GUEST COLUMN: Stay safe on the roads this winter, by NFRS crew manager Leigh Holmes

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In my last column, which was published in October during our most recent retained recruitment campaign, I spoke about how rewarding life as an on-call firefighter can be.

Now, a month later, I’d like to move on to talk about a slightly different, but very relevant topic. As well as being an on-call firefighter I am also a full-time crew manager within the service, and am a member of the technical rescue team that covers North Nottinghamshire.

As part of my role within the technical rescue team, and also my on-call role, I attend a lot of specialist incidents. Many of these incidents are sadly bad road traffic collisions that can have devastating effects on people’s lives – often involving multiple casualties with serious injuries.

These incidents are never, ever nice and trust me when I say that you really don’t want to be involved in one of them. A collision could seriously injure you or somebody else you care about and nobody wants to experience this – especially not at this time of year with Christmas just around the corner.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can all take to reduce the likelihood of you suffering an accident on the roads. Firstly – think speed. The risk of killing a pedestrian is four times higher at 40mph than at 30mph, so please, please drive carefully and to the road conditions. Don’t ever exceed the speed limit and take extra care when the weather takes a turn for the worse – as rain, ice and fog can all make it much more likely that you’ll suffer a collision.

Next up, always wear a seatbelt. It takes no time at all to strap yourself in properly, yet if you don’t you are doubling your likelihood of dying in a crash.

In addition, please never drive after drinking alcohol or taking drugs as even a small amount can mess up your reaction times, judgement and co-ordination.

Finally, don’t let yourself get distracted. You are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you use a mobile phone when you’re driving – so please don’t do it. Whatever the call, and whatever the text message, it can wait. It really can.

By taking this advice you can help make yourself, your family and other road users that little bit safer this winter.