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Enhanced 'no excuse' team in renewed road safety bid

Dorset Police is publishing yearly figures for its road safety activities and in a further bid to tackle driving offences is setting up a new team to enhance the well-known ‘no excuse’ campaign.

Road safety in Dorset remains a serious concern for residents and a high priority for Dorset Police as the number of people killed and seriously injured on the county’s roads remains high – with 28 people killed and 334 seriously injured in 2013. As the county’s figures are still higher than those of other forces’ areas, road safety continues to be a specific local priority.

In January 2010 Dorset Road Safe partners launched the award winning ‘no excuse’ public awareness campaign combining a visible policing presence with education.

Superintendent Nicky Searle, of Dorset Police’s Operational Support Command, said: “People tell us they want to see more visible policing on Dorset’s roads, not just a reliance on speed cameras and we have responded. In autumn this year we are introducing a dedicated, self-funded ‘no excuse’ team of trained police officers. They will be focusing on known causes of collisions on our roads, which are speeding, careless driving, using mobile phones, not wearing seatbelts and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Dorset Police is totally committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads. I want to ensure that through ‘no excuse’ activity there is a real focus on driver awareness of the impact that motoring offences can have on people’s lives, however unintentional. The focus of the team will be on providing education to change driver behaviour and to save lives.”

From October 2014 the new team, consisting of one sergeant, six constables and two dedicated members of police staff will solely concentrate on ‘no excuse’ enforcement and follow-up enquiries in relation to issued tickets where the motorist failed to respond to the penalty.

Officers will issue fixed penalty notices and advice and also provide an educational booklet which gives information and guidance on avoiding driving carelessly.

In most of the cases where motorists receive a fixed penalty notice they can choose to attend a course under the Driver Awareness Scheme costing £110.

The Dorset Police Driver Awareness Scheme was originally introduced in April 2005. Dorset was one of the first places in the country able to offer an educational alternative to penalty points. Dorset was also one of the first forces to deliver wider driver awareness training that covered not just speeding but also other risks such as mobile phone use and drink-driving. In 2005 such additional elements were not covered by national courses which are provided by a variety of organisations, most of which are private commercial companies.

By 31 March 2014 a total of over 140,000 offences were addressed through the scheme. Feedback from participants has continued to be overwhelmingly supportive.

Through education the scheme offers an effective and proportionate alternative for fixed penalty offences and is currently used for speeding, red light and mobile phone offences. In order to provide consistency with other national schemes now in operation, the course will only be available to drivers who have not already attended a course anywhere in the country within the past three years.

The direct costs of operating the Dorset scheme in 2013/14 were fully met by the collection of fees from the participants.

The total cost of road safety during the financial year 2013/2014 was £5,323,000 which includes £1,564,000 for the Driver Awareness Scheme. The income generated by the scheme was £2,533,000 which has been re-invested into road safety.

Superintendent Searle continued: “The enhanced ‘no excuse’ team will provide a dedicated resource in the fight to tackle the main offences which are contributing factors in many road traffic collisions.

“Importantly, this isn’t just about speeding. Officers can respond to dangerous driving that cameras are not able to. Drivers tell us that face to face contact with a police officer is the most impactive way to address behaviour on the roads.

“The figures show that despite the great work by the ‘no excuse’ campaign so far, more needs to be done if the number of serious injuries and deaths on Dorset’s road are to decrease.

“The effects of serious road traffic collisions are far reaching for all involved – the victims, their families, witnesses and also members of the emergency services, who deal with the aftermath of the collision and have to impart terrible news to the families of those involved in a road traffic collision.

“We are committed to challenging dangerous behaviour on our roads and investing money directly from enforcement back into this important area of policing to save lives.”

Issued: 24 July 2014

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