Share the Roads, Share the Responsibility campaign
Failure to look properly is the prime collision causation factor - whatever road user you are in the urban environment - our city. This campaign has run in a variety of forms over the past 8 years. 42% of all collisions were reported to be caused by failure to look at the start of the campaign - it's down a bit since then, but still forms the largest factor causing collisions. Mobile phones and other devices continue to distract all road users - having been proved hand held or handsfree to be as dangerous as being over the alcohol limit in terms of increasing reaction times. Other distractions - physical, cognitive and emotional - also prevent effective engagement with the roads. With partners we are investigating if "Mindfulness" techniques can be adapted to encourage full engagement with the roads.
But basically the message remains; focus your full attention on the road environment when using the road.
Keep your mind in gear
Many distractions for road users are those inside them like emotional or cognitive loads. These can take us away from engaging with the road environment.
We’ve worked with Sussex NHS Partnership trust’s Mindfulness Centre to develop a short intervention to enable drivers to move away from emotional or cognitive pressures whilst driving.
Research has shown that people who practice mindfulness are less likely to be involved in collisions. We are trialing a simple intervention, which is a mindfulness video, and it encourages use of a simple practice as well as a web page to start exploring further.
You can find more information on the Sussex Mindfulness website.
The pilot film is aimed at young drivers, but we believe all road users may find mindfulness practice useful to minimise risk on the roads and would like to explore this further.
Why interrupt a good phone call or text?
Try this activity , showing how difficult it is to multitask and focus on road, from the Open University to show you why it really isn't a good idea. Sussex University research has shown that hands free phone use is as bad as hand held phone use - in terms of increasing driving risk. This is significant - as impairing as being over the drink drive limit. Give yourself time to react - park up safely if you need to use your phone.
These images will be on the back of buses and on other media in March, just before a police targeted enforcement period starts - and during it. A change in law will make it much more difficult to try and evade being prosecuted for this offence, expected at the end of March.
Pedestrians appear to be more likely to use their mobile phones as they cross the roads, failing to look up and check the traffic. Most of the time they may get away with it - but others may not. Also if a bus has to do an emergency stop because a pedestrian steps out, the passengers on board may be at risk of injury. It is unfair of careless pedestrians to put bus drivers in this position. We will be using pavement decals to suggest to pedestrians that they tehmselves park up/sit down and have their conversation/activity on phone before crossing. They will be placed in areas where collision data indicates there is a problem with pedestrian failed to look casualties. Of course the advice remains the same anywhere.
Junction Aware Campaign
80% of the city's collisions and casualties happen within 20m of a junction. Given the geography of the city, this may not be surprising, but it highlights action we all have to take to minimise risk.
Key actions for drivers - as well as looking and anticipating - is to go back to basics - mirror, signal, manouvre. Let people know what you intend to do, having checked it's safe to do it.
Cyclists - left hand turns are where a significant number of collisions with bikes happen. Check a driver can see you if near a side turn, they should signal as above - but may not. Be aware there are blind spots (especially with a large vehicle) - do not undertake near junctions.
Pedestrians - when crossing the roads do the basics. Focus, phone/electronics away and let your ears hear what's around. Even if you take a risk and a bus has to brake, you may get away with it but passengers inside the bus may fall and injure themselves due to your action.
Share the Space
Using cycle paths is a great way to explore the city but the council’s road safety team is reminding visitors to ‘share the space’ and look out for others.
We've put up temporary “Share the Space, Drop Your Pace” signs along the seafront to remind cyclists to watch out and slow down for pedestrians and pedestrians to be aware of cyclists on the seafront cycle path.
At our recent awareness day at the Peace Statue with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership we gave away around 50 bike bells. This is an area where cyclists and pedestrians use the same space as they access the nearby crossing.
We encouraged cyclists to keep their speed down and use a bell to calmly warn of their approach and asked pedestrians to look out for cyclists and not wander onto the cycle lanes.
One issue that older and disabled people raise is that cyclists may not realise there are pedestrians with impaired senses or that they cannot move easily.
Watch our film to understand the difficulties pedestrians and cyclists experience when coming into contact with one another.
Download the video transcript (PDF 13KB)
What Did I Miss? Share the Roads, Share the Responsibility
Failure to look properly / distraction is quoted over 42% of the time as the cause of a collision.
Technology encourages us to be available and engaged all the time - through a fear of missing out.
This has consequences on the roads - focussing elsewhere means we miss what's happening around us on the roads, whether we are a driver, rider or pedestrian.
See the What Did I Miss video
What does this mean?
- It could be that people get distracted by phones, iPods, or talking to friends
- It might mean the person wasn't fully looking and seeing what was on the road all around them
- Busy lives affect our emotions which affect how much attention we pay when we are on the roads
- Probably the riskiest environment you'll be in today will be on the roads.
What can you do?
Engage your senses and make sure your mind is focused on your environment when on the roads, not what's happening to you emotionally elsewhere. Take time to relax / take the heat out of your emotions before setting out. Do not use your phone or mobile device or get distracted by music. Research and observation of driver improvement courses shows that high emotions increase the risk of a collision.
Make sure others can see you - and are aware of what you are about to do - and you can see what is around you.
If you would like to comment or suggest an idea, please do so on the Facebook page: Share the Roads, Brighton & Hove.
A review of 2017 casualty data indicates that "failed to look properly" remains the most significant cause for all road users - but it has reduced over the life of the campaign.
Mistakes are human, but if we focus on the roads when we are on them, we lessen the risks for all.