We have now entered peak season for serious road injuries. Every autumn, when the hour goes back and we revert to Greenwich Mean Time, there is a spike in the number of pedestrians injured on our roads, especially children.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has long been campaigning for the way we use British Summer Time to change, in a bit to make children’s journeys to and from school as safe as possible. RoSPA wants us to shift forward by an hour in both winter and summer.
It’s tempting to believe this is a uniquely British problem, but the Huffington Post has reported that the US suffers in similar fashion. In New York city last year, 40 per cent of all pedestrians killed on the roads died between October and December.
Of course, darkness plays a huge role, and pedestrians must do everything they can to stay visible and vigilant. However, it’s also changing light conditions that can affect the ability of drivers to see where they’re going – low-hanging sun in the mornings, especially on wet/frosty days, can massively restrict visibility.
The main message is take care of yourselves and of other people. Respect everyone else’s journeys – we’re all just trying to get to where we need to be.
At DMA Law, our accident claims specialists deal every day with the devastating consequences of road accidents, so here is our guide to staying safe this winter:
Stay visible – wear bright clothes. This is especially important for children. Make sure they are as visible as possible.
Vigilant – watch where you’re going. It sounds obvious, but don’t make unpredictable movements.
Eye contact – never assume that drivers have sen you, or that they are going to stop. Try to get eye contact with them where required/possible, to make sure they have seen you.
Earphones – wearing earphones robs you of a vital sense, and increases the chances that you won#t hear a car coming. If you must wear earphones, try not to have the volume too loud, and make sure you use your eyes – check over your shoulder before crossing roads, for example.
Defrost – this is a huge one. Don’t start to drive until your windows are clear. Let your car warm up properly before driving away so your windows don’t mist. Always defrost/scrape them thoroughly before you drive away. Misty and frosty windows can hugely affect your visibility.
Lights and indicators – make sure you drive with your lights on, and make sure you indicate. Indicating is becoming a forgotten art, but they are there to help other motorists and pedestrians – so make your actions clear and indicate when necessary.
Speed – goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. It’s too easy to speed in most modern cars, and especially easy to feel that you are safe because you might have four-wheel drive and airbags and crumple zones… but think about the people outside, and how little protection they have. Stick to the speed limits – and don’t be afraid to drive slower still if the conditions are especially challenging.
Red lights – never drive through red lights. Pedestrians might be anticipating the lights changing and might not expect a car to
Watch – be vigilant! Don’t play with your phone or your sat nav while driving, don’t daydream. Stay alert and concentrate.