Prioritising pedestrian safety after the clock change

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The end of British Summer Time is fast approaching, and the clock change happens this week 30 October). For some of us, the clocks going back means an extra hour in bed, although many people will miss the extra hour of daylight in the evening.

However, the clock change, unfortunately, means more road accidents. Statistics show that the number of collisions on British roads increases substantially after the clock change. Darker evenings increase the risk of road traffic accidents involving pedestrians, drivers and cyclists.

The RAC estimates that, as a result, there are 20 more crashes a day.  While some of these accidents are likely to result in minor injuries, others are more serious and can lead to serious injuries such as bone fractures, head and brain injuries and spinal injuries.

Why do the clocks go back?

The clocks go back in Britain every autumn to give us an extra hour of light in the mornings. Although many prefer not waking up in the dark, it means that it is darker an hour earlier at the end of the day. The result is many of us leave work and travel home in the dark, including children coming home from school.

Pedestrians at more risk in the dark

Walking in the dark can be dangerous. Visibility is poorer, especially when combined with bad winter weather, and it can be much harder to see people crossing roads and walking along pavements in the dark.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has shared figures which reveal that, tragically, pedestrian fatalities in 2019 jumped from 36 in October to a staggering 54 in November.

To protect all road users, RoSPA has called for the end of the October clock change, something which has also been supported by government organisations such as the European Parliament.

Tips for walking safely at night

During the dark winter months, pedestrians, including dog walkers, joggers, commuters and schoolchildren, are advised to ensure they are as visible as possible and to quote the Government’s road safety campaign aimed at schoolchildren, ‘be safe, be seen’.

Pedestrian road safety tips for the dark include:

  • Wear reflective, high-visibility clothing – the Highway Code says this gives drivers an extra 3 seconds to see you, which could save your life. There is a wide range of reflective hi-vis clothing available, including vests, armbands, sashes, badges, jackets and footwear.
  • Fluorescent clothing does not work at night – Fluorescent colours are very bright and show up best during daylight but not in the dark.
  • Carry a flashlight, head torch or even a phone torch – If it is very dark and there are few streetlights (e.g. in a rural area) a light will help you be seen better.
  • Use pedestrian crossings – Make sure you cross roads at appropriate places, such as a zebra crossing and take care around driveways and the entrances and exits of car parks.
  • Hold children’s hands – If you’re walking with a child, hold their hand to keep them with you at all times.

Highway Code changes for pedestrians

Regardless of the time of day, drivers have a duty of care to keep other road users safe from harm.

The recent changes to the Highway Code created a hierarchy of road users which gives priority to the most vulnerable road users, with pedestrians as those most vulnerable at the top.

This means that all other road users, including horse riders, cyclists, motorbikes, cars, vans and lorries, who can do greater harm on the road, have a higher level of responsibility to reduce danger.

The new rule for pedestrians is that other road users must give way to them when they are crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which the traffic is turning.

What this means is that the law is on the side of more vulnerable road users in the event they experience an accident that is not their fault.

Novum Law supports safer walking at night

Annabelle Turner is a specialist personal injury solicitor in Novum Law’s Swindon team. She says:

“Many people do not know that the clock change results in an increase in road traffic accidents.

“Parents of children, especially, should ensure that their child is well-prepared for coming home from school in the dark; for example by ensuring they wear high-visibility clothing, carry a torch if necessary and know how to stay safe around roads and crossings. The same goes for adults too – however, pedestrians alone cannot and do not bear the full responsibility for their safety walking at night. Drivers need to be particularly vigilant and know the rules of the road so that avoidable tragedies do not occur.

“If you have been involved in a serious accident as a pedestrian and it was not your fault, it is important that you speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Novum Law, our specialist team has many years’ experience supporting pedestrians who have been seriously injured in road traffic accidents. We will ensure that you can access the care and compensation you deserve.”

If you or a loved one has been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, our expert personal injury solicitors are here to help.

To find out if you can make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim, contact us on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email or complete our online form for a free, no-obligation chat.

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