East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is actively supporting the Safer Wealden Partnership's “We’re Keeping an Eye on You” campaign – a new initiative to drive down serious road collisions in Wealden.
The vision is to reduce the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on Wealden’s roads to lower than the national average.
Partners came together on Friday 4th March to launch the event, which was attended by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Wealden District Council, Sussex Police, East Sussex County Council and officially opened by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.
The idea behind the initiative is to bring together district, county and pan-Sussex expertise in the “3 Es” of road safety – engineering, education and enforcement, also supported by community engagement.
There were no fire fatalities in Wealden in 2015 but from January to September, inclusive, there have been six fatalities, as a result of 91 collisions, in which people have been killed, or seriously injured, on Wealden Roads.
Road users' behaviours are the main cause of all road traffic collisions and “Failed to Look” – meaning that someone was not concentrating, or was distracted - is the most common cause in serious and fatal incidents.
Behavioural insights work carried out in Wealden indicate that if drivers believe they are being watched then they will drive more carefully and this is the aim of this joint initiative.
Casualty reduction on the roads is a top priority for Wealden community safety and for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Assistant Director - Safer Communities for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Andy Reynolds, said: “We are proud to be a key contributor of this campaign, as
it is vital that everyone using the roads adopts safer habits and that careless and anti-social driving are publicly recognised as being very high risk and unacceptable. I have personally attended too many serious road traffic collisions in Wealden and it is hoped that this initiative, which involves all partners working together, will drive down the number of serious incidents in Wealden.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Improving road safety is one of the most common issues that residents raise with me.
“This new campaign, with its thought-provoking posters aimed at changing driver behaviour, has my full support. The collaborative work between partner organisations to tackle and prevent the main causes of serious injuries and deaths on the roads of Wealden, is both innovative and inspiring.
“We all have a part to play in raising awareness of antisocial driving to help prevent tragedies and make our roads safer for everyone. Road safety will remain a community priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I look forward to hearing the results and measuring the impact of this new campaign."
Cabinet member for Public Health and Community Safety on Wealden District Council, Councillor Claire Dowling, said: “When it comes to road safety, Wealden has some of the worst statistics in the South East.
“Much of this is due to geography and the type of roads in Wealden. But we must never forget that behind each statistic is a life or lives that have been changed forever.
“The We’re Keeping an Eye on You campaign is the start of a new approach involving behavioural sciences which has been pioneered at Wealden District Council by Dr Jeremy Leach. The key point is people behave differently when they think they are being watched. We want to capitalise on this to help save lives.”
Chief Inspector Rob Leet, district commander for Lewes and Wealden said: "The number of people killed or seriously injured on Wealden's roads is a serious concern to us and we hope by working with our partners at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council we can help keep people safe on the roads.
"We continually need to refresh the way we inform people of the risks to them and this campaign reflects the innovative work we do with our colleagues on the Safer Wealden Partnership."
Brian Banks is team manager for road safety at East Sussex County Council, one of the organisations represented on the Wealden road safety group.
He said: “We’re happy to support this campaign, which uses new and innovative ways of targeting those groups of people at higher risk of being involved in a road traffic collision to educate them and to raise awareness of the potentially fatal consequences of poor driving.”