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Armed Forces Covenant

Services Come Together For Joint Motorway Safety Event

22/Aug/2017

Motorists are being asked to consider what distracts them later this week as part of a joint road safety initiative that’s been organised by neighbouring fire and rescue services.

This Friday (25 August) staff from Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Services (NFRS) will be joined by officers from Highways England at a number of service stations on the M1 motorway.

The teams, who will also be joined by police officers from the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS), will be engaging with customers at their respective service stations and will be asking one key question – what’s your distraction?

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Prevention and Inclusion Station Manager John Cooke said: “A recent study found that drivers who were texting behind the wheel were 23 times more likely to crash than those who were paying attention to the road.  This demonstrates just how big an issue distracted driving is and has prompted Emergency Services to come together in an attempt to raise awareness.

“We’re hoping that by having our road traffic collision reduction teams based at service stations along the M1 corridor, which runs through all four counties, we’ll be able to engage with a wide range of motorists sending them on their way safely as the big bank holiday getaway gets underway.

“We’ll be asking people to think about what it is that distracts them - what takes their eyes off the road when they’re behind the wheel?

“Distractions come in many different forms; using a mobile phone, diffusing an argument between children in the back of the car, skipping to the next song on the stereo, or even something as simple as eating an apple can cause you to take your eyes off the road and when you’re travelling at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, these are all potentially fatal distractions.”

During the course of the one-day event, the various agencies will be at a number of service stations – including Trowell Southbound, Tibshelf Northbound, Newport Pagnell Southbound, Watford Gap Northbound, Leicester Forest East Southbound and Castle Donington.

They will be on hand to speak to motorists, and passengers, about general road safety – with a specific focus on distraction – and people travelling down the M1 on that day are encouraged to have a chat with the teams about how they can make their driving that bit safer.

One person who, unfortunately, knows too well the devastation that driver distractions – and specifically mobile phone use – can cause is Toni Hall, the partner of Nottinghamshire Firefighter Darren Bryan who tragically died in a collision on the M1 two years ago.

Darren, who was based at Retford Fire Station, was travelling southbound on the M1 on Tuesday 30 June 2015 when a lorry crashed into the back of his van. Evidence suggesting that the driver of the lorry had been using his mobile phone, whilst driving, before the crash was later presented in court.

During the trial the prosecution brought a case against the driver for causing death by dangerous driving. He was found not guilty of this charge by a jury, but admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving - which led to him being sentenced to eight months in prison and banned from driving for 28 months.

“Darren’s death has been absolutely devastating, not only for us as a family, but also for his friends and colleagues,” said Toni, who is currently gearing up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, for charity, in Darren’s name.

“We’ve had a very difficult two years trying to adjust to life without Darren and I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to be distracted whilst driving. People think they can do it and get away with it – but they can’t. It has very real consequences.

“Please think before picking up the phone when you’re behind the wheel - surely no text or phone call can be so urgent that it’s worth risking lives for.” 

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