MAJOR routes into North Devon will benefit from a £1.5million Government grant to aid rural road safety in the county. Devon is one of four authorities to share in a new £8 million Government grant announced by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick. It wil

MAJOR routes into North Devon will benefit from a £1.5million Government grant to aid rural road safety in the county. Devon is one of four authorities to share in a new £8 million Government grant announced by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.It will fund a Rural Road Safety Demonstration Project that will run until 2010 and gather information about key problems facing drivers on rural roads and develop innovative strategies to improve safety. A range of education, enforcement and engineering schemes will be used to reduce collisions.Roads selected for the project include the A377 Exeter to Barnstaple and A361 Tiverton to Barnstaple.A number of deaths and serious injuries are recorded on these routes each year. Officers will be looking in particular at motorcycle collisions on the A377 and bad driving on the A361. New and innovative engineering measures will be considered on these routes, and county council safety experts will discuss with the police what enforcement measures can be considered. There will also be a detailed programme to improve the safety awareness and driving/riding skills of regular users of these routes and of minor country roads. Cllr Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "Devon has made good progress at reducing serious casualties and we are well placed to meet our challenging target of a 55 per cent reduction between 1998 and 2010. But last year in Devon there were 49 deaths, most of which were on rural roads with a national speed limit.Challenge"Our challenge is to reduce the number of collisions in the demonstration area, and also reduce the severity of injury. This cannot be achieved by the county council and police alone. "The vast majority of collisions involve human errors, such as loss of concentration, distraction, speeding and bad judgement. As most of the collisions involved local people, I will be hoping to see a commitment in our villages, towns, organisations and businesses to share the task of spreading the safety messages. "Most collisions are preventable through modest changes to our behaviour, and there is a limit to how much we can rely on more lines and signs to achieve reductions."An additional £2million will also be distributed between Devon and three other Road Safety Beacon Authorities later in the three-year Rural Road Safety Demonstration Project.The other local authorities taking part in the project are Lincolnshire County Council, Norfolk County Council and Northamptonshire County Council.