More Than 1 In 7,000 Will Lose Their Partner on the Roads, Like Dexter in “One Day” Netflix Hit

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Written by Cara Carlone
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Fifteen years on from David Nicholls’ hit novel and thirteen years from its big screen outing, “One Day” is breaking hearts all over again, this time with Netflix’s adaptation of the bittersweet love story. Following its release earlier this month, binge-watching viewers have confessed to being left “ugly crying” at the slow-burn romance between Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall), which traverses two decades of their young lives before climaxing in the devastating and gut-wrenching ending for which the tale is so widely known.

For the benefit of those who have been living under a rock during February, One Day follows the pair on the same day every year – 15 July – from the point of their first meeting in 1988, tracking the ups and downs in their lives. While Emma struggles to get her career and love life off the ground, wealthy and successful Dexter faces his own demons with drugs and alcohol. After spending most of their lives never quite making it beyond friends, the two soulmates finally come together and begin to plan a future and a family, at which point – spoiler alert – Emma’s life is cut cruelly short in a sudden car accident.

The tragic ending has left viewers crying themselves to sleep, and One Day’s lead screenwriter, Nicole Taylor, believes that this is in part because “every young woman has related to that girl”.

A Road User Dies Every 24 Seconds

Dexter’s predicament is one that we all hope and pray to avoid, but Emma’s accident is, sadly, far from unusual on a global basis. Each year, a staggering 1.19 million people will lose their lives in a road traffic collision, with one road user dying every 24 seconds. Put another way, 1 person in every 6,800 will succumb to this fate.

The issue is particularly acute for those living in low-to-middle income countries, which see 92% of all road fatalities, despite being home to just 60% of the world’s vehicles. None of this is to say, however, that those in wealthier countries should ignore risks.

In the United Kingdom, for example, there were 1,633 fatalities in the period 2022-23, against a population of approximately 67.5 million. This means that for every 100,000 people, 2.4 can expect to lose their lives on the country’s roads each year.

The road fatality rates in the United States are lamentably worse – as  much as seven times higher than the rates seen in countries like Sweden and Switzerland. While the data from the United States is a year or so behind, statistics from 2021-2022 reveal that there were 42,795 fatalities. Compared with the total population at the time, the odds of losing your life on the US roads is 0.00013% each year, or, put another way, 13 people in every 100,000 can expect to succumb to that fate.

Devastatingly, the risk is particularly high for those in the 5-29 year old age bracket, for whom road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death. While One Day’s Emma Morley was fortunate enough to live long enough to escape this bracket, that was not enough to save her and she died at 32 years old.

Life Insurance Prepares Us For The Worst Case Scenario

Losing a loved one in the way that Dexter lost Emma is a concept so terrible that many of us shy away from even considering it as a possibility, let alone plan for how we would deal with such a tragedy.

The latest adaptation of One Day is unique in this respect, because while the novel and film versions draw to a close with Emma lying on the tarmac on that rainy July day, Netflix viewers are given an insight into the overwhelming grief that befalls Dexter, and the journey he goes through to come to terms with his loss. Ultimately, it is his burning desire to fulfil his responsibilities to his daughter, Jasmine, that allow him to pull through.

For us, this was in many ways the most important and poignant part of the story: the account of how those left behind and most profoundly affected by tragedy are able to come to terms with loss. While nobody likes to imagine their loved ones being in such a situation, there are ways that we can act now to protect them in the worst-case scenario. This is not lost on some 52% of people in the United States, who have a life insurance policy, although the figure is quite significantly lower in the United Kingdom, at just 35%.

Life insurance works by paying a significant cash lump sum to your loved ones should you pass away during its tenure. These tax-free payments can be used for any purpose, from settling funeral costs to keeping up with the mortgage, and offers a measure of financial security to bereaved family members at the most bleak of times.

Sadly for One Day’s Dexter, the likelihood of Emma, aged 32, having had a life insurance policy in place is slim. The statistics show that only 18% of people within her age bracket (26-41) have a policy to protect their loved ones should the worst happen.

With death being a taboo subject, the financial implications of losing a family member are very often overlooked until it is too late. In the UK, the average cost of a funeral is £3,993, while in the United States the cost is just shy of $7,000. Without a life insurance policy, it often falls to the next of kin to bear that substantial burden, and the consequences are particularly dire for families who have just lost their primary breadwinner.

Max Coupland, CEO of Insuranceopedia, has this advice for viewers who have been inspired by One Day to think about protecting their loved ones:

“Most of us will live long and happy lives, but we all need to be prepared. It’s easy to overlook just how important you are to your family and your dependents from a financial point of view. If others rely on you for anything at all – ranging from income to child care – it is crucial to think about how they would cope if you were gone tomorrow. Life insurance can set your family up for decades to come, but policies do not have to be big or expensive: for most people, the key thing is to leave behind enough to protect your loved ones from hardship while they work through their grief and get back on their feet.” 

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