Highways England launches safety campaign to warn drivers about rain


Highways England (HE) is launching a new safety campaign warning drivers that ‘when it rains, it kills’, after the latest statistics showed that people are 30 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads in rain than in snow.

Drivers are being urged to slow down when it is raining, after almost 3,000 people were killed or seriously injured when driving in the rain last year. The figures also reveal that travelling too fast for the current conditions was identified as a factor in one in 9 road deaths in the UK last year, with drivers failing to alter how they drive in response to changing conditions on the road. HE is warning that even driving within the speed limit in wet weather could be dangerous if drivers do not allow extra space between them and the vehicle in front. And the message is being reinforced with rain-activated paint messages visible to people leaving motorway services when it is raining.

In total, 197 people lost their lives on roads during rainfall in the UK last year and 2,721 suffered a serious injury, compared with 14 deaths and 153 serious injuries during fog, and two deaths and 95 serious injuries during snow. HE is aiming to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on England’s motorways and major A-roads by 40% by 2020 through road improvements, safety campaigns and other initiatives. A new road safety video has also been produced (pictured below), directed by award-winning photographer Nadav Kander, which shows rain falling inside the home of a family imagined to have been involved in a serious road collision.

“Most of us already slow down in snow, ice or fog, but when it rains we consider it normal, so don’t adapt our driving, said Richard Leonard, HE’s head of road safety. “The sad fact is that 2,918 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads when it was raining last year, and not slowing down to suit the current conditions was identified as a factor in one in 9 of all road deaths. Rain makes it harder for tires to grip the road, and harder for drivers to see ahead, significantly increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.

“We’ve launched our new campaign to make drivers aware of the dangers and to stay safe. It generally takes at least twice as long to stop on a wet road as on a dry road, because tires have less grip on the surface. In wet weather you should: slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles is making it difficult to see and be seen; keep well back from the vehicle in front, as this will increase your ability to see and plan ahead; ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually if the steering becomes unresponsive, as it probably means that water is preventing the tires from gripping the road.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).