Education and enforcement two tools to keep district’s roads safe

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Responding to a high number of serious accidents on Horsham district’s roads last year police pulled out all the stops to take enforcement action and inform motorists.

Working with other emergency services Horsham police held their second bi-monthly ‘day of action’ stopping motorists for using mobile phones while driving, not wearing seat belts, and speeding at various points in the district on Thursday March 21.

The neighbourhood policing teams worked with the road policing unit and officers in training to target resources in areas where people in the community had raised specific concerns.

Highly visible checks were conducted across the area, with 20 drivers reported for offences including driving without seat belts, using a mobile phone, speeding, and defective tyres.

Leading the operation was Sergeant Bob Trevis, who said that after 14 years of working in traffic and marching down garden paths to deliver bad news to families, anything they could do to highlight road safety had to be worthwhile.

He said: “It is clear that many people across the Horsham district have concerns regarding road safety and related issues.

“We targeted our actions on this occasion in Cowfold, Southwater and Horsham town where the residents have made clear to us they have specific concerns they wanted addressing.

“Enforcement alone will not deal with road safety issues; education is a very effective tool and many of our activities on the day included this.”

One of the area’s targeted was Cowfold High Street where villagers have set up a campaign group to tackle speeding and raise road safety concerns.

Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield), deputy leader of West Sussex County Council, explained that the village was also dealing with air quality issues, and were exploring putting traffic lights in the Bolney Road to stagger traffic.

He said: “This is neighbourhood policing at its best. I think we are addressing the concerns of local residents.”

New rules mean that rather than automatically giving motorists three penalty points on their driving licence for using a mobile phone whilst driving, police can offer attendance of an education course as an alternative.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service ran an education stand in Southwater’s Lintot Square offering advice and information to passers-by.

Sarah Adams, a road safety co-ordinator, said the new ‘diversion’ courses gave them an opportunity to explain safety issues to drivers, including why wearing a seat belt was so important.

She added: “Our aim as a service is prevention, protection and safety.”

Between April 2012 and this February, 92 people were either killed or seriously injured on roads across the Horsham district.

Police visited local schools to speak with pupils and also parents collecting their children.