The UK has one of the safest transport networks in the world yet thousands of people are still killed and injured in road accidents each year.
On a positive note, latest statistics from the Department of Transport show that road deaths in 2013 decreased by two percent to 1,713 compared to the previous year, the lowest total since records began in 1926. 21,657 people were seriously hurt and 160, 300 received minor injuries.
Sadly, almost all of these deaths and injuries involve human error, either in the form of careless and dangerous behaviour or through mistakes and misjudgements, showing that still more driver related education is needed.
Poor observation of road markings, distraction, impatience and speed have all been flagged as contributory factors in many accidents. Modern motoring makes it easy for drivers to disregard speed limits with powerful, high performance cars giving little sensation of how fast their occupants are actually travelling.
High profile road safety campaigns have a long history in the UK. Slogans such as “Don`t take your car for a drink” (1976) and “Clunk Click Every Trip” (1971) found resonance with the motoring public.
Mountains of documents and advice have been issued by various transport agencies over the years but these are sometimes inaccessible or, as is more often the case in our frenetic society, people simply don`t make the time to ingest safety advice.
Guidelines for safer driving
Never driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not using a mobile phone whilst driving, avoiding getting behind the wheel when tired and observing all road markings and speed restrictions are among the main commandments of motoring lore, sadly still widely disregarded.
Drivers who travel at higher speeds have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them. Excessive speed contributes to fifteen per cent of fatal RTA`s. Frighteningly, many fatal accidents happen on roads with a speed limit of thirty miles per hour or less. A35 mph driver is twice as likely to kill someone as they are at 30 mph.
Yet there are a few simple steps which motorists can take which could make a difference according to the accident prevention charity RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents).
Ten top tips to stay within the speed limit:
1. Check your speedometer regularly, especially when leaving high speed roads such as motorways
2. Know the limits: look for signs and observe road markings at junctions
3. Assume lamp posts mean 30mph unless signs state otherwise – it could be 20mph
4. Remember speed limits are the maximum, not the target speed
5. 20mph is plenty fast enough when there are children around and may be too fast. be cautious
6. Try and drive no higher than third gear in a 30mph limit area
7. Recognise what makes you speed: keeping up with traffic, overtaiking or being tailgated
8. Concentrate: distracted drivers are more likely to speed
9. Slow down when entering villages
10. Allow yourself adequate time: remember, more haste, less speed
Improvements in road surface materials and in road marking technology (for example anti-skid surfaces and high-visibility road marking paint) are also contributing to driver safety but there still can be no substitute for good, old-fashioned common sense.