Why I'm taking the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week
November will again play host to Road Safety Week, the UK's flagship road safety event.This Road Safety Week will have focus on the six aspects of the Brake Pledge. Brake's Communications and campaigns advisor Alice Bailey looks forward to the event and explains why Road Safety Week is focusing on that pledge.
This August I was lucky enough to escape the excuse for a summer we’ve had in Britain and jet off to Europe for sand, sea and sun. The journey to relaxation however, inevitably brings with it a tense the conversation about air safety with a very aware and slightly nervous 10 year old. After a number of high profile air tragedies over the last couple of years it’s not hard to see why flying may cause concern to a young mind. So, we google the safest and most dangerous ways to get about and its confirmed that sitting on a plane is one of the safest journeys we can make. Sadly, the list reveals it’s the everyday journeys in cars, on foot or by bike where we actually face the biggest risks.
Despite some improvement in figures last year. more than 22,000 people suffered serious injuries in road crashes in 2015 and 1,732 lost their lives. We see first-hand through our victim support work the devastation this causes to individuals, families and whole communities.
I joined Brake late last year after many years in broadcast journalism; I’d spent too long telling people about devastating crashes rather than doing anything to improve the situation. As I started to grapple with the charity’s various campaigns, one of the things that struck me about improving road safety is that this is a problem where we already know the solutions. Many other charities concerned with health and well-being face huge challenges in working out how to fix problems, finding cures, discovering ways of making things better. We already know how to make our roads safer, and cities cleaner and greener, and improvements can be made if we all commit to doing our bit.
So this is why the theme for this year’s Road Safety Week is taking us back to basics with a reminder about the simple things we can do to keep ourselves and other road users safe. There’s no sun, sea or sand – but there is a whole bunch of other S’s. The Brake pledge asks drivers to go Slow, stay Sober, make sure everyone in their vehicle is Secure, make sure phones stay Silent, check they are Sharp enough to drive safely (not tired and wearing glasses or lenses) and also to have a good think about whether they even need to get in the car in the first place; could they make a more Sustainable travel choice.
Why are these changes so important and what will be the impact if we all made these changes?
Well, breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions of the road is as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.
Having even one drink before getting behind the wheel makes you more likely to crash and one in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who is over the limit.
Seat belts save lives, one in five people killed in crashes don’t have one on.
Using a mobile while driving can slow your reactions as much as drink-driving and even using a hands free device increases your crash risk four fold.
Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause almost 3000 casualties a year and cost the UK around £33 million pounds.
And of course if we chose NOT to drive in the first place we don’t need to worry about any of these things and there are so many other added benefits too. By minimising the amount we drive, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead, we are making our communities safer, and better places to live in. Not only are we improving our own health by being more active but we are benefitting the environment too. Air pollution is now a major killer causing an estimated 29,000 deaths per year the UK – around 5,000 of those are blamed road transport.
To mark the start of Road Safety Week and its focus on the Brake Pledge, we’ll be revealing a risk list of our own. We’ve asked the public what things they think pose the biggest dangers on our roads - is it speeding, drink driving or mobile phone addiction? We’ve also asked drivers what dangerous habits they have, or will at least own up to?
Five people still die on our roads each day, that’s five families getting that knock on the door telling them their lives will never be the same again. These deaths are preventable deaths, one bereaved husband describes his wife’s death as pointless.
There’s a powerful quote I’ve always loved from Ann Frank that I find so positive and inspiring about how we can all make a difference.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the safety of our roads, and our environment. You can do this by making the Brake pledge. I have.