In the last of our #Roadcraft blog series, we look at how we can seek to avoid road traffic accidents by adopting a better driving style. Our advanced driving session with an expert from Drivers Domain UK gave us several hints and tips on how we can prevent road accidents through better defensive driving.
Every year, over the past 20 years, there have been between 150,000 and 300,000 road traffic accidents on UK roads. Here are some of the main causes of accidents on the roads and hints on how to avoid them.
In our previous roadcraft blogs we talked about seeing the car in front’s ‘tyres on tarmac’ when waiting in a traffic queue. Allow a bubble of space around you as a buffer. Being shunted from behind is a common cause of road accidents. Travelling too close to the vehicle in front gives you no time to react and brake if necessary and leaves you no ‘escape route’ to swerve round them if they stop. Many of the new cars and vans we sell have driver assistance technology such as 'travel assist' to help you monitor your distance from the traffic in front. Remember this is an aid to driving and you should not abandon your roadcraft skills in favour of technology!
When travelling at 80 miles an hour on a motorway, a car is covering 120 ft per second. That gives very little time for evasive action if required. Let’s face it, it’s just not sensible. Errors in judgement and loss of control of the vehicle are common speeding accidents.
Quick Quiz 1: Going at 60 mph, what is the average stopping distance measured in lengths of cars? Answer at the foot of the page!
Even writing this down we’re thinking ‘why would you’? But drivers do still check mobile phone texts, conduct conversations on a mobile without hands free connections and look over to passengers whilst having a conversation. Even when using a hands free mobile, you are partially distracted by concentrating on the conversation rather than 100% concentration on the road. What's the penalty if caught using a hand held mobile phone when driving? £1,000 and 6 penalty points.
When a driver becomes aggressive they increase the adrenaline in their body making them act hastily. It takes 90 minutes to disperse the adrenaline caused by this anger. Learning driving techniques that encourage anticipation, observation and concentration will help to stop a driver getting annoyed and agitated by other road users. Read our blog on 'Defensive Driving Techniques - Good Driving Habits For Better And Safer Driving' to see how. If you become really stressed, stop and take a break.
Many road traffic accidents are caused by drinking and driving or taking drugs, even prescription drugs. Driving under the influence of these substances can slow reaction times, impair judgement, decrease co-ordination, impair clear thought and cause drowsiness. None of which leads to a safe journey for the driver, passengers or pedestrians and other road users.
Quick Quiz 2: What is the penalty for the offence of driving while unfit through drink or drugs or with excess alcohol? Answer at the foot of the page...
Falling asleep at the wheel or at least feeling drowsy causes between 10% and 20% of road accidents. Motorways are worst, possibly due to the monotonous nature of driving on them. It is recommended to take a break once every 2 hours, for at least 15 minutes, during which time you should change position - get out of the car and move around.
Be particularly wary of children at the roadside. Did you know that children are not truly ‘street-wise’ until they are about 12 years old? Their instinct will be to follow the football kicked into the road rather than check for oncoming traffic first.
Allow plenty of room to overtake cyclists. Use your nearside wing mirror to check before pulling back in after overtaking. The cyclist may be moving pretty fast, so allow enough space beyond to clear them. These are common causes of road accidents.
In wet conditions, the water on the road can build up faster than your vehicle and tyres can disperse it, meaning that water stays in between the tyre and road surface, causing you to be unable to maintain grip on the road and have difficulty steering and braking.
If you find yourself aquaplaning, don’t hit the brakes. Instead, gently take your foot off the accelerator to slow down and keep the steering wheel straight. Make sure you check your tyre tread depth regularly. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. We are happy to carry out tyre safety checks for free if you are worried.
Our advanced driving course took place on a very sunny September day. This was lovely, but meant there were visibility hazards to be avoided. Advice is to:
*always keep sunglasses in the car,
*use your sun visors to blot out glare,
*keep the windscreen clear to avoid poor visibility due to smears and dirt.
View our blog on safe driving in sunny weather for more information.
So, better roadcraft and safer driving is up to each and every one of us! Even with all the new technology in vehicles today, you should only use them as assistance and guidance to enhance your own driving skills. These common causes of road accidents can be minimised or avoided by better concentration, anticipation and observation. We hope you have enjoyed reading our experiences of learning better roadcraft.
Meanwhile, stay safe and enjoy every journey when you take to the road. #hellofreedom #lovedriving
The answer to our road sign recognition teaser in blog 3 was "No Motor Vehicles"
*One lucky winner will be chosen at random from our social media followers who correctly identify a road sign from the Highway Code which we will publish at the end of our roadcraft blog series, this now moved to mid-January 2022, linked via social media. Our social media links can be found at the top border of our website pages.
Quick Quiz 1: Going at 60 mph, what is the average stopping distance measured in lengths of cars? Quick Quiz 1 Answer: 18 car lengths, or 73 metres, 240 feet.
Quick Quiz 2: What is the penalty for the offence of driving while unfit through drink or drugs or with excess alcohol? Quick Quiz 2 Answer : 6 months imprisonment, unlimited fine and disqualification from driving.
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