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Raise driver awareness of poor decision making

Since 2012, there has been a significant reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Dorset’s roads – from 393 in 2012 to 293 in 2018. Slight casualties have also shown a similar reduction.

The casualty reduction trend for serious and slight casualties has continued into 2019, however Dorset has seen an increase in the number of fatalities. In 2017, 27 people were killed on Dorset’s roads, falling to 16 in 2018, but sadly this appears likely to rise to 2017 levels again in 2019. Final figures for 2019 will be available in March 2020 once all the data has been verified. Dorset Road Safe continue to analyse the collision data and to identify any opportunities to address the rise in fatal collisions.

A partnership approach, focused on a combination of enforcement, education and engineering, continues to work hard to improve road safety locally.

One long standing campaign by Dorset Police has been 'No Excuse'. Relaunched in 2014 with a new, dedicated team of police officers and staff (supported by Special Constables), No Excuse concentrates specifically on areas where the public have expressed concerns, where there have been a high number of collisions, or where analysis has identified a particular risk. Education and enforcement efforts are then directed at tackling the ‘fatal five’:

• drink and drug driving
• not wearing a seatbelt
• speeding
• driver distractions (eg using a mobile phone while driving)
• careless driving

The team operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The PCC recognises that whilst progress has been made, more needs to be done to reduce road casualties and protect vulnerable road users. The Commissioner therefore made a number of related commitments upon re-election, including a specific commitment to work with the No Excuse team to raise awareness and education around poor decision making and careless driving.

A number of ongoing No Excuse operations are in place targeting different aspects of road safety and road traffic offences. These include Operation Dragoon, targeting our most prolific and high risk road offenders; Operation Allied Wolf, an alliance across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall providing a highly visible roads police presence within a concentrated geographic area; and ‘Surround a Town’ operations concentrating on mass enforcement and publicity in a specific area.

In addition, the team work closely with the Dorset Strategic Road Safety Partnership (DSRSP) on other initiatives. For example, in April 2019 the Partnership launched the innovative ‘Choices for Humanity’ campaign aimed at getting all road users to think about their behaviours and to encourage them to make better choices. Partly funded by the PCC the campaign has been positively received and received a significant amount of attention, including national Government recognition.

Analysis has identified a total campaign exposure of 15 million road users through the various methods used, along with 104,000 individuals actively engaged with by the campaign.

The Commissioner also provided backing to Operation Close Pass, which sees the police targeting drivers who don’t give vulnerable road users such as cyclists or horses enough room when overtaking. Close Pass uses police officers patrolling the roads with cameras to record the behaviour of drivers who overtake them.  If offences take place, the officer alerts colleagues who direct the vehicle into a checkpoint where the driver is offered roadside education using a mat illustrating the safe passing distance. Anyone refusing the 10-minute roadside education will receive a fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence. Operation Close Pass – Cycle Safe was launched in July 2017, followed by Operation Close Pass – Horse Safe in March 2019.

In supporting other national campaigns the PCC also actively promotes awareness raising, including the ‘My Red Thumb’ campaign in 2017 educating against the use of mobile phones whilst driving; support for annual road safety weeks of action, including a specific focus on bike safety and motorcyclists; and support for wider road safety initiatives including the promotion of Community Speed Watch and regular drink/drug driving campaigns.

The Commissioner will continue to ensure that Dorset Police are appropriately resourced in order to carry out road safety activity such as No Excuse whilst also working with partners to consider any new and innovative approaches that can potentially be implemented to make further progress.

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