This week is Road Safety Week, the UK's largest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, organisations, local authorities and communities across the country.
In support of the campaign, the serious injury team at Slater and Gordon’s Liverpool office have been working with Merseyside Police to deliver a road safety ‘road show’ to more than 800 local young people.
Using an interactive, quiz-based approach, our lawyers have been using real examples of catastrophic and fatal accident cases caused by poor driving, and in particular, by drivers being distracted by their use of their mobile phones.
When we discussed the obvious dangers involved with driving whilst texting or using social media applications, the students were surprised to hear that they were 23 times more likely to crash if they used their phones in this way whilst driving.
A recent driver distraction survey by Brake found that more than a third of young drivers talk to their friends and family whilst driving. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of fatal collisions associated with the use of mobile phones jumped by 29 per cent.
Our lawyers have also been discussing the dangers of drink-driving and how many lives are lost needlessly each year because people still think it is acceptable to drink and drive.
We’ve been running some exercises with students wearing vision impairment or “beer goggles.” When we asked them to try walking in a straight line whilst wearing the glasses to replicate the effects of drinking, it gave them a good insight into how much their ability to drive safely is compromised by the consumption of alcohol.
They were surprised to learn the wider implications of a drink-driving conviction, particularly in regard to enhanced insurance premiums, loss of employment and the risk of being denied entry to the United States. Some students insightfully asked why the punishment for the use of a mobile phone whilst driving was not on a par with drink-driving given the associated dangers.
It has been really rewarding to see the young people we’ve spoken to engage with the various topics that were raised in the talks and to see them constructively discuss how they could be more proactive in improving road safety for themselves and others.
Alex McGuckin is a paralegal with the serious injury team at Slater and Gordon in Liverpool.
Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation to anyone injured in a road collision through no fault of their own.