Tuesday, 14 October 2014 09:54

Road safety campaign wins rural support

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Road safety campaign wins rural support

One of England's biggest counties is backing a national campaign to promote rural road safety.

North Yorkshire County Council said it welcomed a national government Think! campaign to encourage responsible driving on rural roads.

More people die on rural roads than on motorways – but drivers are oblivious to rural risks, suggests new research.

North Yorkshire has one of the largest rural road networks in the country, including 5,000 kilometres of rural minor roads.

Recent figures show that road casualties, including fatalities, on the county's network, including rural roads, have fallen continuously since 2000.

But casualty figures continue to be much higher for the rural network.

Gareth Dadd, the council's executive member for highways, said the local authority recognised that many more drivers came to grief on the rural network.

Rural roads often twisted and turned, with potential hazards hidden around bends.

“We have run effective campaigns for many years targeted at drivers at all levels to promote responsible and safe driving in rural areas,” said councillor Dadd.

“A death on our roads is a death too many. Therefore, we do all we can to teach people about the specific dangers of the rural network."

One campaign, Drive Alive, takes road safety officers into the county's schools to run workshops with 16 and 17-year-olds to raise awareness of hazards on rural roads.

It also covers safe speeds, passenger power, peer pressure and first aid.

During the workshops, students are talked to by David Warin, a retired headteacher, and his wife, Janet, whose son, Daniel, died in a single vehicle crash when his car left the road.

The Warins recount how this has affected them and their family and talk to young people about what they can do to avoid such an incident.

Mr Warin was awarded the MBE last year for this work.

The county council also runs refresher courses for older drivers and an Enhanced Pass Plus scheme for newly qualified drivers.

This offers in-depth discussion on the many factors that can have an impact on driving - including the specific challenges of driving in the countryside.

Deputy chief constable Tim Madgwick said the local constabulary was giving the Think! campaign its full support.

“The area attracts tourists, cyclists and motorcyclists as well as being home to many rural and agricultural businesses which need the road network to sustain their livelihood.

“It is vital that all road users know their responsibilities and drive according to the speed limits, road conditions, weather and traffic situations.

“We have seen too many lives lost and people seriously injured through split second lapses in concentration or sheer disregard for the road or other road users.”

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