Project 'no excuse' - Two years on

Project ‘no excuse’, part of the Dorset Road Safe partnership’s casualty reduction campaign and International Road Safety Award Winner, reached its second anniversary on Wednesday 18 January 2012.

A recent survey showed that nearly 90% of the county’s population had heard of ‘no excuse’ and had shown their support of its aims of making Dorset’s roads safer.

Staff from all of the Dorset Road Safe partners have pledged their further support to the project, including the Surround a Town operations.

Partners have been encouraged by the increase in responsible driving noted across the county and the subsequent decease in overall traffic offences processed by the team.

Dorset Road Safe partners are also pleased to note the marked reduction in the number of drivers not wearing seatbelts and remain determined to continue tackle the ‘Fatal Four’.

Using the same number of officers and resources over the two years, the number of traffic offences processed has decreased. 

In the first year of the project, the “no excuse” team processed 16,630 offences. This figure dropped to 14,709 offences in the second year – a decrease of 1,921 offences (12%). The most noticeable reduction has been in motorists not wearing seatbelts – with the number of these offences dropping by 36% from 3,237 offences to 2,055. 

Brian Austin, ‘no excuse’ Project Manager, said: “I am greatly encouraged by the decrease in the overall number of offences that we are processing.

“I hope this reduction in offences shows that drivers are now paying more consideration to their driving habits and respecting other road users.

“Comparing casualty figures for fatal and serious injuries on Dorset’s roads from when the Road Safety partnership was formed, initially as Dorset Safety Camera Partnership, in 2002 to 2011 casualties across the county have dropped by 40.5%.

“Slight casualties in the same period have dropped by 39.5%.”

Sergeant Gareth Blaken, Lead Enforcement Officer of the ‘no excuse’ team, said: “I believe that the ‘no excuse’ project is having a marked affect on driving behaviour and is contributing to a continued reduction in road casualties within Dorset.

“However, whilst bad and careless motorists continue to flout legislation that is there to protect them as well as other drivers, the team will continue to enforce the fatal four offences robustly – especially the irresponsible and careless drivers who still consider using their mobile phone a safe practice. 

“All partner agencies have shown their full commitment to tackling these inconsiderate drivers and we will use whatever tactics we need, especially covert enforcement and laser technology, to remove these risks from our roads.”

Laressa Stephenson, Education Operations Manager for Dorset Police, said: “I have been greatly impressed and appreciative of the enthusiasm shown by the teaching staff and especially the students at all of the schools we have visited across the county.

“To see the whole range of age groups from nursery school children up to sixth formers willing to participate in a whole range of activities designed to increase their awareness of the dangers on our roads and pavements makes my job so fulfilling.”

Where possible drivers processed for committing offences are offered an education option designed to make them appreciate the risks they present to themselves, other road users and pedestrians.

In November 2011 an officer attempted to stop an Audi A3 as the driver was on his mobile phone.

The vehicle failed to stop which resulted in a pursuit involving traffic units, local units and the force helicopter.

The pursuit lasted approximately 15 minutes and resulted in the arrest of one man.

The vehicle had reached speeds of 70 miles per hour on roads with a 30 miles per hour limit. Attempts were made by the driver to negotiate roundabouts the wrong way. Officers involved described the standard of the offender’s driving as appalling.

Once stopped, the driver of the car stated that he was a mechanic and the only reason he didn't stop was that he didn't want points on his licence.

He went on to state that he had watched ‘Police, Camera, Action’ on TV and thought that if he drove dangerously enough, the police would give up pursuing him.

At his trial the driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and using his mobile phone whilst driving.

He received a four month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, 150 hours of community service and he was disqualified from driving for 12 months. Also, he is required to take an extended retest.

If he had simply stopped when he was seen using his mobile phone, he could have done a Driver Awareness Scheme course instead.

As always, some of the drivers stopped during the enforcement operations produce many interesting and imaginative excuses for why they have committed bad or careless driving practices. A selection of lines given by drivers stopped in December 2011 and January 2012 are provided below:

  • A lady caught driving at 44 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone stated she was in a rush to get home to cook a belated Christmas dinner for her mum, at 09.52 in the morning.
  • One driver said: "That was an expensive loaf," after he was caught travelling at 41 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone.
  • One female driver caught doing 53 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone, said: "I am late for my hairdresser’s appointment."
  • One lady stopped for using her mobile phone said: “I was just putting my calories into my iPhone slimming app.’’
  • One male driver was issued a ticket for using his mobile phone while driving and stated in defence: “I wasn’t using it, I was just taking photographs with it.”
  • One lady received a ticket for going through a red light. She apologised by saying: “Sorry, I was going too fast to stop.”
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