Being able to drive provides people with the freedom to travel for work, business or leisure, but we sometimes forget the great responsibility that comes with driving and the affects a moments lapse could have on ourselves or other people. The South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership (SYSRP) aims to educate and provide free advice for all drivers of all ages.
As a driver there are a number of tips that you can follow:
Concentrate on your driving and do not use your mobile phone. Avoid loud noise in the car.
Cycling feels hazardous when drivers are too close, so give cyclists plenty of space and be patient.
Expect cyclists to move out in the road to avoid potholes/drains or to be seen by oncoming traffic or vehicles waiting at junctions.
Even if there is a cycle path or cycle lane, sometimes cyclists need to be on another part of the road to make a turn or to make themselves visible.
Always look for cyclists, especially at junctions. Look out for all types of cyclist (not every cyclist will be wearing hi-visibility clothing).
Always check your mirrors and blind spot for cyclists, whether you are stationary or moving.
Legally, a cyclist can use the entire lane and will often take a mid-lane position to deter overtaking by vehicles at particularly vulnerable locations, for example where the road narrows, junctions, and blind bends.
Cyclists may not always give a signal, especially mid-junction or on a roundabout, as they need both hands for steering and braking.
If you are unsure of a cyclist’s intention, wait for them to make their manoeuvre.
Overtake a cyclist in the same way you would another vehicle.
Plan ahead and wait until the opposite carriageway is clear.
Give cyclists at least 1.5m clearance in slow moving traffic. At higher speeds a full car width’s clearance is recommended.
Do not overtake near a junction, pedestrian crossing , on a roundabout or at pinch points (for example keep left bollards, pedestrian refuges and traffic calming features) NEVER overtake just before a left turn you plan to make.
Do not drive close behind cyclists or sound your horn.
1.5m is our recommended minimum safe distance for overtaking in slow moving traffic. If you cannot allow the minimum distance, do not overtake until you can. At speeds of 30mph or above, the Highway Code recommends a car width may be needed to overtake safely.
Rule 163 of the Highway Code states “give cyclists at least as much room as you would a car when overtaking”.
Rule 212 of the Highway Code states “When passing a cyclist give them plenty of room”. If they look over their shoulder while you are following them it could mean that they may soon attempt to turn right. Give them space and time to do so.
Driving or riding too fast for the road conditions contributes to one third of road collisions. The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean that it is safe to drive or ride at that speed in all conditions. Factors such as the weather, the state of the road and time of day should be considered when choosing what speed to travel at.
The faster someone is driving, the longer it will take them to stop if something unexpected happens.
Consider the consequences of causing a collision due to travelling at excessive speed. You will have to live with the emotional consequences of deaths or injuries caused to others.
In wet weather the stopping distances are at least double that of when it is dry. In icy conditions it can be as much as ten times greater than on dry roads.
In built up areas with streetlights the speed limit, unless otherwise stated, is 30mph. Be aware of pedestrians or parked vehicles which may suddenly move off or pull out in front of you. Travelling at a lower speed will give you more time to recognise and react to hazards.
On country roads there may be unexpected hazards such as blind bends, blind summits, hidden dips and agricultural traffic.
These tips will help you avoid falling into the habit of driving or riding too fast:
The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. More details about speeding penalties can be found on HM Government website.
There is no safe limit for the amount of alcohol you can have before driving. There is also no way of knowing how long it will take for alcohol to be processed by your body.
Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your reaction times. Though there is a legal limit to how much alcohol can be in a person’s system before they can drive, it is impossible to say how many drinks or units it will take to reach it. It is also possible to still be over the legal limit the following day. An average liver can process approximately one unit of alcohol per hour, starting one hour after drinking has stopped. This means that if someone drinks 12 units, it can take them roughly 13 hours to fully sober up.
If you are caught you may banned from driving, have points added on your licence, an unlimited fine, or even imprisonment. This will mean increased insurance costs, potential job loss and even restrictions on travel to other countries such as the United States.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the legal alcohol limit for drivers is:
In Scotland the legal limit is:
You will not be able to drive anywhere in the UK if you have been banned by a UK court for drink driving.
Using a handheld mobile phone when driving or riding is both dangerous and illegal.
Independent studies have shown that drivers who use mobile phones are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards, even at slower speeds.
At 30 mph a vehicle will travel 13.5 metres (45ft) every second. Taking your eyes off the road to read a text or place a phone call means that you could miss someone stepping off the pavement in front of you or the car ahead braking suddenly.
It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving or riding for any purpose, including using the camera, following a map or checking social media. The law still applies when stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
It is also illegal to use a handheld mobile phone when supervising a learner driver.
You may only use a handheld mobile when you are safely parked, or if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
You can get six penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a handheld mobile phone. If you have passed your driving test in the last two years you will automatically lose your licence. You may also see an increase in vehicle insurance costs.
Using hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset or voice-operated devices is legal, however the police can stop you if they have reason to believe you are distracted, and you may be prosecuted.
More information about guidelines and penalties for using a mobile phone while driving/riding can be found on the government website.
It is illegal to drive or ride if you are impaired by drugs. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as illicit substances such as cannabis or cocaine.
Police officers carry testing kits which they can use at the roadside for some illegal drugs. They may make you do a ‘field impairment test’ in which they will ask you to perform a series of tasks, such as walking in a straight line. If they think you are unfit to drive they can detain you for further blood or urine testing at a police station.
It is the responsibility of the driver/rider to check whether their prescription or over-the-counter drugs can affect them. Always read the label on the packaging of any medicines you are taking. If in doubt speak with a doctor or pharmacist.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:
The penalties for drug driving/riding are the same as for drink driving/riding. If you are caught you may banned from driving, have points added on your licence, an unlimited fine, or even imprisonment. This will mean increased insurance costs, potential job loss and even restrictions on travel to other countries such as the United States.
The M1 between junctions 32 and 35a is a smart motorway. It uses technology, such as cameras, sensors and variable message signs to actively manage the flow of traffic.
Smart motorways are managed by regional control centres operated by Highways England. They monitor traffic carefully and can activate and change signs and speed limits. This helps keep the traffic flowing freely.
A sign displaying red X indicates that the lane is closed. If you see a red X closing a lane, move out of that lane promptly. If you don’t, you may receive a fine.
A lane might be closed because there is debris in the road, or because of a person or animal on the road. We may be keeping the lane clear for the emergency services, such as an ambulance.
It may not be immediately obvious why a lane is closed, but it is important to follow all instructions given on signs for your own safety and that of others.
When driving on a smart motorway:
Further guidance on how to drive on a smart motorway can be found on the government website.
For further information about SYSRP and our campaigns and initiatives, or if you have any queries, then contact us using this form or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To keep up-to-date with our many events and initiatives around South Yorkshire then follow us @SYSaferRoads.