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Lawyer: Too Many Scots Still Being Killed On Roads

Expert Comments On New Safety Statistics


Too many Scots are still being killed or seriously injured on the roads, says a leading Scottish lawyer following the publication of the latest road casualty stats.

Elaine Russell, personal injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Scotland, said the figures represented improvement, but added that thousands of people being left with life-changing, or even fatal, injuries was still thousands too many.

The latest Scottish Road Casualty Statistics, published this summer, reveal that a total of 13,324 people were left injured in road crashes in 2010, including 2,168 who were seriously injured or killed. Of these, 106 vehicle drivers or passengers, 35 motorcyclists, seven pedal cyclists and 60 pedestrians were killed. There were 1,375 child road casualties in Scotland in 2010.

Irwin Mitchell represents scores of victims of road crashes who have been left picking up the pieces of their lives following road crashes and now the firm is backing National Road Victim Month, taking place throughout August 2011, to raise awareness of the devastating impact that road crashes can have. Irwin Mitchell Scotland’s clients include:

  • Fife woman Marlene Clarke, left lucky to escape with her life and nursing a number of serious injuries including a head injury, a fractured cheek bone, a badly fractured ankle, extensive laceration to her leg and bruises across her body after a car being driven by an elderly woman crashed headlong into her own vehicle.
  • A Glaswegian cyclist left with shoulder and neck injuries as well as a laceration to his scalp after he was hit by an oncoming car that careered into his path.

Elaine Russell, partner and serious injuries expert at Irwin Mitchell Scotland heads the department which secured undisclosed settlements for both of these clients and many others, said: “The figures may well represent an encouraging improvement to the number of people being injured or killed on Scotland’s roads, but well over a hundred people were killed on our roads in 2010 and that is clearly far, far too many.

“Regardless of what the causes are – they range from a simple lack of concentration to driving poorly or dangerously and in hazardous conditions – road crashes are, by their very nature, almost always avoidable. That means thousands of people are being injured, or worse, every year unnecessarily.

“Cases such as the ones we handle are clearly much too common, and if anything the problem is as bad in the summer as it is in the winter. August 2011 is National Road Victim Month and I hope people take time to consider the devastating consequences that poor driving and a lack of consideration for other road users can have.

“Our cyclist client, for example, never cycles on footpaths and has state-of-the-art road lighting equipment on his bike to improve his visibility to drivers. However, it was the actions of another road user that put him so much at risk.

“In the year ending March 2010 over 450 people across Scotland were admitted to hospital as ‘a pedal cyclist injured in a transport accident’. We are currently right in the middle of the summer months – a time when more people, particularly children, are likely to be out cycling – I would urge all road users to make every effort to remain cautious.”

The cyclist – who wishes to remain anonymous – was cycling home from Glasgow centre in April 2010 when a car driving in the opposite direction turned directly across his path – unable to avoid the vehicle, he was thrown over the bonnet and landed on his head.

He was wearing a helmet but still sustained serious injuries and has now urged Glasgow’s road users to look out for each other.

He said: “I have cycled in many cities, some in mainland Europe, and I have never been involved in any collisions until last April – it was a truly terrifying experience. Drivers must never forget their responsibilities to other road users and should remember how vulnerable cyclists can be.

“As a serious cyclist and regular commuter, I am very aware of the poor image that cycling has amongst car drivers and have always made every effort to improve common misconceptions – I never jump red lights and I never ride on the pavement.”

Marlene Clarke, from Fife, a registered nurse who works in a care home in Anstruther, was approaching an s-bend on the B9131, approximately a quarter of a mile north of Station Road, in June 2008 when she realised a car which had been overtaking a number of other vehicles was heading straight towards her.

She took evasive action, swerving sharply to the left, but the oncoming vehicle hit the driver’s side of Mrs Clarke’s car, pushing her into the field where she had to be cut from her car by emergency services.

She said: “It was a horrifying experience and I’m still suffering now. I was luckily able to return to work eventually, and I have made a reasonable recovery, however my painful foot injury is a daily reminder that due to a careless elderly driver I have a permanent disability and I am still under the care of the orthopaedic consultant.

“It makes you realise how much you rely on other drivers to be safe and sensible – and how quickly your life could be taken away in a flash because of other people’s stupidity.”

If you or a loved one has been involved in a road traffic accident, our personal injury solicitors team could help to get the compensation, rehabilitation and support you deserve. Visit our Road Traffic Accident Compensation page for more information.