Serious road accident toll in Northants hits eight-year high

42 people were tragically killed on the county's roads last year

By Sarah Ward
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 2:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 2:27 pm
42 people were killed in Northamptonshire's roads last year. (2014 pic).
42 people were killed in Northamptonshire's roads last year. (2014 pic).

The number of serious accidents on Northamptonshire’s roads hit an eight-year high last year.

42 people lost their lives on the county’s roads in 2019 according to figures released today by Northamptonshire Police force.

The 2019 death toll includes teenage motorbiker Harry Dunn whose tragic death in August close to RAF Croughton made global headlines after the Amercian woman behind the wheel Anne Sacoolas was given diplomatic immunity and fled back to the States.

Motorcyclists made up a disproportionately high number of those killed or seriously injured accounting for 17 per cent of casualties despite only accounting for one per cent of road traffic.

Just ten days after Harry Dunn was killed, biker and father Lewis Marks, 34 died after an accident on road blackspot the A509 between Wellingborough and Harrowden.

A number of pedestrians also lost their lives.

Michael Reid, 75, died after an accident on Northampton Road, Kettering, on September 9, an 18-year old was killed after being hit by a lorry in Booth Rise, Northampton on 9 January, a 78 year old died after an accident on Oldland Road, Corby on 15 December and a man, 47, died after an accident on Wellingborough, Road, Northampton on August 17. The 2019 Northants road death tally was an increase of 11 on the previous year and the overall number of people killed or seriously injured in 2019 rose by 59 on the previous year to 288 casualties.

Northamptonshire Police has not given a reason for the significant 12-month increase but did say in a media release today that the county’s roads are much safer than 30 years ago when roughly 100 deaths were recorded each year.

However road safety funding had dropped in recent years with the county council decreasing its budget drastically from £640,000 in the 2016/17 financial year to £361,000 in 2019/20. It said it had ‘no choice’ but to review funding due to its financial challenges.

The Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance, a countywide partnership between Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service, The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Highways representing Northamptonshire County Council was set up in November 2018.

Chair of NSRA, Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper, said: “Our main priority is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and to see the number of people killed on our roads rise last year is deeply upsetting.

“Every person who dies on our roads is one too many and we must never forget that behind each statistic is a grieving family or someone coming to terms with a life changing injury.

“We understand this and are working hard to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in Northamptonshire, and the alliance has worked hard to try to improve safety on our roads.

“Through education, engagement, engineering and enforcement we will continue to reinforce this message. However we cannot do this on our own as it is only road users who can change their driving behaviour.”

Since it was launched the alliance has set up a number of initiatives to target different drivers and scenarios. Local policing teams have worked with school pupils to discourage inconsiderate parking arond schools, there have been cycle safety workshops and NSRA set set up a new workshop for those who drive for work reasons.

Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold put money into a road safety fund to tackle local issues and in June last year gave funding to the police force to set up a new Road Crime Team made up of 18 officers.

The main focus of the team is to disrupt organised crime groups and county lines by responding to ANPR hits and carrying out planned, proactive operations.

Commissioner Mold said: “Road safety is one of the key priorities of my Police and Crime Plan and I understand the enormous impact that someone being killed or injured has on their family and friends.

“I am proud my office has a pivotal role in the Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance and I will continue to invest in programmes which support communities to promote road safety in their local area and in initiatives which enable Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue to continue to work with their partners to make all of us safer on the roads.”

In 2019 there were 1,042 arrests for drink or drug driving and 348 for other driving offences; 59,719 fixed penalty notices issued for excessive speeding, 888 for other fatal four offences and 2,594 vehicles seized last year.