Friday, 11 September 2009

Operation Focus

Emergency services across North Wales are working together in a bid to further reduce motor bike casualties.

So far in 2009, two motorcyclists have been killed with 41 seriously injured. This compares to eight deaths and 88 serious injuries in 2008 and 12 deaths and 80 seriously injured in 2007.

Operation Focus was launched by North Wales Police in 2003 with the objective of reducing motorcycle casualties and deaths. Police officers talk to motorcyclists to try to educate them about the dangers, but will also actively prosecute those who ride dangerously or who have illegal machines.

Superintendent Simon Shaw of North Wales Police's Road Policing unit said: "The only riders we hope to discourage from riding in North Wales are those that are intent on riding illegally, particularly those wanting to ride at high speeds.

“Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable group of road users. Our objective is to educate motorcyclists of the risks they face and prosecute those who unlawfully use the roads of North Wales.”

Operation Focus is an annual campaign by North Wales Police that usually starts at the beginning of the motorcycling season from around late March until October.

“We have various campaigns and initiatives throughout the year targeting high-risk road users, such as our young driver’s campaign *Deadly Mates and the annual summer and Christmas Drink Drive campaign,” Supt Shaw added.

“Operation Focus is not about alienating the motorcycling community – it’s about education and engagement. Motorcyclists face a number of risks including insufficient training or skills fade because they don't get out on their bike very often. Their bikes may be in an unlawful condition, they may not be wearing appropriate clothing or be particularly visible to other road users, and they may suffer from fatigue due to long periods of concentration whilst riding on unfamiliar roads.”

The operation has the full support of other emergency services, who like the police, are called upon to deal with serious or fatal collisions.

Dafydd Jones-Morris, Regional Director for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “All too often our crews have to deal with the aftermath of road traffic collisions in North Wales. Not only do they affect family, but they can hit whole communities hard. We support education schemes like this as we want bikers to enjoy the region’s roads, but also understand the care and attention that is needed to navigate them safely.”

Richard Fairhead, Senior Fire Safety Manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are keen to educate road users about road safety to try and cut down on the number of needless deaths on our road every year.

“One of the ‘at risk’ groups we are actively targeting is motorcyclists. As part of our work, and through Welsh Assembly Grant funding, we have leased a ‘Firebike', a brand new Yamaha FJR1300 which is used to attract motorcyclists at events, roadshows and as part of Bikesafe events across the region. The ‘Firebike’ attracts keen motorcyclists, which gives our staff the opportunity to interact and educate the bikers about road safety.

“We are keen to work in partnership with the other emergency services and local councils in this way which encourages motorcyclists and road users to enjoy the beauty of our region safely.”

Supt Simon Shaw added: “Because of the significant proportion of deaths and serious injury collisions involving motorcyclists we are constantly working with our partners to reduce injury and save lives through engineering, education and enforcement.

“The vast majority of motorcyclists we encounter are law abiding but there is a hardcore minority who are determined to use our roads as racetracks and in doing so have and continue to put themselves and other road users in mortal danger.

“We will continue to target, with a view to prosecution, all those that ride or drive dangerously, at excess speed, overtake on solid white lines or commit any other road traffic offences.”


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