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The theme for UK Road Safety Week 2020 has been announced as ‘No Need to Speed’. Supported by funding from the Department of Transport and headline sponsors DHL and Specsavers. Using a collective voice of members of the public, schools, communities, organisations, and the emergency services to make clear that there is ‘No Need to Speed’ on the road.
As the Autumn clock changes, there is an increase in the chance of collision. A survey conducted by Brake of over 1,700 members of the UK public. The survey found that only a quarter of people think vehicles travel at a safe speed on the street where they live. Brake also found that two-thirds identify motorised traffic as the biggest threat to their health and safety on their street. Road Safety Week has the aim to encourage everyone to learn the what, why, and where of speed. Highlighting the speed of traffic matters to people’s safety.
Even though there is a spotlight on speed and driving. It is prominent to shed a light on road workers, passengers, and drivers. We have suggested a few points with the aim to keep everyone safe, not just for Road Safety Week. Safety for those on and off the road should be a consistent focus.
Commuting drivers need to focus on staying alert. This involves the driver to stay within speed limits, and to be aware that their car is in a fit condition for driving. A safe commute starts with a safe car. However, to have a safe car means giving your vehicle regular check-ups. Avoid breakdowns by checking your vehicle safety is maintained.
Adequate space between drivers is imperative. This will decrease the chance of an accident, as well as stress. It can be stressful to drive. Conditions like traffic, and constantly getting cut off can lead to irritation and frustration. But it is safer to avoid engaging in aggressive driving. Tailgating, cutting off, and even making gestures can be dangerous. Taking a moment to breathe and relax, can reduce the chance of an accident happening.
It is essential to avoid distractions when driving, to stay alert to other drivers on the road. This could be making sure you have shuffled your music playlist, put your phone away, or not eating. Even if you are stuck in a long commute or waiting at traffic lights. Focusing on just the road could perhaps save your life and someone else’s.
Tiredness can be a huge factor in an accident taking place. Tiredness could cause you to fall asleep at the wheel or be more prone to speed or jump lights to get home quicker. A few tips are to take regular breaks and keep your vehicle ventilated. Taking a break every 2 hours on a long journey is important as tiredness can kill. Stepping out of the car and walking around can help keep you feeling alert and re-energised.
As a passenger, make sure first and foremost you have your seatbelt on. This gives the driver one less thing to worry about, and it is the law. An individual should not distract the driver from concentration or directions as this could put the passenger and driver at risk. If there is an emerging danger do let the driver know, but do not shout, or grab the hand brake or steering wheel.
Back-seat driving could also lead to a hazardous situation. Giving information to the driver can be helpful. A passenger could help a driver avoid a hazard that they were unaware of. However, refrain from being negative or giving critical commentary on how they are driving. Particularly if they are inexperienced. This could lead to a disagreement, as well as an increase in anxiety and stress for the driver. Instead, offer helpful advice in a reassuring manner.
The mix of rush hour traffic and a cycle commuter can be dangerous and hazardous, especially in the dark. This not only causes an increase in anxiety due to the consideration of motorists. Cars will need to stay a recommended 1.5 metres away from cyclists on the road. Cycle paths can become alarmingly narrow, meaning cyclists have to join the flow of heavy traffic at a peak period. Each individual needs to be aware of their surroundings. For instance, a change in speed or proximity from vehicles on the road.
To stay safe on the road, cyclists must abide by the same rules as vehicles. Obeying traffic lights and signs, keeping the bike in good condition, and be aware of weather conditions. Cyclists should wear a helmet and ride with a positive and confident attitude. Uneasiness in decisions could put the individual in danger.
Drivers and cyclists should keep high alertness for those around them especially in the dark mornings and nights. Car commuters should ensure that their headlights are clean and that there is water in their window screen wipers. Cyclists should make sure that they are seen. Wearing florescent jackets, belt or vest. Investing in a headlight, a bell, and correct front and back lighting can help a cyclist stand out to other motor users and pedestrians. To improve a safer environment and infrastructure for cycling, cyclists should be treated as importantly as other road users.
According to The Task Group, it is estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time. This may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week. Road workers need to have a secure plan and implementation in place to help to improve safety for the workers, pedestrians, and drivers.
A work zone should consist of advanced warning areas. Alerting motorists of any upcoming changes to driving conditions. Traffic control devices like cones, barrels, barriers, or signs should be added for lane closures, traffic pattern shifts and work areas. Wearing proper safety equipment should be worn inside the work zone. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including hard hats, steel-toed boots, highly visible clothing, or hearing protection if needed.
Awareness of surroundings is crucial. Workers must be mindful of what’s going on around them. Avoid walking behind any vehicles that may be reversing, or in motion. Whenever possible, face traffic while inside the work zone or have a spotter. Always stay in visual contact with drivers. If you can’t see them, they probably can’t see you. Be aware of your surroundings. The speed of the cars and flow of traffic can be dangerous, this could impact on your safety. As a worker, and you may have to adjust the traffic cones, or add other traffic control devices like a barrier or sign.
A side note not touched upon enough is the abuse of road workers. Highway England found that workers on the nation’s 4,300 miles of strategic road network were facing a range of incidents, from motorists driving into coned-off areas to physical abuse. Since October 2014, Highways England’s employees have faced 341 incidents of verbal abuse.
Road workers have dealt with swearing, physical threats, and illegal driving causing a high risk to the worker's lives. Road users need to be patient if they are delayed by roadworks. To understand and respect road workers doing difficult jobs. Check out this video on ‘Respect Our Roadworkers’ that highlights the abuse that road workers endure on a day-to-day basis.
Road safety is a community issue. Everyone has the right to feel safe, whether that is a road worker, driver, or passenger. Do not lend yourself to vulnerability. Be aware to stay safe.
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You may also be interested in these AVA modules.