The number of fatal accidents on East Sussex roads is ‘out of control’, according to a county councillor.
A total of 22 people died in fatal incidents in 2015 across the county, up from 16 in 2014, according to provisional figures in East Sussex County Council’s monitory report for 2015/16.
Figures also show that 348 were either Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI), down 10.3 per cent compared to 2014.
Philip Howson (UKIP, Peacehaven and Telscombe Towns), leader of the UKIP group at ESCC, said that although figures showed a 10 per cent decrease, he found it ‘totally incomprehensible’ that 348 people were killed or seriously injured in the county.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, he said, “I know with my other hat on [as chairman of the East Sussex Fire Authority] every week I’m getting people ringing me up telling me that we’ve had another person, young person, elderly person, killed on the roads, and it’s just ridiculous.
“We have really got to step up our safety features and safety talks especially with the riders, the children, Safe Drive Stay Alive programmes.
“These are the things that are going to stop some of this because the KSIs are getting really out of control.”
The monitoring report also notes that the 2015 KSI figure is down eight per cent compared to the 2005-2009 average. The average number of fatalities over that period was 33 a year.
Chris Dowling (Con, Framfield and Horam), lead member for community services, replied, “Obviously any level of figures on this is regrettable and requires investigation and requires further action.
“There is set out here a decline in the numbers, albeit going back to 2005-2009, and obviously a comparison with 2014 as well. There is £1m of money that’s come from health within this council which is being allocated to look into the issues and causes behind the road figures.
“It’s been identified by many people and also identified by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) that it’s driver error and driver behaviour that is the biggest contributor throughout this county and I assume nationwide that causes these figures. It’s that £1m that will be used towards looking into driver error, how it can be addressed and how it can be tackled.”
A project manager is due to be appointed soon to take the scheme forward in conjunction with SSRP.
He explained that Wealden District Council had launched a project in the late winter and early spring ‘We’re Keeping an Eye on You’, involving signs which he thought would have ‘quite a lot of impact’,
Cllr Dowling added, “It’s being taken very seriously, it’s not something that’s easy to dismiss, but driver error and driver behaviour has been identified as the main problem and it has to be looked at very seriously and solutions brought into that.”
Rupert Clubb, director of communities, economy and transport, added, “We know that more than 90 per cent of killed and seriously injured statistics are a result of driver behaviour.
“I see the details of every accident involving killed and seriously injured, and I think the police’s campaign on drink and drugs is a very important educational aspect to keeping our roads safe.
“These are significant behavioural challenges, it’s not an overnight fix and we very much welcome the £1m that Public Health have contributed towards developing a suite of behavioural initiatives to try to address this problem.
“There is some positive news that the number of KSIs has reduced when you look back to 2005 but of course those KSIs we get each one has its own story and its own tragedy associated with it which we are trying to iron out through this behavioural challenge.”
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