Be Bright Be Seen is the message from the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team as winter approaches.
British summertime ends in October – the clocks go back by an hour and most of us may be travelling home in the dark.
One of the consequences of the darker evenings and mornings is the 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.
However you get to work or school, there are things you can do to help yourself be seen, making sure other road users can see you.
Whether walking to and from school, the shops, or walking the dog, during foggy and overcast days pedestrians should wear something bright coloured and something reflective at night. Choose a bag or rucksack with hi-visibility strips. Fluorescent and reflective armbands can be worn over coats and clothing, and stickers can be used on bags. Reflective dots on knees and ankles can really draw attention to runners during dark nights.
Keep to the footpath where there is one, if not, keep to the right hand side of the road so you can see oncoming traffic. Being aware of your surroundings can help as well, so take out the earphones, and leave your phone in your pocket.
Many people riding bikes at night assume that street lights are enough for a motorist to see them, as they can see themselves. This is not the case and many incidents involving bicycles during the dark nights are due to cyclists in dark clothing with no lights or reflectors. Drivers are looking for lights, so when a cyclist appears with no lights, it comes as a surprise.
The Highway Code States that:
At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/rules-for-cyclists.html
Other things like reflective tape and flashing valve caps are also available. Any part that is moving, such as knees and ankles and valves, and is either reflective or illuminated, draws drivers’ attention to you quite well.
Wear bright and if possible reflective clothing and still always believe that the driver has not seen you.
In the car
Regularly check that all of the lights are working and use them. Most of us have seen vehicles with only one headlight working looking from a distance like a motorcycle and in some cases just one dim sidelight. If you can’t be seen you are in danger of being involved in a crash and if any of your lights are not working you are breaking the law.
Consider if you are using other lights that could dazzle road users and stop them from seeing other hazards. Do not use front or rear fog lights unless the visibility is seriously reduced. The Highway Code says,
The Highway Code (Rule 226) states: “You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves.”https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/fog.html
Try to keep the car clean so that it reflects light and makes it easier to see. Pay particular attention to lights, windows and mirrors as the slightest bit of dirt or mist can diffuse light and make it hard to see. Don’t forget that cleaning the inside of the window is as important as the outside.
Drive slowly through residential areas
Many residential areas within Leeds are now a 20mph zone. This is part of a city-wide program to reduce the speed of traffic through our built up areas. If you live within or drive around Leeds you will have come across these. These 20mph zones have been put into place to help reduce road casualties, and to make our communities more pleasant places to live.
Children can be unpredictable at the best of times, let alone when they are excited on a night like Halloween or sharing Bonfire night excitement with family and friends. If you happen to be driving through residential areas during these times, make sure you drive extra slowly and be stay alert.
Take extra time to look for children
If you are driving through residential areas during these darker evenings make sure you put extra time and effort into looking out for children who may be standing at crossings, junctions and on curbs. Kids can dart out onto the road at any time. They might see friends across the road, or just be in a hurry to get home.
Just remember that when kids are walking home in groups they will all try and walk side by side. This will mean that they may step out onto the road and walk along the edge of the curb making them more suseptable to being in the path of on coming cars.
Please make sure you drive extra slowly and be mindful of their presence.
Eliminate distractions inside your car
As we mentioned before, you will need to be extra alert on Halloween and Bonfire Night as children can be unpredictable. The best way to keep yourself alert is to minimise any distractions inside your car. Why not turn the radio off whilst you are driving around residential areas. This will allow you to fully concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
If you ride a motorcycle you probably already know that you are apparently invisible to some other drivers, even in good daylight. For this reason many motorcyclists always drive with their dipped headlights on. However, some studies have shown that in certain circumstances that can make it more difficult for other drivers to assess the speed of the approaching bike.
This situation is further compounded when it is dark. Riding in a more dominant road position, (out from the kerb and more to the middle of the lane), will help others to see you and give you a better view into side roads and round trees and lamp posts. This will give you and others more time to react if a problem does occur.
As with other vehicles, a bright shiny bike and bright helmet will improve your chances of being seen. Light or hi-visibility clothing may also help drivers behind to see you. The Highway Code recommends that:
As a motorbike rider you should wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility. These will reflect the light from the headlamps of other vehicles, helping them to spot you from a longer distance.https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/changes-and-answers/highway-code-for-motorbikes
Do not use a tinted visor at night as it will make it difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists in dark clothing. No matter how bright and visible you have made yourself, always ride believing that the other road user has not seen you.
For more information on sharing the roads with motorcycles follow this link
Lets not forget that the darker evenings mean that Halloween and bonfire night are almost upon us
Bonfire night holds a special place in many people’s hearts, as it brings back happy childhood memories of huge bonfires and spectacular firework displays.
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!
Keeping safe whilst traveling around Bonfire night
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.
Drivers Dont 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?
Walk if possible
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.