Posts tagged ‘The Highway Code’

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 www.roadar.org.uk 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: www.rospa.com/events/roadsafetyconference/.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

23 November, 2012

Are there children there? Be aware!

The very real risks posed to children on and near the driveways of their own homes were vividly highlighted during the photoshoot for our new driveway safety campaign recently.

RoSPA driveway safety campaign Are there children there? Be aware!

RoSPA research shows that at least 25 children have been killed on, or near, the driveways of their home since 2001. Sixteen of these accidents have occurred since 2007.

At least 26 children have died in these circumstances since 2001 – 18 of these incidents have occurred in the last five years. Tragically, it is often a member of the family or a friend who is driving the car at the time.

Our new campaign Child on the Drive! is being funded by an appeal by Mark Goodwill who lost his son Iain in a driveway accident when Iain was just 17 months old. We have been working closely with him and other parents of young children to develop a hard-hitting poster and leaflet to alert parents and carers to this danger blind spot.

All of the parents in the focus groups were horrified at what could, and has happened. They felt very strongly that once this simple message was seen, it would not be forgotten. Their input was vital – helping us develop the slogan and image which would form the basis of the poster.

And so, to the photoshoot…

Our charming and extremely well behaved young volunteers were just that – young and so energetic and hard to keep track of as we encouraged them to play on the grass near the driveway.

We had, of course, thoroughly risk assessed the photoshoot – thinking about and trying to mitigate the risks posed by simulating a reversing car threatening the life of a child darting for a ball. Supervision appeared to be the key, as did ensuring that any reversing manoeuvre was conducted slowly with a focus on who was where.

RoSPA driveway safety campaign Are there children there? Be aware!

RoSPA’s new driveway safety campaign is being funded by an appeal by Mark Goodwill who lost his 17-month-old son Iain in a driveway accident.

Despite this, it became clear to the team involved just how these deadly accidents happen. Between the ages of one and two, infants’ mobility increases at a remarkable, but irregular, rate. Young children can easily escape your notice for a short time and get into difficulties before you even realise they have moved.

Thankfully, the shoot went without incident, thanks in no small part to successful planning and close supervision. Our fantastic volunteers ably helped us to illustrate not only the dangers of reversing off a driveway, but also the need to ensure children don’t see a car as a play area or have easy access to car keys.

The leaflet also highlights the importance of parking in gear (PING) on an incline, emphasised by the devastating story of the Patterson family. Their son Harry was killed last year when the family car’s handbrake failed and the car rolled back and crushed him.

We are now launching our awareness raising poster and leaflet to drive the message home. It is hoped that the distressing experiences of the Goodwill and Patterson families, coupled with simple safety advice, will ensure that no family will have to suffer in the same way again.

These tragic incidents happen every year – please help us to stop this trend. Certainly, having been involved in the photoshoot, I will stop to think, before reversing off a driveway – “Are there children there? Be aware!”

If you wish to apply for batches of posters and leaflets click here.

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

4 January, 2012

Help save children’s lives on the driveway with RoSPA’s checklist

Parking the car on the driveway is simple, right? You stop the car, put the handbrake on and go about your daily business. But what if you are attempting to park on an incline? Is there something that you might have missed?

driveway safety

RoSPA began looking into the safety of children in and around cars after it was approached by the family of Iain Goodwill who was killed when he was struck by a car on the driveway of his home near Inverness.

These few questions could help save a life. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is aware of 14 children who have been killed by a vehicle at home since 2006. There are also many more near misses and cases in which a child is injured, sometimes seriously. Some accidents have involved a driver pulling on to or off a driveway without seeing the child, and others happened when a child was able to move a car that had been parked in a driveway. Recently in the press, there have been reported cases of children being crushed by cars that rolled down on steep driveways. In these cases the brakes have been said to have failed as they cooled down causing the car to silently roll backwards, hitting a child in the process. Rule 252 of The Highway Code advises drivers to select a forward gear and turn the steering wheel away from the kerb when facing uphill. If facing downhill, drivers should select a reverse gear and turn their steering wheel towards the kerb. Alternatively, use “park” if the car has an automatic gearbox.

RoSPA began looking into the safety of children in and around cars after we were approached by the family of Iain Goodwill who was killed when he was struck by a car on the driveway of his home near Inverness. The family of the 17-month-old, who died in 2007, set up the Iain Goodwill Trust to hopefully prevent others enduring similar tragedies.

The majority of parents are unaware of the potential for an accident involving their children and a car at home, as we discovered when we conducted driveway safety research in 2010. The survey, run in conjunction with the Iain Goodwill Trust (www.iains-trust.org), focused on children being struck by cars on driveways. One of the main issues identified through the research was that parents and carers did not think an accident would happen to their family, unless they knew someone who had already experienced one, meaning they did not take simple precautions.

Of those who took part in the survey:

  • 59 per cent could recall a time when their child had followed them out of the house on to the driveway without them realising
  • 22 per cent had started to manoeuvre a vehicle on the driveway and realised their child was close to the car when they thought they were elsewhere
  • 95 per cent reported temporarily leaving their children unattended in the car on the driveway while they “dashed back into the house” for something
  • 42 per cent said their children had picked up the family car keys without being seen to do so.

However, 68 per cent believed it was unlikely that their child would ever be injured by a vehicle entering or leaving their driveway. And 83 per cent believed it was unlikely their child would ever be injured by a vehicle parked on their driveway.

So how can you protect your children on your driveway? Between the ages of one and two, children become more and more mobile, meaning they can easily escape a parent’s supervision. It is not until the age of four or five that children begin to understand the concept of danger, and begin to heed warnings given to them. By raising awareness, we can help to highlight the dangers and the risks we take and look at the safety measures that can be put in place to make sure that children are not killed or injured around cars.

We advise:

  • Turning your steering wheel when you are parked in order to activate the steering lock – 22 per cent of respondents always activate the steering lock, but 36 per cent never do so
  • Reversing on to your driveway (if you have one) so that you drive forwards when pulling away – 26 per cent of respondents never reverse on to their driveway when returning home
  • Parking in gear if your driveway is not flat (first gear if facing uphill; reverse gear if facing downhill)
  • Locking your car doors before going into the house – a small minority of respondents reported never locking their vehicle doors when parked outside the home
  • Keeping your car keys out of reach of children – the majority of respondents reported keeping keys on a high-level shelf or other high place; however many said that they were aware they kept their keys in a place a child could easily access.

Adopting some of these safety tips sooner rather than later could make all the difference. Losing a life just yards from your front door is a very high price to pay for not being fully aware of the dangers – and this is where RoSPA can help.

For more advice on keeping children safe in and around cars visit http://www.rospa.com/RoadSafety/advice/incarsafety/info/children_in_cars.pdf

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

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