Dangerous driving behaviours are the focus of a new Somerset Council campaign aimed at reducing fatal collisions on the county’s roads.

The Fatal Five campaign, backed by Avon and Somerset Police and led by Somerset Council’s Road Safety Team, highlights the key behaviours which can contribute to serious or fatal collisions.

Tragically, 30 people died while travelling on Somerset’s roads in 2023 – this is nearly 43% up on the figure for 2022 and the highest number of fatalities in 10 years. In four of the incidents more than one person died.

There is no particular cause or issue thought to be responsible for the increase, and according to Avon and Somerset Police 76% of the collisions involve one or more of the following five behaviours:

  • Intoxicated driving, (drink or drugs)
  • Careless or inconsiderate driving
  • Excessive Speed
  • Mobile phone use or distraction, or
  • Failing to wear a seatbelt.

A further concerning factor is that nearly half of the fatal collisions were caused by a vehicle crossing into the path of another one.
Of the 30 fatal casualties, 11 were car drivers, 12 motorcyclists, four were car passengers, and three were pedestrians.

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said:

The rise in fatalities is deeply disturbing so it is vital we try to save lives and encourage people to avoid these ‘Fatal Five’ behaviours as road users.

With the Fatal Five campaign we want to raise awareness and influence behaviour. In addition, our Road Safety Team has increased their activities significantly in response to these figures, with 41,000 face-to-face interventions with people in Somerset in 2023, more than ever before – from school children and young, inexperienced drivers, to older drivers looking to refresh their skills.

We might understand that drink or drug driving is unacceptable, but how aware are we that just being distracted for a split second or not being aware of our speed can have such terrible consequences?

Hopefully the campaign across social media, and through face-to-face talks and presentations will make people think again and re-evaluate their behaviour – something we could all do with doing.”

Fourteen of last year’s fatalities happened on the county’s A roads, five were on trunk roads, five were on B roads and six were on unclassified roads.

The figures for the past five years are as follows:

  • 22 collisions and 22 fatalities in 2019
  • 12 collisions and 12 fatalities in 2020
  • 24 collisions and 25 fatalities in 2021
  • 20 collisions and 21 fatalities in 2022
  • 26 collisions and 30 fatalities in 2023

The figures for 2023 are the highest since 2014 when 33 deaths occurred.

Somerset Road Safety’s delivery team delivered face-to-face training for 41,000 people in 2023. This included talks in primary schools for 12,619 pupils, as well as presentations to 8,579 secondary school pupils. The team gave talks and training to 2,509 motorcyclists and gave 1,182 older drivers advice and guidance on how to stay safe on Somerset’s roads.

To find out more about the campaign as well as the team’s work, visit the Fatal Five webpage on somersetroadsafety.org. You can also follow them on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

Somerset Road Safety graphic featuring a hand on a steering wheel of a car, captioned: 'What are the Fatal 5?'

About this article

April 4, 2024

Andrew Doyle

Press Release