Monthly Archives: October 2009

October 29, 2009
New stealthy speed cameras on the way

A new ‘intelligent’ speed camera will soon be making its way onto the UK’s roads.

The new cameras – nicknamed ‘supertraps’ – don’t flash, can cover multiple lanes, and have the ability to differentiate between lorries and cars.

Designed to blend into environment
Unlike the UK’s familiar yellow cameras, the new devices will be styled to blend with other street furniture.

The first that many drivers would know about the camera’s presence could be when they receive a fine through the post.

Cameras will catch speeding truckers
Speeding lorry drivers will also be targeted by the new ‘supertrap’ cameras, due to the device’s ability to distinguish between trucks and cars. On many roads, lorries must adhere to lower speed limits, but convictions are difficult because current Gatso-type cameras do not differentiate between vehicles.

Motoring groups question motives behind the new device
The new speed camera has been met with criticism from motoring groups, which say that the stealth-like design of the device does more to catch speeding drivers than to slow them down.


October 27, 2009
Self-driving cars to be a reality

Cars that are capable of driving themselves could become a reality within a decade, thanks to a new EU-sponsored project.

The plan is to create cars that are capable of driving themselves in convoys under the control of a driver in a lead vehicle.

Cars in the convoy would travel with small gaps between them, cutting both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 20%.

When a car approaches its chosen exit, the driver will retake control and move out of the convoy, with other vehicles then moving up to close the gap.

Both Volvo and British-based engineering consultancy Ricardo are partners in the project, dubbed SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which aims to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions.

First test cars on track for 2011
Despite its futuristic ambitions, the team behind SARTRE say the technology that underpins the project is almost entirely developed, with the first autonomous cars due to take to the test track in 2011.

‘This type of self-driving vehicle doesn’t actually require any hocus-pocus technology and there’s no development in infrastructure,’ says Volvo’s technical director Erik Coelingh, ‘it can all be done by developing and adapting existing technology.’


October 26, 2009
Possible Increase In Motoring Taxes

British drivers will be hit by a massive increase in motoring taxes if the recommendations of an influential environmental think-tank are accepted by the Government.

The Green Fiscal Commission, which is looking into ways to help the UK meet agreed targets for CO2 reductions, is recommending that taxes on ‘high carbon’ activities should be dramatically increased, while at the same time other taxation is lowered.

Report wants petrol to cost £2.20 a litre
Controversial options suggested by the Commission include a £300 tax on new cars, rising to £3300 by 2020, and the tripling fuel duty over the same timespan.

At current prices, that would push the cost of a litre of petrol or diesel to more than £2.20.

The Commission was established in 2007 to consider ways to reduce CO2 emissions. Senior members of all three political parties serve on it, as does Lord Turner, the Government’s ‘green tsar.’


October 20, 2009
Man breaks 15 laws in 11 minutes

A driver has confounded Swiss police by committing 15 traffic violations in just over 10 minutes, officials say.

The 47-year-old initially raced past an unmarked police car in heavy rain at 160 km/h (100mph) before weaving close to other cars and the road’s kerb.

The serial offender clocked up further offences for speeding, driving on the hard shoulder, running a set of red lights and failing to stop for police.

When finally pulled over by St Gallen police, he failed a drugs test.

The unnamed driver, who lives near Zurich, faces a lengthy driving ban and a possible jail sentence when he appears before a Swiss court.


October 19, 2009
Potholes in Britains Roads Make Learning to Drive Dangerous

The deterioration of Britain’s roads is making it extremely hard for learner drivers to learn in a comfortable manner. Many instructors are restructuring their lessons to accommodate for the estimated 1.5 million potholes and avoiding certain routes for the fear of damage to the car and the learners control and confidence.  However, some instructors are taking the opposite approach and including appalling roads to their syllabus in order to prepare learners for what they will have to deal with once they are out on the roads by themselves.

It is not only the learner that has to deal with the consequences of bad road conditions, but other road users, incidents have been reported were instructors are using dual controls to prevent potential accidents when pupils are trying to avoid potholes.

Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School said: “There is an increasing problem with potholes and the general conditions of the roads. It not only proves a problem for individuals when they are learning to drive but also for instructors when they take pupils out on test as the worsening road conditions are seriously damaging the car and the tyres in particular.”

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October 15, 2009
Autumn Driving Habits

Motorists need to adjust their driving in accordance with the change of season as autumn throws up some “treacherous” driving conditions, it is claimed.

The failure to adjust from “summer driving mode” plays a large part in an expected 15 per cent rise in road accidents. Heavy rain and greasy leaves lead to slippery road surfaces at this time of year, the accident management company warned.

October delivers some of the worst driving conditions of the year as the weather changes and the clocks go back, drivers must remember the basic laws of physics and commonsense when the conditions under tyre change.

Drivers of new and used cars were warned to check the tread of their tyres in order to maintain road safety, it takes just a few minutes each month for drivers to ensure that their tyres are safe and legal.


October 13, 2009
Green Driving Could Save You £250 Per Year

Motorists in Scotland who follow the principles of eco-driving, and who drive 12,000 miles annually, can save up to £250 a year on their fuel costs, it is claimed.

A survey of 1090 Scots, commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust to coincide with the second phase of the Eco-drive Scotland campaign, has also found more and more people are now adopting eco-driving techniques. It found:

– 86% are more likely to maintain a steady speed in as high a gear as possible.

– 76% said they now shift to as high a gear as possible.

– 73% keep their tyres at the optimum pressure.

– 35% switch off their engine rather than idle if they are stationary for more than a minute.

The three-year, £1.5million Eco-drive Scotland campaign, which is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the Energy Saving Trust, was launched in January and is aimed at encouraging motorists to drive in a more economical manner.

Mike Thornton, director in Scotland, for the Energy Saving Trust, said: “Knowing people are taking on board the eco-driving tips we are promoting is great news.

“However, we are keen to dispel the myth about idling engines. It is a little known fact that if your vehicle is stationary for more than a minute then switching off your engine can lead to significant savings.

“We are encouraged that 35% of people are switching off their engine rather than idling when stationary.

“But we are keen to persuade more motorists to take up this tip over the next 12 months.”


October 12, 2009
Unsuspecting Buyers Sold AA Driving School Cars

Each year thousands of cars used by the AA driving school to teach learners are being re-sold to unwary members of the public. Many of the buyers once realising where their car has come from are unhappy as traditionally learners are thought of as the most volatile drivers on the roads.

The cars are being sold on the used market under an unfamiliar name and individuals feel as though the arrangement isn’t straightforward. Despite the assurance that the cars are well looked after, they inevitable get a lot of hammer.

Consumer experts have advised that all customers that purchase a Ford Focus should check for the tell-tale signs of dual controls having previously been situated under the passenger-side mat. These are used by the instructor to keep control of the car and then removed before the car is sold on.

Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School said: “Individual dealers will not know that the cars were used by the AA Driving School. The cars are given new clutches, new brakes, new tyres and mats and are than passed on to dealers for sale through a third party.”

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October 8, 2009
Driving a convertible? Your hearing may be at risk

Driving a convertible with the roof down might be exhilarating, but it could also damage your hearing, according to British scientists.
In a study conducted using seven different convertibles on British motorways, researchers measured the noise levels when driving at speeds of 50, 60, and 70 miles per hour (80, 97 and 113 km per hour).

They found at those speeds that drivers are consistently exposed to between 88 and 90 decibels, with a high of 99 due to a combination of noise from road surfaces, traffic congestion and the wind. There was no marked difference between different models of cars.

The noise level of normal conversation is 60 decibels.

“Long or repeated exposure to sounds over 85 decibels is widely recognized to cause permanent hearing loss,” said researcher Philip Michael, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Britain.

“While motorcyclists are well versed in using ear protection, this study highlights that drivers of convertible automobiles may also be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.”

The research was presented to a meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation and published in the medical journal Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

But Michael, who presented the research, said there was no need to trade that convertible in for a hardtop.

The simple act of keeping car windows raised would significantly reduce noise exposure levels to 82 decibels, even with the top down.

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October 6, 2009
British drivers ‘crash for cash’

British drivers are turning into a nation of crooks, according to insurers. They are happy to stage an accident to make money by claiming on insurance, or lie about who will be actually driving their car to cut the cost of cover.

The latter is called fronting and it is becoming an epidemic, says Direct Line. Its research published this week revealed that one in 12 drivers have taken part in fronting, which adds up to nearly 2.5 million people. Worse, more than a quarter of people think “it’s harmless, or everybody does it”.

Fronting involves listing the main driver of a vehicle as a “named driver” on an insurance application to cut the cost of premiums. People do it to help out young drivers who would otherwise be stung by massive insurance costs. They also do it if their spouse or partner has driving convictions so they are put down as a named driver, again, to make the insurance more affordable.

But doing so is a false economy, warns Andy Goldby, director of motor underwriting at Direct Line, because if you are caught, your claim will be turned down.

“Fronting is fraud and effectively means a driver is uninsured,” he says. “If you are found to be fronting, a claim can be rejected, and the correct premium that should have been paid will be reclaimed. The perpetrator can also be put on the CIFAS register, which will seriously affect their chances of getting other financial services products.”

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