Welcome to the October issue of our e-news. A key and urgent issue facing us today is the proposed changes to civil compensation which are expected to make it harder for victims of road crashes to find a solicitor to help them, increase their financial risk in claiming and then reduce the amount of compensation awarded at the end of it. Please see the RoadPeace website for more information about these proposals and other sources of information, and if you can, please take action and write to your MP.
Opposition to government's legal aid reform strengthens
More speak out against the government's proposed changes to 'no win no fee'. The family of Milly Dowler have written to David Cameron urging him to abandon the proposed reforms. International charities are also opposing the proposals, out of concern about victims of human rights abuses.
Although the Justice Minister has agreed belatedly to ban referral fees, the recent disclosure over his investments in the insurance industry has led to concerns over a potential conflict of interest.
New Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving charge
RoadPeace has been calling for serious injury to be mentioned in the charge since the launch of our Justice campaign in 1998, and on Friday the government announced a new Dangerous Driving charge that would both acknowledge a serious injury and carry a higher maximum custodial sentence. We welcome this announcement, but whilst moving in the right direction, this charge is expected to only apply to some 10-20 drivers a year.
Coroners' prevention power
The latest six month summary of coroner reports, which document those inquests where coroners have asked about action to prevent further deaths, has been published. Of the 22 reports related to road deaths, 20 involved the road environment. The inquest into David Vilaseca's death in 2010 resulted in the coroner asking DfT what more could be done to promote the use of sensors and cameras on lorries.
The lack of a report by the coroner in Eilidh Cairn's death, another cyclist killed by an HGV in February 2009, was one of the reasons which prompted her family to push for a judicial review of the inquest. This will be held on October 18th in London. Contact RoadPeace office for more information.
Stricter liability recommended by researchers, but not government
Whilst a recent report on understanding walking and cycling included a recommendation to reverse the burden of proof in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists, we are disappointed that the government has recently re-stated its opposition to this. In the government's response to the Transport Committee's report on the Cost of Motor Insurance, to which RoadPeace had submitted a response arguing for stricter liability, it stated:
'We do not favour an approach which shifts the burden onto one party rather than the other (as in stricter liability for example) which has the potential to force an innocent motorist to pay compensation (albeit through insurance)in a case where there is lack of, or inconclusive evidence.'
We would argue that under the current system the burden is on the injured and often innocent victim, and they are the ones who suffer from a lack of, or inconclusive evidence.
New Victim Strategy coming
We have an opportunity to improve the status of road crash victims. The Ministry of Justice have announced that they will be launching a consultation on their new Victims' Strategy in November. RoadPeace has asked the MOJ to confirm that they are aware of how road crash victims are discriminated against, including the lack of available data on how many people are killed or injured by law breaking drivers.
Better treatment for the bereaved
Following the report by the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses this summer for greater rights for victims of crime, Keir Starmer, Director of Prosecutions responded promptly and positively, pledging to provide an enhanced service for bereaved families.
Road danger reduction
2010 official record
The final count of the number of people killed in crashes in Britain in 2010 has been reduced by 7 to 1850. DfT has estimated the total cost of crashes to the nation at £32 billion, including those crashes not recorded by the police.
Transport Committee review
The Transport Committee has launched an enquiry into the DfT's Strategic Framework on Road Safety. Open until October 31st, it queries the government's decision to abandon casualty reduction targets, its action plan and its belief that the legislative framework is adequate.
Speed matters: motorway speed limit up?
Transport Minister has announced a consultation on raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph. RoadPeace, with many others, is opposing this move, on both casualty and environmental grounds. We will join with those committed to sustainable transport in countering this proposal, thanks to a grant from Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation.
RoadPeace is challenging Mr Hammond to meet with a bereaved family to explain to them face to face how the government can justify this increase in speed when they have acknowledged that it will result in an increase in deaths, and we urge RoadPeace members and supporters to do the same with any MP's who support the increase in this speed limit.
Speed matters: cameras under the spotlight again
Required by the coalition government, local authorities have begun releasing data on individual speed camera sites, including changes in collisions and speed. As expected, if not intended, the media has picked up on examples where casualty collisions increased after a camera was installed, but many of these involved very low numbers, including increases in just one or two collisions. After years of highlighting the role of regression to mean and random variation in collision trends, anti-speed camera campaigners have been notably silent on these statistically insignificant changes.
Impaired driving: drink-driving deaths down
The number of drink drive related deaths fell by 35% last year, but still 250 people died in these preventable crashes. Most drink drive deaths occur to the drink driver, with only 42 convictions last year for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink.
Welcome reform to drink-driving legislation in Northern Ireland
We welcome Northern Ireland's commitment to reducing, by nearly a half, the drink driving limit from 80mg/100ml to 50 mg/100ml blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Measures to tackle drink driving are long overdue in Britain, with calls for the adoption of the 50mg/100ml limit dating back over 30 years from health and road safety experts, most recently in the government-commissioned report by Sir Peter North in June 2010.
Transport and Health on the Move
The Transport and Health Study Group has updated its seminal publication Health on the Move . This report is highly recommended and is packed with data on how transport affects public health.
RoadPeace, a THSG member, attended their recent AGM and requested they calculate the cumulative health effect of motor vehicles with a total traffic related death and disability estimation. For instance, crashes and motor vehicle generated air pollution account for some 2.1 million deaths worldwide, similar in scale to current deaths from HIV/AIDS.
In June this year the Transport Committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of an amendment to the Koch Report (Amendment 35 7a.) as suggested by RoadPeace and FEVR, to have the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims officially recognised by the Commission and all Member States:
"Calls on the Commission and Member States officially to recognise the third Sunday in November as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, as the United Nations and World Health Organisation have already done, in order to raise public awareness of this issue"
This year the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims will take place on Sunday 20th November. More informaton about our 2011 services can be found on our website. In addition to these services, there will be a talk by Professor Danny Dorling in Bristol on Thursday 17th November looking at what harms us the most. There will also be a 'Sing for Safety' at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. More details will follow in our next e-news.
Are you a member?
RoadPeace is proud to be the only membership based road victims' charity founded on the principle of justice for victims and road danger reduction. We rely on an active and thriving membership to support our work. Please join us and add your voice to our campaign for justice for road crash victims and road danger reduction.
Work with us
We are looking for road danger reduction interns to work with us on our speed matters and lorry danger reduction projects – please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this opportunity.