News release text
‘Be safe out there’ is the message firefighters will be promoting next week while out and about across Kent and Medway in support of UK Road Safety Week (9-16 June).
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) fire crews will be visiting their local communities at various locations including town centres, universities, colleges, shopping outlets and service stations, as well as at several events, and will be offering advice and information on staying safe on the road.
Crews will be highlighting the dangers of driver distraction and the importance of wearing seatbelts, as well as engaging with younger drivers to talk about the additional risks of being involved in a collision due to inexperience.
The initiative is led by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) and is focussing on raising road safety awareness in all road users in a nationwide effort to reduce death and injury.
In the UK, road collisions account for a quarter of the deaths in the 15 to 19 year age group and are the leading cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 24 years.*
KFRS road safety manager Alexa Kersting-Woods said: “Around 20 per cent of the incidents KFRS attends are road crashes, and all too often involve casualties that are trapped with serious life-threatening or fatal injuries.
“Sadly, many of these incidents involve young or inexperienced drivers and their passengers, so this week we will be particularly focussed on trying to talk to as many young road users as possible and to provide information about some of the main risks that can lead to becoming involved in a crash.”
According to a recent survey carried out by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line, texting at the wheel is widespread, despite being illegal, with three in ten drivers admitting to sending or reading messages while driving, and an even higher proportion of young drivers (age 18-24) – more than one in four, doing so.**
Research has shown that drivers who perform complex secondary tasks at the wheel such as speaking on a hand-held or even hands-free phone significantly increases the risk of crashing, as it slows reaction times and makes it more difficult to control speed and lane position.
The use of smart phones can pose additional risk of impaired concentration, particularly where drivers develop a tendency to check apps after only short periods.***
Alexa added: “The advice we give is to remove the temptation of becoming distracted by a call or text message while driving, by moving your phone out of sight and earshot, preferably in the boot of your car. We would also urge people to refuse to talk to someone on a mobile phone if you know they are driving – this could just save a life.”
Crews will be attending the following locations:
Canterbury will be attending Canterbury University on 10 June to talk to young drivers.
Eynsford – Sevenoaks firefighters will be involved in a multi-agency speed awareness initiative with Kent Police on 9 June and Dartford firefighters (11 June) will be involved in a multi-agency safer highways initiative.
Dover firefighters will be carrying out a road safety demonstration at Dover Docks on 11 June for a multi-agency Dover Harbour Board (DHB) Port Safety road safety event.
Oakedene Café in Wrotham – KFRS fire bike team will be attending on 11 June to talk to motorcyclist about staying safe on the road.
Dartford Blue Watch will be talking to HGV drivers at the hazardous cargo holding area @ Dartford Crossing on the 11 June from 2pm to 4pm.
Medway crews will be at Medway Services on 13 June from 9.30am to 3pm.
Deal crews will be talking to drivers in Deal Town Centre on 14 June from 10am to 1pm.
Whitstable crews will be targeting areas where young drivers gather throughout the week and will also be talking to drivers outside Halfords on 15 June. They will also be attending Whitstable fete on 14 June.
Herne Bay crews will be talking to road users outside Halfords throughout the week.
Blue Water Safety Shop, Bean – KFRS will be providing road safety advice alongside partner agencies including Kent County Council (KCC) and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) from 15 to 19 June.
Margate crews will be at Westwood Cross shopping outlet on 15 June between 10am and 3pm.
Tonbridge fire station will have a static road safety display all week (9 to 15 June).
Aylesford Priory event– Larkfield crews will be attending on 15 June.
Maidstone – Maidstone crews providing road safety advice in Jubilee Square, Maidstone between 10am and 2pm.
Canterbury fire station – road safety presentation to Canterbury College students on 20 June.