Short Days, Long Nights, Increased Risk

Sunday, 30 October 2016 means an extra hour in bed for people in the United Kingdom, but does it hide more serious issues to concern fleet operators as the nights suddenly draw in? Andrew Drewary, Broadspire® UK road risk manager, said fleet operators with a keen focus on risk management urge their drivers to be even more aware of other road users at this time of year, as dangers become all too predictable.

Andrew Drewary

Andrew Drewary

“Every year at this time, a noticeable increase in road traffic collisions and incidents occurs as the UK transitions from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time,” said Andrew. “According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents® (RoSPA), casualty rates during the working week peak from 8 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., particularly in the afternoon because of the dark.

“Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions. Every autumn when the clocks go back and sunset occurs earlier, road casualties rise,” he said. “The effects are worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists.”

In 2014, RoSPA reported that pedestrian deaths rose from 39 in October to 66 in November and 73 in December. Bicyclist deaths rose from 3 in October to 8 in November and 8 in December. The overall casualty rate increased from 637 per billion vehicle miles in October to 673 per billion vehicle miles in November, before falling back to 603 in December.

Road casualty rates increase with darker evenings and worsening weather.

Road casualty rates increase with darker evenings and worsening weather.

Main issues to consider revolve around the “comfort factor” that road users build during the summer months. “The change in daylight hours happens at the end of the school run and at the start of the rush hour,” Andrew said. “Going back one hour literally changes the road layout for so many road users overnight. The roads suddenly look very different, leading to questioning of distance and speed perceptions, influencing situational decision-making. This puts many people outside of their comfort zone.

“What seems an insignificant event has a major effect on driving ability and confidence. Nervous drivers become more nervous and confident drivers suddenly become less so until they have adapted,” he said.

Another issue of concern is bicyclists’ failure to illuminate their lights because they have not had to use them for so long. “In addition, people who dress in dark and non-reflective clothing make the adjustment harder still,” he added.

Broadspire UK Offers Refresher Courses for Drivers

“The results are an increase in the number of collisions and incidents, some of which are catastrophic or fatal. Therefore, it would be good practice to deal with this change as part of your company’s work-related road risk policy by offering refresher training sessions with your drivers. The sessions could include the consequences of the hour going back and the extra precautions they should take,” Andrew said.

Independent road risk experts, such as Broadspire UK, provide tailored driver behaviour workshops so fleet managers don’t have additional related duties at a busy time of year.

Broadspire UK Fleet Risk Management provides independent fleet risk management solutions designed to help change the way the industry deals with fleet risk management and work-related road risk. For more information, contact Andrew Drewary on +44 7393 460545 or at andrew.drewary@broadspiretpa.co.uk.

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