Road safety in Dorset
It is National Road Victims Month and I’d like to use my newsletter this week to tell you more about the work going on to keep us all safe on Dorset’s roads.
Road safety is a hugely important issue. When you decide to get in a car and speed or drive under the influence you are putting your own and others' lives at risk.
Drug and Drink drive campaigns:
Dorset police frequently run both drink and drug drive campaigns, particularly around times of heightened risk such as Summer and Christmas. This week saw the launch of the summer drink and drug drive campaign which looks to discourage people who might be tempted to drive under the influence of drink or drugs.
The summer campaign this year has two elements to it, it’s not just the ‘don’t drive’ message that’s important, the campaign is also asking you to act if you know of someone who drinks alcohol or takes drugs and then drives. Reporting a suspected drink or drug driver is a responsible thing to do – imagine if you didn’t report what you know, and that person went on to cause an accident in which someone you loved was hurt or worse – would you be able to forgive yourself?
In Dorset we have an excellent Community Speedwatch scheme made up of 86 teams and over 700 volunteers (as of December 2022) carrying out vital work, and keeping us all safe on Dorset’s roads. The teams, which are established in communities across Dorset, conduct regular speed checks in problem areas. You can find out more about the work Community Speedwatch does in my newsletter on the scheme.
I want to send my thanks to every Speedwatch team for the vital work they are doing to help combat dangerous driving on our roads. Not only do the volunteers help keep our roads safe but they do so whilst experiencing an increasing level of abuse from the public. Over the last year, there has been an increase in the number of drivers shouting highly abusive language or making obscene gestures to the teams whilst they are conducting speed checks, with over 240 instances recorded so far this year.
I want to take this opportunity to make it clear that this behaviour is not acceptable. I am even more shocked to find out that some drivers are putting themselves and other road users at risk just to be abusive to the volunteers by taking both hands off their steering wheel to make insulting gestures, over-revving engines and using their mobile phones to video volunteers. Any driver acting in this manner will be reported to Dorset Police and further action may be taken by the force.
I’d like to remind anyone that takes part in this sort of behaviour that Community Speedwatch Teams are made up of volunteers from within the local community who give up their spare time to assist in making the roads of Dorset feel safer for all users. Please take a moment to consider if a member of your family were out conducting these sessions as a volunteer, would you be happy for them to have to endure abusive hand gestures and taunts or any other form of abusive behaviour?
Road safety sign trial
I have worked with Dorset Council to bring in a 12-month road safety sign trial across 10 village locations in North Dorset. This trial comes as a direct result of Dorset residents telling me of their concerns about speeding in their villages. I have heard their concerns and I hope that these new signs will encourage road users to think about their speed and take more care on Dorset’s roads.
As I have already said, we have an excellent Community Speedwatch scheme as well as the Police Road Safety team, both of whom work tirelessly to keep our roads safe. However, they cannot be everywhere. These signs will help to fill the gaps in villages where we do not have an established Community Speed Watch group.
Subsidised anti-theft bike locks
Road safety is more than just reducing speeding and catching drink and drug drivers. Preventing the theft of vehicles is also an important element in keeping Dorset’s roads safe as many vehicles that are stolen are driven in a dangerous manner.
This week I was proud to launch a motorcycle anti-theft initiative in partnership with the DocBike charity. This is another initiative that comes as a direct result of Dorset residents telling me their concerns.
The initiative aims to reduce motorcycle, moped and scooter thefts by providing the opportunity for Dorset motorcycle owners to purchase an alarmed disc lock at a significantly reduced price with my office covering the subsidy.
Each lock will be dispatched along with DocBike safety information such as a BikeSafe rider handout, a crash card (which can be placed inside the helmet and in the event of a crash it gives useful information to first responder teams) and a booklet on how to prevent crashes.
I am pleased to say that the original 250 subsided locks were sold out within 12 hours, and so, I have decided to fund another 250 locks to help keep your property safe.
I hope that this newsletter makes it clear that I am listening to residents’ concerns and ensuring that proactive action is taken to address them. As the voice of the public in policing, it is vitally important to me to know what Dorset’s residents are thinking and what issues are most important to them.
With that in mind, I would like to invite you to take part in my Annual Safety Survey and continue to tell me what is troubling you and your community. The survey is your opportunity to shape the work I do in the future and have your say on policing in Dorset.
Take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AS23WEB
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner