Surrey Police’s December campaign to reduce drink and drug driving offences has proved a success with more than 70 people charged so far.
During Operation Dragonfly the Force proactively named people that had been charged in a bid to raise awareness and highlight the dangers associated with getting behind the wheel when under the influence of drink or drugs.
You can find out more about Surrey police at: www.surrey.police.uk
Mobility Scooters or Invalid carriages are a common sight on our roads, pavements and in our shopping centres. But are they safe? There are around 400,000 currently on our streets a growth of 33% since the early 2000’s. We have got over the hysteria of 2003 and 2012 where motorised scooters or invalid carriages, as the law knows them, were demonised through a few high profile events. These were generally where older folk made serious errors such as driving them onto a motorway. But at present the danger to others by invalid carriage users has been assimilated into our daily lives. In fact recent work by the Department for Economy, Science and Transport and the National Assembly for Wales confirms that they of significant benefit to disabled people and goes even further suggesting amendments to the regulations to make them more available to younger folk.
The currently problem of invalid carriages is one of visibility – do you see them? The question is particularly appropriate as we approach the end of British Summer Time on Sunday 25th October 2015. Whether on the pavement, on the road or merely crossing the street at low speed (0-8mph) there are significant dangers to the users because they do not have to show front and rear position indicators (side lights) and there is no MOT required.
From our own recent field study of invalid carriages used in London and the South of England very few users are aware of the dangers and what simple steps can be taken to make the user safer. However whilst 84% of users complain that motorists and cyclists ignore them, drive too close and “bully” them. (89% complain that pedestrians get in the way and that many shopping isles are too narrow) only some 10% of carriage users wear a high visibility clothing item when they use their vehicles. This one change to wearing a high-vis vest would, we argue, ensure that scooter users feel safer because other road users would see them earlier and be able to react sooner. This would be a useful step forward and we would ask the DoT to consider making this move mandatory following a wider survey.
It is also the case that of the 10% of users who wear high visibility clothing when on their mobility scooter over 70% of these do so because they have been involved in an accident or near miss with a vehicle. It would be an interesting subject for further research to examine the times, dates and weather conditions of such events.
Other useful safety changes would be for current invalid carriages to be fitted, like bicycles with reflectors and with reflected chevrons on the rear surface of the vehicle.
The study of mobility scooter safety will become simpler as from 2015 the police service will record incidents including invalid carriages.
Meanwhile if you know a mobility scooter user don’t wait for wider research to prove our study you can buy a high visibility safety vest from around £5 and help them be safer in our community.
A question by @dombat via Twittter and the ‘Police App’ ever more appropriate with the growing numbers of GoPro’s and other devices in cars and on bikes these days.
Can I report driving offences by video?
Yes you can. In Runnymede neighbourhood police have had an agreement for years with the Safer Runnymede CCTV control centre
that where their staff see anti-social driving the local neighbourhood team will contact the owner of the vehicles and give them a warning. For example ‘boy-racers’ up on the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds. You will also see in other blogs, reports from the public of dangerous parking along the A30 that officers have deployed to in order to protect people lawfully using the highway.
The nub of the issue is this: If you report a problem at a location police can deploy staff to check it out and tackle any offences they observe there. If however you see an offence you must make a choice; are you prepared to report it to the police and support them in the investigation all the way to a conviction in court – or not?
If you are prepared to support a prosecution then your video of the offences now forms part of the evidence police need to prosecute the driver. Next police need to identify the offender and interview them. If the driver admits the offence then they can decide how to deal with the suspect from giving simply advice all the way through to issuing a summons.
As a key witness you would be asked to provide a witness statement on top of your video and you would need to be prepared to go to court. Note that police have to be able to show that the images were original and that all the evidence could be tested at the trial. (That’s why police officers have such a comprehensive evidence/property collecting/recording/storage system).
If you are not prepared to go to court you should still tell the police as they can then monitor the location and the vehicle you saw.
However there is a third way you can contribute to local road safety by joining or starting a Community Speed Watch [CSW]. This is where the public band together to capture evidence following training on equipment supplied by police. So what is the difference between CSW and your suggestion? Simply the training provided and a prior agreement so that CSW members know that folk they report will initially relieve a warning letter and the offenders will be flagged to local police for their attention.
The best way forward if you are concerned is to speak with your local policing team and work with them to address the problem. But never stop advising the police of dangerous or anti-social driving. It’s the public’s number one priority in Surrey and police officers work alongside partners under Drive SMART are working to tackle it.