Articles Tagged ‘road crash - Brake the road safety charity’

Greg Knight, MP for East Yorkshire, December 2009

dec09Greg Knight MP wins Brake’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ award

East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight has won December’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ award for his persistence in campaigning for safety improvements to the A1079 in his constituency.

The A1079 is a main artery through the East Riding of Yorkshire. The road runs through a number of villages and has a high casualty rate. There have been more than 300 crashes and 20 people have died on the road in the past five years, with four of the deaths taking place in December 2009.

Greg Knight has been campaigning for more than two years to persuade the Government and local highway authority to invest in safety improvements on the road, which is listed as the seventh most dangerous road in the United Kingdom*. From 2006 to 2009 he has regularly raised the profile of the problem in the media, maintaining pressure on national Government and local agencies.

One of the first steps in Mr Knight’s campaign was to table an Early Day Motion with neighbouring MP Graham Stuart, in October 2006, calling on the Government to provide funding for safety improvements on the A1079.

Throughout his campaign, Mr Knight has been working closely with Action Access, a local road safety action group that has inspired 650 local residents to sign a petition requesting funding for the upgrading of the A1079 road between Hull and York. Mr Knight joined the Action Access coordinators to take the petition to Number 10 Downing Street in February 2007.

Mr Knight has met with successive Transport Ministers on several occasions since April 2009 to demand increased funding for safety improvements on the road. He regularly calls for Government action through his local media, pointing out that Yorkshire and Humberside transport funding is just £215 per head of population compared with the England average of £305 per head.

He has also made representations to the Regional Transport Board and keeps in regular contact with the local highway authority. Highways officials have said they “appreciate Mr Knight’s efforts to secure Government funding to upgrade and improve the A1079.”

On 20 April 2009, Mr Knight asked a question in Parliament to highlight the terrible scale of death and injury on the road and urgent need for funding to Parliament and Government. He followed this up in November 2009 with another Parliamentary question on the Government’s plans for action, keeping up the pressure for funding to tackle the dangers on the A1079.

To push for an immediate practical solution to the stalemate, given the horrific number of deaths in December 2009, Mr Knight urged the local highway authority to construct a number of relatively low-cost pedestrian refuges as an interim safety measure. This proposal is now being seriously considered and the local authority is carrying out a feasibility study with a view to constructing pedestrian refuges on the road.

Mr Knight has vowed to keep up the pressure in 2010 until a long-term and effective solution to stop the carnage on the A1079 is achieved.

Greg Knight MP says “The A1079 is a main arterial route through the East Riding and as the economic recession starts to recede traffic levels will increase even further. Additional safety measures and improvements on this road are therefore vital, both in the interests of motorists and pedestrians alike, and I will continue to campaign until this has been achieved.”

Cathy Keeler, Brake’s Deputy Chief Executive, says “We congratulate Greg on his determination to improve road safety in his constituency and stop the carnage on the A1079. We are delighted to give Greg our ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ award in recognition of his efforts and urge him to keep up the campaign”

Click below to read recent news stories on the issue:
Campaign appeal after teen killed on A1079 - The Press, 02.12.09
A1079 safety plea after widow dies - The Press, 06.12.09
Two die on A1079 - Nafferton Today, 23.12.09

If you know of a dangerous road in your area, call Brake’s Zak the zebra hotline on 08000 68 77 80 or report the road online, and Brake could help you campaign for road safety improvements.

4x4s - the risks

A pedestrian hit by a large 4x4 is more than twice as likely to be killed than if they were hit by a normal sized car.

In the UK, there have been double the numbers of 4x4s sold in the first decade of the 21st century as in the last decade of the 20th century. More than a fifth of these were sold in the Greater London area, and only a fraction of them will ever be taken off-road [1].

At one time large 4x4 vehicles were the choice of farmers and landowners: generally people wanting to take them off road. However, in recent years the vehicles have grown rapidly in popularity and more and more of them are now appearing on our roads, and staying on the road rather than ever going off road. They are now the choice of vehicle for many families and used to drive to work, go shopping and on the school run.

Why the rise in popularity?

The rugged, powerful image of the 4x4 is undoubtedly one of the factors which attracts buyers. Driving an off-roader may make someone feel safe, in control and even superior to other road users - but it is for this very reason that other road users, particularly children on foot, cyclists and adult pedestrians, feel vulnerable and intimidated.

It is claimed that advertisers are deliberately targeting the urban user, with the incentive that the cars are cool and likely to impress others. What Car? chose a model of the Land Rover Discovery as its Car of the Year 2005, describing it as a family-friendly vehicle and a ‘hard-as-nails 4x4’.

What are the problems?

The main arguments against the use of 4x4s relate to the dangers of the vehicles to pedestrians and other road users and the damage caused to the environment.

Dangers to pedestrians:

Researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rowan University in America discovered that somebody hit by a large 4x4 vehicle would be more than twice as likely to die as someone hit by a normal sized car [2].

The point of impact on the body is higher if hit by a 4x4, meaning it is more likely to cause head and chest injuries, rather than leg and lower body injuries. This particularly applies to collisions involving children, due to the height of their head and chest.

  • Generally a 4x4 is heavier, stiffer and shaped more bluntly than normal cars and is therefore likely to cause more damage on impact. Weight is a major factor in velocity.
  • The threat to pedestrians (especially children) is increased if bull bars are fitted on the front, as is the case with many [3]. From January 2006, it became illegal to fit bull bars to new vehicles, but many remain on older vehicles.
  • The size and design gives drivers a restricted view of the area immediately surrounding the vehicle. This means that young children are particularly vulnerable, as it is less likely that the driver will see them. According to the American independent body Consumer Reports, the blind spot for a driver of average height in a large 4x4 vehicle can be up to 28 feet [4]. This is a particular danger when taking a 4x4 on the school run when there are a high number of children on pavements and crossing roads, and when using a 4x4 for shopping and parking it in busy supermarket car parks where there are lots of families about.
  • In safety tests, 4x4s generally perform very poorly in terms of pedestrian safety. For example the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Suzuki Grand Vitara both received zero stars for pedestrian safety when tested by the European New Car Assessment programme (EuroNCAP) in 2005 and 2002 respectively. [5]

Dangers to other drivers:

4x4s are not only seen as a danger to pedestrians, but also to people travelling in other cars. With the increase in large vehicles and the super-mini in recent years, medium cars have become less popular. A recent study by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), shows many crashes now involve a collision between a large car and a small one. In such a crash the person in the smaller car is 12 times more likely to be killed than the person in the 4x4 [6]. The study also shows the rise in sales of 4x4s and people carriers is causing more than 20 extra deaths and serious injuries a year among people in small cars when the two are in collision [7]. Research has shown that a car driver is around four times more likely to be killed if hit from the side by a large 4x4 than by a normal sized car [8].

  • The higher centre of gravity has been found in the past to make 4x4s more prone to rollover crashes (especially in emergency manoeuvres) [9].
  • People carriers and 4x4s are typically more than double the weight of small cars, and are therefore likely to cause more damage to the other vehicle [10]
  • The high bumpers on 4x4s tend to override the side-impact protection on small cars and penetrate the body [11]

Dangers to the environment:

As the number of vehicles on the road grows, the impact on the environment and human health gets greater. The major issue is pollution from engine exhaust gases. Traffic emissions contribute to global warming by releasing carbon dioxide [12]. There are more than 31 million vehicles on the road in Britain, 84% of which are cars. Each car is on average responsible for emissions of 4.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, a major contributor to global warming [13].

A major factor in how damaging a car is to the environment is its size and fuel efficiency. The less fuel you use per mile, the less damage you cause to the environment.

Environment charities have become increasingly vocal in their objection to the rise in 4x4s for domestic car use. Sustainable transport charity Transport 2000 says that car manufacturers need to work harder to promote environmentally-friendly cars as safe and cool [14]. The New Economics Foundation argues that 4x4s are so damaging to the environment they should feature warnings similar to those on cigarette packets, informing people that climate change can seriously damage health [15].

Greenpeace volunteers have visited dealerships across the country to disrupt sales of the worst offending 4x4s. They declared the Land Rover a climate criminal.

  • The Range Rover 4.4 V8 produces 389 grams of co2 per kilometre, which is double the rate of the Ford Mondeo Duratec HE Saloon (182 grams of co2 per kilometre) and over three times that of a Smart Cabrio Hatchback (127 grams of co2 per kilometre) [16].
  • Large 4x4s give only around 20 miles to the gallon, while the most efficient passenger cars give three or four times that. For example, fuel consumption tests show the petrol Range Rover Sport 4.2 V8 Super Charged model offers just 17 miles to the gallon [17].

Hazards specific to the school run:

The dangers already outlined become more apparent when 4x4s are used by parents on the school run. The school run is a chaotic time on many of our roads, and causes major problems especially in small towns and villages. It brings with it a 20% increase in rush hour traffic and therefore puts pedestrians (many of them being children at this time) at a greater risk. At 8.50am in the morning, nearly 1 in 5 cars in urban areas are taking children to school [18].

The main ways to make school run safer are:

  • Do not use a 4x4. If you insist on using one, park it well away from the school, somewhere it is safe to do so, and walk the last distance with your child.
  • Avoid taking a car altogether if you can: walk or cycle if it is safe to do so (a child shouldn’t walk on their own until they are at least 8, and should not cycle on their own unless they are at least 11, have received training, and there is a safe cycle route). Alternatively, use public transport if it is available.
  • If you have to use a car, offer to car-share with other parents.
  • Allow plenty of time: don’t speed, and go below 20mph when around a school or on school routes used by children.
  • Park sensibly and considerately. Do not double park, block driveways or stop on zigzag yellow lines.
  • Do not park on pavements. This disrupts accessibility for push chairs and wheelchairs.

What can you do to help combat the growing menace of the 4x4?

Many individuals and groups are now recognising the dangers of the 4x4 and are attempting to tackle the problem head-on, by targeting the owners and manufacturers of these large off-road style 4x4s. The main way you can help is by buying a greener, more efficient car - that’s if you must have a car. Using public transport, cycling or walking would be a better way to get around: when all costs of running a car are considered, it is cheaper, better for the environment and better for you.

For more information, visit:

Transport 2000 (
European New Car Assessment Programme (
Consumer Reports (
Department for Transport (
Alliance Against Urban 4x4s (
Greenpeace (
Institute of Advanced Motorists (
Kids and Cars (
New Economics Foundation (
New Scientist (
The Environment Agency (
Environ (
Vehicle Certification Agency (
Transport Research Laboratory (


[1] Department for Transport 2005, in ‘Green groups out to shame 4x4 owners’, Times Online, January 8, 2005
[2] Accident Analysis and Prevention (vol 36 p295), ‘The fatality and injury risk of light truck impacts with pedestrians in the United States’, Devon E. Lefler and Hampton C. Gabler, Department of mechanical Engineering, Rowan University, USA
[3] Transport 2000
[4] ‘The problem of blind spots’, Consumer Reports
[5] The European New Car Assessment Programme, ‘How Safe Is Your car?’
[6&7] Transport Research Laboratory, in ‘Little and large a lethal combination’, Times Online, March 21, 2005
[8] The American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in ‘Green groups out to shame 4x4 owners’, Times Online, January 8, 2005
[9] US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in ‘SUVs double pedestrians’ risk of death’, New Scientist, December 12, 2003
[10&11] Transport Research Laboratory in ‘Little and large a lethal combination’, Times Online, March 21, 2005
[12] The Environment Agency, 2005
[13] Environ, 2005
[14] Transport 2000, ‘Activists Briefing: Transport and Society,’
[15] ‘4x4s should have tobacco-style warnings’, New Economics Foundation, November 26, 2004
[16] Figures from Vehicle Certification Agency ,
[17] Figures from Vehicle Certification Agency ,
[18] Transport 2000

A mother's story

Aaron was killed while crossing a road outside his school. The driver was doing an estimated speed of between 42 and 54 mph in a 30mph limit.

The following is an account sent to Brake by Aaron's mother. In the covering letter, she apologised for the length of the account, stating, 'once I started writing I couldn't stop.' It conveys very well the extreme emotions experienced by a bereaved family (particularly a parent who loses a child), including feelings of disbelief, powerlessness, anger, loneliness and an overwhelming sense of loss.

"15th June 1999, the day that every mother's nightmare became my reality. My only son Aaron Peter Samuel Turner, who was 12 years and nine days old, was killed when he crossed a road during his lunch break from school. Aaron's death was not his fault. It was caused by a young lad driving his car at high speed, so that he would look cool in front of the other youngsters who were around at the time.

Aaron was born on 6th June 1987, and from the start he was a real live wire. He was the opposite of my daughter Joanna in every way. He slept all day and was awake most of the night! As time went on I knew that he would grow to be a very bright child. So many things come to mind, but a few particular things are as follows. When he was two I was woken really early by noises coming from his bedroom and when I went in I found that he had dismantled his cot completely and it was like a 'flat pack' on the floor. On another occasion I took him to the doctors and he was crawling on the floor underneath the desk. When I picked him up, he had taken quite a few of the screws out of the doctor's chair. These kinds of things still bring a smile to my face. Once, when Aaron and Joanna were in the bath together Aaron said, 'Jo, you have got a moustache.' So of course Jo shaved it off.

Aaron had some difficulties with his speech as he was learning to talk and for years he called my dad 'Afwah'. We never did find out where that came from. When Aaron was nearly four, his father and I separated, so there was just myself, Joanne and Aaron. Aaron and Jo spent every Sunday with their dad, right up until the Sunday before Aaron was killed.

As Aaron grew older, so his talents started to show. He was one of those children who could turn his hand to anything. It never seemed to enter his head that there was anything he couldn't do. He went through a phase when he was always standing on his head and I can remember saying 'If I see him upside down one more time I'm going to scream.' He just seemed to be able to do anything. He could always run faster and jump higher and further than anyone else. On Aaron's last sports day at school he won everything, and each event he was in I could hear his name being shouted by the rest of the children. He was brilliant. This led to Aaron being chosen to represent the North East Lincolnshire schools in an inter-county competition in Dewsbury near Leeds. He still holds the record for throwing the javelin.

Aaron had a particular talent with his hands. He could make things out of paper, cardboard boxes, anything he could lay his hands on, and it was all from his own imagination. I've got some of his drawings, which are fantastic by any means. Joanna used to get some really good marks for her artwork at school because she would get Aaron to do her homework for her (of course it would have to be at the right price).

In 1997 Joanna and Aaron went on holiday to Spain with my mum and dad. When I saw the video my dad had taken I was amazed. Although I knew that Aaron could swim, I never realised how well and how brilliant he was at diving. I didn't even know that he could! Once again it was something that came so naturally to him. My mum once bought Aaron a T-shirt with the words 'no fear' written on the front, and that was Aaron. He had no fear; failure at anything didn't occur to him.

We come from a very close and loving family. Even though we live 200 miles apart (my mum, dad and two sisters live in Essex), we have always had frequent visits, either at their houses or mine. Every single Christmas has been spent together all our lives. Joanna, Aaron and their cousins always did a little play or performed some magic to entertain us on Christmas morning. I remember one year when Aaron was quite small he 'disappeared' from the magic box and as we were clapping my brother-in-law said, 'Would you like some chocolate Aaron?' Of course Aaron jumped up like a shot, much to the annoyance of his cousins and Joanna. It was so funny!

Once Aaron and his friend decided to abseil down a big tree at the end of our street. While Aaron was on the way down, with the rope tied around his waist, his friend had to go in for his tea. The rope got tangled on a branch and Aaron was left hanging from the tree for an hour before his friend came back and cut him down. He was so mad when he came home, but the way he described it just made me laugh.

For six years after my divorce there was just me, Jo and Aaron, until in 1998 I met Martin. Right from the start Martin and my children got on great. We took them out for days and one night we took them ten-pin bowling. You can guess who scored the most points. Aaron had us in stitches because he was 'moonwalking' along the floor in between his turns. After we had been together a few months Martin said that he would give Jo and Aaron £5 a week pocket money if they had been good. When Aaron got his first £5 he went straight to the local gift shop and bought me a pair of earrings. I just thought that was so lovely of him.

In September 1998 Aaron started at secondary school. The results of his SATS tests meant that he was in the top set of the top band. I was so proud of him! He became great mates with several boys- Carl, Scott, Nicky, Mark and Danny. Danny had lost his dad, John, in an accident at work in late 1997 and he used to talk to Aaron about how he felt. We became good friends with Danny's mum and his sister Claire. Aaron had known Scott and Nicky since they started nursery school when they were three, and all our families had become quite close. The boys used to go everywhere together - camping in each other's gardens, roller-blading at the local skate-park, riding on their bikes. They never could get enough of each other. It was all we could do to get them in each night.

In October 1998 Martin and I decided that we wanted to stay together, so we found a house on a new estate that was being built. Danny had moved earlier on in the year to the same place so Aaron was really chuffed. The pair of them had timed how long it would take to get from one house to the other. Aaron said that if he walked at normal pace it would take seventeen seconds. We planned to move in during the summer of 1999.

At this time I had started work at Morrisons, working Tuesday to Friday in the afternoons. Jo and Aaron caught the school bus home together and waited until I got home at 5 o'clock. They would then have their tea and then go out with their friends, often to the local youth club.

Christmas came and went with the usual family get-together. It was especially nice for us because we were like a family again.

On April 4th 1999 (Easter Sunday), tragedy struck. Danny's sister Claire was killed in a car crash. She was 15 years old. The 19 year old driver of the car was driving along a country lane at night doing a speed of 85mph. Claire didn't stand a chance. When the driver lost control the car turned over and she was thrown through the windscreen. Claire died from her injuries three hours later. We couldn't believe it. It just didn't seem possible that this could happen just 18 months after John had died. The driver is now serving two and a half years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

Danny and Aaron became even closer during the next few weeks and spent a lot of time sleeping at each other's houses because Danny became afraid of being upstairs on his own. I think that in his own way, Aaron brought a lot of comfort to Danny.

On Sunday 6th June 1999 Aaron turned 12. He had asked for money for his birthday instead of presents because he wanted to buy some parts for his bike and some clothes and trainers that he had seen in town. During the previous couple of weeks he'd been building himself another bike from parts he had bought with his pocket money. I never thought that it would be more than a heap of scrap!

By the following Saturday, he was ready to put the finishing touches to it. We went to town and he got spray paint, tyres, a really snazzy brake cable and some bright red handle bar grips. Then we got the trainers he wanted and various other bits and pieces. We had a really good day together.

Aaron's dad had by now had two more daughters and both Aaron and Jo thought the world of them. Chloe was five and Melissa was six months. On Sunday 13th June, Jo and Aaron were made godparents to Melissa.

On Tuesday 15th June 1999, Aaron left for school as usual with Joanna. As he went out of the door he said to me, 'Later Mum!' These were the last words he ever spoke to me. Martin and I had been busy getting things together for our new home. During that morning we went to look at some furniture we were having made. After that Martin asked if I would like to go and buy an engagement ring. I was thrilled; I couldn't wait to tell Jo and Aaron the news. We had already talked about getting married and Jo and Aaron were all for it. Joanna couldn't wait to be our bridesmaid but Aaron being Aaron asked if we minded if he was an usher instead of a pageboy because he didn't fancy wearing a suit and would rather go in his tracky bottoms and trainers. We used to wind him up by saying how nice he would look in a bow tie.

Martin and I both left for work at lunchtime. Before I left the house I wrote a note for the kids asking them to do their homework before tea so that they could go to the youth club later. I left a P.S. on the bottom saying that Martin and I had got engaged. I knew that they would both be really happy for us. I couldn't remember feeling so happy for years. It was a beautiful day, the hottest day of the year so far, and I felt that at long last the future was looking great for us.

I had been at work for seven minutes when I was called to the personnel office. My first thought was 'Oh God, what have I done wrong?' Joan said that my son had had an accident and had been taken to hospital. I felt my whole body start to shake and I seemed to sense that it was going to be serious, even though I didn't know any details at the time. I phoned Martin and told him to meet me at the hospital. The ride to hospital seemed to take forever, although it was only ten minutes away. Every traffic light was on red and I kept telling Joan what had happened to Claire. She tried to reassure me that it would probably be a broken bone and that Aaron would be alright.

I ran through the Accident and Emergency doors, but we didn't know which way to go. Although there were people around I felt like I was alone. I found a lady sitting at a desk using a computer while talking to a patient so I stood waiting to speak to her. Suddenly a nurse (Helen) ran to the desk and said, 'I need a consent form for an emergency blood transfusion for an unknown child.' I knew immediately that this was Aaron. I told her I thought it was my son. Helen asked me what he was wearing and if he had an earring in his left ear. This confirmed that the child they had was Aaron.

I was taken into the relatives' room opposite the resuscitation theatre. Helen told me that Aaron had been knocked down by a car and that he was 'very poorly'. I asked her if he would be alright but she just kept saying that he was 'very poorly' and that they were doing everything they could for him.

By this time it was five to two and Martin must have arrived at some time because I can remember him sitting next to me, holding me. Helen asked if I would like to phone Aaron's dad, but I said no, I would phone him later. She kept pushing me to phone him so I asked her if Aaron was going to die. She said that she didn't know but that everything that could be done for him was being done. I phoned Les's girlfriend and she said that she would pick him up from work and would be with us in an hour. I rang my mum and dad and asked them to come. I can remember crying, hardly able to speak, as I said, 'They don't know if Aaron's going to make it.' I knew it would take my parents about four hours to make the journey.

Helen kept popping out to see us, but the answer was always the same- 'Aaron's very poorly.' My hopes were raised at one point when we were told that the helicopter had arrived and was ready to take Aaron to another hospital, where they were better equipped to deal with head injuries.

In my head I just kept saying to myself 'Please God, don't let Aaron die. Don't take him away from me. He's only twelve. He hasn't lived yet.'

The headmaster from Jo and Aaron's school came to the hospital to ask what I wanted to do with Jo. I wasn't sure what to do for the best, but in the end I asked him to take her to my Auntie's house where I knew she would be well looked after.

At 3.30pm a doctor came in and sat down. I couldn't look at him I was so frightened of what he might say. 'Aaron had a nasty cut on his head.' The doctor got no further than that. I knew because he used the word HAD instead of HAS. I threw myself onto Martin screaming and crying, shouting at him, 'Please don't let this happen, please Martin please!'

We both cried for a long time in each other's arms. During the next hour, people kept arriving- my closest friends, my cousin, and at last Aaron's dad. I chose to tell them myself that Aaron hadn't made it. Those were the words I used because I couldn't bring myself to say that Aaron was dead. Everyone was devastated. It was unbelievable. We all sat together in the small room crying our hearts out.

At around 5 o'clock Helen asked if we would like to see Aaron. I was terrified. I was scared that he wouldn't look like Aaron because of his injuries but Helen reassured me that there were no marks on him and that he just looked like he was asleep. Obviously the police needed to see him for identification.

This was the worst moment of my life. I'll never forget seeing Aaron, lying on the bed, completely lifeless. He looked the same as he did every night when he was asleep in his bed. I put my arms around him and I kissed him and told him that I loved him and that I would never stop loving him. I couldn't believe that this was the end. The pain I felt was unbearable. I think it was at this point that I wanted to die too. I wanted to be with Aaron so that he wouldn't be alone. When you die you're supposed to meet up with your loved ones, but we were all still here, so who was Aaron going to be with? Who was going to look after him and take care of him?

I needed to see Joanna and have her with me so my cousin went to pick her up. Someone had already broken the news to her and when she arrived she looked terrible. She was so pale, her face tearstained and she looked like a small child again. She sat on my knee and we cried together and cuddled.

I knew that my mum and dad would be well on their way by now, not knowing that it was all over. My dad told me later that all the way there he was trying to work things out in his mind. Dad had always been our 'Mr Fix-it'. Whatever went wrong in our lives he could mend it and he would help us in any way he could. But he couldn't mend this and whatever he did he couldn't make Aaron any better. I remember the moment they walked through the door; Dad came first and then Mum. I put my arms around my dad and cried as I said 'It's too late. Aaron didn't make it.' Mum almost fell to the floor and I had to hold her up and sit her in a chair. Dad walked to the window with tears streaming down his face. I had never seen my dad cry before. Mum said, 'Oh why couldn't it have been me?' She would have given her life for Aaron.

We stayed at the hospital until 9 o'clock. I don't think any of us wanted to go home without Aaron. In the end we had to. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was to throw away the letter I had left for Jo and Aaron. Then I sat with my mum and cried for a long time.

At midnight my two sisters arrived. My elder sister knelt down beside me and was crying as she said 'I don't want to be here doing this.' My younger sister couldn't say a word; all she could do was cry. We did eventually go to bed that night but by six the next morning we were all up again. I think the shock must have set in because I felt like I wasn't there and that what had happened must have been a dream. It wasn't. The phone rang non-stop and people called round showing how much they cared. The cards that we received were overwhelming. By the end of the week there was nowhere left to put them all.

Of course we had to arrange Aaron's funeral. How do you decide which coffin you want for your child? Where you want the service to be held? And where you want to bury him? I didn't want to do any of these things. I wanted my son back but I couldn't have him. Someone had taken his life. I went to the place where Aaron had been killed. His school friends and people who I didn't even know had placed flowers, teddy bears and letters on the roadside. One letter stuck in my mind from a girl in Aaron's class. It said:

'You're too damn cool for anyone
No time to eat or sleep
You swan around just being you
The coolest ever dude.'

I place a red rose with the message 'For Aaron, forever in my heart. "LATER" Love Mum'.

I went to see Aaron every day in the chapel of rest and it broke my heart. He was so peaceful, so beautiful and seemed to just be asleep. At home he had often pretended to be asleep and after I had struggled to carry him up the stairs, he would open his eyes and say 'Not really!' I willed him to wake up; I begged him to stop messing about. But he never did.

As the days got closer to the funeral his friends went to see him. They had some photos of themselves taken on their bikes and they placed them with Aaron along with letters and the can of coke that he was going for when he was knocked down. We put family photographs in with him and I gave him the red handle bar grips he had bought three days before. Aaron was a great fan of Southpark so his Dad pinned a small badge of 'Kenny' onto the collar of his T-shirt. Aaron was dressed in his favourite clothes and his new trainers. In his hands he was holding a red carnation, which was so not Aaron. He would have said, 'I'm not holding that; it's gay.' I replaced it with a ten pound note which was left from his birthday money and said, 'Spend that when you get to heaven.' On Tuesday 22nd June I said my final goodbye.

I buried my son on Wednesday 23rd June 1999. At Aaron's funeral we were in pieces. As we walked in all I could hear was people sobbing. The church was full to overflowing. People had to stand outside because there was no more room. Aaron was carried in to the music of Celine Dion singing 'My Heart Will Go On', the theme from Titanic. I had decided to only have one hymn, The Lord of the Dance, as I felt that the words fitted Aaron's personality- 'I'll lead you all, wherever you may be, I'll lead you all in the dance said he.' I chose a song from South Park called 'Chocolate Salty Balls'. The vicar said it would probably be the first and last time it would ever be heard in church. It certainly brought a smile to a few faces.

Aaron's cousin had written a poem to read out but in the end they couldn't do it. I don't know how my dad managed to do it but he read the poem out as follows:

At Christmas time and family events
The family gathers and presents are sent
On these occasions we saw him often
The times we spent will not be forgotten.
When he was there, trouble was never far
His plots and schemes never fell under par
He was one of a kind, no one can replace
Remember the 'hard stare' upon his face
He was strong with his fists and strong with his mind
These contrasting qualities are hard to find
He was called Aaron, he was known far and wide
He was our cousin- our love will not die.

The police had been popping round to our house during that week and we discovered that Aaron's death was no 'accident'. I found out that I knew the driver of the car that killed Aaron. I had known his family for years. Their daughter and Joanna had been at school together since they were five years old. The lad who killed Aaron was 18, one of the local youths who drives around the estate at high speeds.

Ever since he'd had a licence he'd been a menace- first on his moped, and then in his car. On numerous occasions people have knocked on his door asking his parents to have words with him, but all to no avail. On the morning of 15th June he had taken his car in for repairs and had been given a courtesy car, which he was driving when he killed Aaron. There were over 40 witnesses to the incident, including Danny, Carl, Nicky, Scott and Mark, who were with Aaron when it happened. Danny lay with Aaron on the road until the ambulance arrived. Aaron died at the scene. A nurse from one of the local houses tried to resuscitate him and did manage to get a faint pulse, but his injuries were too bad for him to survive. I have since been told that Aaron had head injuries, a broken neck, and massive internal injuries.

The police gathered their evidence and at the beginning of July they arrested and charged the driver with causing death by dangerous driving. Apparently he had been driving up and down the road at great speed, windows open, sunglasses on, music blasting out, the usual boy racer stuff. He says he never saw Aaron because he was waving out of the window at the time.

The speed he was doing was estimated to be between 42 and 54mph. The reason there is no exact speed is because he never braked at all, just carried on driving. Consequently there are no skid marks to be measured. The speed limit on that road is 30mph. The road was in perfect condition with no bumps or potholes. It was a perfect day and completely dry. There is no excuse for what happened. It was simply down to the speed and the manner of driving. Aaron wouldn't have crossed if a car had been coming. Witnesses say that the car just came out of nowhere because of the speed it was doing.

There seems to be no remorse from this lad for what he has done. His life carries on as normal. In fact, the day after he killed Aaron he went and picked up his car and was driving around as usual. The police had to go round and tell him to show some respect. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and we are currently waiting for a trial date to be set. Whatever the outcome of the trial nothing will change for us. We've still lost Aaron. Life for us is now very different and always will be. We miss Aaron so much and every day is just another battle to get through. I moved to the new house, but it means nothing now. Everything was ruined on that day.

Christmas 1999 was terrible. To see so much hurt and pain on everyone's faces was unbearable. As we sat down for lunch we lit a candle for Aaron and we gave a toast to him as we held him in our thoughts.

I miss Aaron so much. He had so much to live for. There were so many things he could have done with his life. I often sit and wonder who he would have married and what his children would have been like. Now we'll never know. It's not only us who have been denied, it's Aaron too. He's been denied of his life. I try to look back and remember all the things that he said and did and how much he made us all laugh.

I often said to my mum, 'I don't want memories, I just want Aaron.' I look for Aaron everywhere- in the street, at school and in the town. I even open his bedroom door hoping to see him in his bed. I know I'm never going to see him, but I can't help looking. I write a little bit of poetry now and again. This is the first poem I wrote for Aaron:

No one can ever take from me
The twelve years that we shared
No one can ever take from me
The love, and knowing how much we cared
No one can ever take from me
The pain, now you're missing from my life
No one can ever take from me
The heartache, that cuts like a knife
No one can ever tell me
Given time, pain will heal
No one can ever tell me
Life's a gamble, you take the card that God deals
No one can ever replace you
You're my son and that will always be
No one can ever replace you, Aaron
For now, forever, for always
For all eternity.

When are people going to realise that a car is a lethal weapon and that a licence is like holding a licence to kill?

We are a shattered and broken family left to pick up the pieces."

A personal account by Pam Surman

The following is an account written by Pam Surman, mother of Nicholas 'Jeff' Parish, killed aged 37 when a lorry crashed into his motorbike. She talks about her wishes to donate her son's organs and her upset about not being allowed to do this. She explains how important the Brake bereavement folder was and the usefulness of this guidance. She talks about the helpful role that her FLO played and how frustrated she became during the court proceedings.

"At about 6.30am on Saturday the 12th February 2000 we were visited by Ripon police, who told us that our only son, Nicholas, had been killed.

The collision, between Nicholas on his motorcycle and a lorry, occurred at a road junction in Sunray Avenue, London. The accident happened at 1.55am and Nicholas died of multiple injuries in Kings College Hospital at 2.30am. The driver of the lorry was unhurt.

Nicholas was 37 years old, unmarried, but left a son who was then 13 years old. He was a very fit man, an enthusiastic snowboarder and had some twenty years experience as a motorcyclist. He owned his own Software Company, travelled extensively and had returned from South America just before Christmas.

The officer who broke the news to us was very quiet & caring. This quiet composure gave us strength.

I was aware that Nicholas carried a donor card. In the past we had discussed this, and he had made it very clear to me what I should do if anything should happen. However, I was told that if there is a pending post-mortem a Donor Card becomes invalid. This surprised and saddened me, as I knew how strongly he felt over this matter. I have subsequently learned that this was probably incorrect information - regardless of the presence or not of a donor card, it may have been possible to donate parts of Nicholas's body, such as tissue or bone, with our permission as we were the next of kin. I feel deeply saddened that the police misinformed me. I also feel a sense of failure that I was unable to respect my son's last wishes.

On the Monday we had what we can only describe as our "day in hell". We had to travel to London to identify our son. The Coroners Clerk was too busy to see us at Kings College Hospital so after finding an undertaker & making the necessary arrangements we travelled to Southwark Coroners office. He seemed indifferent to our situation and we feel that this attitude added to our grief. From the Coroners Office we went to Peckham police station, where we were met by the sight of our son's motorcycle clothes, boots and helmet piled on the floor outside an interview room. I think around this time we were on the verge of collapse and longing for home

A week after Nicholas's death, whilst in our local shopping area, I was handed a Brake leaflet. After reading this at home I rang Brake, who kindly sent me their bereavement folder, which gives all information on how to proceed at this time. This, may I state, was the only help we had at this time. Through information from Brake I was also able to contact a local solicitor, who dealt in fatal crashes. This folder was very clear and immensely helpful.

The date for the inquest was constantly deferred. Various excuses were given but to us anxiety and frustration was the order of the day. After a few months we were contacted by the Metropolitan Police. They then came to see us regarding their findings, and also showed us photographs of the crash. They had decided the case should go to the CPS, but in their opinion we should not be too hopeful because of a lack of witnesses etc. The CPS decided not to proceed further. At this time we were then given a Police Liaison Officer, who may I add was a most caring, understanding intelligent man. He kept in touch often by telephone, and in spite of his very heavy work load, did take us to the crash scene, not as I imagined a busy London street, but a quiet tree lined avenue, so different from my thoughts.

We had to wait 12 months for the inquest, with a verdict of accidental death recorded. We are at present in the process of bringing a claim against the other driver, based on the evidence at the inquest.

We are aware the purpose of the Coroners Court is to define the cause of death. The Lorry driver showed no remorse, but what does seem very wrong is that he walks away without a blemish on his record. Surely there is something wrong here. Where is the justice in all this?

The whole family is still utterly devastated by the loss of Nicholas, a charismatic figure who we all loved dearly. His son has suffered deep clinical depression, but we are now pleased to say is surfacing slightly. I myself saw a counsellor twice, which did help a little.

What does surprise me is the attitude towards a "Road Death". It is a daily occurrence, and an accepted part of life.

Until it happens to you or yours, only then are you truly aware of the agonising pain and grief, which goes on and on. This family will never fully recover."

Author: Pam Surman
Edited by: Mary Williams

Date written: 2002
Date updated: August 2007

A personal account by Tracey Cusick

Tracey's fiance, Peter, was killed when a lorry crashed into his car. Peter was parked on the hard shoulder, awaiting recovery.

The following is an account written by Tracey. She talks of the 'hell' she went through and how it was added to by inappropriate treatment by the police. Tracey now works with Brake helping police to liaise with families in an empathetic and appropriate manner.

"Seven years ago, I was living in Manchester with Peter Jones my fiancé, and my 10 year old son Charlie. Peter had just left the Army after serving more than 10 years in the artillery regiment. He had applied to join Lancashire Police and was waiting for a date for interview. In the meantime he had taken up a part-time taxi-driving job to help with the mortgage payments. On the evening of 28th March 1998, he kissed me and Charlie goodbye and set off for a night shift.

I went to bed and was woken up at about 8 a.m. by a knock on the front door. I went downstairs and opened it to find two police officers who were clearly nervous. I noticed their attire - one officer was not wearing a tie and neither was wearing their hat. One of them said, "Your partner Peter Jones has been involved in an accident on the motorway. Do you recognise these?" He held up a plastic bag with a watch, a ballpoint pen, an earring, and a wallet and I recognised them as belonging to Peter. There was blood in the bag and on the items.

One officer remained in the porch, swinging the door, while I went with the other officer into the lounge. He said that he did not know any more details. They handed me a piece of paper with a handwritten telephone number on it and told me I should ring it for more information.

By this stage, Charlie was sitting on top of the stairs, sobbing, obviously having heard what the officers had said to me. I signed for Peter's property and the officers left the house. The whole episode took about five minutes.

I rang the number they had given me, but it was incorrect and got me through to an elderly lady who had no idea what I was talking about. Desperate for news, I rang my local force but they had no record of an accident, and said that the police officers should return to my home within the hour. When that didn't happen, I rang my family. They started to arrive at my home offering support and asking what had happened, but I couldn't tell them anything.

I rang my local police force back, and they suggested I try calling neighbouring police forces. Eventually I found a helpful Inspector from another police force's motorway unit who said that his force had not had any fatalities on the motorway that evening. I asked what a fatality was and he explained, he said he would make enquiries and get back to me. The time was now 11.30am. The Inspector phoned back about twenty minutes later and told me which police force to ring, giving me their phone number.

I got in touch with that force who told me that the officer dealing with the incident had gone off duty. The officer I spoke to put his hand over the receiver and said to a colleague, "That fatal last night - was he called Peter Jones?" I could hear it all! I still clung to the fact that Peter was not dead and would be lying in a hospital with broken bones, and able to come back to me and Charlie soon. The officer said that he needed to make further enquiries and would call me back.

The next telephone call I received was from a coroner's officer, who asked me to meet him at the mortuary. I was stunned and asked, "Is Peter dead then?" This was the first I knew that Peter had lost his life.

I travelled to the hospital with my brother, who drove, as by this stage I was in no state to get behind the wheel of a car. I met the coroner's officer, who explained a little more about the crash, saying that Peter had broken down on the hard shoulder of the M62. Having telephoned for assistance, he was advised to remain in the passenger seat of the car. It was 2am. Within a short space of time a HGV driver had fallen asleep and ploughed into Peter's car shunting him across three lanes of the carriageway and into the central reservation barrier and ended up on top of the car. I was so angry.

I asked if Peter was ok to view, I knew I had to identify him. The coroner's officer said he was a 'bit of a mess', but ok. The sight that met me was absolutely horrific. Peter had suffered terrible injuries and had a huge hole in the side of his head. His eyes were half open, and as I held his hand I realised it was badly twisted, which made it very difficult to hold. I kissed him and tried to straighten his blood soaked hair.

I was ushered out of the room to fill in some forms, then I was handed a hospital bin liner stamped with 'Hospital Property' on it. Inside this bag were Peter's clothes, including his blood soaked Wigan Rugby shirt, his treasured possession. This was my lifeline. I slept with the rugby shirt under my pillow for about three months.

Despite the pain, hurt, anger and upset at least now I knew the truth; at least now I could relay what had happened to my family and Peter's family.

I tried to make funeral arrangements on the Monday, only to be told I couldn't as I was not officially next of kin, so I had to ask Peter's Dad to help me. This was difficult as Peter had fallen out with his family a few weeks before his death. But they had lost their only son so I had to be caring to their needs too.

The coroner's officer asked if I would like to know the outcome of the post mortem and I said yes. He rang me on the Monday and read out a list of injuries, like reading out a shopping list. I asked if Peter would have suffered and he said "No it would have been like flicking a light switch". For months afterwards every time I flicked a light switched I visualised Peter dying.

When I got home from the Funeral Directors the local press were camped on my doorstep, wanting quotes from me and any member of my family. They were outside the house, on and off, for two days, and rang my number until I agreed to talk to them. After the funeral, I wanted answers about the crash and why the driver had killed Peter. Who was he? How old was he? Where was he from? When I found out which company he drove for, I found this very tough as they had a depot facing Charlie's school. Was I likely to see him every day? I looked at drivers from the company wondering which one had killed Peter. I was told he was from Lincolnshire.

The police officer dealing with the crash attended my home to return a few of Peter's possessions including his taxi badge and a cheque from the coroners office for the cash he had on him the night he died. They told me that they couldn't tell me anything about the crash, and that the coroner's officer should not have told me the driver had fallen asleep as that had yet to be established. They asked to see Peter's driving licence, which I found strange, and his insurance certificate. Why? Peter was dead.

Although the officer gave me his number in case I had any further questions I never managed to get to speak to him. I tried ringing a few times but he didn't return my calls. Time passed and by now I was getting angry with the police and driver. The police did ring me back on one occasion to say that they hadn't managed to interview the driver as he had deemed himself unfit to be interviewed - he sent sick notes via his solicitor. This became too much for me. I started drinking, bottle after bottle of vodka. I felt so alone and desolate that on two occasions I tried to take my own life. Charlie found me slumped on the floor one day and said "I just want my old mummy back". He became withdrawn, a bully at school and put his hand through a window at home. I had to try and get a hold on my life for Charlie's sake. No offer of support was offered to me from anywhere. So I visited my GP and he recommended Cruse counselling. This was instead of trying anti-depressants. I was sceptical about counselling as I didn't want someone calling at my home telling me to pull myself together and that life goes on.

After six months, the driver was eventually interviewed and said he couldn't remember anything about the crash. He was charged with causing death by dangerous driving. I was not notified of the date of the first court case and had to ring the Police to find out when it was and where the court was. This was the first time I was to meet the driver. He pleaded not guilty. An Inspector from the force dealing with the crash told me that they had overwhelming expert witness evidence and that he was almost certain that the driver would be found guilty. I attended the next hearing at the same court, then it was transferred to another Crown Court in September 1999, 18 months after the crash. No one told me that I would be sitting with the driver's family - at one stage his wife sat next to me. This situation was not acceptable; I was so distraught and angry. I felt like Peter's death was in vain as he was only mentioned once at the beginning of the 3-day trial. The driver was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was found guilty of the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention, for which he received £1000 fine and a ban from the roads for 12 months. I was absolutely devastated at the verdict. I was angry at the Police for misleading me, at the driver for getting off lightly and at the judicial system.

I had to now go home and explain to Charlie what had happened. Before I left for court I had promised him that we would get some justice after all this time. The news upset Charlie and from that day he withdrew more and more. He had nightmares, and the children at school teased him about his daddy dying, saying that various parts of his body were found rolling down the motorway, and that his Daddy had caused the crash. It was tearing me apart to watch him suffer; and I sought help for Charlie through my GP. I also went to school and talked to the teachers, who offered to help me and Charlie. Things got a little easier for Charlie at school, but it hurt him.

Life had to go on for both of us. I was left a single parent, with a huge mortgage and I was only on a part-time salary. Peter had no life insurance; his theory on life was if he could get through two tours of duty in Northern Ireland, he didn't need any life cover! I sought legal advice, and was informed I had good chance of a civil case against the haulage operators for a dependency claim. This was successful and I was awarded huge damages. No amount of money will ever bring Peter back, but if it helps Charlie's future then it makes a difference.

Peter died seven years ago and I still feel bitter about the way in which I was told. I deserved a duty of care and support, which any other member of the public deserves and expects from the police. Ironically enough, if Peter had been murdered I would have been swamped with offers of help and support.

I decided not to complain in writing to the police forces involved, as I wanted closure and to be able to get on with my grieving and with my life. I had to move forward. I thought that an official complaint could take months to be resolved and be passed from person to person with the forces and this would have lessened my faith even more in the police. I didn't want Peter's death to be another road death statistic so I joined Brake, the road safety charity, and I actively campaign for safer roads. I am also a qualified Cruse Bereavement Counsellor. I didn't want to be bitter with the police for the rest of my life and I provide an input on many of Brake's police family liaison officer training courses to help them improve their service to other families. Working alongside the police and with them helps me channel my energy into giving something back, and I do this in Peter's memory.

I will never get over Peter's death, but I have learned to live with it. I still get upset on anniversaries - I am only human. I have moved on with my life now, I have a new partner and child. This proves that anyone can get through an ordeal like this if they are determined to do so."

Author: Tracey Cusick, 2005

Adam - the apple of my eye

AdamAdam was killed in March 2007 aged 18

His mother Tracy writes

I lost my teenage son to an horrific car crash in March. I hope my heartfelt poems help others in my position to cope with their grief.

The first written quite soon after the event and the second, more recently.

My Adam

I walked away that morning, without a backward glance,

I didn’t know that moment was going to be our last.

The last time I would hold you or see your lovely face,

The last time I would kiss you and feel your strong embrace.

So solid and so real,so vibrant and alive,

A happy face with twinkling eyes, my fine young man, my child.

My first-born son, my Adam, the apple of my eye,

so cruelly taken from me, I never said goodbye.

The shattered remnant of my heart is strangely beating still,

with holes so black and fathomless no light could ever fill.

I don’t know how I face each day without my darling boy.

Gone is all the happiness, the love of life, the joy.

The years stretch on before me, so bleak and dark and long,

I pray you walk beside me, son, and help to keep me strong.

And when my life is over, come to me on that day,

and smile at me and hold me tight and carry me away.

the wind that whispers through the trees, the brightest star at night,

a rainbow on a dismal day, a shaft of golden light,

All these are signs you send to me, a message from above,

that even death can’t break the bonds of Son and Mother Love…

You Walk Beside me Every Day

The days are long without you here, I’ve sat and cried a thousand tears,

that cruel fate did my life destroy and take away my lovely boy.

But you can wipe my tears away, you walk beside me every day.

The looming years that, more or less, just fill me with unhappiness,

are speckled with some happy times, when rainbows brighten up the skies.

I know you’re never far away, you walk beside me every day.

There will be anniversaries and celebrations that you’ll miss,

Oh, Adam, how we’ll miss you then, your booming laugh, your cheeky grin.

But you’ll be there, you’ll find a way, you walk beside us every day.

Sometimes I dream that I’ll awake and find it’s all a big mistake,

That you are here, you’re safe and well! with hugs and smiles and tales to tell!

And in my mind I hear you say, “I walk beside you, every day.”

The road ahead is hard and steep, with hills to climb and furrows deep,

and life will never be as good as when you, here beside us, stood.

But we believe that here you stay, you walk beside us every day.

At night you gently touch my cheek and memories are mine to keep,

of my sweet son, so deeply missed, since that first day your head I kissed.

Inside my heart forever stay and walk beside every day.

Advice for parents and families

As a parent, you will have understandable road safety concerns for your child which are likely to change as your child gets older. Road crashes are the biggest cause of death among 5-25 year-olds. But there are key steps you can take to help protect your child. This page provides simple advice from your child's birth to reaching the age when they may start learning to drive or be a passenger with other young drivers.

You can also read our advice for children and teenagers.

And why not make the Brake Pledge as a family, to show your commitment to road safety?

If you work with infants, either as a childminder, in a pre-school, play group or nursery, you might be interested in running a Beep Beep! Day. Find out more.


Child seats

✔ Never hold a child in your arms in a vehicle - use a modern child seat suitable for their size and weight. Keep using a child or booster seat appropriate for your child’s size until they’re 150cm tall. Buy one with the United Nations E mark or BS Kitemark and don’t use second-hand.

✔ Follow the fitting instructions exactly. If possible, fit the seat in the middle of the back of your car. If you need to use a taxi, book one you can fit your baby seat into.

à Take a look at our letter to parents on 2017 car seat law changes.

à Read more advice on baby seats and child restraints.

Safe vehicles and safe driving

✔ The safety of your child in cars also depends on the protection provided by the vehicle. If you're buying a car, check out its crash test rating and buy the safest you can.

✔ The other critical factor is your driving. So stay well within speed limits, never drive after drinking any alcohol or when stressed, tired or distracted, and switch off your phone.

à Make the Brake Pledge to commit to safe driving.

Accepting lifts from friends and relatives

✔ It is just as important that your child is appropriately restrained in other people's cars, and driven slowly and safely. If you are unsure, don't let them go. In some situations it might be socially awkward, but the safety of your child must always be priority.


Buggies and push chairs

✔ If you use a buggy or push chair, strap in your child securely and keep the buggy well back from the edge of the road when getting ready to cross. If you can carry the weight, front and back carriers are a safer way to carry babies near busy roads, and mean your hands are free.

✔ If you use a buggy on hilly streets, use a strap that goes around your wrist and the buggy handle; it means if you slip and let go, the buggy won't roll away.

GO20AlexRoadSideHolding hands

✔ When your child first starts to walk with you, talk to them about how they must always hold your hand. Make sure hand-holding is your number one rule your child always follows, especially when crossing roads. If your child is likely to pull away from you, use safety reins or a wrist strap.

Teach road safety

✔ Teach road safety to your child from the age of two using fun games and rhymes. You can use our Beep Beep! Day activities for fun ways to teach road safety. Make sure they understand the meaning of stop, go, traffic, danger, look, listen, walk don't run, and other key road safety words.

à Encourage your child's nursery, playgroup or school to run take part in a Beep Beep! Day or Brake's Kids Walk.

Nursery/school trips

✔ If your child is going on a nursery or school trip by coach or minibus, check if they are using a modern vehicle with three-point seatbelts.

à See our advice for teachers on school trips and check if the nursery or school is following this advice.

When to allow your child to walk on their own around local roads

✔ Children under eight should always be accompanied by and hold hands with an adult around roads, particularly when crossing.

✔ When your child reaches the age of eight, you should consider whether to allow them to walk independently. It can be a tough decision as you will need to consider their development and weigh up the benefits of them being active and healthy with traffic danger in your area.

✔ When you decide to let your child walk independently, remind them about the importance of crossing safely using the Green Cross Code, paying attention to the road, and help them to plan the safest possible route (along quiet, slow roads with pavements or traffic-free paths) to school, the park or their friends' houses.

✔ If you are concerned about traffic danger in your area, such as due to fast traffic or a lack of pavements, you could also start a campaign for a 20mph limit or pavements and crossings, or whatever your community needs, using Brake’s advice.

✔ You can also encourage your child's school to organise practical pedestrian training, which is usually offered by local authority road safety teams.

à Read our advice for teachers on pedestrian and cycle training.


Whether to allow your child to cycle on roads in your communityGO20FamilyCrossingRoadsmall

✔ Brake recommends that children under 10 don’t cycle on roads. Many roads are unsafe for children, particularly fast and bendy rural roads and busy town roads without separate space for cyclists.

✔ Happily, some communities now have great cycling facilities, including separate paths for cyclists, which can be a great way for children to start enjoying the benefits of cycling while they are safe from traffic.

à If your area doesn’t have cycling facilities, why not start a campaign.

✔ You can also help your child gain experience through cycle training arranged through their school or the local authority. Even if it's not safe for them to cycle on local roads, this is helpful for them starting to gain experience, and great if you are planning a cycling holiday.

✔ Make sure their bike is well-maintained with working brakes and lights, which they should use in poor visibility, although cycling in the dark is best avoided.

✔ If your child cycles on roads, help them plan the safest possible routes making use of traffic-free paths and quiet, slow roads. Tell them to get off and walk their bike on the pavement if they have to negotiate any busy junctions.

à Read more advice for cyclists.


Going to secondary school

✔ Your child's risk of being injured on foot or on a bicycle increases as they gain independence – far more teens are knocked down and hurt than younger children. Peer pressure can also cause children to behave unsafely. Keep talking about road safety with your child, ensure they know the importance of continuing to take great care when crossing including putting their phone away and taking earphones out, and help them plan the safest possible routes in your area.

à Teens can get advice and resources, and watch videos on road safety in Brake’s young people and road safety section.

2Y2DYoungDriver2Accepting lifts from mates

✔ Talk to your son or daughter about the dangers of accepting lifts from mates driving cars or motorbikes. Young drivers, young males in particular, are the highest risk group of drivers due to their age and inexperience: this means they are particularly likely to take risks and less able to cope with hazards.

✔ It’s safest to avoid lifts altogether with young drivers, or at least don’t get a lift with someone you don’t trust completely to drive under speed limits, completely sober, and focused on the road.

✔ Agree with your son or daughter that you will always pick them up if they are stuck and need you to, even if it's late at night. Make sure they're always able to get hold of you if they need to, and tell them they can call you any time, day or night. It might be an inconvenience, but better safe than sorry. If you don't drive, give your son or daughter emergency numbers and tell them you have cash in the house to pay for it in case they get stranded without a lift and need to get home.

Learning to drive

✔ Many young people see driving as their route to independence. But the younger someone learns to drive, the greater the risk of them crashing and being seriously hurt or killed.

✔ There is often no need for young people to drive or own a car; it's dangerous, expensive, and harmful to the environment. Help your son or daughter to look at the alternatives to driving and understand the benefits of not driving, especially the money they will save. If they are going on to further education, they will probably be living somewhere with access to public transport. Encourage them to spend their cash on something more constructive than a car, such as a great holiday.

✔ If they are determined to learn to drive, you could offer an incentive to delay, for example offering to pay for their driving lessons if they wait until they are 21, or funding their use of public transport in the meantime.

Advice for young people

à Young people who are non-drivers, learners or already driving, can read our advice, explore our young people and road safety section, and make the Brake Pledge.

Read more and take action:

   -   Make the Brake Pledge with your family
   -   Explore Brake’s training and resources for engaging young people 
   -   Check out Brake’s projects for schools and nurseries
   -   Get involved in Road Safety Week
   -   Get advice on running a road safety campaign in your area
   -   Donate to Brake or fundraise in your community

Andrew - so much to live for

AndrewIn Memory of Andrew John Kennedy (03/11/1981 - 29/08/2009) my childhood sweetheart by Kim Kennedy.

Andrew was tragically killed on 29th August 2009 at the age of 27 years old when he was innocently walking alongside a road in Tadcaster following a day at Leeds Festival.

Andrew was a much loved husband, son, brother and friend to so many people. He was extremely intelligent, gifted, funny and hardworking. He touched the lives of so many people and he was such a special and caring person. Andrew always put others before himself and he was the least selfish person anybody could ever meet.

Andrew was extremely intelligent and hardworking. He had a first class honours degree in History from York University. He was constantly studying for one course or another and he was due to start another MA in Business and Recruitment shortly after his death. Andrew once joked that his future plan in life was to be “the most over qualified person there could be”. Even in Andrew’s short life I am sure that he could not have been far from achieving that goal.

Andrew’s death has been a massive shock to us all, and I cannot put into words how it feels at 27 years old to have my childhood sweetheart, husband, soul mate and best friend taken from me. Although I know that my heart is broken and it feels that my purpose in life has vanished.

Andrew had so much to live for and also to look forward to, including our planned future together. Andrew also had so much more in life to offer, and he has been snatched away from us all.

Nobody could ever have wished for a better husband, son or brother. My life will never be the same without him, and although he has died, I know that he is watching down on me. I will always love Andrew and despite our loss he will never be forgotten and I have so many memories from the most amazing 13 years that we spent together.

Awards for outstanding contributions to road safety announced at Brake’s 20th anniversary reception

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity 

Awards recognising the contributions of parliamentarians, campaigners, educators and volunteers in tackling devastating road crashes and casualties were presented by road safety charity Brake at its annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night, supported by Direct Line. The event marked the beginning of Brake’s 20th anniversary year.

The Awards were presented by Deborah Johnson, chair of Brake’s board of trustees, and Paul Geddes, chief executive of Direct Line Group, which sponsored the awards and reception. The reception was attended by Brake supporters and partners, including parliamentarians, corporate partners, road safety professionals and volunteers working in their communities to improve road safety.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“In the past 20 years, Brake has grown and developed a great deal, but we remain as dedicated as ever to our fundamental mission: to help create a world free from the senseless and preventable pain and trauma caused by road death and injury, and to enable people to get around safely and sustainably.

“Our work would not be possible without the dedicated individuals and partners who work alongside us, campaigning to prevent casualties and make our communities safer, fundraising in support of our work, and helping us support families devastated by road crashes. This year, as every year, we thank everyone who has supported Brake and spoken out for road safety. The winners of these awards have gone above and beyond, showing great determination to make a difference in their communities and across the country, and achieving real results. We are very pleased to be able to recognise their efforts.”

Paul Geddes, chief executive, Direct Line Group, commented: “Brake does a great job in promoting road safety awareness in Parliament, in the media and around the UK, so we are very happy to sponsor Parliamentarian of the Year. As a business and as the UK’s leading motor insurer, we also work hard to spread the message of safe driving as part of our commitment to road safety.”

Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said:“The UK has some of the safest roads in the world and, like today’s award winners, the government is determined to improve our record further. That is why we have made significant commitments to road safety through new THINK! campaigns, improved education and enforcement, including the new drug driving offence which will take effect in March 2015.”

Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clywd South, received Brake’s Parliamentarian of the Year Award. Susan was recognised for campaigning to improve justice for bereaved and injured victims of road crashes, in line with Brake’scrackdown campaign.

Susan Elan Jones has been campaigning for tougher jail terms for drivers who kill and injure since the tragic death of a child in her constituency in 2009. She has been at the forefront of parliamentary debates on the subject throughout the year, setting the tone by bringing forward her own Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) Bill, with cross party support, in January.

Susan Elan Jones said: “Brake is an outstanding campaigning organisation - and I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. We remain determined in our quest to work with Brake to secure some measure of justice for the family of those people so tragically killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

Mandy Stock received Brake’s Campaigner of the Year Award.Mandy’s husband,Paul Stock, was killed in 2012 while walking near his home by a disqualified motorcyclist, who was sentenced to just 18 months in jail – the maximum the judge could give him because he pleaded guilty. Mandy has since campaigned, with the help of her MP, Richard Graham, to allow judges to hand out higher sentences to disqualified drivers – who have no right to be on the road in the first place – who kill. As a result, the government announced in May 2014 that maximum sentences for disqualified drivers who kill and injure would be increased.

Mandy Stock said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which was totally unexpected. I am thankful for those who have helped and supported me, especially my brilliant sister, Sue. The law failed us, and it was obvious to us that the law had to change. Thankfully, the people in a position to change things listened.”

Carly Lewin received Brake’s Fundraiser of the Year Award.Carly’s boyfriend, Steven Moore, was killed in 2010 by a drink driver, who was also unlicensed and uninsured. Carly has been fundraising for Brake since 2011, organising events including walks and football matches, but last year decided she wanted more of a challenge. She ran the 2014 London Marathon for Brake, in memory of Steven, having never run before, and raised over £14,000.

Carly Lewin said: “I am determined to keep working in Steve’s memory, both to raise awareness of how drink driving can ruin so many lives, and to fundraise to support Brake’s work and help stop this happening to someone else.”

Northumbria Police PC Jami Blythe received the Educator of the Year Award.Jami is the lead for Northumbria Police’s ‘Road Sense, Common Sense’ project, which works directly with schools across the region to deliver road safety lessons and send children home with important messages to their parents about how they can keep them, and other road users, safe.

Jami Blythe said: “I am very proud to receive this award, which is also testament to the hard work of Becky Frankel and Violet Atkinson, who have been a massive inspiration for me. Educating young people is being embedded in our road safety work, and we will continue to work with Brake to reach this audience.”

Students from Conisborough College in Catford, London, received an award for winning Brake’s road safety competition for young people.The students’ winning entry was a short film about the dangers of mobile phone use while driving, inspired by their own experiences and a road safety workshop delivered by a teacher trained through Brake’sengaging young people programme. The film was researched, scripted and produced by the students with help from Film in School.

Mathew Lloyd, drama teacher at Conisborough College, said: “It was a great feeling when we were told that we'd won the competition. We're proud that we have been able to turn something that has affected us so deeply into something positive.”

Notes for editors:


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

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

• 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 calls for reintroduction of casualty reduction targets, as road deaths and serious injuries rise

Thursday 24 September 2015

Brake, the road safety charity

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the government to show strong leadership and reintroduce casualty reduction targets as the Department for Transport publishes its Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain Annual Report for 2014. It shows that 1,775 people died on the roads (a 4% increase on the year before). 22,807 more were seriously injured (a 5% annual increase).

Casualties of all severities rose to 194,477 in Great Britain in 2014, an increase of 6% from 2013, interrupting what was a steady downward trend since 1997.

Brake believes the reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets, axed in 2010, must be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road danger, alongside a ‘vision zero’ approach that acknowledges that any number of road deaths is unacceptable.

People on foot and bike bore the brunt of the rise:

  • Pedestrian deaths rose by 12% to 446, accounting for three quarters of the overall rise in fatalities.
  • Serious injuries to cyclists rose by 8% to 3,401, continuing a long term trend that has been ongoing since 2004.

Worryingly, traffic levels in 2014 were 2.4% higher than in 2013. Air pollution is estimated to cause 24,000 deaths a year in the UK, half attributable to road transport [1].  The number of cars is set to increase by 43% by 2035 and traffic delays by 50% [2].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures. The government needs to get a grip of this situation, and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero. We know from running our helpline for devastated road crash victims that every road death causes unimaginable human suffering, and every one is preventable. The increases in serious casualties among pedestrians and cyclists are especially horrifying, given the importance of protecting vulnerable road users and enabling people to walk and cycle more.

“At a time when car manufacturers have serious questions to answer on vehicle emissions, it is worrying to see a growth in vehicle traffic. The price for this is being paid by individuals, families and the planet, and it’s not a price worth paying. That’s why our theme for this year’s Road Safety Week, Drive less, live more, is focused on encouraging people to think again about why, when and how we drive private vehicles.”


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] The Cost of Air Pollution, OECD (2014)

 [2] Keeping the Nation Moving – Time to face the facts, RAC Foundation (2011)


Brake comments as Britain’s road safety record stagnates

News from Brake
Thursday 27 September
Improvement in Britain’s road safety has stagnated, with the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads increasing marginally from 2016 - 2017, according to Government statistics published today [1].
Figures from the Department for Transport show that 1,793 people were killed in collisions last year,  the highest annual total since 2011 but with just one additional road death on 2016.
A total of 24,831 people were seriously injured last year - a rise of three per cent (from 24,101 in 2016), which has been attributed by the Government at least in part due to changes in the way many police forces now report collision data [1].
The figures also reveal that motorcyclists now make up 19% of all road deaths in Britain, up 9% on 2016 to 349 deaths, and pedestrian fatalities increased by 5% to 470.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
Today’s figures highlight the shocking lack of progress on road safety improvement in Britain. This stagnation must be arrested and yet the Government sits on its hands and rejects the introduction of policies which are proven to save lives - for the individuals, families and whole communities devastated by road crashes, this is simply not good enough.”
“Our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, remain at dangerously high risk on our roads, paying the price for the dominance of the motor car in our lives. Pedestrian deaths increased to their highest level this decade whilst motorcyclists now account for nearly a fifth of all road deaths, despite their small numbers. The Government must invest in active travel to give people safe and healthy ways to get around and focus on improving the safety of our roads – starting with lower speed limits.”
“Our laws are only as strong as their enforcement and roads policing is fundamental to improving UK road safety. Shockingly, the number of traffic officers fell 24% from 2012-2017 and the stagnation in road safety performance shadows this trend. We urge the Government to make roads policing a national investment priority, with a visible police presence catching and deterring illegal driving and cameras preventing the scourge of speeding.”
“Casualty reduction targets are a proven catalyst for road safety improvement and yet, since 2010, the UK Government has rejected this approach. With the UK’s deterioration in road safety showing no signs of abating, we urge the introduction of national road casualty reduction targets as a priority. The Government must have its feet held to the fire on road safety.”
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 comments on new drink driving figures

News from Brake
Thursday 3 August, 2017

Two hundred people were killed in car crashes in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit, according to new Department for Transport figures. While the number of people killed in drink drive related collisions fell in 2015, the numbers killed and seriously injured, as well as  drink drive collisions, both rose [1].

Commenting on the new figures, Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Selfish drink drivers destroy lives and inflict appalling suffering on families up and down the country. There will be more, unrecorded, casualties involving drivers impaired by alcohol but under the current limit.

"The drink drive limit in England and Wales is the second highest in Europe and must be lowered urgently. In addition, savage cuts to road traffic policing must be reversed and enforcement increased to crack down on dangerous drink drivers."


Notes to editors:

[1] 1,370 people were estimated to have been killed or seriously injured in drink drive crashes in 2015 in England and Wales. The estimated total number of crashes where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 2 per cent to 5,730 in 2015. Full DfT report:

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 comments on new report that reveals road crashes are leading killer of children globally.

News from Brake
Friday 7 December
A new report published today by the World Health Organisation has revealed that road crashes are the leading killer of children and young adults (aged 5-29 years) globally.  The report on the global status of road safety also found that the total number of deaths from road crashes rose to 1.35million in 2016, up from 1.25million in 2013. Road crashes are now the eighth leading cause of death globally, surpassing HIV/AIDS and TB.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:
“It is truly heart breaking that so many young lives are needlessly lost across the World in road crashes. Road deaths are entirely preventable tragedies and the solutions to tackle this carnage on our roads are with us today. Governments across the World need to act now to pass life-saving laws and invest comparatively small amounts of money in road safety compared with the enormous cost of loss of life.
“Every hour, 154 people are killed on the world’s roads. If a plane fell out of the sky every hour killing that many people, then all planes would be grounded immediately. The time for change to tackle this epidemic on the World’s roads is now and it needs to come from the top. The United Nations must lead the way, and governments must act.”
Notes to editors:
  • Brake is a member of the UN Road Safety Collaboration - an informal consultative mechanism whose members are committed to road safety efforts and in particular to the implementation of the recommendations of the World report on road traffic injury prevention. The goal of the Collaboration is to facilitate international cooperation and to strengthen global and regional coordination among UN agencies and other international partners to implement UN General Assembly resolutions and the recommendations of the world report thereby supporting country programmes.
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 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.”
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 joins forces with police to rid roads of defective driver vision

News from Brake
Monday 3 September 2018
Road safety charity Brake is teaming up with police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands to run a month-long campaign on driver vision, revoking the licenses of those who don’t pass the 20m number plate check. Throughout September, anyone stopped by Road Policing Officers in these areas will be required to take the 20m number plate test, with those who fail having their licence immediately revoked. Data will be collected from each test and will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads, which is thought to be vastly underreported in Government statistics.
This activity is part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the Government to take driver vision seriously. An estimated 1.5m UK licence holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads. However, the UK’s driver vision testing remains inadequate and antiquated, requiring only a 20m number plate check when taking your driving test and nothing else for the rest of your driving life – one of only five EU countries to have such low standards.
Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the Government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard license.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
“It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”
“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said:
“All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads - not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences. The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”
“Since 2013, the Police have a new procedure – Cassie’s Law - to fast track notification to the DVLA should they find someone who cannot read a number plate at 20m in daylight conditions. Offending motorists will within an hour have their licence revoked and face prosecution. During September, we will be carrying out 20m number plate checks at every opportunity and those who fail will have their licences revoked. I hope we do not find anyone and everyone makes sure they are safe to read the road ahead.”
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express said:
“We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision. A recent survey commissioned by Vision Express showed that 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.”
“We fully support Brake in spearheading initiatives that encourage motorists to consider if their vision is fit to drive before they get behind the wheel. A vehicle driven by someone with substandard vision is a lethal weapon, it’s as simple as that. Deaths are occurring because some motorists are wilfully neglecting to get an eye test, putting lives in danger. That has to stop and we’re committed to working with Brake, the police and road safety organisations to put pressure on the Government to take action.”
Notes to editors:
  • You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
  • You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
  • You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

Cassie’s Law

  • The test must be conducted in good daylight with glasses or corrective lenses (if required), however if the individual was not wearing glasses or lenses at the time of the incident (even if they are normally needed) then the test should be carried out without the glasses or corrective lenses.
  • Brake survey– more than 1.5 million UK drivers (4%) have never had their eyes tested
  • RSA Insurance report – study estimating that poor vision causes 2,874 casualties a year
  • ECOO report – Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, Norway, UK only European countries with number plate self-test
  • Vision Express poll - 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence

Brake joins the UN Road Safety Collaboration

News from Brake
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Brake has been accepted as a member of the UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) [1], illustrating the global nature of the charity’s work and its commitment to a vision of a world that has zero road deaths and injuries.
Brake joined the UNRSC at the 25th meeting of the group, held in New York on 12-13 April. Brake has long played a global role in road safety, providing global best practice for at-work drivers through its Brake Professional initiative [2] and sharing its expertise on community engagement, campaigning and Road Safety Week [3] with international partners. The acceptance into the UNRSC marks the next stage of Brake’s global strategy and the charity’s vision to further contribute to road safety efforts worldwide.
Commenting on the announcement, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: 
“We are delighted to have been accepted as members of the UN Road Safety Collaboration and to join a committed and passionate group of road safety advocates with a shared vision to improve global road safety.
“This is a well-deserved endorsement of the increasingly global nature of Brake’s work and we look forward to playing an active role in the UNRSC moving forward.”
Notes to editors
[1] UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) – the UNRSC is an informal consultative mechanism whose members are committed to road safety efforts and in particular to the implementation of the recommendations of the World report on road traffic injury prevention. The goal of the Collaboration is to facilitate international cooperation and to strengthen global and regional coordination among UN agencies and other international partners to implement UN General Assembly resolutions and the recommendations of the world report thereby supporting country programmes.
[2] Brake Professional - Brake Professional is a global, not-for-profit initiative that promotes road risk management, coordinated by road safety charity Brake.
[3] Road Safety Week - Road Safety Week is the UK's biggest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake, the road safety charity. Road Safety Week aims to inspire thousands of schools, organisations and communities to take action on road safety and promote life-saving messages during the Week and beyond. It also provides a focal point for professionals working in road safety to boost awareness and engagement in their work.
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 launches ‘look out for each other’ campaign as extent of selfish driving across North East is revealed

Monday 17 November 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

  • A fixed penalty for ‘careless driving’ or speeding is issued in the North East every 11 minutes
  • Half (49%) of primary school children in the North East say they have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while on foot or bike

Road safety charity Brake is today launching a campaign calling on all road users to look out for each other, to help stop the five deaths and 61 serious injuries that happen every day on UK roads [1][2], and particularly to protect people on foot and bike. The campaign is being backed by a bereaved family from the North East, where 76 people were killed and 726 seriously injured last year. See case study below.

The call comes at the start of Road Safety Week, coordinated by Brake, during which thousands of schools, communities and companies will be raising awareness, and police across the UK will be stepping up traffic enforcement to deter and catch drivers putting others at risk.

As part of the campaign, Brake and partners RSA and Specsavers are today (17 Nov) revealing statistics showing shocking numbers of drivers risking lives by flouting traffic laws. 46,359 fixed penalty notices were issued for ‘careless driving’ and speeding offences in the North East in 2013– one every 11 minutes. 45,823 were for speeding and 536 for careless driving (a fixed penalty newly introduced in August 2013). Embargoed figures are available by postcode, including the top 10 worst postcode areas[3].

This lack of patience, consideration and responsibility towards other road users can and does result in tragedy. It can also stop the most vulnerable from exercising their right to healthy, active, sustainable travel. Results of Brake’s survey of 400 primary school children in the North East[4], released today, show:

  • three in five (59%) think roads in their community can be dangerous for walking and cycling;
  • half (49%) say they have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while on foot or bike.

That’s why Brake is calling on all road users to look out for each other, and particularly urging drivers to protect kids and adults on foot and bike – by slowing down to 20mph in communities, looking longer and taking it slow at junctions and bends, and giving people plenty of room and consideration. See below for more advice and facts showing why these steps are important.

Members of the public can show their support for thelook out for each other campaign by:

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“When drivers use roads without care for others the consequences can be tragic and horrific – people killed and badly injured, lives ruined forever, because of a moment of impatience or selfishness. At Brake we witness the suffering that results, daily, through our work supporting people affected by road death and injury. And there are wider consequences if we don’t look out for each other on roads – people afraid to walk and cycle or let their kids walk and cycle, and unable to get out and enjoy their community and live active lifestyles. That’s why, instead of making our streets stressful, risky places, we’re asking all road users to look out for and protect each other, particularly the most vulnerable – that means drivers sticking to 20 or below in towns and villages, looking carefully at junctions, and being considerate. Ultimately, we’re all just human beings trying to get around, with equal right to use the roads, not competing tribes.”

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national lead for roads policing, added:“Our officers and staff do a vital job in enforcing important safety laws and protecting the public on the roads. Road Safety Week is a great opportunity for forces and partners to engage with their local communities to deliver important road safety messages and undertake enforcement activities in support of Brake’s week.”

Road safety minister Robert Goodwill MP added his support, saying:“Cycling and walking are healthy ways to get around and are good for the environment too and I want more people to be able to make this choice for their journeys. At the same time we want to ensure cyclists and pedestrians are safe. That is why in the Cycling Delivery Plan I announced our proposals for the next phase of work on cycle and pedestrian safety. This includes cycle-proofing our roads and wider transport infrastructure, a review of regulations, the need to highlight best practice to local authorities, an update to the national design standards and a review of the driving test.”

Cllr Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for city services at Sunderland City Council, added:“While the number of road casualties year on year has remained similar, a key indicator of road safety is the number of serious casualties – and in Sunderland, we have seen some pleasing reductions recently. However, as we can see from Steven's tragic story, there is no room for complacency. We are working with our partners in the emergency and health services and other stakeholders and interest groups to learn what we can from the causes and trends in order to ensure we reduce casualties further. Safety is the responsibility of every road user, so we remind all drivers, riders, passengers, pedestrians and professional drivers to think about safety at all times.”

Peter Collins, group and UK head of corporate responsibility at RSA, commented:“A lack of patience or consideration for others on the roads can sometimes lead to dangerous, if not life threatening situations. Prevention is better than cure, so taking the time to look out for each other, being careful and considerate to all road users whether in vehicles, on bikes or on foot can help keep Britain's roads safe for everyone."

Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins says:“Specsavers stores have been proud to support Road Safety Week for a number of years. Good eyesight is essential to road safety, which is clearly recognised by this year's theme, ‘look out for each other’. But ‘looking out for each other’ isn’t just about keeping your eyesight up to scratch; it’s about keeping your mind sharp and being aware and considerate of everyone around you, especially vulnerable people on foot and bike who need that bit of extra protection. Specsavers stores will be doing their bit to raise awareness, and helping make sure people can be seen on the road.”

Case studies:

Find out about all the bereaved and injured volunteers supporting Road Safety Weekhere.

Steven Atkinson, 12, from Sunderland, was pushing his bike across Chester Road in 2009 when he was hit by a speeding driver. He was rushed to hospital, where he died from his injuries.Find out more.


Violet Atkinson, Steven’s mother, says:“After everything Steven went through, I am so proud of him. He never looked at his health as a problem and lived every day to the full. No words can describe the grief our family has gone through since his death. There’s a piece of us missing and there’s no way to escape that. My son is gone. I will never see him again, and it will never get easier. I don’t want another mother to experience the pain of seeing her child die. People need to wake up to the consequences of driving irresponsibly. This year’s Road Safety Week, I’m asking everyone to look out for each other on the road, and in particular for drivers to slow down to 20mph in communities, look twice and take it slow at junctions and bends, and give pedestrians and cyclists plenty of room.’’

Facts and advice:

‘Vulnerable road users’ (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders)account for half (49%) of road deaths in the UK [5].

In the UK in 2013, 405 people were killed and 5,160 seriously injured walking, and 113 people were killed and 3,185 seriously injured cycling [6]. That's 24 people a day killed or seriously injured on foot or bike – one every hour.

Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes, and especially in protecting vulnerable road users. If something unexpected happens – such as a child stepping out suddenly – it is a driver’s speed that determines if they can stop in time, and if they can’t, how hard they will hit. Every 1mph reduction in average speeds causes, on average, a 5% reduction in crash rates[7], anddrivers who speed are nearly twice as likely to have been involved in a crash[8]. Advice for drivers: stick to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops. Your stopping distance in an emergency will be half what it is at 30mph, and in busy urban areas you won’t notice a difference in your journey time. You’ll save on fuel, vehicle wear and emissions.

Vulnerable road users are often at risk from vehicles manoeuvring, such as at junctions, where they may not be seen in a blind spot. 75% of cyclist collisions occur at or near junctions when vehicles are turning [9]. Advice for drivers: take it really slow at junctions and bends, look longer and carefully check mirrors before manoeuvring. Always assume a pedestrian or cyclist may be there; never just assume it’s safe to turn.

Traffic around homes, schools and shops, which could often be redirected to roads with fewer people walking or cycling, puts vulnerable road users at risk. Advice for drivers: consider your route and if you can minimise driving in communities. Consider if you need to make your journey by car at all: could you walk, cycle, or take public transport? Studies show active travel makes you happier as well as healthier [10].

Fear of traffic discourages people from walking or cycling, so it’s a big public health issue. Only 22% of journeys and 3% of miles travelled in Britain are on foot, and only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike [11]. A Brake survey of UK schoolchildren found three in four (76%) would like to walk and cycle more [12]. Another survey found one in three non-cyclists would cycle if routes were safer[13].

Up to 95% of crashes are caused by driver error[14]. Therefore it is vital drivers take responsibility to protect themselves and everyone around them. Everyone can commit to do this by making the Brake Pledge to follow six simple rules to help prevent devastating road crashes,

Notes for editors:


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.

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 2014 takes place 17-23 November, with support from the Department for Transport and headline sponsors RSA and Specsavers.


With a 300-year heritage, RSA is one of the world's leading multinational quoted insurance groups. RSA has major operations in the UK & Western Europe, Scandinavia, Canada and Latin America and can write business in around 140 countries in total. Focusing on general insurance such as motor, home, pet and commercial cover, RSA has more than 21,000 employees serving 17 million customers worldwide. In 2013 its net written premiums were £8.7 billion.

Since 2011, RSA's 'Fit to Drive' campaign has worked to highlight the important issue of eye health and driver safety in the UK.


  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world. The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,600 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand
  • Total revenue for the Specsavers Group was £1.7 billion in 2011/2012
  • More than 20 million customers used Specsavers globally in 2011/2012. As of end March 2012, Specsavers had 16,138,076 customers in the UK and 928,582 customers in the Republic of Ireland
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners. Together, they offer both optical and hearing services under one roof.
  • Specsavers employs more than 30,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain’s most trusted brand of opticians for the eleventh year running by the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey 2012
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers - 10,800,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2011
  • Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK
  • Specsavers sold more than 290 million contact lenses globally in 2011/12 and has more than a million customers on direct debit schemes. Specsavers' own contact lens brand - easyvision - is the most known on the high street
  • The hearcare business in the UK has established itself as the number one high street provider of adult audiology services to the NHS

Specsavers supports several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid Overseas, for whom stores have raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.

End notes

[1] Reported road casualties in Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014
[2] Police recorded injury road traffic collision statistics: 2013 key statistics report, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2014
[3] Analysis by Brake of data provided by the DVLA, September 2014 These figures are combined totals of the following careless driving offences: CD10: Driving without due care and attention; CD20: Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users; CD30: Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users, and the following speeding offences: SP10: Exceeding goods vehicle speed limits; SP20: Exceeding speed limit for type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles); SP30: Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road; SP40: Exceeding passenger vehicle speed limit; SP50: Exceeding speed limit on a motorway; SP60: Undefined speed limit offence.
[4] 'Hands up' survey of 417 primary school children (aged 7-11) from schools in the North East participating in Brake's Giant Walking Bus, carried out between January and May 2014. When asked 'do you think roads in your neighbourhood can be dangerous for kids who are walking or cycling?', 59% said yes, 41% said no. When asked 'have you ever been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while walking or cycling?', 49% said yes, 51% said no.
[5] Reported road casualties in Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014
[6] ibid
[7] Speed, speed limits and accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 1994
[8] The speeding driver: who, how and why? Scottish Executive, 2003
[9] Reported road casualties in Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014
[10] Walking or cycling to work improves wellbeing, University of East Anglia, 2014 
[11] National travel survey 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[12] Kids want to get active: thousands march for safer streets, Brake, 2014 
[13] Speed in built-up areas, Brake and Direct Line, 2013 
[14] Dimensions of aberrant driver behaviour, Uppsala University, Sweden, 1998

Can I claim compensation?

Scroll down for information and advice on claiming compensation after a road crash.

This includes information about claiming compensation, hiring a solicitor, rogue offers of help, paying your solicitor, types of compensation, and fatal motor claim procedures.

Click here for information about finding specialist solicitors who can help you to claim damages following a road crash.

Can I claim compensation?

There is no automatic compensation for people bereaved by a road crash. However, compensation can often be awarded through a legal process using civil law, pursued by a solicitor who you instruct.

To award compensation, civil law requires someone (usually a driver in the case of road deaths) to be found at least partly responsible for a death. Sometimes this is possible even if no-one was charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.

Compensation is then usually paid by the responsible person’s motor insurer. If they were uninsured, or are untraceable, then the money is usually paid by an organisation called the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. (Find out more at

Compensation can be awarded for different things. The amount of compensation awarded for these things is usually decided through negotiation, but sometimes by a court.

Even if you do not have funds to pay a solicitor, it is often still possible to pursue a claim for compensation if you have a good claim.

Instructing a solicitor to pursue compensation

To pursue a claim for compensation, you need to instruct a solicitor.

You are advised to use a solicitor who specialises in fatal injury cases.

A solicitor you are considering using should agree to meet with you for free initially. You may wish to meet with more than one solicitor to ensure you are choosing the best one for you.

The following organisations provide lists of solicitors that specialise in fatal injury cases:

  • The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)T: 0115 943 5400
  • The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS)T: 0117 925 9604

Here are some questions it is advisable to ask, to help you decide which solicitor to choose:

  • Do you think I have a strong claim and are you willing to take on my case?
  • What experience do you have in handling similar cases? Can you give me examples and their outcomes?
  • How many similar cases have you handled in the past five years?
  • What expertise do you have relevant to my case?
  • What fees do you charge?
  • What arrangements can you put in place for payment of these fees so that compensation I receive is not unduly reduced to cover legal fees, and so that I do not have to pay much, or any, legal costs if I lose?
  • Will you handle my case yourself entirely, or involve colleagues?
  • If you plan to involve colleagues, how much will they be involved, and if a lot, can I meet them now?
  • How will we communicate during the process? Will you be available to explain things to me and answer my questions regularly through meetings, emails or over the phone?
  • Are you a member of APIL and/or MASS?

It is important you sign an agreement with your solicitor that you understand thoroughly and consider fair.

It is also helpful to keep notes of conversations with your solicitor and copies of correspondence, so you can keep track of your claim.

Do not delay

Do not delay consulting solicitors. If you have a good chance of getting compensation, the solicitor you choose will want to work on your case as soon as possible. It can take time to compile evidence to support your case, and the earlier you hire a solicitor, the sooner compensation can be awarded.

Your solicitor may also be able to request for Interim Payments to be made in advance of any final settlement. Most claims must be submitted within three years of the date of the death, although sometimes claims must be made within two years. If the crash happened abroad, time limits for claims may be shorter, and can be one year or less.

Complaining or changing solicitor

If, at any stage, you are unhappy with the service you are getting from your solicitor, you can ask to speak to the partner in the practice responsible for looking after clients; often called the complaints partner.

If you remain dissatisfied, it may be possible to change solicitor. If you have a complaint about a personal injury solicitor, you can complain to the legal ombudsman. Call 0300 555 0333 or go

Rogue offers of help

Sometimes a ‘claims assessor’, ‘claims farmer’, or ‘claims management company (CMC)’, may offer to pursue your claim for you, often on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Often they are not personal injury solicitors, nor qualified or regulated to the same standards of solicitors.

You may also be approached by someone representing the motor insurance company of a driver you want to claim from, offering to settle your claim directly and quickly with you, without the need for you to instruct a solicitor.

Do not accept these offers of help. If you do, you will probably not be independently represented by a suitably qualified solicitor, and you may be awarded far less compensation than you are entitled to.

Paying your solicitor

There are various ways of funding a claim and it is crucial you talk to your solicitor about the options available. Make sure you understand exactly what you may have to pay for if you win or lose your claim.

Sometimes people pay their solicitor as they go along, either because they have the funds to do so, or because they have an insurance policy that covers legal costs and expenses. Your solicitor can help you check any insurance policies you have to find out if you are covered for legal fees.

It is usually possible to pay your solicitor at the end of the case. If you win your case, the person you are claiming compensation from will probably have to pay some of your legal fees.

Many people do not have available funds to pay a solicitor to pursue a claim for them. However, it should be possible to reach an agreement with your solicitor that means you won’t have to pay anything, even if you lose your claim.

Depending on the agreement you signed with your solicitor, you may also have to pay your solicitor additional fees from your compensation, such as a ‘success fee’ for winning your case.

There are complex laws governing how solicitors are paid in compensation cases. It is important that you understand, from the beginning, how your solicitor intends to cover the costs of your claim and any fees you may personally be liable for, at any time, if you win or lose your claim.

It is particularly important that you do not sign an agreement that would result in your solicitor unreasonably taking a large amount of your compensation if you win your case. You should also be protected from being liable for hefty legal costs if you lose your case.

Types of compensation

Some types of claims for compensation are listed below. Your solicitor may advise you to make one, several or none of these claims. All claims depend on some liability (or blame) being established.

  1. Dependency claims

In certain circumstances, people who were financially reliant (or who had an expectation of becoming financially reliant) on a person who has died can claim for the loss of that support. This is called a financial dependency claim. The amount that can be claimed is not fixed. It depends on the amount of support provided by the person who has died and how that would have continued in the future. A dependency claim often includes a claim for loss of income. This amount will be worked out according to how much the person who has died earned, how long they would have continued earning if they had not died and other factors. A dependency claim may include a claim for loss of services provided, such as childcare, DIY, or other domestic jobs which were undertaken by a person who has died.

If you are making a dependency claim for yourself, or on behalf of others such as a child, your solicitor will help you consider all losses and help work out how much to claim in total. Evidence including income and employment records may be required to prove dependency claims.

  1. Bereavement awards

Some people may be entitled to a fixed, statutory bereavement award, currently £12,980. This is only payable to the wife, husband or civil partner of someone who has died, or the parents of a child under the age of 18 who has died. Your solicitor can tell you if you are eligible for this award.

  1. The shock suffered by bereaved people

You may be able to claim money for the psychological injury you have suffered as a result of your bereavement. There are strict criteria about who can claim. If you do not meet these criteria you may not be able to claim, even though you have suffered significant trauma.

  1. The suffering of someone who has died

If someone died after surviving for a period of time, it may be possible to claim compensation for their pain and suffering. The amount that can be claimed is based on the amount of time that the person suffered and the extent of their awareness or suffering.

  1. Burial or cremation expenses

Reasonable costs of a funeral (burial or cremation) and associated expenses such as a gravestone can usually be claimed from a liable party. You should keep all receipts.

  1. Claim for injuries

If you, or anyone close to you, were injured in the crash, it is important to find out if you can make a claim for those injuries and losses resulting from injuries. Your solicitor will advise you.

Fatal motor claim procedures

Preparing and negotiating your claim

Your solicitor will prepare your claim by collecting evidence, such as proof of past earning levels of the person who died.

Once your solicitor has prepared your claim, they will contact the motor insurer of the person from whom you are trying to claim (the other side). If the other side admits liability your solicitor will start negotiating with them to determine how much compensation they should pay.

The other side may try to argue your claim is too high. For example, if you are pursuing a dependency claim, they may want to check medical and employment records and argue that the person who has died would not have earned as much money in the future as your solicitor is claiming. The negotiations can take a long time but most claims where someone has admitted liability are settled through negotiation rather than court action.

Knowing that solicitors and insurance companies are negotiating over the value of your loss can be distressing, particularly if your case takes time to be resolved. Ask your solicitor to keep you updated on a regular basis about how your case is progressing.

Offers made during negotiation

Both your solicitor, and the other side, can make offers of compensation during negotiations.

Either side has a right to accept or reject an offer. Your solicitor should explain any offer you receive, and help you decide your response.

In some cases, a partial payment called an Interim Payment is made by the other side prior to a final payment, to help cover costs such as funeral expenses. This can be helpful for people facing financial hardship as a result of their bereavement.

Either side may also propose a Final Settlement offer, or Part 36 offer, in full and final settlement of your claim. If the other side proposes a Part 36 offer, you and your solicitor have 21 days to accept or reject it (although an offer can be accepted later if it has not been withdrawn). You should consider all offers seriously.

Going to court

If your compensation cannot be agreed through negotiation, or if liability is not admitted, your solicitor may start legal action against the other side.

However, even after legal action has started, your solicitor is likely to continue to try to negotiate a settlement with the other side.

Sometimes, the other side will make an acceptable offer just before a case is heard in court.

If agreement cannot be reached, your claim will be heard in a County Court or the High Court by a judge.

Success in court is not guaranteed; you cannot pre-determine the decision of a judge. Court cases may also take a long time to be heard.

Settlement of cases brought on behalf of children under the age of 18 have to be approved by a court. In most cases, money awarded to children is kept and administered by the court in a special account until the child is 18 years old.

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