THE number of young drivers killed or seriously injured on roads in North Lancashire has 'fallen significantly' following a six-year education and enforcement campaign, police say.
In 2006, nine people under the age of 30 were killed in road collisions in Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre, 48 people in the same demographic were seriously injured and 376 people suffered minor injuries.
In an effort to reduce the numbers, roads policing unit officers led by Sgt Nigel Ralphson worked with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire County Council on a partnership to demonstrate the effect road accidents have on victims' loved ones.
Now, new figures have revealed that in 2012 nobody aged under 30 died in road accidents in the north of the county, although 27 people were seriously injured.
Sgt Ralphson, of Lancashire Police's Road Policing Unit, said: “Young drivers are less experienced behind the wheel but they often take more risks on the road, which is why they can be more likely to be involved in a serious collision.
“It has been very important that we get a clear message across to young motorists that their driving behaviour could have a direct impact on the safety of both themselves and their passengers, with potentially devastating consequences.
“At the same time, we do not want them to feel that they are being persecuted just for being young.”
Tactics employed by the road policing team have involved indentifying a ‘top 10’ list of 'anti-social behaviour drivers', who are then targeted by individual officers.
The motorist will be visited, often in the presence of their parents, and a 'frank discussion' is held detailing the potential outcomes if they continue to drive irresponsibly.
They are then given the chance to sign up to an ASB driving contract and their future driving is monitored.
Sgt Ralphson added: “We often find that many of the young drivers stopped by us are using their parents’ vehicles, and the parents are not aware of the manner in which the car is being driven.
“Where we give out a section 59 warning letter, stating that a car may be seized, we now send a copy of this to the registered keeper, along with a letter of explanation and a copy of Missing Matthew, a partnership road safety DVD which covers the death of a young driver from Blackburn and the effect it had on his loved ones.
“The owner of the vehicle – invariably a parent – is then offered the opportunity to speak to an officer if they want further guidance on trying to change the driver’s behaviour on the roads.
“We have found this to be an effective method of getting parents on board with what we are trying to do - which is ultimately to save lives.”
Since the top 10 ASB driver scheme began in June 2011, 33 drivers have been specifically targeted.
Of these, three have been imprisoned, 11 have been disqualified and the rest have either responded to being targeted and improved their driving behaviour, or prosecuted and had their vehicle seized for ignoring the intervention.