North Yorkshire’s road safety partners welcome a national government campaign Think! which starts today (Thurs 08-10) to encourage responsible driving on the country’s rural roads.

North Yorkshire has one of the largest rural road networks in the country, including 5,000 kilometres of rural minor roads and the county council’s road safety team, along with North Yorkshire Police, continue to run campaigns to promote safer and more responsible driving on the rural network.

Figures released by North Yorkshire County Council today show that road casualties, including fatalities, on the county’s network, including rural roads, have fallen continuously since 2000, though casualty figures continue to be much higher for the rural network.

“We welcome visitors to our county and encourage people to enjoy the special beauty of North Yorkshire. We want people to enjoy our countryside and our roads but we also recognise that many more drivers come to grief on the rural network with all its twists and turns and potential hazards hidden around bends”, said County Councillor Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways. “So we have run effective campaigns for many years which are targeted at drivers at all levels to promote responsible and safe driving in rural areas.”

“A death on our roads is a death too many” Cllr Dadd added, “and therefore we do all we can to teach people about the specific dangers of the rural network.”

One of these campaigns, Drive Alive, takes road safety officers into the county’s schools to run workshops with 16 and 17 year olds to raise awareness about hazards on rural roads, safe speeds, passenger power and peer pressure and first aid.

During the workshops students are talked to by David Warin, a retired headteacher and his wife Janet, whose son, Daniel, died in a single vehicle crash when his car left the road between Helmsley and Pickering. Daniel had only been driving a few weeks.

The Warins recount how this has affected them and their family and talk with young people about what they can do to avoid such an incident.. David was awarded the MBE last year for this work.

The county council also runs refresher courses for older drivers and an Enhanced Pass Plus Scheme for newly qualified drivers which offers in-depth discussion on the many factors which can have an impact on driving – including the specific challenges of driving in the countryside.

In addition, this year, North Yorkshire’s road safety partners have run a “Think Bike!” campaign to encourage motorists to take account of increasing numbers of bikers and cyclists on the county’s roads.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick who is also the chairman of the 95 Alive York and Road Safety Partnership, added: “We are giving the Think! campaign our full support. In North Yorkshire we police more than 6,000 miles of roads, much of them remote, rural and picturesque. The area attracts tourists, cyclists and motorcyclists as well as being home to many rural and agricultural businesses who need the road network to sustain their livelihood.

“It is vital that all road users know their responsibilities and drive according to the speed limits, road conditions, weather and traffic situations. We have seen too many lives lost and people seriously injured through split second lapses in concentration or sheer disregard for the road or other road users.

“Education and preventative work is a key area of our work with our 95 Alive road safety partners as well as our investment in dedicated road safety patrols and more mobile safety cameras which will target areas where evidence shows a high rate of collisions or offending.”