Policing partnership to improve safety on our roads

PUBLISHED: 19:30 31 October 2016


When it comes to tackling safety concerns on our county’s roads, the police in Herfordshire work closely with neighbouring forces on both proactive and reactive strategies.

As part of our ongoing Be Road Safe campaign, we spoke to Ch Insp Jane Aspin from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit about the challenges her team faces on a daily basis.

What are the main offences you experience when it comes to safer driving, and how do you deal with each type of offence?

National research into road safety shows the four most significant causes of deaths on the road are drink and drug driving, speeding, drivers using mobile phones at the wheel and not wearing seatbelts.

We take a two-pronged approach to tackling the each of these issues, encompassing both enforcement and driver education.

My roads policing officers spend the majority of their time out and about enforcing the rules of the road. However if it is appropriate, offending drivers are diverted to a driver awareness course rather than issued with a points on their licence and a fine.

This reflects a general shift towards education in recent years because it has the dual benefit of both making people both safer drivers and meaning they are less likely to take up valuable time in the criminal justice system.

We work with our partners in the emergency services and the road authority Herts County Council to conduct a broad programme of public education. My officers attend events with our crash car simulator and we run the Learn 2 Live programme with our partners. This is aimed at older children, many of whom will be learning to drive in the coming years.

We also run regular campaigns run through both the traditional media and social media throughout the year. These campaigns focus on issues like speeding, drink driving, and motorbike and cycle safety, as well as highlighting changes in the law and the importance of good vehicle maintenance.

We are seeing more people being convicted for drug driving – is this due to improved testing or an increase in offences?

The numbers of people caught drug driving will naturally fluctuate over time, just like any other offence, however there are several factors behind a general increase. Firstly, as the question states, the improved equipment means that reliable testing can be done at the roadside. This makes enforcement easier and have resulted in an increase in both detection and prosecution.

Secondly is that changes in the law recently mean that there is more clarity around improper use of prescription drugs while driving. A number of prescription drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive and it is important that drivers follow their doctor’s guidance when using them. If they don’t then they are breaking the law. This new law has made it easier to take enforcement action against drivers that do this.

Do bad drivers tend to re-offend time after time, even after conviction?

We have a points-based system in this country so anyone who racks up a number of convictions will sooner or later find themselves banned from driving.

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A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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