Reduce your speed to save lives, that’s the message from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) as we head into some of the darkest months of the year. The UK has seen treacherous weather in recent days, with today dubbed ‘ice rink Monday.’
The most recent Department for Transport (DfT) data revealed that in 2022, there were around 40,000 people injured on our roads during hours of darkness. This included 8,780 people who were seriously injured, and 737 who sadly died.
Rebecca Guy, Road Safety Manager, said: “This time of year sees a worrying combination of darker skies and poor weather conditions, which can pose unique risks to motorists and pedestrians and cyclists – these risks are amplified if someone is speeding.
“Higher speeds mean that drivers have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them, and it takes longer for the vehicle to stop, removes the driver’s safety margin and turns near misses into collisions.
“Driving at 30mph, vehicles are travelling at around three car lengths a second – one blink and the driver may fail to see the early warning brake lights; a short glance away and the movement of a child behind a parked car could be missed.
“With that in mind, and the poor visibility this season poses, it’s clear to see the tragic consequences speeding could have.”
RoSPA advises the following when driving in darker periods of the day:
Be prepared: As the UK experiences shorter days and longer nights, it is crucial for motorists to adjust their driving habits. The decreased visibility during early mornings and evenings demands heightened caution. RoSPA urges drivers to use dipped headlights, ensure clean windshields, and to be extra cautious when navigating poorly lit roads.
Control your speed: Darkness amplifies the risks associated with speeding. The lack of visibility, compounded by higher speeds, can lead to devastating collisions. The DfT reports that in 2022, exceeding the speed limit was deemed a contributory factor for 19% of all fatal collisions. In 9 per cent of fatal collisions, driving too fast for the conditions was deemed a contributory factor. RoSPA emphasises that adhering to speed limits and driving to the conditions is paramount, especially when daylight hours are limited.
Rebecca Guy continues: “If you must travel in the dark, I suggest leaving ample time for the journey, ensuring you can travel within the speed limit, and maintain a safe distance behind other road users.
“As we age, our ability to adapt to changing light reduces, which impacts how we see colours and contrasts in low-light conditions. It also takes longer for the eyes to recover from glare – from one second at age 15, to nine seconds at 65.”
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