Dangers when driving on U.K. roads – Part 2
Driving is a fun freedom which we all take for granted. Its’s not easy or quick to get our driving licences and with covid-19, test waiting lists have grown enormously. This has lead to large test backlogs so it’s even more important to be more than ready before you take your test. There are many dangers on U.K. roads, some of which we discussed in the first part of this blog. Being aware of the dangers will help keep us all safe. Passing our driving test is all about proving you are safe and legal to be driving alone on our roads. Once you have passed your test it is all about keeping up good, safe practice which should avoid any serious incidents.
Now let’s outline additional dangers on our roads starting with distractions.
It might seem obvious but taking our eyes off the road, even for a second can put us in increased danger. Distractions are all around us but we must learn to deal with them whilst keeping aware of our surroundings. Always familiarise yourself with all the controls on your vehicle before setting off on a journey. Each car may have a different place for the switches and levers we may need to operate. We don’t want to be distracted whilst trying to find the windscreen wipers if it starts raining for example.
Other simple distractions may include playing with the radio, eating whilst driving, smoking, heated conversations, mobile phones, children on the back seat…. the list is endless. Some of these distractions can be avoided completely ie don’t smoke or eat whilst driving. If you want a drink don’t have a screw cap on the bottle for example. Other distractions such as children can’t always be avoided but you are in control of the car and their safety so don’t be afraid to ask them to be quiet as you need to concentrate. Having passengers in the car can be fun and can make long journeys go much quicker but we need to keep our eyes on the road at all times.
Nobody ever believes they will fall asleep at the wheel until it happens and if it does then this is a terrifying experience. Micro naps often occur whilst travelling alone on long journeys especially at night or in poor weather conditions. At these times it’s quiet and often warm in the car and we are in our most concentrating state. We can end up staring at the road for hours on end and this can put us in a trance and make us nod off for a split second.
According the the Highway Code every driver should take a break every two hours. Even doing this may not be enough. Know your limits! If you are driving alone at night or poor weather conditions put the radio on, put the window down for fresh air and switch the heater off. These simple measures could save your life. If you are feeling drowsy take a break, have a drink. It’s better to get to your final destination late than end up in an accident, or worse.
Be aware of vulnerable road users
Again this may sound obvious but think bike whilst driving. If you are asking yourself where the vulnerable road users are you are more likely to spot them early enough to negotiate around them earlier and safer. We are hot wired as humans to spot the things that can hurt us so whilst driving we will always spot the lorry. This is not the case with things that cannot hurt us, like pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes.
Therefore we need to train ourselves to look out for these asking ourselves simple questions whilst turning right for example. “Where’s the bike?” When overtaking vulnerable road users like bikes please take into account the bike wobble factor and give them plenty of room. Passing horses for example pass as wide and slow as possible, turning the radio down and avoid over revving whilst pulling off after the manoeuvre.
Finally let’s talk about showing off.
Showing off behind the wheel, especially as a young driver with friends on the back seat is one of the biggest reasons why young drivers have more incidents in a car than other older car drivers. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Just because it may seem quiet and safe to drive at 100mph down a country lane it isn’t. Too many fatalities occur this way.
Driving is a fun experience and I for one still love being behind the wheel, even after driving around 1.5million miles in my driving career. Many of the things that put us in trouble in a car are totally avoidable by just following a few extra safety checks. 96% of all accidents on the road are caused by human error. Minimise these risks and hopefully you will enjoy a long, fun and happy driving career like myself and millions of other drivers.