By subscribing we will send you emails containing offers. You can read our privacy policy here.

Road safety is everyone's responsibility

 Published 29th May 2019
Driver Guides 

1.35 million?

One every 24 seconds?

Any guesses?

Sadly that's the number of people who die on the world's roads every single year.

Granted they aren't all in the UK, many are killed in developing countries that don't benefit from the road network - potholed though it may be - that we enjoy.

But just because our roads aren't the most dangerous in the world doesn't mean we don't share a responsibility for road safety.

The UN recently promoted Global Road Safety Week with the aim of reducing the number of fatalities on the road. Every day we travel the nation's roads, either as a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, driver or passenger. The UN approach is to ask us to assess our journeys and speak up about anything that could make them particularly dangerous or unsafe. It could be road conditions, speeding drivers, visibility, unsafe vehicles, we all face specific risks during our journeys.

The problem is we are all so used to making the same journey, driving the same routes at the same time, we can easily get used to seeing pedestrians on the streets, motorcyclists on the road, and cyclists starting to reappear now that the days are getting warmer and longer.

This can often mean we get a little too used to the things around us and may unintentionally stop paying attention. It's no surprise that most traffic accidents happen within a few miles of home because those are the roads we are most familiar with: we are prone to driving them on autopilot.

It's human nature to feel more comfortable and relaxed in familiar surroundings so it does take a little bit of effort to maintain your concentration. The Institute of Advanced Motorists highlights the importance of being aware of your surroundings and offers tips on making sure you don't add to the statistics.

Tips to stay safe on the road

Keep an eye out for pedestrians and be aware that older people may be slower to react or cross the road, young children are easily distracted and can be unpredictable.

Give other road users plenty of room to manoeuvre when you overtake and be aware that cyclists may adjust their road position to avoid potholes, or may not be as confident and stable as others.

Take extra care to look out for motorcycles and bicycles. We don't see clearly when our eyes or heads are moving - it's something called Saccadic Masking - and we don't pick up objects travelling directly towards us very well either. Make sure you have a good look, not just a quick glance, and remember that if you're specifically looking for motorcyclists or cyclists you are more likely to see them.

UK road safety - cyclists

Likewise when we take longer journeys for bank holiday weekends and annual holidays we may be driving on roads that we aren't used to and don't know.

If you're aware of the fact you have no idea what's around the next corner you're more likely to anticipate something and adjust your speed and road position accordingly.

You should also take the time to check your car is ready for a long journey - tyre pressures, oil, coolant, washer bottle, and so on - and allow yourself plenty of time to travel.

Don't pile the boot up with the entire contents of your house so you can't see anything out of the back window. Split the journey up and take regular breaks. It's surprising how enjoyable and stress-free even the longest journeys can be if you get out of the car for a break every couple of hours. Not only will you be more comfortable, you'll also be less tired and more able to concentrate on your surroundings for longer.

Speaking of which, lack of sleep is also a significant factor in accidents. Taking a break every couple of hours helps to ward of the drowsiness that can build on a longer journey. Tiredness can lead to something called micro-sleeps, essentially a short period of drowsiness or sleep that can last between a fraction of a second and up to 30 seconds.

At 70 mph a car will cover around 30 metres per second so a few seconds of micro-sleep could be the difference between stopping safely and ploughing into the back of a cue of stationary traffic with horrific consequences.

Planning an overnight stop is advisable for long journeys, and try to avoid long journeys that involve leaving the house 10 minutes after getting home from a long day at work. If you're already tired then getting behind the wheel for another few hours probably isn't the best idea you've ever had.

And on that note all of us here at Gateway2Lease hope you all have wonderful holidays, never get stuck in traffic jams, and remain safe whenever you take to the roads, on whatever form of transport you choose.

View our latest blog posts