Sleepless nights and haunting memories – the impact of dealing with road deaths

Road users in Essex are being encouraged to watch an emotive new film to gain an understanding of the challenges police officers face when dealing with the aftermath of a fatal collision.

The sensitive issue was raised last month by Colin Shead, a traffic sergeant at Essex Police, during an interview with Essex Live.

Sgt Shead, who has served for more than 10 years, spoke honestly and openly about the sleepless nights and haunting memories he has had as a result of attending fatal road collisions.

After years of suppressing his thoughts, Colin reached out for help and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Colin hopes that sharing his story will help other people not to feel ashamed when things get tough, and encourage them to seek support and assistance.

He told Essex Live: “I was taking every single death as a personal failure because my role was to protect the people who use the roads in the country and I failed to do that.

“The images never leave you, you can’t push them away.”

To help understand the difficulties, the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) is encouraging road users to watch a new film, which highlights the moment police officers have to deliver life-changing news to the families of road victims.

Created in Bedfordshire, ‘If You Could Change’ aims to raise awareness of the ‘fatal four’ causes of road collisions – speeding, using a mobile phone while driving, drink and drug driving and failing to wear a seatbelt.

The video is based on a vision by Bedfordshire’s road safety manager and former police officer Tim Oxley, who wrote the script along with his 17-year-old son Adam, a sixth form media studies student.

Tim Oxley said: “The idea came from my time as a police officer delivering these messages. It’s something that always stays with you.

“You debrief after traumatic incidents but never after delivering these messages. You see the impact and devastation they have on families.”

04 February 2020

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