Winter is finally over (despite the white stuff still lying around!), and summer is just around the corner, with the clocks going forward on Sunday 25 March at 1.00 am. With the beginning of British Summer Time we can look forward to lighter mornings and evenings, with journeys to and from work in daylight instead of winter darkness.
All good news, except that there are few things to bear in mind for that first Monday morning drive into work:
It is only a difference of an hour, but if you are driving when you would normally be asleep you could be drowsy. Be aware of this and make sure that you are fully awake and alert before beginning your journey.
Initially the mornings will be darker, with the potential for the rising sun to be low in the sky and dazzling to all drivers.
Make sure your car windows and mirrors are smear free to prevent dazzle, and make good use of the sun visors.
Don’t forget that everyone will be struggling with the low sun, so take your time and keep your distance.
With the lighter evenings there may be more children out playing on their bikes, or playing in or around the roads. Reduce your speed in residential areas to give yourself more time to stop if the need arises.
Police Forces across Wales are working together to deliver the All Wales Seatbelt Campaign, warning drivers they are risking their lives by not wearing belts, and cracking down on motorists and passengers who refuse to belt up.
Not wearing a seatbelt can be a fatal decision even on short, familiar journeys and at low speeds. As a driver you are responsible for ensuring that passengers under the age of 14 are wearing a seatbelt, or using the correct child restraint for their height and age.
Although most road users are fully aware of the potential consequences of not wearing a seatbelt, police officers throughout Wales will be clamping down on those who continue to ignore the law, endangering all road users.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a call for evidence on ways to make cycling and walking safer while also increasing cycling and walking. RoSPA is pleased that the consultation covers both pedestrians and cyclists because, together, they accounted for 550 road accident deaths in Great Britain in 2016 – 31 per cent of the overall total.
RoSPA strongly supports measures that encourage healthy and sustainable travel. The key to increasing cycling and walking, and so gaining all the health and environmental benefits that result, is to create a safe on and off-road environment, improve road user attitudes and behaviour towards each other and produce safer vehicles that reduce the risk to those most vulnerable when involved in a collision. Improvements in road design, speed reduction measures and improved training and education would have a strong safety benefit for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “We are really pleased that the call for evidence recognises the importance of a ‘safe systems approach’ as a way of protecting vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. It is an unfortunate reality that as humans we do make mistakes and when this happens it should not result in death or life-changing injury.
While conditions are very bad, and the emergency services and the Welsh Government are recommending that people don’t travel, avoid making your journey unless it is absolutely necessary. Of course, what is ‘essential’ to one person may not be to another, but try to be realistic about which journeys are essential and which ones could be postponed. If you decide you really must travel:
Let someone know where you are going and what time you hope to arrive, so that they can raise the alarm if you get into difficulties.
Plan alternative routes in case your main choice(s) becomes impassable.
Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out.
Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, so you can call for help or alert someone if you’re delayed – it could be a long walk to a phone, if you don’t have a mobile phone.
If you don’t have an emergency kit in your vehicle, at least take extra warm clothes, boots and a torch.
Consider keeping a couple of long-life energy bars in the glove box.
Clear your windows and mirrors completely of snow and ice before you set off (make sure the heater is blowing warm air before setting off – it will keep your windscreen clear.)
If you find yourself driving in snow or on icy or snow covered roads, adapt your driving to these conditions:
Reduce your speed. The chances of skidding are much greater and your stopping distance will increase massively.
Only travel at a speed at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear. Speed limits are the maximum in ideal conditions; in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast.
Avoid harsh braking and acceleration, or sharp steering.
Always reduce your speed smoothly and in plenty of time on slippery surfaces.
Slow down in plenty of time before bends and corners.
Braking on an icy or snow covered bend is extremely dangerous. The centrifugal force will continue to pull you outwards and the wheels will not grip very well. This could cause your vehicle to spin.
To slow down on ice and snow, lift the gas early to allow the speed to drop sufficiently to select a lower gear. If you need to use the brakes, use very gentle pressure depressing the clutch early to avoid stalling the engine.
Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front. You may need up to TEN TIMES the normal distance for braking.
Keep your vehicle well-ventilated. The car heater turned up full can quickly make you drowsy.
In snow, stop frequently to clean the windows, wheel arches, lights and number plates.
Visibility will probably be reduced, so use dipped headlights.
During wintry weather, road surfaces are often wet and/or covered in frost and ice or snow. But this does not occur uniformly. A road will often have isolated patches of frost or ice after most of the road has thawed – this commonly occurs under bridges.
From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. This will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely. At the moment, you can only have motorway lessons after you’ve passed your driving test.
Learner drivers will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a car fitted with dual controls. Any motorways lessons will be voluntary, and it will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them.
Until the law changes, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway, and the changes only apply to learner drivers of cars; learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways.
On 1 March 2017 the penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving doubled to a £200 fine and six points. One year on the Department for Transport have reported that more than 26,000 motorists – including 500 novice drivers who had their licences revoked – have been caught using a mobile phone since tougher penalties came into force.
One year on THINK! is highlighting the chances of being caught in a series of adverts which will run on radio, social media, on demand video and in shopping centres, as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
Almost 2,000 motorists – 74% of whom were male – were handed fines as part of a national crackdown between 22-28 January, organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
The DVSA has launched a new online service allowing buyers of used cars to check if a vehicle is subject to a safety recall.
The new service, which uses real-time data supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), allows anyone wanting to buy a used car, and existing car owners, to use the vehicle registration number to check if it may have a serious safety problem.
More than eight million used cars were sold in the UK during 2016, with figures from the SMMT suggesting that as many as one in 13 vehicles has an outstanding safety recall.
Tycroes Primary schoolchildren are on a mission to find a new lollipop person to help them cross the road safely.
Pupils have been without a School Crossing Patrol since last April. The school sprung into action with the help of the council’s road safety team and launched a design a banner competition to help attract interest. The banner is draped over the school gates and the children hope those that pass the gates will be encouraged to apply for the position.
The Council’s executive board member for transport, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “The pupils decided they wanted to get involved in an appeal for a School Crossing Patrol and this competition was a perfect opportunity for them to do that.