A SPIKE in collisions which have resulted in motorists being killed or seriously injured on Barnsley’s 750-mile road network will result in highways bosses holding crunch talks to boost safety, the Chronicle can reveal.

Barnsley Council’s overview and scrutiny panel will oversee Tuesday’s meeting, which will involve leaders from the local authority’s highways department, police and bosses from the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.

The rate of motorists sustaining serious injuries when behind the wheel is 59 per 100,000 residents - significantly higher than the national average of 42.6 - and is now the second-highest in the region.

According to a report, 64.7 per cent involve males and Barnsley’s rate of killed or seriously injured incidents has rocketed from 68 in 2015 to 156 in 2018 - a rise of 229 per cent.
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A focus will be placed on the 17 to 24-year-old age group, as the bracket is responsible for 22.7 per cent of all Barnsley’s collisions, despite it making up just 10.8 per cent of the borough’s population, and more schools and colleges will be targeted in a bid to highlight road safety.

A report said: “Current challenges in Barnsley in relation to road safety are the rates of killed or seriously injured casualties, a figure which is higher than the national level.

“In the future, the council plan to adopt a collaborative approach to road safety by investigating how big the issue really is in order to put in place appropriate governance, and develop a road safety strategy.

“The leading contributing factors recorded by the police in relation to accidents resulting in casualties vary by age group. In children under 16, these are predominately poor pedestrian behaviours, in young adults, poor driver behaviours are more prevalent and in adults aged 65 and over, physical and mental illness or disability becomes more significant.”

Thirteen people lost their lives having been involved in collisions in 2019, up from nine in 2018, while 140 incidents resulted in serious injuries.

Speed is thought to be a large factor in the higher-than-average rate, particularly so with young motorists, which has led to multiple areas of Barnsley becoming the subject of resident-led petitions in an effort to reduce speed limits.

Campaigners on Burton Road, Monk Bretton, Birthwaite Hill, Darton and Sandy Bridge Lane, Shafton, have all been unsuccessful in achieving anti-speeding measures and criticised the council for ‘only acting when there’s a fatality’.

However, its highways team compiled a list of roads earmarked for improvement works to be carried out during the next financial year at its worst-hit spots including Copster Lane, Oxspring, Pontefract Road, Lundwood and Laithes Lane, Athersley.

Inspector Jason Booth, of South Yorkshire Police’s roads policing group, said the force remains committed to creating safer roads.

“In a bid to reduce casualty numbers across our roads, we work closely with partners to ensure that those who are willing to put their lives and the lives of others at risk are educated, caught and prosecuted,” he added.

“We aim to educate road users, but we also carry out regular enforcement operations to tackle driving offences and ensure we are focussing on the issues that cost lives and matter to our communities the most.

“Work with our partners will continue to explore new and innovative ways to reduce the number of casualties as one life taken is one too many.”