Viewing entries posted in January 2013

Crash Dummies

Posted by Sharon Eason on 31 January 2013 | 0 Comments

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Earlier this week I received an e-mail asking if I was interested in a guest blog on what to do if you are involved in a road traffic accident.  My immediate reaction was ooooh yes please!  Then I looked more closely, the e-mail came from a litigation company in the USA - hardly relevant to our laws, so politely I declined.  That then set me thinking - what should you do if you are involved in an accident? 

First port of call then was the HIghway Code section relevant to breakdowns and incidents.  If you need to read the current version, just click here

Welcome back - was the advice a little different to what you expected? Thought so.  I did know that you are NOT allowed to put out a warning triangle on a motorway (or dual carriageway) due to the speed of traffic. Returning to your vehicle would also involve walking with your back to the traffic which is definitely not advised.  Have you ever felt the force of the air envelope caused by a lorry travelling at just 50 mph?  It is not easy to avoid the pull towards the vehicle.  As they say, don't try it at home! 

A friendly Green Flag man also told me that you should not attempt to change a wheel in these conditions either.  Again the rules do say this, but "do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs" (rule 275) does not seem quite as clear and incicive as the language used by my Green Flag man.  My offside rear tyre had blown.  It was dark and I was travelling on the A14 at the time.  Although I had managed to limp well into a layby, he parked his truck with lights blazing behind the car thus preventing anyone entering the layby, and forcing the traffic away from the left.  His graphic descriptions of some of the injuries that result from people who were "just changing a wheel" at the roadside will stay with me forever.

It is all about staying safe yourself and not causing any further accidents. So, what does all this mean in practice and just what is sensible to carry in the car at all times - just in case? 

The Highway Code says that you should get out of the vehicle and away from it if you breakdown on the motorway.  Not a problem really, except that the first rule of British Motoring states that if you break down or have an accident it will be in a howling gale with pouring rain.  So first piece of equipment a waterproof jacket.  Let's be sensible here and use a high visibility jacket and do two jobs in one. 

Carrying a simple hi-vis waistcoat per person started as a legal requirement in Spain and has spread to other mainland European countries.  Should we adopt this very sensible idea and make it compulsory?  The vests take up very little space and make a world of diffrence to safety, especially at night. Rule 274 implies wearing a vest, but somehow is not explicit enough.

If you do have to leave your vehicle, have you thought about how you will make sure all your passengers are safe - including the ones with four legs?  In an emergency, you must leave the dog in the car (rule 275).  Small children need to be controlled in this situation.  You cannot allow any form of tantrum or attempts to run away.  I don't want to even think about the potential results.  So what can you do to keep the little ones safe?  Lifting them from the car and holding them tightly whilst you get to the other side of the barrier is a good and easy starting point, but are you really going to be able to hold on to them for as long as it takes to for the professionals to arrive.  It goes without saying that you must stress that you have children with you and make sure you give their ages. 

The Highway Code states that if you are involved in or witness an accident you must exchange insurance details and inform the police if people, animals or property are injured (rule 286).  Injury to property seems to have crept in under the radar in recent years.  I am sure I remember that in a bygone age the police were only interested if people or animals were involved.  The simple way to ensure you stay within the law is to make the phone call and let the police tell you what to do next.

Property will, of course, include roadside structures which may be damaged - such as streetlights, walls and dare I mention bridges?  Do a double check as damage to a railway bridge can be more expensive than you think.  Make sure you know how high and how wide your outfit is, and read the warning signs in advance.  When the sign is triangular there is an alternative route between you and the bridge.  Once the shape changes to a circle you have a problem, so STOP there.

OK, so you are involved in an accident, now what?  The problem is going to arise when you try to make your insurance claim - you have to remember details!  So, here is a simple piece of advice offered to my husband during a lorry drivers' CPC course.  "Don't forget your mobile phone".  I had to ask him to elucidate, and to be honest it is so obvious that I wish I could claim the advice as my own.  Your mobile phone is not only there to tell your family that you are going to be late home - it has a camera, video camera and a voice recorder all built in.  Learn to use all the functions they could save you a lot of time and money - maybe even your licence.

A torch might help - mainly to warn other drivers if you are involved in an incident at night.  No problem here of course, the batteries are sure to be full when needed!  Our car has an inbuilt torch which doubles as a light at one side of the boot, but I don't think I would carry one otherwise - although if I was towing at the time, there is definitely at least one other torch and batteries in the 'van!

Remember, back in the day, when we were always told to carry a basic toolkit to carry out roadside repairs?  I think you can safely take that out of the boot and save the weight.  Replace it with a little card with the number of your roadside assistance company and your membership number - invaluable.  Just do a double check that your car and caravan are included in your membership.  If you have the benefit of roadside recovery as part of any other financial package, it may not.

So, don't be a crash dummy.  Check the rules in the Highway Code and think for a while about how the rules might save your family from serious injury.  Make sure you know what to do - perhaps brush up your first aid - and learn to use that mobile phone!!

As for guest blogger - oooh yes please.  If you would like to send an article for inclusion please feel free - provided your article is based on UK practice it will be considered and almost certainly used.

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How Clean is Clean?

Posted by Sharon Eason on 10 January 2013 | 0 Comments

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Did you see the Food Inspectors on BBC1 on 9 January?  Quite apart from yelling at the screen that the carrots direct from the producer's field had to be healthier than the lettuce boiled in what amounted to a swimming pool, the program sent me into a fit of spring cleaning my own kitchen, and that got me thinking about the caravan.

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