Indian-origin woman fronts Scotland Yard road safety campaign

London, Jan 8 (PTI) An Indian-origin woman has teamed up with Scotland Yard to promote a new road safety campaign to encourage best practice from motorists and road users in the UK in the memory of her sister killed by a driver who had been driving with a frost-covered windshield.

Neha Santasalo’s sister, Jasjot Singhota, was killed in south-east London in January 2017 as she walked along a zebra crossing. She was struck by a driver who set off in his car around 7 am with his view of the road massively obstructed by frost on his windscreen, the Metropolitan Police said.

“It’s too late for my sister whose life was tragically cut short aged just 30,” said Santasalo in a statement to mark the third anniversary of her sister’s death this month. “My sister's death was entirely unnecessary and if I can help save one life or prevent serious injuries on the road through this message, then I will be proud to have that as part of her legacy and life-long commitment to helping people, and to prevent another family from having to go through what ours did,” she said.

In her message, Santasalo describes her late sister as an “incredible person” who dedicated her life to helping people as a fully trained doctor.

“She had big plans to work around the world on various projects to help those in need where she could. All that was taken from her and us when a driver set off without clearing the frost from his windscreen,” she notes.

Her message for motorists is that there is no substitute for spending a few minutes before your winter journey to make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road.

Simple and affordable purchases like an ice scraper and de-icer spray can make all the difference to keeping you and other people who use the roads safe.

“Sitting down and turning on your car’s windscreen wipers and heater on to defrost is not enough. Be responsible: look after yourself, your family and other road users by clearing all your windows of any frost, ice and snow and ensure your side mirrors are clearly visible,” she says.

The Metropolitan Police Road and Transport Policing Command’s #ReadyForTheRoad initiative involves officers talking to people about the dangers posed on the roads. Safer Neighbourhood Teams and traffic officers are carrying out a range of activities across London to create awareness among all road users, and enforcement action is also targeting careless drivers.

According to the Met Police, in the last year, 2,089 drivers were stopped at the roadside in London and subject to a Traffic Offence Report for driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration to others.

In 2018, 112 people were killed and a further 3,954 suffered serious injuries on London’s roads. The number of people killed while walking fell from 73 to 56, but still makes up 50 per cent of all deaths in the UK capital. There were 12 people killed while cycling in 2018, with a further 770 suffering serious injuries.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox, who leads the Met’s Road and Transport Policing Command, said: “The man behind the wheel of the car that killed Jasjot was sent to prison, banned from driving and has to live the rest of his life knowing that his actions led to the death of a gifted doctor who had her whole life ahead of her.

“The driver was travelling with frost on his windscreen that had not been adequately cleared; he did not notice Jasjot on a zebra crossing and carried on, colliding with her and causing her fatal injuries. The collision was entirely avoidable if only some time had been taken to prepare the car for the trip ahead.” As part of the campaign, drivers are being warned that those who set off and drive carelessly could be liable for an on-the-spot 100 pounds fine and three penalty points.

More serious cases go to court and could result in a fine of up to 2,500 pounds and disqualification. Prosecution could result in a driving ban, an unlimited fine, or a prison sentence of up to five years.

Mandy McGregor, Head of Transport Policing at Transport for London, said: “Being prepared for a journey and being able to see while driving sounds extremely basic but it is one of the most important elements of being safe on our roads.

“I hope that people hear Neha’s story and understand that it is wholly unacceptable to take even a single risk, as it can have heart-breaking consequences.” In tribute to her sister, Neha speaks of her heartbreak at the many things she will now never have the opportunity to do with her sister.

She adds: “From the small things we take for granted such as meeting and catching up over a cup of tea, to the bigger life events including not being able to see her get married, travel the world or for our children to play together.

“It was her selfless nature demonstrated through organ donation that led her to save the lives of five other people and for that I am immensely proud of her.” PTI AK 01081130 nnnn PMS PMS