Drink - driving - random tests
A directive to implement random breath testing may be proposed by the European Commission (EC). The EC has said it would consider this if member states failed to introduce random testing of drivers. According to the EC, drink-driving is the second biggest cause of road deaths in Europe.
Cameras that detect drivers who are too close to the driver in front are being developed for police.
The cameras will record: the gap between two vehicles over a given distance; their speed; and the offending vehicle's number plate. Any evidence recorded by the cameras could be submitted as evidence in court cases. As there is no specific charge for driving too close, drivers may be charged with careless driving or dangerous driving. The cameras, to be used on motorways and A roads, are currently being designed and it is not yet known when they will be used on UK roads.
'Talking windscreens' could help prevent accidents
Drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they use a mobile phone on the road. However, using a 'talking windscreen' rather than a traditional mobile phone while driving could reduce this risk, and so help to prevent accidents, according to Oxford University research just published in Psychological Science
A growing body of evidence shows that using a hands-free phone is as problematic for drivers as using a hand-held phone. It is probably the distraction of a driver's attention, rather than problems with physically handling a phone, that contribute to the increased accident risk. Indeed, 'inattention' has often been cited as one of the leading causes of accidents in numerous major studies of traffic accidents. Therefore anything that can improve a driver's concentration while using a mobile phone should help to reduce the risk of accident.
Dr Charles Spence of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology and Dr Liliana Read from the Department of Transport in London found that the physical location from which a person's voice is heard influences a driver's concentration. In particular, participants in their experiments found it easier to divide their attention between eye and ear if the relevant sources of information came from the same direction.
In their studies, participants were required to drive a car in the advanced driving simulator at Leeds University. A three-dimensional graphic scene of the outside world was presented on a screen in front of the windshield in real-time. Participants were asked to perform a listening and speaking task whilst simultaneously driving around suburban and inner city roads. Two loudspeakers, one placed directly in front of them and one on the side, alternately played words that participants were asked to repeat, a task known as 'shadowing'. People found it much easier to combine the driving and shadowing tasks if the voice they were listening to came from the loudspeaker placed directly in front of them, rather than from the side (as when drivers hold a mobile phone to their ear).
These results show that people find it much easier to look and listen in the same direction than in different directions. This is presumably because humans have evolved to deal with sights and sounds that usually originate from the same place (as when, for example, we see, hear, and feel a mosquito landing on our arm).
Dr Spence said: 'These results highlight an important factor limiting a driver's ability to do more than one thing at once. However, there are some measures that car designers could introduce to increase safety, such as flat-screen loudspeakers placed by the windscreen in front of the driver. Moreover, by adopting a more ecological approach to interface design in the future, it may be possible to develop multisensory warning signals that can more effectively stimulate a driver's senses, and so reduce the risk of accidents while driving.
'The safest way of avoiding accidents, however, is not to use a mobile phone at all while driving.'
Source – University of Oxford – December 2003
TfL welcomes drop in London road deaths
The number of fatalities on London roads dropped by 28 % in the first six months of 2004, according to statistics released recently by Transport for London (TfL) ( Surveyor, 11 Nov) . There were also 10 % fewer collisions compared to the first half of 2003.
While the number of children killed or seriously injured also fell by 10 %, four people are still killed each week on London 's roads. At 15 %, the largest drop was in casualties among powered two-wheeler riders - but they still account for one in five deaths.
TfL has welcomed these improved figures as evidence that road safety campaigns are working.
Source – larsoa.org.uk – April 2004
Captain Fantastic saves the seat belts!
A new road safety play, Captain Fantastic and the Seat Belt Snatcher
, has been touring Southend schools.
The play, written and produced by A-level drama students, centres around the evil Emperor Zing and his accomplice Servator. Both are determined to steal all the seat belts in the world - thereby creating mayhem and injury, and paving the way for domination of the earth. Captain Fantastic and his sidekicks Stacey and Tracey enlist the help of Professor Bumble and schoolboys Teddy and Freddy as they set out to foil Zing's plan.
The play is the third collaboration between Shoeburyness High School and Southend's road safety team. The exercise will be repeated when Westcliff High School launches three road safety plays in the west of the borough. The performances form part of the road safety team's Immobile series of plays.
Source – larsoa.org.uk – April 2004
Parental attitudes study published
The Scottish Road Safety Campaign has released its final report into parental attitudes towards road safety education in Scotland .
The study, by ODS Ltd and Market Research UK , focused on two specific age groups of youngsters, aged 7-13 years and 14-18 years. The research was commissioned following previous studies showing that parents play a central role in the road safety education of their children.
The latest study, carried out between August 2003 and March 2004, assessed parental understanding of child road safety risks, the behaviours being encouraged in their children, parents' image of road safety education in schools and the extent to which parents are willing to become involved in road safety education and how this might be facilitated.
Source – srsc.org.uk/research
Uninsured drink-driver given community service
A driver who was three times over the drink-drive limit, uninsured and serving a five year drink driving ban has been sentenced to 100 hours community service and given a further five year ban. Stephen Taylor, 48, was stopped by police in Halifax , West Yorkshire . He was also ordered to pay £40 costs.
Source - Daily Mirror – 10 May 2004
Eight people killed in car crash
Eight people have been killed in a car crash on the A23 near Brighton . A BMW crossed the central reservation and hit a Land Rover travelling in the opposite direction. The initial impact caused the other cars to pile up. Six people were confirmed dead at the scene and a two year old boy and a women travelling in the Land Rover died several days later. The crash closed the A23, the main London to Brighton route, for 15 hours. Police are asking witnesses to come forward to aid investigations into the cause of the car crash.
Source - Daily Express – 25 May 2004
Driver caught at 155mph while talking on a mobile phone
A driver was banned from driving for four years after being caught driving at 155mph while talking on a hand-held mobile phone. He was caught by a speed camera on the A92 in Fife during a police crack down on speeding drivers over the Spring Bank Holiday.
Source - Daily Mirror – 5 May 2004
Drug-driver who killed 14 year-old jailed for two and a half years
A driver who killed a 14-year old passenger in a car crash was jailed for two and a half years. Gareth Frost, 17, who had not passed his driving test, had taken two ecstasy tablets and smoked cannabis before the car crash. Frost was driving at 70mph through Maltby in South Yorkshire when he lost control and crashed into a lamppost. One of his passengers, Jade Forester, 14, was killed instantly when the car overturned. Frost admitted causing death by dangerous driving.
Source - Daily Mail - 26 May 2004
Driver jailed for five years for killing three passengers
A driver who drove a minibus into the path of an express train at a level crossing killing three of his passengers has been jailed for five years. Adnan Karim, 25, was driving migrant workers to work when his vehicle was struck by a London bound train at 90mph in Charlton, Worcestershire. During the trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, the jury heard that Karim was unable to read English and so he failed to take account of the warning signs at the crossing. Karim denied three counts of manslaughter but was convicted of killing Soran Karim, 23, Satish Kumar, 28, and Islam Uddin Ahmed, 46.
Source - Guardian 18 May 2004
Speed, overtaking and speed enforcement
Nearly nine out of ten (89%) are in favour of 20mph speed limits outside schools, and more than three quarters (78%) support speed cameras outside schools, according to research by Brake, the road safety charity, and Green Flag Motoring Assistance.
This suggests that drivers support the placement of placing of cameras on a risk assessment basis and not just at sites of fatal and serious car crashes. This research, published in Part Two of the Report on Safety Driving 2004, surveyed 850 drivers and motorbike riders on their behaviour, knowledge and attitudes towards speeding, overtaking and speed enforcement. It also found that out of the 450 respondents who were parents, four out of five said that they were worried that their children could be hit by speeding traffic when on foot or bicycle.
Despite showing support for slower speeds around schools, many drivers who are concerned for children’s safety still speed themselves. Nearly two-thirds (63%) who said they worried their child would be hit by speeding traffic admitted driving at 35mph or more in a 30mph zone.
The research also revealed a possible reason why many drivers do not understand the importance of staying within 20mph and 30mph limits. Respondents drastically underestimated the survival rate for pedestrians hit at 20mph. A pedestrian hit at 20mph has a 90% chance of survival, but the average estimate was 32%, suggesting many drivers are unaware that slower speeds save lives. Respondents estimated the survival rate of pedestrians hit at 40mph relatively accurately (the actual survival rate is 15%, and the average estimate by respondents was 9%).
Although the majority of respondents admitted speeding (88%), most were adamant that the law should be tough on speeding drivers who kill. More than 70% said they thought a prison sentence of two years or more was appropriate, and one in five (19%) favour sentences of more than 15 years. Similarly, nearly all respondents (98%) said they thought drivers who kill while overtaking on a blind bend deserve to go to prison and more than a quarter (28%) said they deserve a sentence of more than 15 years. Yet more than one in ten (11%) admitted doing this – risking a head-on collision by overtaking when they could not see what was coming.
Source - Brake.org.uk – June 2004
More than half of drivers in the UK (57%) break the speed limit in 30mph zones, a drop of just 2% from last year, latest figures from the Department for Transport (DFT) show.
The Traffic Speeds in Great Britain : 2003 survey shows there is little change overall since the previous year’s figures, although the number of drivers breaking the 30mph speed limit is the lowest since 1998, when 70% of drivers broke the speed limit. Key findings include:
- 57% of drivers break 30mph speed limits
- 27% of drivers break 40mph limits
- 50% of drivers break the speed limit on single carriageway unrestricted roads.
- The survey also shows that the number of drivers breaking speed limits on motorways has fluctuated slightly since 1998 but is currently at its highest figure. 57% of drivers broke the 70mph limit in 2002 compared to 55% in 1998.
Source - Brake.org.uk – June 2004
US speed limits
US states that increased their maximum speed limits from 65mph to 75mph have seen a 38% increase in the number of deaths per million vehicle miles compared to states that retained a 65mph limit, according to a report by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The report was compiled using research by New Zealand ’s Land Transport Safety Authority, which monitored road deaths following a change in US law which meant that from 1995/96 states could set their own speed limits.
Source - The Institute for Highway Safety – June 2004
Speed cameras on high risk roads
Speed cameras are in place on 19 out of 21 ‘high risk’ roads in the UK , according to a survey by Transport 2000 and The Slower Speeds Initiative. The survey compared the location of speed cameras on Britain ’s roads which are rated ‘high risk’ by the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP). The survey concludes that claims made by anti-camera groups that cameras are not located in high risk areas are unfounded. The Slower Speeds Initiative has also highlighted that if the government adopted EuroRAP’s high risk criteria, rather than only placing speed cameras on roads where there have been at least four deaths or serious injuries within the past 3 years, Safety Camera Partnerships would be able to deploy more speed cameras to prevent crashes. EuroRAP assess risk by comparing the frequency of death or serious injury on a road with its level of traffic use. Most roads classed as high risk by EuroRAP have had a least one fatal or serious crash per mile within the past three years.
Source - Transport 2000 – June 2004
Home office motoring offence statistics
Nine out of ten motoring convictions in 2002 – including causing death by dangerous driving and drink or drug driving – were against men, according to a report published by the Home Office. The report Monitoring Offences and Breath Test Statistics England and Wales 2002
, also shows that the number of breath tests administered by police has fallen by 9% from 623,900 in 2001 to 570,200 in 2002. This is despite the number of drink-drive casualties rising by a third from 14,980 in 1993 to 20,140 in 2002. Penalties handed out to drivers were also shown to be derisory. Only 9% of drivers guilty of causing death by dangerous driving received a prison sentence of more than 5 years and 12% were allowed to walk free from court with a fine or community service. In February, the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving was raised to 14 years.
Source - Home Office Research, Development and Statistics – June 2004
Annual road casualty figures
The number of motorbike and moped riders killed on UK roads has risen 14% in one year, from 609 in 2002 to 693 in 2003, according to figures published by the Department for Transport (DFT). Motorbike deaths now account for one in five of all road deaths.
All road deaths have risen by 2% from 3,431 in 2002 to 3,508 in 2003, while the number of serious injuries has fallen 6% from 35,859 to 33,707. Large increases in road deaths occurred in some large cities. Deaths in Greater Manchester rose by 46%; in Birmingham by 18%; and in London by 7%.
Other key finding show:
- Pedestrian deaths stayed about the same at 775 in 2003, compared to 774 in 2002;
- Child pedestrian deaths stayed about the same at 74 in 2003 compared to 78 in 2002;
- All child road deaths stayed about the same at 171 in 2003 compared to 179 in 2002.
Source - Department for Transport - August 2004
Speed camera review
Speed cameras have reduced deaths by 40% and serious injuries by 40% at camera sites, saving 100 deaths and 770 serious injuries each year, research by University College London (UCL) shows. The research, conducted on behalf of the Department for Transport (DFT), evaluated the success of speed cameras in 24 partnership areas between 2000 and 2003. The research also found that at camera sites there was a:
- 71% reduction in vehicle speeds;
- 80% reduction in the number of vehicles breaking limits by more than 15mph.
The research also found also found that cameras save the economy £221 million annually by preventing crashes, a figure based on Government estimates that a road death costs the economy £1.3million and a serious injury costs £105,000. The figure compares to the £54 million it costs to run UK speed cameras, which is funded by speeding fines. It also included a survey of public opinion that showed more than two thirds (68%) of the public agreed that the primary aim of cameras is to save lives.
Source - The Department for Transport – August 2004
Exemption – speed cameras
Emergency services attending call-outs will be exempt from fixed penalty fines if caught by speed cameras. From July 1 st, emergency service vehicles displaying flashing blue lights will not be fined for speeding or ignoring red-lights. The change in policy was announced by health minister Rosie Winterton as a cost reduction measure. Currently, emergency services are using staff to write to the ticketing authority appealing fines.
Source - The Department for Health – August 2004
Ban – Speed camera detectors
Speed camera detectors which warn drivers about the location of mobile cameras could be banned, according to the Department for Transport (DFT), because they prevent the police from carrying out their duties. Devices which detect fixed cameras will remain legal as the locations of fixed cameras are available to the public. The DFT is currently looking at how feasible a ban would be, although it is not yet known when it would come into force.
Source - The Department for Transport – August 2004
US seatbelt campaign
A US survey has found a slight increase in seatbelt use after an eight-month advertising and enforcement campaign. The Air Bag and Seatbelt Safety Campaign (ASSC) questioned 800 drivers and found seatbelt use increased from 73% in 2000 to 80% in 2004. The ASSC is a campaign group which is part of the US National Safety Council, a voluntary sector organisation working to prevent accidental injury. It also found that 83% had seen, or heard about the adverts and enforcement campaign. From May 2003 to January 2004, US police stepped up enforcement of seatbelt use and the US government ran adverts featuring unrestrained drivers being stopped and fined. The adverts were shown on seven national TV networks in the US during programmes with large numbers of young and male viewers, including: Major League Baseball; NASCAR racing; and wrestling.
Source - Brake.org.uk – August 2004
Signs – middle lanes
Variable Message Signs (VMS) on motorways could be used to display warnings to drivers who use the middle lane when the inside lane is clear, according to the Highway’s Agency. The signs will urge drivers to stay in the inside lane unless overtaking by displaying the message: ‘Don’t hog the middle lane’. The initiative will be trialled on northbound stretches of the M1 and M6, although an exact date for the trial has yet to be finalised.
Source - The Highways Agency – August 2004
Device – drink-drive immobiliser
A device which immobilises a car’s engine if the driver is over the drink-drive limit is being developed by car manufacturer Saab. Before the driver can start their car, they must blow into a breath-tester attached to the car’s key-ring. If the driver is over the drink drive limit the engine will not start. The device is being tested and is expected to be an option on Saab cars within the next two years.
Source - Saab.com – August 2004
Law – crash protection
Vehicles in the US may be required to have tougher side-impact protection following proposals by the US Government’s Department of Transport (DoT). The DoT has proposed legislation that would make it compulsory for vehicle manufacturers to provide head protection for drivers and passengers in side-impact crashes. The law is expected to be in place by the end of 2005 although manufacturers will have until 2009 to fully comply with it.
Source - dov.gov – August 2004
Nearly one third of motorbikers (31%) are worried about being killed while riding, according to a survey called Too Hot To Handle
. The survey was carried out by The Shiny Side Up Partnership, a campaign group set up to tackle the high death rate among motorbikers. It questioned 370 bikers during the 2002-2003 race season at Donnington Park . Other findings include:
- 35% of bikers who are parents said they are worried about leaving their children an orphan if they are killed;
- 18% of male riders said they are worried about being permanently injured;
- 30% of female riders said they are worried about being permanently injured;
- 19% of female riders said they are worried about damaging their bike.
The survey shows that more than half of riders (52%) blamed other drivers for not seeing motorbikers as the main cause of crashes. However, the Shiny Side Up Partnership examined police crash data from Stats 19 forms and found that more than 62% of motorbike crashes are caused by rider error.
Source - Brake.org.uk – August 2004