TV technology helps keep road safety a top priority

Keyhole camera technology used by Hollywood star Ewan McGregor in the television shows of his epic motorcycle rides has been adapted by North Yorkshire Police to help make the county’s roads safer.

Mar 27, 2008
By Paul Jacques
Left to right: Kay Dargue, head of South Tees Youth Justice Service, PCC Matt Storey and Chief Inspector John Dodsworth.

Keyhole camera technology used by Hollywood star Ewan McGregor in the television shows of his epic motorcycle rides has been adapted by North Yorkshire Police to help make the county’s roads safer.

The tiny cameras attached to a motorcyclist’s helmet produced some exhilarating shots for the TV shows Long Way Down and Long Way Round featuring the actor and his friend Charley Boorman.

Now North Yorkshire police is using the same cutting-edge technology to investigate accidents and assess the safety of roads in the county where 17 motorcyclists were killed last year and 127 seriously injured.

The camera is one of a number of initiatives that form part of Operation Anvil – a concerted campaign over the spring and summer to reduce deaths and injuries on the county’s roads.

Sgt Pete Mason, Bikesafe coordinator for North Yorkshire Police, said: “The cameras provide a motorcyclist’s view of the road and footage can be studied to establish what may have caused an accident or how road safety could be improved.”

Footage taken by Sgt Mason and his colleagues is sent to North Yorkshire County council highways engineers for analysis.

While helmet-cams are used for road accident investigation and highways improvements, many police cars and vans are now equipped with cameras which can be used to record evidence of offences.

Last year 81 people were killed on the roads of North Yorkshire – although this is 12 more deaths than in 2006, it is below the average for recent years.

The force has been working alongside North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, local councils, crime reduction partnerships, and health and highway experts as part of the ‘95 Alive’ partnership, which is aiming to dramatically reduce the number of fatalities in road crashes.

The campaign was launched three years ago and remains on course to meet its target of keeping an extra 95 people alive up until 2010.

Easter Sunday saw the launch of 95 Alive’s 2008 motorcycle strategy. The focus is on rider development and encouraging skills improvement through a series of initiatives, such as skills development workshops in which bikers will be encouraged to take part.

Crime statistics from last year showed North Yorkshire had the safest streets in the country and the 95 Alive partners are working hard to make the roads safer as well.

Data gathered by a host of agencies over recent years and from road safety campaigns such as Operations Helical and Halter will be used to ensure resources are deployed for maximum impact.

Roadside safety checks will be carried out over the spring and summer months, backed up by concerted themed campaigns combining education with enforcement to reduce speeding, mobile phone use at the wheel, drink driving and other dangers.

The campaign aims to reach all road users from motorcyclists to truckers, holidaymakers to those on the school run.

“Last year three people were murdered in the county. That is three too many but is a tiny figure compared with the 81 who died on the roads” said North Yorkshire Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell.

“We should never forget that each of these road deaths has devastating consequences for the family and friends left behind and the most worrying aspect is that so many could have easily been avoided.

“We know that the three principal causes of death on the roads remain inappropriate or excessive speed, drink driving and the failure to wear seatbelts or restraints. But we will be vigilant to other dangers such as drivers under the influence of drugs, suffering fatigue or using mobile phones at the wheel.”

CC Maxwell said he hoped the safety message would reach visitors to North Yorkshire as well as residents.

Keyhole camera technology used by Hollywood star Ewan McGregor in the television shows of his epic motorcycle rides has been adapted by North Yorkshire Police to help make the county’s roads safer.

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