Protecting vulnerable road users for safer roads
Posted by: Tom Giles at Minster Law
On Road Safety Week, Minster Law aims to bring some good driving habits to attention, that everyone can programme into their routine to ensure roads are safer. The road network is a fantastic aid of linking journeys together, but this can be taken for granted.
More often than not, it is the vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and bikers, that must face the consequences. They could be commuting along the specially laid cycle path, heading down the motorway or simply coasting through the country. As well as being less protected, they are harder to see, particularly at this time of the year.
We urge all road users to be warier when driving to ensure improved road safety for everyone. In order to raise awareness of vulnerable road users, The Bike Team at Minster Law have created a list of tips to consider when embarking on a journey, even if it’s just a quick trip down to the village shop.
Tips for Motorcyclists
- Act invisible to be visible – When out on the roads, it might seem like the whole world can see you but often this is not the case. Be extra wary when approaching junctions, filtering and overtaking. Autumn means darker evenings, and whilst it might be light when you leave, it may not be when you return.
- Dress for the slide not the ride – Wrap up to stay warm and be wary of any unexpected downpours. Feeling cold when riding can impact your concentration and leave you falling foul to distraction; a good set of leathers is always the safest option.
- Consider the road conditions – Leaves are likely to have fallen overnight and parts of the country can become icy at this time of year. If it is necessary to take your bike out, ride with reduced speed and extra caution to avoid skidding.
- Use the two second rule – Leave sufficient room between your bike and the vehicle in front; there’s far less rubber contact between your bike and the road than a cars’ tyres and the road. Increase your distance on slippery surfaces and up to ten times in freezing conditions such as snow and ice.
- Ride at a suitable speed – If you’re riding in a group, make sure you’re riding at a speed that you feel comfortable with, not necessarily the speed of your peers.
- Have a good mindset – Feeling stressed, angry or anxious when riding can have negative impacts on the decisions you make. It may be much safer to take the alternative means of public transport instead.
- Maintain your bike – Regularly test your tyre pressures, fluid levels, brakes and chain tightness to ensure your bike runs as safely as possible. Carrying out a couple of quick visual checks, such as lights and controls, is vital to improving your road safety.
- Consider your helmet – Take time when purchasing a helmet. Make sure it will provide you with sufficient protection and is a perfect fit.
Tips for the Cyclists
- Ride decisively – Keep clear of kerbs and avoid swaying across the road at drains and potholes, if possible, to prevent causing a collision.
- Signal to drivers – Make eye contact when you can and indicate what you plan to do, to inform other road users of your intentions.
- Have caution – Be careful when overtaking large vehicles as the drivers may not be able to see you, particularly in their blind spots.
- Be wary – Sudden gusts of wind often occur at this time of year, and sidewinds in exposed ares, under bridges and when overtaking, affect your control.
- Wear a suitable helmet – As evenings draw to a close earlier, be sure to wear something that makes you both protected and visible.
Tips for Other Road Users
- Provide room – When overtaking cyclists, motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, try to give sufficient room. Slow down significantly for horse riders to reduce engine noise and overtake very widely.
- Avoid distractions – Focus on the road ahead; checking the sat-nav, making a hands-free call or talking to passengers can distract concentration at vital times.
- Drive seasonally – With winter on its way, it’s important to consider the road conditions and leave enough space between vehicles. Increase your distance significantly in slippery conditions, freezing temperatures and in reduced visibility such as fog or low winter sun.
- Stay vigilant – Even when stationary in traffic, be wary of cyclists and motorcyclists filtering past. This is equally important when you’re intending to open your car door, or are about to perform a manoeuvre.
As the number of cyclists using the roads increases, as does the number of vulnerable road users. This Autumn and Winter, make sure all road users are more aware of each other and their surroundings, to improve road safety. Here at Minster Law, road safety is paramount and we’re focussed on improving lives wherever possible.
We hope that you find these tips useful; it’s up to us all to make the UK’s roads a safer place.