As a parent, safety is always one of the primary concerns! Now that winter is here, the nights are drawing in very early and I have noticed that it even starts getting dark on our way home after school some days! The plus side of that is that we are lucky enough to have Christmas lights and decorations on our local main road which we sometimes pass on our way home, so it is lovely to see the trees and lights sparkling away, and we have lots of residents locally who have done a great job with their houses and front gardens too. The boys really enjoy pointing at all the lights that we pass.
However, there are some downsides to the dark evening too and the main one is safety. I hope these winter road safety tips will help to keep your children and family safe this winter.
Statistically you are more likely to get into a car or cycle accident in the dark. There is also a risk with children that they may not be seen by a driver as they dash along in the dark, which is why it’s important to wear a coat with some reflective panels or a bright colour to allow the child to easily be seen. I also ask Mr Z not to run too far ahead in the dark. Even on the pavement, there is a risk of cars reversing out of the driveway and in the cold weather they are likely to have all their windows closed so they will be less likely to hear a child running along as well as having reduced viability in the dark.
A really worrying statistic is the amount of cyclists being killed or injured on the roads these days. The number of cyclists killed increased by 10% from 107 in 2011 to 118 in 2012- The number of cyclists reported to have been seriously injured increased by 4% from 3,085 in 2011 to 3,222 in 2012* – meanwhile the number of cyclists overall has only increased by 1.2% over the same period. This shows that accidents are sadly becoming a lot more common. I have noticed myself that we are hearing of more cycling accidents in the news.
My boys do not cycle in the street at all yet, as they are too young and don’t have the required skills to cycle safely, but they do cycle in the back garden. As cycling is such a good form of exercise I would love to encourage them in the future, as long as they stay safe.
Eversure have provided some tips and advice about how to keep safe when cycling and these will definitely be important to remember if I do allow the boys to cycle out in the dark winter evenings as they grow older:
- Don’t overload a rucksack or backpack, you could reduce your ability to maintain your balance.
- Don’t use a phone or wear ear phones with music playing
- Wear a properly fitting crash helmet
- Make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
- Consider fitting a bike horn or bell to alert road users to your presence. You can get specialist electronic horns that can cut through most background noise
- Don’t cycle on the pavement (unless marked for cyclists)
- Always look and signal clearly, you can get electronic signals reasonably cheaply
- Always cycle with traffic, on the correct side of the road, never cycle into traffic, even if the roads are quiet
- Always have front and rear lights fitted to your bike, and check that these work before setting off
- You should wear light coloured clothes / hi vis / reflective clothing always when cycling in low visibility, not just at night
- Ride predictably, decisively, in a straight line, and well clear of the kerb
Do you allow your children to cycle in the winter evenings? What difficulties and worries do you have with Winter road safety? Let me know in the comments