By Simon Wilson, medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
Heavy snow or rainfall – combined with freezing temperatures – makes this time of year the most treacherous of all on the UK’s roads.
The period between November and February each year is one in which we at Neil Hudgell Solicitors see a spike in road traffic accident claims, and unfortunately many resulting injuries can be serious and life-changing, or even fatal.
Most of us, of course, are sensible enough to recognise that at this time of year, our driving needs to be different. We need to give ourselves more time to complete our journeys, drive at slower speeds, and take corners much more carefully.
But what about others on the roads?
Yes, you may always ensure you are driving safely, but as specialists in handling car accident compensation claims, we know that all too often it is the safe and careful drivers who are injured in accidents, caused by the poor driving of others.
A road traffic accident can happen in a split second, and even accidents at relatively low speeds can sometimes result in injuries which require ongoing medical treatment.
With this in mind, we work closely with charity organisations and specialist groups who are able to provide support to people after their accidents and through their recovery, including The Brain Injury Group and Headway, the brain injury association.
As accredited members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), we also support their ongoing Safety Watch campaigns, including one against tailgaters – aggressive and impatient drivers who do their best to intimidate others into driving at speeds they are not comfortable with.
APIL says tailgating is something which ‘should be as socially unacceptable as driving without a seatbelt’. We agree.
In our work, we see every day how the failure to leave appropriate stopping distances results in more serious accidents.
The accepted guidance is that a proper gap between two vehicles is two seconds long. Anything closer than about one second can reasonably be described as tailgating, as can a gap of less than one car’s length.
At one time or another, we’ll all be the victim of tailgating – a situation largely out of your control, but one in which you are placed at risk. So, what should you do?
The first option, if available on the road, is to pull to the left, or slow down, and let the tailgater pass.
This should be an option available in most situations, but if it isn’t, you’ll need to alter your own driving.
An effective manoeuvre is to leave four seconds between yourself and the car in front – effectively introducing the safety barrier your tailgater has ignored.
Finally, and most importantly, the best advice is to forget your pride, and don’t allow them to make you drive more dangerously. At this time of year, that is more crucial than ever.