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Police share harrowing stories of road deaths in new campaign

Roads Policing Inspector Dave Barf, North Yorkshire Police
Roads Policing Inspector Dave Barf, North Yorkshire Police

POLICE officers who have the “horrible conversation” of breaking the news of the death of a loved one on North Yorkshire’s roads will share their experiences as part of a hard-hitting campaign to make motorists drive more safely.

As the number of motorists of region’s roads begins to soar as the weather turns warmer, North Yorkshire Police has launched a new clampdown on speeding. The force said the number of fatal and serious injury collisions “typically increases” at this time of year, and wants to place drivers into the shoes of its officers having to deal with the aftermath of a crash in a bid to make them drive more safely.

The campaign, called ‘If you saw what I saw...’ will highlight the experiences of officers and staff who have to deal with the consequences of collisions first hand.

Roads Policing Inspector Dave Barf said: “The effects of high-speed crashes on the human body are absolutely horrendous.

“I can tell you this because our teams and other emergency services witness them, close up and first hand, when they arrive at the scene of every fatal or serious injury collision.

“But that’s not where the aftermath ends. Every officer who’s had to visit the next of kin to share the devastating news that their loved one is dead remembers every moment of it.

“We had to have that horrible conversation with 47 families last year alone. That’s almost one a week.

“That’s why we’re so passionate about keeping road users in North Yorkshire safe.”

North Yorkshire Police will be sharing the experiences of its officers throughout the year as part of the campaign. While its initial focus will be on excessive speed, it will also attempt to educated road users on a range of issues, from drink and drug driving to using a mobile phone, to motorcycle safety.

It has also revealed five of the most common “myths” it hears about speeding, provided by officers and staff, based on conversations with members of the public.

They include that “speed doesn’t kill people, bad driving does,” and that speeding isn’t “a real crime”.

“Try telling that to families of people killed on our roads,” said Insp Barf. “We support them after their lives have been shattered by speed-related collisions. They think speeding is a real crime, and so do we.

“Higher speed is directly linked to the chance of fatalities. If you’re going more slowly there’s more margin for error and more chance you’ll survive.”

The force has also moved to bust the myth that police only target speeding drivers because they are “a cash cow”.

“We target speeding drivers because we have to gather body parts from the carriageway at fatal crashes and break life-changing news to families,” said Insp Barf. “You’ll never have to experience those things. But we do. We target speeding drivers because we know the next casualty could be you – even if you don’t want to believe it.”

Insp Barf added: “If I had one chance to persuade you to stick to the speed limit, I’d simply say this: If you saw what I saw, you would never speed.

“You’d give yourself a chance to stop. You only get one life. We want to make sure it doesn’t end on our county’s roads.”