Car accidents are an ever present danger for the millions of British road users and protecting yourself from the carelessness of other drivers is to be expected. However a new report that has appeared in the national press has revealed a shocking number of accidents involving a group, that are not always associated with dangerous driving: the police.
According to the Daily Mirror, who pursued a Freedom of Information Act request, found out the figures, which state that the police were involved in over 3,000 car accidents in 2008 alone.
According to road safety campaigners, it has been evident for a number of years that stricter guidelines are needed to be in place to deal with high speed chase events, especially in heavily built up areas. And following these recent revelations this certainly seems to have been confirmed.
According to the newspaper a "shocking" number of these accidents involved basic driving errors by the officers in the vehicle, including driving too fast or recklessly and failing to take adequate road safety precautions.
The figures show that in 2008 the police admitted responsibility for 3,357 separate incidents, which involved members of the public sustaining over 120 public liability injuries.Â More than two thousand of people involved were driving another vehicle and of these, 126 sustained injuries sufficient to require hospital treatment.Â Last yearâ€™s figures concerning fatalities were not available for inspection but it is thought that over 150 people have died after an accident involving a police vehicle in the last five years.
"There should be better road training for all officers. Police should not be allowed to speed or break road laws unless someone's life is at risk," said a spokesman for the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims.
According to safety campaigners there needs to be a multi-faceted approach to the problem of dangerous driving by police including restricting high-speed chases to only vital circumstances and making sure that relevant health and safety legislation is always followed.
"The high number of crashes caused by simple driver errors is shocking. We urge all police forces to follow best practice by making road safety an issue to champion right from the top," added Cathy Keeler from Brake.
The exposure of these figures come at a particularly rough time for police drivers with headlines being filled by the case of a Tyneside PC who was jailed for knocking over a 16-year-old girl, while travelling at speeds, well above the speed limit.
The girl in the case died instantly in the car accident and the officer has now been sentenced to three years in jail for his recklessness. According to reports he had accelerated to above 90mph in a residential area and even after having applied the brakes, still hit the young woman at a speed in excess of 60mph.
A spokesman for ACPO, the officers association said that the number of accidents per year needed to be measured against the number of police vehicles on the road across the country.
The spokesman said: "There are clear national standards for police driver training and comprehensive manuals for its delivery. The training is robust and the importance of safety and proportionality is a feature of any driver training course. These figures must also be viewed in the context of the fact there are tens of thousands of police vehicles on the road."About the Author: