HUNTINGDON: 27 caught in mobile phone and seatbelt crackdown
A MAN who allowed three young children to travel in his car without seatbelts was among a host of drivers caught breaking the law during a pilot scheme aimed at reducing road deaths.
In total 27 drivers were stopped for not wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile phone while driving on the ring road in Huntingdon on Friday (June 3).
Of those, one was also arrested for driving without insurance, and the driver who had three children all aged under nine in his car without seatbelts was issued with a summons. Another person was caught driving without a seatbelt while talking on a mobile phone.
Four elected to pay an on-the-spot �60 fine, while 22 people agreed to undertake a training session with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service at Huntingdon fire station. The session, the first of its kind to be held in the county, invited attendees to speak to crash victim Nick Bennett.
Nick, 24, a self-confessed former boyracer, suffered serious brain stem injuries and two collapsed lungs when he crashed his car while overtaking two others. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
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Nick, who is wheelchair-bound and has limited speech and mobility, said: “I am talking to people about my car crash. I was not wearing a seatbelt. I could not be bothered with it.
“Knowing what I know now, I should have done. My injuries were a twisted spine and limited mobility because I never ever wore my seatbelt.”
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Among the drivers caught not wearing a seatbelt on Friday was 56-year-old Martin Flynn of Biggleswade. He had stopped to secure his van door, and was caught by police as he rejoined the traffic.
He said Nick’s words had hit home. “I always wear a seatbelt normally. It was one of those things. I had pulled into the bus lane to check my doors and I needed to get moving quickly. I shouldn’t have done it.
“This is a superb idea. Fair play to Nick for doing what he is doing. I think Nick is a courageous guy. It does reinforce the message of what can happen.”
Another, a 77-year-old female driver, who wished to remain anonymous, was caught not wearing a seatbelt. She praised Nick for volunteering his time to talk to offenders.
“I always wear a seatbelt. Just this time I had got distracted. I think it is wonderful, though, and it is brilliant that he came and was willing to talk. It was very touching.”
Pc Darren Ockenden was part of the six-man policing team that patrolled the ring road from 9am to 4pm. He said a large number of the offenders were mature drivers. “Figures show that one in three occupants killed in collisions were not wearing seatbelts, and by wearing a seatbelt you can reduce the risk of death by 50 per cent.
“I hope the people who attended the fire station will now have realised the risks and will from now on use their seatbelts.”
Firefighter Scott Wormald was among the crew who attended the crash at Elsworth in December last year that claimed the lives of Daryl Townsend, 20, and Harry Williams, 17. Daryl, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, was hurled from the driving seat through the rear windscreen of the car. A coroner recorded that Harry, who was sat behind Daryl, had been killed unlawfully.
Mr Wormald said: “If we come across a fatality, we have to take a step back.
“You know that it is someone’s son or child in the car. If you have got kids or loved ones, it does affect you badly.”
The day’s results are being evaluated, but there are hopes that the scheme can be used as the basis for a deferral scheme across the district, as an alternative to prosecution.
Firefighter Martin Ockenden, who organised the day said: “For us it was a success.
“We got the right message to the right people. We want to see it rolled out across to identified areas across the county.”
? The Hunts Post is running a year-long campaign aimed at reducing the number of deaths on the district’s roads. We are supporting and promoting all initiatives to reduce road traffic causalities as well as organising our own talks, safety competitions and events. If you have an idea or run a company that can help with the campaign, then contact the newsdesk by e-mailing email@example.com
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should there be a deferral system in place for people who use mobile phones or fail to put on their seatbelts. Post your comments below.