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Autumn Dangers for Older Cyclists and Pedestrians

Autumn dangers: National Accident Helpline urges caution as the nights start to get longer

Now that the clocks have gone back, National Accident Helpline is urging pedestrians and cyclists to take care during the winter months, when darker conditions present an extra danger to road users.

In a survey conducted by National Accident Helpline around cyclists’ attitudes to safety during the autumn and winter months, more than half of those questioned (53%) admitted to feeling "nervous" when cycling in the dark. Older people (55-64 year olds) felt most uneasy cycling on the roads during darker times of day.

It’s not only cyclists who need to take care. Figures released by the Department for Transport show that 23,869 people were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads during 2015, and more than one-third (36%) of those people were pedestrians or cyclists*.

While many accidents are out of our control, being alert and taking care of ourselves – and those around us – will help to minimise the risk of an accident and its potentially significant effect on people’s lives. We can't remove all hazards from our daily lives, but we can ensure that we act appropriately and safely when dealing with potentially dangerous situations.

As the days begin to get shorter, National Accident Helpline is urging people to take care and has these tips for pedestrians and cyclists:

1. If you cycle, make sure your bike has good lights, fitted where they can be seen. It is illegal to cycle in the dark without a white front light, a red back light and a red reflector at the back.

2. Wear reflective clothing so you stand out and can be seen. Joggers and cyclists should wear reflective clothing such as a high-vis jacket and if you are using a backpack, try using a fluorescent one.

3. Walk on the right side of the road, so that you are facing oncoming cars.

4. Stick to well-lit routes with street lamps and avoid dark alleyways and parks.

5. Look out for uneven surfaces and potholes, animals and pedestrians in dark clothing. Watch out for slippery leaves in autumn, and black ice on the roads as temperatures drop.

6. Be vigilant for cars coming out of driveways as you walk or cycle past, as well as being alert to vehicles turning onto driveways from the road.

7. Watch out for buses, vans and other large vehicles as they pose a greater risk for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists due to their ‘blind-spots’.

8. Take care when using headphones as they can be a distraction to street sounds, with the sounds coming through headphones overpowering those coming from the street.

Beth Powell, Marketing Director, National Accident Helpline: “With winter on its way, it’s important for people to take extra care while they are out and about. Cyclists, pedestrians and joggers need to consider their safety before they head out in the dark – even if it’s a short journey along a route they are familiar with.

“As daylight saving approaches on October 30th, we’re urging pedestrians and cyclists to take a moment to stop and think before they head out. If you’re cycling, are your lights working? If you’re out for a run in the dark, are you visible to other road users? If you’re walking, are you sticking to well-lit routes? As long as we all take the necessary steps to ensure we are well prepared, there is no reason why the winter months should be a hindrance.”

For information, guidance or safety tips visit National Accident Helpline's Serious Injury Support Centre, where you'll find a range of helpful charities and resources.

Are you a cyclist? Have you got any tips to share?

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