Road Safety Week 2015
Founded in 1997, Road Safety Week works with schools, organisations and communities to raise awareness of road safety and share simple steps that everyone can take to prevent accidents. Organisations such as nurseries, youth clubs, local businesses, sports clubs and local authorities often get on board with the initiative.
This year’s event runs from 23rd-29th November and the theme is Drive Less Live More, with a focus on the benefits of cutting down the amount of driving you do. These benefits include:
- reducing pollution
- saving money on fuel costs
- supporting public transport
- burning calories through exercise such as walking or cycling
- making streets safer by removing extra vehicles
How You Can get Involved
There are a number of ways to get involved in the initiative, starting with signing up for an action pack. These are personalised to who you’re aiming your work at and what background you’re coming from.
Here are some ideas of how you can engage people within your local community:
- encourage car shares or other sustainable commuting, whilst highlighting the cost savings
- run a car free day with work colleagues
- organise a sponsored run or bike ride
- analyse work colleagues mileage to see if it can be reduced or its efficiency improved
- demonstrate the calories burnt by activities such as walking or cycling
- get students to map out safe walking or cycling routes and then promote them to parents
- run a local survey to identify barriers to active and sustainable travel e.g. poor pavement quality or a lack of pedestrian crossings
- communicate any problems to your local authority
Road Casualty Statistics
According to the Department of Transport, there were 1,755 reported road deaths in 2014 – an increase of 4% compared to 2013. Motorists traditionally make up the largest group involved in road accidents, but these rates are not proportional to the total distance they travel. More vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have a much higher casualty rate compared to their overall distance travelled.
Pedestrian fatalities increased by 12% from 2013 to 2014, counting for ¾ of the overall increase in fatalities between the two years. Nearly all the change was attributed to casualties aged 60 or over. Although this doesn’t necessarily have any statistical significance, it could be due in part to the older generation’s appreciation for walking and lesser reliance on vehicles.
Although the levels of cyclist fatalities has remained consistent since 2008, there was an 8.2% rise in the number of serious injuries in 2014. The number of serious injuries has been rising every year since 2004, implying there is a growing issue with cycling accidents. This is likely to be in part due to the rising popularity of cycling and volume of cycle traffic, which has risen by 27% since 2007.
Cycling is an environmentally friendly form of transport and a great way to keep fit. We spoke to some experts to get their top tips for cycle safety.
Ex-professional Cyclist and Coach
Tim Kennaugh has grown up in a very cycle-orientated family, watching his brother ride for Team Sky, so it was little surprise when he became a member of the Olympic Academy and won the Manx National Road Race Championships in 2009. He joined JLT Condor in 2012, but his promising career was cut short due to chronic thyroid disease. Since then he has trained as a sports massage therapist and coach, starting his own cycling coaching business Tim Kennaugh Coaching and taking on the role of Assistant Sports Director at JLT Condor.
Tim thinks that cyclists need to be better protected on the roads by drivers being more aware, but that there are also a number of ways cyclists can help themselves.
“I think we could improve cycling safety by making the onus on drivers to keep cyclists safe, maybe following in the Netherlands footsteps where the driver is accountable for any accident in the eyes of the law. The Government could also make cities more cycle friendly with wider cycle lanes.
“I think cyclists have a responsibility to be prepared with the correct equipment, including the clothing they wear and the lights they use when riding in the dark, at dawn or dusk. They also need to follow road etiquette, keeping tight and allowing cars to pass. You get bad drivers who can’t overtake a cyclist and hold up loads of traffic, causing other drivers to get angry, and you get bad cyclists who are all over the road and can’t read the traffic.
“I’m a big advocate of ID jewellery as it could be the difference between life and death. Even for riders without any previous health conditions, having your blood type and emergency contact details on an ID is a good idea.”
Birmingham University Cycling Club
The University of Birmingham Cycling Club is one the most popular clubs at the university, boasting consistently high numbers of members. They offer lots of types of cycling for a range of abilities, whether you’re interested in competitive or social riding, road cycling or mountain biking. They even have cyclocross, which involves racing on different types of terrain and dismounting to cross obstacles on foot.
After concerns about the safety of their riders, they received some personalised bands from the ID Band Company for some of their members, engraved with medical and emergency contact information. They gave their thoughts on medical ID jewellery and how it could help improve cyclist safety when out on the roads.
Laura Smith was impressed with how easy to wear the bands were and how they were suitable for all occasions. “The bands are comfortable to wear and an ideal material for training. I forgot to take it off before swimming and it was completely fine – no damage and the writing didn’t come off. I like the design as it’s simple yet effective, and the information engraved on the inside is clear and easy to read. It’s a snug fit which also means that it doesn’t get in the way. The main reason I wanted to trial the band is that I like the idea of having something that easily identifies me and dog tags don’t particularly appeal to me personally. I think bands like these should be given to cycling clubs and the government should encourage all cyclists to wear them. To help with safety, I think the government also needs to increase driver’s awareness of cyclists on the road.”
Aileen Baird thought the bands would be helpful if you like to train on your own or late at night. “I found the band really comfortable and easy to wear – so much so that I forget that I was wearing it! It’s also a really sturdy material which is a good idea. They’d be really helpful to anyone that does sports on their own. They don’t replace basic safety measures but they’re a good idea for accidents and emergencies to make sure that paramedics have the correct information.
Having seen first-hand how cyclists can be involved in road accident, James Bishop thinks the bands would help paramedics to identify patients. “As a cyclist, I think it’s really common to have near misses. I’m fortunate that I’ve never had a head on collision, but I have been hit by a car whilst turning on a mini-roundabout – the driver didn’t give way to me. No-one was hurt, but it makes you realise that cyclists are much more vulnerable road users than motorists. To improve safety I think we need better cycling infrastructure, better education for drivers (most cyclists are drivers, but most drivers aren’t cyclists!), and also basic cycling skill requirements for anyone who owns a bike. If all cyclists had to pass a basic proficiency test, it would create more partnership between all road users and make the experience better for everyone.”
Will Holyman has also had cycling accidents so agreed that they would help to speed up the initial assessment. “I thought the quality was brilliant. It’s really tough rubber so seems very unlikely that it would break, plus it’s easy to put on. In July 2014 I was hit by a car, badly breaking my elbow. An ambulance was called and I needed surgery. Although I wasn’t unconscious I was quite shaken up and if I had been knocked out, a band like this would’ve been immensely valuable to paramedics as it would’ve helped to identify my medical conditions and aided my treatment. In an emergency, the faster any medical issues can be identified the better, and family members need to be contacted too.”
Local Cycling Business
Dave Mellor from Shrewsbury is one of the most knowledgeable men in cycling, acting as Programme Manager for the British Cycling Team for 6 years, Cycling Team Manager for the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and Team Manager for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and Manchester.
He now runs a successful cycling business, Dave Mellor Cycles, and is heavily involved with the Mid-Shropshire Wheelers cycling club, who he trains with and sometimes acts as race organiser for, devising training plans and helping the events run smoothly.
“Mid-Shropshire Wheelers cycling club is split into the junior and senior teams, plus we have some social training sessions suitable for families and beginners to attend. The Under 18’s team is particularly successful, with about 120 kids attending. We organise about 12 big races throughout the year at the 1 km purpose built cycle track at Shrewsbury Sports Village. It’s perfect for all year round cycling as it’s floodlit and protected from much of the wind. We’re actually hosting the National Cyclocross Championships there in January too, in association with British Cycling, so it’s a really exciting time for us.
“I’ve heard of medical ID jewellery before and think it’s a great idea for cyclists, whether you have a medical condition like diabetes or just want to carry your emergency contact information. They’re especially good for being out on the roads at night or mountain biking, both situations where the likelihood of an accident is higher. I know some people carry their ICE on their phones, but if you’re like me and have a passcode, it’s not accessible to paramedics in an emergency or if you’re unconscious. Sports specific ranges are usually really well designed in bright colours for visibility and a hard-wearing material like silicone.
“Some parents can feel a bit concerned with children cycling on their own on the roads, especially during winter when it’s dark, so I think ID jewellery would give them some peace of mind knowing they’re carrying emergency information.
Shropshire Wheelers aim to give all their riders basic road safety skills and ensure that their cycling events and training sessions have the highest levels of safety possible.
“With the cycling club, we take groups out on the roads and always give them safety advice beforehand. I know it can annoy some drivers but it’s safer to travel two cyclists abreast as it takes less time to overtake a group then it would do if everyone was travelling single file in a long line. All our younger cyclists are also accompanied by a parent during every road cycle. We also encourage basic cycling etiquette – follow the road rules just like other drivers, wear high-vis, a helmet and have bike lights. Lights now are so cheap and long lasting that there’s really no excuse not to have them.
“I’d improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike by stressing tolerance. In Europe there are dedicated cycle lanes and the cities are more cycle centric, so drivers are much more aware of them. Sadly we don’t have the space or money to implement as many cycle lanes here, plus they’re a lot narrower, so it’s important to give cyclists as wide a berth as possible.
“There’s a lot more road and cycle safety information available now which is great. British Cycling’s ‘Go Ride’ and school cycle proficiency courses are great ways to teach young people cycling skills and get them into sports. Most councils offer cycle classes too, with training and help to improve. Ultimately, the more people practice, the more skilful and confident they become. This in turns means they’re less likely to make errors on the road.”
Professional Medical Services
Service Principal Tony Hindle from Emergency Bikers knows only too well the kind of road accidents cyclists can be involved in and how useful a medical ID band could be in order to provide vital information quickly.
“Emergency Bikers are experienced medical services providers for a variety of events including marathons, road races, cycle races, motorsport, public presentations and parades. We’ve covered some notable events like the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, Great Manchester Bike Ride, and many other high profile activities throughout the UK”
“Our team is made up of professional medical personnel including State Registered Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians, Doctors and ex-Police Officers all of whom are fully trained. Their tasks are to be able to attend medical emergencies, quickly assessing the situation; this can be by providing initial medical treatment or by calling supplementary medical resources if required.
Having those extra few minutes of life-saving treatment can often make all the difference.”
“Being deployed on equipped medical motorcycles enables us to reach patients in obscure or hard to reach areas that a normal vehicle would find difficult to get to. The bikes are fast and agile, with the ability to manoeuvre large crowds, and other obstructions. They are highly visible and carry a full range of emergency medical equipment including a defibrillator, medical gases and other vital emergency equipment.”
“We believe medical ID identification is a great idea as it gives our team a starting point of what might be wrong with the patient, whether they have any underlying health issues or conditions that may have contributed to the accident. We can then commence appropriate treatment to the specific problem. Even if a patient doesn’t have a medical condition, medical ID is a great help with an unconscious casualty or in remote areas with no witnesses to the accident. We then have immediate access to their known medical conditions, along with emergency contact details.”
“Runners and cyclists usually have emergency numbers and medical details endorsed on the rear of their number tabards, but this is not mandatory. Soft jewellery like the ID Band Company’s silicone bands are excellent for sport as they’re waterproof, hard-wearing and carry clear information. Metal versions can cause cuts or abrasions and clearly silicone is a great alternative.”
Medical ID Jewellery
Carrying medical ID can make all the difference in an emergency, helping first aiders to treat you quickly and correctly. Whether you have an ongoing health condition, are on strong medication or suffer from severe allergies, medical ID will tell people for you if you’re unconscious or unable to communicate.
The ID Band Company has a range of sports appropriate jewellery to hold your important medical information, whether you’re into cycling or running. Even if sports aren’t your thing, ensuring you’re carrying some form of identification and emergency contact details can give you peace of mind in everyday life.
The information in our blog articles is for personal use only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. We are not medical health practitioners or mental health providers. If you’re worried about a potential medical condition, contact your GP or call an ambulance in an emergency situation.