‘Road deaths and injuries shatter lives’
In 1896, the death of Bridget Driscoll in Britain was the first worldwide death of a person to be killed by a car. The coroner said he hoped such a thing would never happen again. But the road death toll in Britain has reached close to 1 million and worldwide 30 million. EACH year across the world over 1.2 million people are killed on the road, and for every death 4 people are permanently disabled, 30 treated in emergency rooms and 10 hospitalised.
Heathcote Williams, in his book Autogeddon, speaks of the ‘Third World War nobody bothered to declare’ when referring to the carnage on the world’s roads.
RoadPeace is UK’s specialist charity for people bereaved and injured through a road crash. It is dedicated to road victims’ welfare and interests and its declared aims are:
to “support and empower today’s road traffic victims, monitor the quality of services they receive, and to stop future generations from becoming victims.”
Set up in 1992, RoadPeace’s first ever helpline for road crash victims - 0845 4500 355 - is a lifeline offering vital information, advice and support on 7 days a week, 12 hours each day from someone with expertise, empathy and understanding. This is supported by free literature written from the victims’ perspective - about investigation, prosecution and civil claims - and based on the experience of thousands of cases.
Long-term support and friendship are offered through mailings, local groups, annual events and many joint acts and ways of remembrance:
RoadPeace’s essential role is championing the rights of road crash victims - to ensure that the trauma they suffer not only receives acknowledgement, but is properly addressed. RoadPeace researches and documents the experiences of road victims, using the findings to inform and influence agencies, policy makers and media in order to improve the deeply unsatisfactory legal response and treatment of road crash victims. RoadPeace campaigns for the voice of road crash victims to be heard, and for their perspective to be included, in all partnerships and initiatives that are of relevance. Victims of property crime, even minor theft, have at present more rights than injured road victims, including those permanently disabled. RoadPeace believes that road victims should be represented by organisations of and for victims and that funding by government of their work would be both justified and cost effective.
RoadPeace launched a Campaign for Justice for Road Traffic Victims in
July 1998, which makes demands for six crucial areas: victims’ right to information and consultation *investigations to national standards *criminal justice *civil justice *national standards for physical and psychological medical care *all relevant government departments to work in partnership to address this major human rights and public health disaster in partnership. As part of this Campaign, RoadPeace set up an All Party Parliamentary Group for Justice for Road Traffic Victims in November 1998 – this group has over 150 members and hold regular meetings on topical issues in both Houses – in 2005 its work centred on the Road Safety Bill and Road Traffic Law.
RoadPeace has also set up a Lawyers’ Group, with the aim of Personal Injury lawyers becoming more sensitive to the plight of road crash victims and achieving fairest possible outcomes within legal restrictions.
RoadPeace - working for road danger reduction
RoadPeace also works for real road safety - to reduce the causes of road crashes and risks to vulnerable road users. It supports road victims in their efforts to have lessons learnt from their tragedies, so they are not repeated.
RoadPeace regularly highlights specific road danger issues, especially during August National Road Victim Month, introduced by them in 1998. Examples are campaigns - Against Hit and Run, Against the Body-count for speed cameras, Against Aggressive Driving, etc., campaigns which are always supported by RoadPeace’s local groups.
RoadPeace works in collaboration with many like-minded organisations, in particular with those campaigning on transport safety issues, and has forged various coalitions over the years (some as founder member): The Transport Activists Roundtable, Pedestrian Policy Group, Slower Speeds Initiative and Safer Streets Coalition – the latter a coalition of 29 social justice groups.
RoadPeace – working at international level
Since early 1993, RoadPeace has been an active member of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (FEVR), an umbrella organisation of international victim organisations with similar objectives and principles, who meet bi-annually to plan joint international actions and campaigns. RoadPeace’s Founder Brigitte Chaudhry is the present FEVR President.
RoadPeace participates at United Nations working parties due to FEVR ‘s consultative status, and with many of FEVR member organisations cooperates with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its new role of Coordinator of worldwide road injury prevention work. The cooperation of WHO with Road Victim Advocacy NGOs will continue, with the quintessential aim of halting the global increase of road deaths and injuries, which must be of concern to everyone who travels to other countries, and of providing assistance to road crash victims. RoadPeace will represent the interests of UK road users and road crash victims at this important international collaboration forum.
Vision for the Future
RoadPeace’s Vision is for a world in which road deaths and injuries are no longer treated by the economy as acceptable, by the judicial system as trivial and by society as accidents, and in which road crash victims are no longer treated as third class victims, but as people who have undergone a terrible trauma and who therefore need justice, respect for their rights, care, support and acknowledgement of their loss and suffering.
RoadPeace’s Vision is for a time when there will be minimal need for any road victim charity’s existence, because the risk of road use will have been reduced to that of air or rail travel, with concurrently improved services and criminal and civil justice for the greatly reduced number of road crash victims.