Road Safety Week 2015

Welcome to Somerset – please drive carefully

Clarke Willmott is a top 100 law firm with offices around England and Wales providing a full range of services for individuals and businesses alike. We have come a long way since our founding Partner Charles Clarke opened the doors to his first office in Taunton in the late 1800’s, but our commitment to protecting the interests of our local communities and their people remains as strong as ever.

It therefore comes as no surprise that our Serious Injury team is made up of some of Somerset’s leadings lawyers who are instructed by victims of serious road traffic accidents across the county. This week is Road Safety Week, and we are taking the opportunity to reflect upon the issue and its impact on the communities around our offices.

Somerset Road Safety, part of Somerset County Council, investigates accidents within the county with the aim of preventing future accidents and educating the community. 2015’s statistics are yet to be released, but the Somerset Road Casualty Review for 2014 revealed:

  • There were 1,163 collisions in Somerset in 2014, resulting in 217 people being either killed or seriously injured;
  • This represented a 1% increase in injuries and 14% increase in deaths;
  • Deaths and serious injuries involving those aged 16-24 have seen a year on year reduction in the previous 3 years, with those aged 25-59 seeing a sharp rise to 118 in 2014;
  • Accident’s involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists all fell in 2014;
  • 13% of road traffic deaths in Somerset occurred on the M5, A303 or A36 (with the majority of fatal or serious accidents taking place on other A roads);
  • The number of accidents on the M5 almost doubled in 2014
  • Contrary to common belief, the summer and autumn seasons see the highest number of road collisions;
  • Rural roads (those with speed limits of 40mph or more) are statistically more dangerous than urban roads. Somerset has 2.4 rural roads to every urban road.

Clarke Willmott is proud to support Road Safety Week 2015, pioneered by the Road Safety Charity “Brake”. This year’s message is “Drive Less, Live More”, with the aim of getting more of us out of cars and onto our feet or bicycles. For those living in towns and cities, this approach to road safety is logical and undoubtedly achievable, not least because the number of accidents involving pedestrians in Somerset has dropped in the last 12 months. However, this is not as easy for those living in rural communities who have no choice but to rely on transport to get around.

The statistics show that rural road users are more likely to be involved in an accident than in urban areas, where alternative means of transport are more readily available. So whilst it might be difficulty to find another way from A to B, rural road users can still play a part in improving road safety in a number of ways, eg by wearing seatbelts, observing speed limits, driving according to the road and weather conditions, driving without the distraction of mobile phones and other portable devices, planning routes in advance and not driving when tired; all of these things have all been proven to reduce accidents and the severe injuries that can be caused by them.

The people of Somerset and other rural communities have plenty to gain from the campaign. “Drive Less, Live More” is just as much geared to combating the environmental effects of road traffic use as it is to encouraging and promoting road safety. Julie Townsend at Brake has said:

It’s estimated in the region of 12,000 premature deaths in the UK each year are attributable to traffic pollution, and that motor transport is a major contributor to global warming and the threat it poses to humanity. We are also conscious of the part played by sedentary lifestyles in the obesity crisis and other widespread health problems.

In our work, we have become increasingly aware that road safety is by no means a stand-alone issue: it is inextricably linked with sustainability and health. If we make roads safer, we can help and enable people to be active and greener in their everyday lives.

There is therefore something to be gained for all in this year’s Road Safety initiative. Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of town and cities or the quiet, winding roads of the countryside, think about how you use the roads and the effect that will have on others.

If you or anyone you know has been involved in a Road Traffic Accident and would like advice as to how we may be able to help, contact our serious injury team by telephone on 0345 209 1465 or via email Lee.Hart@clarkewillmott.com.