As the clocks go back next Sunday (28th October) and British Summer Time officially ends, spare a thought for the millions of dog owners in the UK, many of whom will now be walking their dogs in the dark before or after work.
Reported road casualty statistics from the Department for Transport* for 2011 show that there is an 18 per cent rise during the winter months in the number of reported pedestrians killed or seriously injured in road accidents in Great Britain. In 2011, there were a total of 2,198 pedestrians killed or seriously injured during January, February, November and December, compared to 1,862 in 2010. Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has the following advice for dog owners and dog walkers:
Keep control of your dog and don’t let him off lead unless you are in a safe area which is well lit
Consider wearing high visibility clothing such as jackets, vests or reflective strips on your clothes so you can be easily seen by motorists
A reflective collar and lead or a high visibility coat or flashing collar will also increase your dog’s visibility in the dark
Perhaps work out a winter dog walking route which, in urban areas, includes both pavements and street lighting
If there is no pavement, walk against the flow of the traffic and keep your dog on the side farthest from the road
Carry a torch which will help you be seen and also enable to you see to pick up your dog’s mess. Or, consider a head torch so your hands are free
Walking in groups can be safer than on your own
If possible, take your dog in the car to a place where you can walk away from the roadside. Many parks and sports fields have lighting but always check that dogs are allowed first
Make sure your dog is well trained and responsive to commands. For tips on training visit www.dogstrust.org.uk
Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin OBE comments:
“With the nights and mornings getting darker earlier, it is important to keep both you and your dog safe when you are out walking the dog.
Across our 18 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin, we have an army of volunteers and dog walkers who come out in all weathers to help us walk the 16,000 stray and abandoned dogs we care for each year. Keeping them safe is of the utmost importance.”
Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said:
“When walking, especially at this time of year, try to make yourself as conspicuous as possible and be aware that drivers may find it more difficult to spot you. Stay alert, don’t be tempted to dash across a road to save time.
“RoSPA also urges drivers to be aware that it may be more difficult to see pedestrians, especially in areas without street lights, so keep your speed down and give yourself plenty of time for your journeys.”
RoSPA has been campaigning for lighter evenings for decades, as all the evidence suggests that an extra hour of evening daylight would save at least 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious injuries on our roads each year.
* Department for Transport reported casualties and casualty rates by month, road user type and severity, Great Britain, 2011. (http://www.dft.gov.uk/