On 16 November 2014 I attended the Service of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, an annual event organised by RoadPeace to give bereaved families and injured people a chance to comfort each other, remember their loved ones and reflect on past events.
RoadPeace is an independent charity that works hard to reduce the number of serious and fatal accidents on our roads. The service was held only hours after news had broken about the tragic collision on the A360 near Doncaster that had taken the lives of five teenagers. Everyone at the service had been personally touched by tragedy and this news heightened their grief and commitment to try and make a difference and reduce the number of fatalities on Britain’s roads.
Whilst the number of fatal accidents on our roads has dropped, it is still a statistic that we all are accountable in helping to reduce further.
On 17 November I spoke to the Year 11 pupils of Savio Salesian College in Liverpool. As part of National Road Safety Week. Slater and Gordon partnered with Merseyside Police to deliver a talk on responsible driving.
We asked the pupils to reflect on the tragic events in Doncaster and think about how our role was to try and ensure they themselves were never exposed to the kind of pain and anguish the Doncaster crash victims’ friends and family were undoubtedly going through.
Through a process of interactive education and engagement we were able to educate them and raise awareness about their responsibilities as young drivers, focusing in particular on issues such as speeding, drink and drug driving and of course the use of mobile phones behind the wheel.
What soon became extremely clear was just how much the pupils underestimated the potential impact of the use of mobile phones upon the quality of their driving. They expressed genuine surprise that the use of a mobile phone while driving could have such devastating consequences.
Using real life examples of cases where people have died or suffered life changing injuries certainly gave them food for thought. But I fear that our focus is all too often on young drivers. This is unfair.
Every day on my commute I see adults using mobile phones whilst driving, even at speed; and it’s particularly frustrating when I see young children in the same car. Unless we practice what we preach and lead by example as parents, grandparents and responsible adults, how can we expect the next generation to take responsibility? We all have our part to play.
The pain of losing a family member or a loved one in a road traffic accident is made much worse when you know that it could so easily have been avoided. If only they hadn’t used their phone, if only they had driven a bit slower, if only they hadn’t had that extra drink; all minor adjustments that can make a major difference.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the parents and family of the Doncaster teenagers and the families of the other five people who lose their lives on our roads every day.
Road Safety Week runs from 17-23 November 2014 and is the UK's biggest road safety event, involving thousands of schools, organisations and community groups every year. Set up in 1997, Road Safety Week is coordinated annually by road safety charity Brake each November, and aims to encourage grassroots action on road safety and raise awareness about the part we can all play in preventing tragedies and making roads safer.
Carol Hopwood is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in Head and Spinal Injury claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.
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