In anticipation of increasing numbers of vehicles returning to the roads following the Government’s announcement on easing of Lockdown restrictions, a national campaign asking roas users if they are asking road users if they are #ReadyForTheRoad? The campaign is supported by senior road safety stakeholders including ARRM, DfT, Driving for Better Business, DVLA, DVSA, Highways England, MIB, MoD, NFCC, PACTS, Police Scotland, Road Safety Trust, TyreSafe and UKROEd.
Coordinated by the National Roads Policing Operations and Intelligence group, the campaign seeks to help all road users stay safe as they return to the roads. With an unknown increase in volume of traffic likely over the coming weeks, road users should prepare themselves properly before they start their journeys, whether on foot, cycle or motor vehicle.
Firstly, they should check their tax and insurance are valid, as these can easily be forgotten. While there is an exemption on MoT certificates, there is no relaxation in the law on the requirement for insurance and road tax.
Another anticipated challenge is facing up to the possibility that their road skills have not been used as regularly or for as long, which may mean they need to give themselves time to readjust to being out on the roads. Equally, they will be sharing the roads with many people in the same position and they should be prepared for any journey with extra patience. That is especially true should they feel the temptation to speed, which has been a rising issue during Lockdown.
The vehicles themselves should also be thoroughly checked before setting off. Fuel and oil levels should be appropriate for the journey ahead and TyreSafe is urging drivers to carry out essential checks themselves before they set off on their first journey.
In addition to this, research has revealed that a large number of commuters who used public transport before the pandemic are now buying a car to get them to work, as lockdown restrictions are gradually relaxed.
When buying a second-hand car, the mechanical elements should most certainly be checked but attention should also be given to the tyres. Second-hand cars will usually be fitted with second-hand tyres, which can reveal much about the previous owner’s attitude to maintenance. If there are four different makes of tyre on the car, chances are it has been run on a budget, which may have led to short-cuts in other areas of maintenance.
Car buyers should also be aware that if they discover the tyres need replacing once they have bought the car, in the vast majority of cases they themselves will have to foot the bill. By checking the tyres before purchasing it, buyers at least have the option negotiate those costs in the agreed price.
It is the motorists’ responsibility to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy, however, many are not currently checking their vehicles regularly. Instead, many rely on professionals to carry out maintenance checks at annual inspections, such as when they submit their vehicle for a service or its MoT test. While there is an exemption in place for some months to come for vehicles having a current MoT there has been no relaxation on the legal expectation that the vehicle is fit for use.
The importance of checking the vehicle is in roadworthy condition is particularly acute now as many vehicles have been dormant during Lockdown. Vehicles are best maintained through usage and some aspects of their condition deteriorate more quickly when left parked for many weeks, or used only for short distance journeys. Tyres will lose their air pressure over time and harden when they are not used regularly, which can lead to sidewall cracking – a serious safety issue. A ‘flat spot’, where the tyre’s tread has been flattened due to the weight of a vehicle and/or load bearing down on it for an extended period of time, is also possible.
Det Supt Paul Keasey, head of the National Roads Policing Operations and Intelligence Group, commented:
“You’ve survived COVID-19, so don’t risk getting hurt – or hurting someone else – in an entirely unnecessary road crash. Keeping within the speed limit and focusing fully on the road will reduce the risks we face and the risks we pose to others, including everyone who’s now avoiding public transport and walking or cycling to work.
“If we all make sure we’re #ReadyForTheRoad as lockdown eases, we will save lives.
“Ignore the rules and the reminders and we risk seeing a rise in crashes, with the unwanted consequences they can bring.”
Simon Turner, Campaign Manager for Driving for Better Business, and Chairman of ARRM, said “The lockdown has meant that many people who normally drive for work have either been working from home or furloughed, and their vehicles may not have moved for weeks. We therefore need to ensure that both drivers and vehicles are ready for the road.”
“Drivers need to check their vehicles thoroughly before setting out. During weeks of lockdown, a small leak could have drained a fluid reservoir, while tyres could easily have lost some pressure and may have a flat spot if the vehicle hasn’t been moved. At the same time, drivers should give themselves time to readjust to more regular driving. Don’t forget to stick to speed limits, remember other road users are also coming back after a long layoff and may not be fully alert, and realise you may suffer fatigue quicker until you have fully readjusted.”
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe Chairman said: “As people start making more use of their cars again, it’s more important than ever they check their tyres before they take a long journey. Tyres don’t like standing around, especially when they’re exposed to the climate and UV rays, which accelerates the ageing process. Ensuring there are no signs of cracking and that air pressures are correct can easily be checked but, if you’re unsure, a tyre retailer will be willing to help.
“It’s imperative drivers do carry out these checks now Lockdown has begun to ease and get themselves into the habit of maintaining their tyres on a regular basis. Stay safe – stay tyre safe.”
Today Jason Simms, Campaign Manager for TyreSafe, and Simon Turner, Campaign Manager for Driving for Better Business, will be conducting a series of national radio interviews to launch the campaign.
Update: 29th May 2020
The radio campaign was hugely successful. Interviews were broadcast across 139 radio stations with a total airtime of over 19 hours, reaching millions of listeners getting ready for the road.