Dealing with vulnerable road users: tips from IAM RoadSmart

As we make the same commute every day to work and back, we can get used to seeing pedestrians on the streets, motorcyclists on the road and even a few cyclists appearing now that the season is changing. But this can sometimes mean we get a little too used to the things around us and may unintentionally stop paying attention to our surroundings. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides a set of tips to remind you how to manage vulnerable road users.

Note: If you have friends and family who drive, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

  • Check to see the type of pedestrians around you. Do you see an elderly person crossing the road? They may be walking slowly, so ensure they feel safe by reducing your speed. Children can be easily distracted and are unpredictable too, especially when crossing the road, so do all you can to help them out. Drive with care and be vigilant as a few extra seconds added to your day may make all the difference.
  • A cycling club will often cycle as a group rather than in single file. This makes it safer for all of us; a simple overtake on a short group is often easier and safer to achieve than 30 overtakes on separate cyclists. Before you overtake them, make sure you have given them enough room as they could adjust their road positioning unexpectedly for a pothole or drain. A few seconds delay is better than a lifetime of regret. It’s always good to remember that a young, fit individual on a bike is likely to be more stable than an older person doing their shopping run.
  • Take note that there are two types of mobility scooters. Class 2 scooters are only allowed on pavements and have a top speed of 4mph. Class 3 mobility scooters should be registered and are driven on the road with a top speed of 8mph. Bear in mind that this group of road users may have restricted movement, vision or hearing so give them plenty of space and time.
  • Have you thought about taking a more scenic route now that the days are getting lighter for longer? You may come across a horse and its rider walking along the side of the road. To avoid scaring the horse, turn the radio down and keep the engine revs low. Slow down and take your time when passing a horse. Keep your car well away from them and proceed with caution. The British Horse Society campaign encourages ‘Wide and Slow’ which reiterates driving no more than 15mph and leaving at least a car’s width gap. 
  • Who has heard of SMIDSY (“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”)? This is a regular acronym in a motorcyclist’s dictionary and often our strategy when looking for a culprit! The science behind this is called Saccadic Masking. The simple explanation is that people don’t see clearly when their head or eyes are moving, and they don’t pick up objects travelling towards them very well. So make sure you have a good look, not just a quick glance. A good tip is that if you’re specifically looking for motorcyclists or cyclists, then you are more likely to see them.

Richard said: “The importance of sharing the road space and understanding the needs of other road users cannot be stressed enough. If we are aware of vulnerable road users, we can make provisions to keep us all safe. Remember to treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Do you want to find out more ways to stay safe on the road? Try our Advanced Driving Course and get the best out of yourself and your car.

Congratulations again

Last Sunday we were delighted to welcome back three of our newest and youngest members, Lizzy Olisa, Jess Harridge and Katie Stacey to the Sunday runs, who all recently passed their Advanced Driving test, aged 21, 19 and 18 respectively.

I really enjoyed the course; I learnt lots of new ways to improve my driving, but also ways to enhance the skills I already had. The GAM observers ran each session in a way that felt like I was a friend or colleague, rather than an instructor.

Lizzy Olisa

It is wonderful to know that GAM exists.  The volunteer Observers have enabled our daughter to develop her driving beyond the basic skills required to pass her driving test.  Thank you GAM – I can now relax in the passenger seat when she is driving as aged 19 she is a mature, aware and conscientious driver.

Niki Harridge

Blood runners needed

SERV S&SL are looking to recruit local car drivers for our fixed supply run each evening for our fellow SERV regions, Kent and Sussex. This is so that SERV SSL can release other resources to continue the reliable and regular service to our own hospitals. This is an ideal opportunity for those who may have considered joining us in the past but who could not commit to being on duty all through the night. The nightly exchange run will entail the following:

  • Collection of products from NHS Blood & Transplant, Tooting – this may be multiple boxes of blood, platelets and plasma.
  • Exchange at our handover point with representatives from Kent and/or Sussex.
  • Possible exchange of Medical Samples to return to NHS Blood & Transplant, Tooting (if no return run then you will head home from the handover point).

Once trained, you will be assigned (with your agreement) one night a fortnight to cover this duty (more if you wish). There is an expectation of commitment and, if you cannot make your rostered duty for any reason, as much advance notice as possible is required, together with effort to swap the shift with another volunteer.

On your duty night you will call in and be assigned tasks for the night by the duty controller. Some nights, we may not have received any requests from Kent or Sussex and you may be stood down. Other nights, you’ll take products to our handover point and then take samples back to Tooting. That’s the luck of the draw!

Please note that no expenses are paid; like the rest of our volunteers, you donate your time and fuel to a good cause and the get the pleasure of knowing that you probably saved a life or two tonight.

The handover point is a comfortable 30 minute drive from Tooting using our tested route, so your duty should not take longer than 2 hours, including travelling time to and from home, on the worst night.

If you are still interested in joining us as a committed and dedicated car driving blood runner, or you have any further questions, please get in touch with our Recruitment Secretary on 07432 221981 or recruit@servssl.org.uk