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Were you aware that August is National Road Victims Month?

National Road Victim Month is held annually in August to remember people who have been killed or injured on our roads. As well as honouring people that have been killed or injured, it is also a great opportunity to raise awareness to make our roads safer.

Which month do you think that the most traffic accidents occur in? You might expect the answer to be one of the winter months because fog, ice and snow increase the risks to road users. Actually, it is August that usually sees more fatalities on UK roads than any other month.

For this reason, road traffic accident charity RoadPeace recognise August as National Road Victim Month to give public recognition to the terrible toll of road death. August increases the likelihood of road traffic accidents due to two main reasons:

  1. More vehicles on the road due to holidaymakers
  2. Children are off school and often out and about with friends; meaning more pedestrians

The charity chose August for National Road Victim Month to raise awareness because it is the month in which a number of notable road traffic deaths occurred. The world's first motor vehicle victim, Mary Ward, was killed on 31 August 1869 in Ireland; 150 years ago. Mary, along with three other passengers were travelling on a road locomotive steam engine. The first person to be killed by a car in the UK was Bridget O'Driscoll who died on 17 August 1896; she received fatal injuries when she walked into the path of a car when it was giving demonstration rides in the grounds of Crystal Place. At the time, there were fewer than 20 petrol cars in Britain. Notably, Princess Diana also tragically died in a car accident, in Paris, on 31 August 1997.

Unfortunately, there were 1,782 reported road fatalities in the UK in the year ending June 2018 (2019 figures are not available until November); that is more than 34 people every week. This saw an increase of 3% from 1,718 in the previous year. Motor vehicle traffic increased by 0.6% over the same twelve months. Therefore, the fatality rate per billion vehicle miles increased by 2% to 5.4 and the overall casualty rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 7% in the year ending June 2018 to 500. [Figures from the Department of Transport.]

The likelihood of having been in a car accident or knowing someone who has is highly likely, but would you know how to behave if you came across the scene of a serious car crash?

The following is a step by step guide should you be first on the scene at an accident:
  • Ensure your own safety - make sure that all traffic has stopped and is made aware that there is an accident otherwise there may be additional casualties
  • If other people are around; get them to phone the emergency services. If you are on your own, assess the situation and treat any life threatening injuries
  • Establish, as quickly as possible, how many vehicles have been involved and assess the occupants of all the vehicles to ensure no one has life threatening injuries
  • Check if quiet casualties are responsive; if there is no response check they are breathing. If they are unresponsive and breathing ensure that their airway can remain open. Keep talking to them, as they can hear even if they are unconscious. Keep them warm
  • Support the head and neck to avoid them twisting
  • If the person is not breathing you will need to resuscitate
  • Only remove an unconscious person from a vehicle if there is an immediate danger to their life, i.e. from flood, fire or explosion
  • Conscious casualties should be entrusted to the care of bystanders and removed from the wreckage to a safe are. The bystanders should be advised to keep the casualty warm and calm and to look for any major bleeding that may not have been previously noticed.
  • People thrown from horses, motorcycles or bicycles are at particular risk of damaging their pelvis. A fractured pelvis can lead to internal bleeding
  • Anyone trapped in a vehicle should be carefully monitored and the emergency services notified immediately
  • If there is severe bleeding this will need to be controlled; wear gloves and apply dressings
  • If a motorcyclist is involved only remove their helmet if they are unconscious and there is no other way to assess their breathing or their airway is in danger. Try lifting their visor and/or loosening the chin strap
  • If a casualty has been hit by a car and they are lying on their back unconscious and breathing, they should be carefully rolled into the recovery position
  • If a casualty has been hit by a vehicle or thrown from one and they are conscious in the road, they should ne encouraged to keep still. Keep them warm and still. Ensure that someone is directing traffic and maintaining safety.