This week marks national Road Safety Week, an initiaitive run by road safety charity, Brake. Last year, Dr Dan was delighted to be named Parliamentarian of the Month by Brake, in recognition of the campaign work he led in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency. This winter Dr Dan would like people to turn their thoughts to what they can do to help make our towns, villages and rural roads a safer place for us all to be.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is a predominantly rural constituency and it's easy to forget that we share our roads with other road users, such as walkers, cyclists and horseriders. Indeed in many of the smaller villages in Central Suffolk, many families walk to school in the mornings – some with pushchairs and perhaps also the family dog. It can be terrifying for them, not to mention life-endangering, to be faced with vehicles hurtling around the corner at breakneck speeds and swerving hurriedly out of their path. The faster a vehicle is travelling, the less time the driver has to react to an unexpected situation and the noise and speed of approaching vehicles can all too easily cause alarm and distress to any pedestrians and animals using the road. Sadly, the consequences can be fatal.
This year's Road Safety week focuses on a number of key themes, all of which are aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads and making our communities a safer place to be. The campaign aims to inspire communities to take action on road safety and Dr Dan is pleased to see that the number of community speed camera initiatives and Vehicle Activated Speed signs are increasing in number and making considerable inroads to reducing speeding; these simple yet effective measures play a significant part in slowing drivers down through our rural villages.
Breaking the speed limits or driving too fast for the weather conditions is recorded by police attending crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than 27% of fatal crashes across the country. By slowing down and giving yourself more time to think, particularly during these longer darker days of winter when the roads can be covered in mud, wet leaves or ice, you can help play your part in reducing the number of accidents.
As we approach Christmas, many of us will be looking forward to attending office Christmas parties or meeting up with friends to celebrate the start of the festive season. Following the advice of BRAKE, just one alcoholic drink can impair our judgement when driving. Living in more rural areas, this can make it more challenging or costly to get home after a night out, but why not consider sharing the cost of a taxi with other friends, or nominate a designated driver for the evening. Of course, it's not just the evening itself where thankfully, most are sensible enough not to think about driving. It is the morning after, when alcohol can still lay dormant and take us over the legal limit to drive.
Not quite so much in our rural communities, but mainly in our towns and urban centres, air pollution is a growing problem, with an estimated 29,000 deaths every year being attributed to particular matter pollution in the UK, some 5000 of which are directly linked to road transport. By choosing to minimise our driving and either walking, cycling, car sharing or taking public transport, we can all contribute to making our communities a safer place to live and work at the same time as doing the very best we can for our own individual health and reducing our environmental footprint.
By making simple changes to our driving attitudes and behaviours, we can all play our part in making our villages, towns and rural roads in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich a safer place to be for all. Every action we take can change the outcome of not only our own journey, but perhaps the future of another family.
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Written Answers — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control (12 Sep 2017)
Daniel Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what funding will be put in place to stop the spread of TB in cattle after the UK leaves the EU.
Written Answers — Department of Health: Mental Health Services: Occupational Therapy (12 Sep 2017)
Daniel Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many full-time equivalent occupational therapists working in mental health the NHS has employed in each year since 2006-07.