Since 2010, road death statistics in Dorset have varied year on year from 16 to 26 fatalities. The unpredictable nature of collisions underlines the importance of ensuring all road users get refresher education to reduce the likelihood of being involved in such tragedies.
The Commissioner pledged to work with local charities to raise awareness of road safety among the general driving population - not just those who have committed offences.
Dorset Police launched Community Road Safe in September 2016 - an initiative run in conjunction with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Kwik Fit, in an attempt to improve road safety across the county. The sessions are free to the public and funded directly from course fees generated when motorists break the lawon Dorset’s roads.
Each session includes a hands on demonstration of simple car checks, what to do if you are first on scene at an accident and a road safety workshop covering the Fatal 5 causes of collisions.
During consultation with over 2,000 local people, 71% agreed that concentrating on road safety issues should be a focus for Dorset Police.
Many are addicted to their phone and think they cannot survive a journey without checking social media, sending a text or taking a call. The red thumb aims to act as a visual reminder to all motorists to not be tempted.
As the Association of Police & Crime Commissioner lead on road safety, the Commissioner is a passionate supporter of education campaigns like My Red Thumb.
The Commissioner sported a red thumb, conducted media interviews with press and took part in the social media campaign on 11 May 2017. Throughout the day, motorists were encouraged to paint their nail red, photograph it and share it online in order to remind drivers to put phones out of reach and stay safe on the roads.
The Commissioner continues to lobby the Government to lower the drink drive limit, in line with his electoral pledge.
We will soon have the highest drink drive threshold in Europe, but the Department for Transport remain unmoved on the issue, arguing that rigorous enforcement is more effective than changing the drink drive limit. The Commissioner questions the 'either, or' approach.
In August 2016, the Commissioner's pledge to increase the availability of drug driving test kits across the Force was achieved.
The consequences of drug driving can be devastating. The Commissioner is commited to equipping as many officers as possible with the skills to test drivers and bring those who disregard the law to justice.
On 2 March 2015, changes to the Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced a new offence of driving while over a prescribed drug limit.
Since that date, Dorset Police has trained all traffic and ‘No Excuse’ team officers to conduct roadside screenings for cannabis and cocaine using mobile testing equipment.
In support of the PCC’s pledge, Dorset Police has extended training to all special constables working with the ‘No Excuse’ team to carry out drug wipe testing. Special Constable, Simon Miller has already secured his first positive roadside screening for drugs during a recent operation.
To date, 48 per cent of drivers tested by Dorset Police officers have given a positive roadside sample, with illegal substances found to be present in the driver’s system.
When it comes to successfully identifying drug drivers, Dorset Police is the best force in the region. With more trained officers, Dorset Police's ability to crack down on offenders is now even stronger.
A new 20mph zone has been agreed by Dorset County Council’s Cabinet for Iwerne Minster.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: "When I was contacted by residents concerned about speeding in Iwerne Minster, I advised that setting up a local Community Speed Watch team could help the cause, in addition to a petition to establish how many residents shared concerns.
“The Iwerne Minster community has since admirably demonstrated its commitment to taking action on road safety and I am pleased to have been able to assist with lobbying efforts to deliver the new 20mph zone. This is about quality of life as well as safety; I congratulate all involved.”
The official signing of the Traffic Regulation Order is the culmination of five years’ work to raise awareness, local funds and carry out safety audits. The zone will reduce the speed of vehicles and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
A public consultation launched by PCC Martyn Underhill to gain an insight into Dorset residents’ views on the drink drive limit has found that a majority of people would like to see a lower threshold introduced.
2,098 people shared their views in a survey, with 72% supportive of legislative change to bring the current limit into line with standards seen in Scotland and Europe. This result is consistent with the national British Social Attitudes survey, which found 77% of people think the limit should be lowered.
Of the participants who stated that they currently consume alcohol before driving, 38% said a lower limit would result in them consuming less alcohol before driving, while 40% would no longer consume any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “These results clearly indicate that legislative change has the potential to not only affect drivers’ attitudes towards drink driving, but also their behaviour on the roads and ultimately the choices they make."
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has awarded funding to Brake, the road safety charity.
The funding will help Brake provide support for those bereaved or seriously injured in road collisions. It also helps family and friends of those in road collisions as well as professionals who are supporting them.
Brake’s helpline and information booklets provide emotional support, practical information, and signposting. The charity also offers advocacy and appropriate referrals for helpline callers towards face-to-face or other tailored support.
The Police and Crime Commissioner responded to a Department for Transport consultation proposing easier methods for reporting road traffic collisions to the police.
National competition launched to help police tackle gridlock caused by road collisions.
The Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for Devon and Cornwall and for Dorset, have been working with the Alliance Roads Policing Team to launch a nationwide competition to find innovative solutions to reduce the amount of time needed to record evidence at road traffic collision sites.
The goal is to find a technical solution which reduces evidential capture time by 50%. The competition, launched in collaboration with Exeter City Futures, offers a potential contract of up to £200,000 for the winning solution.
Residents across Dorset are taking to the streets to help crack down on speeding motorists in their neighbourhoods.
The Community Speed Watch scheme, which allows members of the public to monitor motorists’ driving behaviour in their area and pass on details to the police, continues to grow across the county.
The PCC writes about work taking place to make Dorset's roads safer - including the growing number of Community Speed Watch groups across the county.
He writes: "I am proud to live and work in a county where so many organisations and people in our communities are working hard to raise awareness and encourage people to make good choices around using our roads. To obey the speed limit. To not use a mobile phone while driving. To not drink and drive.
"I have heard people say that driving offences, such as speeding and using a phone while driving, are not real crimes. But the law is very clear that they are. Further to that, conversations I have had with members of the public indicate that it is a real issue. The number of Community Speed Watch volunteers in our county demonstrates that speeding is a real issue for those who live in Dorset..."
The PCC urges motorists to take care around two wheeled road users - and writes about some of the initiatives to improve safety for motorcyclists in Dorset.
He writes: "I am proud that the UK’s first DocBike was launched in Dorset. DocBike is a motorcycle safety initiative offering free rider training including what to do in the event of an accident. It is an initiative that is saving lives. All riders can improve their skills - police motor bike riders undergo continuous training to enhance their riding skills.
"Road safety is an area Dorset Police has focused on and the Force’s roads policing officers will be helping to improve safety on our roads through various activities across the county this Road Safety Week."
Ahead of the Christmas party season, the PCC promotes the message that it is never OK to drive under the influence of drink or drugs.
Martyn Underhill also writes about his work lobbying central government to lower the drink drive limit in England and Wales.
The number of people killed and seriously injured on Dorset's roads has shown a sustained fall since 2012.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “I am optimistic that our Dorset Partnership has managed to achieve a sustained reduction in deaths and serious injuries on our roads. The No Excuse campaign, coupled with the No Excuse Team, Op Dragoon, Op Allied Wolf and other such initiatives have clearly been instrumental, coupled with consistent messaging through print, social media and local media about the Fatal Five.
"This is also a timely moment to reflect that we have two Safety Centres in our County, helping change the attitude to risk amongst our younger generation.
“Our growing Community Speed Watch teams have also empowered local communities to help reduce casualties, and working with the Dorset Road Safe partnership in the area of driver education and safety cameras has been a key element in achieving this excellent outcome.
“None of this has happened without significant financial investment and I would be keen to see this reduction in casualties on our roads sustained.”