As the best summer I can remember in years comes to a close, it is interesting to note that insurers are girding their loins for an increase in large claims purely because of the weather. An increase in large claims is directly proportional to an increase in serious injuries. So, why do more people get injured when the sun comes out?
Well, we British are fair-weather people. In 2012, the summer was a wash out, so many of us left our bikes in the garage to rust away. When the sun comes out, we dust off our bikes, and go riding down country lanes. Or maybe we go rambling, or walk to the pub. We may go for a scenic drive with the roof down. The number of drivers on our roads and pedestrians on our pavements increases markedly as soon as the temperature goes above 20 degrees.
Sadly, the number of accidents is pretty much directly proportionate to the number of road users. The more people on the road, the more likely they are to hit each other. And because many of the people on the road are unprotected – the cyclists and the pedestrians – the accidents can be serious. Just to put this into context, in 2010, over 50 per cent of those seriously injured on the roads were not in a car or bus.
Cycling has been taking off in this country, both as a sport and as a way of commuting. I live in the heart of the countryside, and spend most Sundays skilfully avoiding pelotons around every bend. The health benefits are well documented, but unfortunately we British are less used to cyclists on the road and more and more people get injured every year – again, last year injuries grew by a further 4 per cent, even with the poor summer weather.
There is more to being safe in the sun than applying factor 50, and so many injuries can be avoided with common sense and by following road safety advice on cycling in rural areas, particularly at dusk.