Thursday, 30 April 2015

‘Killer’ trucks allowed off the leash, say campaigners . . .


‘Killer’ trucks allowed off the leash, say campaigners

Cited at:

Increased HGV speeds could see a rise in fatalities on UK roads
ALLOWING heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to increase their speed could increase fatalities on minor roads, road safety campaigners claim.

Under the new regulations being introduced from 6 April in England and Wales, speed limits for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes will rise from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.

But this has brought fierce criticism from the Campaign for Better Transport warning that this is likely to lead to increased deaths and injuries.

Philippa Edmunds, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The government is justifying increasing the HGV speed limit on the basis that it is commonly broken and ignoring its own figures which show the scale of danger that HGVs pose.”

“The government’s own latest statistics also show that HGVs are now six times more likely to be involved in fatal collisions than cars on minor roads.”

“The vast majority of HGVs flout existing speed restrictions, yet the government is rewarding the road haulage industry rather than tackling this and enforcing speed limits.”

“This is like burglary being legalised because burglary laws can’t be enforced. The interests of the industry are being put above people’s safety.”

However, the regulations have been broadly welcomed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the IAM, said: “Driver awareness is the key if this policy is to deliver safer roads. There is wide spread ignorance about current speed limits leading to frustration and road rage as platoons build up behind lorries being driven legally. The new limits should reduce stress and ease bad overtaking. This has been proven in the first few months of higher limits on the A9 in Scotland.”

A wholehearted welcome for the change comes from the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD).

ABD chairman Brian Gregory said: “We are particularly pleased that the out-dated 40mph speed limit for HGVs on single-carriageway roads is going up. This will reduce the speed differential between heavy and light vehicles, particularly on major roads, with a consequent reduction in delays, frustration and the need to overtake. It is the spread of speeds, rather than average speed, that is linked to accident frequency.”

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

TyreSafe releases TPMS info video . . .


TyreSafe releases TPMS info video

Cited at:

TyreSafe releases TPMS info video

Tyre pressure monitoring systems are an effective safety feature, but as of January 2015 they also provide an extra way for a vehicle to fail its MoT. Safety organisation TyreSafe notes that public awareness of TPMS is not particularly high, and to remedy this it has produced a simple video to help motorists understand the technology’s safety features. The TPMS video is part of a wider TPMS campaign from TyreSafe, which has produced a range of informational products including leaflets and posters that can be found on the website.

“Although TPMS technology has been around for decades, its inclusion in new model vehicles has only been mandated in Europe since 2012 and on all new cars since 2014. This led to a gradual introduction into the market over a period of years and with little or no fanfare to help educate motorists,” comments TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson. “Our members have been telling us that they’re encountering a lot of customers who either aren’t aware of how these systems work (and need to be maintained) or just see them as an expensive luxury rather than the crucial safety feature they are.

“This is why we have produced a video: to communicate the importance of TPMS and how to use it effectively,” adds Jackson. “They make sure drivers know their tyre pressure when it’s most important – while they are driving.”

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Number of drivers caught speeding increases by 25 per cent in just one year after rise in 'stealth' cameras used by the police . . .


Number of drivers caught speeding increases by 25 per cent in just one year after rise in 'stealth' cameras used by the police 

  • 112,000 drivers given penalty notices in 12 months because of the cameras
  • Increase due to 'grey cameras' on motorways with variable speed limits
  • Critics say the measures are used to catch out drivers and make money
  • Numbers of drivers fined will rise as system is extended across the country
Cited at:

Traffic police have fined 25 percent more drivers on motorways in the last 12 months through the use of unmarked ‘stealth cameras’.

New figures show that the number of drivers caught out by the ‘grey cameras’ have soared, with 112,000 divers given penalty notices or sent to court for offences on the motorway in the last year.

The increased use of ‘smart motorways’ that have variable speed limits, open the hard-shoulder to ease congestion and employ digital speed cameras are considered to be the driving force behind the rise, the Times reported.

The use of the less noticeable cameras has led to claims that police are using stealth to catch out drivers

The increased use of ‘smart motorways’ is considered to be the driving force behind the massive rise

Often drivers were caught out for breaking variable limits well below 70mph. Stretches of the M1, M25, M4 and M5 have become the most notorious for catching speeders.

As the use of smart motorways is extended from current levels of around 200 miles to 800 miles over the next ten years, the number of fines is set to rise even more.

Critics have lashed out at the system for its use of grey cameras or ‘Hadecs’. The use of the less noticeable cameras in the place of more visible yellow cameras has led to claims that police are using stealth to catch out drivers.

Highways England, which manages highways and A roads, is reviewing grey cameras and may decide to paint them yellow, the Conservatives said last night.

Sources from the party were quoted as saying it was important drivers were aware when they were under the scrutiny of cameras but also important that they kept to the speed limit.

The Labour party has said it will paint all motorway cameras yellow.

AA President Edmund King criticised grey cameras saying motorists were far more likely to be involved in an accident on a rural road but that speed cameras and traffic were rarely deployed in such areas.

Work begins on M62 to create new 'smart motorways' (related)

Timelapse of a grey gantry being installed on the M25

Information obtained by the Times in a recent Freedom of Information request showed that last year, in 24 out of 45 police forces 112,654 motorists were given speeding penalties with a minimum fine of £100 and three points on their licence.

In 2013 88,857 were handed the same penalty, compared with 71,922 in 2012, 78,696 in 2011 and 54,720 in 2010.

Highways England has said automated, smart motorways smooth traffic flow and speed up journeys. It added that the majority of drivers stick to speed limits and all cameras are sign posted.


Highways England, which manages highways and A roads, is reviewing grey cameras

The grey cameras are being installed across Britain's busiest motorways can track dozens cars across four lanes in the heaviest of traffic.

Conventional cameras can only scan one lane and are usually painted yellow - but these are grey.

Attached to the motorway gangway - front and rear-facing cameras are used to verify a vehicle's speed. 

The same camera system is also used to grab the vehicle's number plate and match it up with the national vehicle registration database. 

They enforce variable speed limits and also the standard 70mph speed limit if needed. 

As the use of smart motorways is extended from current levels of around 200 miles to 800 miles over the next ten years the number of fines is set to rise even more

Police forces themselves have the power to decide if they will use the cameras to enforce penalties.

Police in Somerset caught 23,086 motorists speeding in 2014 – a dramatic increase on the 756 that were caught one year earlier.

The rise was attributed to tougher measures taken on one portion of a smart motorway. 

Often drivers were caught out for breaking variable limits well below 70mph. Stretches of the M1, M25, M4 and M5 have become the most notorious for catching speeders.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Self-driving vehicles will make more people car sick . . .


Self-driving vehicles will make more people car sick

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When you get your first self-driving car, don't forget to put a few barf bags in it... just in case. A duo from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute explains that you'll likely be more susceptible to motion sickness in self-driving cars due to a couple of reasons. First, since you don't directly control it, you can't always anticipate every turn, swerve, stop, change in speed, etc. This disconnect between what you see and how the car moves affects balance, which is why drivers don't suffer from the condition as often as passengers do. Second, people are bound to do activities that amplify its symptoms.

The UMich researchers, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, asked 3,200 adults from the US, India, China, Japan, Great Britain and Australia what they would do while traveling in a robotic vehicle. Most of them said they would be "reading, texting, watching movies/television, playing games or working." All of these cause or intensity dizziness and nausea inside moving vehicles. The best way to combat car sickness, then, is to use your travel time to talk to fellow passengers, or to rest, relax and take a nap. But for the sake of those incapable of controlling themselves, the researchers have a few design suggestions. These include equipping self-driving cars with larger-than-usual windows, displays that face forward and seats that fully recline but don't swivel.

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Drivers fined for overweight vehicles . . .


Drivers fined for overweight vehicles

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Fourteen drivers were stopped, fined, and prohibited from continuing their journeys during a series of road safety check targeting overweight vehicles in Milton Keynes on Wednesday (April 8).

Officers stopped 27 vehicles between 8am and 3pm at the Junction 14 weighbridge off the M1.

14 vehicles were found to be overweight and were immediately prohibited from continuing their journeys until within the weight limit. The drivers were given fixed penalty notices for excess weight, which ranged from £120 to £300 depending on how overweight the vehicles were.

These included one vehicle that was found to weigh 5,760kg – 2,260kg over its maximum weight limit of 3,500kg. The driver was reported for exceeding the plated weight of the vehicle and using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Another driver was found to be driving with a revoked licence and no insurance. The driver was reported for the offence and the vehicle was seized.

A third driver was found carrying food supplies in an unchilled vehicle. Milton Keynes Environmental Health was informed of the incident and attended to deal with the driver.

Five other drivers were given warnings by officers due to being less than five per cent over their stated weight.

PC Russell Irwin, from Milton Keynes Roads Policing, said: “I would like to highlight the huge risk drivers take when using vehicles that do not conform to the designated vehicle weights.”

“Not only does driving an overweight vehicle affect the handling and braking capability of a vehicle, it significantly increases the risk of the driver being involved in any type of traffic collision and also puts other road users at risk.”

“Drivers are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the vehicle they are using is road worthy before commencing any journey.”

“This check was conducted to ensure that we keep our region’s roads as safe as possible.”

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Thousands more motorists clamped by Swansea DVLA because of rule change misunderstandings . . .


Thousands more motorists clamped by Swansea DVLA because of rule change misunderstandings

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Thousands more motorists are being clamped by the DVLA following tax disc changes.

TAX Disc changes are seeing the Swansea-based DVLA clamping and towing away the cars of thousands of motorists who had no idea they had done anything wrong.

Motorists numbering in their thousands are facing fines of as much as £800 because they have misunderstood new tax disc rules.

The agency did away with paper vehicle excise duty discs in October.

Up until that point around 5,000 vehicles a month were being clamped for not having a valid tax disc.

But since that date, the figure has surged to more than 8,000.

If the trend continues, The Guardian has reported that more than 100,000 vehicles are likely to be clamped this year compared with 60,000 in 2014.

Vehicle excise duty is automatically cancelled if a car changes ownership – even if there is a valid disc in the window - and this is believed to be what is catching out drivers.

So, even if a tax disc appears in the window or with many months left on it, or the owner has a letter showing the vehicle is taxed until a certain date, both immediately become invalid when the car is sold.

The new owner has to apply to tax the vehicle again.

A spokesman for the DVLA told The Guardian: "We continue to operate a comprehensive package of measures which make vehicle tax easy to pay but hard to avoid. We know that the vast majority of motorists continue to tax their vehicles on time with over 23 million drivers taxing their vehicles since 1 October 2014."

"The changes have been widely publicised and we write to every vehicle keeper to remind them of the new rules before the vehicle tax expires. We also write to every new vehicle keeper when they buy a used vehicle to inform them that they must tax the vehicle before they use it."

In future, he said, recent buyers would also get a letter warning them their car was untaxed.

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Friday, 24 April 2015

GE Spotlights New Smart Street Lamps . . .


GE Spotlights New Smart Street Lamps

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GE has a new smart street light in early production, and it hopes that over time, cities and third-party developers will begin to take advantage of the platform to build smart city apps.

The light itself is a super-efficient LED that could last up to 20 years. Where it gets interesting is that GE is including a sensor pack with each bulb with capabilities such as video, light and weather sensors, and giving cities and developers access to its Predix Internet of Things software development platform to build applications based on the data the sensors generate.

As Bill Ruh, VP and global technology director at GE points out, the lighting division is one of GE’s oldest businesses, but the company recognizes the shifting market, and it wants to capitalize on the changing mindset with smarter and more efficient lighting technology.

There are currently two test cities using this lighting today: San Diego and Jacksonville.
Shedding Light On A Problem

“It used to be about generating and wattage a visibility, but today’s product has the potential to be much more,” he explained. “[The light pole] has power and networking and adding sensors, you can now do things with these lights everywhere.”

This means, cities can potentially take advantage of the data being generated by the sensors, and using the GE Predix platform, begin building applications for public safety, transportation, intelligent digital signs and the environment.

The cost of traditional lighting has been a drain on cities and towns and can often account for up to 40 percent of a municipality’s electric bill, Ruh said. This could explain why many cities and towns looking for ways to cut budgets have actually been turning off street lights over the last decade. He claims the new smart street lights can save 50-70 percent on electricity over standard bulbs, and with that savings the new lights can pay for themselves in around 5 years.

Part of that efficiency is gained from LED lighting technology, but it also benefits from being intelligent to run more effectively. From a pure lighting perspective, a smart light can use sensors to brighten or dim as needed or even turn itself on or off, depending on conditions like traffic, weather and so forth.

Making Sensors Of It All

What really separates these lights from the run-of-the-mill light bulb is the pack of sensors that GE provides with each one. These could be weather sensors or a video camera that can see traffic, parking violations and so forth.

As an example, the video sensor generates visual data to apply to any application, Rue said. You could count cars to plan transportation or use video for public safety purposes.

“We essentially provide data from sensors for developers who want to build applications for the city. The cost savings and applications depend on how you use them,” Ruh explained.

If you’re wondering about the privacy implications of a video camera on every light pole, Ruh says it’s up to each city to set policies around the data collected by the sensors and how it can be used. He adds that citizens should have a say in that policy.

There are many companies offering individual applications for cities such as smart metering and video technology, according to Ruh, but where he believes GE separates from these offerings is by providing a more complete platform to build these applications in a single place.

He also understands many cities already use streetlights as a platform to power digital signs such as the ones you see over highways, making announcements about road closings or encouraging you not to text and drive. With GE’s system, cities can still tap into the same power and networking, but they can also communicate with the Predix cloud and generate content based on conditions (such as an impending snowstorm or a water main break).

Rolling With The Changes

GE also makes power plants, wind turbines and other equipment to generate electricity, so there has to be an inherent tension inside the company when it comes to creating highly efficient light bulbs that generate much less electricity. Ruh admits there are heated internal debates, but the company recognizes that it needs to react to the market, and not simply protect existing businesses.

There’s also the matter of changing business models. When you only need to replace a light bulb every 15 or 20 years, the company needs to figure out different ways to make money, and Ruh says that’s part of the reason for the sensors and the app platform. If the company can generate recurring revenue from the data it collects or through revenue sharing with third-party developers, he believes it can begin to fill in some of this revenue gap created by selling more efficient bulbs.

But it’s early days for this type of experiment and with just two cities in operation, it still has a long way to go to prove itself as a viable business. You could argue you don’t even need electric-powered lights. Why not just put a small solar panel on each pole and let the light pole generate its own power?

GE is clearly searching for ways to monetize its Predix platform while finding ways to modernize long-standing businesses. Transforming an older company like GE is a huge challenge, and the company is working on a lot of fronts. The smart light is just one attempt.

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Fewer drivers punished for mobile use, police figures suggest . . .


Fewer drivers punished for mobile use, police figures suggest

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The number of drivers given penalty points for using mobile phones at the wheel fell by 24% last year in England and Wales, police figures suggest.

Figures from 36 forces show the number of drivers given fixed penalty notices fell by more than 40% from 2010-14.

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, lead officer for roads policing, said forces were using different approaches.

Last year, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said motorists caught using mobiles could face tougher punishments.

Figures from a Freedom of Information Act request by BBC Radio 5 live show 72,753 fixed penalty notices (FPN) were given out in 2014.

Information was requested from the 43 police forces in England and Wales, plus British Transport Police - and 36 provided it.

In 2013, 95,941 FPNs were given out for mobile phone offences, while 122,752 were given out in 2010 by the same forces.

Fixed Penalty Notices issued in England and Wales
                                     2010          2011          2012          2013          2014
Fixed penalty notices 122,752     117,280     109,693     95,941       72,753
Percentage decrease   N/A           4%            6%            13%          24%

One force, Staffordshire Police, issued just four fixed penalty notices for mobile phone use last year.

The force said it had developed its own programme to deal with motorists - a four-hour "crash course" run by police, fire and victim support officials.

By comparison, the Metropolitan Police issued the most FPNs - 22,729 - last year, while Thames Valley Police issued 10,579 - the second highest.

Drivers caught using mobile phones at the wheel can be given a fixed penalty notice - which means three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine.

In July last year, Mr McLoughlin said the penalty for motorists could be doubled to six points.

However, figures suggest many police forces have offered first-time offenders the chance to attend a road safety course, similar to those devised to deter speeding.

'Crash course'

More than 99,000 people attended the What's Driving Us? course in 2014 - a 53% increase on the previous year.

The course is aimed at motorists found to be intentionally breaking the law, including those caught using mobiles.

A spokesman for road safety charity Brake said FPN figures could indicate a "decline in policing resources".

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Dehydration has same impact on road safety as drink-driving . . .


Dehydration has same impact on road safety as drink-driving

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A new study has found that drivers who are dehydrated can be as dangerous as those who are drunk or on drugs. Participants made twice as many mistakes as those who were hydrated.

The study which was led by Professor Ron Maughan, from Loughborough University and was published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, showed that drivers who drank only 25 ml of water an hour made more than twice the number of mistakes as drivers who had drunk enough water, The Telegraph reported.

“We all deplore drink driving, but we don't usually think about the effects of other things that affect our driving skills, and one of those is not drinking and dehydration. There is no question that driving while incapable through drink or drugs increases the risk of accidents, but our findings highlight an unrecognized danger and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to make sure they are properly hydrated,” said Professor Maughan.

The researchers carried out a number of tests using a driving simulator in a laboratory. Over two days each volunteer would spend one day in the simulator while hydrated – where they were provided with 200ml of water every hour – while the other day they would be dehydrated and given just 25ml.

The driving tasks in the simulator included two hours of monotonous motorway driving, with bends, and simulated rubble strips as well as slow moving vehicles that had to be overtaken.

When they were dehydrated the drivers would make far more mistakes, such as late braking, lane drifting, crossing rumble strips inadvertently. In total, drivers made 101 mistakes when they were dehydrated compared to 47 when they were normally hydrated.

68 percent of all vehicle crashes in the UK are due to driver error, so dehydration can be a major cause of accidents. As well as producing symptoms of headache and fatigue it can also result in lack of the ability to concentrate as well as loss of alertness and short term memory.

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Police make first arrests on Merseyside using tough new drug driving legislation . . .


Police make first arrests on Merseyside using tough new drug driving legislation

Cited at:

Now illegal to drive with certain drugs - including medicines - above specific levels in the body

Police on Merseyside have made their first arrests using tough new drug driving legislation – and today warned more are to come.

Two people were arrested for drug-driving offences after new drug limits – and roadside testing kits – came into force in March.

Modelled on drink-driving testing, it is illegal to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body.

These limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs – including heroin, cocaine and cannabis – and eight medicines that have been set at a higher limit.

The force confirmed today that two drivers had been detained using the new law, as well as ten other suspects held through existing drugs legislation.

A 33-year-old cab driver arrested after his taxi was in collision with John McShane, 49, in St Anne Street on Thursday was quizzed on suspicion of drug-driving. Mr McShane later died in hospital. It is understood the driver was detained, and then later bailed, using existing narcotics legislation.

Inspector Mike McFall, said: “Whilst these arrests have been the first for us under the new law, they won’t be our last.

“People who take drugs and get behind the wheel can have slower reaction times, struggle to concentrate and can behave more erratically on the roads, putting both themselves and other people in danger.”

“We will not tolerate drug-driving and would urge anyone who thinks they know someone who is driving after taking drugs to contact us urgently so that we can act.”

“Our main aim across Merseyside is to improve the safety of road users and this legislation provides us with an additional tool to help us with this task. As with drink driving, our advice is simple, just do not drive if you have taken drugs”

The new law is aimed at stopping drivers taking any drugs which could impair driving.

The penalty under the new offence will be a 12-month ban, disqualification, a fine up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison or both.

To help the screening process, forces across the country have been kitted out with saliva testing devices.

The new law provides a medical defence if someone is taking medicine in accordance with the advice of a health professional, provided they are not impaired.

The eight medicines are:

  • Morphine, used to treat pain
  • Diazepam, clonazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep
  • Amphetamine, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Parkinson’s disease

The equipment issued to the police has been dubbed DrugWipe. It is a saliva testing device was created by Dtec International, which has also trained every police service in the country.

It’s the first portable device that can detect the presence of cannabis and cocaine – two of the most common substances used by drug drivers.

Drugwipe is a disposable detection device that works by analysing a small quantity of saliva.

The results are indicated by the appearance of lines on the device (similar to a pregnancy test) within eight minutes of starting the test.

Following a positive reading, the police will take the driver to the police station for a blood sample, which will be used in any subsequent prosecution.

A spokesman for Detec said: “This new law is the same as a breathalyser.”
“The DrugWipe will screen for cannabis and cocaine over a set level and then a blood test at the station will be sent to the laboratory to confirm the amount in a driver’s blood. This will be used for legal purposes. The prosecution lies in the level in the blood.”

This device is the only one of its kind that can be used outside – on the roadsides.

He added: “These devices are here to save lives. The message is, if you are going to take drugs get a taxi. Don’t take drugs and drive.”

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Monday, 20 April 2015

Ford Europe System Intelligent Enough To Scan Speed Signs . . .


Ford Europe System Intelligent Enough To Scan Speed Signs

Cited at:

To be able to deliver a system which is able to keep and eye out for speed cops, as well as assisting you drive courteously without breaking the speed limit, Ford Car has combined a couple of driver information and assistance technologies, to monitor the speed limit.

In-order to remain within legal limits, and this is permitted through an adjustment from the amount of fuel sent to the engine, having only launched it on a European model, S-Max, with the very real possibility of it making its way to Asia and also the U.S. sometime down the road, the Intelligent Speed Limiter will be able to read speed-limit signs, in addition, to reduce the vehicle.

Ford has laid declare that they are the first to utilize such warnings to control vehicle speed. However, there are also European models which will offer warning of speed changes. For example, the 2016 Volvo XC90, has been touted to feature a system which is similar to Ford’s.

In fact, Ford figures this might prove to be a crucial part of the self-driving vehicle puzzle, considering how several rides nowadays happen to be able to stopping themselves before striking another, and at the same time steer themselves inside a measure that will keep the vehicle within the confines of a traffic lane.

Ford figures that this type of market demand for this selection will be greater in Europe compared to the U.S., since speed limits are lower, and fines for rushing could end as much as be heftier sometimes around the old country.

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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Technology to turn traffic lights green to be tested . . .


Technology to turn traffic lights green to be tested

Cited at:

Experts are testing a new technology that will allow the drivers to turn the traffic lights green in Newcastle. The first to try the new technology will be the North East Ambulance service.

The new system will give the ambulance service up to date information about the traffic conditions and predicting the routes and speed that will allow them to have green lights on the way to their destination. The new system is expected to be the size of a small Sat Nav and will give the ambulance crew an option to have priority to approach a destination by telling the traffic lights to go green.

The existing Urban Traffic Management Control centre of Newcastle has the ability to talk to the vehicles that are equipped with the new technology and is being linked to the Newcastle’s central transport hub. Phil Blythe is a part of the team from the University of Newcastle is a part of the team that will be running the test.

Blythe said that it is about improving services and is preparing for the future. The project is associated with Newcastle’s Department of Transport North East Ambulance Service and other global partners including Siemens and Volvo. When the driverless cars will be implemented, they need to have constant communication with other cars and the traffic management system.

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cyclists Can Save Their Lives for Free as HGV Road Haulage Truck Threat Lowers in London . . .


Cyclists Can Save Their Lives for Free as HGV Road Haulage Truck Threat Lowers in London 

  • New Safety Spray Really Can Make a Visible Difference 

Cited at:

UK – With major changes about to be introduced in London as to the layout and equipment of HGVs in a bid to protect more vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists, a major automotive manufacturer has stepped up with a product aimed at making such people safer by their own efforts. 19,000 cyclists are involved in accidents in the UK every year, many killed or seriously injured by road haulage trucks and now the Volvo group have had creative agency Grey London develop a concept to make cyclists more visible at night and, as our photograph shows, the results are quite remarkable.

A spray paint, called LifePaint, is now available in selected stores in London, but if the product proves popular enough it may be offered elsewhere. The water-based paint is non-toxic and can be applied to any surface, it's transparent, washes off and its reflective effects quickly dissipate after ten days.

A video about the paint is viewable here and Nils Leonard, chairman and CCO of Grey London explained the reason behind the development saying:

"Our job isn't just to advertise our clients, it's to help them make a positive impact on culture. With the creation of LifePaint, we've turned Volvo safety inside out, giving it away to the most vulnerable road users. What more positive action can a brand take than to try to save lives?"

2,000 cans of the paint are currently being given away at several bike shops in London and one in Kent and their whereabouts and contact details can be accessed HERE.

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Hydrogen refuelling station projects secure funding . . .


Hydrogen refuelling station projects secure funding

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Government gives green light to seven new hydrogen projects alongside funding for electric motorcycles and scooters

Seven new low emission hydrogen refuelling projects have secured a total investment of £6.6 million from the government to help establish an initial network of 12 hydrogen refuelling stations across England and Wales.

The likes of Honda UK, ITM Power and Air Products will benefit from the investment, which will see new hydrogen refuelling stations built as well as upgrades to existing hydrogen demonstrator stations. A new mobile refuelling station across the south of the UK is also being funded.

Air Products is one of several companies to secure funding to boost hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the UK

The hydrogen investment was announced on Friday (March 27) alongside an additional £7.5 million grant funding which has been set aside to boost the uptake of ultra low emission motorcycles and scooters.

It means that two-wheeled electric vehicles will also quality for money off the purchase price for consumers, joining the similar grant schemes recently announced for cars, vans, trucks and buses (see story).

Following meetings with the electric Motor Cycle Industry Association and manufacturers such as Suzuki, Harley Davidson, BMW, Volt and Mahindra, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said consumers could now receive up to £1,500 off the purchase price of an electric motorcycle.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “This investment shows we are serious about increasing the uptake of cleaner vehicles in the UK, and offer a fantastic place for firms to locate their research and development and manufacturing facilities. Supporting new technologies is a key part of our long-term economic plan.”

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer added: “This £7.5 million for electric bikes demonstrates our commitment to all ultra-low emission vehicles, from motorbikes to cars and trucks. From navigating city streets to putting in the motorway miles there is now a genuine low emission choice for everyone and electric vehicles are now ready to go mainstream. We are determined that the UK continues to be at the forefront of this vital revolution in transport.”

The government said it would continue to work closely with the industry as it finalises the details of the two-wheeler grant scheme, including the grant level and final eligibility criteria, but that the scheme could be up and running by summer 2015.

A spokesman from motorcycle manufacturer Mahindra said: “The Mahindra Group already has a growing presence in the UK through its electric vehicles and Formula E racing team and we fully expect the UK to be one of our lead markets for our GenZe two wheelers when they come to the UK market in late 2015.”

Both the low emission motorcycle grant scheme and the hydrogen refuelling station investment are being made possible through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) 2015-2020 programme.

The seven hydrogen projects are:
  • ITM Power: Two new hydrogen refuelling stations in Brentford and Croydon; Four upgrades to Sheffield and London stations
  • Air Products: Two upgrades to existing stations in Hatton Cross and Hendon; One upgrade to a mobile refuelling station to support conferences and test drives of fuel cell vehicles.
  • Fuel Cell Systems: One new mobile station based in Southern UK.
  • University of South Wales: One upgrade to an existing station in Port Talbot.
  • Honda UK: One upgrade to an existing station in Swindon.

Hydrogen fuel cells

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), hydrogen is a clean energy carrier, which when used in fuel cell systems does not produce any carbon monoxide, particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide emissions.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles share a large proportion of the electric motor and drive train technology with other electric plug-in and hybrid vehicles, but the energy storage is different as hydrogen vehicles can be refuelled much quicker. DfT described hydrogen engines as “highly efficient”, producing no pollutants at the tailpipe and lower well-to-wheel emissions compared with petrol or diesel engines.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

FTA: industry must solve its driver crisis . . .


FTA: industry must solve its driver crisis

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The transport industry needs to find its own solution to the driver shortage, Freight Transport Association managing director of policy and communications James Hookham told 600 delegates at the FTA summit, ‘Solving the Driver Crisis’. An impressive array of speakers took to the stage for the free conference at Coventry’s Ricoh Stadium, including employers, civil servants, and a truck driver.

Hookham said: “The shortage of qualified drivers is a problem that only the road freight industry itself can solve, even though the government has helped and will help.

“Road freight is competing for talent with other sectors where shorter hours, higher pay and better conditions are on offer.”

“I’m the prophet of doom,” warned FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier, who went on to outline key figures compiled by the association. The statistics suggested that, while the number of LGV drivers in employment had declined by 12.5 per cent in 10 years, there was currently a shortfall of 50,000 to 60,000 drivers, and the number of LGV drivers unemployed and claiming benefit had fallen by 15 per cent between 2001 and 2013.

“If you are warm and breathing and hold an LGV licence, then you can get a job,” he asserted.

And the situation was not going to get any better. Over 60 per cent of LGV drivers were in the 45 – 65 year-old bracket, and drivers were falling out of the industry far faster than they were being replaced, he said – reiterating some of the trends and figures that have appeared in this publication (Transport Operator, January/February).

A trans-European perspective was provided by two speakers: Norwegian Arne Knaben, who is managing director of summit sponsors Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland; and Caroline Blom, policy manager of skills and development at Transport en Logistiek Nederland, the Dutch equivalent of the FTA.

Knaben explained how haulage rates were under pressure across Europe, and this had had a very detrimental impact on wages: “It’s a tough job for everyone. Thirty years ago in Norway the truck driver’s wage was double the national average wage… now it is no more than the national average wage.”

Blom said the demographics in Holland were similar to those in the UK.

“If they all work until retirement age, then one third of all the Dutch truck drivers will retire in the next 10 years,” she said.

Many speakers acknowledged that wages and conditions had been driven down for drivers by decades of competition-driven cost-cutting, and that while wages were going up because employers were competing for a diminishing resource, companies that used transport were reluctant to improve rates.

Jason Richards, head of driving at agency Pertemps, said: “We have to change the cost-driven narrative that dominates the industry. We as an industry are going to have to shoulder increased costs. The costs of employment are going up, as we have seen in the last 12 months.”

Meanwhile Ray Colesby, the regional operations manager for south Wales and southern England at the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), flagged up a demographic problem within his own organisation, which might have far-reaching impacts if the industry wants to recruit and train more unqualified drivers to LGV standards.

“Thirty per cent of all DVSA driving examiners are age 55 or over,” he confessed.

DVSA had 305 examiners qualified for LGV driving tests, and these had to be spread nationwide over regions where the number of candidates for tests varied greatly, and demand for tests themselves was concentrated into Thursdays and Fridays.

Speakers from the armed forces pointed out that, while service leavers provided a large number of potential recruits who already held LGV licences, the industry should not assume that such individuals would jump at the chance of driving a truck for the rest of their working lives.

Jenny Pittam, national account employment consultant at the Ministry of Defence’s resettlement service Careers Transition Partnership, pointed out that most service leavers had a suite of skills they could use to obtain employment, and were used to changing roles every two years or so.

“Truck driving is a transition for many of them, even if they do take it up – it’s not seen as a civilian career.

“Ask yourselves what you are doing to make logistics career Plan A for them, and not Plan B?

“Military leavers are used to perceiving themselves as being part of an elite brand, and will look for jobs where their skills can be used.”

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