Why road safety is just as important as ever
While statistics from the Department of Transport show that the number of road traffic accidents resulting in death or serious injury in the UK has remained fairly static in recent years, the figures are still high (160,378 serious injuries and 1782 deaths reported in 2018). The numbers are powerful and although many vital changes have been made to our road safety in the past two decades, there are still improvements to be made in order to reduce the number of accidents on our roads.
We learn about road safety in schools and then again while learning to drive but over the years, we might lose a little focus on the finer points. Whether a driver or a pedestrian, a cyclist or child, we all have a role to play in road traffic safety. Here are a few key safety rules to remember:
Key road safety rules
– If you are the driver or a passenger in any vehicle, ensure you wear your seatbelt at all times. Hopefully you will never truly need the benefit of it, but in case of an accident, your seatbelt (combined with an airbag if available) could make all the difference. While a collision may still cause injury, a seatbelt would prevent you flying through your windscreen or being tossed from the vehicle and facing far more serious injuries.
– Get focused when it comes to distractions. There are many reasons we might be tempted to take our eyes off the road, whether it’s using a sat nav, texting a friend, putting on makeup or turning round to reprimand the kids in the back seat, but all it takes is a moment of lost focus for an accident to happen. Taking a selfie is not a priority when you’re driving. Responding to your Whatsapp group can wait. Be aware of your driving as well as the road users around you at all times.
– Don’t rush. In particular if the weather conditions are bad (fog, driving rain, snow, ice), take your time. Speeding at any time increases your risk of accident.
– Use the correct car seats for all children in your car. Your local garage or car dealership can advise you and install the correct infant seat or booster.
– Stay calm. It’s easy to find yourself feeling frustrated if you’re stuck in traffic or if another driver cuts in, but try to moderate your response. Reports of accidents from road rage are consistent each year so it’s important to keep your emotions in check when driving.
– Never ever drive under the influence of drink or drugs. Whether you think you feel fine or not, it is simply not worth it. Even the smallest amount of alcohol or drugs can impair your judgement and reaction times, making driving incredibly dangerous. You are taking a risk with your own life and also with the lives of other road users. Take a taxi or a bus home or call a friend instead of getting behind the wheel.
– Make sure you have your breakdown cover in place. It can be something that drivers forget to renew or avoid taking on to cut costs, but you will be very grateful to have it if you do break down. In particular, breaking down on the side of a very busy road or motorway can be incredibly unsafe, so knowing that you have someone coming quickly to help you can put your mind at rest.
– Be seen. As a cyclist or pedestrian, make sure you are wearing high-vis clothing (a jacket, vest, arm band) and have adequate lighting that is kept in good condition. If a driver cannot see you, it puts you both at risk.