Road traffic accidents: the most common injuries

The types of injuries sustained by those involved in road traffic accidents can vary from the relatively minor to life-changing, such as the loss of a limb and fatalities.

Since 1979, the number of deaths caused by car accidents in the UK has declined significantly. This is according to the government’s ‘Reported road casualties in Great Britain: annual report 2017’.

The number of casualties of all severities was at the lowest level on record in 2017, say the most recent statistics.

Although this may be good news, there remain some worrying figures relating to car accidents.

Common road traffic accident injuries

When an accident happens, there are often serious and lingering consequences, according to the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey. The most recent report found that some 33% of those involved in road accidents between 2015 and 2017 had to attend A&E, while 7% were treated as inpatients in hospital. This is significant when compared to the 29% who required no medical attention after an accident.

In that same period, 2% of those involved in accidents suffered burns, while the same number were crushed. Some 4% reported internal injuries, while 15% suffered sprains and 11% reported fractures and broken bones.

Slight shock was the third most common effect, with 28% reporting that they suffered from it, while 42% suffered minor bruising or cuts.

However, a hugely significant 50% of those involved in car accidents reported suffering from whiplash.

Whiplash – prevention and treatment

When whiplash is such a prevalent injury, it is particularly frustrating that there is no immediate treatment. The NHS advises keeping your head mobile and to maintain good posture in the aftermath of a whiplash diagnosis. If symptoms continue for several weeks, physiotherapy may then be recommended.

In this case, prevention becomes better than cure. If you are involved in a road traffic accident in the future, you may be able to minimise the chances of suffering from whiplash.

Although it is not possible to entirely eliminate your risk of suffering whiplash, there are things you can do to minimise that risk.

You can ensure your neck is as strong and limber as possible by carrying out certain exercises. This is particularly important if you have suffered from whiplash or neck strain previously. If you sit in the same position all day, as most office workers do, you should ensure you are taking regular breaks to stretch and exercise your neck.

As whiplash occurs when the head is thrown forward and then backward very quickly, it is important to make sure your car seat’s headrest is in the most appropriate position. You should ensure it is no further back than 10cm, as this is more likely to result in whiplash. Physio Works encourages car occupants to limit the distance between head and headrest to no more than 5cm.

Vulnerable road users most at risk

Although car drivers and passengers are most likely to suffer from whiplash, they are not the most vulnerable people on British roads.

There were 24,831 serious injuries in road traffic accidents reported to the police in 2017, according to the Department for Transport. Among these, vulnerable road users were still at significant risk – some more so than others.

Motorcyclists were found to be most at risk in 2017, with fatalities increasing the most of all road user groups that year. In total, 349 motorcyclists were killed during 2017, which was an increase of 9% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, 101 cyclists were killed, a drop of just 1% since 2016. The majority of cyclists were injured or killed during commuting times – specifically, 44% of casualties happened between 7-9am and 3-7pm on weekdays. London and the South East saw 41% of these casualties.

However, even though these road users remain proportionately more at risk than others, it was still car occupants who accounted for the highest number of deaths on British roads.

Next steps

If you’ve suffered a serious injury as a result of a car accident, your main focus should be on your recovery. But there are plenty of other things that will demand your attention at the same time. Insurance, replacement vehicles, costs and any medical treatment will all need to be organised and arranged.

This is when you need the expert help of a legal professional, who can help ensure you do what’s right for you. Car accident claims can help you obtain the compensation to help make things right.

If you’ve suffered an injury after an accident that wasn’t your fault, the best next step to take could be to pursue a legal claim.

Image copyright Pop Nukoonrat on 123RF.