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Staying safe on the road

Whether you're a motorist, cyclist or a pedestrian it sometimes may feel difficult to stay safe on the roads, even though the figures would suggest otherwise. 

Being involved in any kind of road accident can be very traumatic but can also leave you with the problem of paying for unexpected costs in vehicle repairs, rising insurance premiums. If you depend on your vehicle, you could face a high financial burden whilst your vehicle is out of action

Sometimes there is little you can do to stay safe if another person has a brain freeze or is just too careless to care.  That said, there are some steps you can take to at least tilt the odds back in your favour while you are out driving, cycling or walking. They might seem obvious, but it’s worth reminding yourself as it could save you from unexpected costs.

 

Motorists

As a motorist there are a few obvious steps we can take stay safe on the road and keep on the right side of the law.

Don't use your mobile phone whilst driving, wear your seatbelt, stick to speed limits and follow the Highway Code.

Those are things which everyone should do without a second thought but there’s also a few other things to bear in mind to protect you whilst driving.

 

Dash cams

Also known as journey recorders, a dash cam, or helmet camera for motorcyclists and bicycle riders, won't physically protect you. But if you are in an accident, having a video of the incident could help can protect you or save you money by clearing you of blame and liability for the incident.

Add into the mix crash for cash scams and raising insurance premiums it really can pay off to protect yourself against claims by fixing a dash cam into your vehicle. 

They are readily available, very affordable and easy to fit yourself.  Check out any of the large online retailers or your local filling station will often have special offers on journey recorders. If you’d like more information, try reading the following article from Which? http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/dash-cams/article/how-to-buy-the-best-dash-cam

 

Driving in summer

Don’t be dazzled

When the sun finally decides to make an appearance, glare can be a serious driving hazard. In fact, a report by the AA shows sun glare was responsible for almost 3,000 accidents in one year, 36 of them involving a fatality. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Do  - Clean your windscreen inside and out

You don’t need fancy glass cleaner, just try a splash of vinegar and a piece of crumpled-up newspaper. It works wonders.

Don’t – wear light-adaptive sunglasses

Light-adaptive lenses are designed to darken when exposed to bright sunlight. They work by sensing high levels of UV light, but because your windscreen blocks out most of the UV rays, light-adaptive lenses don’t work inside a car.

So if you want to wear sunglasses to cut down on glare, choose a regular pair or shop around for the new style driving glasses which opticians are beginning to stock.

Hay fever

According to the health charity Allergy UK, 18 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever. And if you’re one of them, you’ll know it’s no joke. Especially when you’re driving along a motorway and you feel a sneeze coming on or your eyes begin to feel sticky.

Close your eyes for a single second at 70mph and you’ll cover almost 30 metres. That’s the length of three double decker buses. And if you go “ah ah ah” before you “choo”, you’ll be driving blind for over 100 metres.

So what can you do? Firstly, vacuum your car’s interior to remove pollen grains. Then ask your local garage to check your car’s pollen filters.

If you’re taking hay fever medication, make sure you’re using the non-drowsy kind. And if you’re having a really bad day, ask someone else to drive. Just make sure they’re insured to drive your vehicle.

 

Winter driving tips

There are so many potential hazards in the winter including wet roads, dark days, strong winds and heavy rain. 

To keep motoring along safely in even the worse conditions you should:

 

  • Check your tyres.  Grip is so important in wintry conditions
  • Have your brakes and lights checked.  Many garages provide free winter checks so take advantage when you see them advertised
  • Make sure you've always got a scrapper and de-icer in the boot
  • If you are expecting extreme weather during a long drive take an emergency kit of supplies and a phone charger with you
  • Always allow extra time for winter journeys
  • Top up your anti-freeze
  • Top up your screen wash and check your wiper blades
  • Leave bigger gaps in traffic, remember it takes longer to stop in wet conditions
  • Make sure the windscreen is defrosted and perfectly clear before setting off
  • Don't leave the vehicle when you are defrosting the windscreen.  Every year motorists are surprised their car is stolen while they leave it to defrost on the driveway 

All year round - look out for cyclists

We tend to see less cyclists during the winter, but as temperatures rise more leisure riders take to the roads. Riders in brightly coloured gear are highly visible, but keep a lookout for black-clad cyclists who can be difficult to spot when it’s a little darker outside.

Take extra care when overtaking a large group of cyclists. And if you’re stuck behind a bike, take your time, wait until it’s safe to pass and never overtake on a blind bend.

Cyclists

It’s great that more commuters are choosing to cycle and more people in general are enjoying the freedom and health and environmental benefits which cycling provides. 

But it does come with some risks attached and even professionals aren't immune to getting tangled up with motorists.

Minimise the risks to yourself when cycling by:

 Always wear bright clothing or a high visibility vest

  • Ensure lights are fitted to the bicycle and are in good working order
  • Be aware of high-sided vehicles turning left - the driver may not be able to see you
  • Although it seems to have gone out of fashion, always signal when turning
  • Make sure your bicycle is in good repair and is regularly maintained
  • Don't cycle on the pavement
  • Whenever possible use designated cycle routes
  • Obey traffic laws.  No matter how frustrating it is a red light means stop

Above all, and this is contrary to the wording in the Highway Code, ride defensively.  By this I mean always assume the worst.  If a driver shouldn't pull out ahead of you, assume they will and be ready to react.  Expect the unexpected.

 

 

 

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