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ESSEX

Hundreds of volunteers help to make Essex roads safer

Just over 1,000 trained volunteers are helping to make Essex’s roads safer as part of Community Speed Watch.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service works with colleagues in the Safer Essex Roads Partnership to support the Community Speed Watch scheme which has more than 1,000 trained volunteers helping to make Essex roads safer.

The volunteers give up their time to monitor and report speed levels in their communities, creating a visible presence to alert drivers that speed is a leading cause of road traffic collisions in Essex.

Drivers recorded speeding then receive a letter about the impact of speeding. The idea is to raise awareness and provide advice and education.

Martyn Phillips has been a Community Speed Watch volunteer in Rayne for more than 10 years.

He said: “We keep reinforcing the message. Initially, we were getting 14 motorists each hour session but now people realise we have got some teeth we’re getting about three a session.

“The team, now and over the years, are really good. The vicar joined us and I would love to know what motorists thought when they saw someone in a dog collar holding a speed gun.

“The volunteers get a lot of support – the praise outnumbers the abuse by ten to one. You don’t feel like you are going out on a limb doing something nobody likes; the community understands what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

Keith Nuttall has been a Community Speed Watch volunteer in Hadstock for eight years.

He said in the first week lockdown was eased in April, the team recorded 27 cars speeding in one hour. Thankfully driving has improved since then.

He said: “No-one is perfect so there is a bit of leeway. We’re not there to catch people, in fact, we would rather not be picking up any speeding.

“But if you think you can pop out and it will suddenly all be sorted you are deluding yourself. That’s why we have to go out at least once a week. We want to do our best to try to persuade people to drive safely, so we can all go about our lives without fear.”

Keith is full of praise for the team in Hadstock and across Essex.

He said: “Our team is a really committed bunch and we should all pay tribute to the thousands of Community Speed Watch volunteers across Essex who, on behalf of their communities, choose to go out and make a difference.”

So far this year, 10 people have been killed and 237 seriously injured on Essex’s roads, and one of the biggest reasons that figure is so high is speeding.

Andrea MacAlister, Road Traffic Collision Reduction Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Essex has about 100 Community Speed Watch groups.

“With just over 1,000 volunteers between them there’s a real benefit to local communities by helping to reduce anti-social behaviour and the number of injuries from road traffic collisions.

“By educating motorists and encouraging them to reduce their speed, the likelihood of them being involved in a serious road traffic collision is much lower.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, is an advocate of the great work Community Speed Watch members do in their communities and volunteers himself with his local group.

He said: “More people in Essex die on our roads than in any other kind of accident or crime so improving safety on our roads is really important.

“I’m a huge supporter of Community Speed Watch. The volunteers reduce risk in key areas of our local communities and do so much to educate drivers.

“I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to them. They really do make a difference and help to keep people safer.”

This week, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating Volunteers Week. If you would like to register your interest to volunteer with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service visit: www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Volunteering/http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Volunteering/

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