Tuesday 17th December 2013 – 9.00am – John Hawker.
The excitement is growing with children and adults all over the West Midlands in the run up to Christmas. With thousands of people doing last minute shopping, other preparations, and visiting family and friends, ambulance staff are appealing to the public to ensure that this year is not one to forget for tragic reasons.
Over the festive season it is a particularly poignant time to remind everyone to drive safely. By taking simple steps and using common sense, people can ensure that everyone has a happy Christmas and New Year.
Assistant Area Manager, Nigel Wells, said: “Simple things that seem the most obvious are by far the best ways to make sure all road users get home to their family; we want safe journeys not last journeys.
“The wearing of seatbelts by ALL occupants of a car can save lives and serious injuries, yet amazingly, some families still don’t. We have had cases where the driver and front seat passenger were wearing seatbelts and survived a crash with minor injuries. Unfortunately, the people travelling in the back were not using seat belts and tragically lost their lives.
“It is essential that all children have a seat belt on or are strapped into a suitable child seat before every journey begins; this should be done automatically.
“The overcrowding of cars is also an issue. Children travelling on the lap of a parent or an adult in a car is simply not an acceptable way to keep them safe. In an accident the adult would be powerless to prevent that child being thrown around the car and suffering serious or even fatal injuries. A simple rule should be the number of seatbelts in the car is the maximum number of people travelling at one time.
“Sadly, driving with any alcohol or drugs in your system can have a massive adverse effect on your ability to drive. Our advice is not to drink at all if you are driving, not even one. Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs not only puts your own life at risk, but risks the life of every other person on the road, including pedestrians.
“Driving whilst distracted can also have catastrophic effects. Being on the phone, texting, checking emails, writing a facebook comment all only take a couple of seconds, but that couple of seconds can lead to disaster with life changing consequences for everyone involved in the crash.
“Whilst we don’t want to be killjoys at this usual happy time of year, we are unfortunately only too familiar with dealing with the serious and sometimes fatal injuries of crashes that could simply be avoided. We would simply say one thing to all road users; please be sensible and use all the safety devices available to you when travelling this Christmas, as we would hate it to be you or your family members last one ever.”
Despite massive increases in traffic over the last few decades, the number of people killed on our roads has fallen from around 5,500 per year in the mid-1980s to 1,754 in 2012. However, this still means that nearly five people die on Britain’s roads every day. More than 400 people are killed in crashes involving young car drivers aged 17 to 24 years, every year, including over 150 young drivers, 90 passengers and more than 170 other road users. Around 200 lives each year could be saved if everyone always wore their seat belt.