Road safety charity Brake is today launching a campaign calling on all road users to look out for each other, to help stop the five deaths and 61 serious injuries that happen every day on UK roads, and particularly to protect people on foot and bike. The call comes at the start of Road Safety Week, coordinated by Brake, during which police across the country will be stepping up traffic enforcement to deter and catch drivers putting others at risk.
As part of the campaign, Brake and partners RSA and Specsavers are today revealing statistics showing shocking numbers of UK drivers senselessly risking lives by flouting traffic laws. Almost one million fixed penalty notices were issued for ‘careless driving’ and speeding offences in 2013 – almost two a minute.
950,505 penalties were for speeding and 17,483 for careless driving (a fixed penalty newly introduced in August 2013).
This lack of patience and consideration towards other road users can and does result in tragedy. It can also stop the most vulnerable from exercising their right to healthy, active, sustainable travel. Results of Brake’s survey of 5,000 primary school children, released today, show:
- two thirds (67%) think roads in their community can be dangerous for walking and cycling;
- two in five (41%) say they have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while on foot or bike.
That’s why Brake is calling on all road users to look out for each other, and particularly urging drivers to protect people on foot and bike – by slowing down to 20mph in communities, looking longer and taking it slow at junctions and bends, and giving people plenty of room and consideration. See below for more advice and facts showing why these steps are important.
Members of the public can show their support for the look out for each other campaign by:
- showing their support on social media using hashtags, #RoadSafetyWeek and #LookOutForEachOther (@Brakecharity, www.facebook.com/brakecharity
- going to www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk to make the Brake Pledge and find out how they can support Brake;
- asking their MP to sign Early Day Motion 462 in support of Road Safety Week.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “When drivers use roads without care for others the consequences can be tragic and horrific – people killed and badly injured, lives ruined forever, because of a moment of impatience or selfishness. At Brake we witness the suffering that results, daily, through our work supporting people affected by road death and injury. And there are wider consequences if we don’t look out for each other on roads – people afraid to walk and cycle or let their kids walk and cycle, and unable to get out and enjoy their community and live active lifestyles. That’s why, instead of making our streets stressful, risky places, we’re asking all road users to look out for and protect each other, particularly the most vulnerable – that means drivers sticking to 20 or below in towns and villages, looking carefully at junctions, and being considerate. Ultimately, we’re all just human beings trying to get around, with equal right to use the roads, not competing tribes.”
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national lead for roads policing, added: “Our officers and staff do a vital job in enforcing important safety laws and protecting the public on the roads. Road Safety Week is a great opportunity for forces and partners to engage with their local communities to deliver important road safety messages and undertake enforcement activities in support of Brake’s week.”
Road safety minister Robert Goodwill MP added his support, saying: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and improving safety is an absolute priority for this government. Cycling and walking are both great exercise and benefit our environment and economy, and I want more people to feel safe on our roads.
“This is why we have made significant investments in road safety and improved education resources for schools, made it easier for councils to introduce 20mph zones and increased fixed penalties for driving offences.”
Peter Collins, group and UK head of corporate responsibility at RSA, commented: “A lack of patience or consideration for others on the roads can sometimes lead to dangerous, if not life threatening situations. Prevention is better than cure, so taking the time to look out for each other, being careful and considerate to all road users whether in vehicles, on bikes or on foot can help keep Britain’s roads safe for everyone.”
Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins says: “Specsavers stores have been proud to support Road Safety Week for a number of years. Good eyesight is essential to road safety, which is clearly recognised by this year’s theme, ‘look out for each other’. But ‘looking out for each other’ isn’t just about keeping your eyesight up to scratch; it’s about keeping your mind sharp and being aware and considerate of everyone around you, especially vulnerable people on foot and bike who need that bit of extra protection. Specsavers stores will be doing their bit to raise awareness, and helping make sure people can be seen on the road.”
Facts and advice
‘Vulnerable road users’ (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders) account for half (49%) of road deaths in the UK.
In the UK in 2013, 405 people were killed and 5,160 seriously injured walking, and 113 people were killed and 3,185 seriously injured cycling. That’s 24 people a day killed or seriously injured on foot or bike – one every hour.
Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes, and especially in protecting vulnerable road users. If something unexpected happens – such as a child stepping out suddenly – it is a driver’s speed that determines if they can stop in time, and if they can’t, how hard they will hit. Every 1mph reduction in average speeds causes, on average, a 5% reduction in crash rates, and drivers who speed are nearly twice as likely to have been involved in a crash. Advice for drivers: stick to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops. Your stopping distance in an emergency will be half what it is at 30mph, and in busy urban areas you won’t notice a difference in your journey time. You’ll save on fuel, vehicle wear and emissions.
Vulnerable road users are often at risk from vehicles manoeuvring, such as at junctions, where they may not be seen in a blind spot. 75% of cyclist collisions occur at or near junctions when vehicles are turning.
- Advice for drivers: take it really slow at junctions and bends, look longer and carefully check mirrors before manoeuvring. Always assume a pedestrian or cyclist may be there; never just assume it’s safe to turn.
Traffic around homes, schools and shops, which could often be redirected to roads with fewer people walking or cycling, puts vulnerable road users at risk.
- Advice for drivers: consider your route and if you can minimise driving in communities. Consider if you need to make your journey by car at all: could you walk, cycle, or take public transport? Studies show active travel makes you happier as well as healthier.
Fear of traffic discourages people from walking or cycling, so it’s a big public health issue. Only 22% of journeys and 3% of miles travelled in Britain are on foot, and only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike. A Brake survey of UK schoolchildren found three in four (76%) would like to walk and cycle more. Another survey found one in three non-cyclists would cycle if routes were safer.
Up to 95% of crashes are caused by driver error. Therefore it is vital drivers take responsibility to protect themselves and everyone around them. Everyone can commit to do this by making the Brake Pledge to follow six simple rules to help prevent devastating road crashes, at www.brake.org.uk/campaigns.