‘Too many families mourning’, Sussex Police chief says

Chief constable Giles York
Chief constable Giles York

‘Too many families are spending this Christmas mourning friends and family’, the chief constable of Sussex Police has said in an impassioned road safety plea.

Giles York attended a drink-drive checkpoint with roads policing unit officers in Storrington on Sunday (December 21) and described some of the driving as ‘frightening’.

The chief constable has urged all users of county roads, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, to take care following a substantial increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on Sussex roads this year.

He said: “Some of the drivers’ behaviour that I have witnessed in recent weeks has been awful.

“On three different occasions I have seen cars overtaking on blind bends on country lanes that was so dangerous it was frightening.

“I’ve just about seen cyclists wearing dark clothing on their bikes with no lights in dark lanes. I’m not sure they know just how invisible they are. They need to do more for themselves to be seen.

“I have been on two of our Christmas drink drive road checks and am really pleased with the professionalism of the officers and the high numbers of drivers that are being stopped for their own safety and the safety of other people.”

In total, 927 people died or were seriously injured in Sussex between January and November, more than in any of the previous six years.

This has been followed by seven fatalities on the roads this month - including incidents in Horsham, Bucks Green and Handcross.

CC York said some accidents have been caused by drivers ‘behaving like idiots’.

He added: “I am really disappointed that there are still people who feel they are beyond the law, whether because they are persistent offenders or because they believe they are immune to arrest.

“Officers tell me they often stop mothers driving their children to and from places. Last Saturday our safest option was a Sussex Police officer giving a group of children a lift home from a night out because their mother had been arrested on suspicion of drink driving.

“Collisions are not just happening because of bad weather, as the weather hasn’t been particularly bad. It isn’t that the roads are bad. It is simply that many people are behaving like idiots by driving dangerously and thinking that it won’t happen to them.

“Too many families in Sussex are spending this Christmas mourning family and friends who have been killed on the roads of Sussex this year, or will spend it in hospital with loved ones because of the selfish actions of others.”

Superintendent Jane Derrick, the head of roads policing in Sussex and Surrey, said: “A lot of people on the roads are putting more emphasis on rushing to get to their destination instead of making sure they get there in one piece.

“We are doing all we can to stop those who are putting other people in danger but we need road users to take some responsibility for their own actions.

“Every death on the roads is tragic and we have had a number of them already this month in Sussex. Think about how it would affect your family and friends if you were killed in a collision - or how the loved ones of your victims would be affected.”