I am always hopeful that things will get better.
Thus is especially true in the realm of pedestrian safety, or to be more accurate, pedestrians taking some responsibility for their own safety.
The number of times per day that I witness pedestrians demonstrate an absolutely blase attitude while crossing a road engrossed on whatever content their phone is pumping through their headphones. Any thought for road safety? Not a jot, leave that to the drivers. After all, it is they that will be prosecuted if an incident occurs.
This may or may not be the case in all instances but what I am certain of is this:
Being hit by a car ALWAYS hurts the pedestrian more than the car driver.
Whereas I fully understand that we all have to be somewhere I will never understand why the tolerance and courtesy towards others that we would display automatically in any other public space eludes so many while they are driving.
There are countless good advice posts online suggesting leave more time for your journey, advice regarding weather conditions etcetera, I shall almost certainly write more of those myself.
This post on the other hand is simply a plea from the heart of a cynical driving instructor to his fellow humanity:
Please show a little more patience on the road!
Temperatures in the Nuneaton area were below freezing point last night and remain in low single figures as I write this.
Having been out on lessons this morning I have seen pedestrians who have chosen to walk along the road instead of the footpath. Please understand that this is something that you undertake entirely at your own risk and not a choice that I can endorse or encourage. Walking slower on the footpath has to be safer. However, should you find yourself in a position where you have no alternative to walking along the carriageway; or should you continue to choose to, then please follow the advice in the Highway Code and walk on the side of the road that allows you to face the oncoming traffic.
I am not trying to preach here. I saw a lady on Vernons Lane this morning scared by a near miss from a driver who was in control of their car but drove very close anyway, literally as if the pedestrian had not been there.
This behaviour should not happen but we have to face the fact that we know that it does and act appropriately.
Alongside a great number of Nuneaton residents I am delighted to see that the improvements to the roundabout on the A444 on Coton Road in Nuneaton are nearing completion.
Until the traffic light system is switched on sometime later this month I would advise extra caution when approaching this roundabout from any direction. Many drivers are entering the junction in a haphazard manner which increases the danger for every other road user. I would certainly advise cyclists to avoid this junction completely until the traffic control system is fully operational, or if that is not a possibility at least exercise extreme caution before changing direction.
While the scheme is being completed I would urge all road users to pay considerable attention to the signage and road markings on approach to the roundabout. They are now quite considerably different and it is clear that drivers at the moment are all over the place.
Take your time on the new junction and drive accurately please – this is in your own best interests!
There is some debate locally as to whether the improvements will actually deliver benefits to safety or the flow of traffic in the area. It is my belief that they will deliver both. I am looking forward to the latest improvement to our traffic system becoming fully functional to experience it for myself.
This is a decision I made after the last snows melted this past winter. I have always taken pleasure for offering pupils the opportunity to learn how to drive on the snow and ice when those conditions became available.
The plan was always simple: scrap the current lesson plan and educate about how to keep themselves and others safe in the current weather conditions. Those were great lessons! My pupils all said that they benefitted from the experience and were really glad that they had taken the opportunity. For my part I not only enjoyed the variation in work, I know full well that at some point in the future those past pupils will have woken up; drawn back the curtains and boom: snow! Not a problem for them, in fact some of them probably smiled.
I have seasonally watched as other instructors fled from the roads to the safety of home where I am now being forced to join them. My current crop of pupils are not the problem. They too would benefit from the experience. I have not changed my mind on the matter. I absolutely believe that the variation in experience is as good for the pupils as it is for me.
I am sorry to have to say that the reason for my decision was, and remains, the sorry deterioration in the general standard of driving that I witness on the roads in and around Nuneaton on a daily basis. Last year after conducting driving lessons on snow and ice I returned home happy to have made it back safely because of near misses. Near misses that should never have occurred in the first place and that myself and my pupil played no part in the creation of and could not have avoided had they hit us.
I have witnessed the gradual decline of driving standards as have others but for me now the point has been reached where I feel the need to underline this most enjoyable and beneficial part of my job and say, with deep regret, no more. I know for a fact then if or when it snows this winter I shall remain at home instead of jumping gleefully into the car and heading off with a smile on my face.
I really did enjoy those lessons!
Bit melodramatic for you this morning perhaps?
Think about the different circumstances that life throws at us though and it is easy to see the possibilities and many of them are normal life stuff.
A change of shift at work can take a while for the body and mind to adjust to. A bout of illness can have exactly the same effect. Something as expected as a night out can leave you driving tired just a few hours later than you normally would be.
It is so easy to roll off the old, ‘avoid driving tired’ routine when in real life all of the above are unavoidable.
So some practical advice:
- Allow larger gaps between your vehicle and everything else because tiredness impairs judgement.
- If you have to drive for more than half an hour take breaks.
- Swap drivers at the half hour point if possible.
- Open the drivers window – others may complain but having a driver refreshed by cooler air is better than experiencing a car crash.
- When you take a break at least get out and walk about.
- If possible when you take a break run cold water across your wrists and keep them there for a while.
If you find that your driving is impaired within your half hour driving time then you only have one further option:
Park safely and SLEEP!
In the UK I think we take this blatant piece of common sense a little too much for granted, or at least the majority of us do.
Sadly I am seeing an increase of drivers not wearing a seatbelt. If the driver is an adult with responsibility for children in the car the example is not good.
Over the years the attitude to seatbelts in the UK has improved immeasurably. I do remember when the law was first brought in and there was quite a lot of resistance by drivers to being told what to do. Sounds daft now but I remember it well. Let’s not slip back into this. Think about those around you that drive and if you know anyone who does not or intermittently wears a seatbelt then please remind them nicely that when you visit them next you would prefer a home visit to a hospital visit.
Dramatic but possibly effective.
Other parts of the world are still struggling with the idea of wearing seatbelts. I have read pieces lately about the attitudes of, “The state will not tell me what to do”, and even, “I am a man and I will make my own decisions”. Ridiculous as this sounds to us now these countries are going through the kind of mind changing and realisation period that the UK went through in the 1970’s.
I am off at the moment taking a couple of days to relax before starting back to work after our lovely summer holiday in France.
What do I see through our bedroom window this morning but the recycling wagon and its crew doing their rounds. This is no great shock to me as I am sure it is not to you. Our road is pretty busy these days for a side road and the twenty mile per hour speed limit is only generally obeyed by driving instructors and the few law abiding drivers out there.
You know that I am a driving instructor by trade (the clue is the top of the blog *winks*) and as you would expect I teach health and safety above everything else. For a couple of minutes I watched the recycling crew going about their daily work and I was appalled at the level of danger they face literally on a minute by minute basis.
It only takes a few seconds out of your day to keep the crews safe,
and a split second to injure them.
Drive as you were taught: approach slower taking effective observations. Be prepared to stop if you are not convinced that you can pass safely. Allow extra space (preservation of human life has to be a good reason) for the crews because everyone may lose concentration momentarily. Only pass when you are totally certain that everyone is safe while you are passing.
Please take a few seconds to save a life!
Our return journey home was uneventful apart from the timings. In common with many UK drivers before me I forgot that the French motorway network has a paeage system which is a toll system of motorway financing. This fact in itself is not what I forgot. I forgot about the absolutely enormous queues which go with it especially at popular choke points in the network such as the Pont Do Normandie. A bloody great bridge upon which several motorways converge. The weekly ‘run to the channel’ for UK tourists has to be the busiest time of the week.
We did make it in time for our train but rather than the leisurely drive up the coast with two or three convenient stops for breaks and pictures in pretty places we ended up just driving and queuing. Aah well, life happens.
Once back on UK British shores I was faced with an entirely different driving environment. The UK motorway network. Apart from the fact that there are signs and road markings there are not many similarities between the two motorway systems. Ours is wider, used by a far greater number of vehicles, more complex in its nature and once you add smart motorways and traffic officers (oh yes, they exist) to a much more diverse traffic flow then we have, in my opinion, a much better motorway system.
With over two thousand miles of motorway network to go at there is much for the beginner to find daunting. I do motorway driving lessons for those in the Nuneaton area at a reasonable price and I can certainly see why they are popular with those who have recently passed.
With an extra two and a half million cars on the road in recent years and no end in sight to the rise in traffic numbers the situation is not going to become any easier for the new driver to adjust to. Whereas I can certainly see why our motorways are safer than the French ones, I can also see a point in the not too distant future where motorway tuition will be insisted upon after passing the driving test.
Whether the planned expansions to the UK motorway network will make this possible for every area of the country I am not sure. That would be the requirement for adding motorway driving to the standard driving test. I think the time may be approaching whereby new drivers have to jump some sort of official hurdle before they can officially drive on the motorways.
As to what that may be; if you have any ideas or suggestions then I would value your opinion in the comments section.
Seriously would you? Clearly I spend more time than most driving in urban areas of Nuneaton than most and I am surprised at the number of people who actually do.
The Highway Code Rule 243 clearly states that you MUST NOT stop or park, “at or near a bus or tram stop or taxi rank” among its list of places where parking is legally prohibited.
Just to clarify, the term “at or near” includes opposite.
Think of it this way. The bus drivers have well defined places where they are expected to stop. You guessed it, bus stops. If a bus comes to a halt at a bus stop and your car is already parked opposite the bus driver has not legally blocked the carriageway. You have!
You are not legally allowed to park opposite the bus stop whereas the bus driver is obliged to stop there.
If we could all show a little more forethought and courtesy to others then driving would be a far more pleasurable experience.