Road Traffic Accidents: The Most Common Cause of Spinal Cord Injury

Road Traffic Accidents: The Most Common Cause of Spinal Cord Injury

Roads and cars have become essentials to our daily lives and have transformed both our leisure and work routines. The majority of us use them in some way, most days, either as a passenger, driver, cyclist, rider or walker. Unfortunately, however, they do not come without risk and are culpable for the majority of spinal cord injuries obtained through road traffic accidents every year, not just in the UK, but also globally. 

“On our roads this year, 444 people will sustain a spinal cord injury through from a Road Traffic Accident”

As many as 1200 people in the UK suffer a spinal cord injury each year; shockingly, this amounts to a new person being paralysed every 8 hours. In the UK there are currently more than 40 000 individuals living with paralysis due to a spinal cord injury and an alarming 37% of these cases are down to road traffic accidents alone. 

This means that on our roads today more than one person will have had their lives changed by a road traffic accident spinal cord injury. Such injuries can be devastating and are fundamentally life changing.

This statistic becomes even more shocking when you consider that currently, Great Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world. There clearly is more to be done regarding spinal cord injury and road traffic accident prevention.

Road Traffic Accidents: Increase Road Safety and Reduce Spinal Cord Injury

The past few years have shown that despite rapidly increasing numbers in traffic levels, all-encompassing and thorough road safety strategies can, and indeed do, vastly reduce the number of people that are killed and seriously injured on the road each year.

Over the past eight years, road traffic accident deaths have almost halved in the UK. Although serious injuries caused on the road, including spinal cord injuries, have also decreased as traffic has risen but unfortunately not by such a significant rate; road safety education in this area can play a critical role.

As the term road traffic accident covers any case resulting in any bodily or spinal cord injury to any person arising out of the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, such as a footpath or bridleway, (Citizens Advice), everyone is at risk of causing or being involved in such an accident. Appropriate education can indeed aid and succeed in the prevention of such tragedies:

For Vehicle Drivers

The drivers of vehicles carry with them the greatest onus regarding road safety and road traffic accident prevention. In most cases, the driver is to blame. This is certainly the case in the majority of road traffic accident spinal cord injuries that are suffered. It is also the case that however safely you drive yourself, there are careless and reckless drivers out there. 

There are however many resources out there to help educate and elucidate on some simple, yet crucially effective, road safety measures that are imperative for all drivers to follow.

THINK! is one such resource where drivers can research the dangers to themselves, their passengers and other road users of drink and drug driving. Also motorcyclists and cyclists, country roads and horses, mobile phones, fatigue and speed. (In the same way, this information also applies to motorcyclists, regarding certain aspects like speed, as well as highlighting personal safety).

A driver is responsible for the safety and life of all passengers in their car. If the worst was to happen and they were responsible for a road traffic accident the blame would fall to them, not only lawfully, but also emotionally, for the loss of life - either directly or indirectly - through serious injury inflicted on a spinal cord. Taking some simple safety measures and adhering to the rules of the road can significantly help to reduce the number of deaths and spinal cord injuries on our roads today.

For Passengers and Pedestrians

For passengers and pedestrians, clearly not being in control of a vehicle, their role in road safety and road traffic accident prevention is much more focused on safety and common sense. Although technically, it is the vehicle driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers are wearing seatbelts, passengers of a certain age can take personal responsibility for themselves and ensure that they are adhering to basic safety measures put in place by car manufacturers for a reason: For example, make sure your seatbelt is on and do not distract the driver. 

For passengers and pedestrians alike common sense also comes into play in a big way. Take, for example, awareness of yourself and your surroundings. For instance, crossing the road - a pedestrian should wait until it is absolutely safe to cross, and passengers should be aware of their driver and their condition ensuring that they are not getting into or permitting someone to drive whilst tired or under the influence of substances or alcohol. 

For Cyclists

In addition safety and common sense for cyclists plays a big role in reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries, such as those to spinal cords, on the roads every year. 

It is true that the majority of road traffic accidents that involve a cyclist and a vehicle are primarily down to visibility issues. Consequently, it is a cyclist's personal responsibility to be equipped with and utilising appropriate equipment at the appropriate times. For instance, a helmet should be worn at all times, and if driving conditions affect visibility the correct reflective and illuminating clothing and accessories, such as front and rear lights, should be worn at all times when on the roads. (

Road Traffic Accidents: Prevention only, No Cure

Unfortunately, as it stands there is no cure for a spinal cord injury, only rehabilitation and learning to live and adapt to your new life. This is not to say that there isn’t hope, as seen recently in the news, with developments being made in exoskeletons and Nutlins - a drug that could someday lead to the regeneration of a broken spinal cord. But until that day, regrettably, there is no finite solution.

As such, it is vital to take responsibility for yourself and those around you when out on the roads and in vehicles. If we were to all adhere to the safety measures detailed in this article then it is possible that together we can vastly reduce the number of devastating, yet avoidable, cases of spinal cord injuries caused by road traffic accidents.

Aspire Law can help you

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident which has caused you to sustain a spinal cord injury, then you should contact a specialist solicitor, as soon as possible.

Even if you feel that you were in some way partly to blame for the accident, you should still speak to a specialist spinal cord injury law firm such as Aspire Law. We have successfully settled many claims where our client was partly to blame for the accident that led to their injury.

It is important that you get in touch quickly because this will enable us to speak to as many witnesses as possible whilst their recollection of the accident is still fresh in their minds.

See also...

The common signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury

What next after a spinal injury from a car incident

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation after a car accident

Spinal cord injury advice following a car accident

Compensation following a car accident

Spinal cord injury and car accidents: establishing blame