Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by SALINA PA­TEL­tel@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @Sali­naPa­tel1

Driv­ers who use their mo­bile phones while at the wheel are tak­ing a real risk Mark Ha­zle­ton LFB group man­ager

FOOTAGE has been re­leased show­ing fire­fight­ers res­cue a per­son from the wreck­age of a car crash, as the Lon­don Fire Brigade records its high­est num­ber of call­outs in five years.

The clip shows a demon­stra­tion of the emer­gency ser­vice free­ing a ca­su­alty from a ve­hi­cle as fig­ures re­veal fire crews at­tended more than 4,500 road traf­fic col­li­sions in the cap­i­tal last year, up 12% from 2012, when the fig­ure was 3,729.

On av­er­age, this means fire crews cut six peo­ple from their ve­hi­cles ev­ery week in Lon­don, the ser­vice said. Crews use spe­cial­ist cut­ting and spread­ing gear, as well as ve­hi­cle sta­bil­is­ing equip­ment, to res­cue ca­su­al­ties trapped in their ve­hi­cles.

Se­ri­ous chal­lenges lie in res­cu­ing peo­ple from ve­hi­cles found crushed up against other cars and street fur­ni­ture, or flipped on their side or roof.

Hilling­don recorded the high­est num­ber of road traf­fic col­li­sions at­tended by the Lon­don Fire Brigade (LFB) last year in west Lon­don, and the fifth high­est over­all in the cap­i­tal.

A to­tal of 218 in­ci­dents were at­tended in the bor­ough by fire ser­vice crews in 2016 – only four other ar­eas re­ported more than 200 in­ci­dents.

Th­ese were Croy­don with 267, En­field with 239, Bar­net with 224 and Brom­ley with 220.

In other parts of west Lon­don, Eal­ing recorded 174 call­outs, Houn­slow 156, Brent 152, West­min­ster 142 and Har­row 111. Only two bor­oughs re­ported fewer than 100 crashes at­tended by the brigade, with Ham­mer­smith and Ful­ham record­ing 68 and in neigh­bour­ing Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea there were 57.

The lat­est fig­ures co­in­cided with the launch of the De­part­ment for Trans­port’s THINK! cam­paign, on Wed­nes­day March 1, which tack­les use of mo­bile phones while driv­ing.

Un­der the new leg­is­la­tion, penal­ties double for us­ing your phone while driv­ing from three to six points and from a £100 to £200 fine. Mark Hazel­ton, LFB group man­ager for com­mu­nity safety, said: “There are many things that can cause col­li­sions, in­clud­ing speed­ing, and driv­ers fall­ing asleep at the wheel, but we know that dis­trac­tions com­ing from in­side peo­ple’s cars are a ma­jor cause of ac­ci­dents.

“Driv­ers who use their mo­biles while at the wheel are tak­ing a real risk to them­selves, their pas­sen­gers, cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans, and need to start re­al­is­ing how dan­ger­ous this is.

“It is not just their lives they are putting at risk.

“Hope­fully this new leg­is­la­tion will make peo­ple think a lit­tle bit more be­fore pick­ing up their mo­bile phone to an­swer a call, read a text or change their mu­sic.”

In the past five years, fire­fight­ers have at­tended a to­tal of 19,625 road traf­fic col­li­sions in Lon­don.

The re­mains of a ve­hi­cle that col­lided with a lorry

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