Wessex FM - Enjoy A Safer Summer

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Our guide to a safer summer in Dorset

Check out our helpful hints, tips, and advice




Hints and tips for days out or holidays when travelling by car, train or going abroad. Check in with  Wessex FM's Safer Summer pages.

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Drivers should always assume that someone, or something, could be around any corner. Slow down, especially round bends and do not overtake when you cannot see what’s ahead.


The basics

Check your car basic checks before you set out can save a world of pain if your car breaks down during the journey.

As a minimum, check the engine oil, coolant and screen-wash levels are correct. Additionally, check the car’s tyres for tread and pressure – and don’t forget to make sure you have enough fuel too. Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network.


Summer Driving Advice

Here are some simple steps people can take to ensure they are looking out for each other

  • always assume that someone, or something, could be around any corner. Slow down, especially round bends and do not overtake when you cannot see what’s ahead.
  • clean windscreens regularly and keep washer fluid topped up – smears or dirt could affect your vision.
  • The sun can dazzle in the summer. Make sure you have a pair of sunglasses handy.
  • If you’re on two wheels, wear the right protective clothing and make sure you can be seen.
  • Watch out for dehydration – it can affect your concentration. Motorcyclists are particularly at risk due to the heavy protective clothing they wear.
  • There is no “safe” level of alcohol. If you are planning to go out for a drink, don’t drive. Please find another way of getting home.
  • Cyclists and motorists – as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says “treat every road user as if they were a member of your family. Much of the antagonism between drivers and cyclists is due to misunderstanding each other’s needs and actions.


Driving TiredImage

If you feel tired, stop and take a short nap (up to 15 minutes) or drink two cups of strong coffee.

It’s best to avoid getting tired in the first place if you can. These tips can help:

  • Include a 20-minute break in journeys of more than 3 hours
  • On longer trips, take a break every couple of hours
  • You’re better off taking several short (at least 20 minutes) stops than one long one
  • Don’t drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal before driving

Don’t stop for a nap on the hard shoulder, and make sure you check parking restrictions before putting your head down at a motorway service area as you could get a ticket for overstaying your welcome.


Drugs, Medicine & Driving

If you’ve taken illegal drugs, it’s against the law for you to drive. See The Highway Code or GOV.UK for more on the tests and penalties for drug driving.

The effects of illegal drugs can be even more serious than alcohol. Drugs can have unpredictable effects and you may not be aware of them affecting you. The direct effects of some drugs can last up to 72 hours.

During 2011, at least 640 accidents were caused by drug-drivers (using illegal drugs or medicines), including 49 deaths. (Source: Department of Transport)

Some medicines can make you sleepy and will affect your ability to drive. Whether you’ve bought the medicine over the counter or been given it on prescription, always read the label. If it says ‘may cause drowsiness’, it probably will make you sleepy. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to drive while taking a medicine, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Taking a combination of prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs, controlled drugs or alcohol can have an unpredictable effect on you, so you shouldn’t drive while you could be affected by them.


Hay fever

If your hay fever is particularly bad, it’s best to get someone else to drive if you can. Also:

  • Make sure any medication you’re taking doesn't cause drowsiness
  • Close windows and air vents to reduce pollen grains in the car
  • Clean mats and carpets regularly to get rid of dust
  • Keep tissues close to hand

Wear sunglasses to block out bright sunlight.



The driver of that slow-moving tractor in front of you may have a soundproofed  cab or could be wearing ear protectors, so may not be able to hear approaching cars.

Be aware that tractors only have to have brake or indicator lights if driving at night, so they may stop or turn suddenly and without warning in daylight hours.

When you’re driving in the countryside:

  • Keep plenty of distance behind a tractor
  • Remember that a tractor may be longer than it appears – there could be a loader on the front
  • Before overtaking, make sure you have plenty of room to get past


Carrying Loads

You must make sure you don’t overload your vehicle. Check your car’s handbook to see how much weight it can carry and how to load it safely.

If you’re carrying a load, make sure it’s:

  • fastened securely
  • not blocking your view
  • not sticking out dangerously

Think about whether you need special equipment to carry loads safely and securely, such as a roof box, cycle rack or straps to anchor items. You can get advice on how to fit and use this equipment from specialist shops.

Try to distribute the weight of the load evenly around the car to help keep the vehicle stable. If you’re carrying or towing a heavy load, you might need to make some adjustments to your vehicle such as:

  • increasing the air pressure in the tyres
  • adjusting the aim of the headlights

Carrying extra weight will make it take longer for the car to accelerate and brake. It’ll also affect how the vehicle steers, so you’ll need to go around corners more slowly than usual.

Animals must be restrained so they can’t block your view or cause a distraction. Dogs can travel in a special cage or behind a dog guard; you can also use a harness for extra security. Other animals should be carried in a cage or pet carrier, secured with a seat belt if possible.


Children and teenagers are not always aware of the dangers in the railway environment. Of course, areas created for the travelling public are safe: stations, platforms, trains, level crossings and footbridges. But if you go to areas you are not supposed to go, you will put yourself in serious danger.

Trains can’t stop quickly!Copyright © 123RF

  • Trains can’t swerve and they can’t stop quickly. If someone is in the way, there’s nothing the driver can do to stop hitting them.
  • Trains can travel at 125 mph and take the length of 20 football pitches to stop. If you are in the way the train won’t stop - the driver will not see you until it’s too late.
  • Up to 60 people are killed on the railway every year by crossing the tracks, taking short cuts or playing chicken.

Trains can drag you under their wheels

Trains produce enormous amounts of wind turbulence. This slipstream is so powerful that it can drag you under the wheels of the train if you are standing next to the track or too close to the platform edge.

You can’t hear a train coming!

Modern trains are deceptively silent – and extremely fast. A train travelling at 125 mph takes only 7 seconds to travel a quarter of a mile. It is never safe to take a short cut across the tracks – it may cut your life short.

When is it safe to cross the tracks?

The only safe way to cross the railway tracks is in a place that is designed for crossing:

  • A bridge or subway
  • A railway crossing – also called level crossing

Most crossings have a sign and lights or bells that alert you if a train is coming. Many crossings also have gates that close if a train is coming.

When crossing tracks at a railway crossing, follow these rules:

  • Stop and look both ways before crossing the tracks. Listen for the train coming and for warning bells. If there are lights, watch for them to flash. Remember a number of modern trains are deceptively silent – and extremely fast.
  • If a train is going by, stand well back from the tracks.
  • Never try to cross the tracks if a train is coming. It is too dangerous and you will never cross in time. It can take up to 1½ miles for a train to come to a complete stop – that's about 20 football fields.
  • If a train goes by, look both ways again before crossing. Make sure another train is not coming. Many crossings have more than one track, which means there could be more than one train at the same time.

Never play on or near train tracks. It is dangerous and illegal.



The electricity is never switched off

Some trains are powered by electricity which is never switched off. In some parts of Britain, the electricity runs through a rail on the track and in others through the overhead power lines.

In both cases the power is strong enough to kill you. Electricity on overhead power lines can jump and arc.

You do not have to touch the overhead power lines to get electrocuted. The electricity can arc like lightning and jump up across a gap. You can get electrocuted if you or anything you are holding gets close to the electric power lines.

You can also get electrocuted if you fly a kite or dangle things from bridges near the overhead power lines.

Never play on or near train tracks or the overhead power lines. It is dangerous and illegal.

The shock will almost certainly kill you instantly – but if you do survive, you will suffer from horrendous injuries for the rest of your life.

Where electricity is provided on the rail, there is a third rail running along the railway line. This third rail looks like a normal rail but it is actually a power line. The electricity is so strong that if you touch the rail or step on it, you will stick to it like glue and won’t be able to get off.

The electricity is likely to kill you – and if you do survive, you will suffer terrible burns.

This film made for Network Rail follows the real life story of Nathan showing the dangers that electricity can pose of the railway.

WARNING: This film contains graphic images that some viewers might find disturbing.



Wherever you’re going, it’s important to prepare before you go. Stay healthy and safe abroad by taking some simple precautions:

  • plan your trip using the foreign travel checklist from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • learn about the laws, customs and entry requirements of the country you’re visiting
  • make sure you have the right travel insurance (and your free European Health Insurance Card if you’re travelling in Europe)
  • check what you need to stay healthy while travelling, including any vaccinations
  • make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your trip and that you’ve filled in the emergency details page
  • learn to keep your passport safe from pickpockets by watching the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's passport hustle video:


Healthy Plane Travel

Flying is the most popular form of long-distance travel. It’s convenient, fast, and increasingly affordable. And while flying isn’t always the most comfortable experience, there are several steps you can take before, during, and after your flight to make it safer, healthier, and less stressful.

This infographic source: Greatist