Articles Tagged ‘pledge - Brake the road safety charity’

Be a Road Safety Superhero!

Road safety superheroTeam up with our Pledge Squad and dress up as your favourite superhero to help spread the message of safe driving across the globe, while raising vital funds for Brake. Whether you put on a character t-shirt or a full costume, with your support, we can create a world of zero deaths or serious injuries on our roads.

Our Road Safety Superhero days are a simple and fun way to fundraise for Brake. Get together with your friends, your classmates or your office and encourage everyone to dress up as their favourite superhero. Your donations will go a long way to help Brake campaign for safer roads and support families who have lost a loved one in a road crash. You can run a Road Safety Superhero Day at any point throughout the year. Why not run one alongside Donate to Brake month (March), or during UK Road Safety Weekin November. Click the button to register for your free resource pack. 

Superhero register here 300x129Step one: Plan it

Choose a date to run your Road Safety Superhero day, and register online for your free resource pack by clicking above. The resource pack includes everything you will need to have fun in your office. Alternatively email if you have any questions. Remind everyone the day before to come along dressed as their favourite superhero.

Step two: Do it

On the morning of your Road Safety Superhero day, encourage everyone to donate at least a pound for taking part. You could have a prize for the best outfit, or maybe a superhero parade in your office?

Step three: Share it

Take lots of photos and share them on social media. Make sure to tag Brake on Instagram and Twitter and use the hashtag #roadsafetysuperhero.

Step four: Donate it

You can pay any money raised to Brake by donating online or sending a cheque to Brake, PO Box 548, Huddersfield HD1 2XZ. Alternatively, you can pay by card over the phone by calling 01484 559909.

Brake joins forces with police to rid roads of defective driver vision

News from Brake
Monday 3 September 2018
Road safety charity Brake is teaming up with police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands to run a month-long campaign on driver vision, revoking the licenses of those who don’t pass the 20m number plate check. Throughout September, anyone stopped by Road Policing Officers in these areas will be required to take the 20m number plate test, with those who fail having their licence immediately revoked. Data will be collected from each test and will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads, which is thought to be vastly underreported in Government statistics.
This activity is part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the Government to take driver vision seriously. An estimated 1.5m UK licence holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads. However, the UK’s driver vision testing remains inadequate and antiquated, requiring only a 20m number plate check when taking your driving test and nothing else for the rest of your driving life – one of only five EU countries to have such low standards.
Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the Government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard license.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
“It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”
“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said:
“All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads - not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences. The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”
“Since 2013, the Police have a new procedure – Cassie’s Law - to fast track notification to the DVLA should they find someone who cannot read a number plate at 20m in daylight conditions. Offending motorists will within an hour have their licence revoked and face prosecution. During September, we will be carrying out 20m number plate checks at every opportunity and those who fail will have their licences revoked. I hope we do not find anyone and everyone makes sure they are safe to read the road ahead.”
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express said:
“We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision. A recent survey commissioned by Vision Express showed that 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.”
“We fully support Brake in spearheading initiatives that encourage motorists to consider if their vision is fit to drive before they get behind the wheel. A vehicle driven by someone with substandard vision is a lethal weapon, it’s as simple as that. Deaths are occurring because some motorists are wilfully neglecting to get an eye test, putting lives in danger. That has to stop and we’re committed to working with Brake, the police and road safety organisations to put pressure on the Government to take action.”
Notes to editors:
  • You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
  • You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
  • You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

Cassie’s Law

  • The test must be conducted in good daylight with glasses or corrective lenses (if required), however if the individual was not wearing glasses or lenses at the time of the incident (even if they are normally needed) then the test should be carried out without the glasses or corrective lenses.
  • Brake survey– more than 1.5 million UK drivers (4%) have never had their eyes tested
  • RSA Insurance report – study estimating that poor vision causes 2,874 casualties a year
  • ECOO report – Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, Norway, UK only European countries with number plate self-test
  • Vision Express poll - 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence

Cycling routes and cyclist safety


Key facts

  • In Great Britain only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike [1];
  • In 2015, there were 100 cycling fatalities and 3,239 cyclist serious injuries on the roads in Great Britain [2];
  • Transport accounts for a fifth (21%) of UK greenhouse gas emissions [3];
  • Physical inactivity accounts for one in six deaths in the UK [4];
  • Deaths due to physical inactivity are believed to cost the wider economy £7.4 billion; [5]
  • Almost three quarters of collisions with cyclists occur at a junction [6].


Cycling is one of the healthiest, cheapest, most environmentally-friendly forms of transport available. Unfortunately, the UK lags behind many other countries when it comes to cycling levels. A study by the European Commission in 2010 found that just 2% of people aged 15 and over in the UK use a bicycle as their main form of transport – the seventh lowest level in Europe [7]. In Great Britain only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike. A survey of UK teenagers by Brake and insurer RSA Group found that one in four (23%) never cycle, and only 9% cycle weekly or more [8].

A lack of safe cycling routes may be a key reason for the lack of cycling in the UK. A survey of UK drivers by Brake and Direct Line indicated that almost four in 10 (39%) non-cyclists could be persuaded to cycle if there were more cycle routes and trails connecting their home to local facilities [9]. Sadly, cycling on roads continues to involve risk: in 2014, 100 cyclists were killed and 3,237 seriously injured in Great Britain [10].

The benefits of safer cycling

Making cycling safer can encourage more people to get about by bike, which benefits the environment and communities, by reducing the number of cars and harmful vehicle emissions. Transport accounts for a fifth (21%) of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport making up the most significant proportion of this [11].

Increased cycling can also significantly improve people’s health. Currently, physical inactivity accounts for one in six deaths in the UK, with half of women and a third of men damaging their health due to lack of physical activity. Public Health England advises that over a week, people should carry out at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate intensity activity, separated into periods of over ten minutes each [12]. Regular cycling is suggested by the NHS as a means to lose weight, reduce stress, reduce the likelihood of depression and improve fitness: an 80kg (12st 9lb) person will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding [13]. Improved health from cycling would also benefit the economy; deaths due to physical inactivity are believed to cost the wider economy £7.4 billion [14].

Encouraging more people to cycle could also improve safety further due to fewer motor vehicles. Almost all road deaths and serious injuries are caused at least in part by the actions of drivers [15], so if individuals drive less or not at all it means they pose less danger to others. There is also some international evidence for the “safety in numbers” theory that more cyclists on the roads creates a safer environment for cyclists. For example, cycling in London increased 91% between 2000 and 2009, and cycle casualties fell 33% in the same period [16]. European data shows that countries with high levels of cycling, such as Norway and the Netherlands, have lower cyclist death rates [17]. This is thought to be down to factors including: drivers become more used to sharing the road with cyclists, so are more careful around them; drivers are more likely to be cyclists themselves, so understand cyclist behaviour; more people substitute cycling for driving, meaning fewer cars on the roads; and more people cycling means more political pressure to improve road conditions for cyclists.

Preventing cyclist deaths and serious injuries means preventing needless and acute human suffering and carries a significant economic benefit: every road death is estimated to cost the British economy £1.8 million, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance pay-outs, and human costs [18]. This means that in 2014, cyclist deaths alone cost Britain £180 million, alongside thousands of families having to face the horror and trauma of a bereavement or serious injury.

Take action: Make the Brake Pledge to minimise the amount you drive, or not drive at all, and get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as possible.The Pledge also asks drivers to stay well within speed limits and go 20 or below around homes, schools and shops, to protect people on foot and bike.

Protecting cyclists

Evidence shows that taking a concerted approach to encouraging cycling does make a difference: the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany have far higher rates of cycling compared to the UK, across all sectors of society [19]. A developed cycling infrastructure makes cyclists safer; as one of the most important factors affecting cycling levels is people’s perceptions of cyclist safety [20], improving the infrastructure increases the number of cyclists.

Safe routes

Improving cycling infrastructure is a key way of making it safer to cycle. These routes should form networks that are useful, joining places where people live and work, as well as giving access to public transport.

The safest routes for cyclists are where cyclists are physically separated from motor traffic. A Canadian study found that cyclists on these routes have one ninth the risk of injury compared to a busy road with parked cars [21]. The impact of a well-designed cycle route can be dramatic, and benefit all road users: building a cycling route along Prospect Park West in New York City reduced crashes resulting in injury by 68%, plus far fewer cyclists rode on the pavement inconveniencing pedestrians, and travel times for drivers did not increase [22]. Shared-use paths are shared between pedestrians and cyclists. If properly designed, and wide enough for both to use comfortably, these can also be a safe option [23].  

On-road cycle lanes, where there is no physical separation between cyclists and fast-moving traffic, can be of limited benefit, especially if used in isolation without other steps to reduce risks and hazards for cyclists, such as junction improvements. These can be considered a quick and cheap option, yet in fact need to be designed as carefully as any piece of infrastructure. Transitioning from a cycle path and entering traffic can be dangerous, and any design has to take this into account.

With three-quarters of collisions with cyclists happening at junctions [24], any cycling infrastructure must be designed with junctions particularly in mind. Care and attention must be given by councils and traffic authorities for designing infrastructure that is properly designed and effective in preventing casualties.

Speed limits

Lowering traffic speeds is one of the key ways our communities and country roads can be made safer for people walking and cycling (read our fact pages on speed in the community and speed on country roads to learn more). This is crucial alongside having traffic-free routes, especially so people feel able to cycle around their own neighbourhoods. In 2015, 80% of cycling collisions occurred on a 30mph road [25], this is why Brake campaigns for the national default urban speed limit to be reduced to 20mph and for lower speeds on country roads.

Take action: Campaign in your community for 20mph limits by downloading our GO 20 toolkit and using our community campaign guide.

Vehicle design

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable at junctions: three quarters of collisions involving cyclists are at or near a junction [26].

While all drivers must take care to protect vulnerable road users, larger vehicles pose a particular risk when turning and manoeuvring as a result of their larger blind-spots. There are technologies that can reduce blind spots on these vehicles, including sensors, and CCTV systems. In London, the CLOCS scheme has set standards for construction vehicles in the capital for protecting cyclists.

Read more: Advice for protecting vulnerable road users for employers with staff who drive for work is available for members of Global Fleet Champions.

End notes

[1] National Travel Survey 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[2] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS20006

[3] 2012 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2014

[4] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[5] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[6] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

[7] Future of Transport: analytical report, European Commission, 2011

[8] Make streets safer for cycling to build on Tour de France fever, Brake and RSA, 2014

[9] Brake and Direct Line Report on Safe Driving: A Risky Business, Brake, 2011

[10] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2013, Department for Transport, 2014

[11] 2012 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2014

[12] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[13] Benefits of cycling,NHS Choices, 2014

[14] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[15] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[16] Safety in numbers in England, CTC, 2009

[17] Pedalling towards safety, European Transport Safety Council, 2012

[18] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS60001

[19] Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The  Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, Rutgers University, 2008

[20] The Dutch Reference Study: Cases of interventions in bicycle infrastructure reviewed in the framework of Bikeability, Delft Institute of Technology, 2011

[21] Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study, University of British Columbia, 2012

[22] Prospect Park West Bicycle Path and Traffic Calming, New York City

[23] Guidance on shared-use paths, 

[24] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

[25] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[26] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

Updated August 2016

Driver advice: drink and drug-driving


Drivers can Pledge to never driving after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.

Everyone can Pledge to – plan ahead and make sure they, and anyone they’re with, can get home safely, never get a lift with drink or drug-drivers and speak out if someone’s about to drive on drink or drugs.

Not a drop, not a drag

Even very small amounts of alcohol or drugs affect your driving and could cause a devastating crash. To keep yourself and others safe, never drink any alcohol or take any illegal drugs before driving: not a drop, not a drag.

soberpicJust one small drink impairs your coordination, slows reactions and distorts judgement. You may feel fine, but your driving will be affected, which can easily lead to a crash that could end or ruin your life or someone else’s. Your ability to drive safely is affected when you’re still well under the UK drink drive limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood. With just 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml blood, your risk of being in a serious crash is three times greater than when you’re sober.

Cannabis affects your coordination and reactions, and makes you drowsy. Drugs like ecstasy, speed, cocaine and many legal highs can make you jumpy, paranoid, confused and overconfident. All these effects dramatically impact on your ability to drive safely.

Drugs and alcohol is an especially deadly combination.

Plan ahead

Always make sure you have a safe way to get home if you’re going out drinking, on foot if there’s a safe route, or by public transport or taxi. Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. Leaving the decision until the pub, when you've already been drinking, is looking for trouble.

If you're getting a lift back from a night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or if you’re not confident arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Speak out


You don't have to be confrontational to speak out to someone who’s thinking about drink or drug driving. You can talk to them in a friendly way, explaining why it's a bad idea to get behind the wheel. You could offer to call them a taxi, walk them to the bus stop or walk them home. If they are insistent on driving you might have to be more firm, take their keys or even call the police.

Drink driving is a serious offence with very serious consequences, which you want your friends and family to avoid. Not only could they end up losing their licence, they are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at great risk of serious harm.

The morning after

Make sure you've completely got rid of any alcohol or drugs from your system before driving. Many drink and drug drivers are caught the next day. Drinking coffee, sleeping, or having a shower don’t help you sober up, only time.

As a rough guide, it takes at least one hour for the body to process each unit of alcohol. You should count the hours from the time you finished your last drink, but over-estimate as it could take longer depending on lots of factors. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks, and bear in mind that if you have a heavy night you could be impaired all of the next day.

See Brake’s factsheet on drink-driving for information on alcohol content of drinks and how long it takes to sober up or use Brake’s morning after calculator for an estimate of when you’ll be safe to drive after drinking.


It’s not just illegal drugs that make you unsafe to drive. Some medicines, such as strong pain killers and anti-depressants, are extremely dangerous to drive on. Even over-the-counter medicines such as some hayfever medication can impair your driving.

When taking any medicine, always check the label to see if it will affect your ability to drive. If you are unsure, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Never drive if the label or a health professional says your driving might be affected or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication can affect driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport. Or if you need to continue driving, seek alternative medication. 


Ashley's story
Ashley Brixey died in a car driven by his friend who had been drinking and taking drugs.

Ashley went out on a Saturday night. At the end of the night, he got into the back of a car. A 17 year-old girl got into the passenger seat and Ashley’s friend Richard got behind the wheel.

Richard was twice over the drink-drive limit and had taken drugs. He lost control on a bend. The car went up an embankment, through a fence and landed upside down in a swimming pool. The girl and the driver got out but Ashley was knocked unconscious.

By the time the emergency services got there he was already dead. 

Link to Barbara's story video

Watch Barbara's story. A drunk and drugged driver crashed into her car. She suffered full penetrative burns. Visit Brake's Youtube channel for more videos.


Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: eyesight and health


Drivers can pledge to – get their eyes tested at least every two years, or straight away if they notice a problem, and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if they need them. They can pledge to never drive on medication that affects driving.

Everyone can pledge to – look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

If you drive, it’s probably the most complex and dangerous tasks that you’ll do on a regular basis, so it is vital your eyesight and general health is up to the task. Poor vision, ill health, some medications or stress can significantly affect your ability to drive safely, putting lives at risk.

Learn more:Try out Brake’s 'Sharpen up' interactive resource, sponsored by Specsavers, to see the importance of regular eye tests for drivers.

Sharpen up: driver eyesight

eyesight1Your eyesight can deteriorate significantly without you realising it – it’s possible to lose 40% of your vision before noticing [1]. That’s why it’s vital for drivers to get their eyes tested with an optician at least every two years, or straight away if you think there might be a problem. You must also notify the DVLA of any conditions that affect both eyes.

The law says you must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres to drive, so you have a responsibility to make sure this is the case. However, the ‘number plate test’ only checks your visual acuity (vision over distance), and not your visual field or contrast sensitivity – both important for safe driving – so it should never be used as a substitute for a professional test.

If you need glasses or lenses, don’t drive without them. In the UK, doing so is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban. If you are prone to forget, keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle just in case.

Your health

It is your responsibility to notify the DVLA if you develop a condition that could impair your driving. Failure to do so can result in a fine and driving ban or prosecution if you cause a crash. If you suspect you have developed a condition, seek medical advice immediately. Check the DVLA’s guidance on health conditions and driving for advice.

Brake advises that older drivers get at least annual health checks, and ask the doctor’s advice on their fitness to drive. As an alternative to driving, older people are entitled to free off-peak bus travel across the UK.


NotADrop-PillsIt is an offence to drive, or attempt to drive, while unfit through medication. If you are taking medication, check the label or information leaflet to see if it could affect your driving. If the label warns that your driving could be affected, or it could make you drowsy, or not to drive if you feel drowsy, err on the side of caution and don’t drive: it is impossible to accurately gauge yourself if you’re impaired. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.

Never drive if the label or a health professional recommends that you don't, or says you could be affected, or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication affects your driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport, or if you need to drive seek an alternative medication. In some cases, stopping your medication could pose additional risks, including while driving.

Natalie’s story

Natalie Wade, 28, from Rochford, Essex, was killed by a partially sighted driver in February 2006. She was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing, along with her mother, Christine Gutberlet, by 78 year old John Thorpe. Christine survived, but Natalie suffered severe brain damage from which she died in intensive care on Valentine's Day. The bride-to-be was shopping for her wedding dress when she was hit.

Driver John Thorpe was blind in one eye and had 40 defects in the other, but had not declared his sight problems to the DVLA. He died of natural causes before his trial could be completed. The inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Natalie's aunt, Revd Brenda Gutberlet, said: “Natalie's death, like so many on our roads, was completely avoidable. The question every driver should ask before they get behind the wheel is: am I fit to drive today? But not everyone is honest with themselves. To get behind the wheel of a vehicle unable to see shows a disregard for the lives of others, and it can't be right that we still allow drivers to do so."

[1] World Glaucoma Day, International Glaucoma Association and Royal National Institute for the Blind, 2009

[2] The contribution of individual factors to driving behaviour: implications for managing work-related road safety, Health and Safety Authority, 2002

Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: fatigue


Drivers can pledge to – take regular breaks and never drive tired.

Everyone can pledge to – look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

WakeUp-TirednessKillsDriving tired is lethal. Research found that a quarter of all crashes on British roads involving death or serious injury were sleep-related [1]. Nodding off at the wheel, even for a few seconds, can result in catastrophic crashes, because you don’t brake before impact. And you don’t have to actually fall asleep to put yourself and others at risk: tiredness increases reaction times and affects your ability to pay attention. But there are some simple steps all drivers can take to avoid fatigue.

Plan ahead

tired1Consider whether you need to drive. Public transport is often a better option for long journeys, and is likely to mean you arrive feeling more rested and refreshed than if you’ve been driving for hours – see our advice page and factsheets on sustainable travel.

If you have to drive, plan ahead so you are well-rested beforehand and never embark on a journey when you’re already feeling tired. If you know you have to drive the next day, especially a longer journey, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. The less sleep you get, the less chance you have of staying awake. When planning a long journey, allow time for regular breaks – at least 15 minutes at least every two hours – although you need to stop as soon as possible if you start to feel tired (see below).

If you’re driving somewhere relatively far away and coming back again, book an overnight stay in the middle if you can and ensure you’re well rested before heading home.

Avoid driving at times of day when you’re most susceptible to tiredness, like at night, in the evening after a long day, or in the mid-afternoon, when most people experience a ‘dip’.

If you drive for work

Insist on having time in your schedule for regular break periods to rest – 15 minutes every two hours is safest – and look at whether there are alternatives to driving, such as video conferencing or taking public transport to appointments.

If you drive a truck or bus, be aware of legislation covering the hours you are allowed to drive, and make sure you take the required rest breaks. Even if you fall behind schedule or get caught in traffic, always take your breaks. Safety comes before deadlines. Your employer should have a policy on driver tiredness that complies with health and safety laws and makes clear that safety is the priority. When you’re driving on company time, you and your employer have responsibility for making sure you’re not endangering yourself and others.

Brake advises companies on preventing fatigue and other issues to do with at-work road safety. Find out more at    

If you feel tired

If you’re feeling tired at the wheel, you need to listen to the warning signs straight away and pull over somewhere safe as soon as you possibly can. Do not fool yourself that you can fight off sleep – it ensues much faster than you might think. Winding down the window or turning up your music does not help you to stay awake. If you ever head nod, you have already been asleep briefly, although you may not remember it, and these ‘microsleeps’ are enough to cause a devastating crash.

tired2Hence if you feel tired while driving, it’s vital to pull up somewhere safe and have a nap. Having a caffeinated drink (an energy drink is better than coffee as it’s a more reliable source of a reasonable dose of caffeine) followed by a 15 minute nap can help to temporarily stave off tiredness, but bear in mind this is only a temporary aid.

If you are still feeling tired after your nap, or you still have a long way to go, you need to stop and get a proper night’s sleep, which is the only solution to tiredness. Whatever you do, only continue your journey when you’re feeling fully refreshed.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a relatively common, but often undiagnosed condition that puts sufferers at great risk of tiredness crashes. Sufferers briefly stop breathing repeatedly while they are asleep. While the sleeper may not realise it, this interrupts their sleep and results in daytime sleepiness, which can result in falling asleep at the wheel. Signs of sleep apnoea include loud snoring, disturbed sleep, regularly waking up coughing, fighting for breath during sleep, and falling asleep in the daytime. The highest-risk group for sleep apnoea are overweight middle-aged men, although it can affect other groups too.

See our fact page on sleep apnoea. If you think there is a chance you have sleep apnoea, seek medical advice. Sleep apnoea is treatable, and if left untreated can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks, as well as driver fatigue crashes. The sooner you see a doctor, the better

[1] Sleep-Related Crashes on Sections of Different Road Types in the UK (1995–2001), Department for Transport, 2004

Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: seat belts and child restraints


Drivers can pledge to – make sure everyone in their vehicle is belted upon every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint.

Everyone can pledge to– always belt up, and make sure friends and family do too.

Seat belts

Seat belts are simple to put on and can save your life. They stop you being thrown around the vehicle, or out of it, in a crash. It's estimated by transport researchers that a three-point seat belt halves risk of death in a crash.

SeatbeltAlways wear a seat belt, even on short journeys. Even if you're just driving around the corner, it could still be a life-saver, and it's still the law.

Make sure you have enough three-point seat belts for everyone travelling in your vehicle. Never squeeze extra people in without belts, or sharing the same belt.

Before setting off, make it a habit to check that everyone in your vehicle is belted up. Seat belt use is lower among back seat passengers. An unrestrained back seat passenger is a danger to other people in the vehicle as well as themselves. 

Three-point belts are far safer than lap belts (which only have one strap going across your lap). The shoulder strap on a three-point belt stops your body being flung forward in a crash, which can result in horrific injuries. If you use an older vehicle with a lap belt in a particular seat, don't use that seat.

Head restraints

Make sure everyone's heads and necks are protected by a head restraint. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect someone's neck from whiplash injuries that can debilitate or kill. If a seat does not have a head restraint, don't use that seat. 

Head restraints should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of the person's head and right up against the back of their head, so their head won’t be able to fly backwards in a crash. 

Before setting off, make it a habit to check everyone has their head restraint properly adjusted. 

Child passengers up to 150cm tall 

Drivers are legally responsible for ensuring child passengers are belted up and in a restraint compliant with the law. 

Children up to 150cm tall should be secured in a child restraint suitable for their height and weight. If they are not, they are at far greater risk of serious injury or death in a crash. 

Follow the advice below:

  • Use the appropriate child restraint for a child's size and weight.
  • Use new. A second-hand restraint could be damaged in ways you can’t see.
  • Buy the best seat on the market with the most safety features. Your child's life is priceless.
  • Restraints should carry the United Nations ‘E’ mark or a BS ‘Kitemark’.
  • Rear-facing seats are safer for babies. Do not move them up to their next restraint system until they are too tall or heavy for their rear-facing baby seat.
  • If it’s possible to do so in line with the fitting instructions, fit your child seat in the middle of the rear of your car, furthest away from the exterior.
  • Fit right. Fit your child restraint with care in line with the fitting instructions. If unsure, seek help from the manufacturer or supplier.
  • Sit right. Before every trip, check your child's restraint is still fitted correctly. Take care to ensure that the belt is correctly threaded and snug fitting. 
  • The top of your child’s head should never come above the top of their child seat.
  • If you have an old car with few safety features, change it for a car that has high star ratings for safety. See EuroNCAP for star ratings.
  • Take trains for long journeys and get out and walk for short journeys. Trains are safer, and walking helps save the planet. 


  • Carry someone else’s child unless you are certain they are in a restraint that is correct for their height and weight and properly fitted.
  • Allow your child to be carried in someone else’s vehicle unless they are in a restraint appropriate for their size and weight and properly fitted.
  • Carry extra kids with no restraints or seat belts, even on short journeys.
  • Hold a baby or child; they will fly out of your hands in a crash.
  • Put a baby or child inside your own seat belt with you - they will be crushed by the weight of your body in a crash.

If a child is over 150cm and is able to do up their own seat belt, you still have the responsibility for checking they have done so correctly, and the seatbelt is tight. Explain to children they mustn’t fiddle with or undo seat belts, and the reasons why.

Children under 150cm on school trips

If you have a child under 150cm going on a school or pre-school trip by coach or minibus, will they be appropriately restrained? Talk to your child's teacher and ask to see their transport safety policy. Ensure it requires the school or pre-school to hire a modern vehicle with three point seat belts and that your child will be securely fitted in the correct child restraint for their height and weight (either your own seat or one supplied by the transport company). 

pregnantdiagramIf using your own child restraint, you will need to check your child restraint is appropriate to fit in the vehicle being used.

Do not allow your child to travel on an old coach with only lap belts, or in someone else's car with inadequate restraints.

Direct teachers to our page trips in vehicles, which has guidance for them.

Wearing a seat belt during pregnancy

It’s important to continue wearing a seatbelt while pregnant. You should wear the lap part of the seat belt under your bump (see our diagram, right). Consider public transport when you can. You are far less likely to be involved in a crash on a train or bus. Walking is also a great exercise during pregnancy; leave the car at home for short journeys.

Page updated December 2017


Driver advice: speed


Drivers can Pledge to – stay under limits, slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops to protect others, slow right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and avoid overtaking.

Everyone can Pledge to – speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.

Driving slowly is one of the most important things drivers can do to protect themselves and others. That means staying well within limits, slowing down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, slowing right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and avoiding overtaking.

It’s essential to safe and considerate driving because slowing down gives you much more time to react to people and hazards around you, and avoid hitting someone or something. Slowing down helps make our roads and communities safer, greener, nicer places, and can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.

Limits are limits, not targets

Stay well under limits, rather than hovering around them. Look out for signs, including temporary limits, and obey them, regularly glancing at your speedo. Know which limits are usually in place on different roads (see the Highway Code) and if unsure, err on the side of caution and slow down. It will help you stay safe and avoid fines and penalty points.

Keep at least a two-second gap (four in the wet) behind the vehicle in front on any road, but especially at higher speeds – it’s your braking space in a crisis.

GO 20 in towns and villages

Sometimes the speed limit is too fast for safety. The UK’s default limit in built-up areas is 30mph, although more and more local authorities are implementing 20 limits across towns, cities and villages to protect people on foot and bike.


Drivers can make a big difference now by committing to GO 20 in all communities: slowing down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph. You’ll help to make streets and communities safer, greener, more pleasant places.

At 20mph, your stopping distance is about half that at 30mph, so GOing 20 makes a big difference to safety, but it won’t be a big inconvenience. Your journeys should be smoother and use less petrol, and your journey times are unlikely to be significantly longer. Driving at 20mph in communities gives you time to react in an emergency, such as if a child runs out.

Go slow on rural roads

Rural roads are often bendy and narrow with poor visibility and hidden junctions. Even if you know the road well, you never know what’s round the corner. The majority of driver and passenger deaths happen on rural roads, often due to drivers taking bends too fast, overtaking, or not being able to react to unexpected hazards.

That’s why slowing down on rural roads is crucial. The derestricted limit (60mph for cars and vans) is generally far too fast for safety – so stay well beneath this and slow right down for bends, brows, dips and junctions, and in bad weather. You should be able to come to a stop within the space you can see.

Slowing down on rural roads also helps people to enjoy the countryside, and people in rural communities to get about, by being able to cycle, walk and horse-ride without being endangered. Rural roads are shared – not drivers’ private race tracks.

Go slow in bad weather

Slowing down – or avoiding driving at all if you can – is crucial to staying safe in bad weather. Driving in wet or icy conditions significantly increases your stopping distances, while fog and mist make it far harder to react to hazards. Read our ABC of bad weather driving.

Don’t overtake

Overtaking on single carriageways is incredibly risky and should be avoided. It is impossible to accurately judge the speed of approaching traffic, or the length of empty road in front of you, and when overtaking this can be fatal. The gap between you and oncoming traffic disappears surprisingly fast. If you and an oncoming vehicle are both driving at 60mph, the gap between you is closing at 120mph, or 60 metres a second. So a small error of judgement can easily result in multiple deaths.

That’s why it isn’t worth the risk. Often overtaking makes little difference to your arrival time, but could mean you and someone else never arriving at all. So never overtake on single carriageways unless absolutely essential, such as because you need to pass a stationary or extremely slow moving vehicle. Only then do so if certain there’s enough space to get past without speeding and with no risk of someone coming the other way. Otherwise just hang back and relax.


Ditch the excuses

Some drivers use all sorts of excuses for speeding: they don’t notice their speed creeping up, they feel pressured by other drivers, they’re in a rush, or think they can handle it because of their fast reaction times and good brakes. The fact is, slowing down is essential to safe driving, no matter who you are or what you’re driving. Studies have proven the link between speed and safety: reducing average speeds leads to fewer crashes and casualties, and if you speed, you’re far more likely to crash.

The laws of physics mean that going even a bit faster makes a big difference to your stopping distance and therefore your ability to react and stop. For example, increasing your speed by 25%, from 40mph to 50mph, increases your stopping distance by 47%, from 36m to 53m. Learn more about stopping distances.

In short, slowing down is vital to safety, especially in protecting our most vulnerable road users like children, and enabling people to walk and cycle without fearing for their lives. And it’s not a big ask. All drivers should be able to keep an eye on their speed, and protecting people should always be the priority over getting there a few minutes faster.

  • Read our factsheets on speed for more information
  • Back our GO 20campaign for lower speed limits in towns, cities and villages
  • How much do you know about stopping distances?Use Brake's stopping distance tool
  • Pledgeto always drive below the limit and slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops 
aaronthumb Aaron was just 12 years old when he was knocked down and killed by a speeding car.

Emma was tragically killed by a speeding car that crashed into oncoming traffic.

Visit Brake's Youtube channel for more videos.


Page updated June 2016

Driver advice: stress

Drivers can pledge to – never drive if stressed.

Everyone can pledge to– look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

Learn more: Read out fact page on driver stress.

stressStress at the wheel is a major problem for many drivers. A Brake and Direct Line survey of UK drivers found that 71% had lost concentration at the wheel in the past year due to stress or annoyance. This risks the lives of drivers and other road users. Combating stress while driving is essential.

US road safety organisation AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has designed an online questionnaire for drivers to use to assess whether they are prone to road rage. It assesses traits such as aggression, impatience and behaviour toward other road users, and gives basic advice on staying calm at the wheel.

All drivers can follow these simple guidelines to help reduce stress and road rage:

  • Consider alternatives to driving, which may help you to arrive feeling calmer and more refreshed, like walking, cycling or public transport.
  • Try to clear your mind of personal or work problems before driving.
  • Focus on the road and other road users around you. Be aware that an unexpected hazard could crop up at any moment and if you are not concentrating it could be fatal.
  • Learn to accept things that bother you on the road, such as other people driving inconsiderately, and make a positive decision not to let them wind you up [1].
  • Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress [2].
  • Don’t drive if you’re tired, and take rest breaks at least every two hours for at least 15 minutes to refocus your concentration.
  • Plan your route carefully and allow plenty of time for your journey – rushing will only make you more stressed.
  • Ensure the driver’s seat, head restraint and steering column are correctly adjusted for you: aches and pains due to poor posture will not improve your mood.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed well within the speed limit, go 20 or below around homes, schools and shops, and avoid overtaking unless essential.  Driving aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to get you there much faster, but could make you feel more tense, or even prevent you from arriving at all.
  • Make sure you eat sensibly, as hunger can affect your concentration [3] – but don’t eat at the wheel as this will distract you from driving [4].

If you are struggling to cope with stress, behind the wheel or in everyday life, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor for help.

If you are suffering from work-related stress you should also talk to your employer about how this could be reduced, as your employer has a duty of care to ensure your work does not harm your physical or mental health. Visit for advice on work-related stress.

 [1] ‘You’re a bad driver but I just made a mistake’, Queensland University of Technology, 2011

 [2] Relaxation tips to relieve stress, NHS Choices, 2014                                                                   

 [3] You are what you eat: how food affects your mood, Dartmouth College, 2011

 [4] Crash dieting: The effects of eating and drinking on driving performance, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2008

Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: sustainable

Sustainablethumb Everyone can Pledge to – minimise the amount they drive, or not drive at all, and get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as possible, for road safety, the environment and their health.

Why go eco?

By choosing sustainable travel, we can all help to reduce the road safety, public health, environmental and economic costs to society of our over-reliance on cars. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer road deaths and injuries, less congestion, less emissions and more pleasant, sociable communities.

Whether it’s doing the school run on foot or bike, walking to the local shop instead of driving to the supermarket, or taking public transport to work instead of driving, incorporating active and sustainable travel into your routine can be really simple, and it’s a great way to stay active, save money, and do your bit for the environment.

Use our carbon footprint calculator to see the environmental impact of your driving.
Share our interactive resource to spread the 'Drive less, live more' message. 

Do you need to drive?


Two-thirds (64%) of all UK journeys and 40% of journeys less than two miles are made by car, many of which could be made on foot or bike, or by public transport. While each trip may not seem like much, it all adds up to a lot of unnecessary car use.

For each journey you make by car, ask yourself if there’s a more sustainable and healthy option. If it’s a short journey, could you walk or cycle? You can use Sustrans’ website to explore walking and cycling routes in your area and work out the safest, most pleasant way to get to your destination on foot or bike. Get into the habit of leaving the car at home for these shorter journeys and you’ll spend less money on petrol and feel healthier for the exercise – plus you’ll be helping to make your area a nicer, less polluted place.

For longer journeys could you take a bus, train or coach instead? If you book in advance, the cost of tickets can often work out cheaper than what you’d spend on petrol and you can sit back and relax without the stress of driving. You can look up public transport options by region at


If you drive to and from work, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to switch to a sustainable commute, which may be quicker, cheaper, healthier and less stressful. Research shows that people who commute by walking and cycling better able to concentrate and are less stressed. Look online at your local travel information to see what sustainable transport options you have, including bus routes, train services and safe cycle paths.

If you want to cycle to work but don’t own a bike, find out if your employer participates in the government’s Cycle to Work initiative, which allows you to purchase a new bike (and related equipment like cycle paths) tax-free, and pay monthly straight from your salary. If they aren’t signed up to the scheme, direct a relevant member of staff to details of the benefits to employers and encourage them to sign up. Read Brake’s advice on cycling.

Safe cycling


Cycling is healthy, low-cost and environmentally friendly way to travel. Go to Brake’s cycling advice pages for further information on how to keep safe while cycling.

If you have to drive

If there are journeys that you have to make by car, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the negative impacts of this on you and the people around you:

  • Make the Brake Pledge, a simple six point pledge to help keep you and others safe on the road and prevent needless tragedies.
  • Keep to a lower speed and avoid harsh braking and acceleration to produce fewer emissions and improve fuel efficiency. In particular, slow down to 20mph or below in built up areas, even where the speed limit is 30. It’s unlikely to affect your journey time significantly, but it will mean your car is less polluting because there is less speeding up and slowing down, and  it will mean you’re helping to make roads safer for people on foot and bike. See our advice on speed.
  • The same principle applies on faster roads. For each 5mph you drive over 60mph, you use 7% more fuel. Slower is not only safer, but it’s better for the environment and will save you money on petrol
  • Plan your journeys more efficiently. If you have a number of errands to do or journeys to make, can they be combined into the same trip? Make sure you still allow plenty of time for driving at safe, slow speeds, possible hold-ups, and breaks every two hours.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. A well maintained vehicle produces fewer emissions and is more fuel efficient. Simple things like keeping your tyres well inflated, cleaning or replacing dirty air and fuel filters, and regularly changing your oil can improve fuel efficiency. Read our advice on vehicle maintenance.

 Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: vehicle maintenance and breakdowns

Drivers can pledge to – choose the safest vehicle possible and ensure it’s well maintained.

Vehicle maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance is essential to keep yourself and others safe on the road. In 2013, 42 people were killed in crashes caused by vehicle defects, with hundreds seriously injured[i]. If you drive, you are operating a fast-moving piece of heavy machinery that needs to be kept in the safest possible condition.

Good maintenance can save you money as well as avoiding breakdowns or potentially devastating crashes. Badly-inflated tyres can mean you use more petrol, while putting off minor repairs can make them far more costly in the long-run.

You should carry out regular‘walk-round’ checks of your vehicle, once a week and before any long journeys, which need only take a few minutes. The main things you should look out for are:

  • tyre tread wear. Look out for tread wear indicator bars on tyres – small bumps in the main grooves which indicate the minimum tread. Change your tyres well before your tread gets to the legal minimum (1.6mm in the UK). Brake recommends replacing at 3mm, as tyres can be dangerous in wet conditions with less than this. If you drive with tyres worn down to below the legal limit, you could face three penalty points and a £2,500 fine, or it could cause a deadly crash.breakdownpics
  • tyre pressure. Buy a hand-held tyre pressure gauge and check the pressure weekly, when the tyres are cold. The correct pressure will be written in your vehicle’s handbook.
  • general tyre condition. Check for cracks, bulges or bubbles on the sides of your tyres. These are signs that the tyre is damaged and at risk of blowing out. If you see any of these, get the tyre checked by a professional, and replaced if necessary.
  • lights are working. Check lights are clean and bulbs aren’t blown (reflect against a wall, or ask a friend to help).
  • oil, water and fluids. Check oil and water levels, and other fluids such as power steering, windscreen washer and brake fluid, are well above minimum levels.
  • wiper blades. Check they are in full working order and replace if worn.
  • wheel fixings. Check wheels and wheel fixings for defects, including loose nuts.

If you drive a commercial or specialist vehicle, there may be additional checks you should make: check with your employer or consult your handbook.

As setting off and while on your journey, look out for:

  • problems with or noises from your brakes. Brakes usually make a noise when worn, but if you notice any problem with them, get them checked immediately by a professional mechanic. It’s a good idea to test brakes weekly and at the start of long journeys, following your walk-round checks, by applying them gently while driving very slowly on a flat, empty stretch;
  • warning lights on your dashboard;
  • excess noise or smoke from the exhaust;
  • smoke from under the bonnet;
  • fluid leaking from under the vehicle;
  • smell of hot electrics, fuel, or a burning smell;
  • unusual sounds from the engine;
  • a pulling sensation from the steering.

If you have any suspicion at all there’s a problem with your vehicle, take it to a garage immediately – putting it off could cost you cash, result in a breakdown, or worse, lead to a serious crash.

Professional servicing

mechanicDon’t try to fix safety-critical components yourself. Always use a qualified mechanic to work on your vehicle. Make sure you get your annual MOT and your vehicle is serviced in line with your vehicle handbook.

If you’re driving an employer’s vehicle, speak to them about who is maintaining it and when it was last checked. Ask your employer to ensure it is maintained in line with the vehicle handbook. Encourage them to make use of Brake’s guidance for companies on fleet safety (see 

Just because a vehicle has passed an annual test or been serviced, it doesn’t mean it will be safe until the next service. A brake pad (the material that keeps your brakes working) may be only just above legal now, and worn out and dangerous well before your next service. Talk to your garage about the level of wear on brake pads and tyres, and any other problems your vehicle might experience in the coming months, so you know if you should pay them a visit between services.

Faulty batteries are one of the biggest causes of breakdowns, so get it tested, particularly before cold weather sets in. Many garages offer free checks.

Choosing the safest vehicle

Buy the safest, most reliable vehicle you can. To find out the safest car models, visit Euro NCAP which tests and rates them.Before buying a second-hand vehicle, get it checked over by an independent, qualified and experienced mechanic. It’s better to pay for a mechanic than buy a car that isn’t safe. See our factsheet on choosing safer vehicles for more information.

Breakdown advice

Breaking down on the road can be a frustrating, unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous and scary, experience. Every year, people are killed or seriously injured while stopped on the roadside, but many drivers don’t know how to keep safe in the event of a breakdown.

Motorway breakdowns

In a breakdown situation, the most important thing for drivers to consider is the safety of themselves and other road users, particularly on high speed roads like motorways. Hard shoulders are extremely dangerous places – one in 11 motorway deaths involve a vehicle on, entering or leaving the hard shoulder[ii].

If your vehicle develops a problem on the motorway:Motorway

  • if your car develops a fault but you can continue driving, leave the motorway at the next available exit and stop at the service area;
  • if the problem requires you to stop immediately, pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as far away from the traffic as you can, with the wheels turned to the left, if possible next to an emergency phone;
  • never use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder of the motorway, as walking along the hard shoulder to place a warning triangle puts you at risk of being hit;
  • never sit in your vehicle on the hard shoulder, even if the weather is bad. This is dangerous as you are at risk of being struck from behind at high speed;
  • put on your hazard lights and get out on the left hand side, and wait on the verge, well away from traffic;
  • anybody who is unable to leave the vehicle, for example someone with mobility issues, should wait inside the vehicle with their seatbelt securely fastened.

Never be tempted to try and fix your vehicle on the hard shoulder yourself – this is dangerous. Call for help instead, using an emergency phone if one is accessible without walking along the hard shoulder. These connect directly to the police control centre, and are numbered so that you can easily be located. Blue and white marker posts show the direction to the nearest phone.

Using the hard shoulder is legally permitted in only three instances: in a breakdown, an emergency, or if being pulled over by the police. Making a phone call, taking a toilet break or reading a map are not acceptable reasons to stop in the hard shoulder.

Breakdowns on any other type of road

If you breakdown somewhere other than the motorway, follow these guidelines to keep as safe as possible:

  • if it is possible, avoid stopping in a dangerous place, such as on a roundabout, on a corner or near a brow. If you can safely keep driving for a short distance, drop your speed, use your hazard lights and try to pull off the road completely or in a location where you’re clearly visible;
  • if you have to stop on a road, switch your hazard lights on. Only display an emergency triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle if it is safe for you to do so. Do not put yourself in a risky situation in putting out the triangle, and never use one on the hard shoulder of a motorway;
  • do not attempt to fix your vehicle yourself at the roadside. Call a breakdown service;
  • switch your engine off and stand as far away from the road as possible so you are not close to passing traffic;
  • if you are involved in a crash that is serious, obstructs the road, or involves injuries, call the emergency services as soon as possible. If you have first aid training, provide appropriate, immediate help to anyone who is hurt.

Make sure you are prepared in case you breakdown by:

  • carrying a mobile phone so that you can call for assistance, but on the motorway use a roadside phone if possible;
  • carrying a map so you can easily explain where you are when calling for assistance. You can use a map app on your phone, but you may not have signal if you breakdown somewhere remote;
  • keeping an emergency kit in your car, which should have a torch, a warning triangle, warm clothes and a reflective jacket or vest.

 Page updated June 2015

Fleet drivers

National Accident Helpline is pleased to sponsor this page.

FleFleet driveret drivers are at the coal face of road safety. Whether you drive a 38 tonne truck or a delivery moped, you can make a difference on our roads. About one in three road deaths involves a vehicle being driven for work purposes and many more involve people driving to and from work.

Help stop the carnage by ensuring your driving is as safe as it possibly can be, and being an ambassador for safe driving. Start by signing our Pledge and reading the accompanying driver advice and encourage colleagues to do the same.

Help your employer prioritise fleet safety by encouraging them to join Brake Professional, our low-cost service giving road risk management advice on critical topics from driver tiredness to vehicle maintenance. Signing up often helps employers save money as well as protecting their staff and the public from potentially deadly crashes.

You can also encourage your employer or union to take part in Road Safety Week, an ideal time to raise awareness among staff about road safety and raise funds for Brake. 

Finally, help Brake's work to make roads safer and support bereaved and injured crash victims by fundraising for us, making a donation, and backing our campaigns. Thanks for your support!

This page is kindly sponsored by:

logo 13 nah


Make the Brake Pledge

Brake's vision is a world where people can get around in ways that are safe, green, healthy and fair. 

To help us get there, everyone can sign our Pledge, whether you are a driver or not. The Pledge calls for people to do everything they can to protect themselves and the people around them. Scroll down to read the Pledge and make the Pledge at the bottom of this page.



Drivers – I'll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph where people live, work and play. I'll slow down on rural roads to protect people on foot, bicycles, motorcycles and horses as well as in other vehicles. I will avoid overtaking and take care to look twice at junctions. I will drive even more slowly in bad weather.
Everyone – I'll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.


Drivers – I'll never drive after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.
Everyone - I'll plan ahead to make sure I, and anyone I'm with, can get home safely and I'll never get a lift with drink/drug drivers. I'll speak out if someone's about to drive on drink or drugs.


Drivers – I'll make sure everyone in my vehicle is belted up on every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint. I'll choose the safest vehicle I can and ensure it's maintained.
Everyone – I'll belt up on every journey, and make sure friends and family do too.


Drivers – I'll never take or make calls, read or type when driving. I'll put communication devices out of reach, and stay focused.
Everyone – I'll never chat on the phone to someone else who's driving.


Drivers – I'll stay focussed on safe driving. I'll take regular breaks and never drive if I'm tired, stressed or on medication that affects driving. I'll get my eyes tested every two years and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if I need them.
Everyone – I'll look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it, and rest if they're tired.


Everyone – I'll minimise the amount I drive, or not drive at all. I'll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health.

Make your pledge

Fill out my online form.


Tweet your selfies to #RoadSafetyWeek or #brakepledge so we can admire your photos!









Get others to make the Pledge by printing off or emailing a Pledge form.
Read Brake’s advice for drivers and factsheets on road safety
If you drive for work, find out how company drivers can work with Brake

Make the pledge

Fill out my online form.


Pledge to do six simple things to save lives this Road Safety Week

News from Brake


Five people are killed every single day by something we already know how to cure. If people change their driving behaviour, we can prevent the 470 deaths and serious injuries that happen on our roads every week.

This is why Road Safety Week 2016, which is coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity, supported by Specsavers, will focus on the six elements of the Brake Pledge: Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

The date for Road Safety Week will be 21-27 November and we will be asking everyone to show their commitment to saving lives and road safety by making and sharing Brake's Pledge online. Non-drivers can also take the Pledge to make sure the driver of any car in which they are a passenger sticks to the six Pledge points.

Brake believes that good road safety is made up of these core strands, and a safe driver will adopt each one as part of his or her daily driving routine. The consequences of not driving safely can be catastrophic.

Road safety is more than one part of what a driver does on the road; it is every action that can change the outcome of a journey and the future of individuals, communities and our planet.

Slow: Trying to make up time when running late could be the difference between a safe journey and one that ends in a fatality. Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain [1].

Sober: That one drink a driver has before getting behind the wheel could affect their ability to make a split-second decision, a decision that might prevent them from killing either themselves or another road user. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) of drivers/motorcycle riders killed had alcohol present in their body even though they weren’t over the limit [2]. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who got behind the wheel over the limit [3].

Secure: Despite their huge impact on road safety, seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by a minority of drivers, yet using a three-point belt reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50% [4]. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].

Silent: That phone call a driver thinks simply cannot wait could cost them or another road user their life. Drivers who perform a complex secondary task at the wheel, like using a mobile, are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers [6].

Sharp: Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list, as a skipped test may cost someone their life. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [7].

Sustainable: By minimising the amount we drive, or not driving at all, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead we are removing the potential for many crashes to happen in the first place and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths from particulate matter pollution in the UK [8], 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport [9].

This year’s Road Safety Week theme partly builds on the successful 2015 theme, which saw us call on people to ‘drive less, live more’ as Brake focused on the ‘Sustainable’ element of road safety. The Road Safety Week 2015 Evaluation Report found that Road Safety Week reached more people than ever before, thanks to traditional media coverage throughout the Week and an improved social media presence overall.

Gary Rae, Director of Communications and Campaigns for Brake, said: “We’ve designed this year’s theme to be action orientated. Anyone can make and share the Pledge – individuals, businesses and community organisations. It’s practical, and if every driver vowed to slow down, never drink or take drugs when driving or use their mobiles, always wear a seat belt and make sure children are safely restrained, get their eyesight regularly tested, and minimise the amount they drive, then our roads would be safer places for everyone.” 


[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2014, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS50001

[2] Statistical data set: Reported drinking and driving (RAS51), Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS51007

[3] Provisional estimate for 2014, from Reported road casualties Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (second provisional), Department for Transport, February 2016

[4] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006

[5] Oral evidence: Road traffic law enforcement, HC 518, Transport Select Committee, 7 December 2015

[6] The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, US Department of Transportation, 2006

[7] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, 2012

[8] Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, 2014

[9] Steve H. L. Yim and Steven R. H. Barrett, “Public Health Impacts of Combustion Emissions in the United Kingdom”, Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (8), 4291-4296

UK road casualties

Key facts:

  • In 2018, there were 1,784 people killed on the roads in Britain;
  • In 2018, 25,511 people were seriously injured on the roads in Britain;
  • In 2018, there was a total of 160,597 casualties of all severities in road traffic crashes;
  • In 2018, the highest number of fatalities were car users, both drivers and passengers, who accounted for 44% of road deaths;
  • In 2018, of the 1,784 road deaths, the majority (58%) occurred on rural roads.


On average, five people die every day on the road in Great Britain and countless more are seriously injured. Britain's road safety record has stagnated in recent years, with the number of road deaths remaining broadly constant for several years. 

Casualties by country


In 2018, England experienced the highest number of road fatalities (1,521), accounting for over four fiths (85%) of road deaths in the UK. This was also a 1% decrease on the number of deaths in 2017. The highest number of fatalities occurred in the south east of England (258) and the lowest in the north east (52).


The number of fatalities on the roads in Wales in 2018 remained the same as 2017 at 103. Wales also saw a 7% decrease in total casualties from 2017 to 2018.


In 2018, there were 160 deaths, 1,580 serious injuries and 8,394 casualties on Scotland’s roads.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland had the lowest number of road fatalities (55) and serious injuries (730) in 2018.

Casualties by road user type

In 2018, the highest number of fatalities were car users, both drivers and passengers, who accounted for 44% of road deaths (777) in the UK.

There were 456 pedestrian deaths in the UK in 2018, a 3% decrease on 2017. 26% of all road deaths were pedestrians.

There were 99 cyclist deaths in the UK in 2018, a 2% reduction on 2017. There was a total of 17,550 cyclist casualties on Britain's roads in 2018, a 4% decrease on 2017. There was also an estimated 2% increase in cycling traffic in 2018 compared to 2017.

There were 354 motorcyclist fatalities in 2018, up 1% from 349 in 2017.

Road type

In 2018, of the 1,784 road deaths, the majority (58%) occurred on rural roads, yet the most casualties (63%) occurred on urban roads.

The number of people killed on built-up 20 mph roads in 2017 increased by 79% on 2016, while the overall number of road crashes on 20mph roads rose by 43% over the same period. [16]

Fatalities on built-up 30 mph roads fell by 1% in Great Britain in 2017 from 2016, yet the number of serious injuries increased by 5%. [17]

The number of people killed on motorways increased by 8% to 107 in 2018.


Between 2017 and 2018, the number of child fatalities (aged 0-15) in Great Britain remained the same at 48. During the same period, the total number of child casualties decreased by 9% to 14,266, the lowest total on record. The majority of child fatalities are mainly pedestrian (28) or car passengers (15).

279 young people (aged 17-24) were killed on Britain's roads in 2018, remaining unchanged from 2017. However, whilst young people make up only 7% of licence holders, they represent over 20% of drivers killed or seriously injured in car crashes. The number of road deaths within the older population (aged 60+) increased by 5% to 588 in 2018, up from 559 in 2017.

End notes

All figures are from: Reported road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2018, Department for Transport, 2019

Country and regional figures are taken from: Table RAS30032: Reported casualties by region, country and severity, UK, Department for Transport, 2019

Last updated: January 2020

Young people encouraged to enter road safety ad competition to stop a young person dying every day on roads

07 February 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

Young people are being invited to create hard-hitting road safety ads to help save lives as part of a national competition by Brake, the road safety charity. The  young2die competition, sponsored by youngdriver insurer Marmalade, encourages young people to get creative and promote life-saving messages to peers and wider community through powerful campaign adverts. It's a great project educators, youth workers, emergency services and road safety and practitioners can use to engage young people in road safety.


Young people are asked to create a short film, web or billboard advert, or both, based on any road safety messages in Brake's Pledge. The aim is to raise awareness among young people and others about how they can protect themselves and people around them on roads. Entrants are encouraged to promote their adverts as widely possible and raise funds in support of Brake's work campaigning for safer roads and supporting people bereaved and injured by crashes.

The winners will be presented with an award, and a camcorder for their school or college to help them continue promoting road safety, at Brake's annual reception at the Houses of Parliament next January.

Road crashes are the biggest cause of death among young people [1], so raising awareness of road safety is vital. Young people have lots of choices to make about using roads safely and travelling in sustainable and active ways, and can both learn about and help promote road safety by developing their own campaigns. The 2young2die competition is all about young people taking action to make their communities safer and help their peer group protect themselves and others.

REGISTER NOW TO TAKE PART! Brake is inviting young people, educators and youth workers to register now for the 2013-14 competition, by visiting to get a free e-action pack to help them take part. The entry deadline is 31 May 2014.

Last year's winning entry was a series of short films (watch here) researched, scripted and produced by teams of cadets from Congleton, Sandbach and Runcorn. The films, on speeding, drink-driving and seatbelts, were developed as part of a project set up after the tragic death of Congleton Fire Cadet Hayley Bates in a crash in 2010. The films are used by fire crews in workshops with schools and colleges throughout the year.

Laura Wheelton, fire cadet watch manager at Congleton, said: "Our friend and fellow cadet Hayley was killed in a terrible road crash involving speed, so it's something that has affected us personally and that's why our film focuses on the consequences of driving too fast. We wanted to pass on the message that speeding needs to stop. We're enthusiastic about making more films to help get through to people with important messages that could save someone's life. We were so pleased to find out we had won the 2young2die award. We're proud that we have been able to turn something that has affected us so deeply into something positive."

Philip Goose, senior community engagement officer at Brake, says "Young drivers are involved in one in five serious casualties on our roads, and young people themselves are often the tragic victims. Through our 2young2die competition young people can make a difference in helping to stop to this needless loss of life and the terrible suffering caused to families. We're challenging teams of young people to produce an ad with a powerful, life-saving message and raise awareness about how we can prevent deaths and injuries on roads. It's a great initiative that schools, colleges, youth workers and other professionals can use to get young people thinking and speaking out on road safety. The winners are invited to Brake's annual reception to receive their award and prize. Register online now to receive an e-action pack with advice to help create your campaign ad."

Crispin Moger, managing director at Marmalade, says "Marmalade is delighted to support Brake. Road safety is fundamental to us all. Our business champions young driver safety and we will be working alongside Brake to ensures that messages around safe driving get through to this age group. We set up Marmalade several years ago with the sole intent of ensuring the next generation of drivers get access to reduced premiums through safer driving. Our partnership with Brake means we can spread this message to an even wider audience and we very much look forward to getting started."

Facts on young people's road safety:

  • Young people age 15-24 are more likely to die in a preventable road crash than they are to die from any other cause [2].
  • 400 young people age 16 – 24 were killed on roads in the UK in 2012; 5,482 suffered serious injuries, with many of those suffering life-changing injuries such as paralysis, brain damage or loss of limbs [3].
  • Young drivers are also involved in a disproportionately high number of crashes that kill and injure road users of all ages. While young drivers aged 17-24 account for 8% licence holders, they are involved in one in five (22%) road deaths and serious injuries [4].
  • One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test [5].
  • Young male drivers experience higher risk than females and are involved in a greater number of crashes [6].
  • Age and inexperience combine to dramatically increase young drivers' risk of crashing [11]. Not only are young drivers more likely to take risks because of their youth, they are less able to cope with those risks because of their inexperience [12].

Notes for editors

About Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community educationprogrammes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support divisioncares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

About Marmalade
Marmalade champions young drivers. Its business focuses exclusively on young driver insurance. Its aim is to make the next generation of drivers safer and more responsible while providing them with more affordable insurance solutions.

It has three young driver products: Learner Insurance, designed to help provisional drivers get vital extra practice in their family car; New Driver Insurance, using telematics technology to develop safer driving skills, at the same time rewarding good driving with lower premiums; and Cars for Young Drivers, combining telematics technology with newer, safer cars, including 12-month free insurance and free lessons.

More info about Marmalade:
tel: 0845 644 4207
facebook /wearemarmalade

End notes
[1] Death registrations in England and Wales: Table 2 Deaths by age, sex and underlying cause, 2012 registrations, Office National Statistics, 2013
[2] ibid
[3] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013 and Police Recorded Injury Road Traffic Collision Statistics 2012, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2013.
[4] ibid
[5] Learning to Drive: a consultation paper, Driving Standards Agency, 2008
[6] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[7] The accident liability of car drivers, Maycock, Lockwood & Lester, 1991
[8] Young novice drivers: Do they fail to feel the fear?, Stradling, S. and Kinnear, N., 2007

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