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Get the (text) message – b4 it's 2 late!
Monday 30th November, 2009

Get the (text) message – b4 it's 2 late!
A previous enforcement event at Newtown, Wigan.

Council road safety bosses are appealing to motorists to belt up and put their phones away.

There’s been another seatbelt and phone enforcement event in partnership with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service based around Wigan Fire Station. Officers from the Police, Fire and Rescue Service and Wigan Council were on the lookout for those driving dangerously or illegally in a special exercise organised by the borough’s road safety forum.

14 motorists were fined on the spot for driving without a seatbelt, but 135 more opted instead to see a presentation about the consequences of driving without a belt presented by Community Fire Safety personnel based at Wigan Fire Station. Others were pulled in for driving whilst using a mobile phone or for untaxed vehicles.

Cllr David Molyneux is the council’s environment champion and sits on the road safety forum which brings together local experts and partners. He says: “I am genuinely shocked that in the space of a few hours, so many people can be brought in for driving without a seat belt on. They are putting their lives at risk in the most horrific way. Whilst the numbers are down on similar exercises earlier this year, the figures are still far too high.”

The presentation shown by Fire and Rescue officers is quite graphic in its message and had a visible effect on most of those watching it. Comments from motorists recorded by officers included:

- “Shocking and I feel upset that I have risked my children’s lives.”
- “Makes you think!”
- “Sorry.”

Road safety officers say they will continue with publicity messages in schools, and the wider community, to remind people. Most offenders at the weekend were locals, mainly males in their twenties. Similar events have been staged in other locations around the borough as well, and further ones are planned.

Wigan’s fire safety officer, John Burns, adds: “Everyone has a part to play – families of newly qualified drivers, partners, children – to make sure everyone is belted up safely at the wheel. Legally, the driver is responsible for themselves, but when there’s such a number of people willing to risk their lives by driving recklessly, we all need that reminder – belt up and put the phone away.”

The Wigan road safety forum brings together experts from the worlds of cycling, advanced driving as well as disability groups and bodies such as the PCT and the blue light services, to promote safe use of the roads, often working closely with other councils. The forum is set to launch an innovative and eye-catching safe driving message for the festive season in the next couple of weeks. They are working alongside Bolton Council to ensure a strong, consistent message across a wide area.

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