Safety on the road

Whether you’re driving, cycling, walking or riding it’s important to keep safe when you’re out and about. From how to check your tyres to specialist bike safety courses, we can help you get ‘road-ready’!

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Driving safety

There are many reasons behind road traffic collisions on the road, although many are avoidable. We’ve shown some of the main ones below and what you can do to avoid them happening. Click and drag, or tap and drag across to see more!

VEHICLE CHECKS

Always make sure you do basic checks on your vehicle before setting off, especially for long journeys. Here are some of the key things to check:

  • Petrol
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Any damage
  • Electrics (your lights and windscreen wipers)
  • Tyre pressure and treads

For more vehicle safety check advice, visit THINK.

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY AHEAD

  • If you are going to use a Sat-Nav, remember to programme this before the vehicle is moving
  • Ensure your Sat-Nav is not obstructing the drivers view
  • Take a map, use a highlighter to mark your planned route
  • Check the weather forecast before setting out
  • Tell someone where and when you are expected to arrive at your destination
  • Drive accordingly to the road conditions, keeping within the speed limit

SEATBELTS

Always wear a seatbelt, seatbelts save lives!
You are twice as likely to die if you do not. It’s also against the law not to wear a seatbelt in the UK. For more information on seatbelt law and safety, visit https://www.gov.uk/seat-belts-law

DRINK/DRUG DRIVING

  • Alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s reaction times, coordination & judgement of speed and distance
  • Even prescribed medication (legal) from your G.P can affect a driver, always check the label or ask your G.P if it safe for you to drive
  • Never drink/drug drive
  • Plan your journey ahead, if you are consuming alcohol consider these options for traveling safely:
    • Pre-order a taxi
    • Use public transport
    • Designate a driver who is not consuming alcohol to drive
    • Walk however think about your personal safety i.e. do not walk by water (canal, lake, reservoir), walk where there are members of the public about and the lighting is appropriate

If you’re unsure if you’re safe to drive the morning after, you could always use the Morning After Calculator – it isn’t designed to help you work out how much you can drink, but it gives a rough guide on when you might be safe to drive. Remember, the best way to be safe, is not to drive at all if you have any doubt!

For more advice on the dangers of driving under the influence and how you can ensure you are safe, visit Brake charity.

MOBILE PHONES

  • Like drink/drug driving, using any form of technology in a vehicle can affect a driver’s reaction times, coordination and judgement.
  • Ensure any devices do not obstruct the driver’s visibility
  • Stop in a safe & legal place to make or receive a phone call
  • Put your mobile phone in the glove compartment
  • Turn your mobile phone on silent or off
  • Use a signal blocking pouch, even a hands-free telephone call (Bluetooth built-in system) can affect a driver’s concentration, leading to slower reaction times and increased stopping distances
  • Distractions limit your reactions!

For more details on mobile phone safety when driving, visit Brake charity.

SPEEDING

You could be traveling too fast for the road conditions, meaning you could be speeding i.e. travelling at 25mph in a 30mph zone when it is snowing

Consider the road conditions

Keep within the speed limit

For more details on speeding safety and how you can make sure you keep safe, visit Brake charity.

CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST

Think about how these weather conditions can impact on your driving ability:

Rain, ice & snow make the road surface slippery

Sun glare & fog affect the driver’s visibility

In any of the above road conditions, drivers need to consider an appropriate speed to travel at.

Ask yourself, do I have to travel?

To check the weather in your area, you can visit the met office website.

Tyre safety

Drivers are responsible for making sure their vehicles are well maintained and roadworthy.

The depth of tread on your tyres is critical when it comes to accelerating, braking, steering and cornering – especially when the roads are wet.

The UK minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm. But are you among the 65% of drivers who don’t check their tyre treads often enough? All you need is a 20 pence piece – and 1 minute or so to watch this video!

Tyre pressure is just as important as treads. Driving with underinflated or overinflated tyres can adversely affect your braking distance, steering, fuel efficiency and the lifetime of your tyres.

For more safety advice, you can visit Tyre Safe.

Child car seats

Children must use a booster seat until they’re 135cm tall or 12 years of age. It’s the law.

Our advice is that they should actually travel in an appropriate restraint until they’re 150cm tall, because adult seatbelts might not fit them properly.

There are different types, and some only suit certain cars, so make sure you get yours checked by a professional.

You need to get the right seat for your child’s weight and height, and check that it’s fitted correctly for every journey.

And remember that child seats are only designed for one impact. Never re-use a seat that’s been in an accident or buy one second hand, even if it looks OK.

You can find lots of helpful information on choosing the right car seat on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) website www.childcarseats.org.uk.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents logo

Motorcyclists

Some of the most common reasons for collisions involving motorbikes include:

Bends on country roads – reduce your speed before the bend so you have more room to manoeuvre

Junctions – this can be down to a driver failing to give way, to stop or misjudging your speed. Always anticipate and consider how you would deal with a vehicle unexpectedly pulling out in front of you.

Overtaking – overtaking requires skill, judgement and a good knowledge of your bike’s acceleration capacity. Snap decisions to overtake can be dangerous. Don’t overtake when approaching bends, junctions, lay-bys, crossings, hills or dips in the road or where signs/road markings prohibit you from doing so.

For more detailed advice on motorcycle safety, visit Brake charity.

Loss of control – mainly due to two reasons: shunts, caused by riding too close to the vehicle in front, or the vehicle behind you being too close; failing to adjust your riding to deal with the different road conditions.

Personal protective equipment:

Wearing high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) when riding will reduce the risk of you being killed or seriously injured on the road.

This ‘Essential Guide to Protective Gear for Bikers’ is a really useful resource produce by Think!

Whatever your age or riding experience, everyone can benefit from extra training to improve their safety on the road. It can improve skills, refresh knowledge and boost confidence.

We offer a FREE three-hour ‘Biker Down’ course on accident scene management, first aid for motorcyclists and the science of being seen. Find out more about Biker Down in the West Midlands.

For more info about Biker Down in other areas of the UK its creators, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, have a contacts page here.

Other useful links!

Driving safety | Tyre safety | Biker down

Cyclists

Helmets
Always wear a cycle helmet that is correctly fitted, secured and conforms to current safety standards. Avoid buying a second-hand helmet that might be damaged or previously involved in an accident.

Wearing a helmet won’t prevent a crash but it will protect your head, significantly reducing the risk of fatal or serious injury.

Be Bright, Be Seen
Wearing bright clothing, preferably something fluorescent and reflective when cycling, will help other road users to see you.

It’s illegal to cycle at night without lights. Ensure you have the appropriate lights and reflectors on your bike and that they are in good working order. Test your lights before setting off on each ride.

Further Training
There are lots of initial and further training courses available for cyclists in the West Midlands. Bike Right offer cycling skills tuition, maintenance courses and facilitate led rides.

BikeRadar website logo

BikeRadar UK provide some great safety videos on how to look after, service and maintain your bike.

We’ve linked to some of the key ones here:

Other useful links!

Driving safety | Tyre safety | Biker down

Pedestrians

Children are most at risk of being killed or seriously injured on the roads when they’re on foot. Good road safety behaviour can be learnt from a very early age. You can help by:

  • setting a good example
  • holding hands with your child as you cross the road
  • always finding the safest place to cross
  • stop, look and listen before crossing
  • take time to teach your child how to cross safely
  • ‘Tales of the Road: A highway code for young road users’‘ is a great resource to start discussions about road safety with your children.

For more information on family and children road safety, Brake, the road safety charity, have this great page.

Pedestrian distractions

Distractions contribute to a large number of road injuries for pedestrians:

  • stop, look and listen before you cross the road
  • take your headphones off or out before crossing
  • don’t use your phone to make calls or look at the screen whilst crossing
  • always cross at designated crossings.