Being aware of some of the most common causes of accidents in the UK could make all the difference in helping drivers to stay safe on the roads.
Understanding the risks you take every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle is important for all motorists and the dangers associated with driving should never be underestimated.
That said, some car owners take their own safety and the safety of passengers and other road users for granted, but this can lead to serious and life-changing consequences.
With this in mind, drivers up and down the country could reduce their risk of being involved in an accident by following some simple advice that could ultimately save their life or the lives of those around them.
Fatigue can be a killer
According to data published as part of the Think! safer driving campaign, 20 per cent of all road traffic accidents could be related to drivers falling asleep or losing concentration due to fatigue when behind the wheel. Furthermore, this type of accident is more likely than any other to result in serious injuries or even death.
To combat fatigue, there really are a number of simple steps motorists can take. According to Think!, vehicle owners should always plan long journeys in advance, factoring in 15-minute stops at least every two hours. In addition, they should avoid embarking on any long journey if they already feel tired.
Unusually early starts and making journeys between midnight and 06:00 can be extremely dangerous, as the body is naturally tired at these times and therefore drivers should look to get plenty of rest before setting out.
Meanwhile, despite caffeine drinks and a short nap helping individuals to reach their final destination if they feel fatigued while travelling, Think! states the only real cure for tiredness is actual sleep.
Cut your speed
Figures published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) state that 14 per cent of all road traffic collisions come as a result of excessive speed on the part of at least one party involved in the accident. However, this statistic rises to 24 per cent of all incidents that result in a death on the roads.
As such, it is imperative motorists stick to the speed limit at all times and remember the dangers of carrying excessive speed into corners – especially on country roads, which can tighten up dramatically in a short space.
Education on the dangers of speeding is imperative to help to cut accident rates in the UK and this is something the government is taking extremely seriously, with schemes like the high-profile Think! campaign and the Slower Speeds Initiative aiming to drive up awareness on the issue.
Don’t be driven to distraction
Another of the biggest issues to affect motorists can be the distraction other travellers cause.
Families in particular can be prone to this type of hazard, as kids in the back can become restless on long journeys if they are not adequately entertained. To combat this, ensure you pack plenty of items like games, music players – with headphones – and even tablets or other electronic devices to keep kids happy.
Moreover, things like hunger and thirst can become a major distraction on long journeys and this can lead to a lack of concentration. This can be dealt with by taking plenty of snacks and bottled drinks to keep yourself topped up while driving – although motorists should remember to pull over before eating and drinking.
Learn to drive defensively
Defensive driving really is one of the best ways to avoid accidents when out on the roads, as when motorists have the attitude that danger could be around every turn they act in a much safer manner, reducing their speed and being more alert to potential hazards up ahead.
Vehicle recovery specialist Green Flag advises drivers always be aware of changing road conditions, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Ice and rain can make even the best road surfaces slippery, while black ice can be particularly dangerous.
Always reduce your speed when faced with changeable or deteriorating conditions and remember slippery surfaces tend to make steering lighter, while driving too fast at these times can result in skids and a loss of control.