Road Safety Week 2013 – Distractions


From 18th to the 24th November it is Road Safety Week. This year's theme is distractions. However, also running concurrently with Road Safety Week is Alcohol Awareness Week, and the risks of mixing alcohol with driving need little explanation. We've teamed up with the Brain Injury Group to raise awareness of driver distractions and the sometimes tragic consequences.

Distracted Driver Using Mobile Phone

What can distract a driver?

The answer to this question is very broad. The main message to take home is that any kind of multitasking whilst using the road is dangerous. From using a phone, or turning to the passengers in the back of the car right up to simple things such as eating and smoking. Due to their 'fiddly' nature, a satnav can often also affect a driver's attention to the road.

The message extends to any road users, which includes cyclists and pedestrians. Using the road requires your full attention. Therefore simple activities such as listening to music with headphones or crossing the road whilst on the phone can be risky.

As a law firm with a particular experience in brain and spinal injuries, we see the chilling effects of a distracted driver far too often.

What are the statistics for things like texting while driving?

Around a third of driver's admitted to texting whilst driving according to officially gathered statistics. The consequences of actions like this are supported by research from the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents that stated 40% of road accidents are caused by someone who 'failed to look properly'.

What's alarming is that driving whilst using a phone has been constantly on the increase for years, despite changes in the law to curb it. Numerous studies have also shown significantly higher reaction times, and this was still the case when using hands-free, or a cradle.

What kind of laws are in place to deal with driver distraction?

Using your phone in any way without a hands-free kit is a criminal offence, including cradles. Criminalisation is doing little to curb such activities, as the amount of drivers doing this has actually increased.

The law does, however, allow someone injured as the result of a driver's carelessness to make a claim for compensation.

Generally speaking, if someone has injured another person through careless actions, such as driving whilst distracted, they are entitled to compensation to a level that tries to put a person back in the position they were in had they not been injured. That said, if you've experienced a life-changing brain injury, money by itself won't turn back time, though it can be used to address you or your loved ones care and rehabilitation needs.

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