Fatal 5

There are five main causes of serious injuries and deaths on the region’s roads. They are known as the ‘Fatal 5'.

1. Careless driving

It is crucial we educate motorists on how to use the roads safely. When cars are driven badly, they can turn into a lethal machine. With new car technology, safety and protection systems are in place. However, we are still at risk of harming ourselves, other road users and pedestrians through lack due care and attention.

Human error is by far the biggest contributory factor to fatal collisions. It’s just not worth dying for.

Examples of careless driving could be: 

  • Risky over-taking and undertaking.

  • Not driving at an appropriate speed for the road and weather conditions – even if within the speed limit.

  • Distractions such as eating, drinking and passenger distraction and mobile phone use.

  • Lack of concentration and driving while fatigued.

  • Driving too close to the vehicle in front.

  • Not paying attention to road signs, road layouts and junctions. Assuming the right of way.

  • Middle lane hogging and drifting between lanes.

  • Failing to signal when changing lanes or turning, improper lane changes.

  • Failure to stop for emergency vehicles.

2. Drink and drug driving

Driving after drinking can have devastating consequences and can easily result in a loss of life.  All too often we attend road traffic incidents which have life changing impacts on families.

Please keep yourself, your family and others safe. Make the Promise: 'If you have had a drink or taken drugs - Don't Drive.

What drink driving could cost you:

  • being caught and breathalysed by the police.

  • A 12 month driving ban.

  • Criminal record.

  • Hefty fine.

  • Lifestyle changes (ie potential loss of job, relationships or car).

If you get caught drink driving, then the above is the minimum that will happen to you. You may also be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 and up to 6 months in prison.

But nothing on that list reflects the everyday consequences of being caught drink driving. To understand that you'll have to use your imagination.

Statistics - drink and drug driving

  • Every week in the UK, 11 people will die because of drink driving.

  • Young men in their 20s are four times more likely to be involved in drink drive accidents than other age groups.

  • On average, 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year because of drink driving.

  • 11 people are killed by drink drivers on UK roads every week.

  • The penalties if caught driving while impaired through drink or drugs are severe. If caught, you face a minimum one-year ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and six months in jail.

  • Around 18% of people killed in road crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their blood.

  • Different drugs affect your driving in different ways, some speed up your reactions, some slow them down - all are dangerous.

Driving under the influence of drugs is an increasing danger on the roads. Driving requires full concentration and anything that impairs the ability to focus makes a crash more likely.

Morning after drink driving

It takes a lot longer than most people think for alcohol to pass through the body. On average it takes around one hour per unit of alcohol, though this can vary depending on a number of factors.

Because of this, there is a real risk that people who would not dream of driving after drinking may still be unwittingly over the drink drive limit the morning after.

This includes people going about everyday activities such as driving to work, doing the school run, popping to the shops or going to see friends

For more information - Morning after (opens in new window)

3. Not wearing a seatbelt

Seatbelts are designed to keep people in their seats and to prevent or reduce injuries suffered in a crash.  They reduce the risk of being thrown from a vehicle.

  • In a crash you're twice as likely to die if you don't wear a seatbelt.  Always wear a seatbelt even on a short journey - seatbelts save lives. 

  • Wear your seatbelt correctly for the best possible protection in a crash.

  • Children over 12 years old, or more than 135cm tall, must wear a seatbelt.

  • Child car seats must be used by babies and children under 12 years old, or under 135 centimetres tall.

The law states :

  • Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.

Drivers can be fined up to £500 if a child under 12 isn’t in the correct car seat or wearing a seatbelt while you’re driving.

Useful links

More information about the child car seats and the law (opens in new window)

More information about seatbelts and the law (opens in new window)

Seatbelt safety advice from RoSPA (opens in new window)

THINK! Crash Simulator - see what happens if you don't wear a seatbelt in a crash (opens in new window)

4. Using a mobile phone

It is illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving or riding a motorcycle.

The rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

The facts

Studies show that drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash. The law states it’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle. This means you must not use a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline.

For example, you must not text, make calls, take photos or videos, or browse the web. The law still applies to you if you’re:

  • Stopped at traffic lights queuing in traffic.

  • Supervising a learner driver.

  • Driving a car that turns off the engine when you stop moving.

  • Holding and using a device that’s offline or in flight mode.


You can use a device held in your hand if:

  • You need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

  • You’re safely parked.

  • You’re making a contactless payment in a vehicle that is not moving, for example at a drive-through restaurant.

  • You’re using the device to park your vehicle remotely.

Using devices hands-free

You can use devices with hands-free access, as long as you do not hold them at any time during usage. Hands-free access means using, for example:

  • A Bluetooth headset, a built-in sat nav or voice command.

  • A dashboard holder or mat.

  • A windscreen mount.

The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

Staying in full control of your vehicle

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.


You can get six penalty points and a £200 fine if you hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send and receive data while driving or riding a motorcycle. You’ll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.

You can get three penalty points if you do not have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle. You can also be taken to court where you can:

  • Be banned from driving or riding.

  • Get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus.

5. Speeding

Speed is one of the main factors in fatal road accidents.

Safety advice for motorists

  • The speed limit is a limit not a target - in bad weather (fog, rain, snow, etc) even driving at the speed limit could be too fast.

  • 60% of fatal road accidents occur on country roads so, although the national speed limit on single carriage roads is 60mph,  you may need to drive under that in order to drive correctly for the conditions. These roads often have sharp bends, blind bends and unexpected hazards - brake carefully and give yourself time to react and stay in control.

Increasing speeding fines

Fines for people caught speeding increased from 24 April 2017.

The new rules for magistrates, set down by the Sentencing Council, will see them able to fine speeders up to 150% of their weekly income, rather than the current 100%.

These increases will apply to the sort of excessive speeding that often result in innocent people being killed or seriously injured – for example, those caught at 41mph or above in a 20mph zone, at 51mph in a 30mph zone, and at 101mph on a motorway.

For more information about the increase in speeding fines - Speeding (opens in new window)

Useful links

Speed limits (open in new window)

More safety advice for driving on country roads

THINK! speed (opens in new window)

Stopping distances - Brake website (opens in new window)

Road users who commit one of the Fatal 5 offences are far more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than those who do not.

People are dying on our roads as a result of motorists’ poor driving, reckless decisions and momentary lapses in concentration. Fatal collisions are heartbreaking - for the family, for the community, and for the responding emergency services staff who have to witness the tragedy and subsequent aftermath. Stopping any more deaths from occurring as a result of something unnecessary and totally avoidable is a top priority for us.

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2023