Special Report: Fresh campaign to prevent road death tragedies

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Hundreds of injuries and deaths caused by road accidents across West Yorkshire are preventable, according to firefighters.

Road safety charity Brake has teamed up with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to help cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers stay safe during this winter.

They have launched an awareness campaign called ‘drive less, live more’ urging motorists to use alternative forms of transport. It comes after hundreds of people were injured and 75 people died in accidents on the region’s roads during the past five years.

Firefighters said many of the crashes were preventable and urged drivers to take extra care.

Fire crews were called to 369 road accidents in Calderdale, where 260 people were injured and 14 people died.

In Wakefield, firefighters were called to 527 collisions, where 426 people were injured and 23 people died.

Two of the people who were killed were under the age of 17.

Firefighters were called to 1,141 accidents in the Leeds area, where 814 people were injured and 33 people died.

And in Kirklees fire crews were attended 108 accidents, where 86 people were injured and five people died.

Karina Gonzalez, district prevention assistant for Calderdale, said: “The road traffic collision figures overall have decreased substantially in the past five years.

“But there has still been more than 50 crashes in Calderdale since the beginning of 2015 and three people have died.”

In the first nine months of 2015, firefighters attended 70 collisions in the Wakefield district, five of which resulted in fatalities. Wakefield district prevention manager Mussarat Suleman said: “Many of these crashes are preventable and as frontline responders our officers see first-hand the devastation that a collision can bring, especially in terms of the life-changing injuries people can sustain.”

Lisa Toner, district prevention manager for Leeds, wants motorists to take extra care when on the roads this winter.

She said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service want the community to be safe on the roads. Take extra care when on the roads, be it as a vehicle user, pedestrian or cyclist.

“Think of others and be extra vigilant during the winter months in severe weather conditions which can hamper visibility.”

Group Manager Andy Farrell, Kirklees district commander, said the number of traffic accidents is slowly falling but fire crews are still attending far too many incidents.

He said: “Every incident we attend has a profound and lasting effect on those involved, and in some cases results in life-changing injuries and even death.

“We believe many of these incidents could have been avoided, which is why we’re taking part in this vital campaign.”

The fire service will be taking part in a roadshow at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax today between 10am and 12pm.

The event will include talks from a firefighter, a police officer and an ambulance service paramedic about dealing with a traffic collision and the aftermath.

A bereaved mum will also tell her heartfelt story about her son who died in an accident in Calderdale.

On Saturday, fire crews from Wakefield Fire Station will be carrying out a mock crash demonstration on the Cathedral Precinct between 10am and noon.

They will be show how they safely remove people trapped in crushed vehicles.

And crews will be giving out safety tips alongside West Yorkshire Police officers and members of St John Ambulance.

Mr Suleman said: “It is really important that drivers take extra care, especially during severe weather conditions.

“Alternatively why don’t you consider ‘going green’ by driving less and using alternative modes of transport such as cycling, walking or even using the public transport which will not only have a positive effect on the environment but on your own health too.” For more information about Brake log onto www.brake.org.uk