New North East road safety campaign launched

A road safety campaign has been launched after a new study revealed shocking satistics of the number of pedestrians killed or injured in crashes

Road Safety GB North East chairman Alan Kennedy, centre, with students at the launch of the campaign
Road Safety GB North East chairman Alan Kennedy, centre, with students at the launch of the campaign

A major campaign has been launched to reduce road accidents after new figures showed more than 2,600 pedestrians were killed or injured in crashes across the North East.

The study by Road Safety GB North East revealed that Newcastle had the highest number of accidents during the last five years, with 731 people killed or hurt.

County Durham was next in line with 561 injury collisions, while Sunderland had 381.

Campaigners say alcohol is a major contributing factor, with around a third of the accidents in the region involving booze either on the part of the driver or the pedestrian.

The most at-risk group are young people aged between 16 and 24, and the heaviest nights for crashes are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when pubs and clubs are at their busiest.

Yesterday, a new safety campaign, Check Out Before You Step Out, was launched at Newcastle Sixth Form College in an effort to raise awareness of the issue and educate youngsters about the dangers on the roads.

Alan Kennedy, chairman of Road Safety GB, said: “The most common factors leading to accidents are people failing to look properly and being impaired by alcohol.

“Newcastle has the highest number of casualties.

“This is not because the city’s roads are more dangerous - that’s not the case, they are no less safe than anywhere else. It’s not the roads that are dangerous, it’s down to road-user behaviour.

“Newcastle also has a large population of young people who attend the universities and colleges. All these things make a difference.

“When people drink too much and there are distractions, like using mobile phones, it puts them at risk.

“These accidents are typically happening on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when people are coming out of pubs and clubs. They try to walk home, sometimes along high speed roads where they should not be.

“We are asking people not to do that - take a taxi or bus home. At the same time, drivers need to be more aware and look out.

“They can reduce their speed and slow down if they see someone who is texting or talking on a phone.”

According to the figures, in Northumberland 319 people were killed or injured over the last five years, Gateshead had 279, North Tyneside 210 and South Tyneside had 156.

Students at Newcastle College said they supported the safety campaign.

Sixth form pupil Laura Kamintzis, 17, of Sunderland, said: “It’s really important the public are made aware of the fact that there are lots of people drinking and out on the roads when they shouldn’t be.

“This campaign has highlighted some serious issues.

“I will make sure I am more responsible when I go out and get a taxi home at night.”

And Justine Thompson, 18, from Blyth, said: “When we saw the figures of how many people are injured on the roads, it shocked us.

“A lot of people my age don’t actually realise the hazards of getting on the roads when they are out drinking.

“This campaign is a good idea to help get the message across to young people.”

Council road safety officers will also be promoting the initiative and will be asking businesses and colleges to display posters and distribute flyers.

Coun Linda Hobson, deputy cabinet member for community safety and regulation at Newcastle City Council, said: “We welcome any attempt to improve road safety, but our city centre is no less safe than other major cities and Newcastle has led the way nationally in implementing accident reduction measures, such as 20mph zones.

“We work closely with Safe Newcastle, Northumbria Police and the universities to encourage and highlight the importance of responsible drinking.

“The aim of this is to keep students safe when they are out and about and promote the public health message.”

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