Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is one of the emergency services that attends road traffic accidents on the region’s roads.
Our firefighters regularly see the aftermath of simple mistakes made behind the wheel and the devastation caused by dangerous driving; we aim to contribute to raising road safety awareness and have a positive impact on the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.
The links on the right provide information and advice about staying safe on the roads and clarifies the law on subjects such as drink driving and using a mobile phone when driving.
We have a partnership with Safer Roads Humber who work with road users and pedestrians in the community to drive down serious injuries and fatalities on the region's roads.
There is no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving.
What you need to consider as an older driver:
- You must renew your driving licence every three years after you turn 70, but there are no laws on what age you must stop driving
- Unless your health or eyesight suddenly gets worse, it can be very difficult to know when you should stop driving
- Your safety- and the safety of other road users- is the most important thing to consider. If you are at all concerned that your driving is not as good as it was, don’t wait for an accident to convince you to stop.
It may be time to give up driving if, for example:
- Your reactions are noticeably slower than they used to be
- You find traffic conditions increasingly stressful
- Your eyesight is getting worse
- You have a medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely – speak to you GP for advice
How to get an assessment of your driving skills
If you are worried about your fitness to drive, talk to your GP or health care professional. You could also consider asking a driving instructor or get an experienced driver assessment to get an objective (and confidential) assessment of your driving skills. You can book a test through the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
What to do if you decide to stop driving
If you decide to stop driving, you should contact the DVLA and tell them that you are giving up your driving licence. If you have a medical condition you will need to fill in a form and send it back to the DVLA along with your licence.
Travelling after giving up your licence
Giving up driving doesn’t need to mean the end of your independence – you could use public transport or taxis instead. As you get older you will become eligible for free bus travel and concessionary rates on rail travel anywhere in England.
There is no excuse for drink driving. Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to judge speed and distance and will slow down your reaction times.
Alcohol also tends to make you feel over-confident and more likely to take risks when driving, which increases the danger to all road users, including yourself.
If you drive with twice the legal alcohol limit in your system, you are least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash compared to a driver who has not been drinking.
There is no sure way on how to stay under the legal alcohol limit or how much you can drink and still drive safely. It will depend on;
- Your weight, sex, age, metabolism
- Stress levels
- The last time you ate
- The amount and type of alcohol
The only safe option is not to drink if you plan to drive. Never offer a drink to someone else who you know is driving.
If you plan to drink, don’t risk driving:
- Book a taxi
- Use public transport
- Stay over night
- Arrange for someone who is not drinking to drive
- Don’t be tempted to get into a car when you know the driver has been drinking.
Around 100,000 drivers are convicted for drink driving every year. You don’t have to have been involved in a road traffic collision to be breath tested. The Police can stop you and ask you to take a breath test if they suspect you have been drinking.
A drink driving conviction could mean:
- Losing your driving licence for 12 months (which means you could lose your job)
- Facing a maximum fine of £5000
- Having to serve a 6 month prison sentence
- Have to pay higher insurance premiums.
Remember that if you have been out drinking during the evening you may still be affected by the alcohol the next day. Even though you may feel ok when you wake up, you could still be over the legal alcohol limit and unfit to drive.
It is impossible to get rid of the alcohol in your system any faster. A shower, strong cup of coffee or other ways of ‘sobering up’ will not help. It just takes time.
Drugs can affect a driver’s behaviour in many different ways, which include confusion and slower reaction times. The effects could last for hours or even days.
National research has shown that 21% of drivers have driven whilst under the influence of an illegal drug.
Driving under the influence of drugs – whether prescribed medication, over the counter medicines or illegal substances- is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s also against the law.
How drugs affect your driving:
- Slower reaction times
- Poor concentration
- Distorted perception
- Over confidence, causing you to take unnecessary risks
- Impaired co-ordination
- Erratic behaviour
- Blurred vision/enlarged pupils
- Paranoia and panic attacks
The Police can carry out roadside tests of impairment to help them decide whether to arrest you if they think you are unfit to drive through drugs.
The penalties are the same as drink driving. You could face a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5000 or six months in prison.
Recent studies have shown that drivers don’t fall asleep without warning. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel have often tried to fight off drowsiness by opening a window, turning on the air conditioning or cranking up the volume on the radio. These don’t work for long.
- Research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related
- Sleep-related accidents are more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury
- Peak times for accidents are in the early hours of the morning or after lunch
- About 40% of sleep –related accidents involve commercial vehicles
- Men under the age of 30 have the highest risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Plan your journey so that you can include a 15 minute break every two hours
- Don’t begin a long journey if you are already feeling tired
- Remember the risks if you have to begin a long journey unusually early
- Try to avoid long trips between midnight and 6am, when you are likely to feel sleepy
- If you begin to feel tired, find a safe place to stop – not the hard shoulder of a motorway. Drink two cups of coffee or a high caffeine drink and have a rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to kick in.
- Please remember that the only real cure for sleepiness is a proper sleep. A caffeine drink or a nap is a short term fix that will only allow you to keep driving for a short time.
- Prescribed or over-the-counter medication can cause sleepiness as a side effect. Always check the label, if you intend to drive.
If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) you need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Find out which questionnaire you need to complete for the driving licence you hold. Further information can be found here.
Follow these simple steps to stay the right side of the law and to stay alive:
- You are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving
- Reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50% slower than normal driving
- Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split second lapse in concentration could result in a crash
- It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile when driving on the road. If you are caught, you could be fined and lose your licence and your insurance premiums could go up.
- Don’t make or answer calls when you’re driving. All phone calls distract the driver’s attention from the road
- It’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile when driving on the road even if you’ve stopped at traffic lights or are stuck in a traffic jam or in a car park. All these situations are covered by the legal definition of ‘driving on the road’.
- Park safely before using your mobile phone. Do not park on the hard shoulder of the motorway
- Don’t call other people when they’re driving. If you call someone and they tell you they are driving; ask them to call you back when they have parked up safely.
Seatbelts are designed to keep people in their seats to prevent or reduce injuries in the event of a crash. Seatbelts ensure that as little contact is made between the occupant and the vehicle’s interior as possible and also reduces the risk of being thrown from the vehicle too.
Nowadays, on modern vehicles, seat belts are designed to work as a key part of the wider injury prevention measures and safety systems, such as airbags and head restraints, which would not be as effective in reducing the risk of injury if an occupant is not wearing a seat belt.
You must always wear a seat belt when travelling in the front, or the rear, of a vehicle that has seat belts fitted.
You must always make sure that children travel in an appropriate child restraint or in a seat belt if they are too big for a child restraint.
Car occupants form 64% of all road casualties. In 2010, 133,205 people were killed or injured while travelling in cars. Of these 89,787 (67%) were drivers.
Over 90% of adult front seat passengers and drivers wear seat belts, as do 66% of adult rear seat passengers. Since the law to wear seatbelts in the front was introduced in 1983, front seat belts are estimated to have saved over 50,000 lives in Great Britain.
In order to wear a seat belt safely, the following points should be adhered to:
- The belt should be worn as tight as possible, with no slack
- The lap belt should sit across the pelvic region, not the stomach
- The diagonal strap should rest over the shoulder, not the neck
- Nothing should obstruct the smooth movement of the belt by trapping it.
In most modern vehicles, the height of the top of the front seat belt can be adjusted on the B post. If you cannot get the seat belt to fit over you correctly, as described above, you should try adjusting the height.
Damaged Seat Belts
Seat belts should be regularly checked for damage. Common forms of damage to the seat belt that will reduce its effectiveness in an accident, and also lead to the vehicle failing an MOT test, are:
- Fraying or fluffing around the edges of the seat belt
- A cut which causes the fabric to split
- A hole in the seat belt
- Damage to the buckle
If in doubt, take your car to a garage and have the belt looked at by an expert.
Pregnant Occupants and Seat Belts
All pregnant women must wear seat belts by law when travelling in cars. This applies to both front and back seats. The safest way for pregnant women to wear a seat belt is:
- Place the diagonal strap between the breasts (over the breastbone) with the strap resting over the shoulder, not the neck
- Place the lap belt flat on the thighs, fitting comfortably beneath the enlarged abdomen and over the pelvis, not the bump
- The belt should be worn as tight as possible
In this way the forces applied in a sudden impact can be absorbed by the body’s frame.
We are experiencing more and more extreme weather conditions in the UK and these incidents can occur sometimes without any notice. Throughout the course of the year these can include snow blizzards, torrential downpours, freak storms and scorching heat waves, all of which can affect your performance on the road.
Driving in all seasons
Whatever the weather, it is a good idea to get into the habit of doing a pre-journey check on your car, especially before long journeys. You should check the following:
- All of the lights work on the vehicle
- Your windscreen wipers are fully functioning
- Your battery is fully charged (check dashboard battery light)
- Your tyre pressures are correct for your vehicle and the tread depth is above the legal limit
- Your number plate is clearly visible
- Your mirrors are clean and are positioned correctly for your needs
- Your spare wheel is in optimum condition and you have the correct tools to replace the wheel if necessary
- You have enough fuel for your planned journey
- Water and oil levels are correct.
It is also a good idea to carry a mobile phone, torch, food and drink, first aid kit, warm clothes, a blanket and a set of jump leads, at all times. You should also keep your driving license, car insurance and breakdown documents close to hand, along with any other emergency numbers you may need.
If you are travelling alone, let someone know where you are going and the time you expect to arrive.
Wet weather driving
Even light or moderate rain can have an impact on visibility and vehicle performance, so it’s important to adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.
- If it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down
- Use dipped headlights, especially if visibility is seriously reduced
- The roads will be more slippery than usual, so give yourself more time to react - increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front to at least four seconds
- Look out for standing water - adjust your driving before and after encountering any
- Keep your eyes on the road at all times - spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility
- Visibility affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared
- During thunderstorms, sudden gusty winds can unsettle vehicles. Keep your speed down and give other road users more room
- Take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders
- Please don't try to walk or drive through floodwater, even if you think it isn't that deep
- If you see a sign saying the road is closed due to flooding, remember the sign is there for a reason
Flash flooding and freezing temperatures are becoming more common, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. The following tips can help you deal with adverse weather conditions associated with the cold temperatures.
- Check your heating system to ensure you can demist the windows if necessary
- Clear your windows, lights and number plates. It is also advisable to pack a de-icer and a scraper in your car at all times
- Ice, snow, mist and rain demand that you drive more slowly and carefully. If you know that bad weather is expected, plan ahead and extend your journey time
- If visibility is low, use your rear fog lights and reduce your speed
- According to the Highways Agency, stopping distances can be up to 10 times as far in very wet or icy conditions, so keep your distance from the car in front
- Higher, more exposed areas such as bridges and overpasses will be affected by snow and ice more quickly than other surfaces. Plan your journey to avoid these areas if possible
- Avoid making unnecessary changes of lane on dual carriageways and motorways. Speeding up in icy or very wet conditions could cause you to swerve
- Be particularly careful around motorcyclists and cyclists on windy days. Large vehicles can waver, so take extra care when passing them
Driving in summer
These useful tips can help you stay safe and comfortable on the roads during summer:
- Ensure your vehicle is well ventilated. Air conditioning is ideal to help avoid overheating and drowsiness
- Your vehicle can also overheat, so check your water levels and radiator
- Soft roads (tarmac can melt in very high heat) can affect your steering and braking. Make allowances to ensure you have adequate stopping and journey time
- Driving at peak times, such as school or bank holidays, means you could encounter more traffic jams. Turn off your engine if you come to a halt and make sure you have plenty of water.
- Cover leather or plastic seats to stop them getting hot. Where possible park in the shade so you don’t step into an oven when you get back
- Visibility on the road is vital to safe driving. Invest in a pair of good sunglasses to counteract the ‘blinding’ from bright sunshine
- Clean windows and mirrors. Intense sunlight can form glare on smudges which can ultimately reduce your visibility
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service would like to offer you some advice on what to do if you see an emergency vehicle approaching you using flashing blue lights, headlights and/or sirens.
We rely on your response to enable us to reach the scenes of emergency incidents quickly and safely.
We would like you to:
- Don’t panic!
- Think about the route the emergency vehicle is taking and take action to let it pass
- Don’t brake harshly
- If necessary, pull in to the side of the road and stop
- Be mindful of the volume of your stereo/radio so you can hear the sirens of an approaching emergency vehicle
- Avoid stopping before or on the brow of a hill, a bend or a narrow section of road
- Don’t put yourself, other road users or pedestrians in danger
- Avoid mounting the kerb
- Before re-joining the moving traffic, check it is safe to do so and be aware of the potential that other emergency vehicles may follow.
The Highway Code also states that pedestrians should keep off the road if an emergency vehicle is approaching them using flashing blue lights, headlights and/or sirens.