Road Safety

Recently, I received a letter from the Association of British Insurers with some truly shocking statistics.  According to the Department for Transport, Arundel & South Downs was the eighth worst in the country for deaths and serious accidents involving young people.

The latest official statistics also show that 192 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads between 2005 and 2011.  A further 995 people were less seriously injured in road incidents.  This is an unacceptable risk to our young people.

According to the ABI, young drivers account for a disproportionately high percentage of official accident figures, with tens of thousands of young lives being cut short or severely impacted each year.  The high car insurance premiums young drivers and their parents are experiencing are a direct result of these worrying figures.  The deaths and severe injuries can mean large compensation awards and a lifetime of care which needs to be paid for through premium levels.

I recently visited St Peter's School in Cowfold and the most important thing that the pupils there wanted to raise with me was road safety.  Members of the school council told me about their own near-collision experiences at a local traffic crossing, and they also gave other examples of dangerous traffic issues.

I have promised to take these issues up with West Sussex County Council, the Chief Constable of Sussex and our new Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.

I have also been troubled by a constituency case.  A young man was killed by a drunk driver.  To his parents' great distress, the perpetrator - later convicted - was able to continue driving until his case came to court, eight months later.

I cannot see why, in cases of drink and drug driving, there should not be an automatic driving ban, or at least the presumption of one, until the suspect is tried.  I have raised this question with the Attorney-General and I will continue to press this issue.

Cars are essential in a predominantly rural area like ours: people need them to get around, and that includes young drivers.  But they should be able to do so safely.

Christopher N Howarth