New Code Aims To Help The Families Of People Who Are Involved In Serious Road Crashes
The government has revised its Victims' Code, which will ensure the families of people who are involved in serious road collisions can gain access to appropriate support.
Road safety charity Brake - which runs a Forgotten Victims campaign - has welcomed the move.
Under the terms of the updated code, people who are close to someone who has either died or suffered a serious injury in a crash will receive specialist help.
Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said it is important that families feel cared for and are "supported through their worst nightmares".
"In the terrible aftermath of a serious crash, it should not be left to reeling and traumatised families to seek out the help they need - yet this has been the reality for many," she commented.
The Victims' Code is aimed at people who are targeted by criminals, but has now been extended to include road accidents.
On announcing the changes this week (10 December), justice secretary Chris Grayling said he was looking to create a fairer system where victims have a stronger voice.
"I also want to ask everyone working with victims to help deliver the promises in the new code and make sure their needs are put first," he remarked.
Partly funded by the Ministry of Justice, Brake offers support to thousands of bereaved families every year and Ms Townsend believes this is a vital step in helping families to cope with a road death or injury.
The organisation works with police forces up and down the country and has also established partnerships with a range of specialist practitioners.
It has set up a UK-wide helpline and provides written information for families too.
Victims' commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove said the new code is a "step in the right direction" and she will report on how effective the reforms have been by the end of 2014.
Although she welcomed the changes, Ms Newlove believes more can still be done to aid victims and she plans to spend the next nine months working alongside a specialist team to identify areas in which further improvements can be made.
Through our work helping families who have lost loved ones in road accidents or those left with catastrophic life-changing injuries, we see the far-reaching consequences and effects that crashes have on so many lives.
"Coming to terms with the aftermath can be incredibly difficult, so it is very welcome to see the government refresh its guidance and commitment to ensuring that people have access to support when they need it the most.
"It is also good to see that work in this area does not just stop there, with further efforts planned to review the introduction of the Victims' Code and possibly consider how it can be improved."
Neil Whiteley - Partner