the biggest causes of crashes on the region's roads.

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Bad driving rather than drink, drugs or even speeding were behind the majority of crashes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, according to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).

More than 2,500 crashes attended by police in Norfolk from 2010 to 2014 were caused by drivers or motorcycle riders not looking properly.

That was the biggest single factor contributing to road accidents in 2014, the latest year figures are available for, with 643 in Norfolk, as well as 590 in Suffolk and 479 in Cambridgeshire.

It was followed in Norfolk by drivers failing to judge another person's path or speed and loss of control.

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Motorists driving recklessly was the fourth biggest contributory factor to crashes.

The numbers reveal poor turning, pedestrians not looking properly and following too closely were also among the biggest causes.

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Fatigue played a role in 46 accidents in Norfolk in 2014 and drink driving was a contributory factor to 62 smashes.

Crashes caused by drivers on their mobile phones doubled in the region from 2010 to 2014 (see panel), but were relatively low.

As reported last week, more than 6,000 motorists have been caught by police in Norfolk and Suffolk using their phones at the wheel since January last year.

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said: 'The numbers caught are the tip of iceberg. People are increasingly disregarding the safety risks of using mobile phones while driving. It is totally unacceptable.'

Among the more unusual factors contributing to crashes in Norfolk were motorcycle riders wearing dark clothing (10), drivers unfamiliar with model of vehicle (10) and 'dangerous action in carriageway (e.g. playing)', which was also 10.

Nine crashes were caused by drivers impaired by drugs, 99 for exceeding speed limits, and 30 from a driver being 'nervous'.

Animals in the road caused 35 accidents in Norfolk and the dazzling sun another 53.

The figures are drawn from what a police officer classes as a contributory factor to a crash and the DfT cautioned it may be difficult for an officer attending the scene after an accident to identify some factors that may have contributed to the cause of an accident.

Superintendent Kris Barnard, head of Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: 'Statistics alone never show the full picture.

'I'm under no illusion that the number of people using mobiles behind the wheel is higher than our statistics show, which is why our enforcement and education with road safety partners will continue.'

He added: 'No message is so important that it's worth risking serious injury or death. Driving while using a mobile phone is extremely dangerous as it distracts your attention from the road.'

Dr Louise Smith, chairman of Norfolk's Road Casualty Reduction Partnership Board, said: 'These figures back up what we know – that a lack of concentration or due care and attention are contributing factors to most road crashes.

'Norfolk's roads are generally safer places to be than they were a few years ago and to make them considerably safer still, the one thing we can all do is take the responsibility of using our roads seriously each and every time we go out on them, whether we're driving, riding or walking.'

•Have you been affected by a driver using a mobile phone? Email tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

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