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Almost half of parents feel less confident about driving in the dark following cutbacks to the number of traffic police on UK roads, according to the results of a new survey.
With the clocks due to go back this weekend, plunging rush-hour and school-run traffic into darkness, online used car website Trusted Dealers gauged the impact that darker evenings would have on parents, looking at their concerns over road safety and their driving habits in the dark.
The survey showed that cutting the number of traffic cops on our roads has left 47.1% of parents feeling less confident about driving in the dark. Considering many people have concerns about night-time motoring anyway, that’s a significant knock to driving confidence.
When the evenings draw in, 38.4% of the parents Trusted Dealers polled said they get more anxious driving in the dark, while a similar proportion (39.5%) get more concerned about having an accident. Trust in other road users is also put to the test, as 36.3% worry about other motorists.
Many parents change their driving habits when driving in the dark, recognising the potential hazards resulting from reduced visibility when on the roads. Three in five (60.1%) parents polled exercise more caution when driving in the dark compared to daytime driving, while (45.2%) allow extra travel time in darker conditions. A similar proportion (44.3%) check their car headlights while one in nine (11.6%) even change their route.
So what would make our roads safer and reduce this anxiety?
Almost a third (32.1%) of those polled want more traffic police during the darker months, but the safety improvement most commonly called for by parents was an increased number of street lights (47%). In addition, 38.8% think pedestrians need more education and 34.4% think the same for cyclists. Most parents agree, however, that responsibility for improving road safety at night does not lie with car manufacturers – only 24% think safety features on cars would help make dark roads safer.
Keeping children safe
Only 31.5% of the parents Trusted Dealers polled said children need more education on road safety in darker conditions – but then 60.6% of survey respondents already reinforce safety messages to their children when the clocks go back. Other ways parents prepare their children for darker evenings include opting for high-visibility clothing (41.2%) and changing their kids’ routes (16%).
Commenting on the findings, Neil Addley, Managing Director at Trusted Dealers, said: “Our survey has shown that many drivers do get more anxious when the evenings get darker, so it’s troubling that the reductions in the number of traffic police on our roads is adding to this sense of worry.
“We’d like to see the government take notice of these findings and rethink their investment in making our roads safer, both in terms of funding for more police offers and installing better street lighting to assist motorists and pedestrians.
“Yet we were also encouraged by the high proportion of parents who reinforce safety messages to their children at this time of year. Educating children about road safety in the dark and instilling good behaviours is vital for reducing the number of accidents on our roads.
“High-visibility clothing for children will also help to achieve this by providing a warning for motorists and reminding children about the need to stay safe.”