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Working with our communities towards a safer road network

You may have seen an enormous piece of sand art on one of the South West’s beautiful beaches recently – a 50-metre wide circle consisting of 47 hearts. While it is obviously a stark and stunning image, it also conveys a very serious message.

Working with our communities towards a safer road network

Sand art on Saunton Beach in North Devon commissioned by Vision Zero South West

The 47 hearts represent the number of people who lost their lives on Devon and Cornwall’s roads last year. A further 741 were seriously injured.

Road safety is very important to our communities – and consequently very important to me. Wherever I go in Devon & Cornwall, road safety is always brought to my attention by residents.

It’s one of the reasons I was so heavily involved in the creation of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, which I have chaired since its creation in 2019.

As you probably know, the partnership – which includes the police, fire services, NHS Trusts, Air Ambulances, councils and many other organisations – shares a commitment to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads by 50% by 2030, and eventually to zero.

The sand art, created on Saunton Beach in North Devon, was commissioned by Vision Zero South West to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 19.

While it’s easy to reel off numbers, it’s vital for us all to remember that these are people’s loved ones and family members, parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends. Each one of the fatal and serious collisions on our roads has a devastating impact on those involved and the wider community.

Victims are at the heart of what those who have committed to Vision Zero’s objectives. Each of our quarterly board meetings starts with a role call of all the people who have lost their lives since on the roads since the previous meeting.

Sometimes that list contains familiar names, sometimes it includes children, and there is almost always someone on the list who is a similar age to yourself. It is a deeply solemn and moving moment which reminds us why what we do is so, so important.

Last year Vision Zero South West also commissioned a support service through Brake for anyone affected by the terrible consequences of road traffic collisions. We consider this a vital part of our role and an integral cog in the post-crash care element of our Safe System approach.

The World Day of Remembrance is also the start of Road Safety Week. Organised by national charity Brake, the week encourages people to think about road safety and how we can all help make our communities safer. The theme of this year’s campaign is speed and there will be a hive of activity on this topic throughout the week.

Drivers across the two counties can expect to see plenty of speed enforcement – and not always where you might expect it. Our dedicated team of Speed Detection Officers (SDOs) has grown rapidly and they have both the intelligence and freedom to enforce where they see fit – so please don’t get caught out.

Also out in force this week will be the Community Speedwatch (CSW) teams of Devon & Cornwall. This scheme empowers neighbourhood road safety advocates to monitor speed in their communities and feed that information directly back to the police.

Based on this data, officers are able to join CSW groups to enforce speed limits in areas where a problem has been identified – and also target any drivers or vehicles who are repeatedly caught flouting the law.

Again, since Vision Zero South West was founded, CSW has been on a big upward trajectory. We now have over 240 groups across both counties, boasting more than 1,400 local volunteers – all of whom give up their time to help make their communities safer, often in the wake of horrendous collisions. I’d like to say a personal thank you to each and every one of them.

I know there are some people out there who see speed detection as a revenue scheme, but this isn’t about money – this is about keeping people safe.

Speed is one of the ‘Fatal Five’ most common causes of road traffic collisions. Travelling too fast gives drivers less time to react if something happens and significantly increases the risk of being killed or seriously injured in the event of a crash. This is why we carry out speed detection.

And if you’re in any further doubt, just remember there’s a very easy way to avoid getting caught - stick to the speed limit.

Support is still available for anyone affected by crime. You can call Victim Support on 08081689111 or visiting 

For further information on Vision Zero South West visit their website here.