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Written on 13th November 2020 by

Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest road safety event and will take place this year from 16 – 22 November. It is co – ordinated by Brake, the road safety charity.

As Brake state on their website more than 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every year and road traffic accidents are the leading cause of deaths for 5 to 29 year olds.

Each year, a specific road safety theme is chosen to focus on. This year, the theme is ‘NO NEED TO SPEED’ and for good reason. It may sound like a cliché to say that speed kills, but it is true. The World Health Organisation has estimated that excess speed contributes to approximately 30 per cent of deaths on the road. Since there are approximately 1,800 road deaths a year in the UK, this would translate to around 540 deaths a year in UK caused or contributed to by excess speed.

The timing of Road Safety Week is very pertinent this year, as we go into lockdown again. The BBC reported that figures show that there was a 71 per cent increase in drivers caught speeding in London when the first lockdown started. The Met Police issued 3,283 Traffic Offence Reports to drivers suspected of exceeding the limit in April 2020, compared with 1,922 in April 2019. The highest speeds recorded in London during the first lockdown were:

  • 163 miles per hour on a 70 miles per hour road
  • 134 miles per hour on a 40 miles per hour road
  • 110 miles per hour on a 30 miles per hour road
  • 73 miles per hour on a 20 miles per hour road

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to speeding vehicles. There is a correlation between increased speeding and cyclist fatalities during the first lockdown. Reports show that, by the end of April 2020, cyclist fatalities were running at more than double the average for the same time of year. It seems logical to think that there were a greater number of cyclists on the roads than usual, many of whom may have been out of practice or even beginners. However, many of the people that died were experienced cyclists.

Pedestrians are, of course, also very vulnerable to speeding vehicles. If you hit a pedestrian they have a much greater chance of surviving if your speed is lower.

If you hit a pedestrian:

  • at 40 mph there is a 90 percent chance they will be killed.
  • at 35 mph there is a 50 percent chance they will be killed.
  • at 30 mph there is a 20 percent chance they will be killed.
  • at 20 mph there is a 2.5 percent chance they will be killed.

These statistics are of paramount importance. Many people may think little of driving at 35 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. However, if you are involved in a collision with a pedestrian at 35 miles per hour, the chances of the pedestrian being killed are more than double that of a collision at 30 miles per hour.

Sadly, we deal with many cases involving fatalities and life changing injuries where speed has been a contributing factor. We recently secured a £3,000,000.00 out of court settlement for a young woman who was hit by a speeding car while she was on a pedestrian crossing. She suffered multiple, severe injuries in the accident, including:

  • A very severe traumatic brain injury – scoring 3/15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS);
  • An acute subdural haemorrhage (bleed into the brain), bruising and damage to the brain;
  • Multiple skull and facial fractures;
  • Fractures to the pelvis and sacral bones;
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung);
  • A deep wound to the back of the head;
  • Multiple soft tissue injuries.

With the help of the rehabilitation and support that we were able to put in place, our client was able to complete her education and regain some independence after a successful trial of independent living. While she has made huge strides since the accident and we were pleased to help her and her family at such a difficult time, her life will never be the same again.

It is not only car drivers that need to be careful to obey the speed limits. We previously secured a settlement for a cyclist who was hit by a speeding moped driver, sustaining significant injuries.

We also recently secured a substantial settlement for the grieving husband and child of a 34 year old woman who was unlawfully killed when her car was hit from behind at over 100 miles per hour by a speeding driver. Our client’s wife was heavily pregnant and was on her way to her final antenatal check up when the collision occurred on the A36 in Wiltshire. Her unborn baby was also killed in the accident.

At the inquest, the Coroner heard and saw dash cam evidence that the defendant driver had had overtaken a succession of vehicles for a least a mile, reaching speeds estimated by our accident reconstruction expert at 138mph. His driving, at more than double the speed limit in heavy rain with poor visibility, ignored road markings and was described by the coroner as “aggressive, audacious and abhorrent”. The coroner’s verdict was that our client’s wife was unlawfully killed.

While we were able to secure a substantial settlement, it is of course impossible to adequately compensate someone for the loss of a loved one. While this may be an extreme case, speed still needs to be taken extremely seriously. As Brake point out, the higher the speed, the longer the stopping distance, the harder the crash and the greater the risk of death and injury. 1 mile per hour can mean the difference between life and death, yet people still regularly break speed limits or travel too fast for the conditions of the road.

If you want to take part in Road Safety Week, you can register here: http://roadsafetyweek.org.uk/our-theme

If you or someone you know has been injured in a road traffic accident, please contact our expert personal injury team by email at piclaims@boyesturner.com to see how they can help.