Why nothing is so important it can’t wait – National Road Victim month

This month is National Road Victim month.  Although this isn’t a particularly uplifting topic, Becky James, Team Leader- Road Safety, talks about why we should all be supporting it.

Becky James

“In 2016, 2549 people were killed or injured on the roads in Leeds. That’s approximately 49 people per week or 7 per day.  In fact about 6 people a week killed or seriously injured on the roads in our district. Shocked?  Well, I work in the field, so I’m sadly, I’m not, but I know when I talk to people about my job and why I do it, lots are. They simply don’t expect the figures to be so high.”

Becky continues: “And this video, part of the Department for Transport’s National Road Victim Month campaign, hits a nerve even with the most hardened of us and has got me thinking about the effort that’s still needed to reduce death and injury on our roads”

“I’ve noticed over the last few years, that I’m less keen on flying, perhaps it’s down to my age,  but, I rationalise my growing fear by telling myself that millions of people take flights perfectly safely every day and that flying is a very safe form of transport.

I sometimes think it’s strange that I get so panicky about flying, but that I never worry about getting behind the wheel of my car or walking to the shops. I mean, given the number of people killed or injured whilst partaking in these relatively mundane activities, and given the type of information I hear on a regular basis at work, you’d maybe think that I should worry more about this kind of thing and less about air travel.

Well no. We can’t live our lives being fearful to leave the house and just as I rationalise my fear of flying I remind myself that our roads are just about as safe as they’ve ever been. In 1966, there were 7,985 people killed on the roads in this country compared with a national figure of 1,732 fatalities in 2015. Even in 1990 there were over 5,000 people killed and 60,000 seriously injured compared with the respective figures of 1,732 and 22,137 for 2015.  And, Britain has the second safest roads in Europe by miles travelled, with only Sweden having fewer road deaths than the UK per billion miles travelled in the EU.

But clearly, despite the improvements in road safety, people are still getting killed and injured, which is partly why I’m in my job. So, whilst worrying is not a particularly helpful or constructive emotion, there are things that we can all do to reduce the number of crashes and the number of people killed or injured. We don’t simply have to sit and worry or shrug our shoulders and accept the status quo.

It’s about us – yes ordinary people like you and me- using the roads sensibly: using our common sense and considering all the other people on the roads around us, whatever their chosen form of transport.

We shouldn’t need the threat of prosecution or a stretch at her majesty’s pleasure to remind us that we shouldn’t use our phones whilst driving.  The fact is, and this applies to males as well as females despite all that stuff you’ve read about which gender is better at multi-tasking, our brains simply can’t cope very well with more than one task at once. We have an amount of cognitive (mental) activity that our brain can engage with at any one time. If you try to multi task whilst driving, that leaves your brain with less ability to focus on driving.

So, the point I’m trying to make is that for your sake, for my sake and for everyone’s sake, you need to give the road your full attention whether you’re on foot, on two wheels, on horseback, behind the wheel of a 1 litre ‘run around’ or a heavy goods vehicle.

Pay attention. Think about what you’re doing and think about other people. This month. Next month. Every month.  Because if you do that, and I do that, and everyone else does it as well,  it will do more to improve safety on our roads than any law, or improvement to car design or piece of road safety engineering ever will.

And, if you know someone who’s taking a bit of persuading, do me a favour, show them that video of the Carvin family talking about life without Zoe.”

Thanks Becky.  You can find tips on road safety  and driving safely here.

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
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2 Responses to Why nothing is so important it can’t wait – National Road Victim month

  1. Trudie Canavan says:

    Having lost someone through a traffic accident (well it was no accident – speeding, wet, night time) this resonates with me and if every driver and pedestrian really paid attention and didn’t take chances the number of serious injuries or fatalities could drastically reduce. Better to be late than dead on time.

  2. DaddyPig says:

    Thanks for this… I wonder if a short film with a guilty and remorseful driver could be as powerful, in a different way, as a film of a bereaved person. Some careless drivers might identify with a driver who thought the same as as they do, and found out that their behaviour wasn’t as safe as they thought.

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