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Crash Course credited with cutting road crime in Lichfield and Burntwood

Police accident sign. Pic: Anthony Grimley

Police accident sign. Pic: Anthony Grimley

A hard-hitting presentation which drives home the devastation caused by road traffic collisions is being linked to a fall in crime in Lichfield and Burntwood.

Crash Course is a multi-agency partnership which goes into the schools of Staffordshire and to high risk drivers, but also to some drivers committing offences – such as using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving.

The presentation is offered as an alternative to drivers who would otherwise receive a fine and penalty points on their licence. It includes photographs and video taken at the scene of actual collisions.

Crash Course is delivered by Staffordshire Police collision investigators, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Staffordshire Youth Service and Staffordshire Victim Support.

Ch Supt Mark Bates, from Staffordshire Police, said:

“The Crash Course is proving to have a positive impact on motorists, who are less likely to commit the same offence again. By working with our partners, and through this unique education programme, we are helping to change attitudes amongst drivers.

“It is extremely dangerous to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving and the simple message is motorists should not do it. Not having proper control of your vehicle because you are distracted using a phone could cause a collision which can result in life-changing serious injuries or cost your own, or someone else’s life. A phone call is just not worth this.”

Recently the Transport Research Laboratory released figures which revealed more drivers are using hand-held mobile phones than before tougher penalties were introduced.

A total of 2.8 per cent of drivers are now using hand-held mobile phones compared to 2.6 per cent in 2006 – when fines rose to £60 and three points could be added to licences.

Between December 1, 2008, and November 30, 2009, a total of 32,776 driving offences were committed in Staffordshire which resulted in a Fixed Penalty Ticket being issued to offenders who were not offered the Crash Course. Of these, more than 500 people committed a further 1,052 offences in the county, giving a re-offending rate of 3.2 per cent.

Between January 14 and September 23, 2009, 781 people were offered the Crash Course. The majority of these people had committed a mobile phone offence whilst driving. Only two people went on to re-offend in Staffordshire following the course, a rate of 0.25 per cent.

Ann Morris, Crash Course advisor, said:

“This is without doubt the most impactive piece of work I have ever done. It is one thing where when people leave they can instantly make a difference. Ninety-five per cent of all fatal and serious collisions are caused by drivers taking a risk and if we can change driver behaviour then we can save thousands of lives. All of us who deliver diversion do it because we genuinely feel we make a difference.

“People often arrive thinking the police should be catching real criminals and not persecuting the poor motorist but leave seeing that if they killed or seriously injured someone they to would most definitely be seen as a real criminal. Crash Course definitely improves Police/ Public relations and it is an opportunity for the public to understand why the police do the job they do.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.