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This week (18th to 22nd November 2019) is Road Safety Week, the UK’s biggest road safety event. It is coordinated annually by Brake – a road safety charity which is supported by Lyons Davidson. The charity works to prevent road death and injury, make streets and communities safer and support people bereaved or seriously injured in road crashes. Our firm is a long standing supporter of Brake’s helpline, support literature and support services.

The theme of this year’s road safety week is ‘Step up for safe streets’. Since 2010, there has been an approximate 8% increase in road traffic. The Government is continually working on improving road safety. The Department of Transport works closely with devolved administrations, local governments, enforcement authorities and other public and private bodies to achieve positive road safety outcome. However, we are all responsible for what happens on our roads and all have to take accountability as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. This accountability and approach aligns road safety management with broader ethical, social, economic and environmental goals.

Essentially, road safety affects everyone. It affects whether children can go to the park or walk to school, elderly people can get to the shops, people can take up cycling to get to work or get fit, and families feel safe to get around their neighbourhoods.

The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but the effects of every death or serious injury on our roads are devastating – for the bereaved, for families and loved ones, and for those who support the seriously injured, some of whom may have long-term life-changing injuries. In addition, road traffic accidents can involve massive costs to the health care system, consume resources and result in significant losses of productivity, with deep social and economic repercussions.

A ‘Safe System’ approach is considered to be best practice for road safety by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Although the government has not adopted this as whole, safe systems has been adopted by several local administrations, including Bristol City Council.

A ‘Safe System’ is made up of four main elements: safer roads, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use.

Creating safer roads includes measures such as road segregation, traffic segregation, implementing appropriate speed limits and creating self-explaining roads. This approach seeks to enhance safer routes for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, put in appropriate speed limits considering pedestrian and traffic use of roads and ensure that roads are designed in a way which helps motorists understand what is expected of them and subsequently behave appropriately. In implementing these measures, roads are designed or reduce the risk of crashes occurring or reduce the severity of an injury if a crash does occur.

Creating safer speed limits in line with the human body’s limit for trauma and which are based on aiding crash avoidance. For example, identifying a lower speed limit is needed for an area with a school and higher pedestrian traffic. This approach seeks to establish appropriate speed limits are in place considering road features and road function enforce existing speed limits and educate road users. In implementing these measures, authorities can identify problem areas in communities and run education campaigns.

Creating safer vehicles includes ensuring that vehicles are road worthy when travelling on our roads. This includes ensuring that that maintenance is carried out to bicycles if needed. In addition, it gives consideration to ‘Active safety’ measures that help to prevent crashes including collision-avoidance systems in newer vehicles, air bag technology, vehicle components that protect occupants if a crash does occur (‘passive safety’) including three-point seat belts, padded dashboards and airbags.

Lastly, everyone who uses roads is encouraged to do so safely and comply with road rules. Emphasis is placed on a philosophy of shared and proportionate responsibility, educating those who use the road in each capacity (pedestrian, cyclist or motorist). An example of this can be seen through publicity surrounding drink driving campaigns and the use of mobile phones whilst driving. In addition to this, Road Safety Week aims to highlight the issues and risks involved in every capacity of road use, pedestrians, cyclist or motorist.

At Lyons Davidson, we have specialist teams dedicated to dealing with claims on behalf of all who are injured or killed in accidents. We can advise you of your rights following an accident whilst being sympathetic to your circumstances. We can give you the practical help and we will also put you in touch with other organisations, such as charities and therapists, to help you with potential bereavement and counselling.

If you or your family have been affected by or injured in a road traffic accident and you’d like to talk to someone about making a claim, please email us on [email protected].

Brake’s helpline for road crash victim is 0808 8000 401. It is a quality accredited freephone service that supports anyone who has been affected by a road accident by providing them with information, emotional support, advocacy and a listening ear. It is available Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. You can also email: [email protected].