In his 29 years with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Clyde Evans has attended more road traffic collisions than most of us have seen episodes of Casualty.
Often first on the scene, it’s Clyde’s job to stay calm and in control, knowing that those involved are relying on him and his colleagues to get them to safety.
But no matter how professional or experienced he is, there are some incidents he can never forget.
Like the minibus crash in which four young footballers lost their lives… or the time he helped paramedics stretcher a man who had lost an arm in a motorway pile-up… or the driver who escaped a fatal smash only to take his own life, wracked by guilt, a few weeks later.
As a family man with three sons in their 20’s, Clyde can’t help but be affected by what he sees. Especially when he knows that driver error plays a part in 95 percent of ‘accidents’ and so might have been prevented.
“As firefighters, it’s our aim to get people out of the vehicle alive. Then we go home or move onto our next job.
“We might save someone’s life, but that person could be seriously injured, paralysed or scarred for life, physically and emotionally.
“We get to walk away, but the victims and their loved ones have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through that pain and grief if I can help it.”
Now a senior Road Safety Officer with the fire service, Clyde attends the scenes of collisions in a command and control role.
He’s also a staunch supporter of TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation.
“Most collisions are due to human error of some description. There could be a hundred reasons, from the driver being distracted to the vehicle being unfit for the road.
“We’re all responsible for making sure the cars we drive and travel in are safe – but how many of us actually do it?”
Clyde’s particularly keen to spread the vehicle safety message to young people and their families and often visits colleges and youth groups talking to young drivers.
Most don’t relish sitting down and listen to stuff about driving carefully, vehicle maintenance or checking their tyres.
But a few minutes listening to Clyde and the room goes quiet.
“I don’t set out to shock but when I talk about what I’ve experienced and the lifelong effects on the people involved, I usually get gasps, followed by a stunned silence,” he admits.
“If you’d seen what I’ve seen, it gives you a different perspective on driving and road safety,” says Clyde.
“That’s why Hampshire Fire and Rescue is a big supporter of TyreSafe.”
Clyde makes sure his own car is in good working order and that includes regularly checking the tyres for wear, damage and pressure.
He says: “A collision last seconds but the impact can go on for a lifetime. If there’s a quick and simple check that can help to improve road safety like the TyreSafe 20p test, then do it now – or get your kids to show you.z
Each year, dozens of people are killed and hundreds are seriously injured as a result of an accident caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres. And as driving conditions deteriorate with the bad winter weather, TyreSafe is encouraging drivers to make sure they have adequate tread depth.
If drivers do not have suitable tread depth, they are more likely to be involved in an accident as stopping distances are much longer, grip is lost and the risk of aquaplaning is increased. Drivers also face fines of up to £2500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
The TyreSafe campaign gives drivers a quick and easy way to check the legality of their tyres using a 20p coin.
In fact, it’s so simple an adult can do it