Tag Archive | "road accidents"

The Dangers Of Two Wheels

More Britons are turning to two motorised wheels as it becomes more and more expensive to drive a car. Motor cycles are exciting to ride – the open road and all that – economical and, unfortunately, vulnerable. This increase of bikers on the road also increases the number of motorcycle accidents that happen every year, and because of the inherent design of motorcycles, this can obviously be very dangerous for the riders.

One big issue that many people come across is assigning fault in a motorcycle crash. Due to sometimes varying factors, the opinion of the responding officer or a court’s preconceived notions coupled with the conflicting views of each involved party – especially when one of them is a car driver – it can be very difficult to figure out who is at fault after a motorcycle accident.

The simple fact is that motorcycle accidents have been consistently rising with the increase in motorcycle sales over the past few decades added to the increased volume of cars on the road. These accidents further increase during the warmest months of the year. Sadly, motorcycles intrinsically do not have as much protection as typical motor vehicles and although some of the latest helmets and protective clothing have improved immensely in recent years it is usually the biker who comes off worse.

Unfortunately, when it comes to motorcycle accidents, it can sometimes be difficult to assign blame. This is especially true when the accident involves a driver in a car or truck. A big issue arises when deciding whether or not a biker had anything to do with their own accident. Many motorists state that an injured motorcyclist came out of nowhere or was going to fast. While these sometimes are not good excuses, they can go towards assigning some form of negligence to the rider, thus casting doubt.

Due to the inherent nature of motorbikes often being less noticeable, there is a chance that a court might well believe a driver who says that they had no way to avoid crashing with the biker. This could well be and sometimes is true, especially if the bike was going above the speed limit or committing some other form of misdemeanour.

Another confusing issue, especially when it comes to bikes, is whether or not parties or circumstances besides those involved in an accident could be held liable for the crash. Mechanical issues, for example, could account for it. These mechanical concerns are often overlooked due to the usually minor injuries that those in cars sustain. When it comes to bikers, however, even a minor mechanical glitch can lead to tragedy.

In addition, poorly maintained roads – a real issue in the UK – a lack of warning signs and many other road hazards could be accountable. Anyone involved in an accident between car and bike must absolutely make sure that they cover all the bases and get their facts straight. Photographic evidence can help. Both sides need to know their rights and get it right.

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Bad Weather Is Good News

In 2012, 1754 people were killed in road accidents. When you look at that cold hard number it seems like a lot of lost souls. Most of us have a bit of a bitch from time to time about the amount of regulation enforced upon us in the name of road safety but it is hard to argue with that statistic.

The good news though is that figure is down 8% on the previous year. All this has been reported by the Department for Transport in a document entitled ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain’. Astonishing though it is to believe, the total is the lowest recorded since 1926. Then, there were 2.3m vehicles on the roads – today there are over thirty million. We must be doing something right.

This reduction, it says in the report, can be attributed to the fact that the weather in this country is so horrible. Heavy rainfall apparently kept cyclists – motorised or otherwise – and pedestrians out of the danger zone and safely ensconced indoors or in their cars. It is probably fair to assume that the increasing number of safety features on cars has some impact but it is still an interesting and valid point, although others disagree – below.

Being British we are stoic when it comes to appalling weather and shrug it off; greeting a sunny day or a warm day with a grateful nod of approval – turning our faces to the golden orb like sunflowers – and following that with an unseemly display of pallid body parts that should remain discreetly covered. Bad weather stops us doing things.

It is curious to note that the Office for National Statistics – the only place in the land where staff look forward to lists – reckon that this reduction in tragedies is not down to safer cars. This is a surprise. Instead the ONS attribute the reduction to a dismal summer when rainfall last year was twice the average in June and more than twice the average in July.

Sadly, there was an increase of ten percent in deaths amongst cyclists who, because they are often in the same space as cars, are arguably the most vulnerable. Deaths amongst pedestrians was down but still totalled a massive 420.

As the Road Safety Minister says, ‘there is still a lot of work to do’, and he is correct. There is a slight caveat to all this. More people die in cars than outside them despite the fact that they are also the most protected. A lot of it is down to bad or careless driving but sometimes an accident is just that – an accident. Before the onus is placed squarely on drivers and they are held responsible whatever the circumstances there should first be some considered thought about fair play.

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Why should motorists carry oxygen in a can?

Oxygen is something we all need and most of us have little trouble getting enough, as we inhale it in air. There are some circumstances when it helps to have an added supply and one of them is when you are undertaking a long road journey.

It may seem a little strange to suggest that you should put an oxygen can in the glove box of your car, van or truck before setting off on a trip, but it can help to keep you safe. Driver fatigue is one of the biggest causes of fatal crashes, but your chances of being affected by it can be reduced by taking a few breaths of pure oxygen.

The science behind this is quite straightforward. Even a very small oxygen deficit will leave you feeling tired, irritable and struggling to concentrate, but this can be alleviated quickly by increasing the amount of the gas taken into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream. The swiftest way to do this is to inhale four or five mouthfuls of medically-pure oxygen, which you can buy in cans small enough to fit into a handbag or glove box.

If you think purchasing a special product just to help you stay fresh and alert while behind the wheel sounds a little excessive, you may wish to consider how big the problem of fatigued motorists is. Leading safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates that 20 per cent of all serious crashes on the UK’s roads are caused by a driver either falling asleep or being too tired to concentrate properly.

Road safety experts also calculate that a collision involving a driver who is asleep is 50 per cent more likely to result in a death or serious injury, as they are unable to try to swerve to avoid the impact or brake to lessen the force of the smash. It is thought 300 people a year die in sleep-related road accidents.

Should you be involved in such an incident and walk away without injury, you may think you have been lucky. However, the repercussions are likely to go way beyond having to get your car repaired, as you may also face charges. That could result in penalty points on your licence, a driving ban or, if someone else was seriously injured or killed in the smash, a prison sentence.

Very few drivers actually fall into a deep sleep while behind the wheel, but many people find they have difficulty concentrating as they become tired and some of them experience a ‘microsleep’ – a period of sleep lasting just a few seconds that can happen when you have to make a real effort to stay awake. It is a problem that you can deal with in two ways – planning and knowing how to cope with it.

When preparing for long journeys, make sure you schedule them for daylight hours if possible and certainly ensure you won’t be driving between midnight and 6am, as your alertness and energy levels will be low at that time. You should also make certain you are not tired when you get into the car, so do not arrange to take trips after a hard day at work.

Once on the road, you should plan to take breaks of at least 15 minutes every two hours, so you do not become tired or just lose concentration because you are bored of staring at the motorway. If you begin to feel fatigued while driving, pull over at the earliest possible opportunity, remembering that stopping on the hard shoulder for a rest is illegal. Knowing to do this can be the difference between a safe journey and being involved in an accident.

During the breaks, take a nap and have a cup of coffee, as both will help you to stay awake when you set off again. To get even more benefit from the rest stops, inhale a few breaths of pure oxygen, as this will almost immediately improve your alertness and energy levels.

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