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Monday, December 31, 2018

Is speeding worth the risk?

Earlier this year, it was highlighted that 1,250 Scottish drivers were caught speeding in a mere week. It is clear that drivers are not recognising the risks involved.

A report by Police Scotland stated that 949 drivers were identified as driving above the limit by speed cameras and another 306 were stopped by police officers.

One driver was caught driving at 118mph in a 70mph limit on the A9 south of Inverness.

Another report found that more than 50 drivers were speeding near a number of Highland primary schools.

This is particularly worrying considering that children are less able to accurately judge the speed vehicles are travelling at, meaning it is more likely that they could walk out onto the road in front of your car.

We represented a young school pupil struck by a speeding driver after she was left with a life changing brain injury. The motorist was driving at 54mph – even though the speed limit was 30mph - and as she crossed the road with a friend, she was hit.

The faster you drive, the less likely it is that you will have enough time to identify a hazard such as a pedestrian crossing the road and will have enough time to react and stop the car.

At 20mph, it will take you about three car lengths to stop. At 30mph this increases to six car lengths, at 40mph, this rises to NINE car lengths. This will be even longer if you are tired or distracted by something.

Consider the difference that could make if a pedestrian steps out onto the road between parked cars, or someone gets out of a parked car.

It is also far more likely that the faster you drive, you will cause serious and life changing injuries in the event of an accident.

Stats clearly show that if a pedestrian is hit at 30mph they have a one in five chance of being killed. At 35mph, this increases to one in three.

You may think that because a child steps out in front of the vehicle, that by law they would be completely at fault. However, this is not always the case.

If a pedestrian walks out onto the road without looking properly and steps in front of an oncoming vehicle, it could still be possible for them to make an injury claim against the driver. However, there would be much debate over contributory negligence – how much was the pedestrian to blame, and this percentage would then be deducted from their compensation settlement.

For example, if the court determines that the pedestrian was 20% to blame for the accident and their own subsequent injuries, then their final compensation would be reduced by 20%.

Read more about what happens if pedestrians are partly to blame for the road accident.

For those caught speeding by the police, the minimum penalty is a £100 fine and three penalty points. For experienced drivers, you could lose your license if you have 12 or more penalty points within three years.

For new drivers, this could mean losing their license entirely if they have accrued six or more penalty points within two years of passing their test.

Quite simply, speeding is not worth the risk to yourself and those around you. Remember speed limits are in place for a reason, and you should reduce your speed to suit road conditions.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Is the lower drink driving limit working in Scotland?

In December 2014, the Scottish Government reduced the drink driving limit in an attempt to reduce road traffic accidents and the number of fatal injuries on our roads.

The limit was lowered in Scotland only from 80mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres to 50mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the limit remains at 80mg.

Studies from other European countries that introduced a lower drink driving limit witnessed a reduction in the number of road traffic accidents and it was thought similar results would be seen in Scotland.

Has it worked?

A recent two-year study from Glasgow University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing shows the number of road traffic accidents and fatal injuries have actually seen a slight increase since the lower drink driving limit was brought into force.

Throughout 2016 there were 6,070 road accidents which involved drink driving, costing the Scottish economy around £80million.

It is believed that the lack of positive change is due to inadequate police enforcement and media campaigning.

Festive crackdown on drink driving

Earlier this month, Police Scotland launched its annual festive Drink Driving campaign, warning of the serious consequences of drink-driving.

They will be increasing the number of drivers pulled over and breathalysed. Last year, 567 drivers failed breath tests across the festive season.

Why should you comply with the lower drink driving limit?

There are serious consequences for those that choose to drink and drive. Alcohol slows down the brain, which in turn can lead to numerous issues. These include:

  • Taking longer to receive messages from the eye
  • Processing information becomes difficult
  • Instructions to muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times.

You are also at risk of double vision making it harder to see hazards on the road, and are more likely to take risks, making the chances of being in an accident much greater. You risk causing serious injury to yourself, and others, in the event of an accident.

If you are caught drink driving, you may lose your license, receive a criminal record or be sentenced to prison. All of these have far-reaching consequences – for example, you could struggle to find a new job, especially if it involves driving or face difficulty travelling abroad.

For more information, read our blog Is driving after one drink worth the risk?

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Friday, October 05, 2018

Edinburgh Young Drivers returns for an eighth year

This week over 2,000 sixth year pupils from Edinburgh schools have attend this year’s Edinburgh Young Drivers event at the Corn Exchange. The event promotes awareness of the consequences that could be faced by these new drivers as they begin their journey onto the roads.

The exhibition included presentations from Lothian and Police Scotland which were hard hitting and demonstrated the need to be aware of your surroundings when driving on the road. Laura Torrance from Spinal Injuries Scotland also shared her emotional story after she was left with a spinal injury from a road traffic accident at the age of 16.

Edinburgh Young Drivers get to use the crash simulator showing the importance of a seat belt

The pupils were able to take part in interactive activities such as a the crash simulator stressing the importance of wearing a seat belt and trying out drunk goggles to showcase the impact of alcohol on driving ability.

Sixth years were also given the opportunity to participate in a mock court run by volunteers from Digby Brown’s Edinburgh office. The court trial, based on a real case, shows the impact that a road accident can have on a family and allowed the pupils to determine the penalty that the accused party should face for causing the road traffic accident.

Sixth year pupils take part in a mock court run by Digby Brown

Simon Hammond, Partner from our Edinburgh office said: "There are too many avoidable road traffic crashes in and around Edinburgh with the consequences sometimes proving life-changing for the survivor or their loved ones.

“What can make these more tragic is many of them involve young or newly qualified drivers.

“Our court exercise at the Edinburgh Young Drivers event may be a demo but the details are based on real cases which keenly highlight the very real after-effects of road traffic collisions.

“If this event helps save even one life, then it’s a project we at Digby Brown are proud to support.”

The event is now in its eighth year and is organised in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council, Police Scotland, NHS Lothian, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Transport Scotland and Scottish Safety Camera Unit (East) and is supported by Lothian and Digby Brown.

To see updates from the event, follow Edinburgh Young Drivers on Twitter.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Edinburgh office walk the walk for Fresh Start

Solicitors from Digby Brown's Edinburgh office walked an incredible 26 miles from Edinburgh to North Berwick along the John Muir Way to raise funds for charity partner Fresh Start, who help homeless people in the area.

Our office nominated Fresh Start as the charity they would support throughout 2018. Already, they have taken part in the Edinburgh Marathon raising £1,225 for the charity.

The team set off at 8am on Sunday morning from the Edinburgh office located at 160 Causewayside and were joined by colleagues along the route at Prestonpans and Longniddry before finishing at North Berwick.

The team from our Edinburgh office pass the beach on their 26 mile walk along the John Muir Way

How Edinburgh charity Fresh Start make a difference

The experience of being homeless can have a devastating impact. Fresh Start, based at Ferry Road in Edinburgh, help those who have been homeless settle into a new home and back into their community.

They achieve this by delivering Starter Packs of everyday household goods, a Hit Squad to help decorate rooms, and an opportunity to go to cooking classes and work in one of their community Growing Spaces.

Their services help people get their life back on track, empowering them to make a home for themselves and ultimately make sure that people do not end up back on the streets.

Edinburgh office:

“This was a great team effort. When we started to flag, we all encouraged each other to go that extra mile so to speak. Knowing the difference this charity makes to people in Edinburgh really urged us on.

“We are very proud to support Fresh Start and say we have raised over £1,200 to support the worthy work done by the charity.”

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Legal action against Church after abuse at Edinburgh care home

Digby Brown Solicitors is helping three siblings with a legal action against the Church of Scotland after they suffered devastating historic abuse at a care home.

Our Non-Accidental team, who specialise in supporting survivors of abuse, was asked for help after two brothers and one sister were repeatedly attacked at Lord and Lady Polworth Children’s House in Edinburgh.

The perpetrator – a staff member called Ian Samson – was recently jailed for 14 years over the abuse of the trio.

However, it’s thought there are more victims sadly affected and Kim Leslie, Partner and specialist abuse lawyer here at Digby Brown, is encouraging them to step forward.

She said: “Ian Samson was rightly jailed for abuse he inflicted upon children after exploiting his position with the Church of Scotland.

“We understand that it can take years – sometimes decades – for survivors of abuse to come to terms with what happened and it takes immense courage to take those next steps.

“Thankfully, time limits on historic abuse cases have been lifted so we are now able to lead civil actions against incidents like this and help secure justice and settlements for those affected.”

The legal action was covered by BBC Scotland, The Herald and Daily Record.

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