2.31 PM Tuesday 21 October 2014

No excuses accepted

After four months of operations, the ‘no excuse’ team have detected nearly 7,000 traffic related offences on Dorset's roads.

no excuse logoFailure to wear seatbelts accounted for 17 per cent and 14 per cent for using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The ‘no excuse’ project continues to seek to make Dorset’s roads safer by improving driver behaviour through the enforcement of offences which are likely to increase the risk of collision or which could result in moreserious injuries or death.

Other offences detected included no insurance, no driving licence and anti-social driving leading to vehicles being seized. Provisional licence holders were caught driving unaccompanied or not displaying “L” plates.

The enforcement teams also detected drivers with their vision obscured, some high speeders – several at over 100 mph in a 70 mph zone – plus many more offences.

The officers accepted no excuses from those caught. One man said that he was a stranger to the county and was confused by Dorset road signs and this was why he was speeding. The officers patiently explained that the speed limit signs were in national use and not unique to Dorset. The driver accepted his ticket without further comment.

Another motorist driving a Volkswagen Horsebox offered two excuses for not wearing his seatbelt - he was late and the belt was stuck under his engine cover. He left with his ticket.

One driver saw a car slowing down in front of him which he decided to overtake at speed. Only then he realised the car in front had reduced the speed due to officers pointing a hand held laser speed detector. The driver didn’t even attempt to come up with an excuse and took the ticket for exceeding the signed limit without complaint.

 

The ‘no excuse’ campaign significantly raised its profile in and around Dorchester on 19 May when the Dorset Road Safe partnership launched a surprise ‘Surround a Town’ operation.

On the day, the ‘no excuse’ enforcement teams, with traffic police and the Dorset Safety Camera Partnership deployed on all the approach roads to the town, were joined by around 120 mixed partner staff from Dorset Police, Dorset Safety Camera Partnership, Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Poole Borough Council, Highways Agency, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Streetwise.

The involvement of so many individuals underlined the importance of trying to reduce casualties within Dorset through the joint approach of enforcement and education.

Public information stands were displayed at six locations throughout the town – Dorchester Market, County Hospital, Tesco's, South Street, Football Stadium, and staff also engaged with 800 potential young drivers at Thomas Hardye School.

Support for ‘no excuse’ and ‘Surround a Town’ was quickly apparent from local dog walkers, cyclists and even drivers who stopped to thank officers for being there and "stopping bad drivers". Many of those engaging with the staff on the day clearly voiced their disgust at those caught using mobile phones whilst driving – many suggesting they should be banned.

A total of 287 driving offences were processed during ‘Surround a Town’ in Dorchester. They included 61 seatbelt offences – 38 of these people caught attended a free seatbelt course held on the day and avoided the £60 fine.

Other offences processed included using a mobile phone when in control of a vehicle, driving with no insurance, no MOT and even an over-laden HGV.

As normal, the drivers presented various excuses.

A woman stopped for not wearing a seatbelt tried: "I just had a spray on tan applied and don't want to smudge it" – it didn't work.

A coach driver stated with authority that the speed limit for coaches on dual carriageways was 60 mph. The ‘no excuse’ officers readily agreed with him and then pointed out that he was actually on a road with a 30 mph speed limit in Poundbury, several miles short of a dual carriageway. Therefore driving at 40 mph was not acceptable. He took his ticket without further complaint.

Chief Inspector Bob Nichols of Dorset Police Specialist Operations said: “The ‘no excuse’ initiative is supported by all the agencies in Dorset who are involved in the tragic aftermath of avoidable collisions.

“By increasing the likelihood of detection for those drivers who continue to put other road users at risk, I am confident that the standards of driving and concentration will improve and make using Dorset’s roads safer.

“Many of the motorists who are caught are eligible for driver awareness courses which allow them to avoid incurring penalty points and offer the chance to improve their driving skills.

“We see this association of enforcement and education as the key to reducing collisions.”

In monthly surveys carried out during the first four months of the campaign, public recognition of the ‘no excuse’ logo had increased to a staggering 73 per cent. During the ‘Surround a Town’ operation at Dorchester the percentage of those questioned recognising the ‘no excuse’ logo had risen to 83 per cent.

The ‘no excuse’ team’s presence will be felt across all areas of the county for the rest of the year – maintaining the deterrent, catching dangerous and inconsiderate drivers to make Dorset's roads safer.