Dangers when driving on U.K. roads – Part1
This two part blog is not intended to stop anyone from driving. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Driving is a freedom in life we all take for granted and should enhance our day to day lives. However it is easy to get lazy and complacent whilst driving and some people will always drive with the attitude that cars are super safe, whether in an accident or not, and the worst will never happen to them. British roads are amongst the safest in the world, however, in 2019 (latest published figures) there were 1752 deaths on U.K. roads.
This was a figure similar to 2012, where there were 1754 deaths and shows that regardless of additional safety features on our cars there will be a certain death rate on our roads. This is just a tiny piece of the story as there was 25945 serious injuries and a total 153168 casualties of all severities on our roads in 2019. Thats 17 casualties every hour!
As drivers we can all lower the risks whilst driving by being aware of some of the major causes of incidents. Below we will outline some of the reasons for accidents on our roads. These are in no particular order
Speed by itself doesn’t kill, but inappropriate speed does. The difference in serious injury from hitting a pedestrian at 20mph instead of 30mph is enormous. In general at 30mph 80% will receive serious or fatal injuries. At 20mph 80% will receive only minor injuries, if any. There is a slow change of speed limits around schools, especially primary schools, to 20mph. It’s 20mph for a reason and should be respected, even outside school times as you never know when children may be around. We should change our speed to be appropriate in all weather conditions and in busy times of day. The speed limit is NEVER a target, it is just a maximum speed if all conditions are ideal. Speeding offences in the UK are at a record high, we all need to drive legally and appropriately.
Drug and Drunk Driving
Some people believe just having one or two drinks or a few puffs on a joint wont hurt, after all you still are ok aren’t you! This simply is not true. Having an alcoholic drink or any drugs will impair your reaction times and even your assessment of danger. In Essex alone in December 2020 there were 280 arrests due to drug or drink-driving. If you want a drink get a taxi, walk or get the bus. It’s just not worth the fine, points on your licence, increased premium on your insurance OR risking your/someone else’s life.
We are all addicted to our mobile phones and find it hard to resist glancing at it when we hear a call, text or notification come in. In a car we have the same response to check our phones when this happens. Turn your phones off completely whilst driving! This will avoid a quick glance at it. Every second your eyes are not on the road you run the risk of having an incident.
You travel approximately 12m a second at 30mph so if you glance at your phone for 2 seconds you have travelled approximately the length of a tennis court without having your eyes on the road! You wouldn’t dream about closing your eyes for 2 seconds whilst driving and hope everything is OK, so don’t look at your phones! Year on year there are approximately 13000 drivers convicted for using their phones whilst driving in the UK, that’s 3 drivers every 2 hours.
One of the first things you learn to do in a car is to put your seatbelt on. We learn to do this from a young age but remarkably in the UK there were 21626 seatbelt offences in the UK in 2018. That was an increase of 17% from 2017. However not every driver knows the law concerning whose responsibility it is to buckle up. A driver is responsible morally for each of their passengers to wear theirs but according to the law it’s the passengers legal responsibility to put their seatbelt on if they are over 14 years old.
If they are older and are caught they will get the fine, not the driver. However for every passenger under 14 it is the legal responsibility of the driver. This also includes correct use of booster seats etc if needed. Why do we suddenly think that when driving the rules no longer apply? Many believe the cars airbags and other features will save them in a crash but over 15% of road deaths in the U.K. are attributed to not wearing a seatbelt or not wearing it correctly. This is a mindless waste of life. Buckle up folks!
Part 2 of this blog will also outline how the distractions and tiredness amongst other things whilst driving can increase the risk of being involved in an incident.