Be safe and be seen this autumn/winter, that is the message from Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team.
This message coincides with the end of Daylight Saving Time: at 2am, the clocks will go back by one hour on Sunday, 28 October. On the one hand, this means an extra hour in bed, and the mornings will be brighter; suddenly, 28 October can’t come fast enough!
It also means that the sun will set one hour earlier, signaling the beginning of darker winter evenings.
One of the consequences of this is an increased risk to people’s safety on the roads. Vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly at risk of being involved in an incident.
These darker evenings coincide with the excitement of Halloween and bonfire night.
Wrapping up and keeping warm is our main concern, as we make sure our children are cosy in their coats and wellies as we stand around the bonfire eating pie and peas and munching on toffee apples. We stand bathing in the glow and warmth of the bonfire, eagerly awaiting the evening’s light show, which illuminates the sky.
However, there are some important road safety messages that we would like to remind you of to make sure your evening goes off without the ‘wrong’ kind of bang!
Be Bright Be Seen
Smoke from bonfires and firework displays either on 5 November itself, or around this time, can drift over roads. Be aware of this whether you are driving, walking or cycling – it will be harder to see and to be seen. If you’re a pedestrian, wear something bright and reflective to make yourself stand out to motorists. Same goes for cyclists – and don’t forget to use lights in dusk and darkness. Motorists, be aware of the extra volume of people on the roads and reduce your speed to ensure you have more time to see other roads users and react in time if they do something unexpected.
There will be lots of children out and about, some dressed in weird and wonderful scary costumes, many of which may be dark in colour. If you’re driving, be extra vigilant when in residential areas or near event sites, remember that many residential areas now have lower 20mph speed limits. Also, don’t forget that animals can be spooked by fireworks and are more likely to bolt across the road, so drive with caution.
Don’t Get Distracted
Tempting as it may be, whatever you do, don’t be distracted by fireworks as you drive. It only takes a moment’s inattention to cause an accident. At 30 mph, while looking up for 3 seconds to admire a rocket exploding, you will have travelled 40 metres, the length of two cricket pitches. In that time you could drift from your lane, miss a traffic signal or fail to see a child crossing the road. If there’s a great display going on, why not pull over somewhere safe and enjoy the show for a while?
If you’re having a display, be mindful of the wind direction and make sure your bonfire smoke won’t obscure a highway. You could be fined if it drifts and becomes a danger to traffic.
Walk If You Can
If you’re planning on travelling to a display, why not use public transport or park away from the event and walk the final part of the journey? It’ll help cut traffic volume and may be much less stressful, leaving you in a better mood to enjoy the spectacle. Plus the extra time will give you chance to talk to your children about what you did for bonfire night when you were a child.
Here are some extra tips to prepare us all for bonfire night and firework season:
- Dress for the weather, but do not drive wearing wellington boots.
- Make sure you have a designated driver if you are planning on drinking alcohol.
- If you have to drive, keep fully concentrated on the road.
- Protect your pets and never leave them in a car near a fireworks display in case they get agitated and injure themselves or damage the vehicle. Take them out for walks before it gets dark. Leave the radio or television on so that it hides the noise of the fireworks.