The RAC Foundation is warning road users that over the Christmas and New Year holidays they may face a combination of factors which can make involvement in a collision more likely. They include
A research project* suggested that at least one-third of all people involved in nonfatal accidents have post traumatic stress disorder, persistent anxiety, depression, and phobias one year after the incident.
Another study** suggested there may be psychological complications even when the accident may not have been medically in the least serious. Most of the 1,000 men and women in the study who had been taken to a hospital after an accident recovered from the psychological impact within three to 12 months. Others had persistent problems or suddenly developed anxiety and other symptoms months after the accident. Interestingly, most people with persistent anxiety were passengers in the accident rather than drivers.
This may mean feeling anxious when driving or travelling in cars or avoiding them altogether. People may feel nervous or anxious when passing the site of the accident, seeing similar road conditions or travelling in the vehicle involved in the accident or a similar type or colour of car.
'The most important factor in recovering from the trauma of the accident is recognising that you are having a problem and getting help,' said Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation. 'But, of course, prevention is better than cure.'
*Paul Stallard, Royal United Hospital, Bath published
in BMJ (vol 317)
**Richard Mayou, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford.