Monday, 31 August 2015

Now car hackers can bust in through your motor's DAB RADIO . . .


Now car hackers can bust in through your motor's DAB RADIO

Cited at:

White hats show how flaky, unloved audio broadcast tech is a massive attack vector Hack: Not that kind of attack – but the consequences could be

Car brakes and other critical systems can be hacked via car infotainment systems, security researchers at NCC Group have revealed.

The ingenious hack, demonstrated in an off-road environment, works by sending attack data via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals.

This is similar to a hack that allowed security researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller to take control of a Jeep Cherokee after sending data to its entertainment and navigation systems via a mobile phone, as previously reported.

Car owners are strongly advised to apply a patch developed by Chrysler to guard against attacks that facilitate remote control of a car's engine, brakes and more from distance, simply by knowing the car's public IP address.

NCC's work shows that even cars whose systems are not connected to mobile networks might be vulnerable. The hack was demonstrated to BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

Andy Davis, NCC's research director, explained that an attack rig could be put together using cheap components connected to a laptop. The infotainment system of a targeted car, once compromised, could be used as a stepping stone to attack more critical systems, including steering and braking. Depending on power, a DAB broadcast could be used to attack multiple cars.

“If you had a vulnerability within a certain infotainment system in a certain manufacturer's vehicle, by sending one stream of data you could attack many cars simultaneously," he told the BBC, adding that attack data could be steganographically implanted within an audio or music stream. "[An attacker] would probably choose a common radio station to broadcast over the top of to make sure they reached the maximum number of target vehicles."

The approach has only been attempted in the lab. Davis has previously hacked into a real vehicle's automatic braking system through manipulating its infotainment system. A similar approach could be replicated through a DAB broadcast, he suggested.

NCC is not saying what infotainment system it hacked or giving details of its attack, which it plans to outline at greater length at the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas next month. Valasek and Miller also plan to outline their work at Black Hat in a presentation billed as Remote Exploitation of an Unaltered Passenger Vehicle, which is likely to be the hottest ticket in Vegas in a couple of weeks' time.

Jeremiah Grossman, founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security, said that both hacks underlined the point that cars were becoming computers on wheels, which need better protection than we currently offer PCs.

“We protect our PCs and servers from being hacked using special configuration settings, security software, and ‘best-practice' behaviours,” Grossman explained. “The overall effectiveness of all this ’security’ is, at best, so-so... but fortunately no-one dies when a system gets hacked.”

"With car hacking, and cars being little more than rolling computers nowadays, are we expected to install security software, etc there too? Or, are manufacturers responsible for protecting their car's occupants against a digital adversary? An interesting fork in the digital road. In the future, all cars are equidistant to the attacker, as will be the electricity meter on your home,” he added.

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Government rejects driver apprenticeship proposal . . .


Government rejects driver apprenticeship proposal

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The skills minister Nick Boles has rejected a ‘trailblazer’ bid mounted by industry bodies which would have provided apprenticeship funding and support for large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers.

Trade associations reacted with disappointment to news that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) turned down their proposed LGV driver apprenticeship standard – which they had hoped would launch in September 2017 – suggesting it was at odds with the government’s pledge at the pre-election Budget to work with hauliers to help tackle the driver crisis.

Sally Gilson, skills development manager at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said the organisation was “desperately disappointed” at the announcement.

“It appears that the government has gone back on its pledge to find an industry-led solution to solve the driver crisis, with the minister for skills deciding to reject the proposed standard for large goods vehicle drivers,” she said.

“This diminishes the value of the existing apprenticeships that are successfully bringing much-needed young people into the industry.”

With the average age of a professional lorry driver at 52, FTA said that the driver shortage would be exacerbated without access to apprenticeships, leaving the industry: “bereft of funding options for driver training.”

It added that it would look carefully at whether to mount an appeal or prepare a new submission to BIS.

“If government is rejecting driver apprenticeships then what alternative funding will it be providing?” Gilson asked.

“The freight and logistics sector has a major shortage of drivers with companies desperate to fill vacancies and professionalise the role. FTA urges BIS to rethink its decision and work with industry to find a solution as a matter of urgency.”

Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was: “urgently assessing the implications of the decision on the industry and whether or not there is any point in resubmitting.”

“We have already raised a number of issues with government officials in respect of the likely impact on large companies and on SMEs,” added RHA.

“The lack of any significant government support to help plug the HGV driver shortage is a huge disappointment to the RHA and the industry as a whole.”

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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Senior TC launches driver regulation consultation . . .


Senior TC launches driver regulation consultation

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Beverley Bell, the senior traffic commissioner (STC) for Great Britain, has announced the launch of a new consultation on the regulation of professional lorry, bus and coach drivers.

The consultation, which closes on 7 September, is inviting views from interested parties on proposed changes to the STC’s Statutory Document on Vocational Driver Conduct, first issued in 2011.

“Professional drivers carry out the frequently challenging work of transporting goods or passengers across Great Britain and on the continent,” said Bell.

“This consultation is a key part of our work around the regulation of those drivers. I therefore encourage the commercial vehicle industry, stakeholders, safety groups and other interested parties to respond and help inform how traffic commissioners deal with the conduct of professional drivers.”

In a foreword to the consultation document she added: “Our priorities for the conduct of professional drivers are clear – to review and modernise the regulation of HGV and PSV drivers and to concentrate resource on those who pose the greatest risk to road safety, fair competition and legal operation.”

Among other areas, the consultation seeks views on whether the revised document helps promote a consistent approach to driver infringements; the referral and starting points for action against drivers; the delegation of the handling of some offences to staff acting on behalf of traffic commissioners (TCs), rather than the TCs themselves; the definition of ‘less serious’ and ‘more serious’ offences; and the referral of disqualifications committed in commercial vehicles to the TCs.

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Friday, 28 August 2015

DVLA extends licence check window . . .


DVLA extends licence check window

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The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has extended the validity of codes generated by its online driving licence information sharing system to 21 days, following complaints from industry that the previous, 72-hour window of validity was not long enough for employers’ checking purposes.

The online system was introduced as a means of recording driving endorsements following the abolition of the paper counterpart licence (pictured, right) in June. It allows drivers to generate a code which can be passed to employers and other parties such as vehicle hire firms, allowing them time-limited access to the driver’s records in order to confirm their eligibility to drive.

As of 10 July, the employer has 21 days from generation of the code to perform the necessary checks before expiration.

Ian Gallagher, the Freight Transport Association’s lead on DVLA, said: “Common sense has prevailed and DVLA has listened to what we have been saying about the new online system not being fit for purpose.

“Allowing employers longer to use the code before it expires is a sensible move. However, we still believe more changes are needed to make the system efficient and effective, such as the ability to check non-GB licences online instead of via an office hours-only phone line. Bulk checking of licences is also an issue that needs to be reviewed.”

FTA, which had long been calling for bulk checking functionality prior to the system’s launch, says that many fleet operators are now using paid-for third-party services, because the DVLA system requires additional time and resources to check each record individually.

Gallagher added: “The scheme was part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge to reduce legislative burden, but for employers with hundreds or even thousands of drivers it’s a cumbersome and time-consuming process which does the exact opposite.”

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

RHA highlights drivers’ hours compliance gap for foreign trucks . . .


RHA highlights drivers’ hours compliance gap for foreign trucks

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The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has reported that non-UK trucks are “significantly more likely” than UK-operated vehicles to be found to have seriously infringed drivers’ hours laws in a manner that would attract penalty notices, following examination of tachograph records.

The association referred to figures from Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) roadside checks presented to the Commercial Vehicle Road Safety Compliance Forum recently.

The Forum, set up in 2012, provides DVSA, the police and traffic commissioners with a platform to discuss current and future enforcement concerns.

“Some 37 per cent of non-UK vehicles were found to have historical drivers’ hours’ offences, while in the case of UK trucks the figure was 20 per cent,” said RHA.

“The DVSA also found that 42 per cent of the tachograph records of non-UK vehicles showed offences that would have been subject to fixed penalties, with the figure for UK trucks being 28 per cent.”

RHA added that DVSA was working with the Department for Transport to assess how enforcement could be better targeted to allow for the discrepancy.

Tachograph and drivers’ hours offences combined continue to account for a majority of serious HGV-related traffic offences, according to DVSA’s fleet compliance checks survey.

The agency’s report for 2013-14 found that: “Tachograph and drivers’ hours offences accounted for 61 per cent and 60 per cent of all GB and non-GB serious traffic offences, respectively.”

Other traffic compliance breaches recorded by the survey include driver licence, illegal operator, plating and testing, overloading, vehicle excise duty and speed limiter offences.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Shell's UK petrol stations let you PayPal at the pump . . .


Shell's UK petrol stations let you PayPal at the pump

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Although Apple Pay is currently enjoying the limelight, companies all over Britain are working to get their own mobile payment strategies in order. Once such company is Shell, which after months of testing has begun rolling out its new PayPal-powered "Fill Up & Go" service across hundreds of its UK petrol stations. The idea is simple: download the Shell Motorist app, connect it to your PayPal account and scan a giant QR code at the pump -- no more queuing or worrying whether you've brought your wallet.

To set up the service, you'll need either an iPhone or an Android device. Once the app is installed, you've set up your PIN and linked your PayPal account, head to your nearest Shell petrol station (the company says it will roll out on a pump-by-pump basis) and choose how much you think you'll spend filling up your tank. Shell's official guidance states that you can choose between £20 and £150 per transaction, although the app lets you to start as low as £5 and spend up to £100.

In order to reduce confusion, Shell pumps will only dispense fuel once you've told it how much you want to spend and then scanned the QR code. Only then can you lift the nozzle and begin refuelling. When I went to test the app at my local Shell garage, there were plenty of signs and pamphlets explaining how to use Fill Up & Go, but staff explained that it had not yet been enabled at that location.

Shell advises that you stay in your car when scanning the QR code (mobile phones are banned on forecourts), but in reality most people won't want to pull parallel with the code, scan it and then move forward another few feet to align their fuel cap with the relevant pump. However, once you've scanned the code, whether inside or outside your vehicle, you can pocket your phone and fill up as you would normally. Once you reach your maximum limit, the pump will automatically stop serving your fuel and the Shell app should confirm the purchase. It'll also send a receipt too.

Although I wasn't able to successfully test the process from start to finish, setting up the Shell Motorist app and connecting my PayPal account was pretty simple. With its pamphlets, Shell has done a good job of explaining how it works and what people will need. However, whether drivers are comfortable downloading apps and pulling out their smartphone to pay for fuel is another question altogether.

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

DVSA celebrates 500th ATF opening as chief exec bows out . . .


DVSA celebrates 500th ATF opening as chief exec bows out

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The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced the opening of the 500th site in its authorised testing facility (ATF) scheme, at the County Durham premises of truck and van dealer Chatfields.

The ATF was officially opened on 2 July by DVSA chief executive Alastair Peoples, who presented Chatfields with a certificate to mark the occasion.

The proliferation of new ATF sites across the country since the scheme launched in 2010 has meant that almost 93 per cent of all DVSA testing for trucks, coaches and buses is now carried out at private sites – as opposed to the agency’s own depleting network of test stations.

While ATFs are privately owned, the testing itself is still carried out by vehicle examiners employed by the DVSA. But trade associations including the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) have called on the government to allow privately-employed examiners to carry out annual tests, as with the MoT for smaller vehicles, in order to increase flexibility.

“We are really honoured and pleased to be the 500th ATF,” said Chatfields’ national franchise director Wayne Edwards. “We believe this is a fantastic business proposition for our customers and ourselves in the north east.”

“I feel extremely proud of DVSA’s ATF strategy and of how successful it’s been,” added Alastair Peoples. “I am delighted to be here today and celebrate adding yet another ATF to our increasing network.

“I know local operators and drivers in the County Durham area will quickly see the benefits of having a greater choice of where they can have their vehicles tested.

“ATF customers from across the country tell me they have seen savings on fuel costs, vehicle down-time, lower CO2 emissions and improved first-time pass rates, and I expect to hear similar feedback from operators and drivers using this facility.”

The ATF scheme will be seen as one of Peoples’ key legacies as DVSA chief executive. He is to retire from the civil service in October, following more than six years at the head of the enforcement agency and its predecessor, the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Prior to this he had been operations director and deputy chief executive at VOSA, as well as operations director at what is now the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA), the equivalent enforcement body in Northern Ireland.

On announcing his retirement in June, Peoples said: “Being chief executive of DVSA has been hugely rewarding and I’m proud of what has been achieved in the relatively short time since the agency was created.

“Thanks to the combined efforts of so many passionate and committed managers and staff, the agency is now firmly established and the work of integration and transformation is well underway. Single trading fund status is now in place and work has begun on a five-year strategy for the agency.

“We’re delivering efficiencies and passing savings onto our customers… we’ve ceased testing at a further 17 goods vehicle testing stations and moved out of 20 driving test centres as part of our commitment to reducing government estate…

“With these solid foundations in place, I am confident that this is the right time for the agency to prepare for a change of leadership.”

Peoples’ role will be taken on by Paul Satoor, deputy chief executive, until a permanent replacement is in post.

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Boris Johnson unveils plans to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe . . .


Boris Johnson unveils plans to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe

His announcement came as the Fire Brigade announced they would replace some of their cars with electric vehicles

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has unveiled his new plans to make London the ultra-low emission vehicle capital of Europe, which include lowering the congestion charge further for low-emission vehicles and giving grants to taxi drivers to encourage them to switch to electric cars.

The plan sets out a series of goals that hope to encourage the use and increase the numbers of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) in the city.

The ULEV delivery plan lays out a number of schemes and areas of exploration, including improving the congestion charge discount for ULEVs, increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points, and giving decommissioning grants to taxis that are more than 10 years old, in an effort to encourage drivers to take up zero emission vehicles.

The plans could even lead to the introduction of preferential access and lower parking charges for ULEV vehicles in some parts of London. The Mayor's Office has said it will "explore" this idea, and will work with London's boroughs to develop it.

The Mayor's announcement came as the London Fire Brigade announced that 57 of their support vehicles will be replaced with hybrid electric cars by next year. The Brigade is also looking into the adoption of low emission fire engines, calling on industry to bring forward new technologies that can meet their demands.

London's New Routemaster buses are already hybrids, and Transport for London (TfL) is looking to make the bus fleet greener, through introducing more electric buses and new electric-only routes.

London is the most polluted place in the country, with air toxicity levels in some areas reaching up to three-and-a-half times the EU legal limit. A recent study by TfL and the Greater London Authority found that 9,500 Londoners died early in 2010 because of pollution.

Buyers of electric cars, like the G-Wiz, are already given incentives by the city, such as exemption from the congestion chargeDue to pollution's severe health impact on London's residents, the British Lung Foundation welcomed the new plans to cut emissions.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: "After the shocking air pollution mortality figures published last week for London, it is right and necessary that measures be put in place to bring down these emissions in the capital."

“The UK has failed to comply with legally binding limits for levels of air pollution in 16 other cities and must now prepare a national air quality strategy by the end of the year. If this government is serious about cleaning up the air we breathe, a real world testing system for bus and taxi emissions to support local authorities achieve tighter targets is just one of the policies it should be taking into consideration.”

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hackers Commandeer A Jeep Over The Internet, Update Now If You Have One . . .


Hackers Commandeer A Jeep Over The Internet, Update Now If You Have One

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A new software update has been released by Fiat Chrysler for some of its internet-connected vehicles following reports that two hackers were able to commandeer a Jeep Cherokee remotely over the internet from miles away and drive it into a ditch. Naturally the software update is marked as urgent so if you happen to have one of those internet-connected vehicles it’s best that you get that update as soon as possible.

Wired did a lengthy story on the possibility that hackers can remotely access countless FCA vehicles and make them do their bidding, two professional hackers including one who previously worked for the National Security Agency were able to demonstrate that this is indeed possible. They will detail part of their method at the Black Hat security conference which takes place in Las Vegas in August.

Fiat Chrysler rushed to get the software update out the door to patch the vulnerability but the question remains whether the company has done enough to inform owners what the problem was.

Hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek commandeered the 2014 Jeep Cherokee using the car’s FCA Uconnect system which uses the Sprint network, by hacking into the system from miles away they were able to shut down the engine, control the steering and even disable its brakes all while the Wired reporter was sitting behind the wheel.

The hackers got in touch with Fiat Chrysler to tell them about the vulnerability which resulted in the software update being developed and urgently pushed out for Chrysler, Durango, Ram and Jeep.

If you happen to own any of these vehicles better take them in and ask for all recent updates to be installed.

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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Gloucester driver caught towing van-strapped-in-car-boot . . .


Gloucester driver caught towing van-strapped-in-car-boot

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Police stopped the vehicle on Monday

A driver spotted towing a car with a van strapped to the boot has been stopped by police in Gloucester.

The motorist had removed the front wheels, doors and engine from the van to lighten the load before hoisting it into the rear of a grey hatchback.

He then lashed the two vehicles together with one blue strap and set off towing the combo.

The man was eventually stopped by police officers who posted the pictures on the force's Twitter account.

He was not arrested but told he could be summonsed for motoring offences.

The driver was reported for having a vehicle in a dangerous condition

The force tweeted: "Photos of a stop by one of our units in Gloucester - car towing a car with a van strapped on the back.

"The van was quite literally strapped to the car. Driver reported for dangerous condition. No lights too."

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Friday, 21 August 2015

Drivers Report Safety Concerns Over Boris Buses . . .


Drivers Report Safety Concerns Over Boris Buses

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Drivers are reporting major problems with the 'New Routemaster' buses, aka Boris Buses, according to transport journalist Christian Wolmar.

Forty drivers who work on the 24 route — the first to run with Boris Buses — have compiled a dossier of faults, which include:
  • The hybrid batteries are not charging. This puts extra pressure on the small diesel engine which is not designed to power the bus on its own. This is leading to the bus being slow to respond at stops and traffic lights — which in turn affects surrounding traffic. It also, of course, seriously calls into question the bus's green credentials.
  • Drivers say the reason the bus is sluggish to respond is because the engine 'splutters' when the accelerator is engaged. Some drivers are therefore keeping their foot on the accelerator when the handbrake is on — a risky practice.
  • If the bus is on an incline it can roll back when the handbrake is taken off — even if the accelerator is being pressed.
  • Some buses are coming out of gear, which means the bus has to be restarted.
  • If you've ridden on a Boris Bus you also know about the overheating problem — as we demonstrated on the hottest day of this year. The drivers' cab is also reported to be uncomfortably hot in some buses.
The drivers, who fear losing their jobs if identified, say they've reported their concerns to management at Metroline, which operates the 24 route. One driver has apparently been fired for repeatedly refusing to take out the new buses over safety concerns. Another driver said:

"There is going to be an accident and someone will get seriously hurt. We want to stop that and that is why we are talking to [Christian Wolmar]."

Wolmar, who is also running to be Labour's mayoral candidate, is calling for an urgent review of the operation and procurement procedures of the buses. He describes the bus as a "scandal from start to finish", saying each New Routemaster costs nearly 50% more than an ordinary equivalent; the 'customer assistants' necessary for the bus to run with the back door open cost £62,000 a year each; and the claim that it is the "cleanest, greenest bus of its class" is seriously called into question by the failures in the hybrid system.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said:
"The New Routemaster is the cleanest and greenest bus of its class and we have seen absolutely no safety problems with its hybrid system. Metroline has confirmed that they are not aware of any issues arising from changes between electric and hybrid modes in service and they have had no such problems reported to them by their drivers.

"However, concerns have been raised previously about the performance of the batteries on the earlier vehicles. An improved battery design was introduced on new deliveries and any older ones which fail are repaired or replaced. This has all been done by the manufacturers within the warranty period, at no cost to TfL, or the fare- or tax-payer."

Tom Edwards at BBC London has also heard that there is a pile of batteries sitting in a bus depot that have been removed from some New Routemasters, which are now running solely on diesel.

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Speeders and drink drivers detected on A96 and A90 . . .


Speeders and drink drivers detected on A96 and A90

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Dozens of drivers have been caught committing motoring offences on trunk roads in Aberdeenshire and Moray, police have said.

Officers carried out patrols on the A96, A92, A90 and A98 over the weekend.

Forty-five people have been reported for speeding, including some detected driving at speeds of more than 100mph.

Four men and a woman have been charged with drink driving, two with dangerous driving and three others have been charged with careless driving.

Police said that of those reported for speeding, one driver was detected travelling at 101mph on the A96 near Huntly and another at 103mph on the A90 near Hatton.

A third driver was detected driving at 101mph on the A90 near Stonehaven.

Checks carried out on the A96 between Elgin and Inverurie saw six drivers reported for speeds varying between 86 and 101mph.

A total of 67 other road traffic offences such as using a mobile phone and failing to wear seat belts were also recorded.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

UK to lead the way in testing driverless cars . . .


UK to lead the way in testing driverless cars

Cited at:

Government to fund research and development for driverless vehicles.

£20 million government fund to be matched by industry to enable new research and development into technology of the future code of practice for driverless cars to help make UK best place for testing
new joint policy team will co-ordinate government work.

The government has today (19 July 2015) launched a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles, along with a code of practice for testing.

The measures announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Transport Minister Andrew Jones will put the UK at the forefront of the intelligent mobility market, expected to be worth £900 billion by 2025.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:
To boost productivity Britain will need to capitalise on new technologies like driverless vehicles, securing high skilled jobs for those who want to work hard and get on, and contributing to a more prosperous future for the whole of the country.

Our world beating automotive industry, strengths in innovation and light touch regulatory approach to testing driverless technology combine to make the UK market competitive and an attractive destination for investors.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:
Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society and economy and I want the UK to lead the way in developing this exciting technology. Our code of practice clearly shows that the UK is in the best position when it comes to testing driverless cars and embracing the motoring of the future. We now look forward to working with industry to make this a reality.

A decade ago Britain’s car industry was in decline, but it is now the most productive amongst the major European producers. New technology can help it improve its productivity and competitiveness in the future.

The government wants bidders to put forward proposals in areas such as safety, reliability, how vehicles can communicate with each other and the environment around them and how driverless vehicles can help give an ageing population greater independence. Successful bidders will match fund projects with their own money.

The code of practice provides industry with the framework they need to safely trial cars in real-life scenarios, and to create more sophisticated versions of the models that already exist.

The Department for Transport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have established the new joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), which will co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology. C-CAV is currently working on a range of new technological developments, including plans to test new roadside communication technology to improve traffic flow and safety through ‘connected corridors’. This would pilot technology that will provide drivers with useful journey and safety information.

The £20 million competition announced today is part of the £100 million for research into intelligent mobility announced by the Chancellor in the Spring 2015 Budget.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Rest breaks are essential . . .


Rest breaks are essential

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AS MANY as 65 per cent of drivers on long journeys do not to stop to take rest breaks on the motorway because they don't feel they have any need to. While 79 per cent of drivers will only choose to stop and take a rest if a motorway service area is located in a convenient place on their journey.

The findings come from a recent survey conducted by road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), in which 1,753 people took part during June of this year.

The poll asked to what extent keeping hydrated and taking a break between long journeys is important to drivers, and found many respondents did not consider taking a rest break essential unless they had a pressing reason.

Findings also reveal that while many drivers prepare for a long journey beforehand – filling up their cars with fuel (85 per cent) or programming a destination into their sat-navs (more than 60 per cent) – only 50 per cent of drivers will plan to make arrangements to stop at a service station, and as little as two per cent fail to do any planning at all.

An existing driving simulator study conducted by Loughborough University showed that even mild dehydration can be hazardous to drivers.

This suggests it can have the same effect on someone that is driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs in terms of driver errors made – affecting mood, mental functioning and changes in level of concentration.

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The IAM's survey findings suggest that many drivers fail to prioritise their wellbeing and alertness when they are behind the wheel simply because they don't take regular breaks on long journeys.

Other major reasons as to why drivers do not consider taking a motorway break include: the price of fuel at service stations too expensive (56 per cent) or citing that food, drinks and snacks at service stations are considerably overpriced (45 per cent).

For drivers who do have a reason to stop at a motorway service station, over 94 per cent have said they only stop to use the toilet facilities.

In fact, more than a third of respondents consider a toilet break very important on long distance routes, and 75 per cent would welcome more frequent continental style picnic and toilet only rest areas across motorways and main road networks.

Commenting on the survey, Sarah Sillars, IAM's chief executive officer said: "Where drivers avoid taking rest breaks at a motorway service station, simply because they want to reach a destination quicker, this raises the risk of making several mistakes and being involved in an incident.

"Although participants have expressed an interest towards self-serving picnic and toilet sites, drivers must be encouraged to take regular breaks every two hours at any type of service station.

"Take a bottle of water with you before embarking on a long journey, keep hydrated throughout and allow for some much- needed rest."

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Monday, 17 August 2015

Is this Britain's most dangerous roundabout? . . .


Is this Britain's most dangerous roundabout?

Footage shows dozens of drivers risking head-on collisions by crossing a roundabout on the wrong side of the road and then entering the new road where oncoming traffic would be

Cited at:

A roundabout has been hailed as the most dangerous in Britain after thirty motorists were caught going around the wrong way - in just 24 hours.

Up to seven dozy drivers an hour were seen cutting the corner on the mini roundabout and driving straight into an oncoming traffic lane.

Horrifyingly one of the 33 vehicles caught in a day was a massive lorry with a trailer - carrying seven tractors.

The shocking footage was recorded in Turners Hill, West Sussex, by local campaigner Simon Pamplin.

His colleague David Pawsey, who founded the Turners Hill Dangerous Driving Action Group, said: "I was really shocked by what I saw.

"I thought we might get a few a week, but to get up to seven an hour is just outrageous.

For me, one incident is too many."

Concerns about the junction first came to light when footage emerged of a lorry overtaking a car by driving the wrong way around it, so a camera was installed.

The footage, recorded on July 3, saw 33 drivers crossing the roundabout on the wrong side of the road and then entering the new road where oncoming traffic would be.

Kevin Delaney, head of road safety at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the UK's leading road safety charity, said: "For some of the vehicles, I really could not work out what the problem was.

"It seemed like it was almost more difficult to go around it the wrong way.

"It could be ignorance or it could be laziness, but the simple fact is each and every one of these drivers is breaking the law.

"The simple solution would be to put a CCTV camera onsite and prosecute everyone who goes around the roundabout the wrong way."

Parents of a nearby school have also urged drivers to be more careful, for fear students could be put at risk.

The footage has been sent to Sussex Police, who said they will be examining the footage and notifying the highway authority.

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

London's getting another 51 all-electric buses . . .


London's getting another 51 all-electric buses

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London's public transport is already going green, but there's still a lot of work to do before all of the city's buses are switched over to alternative energy sources. Just two weeks after mayor Boris Johnson announced the capital will host the world's first purpose-built all-electric double decker, Transport for London (TfL) today confirmed a further 51 green vehicles will hit the streets by autumn in a bid to lower carbon emissions and improve London's air quality.

While the contract has been handed to Go Ahead, one of the UK's largest bus operators, it's not yet known who will supply the new all-electric buses. However, it's been made clear that they will run on route 507, which links Waterloo with Victoria, and route 521, which connects Waterloo to London Bridge. While two Chinese electric buses have operated on these routes since 2013, two new Spanish buses were introduced just this week. Once the new fleet arrives, both routes will become fully electric and join London's first all-electric service, route 312, when it makes the switch later this year.

In in the next five years, TfL hopes to have 300 zero-emission single-deck buses and 3,000 double-decker hybrid buses running across central London. Considering that there will only be 22 pure electric buses in London come October, it has its work cut out. However, the authority has already allocated upwards of £700 million to make it all happen.

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Smart motorway litter droppers told to wind it up . . .


Smart motorway litter droppers told to wind it up

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Drivers are being urged to take their litter home with them after more than 1,300 sacks of litter were collected on the smart motorway route in Greater Manchester during a 4-week period.

Highways England’s contractors are removing litter while sections of the motorway are closed overnight to demolish outdated overhead gantries, as well as at other times of day when they are able to work safely.

They will also be at the Trafford Centre tomorrow (Thursday 16 July) where ‘Bag it! Bin it!’ rubbish bags will be handed out for drivers to keep in their cars.

Motorists could receive a fixed penalty notice of £50 if they are caught dropping litter, which could lead to a potential fine of £2,500 for a second offence or if they fail to pay the penalty notice.

Paul Hampson, Project Manager at Highways England, said:
Litter thrown from moving vehicles can cause accidents as well as blocking drains and creating a threat to wildlife. It also puts the safety of workers collecting it at risk of being struck by passing vehicles.

We spend millions of pounds on collecting litter from England’s motorways and major A roads every year – money we’d much rather spend on improving the network. We’re therefore urging drivers to keep a rubbish bag in their vehicle so we can get on with the job of upgrading the motorway.

Sections of the M60 are being closed during 4 nights in July while work takes place to remove overhead gantries. The final closure of the month is due to take place between 9pm and 9am on Saturday 18 July and will affect the clockwise side of the M60 between junctions 9 and 10 near Trafford Park.

The anticlockwise carriageway will also be closed between junction 12 at the M62/M602 interchange and junction 10, along with the eastbound link roads from the M62 onto both sides of the M60. Drivers will be able to follow clearly-signed diversion routes.

When the smart motorway scheme is completed in autumn 2017, around 200 new electronic message signs on overhead gantries will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.

The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted to an extra lane between junctions 18 and 20 of the M62, increasing capacity along that section of motorway.

More details on the scheme are available on the road projects page.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 
0300 123 5000.

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