This week (18-24 November) is Brake’s Road Safety week – the UK’s biggest road safety event. This year, Brake want everyone to “Step up for Safe Streets” and learn about, shout about and celebrate the amazing design-led solutions that will allow us all to get around in safe and healthy ways, every day. Want to find out more? Read on!
What is Brake?
Brake are a road safety charity based in the UK, who’s ethos is improving road safety for everyone. They work with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads.
Brake’s vision is a world where everyone moves without harm. They believe that mobility without danger is everyone’s human right wherever we are; in cities, towns, villages or moving between places.
What is Road Safety Week?
Road Safety Week has been running since 1997 and aims to raise awareness for all road users, including motorists, on how they can use the UK’s road network to travel safely without negatively impacting any other users.
Every year, Brake organise a week where they raise awareness about the impact of road safety and the issues carelessness on the roads can cause. Across the world:
- Every 24 seconds someone is killed on a road
- More than 1.3 million people die on the roads every year
- Road crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 5–29
In Britain alone, someone is killed or seriously injured every 20 minutes. Motorists and other users can sign the Brake Pledge, designed to highlight how to protect themselves and the people around them on the roads. Although it’s only one week of the year, motorists should use the advice from the Pledge year-round!
How can you help?
You can sign the Brake Pledge and commit to being a safer driver! You can also donate to Brake to help them support people bereaved or seriously injured and deliver road safety activities to educate people and raise awareness about road safety in all generations.
Whilst Brake provides guidance and support for road users, an important part of avoiding accidents is ensuring your car is in good order and that’s where your local Trust My Garage member can help. Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.
If you take your vehicle for an MOT, service or repair at your local garage, how can you be sure of the quality of its work? At Trust My Garage, we believe that our members are the best independent garages in the UK, each one unique but all skilled professionals who are dedicated to providing top quality work. Find out more by watching our TV ad:
By using a TMG-approved member, you’re visiting a garage that adheres to a CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) approved Code of Conduct. Our code means that you and your vehicle get the best service possible, no matter which TMG member you visit – so excellent service is on your doorstep!
With over 2,900 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease!
Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.
If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles and you can get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!
Got a top road safety tip? Like our TV advert? Make sure to leave us a comment in the section below!
Why are there more cyclists using the roads?
The numbers of people choosing to cycle for fun, fitness or to get to work has increased by more than a quarter in twenty years and an incredible 3.2 billion miles are cycled on our roads every year. (Think!) Add this to the ever-increasing amount of cars on UK roads and all of a sudden, there isn’t much space to share.
Although cycling-related deaths are at an all-time-low since 2010, there were still 3,337 cyclists killed on the road in 2015 (source), and figures released by the Department for Transport last year suggested cyclists are 17 times more likely to be killed on the road than those travelling in vehicles. While charities such as THINK! are helping to raise awareness and remind motorists about the safest ways to travel, there is still a lot that can be done to ensure that drivers and cyclists can use our roads in harmony.
THINK!’s basic tips for drivers about cyclist safety
We are Cycling states that cycling is essentially a safe activity, causing little risk either to cyclists themselves or to other road users. Moreover, there is good evidence that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’, with cycling becoming safer as cycle use increases. However, fear of road traffic is a major deterrent, despite the health, environmental and other benefits of cycling.
They also say that cycle safety in the UK lags behind many of our continental neighbours, because of poorly designed roads and junctions, traffic volumes and speeds, irresponsible driving, and a legal system that fails to respond adequately to road danger. National and local government should therefore aim for more as well as safer cycling. These two aims can and should go hand-in-hand.
What can I do to stay safe as a driver?
Sustrans are a charity that is trying to encourage the UK to use more sustainable methods of transport, in order to help ease congestion and other problems on the roads. Their top tips for drivers are:
To make roads as safe as they can be, motorists need to be aware of cyclists too.
- When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up;
- Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking;
- At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists;
- In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery.
Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road. (source)
What can I do to stay safe as a cyclist?
When cycling, there are also rules listed in the Highway Code that road users must obey, just like motorists. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also created a handy PDF that outlines some of the easy things that cyclists and motorists can do in order to work better together on the roads. Some of their best tips are:
- Sometimes motorists can find it difficult to predict what a cyclist is going to do, so try and clearly signal any movements that could be seen as unusual to a driver.
- When driving large vehicles, motorists can find it very difficult to see cyclists on their nearside, even with all their extra mirrors, so maintain a safe distance.
- Failing to look properly is also a common mistake made by cyclists, and contributes to 42% of cyclist collisions at junctions.
- NEVER be tempted to ride down the inside of any vehicle (especially a bus or lorry) that is waiting at a junction. Hold back and stay behind where the driver can see you in their mirrors. Be patient and don’t squeeze down the inside by the gutter.
- If a vehicle overtakes you close to a left turn junction, keep a safe gap behind the vehicle in case the driver cuts in front of you to turn left.
- When overtaking a parked car, remember to leave enough room in case a door opens (‘leave a door and a bit more’) and be ready for someone to open a door as you pass.
- In normal conditions, ride in the ‘secondary position’, approximately 1/3 into the carriageway – avoiding debris and grid covers in the gutter. If you need to improve your visibility in poor conditions you can ride in the ‘primary position’, in the middle of the road. However, try not to hold drivers up unnecessarily.
- When riding together never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
- The Highway Code says: At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.
Remember: BE SAFE BE SEEN.
What’s being done to improve road safety?
It isn’t only the public that are noticing the importance of safety for both drivers and cyclists. In June 2016 the government proposed implementing a fine of £5,000 for motorists that drove carelessly or too close around cyclists.
The idea was discussed after similar rules were created in Australia and Europe to help keep cyclists safe from dangerous driving. At the time, the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill stated: “As with other changes of this type introduced overseas, we remain interested in the change and are keeping it under review.”
While it’s true that nobody wants to get into an accident, they still happen. If your car hasn’t been running as smoothly as you like why not book it into your local Trust My Garage approved independent garage and get it back to tip-top condition?
It’s Road Safety Week!
People may already be incessantly piping on about Christmas but there’s an even more important event taking place beforehand, and that’s Road Safety Week.
Road Safety Week (RSW), an established week in the UK calendar, is designed to ensure both drivers and pedestrians stay as safe as possible.
Set up by Brake in 1997, the week has been organised by the charity ever since. This year it runs from the 18th to the 24th, just as the dark nights have started to draw in.
We are offering advice to motorists on how to stay safe on the roads – not just during Road Safety Week, but all year round.
In 2011, 3,267 people were killed or seriously injured in crashed where speed was a factor. You need to be aware of the speed limit of the area you’re driving in but remember that the limit is the absolute maximum, not a number to aim for. It also doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drive at or near the speed limit in all conditions, such as when it’s raining, icy or snowy.
Don’t drive while intoxicated through drink or drugs
There were 230 deaths in 2011 as a result of drink driving, a total that amounts to 12% of all road casualties. The way alcohol affects you depends on a number of factors including body weight, stress, metabolism etc. so it’s safer to simply not drink and drive at all.
Driving when under the influence of drugs is also incredibly dangerous to the driver, passengers and pedestrians. Reaction times can be reduced whilst fatigue will kick in once the drug starts to wear off. Remember it’s not just illegal drugs that have an effect on the human body. Prescription medication can also affect your driving ability, so always check with your GP whether it is safe to continue driving when you are taking prescribed drugs.
Get Strapped In
Seatbelts offer protection should you crash, so it’s vital you strap up as soon as you get in the car. Not wearing a seatbelt can be fatal, even at low speeds. Always check that your passengers are belted up too, and that young children or infants have the correct child safety seats and that they are strapped in correctly.
Don’t be distracted by mobile phones and other devices
You can become easily distracted when using your mobile phone, whether it is to text someone or if you’re having a conversation with them. Your concentration and focus need to be firmly on the road. With reaction times for drivers using a mobile phone 50% slower than normal drivers, it’s not surprising that you’re four more times likely to crash if using a phone. It is illegal to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, and the general advice is not to use a phone at all in the car because if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised even if it is hands-free.
Get plenty of sleep
Twenty per cent of accidents on trunk roads and motorways are sleep-related so before you set off on a long journey make sure you get plenty of rest. If you feel yourself starting to become tired then pull over into a safe location and take a quick nap, or get out of the car for a while and take some fresh air to help wake you up. Drinking a cup of coffee will also help you to be more alert.
How I can make sure my vehicle is safe?
Whilst you can carry out a number of checks yourself, including the oil and battery levels, the importance of getting your vehicle serviced cannot be stressed enough.
When your vehicle is being driven there are thousands of parts being used, being exposed to heat and wear and tear.
A simple service at a local Trust My Garage (TMG) member can make sure your vehicle is fit for driving.
What can your company do to help?
There’s so much more your company can do to promote the message of road safety.
Put posters up in reception areas and on noticeboards to get the message across to employees, parents, customers or passers-by.
Fun-filled fundraising! Hold a coffee morning, collection or bake sale to raise vital funds for Brake. You can also host a road safety quiz in your workplace based on the Highway Code, asking for donations from participants in aid of Brake in the process.
Follow Brake on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates. The twitter hashtag is #RSW13. You can also promote RSW on your website, social media and newsletter.
Promote text giving at your event or through your communications. People can donate to Brake by texting ROAD13 and the amount (e.g. ‘ROAD13 £5’) to 70070.
If you’re running an event or fundraiser then invite local media. It’s a really effective way to promote the cause and spread life-saving messages.
For even more information head to http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk
Where is my local Trust My Garage member?
To locate your nearest Trust My Garage member and take advantage of quality service at an affordable price, simply log on to http://www.trustmygarage.co.uk and type in your postcode to see a list of Trust My Garage members in your local area. Members of Trust My Garage are true professionals – local independent businesses which are part of the community. Trust My Garage is the truly independent scheme for independent garages.
Many of us drive around in our cars blissfully unaware of the useful colour coded guides that are often under the bonnet. This came to light recently as we were filming at one of our member garages. The non-mechanics among us were surprised to be shown that the fluids you are able to check yourself under the bonnet are often colour coded, particularly in modern cars where the things you can check yourself may be less obvious than on older vehicles.
Keeping on top of a few simple checks yourself means you are less likely to have something go wrong with your car, and it may even help you avoid expensive repair bills.
After reading this blog, make sure you go out to your car and take a look under your bonnet to see if your model colour codes the things you can check yourself…
Oil lubricates and cleans all the moving parts of your engine. In most cases, where you check the oil (the dipstick) is separate from where you put the oil – although everyone who has ever worked in the motor trade will be able to tell a story about cleaning up the mess after people have tried to top up the oil through the dipstick hole. There are always exceptions to this rule and some Renault and Peugeot cars have a combined dipstick and oil filler. Oil filler caps and dipstick handles are often yellow and may have information or pictograms embossed into them.
Unless the handbook indicates otherwise, oil should be checked after the engine has been running for a while then switched off and left for a few minutes. It should not be checked with a completely cold engine. Make sure the car is parked on level ground before attempting to check the oil.
Step 1 – Pull the dipstick out and wipe clean
Step 2 – Put it back into the oil well and pull it back out
Step 3 – Oil mark should be between the minimum and maximum levels
Modern oils are carefully refined to suit the characteristics of today’s engines and you should be careful to ensure that you are using the correct oil. Consult your car’s handbook to confirm the correct type and viscosity rating.
Brake fluid transfers from the master cylinder behind the brake pedal to the brake calipers located at each wheel when you apply your brakes. The brake fluid cap may also be colour coded and again may have information or pictograms embossed into it. It will and look something like this:
Step 1 – Check that the level is between the minimum and maximum levels
Step 2 – If it is too low then add the correct grade of brake fluid to the maximum level
If you need to add a significant amount of brake fluid or need to top up fluid regularly, you should seek assistance from your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member.
Engines work very hard and the coolant is what stops it from overheating. The tank is semi-transparent and will probably have a colour coded cap. Unlike older cars, it is very unlikely that you will be adding coolant to the radiator itself. Again, the cap for the engine coolant may be yellow, or blue and looks like this:
Step 1 – Make sure the engine is cold. The cooling system in a car is usually pressurised to allow the engine to run at higher temperatures without boiling. If you release this pressure by opening the cap when the engine is hot there is a significant risk of scalding
Step 2 – The level should be between the ‘low’ and ‘high’ levels
Step 3 – Like your brake fluid, if it looks too low then top it up to a higher level
Modern engines may require a specific coolant fluid rather than plain water although it is OK to top up with plain water in an emergency. Once again, excessive or ongoing loss of coolant is a warning to take your car to your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member to be checked.
Step 1 – Open the lid
Step 2 – Check if the level of fluid is sitting in the neck of the reservoir
Step 3 – If it is too low then fill it to the neck
Gary Lillistone is a senior driver from Coventry and has experienced for himself how cars have become more advanced since he started driving decades ago. He reflects on the maintenance of his vehicles over the years:
“Thirty to forty years ago, you would check over a car before making a reasonable journey. You would typically lift the bonnet and take the radiator cap off to see if the water level was OK, or check the battery. There have beenmany times when I’ve had to recharge a battery of a night. I would also listen to the engine to see if it purred or was running on one or two cylinder. If it was lumpy, I checked the spark plugs and maybe took off the distributor cap to look at the points. Motorists got into the way of tinkering with cars. Today, they tend to be more reliable and many of us don’t bother even looking at water levels, or checking the dipstick. Car owners really should check their oil levels on a regular basis. Some models do use a fair bit of oil and you could potentially seize the engine by running it dry. Can you really rely on an oil light coming on to warn you? It could be an expensive mistake!”
Now you know exactly why these things are colour coded – and there will usually be a selection of warning and instructional labels located under the bonnet. There will also be more information in the car’s handbook including information about the types and capacities of the various fluids. But if you suspect you still have a problem with your car after checking each of these areas, then you may need some specialist help. You can use the postcode finder on our website to find the most trusted garages in your area. FIND ONE HERE