Being a Considerate Driver – Sharing the Road with Others.
Cars have been our go-to form of transport for many years. But their continual increasing numbers and usage is a leading cause of global warming, congestion and ill health caused by pollution. Did you, for example, know that the number of cars registered on the UK’s roads has doubled in the last thirty years? The aim of our TCF and Transforming Travel programmes is to provide the infrastructure for alternative, sustainable forms of transport in order to give people more choice and to enable them to leave the car behind and get onto their bikes, busses or even just walk.
As the number of people who use our new sustainable transport infrastructure increases, there is the increasing need for all road users to be aware of, and considerate to, all the wide variety of people using our roads, pavements and cycle routes.
Cars are so embedded in our everyday lives that it is easy to forget that driving accidents happen far too often. Over 150,000 people are killed or injured on the UK’s roads each year, with a significant proportion of those being people walking or cycling.
Tragically, around 50 pedestrians a year are killed by motor vehicles whilst walking on the pavement. And over 17,000 cyclists are injured in reported road accidents every year.
But there is much that can be done by drivers to help keep these sobering statistics down, even without improved cycle lanes. Below is a list of driving tips to make our roads safer and more pleasant for other users. We have provided a similar list of considerations for cyclists to adopt here.
Give cyclists space!
This is the key element of consideration for motorists; give cyclists space.
- When passing or overtaking cyclists allow them plenty of space – at least 1.5m - to your left as they may need to pull out to avoid pot-holes, drains or puddles. You also produce a ‘bow-wave’ of turbulence as you pass which may cause them to wobble or fall off if you pass too close.
- Don’t overtake on a single carriageway road if a car is approaching from the opposite direction. This will cause you to squeeze the cyclist into the side of the road which could cause an accident. Be patient – they have as much right to be there as you do.
- Make sure you can stop in time if a cyclist needs to brake suddenly, just the same as if you are following a car, van or motorbike. This is particularly important during wet weather as surfaces become more slippery and water gathers at the edges of roads hiding potholes or drains.
Awareness at junctions
Collisions and impacts at junctions are sadly the biggest cause of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities on our roads. They are mostly caused when drivers turn into or pull out from a junction and collide with oncoming cyclists or un-noticed pedestrians.
- Cyclists are very narrow compared to cars, lorries or busses so you may miss them when looking. Be extra aware and look carefully for oncoming cyclists.
- When turning into or pulling out from a junction, pay particular attention and be aware of everything around you and double check for motor and pedal bikes, e-scooters and pedestrians crossing the road.
- Pedestrians crossing at side roads have priority over motor vehicles, once they’re in the road. Look out for people crossing, hang back, and never beep your horn or rev your engine to hurry them up.
- Don’t overtake cyclists and then turn sharply across their front wheel, causing them to brake suddenly or worse, crash into the side of your vehicle.
- Cyclists might be going faster than you think (could be over 20mph) so judge their speed carefully before pulling out of a junction in front of them.
- Watch out for cyclists on roundabouts – you need to give way to them in the same way you would for another vehicle.
- If a cyclist is turning right, wait behind them in the same way as you would for a car, rather than squeezing past on the inside or getting impatient.
- Use your mirrors regularly and give plenty of space when turning, especially when turning left out of a junction. A cyclist may have appeared between your car and the kerb without you realising. Always be aware of what’s behind and to the side of your car. If possible, let cyclists go first to avoid accidents.
Take care when parking
It’s not just when you’re driving that you should be mindful of other road users. You can keep them and yourself safe with a little considerate parking too.
- Never park on zig zigs, across dropped crossing points, or too close to a junction, even for a few minutes – this is dangerous and inconsiderate.
- Do not park on the pavement, causing an obstruction – think about people in wheelchairs, or with double buggies. Don’t make them walk in the road.
- When you park on the street, check your door mirror and look behind you before opening the door to make sure you don't hit somebody cycling past.
- Don’t park on cycle lanes – it forces people to cycle out into the traffic, and that can be scary and dangerous particularly for children and less confident cyclists. It’s a road traffic offence if you drive on or park in a cycle lane marked with a solid white line.
Less speed fewer emissions
- You can make a big difference to emissions by moderating your speed and acceleration. The harder an engine works, the more greenhouse gasses and particulates it pumps out. So by being less active with the right foot, you can make a difference to your environment.
- Make sure you get your car serviced regularly. This will ensure that your car’s engine is working at its most efficient and will also minimise the emissions you are pumping into the atmosphere.
Get off the phone!
- You know that driving and using your phone is illegal, yet so many drivers continue to do it! It is illegal because it severely affects your concentration and awareness of what is going on around you. Is sending a text message more important than someone’s life?
Watch your speed
- A recent study found that in free-flow conditions, 87% of drivers exceed 20mph speed limits. This is illegal and unacceptable – in the BCP area we have a number of 20mph zones around schools and residential areas, so make sure you abide by these limits.
Don’t idle your engine
- When parked or stopped for more than a minute, switch off your engine. Idling engines emit large amounts of harmful pollutants which are dangerous to people walking past, as well as to the occupants of the vehicle. This is particularly important outside schools.
Mums for Lungs
1 RoSPA cyclist and motorist accident rates