ONE of North Yorkshire’s most experienced roads policing officers, Craven Traffic Sergeant Pete Stringer, says this May saw some of the worst driving and motorcycling he has ever dealt with.

Here he reveals how police have responded to it, and how you can help.

“In 20 years as a traffic cop, I’ve never experienced a month like this May,” he explains.

“Everything came together for a perfect storm and it’s been all hands to the pump.

“Quiet roads during lockdown meant some motorists decided they’d use North Yorkshire as a racetrack.

“The easing of lockdown meant a sudden increase in traffic, with some road users still doing extremely high speeds.

“And a spell of hot weather and people having more free time ramped up these factors further.

“The standard of driving and motorcycling we’ve seen in that time by a minority can only be described as dire.

“I’ve also dealt with some horrific collisions that will change people’s lives forever. I hope we’ve prevented many others.

“But above all, we’ve been amazed by the sheer recklessness and ‘do what I want’ attitude of a minority of road users.

“Two incidents have really stood out for me.

“A couple of weeks ago, I had to deal with a car driver who was stopped doing 51mph through a 30mph village in Craven.

“He was drunk. He also had no licence. He’s now got an appointment with Skipton magistrates and his car has been seized.

“I also dealt with a motorcyclist near Skipton who passed me and my marked police car, on the wrong side of the road, across double white lines, while pulling a wheelie.

“I have no idea what compelled him to do that, and he probably asked himself the same question after he was stopped by another traffic cop in an unmarked car a mile or two down the road.

“I’m not revealing any operational secrets when I say we do have radios and we talk to each other.

“He was reported for dangerous driving and is also due in court.

“Nobody likes being caught for doing something wrong.

“The majority take responsibility for their actions. You know they’ll learn from it and it will improve the way they drive or ride in future.

“Unfortunately there’s a small minority who find it impossible to take any personal accountability.

“They try to deflect it onto other people, including me. It’s childish, but it happens a fair bit.

“The standard response is: ‘Don’t you have anything better to do?’

“I sometimes wonder if they’d say that if they saw what I see, or whether they even understand what we have to deal with.

“Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen people have spent their final few minutes of life in extreme physical pain.

“I’ve had to pick up body parts from off the road.

“I’ve seen multiple family members wiped out by someone’s split-second misjudgement.

“I’ve seen injuries you’d only ever see on a battlefield. And I’ve lost count of the number of families I’ve had to break devastating, life-changing news to.

“It’s the worst part of the job for any police officer.

“I think trying to prevent those things from happening is an extremely good use of someone’s time.

“We’ve intensified our efforts to stop the things I’ve just described from happening.

“We’ve seen how our roads have been used and abused. And we’ve been dealing hard with the minority who are behind it.

“We’ve listened to residents, who are worried for the safety of their family, neighbours or other road users.

“They have told us they’re supporting what we’re doing and are glad to see us doing it.

“We share those concerns and we know from experience there will be further fatalities if it continues.

“In this country, 17 people are killed and 126 are serious injured every month in crashes where speeding was a significant factor.

“That’s why we’ve been carrying out high-visibility deployments to focus on speed and other motoring offences to stop villages, towns, suburbs and main roads being used as a racetrack.

“We’ve drafted in extra frontline resources to ensure we can prevent as many offences and casualties as possible.

“We’re also continuing to deploy safety camera vans based on areas of risk and concern.

“And it’s why we’ve run a high-profile media and social media campaign urging motorists to slow down and save lives.

“We’re continuing to do all this until our roads become safer.

“If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re someone who thinks about other people and you take responsibility for your actions.

“We know that the people who are most receptive to our advice are often the people who need it least.

“But you can still help us make a difference.

“If someone in your family is using the roads today - either for a recreational ride or drive, or for any other reason – simply tell them you want them to go steady and come home in one piece.

“Always drive to arrive.

“You’d be amazed how much of an influence that can have, coming from someone they love.

“It’s far, far more effective coming from you than me.

“I’ve seen so many families torn apart over the years, leaving spouses, pregnant girlfriends, children.

“As a father and a husband, I know how much I want to be there for my family and keep them safe.

“I also want to be there for yours, but not when it’s all too late.

“So if you only do one thing to prevent the unthinkable happening, remind a loved one to take it steady and come home in one piece next time they leave the house.

“It could be the best piece of advice you ever give them.”