With the lighter nights now upon us, it is assumed by many to be the safest time of the year when driving on the UK’s roads. However, new figures published by the RAC Foundation have painted a very different picture, as they have revealed more children are killed on the UK’s roads in the longer summer days than throughout the winter months.
There has been a six per cent increase in child casualties on the roads since 2013, a huge reverse of a trend which had previously seen numbers fall every year since 2004.
Better weather and longer hours of sunlight results in more children playing outside or cycling and walking to school, which in turn leads to a greater exposure to risk, the RAC Foundation says.
Accident figures are stark warning to drivers
But as specialists in handling hundreds of road accident compensation claims each year, we at Hudgell Solicitors see how driver complacency and distraction also often results in devastation.
These new figures act as a stark warning to each and every one of us who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, at any time.
Based on a five-year average from 2010-14, they have shown July to be the month with biggest number of child road casualties in Britain.
Over that time, 227 under-15s were killed or seriously injured in July from a total of 1,733 casualties in that age bracket. Lowest monthly averages were recorded in December, when there were 122 children killed or hurt out of 1,103 casualties.
Significantly, the statistics show half of child road casualties happen when they are not in vehicles themselves, with 40 per cent being pedestrians and 13 per cent being cyclists.
It highlights how our level of care and attention needs to be the same on a bright summer’s day as it is on a cold, dark, icy winter morning, as only that can guarantee our reactions are as they need to be.
All drivers should hold this thought – the figures actually suggest drivers are more likely to injure a child either walking or cycling than any children travelling in a vehicle with them.
The bigger danger is to others out on the roads, not to the driver themselves or their own passengers. How often do we think of that when we set off on a journey?
Pete Williams, a trustee of the RAC’s Road Safety Awareness Charity, has said it is the ‘responsibility of all drivers to be mindful of the risks of young road users and children playing around and near roads and to reduce their speed and increase their vigilance’, and we would certainly agree.
However, his words come as a survey involving national road safety charity Brake has revealed almost half of drivers polled admitted to breaking a 20mph speed limit – which are commonly found close to schools – last year.
It also showed that a quarter of drivers admitted to driving too fast in a 20mph area at least once-a-month, whilst 20 per cent of motorists surveyed said they break a 20mph speed limit on a weekly basis.
With the peak hour for child road casualties being between 3pm and 4pm, and a spike also in the mornings also between 8am and 9am coinciding with school rush hours, it is clear that messages over safety are being ignored by far too many.
Accident victims supported through compensation claims
Over a 12-month period, we supported more than 1,500 victims of road traffic accidents in settling compensation claims, and in each of those cases, fault for the accident was either admitted or proved.
We see the devastation caused to families, particularly as a result of accidents involving young children. We are dedicated to securing compensation settlements for those seriously injured at a young age which can help them rebuild their lives and provide life-long support and care where needed.
However, we know legal action can never turn back the clock.
Each and every accident claim we settle represents an accident and injury which could and should have been prevented, and with a total of 17,755 child casualties over a five-year period, there is clearly plenty of work to be done to make our roads safer for all and bring the number of casualties down.