|Sgt Nigel Jennings deals with accidents
We all complain about the huge
traffic jams following a road accident. But if you think it’s tough
for you, meet the crash detectives - those who literally pick up the
Last year there were more than 7,000 accidents reported
in Cambridgeshire alone, resulting in 67 deaths. This is a stark reminder
of how lethal driving can be.
Inspector Gary Etherington from Cambridgeshire police
is often first on the scene. He says, "We treat every scene as a potential
murder scene and until we can establish it as otherwise we will treat
it in that way."
|"The worst time for me has been when young
people and children are involved."
|Sergeant Nigel Jennings
One of the main tasks of the team is to carefully and
methodically examine all the evidence at the scene.
Inspector Gary Etherington says, "We only get one shot
at the scene and we must record all the evidence that we can at that time."
As well as examine evidence at the scene, officers also
interview witnesses, examine wreckages afterwards and study any tachograph
found in the vehicle.
Inspector Gary Etherington acknowledges that the resulting
traffic jams can be annoying for other drivers. "It does take a long while.
Roads are closed for a considerable time," he says.
"We do recognise that this has an economic cost to the
country, but we must establish whether we do, in fact, have just a collision
where somebody has unfortunately lost their life, or whether we have a
'clunk clicks' for an ad campaign
Seat belt ignorance
Despite the many vehicle safety features available today,
including airbags, side impact bars and seatbelt restraints, it astounds
the team that some people fail to wear the most basic car safety device
- the seatbelt.
Regulations on the wearing of seatbelts by drivers and
front seat passengers come into force in 1983.
Sir Jimmy Saville appeared in advertisements aimed at
encouraging seatbelt use and made the phrase, "clunk click with every
"The facts are there," says Police Constable Clive Hulgate.
"They are proven - they do save lives, but people just don’t wear them."
|FACTS & FIGURES
One in 10 drivers and front seat passengers, do
not wear seatbelts
Four in 10 rear seat adults do not wear seatbelts
Speeding is the biggest single contributory factor
of road accidents
Falling asleep at the wheel is the cause of around
20% of accidents on long journeys on trunk roads and motorways
Road accidents claimed 3,431 lives in 2002
Source: Department for Transport
There crash team’s role is not just examining wrecks
As Sergeant Nigel Jennings explains, there is a much
more personal side, "It’s giving people who are left behind the answers
to the questions they are asking, ‘how did the collision happen?’
"If we can do that we have done our job."
It can also be emotionally challenging for the officers
involved. Sergeant Nigel Jennings says, "The worst time for me has been
when young people and children are involved.
"I’m a father, it affects you, there’s no doubt about
it. I’ve been home, having got off duty late because of a collision, and
given the children an extra cuddle. It’s the only thing to do."