Over the summer holidays, Britain’s roads will be experiencing high volumes of traffic as intrepid staycationers explore the country. An increase in cars and bikes on the road also unfortunately equates to a higher risk of road accidents occurring in August, which is National Road Victim Month – an awareness campaign to remember victims who have lost their lives in road accidents.
According to RoadPeace, every day five people are killed and 60 are seriously injured on Britain’s roads. The figures outline the importance of making our roads safer, so we have put together a list of tips to keep safe on the road and avoid accidents this summer and beyond.
1. Plan ahead (for journey and car)
Planning your journey ahead of time means that you are less likely to be distracted by your mobile phone or satnav enroute to your destination. It also helps you to manage expectations of how long the journey is likely to take, and in bad traffic could avoid potentially dangerous actions being taken as a result of impatience or even road rage. But before you even step foot in the car, make sure that it is completely prepped for the journey. Tyre tread and pressure, lights and fluid levels (fuel, oil, windscreen wash, etc.) are fundamental checks that should always be carried out. For a more detailed checklist, see advice from the RAC.
2. Stay alert at all times
Now that you’re ready to get on the road, it goes without saying that drugs and alcohol severely limit your ability to react in the moment and should be avoided at all costs, not only because it is illegal to drive under the influence, but because it also puts the lives and wellbeing of your passengers and fellow motorists at risk. It’s important to bear in mind that tiredness can be just as dangerous. RoSPA estimates that fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents. Drivers should therefore take a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving to stay alert for the full journey. If you feel tired even after taking a break, you should share the driving.
3. Be visible and keep your distance
Headlights should be on at all times when driving – even in the middle of the day, as it significantly increases your visibility to oncoming traffic and to motorists ahead of you. Most modern vehicles come fitted with daytime running lights (DRL), which are purpose-made, low-wattage lights used during the day to improve the visibility of a vehicle to other drivers as well as pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. They do not need to be operated manually as they automatically activate when the engine is started and turn off when the engine stops or when headlights are switched on at night.
DRL are necessarily bright to ensure they are visible in the daytime but not so bright that they will dazzle others. However, they are too bright for night time use and are not intended to illuminate the road in the dark. If used at night they will cause dazzle and discomfort to others and so drivers should always switch to their position lamps or headlamps at night. According to UK government statistics, DRLs can reduce multiple vehicle daytime accidents and fatalities by up to 6% once all vehicles are equipped.
It’s also important not to tailgate fellow motorists and aim to keep two seconds between yourself and the car in front of you, as it gives you more time and distance to respond safely.
4. Stick to the limit and adapt to the conditions
Exceeding the speed limit is never worth the risk. Our own research revealed that there were 78,855 accidents in 2019 where speed was a contributory factor, as reported by an attending police officer. Speeding not only places lives at risk, it can also result in a fine and points on your license and, in extreme cases, a ban on driving or imprisonment. If the weather becomes unexpectedly poor as a result of rain, sleet, snow, ice, fog or any other conditions that make driving conditions treacherous, drivers should adhere to revised speed limits displayed digitally on the road. If there are none, then it is important to use your own personal judgement and common sense.
5. Make sure you are sufficiently insured
Another essential aspect of road safety is vehicle insurance cover. If you’re planning on sharing the driving to your summer holiday destination, make sure you are covered – as annual insurance policies are becoming increasingly restrictive in terms of covering additional drivers.
While you’re unlikely to find out if you are covered to drive other cars under your policy before buying it, what you can find is the growing number of restrictions that insurers are putting on the clause. This means that if you were to drive a friend or family member’s vehicle and had an accident, you and the vehicle owner could be left with a huge repair bill for the car, and you’d lose your No Claims Discount.
It’s not just accidents drivers need to worry about. If you are not insured to drive another car and you’re stopped by the police, you could get at least six penalty points on your licence, a possible 6-12-month disqualification from driving and an unlimited fine depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Temporary car insurance policies can be taken out for any duration between 1-hour to 28-days, making it ideal for holiday trips when the driving is being shared. To get the cover that best suits your needs, get a quote within 90 seconds.
More about National Road Safety Month
August was designated National Road Victim Month following the death of Princess Diana on 31 August 1997, and to commemorate the first death by a motor vehicle – Bridget Driscoll in 1896. Since then, well over half a million people have been killed on the roads in Britain. And over the last decade, the number of people killed on Britain’s roads has stayed at more or less the same level year on year. Five people are killed every day, and over 60 are seriously injured. And whilst much more needs to be done to prevent crashes, this National Road Victim Month, RoadPeace and its members are rallying to raise awareness on the injustice that crash victims face, as well as remembering loved ones killed on the roads. Learn how you can get involved in National Road Victim Month 2021 by clicking here.