Today marks the start of National Road Safety Week, an annual event with a simple but very important goal – to make our roads safer to reduce the number of serious accidents and injuries we see each year.
Founded in 1997 by campaigning road safety charity Brake, the annual event seeks to raise awareness about road safety and promote simple steps that everyone can take to stop the many needless deaths and injuries year-round.
The latest statistics quoted by Brake today make stark reading. Every day, five people die on the UK’s roads, and 64 more are seriously injured.
In 2014, there were 1,775 reported road deaths in the UK, with 22,807 people seriously injured. Over the year, 146,322 personal-injury road traffic accidents were reported to the police.
It was the first rise in fatalities over a calendar year since 2003, and the first rise in seriously injured casualties since 1994.
Clearly, something needs to be done, and it is the responsibility of every driver, cyclist and pedestrian, to make a difference.
In our work as personal injury specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, we know all too well the needless devastation, trauma and suffering, which is caused on a daily basis. We see lives forever changed by poor decisions, distraction and sometimes complete disregard for others.
As Brake is rightly pointing out in its media activities this week, the vast majority of these serious casualties, which went up by four per cent last year, are down to driver error.
That is why we should all this week take time to re-evaluate our driving, particularly in terms of how careful and considerate we are when behind the wheel.
Brake is this week highlighting how often we needlessly use our cars, with the message of ‘Drive Less, Live More’.
It says: “Brake believes road safety isn’t just about driving safely and legally or using the green cross code, although these are important. It’s about making our streets safe and pleasant for everyone to use freely, and doing everything we can to protect ourselves and people around us.
“A big part of that is driving less, as little as possible, or not at all if you can. It’s common for people to habitually walk the few metres from their front door to their car and drive, even if they’re only going round the corner.”
For our part, we at Hudgell Solicitors are focussing on the decisions we all make as individuals when getting behind the wheel, and we plan to reveal some very interesting findings this week from a survey recently conducted around driver behaviour and attitudes.
We already support Brake on many initiatives, including its recent call to ban the use of hands-free phones from cars, as although drivers are able to keep both hands on the wheel, research has suggested that talking makes drivers four more times likely to cause an injury. Distraction, in any form, is a major danger on the roads.
The message of greater care, less speed and less journeys is one never too often repeated. Every time we get behind the wheel, safety must be the main thing in our minds.
The question to ask yourself today, with all the demands and distractions in modern life, is how often is that really the case?
Casualties on the UK’s Roads – the stats
- In 2014, November and December were the worst two months for deaths on the roads, with 369 fatalities in total
- Traffic volumes were 2.4 per cent higher in 2014 than 2013 – the biggest growth in traffic annually since 1996
- Deaths in built-up areas increased by 9.1 per cent in 2014 – to 783.
- 21,287 pedal cyclists were injured in 2014, up by 9.5 per cent on 2013
- Cycle traffic on UK roads has increased 27 per cent since 2007
- 3,401 pedal cyclists were seriously injured on the UK’s roads in 2014, an 8.2 per cent rise on 2013
- Pedestrian fatalities increased by 12 per cent from 2013 to 2014, with 446 pedestrians killed on the UK’s roads last year
- More than 5,000 pedestrians were seriously injured in 2014 – higher than in 2013 but the second lowest year on record.