At this time of year, when the weather is bad and the nights are long, the accident rate on our Cornish roads is always higher. In 2019 (where full pre-pandemic figures are available) 1,752 people were killed on the roads across the UK and almost thirty thousand were seriously injured. Last year, despite the reduction in road traffic due to the pandemic, 48 deaths and 793 serious injuries occurred in Cornwall. The ‘Vision Zero’ approach is something I endorse, and I believe the aspiration to cut road deaths by half by 2030 and entirely by 2040 is one which we should all support. Now that the public health situation is stabilising road safety will be one of my key priorities. In the first week of January, I wrote to the Police and Crime Commissioner and asked for an update on schemes in North Cornwall. My team have made contact directly with Devon & Cornwall Police to set up a meeting on the Vision Zero scheme which I mentioned previously, and I have also been in contact with National Highways concerning some of our dangerous A30 junctions, including Plusha, which I know is a serious concern for many people in the area. I have already been working with community groups on traffic plans for villages, but if you are aware of an accident blackspot in your own area or you have an idea for a safety scheme, then I would like to hear from you. Please contact my office via post or email, with the subject line ‘Road safety'.
Continuing the theme of the roads, many of you who follow my social media posts will know that I am a big supporter of the Devon & Cornwall ‘No Excuse’ who are on the lookout for the ‘Fatal Five’ - Careless driving; Drink and drug driving; Not wearing a seatbelt; Using a mobile phone; and Speeding. The team was up in Bude last week and reported that within five minutes of arriving they caught a driver under the influence of drugs and caught numerous people on the roads without proper insurance or current MOT certificates. This is obviously quite concerning to me and will be a major consideration when I scrutinise legislation that comes forward later this year. The Government is preparing to introduce changes to the law in the spring, and this will include a ban on the use of all handheld devices while driving; closing a loophole that allows drivers to use phones for ‘interactive communication’. I am in favour of any measures which increase the safety of North Cornwall residents on the road and I look forward to updating you again in the near future.