Fleet News

Police crash probe as death toll soars

POLICE chiefs are undertaking a detailed investigation into claims that drivers of cars on their fleets are responsible for more than 30 deaths a year and are involved in 55 crashes a day nationwide.

Among those looking into the claims is one of Britain’s top chief constables, Richard Brunstrom, who heads up the North Wales force.

Brunstrom, well-known for his anti-speeding stance to improve road safety, will examine claims made in the national press last week. An investigation by The Daily Express revealed that the civilian death toll from police crashes had trebled in six years.

It quoted Government figures that showed there were 20,221 accidents among the estimated 25,000 police cars, vans or motorcycles in England and Wales in the last recorded year, although this could range from vandalism to a head-on crash.

Just under 6,000 of them occurred when the vehicles were involved in an emergency call or in pursuit – rather than on routine duties – equivalent to 16 a day. However, 75% of accidents happened when police were not on a 999 call.

In total since 1999, 178 civilians have been killed in these type of collisions, while 19 police officers died in crashes in the same period.

This week, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ‘We are still looking into the report as we need to look in detail at the figures being quoted.

‘At the moment, we are waiting for comments on the figures from our spokesman in this area, Richard Brunstrom.’

Police fleets are the most high-profile in the country and this investigation will raise the pressure for executives in charge of the forces’ transport to do more to cut the death toll on Britain’s roads.

Some forces have already taken action. Forces including the Metropolitan Police and Derbyshire Police have introduced ‘black box’ data recorders to provide a clearer picture of the circumstances leading up to an accident.

In 2001, the Met Police reported it had dramatically cut accidents involving its vehicles by 25% following a safety drive, including the fitting of the data recorders.

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