Charity appeals for action to prevent pedestrian and cyclist casualties as clocks go back

26 October 2012

Brake, the road safety charity
Contact T: 01484 559909, out of hours: 07976 069159 e: news@brake.org.uk

When the clocks go back, the UK is plunged into afternoon darkness, making it harder for drivers to spot people and harder for children and adults to get home safely on foot and bike. The charity Brake, in partnership with Autoglass®, is calling on drivers, organisations and communities to take action to prevent clocks-go-back casualties, by pledging to take extra care and getting behind its Bright Days initiative.

Brake is particularly urging drivers to protect people on foot and bike at this risky time of year and year-round by pledging to slow down to 20mph around homes, shops and schools. At 20mph drivers have a far better chance of stopping in time in an emergency, like if a child suddenly steps out. See below for more advice for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on protecting themselves and others as evenings get darker.

Schools, organisations and anyone passionate about walking and cycling are also encouraged to sign up now to run a Bright Day during Road Safety Week, 19 – 25 November, where everyone wears their brightest clothes to raise awareness of the risks faced by people on foot and bike in winter and the importance of drivers slowing down and looking out. The initiative also raises funds for Brake's work caring for people bereaved and injured in road crashes and campaigning for safer roads.

Brake is also renewing calls for government to put an end to winter blues by putting the clocks forward by an hour year round. It's estimated this would result in 80 fewer deaths and hundreds fewer serious injuries each year[1], preventing unnecessary suffering and saving the NHS £138million annually[2]. Anyone can back the Lighter Later campaign on Facebook or at www.lighterlater.org.

Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said: "We can all help to reduce terrible and needless road deaths and injuries in winter darkness, and drivers in particular can make big a difference by committing to slow down. Slowing down to 20mph in communities gives you time to stop quickly should you need to: particularly vital when visibility is low.

"Brake is also calling on schools, organisations and communities to take action and help make winter evenings safer, especially for people on foot and bicycle. Help get life-saving messages out to drivers and families in your area by getting involved in our Bright Day initiative this autumn. We are also encouraging everyone to get behind the Lighter Later campaign, to help convince the government to put a halt to dark winter afternoons, and the annual increased risks, by putting the clocks forward year-round."

Matthew Mycock, Managing Director at Autoglass®, said: "With the days getting shorter and the nights darker, participating in a Bright Day is a great way for schools to raise road safety awareness among children and the wider community this winter. We recently surveyed parents on children's road safety and over half feel local roads are not safe enough for their children to walk to school alone. This is why we want to urge both schools and parents to ensure children receive as much guidance as possible on how to stay safe on the roads. Together with Brake, we try to make kids and parents aware that dressing brightly is really important as it can make you more visible in the dark winter months. Bright Day does exactly this in a fun and engaging way and we're really excited to be a part of this initiative."

This year's Bright Day initiative will be launched at the Scott Lower School in Bedford on Friday 26 October. Journalists are invited to attend between 9.30am-10.30am. Children will dressing up brightly, learning about crossing roads using an outdoor streetscape with Bedford borough council and making a Bright Day hand-print banner. Martin Howard, spokesperson from Brake, will be available for media interviews. Photographs available from 11am. Contact Samantha Day at Autoglass® for more details on Samantha.day@autoglass.co.uk or 07788 190199.

Advice

Brake is urging the public to make the Brake Pledge to use roads safely at this risky time of year and year-round. As the clocks go back Brake is advising:.

If you drive:

  •  Be aware pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be harder to spot, especially if wearing dark coats, so keep your eyes peeled.
  •  Drive cautiously around homes, shops and schools – sticking to 20mph or less. This will give you a much better chance of stopping in an emergency. At 30mph, your stopping distance is nearly six car lengths, compared to three at 20mph.
  • Make sure you've had a recent eye test (get tested at least every two years) and your glasses or lenses are up to date. Any deficiency in your sight is made worse by the darkness.

If you walk, jog or cycle:

  • Invest in high-viz, giving you the best possible chance to be seen by drivers. A wide range of sportswear, plus jackets, scarves and hats, is available incorporating reflective and fluorescent material.
  • Don't trust a driver can see you; be extra cautious when crossing to take reduced visibility into account.

Keeping kids safe:

  • Make sure your child is wearing high vis when they walk or cycle. There are lots of fun high-viz and reflective products out there your kids will enjoy.
  • Speak to your child about safety on roads, including crossing safely, being sensible around cars and choosing a safe route to school. Many schools do teach children about road safety, but some still don't as it's not a compulsory part of the curriculum.

More advice to help you stay safe on roads year round.

Make the Brake Pledge.

Bright Days

Bright Days are a dress down day with a difference and a fantastic way to raise money for Brake's road safety campaigns, education programmes and support services for families bereaved and injured by road crashes. Everyone turns up to work or school in brightly coloured clothing (think neon tutu and fluorescent leg warmers) and donates a pound to Brake. The day can be used to promote road safety awareness, including reminding drivers to slow down and watch out. Read more about Bright Days then register for a free resource pack by emailing bright@brake.org.uk.

Lighter Later

The Lighter Later campaign calls for the government to put the clocks forward by one hour year round making it GMT+2 in summer and GMT+1 in winter. It would make our evenings lighter and give us more daylight during waking hours, resulting in fewer crashes and casualties, less carbon and a boost to leisure, tourism, and healthy life-styles. In January 2012 the Lighter Later Bill failed to pass its Third Reading in the House of Commons when it ran out of time, despite 140 supportive MPs staying in Parliament for the vote. Brake is urging the government to listen to overwhelming public and cross-party support for lighter evenings, and order the clocks forward year round.

Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week, 19-25 November 2012, is the UK's biggest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, organisations and communities. This year's theme is 'Slower speeds = happy people', and Brake will be urging drivers everywhere to make a commitment to drive at 20mph or less around homes, shops and schools to enable safer, healthier, happier communities. Read more at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.

Notes to editors

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 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 education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term 'accident' undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by drivers taking risks on roads.

About Autoglass®

Autoglass® is the UK's leading vehicle glass repair and replacement service. For details of your nearest centre call 0800 36 36 36 or visit www.autoglass.co.uk.

[1] Broughton, J and Stone, M. Report 368, "A new assessment of the likely effects on road accidents of adopting a GMT+1/GMT+2 regime", Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne: 1998

[2] Yu-Foong Chong, Elizabeth Garnsey, Simon Hill and Frederic Desobry "Daylight Saving, Electricity Demand and Emissions; Exploratory Studies from Great Britain", October 2009, available at: http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/ewg/091022_dst.pdf