Advice On Driving In The Dark

With the clocks going back on Sunday 31st October 2010, signalling the end of lighter evenings, RoSPA is reminding road users of the importance of seeing and being seen.

Sunday is Halloween and families going out trick or treating should remember it will get darker an hour earlier. On Monday, many people will find themselves travelling home from work in the dark for the first time in months and children back at school after half-term will also spot the nights drawing in.

Cyclists should ensure they can be seen easily. In the dark, they must, by law, have front and rear lights lit and reflectors must also be fitted. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises cyclists to wear brightly-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing or accessories in the dark.

Pedestrians, including joggers, need to be aware that it can be very hard to see them when they are wearing dark clothing. RoSPA advises that they also ensure they are clearly visible. In 2009, there were at least 55 fatal accidents, 237 serious accidents and 562 slight accidents on Britain's roads in which pedestrians wearing dark clothing at night were among the factors that led to the accident.

RoSPA encourages parents talk to their children about the importance of being seen and that children wear reflective items when they are out and about in the dark.

Most importantly of all, the safety charity urges drivers and motorcyclists to ensure they keep a proper look-out for vulnerable road users, not least because failing to look properly is the most frequently-reported factor in accidents on Britain's roads. They also need to watch their speed, particularly in residential areas and around schools.

Ultimately, RoSPA would like the UK to switch from its current time system (Greenwich Mean Time - GMT - in the winter and British Summer Time - GMT + 1 - in the summer) to Single/Double Summer Time. This would bring an extra hour of evening daylight all year round: GMT + 1 in the winter and GMT + 2 in the summer.

RoSPA has campaigned on this issue for decades and the most recent research suggests that such a move would save about 80 lives and prevent about 212 serious injuries on the roads each year. The environmental, business, tourism and leisure benefits are well documented. This year, RoSPA has been pleased to support 10:10's Lighter Later campaign and it is urging MPs to support a Private Members' Bill about daylight saving that will go before the House of Commons on December 3.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA's head of road safety, said: "Alongside our ongoing campaign for the UK to move to Single/Double Summer Time, it's important that we talk about what road users can do to prevent accidents. Being visible and looking out for other people might sound simple, but not doing these things costs lives on our roads each year."

28 October 2010 Staff

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