Accident waiting to happen or remove risk

17/8/12   Roger Bealey on his  sponsered charity walk  around Wetherby blindfolded with guide dog Victoria  and Gail Skinner  a  Guide Doig Mobility Instructor .
17/8/12 Roger Bealey on his sponsered charity walk around Wetherby blindfolded with guide dog Victoria and Gail Skinner a Guide Doig Mobility Instructor .

I was talking to John Copeland and we were watching the traffic in North Street.

Vehicles were negotiating their way past the legitimately parked cars on both sides of the road.

“It’s hard to believe that this was once the A1,” said John.

He remembered the days when abnormal loads trundled through the town and the telephone wires across the road had to be held up by a pole to let them pass.

“The late Roger Field used to get quite annoyed when they forgot and the telephone wires to his business were accidentally ripped down,” he said.

We had that conversation six months ago. Since then, yellow lines have been painted on one side of North Street.

Theoretically this should have made the traffic flow faster and more easily and to a certain extent it has worked.

But it still hasn’t solved the main problem which is that in the morning rush period it is traffic from Wetherby waiting to turn right into York Road which still causes the blockages further back into the town.

Even with the light traffic on Sundays, that junction is still a problem.

Hunched down over the steering wheel and no doubt late for a church service, the woman in the small car was cutting a corner as she swung into York Road from North Street. She wasn’t exactly speeding, probably only doing 15 mph.

It’s a dangerous junction for pedestrians trying to cross York Road towards the garage.

There are four ways to look and even eyes in the back of the head wouldn’t have helped me to see the car approaching from North Street around the blind corner.

It’s an accident waiting to happen and there really should be a traffic island in the middle of York Road as a pedestrian refuge.

It takes about 12 seconds for me to cross the road, but only three seconds for a previously unseen car to round the corner.

Fortunately, the woman in the small car was alert enough to swerve violently and miss us by inches.

I have some sympathy with the recent Guide Dogs charity request for members of the public to write to their Member of Parliament to ask for legislation to have electric cars fitted with noise generators so that they can be heard by blind pedestrians waiting to cross the road.

But such vehicles are relatively few in number and personally I’m much more concerned about the dangers of the other silent vehicles which whizz along the pavement inches from my front door. I am of course talking about cyclists and mobility scooters.

There is legislation preventing cyclists from riding on pavements but it is often ignored.

Indeed, the police have sometimes been known to advise cyclists that it is safer to ride on the pavement if they do so with care. I’m told that the law also requires that a new bicycle be fitted with a bell – but after purchase, there is no law requiring a bike to still have a working bell, or the cyclist to use it.

Then of course, if we take these arguments to their logical conclusion, there would be agitation for cars such as the Rolls Royce to actually be tested for noise – and fitted with noise generators if they are as silent as they are proclaimed to be.

One can go too far in trying to eliminate risk.

A man asked to do a risk assessment of a stage set identified picture glass as one of the risks.

The glass had to be removed from the frame and during this operation two people cut themselves.

Whilst the fingers were being bandaged, the glass was placed out of the way on a seat where someone could have sat upon it.

I was mentally composing this article whilst doing the washing up and suddenly realised that I was about to wash a tin can before putting it in the recycling bin - and the tin had sharp edges.

We are told to wash tins before recycling them, but that one just had a quick rinse under the tap rather than a proper wash.

Statistics show that there are more accidents in the home than in the workplace.

In the home we use common-sense but there are times when a job has to be done which has an element of risk - such as balancing on a ladder to replace a light bulb with nobody else available to hold the ladder.

It’s one of the hazards of living alone in an old house with high ceilings.

I heard the other day of one lady well into her nineties who asked to borrow a plank to place across ladders whilst doing some decorating. Her son didn’t think much of the idea.

“Are you worried that I might fall and kill myself?” she asked.

“No, I’m afraid you might injure yourself and I’ve too much to do to keep visiting you in hospital” her son replied.