ROAD accident victims and their families have welcomed news that Dorset Police’s crackdown on reckless driving is working.

The number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads has dropped by 18 per cent since the No Excuse project was launched in January last year.

This reduction was found when comparing data from two 18-month periods before and after the No Excuse campaign was established in Dorset. And the number of offences processed by the Dorset Road Safe No Excuse project team has fallen by eight per cent so far this year when compared to the same period in 2010.

A total of 11 motorists received a ticket for driving whilst distracted and 22 drivers were caught driving without valid insurance or MOT in September.

Seatbelt offences have continued to drop and now make up 22 per cent of tickets issued by traffic officers – down from 35 per cent in the same period last year.

But the number of drivers using a mobile phone at the wheel hasn’t fallen. Mobile phone offences made up 16 per cent of tickets issued – exactly the same as last year. Where possible, offenders have been offered course options instead of penalty points and fines or court appearances.

Crash survivor Pete Bower, who had his leg amputated after he was injured in a crash, said he often saw people at the wheel with a mobile phone. Mr Bower, 56, of Portland, has now been fitted with a prosthetic limb.

He said: “There’s still an awful lot of people at the wheel on their mobile phones. “As mobile phones have become more advanced people are spending more time on them.

“I have been behind people and you see their heads bobbing up and down as they are talking on their phones.

“There should be a tougher penalty for people who use mobile phones.

“People also have fags in their mouths and they’re looking down and trying to light them.” Mr Bower said he was pleased to see the No Excuse project has worked.

“I welcome the No Excuse campaign. But it’s down to catching them and the police haven’t got the man power to do it.

“You can follow people every day of the week but you have to catch them.”

Claire Chapman, the ex-partner of hit-and-run victim Andy Mundy, said she was glad to see that the No Excuse campaign has been getting results.

Mr Mundy, of Fortuneswell, Portland, was knocked down and killed in 2009.

Mrs Chapman said: “It’s good to hear it has had a good effect – it’s promising – 18 per cent is better than no per cent. It’s encouraging to hear that it’s working and I hope the rate continues to fall.

“I wouldn’t like anyone to experience losing someone they love before they think they need to be safe on the road.”

Mrs Chapman, aged 42, of Dorchester Road, Weymouth, said she often sees aggressive behaviour by drivers on the road.

She said: “It’s a speed issue with me. You see people going so fast and they think they can stop in time but they can’t.

No excuses campaign extended

Now in its second year, the No Excuse campaign will be expanding further across the county.

Brian Austin, No Excuse project manager, said: “Although we are pleased with the increase in drivers wearing their seatbelts, it is important that we do not become complacent.

“There have been collisions in Dorset where those choosing not to wear a seatbelt have suffered life changing injuries and we must continue with our goal to change the mindset of those willing to take these risks.

“It is extremely disappointing to note that the percentage of drivers putting themselves and other road users at risk by using their mobile phone while driving remains unchanged at 16 per cent of tickets issued in September.

“Dorset Road Safe partners are committed to identifying motorists using their mobile phones and I’d ask the careful drivers and pedestrians of Dorset to continue to report those that are putting others at risk.”