Road traffic accident news

 

Santa's little bikers need safety advice under the tree to go with their new wheels

Children are cycling on our busy roads at a younger and younger age, many from the age of five, according to new research from local child cyclist’s safety charity Cycle-Smart

With the Christmas peak in bike and helmet sales now upon us, the charity - as part of its #FiveSs campaign - is visiting schools across the Thames Valley to increase parent's and children's awareness of the need for properly fitted helmets and safer cycling practice - to mitigate risk of serious injury or death if new bikes and helmets are not accompanied by more effective, simple guidance on head protection and road safety. 

The national research from Cycle-Smart surveyed over 1,700 children in England aged 5-9, and found:

More than one in seven (15%) of 5-6 year olds now cycle on roads where there are cars;

The figure rises to 37% of 7-9 year olds;

Amongst boys in the 7-9 year old  44% were more likely to cycle on the road compared to 23% of girls;

Only 70% even own a helmet, and only 47% wear them every time they use their bike.

The last 6 months of road data (January- June 2017) shows a 24% increase in serious child cycling casualties compared to same 6 months last year.

Boyes Turner is proud to have sponsored a video for Cycle-Smart, released today, which gives simple to follow tips on helmet fitting and cycle safety.   

A snap-survey conducted last month by Cycle-Smart volunteers of 350 children, including 120 in the Reading, Newbury, Slough and wider Berkshire area, has revealed a worrying failure of children to wear properly fitted helmets:

Over 60% of under six-year-olds did not have straps secured properly under the chin or with the Y-shaped straps fitted correctly around the ears;

Over a quarter of under six-year-olds did not have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

For 6-14 year olds, over 40% didn’t have straps positioned and secured correctly, and 18% didn’t have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

Angela Lee, Founder and Chief Executive of Cycle-Smart, says:
"A lifetime of happy, healthy cycling is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child. But a bike without a well-fitted helmet and the common-sense advice and training necessary to share the road with cars, vans and trucks could lead to unnecessary anguish. We're urging parents, bike shops and those responsible for educating our children to use the roads safely to come together to make sure this Christmas's bike bonanza leaves a safe and happy legacy in the New Year."

Claire Roantree, Trustee of Cycle-Smart and Partner at Boyes Turner LLP, says:
"Thousands of new bikes will be under the tree this Christmas. They're gifts that will create happier, healthier, more independent kids. However, it is an unavoidable fact that some of these bikes will lead to accidents. The risks shouldn't stop kids getting freer and fitter on their bikes. But it would be reckless if a major part of the gift wasn't parents, bike shops and schools coming together to ensure helmets are always well-fitted and advice is provided to the ever-younger kids sharing the roads with cars. We urge all parents of child cyclists to watch the Cycle-Smart video."

Oakland's Junior School win prizes for road safety project

Children from Oaklands Junior School in Crowthorne worked hard and had fun learning about road safety during this year’s Road Safety Week campaign (November 20-26, 2017).

Their challenge was to think about how to make the roads around their school safer, and to create a poster promoting road safety. 

The national awareness week is the flagship event of Brake, the road safety charity, and has been running for 20 years. The theme, Speed Down Save Lives, was chosen because speeding remains a huge problem in the UK; the risk of injury increases massively with impact speed, and speeding is a factor in nearly a quarter of fatal road crashes in the UK. 

Local Brain Injury Group member firm Boyes Turner supported the school’s activity and got involved in judging the poster entries and awarding prizes.

“We work with families badly affected by avoidable accidents all the time, and campaigns like this are a great way to get the message out there that we can all do a bit more to make our streets safer and reduce accidents,” said Claire Roantree, Partner at Boyes Turner. “The creativity of the children never fails to impress, and demonstrates that they’ve had fun learning about a very serious message.”

The winning entries each received WHSmith vouchers, and all children taking part received a fluorescent pencil.

“Road Safety Week is about raising awareness that will keep everyone alert and safe on the roads. If we can make the message fun, we can make it last”, said Sally Alexander, teacher at Oaklands.

The Brain Injury Group is a national network of specialist brain injury lawyers and support services. If you have been affected by brain injury visit braininjurygroup.co.uk for help and signposting to services.

Speed down - Save lives

The simple fact is that the faster you are driving, the more chance you have of being involved in an accident and the more chance that the accident will be serious or could result in a fatality.

Facts

  1. Did you know that approximately two-thirds of crashes in which people are killed or injured occur on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less.
     
  2. At 30 mph vehicles are travelling at 44 feet (about 3 car lengths) per second. All it would take is one blink and a driver may fail to see the early warning of another vehicles brake lights. A short glance away and the movement of a child from behind a parked car in to the road will be missed.
     
  3. Even in good conditions, the difference in the stopping distance between 30 mph and 35 mph is an extra 21 feet or 6.4 metres, more than 2 car lengths.
     
  4. If average speeds were reduced by just 1 mph, the national annual accident rate would fall by approximately 5%.
     
  5. If an individual drives more than 10 - 15% above the average speed of the traffic around them, they are much more likely to be involved in an accident.
  6. On average, in front impact collisions, seat belt wearing drivers have a 17% risk of being fatally injured in impacts at 40 mph and a 60% risk at 50 mph, though half of drivers who were fatally injured were in an impact of 34 mph or less.
     
  7. In side impact collisions, drivers are at a much greater risk of being fatally injured:
    In a collision at 40 mph the risk of a seat belt wearing driver being killed is 85%.
     
  8. Studies involving pedestrians have shown that pedestrians are more likely to be severely or fatally injured when hit by cars at higher speeds, and particularly when the car is travelling more than 30 mph.
     
  9. An analysis of vehicle speed in pedestrian fatalities in Great Britain found that 85% of pedestrians killed when struck by cars died in a collision that occurred at impact speeds below 40mph, 45% at less than 30 mph and 5% at speeds below 20 mph.

    The risk of a pedestrian who is hit by a car being killed increases slowly until impact speeds of around 30 mph. Above this speed, the risk increases rapidly so that a pedestrian who is hit by a car travelling at between 30 mph and 40 mph is between 3.5 and 5.5 times more likely to be killed than if hit by a car travelling at below 30 mph. However, about half of pedestrian fatalities occur at impact speeds of 30 mph or below.

As can be seen from above speeding is highly dangerous and even going just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can mean the difference between life and death.

But what can be done to change the general public’s opinion that speeding is ok, as long as you are not speeding excessively?

Education

Perhaps the best way to stop people from speeding is by the use of education.

Education is absolutely vital in trying to change attitudes towards speeding.  As an example, those who drink and drive are seen as behaving in a dangerous, anti-social, immoral and selfish manner with little regard for the safety of other people.  However, those who speed are often not regarded in this way unless they grossly exceed the speed limit.  It is essential that the dangers caused by driving at inappropriate speeds are clearly explained and demonstrated (in the way that has been done for drink-driving) to work towards a general acceptance and ownership of the problem of illegal and inappropriate speed.

It will be far easier to persuade people to drive at safer speeds if they understand and accept that driving too fast significantly increases the chances of being involved in an accident, and significantly increases the chances of that accident being serious or fatal.  

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) strongly support road safety publicity campaigns such as the Department for Transports “Think Country Roads” campaign which highlights the dangers of inappropriate speed.

Speed cameras

Speed cameras are placed in known accident hot-spots to force drivers to slow down in those areas.  These cameras play a vital role in slowing drivers down though many drivers will simply slow down when they see a speed camera and then speed up again after they have passed it.

Drivers should remind themselves that speed limits and speed cameras are in place for a reason and keep at or below the speed limit at all times.

Vehicle speed restriction devices

Many modern vehicles are now fitted with speed restriction devices which the driver can set to stop them self accidentally going over the speed limit.

On many commercial vehicles such as lorries these devices are fitted by the company/vehicle owner and cannot be removed by the driver.

Vehicle speed restriction devices are a great way to slow drivers down, though even if your vehicle is not fitted with a speed restriction device by simply checking your speedometer on a regular basis you can ensure you do not accidentally go over the speed limit.

Leaving on time

Many accidents are caused by people rushing due to the fact that they are running late. Always ensure that you leave plenty of time for your journeys so that there is no need to speed.

Our message

We have sadly dealt with many road traffic collision claims where people have been severely or fatally injured. 

The effect of a high speed accident will be devastating to the injured victim, often resulting in a serious spinal injury, an amputation or a brain injury. 

In the case of a fatal accident the victim’s family will be markedly impacted by the loss of a loved one.

We fully support Road Safety Week and recommend that all drivers ensure they drive within the speed limits. If you would like more information on Road Safety Week click here.

Cycle Safety and the Highway Code

Are you aware that it is a mandatory requirement of the Highway Code for all cycles to be fitted with reflectors and lights if being ridden at night?

Rule 60 of the Highway Code states that:

·       At night your cycle MUST have illuminated white front and red rear lights.

·       Your cycle MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 01 October 1985).

The above requirements within Rule 60 are mandatory. (The Highway Code emphasises this by highlighting the word “MUST” in bold capitals).

Rule 60 also states that:

·       While front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

·       Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp

These two recommendations are not mandatory, but are good advice to cyclists to ensure that they are safe and visible to other road users.

Boyes Turner are instructed by many cycle users who have been injured whilst cycling in circumstances where the correct use of cycle lights might have helped avoid the accident, such as falling from the bike owing to unseen defects in the road surface or collisions with another vehicle whose driver didn't see them.

Boyes Turner recommend that all cyclists comply with the Highway Code, both for their own safety and to increase their prospects of recovering compensation in the event of an accident.

Additionally, other items such as reflective strips, reflectors that can be attached to cycle helmets and specially designed, bright clothing can make you more visible to other road users.

Boyes Turner are trustees of “Cycle-Smart”, a local cycle charity in Reading and share their aims to promote cycle safety.

Road safety for cyclists

The number of people cycling today has increased by more than a quarter in the last twenty years. However, whilst there are many cyclists who use our busy roads without a problem, there are still some who are either afraid or hesitant to cycle, particularly in traffic.

We have noticed a worrying rise in news about cyclists getting into serious accidents on the road recently and so we have put together some safety tips to help cyclists become more aware of the dangers around them and what they can do to ensure they are safe on the roads.

 

Top road safety tips

Safety comes first:

  • Know and follow the Highway Code
  • Wear a helmet
  • Keep your bike roadworthy
  • In wet weather watch your speed – slippery surfaces it will take you longer to stop

Be seen

  • Use lights and wear bright or reflective clothing, especially at night and in bad weather
  • Make eye contact with other road users
  • Use your bell to warn others of your presence
  • Look behind you when changing positions on the road. This will attract the attention of other drivers and you will know what is happening around you.

Safety in traffic

  • Always ride away from the kerb and parked cars
  • Ensure you ride in a stream of traffic when matching its speed

Having control

  • Are you able to shift your body weight when making an emergency stop? Ensure you are able to swerve safely and use your gears properly
  • On the road have two fingers on your brake levers, this will ensure you brake quicker when it is needed

Road communication

  • Don’t forget to communicate your intentions with other road users
  • Use hand signals and road positioning
  • Ensure you look behind you before signalling

Approaching junctions

  • When approaching a junction, position yourself in the middle of the lane. This will prevent dangerous overtaking
  • Use this approach when moving through a roundabout

Need training?

  • If you are unsure of cycle safety on the road, consider having some cycle training

The importance of recording evidence after a road traffic accident

Each year there are thousands of Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) in the United Kingdom.

Final figures for 2016 have not yet been published but data for 2015 reported the following:

  • In 2015 there were 186,209 RTAs in the UK.
  • 162,340 of those accidents involved a “slight injury”.
  • 22,137 of those accidents involved a “serious injury”.
  • 1,732 of those accidents resulted in a death.

In most cases where an RTA occurs the parties involved will attempt to pass the blame on to someone or something else. Causes of RTAs can be varied but often involve:

  • Poor road conditions (pot holes etc).
  • Negligence of another driver (speeding or not paying due care and attention etc).
  • Poor weather conditions (icy roads etc).
  • Criminal activity (drink drivers etc).
  • Trespassers on the road (animals on highways etc).
  • People failing to afford cyclists ample room on the road.

Whatever the cause of an RTA it is important that you do your best to record as much evidence as possible following the accident.

Ways you can record evidence could include:

  • Taking handwritten notes of:
    a) The name of the road where the accident occurred.
    b) The time of the accident.
    c) The details of other vehicles and drivers involved in the accident, including names, number          plates and insurance details.
    d) Taking notes of comments made by other people involved in the RTA.
    e) Making a note of lighting conditions.
    f) Making a note of weather conditions.

  • Looking around the accident site for witnesses who may have seen the accident.If the accident has been witnessed by someone ask the witness for their full name, address and phone number and explain to them that you will pass their details on to the police and your insurer.

 

  • Using your mobile phone or a camera to take pictures of the accident.When taking pictures try to take good images of:
    a) The location of vehicles on the road.
    b) Road conditions.
    c) Skid marks on the road.
    d) Local traffic signs to include speed limit signs.
    e) Registration plates of other vehicles involved in the accident.
    f) Any other matter you feel will help establish who was at fault for the accident.

 

  • Dash cams are also a great way of recording vital evidence surrounding an RTA.
    Dash cams are available to buy on the high street and online with prices starting from as little as £20.00. Some insurers even offer a discount in insurance premiums if your vehicle is fitted with a dash cam.

  • Looking for CCTV in the local area that may have recorded footage of the accident.
    CCTV could be on local businesses, on public transport such as buses or CCTV operated by local authorities.
    If you think someone else may have CCTV footage of an accident, approach the CCTV owner advising them of your accident and ask them to keep the footage for the police and your insurer.
    Recording evidence after an RTA is not just important for establishing criminal liability, but can help ensure that you are compensated for any injuries or losses that may arise from the accident.

If you suffer a serious injury in a road accident you may require long time care, assistance and rehabilitation.

If the other driver is proven liable for the accident, you can claim these costs, together with your net loss of earnings and compensation for your injuries, from their insurance company, so it is in your interests to record as much evidence surrounding the accident as possible.

Successful interim hearing for victim of road traffic accident

Boyes Turner successfully opposed a defendant’s application to withdraw their admission of liability in a road traffic accident where they had admitted liability 3 years previously.

The defendant tried to withdraw their full admission of liability, but the judge accepted Boyes Turner’s arguments that no new evidence had been obtained and that the increase in the value of the pleaded case should not be a good reason for permitting the defendant to withdraw its admission. The judge agreed that Boyes Turner’s client would have been prejudiced if the defendant was allowed to withdraw it’s admission and it would not have been in the interests of justice. The court allowed the defendant to run allegations of contributory negligence but refused the defendant’s application to withdraw it’s admission.

Our specialist team of road traffic accident claim lawyers are experienced in obtaining the necessary information required to successfully bring a claim for road accident compensation and will give the representation you need at every stage including any criminal proceedings. We do not treat road accidents as everyday occurrences but as the life changing events that they often are for the victims.

Keen triathlon athlete and footballer has double amputation following hit-and-run

A keen footballer and triathlon competitor has both lower legs amputated after a hit-and-run accident. Shaun Whiter, 27, was left in the road with two crushed legs after being hit when getting tools out of his boot – while wearing a high visibility jacket.

Shaun, an estate agent, had been called in to help his friend Joey Abbs, 30, whose silver Vauxhall Astra had a puncture and needed a tyre changed.

But both were shockingly injured in the brutal collision as the pair were pinned between their cars in a domino effect – with the driver fleeing the scene. A Ford Focus, believed to be blue, hit Shaun and then reversed back before fleeing the scene.

Joey, from Newmarket, managed to crawl over to Shaun and hold his hand while he phoned his fiancee who arrived ten minutes later along with paramedics. An East of England Air Ambulance helicopter was called and they were flown to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Charlotte Way, also 27, who is due to get married to Shaun next year is now pleading for help in finding whoever left her fiancé laying in the street with severe injuries.

Shaun had to have both his lower legs amputated after the accident. Joey had less severe injuries but has also undergone surgery after being pinned between Shaun’s car and his own.

He and his girlfriend are still planning on getting married next year as they start on the recovery following on from the crash.

Adrianna Rajwa, a solicitor at Boyes Turner personal injury department comments:

“This has been a devastating accident. The loss of a limb can have an extensive psychological as well as physical and financial impact on an injured person.  A personal injury compensation can help make life easier enabling a person to adapt their homes or arrange more suitable accommodation, purchase help and equipment at home, buy a better suited car and wheelchair, purchase better quality prosthetic limbs then are available on NHS and obtain counselling to deal with the psychological impact”.

If an accident is caused by a driver who leaves the scene and cannot be traced, you can still make a claim through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) who can deal with such claims under their Untraced Drivers Scheme.

Reading road users call for reforms over dangerous roundabout

Reading road users are calling for Reading County Council to assess a roundabout that is causing concern about road safety for cyclists.

In November last year Peter Hughes, an IT consultant was cycling across roundabout connecting Caversham and Vastern Roads when a car struck him. He was left in a three week induced coma with brain injuries.

This incident has resulted in Reading road users to call for road safety reforms on the roundabout. A campaign for safer cycling passage has been set up following the serious injuries sustained by Mr Hughes and another cyclist sustaining minor injuries at the same spot two weeks ago.

The campaign has said that the shrubbery on the roundabout obscures visibility for cyclists and drivers, which in turn creates a high risk of an accident occurring. Mr Hughes has called for an investigation into the shrubbery on the roundabout.

Mr Hughes said to the Reading Chronicle, “I can’t stand the idea that someone else might have to go through what my family and I have to go through, and a way to reduce that risk is by reassessing that roundabout to check it is safe for use”. His partner Ms Dunbar agreed and commented, “The road layout on that roundabout is all wrong” she went on to say “It is difficult to see people coming from your right because of the shrubbery on the top which makes getting round there quite nerve racking”.

As a result of the accident, Mr Hughes struggles to read and write, his sense of smell has disappeared and he is left with vision problems. Despite his injuries, he doesn’t have a grudge towards the driver who collided with him. The driver had been in a rental car for only 15 minutes before the collision and was subsequently convicted of driving without due care or attention. However, Mr Hughes believes that whilst the sentence is reasonable he is more concerned about the awareness of cyclists on the road and the council implementing ways to make the roads safer.

Reading County Council has said that it will look very closely that the police report and take any reasonable action.

Adrianna Rajwa, a specialist in road traffic accidents at Boyes Turner, commented:

“This was an unfortunate accident which could have potentially been avoided. I do hope that the Council will press ahead and implement some safety measures as quickly as possible so that the roundabout becomes safer for cyclists. Cycling injuries can be particularly severe and should be prevented at all costs”.

Boyes Turner’s specialist Personal Injury Lawyers have represented many clients with severe brain injuries including those injured as a result of a car, motorbike and bicycle accidents. These include acting for a University student who sustained severe head injuries after a road traffic accident. Some of our cyclist clients included Mr J in his claim for personal injury and loss as a result of a cycling accident which occurred in May 2011 on the Albert Embankment, London. We also represented Mr G who was knocked down by a speeding moped and subsequently sustaining significant injury.

Our expert brain injury and road traffic accident lawyers aim to improve the quality of life of our clients by focusing on early rehabilitation and training. We have access to case managers to ensure that practical assistance is given as soon as possible and we can arrange for interim payments to be made to deal with any pressing financial needs or purchase any equipment or care that is necessary.

When would a pedestrian be found more at fault for a collision than a motorist?

The Court recently considered the correct balance to be struck in apportioning blame when deciding liability for an accident between a motorist and a pedestrian. The Court found that motorists would generally be found to have high levels of blame, because of the potential destructive nature of a car.

The accident

In the case of Sabir (by her litigation friend, The Official Solicitor) and Osei-Kwabena (O), the pedestrian (S) got out of a car which was parked immediately on a pedestrian crossing on a busy road with shops either side. She moved behind the parked car, looked at the road and saw the motorist approaching at normal speed. Unfortunately she misjudged the motorists position, thinking that there was enough time for her to cross the road. The motorist, who had a clear view of the road, approached but did not see S. O struck S when she was 4 meters into the carriageway. Sadly S suffered a brain injury. The first Judge found that O’s failure to pay proper attention had caused the accident but that S should take a 25% share of responsibility.

The appeal

O appealed this decision and said that S was more responsible for the accident. O said that S made a flawed decision to cross the road which made her more blameworthy than simply crossing the road without looking. O said that S just stepped into the path of an oncoming car and that she should therefore attract a greater share of responsibility.

The Court of Appeal held that motorists have a high burden of blame as a car usually did more damage to a person than a person did to a car. The destructive potential of a car, even driven at moderate speed, is relevant to blameworthiness and therefore made it rare for a pedestrian to be found more responsible than a driver.

If a motorist drives a car without keeping a proper lookout, where pedestrians are expected to be, then this indicates a considerable degree of blameworthiness. The Court could not say in this case that S had taken a deliberate risk. However they did find that, whilst crossing a busy road often involves an element of deliberate risk taking in any event, risk taking in this context meant conduct such as a pedestrian crossing the road when an accident was likely and unless the motorist took avoiding action. There was no indication that that was the case here.

The Judgment

The Court found that S was clearly blameworthy to an extent because she had misjudged her own safety but had not put O in danger or in an emergency situation. O ought to have seen her and therefore taken his foot off of the accelerator. Not only did he not do that but he also failed to see her at all for a significantly long period.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the first Judge’s decision of a 25% reduction in the pedestrian’s compensation for being partly to blame for the accident.

This is a useful case for personal injury claims which puts the lions share of blame at the motorist’s door, even when a pedestrian has made an error of judgement in crossing a road. It highlights the need for accident victims to take advice from specialist solicitors, even where they feel they may be partly to blame for the accident. As the Court of Appeal sets out very clearly here, motorists will generally be found to have high levels of blameworthiness, because of the destructive potential of a car.

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