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Grampian's road deaths at lowest level in three decades

15 December 09 10:18 GMT
By Ken Banks
North East and Northern Isles reporter, BBC Scotland news website

The number of people killed on Grampian's roads is at its lowest level in the past three decades - and police have vowed to keep reducing the total.

There have been 31 deaths in 28 collisions so far in 2009, down from 35 last year, 37 in 2007 and 62 in 2006.

Head of roads policing, Ch Insp Ian Wallace, told the BBC Scotland news website he hoped the downward trend could continue in 2010.

He said young drivers as well as motorcyclists would be targeted.

The region is regarded as traditionally having high annual road death figures compared to other parts of the country.

However Ch Insp Wallace said it has been in a general steady decline - apart from the unexplained 2006 blip - thanks to police initiatives, improving car safety standards and better driving skills.

There were 110 road deaths in the area in 1976.

About 40% of Grampian's fatal accidents involve young drivers aged 17-25 and 20% involve motorcyclists, despite both groups making up smaller percentages of actual road users.

In Aberdeen itself the victims are often pedestrians, with the rural Aberdeenshire and Moray roads tending to claim the lives of more motorists.

More targeted

Ch Insp Wallace said of the annual totals: "It's gradually come down and down and down but we cannot take all the credit.

"It's about seatbelts, it's about safer cars, it's about airbags, and there's an element of improved driving skills, and our policing of it.

"With potentially the best year ever, it's a landmark year, and it's a year for us to build upon for next year and get that figure even lower."

He stressed: "These are people who sadly are not here for a variety of reasons."

He said the force was now far more targeted with early intervention, trying to educate young drivers who come to their attention about the dangers they face on the roads.

It is also hoped to engage more with motorcyclists - who tend to be a slightly older age group.

'Real frustration'

Ch Insp Wallace: "Sometimes fundamental road safety issues end up in tragedy, it's a real frustration, such as overtaking a queue of traffic and finding the first car is turning right, and sometimes it's inappropriate speed."

He added: "The vast majority of these people are decent, law-abiding citizens."

Meanwhile, Grampian Police revealed eight drivers - five men and three women - had been charged in the first week of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) festive safety campaign against drink-driving.

One of the women was said to be a repeat offender.

The total was half the number caught in the first week last year.

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