With national charity Brake’s Road Safety Week – which began on Monday [November 23] – now underway, road users on foot, on a bike and in their car, are being reminded of ways they can stay safe, during what is traditionally one of the peak months for traffic accidents.
Sunderland City Council has worked with Brake and colleagues from Northumbria Police to pull together simple, memorable snippets of advice to ensure that Sunderland’s streets stay safe and accident free. The advice comes after Sunderland teenager Rehanna Hayes – whose brother Matthew was killed in a road traffic accident two years ago – made a heartfelt appeal to the North East, to stay safe as the dark mornings and evenings close in.
Top tips for drivers:
- The speed limit is not a target, but a maximum – always drive appropriately, taking into account the conditions
- Take extra care in built up areas, particularly around schools during peak hours. Most child pedestrian casualties are on their way home from school, so it’s vital to be extra cautious at this time. And remember to look out for cyclists, who might be making their way along busy roads too – it’s important to be extra vigilant during the darker hours of the day when cyclists and pedestrians may be less visible
- Always wear a seatbelt even on short journeys – it could be the difference between life and death
- Two hands on the wheel helps you to react quicker
- Avoid any distractions – concentration is crucial. Eating, drinking, smoking or using a mobile phone at the wheel could cost lives.
Top tips for bike riders:
- Wear bright, reflective clothing to be easily seen, and lights should be fitted to bikes
- Helmets should be worn at all times, to protect in the event of falls, or being knocked down
- If cycling in pairs, do so side by side. Riding two abreastmeans motorists must allow more space to overtake while also helping them pass more quickly than they could single file cyclists. Remember though, never cycle more than two abreast, and ride single file on narrow or busy roads
- Ride decisively and be aware of surroundings, signal intentions to drivers and make eye contact where possible to ensure drivers have seen you
- Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where it is hard to be seen and always consider the doors of parked cars opening and people crossing roads, as a bike can still do serious harm to pedestrians, as well as the cyclist.
Top tips for pedestrians:
- Use pedestrian crossings wherever possible – looking left, then right, and waiting for the green man where it is an assisted crossing. Never try and cross the road on a bend
- Keep young children close when near roads and always hold their hand to keep them safe
- Discourage children to play away from busy roads or fast moving vehicles and make sure to pass on road safety knowledge to keep them safe
- If it’s dark, wear something high-vis – being seen is being safe
- Using a phone is a distraction even when walking – keep full concentration on roads.
As well as these top five tips, the council will be posting advice and guidance throughout the week on its Twitter page @SunderlandUK, to ensure people are armed with as much information as possible to stay safe.
Councillor Michael Mordey, cabinet member for city services at Sunderland City Council, said: “Some of the tips and advice we offer may seem like common sense, but day-in-day-out, people make errors of judgment or have lapses in concentration that can seriously injure, and even kill other road users.
“If – by simply reminding people of the dangers of losing concentration on the road, or preventing people from taking needless risks without realising it – we can save even one life, this will be more than worthwhile.”
He added: “Reading the Echo’s heartbreaking story earlier this week of Rehanna Hayes, who lost her brother Matthew in a road accident in 2013, really hits home that every life lost in an accident like this is a preventable. We have to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone – from pedestrians to cyclists and drivers – is aware of risks on the road and how they can stay safe.”
Approximately two-thirds of all crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less, and at 35 mph a driver is twice as likely to kill someone as they are at 30 mph. In Sunderland, the age group most at risk from collisions is aged 5-9 years, and though 2014 saw the number of accidents drop, each year just under 800 people are injured in a road accident involving a pedestrian.
To find out more about how to stay road safe – both as a pedestrian or a driver, visit www.sunderland.gov.uk/road-safety or to spread the word about Road Safety Week – which runs from 23-29 November, use the hastag #RoadSafeSund on social media.