‘We’re dealing with those who show a disregard to public safety’ – Police on the increase of drug driving

THE number of serious and fatal collision in Cumbria has fallen by more than 50 per cent, it has been revealed.

In a review of roads policing, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said fatalities on the county’s roads in 2020 have fallen to 16 from 31 in 2019.

Serious or fatal collisions have reduced by more than 52 per cent from 2019 with casualties falling to 224 from 442 with hospitalisations reduced from 23.8 per cent to 13.8 per cent.

The statistics compare 2020 to date to the whole of 2019.

Young men between the ages 26-35 are more likely to be involved in serious collisions, Mr McCall was told at his Public Accountability Conference.

McCall said: “Road safety and dangerous driving is an issue that is raised with me often by the public and with good reason.

“My Public Accountability Conferences give me the opportunity to hold the Chief Constable to account on these issues and receive information around what the police are doing to tackle issues – in this case serious and fatal road collisions.”

Officers revealed the five key contributory factors to collisions resulting in fatalities or serious injury, locally, are drink/drug/tired driving, lack of seatbelts, speeding, distracted driving i.e. mobile phone and risky driving such as over-taking at junctions.

So far in 2020, police have prosecuted 290 drivers for using mobile phones behind the wheel and 15,849 speeders. More than 50 per cent of those caught speeding have attended speed awareness courses with evidence highlighting education is three times more likely to decrease dangerous driving than enforcement alone.

Drink and Drug driving remains one of the biggest causes of dangerous driving.

So far in 2020, almost 15 per cent of the 1,858 drivers tested failed or refused the breathalyser test. 478 drug wipes of drivers tested positive in 2020, up 39 from 439 in 2019.

To date, 960 drink and drug offence charges have been handed out in 2020 with drug driving offences being double that of drink driving offences.

Mr McCall added: “It’s clear that the Roads Policing teams are doing a great job at deterring and catching dangerous drivers.

“Halving the road deaths in the county is a huge success and we are striving to reduce that number even further to zero.”

Supt Andy Wilkinson said: “Our officers work 24/7 to keep our roads safe. This involves effectively dealing with those who show a disregard to public safety. We prioritise our education and enforcement approach to those locations and demographics deemed to be the most vulnerable.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News