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This article was published on November 8th, 2021
Vulnerable road users are defined by road safety organisations as those that have less crash protection than occupants of motor vehicles, that therefore have a higher risk of being injured or killed in a road traffic accident.
Vulnerable road users can generally be separated into four groups including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. However, it is also important to be extra vigilant of children, older and disabled people, learners and inexperienced drivers and riders.
More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users, this article will highlight what makes each group particularly vulnerable, highlight our collective responsibilities as road users and offer suggestions for the steps that we can all take to improve road safety and protect vulnerable road users.
Pedestrians are arguably one of the most vulnerable road users because lack any sort of protection from a vehicle. People can be very difficult to see, especially for people in a vehicle where visibility is often limited. This, combined with the fact that pedestrians have very little protection, has resulted in the largest number of recorded injuries among this group of road users.
Whilst walking is a great way to get around it does carry a certain amount of risk. As a pedestrian it is incredibly important to be vigilant, the best way to protect yourself whilst out and about is to walk on pavements where possible, cross the road at designated crossings, never make assumptions about what a driver is going to do and dress in high-visibility clothing, particularly at night.
Much like pedestrians, cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable road users, largely due to their lack of protection. Cyclists are frequently forced to share the road with vehicles due to substandard or non-existent cycle paths. This can add to a cyclists vulnerability because motor vehicles may pass by them too closely or fail to see them at all, this is especially common when motorists are turning off or onto a road and fail to give way.
As a cyclist, you should ride decisively and offer clear signals to drivers to show the actions that you intend to take, making eye contact where you can. Avoid riding up the inside of motor vehicles as you may not be visible to them. If another vehicle is indicating left at a junction, hang back to avoid a collision. Finally, it is critical to utilise your lights, dress in high-visibility clothes, and wear a helmet that is well fitted and meets current regulations.
Whilst motorcyclists tend to wear more protective gear than other road users when they are riding, they are more vulnerable in other ways. Unlike other vulnerable road users, motorcyclists travel at the same high speeds as other vehicles on the road, but they are harder to spot and less protected in the event of an accident. They are also more vulnerable to bad weather. Rain, snow and fog make it more difficult for the motorbike rider to see or stop and turn suddenly, which further increases the risks.
As a motorcycle rider, you should ride confidently, much like cyclists, you should look and show drivers the actions that you intend to take, and, if possible, make eye contact to ensure they have seen you. Other measures you can take to protect yourself include conducting an extra ‘lifesaver’ glance before performing a manoeuvre and wearing protective gear, including an appropriate helmet. Finally, further training may be beneficial to increase your performance, knowledge, and confidence while on the road. Organisations such as Upright Derbyshire offer help and advice to motorcyclists. They encourage riders to spend time investing in themselves to become better educated.
Equestrian riders frequently have little choice but to travel via road, which is often congested with cars, trucks, and heavy machinery. These vehicles frequently overtake without giving nearly enough distance between their vehicle and the horse rider, this can be particularly dangerous because horses can be easily frightened.
There are inherent risks when riding a horse, particularly on the road. As an equestrian rider, you should be fully confident in the ability of your horse before riding on the road and you should ensure that you are using clear signals to indicate your intentions to road users. As well as this, it is important to be proactive rather than reactive and it is important to ride with your head, thinking about what’s happening around you, just as you would when driving. Finally, make sure you’re wearing a good-fitting riding cap as well as high-visibility clothing. Fluorescent clothing allows other road users to see you up to three seconds faster than if you are not wearing any.
Above are just some of the things you can do as vulnerable road users to keep yourself safe. All road users should work together to reduce the risks for these groups. Unfortunately, even if you take every precaution, accidents will still happen. If you fall into any of these vulnerable road user groups and you have experienced an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. To speak to a member of our experienced personal injury team get in touch today on 0800 197935 or fill out our simple enquiry form.