Widow’s plea to speeding drivers from the heart

A widow whose life was torn apart by a speeding motorist is backing a campaign aiming to rid the roads of motor menaces.

Dorothy Toogood lost her soul mate when her husband Roy was knocked down and killed by a young speeding driver in February 2013, just yards from his home in Cullercoats.

Mr Toogood – who received an MBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours list for his work with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – had been going to the post office when he was hit in Beach Road, Tynemouth, by Daniel Brownlee’s speeding vehicle.

Now Mrs Toogood is backing a new road safety campaign – Operation Dragoon – by Northumbria Police as part of UK Road Safety Week.

Last year, 388 people were seriously injured on roads in the force area and 29 people killed, while 127 have been seriously injured and five killed this year so far.

Operation Dragoon aims to raise awareness about road safety among people of all ages and help make the roads safer for drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Mrs Toogood said: “The day Roy was killed he was walking home on a route he has used hundreds of times over the years and that is very close to our home.

“A dangerous driver took my husband away from me and changed my life and my family’s lives forever.

“The work that police are doing to raise awareness around road safety is so important.

“I know that what happened to Roy could have been prevented and I’d hate to think that another family would have to go through what we did.

“I can’t thank the police enough for the support they have given me since I lost Roy, and I’m giving Operation Dragoon my full backing in the hope it can save lives and help make the roads safer for everyone.

“I do believe that if everyone takes responsibility and is proactive in reporting dangerous or careless drivers to the police then we will start to make a difference.

“Help us get dangerous drivers off the road by telling the police who they are, speak up now before it’s too late.”

Brownlee, who was 18 at the time of the incident, had reached speeds of up to 104mph just moments before he drove the wrong way around a pedestrian island in his Vauxhall Corsa and hit the 66-year-old, who died from his injuries in Newcastle’s RVI.

Brownlee, of Preston Terrace, West Allotment, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to six years in a young offender’s institute and banned from driving for six years.

Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “Road safety is a very important issue and Operation Dragoon is all about making the roads as safe as possible for everyone who uses them.

“Any life lost on the roads is one too many, and our aim is to get everyone on the roads thinking about their safety, that of passengers and other road users in the hope that we can help prevent people being killed and lives being ruined.

“We will be working with road users of all ages from young people who are starting to learn to drive, inexperienced drivers and those experienced motorists who may have driven for many years.

“We can all benefit from thinking about how we can drive and use the roads more safely.”

Operation Dragoon, which will run into 2015, will focus on educational and enforcement aspects of road safety and will include regular operations targeting dangerous drivers; attending evens and talking to different road user groups; visiting schools, colleges and universities to talk about road safety; and making links with driving schools and DVLA test centres.

The chief constable added: “As well as the educational and engagement side to Dragoon, there is also a firm enforcement aspect to it.

“We want to identify those on the roads who are putting people’s lives at risk and take action against them.

“We are asking the public to help us by passing on information about who these dangerous drivers are.

“We are talking about drivers who break speed limits, who use mobile phones behind the wheel, who perform dangerous manoeuvres on the open roads.

“Those people who, because of their reckless actions, are putting people’s lives at risk.”

At the operation’s launch at Walbottle Campus in Newcastle, police were joined by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service who carried out an extraction from a car to show the impact that being involved in a collision can have.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service district manager Peter Iveson said: “I have, along with many of my firefighter colleagues witnessed the terrible aftermath of many road traffic collisions.

“Accidents on the road don’t just affect the individuals involved.

“The lives of families can be destroyed by losing a loved one, or can be changed forever by having to care for a family member with life-changing injuries.

“Many young people are at high risk of being injured or killed in a car accident.

“Driving carelessly or fast could cost their lives or the lives of friends and loved ones.

“By working with Northumbria Police, we hope to drive the number of injuries and deaths down to keep our residents as safe as possible.”

For more on Operation Dragoon and general road safety information visit www.northumbria.police.uk