Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The end of the road for the A-Z: The majority of British drivers now use sat navs rather than maps, new poll finds . . .

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The end of the road for the A-Z: The majority of British drivers now use sat navs rather than maps, new poll finds 

  • For the first time, majority of English drivers now rely on electronic satnavs
  • Poll found 52 per cent of those behind the wheel used the gadgets last year
  • Compares to 48% in 2013 and a third in 2009, say Department for Transport
  • But campaigners warn device can pose ‘real danger’ if it distracts drivers

Cited at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3224611/Majority-British-drivers-use-sat-navs-maps.html

The days of keeping a battered A-Z in the glove box may soon be over.

For the first time, the majority of English drivers now rely on electronic satnavs to find their destination, according to a poll.

Some 52 per cent of those behind the wheel used the gadgets last year, compared with 48 per cent in 2013. 

For the first time, the majority of English drivers now rely on electronic satnavs to find their destination, according to a poll. Some 52 per cent of those behind the wheel used the gadgets last year (file photo)

In 2009, the figure was just a third, the National Travel Survey by the Department for Transport found.

Around one in eight motorists now have an integrated satnav system in their car, while four in ten use a portable version.

However campaigners have warned that the devices can pose a ‘real danger’ if they distract drivers’ attention away from road signs and traffic.

Laura-Louise Salford, 17, was killed in 2012 in East Yorkshire after her TomTom satnav did not warn her of the junction ahead, leading her to drive straight on without slowing down.

A study by Brake found that seven per cent of drivers have had a near miss, having to swerve or brake suddenly to avoid crashing because they were distracted by a satnav.

The charity said there is evidence using a satnav can make motorists drive faster and be less observant, placing themselves and others at risk.


End of the road: The days of keeping a battered A-Z in the glove box may soon be over. Around one in eight motorists now have an integrated satnav system in their car, while four in ten use a portable version

Research carried out by Brake and insurance firm Direct Line in January showed 11 per cent of drivers under the age of 24 were distracted by satnav instructions.

The figure dropped to below five per cent for drivers over 35.

The organisation’s campaigns manager, Gary Rae, said: ‘The satnav is there to help you keep focused on driving rather than worry about directions, but it’s not there to make all the decisions for you.

‘Driving is an unpredictable activity, so you still need to look at signs, particularly those warning of hazards or speed limits, and watch for people and unexpected problems.’ 

Brake has called on drivers to programme their sat-nav before they set off on a journey and not to fiddle with any gadget while driving.








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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

London safer lorry scheme in force after cyclist deaths . . .

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London safer lorry scheme in force after cyclist deaths


Cited at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-34111067


A ban on "unsafe lorries" in London, introduced as part of efforts to protect cyclists, has come into force.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) must now be fitted with side guards to prevent cyclists being dragged underneath.

HGVs must also be fitted with a certain type of mirror to give drivers a better view of cyclists and pedestrians.

But hauliers criticised the move as a "blunt regulatory tool" and said more should be done to target a minority of rule-breakers on London's roads.

Mayor Boris Johnson said the scheme was a "life-saver".

Each breach of the ban carries a maximum £1,000 penalty and repeat offenders risk losing their operating licences.

The new rules, covering all roads in London except motorways, and operating 24 hours a day, were announced after a number of cyclists were killed in road crashes in London.

Seven of the eight cyclist deaths in the capital this year have involved HGVs.

Charlie Lloyd from the London Cycling Campaign said: "The new mirror system is really good news but most lorries already comply.

"What we'd like to see is a total re-design of a lorry cab... the driver is brought down to the level of a transit van, he can see everything around him, it solves most of the problems."

Mr Johnson said a "disproportionate" share of fatalities and serious injuries were caused by lorries.

"We are ahead of any other part of the UK in closing the legal loopholes that allowed many HGVs to operate without basic safety equipment," he said.

"I am delighted that over the 18 months since we announced the safer lorry scheme, the vast majority of operators have got the message and fitted safety equipment to their vehicles in anticipation of the ban."

Natalie Chapman, of the Freight Transport Association, said funds used to launch the scheme would be better spent on targeting "a small proportion of lorries that don't comply with existing regulations".

"There are better ways to achieve safer roads for all users," she said.


The ban will cover the London Low Emission Zone






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Monday, 9 November 2015

RHA says apprenticeship levy looks like a tax on payroll . . .

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RHA says apprenticeship levy looks like a tax on payroll


Cited at:
https://www.rha.uk.net/news/press-releases/2015-08-august/rha-says-apprenticeship-levy-looks-like-a-tax-on-p

The Road Haulage Association considers that Government’s planned changes to boost apprenticeship numbers and drive up the quality of courses risks being little more than a new tax on payroll in the road haulage sector and that the Association was already seeking an urgent meeting with skills minister Nick Boles after the levy was announced by Chancellor George Osborne

Commenting, RHA director of policy Jack Semple said: “Mr Boles has rejected the proposal for an HGV driver apprenticeship which his department had invited. We have asked officials how a large road haulage firm, employing primarily lorry drivers, can get its levy back when no apprenticeship is available. We await their response.

“The option remains for a large haulier to have general business and traffic office apprenticeships but that hardly compensates for the lack of an HGV driver apprenticeship.

“Meanwhile we hear from members of growing concerns over driver shortages, growing reliance on drivers from abroad, and major retailers already poaching drivers with the promise of large bonuses to secure their services in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas, all to the detriment of transport companies.

“The government has repeatedly refused to support transport firms in meeting the cost of training new drivers. Now they appear to be talking about levy for apprenticeships that they have refused.

“We wait with keen interest to hear from Nick Boles how this is going to work and not simply be a new tax on the UK haulage industry, and to discuss a more productive way forward.”






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Sunday, 8 November 2015

More ADIs needed for the practical driving test trial . . .

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More ADIs needed for the practical driving test trial


Cited at:
https://despatch.blog.gov.uk/2015/09/03/more-adis-needed-for-the-practical-driving-test-trial/


Earlier this year, DVSA began to trial a new version of the practical driving test.

We regularly review the driving test to make sure that it keeps pace with modern driving demands. Following discussions with representatives from the driver training industry last year, we identified a number of changes that we all felt would better prepare new drivers to drive independently. This included introducing a number of new manoeuvres and developing test routes using a satnav.

You can find out more on GOV.UK about these features and at which test centres the trial is taking place.

Comparing the outcomes

I’m pleased to report that the trial is progressing well, with 32 test centres now participating across the country with Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) making 1,252 driving test bookings on behalf of their pupils. That’s 622 in the trial group and 630 in the control group. I should also point out that the control group is just as important as the trial group, as we need to compare outcomes of the new test with the current one.
We’d like to see more ADIs take part

However, we’d like to see more ADIs join the trial. Its success is dependent on ADIs signing up and identifying candidates to take either the new test or the current one. There’s no limit on how many candidates an ADI can put forward and a there’s a range of incentives available to both ADIs and candidates for taking part.

The feedback so far is positive…

At the moment, our project team is in the middle of the research. We’re confident about how things are going following some good feedback from ADIs and candidates who’ve taken part. Last month, we also demonstrated the test trial to some key road safety stakeholders, where the response was really positive:

“Many thanks for the invitation yesterday which I thoroughly enjoyed and more importantly found to be extremely beneficial. Seeing and experiencing the new test was invaluable. I was particularly struck by how the 20 minute independent drive using the satnav made the test so much more realistic to today’s driving conditions. The ‘show me’ exercise worked really well as did the reverse out of a parking bay.” Nick Lloyd, RoSPA

“If there is any assistance we can give to shifting the emphasis of the test towards safety rather than manoeuvres do let me know.” David Davies, PACTS

“Greatly encouraged by the new test – excellent stuff.” Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation
How to register your interest

The trial is set to run until early 2016, and is open to all ADIs who operate in or around the 32 test centres participating. It’s your opportunity to shape the future of the driving test.

If you want to register for the trial, please take this short survey





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Saturday, 7 November 2015

DfT takes next step in extending O-licensing and annual tests . . .

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DfT takes next step in extending O-licensing and annual tests


Cited at:
http://transportoperator.co.uk/2015/08/18/dft-takes-next-step-in-extending-o-licensing-and-annual-tests/



The Department for Transport (DfT) has published summaries of responses to two recent consultations, which explored the possibility of extending the scope of the annual roadworthiness test and operator licensing regimes to currently exempted vehicle categories.

The DfT found that around 78 per cent of respondents were “generally in favour of introducing annual roadworthiness testing for one or more of the ten categories of vehicle” from a list on which it had consulted, which included mobile cranes, breakdown vehicles, engineering plant such as volumetric concrete mixers, tower wagons, road construction vehicles and electrically propelled vehicles.

Two thirds also supported the extension of annual testing to vehicles currently exempt under Sections 44 and 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 – namely, vehicles carrying abnormal loads, and some other special vehicle categories.

However, it said: “concerns were raised by many about the ability to test some types of vehicles in current testing stations using current testing methods – with many respondents suggesting that special testing arrangements will need to be developed for specific vehicles.”

Some of these concerns came from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which oversees the annual test. Some very wide vehicles, or those with very high or low ground clearance would struggle to access many authorised testing facilities (ATF), the agency said.

Summarising DVSA’s response, DfT added: “Additionally most ATFs do not have alternatives to roller brake testing. If a vehicle cannot be roller brake tested due to design, balloon tyres, transmission, ground clearance or size a brake test could not be carried out. There may also be issues relating to loading some vehicles for a suitable brake test.”

DVSA suggested that some exemptions from specific test items might need to be considered to avoid vehicles requiring ‘considerable modification’ in order to comply.

A notable proportion of the responses came from volumetric concrete businesses or associated organisations, which: “expressed concern that an unintended consequence of annual testing vehicles would be that they would not be able to legally operate at design weights; and they therefore sought agreement to operate such vehicles to design weights, or at least to have further discussions on this issue.”

One popular suggestion was that: “any vehicle based on an HGV chassis and used on a public road should be tested.” Some organisations even called on an extension of this to emergency service vehicles, given the speeds they may travel at.

DfT said the consultation responses had raised: “a number of issues that require further detailed work before final decisions can be taken. For each vehicle type being considered for inclusion in annual roadworthiness testing the Department will consider the practicalities of that testing, including considering if the vehicle type may require special arrangements to safely facilitate annual roadworthiness testing.”

The full consultation and response summary can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, a separate consultation asked whether engineering plant (including volumetric mixers), recovery and breakdown vehicles, showman’s vehicles, mobile cranes and electrically-operated vehicles should fall under the scope of the HGV operator licensing regime.

A majority of respondents (around two thirds) agreed that ‘engineering plant’-category vehicles with fixed equipment that deliver goods (either processed or not) should no longer be exempt from O-licensing. Safety and enforcement organisations, as well as the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and Freight Transport Association (FTA) were unanimous on this.

“Responses have confirmed that there is a concern that there can be competition between regulated vehicles and non-regulated vehicles operating in the same market,” said DfT.

“The most obvious example is between rotary cement mixers and volumetric concrete mixers where both vehicle types carry and deliver similar products, but under different regulatory regimes.

“It is noted that there was a broad consensus that for vehicles that both carry and deliver a product there is little justification for these vehicle not being operated under an operator’s licence.”

There was also a strong response from circus and funfair operators, arguing that they should retain their current O-licensing exemption.

As a result, DfT said it: “accepted that the long established exemption for genuine showmen’s vehicles, where there is a low mileage and a difficulty in identifying a regular operating base, is not compatible with the operator licensing system.”

It added that the situation as regards recovery vehicles was “mixed”, and that it intends to explore the possibility of a separate licensing system for this sector.

Decisions on any changes are expected in late 2015. Full details of this consultation and responses are available here.




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Friday, 6 November 2015

DVSA suspends training of delegated examiners . . .

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DVSA suspends training of delegated examiners


Cited at:
http://transportoperator.co.uk/2015/08/12/dvsa-suspends-training-of-delegated-examiners/

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has suspended training on its delegated examiner scheme, which allows haulage, bus and emergency service operators to apply for their own staff to provide theory and practical heavy vehicle driving tests for their employees.

The agency has reportedly written to delegated examiner candidates booked in for training this financial year, to tell them that their courses have been cancelled.

Reporting the news, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said the move made sense in the short-term, since DVSA: “has indicated that the most efficient way of maximising the number of tests being delivered is to allow it to train more of its own examiners instead.”

FTA had previously expressed concern as to whether DVSA’s capacity to deliver vocational tests could constrain response to the driver shortage.

James Firth, the association’s head of licensing policy and compliance information, said: “While industry wants a move towards the greater flexibility of private operators having staff accredited to examine the tests, DVSA figures show that even the most efficient delegated examiners are delivering fewer than 200 tests each year, while DVSA’s own examiners are doing around 800.

“With the constraints on DVSA’s resources to train examiners, this move makes sense at the moment.”

However, the long-term strategy for licence acquisition must have “delegated examiners at its heart,” FTA said.

Firth continued: “The delegated examiner process must be reformed by the time this temporary measure is lifted, allowing delegated examiners to examine tests of drivers from different companies. This will allow the flexibility for delegated examiners to reach the efficiency levels of DVSA examiners.”





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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Are your drivers fit for the road? . . .

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Are your drivers fit for the road?


Cited at:
http://transportoperator.co.uk/2015/09/01/are-your-drivers-fit-for-the-road/


Important questions regarding the recruitment and medical assessment of heavy vehicle drivers have been raised at the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into last December’s Glasgow bin lorry incident, which adjourned to consider evidence in late August.

The ageing of the LGV driver population increases the likelihood of individuals becoming medically unfit to drive, and reduces the number of suitable applicants.

In the case of the 2014 Glasgow crash – in which six people were killed three days before Christmas – the inquiry heard that the driver of the bin lorry had allegedly experienced a previous blackout whilst driving for a bus company, and had suffered from health problems including fainting and dizziness as far back as the 1970s.

It was further alleged that the driver had failed to disclose aspects of this medical history to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and medical practitioners, as well as to Glasgow City Council during the recruitment process.

Furthermore, the inquiry heard that the driver successfully applied to DVLA for his LGV licence to be reinstated in April 2015, just months after the crash, before it was revoked again in June.

Questions were asked at the FAI about the screening processes operated by the DVLA, which are supposed to ensure that the holder of a Group 2 licence (LGV or PCV) is medically fit to drive large commercial or passenger-carrying vehicles.

Dr Gareth Parry, a senior medical adviser to the DVLA, admitted to the FAI that the current system was open to abuse. Asked if: “particularly in the context of Group 2 licences, the current system exposes applicants to a huge level of temptation?” Parry replied: “Yes, I think there is an opportunity for that.”

So, do employers themselves have any obligation to check that drivers, particularly of large vehicles, are fit to drive, beyond ensuring that the correct category of licence is held?

“Employers of LGV drivers have an obligation through the undertaking given on the grant of their operator’s licence, to ensure that the laws relating to the driving and operating of vehicles used under this licence are observed,” specialist transport solicitor Christabel Hallas told Transport Operator.

“This includes making checks of their drivers to ensure that those laws are not broken and that their drivers are fit to drive. The Medical Fitness section of the DVLA are the arbitrators as to whether or not the driver is fit to drive.

“Any driver aggrieved by the DVLA decision has a right of appeal to his local magistrates’ court, where he can produce medical evidence.”

So, it would appear that the law requires the employer to place the emphasis on document checks, rather than instituting medical checks of its own.

“Although the employer has no role in any decisions made by the DVLA, he does have an obligation to check the currency and status of his employees’ driving licences,” Ms Hallas continued.

“Records need to be kept of the checks, and employers may have had to change their systems following the recent abolition of the paper counterpart of the driving licence.

“The system for checking driving licences is one of the items checked by traffic examiners on a visit to the operating centre, and a low score could lead to regulatory action being taken against the employer.

“Allowing a driver to drive a commercial vehicle who had had his licence revoked for medical reasons would not only be a criminal offence, but would put into question the employer’s good repute and fitness to hold an operator’s licence,” she warned.

This does not, however, mean that the DVLA’s own system is robust enough to take all unfit drivers off the road.

The Glasgow FAI heard that that there is no mechanism within the DVLA’s licence application processing system to check the veracity of the applicant’s health declaration against their medical record, and that GPs were not obliged to notify the DVLA if they told a patient he or she were unfit to drive.

While the penalties for making a false declaration are relatively stringent (£1000 fine, or up to two years’ imprisonment) Dr Parry said he was not aware of any prosecutions for the offence in Scotland.

He also admitted that current written advice from the DVLA to general practitioners (GPs) on assessing a patient’s fitness to drive could be improved.

At an FAI into a separate incident earlier in August, it was heard that a bus driver, who had twice had his vocational licence reinstated following crashes caused when he blacked out while driving, was not prosecuted when he blacked out at the wheel for a third time, resulting in the death of a colleague.

This driver had not concealed his medical history. His first two blackouts were attributed to ‘a cardiovascular incident’ and high blood pressure respectively, while the third was related to dehydration.

So if an employer decides that the DVLA’s safeguards are insufficient for their own peace of mind, what additional precautions can be followed?

Rafia Ahmad is an employment solicitor at Backhouse Jones.

“The issues which have arisen as a result of the Glasgow case highlight the employer’s obligations concerning employee’s health and safety,” she told Transport Operator.

“It is important for employers to include medical questionnaires as part of the pre-hiring process in order to ensure employees make clear what medical conditions they suffer from which may prevent them from carrying out their role: epilepsy, for instance.”

She advised carrying out periodic medical examinations.

“But this must be with the employee’s consent. This is usually best set out in a contract of employment,” she cautioned.

“The problem is that employees do not necessarily want to disclose everything, which can have serious implications for health and safety.

“But other than contractual clauses, there is nothing more an employer can rely upon to prevent employees from driving with conditions which could impact on their ability to carry out their role safely.

“Ultimately, there is only so much that an employer can do and there are serious privacy and data protection issues to be aware of from an employer’s point of view, as legally they are prevented from what can be seen as prying into the employee’s private life.”

Meanwhile, a leading figure in the Scottish bus operating industry has called for employers of bus drivers to be given “complete visibility” of job applicants’ employment records.

Ralph Roberts, the managing director of McGill’s Buses, told HeraldScotland: “If a driver was legally bound to allow their personnel file to be given from their previous employer to their new employer, there would be much greater quality control of who is put behind the wheel of a large vehicle.”



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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ban on 'unsafe' lorries comes into effect in London . . .

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Ban on 'unsafe' lorries comes into effect in London


Cited at:
http://www.supplymanagement.com/news/2015/ban-on-unsafe-lorries-comes-into-effect-in-london


HGVs were involved in seven of the eight cyclist deaths so far this year in London. 

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) without safety equipment to protect pedestrians and cyclists have been banned in London.

From 1 September HGVs of more than 3.5 tonnes entering Greater London must have sideguards to stop cyclists getting dragged under their wheels and mirrors giving the driver a better view of other road users.

The move was announced by London mayor Boris Johnson as part of his Safer Lorry Scheme, which will see the introduction of further measures such as the fitting of windows in the lower panels of cab doors to improve visibility.

Johnson said: “We are ahead of any other part of the UK in closing the legal loopholes that allowed many HGVs to operate without basic safety equipment, and I am delighted that over the 18 months since we announced the Safer Lorry Scheme the vast majority of operators have got the message and fitted safety equipment to their vehicles in anticipation of the ban.

“We have begun vigorous enforcement action against the laggards. A very disproportionate share of cyclist deaths and serious injuries are caused by lorries, and this scheme will undoubtedly save lives.

“But this big step forward is only one element of my work to protect cyclists and pedestrians from lorries. I propose to require further safety modifications to all HGVs in London, including the retrofitting of bigger side windows to further reduce the driver blind spots that contribute to so many tragic accidents.”

He said of the eight cyclist deaths so far this year in London, seven have involved HGVs.

A consultation on the best way to introduce the new window requirement will begin in January, while trials are taking place on sensors that alert lorry drivers to the presence of cyclists.

Greater London Authority planning powers will also be used to prescribe the routes HGVs can use in relation to major building projects because many of the most dangerous vehicles are involved in construction.

Lorries breaching the ban, which is applicable at all times, face a £1,000 fine.

- See more at: http://www.supplymanagement.com/news/2015/ban-on-unsafe-lorries-comes-into-effect-in-london#sthash.YWN0z8TV.dpuf









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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Motorists adopting "devil-may-care" attitude to driving with the fuel light on due to high petrol prices . . .

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Motorists adopting "devil-may-care" attitude to driving with the fuel light on due to high petrol prices

One in six drivers broke down last year after running out of fuel, which has trebled since 2011

Cited at:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fuel/11826807/Motorists-adopting-devil-may-care-attitude-to-driving-with-the-fuel-light-on-due-to-high-petrol-prices.html


One in six drivers broke down last year after running out of fuel, according to LV=, the insurance company

Motorists have adopted a dangerous, "devil-may-care" attitude to driving with the fuel light on, a report has claimed after finding the number of breakdowns caused by empty tanks has soared over the past four years.

More than 800,000 drivers broke down last year after running out of fuel, according to LV=, the insurance company. It said the number had trebled since 2011, with its claims data showing callouts rising in each of the four years.

John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= Road Rescue, said drivers had developed "bad habits" and had started to "gamble" on driving on a low tank when petrol prices started rising in 2010.

The warnings come as supermarkets reignite a fuel price war in response to the falling cost of oil.

In a boost ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Morrisons will today take 2p off a litre of petrol and 1p off diesel, with rival pump operators expected to follow.

Petrol prices could now drop below £1 a litre, the RAC Foundation predicts, bringing welcome respite to those who had risked breakdown to avoid over-paying.


Price rose from 114p a litre in March 2010 to 133p a year later. They breached 144p a litre in 2012 and only last December dropped back to the same level as 2010.

 

In its survey of 1,500 motorists, LV= asked those who admitted to driving on a very low tank why they took the risk.

More than half said they had purposefully driven past a petrol station "in the hope of finding cheaper fuel elsewhere".

Mr O'Roarke said: "Our research suggests more than two million motorists drive with their warning light on nearly constantly,"

"Most say they are more concerned with traffic jams, heavy rain or getting lost.

"Having to buy expensive motorway fuel can be frustrating, but if it saves you the stress of running out of petrol and potentially causing damage to your engine then it’s worth the cost."

It also appears that a proportion of people overestimate how far they can go once the light comes on, LV= said.

For the 10 most common cars driven in Britain, the fuel light comes on with an average of 38 miles of left in the tank, its research found. For some vehicles such as the Vauxhall Astra, the distance is just 26 miles. Larger cars that consume more fuel per mile tend to warn earlier. For example, the Mercendes Benz C-Class alerts the driver when there 46 miles remain in the tank.


One in four motorists said they thought it was safe to drive 40 miles after the light has illuminated.

In a further word of caution, Mr O'Roarke said: "Apart from the obvious inconvenience for the motorist and other road users in the event of a breakdown, the driver can also be issued a fixed penalty notice in some locations, such as tunnels or bridges, if the incident was foreseeable."

Unleaded petrol is now 18p per litre cheaper than is was at last year's August Bank Holiday. Diesel will be 23 pence-a-litre cheaper than the same time in 2014.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The cost of oil isn't the only driver of what we pay at the pumps, but with crude now trading at its lowest level since March 2009, it is no surprise that the price of petrol and diesel is on the slide.

"This raises further the tantalising prospect that at least some of the nation's 37 million motorists might soon be getting change from a quid when they buy a litre of fuel.

"The very least they can expect is that both refiners and retailers continue to pass the savings they are enjoying on to their customers."

Tesco, Britain's biggest fuel retailer, said it would match the price cuts for petrol and diesel announced by Morrisons.



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Monday, 2 November 2015

Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars? . . .

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Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars?

Future: Cop orders driverless car to halt, vehicle obeys and rolls to a stop.

Cited at:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/08/should-police-have-the-capability-to-take-control-of-driverless-cars/


Driverless cars might be the norm some day—sooner than we think. So it's never too early to consider futuristic scenarios of a driverless car world.

There have already been plenty of ethical questions asked, like whether a driverless car should decide who lives or who dies during an accident scenario. One question often posed is whether a driverless vehicle could choose to ram a school bus full of kids or sacrifice the driverless vehicle's occupants during a mishap.

Now the Rand Corp. is thinking about how law enforcement officials should deal with driverless cars. A recent study (PDF) by the group ponders whether a cop should have the ability to remotely control a vehicle to pull it over.

There are a few ways this could happen. For starters, vehicles could have a method for police to take control baked in at the start. Or maybe the police would have a kill switch—one authorized or not. We all know that vehicles are susceptible to hacking, as Ars has reported recently.

Either way, this will become a real-world debate sooner rather than later. The Rand report doesn't come to any conclusions but briefly touches on the future of unmanned vehicles by painting a hypothetical scene that seems scary to grasp but doesn't seem far-fetched at all.

The police officer directing traffic in the intersection could see the car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. Officer Rodriguez gestured for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolled to a halt behind the crosswalk.

The officer waved the car on as the oblivious passenger continued checking his email. But he wasn’t oblivious for long. A very human-driven sport-utility vehicle (SUV) barreled through the intersection, forcing the officer to dive for safety and the automated car to brake hard and swerve to avoid a collision.

While Officer Rodriguez called for assistance, an unmanned aerial vehicle on patrol recognized the speeding SUV and gave chase while it transmitted the vehicle’s location to police cruisers. A police cruiser precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver forced the SUV off the road minutes later. As officers prepared to swarm the vehicle, one took the man’s photo from a distance, uploaded it to compare against a national repository of mugshots, and quickly produced a high-probability match. The photo, combined with the license plate and vehicle description, helped the system identify an ex-convict who was related to the SUV’s owner, and who had a lengthy rap sheet of armed robbery and reckless driving.

A few moments later, an armed robbery at a nearby gas station crackled over the officers' radios. Surveillance photos from the scene, showing the SUV driver pointing a weapon at the gas station attendant, arrived shortly after the suspect had been safely taken into custody—where he would remain for a very long time.

Slate's Will Oremus notes that driverless cars are programmed to stop at red lights and stop signs and "should also be programmed to stop when a police officer flags them down."

"If a police officer can command a self-driving car to pull over for his own safety and that of others on the road, can he do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime? And what if the passenger doesn’t want the car to stop—can she override the command, or does the police officer have ultimate control?" Oremus asks.

The Rand report also conceives of police having the ability to order an autonomous vehicle to move.

Or, if the vehicle is unmanned but capable of autonomous movement and in an undesirable location (for example, parked illegally or in the immediate vicinity of an emergency), an officer could direct the vehicle to move to a new location (with the vehicle’s intelligent agents recognizing "officer" and “directions to move”) and automatically notify its owner and occupants.

None of this matters at the moment, but it will soon enough.







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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Knockin village fake speed camera vanishes . . .

___________________________________________________________________

Knockin village fake speed camera vanishes

Cited at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-34061264

The camera was made from an old microwave box

A fake speed camera has disappeared from a Shropshire village just weeks after it was put up by a resident.

The cardboard imitation - made from an old microwave box painted yellow - was placed on the B4396 in Knockin, near the Welsh border.

Julie Stevenson, from the Knockin Shop in the village, said it was "crazy" the fake camera had been stolen.

"We have a problem with speeding in the village and it did help slow the traffic down," she said.
'Not illegal'

She said the dummy camera was stolen on the weekend of August 15/16.

"We have no idea who has taken it," she said.

"The village is looking at replacing it with another one. This is meant to be a 30mph zone but so many drivers do more than that and the fake camera really did help."

The man who built the camera, who did not wish to give his full name, placed the box on top of a metal post outside his house after he became fed up of motorists flouting the speed limit.

Although it is not illegal to put up pretend speed cameras, police said they could fall foul of planning laws.
The fake camera had caused people to slow down, according to a villager

Warwickshire and West Mercia Safer Roads Partnership said it does not endorse fake cameras and there are rules about how sites are chosen.









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