Top road safety tips for drivers and cyclists

Someone is killed or seriously injured on British roads every 20 minutes – but most of these accidents are preventable. We’re stepping up to help you stay safe on the roads with our top road safety tips.

Someone is killed or seriously injured on British roads every 20 minutes – but most of these accidents are preventable. We’re stepping up to help you stay safe on the roads with our top road safety tips.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 5 DECEMBER 2019

Be alert

One of the biggest causes of road accidents is simply failing to look properly. Be very cautious when you’re turning or pulling out of a junction. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before moving or changing lane. And make sure you signal.

Slow down

Stay well within the speed limit and be aware that in some conditions, the limit is too fast. Be especially careful on bends and in bad weather.

Overtake safely

In 2017, 7,980 accidents on British roads were caused by overtaking, according to Government figures. Brake, the road safety charity, advises avoiding overtaking on single carriageways unless absolutely essential.

If you’re going to overtake, make sure the road ahead is sufficiently clear and you have enough of a gap. Be very careful to leave a safe distance between you and whatever you’re overtaking. The Highway Code recommends giving cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists at least as much space as you would when overtaking a car.

Signal properly

Not signalling properly is one of the most dangerous mistakes a driver or cyclist can make. If other road users don’t know what you’re going to do, they won’t be able to react appropriately.

If you’re cycling, use hand signals:

  • Turning – extend one arm horizontally in the direction you want to go in before you turn
  • Slowing – extend one arm to your side with the palm facing down. Raise and lower it at wrist height to signal slowing down
  • Stopping – extend your right arm out to the right with palm facing down, and wave it up and down.

Use your lights

Always switch your headlights on when visibility is reduced – whether that’s because it’s getting dark or because of bad weather. If you’re a cyclist, you need to make sure people can see you at night. Always have a front white light and a red rear light on, as well as reflectors. And reflective clothing will help keep you visible.

Steer clear of mobiles

In 2017, 43 people were killed and 135 seriously injured in road accidents where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor in the crash. It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when you’re driving – even if you’re using it for navigation or in stationary traffic. Get caught breaking this rule and it’s a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. There have been calls for the use of hands-free devices to be banned, given that using them while driving can be just as distracting as using a handheld mobile.

Turn the music down 

Everyone enjoys listening to a good tune in the car. But if the volume is cranked up too high, you won’t be able to hear emergency vehicles’ sirens and you might be unaware of hazards around you.

Use the ‘Dutch Reach’

‘Dooring’ – when a cyclist is hit by a car door being opened usually in a parked vehicle – can cause horrific accidents. To stop it happening, use the Dutch Reach: open the door with the hand that’s furthest from the door handle. That way, you’ll have to look over your shoulder and you’ll be able to see if there’s anything coming.

Keep your car or bike in good condition

Do regular checks of your oil, tyres and water to keep your car in good working order. And don’t ignore any dashboard warning lights. Cyclists should check tyres and brakes regularly before setting off. You should never start a journey if you know your bike isn’t completely safe to ride.

Take it easy

Being in a hurry is a significant cause of accidents - and it is a factor in road rage. Plan your journey so you leave plenty of time to get to your destination. And try not to drive if you’re feeling stressed. If you find yourself getting frustrated while driving, pull over and take a moment to regain your focus before you set off again.

Know the rules of the road

As a road user, whether you’re a driver or a cyclist, it’s your responsibility to understand road signs and driving rules. If you need to brush up on your knowledge or see if anything has changed, check out the Highway Code at GOV.UK

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