THE number of people killed on Dorset roads jumped by almost a third last year to a tragic 25.
Among the victims were five-year-old Lily-Mae Jeffries who was involved in a collision with two motorbikes as she crossed the road with her grandmother, motorcyclists David Bartholomew and Nick Barry and friends Craig Jewell and Joshua Tate who died when the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree and burst into flames.
The number of fatal collisions in Dorset rose by six deaths from 19 in 2011.
Dorset’s top traffic officer says while there is no particular reason for the rise in deaths, motorists need to remember that a momentary lapse in concentration could lead to tragedy.
Speaking about the 25 people killed on the roads in 2012, Inspector Matt Butler, pictured left, added: “They are not just statistics – these are real people who have been killed or seriously injured.
“My officers are at the front line, at the scene dealing with these collisions, seeing the carnage and unfortunately delivering those messages that people didn’t ever want to receive.
“We are very much aware that real people are being killed on our roads and are trying to reduce this – it is something we are very passionate about.”
The number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents in Dorset also rose last year – from 329 in 2011 to 333 at mid-December.
Insp Butler added: “I cannot say why there has been a slight increase but this is the picture regionally and nationally.
“While there has been an increase it is lower than it has been historically – in 2002 there were 52 fatal collisions in Dorset.”
He said the force, together with other members of Dorset Road Safe, would continue to target the vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, moped riders and senior motorbike riders on high-powered machines.
The organisation already runs Bike Safe for motorcyclists and in the New Year it will be launching its Ride Alive project.
This will deliver messages to older students in schools and colleges about riding mopeds and scooters and offering them the chance to take part in an on-street training programme.
It also delivers its hard-hitting Safe Drive, Stay Alive message to schools. Insp Butler said just over a quarter, 29 per cent, of people killed or seriously injured last year were involved in accidents on Dorset’s truck road – the A31 and A35.
He added: “The biggest factor is careless driving – people not paying attention to the road properly, driving too closely and failing to give themselves time to react.”
The force says the main causes of accidents on Dorset’s road are the ‘fatal four’ – severity of injury due to not wearing a seatbelt, excess speed, not paying attention such as speaking on the phone and drink or drug driving.
Insp Butler said: “The first fatal collision I dealt with as an officer was a drink driver and the most recent investigation I carried out also involved drink driving.
“Drink driving kills people – it’s as simple as that.”
He urged motorists to take care this winter.
“People need to give themselves extra time on their journeys to keep themselves safe.
“Remember when you get into your car every single day there is a potential for something to go wrong.
“You have a responsibility to make sure you are able to deal with these situations and pay attention to what’s going on ahead of you.”
Cllr Peter Finney, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “We have put a lot of time and effort towards making the roads in Dorset safe.
“The only thing that affects the casualty rate is people’s behaviour on the road.
“That’s the only area we can improve.
“It is all down to driver education. The sad fact is that people are either driving too quickly or not doing what they should be doing.
“Driver error is a factor in the majority of cases.”
Cllr Finney added: “I get reports of all the serious incidents that happen in Dorset county and, without exception, not one of them last year was down to road conditions.”
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