These seminars have grown in such popularity as we now have nearly 380 councillors signed up across both counties. This scheme helps forge the relationship between councillors and their local inspectors – knowledge of policing can be voiced and shared by those that live in the communities that they serve.
Road safety affects everyone, regardless of whether you drive a car, ride a horse or bike or are crossing the road. However you use our roads – feeling safe should be both a right and responsibility.
My office has been instrumental in forming the Vision Zero South West Road Safety Partnership in which I chair – this collaborative approach brings partners; Devon & Cornwall Police, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, National Highways, Devon Air Ambulance, Cornwall Air Ambulance, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) and my office together to tackle road safety issues from all angles and cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero.
I start each board meeting by reading out the names of those whom have lost their lives or have been seriously injured on our roads. This is a time to reflect on that avoidable and sad loss and to remind each one of us present at the meeting why we are working together to deliver this target.
In the interim, we have set ourselves the ambitious achievement of halving all fatal and serious collisions by 50 per cent by 2030 – and members from the Vision Zero team were there at last week’s seminar to explain exactly how the partnership is going about this.
Natalie Warr, the partnership’s manager, started by explaining how the partnership came about, how it has developed and what it will look like moving forward – as well as some of the interesting and innovative projects they have spearheaded in the short time since they were formed.
Vision Zero’s strategic analyst Candice Gerken gave a fascinating overview of collision data and how the partnership uses it to guide the work it carries out. This included a project in which Candice and her small team painstakingly analysed 750 A and B roads across Devon and Cornwall in order to highlight routes where the highest harm was taking place. Candice talked about the amazing information dashboards she creates with this data, many of which will be available for public viewing in the months to come. In fact, you can see a great overview dashboard on Vision Zero South West’s homepage right now – visit www.visionzerosouthwest.co.uk to take a look.
Councillors were then given a detailed look at the incredible work being done to engage young drivers by Road Casualty Reduction Sergeant Owen Messenger and local YouTuber George of GCM. Sgt Messenger outlined his work with the Lotus and Ford Focus RS, which he uses as a hook to engage with young drivers, as well as the videos he has produced with George on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram – which have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. As any public serving body will know, ways to engage with our younger generation can be tricky and so I applaud Owen for the work that he has done in his spare time to achieve this engagement.
Next to speak at the event was Richard Kent-Woolsey, Operations Manager for Devon & Cornwall Police’s Safety Camera Unit, who talked about two key ways that communities can help in the quest for safer roads. The group was shown some truly breath-taking clips from Operation Snap, which allows members of the public to upload dashcam or other video footage of bad driving directly to the police so they can take action.
The other scheme Richard highlighted is one close to my heart. All over Devon and Cornwall there are now approximately 1000 Community Speed Watch volunteers registered who go out in all weathers to record driving speeds in their neighbourhoods. This can then be used to guide the work of police enforcement and show us where we need to target those driving too fast.
It was also fantastic to hear of the work being done right now that will influence the future of road safety – not least Vision Zero’s partnership with the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Science team to look into motorcycle collisions. 2022 has been a particularly tragic year for collisions involving bikers and it was great to hear from Vision Zero’s communications coordinator Joel Cooper about how the partnership is employing behaviour change tactics to help save lives among this vulnerable road user group.
There is some fantastic work being done in road safety across Devon and Cornwall and I’d like to say a big thank you, not just to those involved in Vision Zero South West, but also to all the volunteers and councillors who give up their time to learn more and help spread the word. We can only achieve Vision Zero with your help!
For more information on Operation Snap visit here: Devon and Cornwall Police Operation Snap digital submissions (devon-cornwall.police.uk)
For more information on the Community Speed Watch Scheme, visit here: Get involved with Speed Watch | Devon and Cornwall Police (devon-cornwall.police.uk)
The Police and Crime Plan 2021-25 can be found here; (https://devonandcornwall.s3.amazonaws.com/Documents/Our information/Key document/14286 PCC (Police & Crime Plan 2021-25)_WEB.pdf)