Posts tagged ‘Department for Transport’

17 January, 2014

Watch your blind spot! It’s time for team work

Whether you’re a cyclist or a lorry driver, when it comes to the rules of the road, with a little bit of teamwork, both parties can learn to exist safely alongside each other.

A warning sign has been fitted to the rear nearside corner of all CEMEX haulage vehicles, alerting cyclists to the danger of passing along the inside of the vehicle.

A warning sign has been fitted to the rear nearside corner of all CEMEX haulage vehicles, alerting cyclists to the danger of passing along the inside of the vehicle.

The grind of the daily commute is enough to make anyone retreat into their own headspace when stuck in a traffic jam or negotiating a tricky manoeuvre, but it is in these moments when accidents can and do happen.

Recently, we have witnessed a rise in the number of cyclists killed or injured on our roads, particularly in London, where six cyclists lost their lives in a two-week period. Statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) showed a 10 per cent rise in the number of cyclists killed on Great Britain’s roads, with 118 dying in 2012. The number of child cyclists killed doubled to 13 and the number of seriously injured cyclists rose to 3,222.

So what can be done? Well, it seems wise to follow the lead of the Metropolitan Police Service which has teamed up with insurance group RSA to encourage lorry drivers and cyclists to view the hazards of the road from each other’s point of view. The “Exchanging Places” video aims to enforce the law and provide essential road safety advice for both parties on correct cycling, driving and pedestrian behaviour to help avoid collisions and in severe cases, loss of life.

Here’s the challenge: how to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of cycling without resulting in injury or death. In quite a few cases, cyclists have lost their lives or have been seriously injured in collisions with HGVs, especially when the vehicle is turning left at junctions.

A variety of initiatives are underway to address this issue.

On its vehicles, for example, CEMEX is using additional mirrors, warning signs, cameras and sensors that trigger audible warnings when a cyclist passes on the nearside while the left indicator is on. The firm also gives cyclists the chance to get into the cab of a large vehicle to see the road from the driver’s perspective, and cyclist safety is covered in its driver training. In November, it hosted a roundtable discussion on how LGVs might be made safer for cyclists, attended by representatives from the road safety, cycling and construction communities.

A raft of cycle safety measures aimed at HGVs have been announced for London by the DfT and Transport for London (TfL). Under national legislation, most HGVs are required to be fitted with safety equipment such as side guards or low skirts that protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from being dragged underneath the vehicle in a collision.

Here at RoSPA, we would also like to see safety devices including side guards, proximity sensors and visual aids to be included for all new tippers and skip lorries. And cyclists have their part to play too: try to position yourself where lorry drivers can see you i.e. avoid travelling down the inside of the vehicle at traffic lights, and wear hi-vis clothing. The Highway Code’s rules for cyclists says to wear a cycle helmet and light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in the daylight and poor light, and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark. By law, cycles must have front and rear lights switched on in the dark and be fitted with reflectors.

Just how vital is it then to create a coherent safe network for cyclists? Answer: very. As the popularity of cycling increases, more and more people will be taking to the streets, which is why we need to redouble our efforts to ensure everyone stays safe. This is where the introduction of appropriate cycle lanes and tracks, linking quieter streets, and developing routes alongside rivers, canals and through parks (where possible) can all play a part. Such networks can be created by building dedicated cycle tracks alongside roads – this has been crucial for safer cycling in countries such as The Netherlands.

The introduction of more 20mph schemes in our towns and cities are also a good move and are proven to significantly reduce casualties. Where cyclists and vehicles cannot be separated, the setting up of segregated, marked cycle lanes are advised, but they must help cyclists safely negotiate junctions – usually the highest risk points on the road. It’s not enough to have cycle lanes along the road that simply disappear at a junction and then re-start on the other side of it. Along with boosting the provision of cyclist training, drivers should also be reminded to keep their speed down, watch out for cyclists (make eye contact) and give them enough room on the road. And cyclists should ride in a responsible and considerate manner, making sure they follow the rules of the road, just as motorists are expected to do. No-one is blameless here; both parties have a key role to play in helping to reduce accidents and casualties on our roads.

Finally, don’t succumb to the myth of thinking you’re a perfect driver! We should all refresh our skills regularly, and an easy way to do this is to join one of RoSPA’s local Advanced Drivers groups – see for details.

And if you’re going to be in the Birmingham area on February 25, why not join RoSPA at its 2014 Road Safety Conference? It will consider how to make roads, behaviours and environments safer for the increasing numbers of cyclists. A full programme is available to view here:

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

4 October, 2012

Motivated by tragedy, campaigning dad launches student road safety campaign

There are many honourable people who when faced with tragedy and heartbreak, endeavour to make a safer world for future generations.

Jon-Paul Kerr car accident Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards 2012

Jon-Paul Kerr was tragically killed in a traffic accident 20 years ago. His father Paul hopes the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards will educate schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

At the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we cross paths with many of these admirable characters, such as Paul Kerr, 68, who has just launched the UK’s first ever student road safety campaign with parliamentary backing.

Driven by the untimely death of his 17-year-old son, Jon-Paul, in a traffic accident 20 years ago, Mr Kerr was spurred into action to raise awareness of driving safety among young people, because the driver involved in the crash was an 18-year-old who had passed his driving test just a fortnight earlier.

RoSPA and car company Peugeot are both sponsoring the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards and RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey headed down to Westminster for the official launch with Mr Kerr on September 25.

For the first time, 11 to 18-year-olds nationally are being asked to create unique road safety projects that will raise awareness of this life-saving issue to their peers – a generation of future drivers.

The winning projects will even be considered by the Department for Transport (DfT) as future road safety campaigns.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, parliamentary under-secretary at the DfT, is also backing the awards, along with MPs Chris White (Leamington and Warwick) and Jeremy White (Kenilworth), plus road safety and youth organisations.

Paul Kerr Jon-Paul Kerr Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards

Paul Kerr, pictured left, with Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, MP Chris White (front, middle), Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond and Tim Zimmerman, managing director of Peugeot UK. Photo: Anthony Upton.

The Minister said he believed that empowering young people with a sense of responsibility from an early age would help drive down fatalities and serious injuries on UK roads.

Five people a day died on British roads last year, so Mr Kerr’s motivation and creativity to save lives and prevent injuries is a welcome and much-needed asset to the country.

Each fatality costs £1.78m and, sadly, 16 to 19-year-old drivers are the most at risk.

These awards were born out of Mr Kerr’s realisation that there is a lack of education for schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

Mr Kerr, from Warwick, said that there were over 25,000 people killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year, which was the first annual increase since 1994, and added that he “hoped and prayed” this initiative would help to bring this unacceptable figure down.

He added that developing the Student Road Safety Awards had in some way been a way of “coping with my loss”.

The awards start with competitions based on the 38 BBC local radio station areas across England, giving students an opportunity to “think outside the box” and come up with creative projects which will then be judged by a panel in each region.

Winners of the area heats will then go forward to the final in London, where students will present their projects to a panel of road safety experts from the DfT, road safety units and professional bodies.

For more details on the awards and how to enter, go to

Alison Brinkworth, RoSPA’s communications officer

2 March, 2012

Supervising a learner driver doesn’t need to be stressful

Anyone who has learnt to drive probably remembers trying to persuade their parents, partners or generous friends to take them out on the road to practise in preparation for their test. You may well have found them unwilling!

Going out in a car with an inexperienced learner can be a daunting prospect for parents or other prospective supervisors who, without the luxury of dual controls, may see supervising a learner as risky.  Well-publicised incidents in recent years, including a tragic case where a novice driver struck and killed an eight-year-old girl on her first driving lesson while supervised by her husband, may have compounded this fear.

A driver is supervised by an instructor.

Private practice outside of formal lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) is invaluable for learners.

As a driver yourself, however, you know that learning to drive isn’t just about passing a test. Private practice outside of formal lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) is invaluable for learners as it broadens their skills and experience such as in different weather conditions and times of day.

Involving yourself in the learning process could earn you brownie points with a learner and it can help ensure that the apprentice is more fully prepared to face the mean streets when they do pass. You may doubt your own ability to teach properly and safely and, if a parent, you may be inclined to limit your involvement to selecting instructors and funding lessons from the famous Bank of Mom and Dad. But by following a few simple steps, you can feel confident in supervising a learner and helping them gain that oh-so-important experience.

Research shows that the more experience that learner drivers obtain, the safer they are when they do hit the road on their own. RoSPA has produced a handbook on how you can give them this experience safely.

Firstly, think about your own driving ability. It may have been some time since you passed your test and you may have fallen into bad habits. RoSPA encourages even experienced drivers to take refresher training such as through an Experienced Driver Assessment or even by taking the RoSPA Advanced Driving test.

Give Way sign learner driverIt is important to talk to the learner’s instructor (you could communicate through the learner, but sometimes teenagers aren’t the most verbose creatures). They can give you a clear idea of the learner’s progress, what they should be practising and, importantly, when they are ready for private practice.

Instructors can also advise on current legislation, best practice and may even be willing to share their knowledge on how to communicate effectively with the learner – you could even sit in on a lesson (but be careful not to be a “backseat driver”!). Treat your chosen driving instructor as part of the learner’s team (you are also a member!), helping them to become – and remain – a safe driver.

Prepare your car and the route before you go out on the road – make sure you display L plates and involve the learner in a basic vehicle check (lights, tyres, oil, coolant, windscreen wash). Stay calm and constructive both during the journey and afterwards, when reviewing the driver’s performance.

Learner driver rips up L plate

Prepare your car and the route before you go out on the road - make sure you display L plates and involve the learner in a basic vehicle check.

Following the guide that RoSPA has produced in conjunction with the Department for Transport should ensure you feel confident and prepared enough to help a learner practise. It should be remembered, however, that while practising can help learners to pass, it isn’t a replacement for qualified instruction. In these economically challenging times, it may be tempting to try and help a learner to pass as quickly and cheaply as possible but this will almost certainly not be the best way to prepare them for a life on the roads.

At the very least, basic car control (including the emergency stop) should be mastered with help from a qualified instructor in a dual control car. Professional lessons are a life-long investment which can help to ensure that you, the driver and the general public stay safe through private practice, the test and beyond.

Lindsey Simkins, RoSPA’s road safety research and evaluation officer

29 March, 2011

A crushing punishment for recidivist drink-drivers

The Government’s response to the North Report on Drink and Drug Driving was published this week, and sets out a raft of new measures to tackle the problem.

In 2009, 380 people were killed and a further 11,610 were injured in drink-drive accidents on our roads.

There were 53 fatalities and 1,007 other casualties in reported road accidents in which impairment due to illicit or medicinal drugs was recorded among the contributory factors – although the true casualty figures are likely to be higher.

More worrying, though, was the number of motorists who received at least their second ban for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009: a shocking 19,605 motorists. The problem of recidivism seems to be worsening – 13,299 motorists were banned in 2000 for a second (or third or fourth) time.

Nearly one in four motorists banned for drink or drug driving will have at least one previous conviction for the same offence. It appears that the message is not getting through to a hardcore section of society who shows flagrant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of other road users.

As part of the new measures, the Department for Transport hinted that it may follow the example of Scotland when it comes to tackling the problem of drink and drug driving. Serial offenders could have their cars seized and crushed.

The reasoning behind this is twofold: firstly, it removes the temptation and opportunity for banned drivers to blithely carry on; secondly, it impacts on other family members, putting more pressure on offenders to change their behaviour.

Other new measures to be introduced to tackle drink driving include: streamlining procedures and closing loopholes to make it easier to conduct breath tests at the roadside and in police stations; improving testing equipment; and more robust drink-drive rehabilitation schemes.

This means that people who are a little over the limit will no longer be able to ask for a blood test, thus giving them time to sober up enough to pass it. It is hoped that improved testing equipment will remove any doubt with borderline cases.

As the figures on reoffending show, the current punishments do not seem to be working, so we at RoSPA welcome more robust rehabilitation schemes. In this, as everything, education seems to be key.

On the subject of drug driving, the Government will examine the case for a new specific drug-driving offence – alongside the existing one – which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis where a specified drug has been detected. In addition, preliminary drug-testing equipment will be approved, and procedures will be streamlined.

Drug driving is very much a “hidden” problem. With legitimate medicines, side-effects are often ill-understood and not explained clearly enough; whereas with driving under the influence of illegal drugs, the fact of their illegality means that access to facts and figures is limited. We hope that these new measures will begin to shed some light on the problem, and enable road safety professionals and lawmakers to begin to solve it.

RoSPA welcomes all the new measures set out in the Government’s response to the North Report – but they don’t go far enough.

For many years now, we have called for the drink-drive limit to be reduced from the current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This move was also recommended by Sir Peter North when he wrote his report following an independent review of the law.

Any alcohol impairs drivers to a greater or lesser extent, and lowering the limit would reinforce that message. The vast majority of people are well aware that driving under the influence of alcohol is anti-social and dangerous; we need to get that message through to the minority who continue to flout the law. We also need to reinforce the message that any alcohol is risky to each new generation of drivers who may think that “just the one” is perfectly safe.

RoSPA urges the Government to reconsider lowering the drink-drive limit – and not to forget that the messages need to continue for future generations.

Kevin Clinton

RoSPA’s head of road safety

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