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Bank Holiday break? Drivers must be prepared and patient to keep families safe on UK’s jammed roads

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.

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