Road Safety Awareness week runs from 18 – 24 November and highlights the steps we can all take to be safer on the road. The theme of Road Safety Week 2019 is 'Step up for Safer Streets'. Raising awareness of road safety all year round can work to stop road deaths and injuries.
For a lot of us, cars are just another part of our daily routine, we don’t often think about how dangerous driving can be.
It’s too easy to get distracted while you’re driving. It could be the people talking to you in the back seat, trying to navigate other drivers, trying to read a text, scrolling through your music playlist, or just trying to work out where you’re going. All these things can make you lose your concentration and more likely to cause an accident.
Check out our other post to see Britain’s worst drivers by region (we wouldn’t like to be on the roads in Orkney Islands…). There are many ways to drive safely, but here are some of the most important things you can do to keep you and other road users safe:
1. Stick to the speed limit
Think of it as a limit, not a target! Doing 30 miles an hour in a zone 20 may seem fine, but there will probably be more pedestrians around, and you might not be going slow enough to stop in case one of them runs out into the road (as they often do).
It’s always best to be one or two miles below the limit, you may feel like you’re losing your mind driving at 20 miles an hour, but it’s 20 for a reason. Keep yourself busy on slower roads by staying vigilant.
2. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front
Driving too closely behind another vehicle is called tailgating, and a lot of road traffic accidents are caused by it. The official guidance is to leave a 2-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. If you trail along as close to the next car as possible, it can seem like you’re getting through the traffic quicker, but this is a dangerous habit.
What if the car behind you is also following you very closely, and then the car in front of you breaks down? You’d be stuck waiting for the accident repair service to arrive and cursing yourself for not putting the 2-second gap rule in place.
3. Don’t look at your mobile phone
Mobile phone use is a big cause of accidents. Using your mobile while driving is illegal. You can, however, use a hands-free device with your mobile phone for calls, but this should be avoided if necessary as talking can also be a major distraction.
4. Don’t drink and drive
The alcohol limit for driving is a set amount in England and Wales, but it’s worth noting that alcohol affects everyone differently. The alcohol in a pint of beer might leave your system much slower than it does your friend, for example.
Driving often requires you to make split second decisions, even one drink will severely reduce your reaction times and increase your crashing. For this reason, you should generally avoid drink driving.
5. Don’t take medication that will make you drowsy
If you have to take medication that will make you drowsy, don’t drive. Driving takes a lot of concentration, you should be alert at all times. If you find yourself getting tired while you’re driving, pull over and rest. It’s also best to plan multiples stops at service stations if you have a long drive, so you have time to eat and recharge along the way.
6. Always wear your seat belt
This may sound like an obvious one, but it can’t be overstated enough. A seatbelt will stop you from moving around the car in a crash which could stop you getting injured and even save your life. Some cars sound an alarm when a passenger hasn’t done up their seatbelt but if your car doesn’t do this, make sure you ask everyone in the car to secure theirs.
7. Take extra care in dark, snowy, rainy and foggy weather
When visibility is low, use your headlights so you can see and be seen. You should also go a little slower than usual as you won’t have the clearest view of the road ahead.
If it’s raining heavily, pay attention to your tires grip on the road. When a car is driving on a layer of water it’s called aquaplaning. Should you notice this, don’t make any quick or sudden turns, avoid puddles and slow down until you feel the car is gripping the road again.
When driving on ice, drive slowly and don’t turn the wheels at all. Turning the wheels while driving on ice will have little to no effect so just wait until you’re clear of the ice first.
8. Look after your eyes
Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can cause an accident. Paying attention to everything around you will help you spot potential hazards. Looking far down the road should also give you more time to deal with them in a safe way.
The health of our eyes is also important, is your vision good enough to be driving? You shouldn’t assume that because you passed your driver’s licence with good vision that your sight hasn’t deteriorated since then. It’s best to get your eyes tested at least every two years Your eyes are arguably the most important tool you have for driving safely. Keep your eyes hydrated with comfi eye drops to help soothe and refresh tired eyes on long journeys.
Once you’ve been driving for a few years it can be easy to forget some of these important safety behaviours. Reading the highway code every now and again can serve as a reminder for why we check mirrors, give way and make sure we’re generally fit to drive every time we get in the car. Along with all of the above, make sure to always wear contact lenses or glasses for every drive.