While the media spotlight has so often concentrated on the “increasing” number of personal injury claims and so-called “fraudulent” road traffic injuries, the Welsh government has taken a different tack.
Acknowledging that a significant number of accident victims on the roads are severely injured or killed as a result of somebody else’s negligence or stupidity they have launched a campaign to significantly decrease the number of road accidents.
The plan is to cut the number of serious or fatal injuries in Wales by 400 a year. The number of people killed on Welsh roads actually rose from 89 to 121 last year.
The Government’s proposals include cutting the speed limits at specific places known to be accident prone, reducing the alcohol limit to cut the number of incidents caused by drunk drivers, installing protective cushioning around signposts and increasing penalties for those drivers who tailgate or undertake other vehicles on Welsh roads.
One of the commonest injuries caused by road traffic accidents is the neck injury known as whiplash. This is most often caused by people who tailgate another vehicle. When the vehicle in front has to stop suddenly to avoid an obstacle or another vehicle, then the vehicle that is behind inevitably collides from the rear causing the driver or passenger’s neck to jerk forwards violently. It has been shown that even small collisions can cause whiplash or related injuries.
The mother of a road accident victim on the A547 in 2008 near Dyserth backed the Government’s proposals. Her daughter was killed by a drunk driver in another vehicle in the crash. Mrs Coulton said that a zero drink driving limit, especially for young people, made a lot of sense. She said that people would understand exactly what was involved in the rule and it would be a lot easier to enforce. She also said that any reduction in the drink driving limit would see a minority of people deliberately flouting the law, so sentences should be made tougher as well.
The young waitress’s mum said that the person who caused the loss of life of her daughter got away with four years imprisonment, but their family will suffer a life sentence of grief as a result of the loss.
William Knightly, a North Wales Police Authority member said that his brother in law was also killed by a drunk driver in a road traffic accident and backed the changes to the law proposed by the Government.
The Welsh Government’s Transport Minister, Carl Sargeant, said that deaths on Welsh roads were “avoidable and unacceptable”, when summarising the proposals.
A quarter of deaths and serious injuries on the roads are calculated to be due to be related to drink driving, while significant numbers were also due to speeding.
The proposals to make signs and signposts more accident friendly included making them collapse when hit by a vehicle that skidded or careered off the road in a collision or accident.