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High profile cyclist incidents underline importance of Road Safety Week
Recent incidents involving high profile cyclists have highlighted the need for more to be done to improve safety on our roads according to one expert – and just in time for National Road Safety Week.
Joanna Bailey, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP who specialises in road collision injury cases, said as National Road Safety Week begins today (Monday, 19 November) - highlighting the worryingly high number of those that are killed or seriously injured through collisions - the recent headline-grabbing cyclist incidents had again put into question just how safe our roads are.
“According to the Department for Transport’s latest annual report, the number of UK cyclists killed or seriously injured has risen by 15% on the previous year,” said Joanna. “Part of the reason for this is that the number of cyclists on our roads has increased. Obviously that is to some degree down to the tremendous success of the British Olympic team, as well as because it’s a great way to get to work and to keep fit. But unfortunately as the number of cyclists on the roads has increased, so too has the number of serious injuries.”
Joanna, who for many years has specialised in helping the victims and families of victims affected by serious road collisions, said that cyclists will invariably come off worse if they’re involved in a collision.
“The recent high profile incidents have served to underline the fact that road safety is a massively important issue for everyone who uses the road, regardless of your experience or skill, and clearly more needs to be done to protect road users,” said Joanna. “We have long supported calls for measures to improve cyclists' safety, such as more widespread 20mph limits, more traffic-free and segregated cycle lanes - especially on key commuter routes - and awareness campaigns aimed at educating both cyclists and motorists in how they can share the limited road space we have.
“But we can all do more to make the roads safer. We’ve spent our entire driving lives developing bad habits, which is why I always say that the one test none of us ever want to take again is the driving test. If we’re being honest, most of us know we would fail.
“As road users we need to ensure we pay attention at all times,” she said. “That means not using our phones, watching our speed, and obviously not doing anything illegal such as drinking and driving or speeding.”
Whilst the latest Department for Transport figures* show that the number of collisions that occur is going down, unfortunately the number of those incidents that are either fatal or very serious has increased.
“The number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads last year was nearly 25,000 – that’s more than four times the capacity of the Velodrome at the London Olympics,” said Joanna. “Cycling is not inherently dangerous but like pedestrians, cyclists are more vulnerable and susceptible to serious injury than motorists. What we’ve seen is quite an alarming increase in the number of people that are being injured through a cycling collision.”
Joanna also stressed the importance of seeking specialist and independent advice in the event of a collision.
“Increasingly we’re being contacted by people who have already been offered a settlement by insurers, sometimes within days of being injured in a collision,” she said.
“But whilst the insurer of the vehicle that collided with you might be happy to look at any claim you put to them, they’re not under any obligation to tell you about all of the things that you are entitled to claim for. Many insurers will offer to settle an injury claim at a very early stage, but they might do that simply to bring the case to a finish, without you being able to be confident that you have secured the damages you need,” she warned.
“Victims only get one chance to make these claims and they need to be sure they’ve got the right advice, which is why getting somebody who is a specialist is so important.”
*Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2011 Annual Report, Department for Transport
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