In 2017, over 1.2 million people died on the world’s roads, no fewer than when the Decade of Action for Road Safety began. Even if goals in the UN plan for the Decade are reached, over 6 00 000 people will still be expected to die on the road, and many millions seriously injured every year. Governments need to plan not just for prevention, but also how to respond to the loss of life and quality of life in crashes they failed to prevent.
The Global Plan for Road Safety rightfully included several actions to improve the criminal and civil justice system’s response to road crashes, and everything depends on a thorough police investigation. Without this criminal offenders will not be detected and prosecuted, compensation to innocent victims will be denied, victims’ suffering will be magnified by the lack of respect the state shows their loss, and road traffic injury prevention programmes will be based on incomplete and misleading understanding.
Whilst the international community has invested in road traffic injury prevention and collision reporting systems, the key areas of collision investigation, criminal and civil justice, have been overlooked. Road safety programmes have researched general road traffic offences, but not the criminal offences that apply after a death or serious injury has been caused.
The justice related actions in the Global Plan have yet to be implemented.
We need to ensure that road deaths are professionally investigated (as homicide), with the bereaved treated as victims of crime, until the contrary is proven. This principle should be extended to the seriously injured with victims receiving full compensation.
Road crime should be treated like other crimes.The complacency within the justice system towards driving offences must end and justice related activities must be integrated into international and national road safety programs.