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Road Safety Week

Written by on 21st November 2016

Speeding and distracted drivers revealed as most feared in Wales as charity asks everyone to sign the Brake Pledge.

Drivers who are speeding or distracted (for example by a mobile phone) are considered to be the biggest threats on Welsh roads, according to a survey by the charity Brake, Aviva and Specsavers to mark the start of Road Safety Week 2016 (The week runs from 21-27 November).

Brake’s Road Safety Week survey asked 1,000 drivers to identify which driving behaviour from a list of six they thought posed the biggest danger. More than eight in 10 drivers in Wales (82%) ranked speeding or distraction as the greatest danger on the road.

Drink- and drug-driving was ranked as the third biggest threat, being named as most dangerous by 15% of drivers we questioned in Wales.

Only three in 100 respondents (3%) consider not wearing a seat belt to be the biggest threat faced.

Brake, Aviva and Specsavers are calling on everyone to sign the Brake Pledge in Road Safety Week.

The Pledge aims to raise awareness of the importance of drivers staying slow (drive under speed limits), silent (never make or take calls, read or type), sober (never drive after any alcohol, or illegal or impairing drugs), sharp (stay focussed and don’t drive tired or with a health condition that impairs you. Get your eyes tested every two years), secure (make sure everyone is belted up correctly) and sustainable (don’t use a car if you have the option to walk or cycle or can use public transport).

Nationally the age of respondents was significant to whether speed or distraction were ranked the greatest danger. Younger drivers (44 and under) said speeding is the biggest threat, while drivers aged 45 and older rated distraction as their biggest fear.

Age of respondents in the Road Safety Week survey’s national results was also significant regarding the perception of vehicle emissions. While only 3% of drivers questioned rated this the biggest threat, more than three times as many (10%) of the youngest respondents (aged 18-24) rated it the biggest threat.

The Road Safety Week survey also asked drivers in Wales which risks they would admit to taking on the roads themselves.

More than three quarters of drivers

  • (76%) admitted to taking risks.
  • More than two thirds (69%) confessed to sometimes speeding.
  • More than half of drivers (52%) admitted they drive distances that they could easily walk.
  • More than one in seven (15%) admitted to driving while distracted
  • Nearly one in 10 (8%) confessed to not wearing a seat belt or their passengers not wearing a seat belt.

In the national results, age was significant regarding admissions of risk-taking. Older drivers (aged 45 and above) were more likely to admit to speeding than younger drivers. Conversely, younger drivers (aged 44 and under) were more likely to admit to driving distracted, driving on alcohol or drugs, or failing to belt up.

What drivers believe is the biggest threat, and the bad behaviours they engage in, don’t match up. Older drivers are more likely to admit to speeding but say distraction is the biggest threat. Younger drivers are more likely to say they drive while distracted, and say speeding is the greatest danger. This is suggestive that people are inclined to think their own risky behaviour is not the most threatening: it’s someone else’s, different behaviour that is the problem.

Almost a quarter of drivers in Wales (24%) claim they never break any of the Pledge points and regularly make both safe and sustainable choices.

Brake is working towards a world where road transport is safe, sustainable, healthy and fair, and there are zero road deaths. It is extremely challenging to change drivers’ behaviour: drivers make mistakes and some knowingly take risks. This is why Brake supports a safe systems approach to save lives and the planet. This includes 20mph limits in built-up areas, segregated routes for people on foot and bicycles, crash-protection features on vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles, and regulation and enforcement of drivers to enable safer driving choices.

However, deaths and injuries are happening right now, with five people dying on UK roads every day and 61 being seriously injured. Everyone can do their bit throughout Road Safety Week by spreading awareness of the vital importance of the Pledge rules. Here are some of the reasons why the Pledge points are so important:

SLOW: Speed contributes to more than a quarter (26%) of fatal crashes in the UK.

SOBER: One in seven road deaths involves a driver over the drink-drive limit.

SECURE: Three-point seat belts mean you’re 50% less likely to die in a crash. More than one in five people (22%) who die each year are not wearing one.

SILENT: Drivers talking on phones are four times more likely to crash, whether on a hands-free or hand-held phone. It’s the distraction of the call that is the problem. There is also a rise in use of infotainment systems and screens: as well as the major distraction of looking at a screen rather than the road, it also takes 27 seconds to regain full concentration after using a system/screen that uses voice command.

SHARP: It is estimated 2,900 casualties are caused by poor driver vision. It is possible to lose up to 40% of your vision before noticing it. Fatigue and illness are also causes of impairment.

SUSTAINABLE: About 40,000 deaths are caused annually by exposure to NOx and particulates, and about a quarter of the UK’s CO2 emissions are from transport, with road traffic a major contributor.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said:

“Road Safety Week’s theme is action-orientated. Anyone can make and share the Brake Pledge – individuals, businesses and community organisations. Our survey shows that drivers are aware of the threat of risky behaviour by other drivers, but are inclined to play down the riskiness of their own behaviours. Everyone who drives has to step up and take responsibility. If every driver vowed to slow down, never drink alcohol or take drugs, never use their phones or other devices, always use seat belts and child restraints, drive when fit to do so, and minimise driving, then our roads would be safer places for everyone.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said:

“In recent weeks police forces across the country have been running new and innovative operations to target some of the most dangerous motorist behaviours, including mobile phone use at the wheel. But this problem can’t be solved without making people take responsibility for their actions while driving.

We are delighted to support this Brake campaign and urge all road users to sign and share the Pledge, but also to think seriously about the promises you are making. We need to change attitudes because a few moments’ distraction at the wheel can and does cost lives. This is about more than just identifying the problem – you have to think about what you are doing, and the risks you are taking. Don’t put others in danger. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

Peter Markey, Brand and Marketing Communications Director for Aviva:

“This new Brake research echoes what we have also found at Aviva; that we are all inclined to think that bad driving is down to someone else! While most people act safely and sensibly behind the wheel, there are times when it’s easy to get distracted, which can have catastrophic consequences. Road Safety Week is a great opportunity for us all to take stock and think about how we drive, plan our journeys and make sure we’re taking that bit of extra care and attention. We will all benefit from safer roads, so there’s no better time to take the Brake Pledge and start making a difference today.”

Dr Nigel Best, clinical spokesperson at Specsavers, said:

“I was shocked to learn that poor driver vision alone leads to an estimated 55 casualties every single week and costs £33 million. It’s every driver’s personal responsibility to ensure they are having their eyes tested frequently. We’d urge every road user to make the Brake Pledge to make our roads safer. When it comes to vision, that can be as simple as booking an eye examination, carrying a spare pair of specs in your car, not driving when tired, or even driving less and using public transport more.”

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