Winter is almost upon us as the clocks go back and nights close in – the time of year when drivers and road users have to be particularly vigilant.
North Yorkshire County Council’s road safety team has been out and about in railway stations and town centres this week , along with North Yorkshire Police, setting out a few simple measures that people can follow to help them stay safe on the roads during the long hours of darkness. In particular they are urging all road users either to wear high visibility clothing (cyclists and motorcyclists) or carry it with them (motorists) in case of emergencies.
In the run up to the clock change, road safety officers are encouraging vulnerable road users, in particular, cyclists and pedestrians to Be Bright and Be Seen. Even a small amount of Hiviz and reflective material can help other road users to see each other.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Road Safety said: North Yorkshire is the largest county with the largest roads network in the country, many of them rural and unlit, so road users have to be particularly careful during winter months when we are all travelling in the dark for longer. Our job is to keep the roads as safe as possible so we hope people will take heed of a few simple tips to get them safely through the season. It’s about seeing and being seen.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, of North Yorkshire Police said: Drivers should make sure that they not only check that the vehicle’s lights are working, but they are also regularly cleaned.
All road users can play their part in keeping the road network across the county as safe as possible, by making sure they can be seen.
Police officers will be paying particular attention to vehicles’ lights to ensure that they are not defective and they are bright. If they see a vehicle which is not appropriately lit, the vehicle will be stopped and the driver given the opportunity to correct the issue.
Cyclists and pedestrians should make sure that they are as visible as possible, wearing light coloured or reflective clothing.
Cars and vans:
Regularly check that all lights are working and use them. If you can’t be seen properly you are in danger and if any of your lights are not working you are breaking the law.
People with dark coloured cars should switch on dipped headlights as soon as the light begins to fade as darker cars blend in with the road surface, surrounding buildings and hedges when visibility is poor.
Do not drive on sidelights. In most cases the shape of the car can be seen before these lights come into view. Cars built within the last year or so are fitted with driving lights which come on as soon as you start the engine, though they are only on the front of the car. These are much brighter than side lights and can dazzle in the dark so they will automatically go off when the headlights are switched on.
Make sure your lights are not dazzling road users, which stops them from seeing other hazards. Do not use front or rear fog lights unless the visibility is seriously reduced – the Highway Code says, “generally less than 100 metres (328 feet).”
Try to keep the car clean so that it reflects light which makes it easier to be seen. 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.
Carry a hi-visibility vest or jacket and put this on if you should need to get out of the car in the dark. However, be aware that if you stand in front of bright lights you will become a silhouette making your hi-visibility clothing ineffective – pay particular attention when walking out into the road.
Be very aware that other road users may not be doing anything to keep themselves visible. Look out for them. Better use of your lights will help you to see and avoid others.
Be particularly careful when loading or unloading cars or vans during darkness. Try to park in a safe place where there is good lighting and less traffic flow. If this is not possible, keep the side and tail lights switched on to attract attention and use good quality hi-visibility clothing.
Whenever possible try to use side loading doors at the kerb side. Standing at the side reduces the risk of injury if another vehicle runs in to the back of it.
Always assume that other road users may have not seen you. Drive with your dipped headlight on during winter months but be aware that this might make it more difficult for other road users to assess your speed as you approach.
Ride in a more dominant road position – out from the kerb and more to the middle of the lane – which 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.
Do not use a tinted visor or insert at night as it will make it difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists in dark clothing.
As with motorcycles, always assume other road users cannot see you even if you can see the road clearly. Make sure you use approved lights to the front and rear and good reflectors. Reflectors on the wheels can also help at junctions. Keep reflectors clean! Other things like reflective tape and flashing valve caps can also help.
Wear bright and possible reflective clothing if possible.
If you are walking after dark or in poor visibility e.g. walking to work or school or walking the dog, wear something bright and reflective. Hi vis dog leads, flashing collars and coats are now available for your dog as well.
Picture shows: North Yorkshire County Council and North Yorkshire Police road safety officers Fiona Ancell and John Jakes spell out the message – be bright, be safe – at Harrogate railway station this week