Driving remains the single most popular form of transport in the UK, with the vast majority of commuters using cars to make their way to and from work. The UK’s infrastructure is practically built around cars, sometimes at the expense of pedestrians and other travellers, and sometimes with fatal consequences. The roads are undoubtedly a dangerous place to be, for drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians alike – but how dangerous, exactly?

Car Accidents in the UK

According to the UK’s road safety charity Brakes, death or serious injury occurs on UK roads every 22 minutes. In 2020 alone, over 1,500 casualties were recorded as a result of a road accident or incident. The figures paint a stark image of safety on roads in the UK, as pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable to injury at the hands of other road users.

Recent changes to the Highway Code have attempted to redress the balance, by instituting a road user hierarchy that gives priority to pedestrians and cyclists first, and HGV drivers last. Cyclists have also been given more rights in the form of road positions, enabling them to utilise personal judgement in the safest place to cycle. However, these changes will take time to fully integrate, and the dangers facing road users of all kinds remain ever-present.

Impact on the NHS

The impact of road traffic incidents and road-related casualties is felt on a far wider basis, with ramifications for numerous aspects of the UK’s infrastructure – not in the least the UK’s healthcare system. Recent statistics uncovered the material cost of fatal accidents to the NHS, indicating that each car accident involving a casualty costs the healthcare service over £2 million.

The vast majority of accidents examined were found to be caused by driver reaction error, more specifically a failure to properly look before manoeuvring. The preventability of these accidents highlights the unnecessary burden of road traffic accidents on healthcare, especially at a time when wards are stretched to their limits by a coronavirus and emergent environmental factors.

What Should You Do If You Are Involved in an Accident?

Unfortunately, though, car accidents remain a likely occurrence on UK roads – and in some cases, there is no preventing involvement in an accident. There are some preventative and preparatory measures you can take to reduce the impact of an accident on your health and financial wellbeing, though.

A common question in relation to accident likelihood relates to gap insurance, the insurance plans that protect the full value of your vehicle in the event of a write-off: is gap insurance worth it? The answer, generally speaking, is ‘yes’ for newer vehicles, and vehicles on finance. Past gap insurance, you should ensure your car has breakdown coverage to receive roadside assistance quicker.

In the event of suffering a car accident, you should first bring your car to a stop, switch on your hazards and switch off your engine. Try to note down as many details as possible, from the details of other parties involved to the number and severity of injuries suffered.