Road deaths fall by half in Suffolk

SUFFOLK'S roads are safer than they have been for decades, new accident figures have revealed.

So far this year, 19 people have been killed in crashes on the county's roads – the lowest figure for at least 30 years.

Traffic police say that one of the reasons for the reduction in fatalities has been the freezing weather at the beginning and end of the year – forcing drivers to slow down. Figures show that 19 people have lost their lives in road accidents this year, compared with 42 last year. This year's figure is by far the lowest this century, beating the 31 recorded in 2008.

The average annual number of deaths on Suffolk's roads in the first decade of the 21st Century stands at 38, and the figures were higher still in the 1980s and 1990s – in 1980 alone there were 94 deaths.

Meanwhile, the number of victims sustaining life-changing injuries has fallen by 20% to 258 over the past 12 months.

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Police believe the dismal weather conditions experienced at the start of the year and again over the past month may be one of the reasons for the drastic improvement in road safety.

Chief Inspector Ady Dawson, of Suffolk Constabulary's traffic department, said: 'Although we get lots of accidents when there is snow and ice about, they are often not serious, high-speed collisions like we see in the summer months.

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'The fact we started and ended the year like that has helped bring the figures down.'

He added: 'We have been reiterating the messages about driving sensibly and it seems people are taking that on board.'

The rising cost of fuel is another contributory factor, according to the experienced traffic officer.

'The high price of fuel means people don't drive as fast because they are trying to be more economical.'

A breakdown of the figures show that the worst car crashes happen on our rural roads, while the four pedestrians killed this year have all been involved in accidents while walking in busy town centres.

This is an area police aim to target next year.

Chief Insp Dawson added: 'The other cause for concern is iPods and mobile phones – if you are listening to music or using a mobile phone then it is unlikely you are following the Highway Code. You need to Stop, Look, Listen.'

Road deaths in Suffolk by year:

2001: 53

2002: 43

2003: 60

2004: 42

2005: 36.

2006: 47

2007: 39

2008: 31

2009: 42

2010: 19 (to date)

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