All road users share the same frustrations, make similar mistakes, are susceptible to errors of judgement, have similar degrees of vulnerability and are ultimately, just people trying to get safely from one place to another.
If we make a pledge to share the road safely with one another, together we can help reduce the number of crashes on Kent roads.
In 2015, 5,801 people were injured on Kent roads, some fatally.
Of those that were killed or seriously injured:
- 233 were car occupants
- 161 were motorcyclists
- 117 were pedestrians
- 82 were cyclists
- 28 were goods vehicle occupants
95% of crashes involve an element of human error and many of these may have been avoided if we were all better at predicting others' actions, or being considerate of 'what could happen next'. It is evident that crashes are not the sole responsibility of one type of road-user, and that we should all be responsible for our own actions and look out for others around us.
It is too easy to take road use for granted, after all we use the roads so often that they have just become a part of everyday life. It's also too easy to accept that we cannot control the actions of others and that things often happen 'suddenly'. The reality is whilst we cannot directly control others we can do much more to anticipate what could happen and at least be partly ready for when it does.
Anticipating the hazards puts us in a position to be ready for them should they happen - not anticipating means we could lose control and have to 'suddenly' react to emergency situations.
1. Pulling out too quickly from a junction:
A car is waiting at a junction and pulls out into a small gap, causing the other road user to slow down to allow them to enter the road.
Other Vehicle: "It's frustrating because there was clearly not enough room for them to pull out. I had to brake suddenly and slow down to make sure I kept enough room between my car and theirs. I don't know why people pull out when it's not safe, it just puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day!"
Car Driver: "I had been waiting at the junction for ages, and kept looking at the time, knowing that I was becoming more and more late for the meeting. I must admit the gap wasn't as large as I would have liked, but I pulled out anyway. I didn't do it to annoy anyone, I just wanted to make sure I got to the office on time."
2. Cyclist swerving out into the middle of the road:
On a busy road, a cyclist pulls out into the middle of the road, causing the cars behind to slow down.
Car Driver: "I was on my way to drop the kids off at school, and this cyclist decides to pull out right in the middle of the road. That meant I had to slow right down, and caused a queue of traffic behind me. It's annoying because it meant I had to keep braking to make sure the cyclist had enough room."
Cyclist: "I don't like pulling out into the middle of the road, I feel much safer on the left, but there were potholes everywhere and I had no choice but to move into the middle of the road. I don't like slowing down traffic, but I also don't want to cause myself an injury by riding into a pothole!"
3. Horse Rider on a busy road:
A horse rider is riding down a lane, causing a queue of traffic; as cars have to slow down and overtake.
Car Driver: "The roads are busy enough as it is, without horse riders using busy roads and causing queues. Not only do we have to leave them enough room, but we also have to slow right down so we don't scare the horse. Surely there are other routes that they could take that mean they don't cause queues?"
Horse Rider: "I try my best to stay on bridle paths and away from roads, it's hardly fun for me to have to constantly keep my horse calm and hope that nobody speeds past and scares her. But sometimes, I have no choice but to use busier roads when moving between fields. My plan is not to cause traffic jams, but it would be nice if drivers just gave us enough room and pass at a good speed."
For more information on passing horses safely, view this video: www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/5229.htm
4. Pedestrian not using a crossing:
A pedestrian crosses in the middle of a road, away from a crossing, causing a driver to slow down.
Driver: "There's enough to concentrate on when driving, without having to look out for people running across the roads. Surely there are crossings for a reason, and people should have no excuse not to use them? It's annoying when I have to slow down to give someone enough time to cross – just use a crossing or else wait for a bigger gap!"
Pedestrian: "I admit, I should use a crossing, but sometimes finding one in the right direction means I have to walk a long way out of my way! I only ever cross when I think there is enough time, but sometimes it is hard to judge the speed that a car is going. I don't mean to slow anyone down, I just want to take the most direct route."
Through better understanding of the challenges faced by all other road users, journeys on Kent roads can be made easier, a lot less stressful and safer for us all.
I check my mirrors and blind spots regularly, especially in heavy traffic, so I can ensure I am more likely to see vulnerable road users such as cyclists and motorbike riders.
I don’t ride alongside large vehicles because I know I might be in the driver’s blind spot, especially if it turns left.
When approaching a junction, I ease off my speed and position myself to be as visible as possible - I'm not as easy to spot as larger vehicles.
My vehicle is heavy and takes longer to pull away; so I appreciate patient drivers who give me time and space at junctions.
I always keep an extra eye on my children when we are out walking by the road because they’re not always focussed on road safety.