Preventing the main causes of death on the roads

There are five main causes of death on the road. These are known as the fatal five:

  1. speeding
  2. not wearing your seatbelt
  3. distractions - using your mobile or a hand-held device
  4. drink and drugs
  5. careless and inconsiderate driving.

Here, you’ll find top tips on how to avoid these dangers and make sure that you’re staying safe whilst driving. Irresponsible driving doesn’t just risk your life, but the lives of others too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Not wearing your seatbelt

Remember – always wear your seatbelt. It’s against the law to not wear your seatbelt in vehicles where they are fitted.

3. Distractions - using your mobile or a hand-held device

It only takes you being briefly distracted by a glance at your phone screen for a fatal accident to happen. Whatever it is will still be there when you’re in a safe place to answer it - safely parked, off the road, with the engine switched off and the keys out of the ignition.

Some ways to avoid the temptation:

  • switch off your phone or device before you set off
  • divert your phone to voicemail
  • within Apple iPhone settings, go to Settings > Control Centre > tap Do Not Disturb While Driving
  • for Android users, download the Live2Txt app – this allows you to block calls and texts whilst on the road.

Even though hand-held device kits are legal, they can still be dangerously distracting. Operating SatNavs whilst driving is also an unsafe behaviour.

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4. Drink and drugs

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could lead to your or someone else’s death.

It also has serious penalties, such as a driving ban that lasts a year, a criminal record, in some cases a conviction on your licence (that will be visible to employers if you drive for work), and up to 14 years in prison if you kill someone when drunk or drug driving.

  • Make a plan, so you have a way to get to or from your destination without having to drive yourself or others.
  • Don’t accept drinks if you’re planning to drive, and don’t offer drinks to someone who you know will be driving.
  • Do not get a lift with someone who is under the influence – your life is just as much at risk as a passenger.

Should you be driving?

The only way to be truly safe when driving is to not drink at all, however, you should still know the legal limits. Be aware that the next morning, you could easily still be over the limit.

Here are some examples of the minimum times that have to have passed before you can safely drive again.

For three large glasses (250ml) of wine

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At least 11.5 hours from finishing the last drink.

For four pints of 4% lager

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At least 10 hours and 20 minutes from finishing the last drink.

For three pints of 6% lager

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At least 15 hours from finishing the last drink.

For four double 40% spirits (50ml)

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At least nine hours from finishing the last drink.

For four 5% alcopops (275ml)

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At least 6 hours and 40 minutes from finishing the last drink.

More resources

Visit the Learn2Live website for more road safety advice for young people, parents and teachers.