Latest figures from the Department for Transport has revealed that there are now more than 25.8 million cars on Britain’s roads, up from 25.2 million at the same time last year, meaning that five out of nine regions in England now have the equivalent of one car for every two people. With car production at a high and the use of public transport declining by more than 60 percent in the last six years, the number of cars on our roads is likely to continue to grow.
With this in mind, how can you ensure you keep safe on the road? We’ve compiled the best advice to keep you and others safe when out driving.
Mind the gap
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the mantra “only fools break the two second rule”. Unfortunately, some drivers may need to repeat this a bit more often as research from the road safety charity Brake, has reported that around 14% of accidents happen as a result of tailgating and shunting. Keeping at least two seconds between you and the car in front during normal driving conditions and four seconds during bad weather, will give you sufficient time to brake if needed.
Know your limit
It may seem obvious advice to keep to the speed limit, but drivers not keeping within the limit is one of the biggest causes of accidents on the roads. Keeping to the limit is a requirement and keeping inside the target will reduce hazards and the need for heavy braking. Remember, British motorways have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph and you should only be in driving in the right lanes if you are overtaking vehicles on the left.
Timing is everything
One of the easiest things you can do to keep within the speed limit, is give yourself plenty of time for your journey. Planning ahead to make sure you have enough time, with a route plan will leave you much more relaxed, reducing your temptation to speed.
The longer we do something the more it becomes second nature and this is just as true for driving. The benefits of being an experienced driver are obvious, however this experience has the potential to bring complacency. Before stepping into your car, make sure you are well rested, calm, alert and free from any other issues that may affect your attention.
Driving at night is not ideal, but if you need to, there is plenty you can do to keep safe. If taking a long journey make sure you are well rested before you begin with your route planned in advance, with regular two hour breaks factored in. Don’t ignore the warning signs, if you still feel tired during your trip, find somewhere safe to stop as soon as you can. If you’re on a motorway, pull into your nearest service station – DO NOT stop on the hard shoulder and have a nap in your vehicle.
Driving responsibly doesn’t end when you stop driving, how you park can have consequences for both you and other drivers. Are you aware that UK motorists are involved in 1400 car park-prangs every day? Keep your speed low when parking as this allows you greater control in a small space. Look in all directions including left, right and directly behind your vehicle as this is where a car could be backing out opposite from you and of course pedestrians could be there too! If your car has any form of automated parking assistance – from reversing sensors to a full blown auto parking mode remember that these are driver aids, not driver replacements!
Do you check your mirrors before every journey? Before setting off, make sure you check that your mirrors are in the correct position, so you can see around your vehicle. When driving you should also check them every time you change speed, or direction and before signalling
Time for a refresh
Once we’ve passed our test, unless it’s a requirement of your job, very few of us will have any additional assessments. As we become more experienced and more comfortable with driving we all have the potential to slip into bad habits. To curb this it’s a good idea to consider a refresher course every few years, ensuring you keep your knowledge and confidence up to speed.
Being a responsible driver isn’t just about your behaviour and those around you. The health of your vehicle is also paramount. Beyond regular vehicle maintenance, there are various vehicle checks you can make to ensure your car is kept in good working order and reduce your risk of breakdown. Weekly checks should become second nature, if you’re not quite sure what you should be checking, remember POWER: Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber.
Regular checks will help you spot any potential issues early, if you need any additional guidance, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to help.
While regularly monitoring your vehicle is highly recommended it is no substitute for regular servicing from a trained professional. Trust My Garage technicians are highly skilled and will be able to spot any issues and provide you with clear advice on keeping your vehicle in top condition. To find your nearest Trust My Garage member, visit our website and simply enter your postcode into our garage finder.
You can also download the Trust My Garage app from any smartphone and it will instantly recognise your location before showing a number of trusted garages nearby. From the app, you can view garage feedback, view our educational videos and call one of our members directly to book a service, MOT, or recovery service.
 Accident Exchange, 2014 report
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.