The Department of Transport has recently released statistics on car accidents from 2009, which paint something of a reassuring picture: in total, the number of casualties is 222, down 4% from 2008. All around, there have been similar drops from 2008: there has been a drop of 12 per cent in the number of people killed in car accidents, along with a drop of 5 per cent in those seriously injured in car accidents; there has also been a drop of 4 per cent in those suffering minor personal injuries in car accidents.
It is, of course, reassuring to read that car accidents are down from the previous year; however, this drop is minor compared to the overall rise in road accident claims that can be seen even within the last decade. The number of car users on the street is constantly increasing, and with it, the risk of an automotive accident. There has also been a significant increase in the number of car accident claims being made. This is significant because such claims are typically made in cases of negligence or poor driver care, where a party can be held responsible for the accident.
In 1869, an Irish scientist became the first ever victim of a fatal car accident. In the year of 1869, the statistics on road accident death – had they been being compiled then – would be 1. So it may be unwise to feel too reassured by this drop in accidents, which is, after all, only over a single year, probably representing too small an amount of data to be considered statistically significant. Rather than rejoice over the increasing safety of the roads, a somewhat more pessimistic approach would be wiser: prepare for the worst, and ensure your own safety.
There are a number of possible ways to ensure one’s own safety on the road. Obviously, the best way of doing so is by following the law and the Highway Code; some parts of the Highway Code are included as recommendations, rather than actual legal requirements, but these remain good advice anyway, and following them is a sure way to increase one’s own road safety.
Additionally, it is a good idea to remove distractions. Studies show that listening to music can be a major distraction for drivers, as can conversation with passengers.
Furthermore, accidents are highly dependent on conditions. It is wise to avoid driving, if possible, in poor conditions.