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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Supporting the launch of Headway Dundee & Angus

Digby Brown were delighted to sponsor the launch of new charity Headway Dundee & Angus, supporting people with a brain injury across the area.

The launch event was held on Wednesday 28th November at The steeple Church in Dundee from 10am until 2pm.

It kicked off with Chris Stewart, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors and Head of the Serious Injury department, who welcomed over 80 attendees that came along.

Speakers from the charity included Colin Robertson and Issy Robertson giving a background about the work of the charity and what it means to members.

Other speakers included Ruth Waugh from the Angus Health and Social Care Partnership about services in Angus for people with acquired brain injury and Dr Lorna Langrell and Alison Hewitt from the Robert Ferguson Unit shared their knowledge about the impact of brain injury and the need for adjustment.

The charity then officially opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony by Colin Robertson from Headway Dundee & Angus and Baillie Helen Wright from Dundee City Council.

Colin Robertson, Chairman at Headway Dundee & Angus said: “The impact of brain injury can be severe and, in some cases, lifelong. It can mean losing both the life you once lived and the person you once were.

“But we know that with the right support, at the right time, there can be life after brain injury.

“We will be working hard to make sure brain injury survivors and their families get the support they need in this community.”

Chris Stewart said: “We firmly believe in the importance of giving something back to the community which is why we support Headway.

“Every day we see the benefit that comes from the charity and its volunteers through the irreplaceable support they provide brain injury survivors.”

Headway Dundee & Angus will meet every two weeks at Steeple Church to offer advice and support to those with brain injury, their families and carers. You can read more about the launch of the charity at The Courier.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Experimental 20 mph speed limit in Dundee – is it a good thing?

Since May 2018, traffic in and around “The Glens” area in Dundee has been subject to an experimental 20 mph speed limit which is set to be reviewed next May where it may become permanent and rolled out in other areas of the city.

This reduced speed limit was introduced by Dundee City Council in direct response to the area’s residents’ concerns about road safety, noise and air pollution following a city wide consultation in 2016.

One of the roads subject to this 20 mph speed limit is Johnstone Avenue, which is a busy route very close to St Johns High School and Kings Park School.

95% of the residents of Johnston Avenue who responded to the consultation were in favour of reducing the speed limit to 20 mph limit. This is not really surprising when residents have reported seeing cars being driven at speeds of up to 70 mph in the area.

This is clearly reckless behavior and fortunately an exception rather than the norm. Still, speeds of up to 40 mph in this area would not seem to be uncommon.

The main concern with regards to road safety is the risk vehicles driven at excessive speeds pose to pedestrians in the area – and school children in particular. This is a valid concern.

This year, Transport Scotland reported a rise in the number of pedestrians killed in road traffic accidents in 2017. Last year, they reported the highest number of child pedestrian fatalities in the last ten years, clearly highlighting the need for change.

Research has shown that the risk of death for pedestrians struck by cars increases significantly the faster a car is travelling.

Around 95% of pedestrians struck at speeds of below 20 mph will survive.  At speeds between 20 to 40 mph, nine out of ten pedestrians are killed.

And it is not just pedestrians who benefit by a reduction in impact speed: the probability of serious injury to a belted front seat car passenger is three times greater at an impact speed of 30 mph than that at 20 mph.

But while lowering the speed limit in and around “The Glens” was popular, only 51% of those who responded to the 2016 consultation were in favour of implementing a 20 mph speed limit in general in Dundee.

To be effective, however, reduced speed limits have to make sure drivers slow down and there is some skepticism as to whether they actually do.

Currently, the reduced speed limit in the area is only using signs and road markings. Without further traffic calming measures and enforcement, Dundee City Council are relying on motorists taking heed of the speed limit reduction and slowing down.

One representative from the council is suggesting that it was for residents in the area to set an example by adhering to the 20 mph limit around their homes.

The effectiveness of the experimental 20 mph limit in and around “The Glens” is yet to be seen. 

If drivers adhere to the speed limit, it will more than certainly reduce the risk of fatal and serious injuries to other road users, which can only be a good thing.

Let’s hope that they do.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dundee road casualties are dropping – is it enough?

In June 2009, the Scottish Government set national road accident casualty reduction targets for 2020 with the aim of improving road safety and reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads by 40% and 55%.

Provisional statistics for 2017 published by Transport Scotland reveal a continuing downward trend of reported road casualties in Scotland with the lowest numbers recorded since records began in 1950.

Sadly, however, there were still over 9,000 reported road casualties which included 146 fatalities and 1,580 people seriously injured. These statistics show that further measures are required to ensure our roads are as safe as possible for the individuals using them.

At a local level, provisional figures for Dundee City show that the total number of accidents and casualties is dropping, although the number of fatal and serious injuries reported remains the same in 2017 as the 2013 to 2017 average being one fatality and thirty three people seriously injured.

The overall reduction is good news. However, despite statistics showing the picture is improving, it is important to remember the devastation on a human level that is caused by fatal and serious road accidents.

To continue with these improvements, Dundee City councilors are being asked to agree to £150,000 of new road safety measures at areas across the city. Over a dozen locations have already been identified for improvement work in the coming year, but these changes may not be popular with everyone.

Earlier this year, an experimental 20 mph zone was brought into force targeting specific residential areas around Dundee. These measures were not universally popular with residents but they could potentially become permanent and rolled out to other areas of the city from next May.

Although the lower 20mph speed limits will mean longer journey times for drivers, which can be frustrating, driving at 20mph instead of 30mph can make a big difference if you are involved in a road traffic accident.

A belted front seat passenger is three times more likely to be seriously injured in an impact speed of 30 mph than 20 mph. For pedestrians, that difference could be life saving.

Around 95% of pedestrians who are struck at speeds below 20 mph will survive. At speeds between 20 to 40 mph, nine out of ten pedestrians are killed.

We act for a number of individuals injured as a result of accidents on Dundee’s roads as well as family members of loved ones sadly killed as a result of these accidents. We see first-hand the devastation that these road accidents cause and welcome improvements that can avoid destruction on our roads.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dundee staff have a race night in aid of the Food Train

Staff in our Dundee office managed to raise a fantastic £1,116 for their local charity of the year, The Food Train, by hosting a Race Night. The night took place on the 21st September at the Queens Hotel.

As well as the racing, guests were treated to a game of Human Bingo and Stovies, which were sponsored by Digby Brown.

Guests at the Digby Brown Dundee Race Night

There were some fantastic prizes up for grabs for the race winners including Gin from St. Andrew’s distillery Eden Mill and a limited edition bottle of James Eadie Single Malt Whisky.

The Food Train provide support services for the elderly, delivered by volunteers. This can range from food shopping to offering befriending services in the local area.

Robert Kernaghan, Partner in the Dundee office said: “We were delighted to raise such a fantastic amount for this great charity. The Food Train offers amazing services allowing older people to live independently at home for as long as possible. We know these funds will go towards continuing these services.”

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Learner Drivers v Learner Riders: How the law differs

Earlier this year we highlighted the recent change in law that allows learner drivers to take driving lessons on motorways.

How does the law for learner motorcyclists differ? And what other restrictions apply to motorcyclists?

Can learner motorcyclists ride on motorways?

The Government have confirmed the recent change in law to allow learner drivers on the motorway DOES NOT extend to learner motorcyclists.

Learner motorcyclists are not party to the new legislation, meaning motorways remain out of bounds for riders with “L” plates.

It has been said that one of the main reasons the legislation has not been extended to motorcyclists is because instructors have no control over learner’s bikes, unlike cars which often have dual controls.

Other restrictions learner motorcyclists should know:

  1. You must only learn to ride a “learner approved motorcycle” (“LAM”)
  2. You must clearly display an L plate at the rear of your motorcycle. Alternatively you can wear a high visibility vest with a large “L” printed on the back
  3. You must be supervised by a person who holds an open licence. The supervisor must follow you at a safe distance on another motorcycle or in another vehicle
  4. You cannot carry a pillion passenger.
  5. You must carry your licence with you wherever you ride
  6. You must comply with the no alcohol limit.

How does obtaining a full licence differ for riders?

In order to obtain a full motorcycle licence, a motorcyclist must take and pass a motorcycle theory and hazard perception test similar to obtaining a car driving license.

However, riders must complete a two part practical test on a motorbike with the relevant engine size.

One of the main differences to obtaining a motorcycle license is that there are different categories for a full motorcycle license depending on the size of the engine.

Four categories of a full motorcycle licence

AM Licence: This is a licence for riders over the age of 16 and will allow you to remove the L plates and carry a pillion passenger on your moped or scooter. However, you are only permitted to ride a moped with an engine size of up to 50cc.

A1 Licence: Commonly referred to as a “light motorbike” licence, an A1 licence will allow 17 - 19 year-olds to have a full licence on a machine between 120 and 125cc. You need to have held an A1 full motorcycle licence for a minimum of two years before you can upgrade to an A2 licence by taking another two part practical test.

A2 Licence: One of the more popular bike licences if you are aged between 19 and 24-years-old. To obtain such a license the test and training must be taken on a bike with an engine size of up to 500cc or many training schools run restricted versions of higher powered bikes.

After passing, you can ride any size/cc of motorbike but the power is capped at 35 Kwh (47bhp). When you have held an A2 bike licence for a minimum of two years you can upgrade to an A unrestricted licence by taking another two part practical test on a bigger bike.

An A2 licence is the preferred route for many young riders looking to get a full, unrestricted licence in the quickest time.

A Licence: There are two ways of getting an A class bike licence – sometimes referred to as DAS or Direct Access Course.

  • At age 21+ having held a full A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years
  • At age 24+

The test and training must be taken on a machine of a minimum engine size of 595cc that must produce at least 40 Kwh (54 Bhp).

With this licence you can ride any motorcycle, any engine size – no restrictions!

Why are there so many hurdles to getting a full motorcycle license compared to a driving license?

You may be forgiven for feeling confused and perhaps a little surprised that there are more hurdles to overcome when it comes to obtaining a full motorcycle licence compared to a driving licence.

However it is helpful to keep in mind the main advantage of learning to ride a motorcycle versus a car is once you have your provisional licence and a set of L plates you can ride unaccompanied on a 125cc motorbike anywhere…except on motorways!

Perhaps it is no bad thing motorcyclists have more hoops to jump through. Injuries to motorcyclists are disproportionate to their presence on our roads. Motorcyclists are just 1% of total road traffic, but account for 19% of all road user deaths.

Motorcyclists are advised to ride defensively to reduce vulnerability on the road. This includes making sure you:

  • anticipate the actions of others
  • are alert and observant
  • can slow down and stop if the unexpected happens
  • position yourself in the safest and best place to maximise your visibility of potential hazards
  • take a 'lifesaver' glance over your shoulder before carrying out manoeuvres, so you know where others are and what they’re doing

These behaviours come with experience. Although the process of finally holding a full licence may seem long, the experience gained during the course of completing the different licences will prepare you for the roads and hopefully reduce the chance of becoming part of the above statistic.

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