I was alarmed to read the other day that, for the first time in eight years, the number of fatal accidents on Scottish roads has gone up – and by a sizeable percentage too.
As a personal injury solicitor, I’ve seen first-hand the sheer devastation caused to families when their loved ones are cruelly taken away from them in a fatal collision. I work at a firm who actively promotes road safety and, until now, I had been somewhat heartened by the fact that the number of deaths on our roads had been declining year on year.
What the recent Transport Scotland figures revealed were that 200 people were killed in road traffic accidents in Scotland in 2014, 28 more than in 2013 – a rise of 16%. The figures also reported a rise in the number of people injured in serious road accidents in Scotland last year – up 1% to 1,694.
When you consider that the number of both fatal and serious accidents have increased not only in Scotland but throughout the UK as a whole (a rise of 4% according to the latest UK Government statistics), it is a very alarming trend indeed.
Fatal Pedestrian Accidents in Scotland Rise by More Than a Quarter
Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable road users and, upon reading the Transport Scotland report, I was saddened to learn that, last year, 28% of the 200 fatal accidents in Scotland – 56 to be exact – involved pedestrians.
In 2014, 18 more pedestrians lost their lives compared to the previous year, including six who tragically died in last December’s bin lorry crash in Glasgow city centre.
An expression of great concern at the rise in fatal pedestrian accidents also came from the head of Police Scotland’s road policing team, Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, who said there is “still a lot of work to be done to improve safety.”
Rural Roads in Scotland Saw More Fatal Accidents
Two-thirds of all fatal road traffic accidents last year were on “non-built-up roads”, according to Transport Scotland.
Aberdeenshire faired worst, with 25 fatalities. Next was the Highland area, where 19 people lost their lives last year in fatal road accidents.
Rural roads do make up around two-thirds of our road network in Scotland but, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, rural roads have a greater chance of collisions resulting in death than urban roads. Reasons for this include drivers thinking that it’s safer to break the speed limit on country roads as they’re quieter, or simply that they don’t realise that such roads have hazards such as blind bends and hidden dips.
Scottish Government Urged to Take Action
At Slater and Gordon, we support the excellent work done by road safety charity Brake who have recently urged Holyrood to act decisively to reverse the rise in fatal road accidents.
We’ve already seen how the Scottish Government has taken positive steps to improve road safety when they lowered the drink driving limit, resulting in a 19% drop in drink drive rates.
Brake have paid tribute to this but have called for more to be done, such as setting a default 20mph urban speed limit to help reduce the number of fatal pedestrian accidents.
I echo the call made by Brake and urge our Government to continue working towards safer roads for everyone in Scotland.
Stuart Cochran is a Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Edinburgh.
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