Sussex Police’s chief constable has called on all road users to ensure they do not put themselves, or others, in danger over the festive season and into the New Year. The appeal was made before Christmas, but today a cyclist was killed near Nutley - the second bike rider to have been killed in Sussex this month.
Figures released by the police reveal that more people have been killed or injured on the roads of East and West Sussex in 2014 than in any of the six previous years, reports the Shoreham Herald.
In all, 927 people have been killed or injured on roads in Sussex so far this year, including 33 fatalities. Seven people have lost their lives in road traffic incidents in the two counties this month alone, and police believe that the behaviour of motorists and others is partly to blame.
Those seven people who have died this month include 65-year-old cyclist Mike Dixon, killed when he was struck by a car in Horsham on 8 December.
A 26-year-old man, Luigi Dannile, from Copsale, near Horsham, has been charged with causing Mr Dixon's death by dangerous driving, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.
Chief Constable Giles York attended a police checkpoint at Storrington last week targeting drink-drivers, and 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.”
His criticism wasn’t just reserved for motorists, however. The chief constable went on: “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.
“As drivers, cyclists and pedestrians we all have to take responsibility for making the roads safer.
“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.
“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.”
He added: “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.
“Please take care on the roads and make sure you – and everyone you meet – gets where you want to go safely,” he concluded.
Superintendent Jane Derrick, who is in charge of roads policing in both Sussex and Surrey, added: “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.”
Advice to vulnerable road users include cyclists being requested to ensure they are visible and their bicycles well maintained, while pedestrians are being encouraged to be careful on pavements that may be slippery, and to give vehicles additional time to stop when they cross the road.
Antisocial driving an be reported to police by texting 65999, or online at www.operationcrackdown.co.uk, while people seeing a vehicle being driven dangerously are asked to call 999.
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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.