As we enter winter and temperatures drop we need to take more care on the roads. The days are shorter and freezing weather will make the roads increasingly treacherous.
We need to ensure our local roads are safer. Figures released recently by the Department for Transport are deeply concerning. They show there was a 12% rise in traffic accidents in Dover and Deal between 2009 and 2014. There was a steady rise in serious and fatal accidents over the five year period. Progress towards casualty reduction is 20% lower than the national average.
This is not good enough. It is very disappointing there is such a poor safety record on our roads. Particularly as the Government has provided Kent with £6.3 million in special grants to resurface roads and repair potholes. People feel that East Kent is the poor relation - they believe money goes to West Kent, while we don't seem to get the same investment in our area. These road safety figures make it clear that things have to change. Kent highways' record on road safety is not good enough and urgent action is needed to improve the situation.
Christmas means bad weather. Trees will fall over - as happened on the A258 last weekend. This closed the road and led to massive delays with every small country lane nearby being choked up with traffic. Kent Highways need to be on top of that. We will also see more ice on the roads. I am also deeply concerned by how many complaints I get about roads with poor drainage. This is dangerous and contributes to the lack of safety on our roads. Many constituents tell me they are worried about how poor the drainage is local roads.
Urgent action is now needed from Kent Highways not only to improve our roads and cut down vegetation, but to improve road drainage too. Effective action will help save lives.
Finally we need to encourage safer driving. Prosecutors don't always throw the book at drivers who kill people on our roads. They agree plea bargains for the lower careless driving offence. I am in discussion with MPs about those who kill on the roads who are pleading guilty to careless driving. It matters because the maximum sentence is 5 years - which is then reduced by 30% for a guilty plea. Thereafter only half the sentence is served so guilty drivers can serve just two years. This leaves the families of those tragically killed often feeling cheated of justice. The Sentencing Council is looking at this and I will be monitoring developments closely.
We need to ensure drivers who kill face tough sentences and that our roads get the investment they need. Yet the greatest change to our accident figures will come from all of us taking extra care to drive as safely as we can over Christmas and the winter months.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!