Road Safety Week – “drive less, live more”
Largely supported and promoted by the charity, Brake, the theme of Road Safety Week 2015 is “drive less, live more”. The focus is not just on road safety in terms of reduction of accidents but also the general benefits of reducing road use for health and for the environment. Brake flags that it is not just the five road deaths a day that the campaign is trying to reduce but an estimated 12,000 deaths each year from traffic pollution.
With the winter weather on its way, Philippa Luscombe, head of the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches, suggests six things that drivers can do to reduce accidents and make a difference to the environment:
- Walking and cycling – have obvious health and financial benefits as well as benefitting the environment and helping to reduce traffic and congestion. Brake suggests that 40% of car trips are for distances of less than two miles. People should be encouraged to walk or cycle and also to focus on safety aspects such as good Highway Code training for children and hi vis clothing for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Tyre safety – it is important for all drivers to keep an eye on tyre wear as, in icy and wet conditions, worn tyres can be a significant safety risk. Although the legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm, the AA recommends changing tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm.
- Speed and stopping distances – every winter there is an increase in the number of accidents caused by people driving too fast and/or too close in wet and icy conditions. Drivers need to think about the driving conditions and allow more time for their journey when conditions are poor rather than risk an accident by travelling too fast for the conditions.
- Tiredness – recent studies have shown that an alarming one in five fatal road accidents is caused by people falling asleep. It is one of the biggest risk factors on the road but people still take on journeys when they are tired and do not take adequate breaks. The Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA) advises that two cups of caffeinated coffee and a 15-minute nap is the most effective way to prevent sleepiness. Turning on the radio, opening the window or asking a passenger to say something interesting won’t wake you up sufficiently. Driving is best done during normal waking hours and drivers should plan their journey so to have a break for 15 minutes every two hours.
- Public transport – this is often under-utilised but can be a big factor in achieving the aims of this year’s Road Safety Week as reducing traffic on the roads reduces the number of accidents – particularly when factors such as fatigue or poor car maintenance come into play. It also saves on pollution and, if combined with walking, can offer health benefits.
- Details – if you are involved in an accident, it is vital to ensure that you get details of the other party and of any witnesses – and inform your insurers at the first opportunity. It is particularly important to obtain the details of the other vehicle(s) involved in hit and run incidents.
Philippa concludes: “Road Safety Week is an important campaign each year – and the timing this year with the winter weather at the weekend is good. It is great to see organisations getting involved and, if the campaign can achieve some environmental and health benefits as well as the traditional aim of reducing road accidents and injuries, this will be a great achievement.”
Return to news headlines