10 Ways to Prevent Injury on the Roads
Many of the cases dealt with by our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors are down to the same common mistakes being made over and over again, and these can have devastating consequences.
Today is Injury Prevention Day, a national campaign by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) to improve the law for injured people and promote ways of staying safe, and this year, the focus is on staying safe on the roads.
So we thought we’d take this opportunity to share 10 ways to reduce your chances of causing or contributing to an accident while out and about.
If you’re injured in an accident on the road that wasn’t your fault, either as a driver, cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian, then you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors for free initial legal advice. We may be able to handle your case on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.
Watch your Speed
The roads are full of vulnerable drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. Managing speed is therefore essential to ensure everyone can get around safely and react in time to various hazards.
We’ve seen many defendants in road traffic accident cases who were clearly very remorseful and devastated by the consequences of driving slightly over the speed limit. But by staying within the limit, the whole situation could’ve been avoided.
Tips to stay within the limit:
- Check your speedometer regularly;
- Use cruise control;
- Assume lamp posts mean 30 mph unless road signs say otherwise;
- Speed limits are a maximum;
- Concentrate; and
- Give yourself plenty of time, leave a few minutes earlier.
Don’t Let Technology Distract You
Technology is all around us, especially in the car, and it’s easy to get distracted by a satnav or car radio. But it’s not just drivers who can get distracted. It’s far from uncommon to see a pedestrian wearing headphones and staring at the screen of their smartphone, locked in their own world and not even realising that a car is approaching them.
Motorists and pedestrians alike, therefore, can’t afford to be so distracted by their gadgets that they end up putting themselves and others at risk.
It’s not always malicious or intentionally dangerous road users that can cause life-changing or fatal accidents. A momentary lapse of concentration can be all that’s needed to cause a serious injury or death on the roads.
While we can’t always control what will happen while we’re out and about, we can certainly reduce the risk by retaining control over that which we have the power to, and staying focused and concentrating at all times.
Stay off Your Mobile
Despite being illegal for more than a decade, many drivers still can’t resist the temptation to check their phone behind the wheel. Keep your handset out of sight while you’re driving, or better still, put it on silent or turn it off so you don’t hear any notifications and there’s no temptation to respond to texts and calls.
Research has found that drivers using a hands-free phone get just as distracted as those holding it in their hand, the mental distraction and divided attention being the issue. But this can be avoided by all drivers switching off their phones while driving and only checking messages once stopped in a safe place.
Your state of mind fundamentally affects the way you drive, so if you’re aggressive and impatient behind the wheel, you’re more likely to take unnecessary risks and potentially break the law. A calm temperament is therefore essential for safe driving, even if you’re in a frustrating situation such as a traffic jam or being cut up by another road user.
Don’t Drive Tired
Official estimates suggest that around 1 in 5 road traffic accidents are at least partly a result of driver fatigue. If a person is tired behind the wheel, their concentration is impaired, their reaction time is lowered and they’ll be less vigilant, alert and able to make the right decisions. A tired driver is therefore a danger both to themselves and anyone else who happens to be nearby.
Don’t Make Assumptions
While anticipation is a key skill when driving, many motorists can easily make the wrong assumptions. For instance, if you’re looking to pull out from a side road and the driver approaching from your right is signalling left, you may believe it’s a cue that the road will be clear for you to pull out. But in truth, the safest thing to do is delay your manoeuvre until you’ve seen them actually starting to turn left, as you’ll know for sure at that point that it’s safe for you to emerge.
If in Doubt, Don’t Do It
Drivers and pedestrians alike can easily find themselves in two minds about whether or not to take a certain course of action. Should I try to cross the road before the crossing turns to green? Should I try to pull out before that car gets closer? Should I accelerate towards the lights before they turn back to red?
But the very fact that you’re questioning it means you know deep down that it’s not 100% safe, in which case do not do it.
Maintain stopping distances
Tailgating is when the car behind doesn't leave the correct stopping distance, and it’s a major cause of accidents on roads and on the motorways. Often, it’s the car that crashes into the back of another that will be at fault for failing to leave space. But there have been some cases where cars brake suddenly in the absence of any hazard, so the car in front can be held at least partly if not fully responsible for the accident.
Drive for the Conditions
Whether confronted by heavy rain, thick fog or a blanket of snow, common sense plays a major role in remaining safe. Driving too fast and braking too sharply is simply a recipe for disaster. Bad weather can reduce visibility, affect braking distances and reduce overall control of the vehicle. So you must take extra care and drive with added caution when confronted by extreme conditions.
This means driving slowly and remaining aware of other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians at all times, maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front and using your lights as and when necessary. And if you’re driving in winter, never assume that a road has been gritted.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.