Region a hotspot for road traffic accidents

rta08:09 Monday 22nd June 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: For the first time figures have been released that show where the people involved in accidents have come from, and not just where the accidents took place, and it’s not good news for people from Peterborough and North East Cambridgeshire. Both those parliamentary constituencies ranking very highly in these figures, more accident prone that most it seems in those parts of Cambridgeshire. These findings have been released by PACTS, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. David Davies is the Executive Director.
DAVID DAVIES: Some road networks are more hazardous than others, particularly if you’ve got rural roads, some fast single carriageway roads. And it can simply reflect higher levels of driving, or for example motorcycle use, or pedestrian use in some cases. But I think in Cambridge, in terms of North East Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, it is largely about drivers. That’s the figures for car occupants, which stand out as being higher than average.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Well when Stewart Jackson the MP for Peterborough heard of these figures he posted a message on Twitter saying he needed to investigate. We can talk to him now. So have you had a closer look at these figures Stewart? What do you think they tell us about Peterborough?
STEWART JACKSON: I think Dotty the combination of areas in our county in the Peterborough, Greater Peterborough area of long wide roads, sometimes close to water such as dykes or rivers, and the fact that we’ve got a disproportionately high number of younger drivers, which does have an impact on the figures, I think that combination means that not just Peterborough but this part of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire are affected by this spike, this very high level of traffic accidents. But I think the key figure is the number of young drivers. 23% of 18-24 year olds crash within two years of passing their driving test, so I think that is a figure as well. We’ve got lots of younger drivers, and that’s having an impact overall on the figures.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what do you do about that? How do you try and make these young drivers safer?
STEWART JACKSON: Undoubtedly you have to have a number of strategies, but the number one I think is road safety campaigns. I think we need to use social media particularly to put the point across to younger drivers that it’s not only that they’re premiums will go up, that it will be more expensive for them to drive if other people have accidents, but that they have a responsibility to be good drivers, to be responsible drivers, and to look after their own safety and those of other road users and pedestrians. I think that is the issue, and that begins right back in schools, and also obviously parental support as well. Because it’s that frightening figure of almost a quarter of 18-24 year olds crashing after their test which I think is at the heart of these very poor figures. Peterborough constituencies rank number three in the country for these road traffic accidents.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Yes it’s not a list that you want to be near the top of, is it? Paul’s been in touch this morning Stewart. Let me put this to you. Paul says: “Are people being a bit diplomatic about this? Could the real reason be to do with high numbers of migrants in Peterborough and in North East Cambridgeshire, which also ranks highly?” Do you think there’s any evidence to support that?
STEWART JACKSON: I think that is a factor. It’s no good claiming that that isn’t a factor. There is, generally speaking, in some Eastern European countries, there is a less stringent and robust regime for road safety. In other words it’s socially acceptable not to have insurance and to drive cars that are not necessarily always roadworthy. That is probably a minority. But obviously you’ve got a very large number of younger drivers who are from Eastern European countries in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and that undoubtedly does slightly skew these figures.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Stewart, good to talk to you. Thank you very much. Stewart Jackson , Peterborough’s MP there.