Operation Lightning is Staffordshire Police’s dedicated operation focusing on road safety, helping to make our county’s roads safer. It aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Staffordshire and to disrupt and deter criminals from using the road network.

The 24/7 policing of Staffordshire’s roads is a shared approach involving with the whole force. Targeted education and enforcement activity takes place across the county and involves the force’s roads policing unit, together with Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership, police community support officers, special constables and Community Speed Watch volunteers.

During 2018, 26 people were killed on roads in Staffordshire and a further 212 seriously injured. We’re committed to reducing this number as one death on our roads is one death too many. This September we are focusing on road safety to make the public more aware of how they can drive safely and encourage people to change behaviours that put them at risk of having a collision.

The following Fatal Four factors are the most common causes of collisions where someone is killed or seriously injured. Please help to keep the roads of Staffordshire safe by finding out how you can limit your risk of having a car crash.

Mobile phone usage - #PhoneFree

PhoneFree campaign banner

We want you to be #phonefree whilst driving by either putting your phone away in the glove box, turning it off or using settings or an app that blocks calls and messages.

Being distracted by your phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash. In the last five years Staffordshire Police have recorded 6,665 offences of driving whilst using a mobile phone, that’s an average of 111 per month. If you’re caught using your phones at the wheel you’ll receive six points and a £200 fine, and new drivers (within the first two years of holding a full licence) will have their licence removed by the courts.

Using a mobile phone at the wheel in any way puts you and others at much higher risk as it only takes a second of lapsed concentration to prevent you from reacting to a hazard. Once a driver has been distracted it only takes three seconds for a car crash to occur.

It doesn’t have to be a phone call to be distracting, you shouldn’t text, look at social media notifications and skip songs on your phone while at the wheel. Any kind of phone use can be distracting, if it takes your eyes from the road you shouldn’t be doing it. In fact texting whilst driving causes 25 per cent of all car accidents (Department of Transport). You can also be just as preoccupied using a hands free system so the safest thing is to not use your phone at all.

We want to change the behaviours of drivers by emphasising that safety is more important than taking a call or replying to a text. Your friends and family won’t mind waiting for the text, call or message. They would rather that you got to your destination safely than not at all. If you need to make a call or text someone you need make sure you park up somewhere safely and turn the ignition off. We are also urging people not to phone friends and family that they know are driving and if you call someone and they are driving, tell them to call you back when they are at their destination.

The message is simple. Help us make Staffordshire’s roads safer by going #PhoneFree. Lose the phone not your control!

Drink Driving - #drinkORdrive

Drink or drive campaign banner

Our ‘#drinkORdrive’ campaign encourages drivers to not drink and drive and make alternative travel plans when on a night out.

You might think that one or two drinks won’t matter but even a small amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely so the best advice is to make alternative travel plans or avoid alcohol completely if you are driving.

You are more likely to be involved in a crash if you drink drive. Alcohol makes people’s reactions slower and makes processing information more difficult so when driving this can impact on decision making and reactions times, which puts drivers, passengers and other road users at risk. In the last five years 11.6 per cent of fatal crashes and 7.7 per cent of serious collisions involved alcohol impairment.

When going on a night out it is important to plan ahead, to think about getting home, and remember the impact alcohol can still have the morning after. Make sure you organise your taxi before you go out, have bus or train timetables ready, or arrange for a lift with a friend. This reduces the temptation to drive home. Please remember to wear a face covering when using public transport or taxis. It is important that you look out for your friends as well, don’t let your mate or someone you know drink drive.

The consequences of drink driving are serious and can include: a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record, a hefty fine up to six months in prison and an endorsement on your licence for 11 years. These can also result in increased car insurance costs, loss of job etc.

If you know someone is drink or drug driving please report it, providing as much information and detail as possible so they can be investigated. You can report them online or by calling 101. Alternatively if you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If there is an immediate risk to the public always call 999.

Speeding - #SpeedAware

Speeding campaign banner

Speeding is one of the major contributing factors in road traffic collisions. If you speed you are more likely to be involved in a crash and the chances of serious injury or death are greatly increased. Between 2014 and 2018 speed contributed to 29.5 per cent of crashes in which someone died.

We're asking all road users to travel within the speed limits. Remember just a few extra miles per hour can make all the difference to your reaction, breaking distances and ultimate consequence of any collision. For example if you are travelling at 50 mph it will take 53 metres to stop, that’s the length of an Olympic swimming pool!

When driving, you should leave enough clear distance in front of you to be able to come to a stop. This is in case the traffic suddenly slows down, causing you to brake. However, stopping distances vary depending on the weather and your driving speed.

We want everyone to be #SpeedAware whilst driving – look for hazards and adjust your speed, the speed limit is not a target. Be considerate towards other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. Don’t be the one who stops them going home safely. If you hit a pedestrian at 30mph they have a 1 in 5 chance of being killed, or 1 in 3 if hit at 35mph. There is #NoNeedForSpeed so please slow down!

Seatbelts - #StandingUpForBeltingUp

Seatbelt campaign banner

Seatbelts are designed to keep you in your seat, and prevent or reduce injuries suffered in a crash. They ensure that as little contact as possible is made between you and vehicle interior and significantly reduce the risk of you being thrown from a vehicle. You’re twice as likely to die in a car crash if you’re not wearing a seatbelt. We think that’s reason enough to belt up when driving.

Not only is not wearing a seat belt deadly, it’s costly too. It is illegal to not wear one in the front and back of vehicles and you can face an on-the-spot fine of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.

Please help us to spread the #StandingUpForBeltingUp message, especially to young people. 17-34-year-olds are least likely to wear seat belts but most likely to be involved in a crash.

It is important to remember that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12-years-old or 135 centimetres tall and it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law.

Make sure your car seat is the right one for your child’s height and weight and for your car - not all seats fit all cars. It also needs to conform to standards and regulations. When fitting a car seat make sure it is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more information on car seats please visit www.childcarseats.org.uk/types-of-seat/

We all play a part in keeping the roads of Staffordshire safe, do your bit and drive to the speed limit, drink OR drive, go phone free and belt up!