Monday, 21 November 2016

Seven days of road safety

November 21st-27th is Road Safety Week, the UK's biggest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, organisations and communities each year. This week, TfB will be bringing you Seven Days of Road Safety, covering different themes and content relevant to Buckinghamshire every day. 

Road Safety Week, coordinated annually by the charity Brake

Saturday - belt up!

For day six of ‘Seven Days of Road Safety’, we’re celebrating that life-saving gadget: the seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt has been the law since 1983, and failure to do so could double your chances of dying should you crash, yet a small percentage of road users still choose to take the risk. Here, we examine the facts and figures around seatbelts:

· In a crash you're twice as likely to die if you don't wear a seatbelt

· Drivers and passengers aged 17-34 have the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates combined with the highest accident rate

· There is evidence that people are less likely to use seatbelts on short or familiar journeys - this puts them at serious risk of injury in a crash

· Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law

· Drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500

· Nearly 300 lives per year would be saved if all car occupants belted up.

· It is estimated that front seat belts saved over 50,000 lives* in the first twenty years since the legislation and will have saved thousands more lives in the last decade. Seat belts have been a game-changer in saving lives on the road.

The seat belt time line:

1958 – Volvo introduces the three-point, lap and diagonal seat belt.

1970s – Saw the 'Clunk Click' campaign which helped increase seat belt wearing rates from 30% to 40%.

1973 – Saw the first of 12 failed attempts to introduce legislation. Arguments about personal liberty won the day. The AA campaigned for seat belt wearing until the law was introduced.

1983 – Regulations for compulsory wearing of front belts came in for a three year trial (deaths fell by 300 per year)

1991 – Adults required to use rear seat belts

2009 – On June 29 the penalty for not wearing a seat belt rose from £30 to £60

2009 – Thames Valley police in conjunction with AA Drive Tech offered safety courses to offenders not wearing belts. 66% accepted courses rather than fines

2010 – “Clunk Click: AA seat belt report” published, providing statistics showing that seatbelts halve the risk of dying in the event of a collision

Source 1 
Source 2 


It’s day five of Seven Days of Road Safety, and today we are thinking about what it means to ‘drive to the conditions of the road’. We advise all motorists to be responsible, diligent and safety-conscious when out on Buckinghamshire’s roads, particularly in adverse driving conditions. For instance, if you see a gritting alert on our website or Twitter, take it as a message that you need to adjust your driving to fit the conditions of the potentially icy road.

There is plenty about ‘driving to the conditions’ in the Highway Code, which you can catch up on here, but we’ve summarised some of the main things you need to know.

1 – Driving in ice or snow

  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Use fog lights appropriately
  • Only make necessary journeys and keep a ‘break down’ kit in your car (warm clothes etc)
  • Reduce your speed
  • If driving on snow or ice, accelerate and brake gently, and stick to higher gears.
  • Take bends slowly, and take into account the effect of ice on stopping distances when braking.
  • Be safe on the roads this winter, keep up-to-date via our website and Twitter, and please remember – just because it’s gritted, doesn’t mean a road is guaranteed to be ice-free. Grit is spread in order to reduce the risk of ice forming, not eliminate it completely.

2 – Driving in heavy rain or flood:

  • Visibility is reduced in heavy rain, so use your lights and make sure you can be seen - don't just rely on the vehicle running lights if you have them. Be aware that even in lighter rain the amount of spray can also reduce visibility.
  • When the road is wet it can take twice as long to stop. Slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • If your vehicle loses grip (aqua­planes) on surface water, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Do not brake or steer suddenly because you have less control of the steering and brakes.
  • Try to avoid driving through surface water as you might flood your engine.
  • If you have to drive through floods, drive slowly, use a low gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling the engine. When driving an automatic vehicle, engage and hold in a low gear.
  • Test your brakes after driving through water; they may be ineffective.
  • Make sure your windscreen wipers are working effectively. They will need to work especially hard in torrential rain and hailstorms and if your visibility is reduced, please slow down

3 – Driving in fog

  • Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you.
  • If it is foggy (less than 100 m visibilities) then switch on your fog lights. Do not forget to turn them off when conditions improve.
  • Fog is often patchy so try not to speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog further up the road.

4 – Driving in windy weather

  • Take extra care on the roads and plan your journey by checking the latest weather conditions.
  • Though high-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather, strong winds can also blow other vehicles off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong cross­winds, or when passing bridges, high-sided vehicles or gaps in trees.

5 – Driving in low sun

  • Between the September and March equinoxes the sun is below the celestial equator, meaning the occurrence of low, dazzling sun is higher. The sun reaches its lowest point on December 21st (the winter equinox) but remains low for a lot of the winter, creating a beautiful horizon. However, this natural beauty is also, unfortunately, a hazard to drivers.
  • Keep your windscreen clean inside and out - wiping the inside with a cloth dampened in warm water and a little washing up liquid once a fortnight will cut the risk of a screen being blanked out by sun glare.
  • Slow down immediately - it is tempting to carry on at your current speed hoping that you'll turn out of direct sunlight or that something obscures the glare, but by the time that happens, it may be too late. Use the sun visors rather than rely too much on sunglasses and slow down if you're blinded by sun glare.
  • Anticipate the effects of glare on you and other drivers - the sun may appear suddenly from behind trees, buildings and other obstacles if you're heading west on major routes or going up hills, and if your vehicle casts a long shadow in front of it, it is likely that oncoming drivers and those coming out of turnings will have difficulty seeing you coming. Read more.



For day four of Seven Days of Road Safety, we’re reminding everyone of our seasonal message – DONUT Get Caught Out This Winter. Whether it’s raining heavily, blowing a gale, or below freezing outside you should check the weather forecast before making long journeys. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car, should you encounter problems and become stranded; a fully charged mobile phone, some food (long life things like cereal bars), blankets, warm clothing, a torch, shovel, de-icer, a scraper, and a flask of hot tea or coffee are all sensible items to either keep in the car or grab before heading out on long journeys. Your car itself should be prepared for winter too – the AA recommends taking certain measures to lessen your chances of a breakdown:

• Antifreeze – check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.

• Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold - get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.

• Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.

• Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.

• Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.

• Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.

• Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.

• Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.

Remember – no matter how well kitted out your car is for winter, there are other ways you can get stranded that aren’t due to a breakdown. A jack-knifed lorry, a fallen tree, or a snow drift could all cause you to become stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours at a time – that’s where the emergency kit comes in handy! Read more from the Frozen Donut,



For day three, we’re thinking about the challenges faced on the roads for visually impaired pedestrians. Navigating steps, pavements, and crossing the road are things that most of us take for granted, but for the visually impaired these everyday activities can pose a huge challenge. Seemingly simple things, such as taking a short cut through the bus station, might become much more difficult to someone who relies on being able to sense daylight to find their way around. Equally, someone who has vision loss due to diabetes, resulting in moving black spots in their field of vision regular obstacles like bins, bollards, or other pedestrians are hard to perceive. 

These were all things Transport for Buckinghamshire contract director Simon Dando experienced when he took on a blind challenge with Lisa Bryant and Loretta Knibbs from the charity Guide Dogs. Lisa and Loretta came to County Hall and took Simon on a short walk towards the train station, including a road crossing, while he tried out different forms of vision loss simulation eyewear. Simon experienced first-hand the immense challenges faced by visually impaired pedestrians, as he learned how to cross the road using only tactile paving underfoot, and the rotating tactile cone on the underside of the crossing ‘wait’ boxes. Lisa and Loretta collected three out-of-service ‘wait’ boxes from Simon after his challenge, for use with visually impaired children in Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties.

Speaking on Mix 96 last week, Simon explained; “As a fully sighted person I'm probably making a lot of assumptions about how visually impaired people are doing with our infrastructure and how they get safely around from place to place. I decided to take up the blind challenge, and see what I could understand and learn and see whether I could use it to influence how we put our infrastructure out on the network.” (Full story from Mix 96 here:

To read the full story and see the video of Simon’s challenge, read our full blog post here.



For day two, we’re thinking about winter driving. Of all the seasons, winter requires the most care and preparation if you're to stay safe on the road and avoid a breakdown, and attending a free winter driving workshop may help you be ready for the challenge. TfB is working in partnership with STS Tyre Pros and Kwik Fit Garages to host and deliver the workshops at three different centres in Buckinghamshire, which include a presentation by a former Class 1 police response driver on how to drive in winter weather, and a session with garage technicians who demonstrate how to conduct basic vehicle checks.

Feedback from previous winter driving workshops has been very positive, with attendees commenting on how worthwhile the workshops are. County Councillor Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Transportation said “winter driving can bring challenging conditions for all drivers, be it heavy rain, icy roads or falling snow. I would encourage all drivers to attend one of these workshops which are intended to support drivers by providing winter driving tips, from preparing your vehicle and looking after your car to advice on driving in snow.”

The 2016 workshops all start at 07.00pm and finish approximately 08.30pm

Dates and venues:

Chesham – 29th November 2016 (SOLD OUT)
High Wycombe – 6th December
Aylesbury – 7th December
If you would like to attend a workshop then please contact TfB for a booking form:  E mail: | Call: 01296 382416



On day one, we’re putting the spotlight on a campaign to keep young people safe as they get their licences and take to the roads. Safe Drive Stay Alive (SDSA) is produced by a road safety partnership including Thames Valley & Hampshire Police forces, local councils, and emergency services. Each partner has been working for years to reduce the number of people dying on the roads and by the end of this year we will have welcomed over 300,000 young people through the doors of a Safe Drive presentation. The good news is that since 2004 the number of under 25’s killed in car crashes has fallen by nearly three quarters, but there is still more to do.

Through a combination of roads policing, road safety education, engineering measures and speed enforcement, Thames Valley and Hampshire areas have seen road casualties who were killed or seriously injured fall to an all-time low by the end of 2013.  However, a disproportionate number of these remain young, inexperienced drivers and sometimes they don’t help themselves.

The Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign, now in its 11th year, reaches new and pre-drivers in an emotive and hard-hitting way, influencing behaviour and attitude on the roads, through performances held at different centres across the south east.

All through November, the Road Safety Team at Transport for Buckinghamshire is involved in putting on 16 performances promoting the SDSA campaign to young people from schools and organisations across the county. Performances have been held at the High Wycombe Swan, the Ridgeway Centre MK, and the Kings Centre, Oxford.  For more information on Safe Drive Stay Alive, visit their website

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