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It could happen to anybody: why 20 mph speed limits matter

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 26 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2813
  1. Nick Foreman, general practitioner, Rickmansworth
  1. nicholas.foreman{at}

    This is what happens and this is how it feels. I was driving along a well lit suburban street with my two small stepchildren in the back of the car. We were on the way to pick up my wife who had been working away for a few days, and we were all excited about seeing her. At the last minute we had arranged to meet at a different station from usual. It was 18.35 on a dark February evening and I had some rather gloomy Radiohead music on the CD player.

    In an instant, a few yards in front of me was a small child. He was followed by an adult. I remember thinking “WHAT THE…” and then reflexly hit my brakes. The car skidded a short distance and I ran into both of them. The child flew through the air, caught in the beam of my headlights. I didn’t see the adult.

    I got out of the car leaving the engine running and the door open. Traffic had stopped behind me and on the other side of the road ahead of me. For a very few seconds everything was still. The child, who looked about 3 years old and was well wrapped in an anorak, was crying in a heap a few yards in front of my car; the adult had been thrown further. Neither seemed to have any obvious injuries. At this point I stopped thinking normally. I had no idea what to do. It …

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