A ‘DISTURBING’ rise in road related deaths has prompted Somerset Council to launch a new campaign to help reduce road fatalities.

The Somerset Council campaign, named ‘The Fatal Five’, is being led by the councils Road Safety Team and has backing from Avon and Somerset Police.

It was reported for 2023 that 30 people have died while travelling on Somerset roads.

This figure is up from 2022 by 43 per cent, with 2023 recording the highest number of fatalities in the last 10 years. Four of the recorded incidents in 2023 reported more than one person being killed.

Somerset Council notes there is no particular cause or issue found that is thought to be responsible for the increase in road fatalities.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that 76 per cent of collisions recorded involve one or more these behaviours: failing to wear a seatbelt, mobile phone use or distraction, careless or inconsiderate driving, intoxicated driving (drink or drugs) and excessive speed.

An added concerning element in these incidences is that nearly half of the fatal collisions have been caused by a vehicle crossing the path of another one.

Avon and Somerset Police state that out of 30 casualties recorded, 12 were motorcyclists, 11 were car drivers, four were car passengers and three were pedestrians.

Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital, Councillor Richard Wilkins, said: “The rise in fatalities is deeply disturbing so it is vital we try to save lives and encourage people to avoid these ‘Fatal Five’ behaviours as road users.  

“With the Fatal Five campaign we want to raise awareness and influence behaviour.  In addition, our Road Safety Team has increased their activities significantly in response to these figures, with 41,000 face-to-face interventions with people in Somerset in 2023, more than ever before – from school children and young, inexperienced drivers, to older drivers looking to refresh their skills. 

“We might understand that drink or drug driving is unacceptable, but how aware are we that just being distracted for a split second or not being aware of our speed can have such terrible consequences? 

“Hopefully the campaign across social media, and through face-to-face talks and presentations will make people think again and re-evaluate their behaviour – something we could all do with doing.” 

The figures for the last five years recorded the following: 2019: 22 collisions / 22 fatalities, 2020: 12 collisions / 12 fatalities, 2021: 24 collisions / 25 fatalities, 2022: 20 collisions / 21 fatalities, 2023: 26 collisions / 30 fatalities.

Last year, fourteen fatalities happened on the county’s A roads, five were on B roads, five were on trunk roads and six were on unclassified roads. 

Figures recorded for 2023 are the highest since 2014, when in that year 33 deaths occurred.

Somerset Road Safety Team delivered face-to-face training to 41,000 people in 2023. The training was in relation to staying safe on Somerset roads. The talks gave advice and guidance to primary and secondary school pupils, motorcyclists and older drivers.