Road Safety Week is an annual event in the UK that organisations, communities and schools can get involved with. It’s coordinated by the charity Brake, and was founded in 1997. This year it takes place from 19th-25th November, and the theme is Bike Smart, although the event raises safety awareness for all road users.
Why Bike Smart?
The popularity of cycling is soaring, which comes as no surprise – it’s healthy, eco-friendly, and inexpensive compared to other modes of transport. More and more of us ride our bikes for fitness, fun, or both. It’s a good way to get to and from work, school, or university.
However, lots of people don't cycle because of safety concerns. Road Safety Week 2018 aims to highlight the importance of keeping cyclists and motorcyclists safe by encouraging all road users – whether they're on two wheels or four – to take extra care.
Who can take part in Road Safety Week?
Anyone who’s interested can join in. It’s an ideal opportunity for groups of all ages to discuss and learn about road safety in a way that’s relevant to them.
Examples of Road Safety Week participants include:
- Youth clubs and after-school clubs
- Sports clubs (including cycling groups)
- The emergency services
- Local authorities
- Local community groups
- Driving instructors and/or driving schools
The importance of road safety
All road users want to be able to travel to and from their destinations without worrying. Issues such as speeding, careless driving, and a lack of cycle lanes mean this isn’t always easy to do. However, with the number of bikes on UK roads increasing by 28.9% since 1997, along with a 16.9% increase in motor traffic during the same period, it’s more important than ever for us to take extra care.
One way to do this is by knowing the Highway Code – a set of guidelines for all road users, including motorists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. Its purpose is to give users the information they need to deal with different road conditions, be mindful of other traffic, and complete their journey safely.
You might want to use Road Safety Week as an opportunity to improve your knowledge of the legal requirements you need to be aware of. The Highway Code is a great place to start. It contains laws and guidelines for every type of road user and scenario. It's helpful for newer drivers and cyclists, and acts as a useful refresher for the more experienced.
Rushing your journey
Rushing means you’re more likely to drive or cycle too quickly, which could mean you’re more likely to be involved in an accident. And with 50% of traumatic brain injuries resulting from road traffic accidents, it’s not a risk worth taking. Stick to safe speeds.
Not making your intentions known
Poor indicating makes many road users angry, which is unsurprising – the correct signals make it clear what you intend to do next.
According to the Highway Code, you must:
- Give clear signals in plenty of time, and make sure they’re not misleading. For example, if you want to stop after a side road, don’t signal until you’ve passed the side road, or the traffic behind you may think you’re turning off.
- Use them to show other road users before changing course or direction, stopping, or moving off.
- Cancel them (or stop making them if you’re a cyclist) after they’re no longer needed.
- Remember signalling doesn’t automatically give you priority.
Forgetting to use your mirrors
We’re taught to check our mirrors, signal, then manoeuvre, but it’s easy to slip out of the habit. However, checking your mirrors is vital for road safety – especially because it helps you see whether any cyclists or motorcyclists are filtering through the traffic.
Whether it’s tuning the radio, checking your phone, or talking to passengers, distractions can only last seconds, but they can be costly. Keep your eyes on the road and wait until you’ve stopped to sort out any technology (pull over if you need to and it’s safe to do so).
If you’re a driver, you’re responsible for the safety of your passengers, so tell them you need to concentrate if necessary.
Being too tired to travel
Your concentration is one of the first things to go when you’re tired, which makes driving and cycling dangerous. Drink plenty of water, stop regularly, and if you’re still unsure, delay your journey until you feel more awake.
Not having enough training
Whilst drivers must take a test, and motorbike riders must complete compulsory basic training, there’s less legislation when it comes to cycling in the UK. Even so, it’s worth taking a course, such as Bikeability, in order to learn more, boost your confidence, or improve your existing skills.
How to get involved with Road Safety Week
Register online and you’ll be sent a free electronic resource pack. You don’t have to stick to the theme of Bike Smart if there’s another issue in your area you want to promote, such as slowing down near schools or not using a phone while driving.
You can do as much or as little as you like for Road Safety Week, including:
- Fundraising and making a donation to Brake
- Using the hashtags #RoadSafetyWeek and #BikeSmart to raise awareness on social media
- Putting up posters in your school, university, workplace or neighborhood
- Holding themed assemblies
- Running activities for pupils in each year group
- Running a campaign in your local area
- Hosting an event
- Providing secure bike storage at your commercial premises
- Pushing for better infrastructure for cyclists
Lots of the activities can have a significant impact long after the week is over., since road safety affects us all – no matter how we choose to travel.