GET IN TOUCH : 01484 821 500

Throughout August it is National Road Victim Month and it is important to shed light on individuals injured/killed by accidents on the road. This awareness month is supported by the charity RoadPeace and they are campaigning to raise awareness by using the hashtag #CrashNotAccident.

On average, 5 people are killed every day and 60 people are injured. Since the first death by motor vehicle, that took place in 1896, over half a million people have been killed on the roads in Britain. Due to this, more families bereaved by crashes will be dealt with by a coroners court than a criminal court.

Inquests are held for road deaths where no criminal prosecution occurs and two thirds of fatal crashes result in an Inquest. The purpose of an Inquest is to investigate the circumstances of the death and provide the families of the victims with a better understanding what took place. Inquests allow for questions to be asked of the driver, witnesses or police to address any points of confusion. The process establishes who the deceased person was and how, when and where they died in order to provide the details needed for their death to be registered. In addition to this, the Inquest process assists in reducing the risk of future road deaths by examining the level of safety on the roads. Road deaths only make up 2% of the total number of Inquests and are not seen as a priority for coroners.

RoadPeace are campaigning for the Inquest process to be less traumatic by implementing the following steps:

  • An end to the cruel practice of Second Post Mortems—at a minimum, they should have to be conducted within days of the first.
  • Bereaved families to be better informed and more prepared for their Inquest. They should be encouraged to attend another inquest so they are familiar with the structure and process.Local guides to Inquests should be produced as coroner practice varies.Guidance on disclosure should be produced to ensure families
  • Bereaved families to have more rights. They should be allowed to read an opening statement about the deceased.Coroners should be encouraged to respect bereaved families’ request for inquest conclusion and PFD.
  • Bereaved families should be asked for feedback and thus test if the bereaved are truly at the heart of the system, as claimed by the Ministry of Justice.
  • Coroners to prioritise thorough investigations, even if these takes longer than the recommended timelines. Police investigations should not be cut short.
  • A cadre of specialist road death coroners should be developed--as there already is with military deaths.
  • Coroners to view road deaths as preventable and issue more PFDs. They should have to explain why a PFD was not relevant (this could be due to the local authority having already committed to engineering countermeasures).
  • Coroners to allow campaigners to be listed as ‘Properly interested persons’ and allow them to give evidence.
  • National consistency to be promoted by the identification of good practice key performance indicators for coroners. RoadPeace has called for a national stakeholder working group to be established to help the government achieve its aim of putting the bereaved at the heart of the Inquest system.

Further to the above, RoadPeace have the following suggestions to create a more effective Inquest process:

It will be interesting to witness the long overdue reforms with regards to the Inquest process and whether the suggestions provided by RoadPeace are implemented throughout the country. It is important to shed light on the number of #Crash victims throughout Britain and continue to raise awareness so that changes are made to improve the safety of our roads. Join our team in showing our support on social media using the hashtags #NationalRoadVictimMonth #CrashNotAccident and remember to tweet us at @RamsdensPI.

Our legal specialists can help you and your family get the answers you need at an inquest if you have suffered the loss of a loved one. At Ramsdens Solicitors our Inquest solicitors are here for you and we will work tirelessly to provide support and guide you from beginning to end of the process. To speak to a knowledgeable and experienced Inquest solicitor today, you can call us on 01484 821 500 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you at a time that is suitable for you.