For many of us, there are no words that can adequately describe the desolation felt when we lose a loved one, and it’s perhaps even more difficult when that special someone dies suddenly and without warning. Every year, thousands of people are killed in tragic circumstances on our roads, and for those who are left behind it can seem almost impossible to cope.
August was National Road Victim Month, and it served to highlight just how devastating it is for friends and relatives in the aftermath of a fatal accident. It’s a particularly poignant month on the calendar to be chosen because incidents increase during August due to a number of key factors.
Perhaps the most obvious is the fact that children aren’t in school, and will therefore be out and about far more often than in other months. Similarly, fatalities are increased among people of all ages who are on vacations, partly because of an unfamiliarity with the local roads and partly because they are perhaps less cautious when they’re away from home.
RoadPeace has been campaigning since 1992 for the families of victims, partly because the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers that are left to cope with a sudden and traumatic loss have little or no sympathy or support. A road death is just as abrupt and just as devastating as a murder, yet there is often virtually no accountability for the perpetrator.
Many deaths on our roads, of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, have been avoidable, and have been caused by the negligent or even criminal behaviour of an individual. Despite this, a significant number of these incidents go unpunished. For the families who have been bereaved, this outcome can often be just as damaging as the original loss.
The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in Paris in 1997 was perhaps the most high-profile road fatality of a generation, and it serves to highlight the sudden, unexpected grief that occurs in the aftermath of just such an incident. These days, there are five road deaths every single day in the UK, and every one of them represents yet another family grieving and struggling to cope with the immediate aftermath.
One of the areas in which RoadPeace are keen to help the bereaved families is with roadside memorials. These touching tributes are hugely important to loved ones, representing as they do the very last place that a parent, son or daughter was alive. RoadPeace believe these memorials need to be treated with greater care and sympathy by local authorities, and continue to campaign for an effective nationwide policy in regard to the treatment of the memorials.