Every month I write a short road safety article for our local Parish magazine. The following is a recent submission I thought you might like to consider for both your learner and qualified drivers.
What a wonderful summer we have had this year! Makes you feel so much better, doesn’t it? I was lucky because my car has climate control, so I was able to keep cool and comfortable during driving lessons in the heat of the day, then enjoy the cooler, pleasant temperatures of the late afternoon and evening. Wonderful!
But sadly, all good things must come to an end, and at the end of this month the clocks will go back, leading us into those long dark evenings and dark mornings too, albeit an hour later! And it’s at the time when the clocks go back that we regularly see a spate of accidents. And all too often it’s the most vulnerable road users who are involved in these incidents.
So, yet again, we ask the question, who is responsible? We live in a blame culture, and particularly when it comes to road traffic collisions, probably due to insurance companies telling their policy holders they must never admit blame, so there is the belief that it’s always the other person who’s to blame!
So, what all this comes down to is each person’s set of beliefs, understanding of the risks involved, and a willingness to take responsibility.
5pm, November. School bus has dropped pupils off on corner of Norwich Road with The Street in Colton. School girls in dark clothing, no hi-viz jackets or even strips, barely visible in the gloom as they walk home along Norwich Road. Then, 2 cars appear on the road, from opposite directions, so headlights pointing towards each other. This puts the 2 school girls effectively into a black hole! They are completely invisible! Thankfully each driver slows right down, and each spots ‘something’ which alerts their attention…. Is there something there? And so the girls, walking on oblivious to all of this, remain safe. But they were lucky. Too many drivers drive too fast on that stretch of road, especially at 5 o’clock when most are rushing home from work.
This scenario is a true story as I was one of those drivers! It scares you to realise how dangerous the situation was for the pedestrians, and for us, as drivers, who may well have hit them. For the girls concerned, this may have been ignorance of the dangers, a lack of willingness to wear hi-viz, maybe for ‘fashion’ reasons, or simply thinking it didn’t matter for such a short walk. Maybe not, if only they’d got up on the grass verge, that would have helped! But being visible, no matter how ‘silly’ you might feel (or so-called ‘friends’ make you feel), better to be ‘silly’ and alive!
Most of the cyclists I see through Colton wear their hi-viz, all year round, as they know they can become invisible in bright sunlight as well as in the dark, but we do see around the county cyclists dressed in black and no lights on their bikes at all! Do they really have a death wish?
And drivers? Well, we can only remain as vigilant as we possibly can to these pedestrians and cyclists, but we must also make sure we’re seen by other motorists. All modern cars now have daylight running lights fitted, so that will assist us to see those drivers who fail to switch on their lights when all around have theirs on! Just like the 2 girls, cars without lights on, surrounded by vehicles who do, become completely invisible! So when the overtaking car hits them head on, who is to blame? The overtaker, or the driver of the invisible car?
So, in whatever way you use our roads this autumn and winter, in fact all year round, please remember the mantra: See and be seen!
The image above is the banner image for the campaign website, Lightmare. This website was set up to campaign against the excessive use of bi-Xenon headlights, that are so blinding to other drivers. If you agree that something should be done about this, please visit the website and sign the petition: www.lightmare.org