Rise in accidents worries fire chief

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WIGAN’S fire chief is urging borough motorists to be more aware of driving conditions after a spike in road traffic collisions.

Borough commander Steve Sheridan has overseen a significant drop in fire service call-outs this year but accidents on Wigan’s roads is a category bucking the trend.

The big thing for me is that people need to understand the dangers of driving in poor weather conditions or of course if they’re drunk, under the influence of drugs or tired

Borough commander Steve Sheridan

The number of collisions requiring the assistance of fire crews rose by 28 per cent for 2014/15 with the frequency of vehicle smashes remaining constant throughout the year.

Commander Sheridan told the Evening Post the message for safer drivers “needs to go out loud and clear”.

He said: “The big thing for me is that people need to understand the dangers of driving in poor weather conditions or of course if they’re drunk, under the influence of drugs or tired.

“It’s not up to us to police it, that’s not our job, but these things are preventable. There are some incidents which are unavoidable, but these things can be targeted.

“So it’s in all of our interests to get that message out there for drivers to be aware of their surroundings and take appropriate care.” Community engagement has contributed to a 17 per cent drop in all fire incidents, Commander Sheridan explained, but the spike from 57 call outs to 73 is a worrying trend.

And although many residential areas of the borough are now covered by 20mph zones, A-roads and sections of the motorway network remain hot-spots, especially the Gathurst viaduct.

He said: “Almost every other day there’s an incident on that stretch of motorway, plenty of people in and out of the borough who will be using it everyday on their commute.

“In strong winds, driver are taken unawares on that stretch and move across lanes, causing collisions.

“We are trying to address it across Greater Manchester and we’re targeting young drivers but then it’s harder to get to older demographics.”

And when it comes to motoring safety issues, advice such as using seat-belts and not using mobile devices remain as crucial as ever.

Commander Sheridan said: “You would be surprised how many incidents we see of people not wearing their seat-belts, especially back-seat passengers.

“And those driving with small children and babies shouldn’t have them on their laps. Most of the body weight for babies is in the head so if they’re not restrained and they’re sitting with mum, if you’re travelling upwards of 15mph you can’t restrain them, they will catapult forward. You still see that.”