REMEMBER THE RULES OF THE ROAD

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Lucky to be alive: Professional cyclist Tony Hewson. Image courtesy of the SHROPSHIRE STAR

Both motorists and cyclists can learn from the tragic death of a cyclist on the same stretch of road where a former Tour of Britain cyclist suffered serious head injuries last week, says the TTC Group.

Teaching assistant John Searle (59) died on October 17, 2012 when his bike clipped the wing mirror of a car and he was hit by a van and another car on the B4368 Craven Arms to Bridgnorth road in Shropshire.

Two motorists, who denied causing death by careless driving, were last week cleared by a jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

A police officer told the court that sunlight would have been shining directly into the eyes of drivers making it very difficult for them to judge what was directly ahead.

Tony Hewson (80), (PICTURED)a former professional cyclist who won the Tour of Britain event in the 1950s and had ridden in the Tour de France, was lucky to be alive, said his daughter, after he was knocked off his bike on the same stretch of Shropshire road.

He was left unconscious with a serious head injury in the collision. Mr Hewson’s daughter Justine says she would like to see more signs warning motorists to look out for cyclists as well as making drivers more aware of cyclists.

The road was extremely dangerous, she said, with twists and bends and motorbikes and cars had been involved in accidents there, as well as cyclists.

“It is a designated cycle route, it really should be a safe place, not a death trap,” she said.

Motorists and cyclists must remember the rules of the road designed to keep everyone safe, said Alan Prosser, a director of the TTC Group which runs Bikeability training in schools through its Cycle Experience division.

A “vital skill” for every motorist is to keep a good distance from a vehicle in front and watch out for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, said Mr Prosser, whose organisation also runs courses to manage workplace road safety on behalf of UK companies.

“We have to share the road space safely with each other. Be aware of what is around you. Keep a safe distance and then you can stop in plenty of time.”

Motorists should slow down to an appropriate speed for all weather conditions, such as low lying dazzling sunlight in winter, made more hazardous by reflections from surface water on the road. Pull the sun visor down, wear sunglasses to cut out most of the glare and keep sunglasses in the car.

Keep your windscreen clean to reduce low sun glare and be cautious. Pay attention to following vehicles, which could potentially rear-end your car if drivers are blinded by the sun.

Cyclists must be clearly visible with front and rear bike lights even in daylight - and wear fluorsescent clothing to ensure you can be seen.

Some motorists are unaware of “time and space” and the distance a car continues to travel once the brakes are applied, he warned. A car moving at 60mph travels about 90ft or 30 metres every second. Visualise three buses, one behind the other and you can see the necessary stopping distance. At 30mph, the stopping distance is halved to around 45ft or 15 metres, a bus length and a half.

“Drivers can feel very detached from the outside environment and misjudge these distances. If you are following traffic then you should be at least two seconds behind in dry weather and further behind in wet conditions.

“This gives us time to respond to any incident.”

The TTC Group, a UK road safety education organisation,  educates 300,000 road users nationwide each year with the aim of reducing road deaths and casualties by educating drivers and riders.

Mr Prosser urged motorists and cyclists to re-read the Highway Code and adopt the “COAST” road safety principles - a checklist of measures aimed at saving lives and reducing casualties on our roads.

Concentrate – focus on the driving task and avoid distractions such as mobile phones • 
Observe - Read the road actively and scan for vulnerable road users • 
Anticipate - Expect the worst and be prepared. Always think - what if ? • 
Space – always leave at least a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front on a dry road. In the wet this needs to be at least doubled • 
Time - Don’t rush – plan your journey and allow yourself plenty of time to think, plan and act – rushing can lead to poor decisions and a possible collision.

People can take steps to improve their driving skills by taking a “refresher” driving course. Companies can also help improve staff safety and reduce insurance costs by enrolling staff on corporate driving and there are also courses for safer cycling for commuters and leisure cyclists.

Praised by Investors in Excellence for being "passionate" about road safety, the TTC Group also runs educational courses to improve the public’s driving skills on behalf of 11 police forces. 

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