Last Sunday I attended the annual memorial services at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to commemorate the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and all victims of fatal road traffic accidents organised by Road Peace.
It was a very poignant event with families leaving pictures of loved ones on the steps of the cathedral, poetry from a mum whose daughter had been killed, an address from a father who had lost his son, the releasing of five doves to symbolise the number of people who lose their lives on our roads every day in the UK as well as prayers and musical contributions.
For those of us who have lost a loved one in a fatal road traffic accident, it was a very moving event, but for me one that resurrected feelings of anger and frustration that in many cases such sadness could so easily have been avoided.
My own brother was killed by a speeding motorcyclist. For others, driver error, use of mobile phones, alcohol or drugs were contributory factors. Charities like Road Peace play a very important role in trying to improve road safety but we must all take responsibility for our own actions.
As the Head of the Serious Injury and Fatal Accident team for Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool, I see everyday lives that are torn apart by fatal road traffic accidents. In more recent years, the mobile phone has become a too common feature in the cause of serious road traffic accidents.
My strong view is that society must take responsibility for addressing the driving using a mobile phone issue. We must educate our youngsters who are learning to drive, we must lead by example and as a society wake up to the perils of using a mobile when driving.
A recent study by The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that motorists who talk on hands-free phones are more dangerous than drink-drivers and drivers using the legal alternative to hand-held mobiles are 30% slower to react than those slightly over the limit.
Mobiles phones are a crucial part of our society but too many deaths and serious injuries have been caused by their use. Perhaps the only way of reducing their usage is to introduce automatic bans akin to the drink driving punishment.
Carol Hopwood is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool.
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