In the strange world we now find ourselves in, traffic in certain areas has reduced to almost nothing. We should all be driving only for essential journeys, but that is not to say the situation is without challenges.
Families are out walking in groups, and children with their parents out cycling on roads that would not normally expect to see such traffic. Farmers are still going about their business and animals both wild and domesticated will be enjoying the relatively quiet traffic situation to explore roads they would normally avoid. In these circumstances, we mustn’t forget our manners and the need to share the road space safely.
IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, has put together a few simple tips to keep us all safe on the road.
- Children out walking on a quiet road even with parents can be unpredictable and they can dart out into the road for no apparent reason. On a country lane, they might run across from an area of safety to hold a parent’s hand, completely oblivious to anything other than mum or dad. Slow right down, let the pedestrians sort themselves out and only then pass slowly. Remember, out of any bend there may be a family getting their daily exercise and combining it with social distancing, which may have forced them off the pavement and into the road away from other pedestrians.
- Cyclists may have earphones on and music playing and may well be completely oblivious to you approaching, and will be weaving around potholes. Slow down and give them plenty of space; you may have to follow for a while if there is no safe place to pass. Don’t try to squeeze past, you need to allow as much space as if you were passing a car. Also, remember the current situation has seen a lot of novices back onto pedal cycles to exercise, and the mixed family group is also a feature of the roads at the moment. Younger members may not be as steady and predictable as a seasoned cyclist. If in doubt stay back and do not crowd them. If in town remember a cyclist may be filtering either side of you so check before moving or turning.
- There may still be horses being exercised by their riders, or riders being exercised by their horses. They still need at least the usual care and it may be that the quiet roads have encouraged more nervous riders or animals to try new routes. Pass wide and slow is the best advice. Most riders will find somewhere to create space for you to pass. Don’t be tempted to drive too close behind them as this may startle the animal and will certainly be of concern to the rider. Keep your engine revs low and turn down the volume on your radio.
- Motorcyclists may be using the shopping trip to keep their bike running, so remember when pulling out of junctions to have that second look for them. It’s easy to lose a bike in the background if you are not looking properly especially at night where the lights can all blend into one stream of traffic.
Richard says, “The last thing we want to do now is put any extra strain on the hospitals; a slight misjudgement when driving can result in an incident that ends up in casualty. Rural areas that would never usually see pedestrians or inexperienced cyclists are home to families trying to exercise in safety away from possible infection. By following the advice we are always offering to our children to ‘share nicely’ we can do our part to help keep our quieter roads as safe as possible for all road users.”