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.
Tag Archive: road safety
We should all know that since December 2003 driving whilst using a mobile phone is illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous, yet recent research reveals that more than 500,000 motorists still pick up their phone when behind the wheel.
Using a mobile phone, whether it be hand-held or hands-free whilst driving holds a significant distraction to the driver and almost certainly increases the risks of crashing or causing an accident. Reports now suggest that using a hand-held device is even more dangerous than drink or drugs where at least 1 in 20 drivers under the age of 30 have been caught flouting the law.
Drivers who use a mobile phone are less aware of what’s happening on the road around them and are up to four times more likely to cause an accident. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in sometimes very serious road traffic accidents.
We have teamed up with David Hartford, a Breakdown patrol officer, to demonstrate just how prevalent mobile phone use remains whilst behind the wheel of a car. He shares his first hand insight into some of the shocking things he sees on a daily basis whilst out on patrol in the UK and provides some road safety tips to help you stay safe.
Mobile phones – The Law
Using your mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since December 2003. Below is a list of laws you may not be aware of:
- It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
- This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
- You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
- If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
- If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
- You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are the same as being caught using a handheld phone.
- The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
- *Source: Think! Road Safety – http://think.direct.gov.uk/
Over the years, successful awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drink-driving have contributed to its reduction leading to a stigma which increasingly deems it socially unacceptable.
This now has to happen for mobile use. Statistics that show such campaigns can assist to reduce driver reaction times by 35 per cent.
With the number of phone-related crashes rising and dozens of deaths being caused every year, national road safety charity Brake have launched a campaign to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles.
We support the notion of introducing tougher consequences for mobile use behind the wheel – whether it be texting, calling, filming or surfing social media – it has to become as socially unacceptable as driving after a drink, and should be subject to the stronger punishments in the courts.
Jane Woodcock of Hudgell Solicitors Said: “With drivers continuing to flout the laws around mobile phone use, putting people at risk, the only way to eradicate this danger would be for mobile phones to have to be placed in a closed space, such as the glove compartment when a car is being driven, and for hands-free calls to also be stopped.
“It may seem drastic action, but maybe drastic action is what is needed to get the message through and improve concentration levels behind the wheel.”
The Bank Holiday weekend getaway rush makes life notoriously difficult on the UK’s roads, and if you are heading away for a short break over the next few days, preparation and patience are most likely to be the key words to remember.
The AA has been forecasting a busier period over the next five days than this time last year, with more than 11 million drivers expected to take a road trip over the bank holiday weekend, with the greatest number travelling today – ironically in a bid to beat the usual Good Friday rush.
It’s a time when people are planning to get away from the stress of day to day life and sample the sights and sounds of elsewhere, but the Bank Holiday rush on the roads brings together a potentially deadly combination of distractions.
Drivers must remain calm in Bank Holiday traffic to avoid road accidents
Crammed roads and slow progress can lead to frustration and anger behind the wheel, emotions which were recently highlighted in research as amongst the most likely to cause drivers to be involved in an accident.
And with tensions possibly mounting in many cars as families find themselves facing lengthy queues, the emphasis is on all those with the responsibility for the safety of all – the drivers – to retain their focus at all times.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we see through our work in supporting thousands of people injured in road accidents each year how a moment’s lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences.
Even accidents at relatively low speeds can cause long-term injury and difficulty and disruption to lives, especially any accident involving a pedestrian.
We are proud to help people through compensation settlements which help secure vital rehabilitation treatment, and recover loss of earnings for periods out of work to help them as they look to get back to good health.
However, we know nothing can never take away the impact a serious accident can have on somebody’s life, particularly for families who lose their loved ones.
Whilst speed is an obvious danger, driver error, such as reaching for an object, an extended glance away from the road ahead, or drowsiness and tiredness, are common causes that we see in road accident claims.
Many of these basic driving errors become more likely when those behind the wheel have experienced long-periods of queuing, as concentration levels drop and tiredness creeps in.
Would permanent clocks change reduce road accidents?
Interestingly, as we talk about the increased dangers on the roads, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes we are now entering the safest period of the year – British Summer Time, with clocks going forward an hour on Sunday morning.
RoSPA is currently is calling on the Government to retain the Summer Time clock setting for a set trial period beyond the usual return to Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday of October, so that its impact on road safety can be properly and accurately assessed.
It comes as accident data, from the Department of Transport, shows a consistent trend in that more pedestrians are killed and injured in the winter months after the clocks go back, when we have shorter days and longer nights.
In 2014, the latest stats available, there were 590 more pedestrian casualties in November (2,486) compared to September (1,878), and of those, 37 more people were killed, and 113 more seriously injured.
RoSPA says this is down to the onset of darker evenings, but of course, conditions of the roads, and how drivers adapt to them, also plays a big part. The question is, do drivers adapt to a change in conditions as they should?
That brings us back to this holiday weekend.
Although we can probably expect some typical British Bank Holiday weather and some downpours across the country over the coming days, drivers shouldn’t be facing icy and treacherous roads.
Nor should they over the coming months, as it will be increasingly dry, and increasingly light.
It is therefore down to those behind the wheel to maintain their concentration, avoid all distractions, to not become frustrated when journeys do not go to plan, and to focus on getting to their destination safely, not quickly.
Hopefully then, we’ll see the reduction in casualties we all want.
Throughout 2014, 683,631 breath tests were carried out on the road by police forces across England and Wales. Approximately 10% of those refused to be tested or failed with a positive test, whilst the highest number of test were found to be conducted throughout December.
The winter weather can often present drivers with a number of dangerous road conditions. Snow and ice can push your vehicle to its mechanical limit so it is important to know that it can handle these tough conditions. You should always be prepared; in case you’re faced with a dangerous situation or get held up in lengthy traffic jams.
According to national statistics, breakdowns double in the UK throughout the winter period due to adverse conditions. Research has found that drivers are six times as likely to have a crash, and this number increases when ice and snow are an added hazard. Insurance claims also tend to increase around this time of year as a result of these added dangers.
To make sure you are all set, Hudgell Solicitors have created a guide to help you ensure your car is road-worthy for the colder months.
Launch of Brake’s National Road Safety Week is time for us all to consider how we could become safer drivers
Today marks the start of National Road Safety Week, an annual event with a simple but very important goal – to make our roads safer to reduce the number of serious accidents and injuries we see each year.
Founded in 1997 by campaigning road safety charity Brake, the annual event seeks to raise awareness about road safety and promote simple steps that everyone can take to stop the many needless deaths and injuries year-round.
Driving laws, regulations and restrictions are sometimes difficult to pin down. There can often be grey areas that shift from legal to illegal – especially as new technology becomes commonplace. So, there might be times when, as a driver, you’re actually breaking the law without even knowing it…