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.