Articles Tagged ‘scotland - Brake the road safety charity’

Brake backs calls for changes to how we are deemed “fit to drive” after inquiry finds crash that killed six people could have been prevented

8th December 2015
Brake, the road safety charity

news@brake.org.uk

• Investigation into a bin-lorry crash in Glasgow, which killed six people and injured 17, finds numerous things could have been done to prevent it.

• Sheriff finds eight "reasonable precautions", all related to the driver's health, could have been taken but weren't, and makes 19 recommendations.

Brake is welcoming recommendations made by a court in Glasgow, which heard a horrific crash involving a bin lorry just before Christmas last year could and should have been prevented. It's also calling for changes to the law, including increased penalties and prosecutions for drivers who fail to declare medical conditions.

Driver Harry Clarke, then aged 57, lost control of the lorry when he fainted due to a medical condition. The vehicle mounted a pavement, busy with pedestrians and Christmas shoppers, killing six people, including two grandparents and their granddaughter. It later emerged Mr Clarke had suffered a similar episode while driving in a previous job, but this had not been disclosed to his new employer, Glasgow City Council.

Brake is supporting a number of recommendations made at yesterday's hearing by Sheriff John Beckett – they included:

• Much greater awareness-raising by the DVLA to the medical profession of the dangers and implications of medical conditions for fitness-to-drive.

• Stronger investigations by the DVLA when they are given information by a third party that someone may not be fit to drive.

• The consideration of changes to the law, including increased penalties and prosecutions for drivers who fail to declare medical conditions.

Link to Sheriff's full recommendations

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: This was a horrendous tragedy. We now know that it was entirely preventable, which adds further heartache for the bereaved families. We fully support the recommendations made by the Sheriff. We urge all drivers to ensure they fully disclose any medical condition that prevents them driving safely to the DVLA, or the DVA in Northern Ireland. We recently backed draft strengthened guidelines for doctors from the General Medical Council on reporting medically "unfit" drivers to the driver agencies, but it's clear more action needs to be taken, some at government level, to stop another tragedy like this from happening again.

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on Twitter, Facebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake backs Police Federation plea for lower drink drive limit and calls for greater priority for life-saving roads policing

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has given its strong backing to calls made today (19 May 2015) by the Police Federation – the staff association for all police constables, sergeants and inspectors in England and Wales – for a lower drink drive limit, following evidence from Scotland that the lower limit introduced there last year has led to a marked reduction in drink driving rates [1].

The call is being made at the Police Federation’s annual conference, being held in Bournemouth this week. The Police Federation is also highlighting what it calls the “unprecedented cuts” suffered by roads policing units in the last five years, leaving them unable to properly enforce life-saving road safety laws [2].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Brake agrees with the Police Federation that the UK drink drive limit – one of the highest in Europe – needs to be lowered. We would like to see an effective zero-tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood. This would make it clear that even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive safely, and end the widespread confusion over whether it’s safe and acceptable to have one or two drinks and drive. Research is clear that even very small amounts of alcohol impair, hence it should always be ‘none for the road’ – not a drop.

“Brake also echoes the Police Federation’s concern over the severe cuts that have been made to roads policing in recent years, which have been disproportionally heavier than cuts to other areas of policing. Given that enhanced traffic policing offers a huge return on investment and a way to avert needless casualties and suffering, this makes no rational, moral or economic sense. Brake urges the government to make traffic policing a national priority and give officers the backing and resources they need to do their job.”

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit through its not a drop, not a drag campaign, and for prioritised police traffic enforcement through its crackdown campaign. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #notadrop, #crackdown.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] Charity welcomes reduction in Scotland’s drink driving rates, Brake, 9 January 2015

[2] Women’s drink driving comes under scrutiny, Police Federation, 19 May 2015

Brake comments on "deeply troubling" figures showing increase in deaths on Scotland's roads

News from Brake
14 June 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Transport Scotland has today released provisional headline figures for road casualties reported to the police in Scotland in 2016, showing 191 people were killed in reported crashes in 2016 - 23 more than in 2015.

Commenting on the news, Jason Wakeford, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Today's figures are deeply troubling. It's shocking to see more fatalities on Scotland's roads last year, and more children, cyclists and motorcyclists needlessly losing their lives.

"Today's statistics show that, while progress is being made toward some of the 2020 Scottish Road Safety Framework targets, there is far more work to be done.

"We must strive for a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We urge the Scottish Government to implement a default 20mph limit in built up areas, accompanied by additional speed enforcement on roads by the police.

"Brake is also calling on the European Commission to urgently update new vehicle safety standards and the UK Government to set up a Road Collision Investigation Branch. Understanding and collating the details of individual road crashes and the circumstances that led to them is critical, to enable lessons to be learned and help prevent future deaths across the country." 

[Ends]

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake comments on reported improvement in Scottish road safety

News from Brake
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
 
Transport Scotland has released provisional headline figures for road casualties reported to the police in Scotland in 2017 [1].
 
There was a total of 9,391 road casualties reported in Scotland 2017, 1,514 or 14% fewer than 2016 and the lowest number of casualties since records began in 1950.
  • 146 fatalities: 45 (or 24%) less than 2016
  • 1,580 seriously injured: 119 (or 7%) less than 2016
  • 7,665 slightly injured: 1,350 (or 15%) fewer than 2016

Commenting on the figures, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:

“These figures show encouraging progress in the safety of Scottish roads and this trend should hearten all road safety campaigners. Any reduction in casualties is to be welcomed, however, tragically 33 people are still killed or seriously injured on Scottish roads every week, so our work is far from done.”
 
“We urge the Government to build on this momentum and implement policies which will trigger the next step-change in road safety. We need safer speeds in towns and rural areas, we need Graduated Driver Licensing to protect novice drivers and we need far greater investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.”
 
“Brake’s vision is a world of zero road deaths and serious injuries and this can only be delivered through strong and bold leadership. Every road crash is preventable, tragic and causes devastation to the families of those affected. We owe it to them to ensure we learn from the lessons of the past and eliminate the tragedy of road death.”
 
[ENDS]
 
 
Notes to editors:
 
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake urges decisive action as Scottish road deaths rise

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, is urging the Scottish Government to take decisive action to reverse an alarming rise in deaths on Scotland’s roads. Transport Scotland statistics released today show 200 people were killed in 2014, 16% more than in 2013. Serious injuries also increased by 1% to 1,694. The most vulnerable road users bore the brunt of the increase, with 18 more pedestrians killed than in 2013.

The increase in Scottish road casualties reflects a worrying trend across the UK. Statistics for the year ending September 2014, released in February this year, showed a 4% increase in deaths and serious injuries for Great Britain as a while.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for Brake, said: “The statistics from Scotland reaffirm the grim fact that became apparent in February – road casualties across the UK are heading in the wrong direction, with many more senseless, preventable deaths and life-changing injuries. However, unlike other parts of the UK, Scotland has the power to act independently to tackle the problem. The Scottish Government has already taken strong, positive action by lowering the drink drive limit, but as this only came in towards the end of 2014, it is too early to see an effect.

“Holyrood has the power to do more, including setting a 20mph default urban speed limit across Scotland – the increase in pedestrian casualties has highlighted the importance of this to protecting people on foot and bike. The Scottish Government has also expressed its willingness to push for a graduated driver licensing pilot in Scotland to cut young driver crashes, a measure we urge them to pursue. By implementing these measures, we are hopeful that Scotland could turn the tide and set an example for the rest of the UK.”

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake welcomes 20mph limits across Edinburgh

Thursday 8 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Plans to turn Edinburgh into Scotland’s first 20mph city have been revealed this week. Swathes of the city’s streets are set to adopt the new limit, following a public consultation last autumn, which saw significant backing for the proposals.

Brake, the road safety charity, in partnership with numerous other organisations, has long campaigned for 20, not 30mph, to be the urban default speed limit across the UK through its GO 20 campaign. Seewww.brake.org.uk/go20.

Welcoming the change, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “This is an enlightened move by Edinburgh Council. They recognise that 20mph limits can enable people to get around their neighbourhoods, towns and city centres more safely, sustainably and healthily. Plus it’s clear this is what the people of Edinburgh want. With anestimated 13 million people across the UK now living in areas implementing or committed to widespread 20mph limits, we think it’s time for governments in Holyrood and Westminster to adopt 20mph as the default national urban limit, to save councils money and help create safe, active, happy communities nationwide.

“As well as calling on national government to change the default urban limit to 20mph, Brake continues to encourage and support local authorities to GO 20 through implementing widespread 20 limits across cities, towns and villages. Drivers can also help protect people on foot and bike right away wherever they are, by slowing down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph.

Brake’s advice

Brake appeals to all drivers to make a difference by slowing down to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph. This gives you much more time to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone, with stopping distances at 20mph about half those at 30mph. It can also make your journeys smoother, with less speeding up and slowing down, so you’ll barely notice a difference in journey times, and will probably use less petrol and have less vehicle wear.

Facts

20mph limits lead to:

  • Fewer casualties: drivers have more time to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone: stopping distances at 20mph are about half those at 30mph [1]. Children benefit especially, since they struggle to judge the speed of vehicles over 20mph [2]. Areas where 20mph limits have replaced 30mph limits have seen significant reductions in casualties [3] [4], such as 22% in Portsmouth [5], and Camden where crashes dropped by 54% in trial areas [6].
  • Healthy, active lifestyles: less fast traffic makes people feel safer, which encourages more walking and cycling. Where widespread 20mph limits have been introduced, walking and cycling has increased, including by 20% in Bristol [7]. This means better health and prevention of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes [8], and less strain on the NHS.
  • Sociable communities: 20mph limits help turn our streets from soulless thoroughfares for traffic to enjoyable social spaces where people live. Lower traffic speeds (and traffic volumes) have been shown to improve the 'sociability' of streets: people get out more and are more likely to know their neighbours [9] [10].
  • Less pollution: more people walking and cycling means less traffic and more carbon-free journeys. 20mph limits also reduce pollution by causing vehicles to travel at a more consistent speed, with less of the speeding up and slowing down that produces most vehicle emissions [11]. For the same reason, journey times are barely affected; in fact, they may be smoother and use less petrol.
  • Lower costs: every road death in the UK is estimated to cost £1.7 million [12]. Fewer casualties mean less strain on the NHS and emergency services as well as preventing families suffering emotional and financial devastation. Add the public health benefits of more walking and cycling, and introducing 20mph limits ultimately pays for itself many times over [13].

Find out more about Brake’sGO 20 campaign for safe, active, happy communities.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake onTwitter orFacebook. FollowJulie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] The Highway Code, Driving Standards Agency, 2007
[2] Reduced sensitivity to visual looming inflates the risk posed by speeding vehicles when children try to cross the road, University of London, 2011
[3 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001
[4] 20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010

[5] Interim Evaluation of the Implementation of 20 mph Speed Limits in Portsmouth, Department for Transport, 2010
[6] Borough-wide 20mph speed limit, Camden Council, 2013,http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/speed-limits.en
[7] Where widespread 20mph limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20%. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012

[8] At least five a week – evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health – a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004
[9] The contribution of good public spaces to social integration in urban neighbourhoods, Daniel Sauter & Marco Hüttenmoser, Swiss National Science Foundation, 2006
[10] Driven to excess, Joshua Hart, University of the West of England, 2008
[11] Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999
[12] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012
[13] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of the cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the World Health Organisation's Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in cost to health as a result of 20mph. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012

Charity appeals to drivers: not a drop, not a drag this festive season, as police crackdown starts and new law comes into force in Scotland

Monday 1 December 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on drivers to stay sober if driving over the Christmas period – not a drop, not a drag – or plan to get home by taxi or public transport, to prevent devastating casualties.

The call comes as the Association of Chief Police Officers’ and Police Scotland’s annual drink and drug driving enforcement campaign kicks off. The month long campaign sees forces across the UK stepping up checks to catch drivers risking lives. It’s been given renewed impetus as a new, lower drink drive limit comes into force in Scotland, from 5 December.

Latest available figures, from 2012, show that 230 people were killed (one in eight road deaths) and 1,210 were seriously injured in crashes involving someone over the limit [1]. It’s estimated a further 65 deaths are caused annually by drivers who have been drinking but are under the limit [2]. Drug driving is estimated to cause 200 deaths each year [3].

Brake is renewing calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with evidence that even one drink dramatically increases crash risk [4], and to send a clear message it should be none for the road. A blood alcohol level of 20-50mg increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold [5].

The Scottish Government has introduced a lower limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, coming into force on 5 Dec, and has begun a multi-media campaign to raise awareness of the new law. The rest of the UK retains a 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta.

Read about Brake’s not a drop, not a drag campaign. 

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, we witness the suffering that drink and drug driving inflict, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. Drink and drug driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces. If you’re driving home from celebrations this festive season, it’s vital you take your responsibility for people’s safety seriously, and stay completely off booze and drugs. It’s a fact that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs increase your risk of crashing.


“We are calling on the UK government to take action on drink driving. We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable. We welcome the new lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero tolerance. The evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties.”

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill, said: “With the approval of Parliament, the new drink drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives. We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.

“A persistent minority of people are still getting behind the wheel after drinking - the best approach is to have nothing at all, alcohol at any level impairs driving.

“This new law will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and hopefully reduce drink drive arrests and prosecutions, as we have already seen in the Republic of Ireland, where drivers adjusted their behaviour to take account of the lower limit.”

Facts

One in eight deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood [6]. Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [7]. This is because even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [8]. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [9].

Westminster rejected recommendations for a lower limit in the North Report into drink and drug driving and Transport Select Committee inquiry into the issue. We now have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, alongside Malta. Evidence is clear that lowering drink drive limits results in fewer casualties [10], even reducing ‘high-level’ drink driving [11].

Read more at www.brake.org.uk/facts.

Advice

Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol – not a drop – and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink driving.

There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you want to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by walking (if there's a safe route), taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you need to drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn't drink any alcohol at all, and make sure they stick to this.

Driving after drinking alcohol significantly increases your risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring yourself, you passengers or someone else. Even if you feel sober after one drink, your reaction times will have slowed and your crash risk increased [12].

Don't drink if you are driving early the next morning. There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed – but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks. If you have a lot to drink, you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Brake is calling on members of the public to play their part in making roads safer by signing Brake’s Pledge at www.brake.org.uk/pledge, to make a personal commitment to use roads safely and sustainably, and help reduce the lives lost needlessly on our roads.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes:

[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013

[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005)

[3] Report of the review of drink and drug driving, Sir Peter North CBE QC, 2010

[4] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[5] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013

[6] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013

[7] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[8] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[9] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[10] Research by Sheffield University, which examined casualty trends in England and Wales against the success of lowering the limit in other European Countries and Australia, estimated that lowering the limit to 50mg would save in the region of 77-168 deaths each year in England and Wales alone. (R Rafia, A Brennan, Modelling methods to estimate the potential impact of lowering the blood alcohol concentration limit from 80 mg/100 ml to 50 mg/100 ml in England and Wales, Report to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, 2010). Brake believes lowering the limit to 20mg is likely prevent even more deaths, given evidence showing the detrimental effects on driving of 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. When Sweden lowered its drink-drive limit from 50mg to 20mg per 100ml of blood, drink-drive deaths fell by 10%. (The Globe 2003 issue 2, Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2003)

[11] Brooks C, Zaal D, Effects of a reduced alcohol limit for driving, Australia: Federal Office of Road Safety , 1993

[12] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

Charity welcomes reduction in Scotland’s drink driving rates

Friday 9 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has welcomed the 19% per cent drop in drink driving detections, revealed this week by Police Scotland.  

These are the first set of drink drive statistics released under a new, lower drink drive regime in Scotland, introduced on 5 December 2014. The limit is50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The rest of the UK retains a 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “The new, lower limit appears to have had a positive impact on drivers in Scotland. That said, there were still 351 drivers who chose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.  As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, we witness the suffering that drink and drug driving inflict, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. Drink and drug driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces.”

“We are calling on the Westminster government to take action on drink driving. We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable.We welcome the new lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero tolerance. The evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties.

Latest available figures, from 2012, show that 230 people were killed (one in eight road deaths) and 1,210 were seriously injured in crashes involving someone over the limit [1].It’s estimated a further 65 deaths are caused annually by drivers who have been drinking but are under the limit [2]. Drug driving is estimated to cause 200 deaths each year [3].

Brake is renewing calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with evidence that even one drink dramatically increases crash risk [4], and to send a clear message it should be none for the road. A blood alcohol level of 20-50mg increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold [5].

Read about Brake’snot a drop, not a drag campaign.

Facts

One in eight deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood [6]. Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [7]. This is because even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [8]. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [9].

Westminster rejected recommendations for a lower limit in theNorth Report into drink and drug driving andTransport Select Committee inquiry into the issue. We now have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, alongside Malta. Evidence is clear that lowering drink drive limits results in fewer casualties [10], even reducing ‘high-level’ drink driving [11].

Read more atwww.brake.org.uk/facts.

Advice

Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol – not a drop – and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink driving.

There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you want to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by walking (if there's a safe route), taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you need to drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn't drink any alcohol at all, and make sure they stick to this.

Driving after drinking alcohol significantly increases your risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring yourself, you passengers or someone else. Even if you feel sober after one drink, your reaction times will have slowed and your crash risk increased [12].

Don't drink if you are driving early the next morning. There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed – but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks. If you have a lot to drink, you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Brake is calling on members of the public to play their part in making roads safer by signing Brake's Pledge atwww.brake.org.uk/pledge, to make a personal commitment to use roads safely and sustainably, and help reduce the lives lost needlessly on our roads.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake onTwitter orFacebook. FollowJulie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes:

[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005)
[3] Report of the review of drink and drug driving, Sir Peter North CBE QC, 2010
[4] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
[5]National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[6]Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[7]National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[8]The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
[9]National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[10] Research by Sheffield University, which examined casualty trends in England and Wales against the success of lowering the limit in other European Countries and Australia, estimated that lowering the limit to 50mg would save in the region of 77-168 deaths each year in England and Wales alone. (R Rafia, A Brennan, Modelling methods to estimate the potential impact of lowering the blood alcohol concentration limit from 80 mg/100 ml to 50 mg/100 ml in England and Wales, Report to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, 2010). Brake believes lowering the limit to 20mg is likely prevent even more deaths, given evidence showing the detrimental effects on driving of 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. When Sweden lowered its drink-drive limit from 50mg to 20mg per 100ml of blood, drink-drive deaths fell by 10%. (The Globe 2003 issue 2, Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2003)
[11] Brooks C, Zaal D, Effects of a reduced alcohol limit for driving, Australia: Federal Office of Road Safety , 1993
[12] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch, December 2012

Dave Thompson_MSP

Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has been awarded a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award by the charity Brake and Direct Line for his work campaigning for barriers on level crossings and improvements to the A830 'road to the isles'.

After a crash in 2009 that claimed three lives on a level crossing where there were no barriers, Dave began a campaign to have barriers put in at all 23 open level crossings in Scotland, of which 21 are in the Highlands. He collected more than 1,400 responses from concerned constituents in a consultation on level crossings he ran after the crash.

He launched a high-profile media campaign, giving dozens of interviews to highlight the problem, and put pressure on Network Rail to upgrade the crossings. His campaign led to a trial of a new type of barrier at Ardrossan. After the trial was a success, Network Rail agreed to build the more effective and cheaper barriers at open level crossings across the UK, starting in Scotland. In answer to a question in the Scottish Parliament, Dave received confirmation that the first four barriers will be put up at Corpach, Kirkton, Brora, and Dalcham, and that crossings will be in place across the Highlands by the end of 2014.

As well as his level crossing campaign, Dave has been working to improve a notorious stretch of the A830 'road to the isles'. In September 2010 John and Jan Bryden lost their daughter Kirsty Bryden, 19, in a horrific crash on the A830. Her 17 year old friend who was travelling with her was also killed. Jan and John began to note the number of crashes on the road, which runs just outside their house, hoping to get the local authorities to improve the road between Glenfinnan and Lochailort. They recorded 309 crashes on the four-mile stretch in the two years since their daughter was killed, and demanded works to improve safety.

Dave supported the Bryden's campaign by contacting Transport Scotland and demanding improvements to this section of the A830. Shortly afterwards, a state of the art crash barrier was installed on the corner where Kirsty had died, helping to stop drivers from coming off the road and into the loch as she had.

Dave continued to push Transport Scotland to make further improvements, holding 10 meetings and phone-meetings with the agency, speaking out in the media, and organising and chairing two public meetings to collect constituent views. In October 2012 Transport for Scotland agreed to resurface the most dangerous corners with high-friction surfacing, limit speed to 50mph on the Glenfinnan-Lochailort stretch, add signs to highlight severe bends, and add more and better crash barriers.

Dave has announced he is pleased with the success of both campaigns, and that he will be watching closely to ensure promised improvements are delivered.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "As a charity that supports people who are bereaved or seriously injured in road crashes, we know the appalling devastation these crashes cause, and the importance of battling to prevent further tragedies. Simple, often relatively low-cost, engineering measures like barriers and lower speed limits can make a huge difference to safety and stop more families suffering needlessly, and often it takes campaigns by communities, families and MPs to bring these vital changes about. Dave has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of the Highlands, and Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch to improve road safety, and he has achieved impressive results. We congratulate Dave on his campaign successes and are delighted to present him with this award."

Dave Thompson, MP for Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch said: "The loss of Kirsty Bryden and Roderick MacInnes on a bad bend on the A830 back in September 2010 was tragic, and since then I have worked with John and Jan Bryden, who have done a power of work, to press for improvements to the road. Transport Scotland have met with the local community on several occasions, and have been able to make substantial improvements to the road, and I hope that these improvements will mean no other family will have to experience what the Brydens and Macinnes families have gone through.

"I am also pleased that through working with Network Rail, we have been able to secure a commitment to deliver barriers to all Open Level Crossings, not just in my constituency but throughout the UK.

"It is an honour to be named as Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by Brake and Direct Line, and I will continue to do all I can to improve road safety in my constituency, and across Scotland."

Brake

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaignscommunity education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line is part of RBS Insurance, the second largest general insurer in the UK1 and is wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com

Direct Line Insurance plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered office: 3 Edridge Road, Croydon, Surrey CR9 1AG.

END

Digby Brown and Brake

Digby Brown logo 12

Digby Brown has been a valued supporter of Brake for nine years, providing crucial funding and support for our services supporting people affected by road
crashes. Brake operates a helpline for anyone needing practical or emotional advice following a bereavement or serious injury on the roads, and we are able to support a growing number of people each year through the helpline.

Through our partnership, we have also been able to extend our support throughout Scotland, coordinating training for family liaison officers on how to support families bereaved on the roads.  

Digby Brown has also provided long term support to Brake’s flagship annual event, Road Safety Week, helping us to launch our national media campaign in Scotland. We have worked together to coordinate events in Scotland, aimed at engaging with local communities and national media.

Digby Brown has also supported Brake by providing a spokesperson for Brake’s activities in Scotland, Fraser Simpson, which has helped us to further extend our campaigns and activities in Scotland.

 

Government must learn from Scottish drink drive laws and cut limit in England and Wales to save lives

News from Brake

10 February 2016 

news@brake.org.uk

Brake is disappointed transport minister Andrew Jones MP has now confirmed there will be no review of the drink drive limit in England and Wales. This seems to be at odds with his stated intentions to discuss the experience of the lower limit in Scotland and get access to robust evidence of the road safety impact.   

We are urging the minister to learn from the successful reduction of the drink drive limit in Scotland during talks with his Scottish counterpart [i] and instigate a review of those levels in the rest of the UK. 

We already know the number of drink drive offences fell by more than 12 per cent in Scotland in the first nine months after the drink drive limit was lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml of blood in December 2014.  It dropped by almost 8 percent during the first year in total, the figure being reduced by a drink driving spike over Christmas and New Year.[ii]

A study by the Scottish government also found the reduction is changing attitudes with 82 per cent of people there now believing it is not acceptable to drink any amount of alcohol and then drive. [iii] The government’s own research in the latest British Social Attitudes survey shows 85 percent of people think you should not drink any alcohol at all if you plan to drive.[iv]

Campaigns director for Brake, the road safety charity Gary Rae said: “We would urge the minister to listen to and learn from his Scottish counterpart and respect the wishes of both the British public and the police by following Scotland’s lead and dropping the drink drive limit. Early indications show a clear reduction in offences in Scotland which can only make our roads safer and mean fewer devastating preventable deaths and injuries. This would be a useful step in moving towards a complete zero tolerance of drink driving, which is the only way to make our roads safe.”

 [ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

 

Investigation and criminal charges

Scroll down for information and advice on criminal charges after a fatal crash.

This includes the police investigation; the Procurator Fiscal; and criminal charges

The Procurator Fiscal

Procurators Fiscal investigate all sudden deaths. They are qualified lawyers and are employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). They are responsible for the following:

  • instructing a post-mortem examination;
  • overseeing the police investigation and then deciding whether or not a criminal prosecution should go ahead, in consultation with senior lawyers called Crown Counsel;
  • deciding whether a Fatal Accident Inquiry should happen.

Once the Procurator Fiscal has considered the police report into a crash, they may decide to interview witnesses and carry out further investigations. Once they are satisfied that the circumstances of the death have been fully investigated, they will decide the next step, which may include a criminal prosecution.

Contact with the Procurator Fiscal

The Procurator Fiscal should contact you no later than 12 weeks after a death is reported to them to tell you the progress of the investigation. When the Procurator Fiscal contact you, they should also offer you a personal meeting, which should take place within the next 14 days. If you do not want a meeting, the Procurator Fiscal will communicate with you in other ways according to your needs and wishes. After that, the Procurator Fiscal will contact you every six weeks about the progress of the investigation. If you want a further meeting, this can be arranged.

The Procurator Fiscal should also continue to liaise with you to keep you informed of any progress and to ensure your views are carefully considered when decisions are being made.

Once a criminal charge or charges have been brought against someone, or a decision has been made to bring no charges, the Procurator Fiscal should contact you again to explain the decision. For information on prosecutions, see below.

You should feel free to contact the Procurator Fiscal or VIA at any time to ask questions or raise concerns you may have during the investigation into the circumstances of the death. Your police contact can tell you how to contact the Procurator Fiscal if you have not heard from them already.

Victim Information and Advice (VIA)

If criminal charges are being considered by the Procurator Fiscal, and you are the nearest relative of a person who died, a Victim Information and Advice (VIA) officer will be assigned to provide you with information about what is happening.

VIA is a service provided by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). Your VIA officer has direct access to information about your case. If you have been assigned a police Family Liaison Officer you will normally be introduced to a VIA officer in a meeting. At this time, your FLO will pass responsibility to VIA for giving you information. Your FLO will then withdraw from the case.

If you do not have an FLO, you may be introduced to VIA by another police officer or the Procurator Fiscal.

VIA staff can:

  • provide information about the criminal justice system;
  • provide information about the progress of your case, including dates of hearings and decisions about bail, verdicts and sentences;
  • help you to get in touch with organisations that can offer practical and emotional support, if this is what you want;
  • provide additional support, for example if you have to give evidence; and
  • arrange for you to visit the court before the trial.

If you are not introduced to a VIA officer, this may be because someone else (a nearest relative) is receiving help from VIA.

To find out if you are also able to receive help from VIA, you can call COPFS on 0300 020 3000. If VIA cannot help you, they can refer you to other support agencies if you wish.

For more information on VIA, go to www.copfs.gov.uk.

The police investigation

A death on the road is investigated by the police on behalf of the Procurator Fiscal. The police have a duty to try to find out what happened by gathering evidence, and then submit this evidence to the Procurator Fiscal. A police investigation can take several months.

If the police decide to stop an investigation and you have not been told why, you can ask your police contact or make a formal request for this information to Police Scotland. There is information on how to do this on www.copfs.gov.uk.

Giving a statement

The police may take witness statements from a number of different people. If you were involved in the crash, you saw the crash, or you saw vehicles before or after the crash, you may be asked to give a witness statement. If you were not involved in the crash, but knew the movements of a loved one on the day they died, you may be asked to give a statement too. If you give a statement, the police will write down and record what you say.

If you have made a statement, a lawyer, or more than one lawyer, may want to interview you too. This is an essential part of the investigation and helps lawyers understand the evidence you are providing. Your contact details remain confidential - they cannot be given to someone accused of a crime. It may be possible for a relative or friend to attend an interview with you to offer support. If you want to be accompanied ask if this is possible. If you have particular communication needs you may also be entitled to assistance from an interpreter or intermediary (someone who helps communicate to you questions the police ask, and communicate back your answers).

If you give a statement, you may or may not be required, at a later date, to give evidence in court.

Physical evidence

Collison investigation officers, who are specially trained police officers, or employees of other specialist agencies, investigate a crash in order to identify the cause and obtain evidence. These experts may photograph, measure and video the site of the crash and examine vehicles involved. Their findings will be included in a collision investigation report (see below). The police may also examine belongings of people who were involved in the crash, such as mobile phones.

Medical evidence

Medical evidence may be provided by personnel who tended to a loved one at the scene of the crash or in hospital, and by the pathologist who did the post-mortem examination. Medical evidence can include alcohol and drug tests on the drivers involved.

If the crash involved someone driving for work

If the crash involved someone driving for work, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may get involved in the investigation. HSE inspectors aim to identify any failure by an employer to ensure health and safety procedures were in place and followed. The investigation will usually be conducted jointly with the police. The police will be able to tell you if the HSE are involved. The HSE can take enforcement action against an employer.

For more information about the HSE go to www.hse.gov.uk/scotland.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) will normally be held if the death was the result of an accident that happened in Scotland while the person who died was at work.

Standards for police investigations into fatal road crashes are explained in a police manual called the Road Death Investigation Manual. If you want to read this manual, ask your police contact.

The police report

If the police investigation finds any evidence that suggests a crime may have been committed, this evidence is compiled into a report that is sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

This report, which contains all evidence relating to the police investigation, is confidential and you cannot obtain it. However, you are entitled to see a separate police report called a collision investigation report, which explains the physics of what happened in the crash. This report may only be available to you after any criminal proceedings are finished. If you, or a solicitor you are using, wish to get a copy of it, or discuss its contents, ask the Procurator Fiscal.

Before reading a police collision investigation report, you may want to ask your solicitor or the police what it contains. Police collision investigation reports often contain photographs taken at the time of the crash and sometimes detailed interviews with eye witnesses. It will be possible for the police or your solicitor to remove anything you don’t wish to see or read.

If you are pursuing a claim for compensation, your solicitor will usually obtain an ‘abstract’ police report on your behalf as soon as possible. This provides only brief details of the crash and who was involved. Your solicitor may ask for an interview with police officers involved in the investigation. Your solicitor may also request extra evidence from the police report. Your solicitor may only be allowed to interview the police and obtain this extra evidence after any criminal proceedings are finished.

Precognition interviews

After the Procurator Fiscal receives the police report, they may decide whether to 'precognosce' (interview) any witnesses as part of the investigation into the death. These interviews help them decide if criminal proceedings should be brought.

If you have evidence relevant to the investigation (for example, if you witnessed the crash or events leading up to it, or after it), you may be asked to attend a precognition interview with the Procurator Fiscal or a lawyer acting on behalf of someone involved in the crash. You should co-operate with any request to attend a precognition. Your contact details remain confidential. They cannot be given to a person who is accused of a crime.

Precognitions usually take place in private. It may be possible for a relative or friend to attend a precognition with you to offer support. You will need to get permission from the Procurator Fiscal for this to happen. You are not allowed to be accompanied by another witness and your supporter cannot participate in the interview. You can claim reasonable expenses for attending a precognition.

The decision to prosecute or not

The purpose of a criminal prosecution is to find out if a person, or in some cases a company, has broken the law and to punish an offender or offenders. Whether or not a criminal prosecution happens depends on the circumstances of the crash and whether there is enough evidence to support a criminal charge. Sometimes several charges are brought. Sometimes no charges are brought.

The Procurator Fiscal will consider the law, the evidence and whether it is in the public interest for charges to be brought. The crime has to be recognised in Scottish law and there also has to be enough reliable and credible evidence that the crime was committed by someone.

If the Procurator Fiscal thinks a serious charge should be brought against someone, they send a report explaining their recommendation to senior lawyers called Crown Counsel. Crown Counsel will then instruct which charge or charges the accused should face.

Some charges must be brought within certain time limits. The police or the Procurator Fiscal can advise you.

Victims' Right to Review

If a decision is made by the Procurator Fiscal not to bring charges against someone, you may have the right to request a review of that decision, known as a Victim Right to Review. If you wish to request this, contact the Procurator Fiscal to find out if it is possible and the time frame in which you must do it.

Victim statements

If a case is being heard in the High Court or before a sheriff and jury, up to four family members may be asked whether or not they want to make a victim statement. This gives them an opportunity, before sentence is imposed, to explain in writing how the crime has affected their lives, physically, emotionally and financially.

If you are eligible to make a victim statement, the Procurator Fiscal should send you a letter that includes a victim statement form and the date that you need to return the form by. If you do not receive a letter and you feel you are eligible to make a victim statement, you can ask the Procurator Fiscal or VIA for more information.

If you make a victim statement and an accused person is found guilty by trial or pleads guilty, your victim statement will become part of the case papers and may be read out in court. You will not have to read out your victim statement in court.

You do not have to make a victim statement. If you choose not to, information about the impact of the crime can still be explained in court.

More information, including details of who can make a victim statement and what can be included in a statement, is available in a booklet, Making a victim statement, available from the Scottish Government website: go to www.mygov.scot and search for ‘make a victim statement’.

Charging someone and the possibility of bail

Someone who is being charged with an offence is often called ‘the accused’. An accused person will be issued with a document, called a complaint, petition or indictment, that tells them to appear in court to answer the charge. Before their court appearance, an accused person may be remanded in custody (imprisoned) or granted bail (allowed to remain free before their case is heard).

The accused will be granted bail unless the court has good reason to believe they:

  • would not attend a court appearance;
  • would commit an offence while on bail;
  • would interfere with witnesses;
  • would obstruct the course of justice.

People on bail are required to:

  • turn up, when required, to court hearings;
  • comply with the law;
  • not interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice;
  • make themselves available to the court as and when necessary.

Conditions may be attached to bail, such as limiting where the accused can live, or preventing them coming near you or your home or near someone else. A person on bail can also be electronically tagged. A court may require an accused person to refrain from driving as a condition of bail, but only if it considers that it is necessary to prevent the accused person from committing further offences. Otherwise, an accused person who is on bail and who possesses a valid driving licence will be allowed to continue driving while awaiting trial. If they are convicted of a crime, they may or may not be disqualified from driving as part of their sentence.

The accused person may apply for bail at different stages of the case, even if it has been refused earlier. The accused may appeal against a decision not to grant bail. If bail is still refused on appeal, the accused can ask for the decision to be reviewed, but only if there is good reason.

If bail is granted, the prosecution can only appeal against the decision in rare circumstances.

If the accused is granted bail and their behaviour causes you concern, for example you see them driving in a way that you consider dangerous, or if they threaten you, report it immediately to the police, VIA or the Procurator Fiscal.

VIA should inform the nearest relative of any bail decision. If the accused is remanded in custody, their court hearing must start within certain time limits. You can get more details from the Procurator Fiscal.

Changes to charges

Sometimes, if the accused is charged with a serious offence, the lawyers representing the accused ask the Procurator Fiscal for the charge to be changed to a less serious offence, based on the evidence of the case. This process is called ‘plea negotiation’ and usually happens before a case goes to trial.

The Procurator Fiscal may decide to continue charging the accused with the serious offence or may decide to charge the accused with a less serious offence. Their decision is based on the law, the evidence and what is in the public interest.

Criminal offences

The following pages explain some of the offences that people can be convicted of following death on the road. Many people find it helpful to know that:

  • Maximum penalties are fixed by law and are different for different charges, sometimes significantly. Courts often impose penalties lower than the maximum.
  • Some charges mention the death or deaths, but others do not. Sometimes the only charges that can be brought by the Procurator Fiscal do not mention the death or deaths.
  • Sometimes a person, or more than one person, is charged with committing more than one offence.

Brake’s helpline on 0808 8000 401 is for anyone who has been bereaved in a road crash, whether you contributed to causing the crash or not.

Causing death by dangerous driving

Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991, section 1)

The law states that: ‘A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.’

The definition of dangerous driving is that:

a) the way a person drove fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver; and

b) it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

It is also dangerous driving if it would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving a vehicle in its current state (for example, with defective brakes or other defective safety-critical components) would be dangerous.

If a jury decides that an accused person is not guilty of this charge, they may convict them of ‘causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving’ instead (see below).

This offence is usually tried in the High Court but in some circumstances may be heard in a Sheriff Court with a jury. The maximum prison sentence is 14 years at the High Court or five years at a Sheriff Court. Both courts may impose an unlimited fine. Anyone convicted must be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of two years. The offender must take an extended driving test before they can regain their licence.

Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving

Section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Safety Act 2006, section 20)

The law states that: ‘A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, is guilty of an offence.’

The law distinguishes between ‘dangerous’ driving and ‘careless or inconsiderate’ driving. The definition of careless and inconsiderate driving is that the standard of a person’s driving fell below (rather than far below) what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.

This offence is usually tried before a sheriff and jury in the Sheriff Court. In those circumstances, the maximum penalty is a prison sentence of five years or an unlimited fine, or both. The charge can also be heard by a sheriff, without a jury, in a Sheriff Court. Here, the maximum penalty is a prison sentence of 12 months or a fine of £10,000 or both. The driver must be disqualified for a minimum period of one year and their licence must be endorsed with three to 11 penalty points. The court has discretion to order the offender to re-sit their driving test before regaining their licence.

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs

Section 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991, section 3)

The law states that: ‘If a person causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, and s/he is, at the time when driving, unfit to drive through drink or drugs, or s/he has consumed so much alcohol that the proportion in his/her breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit, or s/he fails to provide a specimen, s/he is guilty of an offence.’

The offence is committed if the death is caused by careless driving and the driver has more than the legal limit of alcohol or fails to provide a specimen. This means the police do not necessarily have to show a person’s driving ability was impaired, only that s/he had more than the permitted amount of alcohol or certain drugs.

This offence is usually heard in the High Court but in some circumstances may be heard in a Sheriff Court. The maximum prison sentence is 14 years at the High Court or five years at a Sheriff Court. Both courts may impose an unlimited fine instead of, or in addition to, a prison sentence. Anyone convicted must be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of two years and their licence endorsed with three to 11 penalty points. The offender must pass an extended driving test to regain their licence.

Causing death by driving: unlicensed or uninsured drivers

Section 3ZB of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as inserted by the Road Safety Act 2006, section 21 and amended by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015)

The law states that: ‘A person is guilty of an offence if s/he causes the death of another person by driving a motor vehicle on a road and, at the time when s/he is driving, the circumstances are such that he is committing an offence under –

(a) section 87(1) of this Act (driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence),

or

(c) section 143 of this Act (using a motor vehicle while uninsured or unsecured against third party risks).’

This offence would only be charged where there is evidence that the standard of driving was in some way at fault and contributed more than minimally to the death. If an uninsured/unlicensed driver was involved in a crash caused entirely by somebody else, they would not be prosecuted for causing death by driving.

An offence under section 3ZB can be heard before a jury in the High Court or the Sheriff Court. In those circumstances, the maximum penalty is a prison sentence of two years or an unlimited fine or both. The charge can also be heard by a sheriff, without a jury, in a Sheriff Court. Here, the maximum penalty is a prison sentence of 12 months or a fine of £10,000 or both. The driver must be disqualified for a minimum period of one year and their licence must be endorsed with between three and 11 penalty points.

Causing death by driving: disqualified drivers

Section 3ZC of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as inserted by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (2015 c. 2))

The law states that: ‘A person is guilty of an offence under this section if he or she –

(a) causes the death of another person by driving a motor vehicle on a road,

and

(b) at that time, is committing an offence under section 103(1)(b) of this Act (driving while disqualified).’

This offence would only be charged where there is evidence that the standard of driving was in some way at fault and that it is linked to the death.

An offence under section 3ZC can only be heard before a jury in the High Court or Sheriff Court. The maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. The driver must be disqualified for a minimum period of one year and their licence must be endorsed with between three and 11 penalty points.

Murder and culpable homicide

Common Law

It is possible to charge someone with murder or culpable homicide if their driving has killed. Murder is committed when there was intention to kill a victim or the accused’s conduct was ‘wickedly reckless’. A charge of murder may, for example, be brought if someone used a vehicle as a weapon with an intent to kill. Culpable homicide is committed when the accused caused loss of life through wrongful conduct, but there was no intention to kill nor ‘wicked recklessness’.

Murder and culpable homicide charges are heard in a High Court. Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

The law states that: ‘An organisation is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised: (a) causes a person’s death, and (b) amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.’

A ‘duty of care’ is defined as a duty owed by an organisation to its employees or contractors, a duty owed as the occupier of premises, or other duties described in law that relate to the running of the organisation. An organisation is guilty of a ‘gross breach’ of a relevant duty of care if its conduct fell far below what would be reasonably expected. For example, if a company failed to ensure a vehicle it was operating had serviced brakes, and the vehicle could not be controlled.

This charge is heard in the High Court. Any penalty is against the company, not individuals working for the company. The court may impose an unlimited fine. The court may also impose a remedial order (where an organisation must make changes to prevent future breaches of health and safety laws) and a publicity order (where an organisation must publicise the details of its offence).

Killing someone by using a defective vehicle

If an unsafe vehicle (for example, a vehicle with defective brakes) has been involved in a collision which results in a death, then there are a range of offences that may have been committed by, depending on the case, the driver, the owner or operator of the vehicle if different (for example, the boss of a company running a fleet of vehicles), or anyone else considered responsible.

It may be possible, for example, to charge someone with the offence of causing death by dangerous driving, or corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide (see above).

Someone may be found to be in breach of Construction and Use Regulations. These impose requirements relating to safety critical components such as brakes, tyres, steering, tachographs (which record driving time of commercial vehicles) and speed limiters (that restrict speed on commercial vehicles).

Breaches of Construction and Use Regulations are heard in either a Justice of the Peace Court or Sheriff Court. There are a range of maximum fines, the most severe of which is £10,000 in the Sheriff Court and £2,500 in the Justice of the Peace Court (except if a Stipendiary Magistrate is sitting when the maximum is £10,000).

If the vehicle was a lorry, bus or coach, then the person in charge of the company that ran the vehicle may be stripped of their licence to operate such vehicles. The official who decides whether or not to do this is called the Traffic Commissioner. It may also be possible to disqualify a company boss from running any company.

Charges that do not mention death

The following charges do not mention death, but are sometimes brought against a driver who was involved in a fatal crash, or a crash that caused serious injury:

  • Dangerous driving Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991, section 1); and
  • Careless driving Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

In some cases, there is evidence that a driver was driving dangerously or carelessly before or after the crash, but there is no evidence that this dangerous or careless driving caused the death. In these cases it may only be possible to bring charges of dangerous driving or careless driving, rather than the more serious charges of ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ or ‘causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving’. In cases where there is evidence that a driver was driving dangerously in a crash that caused serious injury, they may be charged with ‘Causing serious injury by dangerous driving’.

The offence of dangerous driving can be heard before a jury, usually in a Sheriff Court. In those circumstances, the maximum penalty is two years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both. The offence can also be heard by a sheriff without a jury in a Sheriff Court. In this case, the maximum penalty is 12 months' imprisonment or a £10,000 fine or both. The driver must be disqualified from driving for a minimum of one year unless there are special reasons to impose a shorter disqualification or no disqualification. Where no disqualification is imposed, the driver’s licence must be endorsed with between three and 11 penalty points. The driver must pass an extended driving test before they can regain a full driving licence.

The offence of careless driving is heard in a Sheriff Court without a jury. The maximum penalty is a fine of £5,000. The driver can be disqualified from driving. Their licence must be endorsed with between three and nine penalty points.

Causing serious injury by dangerous driving

If your case also involved another person or people receiving serious injuries, a charge may be brought in relation to causing those injuries.

  • Causing serious injury by dangerous driving Section 1A of the Road Traffic Act 1988

The offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving means that a person is responsible for causing severe physical injury to another person as a result of their dangerous driving. This offence can be heard before a jury, where the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both. The charge can also be heard by a sheriff without a jury in a Sheriff Court. In this case, the maximum penalty is 12 months' imprisonment or a £10,000 fine or both. The driver must be disqualified from driving for a minimum of two years unless there are special reasons to impose a shorter disqualification or no disqualification. The driver’s licence must be endorsed with between three and 11 penalty points. The driver must pass an extended driving test before they can regain a full driving licence.

Failing to stop or report an accident

Section 170(4) and Section 170(7) of the Road Traffic Act 1988

A driver involved in a crash causing death, injury or damage must stop and provide their name and address, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle and the identifying marks of the vehicle. Failure to do so is an offence (often called ‘hit and run’ in the media). It is an aggravation of the offence if the driver did not stop because they thought they were over the legal alcohol limit.

If for any reason the driver does not give this information at the time of the crash, they must report the crash to a police officer or at a police station within 24 hours. Failure to report a crash is also an offence.

Offences under this section are usually heard in a Sheriff Court. The maximum sentence for failing to stop and give details is 12 months’ imprisonment or a £5,000 fine or both. The driver’s licence must be endorsed with between five and 10 penalty points and the court may disqualify them. The penalty for failing to report a crash or provide details of insurance is a £1,000 fine.

Taking and driving away

Section 178 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

The law states that: ‘A person who in Scotland takes and drives away a motor vehicle without having either the consent of the owner of the vehicle or other lawful authority, or knowing that a motor vehicle has been so taken, drives it or allows himself to be carried in or on it without such consent or authority, is guilty of an offence.’ This offence is sometimes called ‘joyriding’ in the media.

This charge can be heard before the sheriff or before a jury in a Sheriff Court or the High Court. The maximum penalty is a prison sentence of 12 months or a £10,000 fine before the sheriff or 12 months and an unlimited fine, or both, on indictment.

Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence

Section 87(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991, section 17)

A person commits this offence if they drive when they do not hold a driving licence, or if they do not comply with the conditions of their licence. There may be circumstances where an unlicensed driver is involved in a fatal collision, but it cannot be proved that their actual driving caused the death (for example, where they are driving carefully at a safe speed and another driver collides with them and dies). In these circumstances, they may still be prosecuted for driving without a valid licence.

It is also an offence to cause or permit another person to drive if they do not hold a valid driving licence. The maximum sentence is a £1,000 fine. In some circumstances, the driver’s licence may be endorsed with between three and six penalty points, or the court may disqualify them.

Driving while disqualified

Section 103(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988

If a person drives while disqualified from driving, they commit this offence. A person may also be charged with this offence instead of 'Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence' (see page 58), if they do not comply with the conditions of a provisional licence gained after a period of disqualification. As with 'Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence', there may be circumstances where a disqualified driver is involved in a fatal collision, but it cannot be proved that their actual driving caused the death (for example, where they are driving carefully at a safe speed and another driver collides with them and dies). In these circumstances, they may still be prosecuted for driving while disqualified.

The charge can be heard before a jury in the High Court or Sheriff Court. In those circumstances, the driver can be sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, or an unlimited fine, or both. The charge can also be heard by a sheriff, without a jury, in a Sheriff Court. Here, the maximum penalty is 12 months’ imprisonment, or a £10,000 fine, or both.

Driving without insurance

Section 143(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988

If a person drives a vehicle on a road or any other public place without motor insurance, they have committed this offence. As on pages 58 and 59, there may be circumstances where an uninsured driver is involved in a fatal collision, but it cannot be proved that their actual driving caused the death (for example, where they are driving carefully at a safe speed and another driver collides with them and dies). In these circumstances, they may still be prosecuted for driving without insurance.

The maximum sentence is a £5,000 fine. The driver’s licence must be endorsed with between six and eight penalty points and the court may disqualify them.

Bringing a private prosecution

It is sometimes possible for a member of the public, rather than the Procurator Fiscal, to prosecute another person for a criminal offence. This is called a private prosecution and very rarely happens. The process is very costly and you cannot claim legal aid. There must be sufficient evidence in law that a crime has been committed. The consent of the Lord Advocate (see below) is also required before a private prosecution can take place.

Click to go to the next section of this guide: Court cases or to go to the contents page.

Moray MP wins national road safety award

News from Brake
Thursday 1 August 2019
 
Douglas Ross, MP for Moray, has today been named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the month for July by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line Group. The award recognises Mr Ross’ efforts to improve young driver safety in Scotland, advocating for a Graduated Driving Licence (GDL) system to be piloted across the country.
 
Young drivers in Scotland are over-represented in crash statistics and are a high risk on the roads, and Mr Ross is committed to tackling this. The approach Mr Ross is calling for would involve restrictions on young drivers carrying passengers under a certain age, restrictions on driving late at night and a minimum learning period followed by a post-test probationary period.
 
Mr Ross has worked with experts on young driver safety, including Dr Sarah Jones of NHS Wales, who has carried out 10 years of study into road collisions in Scotland, and the Transport Research Laboratory to research the life-saving potential of a Graduated Driver Licencing (GDL) system being introduced in Scotland. It is estimated that GDL could prevent almost 200 casualties, including 29 people being killed or serious injured from collisions involving a 17-19 year old driver, per year in Scotland alone.
 
Road safety charity, Brake, has long called for a Graduated Driver Licencing system to be introduced UK wide. They believe that such a system is the only way to ensure that new drivers have the necessary skills and experience to drive safely on the roads and so tackle the disproportionate number of young people involved in road crashes.
 
Douglas Ross MP said: “I am honoured to accept this award from Brake in recognition of the work I have carried out with regards to improving road safety. One life lost on our roads is one too many and with the Highlands and North East Scotland having the highest proportion of young driver deaths in the UK, it’s time to look at more proactive action. This is why I’ve proposed a form of Graduated Driving Licence to be piloted in Scotland.
“All the evidence from across the world, where such schemes have been introduced, convinces me that this is the way we need to go. In doing so I also pay tribute to the work of other Politicians in Scotland from across the party divide who have also championed this cause.
 
“It would be remiss of me not to mention the supportive work of Dr Sarah Jones of NHS Wales who has carried out 10 years of study into road collisions in Scotland and Dr Neale Kinnear and Dr Shaun Helman both of the Transport Research Laboratory who provided me with all the analytical data required to pursue this initiative.
 
“It’s early days yet, but I’m hopeful that by working together we can make a positive difference to road safety.”
 
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:“It is a great privilege to honour Douglas with this month’s road safety award. Far too many young people are being killed or seriously injured on our roads and Douglas should be commended for taking the initiative to change this in Scotland.
 
“We know that a Graduated Driver Licencing system is proven to work, and whilst we welcome the UK Government’s announcement last week that they will explore this issue further, swift and decisive action must be taken to introduce GDL in Scotland, and across the wider UK, as a priority to end the tragedy of young people dying on our roads.”
 
Gus Park, Managing Director of Motor, Pricing and Underwriting at Direct Line Group, said:“We would like to thank Douglas Ross for advocating for a Graduated Driving Licence system to be piloted among young drivers across the UK. This group of drivers are one of the most vulnerable on our roads, and any measures that increase their driving experience including minimum learning periods and post-test probationary periods are welcomed.”
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors:
 
About Brake
 
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
 
About Direct Line Insurance Group plc
 
Direct Line Group is headquartered in Bromley. Through its number of well known brands the Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. The Group also provides insurance services for third parties through its partnerships division, Direct Line Group Partnerships. In the commercial sector, the Group's NIG and Direct Line for Business operations offer insurance products for businesses distributed through brokers or direct, respectively.

New lower drink-drive limit in Scotland, welcomed by charity as a useful stepping stone to zero tolerance limit

Thursday 4 December 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has welcomed the new lower drink drive limit in Scotland which comes into force on Friday (5 December). 

It’s estimated that Police Scotland stop over 80,000 vehicles each month, with around 20,000 offences detected every month.

The Scottish Government has introduced a lower limit of50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, coming into force on midnight, 5 December.It’s begun amulti-media campaign to raise awareness of the new law. The rest of the UK retains a 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta.

Latest available UK figures, from 2012, show that 230 people were killed (one in eight road deaths) and 1,210 were seriously injured in crashes involving someone over the limit [1].It’s estimated a further 65 deaths are caused annually by drivers who have been drinking but are under the limit [2]. Drug driving is estimated to cause 200 deaths each year [3].

Brake is renewing calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with evidence that even one drink dramatically increases crash risk [4], and to send a clear message it should be none for the road. A blood alcohol level of 20-50mg increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold [5].

Read about Brake’snot a drop, not a drag campaign.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, we witness the suffering that drink and drug driving inflict, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. Drink and drug driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces. If you’re driving home from celebrations this festive season, it’s vital you take your responsibility for people’s safety seriously, and stay completely off booze and drugs. It’s a fact that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs increase your risk of crashing.

We welcome the new lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero tolerance.We are calling on the UK government to take action on drink driving. We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable. The evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties.

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill, said: “With the approval of Parliament, the new drink drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives. We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.

“A persistent minority of people are still getting behind the wheel after drinking - the best approach is to have nothing at all, alcohol at any level impairs driving.

“This new law will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and hopefully reduce drink drive arrests and prosecutions, as we have already seen in the Republic of Ireland, where drivers adjusted their behaviour to take account of the lower limit.”

Facts
One in eight deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood [6]. Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [7]. This is because even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [8]. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [9].

Westminster rejected recommendations for a lower limit in the North Report into drink and drug driving and Transport Select Committee inquiry into the issue. We now have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, alongside Malta. Evidence is clear that lowering drink drive limits results in fewer casualties [10], even reducing ‘high-level’ drink driving [11].

Read more at www.brake.org.uk/facts.

Advice
Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol – not a drop – and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink driving.

There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you want to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by walking (if there's a safe route), taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you need to drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn't drink any alcohol at all, and make sure they stick to this.

Driving after drinking alcohol significantly increases your risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring yourself, you passengers or someone else. Even if you feel sober after one drink, your reaction times will have slowed and your crash risk increased [12].

Don't drink if you are driving early the next morning. There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed – but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks. If you have a lot to drink, you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Brake is calling on members of the public to play their part in making roads safer by signing Brake's Pledge at www.brake.org.uk/pledge, to make a personal commitment to use roads safely and sustainably, and help reduce the lives lost needlessly on our roads.

Brake
Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes:
[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005)
[3] Report of the review of drink and drug driving, Sir Peter North CBE QC, 2010
[4] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
[5] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[6] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[7] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[8] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
[9] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[10] Research by Sheffield University, which examined casualty trends in England and Wales against the success of lowering the limit in other European Countries and Australia, estimated that lowering the limit to 50mg would save in the region of 77-168 deaths each year in England and Wales alone. (R Rafia, A Brennan, Modelling methods to estimate the potential impact of lowering the blood alcohol concentration limit from 80 mg/100 ml to 50 mg/100 ml in England and Wales, Report to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, 2010). Brake believes lowering the limit to 20mg is likely prevent even more deaths, given evidence showing the detrimental effects on driving of 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. When Sweden lowered its drink-drive limit from 50mg to 20mg per 100ml of blood, drink-drive deaths fell by 10%. (The Globe 2003 issue 2, Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2003)
[11] Brooks C, Zaal D, Effects of a reduced alcohol limit for driving, Australia: Federal Office of Road Safety , 1993
[12] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

Practical issues

Scroll down for information and advice on practical issues that often come up after a road crash.

This includes information about informing people, burials or cremations, legal issues, personal finance, the media, memorials, and if the crash happened abroad.

Registering a death

It is a legal requirement to register any death that occurs in Scotland with an official called a Registrar. A death must be registered within eight days.

A death can be registered with any Registrar in any part of Scotland. Your police contact, a doctor, or funeral director can give you the details of a Registrar so that you can make an appointment. You can also find Registrars in a telephone directory, under ‘Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages’. The Registrar can tell you what documents you need to bring with you when registering a death.

Once a death is registered, the Registrar will give you the following documents, free of charge:

  • A Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14) to give to any funeral director you are using so that the funeral can go ahead.
  • A ‘Registration or notification of death’ form (BD8 form), to complete and use in claiming or adjusting benefits (see page 28). This form is not needed if using the 'Tell us once' service.
  • A shortened extract of the record of the death, as written in the Register of Deaths, which does not mention details such as the cause of death.

If you wish to, you can pay for a full extract of the record of the death, as written in the Register of Deaths. You will need a full extract to do certain things, such as closing a bank account or letting an insurance company know about the death.

A booklet, ‘What to do after a death in Scotland’, provides more information on registering a death. It is available from Registrars or by searching for ‘What to do after a death in Scotland’ at www.gov.scot.

Information on registering a death is also available from the National Records of Scotland at www.nrscotland.gov.uk.

Talking to motor insurers

If a person who died was driving a vehicle then you, or someone on your behalf, needs to tell their motor insurer that they have died. The police can give you basic details that the motor insurer needs, such as the details of another driver. You do not have to tell a motor insurer what happened in the crash. You only need to say that the crash is being investigated by the police.

The motor insurer may offer you a solicitor to help you find out if you have a compensation claim. It is up to you whether you choose this solicitor or a different solicitor (see below). See ‘Can I claim compensation?’ for important advice on choosing the right solicitor for you.

Whether or not a person who died was driving a vehicle, you are advised to consult a solicitor of your choice as soon as possible. It may be possible, at no cost to you, to make a significant claim for compensation from the motor insurer of a vehicle that contributed to the crash.

At any stage you may be contacted by the other side’s motor insurer, offering you money in settlement for any compensation claim you may have. If this happens, you are strongly advised not to accept this money. Do not sign any forms they send you. A settlement they offer may be lower than the amount that a solicitor could obtain for you.

Telling others

There may be people other than relatives and friends who need to be told about a death quite soon. You can choose to tell these people yourself or ask someone to do it for you. These people may include:

  • (If you are employed you may be entitled to immediate bereavement leave or be given permission to take your holiday entitlement now; some employers and trade unions also have benevolent funds that provide support to families of employees who have died);
  • school, college or nursery (teachers can provide valuable support);
  • life insurance and pension companies (the sooner you inform these companies, the sooner you can go ahead with any possible claims from these plans);
  • bank or building society;
  • mortgage or loan provider;
  • landlord;
  • housing department or housing association (if a person who died was living in social housing);
  • utility providers (for example, gas, electricity and phone) – particularly if a person who died lived alone;
  • benefit providers;
  • HM Revenue and Customs (if a person who died paid tax);
  • Passport Office (if a person who died had a passport);
  • DVLA (if a person who died had a driving licence);
  • social clubs that a person who died attended.

Most local authorities provide a service where they will pass information about the death to other government organisations on your behalf, so you don’t have to inform lots of different people. You can visit your local authority website to see if this is available in your area, or go to www.gov.uk and search for ‘Tell us once’, or speak to the Registrar.

Arranging a burial or cremation

Arrangements for a body to be buried or cremated, and arrangements for any funeral service or gathering in their memory, are usually overseen by a close relative. If you are the person making arrangements, consider any instructions that the person who died left in a will or elsewhere, or told anyone. You may also want to consult other people who were close to the person who died. If the person who died followed a religion, there may be religious practices to follow.

Making decisions at this time can be hard. You may find it easier to make decisions and share tasks with other close family or friends. People in the same family sometimes have different or strong views on what should be done. Discussing options and making decisions together can help. Alternatively, you may choose to let someone else make decisions.

Some people hold more than one memorial event, so everyone gets an opportunity to say goodbye in a way that has meaning to them.

You, or someone else responsible for the dead person's estate, are responsible for ensuring the cremation or burial happens, and deciding how. This means that, as long as you choose a legal method, no-one (for example a funeral director) can compel you to do it in a particular way.

Using a funeral director

Many people arrange a burial or a cremation with the help of a funeral director. A funeral director’s services usually include, among other things, looking after the body prior to burial or cremation, providing you with a choice of coffins, shrouds or urns to buy, liaising with the burial ground or crematorium on your behalf and transporting the body.

If you decide to use a funeral director, and are considering which one to use, you may want to choose one who is a member of an association and follows a code of practice. The following associations provide lists of members:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors
    T: 0121 711 1343 W: nafd.org.uk
  • National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
    T: 0345 230 6777 or 01279 726 777 W: saif.org.uk

Some people choose not to use a funeral director because they want to manage arrangements themselves. Some people choose to use a funeral director only for certain things, such as looking after the body. You can get advice on managing arrangements yourself from the charity the Natural Death Centre. Go to www.naturaldeath.org.uk or call 01962 712 690.

Some people choose not to use a funeral director because arrangements are being managed by a faith leader.

Burial grounds

Your local authority or funeral director can provide you with lists of local cemeteries and church graveyards. Some burial grounds may already be full. The person in charge of the burial ground can tell you.

There are also an increasing number of woodland and meadow burial grounds. These are run by local authorities, private landowners and wildlife charities and provide a natural setting for burial, while also using the land to grow plants and encourage wildlife. The Natural Death Centre (contact details above) provides a list of these.

Ashes

If your loved one’s body is being cremated, then their ashes can be scattered in a place of your choice or garden of remembrance, buried in a cemetery or graveyard, or kept by you. You will need to get permission from any landowner before making arrangements to scatter or bury ashes.

Coffins and shrouds

Bodies can be placed in coffins made from a range of materials, including cardboard. The body can alternatively be wrapped in a shroud before being buried or cremated. You can buy coffins and shrouds from a funeral director, over the internet or make your own. There are rules governing the materials that can be used to make coffins and wrap bodies. Your funeral director should be able to give you advice about coffins and shrouds. If you are not using a funeral director, you can get advice from the Natural Death Centre (see above).

The websites www.yourfuneralchoice.com and beyond.life compare prices and services of funeral directors in your area.

Paying for a burial or cremation

You may be able to get help paying for all or some of the costs of a burial or cremation if:

  • you are on a low income. (Ask your local benefits office as soon as possible whether the government can help you pay. You can also find information on gov.uk by searching ‘funeral payment’);
  • the person who died was signed up to a scheme providing payment for funeral costs. This scheme could be part of an employment package, a personal pension plan, or an insurance plan;
  • the person who died had paid in advance for their own burial or cremation through a payment plan. Some credit union accounts also make a payment towards funeral costs when the account holder dies. (Some payment plans may only pay for the use of a particular funeral director).

If you aren’t eligible for this help, you should still keep receipts of costs in case you can claim them back later. You may be able to do this if someone is found to have been responsible for a death as part of a claim by you for compensation.

Direct funerals or cremations

One option for reducing the cost of a funeral is a burial or cremation without any mourners present. This is sometimes called a ‘direct’ funeral or cremation. The funeral director makes arrangements with the crematorium or burial site, collects the body, and returns ashes from the crematorium in an urn. Many people who choose this option still have a memorial ceremony, but hold it on a different day, later on.

The Natural Death Centre can advise you on ways to lower the cost of a burial or cremation and lists funeral directors specialising in direct funerals. Call 01962 712 690 or go to www.naturaldeath.org.uk.

Hiring a solicitor

Many people bereaved by a road crash benefit from hiring one or more solicitors as soon as possible. The earlier you consult a solicitor, the sooner they can consider your case and the greater the chance they will be able to help you. An initial consultation with a solicitor should be free.

Different solicitors specialise in different areas of law. A personal injury solicitor is the best person to advise you on whether you can claim compensation and pursue any claim for you. Sometimes a lot of money can be claimed, so it is important to find out. You may also need advice from a solicitor specialising in wills. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need specialist advice regarding issues around an inquest, a post-mortem examination, a criminal case, or a death that happened abroad.

It is important to use solicitors experienced in the right areas of law. A solicitor who has helped you before, for example to buy a house, may not be the best solicitor for you now. See ‘Can I claim compensation’ for advice on contacting solicitors specialising in road death and personal injury claims, and below for advice on contacting a solicitor specialising in wills.

Wills

If you are the next of kin of an adult who has died, or you have been appointed as their representative, you need to find out if they made a will. Copies of wills may be held by a bank or solicitor. They may also be registered publicly with Registers of Scotland. You can call 0800 169 9391 or visit www.ros.gov.uk to find out.

A will appoints a person or people (known as an executor) to administer a dead person’s estate (everything they owned). It also gives instructions on how possessions and money should be distributed and may also include instructions about their burial or cremation and any funeral arrangements.

Wills can be complicated. Sometimes there is no will. Whether or not there is a will, a specialist solicitor will be able to give you advice on what you need to do. STEP provides details of solicitors in Scotland who specialise in wills.

Go to www.step.org or phone 020 3752 3700. Alternatively, you can ask the Law Society of Scotland for details of specialist solicitors. If you need advice about a will but cannot afford a solicitor, your local law centre can provide a free and independent legal service.

To find details of the law centre nearest to you, go to https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ and search 'law centres'.

Benefits

Some people qualify for benefits after being bereaved. You may be able to claim benefits for all sorts of reasons, for example if a partner has died, or you are bringing up children on a low income.

If a person who died was claiming any benefits or a state retirement pension, or you were receiving benefits for them, you need to let their benefits office know about the death.

To find out if you can claim any benefits, contact your local benefits office as soon as possible. You can also call the bereavement benefits helpline on 0800 731 0469, or visit www.gov.uk. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice service for free advice. For information on finding your local office, go to www.cas.org.uk.

Financial issues

Many people find their bereavement causes financial issues; for example, if a person who died was working and provided income. Some bereaved people struggle to pay bills at this time.

Some bereaved people also find they are managing finances for the first time, because this was a task undertaken by a person who died.

Understanding finances that someone else previously managed can be challenging, particularly at such a difficult time.

The following organisations can give advice.

Charities offering advice:

Government-established advice service:

If you are pursuing a claim for compensation, it is sometimes possible to obtain an early partial payment, to help with immediate financial needs. Your solicitor can advise you.

Stopping unwanted mail

You may find it upsetting to receive junk mail, email or sales calls for someone who has died. One way to reduce the chance of this is to register, for free, with The Bereavement Register. Call 0800 082 1230 or go to www.thebereavementregister.org.uk.

You can also stop unwanted sales calls, mail and faxes by registering for free with the following:

You may have to re-register with these services every few years.

The above services may not stop all unwanted correspondence, but will reduce the chance of it happening.

Social media

Communicating with friends, family or colleagues through social media (such as Facebook or Twitter) is an important part of many people’s lives. You may find comfort and support through your use of social media at this time.

It is important not to make comments publicly on websites that could create problems for a police investigation, a criminal trial or a compensation claim. If you wish to discuss such things with people who are close to you, it is safest to do so only through private messaging or email.

There are many websites that encourage people to state their views on public forums (for example, on news websites). These forums often contain a variety of views, some of which may not be sensitively worded nor fair comment. They may contain incorrect information. A driver who has caused a crash may also post things on their own social media accounts that you may find upsetting.

For your well-being, you may choose to avoid sites which could contain insensitive posts or incorrect information, and only visit places on the internet where you feel safe, supported and can trust what you are reading.

If you feel you are suffering online harassment, for example threats to harm you physically, talk to the police.

Your case in the media

Journalists from newspapers, or radio or TV programmes, often want to cover crashes and court cases. You cannot stop the media from reporting on your case or publishing your name and where you are from. Journalists may publish or broadcast stories about your case without talking to you, or they may phone you, knock on your door or approach you at a court hearing for a comment. They may ask you for a photograph or home video of someone who has died. They may ask to interview you or photograph you.

Different people feel differently about the media. You may feel grateful for media coverage, or dislike it, or feel disappointed that there isn’t more media coverage. It is up to you whether you talk to journalists or not. You may decide to talk to journalists to help raise awareness of road safety, or to help find witnesses to the crash. You may find that you prefer to talk to some journalists but not to others. You may decide not to talk to journalists for personal reasons.

If you aren’t contacted by journalists but want media coverage, you can contact them. You can ring up, email or write to journalists. Alternatively, your solicitor or the police may be able to help you liaise with journalists (see below).

Ask your police contact or your solicitor if there is anything you shouldn’t talk about to journalists. If someone is accused of causing a death, it is important not to make comments that could create problems for a police investigation, a criminal trial or a compensation claim.

Police help with the media

The police can often help you to manage your relationship with the media, particularly in the first few days after the crash or around any court case.

The police often release their own media statements about crashes and resulting court cases to the media, and will be able to give these to you. Your police contact should be able to pass on to the media any written statement you want to make, any photograph you want to see published or home video you want broadcast. In some cases the police also organise press conferences for bereaved families. This might happen at the end of a court case, or to appeal for witnesses.

Choosing a photo or home video

When choosing a photo or home video of someone who has died to pass on to the media, you may wish to consider how they would have wanted to be remembered. Your police contact can arrange for a photo to be altered if necessary – for example, taking a loved one’s image from a group photo.

A few families have given the media a photo of a loved one’s dead body, or of them critically ill in hospital before they died. They have done this as part of an appeal for witnesses or to explain to the public the horror of road crashes. You can ask the media to use a photo for a specific purpose and on just one occasion, accompanied by specific words from you, and then ask for the photo not to be used again.

If you would like a photo to be used on just one occasion, you should agree this with the journalist who contacts you, before the photo is used. It is advisable to have a record of this agreement, for example by asking the journalist to email you, or asking the journalist if you can record their verbal agreement on your mobile phone.

You can release a photo to just one journalist or lots of journalists. Your police contact may be able to help.

You are advised not to give original photos or home videos to the media in case they lose them. Newsrooms can be hectic, messy places. The police should be able to get copies made for you.

Being interviewed by a journalist

Being interviewed by a journalist can be hard, particularly if they are a stranger and they want you to talk about how you feel. It can be particularly hard to do interviews that are being broadcast on radio or TV. If you decide to talk to a journalist, it can help to ask in advance what questions they want to ask, and to think what you might want to say. If you are doing an interview at a radio or TV station, you might want to take a friend for support, or, if you would prefer, ask for the interview to be done at your home.

Making a comment or complaint about the media

If you are unhappy with a journalist's conduct or think that a journalist has published or broadcast something that is incorrect or unfair, you can make a complaint to the relevant publication or TV or radio station.

If you are complaining about a publication, address your complaint to the editor and publisher. If you are complaining about a TV or radio station, address your complaint to the director. Sometimes the media offers to print or broadcast an apology. A newspaper or magazine may offer to print a letter from you.

Journalists are governed by national codes of practice that require them to respect the privacy and feelings of bereaved people.

  • The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) regulates the Editors' Code of Practice, a set of rules that newspapers or magazines who are members of IPSO must follow. To read this code and find advice about dealing with media attention, or complain if you think a journalist has broken this code, go to ipso.co.uk. IPSO can help with unwanted press attention or harassment concerns and has a 24-hour helpline 07799 903 929.
  • The Ofcom Broadcasting Code governs TV and radio journalists. To read this code and make a complaint if you think a journalist has broken this code, go to ofcom.org.uk or call 0300 123 3333.

Some people bereaved by a road crash wish to campaign for road safety. There are a number of organisations that can help you do this.

Roadside memorials

Some people bereaved in road crashes wish to place flowers and other things at the place where a loved one has died, in their memory. Some people see this as an important expression of their grief. You may or may not want to do this.

Many local authorities allow small temporary memorials such as flowers and cards. Some local authorities grant permission for small permanent memorials, such as a plaque on a grass verge, or depending on the location, larger memorials such as a bench. However, some local authorities may not allow permanent or large memorials, and some may even restrict the length of time that flowers can be placed at the site of a crash.

If you want to seek permission for a permanent or large roadside memorial, you need to talk to the roads department of the relevant local authority to find out what they allow.

You may want to ask someone else to talk on your behalf to your local authority about roadside memorials. The Brake helpline can do this for you. Your solicitor, police contact, or another support agency may also be able to help.

If cards or notes are placed by other people, you may want to ask your police contact to retrieve them after a period of time and give them to you.

Website memorials

Some people bereaved in road crashes decide to have a website in memory of a person who died, and publish memories, poems, messages, pictures or videos on this website. There are several organisations dedicated to providing this service for you, including ones that are free or low cost. The Brake helpline can put you in touch with these services, call 0808 8000 401.

If the crash happened abroad

If a loved one died abroad, there may be many added complications, such as different legal procedures or a language barrier. The Brake helpline works with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to provide emotional and practical support to families and friends in the UK of anyone killed in a road crash abroad.

If you have been in touch with the FCO you should have been offered Brake’s support. If not, you can contact the helpline on 0808 8000 401 (Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm) or email helpline@brake.org.uk. You can also ask for support from FCO Consular staff based at British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates overseas, and in London in the Consular Directorate of the FCO.

These officials can:

  • give you information about burial or cremation in the country in which someone died, or information about transporting the body and personal belongings back to the UK;
  • advise you how to register a death in the country where the person died;
  • help you transfer money from the UK to pay costs;
  • offer basic information about the local police system and legal system, including the availability of any legal aid;
  • provide you with details of local lawyers, interpreters and funeral directors.

FCO staff cannot investigate deaths abroad nor give legal advice. If you have concerns about legal issues, a solicitor with experience of dealing with deaths abroad can advise you.

If someone dies abroad and you want to arrange a cremation in Scotland, your funeral director will apply for a cremation order from the Scottish Government Health Directorate. If you are not using a funeral director, contact the Scottish Government for further information at www.gov.scot or call 0300 244 4000 (if calling from the UK) or (+44) 131 244 4000 (if calling from abroad).

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance called Support for British nationals abroad: A guide explains what support is available to family and friends if a loved one died abroad. This guidance is available online at www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide.

If the person who died had travel insurance, it is advisable to contact the insurer as soon as possible, in case there is a possibility of a claim.

Click to go to the next section of this guide: Investigation and criminal charges or to go to the contents page.

Procedures following a death on the road - Scotland

This page contains links to web pages of information and advice on procedures that follow a death on the road in Scotland.

If you can't find information on the topic you are interested in, download the complete guide as a pdf by clicking here.

What happens now?
For information and advice on organ donation; seeing, touching and identifying a loved one's body; post-mortem examination issues; return of belongings; visiting the crash site; what happened in the crash; and what happens to vehicles, click here.

Practical issues
For information and advice on informing people; burials or cremations; legal issues; personal finance; the media; memorials; crashes abroad, click here.

Investigation and criminal charges
For information and advice on the police investigation; the Procurator Fiscal; criminal charges, click here.

Court cases
For information and advice on attending court; being a witness in court; court procedures; appeals; prisoner release; inquests; the Criminal Justice System, click here.

Claiming money
For information and advice on claiming compensation; types of fatal motor claim; fatal motor claim procedures; working with your solicitor; paying your solicitor, click here.

Useful organisations
For information about organisations you can contact concerning all of the above click here.

Provisional statistics show almost 10,000 injured on Scottish roads

News from Brake
Monday, 20 November 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Almost 10,000 people were injured on roads in Scotland in the 12 months to June, recent figures show [1]. Provisional statistics from the Department for Transport reveal that 9,705 people were injured and 159 were killed in crashes on Scottish roads in the year to June 2017.

Other Government figures, published earlier in the year, showed a 14% rise in road deaths in Scotland during 2016 compared with 2015 [2]. A new analysis by Brake reveals that exceeding the speed limit was a factor in 291 crashes in Scotland last year, a rise of over a quarter (26%) since 2013 [3]. Travelling too fast for conditions contributed to 510 crashes during 2016.

Table: Reported road crashes by contributory factor, Scotland, 2013 to 2016 [3]

Contributory factor reported

2013

2014

2015

2016

Exceeding speed limit

231

237

253

291

Travelling too fast for conditions

663

591

549

510

Source: Department for Transport

The analysis marks the start of the UK’s biggest road safety event, Road Safety Week (20-26 November), coordinated by Brake. This year, thousands of organisations, schools and community groups are backing its Speed Down Save Lives campaign, helping to raise awareness about the dangers of driving too fast.

Travelling at higher speeds increases the distance it takes to stop in an emergency – both in terms of thinking and braking time – increasing the severity of any crash, the risk of loss of life and the extent of serious injury.

Brake is calling for the introduction of a default 20mph limit in all built-up areas, increased police enforcement and 'Intelligent Speed Adaptation', which helps drivers stay within the speed limit, to be fitted as standard to all new vehicles.

In September, the charity pledged its support for proposals put forward by Mark Ruskell MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife) for a default 20mph limit in built-up areas in Scotland, hailing the plans as a golden opportunity to save lives, promote sustainable transport and improve the environment.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Speeding remains a major problem, causing untold suffering to families up and down the country. Driving is unpredictable and if something unexpected happens on the road ahead, such as a child stepping out from between parked cars, it's a driver’s speed that determines whether they can stop in time and, if they can’t, how hard they will hit. That's why we're encouraging everyone to 'Speed Down Save Lives' for Road Safety Week this year.

"We fully support Mark Ruskell's proposed bill and want to see more urban areas going 20 right across the UK. Travelling at lower speeds drastically reduces the risk of death and serious injury and encourages more walking and cycling - relieving pressure on the NHS and other public services."

Lucas Bergmans, head of brand for Aviva, said: “At Aviva we’re all too familiar with the outcomes of road collisions, so we’re 100 per cent behind Brake’s Road Safety Week campaign. Travelling over speed limits can have catastrophic consequences, and these can be easily avoided. Aviva research shows that seven out of ten UK drivers admit to travelling over the speed limit from time to time, so we’d urge all motorists to pledge to keep their speed down, and help to make our roads safer."

Stephen Wornham, managing director of BriteAngle, said: “It is unacceptable that, with vehicles getting safer and more intelligent, so many people are being involved in road collisions. This data shows that more needs to be done to ensure motorists are aware of the hazards around them, and drive accordingly.”

/Ends

For more information please contact: news@brake.org.uk or 07976 069159.

Notes to editors:

[1] Table RAS45011, Reported road casualties by police force area, Department for Transport, 2017.

[2] Figure 1, Key Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2016, Transport Scotland, 2017

[3] Table RAS50012, Reported road accidents by contributory factor, region and country, Great Britain, Department for Transport, 2016.

Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week is the UK’s flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2017 takes place 20–26 November, with support from the Department for Transport and sponsors Aviva and BriteAngle.

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Public demand government action as England and Wales risk falling behind in fight against drink driving

Friday 19 December 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Three quarters (74%) of UK drivers want a lower drink drive limit, according to a survey published today by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line.

In the wake of Scotland lowering its drink drive limit earlier this month, the appetite clearly exists for the rest of the UK to follow suit, and ideally go further by introducing a zero-tolerance limit.

In the UK-wide survey of 1,000 drivers:

  • three in ten (31%) said the UK should get in line with Scotland and most of the EU by lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50mg/100ml) – a limit also set to come into force in Northern Ireland next year;
  • more than two in five (43%) said the UK should go further by introducing a limit of 20mg/100ml – effectively zero-tolerance – as in a number of EU countries, including road safety leaders Sweden;
  • only a quarter (26%) said the limit should remain at the current level of 80mg/100ml – a limit shared only by Malta in the EU.

Brake is calling on Westminster politicians of all parties to make a zero-tolerance 20mg/100ml drink drive limit a key manifesto commitment for next year’s general election, in line with the evidence that even 20-50mg/100ml alcohol in your blood makes you at least three times more likely to be killed in a crash [1]. This could help stop the estimated 65 deaths a year caused by drivers who drink but are under the legal limit [2].

Brake is also renewing calls in the run-up to Christmas for the public to show zero tolerance on drink driving, pledge to never drive on any amount of alcohol – not a drop – and plan ahead to make sure they and loved ones can get home safely from festivities. See below for more advice.

Brake and Direct Line’s survey also found almost unanimous support for tougher measures to tackle repeat drink drive offenders, who currently face the same penalty no matter how many times they are caught:

  • almost all (95%) drivers agreed repeat offenders should face higher penalties;
  • nine in ten (89%) said repeat offenders should have ‘alcohol interlocks’ fitted to their vehicles to stop them starting the engine without passing a breath test.

Brake is calling for longer sentences – up to two years – and alcohol interlocks combined with rehabilitation for repeat offenders to help cut reoffending. Currently, one in eight drink drivers and three in 10 'high risk offenders' do it again [3].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“It is often said that the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but there is no room for complacency, not least on drink driving, which remains one of the biggest killers. The UK has now slipped off the top of the European road safety rankings, and without critical progress, including the introduction of a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, we will be left further behind.

“The current drink drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive. In reality, even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The law needs to make that crystal clear. We’re also appealing to the public in in the run up to Christmas to show zero tolerance on drink driving, and pledge to never get behind the wheel after any amount of alcohol.”

Rob Miles, director of motor at Direct Line,commented: “Many people don't really know what the legal limit actually means in terms of how much you can drink. Our advice is not even to take the risk - if you're driving, it's not that great a hardship just to stick to soft drinks for the evening. If you've had a large glass of wine and are wondering if you're over the limit, you're better off not driving at all.”

Read about Brake’snot a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us:@Brakecharity, hashtag #NotADrop. Read the survey report.

Case study

Christmas 2010 was memorable for all the wrong reasons for Daniel Glynn, 22, from Kent. He spent Christmas Day in hospital, undergoing emergency surgery for injuries he suffered because he had caught a lift home from a party on Christmas Eve with a friend who'd been drinking.

They'd been out celebrating, and Daniel knew his friend had had a drink but didn't realise how much and accepted a lift anyway. Travelling back, Daniel's friend lost control and the vehicle span across the road and hit a tree at full force. Police reported the car was unrecognisable and the engine was found five metres away.

Daniel was taken to hospital, and was told he had broken all the ribs on his left side, his knee cap was badly damaged and his bowel had been ruptured. Daniel had to return to hospital a number of times for further treatment and repeat a year at college because of time out due to his injuries.

Daniel said: “I was naive. I thought it wouldn't happen to me, but I now know drink driving, or getting a lift with a drink driver, is never worth the risk. My life was turned upside down, and I went through months of terrible agony that could have easily been avoided. But I was one of the lucky ones: it could easily have ended both our lives. Now I'd never catch a lift with a driver who's been drinking, not even one drink, and I'd urge everyone to make the same commitment. Speaking up about drink driving isn't always easy, but it could save a life or prevent a horrific injury, so please speak out to friends and family, and if you're a driver, commit to never, ever, drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.”

Facts

Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads. One in eight UK road deaths result from crashes where the driver was over the drink-drive limit [4]. A further estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have significant amounts of alcohol in their blood [5].

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (80mg/100ml). In many countries it’s much lower: it’s 50mg/100ml in most of Europe, including Scotland as of 5 December, and in some countries, such as Sweden, it is 20mg/100ml [6] – effectively zero tolerance. Northern Ireland plans to lower its limit to 50mg.

If you are found to be over the drink-drive limit, and/or driving while impaired by alcohol, you can receive a maximum penalty of six months in prison and an unlimited fine. Anyone convicted also receives an automatic one-year driving ban. If you kill someone while under the influence of alcohol, you can be charged with death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The penalties for drink driving are currently the same no matter how many times a driver re-offends. However, some drivers are also placed on a 'high risk offender' scheme if they are repeat drink drivers or had a high level of alcohol in their blood. Under this scheme drivers have to undergo tests to show they are not alcohol dependent before getting their licence back.

Brake’s advice

Don’t try to guess how much alcohol will put you over the limit – there is no failsafe way to tell. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit cannot be converted directly into how many units you can have: the concentration of alcohol in your blood depends on various factors. That’s why the only way to be sure you’re under the limit is not to drink at all before you drive.

Being under the current legal limit does not mean you are safe to drive. Even very small amounts of alcohol affect driving: drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [7].

To be safe, drivers should ensure they are completely alcohol-free before driving – including the following day. There’s no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, as it depends on various factors, including gender, hydration and tiredness. As a rough guide drivers should allow at least one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed [8] – but it can take longer, so it’s wise to leave extra time to be safe. If you have a lot to drink you could be impaired all of the next day. Brake advises people who need to drive the next day to limit themselves to one or two drinks.

About the report

These survey results come from Section 7 of Report 2: Fit to Drive, part of the Direct Line and Brake report on safe driving, 2012-14, released today (Friday 19 December 2014). The survey consisted of 1,000 drivers and was conducted by Surveygoo. Read the report.

Full results

Q1. What should the drink drive limit be? (The current UK limit is 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, but Scotland and Northern Ireland have proposed to reduce their limits to 50mg. Almost all other EU countries have limits of 50mg or 20mg. 20mg is the lowest practical level: effectively zero tolerance.)

  • 43% said it should be 20mg
  • 31% said it should be 50mg
  • 26% said it should remain at 80mg

Q2. Currently penalties for drink driving do not take into account whether the driver has been caught drink driving before. Do you think penalties should be higher for repeat drink drivers?

  • 95% said yes
  • 5% said no

Q3. In some countries, drivers who have been caught drink driving twice or more have a device fitted to their vehicle so they can only start the engine if they can show they are sober by blowing into a tube (these can be fitted with anti-tampering and recognition devices so it only works for the driver who owns the car). Should we be using these for repeat drink drivers in the UK?

  • 89% said yes
  • 11% said no

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

End notes

[1] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg - what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies, University College London (PACTS, 2005)
[3] Drink driving (repeat offenders) bill, Rehman Chishti MP, 2013http://www.pacts.org.uk/2013/07/drink-driving-repeat-offenders/
[4] Final estimate for 2012, from Reported road casualties in Great Britain, final estimates involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012, Department for Transport, 2014
[5] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg - what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies, University College London (PACTS, 2005)
[6] Global status report on road safety, World Health Organisation, 2013
[7] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[8] How long does alcohol stay in your blood? NHS Choices, 2013

Stirling MSP wins award for efforts to improve community road safety

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Bruce Crawford, MSP for Stirling, has been given the first ever Scottish Road Safety Parliamentarian Award by the charity Brake and Digby Brown Solicitors. The award is the first in a series that will recognise the contribution of MSPs to improving road safety in their constituencies and across Scotland. Bruce Crawford’s award recognises his work to introduce a20mph speed limit in the Stirling suburb of Cornton.

The Stirling MSP took the initiative by writing to 472 households in Cornton to gauge support for a permanent, area wide 20mph speed limit. More than a quarter of the residents he contacted responded, with 98% of them in favour of the move. In response, Stirling Council is now drawing up draft plans to introduce the 20mph limit, which it expects to implement within the current financial year.

20mph speed limits are becoming more and more widely recognised as one of the best ways to protect people on foot and bike, helping adults and children to walk and cycle in their communities, for their health and enjoyment, and for cheap and sustainable travel, without being put in danger. Brake campaigns for 20mph to be the norm across all towns, cities and villages through its GO 20 campaign.Find out more.

The response from Cornton is another demonstration of the immense support and demand for more widespread 20mph limits in communities, across Scotland and the UK.A survey by Brake in April 2014 found eight in 10 people (78%) in the UK think 20mph should be the norm around schools, on residential streets, and in village, town and city centres [1]. An estimated 14 million people in the UK now live in areas that have, or are in the process of implementing, 20mph limits [2].

Bruce Crawford’s work on 20mph limits in Stirling, and the positive community response, show it’s not just big iconic cities like Edinburgh where people want toGO 20. 20mph limits are in demand across Scotland, in communities large and small. That’s why Brake calls on the Scottish Government to lower the default urban speed limit to 20mph across the nation, as it also calls on Westminster to do across the UK.

The Stirling MSP has also been active on road safety issues in other areas of his constituency in the past, includingcampaigning alongside the community in Doune to stop the speed limit on the A84 being increased in 2013, andworking with Callander Primary School to improve safety for children in the area.

Brake is part of theGO 20 coalition campaign for a 20mph default urban speed limit, to cut road casualties and empower more people to walk and cycle in safety. Tweet us:@Brakecharity, #GO20

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “MSPs have a hugely important role to play in making roads safer for their constituent, in their communities, and across Scotland. That’s why we’re delighted to start recognising MSPs for the work they do to champion and improve road safety, and encourage more of them to help make Scotland a trailblazer in UK road safety.

“Bruce Crawford is a worthy first winner of this award, by recognising the demand for 20mph speed limits to make streets safer in his constituency and helping to make them a reality. More and more, people are realising that 30mph isn’t fit for purpose in our communities: lower speeds are essential to free people from the fear and threat of fast traffic that often stops them exercising their right to healthy, cheap and sustainable travel. Hopefully, the Cornton scheme will be just the start, and we will see more 20mph limits rolled out across Stirling in the not too distant future.”

Accepting his award, Bruce Crawford, MSP for Stirling, said:“I am delighted to receive a Scottish Road Safety Parliamentarian Award for the work I have undertaken in my constituency in trying to improve community road safety.

“Road safety is something that I have spent much of my time as an MSP championing, working with communities across the Stirling constituency. I have been involved in campaigns in rural areas such as Balquhidder, Buchlyvie, Callander, Doune, Killin and Strathyre, calling for an improvement in road safety with speed reduction, better signage and zebra crossings.  

“When I surveyed my constituents in Cornton 98% of those who responded were in favour of introducing a 20mph limit around the school, something which Stirling Council could not ignore.

“It is fabulous to receive this award, however the credit should go to the active members of the respective communities who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of road safety issues. I will continue to do all I can to work with my constituents to make our roads safer.”

Fraser Simpson, partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, added: “As personal injury lawyers, we see first-hand the devastating effect road traffic crashes have on victims and their families. All of us who use the roads can help make them safer and this type of leadership on local road safety issues makes an important contribution to achieving that."

Notes for editors

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, orThe Brake Blog. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Digby Brown Solicitors

Digby Brown Solicitors are Scotland’s largest personal injury practices with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkcaldy and Aberdeen. The firm have worked closely with Brake for a number of years, supporting their campaigns on road safety issues and sponsoring the Brake helpline in Scotland. Digby Brown won the Community Contribution Award at both the 2015 and 2014 Scottish Legal Awards in recognition of its work with a Brake and a range of charities throughout Scotland.

End notes

[1]Eight in 10 back 20mph limits as charity takes campaign to parliament, Brake, 2 April 2014

[2]http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/

Thompsons Solicitors & Brake

Thompsons

Thompsons Solicitors have teamed up with Brake to deliver life saving road safety education to high schools and sixth forms across Scotland. Starting in the borders region, to celebrate the opening of Thompsons Solicitors' new Galashiels office, Thompsons Solicitors will deliver Brake's innovative educational workshops. These interactive road safety workshops have been designed to get young people thinking about the consequences of dangerous driving and the responsibilities and risks associated with getting behind the wheel. . 

Brake logo with strap red

The impact of deadly or live-changing crashes is even more pronounced when those killed or seriously injured are young, and taken before their time. Young people, aged between 17-25, are disproportionally likely to be killed in a road crash, with road crashes one of the biggest killers of young people in the UK. It's for these reasons that Thompsons Solicitors has teamed up with Brake, and Brake looks forward to long lasting and successful partnership with Thompsons Solicitors.