‘TAKE more responsibility for your actions on the road’ is the message to motorists after 16 people died in crashes in the first half of this year – the same number who lost their lives during the whole of 2018.

The majority of fatal collisions are caused by people making mistakes on the road or driving badly, Inspector Joe Pardy from Dorset Police’s Traffic Unit told the Daily Echo.

Drug driving and mobile phone use, two of the force’s ‘fatal five’ driving offences, are “huge issues” on the county’s roads, he said.

While road deaths are on the decline nationally, he said he was concerned by Dorset’s number of fatal crashes between January and June this year.

“Sixteen last year was one of our lowest we’ve ever had in terms of fatalities on the road. It is a concern they’ve come to 16 so far this year.

“The main reasons for these collisions are the drivers of the vehicles. You’re driving a heavy piece of machinery on the road and you’ve got to take care – drive it properly, drive it safely. People just need to take that responsibility and understand the risks they’re taking.”

Insp Pardy said “too many” young people were killed or seriously injured on Dorset’s roads.

“If they’ve got friends in the car they sometimes have a desire to show off, which of course is massively dangerous on the roads. We’re very supportive of insurance companies bringing in things like black boxes, which can assist in making people more aware of their driving with a benefit to them in terms of the cost of their premium.

“At the other end of the scale we’ve got the more elderly drivers who, of course, want to keep their independence going into their later years. Driver Gold is an initiative where you can help them understand and improve their driving standards.”

Despite police efforts to educate drivers, there are those who are still unaware that drug driving is illegal, Insp Pardy said.

“Mobile phones are a huge issue still, despite the increase in the penalties.

"Statistics do show there are a number of collisions, and fatalities, that have been caused by people on their phones," he said.

Some people, though, will always flout the law.

“I accept there are people out there who aren’t going to listen to what the police say and they’re not going to be concerned about the laws and they will just drive badly,” Insp Pardy said.

“They will use drugs and drive, they will use drink and drive. And we will catch those people.”

With traffic police on the roads 24/7, 365 days a year to catch dangerous drivers, and officers continually spreading safety messages in the community, what more can be done to reduce road deaths?

That is where you can help, Insp Pardy said.

“We want the community to help us by letting us know of those people who are driving badly on a regular basis. Operation Snap, which we’ve just released, is asking members of the public if they have dashcam footage when they witness driving offences. They can send that to Dorset Police now.”

Nick Lloyd, acting head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said it was important police forces had a "robust" strategy for reducing road deaths.

“Four out of the last five years were above the 2010-14 KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) average, and the number is broadly flat lining. This combined with this year’s data is very disappointing and shows the importance of having a robust casualty reduction strategy. This will involve casualty analysis which identifies where, when and how collisions happen on Dorset’s roads. This allows the police and highway authority to target their resources in known crash sites.”