Road Safety Week Blog
Are you a considerate road user?
Steve Horton, director of communications at Road Safety GB, reflects on why it’s important to look out for each other.
It amazes and saddens me in equal measure that decent, responsible people can’t show consideration and understanding for those in a similar situation to them. If I met you for the first time in a social setting I wouldn’t deliberately seek to embarrass you or to get in your way or to do something that risks your health; we would find a way of sharing the situation through a set of values known as common decency and respect, with a strong dose of ‘treating you how I would want to be treated’.
So why is it apparently so difficult for us to share the roads with the same consideration? I want the same thing as everyone else – to get there safely and on-time, and I want you to treat me how you would want to be treated. Why would I go out of my way to make things harder or less safe for anyone else or assume someone is trying to make my journey any more challenging than it already is?
Road safety really is a two-way street and it requires investment by all road users, i.e. the most vulnerable doing things to reduce their risk and those who create most risk to understand their responsibilities.
As a local authority road safety professional these questions tax me regularly, especially in relation to how we can encourage large and small vehicles to share the roads. Those on two-wheels (whether engine or human powered) face particular challenges due to their relatively small size and being more exposed to outside forces.
Smaller usually means others need to look harder to see you and being more exposed means there is less protection around them. Large may be easier to see but large also dominates because it looks like it will do more damage if things go wrong; so large brings with it added responsibility.
When I speak with road users of two-wheels I spend lots of time reminding them they can help to be noticed, whether by road position, appropriate clothing, lights or simply sticking to what other road users expect to see; the Highway Code.
For those who drive the vehicles that so often ignore the needs of smaller road users I encourage them to appreciate how hard it is for two-wheelers, how much more vulnerable they are to mistakes and misjudgements, how much more the elements affect their journey and how even an apparently minor fall can have painful consequences.
Consideration takes effort; effort to think ‘what must it be like for the other person?’, and ‘what can I do to make things a little easier for them?’. It’s that we even have to encourage this consideration amongst all road users that amazes and saddens me most.
That little extra time and consideration may cost you literally 10 seconds, but the investment in safer and more timely journeys is well worth it.