Cutting the number of deaths and injuries that occur on our roads every day is a responsibility we all share. Knowing and using the rules that apply to all road users could significantly reduce road casualties.
Driving is a skill. It is more than just knowing how to operate the mechanisms which control the vehicle; driving in traffic requires knowledge of how to apply the rules of the road and how to drive responsibly. Passengers should not distract a driver and should take responsibility for wearing their seatbelt. The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, particularly children, older or disabled people. Years of experience mean that adults are generally considerably safer on the roads than children, but all pedestrians should bear in mind that they need to minimise the risks they face by following the rules for Pedestrians in the Highway Code.
THE HIGHWAY CODE is a reference point for ALL road users. Many of the rules in the Highway Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, and if you are a driver or rider, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving/riding. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
By drinking and driving you risk your life and those of your passengers and others on the road.
Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. Tolerance to alcohol depends on a combination of factors: weight, age, gender, stress and recent food consumption. Alcohol affects everybody's driving for the worse. It creates a feeling of overconfidence, makes judging distance and speed more difficult and slows your reactions so it takes longer to stop.
You could still be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it's the 'morning after'. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don't help to sober you up. Time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system
If you're planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving. Options include agreeing on a designated driver, saving a taxi number to your phone, and finding out about public transport routes and times to plan your journey before you go out.
Taking drugs will impair driving skills. It is an offence to drive whilst unfit through drugs. Drug drivers may think that just because they pass a test for alcohol they will be off the hook. This is not the case - the police can also prosecute a driver who is unfit through drugs and there are various ways they can detect and prove the offence. For those caught while driving under the influence of drugs, the penalties are as severe as for those who drink and drive.
Pedestrians under the influence of alcohol are more likely to make errors of judgement and to behave in a manner that leads them to become involved in, or to cause, a road traffic accident. Make sure that you plan your journey to get home safely after a night out.
The Law: You must wear a seat belt if one is fitted in any seat in any vehicle. Carrying children safely in the car The law says that children under 12 years must be seated in a suitable child safety seat or booster cushion when travelling in a car, unless they are 135cm tall or over. Children 135cms in height or over must wear the adult seatbelt. When you’re driving, you must only carry one person in each seat fitted with a seat belt. Anyone travelling in the vehicle aged 14 years and above is responsible for wearing their seat belt. The ‘Good Egg Guide’ has information about choosing and fitting child safety seats.
Drivers and passengers aged 17-34 have the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates combined with the highest accident rate.
Mobile Phones and other in car devices - It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle while using a hand-held mobile phone.
Using any mobile phone, sat nav or any similar device whilst driving is dangerous – it means that the driver’s attention is distracted from the road.
You’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving
Reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50% slower than normal driving
Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash
If you think you can do two things at once, take the Driving Challenge, and think again!
PEDESTRIANS AND DISTRACTIONS
Life is full of distractions - it's easy to forget about keeping yourself safe, especially on the roads. It only takes a second to become one of the thousands of people injured on our roads every year.
Distractions such as chatting on your mobile, texting, and listening to music on headphones while crossing the road are all a big danger. Think – it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe.
Speed limits are there for a reason.
Speed is one of the biggest factors in fatal road crashes.
The faster you drive, the less time you will have to react to and avoid a hazard in the road ahead.
The faster you drive the more likely it is that someone will be killed or injured if your car hits them.
There are different speed limits for cars, vans and towing vehicles on different types of roads. Make sure you know when to slow down to suit the road conditions and the legal speed limits for your vehicle.
Extreme weather conditions and icy roads can make driving more difficult especially in winter.
By being prepared you can help to make your journey safer and reduce delays for everyone. Get up at least 10 minutes earlier and give yourself time to prepare your vehicle.
Make sure all windows and mirrors are clear and that wipers and defrosters are in good working condition. Check all tyres for condition, pressure and tread depth. At least 3mm of tread is recommended for winter motoring and certainly no less than 2mm. Try to keep your fuel tank topped up.
Plan routes to favour major roads which are more likely to have been gritted. Let people know where you are going, your route, and when you expect to arrive. In extreme weather, prepare an emergency kit for your car. Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving. Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow.
Make sure you don’t get caught out when bad weather strikes, see the Highways Agency Winter Driving advice.
LEARNING TO DRIVE, NEW DRIVERS AND DRIVING SKILLS
Before you can learn to drive a car, moped or motorcycle you must apply for a provisional driving licence. Once you have your Provisional Driving Licence, you can have driving lessons and you can book a theory test.
The theory test is made up of a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part. You need to pass both parts to pass the theory test.
When you have passed your Theory Test, and your Driving Instructor thinks that you are ready, you can take your Driving Test.
If you have just passed your first driving test, the New Drivers Act (1997) means that you’re ‘on probation’ for two years. If you commit road traffic offences and reach six or more penalty points in that time, you’ll lose your licence. You will then have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and re-take a driving test.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists offer courses for drivers to improve their skills.Try the DfT Think Driving Challenge.
Contact the Road Safety Unit for further advice:
Telephone 0113 2475198