It’s that time of the year again when we turn our thoughts to how to make our roads safer; it’s UK Road Safety Week from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th November.
Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest road safety event and is organised by Brake, the road safety charity. Each year the Week aims to raise awareness of road safety and promote life-saving messages. Individuals, businesses and communities can get involved, whether that’s donating to the cause or even just making the Brake pledge online.
In support of the Brake charity and Road Safety Week, we’ve written a blog covering some of the most common mistakes that drivers make and how they can be avoided.
1. Not in the proper driving position
Before they even start the engine and get on the road, some people make the first mistake of not adjusting their car properly. We’re not all the same size, and neither are our cars. Especially if two drivers regularly use the same car and do not adjust seats, mirrors, and more; the right positioning can mean the difference between a life or death situation.
How to avoid
Each time you get into your car, check that the mirrors, seat, seat belt and steering wheel are all in the right position. You should have the seat far enough forward so that you can fully extend the clutch pedal while maintaining a slight bend in the knee. The backrest should be tilted back gently, so that when you turn the steering wheel your shoulders remain in contact with the seat. Also, the centre of the headrest must sit higher than your ears.
More information about correct mirror positioning can be found here.
2. Not using indicators
From roundabouts to overtaking and merging, many people still neglect one of the most crucial steps in safe driving; letting other drivers know your intentions. As well as annoying other road users, not using your indicators can cause accidents. Drivers and pedestrians cannot know where you intend to go unless you tell them with early and adequate signalling.
How to avoid
The answer seems simple; to use your indicators more. But some people may require a reminder of when and how they should be properly used. The Highway Code states that you must signal your intention with indicators to:
- move to the left or right
- turn left or right. This includes leaving the continuing road at a modified T-intersection when you intend to go straight ahead
- change from one lane to another or diverging
- pull into or out from a kerb or side of the road
- make a U-turn or 3-point turn
- leave a roundabout (if practicable)
- Turn left or right when driving within a car park. This includes turning left or right to move into a car park space. (1)
3. Not altering your driving with weather conditions
The normal rules of driving generally apply to dry, clear weather only. When the road is wet, or visibility is reduced, you must alter your driving to suit.
Wetness on roads reduces tyre grip and extends braking distance. It can also lead to hydroplaning/aquaplaning, when wheels lose contact with the road.
How to avoid
Reduce your speed when driving in wet or foggy weather, and be aware of how the conditions will affect the vehicle’s response time. Avoid hard braking, sharp turning and allow for a greater stopping distance. It may be frustrating to drive more slowly than usual, but it will keep you safe.
4. Not paying enough attention
Checking your mobile, talking on the phone, changing songs on your iPod, even just daydreaming; these can all seriously distract from safe driving. There are many advertising campaigns which remind us not to use our phones while driving, and yet the number of drivers who own up to using a handheld mobile phone increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2016. (2)
How to avoid
Distracted driving puts you, and others, in danger. Even if the route you’re driving is familiar, even if you are looking away for a couple of seconds, that’s enough time for a life-threatening situation to occur. Keep your attention on the road and you will have sufficient time to avoid any hazards that may arise.
5. Not driving at the speed limit
Every year Brake chooses a different theme for the Road Safety Week. This year the theme is Speed Down Save Lives. Speeding in the UK is still a huge problem. Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in one in four (23%) fatal crashes in Great Britain. (3)
Did you know that even driving at just 30 miles per hour, your car travels 13 metres in one second? Now imagine how much danger someone travelling faster than that in a built-up area could cause.
As Brake says, “Driving is unpredictable and if something unexpected happens on the road ahead – such as a child stepping out from between parked cars – it is a driver’s speed that will determine whether they can stop in time and, if they can’t stop, how hard they will hit.”
How to avoid
We can all contribute to a safer road with no speeding, including paying attention to speed limits ourselves, or raising awareness about the dangers.
To learn more about Road Safety Week and the charity Brake please visit the website. Register now to be part of Road Safety Week 2017; take the pledge, and consider how you could take action to make our roads safer.
(1) The Highway Code – General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (Available from: http://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/signals.html [Accessed 9th November 2017]
(2) Shock statistics reveal ‘alarming’ rise in illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel – RAC.co.uk (2016). Available from: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/shock-statistics-reveal-alarming-rise-in-illegal-mobile-phone-use-behind-th/ [Accessed 9th November 2017]
(3) Speed: It’s 30 for a reason – THINK! Available from: http://think.direct.gov.uk/speed.html [Accessed 9th November 2017]