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

Linda Riordan, MP for Halifax, March 2008

march08Linda Riordan, MP for Halifax
Linda Riordan MP is campaigning to reduce speed limits on local roads, following the tragic death of a constituent.

In August 2006, two-year-old Connor Graham was knocked down and killed on Claremount Road, Halifax. Claremount Road has a 30mph speed limit, without any speed camera or traffic-calming measures even though Stepping Stones Nursery, which Connor attended, is situated on the road.

Linda has joined Connor’s family and friends in campaigning for a 20mph speed limit on Claremount Road, and other roads around schools or homes. Over the past year she has met Calderdale Council a number of times to urge them to take action to improve safety, but has been told that the road is not a priority as there have not been enough crashes on it where excessive speed has been a factor.

On 14 March 2008 Linda supported Connor’s family, friends, teachers and nursery leaders in a silent protest at the lack of action being taken by Calderdale Council. The event was attended by Brake’s road safety mascot, Zak the Zebra. Media were invited to attend on the day and the campaign was covered by BBC Look North, Yorkshire Post, Halifax Courier and Pulse FM. Linda also gave an interview for ITN Calendar news.

Linda has stepped up her campaign by tabling several questions in Parliament, which have yet to be answered, about reducing the default urban speed limit to 20mph. Linda has also called for an adjournment debate on the need to reduce the default speed limit around schools and homes.

Linda says: “I am joining my constituents in their campaign to reduce speed limits around schools, nurseries and homes to 20mph. A few miles an hour can mean the difference between life and death and by reducing the urban default limit to 20mph, the Government could save lives and prevent untold suffering for families like Connor’s.”

Read more about Brake’s ‘Watch out there’s a kid about’ campaign to stop child death and injury. [Take action][4] by adding your name to Brake’s petition for 20mph speed limits around schools and homes.

If you know of a dangerous road in your area, let Brake know by calling our Zak the zebra hotline on 08000 68 77 80, and Brake could help you campaign for road safety improvements.

[4]: /community/watch out theres a kid about/funding for 20mph zones

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

50 years, 25,000+ dead, since first anti-drink drive ad

Friday 7 November 2014

Brake, the road safety charity 

"Don't ask a man to drink and drive" – that was the plea of the government's first ever public information film on the dangers of drink driving, 50 years ago. Since then, drink drivers over the legal limit have killed at least 25,000 people and seriously injured at least 130,000 in the UK [1] – but as these casualties have only been recorded since 1979, the complete figures are likely to be tens of thousands higher.

Casualties have fallen dramatically since the first drink drive ad, but drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads. Brake, the road safety charity, is using the anniversary to highlight the ongoing menace of drink driving and call for zero-tolerance to help stamp it out for good. See calls for action below.

With its appeal to women not to let their partners drink drive, the 1964 advert is a product of its time, but its message remains as relevant as ever. To this day, men account for more than three quarters (77%) of drink drive casualties [2]. What has changed is the message about how much is too much, with research having demonstrated the huge danger of drinking even small amounts and driving [3]. While the 1964 advert warns of the risks of drinking four to six whiskies, today Brake's not a drop campaign urges people to stay off the alcohol altogether if driving.

Drink drive (over the legal limit) casualties have steadily decreased, from 1,640 dead and 8,300 seriously injured in 1979, to 230 dead and 1,200 seriously injured in 2012 (latest available figures) [4]. They now account for one in eight road deaths (13%) compared with a quarter in 1979 [5].This is partly thanks to public education campaigns such as those by the Department for Transport's road safety agency, THINK! – it's estimated these prevented almost 2,000 deaths and over 10,000 serious injuries from 1979 to 2009 [6].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "Public education is critical to tackling road deaths and injuries, not just those caused by drink driving, so it is vital the government continues to fund this work. However, it is shocking that even though drivers are now well informed of the dangers, many continue to get behind the wheel after a drink, causing an unacceptable death toll and horrendous suffering for those who are left bereaved or injured. That's why we need a zero-tolerance drink drive limit – to send a clear message that any amount of alcohol makes you unsafe to drive – with tougher penalties and enhanced traffic policing to enforce it. Think – how many more lives will be destroyed or ruined if we don't act now?"

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood through its not a drop, not a drag campaign, and is urging all political parties to make this a key manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #NotADrop.

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

Brake's advice
Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash, even if they don't feel drunk or even tipsy. The only way to ensure you're safe is to not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. As a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a BBQ, party or night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Calls for government action
Brake calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced intentions to reduce their limits to 50mg, and in Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

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 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.

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.

End notes
[1] Reported drink drive accidents and casualties (estimates): Great Britain, annually from 1979, Department for Transport, 2013 
[2] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2014
[3] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[4] Reported drink drive accidents and casualties (estimates): Great Britain, annually from 1979, Department for Transport, 2013 
[5] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012 (final), Department for Transport, 2014 
[6] Department for Transport: How thirty years of drink drive communications saved almost 2,000 lives, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, 2012 
[7] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012 (final), Department for Transport, 2014 
[8] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[9] ibid

9,000 preventable injuries in last two years as government stalls on tackling young driver crashes

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Brake, the road safety charity 

Today (25 March 2015) marks two years since the government promised to overhaul young driver rules to tackle the devastating toll of deaths and injuries involving young drivers on UK roads.

It has been estimated that almost 9,000 injuries, 866 of them deaths or serious injuries, could have been prevented in this time if the government had introduced a system of graduated driver licensing [1].

Brake, the road safety charity, has condemned the government’s failure to deliver progress, and urged politicians of all parties to commit to putting young driver safety high on the political agenda early in the new parliament.

Brake is calling for the introduction of graduated driver licensing, which includes a minimum learner period (usually 12 months) and a post-test novice period with restrictions to limit exposure to risk, like a late-night curfew and restrictions on carrying young passengers. Such systems are used successfully in other countries including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and many US states. It is estimated it could prevent 400 deaths and serious injuries a year in the UK [2].

Graduated driver licensing has widespread backing from experts and public alike. Brake recently (12 February 2015) joined other road safety experts, academics and insurers in signing an open letter in the British Medical Journal demanding action. More than two thirds (68%) of the public are in favour [3].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said:“Tackling young driver crashes is one of the biggest challenges in ending the misery of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Young drivers are greatly overrepresented in serious and fatal crashes, and very often it is young people themselves whose lives are lost or who suffer horrific injuries. It’s an epidemic that has to end, and we know that graduated driver licensing works in reducing these crashes.

“Evidence from other countries, the weight of expert opinion and the balance of public support are all behind graduated driver licensing. This government has continually kicked this issue into the long grass and failed to deliver its long-promised green paper on young driver safety. There is no excuse for the next government to repeat this failure to act.”

Brake campaigns for graduated driver licensing to stop young driver crashes through its too young to die campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #tooyoungtodie.

Read more about graduated driver licensing and facts on young driver crashes.

Notes for editors

Young driver crashes: the facts

  • Drivers aged 17-19 make up only 1.5% of UK licence holders, but are involved in 12% of fatal and serious crashes [4].
  • Drivers aged 16-19 are more than twice as likely to die in a crash as drivers aged 40-49 [5].
  • One in four 18-24 year olds (23%) crash within two years of passing their driving test [6].
  • Young male drivers are involved in many more crashes than young female drivers [7].


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

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

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

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

End notes

[1] Graduated driver licensing: a regional analysis of potential casualty savings in Great Britain, RAC Foundation, 2014
[2] ibid
[3] Young driver safety: a public attitude survey, RAC Foundation, 2014
[4] New research highlights need for graduated driving licensing, Transport Research Laboratory, 2014
[5] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS30025
[6] Young drivers at risk, The AA, 2012
[7] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS30011

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 Nova Storey

On 9th November 2004 our 18 year old son, Dominic, died following a car crash in which he was a back seat passenger. The driver of the car was subsequently convicted of causing Dominic's death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to two and a half years in a young offenders' institution.

The car crash took place at 21:50 on 8th November 2004. Dom had gone out with a friend who he had not seen for seven years and who he had met by chance the previous week. I was away from home, in Merseyside, as my dad had died three weeks previously and my mum and I had gone back to their house to sort out her affairs. At twenty minutes past midnight the telephone rang. I can't explain this now but I immediately knew something terrible had happened. It was my husband ringing to tell me that Dominic was in hospital in Coventry and that the sister in charge there had advised that I get to the hospital as soon as possible. Police officers from the local force were there with my husband and escorted the ambulance that transferred Dom to the Intensive Care Unit at another hospital. All we knew at this stage was that Dominic had been in a car crash and was seriously injured.

The police force, in my parent's hometown, sent a police driver to take me to the hospital, whilst another police officer went to my brother's house to arrange for him to come and stay with my mum. At the time I was just reacting like a robot and accepted that this was all happening. The officer who drove me down to Coventry talked throughout the whole journey and I remember thinking at one stage, 'Just shut up and let me think about what is happening.' I now realise that this kept me calm and carried me through those few hours. When we got to the junction before our exit junction on the M6 we had to come off the motorway, as a Father's for Justice campaigner was threatening to throw himself off the motorway bridge. I wonder if he will ever know how close he came to stopping me getting to the hospital before Dom died?

We finally arrived at about 04:30 just as Dom arrived in the ambulance from the first hospital. I couldn't imagine what had taken them so long but he was so severely injured that they had had to be very careful with him and he had struggled to keep breathing. How can I ever adequately thank the police officers who got me to the hospital? Without their support I know I would not have been with Dom to hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. It enabled me to be with him when he died. I truly believe that he hung on for me, that he knew that I was there and, in my darkest moments, this gives me much consolation.

We were taken to the relatives' room on the ICU and I could hear this erratic beeping and lots of activity. I knew it was Dom. I remember going to the ladies room and, looking in the mirror, realised that I had been crying constantly since I'd arrived. We had several medical personnel come in to talk to us. A neurosurgeon explained that he wanted to put a pin or something into Dom's brain as it had twisted on the stem, another surgeon talked about his lungs, people were in and out but it seemed like we were waiting forever. Eventually the Head of the ICU came in and sat down beside us. I asked him what Dom's long term future held and he just said, 'Mrs Storey, we are fighting to stop Dominic from dying rather than fighting to keep him alive.' He had a strange look on his face that I thought was annoyance at my stupidity. In fact it was sheer frustration that despite all their efforts they couldn't save Dom.

At 05:30 we were able to sit with Dom and, for me, this was the first time I had seen him since the crash. He looked beautiful and so young, because his face was swollen and it gave him that chubby look that toddlers have.

Whilst we were with Dominic, police officers had collected my twelve year old daughter and our friends, who were looking after her, and were bringing her to the hospital. Dom started to fail again and the decision was made to remove the artificial aids that were keeping him alive. He died at 06:30 before our daughter arrived. I will never, as long as I live, forget the look on her face when I told her Dom had died.

In amongst all of this I remember being really aware that I was facing the greatest challenge of my life - to carry on knowing Dom had died.

We arrived home at 10:30 and began the awful process of letting our families know what had happened. It still makes me cry remembering my oldest brother breaking down on the phone when he heard my voice. Our friends stayed with us until late afternoon and my husband fell sleep on the sofa through sheer exhaustion. My broken heart nearly gave up completely when I came into the room to find my lovely, young daughter covering him up with a blanket like she was his mother.

The only information we had at this time was that Dom had been thrown out of the car and was, eventually, found in a field. Throughout that first night this absolutely haunted me. Was he conscious and frightened? Was he crying for us? Was he in pain with no one to help him? I worried that his spirit wouldn't be able to find us so my husband suggested lighting a candle like sailors' families used to do when they were at sea. We did this and, three years later, we have lit a candle every night for him at home.

The next day the Senior Investigating Officer from Traffic came to see us. He clarified all the factual details, went through the further work that they would be carrying out and explained that we had been assigned a Family Liaison Officer. He gave us the Brake Bereavement Guide which was invaluable to me. I don't have a clear memory of the visit, as shock was the only thing keeping us standing. However, we learnt that Tom, the driver of the car, had lost control of the car whilst overtaking another car just before a blind bend, had hit a tree stump, and overturned, at which point Dominic was thrown out of the car. We also found out that Dom had in fact landed on the road, a local resident was with him within minutes, an off-duty police officer had administered first aid and was also with him until the paramedics arrived and that he had been unconscious throughout. It may sound strange but the sense of peace this gave me was huge as I now knew that Dom wasn't alone and afraid and in pain. To know that someone was with him, talking to him and looking after him, cradling his head and holding his hand was of the utmost comfort to me.

We visited the scene of the crash that evening and were greeted by flowers and poems, letters, candles and cards. The following days were filled with a combination of shock, absolute sorrow and love. The outpouring of grief and support from everyone who knew Dom was staggering. Perhaps the saddest thing of all about his death is that, apart from the odd bad day, Dominic loved and enjoyed life so very much. He was cheerful, always smiling and he took enjoyment from the simplest of things. Dom had obviously captured the hearts of so many and touched the lives of more people than we had ever imagined. His funeral and the cards and letters we received at that time, and subsequently, bear testament to this. Flowers and letters were sent from shops and businesses in our town, from his old secondary school along with many letters from teachers and pupils alike, from his old primary schools, one of which he left aged 7. All reinforced the message that despite his devilment he was a lovely boy who would never be forgotten.

We were appointed a Family Liaison Officer who helped us enormously during that first two weeks. She listened to us, was honest and compassionate in her dealings with us and quietly directed us to do and think about things that we would not have been able to cope with or considered ourselves. As a result we visited the crash scene and she walked us through events and explained everything that she could, we planted daffodil bulbs at the point alongside where Dom was found, and she liaised with and gave us the contact details of the off-duty policeman and the local resident who were with Dom at the scene.

Another significant area that the FLO supported us in was in relation to the media. I would have spoken to every newspaper and journalist I could have but I am so glad that I was advised to wait and let the police interact with them. Given the little information we had at the time about the cause of the crash I would have given a view that I would have later regretted as I just had not considered the fact that the driver was to blame.

After the first few weeks contact with the FLO and the police became less as the driver was recovering from his injuries and was not fit for interview. However, we were steadily introduced to the fact that the driver was the cause of the crash and thereby responsible for killing Dominic. By the time it was determined that he would be charged and a prosecution would take place we were resigned that a court case would take place.

During this time we struggled to find our way in a world that seemed so alien without Dominic in it, and we were constantly having to re-evaluate how to take our place as individuals and how to be a family unit without him. We were a solid, devoted and happy family and there was absolute love between us. Dom was a vital quarter within our whole and we couldn't fill that gap or compensate for his loss. His 19th birthday on 11th December and that first Christmas were particularly harrowing and we still find family occasions really hard without him.

Dom was a delightful and sociable character who very rarely chose to spend time in his room, preferring instead to be in our company when he was at home, and who was never happier than when having a lively discussion or exchanging repartee with family and friends. He loved people whatever their age, background or beliefs and he accepted everyone on face value, never forming a judgement until he had had the chance to get to know them. This wasn't always a good quality because it sometimes led to disappointment for Dom, but it was one of the traits that made him the sensitive and caring individual that he was. He didn't have a bad bone in his body. He was naive in the ways of the world, although he thought he knew it all, but he had grown into a unique and charismatic young man who was ready to make his way in the world.

Dom was especially happy at the time of his death as he had finally found his focus. He was about to embark on a career in the Royal Navy as a marine engineering mechanic and it was a pleasure to share his sense of excitement and nervous anticipation at the road that lay ahead. We were impressed at the dedication and motivation Dom showed whilst following the selection programme and we grieve deeply for the life that would have been his, for the experiences he will miss, mistakes, regrets and failures included. Dom didn't deserve to have his life taken from him, having fought against severe illness as a baby until aged 10 when he suddenly grew stronger and more robust. Highly skilled surgeons and medical staff fought very hard to save his life in those early years and it seems such a terrible waste that he was not able to take full advantage of the gift that he was given. He was affected by this earlier condition throughout his life but we never heard him complain and we don't believe he even thought himself disadvantaged. Certainly he didn't expect any special treatment and he embraced life with open arms.

In the February following his death I was standing in my local newsagents when the front page of the local newspaper caught my eye. With disbelief I read an article detailing the driver's first appearance in court having been charged with causing Dominic's death by dangerous driving. I was just devastated that the FLO hadn't informed us. As far as I am concerned we were standing for Dominic as he couldn't do so for himself and I felt completely let down and distressed that we had not been given the opportunity to attend the first court appearance.

At about this time also we asked to see the car. We were offered video footage and photographs but there was a real reluctance from the police for us to see the actual car. For some reason this became something of an issue but we persevered and eventually our request was granted. Our FLO and the Inspector supported us during our visit to the garage and I can't express enough the benefit we gained from this. It enabled us to understand how Dom was thrown from the car and clarified many of the facts we had been told. I also began to appreciate just how badly the driver had been driving.

We then entered into the court process and attended four court sessions over six months culminating in the sentence in the July. I can only say that we were completely looked after and supported throughout this process by the FLO and the team. We chose to make our own way to court but they were always there waiting for us, helping us to understand what was happening, forming a secure barrier between us and the outside world, and facilitating our way through, what was for me, an intensely traumatic experience. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without their support.

I found it particularly upsetting when the driver initially pleaded 'Not Guilty' - to me it was a complete betrayal of my son and seemed to demonstrate a lack of remorse and denial of any responsibility. The fact that I had always believed that he cared for Dom and was shattered by what had happened had made it easier for me to carry on. I was also terrified that we would have to go to trial as I really didn't think I would survive it. The police gave me strength and forbearance at a time when I was in no state to deal with any additional stress and, sure enough, the plea was subsequently changed to guilty.

The driver was sentenced in July 2005 and there followed a very difficult period. It seemed like everyone had returned to their normal, everyday lives, whilst we were struggling with complete and overwhelming sorrow. Perhaps the most difficult aspect to bear was the intensity with which we missed him every second of every minute of every day. We wondered how we could live the rest of our lives without him, how we could get through so many days and years with him gone from us. We mourned for him as he was when he was a baby, a toddler and at every stage of his short life. It was as if those earlier stages of his life had been taken from us also and whilst we cherished the memories of him and the experiences we shared with him, we were, and are, broken hearted that we will never see him again in this world. We miss buying Baby Bel cheese and having to pick the pieces up from around the house, him eating all the bacon crisps, him filling the house with the smell of Lynx deodorant, him calling "Shall I put the Smelly on?" for the television, him peering anxiously through the front room window at an ungodly hour because he'd forgotten his keys, him laughing unreservedly at some silly remark, him giving the thumbs up when we went to pick him up from work. We still miss everything about him and him just being there.

Three years on and we are much stronger and more able to cope. At a time when we were crippled by shock and brought to our knees by grief, we were supported by some very special individuals. They would probably say they were just doing their jobs. To us it was much more than that and those individuals will always have a place in our hearts.

Our hearts are still filled with sorrow at the premature and needless death of a lovely, thoughtful, fun-loving rogue who cared deeply about his family and friends. Our lives and the world we live in will never be the same. Dominic had his life snatched from him. He will never again sit in the sun having a drink with his friends, never experience regret and joy, never realise his career ambitions, never experience the happiness of finding his soul mate, never look down into the face of his new-born child and marvel at the wonder of it all. He can never spend another second with a family who love him so much that they would give everything they had just to have him back for one day.

We are exceptionally proud of Dominic and we love him so very, very much. We are thankful that we had the privilege of having him as our son for he was a truly special boy. The day that he died our world became a darker place and the sun will never shine as brightly for us again."

Author: Nova Storey
Edited by: Mary Williams

Date Written: January 2008

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

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.

Adam Wall - never a moment from my thoughts

My innocent son:AdamWall
I cannot bear to think
That you were left fatally injured alone
That the man who caused your horrific injuries
Left you lying unprotected in the road

He without a thought just left you
He did not stop to help
But drove on until his damaged van could not go on

He has taken your precious young life
Your plans, your hopes and your dreams
You had so many years ahead of you
So much you wanted to do
He has taken away your future 
And he has taken mine too

Where was this man’s compassion?
Where was this man’s conscience?
Where was this man’s humanity?
You and I know that he has none

He received no injuries
Even though he was to blame
He can carry on with life having taken yours so violently
And has left a broken hearted mother
Struggling to carry on without you, Adam

Your killer told police that I should get on with my life
Easy for a killer to say
I had to ID your Broken Body, my Beautiful Son
The utter torment of seeing the Horrific Injuries you sustained,
This vivid picture of your Broken Body is with me constantly

No chance for one last hug
To say – I love you, although I know you knew
For you are the Darling of my Heart
And I will always love and remember you
This killer who callously wiped out your precious young life

He left you dying in the road
He was wearing defective glasses
He was on his mobile
He told police he was running his van into the ground
This arrogant killer showed no remorse at all

We are told that there is Truth and Justice
That the guilty will feel the force of the Law
But you and I know that this is not true

Why did this callous killer not have to answer
For his horrific, violent crime 
On one so young
On you Adam, My Innocent Son?
Missing You my Darling Adam

So much sadness here today Adam
My heart is so heavy with pain
As I see so many parents with the lost look in their eyes.
Each one trying to hold themselves together.

I can see it, and I want to cry out
We should not be here,
We should not have to mourn for our children.

As we listened to the music of the Brass Band
And emotions overcame us
We let our tears of sadness fall.

We walked through the grounds of Hixton Hall
Past trees with leaves of gold and orange and red
They look beautiful
But the pleasure of such beauty has gone now you’re not here.

We walked past a lake and saw a family of swans,
Parents and signets swimming together
A lovely sight
But the pleasure of such beauty has gone now you’re not here.

We gathered together on a small hill
Where we stood in silence for some time before letting our balloons go.
The balloons we had held so tenderly, as if we were holding our child
The balloons on which we had written our child’s name and message of love

We let our balloons go, but I was not letting you go my darling Adam
I watched your balloon ascend, swaying and dancing until it was out of sight
It was taking my message of love to you

You are in my heart now and always
And never a moment from my thoughts
I miss you more than words can say
I miss you every minute of the day
My heart is broken, but my love for you will never fade 

Written By
Bridget Wall, Adam’s Mum

Advice for motorcyclists

motorbikeMotorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and are disproportionately involved in crashes and casualties. Despite making up less than 1% of road traffic they account for 18% of deaths in collisions, and are 38 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers or passengers in cars.[i],[ii] Those new to or returning to motorcycling need to be especially aware of the risks, and understand how these can be seriously reduced by getting the right training and wearing full protective clothing.

To help keep yourself and others safe on the roads, read our advice below on:

Wear the right protective gear

Wearing high-quality protective clothing, particularly when fitted with body armour, reduces the risk and severity of crash-related injury and hospitalisation.[iii] Before buying protective gear, check out the latest reviews, and buy the best that you can afford from a dealer you can trust.


Helmets save lives, prevent or reduce the severity of brain and facial injuries, and protect your eyes from wind, dust, insects or flying gravel. Riders who do not wear helmets face a 40% higher risk of fatal injury and a 15% higher chance of other injuries including life-changing brain damage.[iv] For general advice on motorbike helmets, visors and goggles, see this Department for Transport information sheet.

Buy a full-face (not open-face) helmet with strong chin pieces and energy-absorbing liners to offer the most protection to your face and neck as well as head. Your helmet should meet the British Standard BS 6658:1985 standard and carry the BSI kitemark; or it should meet UNECE Regulation 22-05 – there should be stickers indicating this. Choose one that is brightly coloured and easily visible, with a clear non-tinted visor.

The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) has tested hundreds of helmet models, rating each one according to how much protection it offers. You can use their website to find a helmet within your budget that meets high safety standards.

Do not buy a second-hand helmet. Buy your helmet from a reputable dealer, and make sure you try it on beforehand. A properly-fitting helmet is essential and dramatically increases your chances of surviving a crash.[v] The SHARP programme also offers life-saving guidance on choosing the best helmet fit.

If you drop your helmet, replace it immediately even if it looks ok.



Protective clothing helps save your skin and helps keep you warm and dry every time you ride. More than a third of motorcyclists admitted to hospital suffer serious injuries to their arms or legs, and one in 20 later die from the injuries they sustained.[vi] Clothing should:

  • be made of good-quality leather, or a high-performance textile alternative, with good-quality seams and as few seams as possible. Ask your retailer for details of which safety standards they meet before buying, and whether the safety rating applies to the whole garment or just the body armour;
  • be fitted with body armour on the back, shoulders, elbows, knees and shins;
  • fit properly; it should be snug but with enough room for layers of warm clothing underneath and so your movement is not restricted; and
  • be fluorescent during the day and reflective at night to help other drivers spot you.

Make sure you combine your protective suit with strong, flexible, waterproof gloves and biker boots, made either of leather or a high-performance textile alternative, to offer you the best protection if you come off your bike. Gloves should cover high enough up your arms that they do not come off in a crash. Both gloves and boots should fit comfortably and snugly, allowing you to grip the handlebars properly and operate the controls easily.

For further information on protective clothing, see:
Essential Guide to Protective Gear for Bikers (Think!)
Motorcycle Clothing Advice (Begin Motorcycling)

Safer riding


The faster you go, the less time you have to react to and avoid hazards and people, and the harder you will hit in the event of a crash. Motorbikes don’t have air bags or side-impact bars, so if you are involved in a collision, you’re exposed to the full force of impact. By staying well within speed limits, and slowing down further for riskier situations and conditions, you will have more time to react.

Stopping distances for motorbikes

Average stopping distances for motorbikes from the moment you realise you need to brake to the moment you stop are:

At 30mph – 23 metres (75 feet)
At 50mph – 53 metres (175 feet, or more than twice as far)
At 70mph – 96 metres (315 feet, or than four times as far)[vii]

Stay well within the speed limit at all times and maintain a two-second gap (four in the wet, much more in icy conditions) between you and the vehicle in front; it’s your braking space in a crisis.

More than two-thirds of motorcyclist deaths occur in rural areas.[viii] Even if you’re an experienced motorcyclist and know the road well, ride at a speed that would enable you to stop within the stretch of road you can see, slow right down for bends, and hang back and enjoy the ride rather than overtaking. People live, drive, walk, cycle and ride horses in the country, so don’t be tempted to think the road’s all yours. Presume that someone or something is round every bend and over every brow and slow down appropriately.

Like motorcyclists, people on foot or on bicycle are vulnerable road users. Help to protect them by going at 20mph or below in towns and villages.

Defensive riding techniques

In Europe, 69% of reported crashes involving motorbikes were found to have been at least partially caused by other road users not seeing the rider.[ix] Make sure you practise defensive riding techniques to safeguard yourself as much as possible against other drivers’ inattention. If you are a car driver, looking out for cyclists and motorcyclists, especially at junctions, will help reduce needless deaths and injuries.

63360979531906711008 Raider 1st Ride 1Defensive riding techniques

  • slow down: give yourself time to react
  • make yourself visible
  • position yourself on the safest part of the road (this will vary depending on the circumstances)
  • look out over the handlebars and ‘read’ the road and its traffic far ahead
  • check mirrors and other views frequently
  • take a ‘lifesaver’ or ‘shoulder check’ glance behind you before carrying out a manoeuvre
  • stay alert to everything that is going on around you
  • try to make eye contact with other drivers, but don’t presume that they have seen you
  • stay vigilant for clues as to what other road users might do next, but never presume that they will do what they should do.
  • For more tips on defensive riding, see BikeSafe’s Advice Centre.


harley davidson 571598 1920

Listen to weather forecasts before riding, especially in winter. The best way to be safe is to avoid riding altogether in bad conditions. If you get caught out in bad weather, consider stopping overnight somewhere if you have a long way to go. Take breaks at least every two hours to stay alert and focused. You should do this at all times, but it’s especially important in cold weather, when you can become tired much more quickly. You can also become tired quickly if the weather is hot – again, take regular breaks, and make sure that you stay properly hydrated.

Be extra vigilant at junctions. A major killer of motorcyclists is drivers failing to spot them at junctions and pulling out.[x] As you approach a junction, consider shifting your road position slightly, which can help drivers see you approach.

Many motorcycle collisions take place at bends in the road.[xi] Take bends slowly, and adjust your road position depending on whether it is a left or right-hand bend. You can read further advice on cornering on the BikeSafe website. Be particularly vigilant for any suspicious wet-looking patches or long dark lines on a dry road, or rainbow-coloured patches on a wet road – these are an indication of spilled diesel, which can be as lethal as black ice. Never ride close to the central white line on a right-hand bend; if you do, your head will be in the path of any oncoming vehicles.

Bike maintenance

Make sure your motorbike is fit for the road and won’t let you down. Keep your bike clean and carry out simple, regular maintenance checks – spotting a problem with a tyre or brake pad could save your life.

For maintenance tips, see:
Give your bike a health check (Think!)
Basic motorcycle maintenance (MotorCycle Direct)

Read Brake’s detailed advice for drivers on speed, fatigue, bad weather, and other topics, much of which is relevant for motorcyclists too.

Travelling in groups

Riding in groups carries risks; in particular, peer pressure can cause motorcyclists to go faster than they feel comfortable.[xii] In crashes involving people riding in groups, the victim is often a new biker or someone new to the group.

To reduce risks, keep your group size to as few riders as possible, and show the strength of character to ride well within speed limits and slow down further for risky situations and conditions. Use the two second rule to keep your distance from the rider in front; it’s your braking space in a crisis.

Plan a route ahead of time, arranging regular, safe stopping places so that if anyone falls behind they know where to meet. Agree on rules such as not overtaking each other and not speeding. If anyone else breaks the rules, or is driving too fast for the conditions, drop back and don’t feel pressured to keep up.

You might also consider putting more experienced riders at the back of the group, so that they can look out for the less experienced. It also means that newer motorcyclists are less likely to rush to catch up with the rest of the group.

For further advice on travelling in groups safely, visit: Bikesafe.

Carrying passengers

Carrying a passenger affects the handling of a motorbike and the safest option is to not carry passengers at all. You can only carry a passenger if you have a full motorbike licence and the appropriate insurance, and should only consider doing so if you are a skilled, experienced rider.

If you do carry a pillion passenger, you should:300px Motorcycle.riders.arp

  • Only carry a passenger if your motorbike is designed to carry two people – by law, it needs to have suitable seat and foot supports for the pillion passenger;
  • Make sure the total weight on the bike does not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum. You may also have to make minor adjustments to parts of your bike such as headlight direction, tyre pressure, suspension or chain – check your bike’s handbook;
  • Make sure your passenger is wearing a helmet and full, properly-fitting protective clothing;
  • Tell your passenger what they should do while on the bike; sit still, lean with the bike, keep feet on the foot rests; and
  • Remember that carrying a passenger will lengthen your braking distance, slow acceleration, make steering lighter, and affect cornering and balance.

Carrying children on motorbikes

Motorbikes are inherently much, much riskier than other modes of transport, and children are particularly vulnerable to serious injury or death in a crash.[xiii]

If you are making a long journey, then the safest way to transport children is by train or bus. If you are making a short journey, the best way is on foot, holding your child’s hand.

If you are determined to carry a child on a motorbike (legally, parental permission is required, and the child needs to be able to reach the footrests), then ensure they wear the highest standard of protective clothing, including boots, gloves, trousers, jacket and helmet, all of which must fit them exactly. But remember that no amount of protective gear will protect you or your child in many kinds of crashes.

For more advice on carrying a passenger visit:
UK law on carrying a passenger
Pillion Passenger Questions (Begin Motorcycling) 
Tips for drivers and passengers (The Lazy Motorbike)

Train up and be a better rider


Inexperience can leave younger riders at much higher risk of death or serious injury. In 2016, more than 1,000 riders aged 20-24 were killed or seriously hurt in collisions in Britain, far more than any other age group.[xiv] At this age, young people are at a critical stage of brain development, which can lead to more impulsive and risk-taking behaviour. To reduce the risk of a crash, consider gaining more experience on bikes with smaller engines before progressing to more powerful ones, or taking additional post-test training such as the Government’s enhanced rider scheme.

Whatever your age and experience, extra training can improve your safety. An advanced training course can help improve your skills, whether you have just passed your test, are returning to riding after a break, are considering buying a more powerful bike, or want to become a safer, smoother, more skilful rider.

One-to-one tuition is preferable, so that all the advice is aimed specifically at you. The Motor Cycle Industry Association recommends the ratio should be no more than two to one. Ensure the course you choose includes an assessment of your riding, to help you identify areas for improvement.

If you ride for work purposes, ask your employer if they’ll pay for a course; they have a responsibility to ensure you are safe on the road.

Some local authorities also offer riding assessments or subsidised courses – check with your local road safety officer, or see the BikeSafe website, which is particularly useful if you are returning to biking. The Motorcycle Industry Accreditation Centre (MCIAC) is also a useful resource to find your nearest MCIAC-accredited training school.


[1] Department for Transport (2017), Reported road casualties Great Britain 2016

[2] Think, Advice for motorcyclists,

[3]  De Rome, L. et al (2011), Motorcycle protective clothing: Protection from injury or just the weather? Accident; Analysis and Prevention 43(6), 1893-1900

[4] IIHSHLDI (2016), Head injuries rise as riders ditch helmets in Michigan, Status report 51(7), 5

[5] Wen-Yu, Y. et al (2011), Effectiveness of different types of motorcycle helmets and effects of their improper use on head injuries, International Journal of Epidemiology 40(3), 794-803

[6] Brake (2017), Road collisions responsible for 1 in 5 trauma admissions to hospitals,

[7] Begin Motorcycling,

[8] Department for Transport (2017), Reported road casualties Great Britain 2016, table ras40004

[9] MAIDS: Motorcycle Accidents In-depth Study (2009), In-depth investigations of accidents involving powered two wheelers final report 2.0,

[10] Crundall D. et al (2012), Why do car drivers fail to give way to motorcyclists at T-junctions? Accident; Analysis and Prevention 44(1), 88-96

[11] Department for Transport (2017), Reported road casualties Great Britain 2016, table ras20008

[12] Watson, B. et al (2007), Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour,

[13] Department for Transport (2017), Reported road casualties Great Britain 2016

[14] Department for Transport (2017), Reported road casualties Great Britain 2016, table ras30073


Updated December 2018

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.

Andrew Potter - I will love you forever

Andrew PotterDear Andrew

I have never felt pain like I did on that Friday evening, 21st November 2008, when I found out that you had been knocked off your motorbike whilst riding home from work, and had been killed.

My world stopped at that moment and I had to see you. I went to the hospital and you just looked like you were asleep, I expected you to sit up and tell me you were okay, but you didn't.

For the first couple of days after the accident I was just numb, I couldnt stop crying and kept hoping I would wake up from this horrible nightmare and find you lying next to me in bed. You would then give me a kiss and a cuddle and reassure me that it was just a bad dream. Unfortunately that was not to be.

For the next couple of weeks I survived on adrenaline alone, waking early and staying up until late, sorting out paperwork and keeping myself constantly busy.

In the week of the funeral I seemed to find some kind of inner peace which gave me the strength to get through that day. Hundreds of people turned up at your funeral - you didn't realise you were so popular did you! I received so many sympathy cards, everyone loved you Andrew and you were described on so many cards as “a true gentleman”, “a family man who adored your wife and kids”, “larger than life” and “the life and soul of the party”. That just about sums you up really but I would describe you as simply “the best person in the whole of the world”.

I feel you around me all of the time and am sure that you are looking after me and the kids. If I am unsure of what to do in a certain situation, the answer just pops into my head as if you put it there. I think you are also giving me some of your personality and I am a better person because of it.

We had the best marriage ever, 6 years of pure bliss. We had some fantastic holidays in our caravan, we had some fun parties and barbecues, we really lived life for the moment and for that I am eternally grateful. We were soulmates, best friends and everyone who met us could see the depth of our love for each other. We were really lucky to have what we had together, even though it was short lived, and even now, knowing the bitter ending, I would still want to do it again - to experience that special love that we had, or rather have, because we still love each other just as much now as when you were alive.

Our 2 beautiful children are a credit to you, they both have your confident and outgoing nature and are really clever, just like you. Daniel is the image of you and every time I look at him I see you smiling out of that gorgeous face. Eva has your eyes, the exact shade of blue as yours, and the same way of looking at you as if she can see right into your soul.

I miss you sweetheart, every second of every day and would give anything in this world just to see you and hold you one more time. Please keep looking after us and give me the strength to be the best mum ever to our children.

Love you forever sweetheart


Andy McLean – Missed So Much

Andy McLeanIt was around six thirty on a sunny 11th September 2010 night, when the police came to my business to break the tragic news they had to tell me.  My 22 year old son Andy Mclean had been on his way home from the farmers market where he worked every week when a French driver on the wrong side of the road ploughed into his Vauxhall Nova killing him instantly.  I could not believe what they were telling me and told them over and over again there must have been some mistake but they assured me they were 99% convinced it was Andy.

They then asked me to come with them to make a formal identification of my boy, as ,being his dad, I was next of kin.  The 30 min drive to the police mortuary seemed an eternity; so many things to do; so much I had to hold myself together for; how could I break this news to his mother; partner and his beloved Gran?  I had to know and be sure it was him before I did anything.   All too soon we had arrived and I was an emotional wreck. I was shown in to the viewing room and it was undoubtedly my oldest son Andy. I wept uncontrollably as the police let me have just a few minutes with him - separated by a pane of glass.

My mind thought back his 22 years over that few minutes we spent together; his birth; bathing him; putting him to bed; watching him grow from a baby to a boy to a man. The pain and grief I felt in trying to tell the family what had happened devoured me and I could no longer hold back my hurt, anger, disbelief and when the tears came they didn’t stop.

Andy was at the happiest time of his life when he was taken from us.  He was an apprentice mechanic working with a great boss and friend.  He was recently engaged, had his own place ,and was out doing what he loved most... driving his Nova.  I didn’t realise until the days in the run up to his funeral, just what a popular lad he was.  The 58 sympathy cards on the table, the endless visits from people, calls, emails from New Zealand; texts and so it went on. I prayed to God that my son had not suffered and questioned him over and over again why he had to take a Andy from us.  Answers I will never ever get.

The funeral, I don’t remember too much about.  I stared at his lovely coffin throughout the service, my mind playing his life over to me like a video; the flowers; the 300 people that attended; and finally laying him to rest in the cemetery.

I thought of my fortunate 44 years and how my son would never be married, have kids or enjoy life as I had and I was so angry at God for not taking me and give Andy his young life, as I would have gladly have died to save him.

I watched my family ripped apart; their pain; their sorrow and I was powerless to do anything to help them cope. I lost myself in alcohol for days on end, I didn’t wash, shave or some days even dress.  My way of coping I told myself, and the whiskey in my glass agreed,  My only function in the morning ,to light my fire and find the bottle.   The days spent alone I spent crying, unable to answer the biggest question on my mind, WHY???!!!

I had to go to the place of the crash.  I stood and looked at the beautiful scenery at the spot my son left this earth. I stood out on the road and looked in both directions... clear visibility both ways.   How could this have happened?  As I looked I saw an oncoming car approach me from the same direction in which Andy had been travelling from; suddenly it disappeared from sight and a few seconds later appeared again.  The police had told me there was a hidden dip in the road and when Andy was in the dip, he could not have seen the oncoming car until both cars met on the crest of the hill.  Then it was too late.  But Andy had seen it and had steered for the verge on the left, but as the French driver was on the wrong side of the road, he also steered for the left... straight into Andy. 

The questions came again, if only he had a puncture; if only he was late in getting away from the market; if only his car wouldn’t start and he had to borrow my jeep; would it have been different?

It’s now nearly 3 months since my beloved son was killed and we still think of him every day.  We still cry most days and the pain will never go away.

Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling, July 2012

annemcguireAnne McGuire, MP for Stirling, has been named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by the charity Brake and Direct Line for her work highlighting the need to improve safety among foreign drivers to prevent devastating crashes. Anne’s call for action comes after the death of Andrew McLean, who was killed by a young French driver visiting the UK in September 2010.

Andrew McLean, 22, was a food delivery worker from Carnwath, South Lanarkshire. He was driving home from work when a car came towards him on the wrong side of the road. Andrew swerved to avoid the car, but the oncoming 23 year-old French driver instinctively steered in the same direction. The two cars collided, and Andrew died instantly. The other driver pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. He was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service and given an 18-month driving ban.

Andrew’s family wanted to campaign for the government to improve safety among foreign drivers, including looking at how they could be stopped from driving on the wrong side of the road. This led Andrew’s grandmother Mrs Billet to contact Anne McGuire about the family’s concerns.

Anne raised the issue in a parliamentary question in November 2011, asking how many fatal road crashes had involved a foreign visitor driving on the wrong side of the road. The minister responded that “inexperience of driving on the left” was recorded as a factor in 55 fatal crashes in five years, but specific statistics on driving on the wrong side were unavailable.

In July 2012, Anne secured an adjournment debate in Parliament, where she called for the government to establish the facts about foreign drivers on the wrong side of the road. She also highlighted possible measures, such as appropriate warnings at points of entry and devices fitted to vehicles to warn drivers when they are in the wrong lane.

Road safety minister Mike Penning welcomed Anne’s debate and highlighted the importance of listening to families campaigning on road safety whose family members have been involved in road crashes. He has agreed to meet with Andrew’s family and Anne in October to discuss their campaign further. Read the debate.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Anne has brought an important road safety issue to Parliament’s attention following a terrible tragedy. It’s vital for all drivers to know the rules of the road and stick to them; this includes drivers from abroad, who must ensure they understand UK speed limits, road signs and that we drive on the left. We urgently need to investigate ways of helping foreign drivers to drive safely on UK roads, to prevent further needless loss of life and the anguish that follows. We’re pleased to present this award to Anne, and to back Andrew’s family in their campaign for action.”

Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling, said: "With increasing number of foreign drivers using Britain's roads, it is important that we know whether there is a major problem.  At the moment, we are just not sure. I welcome the Minister's frankness in stating that he was surprised at the lack of meaningful statistics. Any lapse of concentration from those who are used to driving on the right hand side of the road can result in tragedy, and we should look at what measures are needed to ensure their safety and that of other drivers and road users.”

Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, July 2011

annettebrookeMid Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke has won a national Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award from the charity Brake and Direct Line for her campaign to improve cycle safety for children.

Annette felt compelled to take action to prevent needless deaths and injuries among children on our roads. In particular, she is determined to make cycling and walking safer for children.

On 14 July 2011, Annette presented the first readingof her Private Member's Bill to Parliament. The Bill would make it compulsory for children under the age of 14 to wear a cycle helmet. This acknowledges research showing that wearing a helmet significantly reduces the chance of serious brain injury in a crash, particularly among children [1].

If passed by Parliament, the law would not criminalise those cycling without helmets. Instead, cyclists under 14 found cycling without a helmet would be required to provide proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days to avoid a fine.

Her campaign has the support of Brake, the British Medical Association, brain injury charity Headway, the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, the Child Brain Injury Trust, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust.


While road casualties are falling at unprecedented rates in the UK, cyclist casualties are increasing. In 2010 cyclist deaths increased by 7% and serious injuries increased by 2% [2].

Evidence suggests that approximately 40% of pedal cyclists admitted to hospital in England suffer head injuries [3], which is why cycle helmet laws could make a huge difference. Scientific research into the protective effect of bicycle helmets has shown that they reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe brain injury by at least 75% [4].

In Britain, cycle helmet wearing rates remain shockingly low for children (much lower than among adults), having failed to increase in recent years: just one in five children (18%) are observed to be wearing a helmet, with the figure for boys lower still (13%) [5]. Research shows that legislation increases helmet use among cyclists, particularly in younger age groups and groups which are least likely to wear helmets before the introduction of legislation [6].

The Cycles Bill will have its second reading in Parliament on 4 November 2011.

This is not the first child road safety campaign that Annette has been involved with. In March, Annette took part in a debate in Westminster Hallagainst cuts to school crossing patrols. She argued that school crossing patrols are a low cost service that delivers vital safety benefits to children.

Annette has pledged to continue fighting for safer roads for children through her work in Parliament and in the local community.

Annette Brooke MP said: 'We have a duty to protect our children, and the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill will do just that. Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families. Children are at a higher risk because not only are their brains not fully developed but they are less experienced at cycling and on the roads in general."

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: "Brake supports Annette's Bill for compulsory cycle helmets for children and we are pleased to name her our Parliamentarian of the Month. Helmets are really effective in reducing the risk of serious head injury when cycling – so wearing a helmet is a simple step all cyclists can take to help protect themselves, but it's especially important for children. As well as encouraging more cyclists to wear helmets, we're urging the Government to invest in engineering measures like cycle paths and 20mph limits to make our roads safer for families, children and people of all ages to walk and cycle without their lives being endangered."

Communities worried about road safety problems can access advice on campaigning for safer roads by reporting their concerns to Brake's Zak the Zebra mascot at or by calling Zak's hotline on 08000 68 77 80.

[1] Bicycle helmets: review of effectiveness (Department for Transport, 2002)
[2] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results, Department for Transport, 2010
[3] The potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury: review of the evidence, Road User Safety and Cycling, Department for Transport Road Safety Research and Statistics Division, 2009
[4] Cycle helmets and the prevention of injuries: recommendations for competitive sport, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, 1998
[5] Cycle helmet wearing in 2008 (Department for Transport, 2009)
[6] Effectiveness of bicycle helmet legislation to increase helmet use: a systematic review, University of Alberta, 2005

Beep Beep! Day: fundraising

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. The money you raise supports this vital work.

Funds raised for Brake through events such as Beep Beep! Day help us to support bereaved and injured victims of road crashes, to campaign on various issues including for 20mph limits and crossings in communities.

Fundraising ideas for Beep Beep! Days

There are many ways you can raise money for Brake as part of your Beep Beep! Day event. Below are a few examples of fundraisers that other organisations have run and you can find more examples on our fundraising pages:

  • Have a bake sale! Baking is back in fashion and is an easy way for children to raise money for Brake. Make your favourite cupcakes or try our traffic light biscuit recipe and then sell them to parents, staff and pupils.
  • Hold a bring-and-buy sale or fun day and invite parents and local residents to have a stall or attend on the day, with proceeds going towards Brake.
  • Have a fun dress-down day! Encourage all the children to come to school dressed in bright clothes and donate a pound to raise money for Brake.
  • Play 'name the teddy' and give children the chance to win a cute teddy bear. Download our Name-the-bear Sheet; choose a name for the bear and seal it in an envelope. Charge £2 per guess. When the sheet is complete, announce the winner, who wins the teddy and donate the funds to Brake.
  • Guess how many sweets are in a jar.  Find a glass bottle; fill it with sweets of your choice, decorate
    with a ribbon and make it look attractive, count the sweets and seal the answer in an envelope. Charge £2 per guess. When the sheet is complete, announce the winner, who wins the sweets and donate the funds to Brake.

How your fundraising can make a difference:

£10 allows Brake to provide a free picture book for a child who has been bereaved in a road crash, to help them begin understand their loss, and guidance to their carers

£50 enables us to operate our helpline for an hour, supporting people affected by road crashes

£150 enables Brake to train 20 people to become campaigners for road safety in their community

£450 helps Brake to coordinate a road safety media campaign in a local community to help make their roads safer

pdf-bookFunds also help us produce resources such as our 'Someone has died in a road crash books' (pictured), which help children who have suffered the death of a loved one in a road crash. To order a copy, call 01484 559909 or email You can also go to, a Brake project committed to sharing best practice research and resources for professionals working with people affected by sudden bereavement. 

Return to the main Beep Beep! Day page.



Bradford South MP wins national road safety award

News from Brake
Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Bradford South MP wins national road safety award

Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, has today been awarded a parliamentarian road safety award by charity Brake and Direct Line.

The award recognises Judith’s dedication to road safety, both within her constituency and nationally. Since her election in 2015, she has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the weaknesses in criminal justice for drivers convicted of killing and seriously injuring by careless and dangerous driving.

Judith, along with other campaigners including Brake, helped secure an increase in sentencing for those found guilty of the most serious road crimes from the Ministry of Justice last month - a landmark victory for the families of road crash victims.

Locally, Judith Cummins has raised the profile of the Telegraph and Argus’ long-running ‘danger drivers’ campaign within her home town of Bradford and in Parliament, including speaking in numerous debates and helping tackle the issue of dangerous driving across the city.

Next week, Judith is holding an event to promote the importance of safe and considerate driving on Bradford’s roads, as part this year's Road Safety Week. 

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:"Judith is a worthy winner of this parliamentarian road safety award. Her tireless campaigning to help tackle dangerous driving on the roads of Bradford is to be applauded. Judith has also worked alongside Brake and others to make the Government recognise that the statute books have been weighed against families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have broken the law. The recent decision by the Ministry of Justice to increase sentences for the most dangerous drivers is a major victory in the fight for improved road safety." 

Accepting her award, Judith Cummins MP said: “I am delighted to have received Brake’s Road Safety Award off the back of my long-standing campaign to improve safety on the roads of my home city of Bradford. Dangerous and careless driving has been a blight on the communities of Bradford for far too long. The recent Government announcement that tougher punishments will be introduced for driving offenders was very welcome news. This change in the law is testament to what can be achieved when we all speak with one voice – I wish to thank everyone who made their voice heard by responding to the public consultation.

“Brake, as a national campaigning charity, has been tirelessly campaigning for improved road safety for many, many decades. Its greatly admired work supporting bereaved families is especially worthy of our praise. I very much look forward to continuing to work alongside Brake to campaign for better standards, stronger laws and tougher enforcement on the roads of Bradford and the whole of the UK.”


Notes to editors: 

About Brake

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

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

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

About 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 online.

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 backs European Day Without A Road Death

Tuesday 20 September

Brake, the road safety charity, is asking all road users to play their part in the first “European Day Without A Road Death”, otherwise known as Project EDWARD, on Wednesday 21 September.

The project is supported by all 30 members of TISPOL, the European Traffic Police Network, and will highlight all the work being done by organisations to try and halve the number of road deaths in the EU by 2020.

It is hoped that Project EDWARD will encourage all road users to reflect on their behaviour and attitude, as this remains one of the most important barriers to lowering road deaths.

Brake, though, believes more can be done than just focusing on driver behaviour. Strong legislation and leadership from authorities and governments can play a much more vital part, for example the UK government bringing back casualty reduction targets, banning all mobile phone use in cars and introducing a zero tolerance drink-drive limit.

In 2015 1,732 people died on the roads in Great Britain and 22,137 more were seriously injured . A reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets, axed in 2010, would be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road crashes, alongside a ‘vision zero’ approach that acknowledges that any road death is unacceptable.

There also needs to be more investment in safer systems to ensure that human error doesn’t cost lives, and that those who might wilfully endanger others through such acts as speeding and drink-driving are deterred by effective enforcement campaigns.

Alice Bailey, campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “Striving for zero road deaths is an ambitious but necessary long-term target. Preventable crashes tear apart families and communities and we should not accept any number. We must also acknowledge that the traffic causing these tragedies is a major contributor to carbon emissions, affecting the well-being and health of individuals and the planet. We should aspire to a world where governments, communities and companies work together to achieve zero road deaths and serious injuries, and streets that can be used without fear.”


Notes to Editors:

More on Project Edward here:

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, servicesfor 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.