Posts tagged ‘driver’

6 December, 2012

Don’t be caught out this winter – keep yourself and others safe on the road

It’s that time of year again, when it’s cold, dark and damp outside. Spirits can wain but we happily replace all of our negative energy with that of festivities and happiness. However, it is always worth bearing in mind that you do not want your festivities to be spoilt by an accident that could have been prevented.

RAM Tracking Road Safety Week

Driving in the winter months throws up more potential hazards that you may not be used to if you have not driven in these conditions before.

Running from November 19-25, Road Safety Week was held in the UK to help improve the safety of the roads. Citing from the Road Safety Week website, road crashes are not road accidents; they are preventable and must be stopped.

I think the main thing I would want you take away after reading this post is the fact that even though Road Safety Week finished on November 25, it doesn’t mean that the problem has disappeared. I’m sure you will agree with me. The idea of the week was to raise awareness but it also brings up some key points that are relevant especially in conjunction with the upcoming festive period. As a driver on the roads you have a responsibility to keep yourself and others safe.

Do not be tempted to take the stress of Christmas shopping out on the car. We all know the problems that can be caused from this. It’s December, one of the busiest shopping months of the year and this can raise blood pressure due to the stresses of long queues, unavailability of requested gifts, high prices and busy shops. Make sure you drive calm; if you drive whilst feeling pent up then you are more likely to be involved in an accident due to your lack of concentration. Focus yourself when you are in the car and do not let the stresses get to you. Take deep breaths, and ask yourself are you safe to drive? Remember that a momentary lapse of reason from you could potentially ruin somebody’s life; it’s just not worth the risk. Other drivers will be on the road and you must be aware of them.

Your defensive driving skills are extremely important and have to be used to your advantage. Be aware of other drivers who may not be as experienced on the roads, such as learner drivers and those who seem to be driving in a dangerous manner. You should not have to tolerate this on the roads however, if you are prepared to deal with these other badly behaving drivers, you will be able to keep yourself safe.

Ram Tracking Road Safety Week

“Beware of snow covered roads this winter. Children are likely to be playing in the street, making snowmen and running about. Be alert when driving past the bottom of hills, because sledging children may not be able to risk assess as well as a driver and will have difficulty in bringing their sledges to a standstill” – Matt Jones.

Driving under the influence of drink or drugs is rightly illegal and should not be done. This is an important fact to remember, especially at Christmas, as what could be seen by someone as an innocent mistake could result in tragedy. What I’m trying to get across here is that you may not even realise you are over the limit; but that is no excuse in the eyes of the law. If you are drinking the previous evening then this action could result in you still being unsafe to drive in the morning. The best advice I can give you is not to drink anything at all if you are going to be driving and monitor your consumption if you will need to drive the following day to make sure you are safe.

Laws and speed limits are there for a reason and they are not something that you can ignore. In fact, when driving at this time of year, you should be slowing down as the roads will be busy, but also conditions are more likely to be bad. Bad driving conditions are a critical factor at this time of year; black ice could result in you losing control of your vehicle, so make sure you are prepared for this. Driving in the winter months throws up more potential hazards that you may not be used to if you have not driven in these conditions before.

Visibility can be noticeably poor, so make sure you de-ice fully and can see out from the entirety of your windscreen, as even with a clear windscreen you will still have blind spots.

If you ride a bike, remember to use your lights and make yourself as visible as possible. High visibility jackets are available to buy and are definitely worth the investment as I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be sat in a hospital bed over the festive period.

Plan for long journeys, make sure you set out a decent time scale and take regular intervals at this time of year as it can be tiring driving in dark conditions. You need to keep yourself and your passengers’ safe as you have a duty of care to them.

Beware of snow covered roads this winter. Children are likely to be playing in the street, making snowmen and running about. Be alert when driving past the bottom of hills, because sledging children may not be able to risk assess as well as a driver and will have difficulty in bringing their sledges to a standstill.

If you can understand the dangers, then you will be in a better position to avoid accidents and drive safely. I hope you have an excellent and accident-free Christmas season. Drive safely and remember a moment of madness is not worth a lifetime of regret.

Matt Jones, on behalf of RAM Tracking

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 July, 2012

Safety behind the wheel: don’t let tiredness put a full stop to your festival fun!

The summer festival has drawn to a close and you and your friends have had a great time enjoying the live music and electric atmosphere. As the designated driver, you are responsible for ferrying your fellow festival-goers home…safely! But you’re feeling shattered, worn out from the festivities and not looking forward to the long drive ahead. What do you do?

Young people car festival tired teenagers

Driving when tired is not a smart move. Not only are you gambling with your life, but also the lives of your passengers and potentially other road users.

You may feel you can risk it and get behind the wheel anyway. This is a bad idea, not only are you gambling with your life, but also the lives of your passengers and potentially other road users. Driving when tired reduces your reaction time, which is a key element of safe driving, and with your friends in the car with you, there is bound to be plenty of chatter which will only serve to distract you further.

Driver fatigue is no laughing matter; it is a serious problem which results in thousands of road accidents each year. Research shows that driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20 per cent of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents*. These types of crashes are about 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury as they tend to be high speed impacts. A driver who has fallen asleep cannot brake or swerve to avoid or reduce the impact.

The first thing that may cross your mind to help you stay awake is to reach for an emergency cup of coffee. Drinking at least 150mg of caffeine and taking a nap of around 15 minutes are the only measures that help to reduce sleepiness. But even these are temporary measures; sleepiness will return if the driver does not stop driving within a fairly short period of time. By planning ahead, particularly when driving on motorways, you can work in a series of breaks to give you time to pull over in a safe place and have a rest. A minimum break is recommended of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving. Remember not to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway. Alternatively, plan in advance an overnight stop, as this will then give you the welcome option of driving for a few hours, with a break, to a hotel, for example, before waking up fresh to complete the journey the following day.

You may decide that the chances of you falling asleep at the wheel are slim, but can you afford to take the risk? Driving whilst tired makes you less vigilant and alert. It also affects your concentration levels and the quality of your decision-making.

Crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen:

  • On long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways
  • Between 2am and 6am
  • Between 2pm and 4pm (especially after eating)
  • After having less sleep than normal
  • After drinking alcohol
  • After taking medicines that cause drowsiness
  • After long working hours or on journeys home after long shifts, especially night shifts.

Here are RoSPA’s top tips on how to avoid the risk of falling asleep at the wheel:

  • Plan your journey. Write out a route that you can read easily and/or programme the SatNav to its destination prior to setting off
  • Check your vehicle is in a safe condition before heading out on the road. Check the tyres, lights, windscreen wipers and all fluid levels
  • Decide in advance where to stop for regular rest breaks
  • Consider having an overnight break so that you don’t get too tired, but plan this in advance
  • If possible, share the driving with a second driver
  • Try not to drink the night before a long car journey. Alcohol stays in the body for several hours and will make you more sleepy
  • If you are taking any medication, check whether it causes drowsiness. If it does, ask your doctor or pharmacist for an alternative that does not cause drowsiness.

Next time you are faced with the daunting task of driving home after a festival, take time out to make sure you are fully awake and prepared – try not to give into peer pressure if you are not feeling your best. One moment’s lapse in concentration while out on the roads could be your last, but by making changes to your driving behaviour the risk of an accident can be reduced.

For more information on road safety, visit

For other festival-related safety advice, visit

*Figures quoted by the Sleep Research Laboratory at Loughborough University (“Sleep Related Vehicle Accidents”, Jim Horne and Louise Reyner, 2000) and the Department for Transport’s Road Safety Research Report No. 52, October 2004 (“Sleep-Related Crashes on Sections of Different Road Types in the UK, 1995-2001).

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

19 April, 2011

Safety at level crossings – stating the obvious?

You’d think so, but at RoSPA we often hear of people being seriously injured or killed on railway crossings, while in their vehicles or as pedestrians. These are preventable accidents, and while rail operators have a responsibility to ensure that crossings are safe and in good working order, those who use them also need to ensure that they do not misuse level crossings – after all, no matter whose fault an accident is, the motorist or pedestrian is always going to come off worse.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has recently produced a guide to using level crossings safely aimed at pedestrians and motorists. We at RoSPA were asked to provide comments on the guide during the consultation period in 2010, and we have been involved in a review of Level Crossing law that is currently being conducted by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission.

The new guide is aimed at anyone who uses level crossings, including: pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, horse-riders and people who work in rural areas. It covers specific rules governing use of level crossings, as set out in the Highway Code, and gives general easy-to-understand advice for those who may have to use them.

A summary of the advice is below; the full Using Level Crossings Safely Guide is available on the ORR’s website.

Using crossings safely

It’s important to remember that trains have much longer stopping distances than road vehicles – often longer than the train driver’s view of the line ahead. The general advice is that if you see or hear a train, don’t cross, and remember that trains can come from either direction.

Safety at level crossings largely depends on people recognising the dangers and obeying instructions: if you do not follow the instructions given, you are putting yourself, other users, railway staff and passengers at great risk. You could also be prosecuted.

Drivers and motorcyclists

Not using level crossings correctly – for example, ignoring traffic light signals or trying to beat the barriers – is very dangerous.

  • Take extra care when approaching and using level crossings
  • Never pass over the STOP line and drive onto a crossing until the road is clear on the other side
  • Never stop or park on a crossing

If your vehicle breaks down or you cannot keep going or get off a crossing:

  • Get everyone out of the vehicle and off the crossing immediately
  • Use the phone at the crossing (if any) to tell the signaller and then follow the instructions you are given
  • Only move the vehicle off the crossing if there is time to do so before a train arrives. If the alarm sounds, or the amber light comes on, leave the vehicle and get off the crossing immediately.

You must follow the rules below:

  • Obey road traffic light signals and road signs
  • Avoid overhead electric lines by obeying any height-restriction warnings. Do not move forward onto the railway if your vehicle touches any height barrier
  • Obey any sign that says you must use a phone at the crossing to get permission to cross. Phone back when you are clear of the crossing if you have been asked to do so.

And – particularly importantly – if you are using a sat nav, do not just blindly follow its instructions! Take note of your surroundings; if it looks like you may end up on a railway line, think carefully about what you do next. Take a look at this story from 2007

Other users (for example pedestrians, cyclists, horse-riders and people who work in rural areas)

Take special care when crossing railway lines at level crossings, especially crossings along footpaths, bridleways and other rights of way where there are no barriers or railway staff. In particular, pay attention to the following points:

  • You must obey instruction signs, warning lights and alarms
  • Before you reach the crossing remove hoods, earphones, headphones or any device that could stop you from hearing a train approaching. Remember that modern trains are quiet and weather conditions such as high winds and fog can reduce your ability to hear or see a train approaching
  • Keep children close to you. Do not let them run or wander off – and similarly, keep dogs on a lead. Do not follow an animal that strays on to the line without first checking it is safe by contacting the crossing operator or signaller where possible
  • If there are no barriers or lights, stop, look and listen, then look again before you cross
  • If it is safe to cross, cross quickly, taking care not to slip or trip on the track. Stay alert while you are crossing the track, and do not stop on the crossing
  • Take particular care if the surface of the crossing is not smooth, and make sure that wheels of bicycles, pushchairs and wheelchairs do not get trapped in the space between the crossing surface and the inside of the rail
  • When in a group, don’t just follow the person in front. Everyone should take responsibility for their own safety and stop, look and listen for themselves before deciding it is safe to cross
  • If you are crossing in a group, or you are riding a horse, use the phone if there is one
  • If you are crossing in a group of cyclists, there is no phone and you need to open and close gates yourself, you should dismount
  • You must obey any sign that says you must use a phone at the crossing to get permission to cross. Phone back when you are clear of the crossing if you have been asked to do so.

Much of this advice and information may seem obvious – but there are still far too many deaths occurring at level crossings, so it is clear that the message has not reached everyone.

The new guide can be viewed and downloaded online on the ORR’s website; RoSPA’s response during the consultation is available for viewing on the RoSPA website.

Kevin Clinton

Head of road safety at RoSPA

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