Work-related road accidents hidden

Solicitors in Northern Ireland may be ignorant as to the number of road traffic accidents which involve drivers who were working at the time if they listen to the police, as according to Fleet News, the true figures are being under-reported.

Not only do Northern Ireland solicitors have to look after cases where a client is claiming compensation for a road traffic accident, but also have to help people who have been injured at work claim damages.

Yet few solicitors may know that more often than reported by police, the two situations will overlap.

Richard Dykes' report from the Work-related Road Safety Task Group in 2001 stated that one-third of all road accidents involve a driver who is on a job, yet the incident-reporting system used by police, Stats 19, says the figure was only 17 per cent last year.

Road safety organisations and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are concerned that the current police reporting system could be inadequate, with HSE spokesman Mark Wheeler calling Stats 19 "a messy approach".

In 2005, a section was added to the Stats 19 form to include the purpose of the journey, yet the system is still failing to report the true extent of at-work crashes in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts), explained: "My suspicion is that the police would be quick to put 'work' under the purpose of journey for HGVs, LCVs and buses and coaches, but not so quick for cars.

"Remember this is a substantial document that the police have to fill out in often very difficult situations. It’s always a balance between gathering robust data and not overloading a police officer."

Since the Stats 19 system will not be reviewed again until 2010, solicitors will have to ensure they get all the facts from clients, rather than simply relying on police reports.

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