Staying safe on the roads

Adam Greenslade standing in front of police carOrganisations around the country have been running campaigns to highlight National Road Victims Month and, now that the DVSA have begun reopening driving test bookings and more cars are back on the roads, road safety should be a consideration for everyone.

Based on his expertise, we asked Lecturer in Policing, Adam Greenslade, to share some advice with us on how to stay safe on the roads.  

“According to Gov.uk, 27,820 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads between June 2018 and June 2019. As a career police officer, I spent many operational years in the specialist area of roads policing and now, as a lecturer at the Institute of Policing here at Staffordshire University, I share my knowledge and experience with the roads policing officers of the future.

Reflecting on the many incidents I attended over the years, from country roads, motorways, to built-up urban areas, the first thing I would say is, “accidents” in a roads sense are best described as “collisions” as in most instances they are entirely avoidable with some basic common-sense care when driving. Adam Greenslade sitting in his police car

Here are the things I found to be the five top causes of collisions during my policing career:

  1. Speed

Things happen faster when you’re travelling faster and in simple terms, the quicker you’re travelling the less time you have to react if something does happen. I’ve been to countless jobs where the first words out of the driver’s mouth were “there was nothing I could do to avoid it, it all happened so quick”. 

Slow down and give yourself time to take in and react to what is developing around you.

  1. Over Confidence

Whether it’s a new or a more established driver, over confidence or an over estimation in their ability or lack of understanding of the performance of their vehicle was something I saw time and time again. Driving too fast for a bend, going for an overtake on a country road when you can’t see what’s round the next bend or what’s coming out of that gateway, speeding up for an amber traffic light and jumping the junction instead of slowing down to a stop, underestimating the effects of snow, high winds or heavy rain on vehicle handling… the list is endless. All too often drivers would come unstuck (literally in the case of driving too fast on an icy road!) and end up in a collision.

Know your vehicle and know your own abilities, be realistic, don’t take risks or chances with your own and others’ lives… and never be an “amber gambler”!

  1. Mobiles – texting

Despite stiff penalties and publicity people still use mobile phones and other electronic hand–held devices when driving. They may have a hands free, but you would still turn up at really bumps and find that a driver involved had been checking emails, texting or browsing the web on their phone or a tablet. Literally trying to steer with one hand, text with the other, with their eyes off the road and their mind concentrating on the message not the developing danger ahead of them.

Leave your phone in the glove box and check it when you get where you’re going.  If it’s a long journey and you really can’t be out of touch for that long, pull over, have a brew and catch up on your messages. Don’t risk it while you’re behind the wheel. It really isn’t worth it.

  1. Impairment

Alcohol and drugs are a sad but common factor at collisions. Time and time again you would find at least one of the parties in a collision had consumed drink, drugs or in some instances both. Any alcohol will impair your driving ability, whether you are over the limit or not. It affects your judgement, your reactions, gives you false confidence and increases your risk taking. As for drugs, well, you don’t have to be a pharmacist to know that whatever the substance it’s going to seriously impact on your cognitive and psychomotor functions.

If you’re driving, don’t drink, at all. Don’t take drugs, any. If you’re on a prescription, follow the advice on the bottle, if it says don’t drive, don’t.

All the myths about “it’s OK with a big meal”, “I’m OK on 3 pints”, “I’m more chilled after a spliff and drive better” is a load of old rubbish. You’re risking yourself and others. You will get caught, lose your licence and if your involved in a serious incident you may well go to prison. Just don’t do it.

  1. The vehicle

Vehicle condition or items carried in or on it are a frequent cause of collisions. You could fill a warehouse with the number of ladders and planks of wood that I have picked up off the carriageway after they have come off a roof-rack and caused a collision. Defective tyres can drastically reduce your grip and ability to stop or blow out entirely and cause a loss of control or a vehicle to overturn. Basics like faulty lights, worn windscreen wipers or running out of screen wash affect your ability to see and be seen. Even something as simple as a break down can put you and your passengers at risk, especially if you’re in a live lane of a motorway or dual carriageway… and on the subject of passengers’ safety, make sure they are wearing their seatbelts and children are in a properly fitted appropriate child-seat that you check every journey. In a collision any loose object, whether it’s a box of shopping or a passenger, flying about inside the vehicle is going to cause a serious injury if it hits you.

Keep your vehicle roadworthy – especially basics like brakes, lights and tyres, top up your screen wash and secure loads both inside (especially passengers!) and outside the vehicle.  Oh, and always defrost your glass before you move off on winter journeys.”

Watch the video for Adam’s 7 top tips for staying safe on the road:

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