As part of Brake’s national Road Safety Awareness Week, our team at Hudgell Solicitors have taken a look at the statistics behind the causes of road traffic accidents and picked out five simple measures which, if taken by all drivers, would reduce the number of accidents on the UK’s roads.
Here we go;
- Switch off your phone – Let’s start with the most obvious one bad habit – the one we all know is a major danger, but so many of us still do. Tackling mobile phone use behind the wheel has been the focus of our #switchoff campaign this week, as mobile phone use behind the wheel is perhaps the biggest threat to road safety currently across the world. It is also why new stricter laws, which will see up to six points added to the licence of those caught in the UK next year, are being introduced. Research has shown that drivers speaking on phones are four times more likely to be in a crash that causes injury, on a hands-free or hand-held phone. Their crash risk remains higher than normal for up to 10 minutes after the call, perhaps because their mind is on other things. Surely that call isn’t as important as your life, or those of others.
- Don’t drive after a drink – Yes, it’s another obvious one, but sadly we have seen an increase in the number of people drinking and driving in recent times in the UK, despite many campaigns and it becoming socially unaccepted. The number of drunk drivers involved in accidents rose for the first time in a decade in 2015, as 3,450 drivers failed a breath test after a crash – up from 3,227 in 2014. Department for Transport (DFT) records show the number had previously fallen every year from a high of 6,397 in 2005.
- Make sure your vehicle is road safe – The suitability of our car is often something we overlook and only consider when our service or MOT is due again, but maintaining your car throughout the year could save your life, and the lives of others. Stats showed vehicle defects contributed to 2,000 crashes in 2013, 42 of them causing deaths. Problems often easily overlooked, but also easily solved, include wrong tyre pressures and tread depth, loose wheels, worn brakes and indicators and lights not working on dark nights. How often have you left putting in a new brake bulb too long?
- Slow down – Simple – it is proven that the faster you drive, the slower your reaction time will be if you need to prevent an accident. Good advice to prevent speeding or being too close to follow the ‘two second rule’. If you ensure you take two seconds to reach a marker point where the vehicle in front has passed, you will be at a safe distance, and going a safe speed to stop in time. If you pass the marker before you reach the count of two, back off. In wet conditions, double it to four seconds. A simple rule that again most of us know, but too often ignore.
- Don’t drive when tired – Another one of the risks many drivers take when they get behind the wheel knowing they are tired. We think we’ll be ok, but a quarter of all crashes on British main roads causing death or serious injury are tiredness-related. It’s estimated that almost one in five crashes on trunk roads are fatigue-related. Lack or disturbed sleep, irregular sleep patterns or driving for long periods can all cause a loss of concentration. It’s all about making the right choice before getting behind the wheel.
Jane Woodcock, a specialist in handling compensation claims following road traffic accidents, said: “Brake are this week urging people to pledge to drive slow and under the speed limits, be sober and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, be secure in their vehicles by ensuring everybody has the belts on, be sharp by having their eyes regularly tested and not driving when tired, to keep their phones silent and not to call or text, and to and be sustainable by minimising the time they spend in vehicles.
“Having looked into statistics, it is clear that a large percentage of accidents on the roads could be avoided by common sense, and that by taking a few simple steps, we can all significantly reduce the likelihood of being injured.
“They are simple, easy commitments for us all to make, but could make a massive difference on our roads.”