28 October 2019 | Firm news | Article by Ellice Harding
This week, members of the Brain and Spinal Injury Team at Hugh James are celebrating GloWeek (28 October – 1 November).
GloWeek is organised by the Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT) and seeks to “highlight road safety”. Throughout the week, schools and organisations are encouraged to hold safety sessions, raising awareness of the need to “Be Seen Not Hurt” as pedestrians and cyclists.
Road safety awareness is arguably more important now than ever before, as we’re urged to become more active and reduce our carbon footprints. We’re encouraged to cycle to school or walk to work and so the need to stay safe when out on the roads is vital. The times we commute to work by foot or on two wheels are also the busiest times on the road.
Worldwide, over 700 pedestrians are killed each day, and at least four times that number is seriously injured. Although in Great Britain we have one of the best road safety records, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) reports that in 2016, 5,140 pedestrians were seriously injured in road traffic accidents, with a further 17,962 pedestrians sustaining less severe injuries and 448 suffering fatal injuries. In terms of cyclists, ROSPA report that in 2016, 3,397 cyclists were seriously injured in collisions, whilst 102 were killed and 14,978 were slightly injured. It should also be noted that these figures are likely to be higher again as ROSPA’s figures only include accidents that were reported to the police. Many accidents are not reported to the police, even when the injuries sustained are severe enough to require being taken to hospital.
It is commonly thought that dusk and dawn are the most dangerous times of day to drive, due to the colour of the sky and landscape. ROSPA have released data confirming that the most dangerous time to cycle is between the hours of 8.00am to 9.00am and 3.00pm to 6.00pm. ROSPA have also advised that accidents which occur in the dark are more likely to be fatal. This is especially important to bear in mind as we head into the winter months and the light is flatter and the days are shorter.
So, what can you do to stay safe when commuting?
- STAY VISIBLE – wear bright, reflective clothing to help drivers see you;
- LIGHTS – stick to well-lit areas and fix lights to your bike or use a torch when walking to ensure you don’t go unnoticed;
- USE PAVEMENTS AND DESIGNATED CYCLE PATHS – when possible, keep to pavements and use designated cycle lanes, designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe and away from traffic
- CROSS AT EXPECTED PLACES – always use pedestrian and pelican crossings when they’re available and if they’re not, wait for a suitable gap in the traffic to enable you to cross safely. Never just step out into the road;
- STAY ALERT – even though you may not think there is a risk of a collision, motor vehicles travel quickly and so accidents can happen in seconds. Be aware of what is going on around you so can move out of the way;
- AVOID DISTRACTIONS - these days, many of us are glued to our phones. Look up at what’s in front of you, not down at your social media feed. Equally, if you have headphones in, make sure you can still hear what’s going on around you;
- DON’T ASSUME – just because the driver isn’t indicating, doesn’t mean they aren’t turning. Just because you can see a car doesn’t mean the driver can see you. This is especially important when crossing driveways as drivers are often concentrating on pulling out into the road in front of them;
- DO YOUR RESEARCH – looking into and planning your route may mean a nicer, safer journey. Although cutting the corner may save you a minute or two, it could also mean negotiating that busy, dangerous junction.
Hugh James’ specialist Neurolaw department represents many clients who were pedestrians and cyclists injured in road traffic accidents. Visit the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury page for more information about making a claim for compensation following an accident.
Hugh James are pleased to support the Child Brain Injury Trust and a donation has been made in respect of this worthwhile cause. We work closely with charities such as Child Brain Injury Trust, Headway, The Silverlining, Spinal Injuries Association and Rookwood Spur, who all provide incredible support to individuals and families affected by brain and spinal cord injury.