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Impaired driving summer crackdown: drink driving and drug driving in the crosshairs

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jun 6, 2019 9:03:00 AM

Impaired driving summer crackdown: drink driving and drug driving in the crosshairs

A drink driving crackdown this summer has kicked off in the UK this June as it can be a bad month for such offenses: according to data by AlcoSense Laboratories and shared by Fleet News, 1 in 10 motorists tested positive in June 2017 during a similar operation carried out in England and Wales, when around 36,000 drivers were tested (average number tested per month is around 24,000, excluding the Christmas period).

Statistics indicate a spike in drink driving during the month of June that coincides with warmer weather—motorists seem more inclined to drink drive and place themselves at risk during this period. Of the drink driving convictions recorded in June 2017, 17.8% of them fall under the definition of ‘morning after’. The record for most stopped belongs to Merseyside (3010 breathalysed drivers) and the number of people killed in road accidents where the driver was over the drink drive limit has risen by an alarming 45% in only two years. Figures released by the Department for Transport in February suggested there were 290 such deaths in 2017, compared with 200 in 2015.

As for impaired driving, in Ireland the RSA is continuing the drug driving awareness campaign launched in 2017 (as driving under the influence of drugs has been a statutory offence since 1961, but it was not until April 2017 that an effective drug testing method was introduced roadside and in Garda stations), focussing particularly on the beginning of June (and on the bank holiday weekend just gone). The Irish Medical Bureau of Road Safety has reported a rise of approximately 43% in the number of blood and urine specimens received for alcohol and drugs testing in the first four months of the year when compared to the same period in 2018. Data shared by An Garda Síochána show that the number of arrests for ‘Driving Under the Influence’ (DUI), which includes alcohol or drugs or a combination of both, is up 15%. There were 2,694 arrests for DUI from Jan-April 2019, versus 2,343 for Jan-April 2018.

Impaired driving has been detected as the cause of more than half of all car crashes. This means operating a motor vehicle while you are affected by alcohol, drugs (legal or illegal), drowsiness and sleepiness, distractions or relevant medical conditions. All of these are killer behaviours that can pose serious risks for you, your drivers, your company and other road users.

 

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Topics: Road Safety, News, Stats & Facts, fleet safety

Ireland celebrates Slow Down Day, but drivers are caught 50% over speed limit

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 28, 2019 9:02:00 AM

Ireland celebrates Slow Down Day, but drivers are caught 50 over speed limit

An Garda Síochána launched the annual 'National Slow Down Day' for a 24 hour period from 07.00 am on Friday 24th May to 07.00 am on Saturday 25th May 2019. The event is intended to reduce the number of speed related collisions, save lives and reduce injuries on the roads.

In terms of road safety, 2018 was the lowest on record with 146 road deaths; however, that doesn’t automatically mean there is no room for improvement. The trend has in fact altered in 2019 according to the data analysed so far. There was a 46% increase in the number of drivers detected speeding on the roads in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year. More than 36,000 people have been caught speeding between January and March 2019.

According to the first reports released last Saturday, four drivers who were caught speeding during the initiative (and despite it) were travelling more than 50% above the speed limit. In total, An Garda Síochána and GoSafe had checked 195,768 vehicles and detected 304 travelling in excess of the speed limit on the Saturday.

Excessive and unsuitable speed is a primary cause of road traffic accidents. This is borne out by an RSA report on fatal accidents between 2008 and 2012, which confirmed that excessive speed was a major factor in almost one third of all fatalities during the period. 

The greater the speed, the higher probability of an accident and, as you might expect, the more serious the resulting damage. As a general rule, a 1% reduction in average speed will bring about a 4% reduction in fatal collisions; and this is why reducing drivers’ speed for both commercial and other road users is essential to improving road safety.

If you need to get started with speeding prevention and want to promote safe, better driving within your fleet, contact us.

 

 

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Topics: Road Safety, News, Stats & Facts, fleet safety

Road Safety Week 2019: #speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 14, 2019 9:04:00 AM

Road Safety Week 2019 speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition

The United Nations Global Road Safety Week initiative took place last week from May 6th to May 12th for the fifth consecutive year. The Road Safety Week has been an opportunity for the fleet industry and fleet operators to encourage all drivers and riders to consider the risks they face and pose on their daily journeys, and to find ways of reducing those risks.

The main point of interest in the latest Road Safety Week event was the hashtag #speakup. Road users have been encouraged to follow a four-step process, focussing first of all on assessing their journeys in order to find out which part of them they consider particularly unsafe; then in the second step they would take note of their road safety demands referring to the assessment of their journeys, and the third step would consist in presenting their concerns to the relevant decision makers in order to implement a practical solution. As a fourth step, the committee of the Road Safety Week 2019 encouraged participants to showcase their work and commitment towards the cause.

Road Safety Week 2019 speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition_2

Among the subjects highlighted during the Road Safety Week were speed management, the need for leadership on road safety, improvements in the design of infrastructure, vehicle safety standard regulations, enforcement of traffic laws and the development of emergency care systems post-crash.

A survey conducted by Venson in the UK and published by Fleet News during the Road Safety Week showed that four fifths of the respondents (81%) believe that all reckless drivers —regardless of their offence—should lose their licence and be made to retake their tests.

According to the results of the research, strong leadership and actions from the government are what’s required (exactly what the road safety week has been focussing on this year): 81% of those interviewed called for an immediate licence ban, 80% appealed for the introduction of harsher fines and 74% said they would like to see the maximum penalty increased for careless driving that resulted in a fatality.

Among the other results, 25% of respondents defined driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription medication) as the most reckless driving offence. Second was speeding (24%), while distracted driving, such as using a mobile phone or eating at the wheel, was third at 12%.

 

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Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 7, 2019 9:04:00 AM

Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

Starting from 16 April 2019, new rules governing advanced vehicle safety are to be incorporated into the technology of manufactured vehicles as a legal requirement for the EU market. The rules need to be given the go-ahead from the EU Council in order to come into effect from May 2022 for new models and May 2024 for those models already in use.

The new vehicles will be fitted with roughly 30 life-saving technologies. Some examples are listed below:

  • Intelligent speed assistance to make a driver aware when exceeding the speed limit
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning
  • Advanced driver distraction warning to help keep attention on the traffic situation
  • Emergency stop signal in the form of a light, signalling road users behind the vehicle that the driver is braking suddenly
  • Reversing detection system to avoid collisions with people and objects behind the vehicle, with the help of a camera or a monitor
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system warning the driver when a loss of pressure occurs
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation allowing aftermarket alcohol interlock devices to be fitted
  • Event data recorder to register relevant data shortly before, during, and immediately after a road accident

There will be some safety innovations for passenger cars and LCVs which will be obliged to adopt some of the safety features that are already in place for buses and lorries such as an emergency braking system and an emergency lane-keeping system.

As for buses and trucks, the new safety features earmarked for them are quite sophisticated: direct vision features, for example, enable the driver to more easily spot vulnerable road users; there are also systems to help detect pedestrians and cyclists in close proximity to the vehicle.

The statistical projections behind this dramatic overhaul of vehicle safety are quite compelling: the new technology could prevent more than 25,000 fatalities and 140,000 serious injuries leading up to 2038. One statistic is especially convincing: human error accounts for 95% of all road traffic accidents.

The EU has made public an infographic highlighting the statistical breakdown of road fatalities by country:

Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

It clearly demonstrates that thousands of people are killed or severely injured every year on EU highways. But it also demonstrates that from 2001-2007 technological safety advances and social attitudes reduced road fatalities by 57.5%. Unfortunately, the figures also indicate that this pronounced reduction in road deaths is slowing. Sadly, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania did not have a good road safety record in 2017, while Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK were the safest countries for that year.



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1.7 million drivers admit to speeding: what about your drivers?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 16, 2019 9:01:00 AM

1.7 million drivers admit to speeding: what about your drivers?

It has been proved that there is a strong correlation between speeding and collisions. This, according to the WHO: in high-income countries, speed contributes to about 30% of deaths on the road; while in some low-income and middle-income countries, speed is estimated to be the main contributory factor in about half of all road crashes. This knowledge has surely created a social stigma with regard to speeding, meaning that, apart from the immediate dangers involved and the potential sanctions, the awareness of speeding as inherently antisocial should be an added incentive for drivers to refrain from doing it. But according to the latest research data shared by HPI Ltd on Fleet News, this actually might not be the case.

According to the study, more than 1.7 million drivers actually admit that they do practice speeding on every journey they undertake—accounting for a worrying 5% of all motorists. Two thirds of the interviewed (68%) admit that they speed during some of their journeys and a quarter of the total admits that they speed on at least half of them.

In addition, a general lack of knowledge regarding the Highway Code has been revealed by the survey: 72% of the respondents did in fact answer, “I don’t know” when asked about the speed limit of a single carriageway road—possibly another contributory factor to speeding.

Other findings of the study carried out by HPI concern the hours when drivers mostly tend to speed. It seems that it is between 4.00-5.00am that drivers are most likely to speed, while the least likely period is between 4.00-5.00 pm. The morning rush hour also seems to attract more speeders than the evening rush hour, by a small margin: 50.1% of the interviewed are morning rush hour speeders, versus 46.7% who speed in the evening. In addition, 65% of those who speed are caught in most cases by a speeding camera.

The HPI team has disclosed some surprising and worrying results from their research. With so many drivers and vehicles on the road nowadays, it is not easy to accept that people do not abide by the rules governing speed limits and that their conduct also contributes to such increased risks. Ignoring speed limits, either deliberately or through ignorance, should not happen and reducing speed should be a top priority.

 

 

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Topics: Road Safety, News, Stats & Facts, fleet safety

Stay safe on the road this Easter: some tips and forecasts

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 11, 2019 8:59:00 AM

  Stay safe on the road this Easter: some tips and forecasts2

Easter is nearly upon us and with it comes a period of celebration where people typically gather together or take advantage of the upcoming bank holidays to travel. Unfortunately, experience indicates that the intensification of road traffic this time of year inevitably leads to an increase in collisions, some of which have proven fatal in the past.

In line with the international targets of reducing incidents globally, some of the road safety authorities have already shared data referring to forecasts for the Easter break as well as recommendations to be followed. This obviously does not apply only to those who travel for pleasure, as there will still be professional drivers on the road fulfilling their obligations and providing services.

The Road Safety Authority of Ireland shared some data on collisions and fatalities in 2018, revealing a total of 140 fatal collisions resulting in 147 fatalities on Irish roads. The months of April, June and November were particularly dangerous—the spike in April and its connection with the Easter break is immediately apparent—and there is a general appeal to reduce speed and follow the warnings from An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority and their partner organisations.

As far as the UK is concerned, the expectations, according to the RAC, are 14 million road users taking leisure trips during the Easter break; this is aside from the usual commuter and commercial traffic. As temperatures appear to be dropping again, the RAC are making extra recommendations to drivers; they urge motorists to check over their vehicles before they set out. This is especially valid for those who are planning to drive long distances. Professional drivers are reminded to do their usual walkaround checks and to pay special attention during this time.

There are three essential reminders for those planning to drive over Easter, whether for pleasure or work:

  • The importance of planning ahead. Make sure your planned route allows for a realistic timeframe in order to complete and also takes into account the likely traffic conditions. If you are a professional, follow the recommendations of your fleet manager and pay attention to the hints your gps tracking system makes with regards to traffic and efficient choice of route.
  • Slow down. Do not succumb to the temptation of speeding if you have been caught up in traffic during an earlier stage of your journey; your speeding may be a contributory factor in a potential collision and might very well decide its outcome.
  • Drive defensively. Try to predict what is going to happen on the road and be attentive to it. Avoid distractions. Stay alert, leave enough space between your vehicle and others, and adjust accordingly to any dangerous situations.

 

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Driving at night: help your drivers to stay safe in the dark

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 28, 2019 9:03:00 AM

Driving at night: help your drivers to stay safe in the dark

When we think about fleets and staff who are expected to drive as part of a night shift, we automatically assume they are the only drivers working in the hours of darkness; but the truth is that during the winter, many drivers working regular hours will be operating, at least in part, at night or in darkness.

If driving already represents a risky activity, night driving increases the risks for a number of reasons: there is not only the darkness to contend with and decreased visibility of course, but also the fact that at night we are more likely to feel drowsy or sleepy. This isn’t just because some drivers might have worked during the day, but also because the body never completely adapts to the nocturnal pattern even if sleep is taken during the day.

It has been estimated that driving at night is three times riskier than driving during the day. Despite night shift drivers accounting for 3% of the workforce, driving at night or in the dark is dangerous for everyone as 40% of crashes happen at night despite less drivers being on the road.

What then can drivers do to minimise the risks and have a safer journey if they have to drive in the dark or at night?

Here we summarised four points you might want to share with your driving team.

  1. Everyone else’s day is your night time. If you are working on night shifts, it is important you get at least eight hours of sleep before you start working. Getting proper rest is important; while it might take some time to adjust if it is your first time working a night shift, it helps to sleep in a dark room and avoid people coming in or any other type of interruptions.

  2. Make sure you see and are seen—essential during the day and especially at night. Make sure your vehicle can be seen and lights are working properly when driving during the hours of darkness to ensure full visibility; but this also applies when stationary or parking by the road. Make sure you don’t skip eye tests (something you should do if you are a driver, even if you do not usually work at night).

  3. Increase your safety distance. Around 90% of a driver’s reaction ability relies on vision, and visibility decreases dramatically when operating at night. Not only that, it also seems harder to judge the distance between vehicles at night, plus people tend to drive more erratically. If you increase your safety distance, you have an increased margin in which to react if anything unpredictable happens.

  4. Adapt for changing weather. Winter weather can further reduce visibility and make things more challenging. Ensure vehicles are adequately prepared and tyres are at the optimal pressure to guarantee the best grip on the road surface. Your vehicle should be clean, both on the inside and the outside; with worse road conditions, and even snow in some areas, a windscreen gets dirty quickly and reduces your visibility.

 

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The pothole problem: 1,000,000 reports every year (one every two minutes)

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 12, 2019 9:02:00 AM

the_pothole_problem_1,000,000 reports every year (one every two minutes)

The winter season has over the years become synonymous with the pothole season as it is usually the time when most pothole cases are reported; however, the overall problem is getting worse as the seasonality becomes less typical—Irish and UK roads can be affected by potholes at any time of the year.

In the UK alone, the RAC was called out to 4,091 pothole-related breakdowns between April and June 2018, compared to 3,565 cases reported in the previous year. Since 2015, according to research carried out by The Insurance Emporium, almost one million potholes a year have been reported to local authorities. The same company submitted Freedom of Information requests to 205 local authorities and found the highest number in a year was 1,088,965 in 2016, with Edinburgh Council holding the dubious title of the UK’s pothole capital at 73 potholes per km of road on average from January 2015 to April 2018.

The factors that create potholes are basically moisture and cold temperatures—water gets into cracks, freezes, expands and breaks up the surface of the road. If the road surface is already substandard, the whole situation is exacerbated by winter conditions.

The risks brought by potholes are serious in terms of safety and vehicle damage. It has been estimated that potholes could cost over £400/€458 on average for a van while one in ten pothole damage repair bills exceeded £1000/€1145. The expense can be claimed on insurance if the damage is caused by pothole strikes, though two out of three van owners prefer to pay it themselves and in order not to see their premium increase.

According to the words of a UK Department for Transport spokesman, "Potholes are a huge problem for all road users and the government is taking action, providing local authorities with more than £6.5bn for roads maintenance and pothole repair in the six years to 2021." The UK government is in fact investing £900,000 in schemes to allow councils to better manage and plan maintenance works.

If it is true that potholes are an ongoing problem that appears to have become inexplicably worse of late, it is also true to say that that the problem isn’t new; in fact The Times ran a piece on the issue as far back as 1910. Things have gotten worse from time to time prompting a need for innovative solutions. A Radio 4 investigation into potholes recently hosted Dr Mujib Rahman, a former road-repair engineer who has become popular in Britain as a “pothole doctor”. Rahman has demonstrated that using infrared preheating improves the bond between the road and the repair, reducing the need for re-repairs. And in keeping with high tech solutions to the perennial problem, an ambitious project by the School of Mechanical Engineering at Leeds University, managed by Professor Phil Purnell, is looking into developing reconnaissance drones to detect early signs of trouble and apply preventative maintenance to reduce the expansion of potholes.

 

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Transport Safety Seminars 2019 by the HSA of Ireland: save the date

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 22, 2019 9:02:00 AM

Transport Safety Seminars by the HSA of Ireland save the date

The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland has recently published the dates of the next Transport Safety Seminars, which will take place in early May 2019.

The HSA will be hosting a series of free half-day morning seminars. The objective of these seminars is to inform and educate employers about how to implement safe driving for work practices and key transport and vehicle risk topics. The seminars will be of particular interest and benefit to employers, self-employed, transport, safety and fleet managers who operate vehicles in all work sectors. At the seminars, delegates will hear examples from companies who effectively manage driving for work.

The provisional dates of the seminars are as follows:

May 1st, 2019 – Cork

May 2nd, 2019 – Kilkenny

May 8th, 2019 – Galway

May 9th, 2019 – Dublin

Don’t forget to save the dates.

Booking details will follow soon at hsa.ie, but if you wish to get a taste of the presentations and the case studies included in the seminars, you can have a look at the detailed presentations of the 2018 seminars edition in this HSA list or in this Driving for Work events and seminars page.

 

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The safety and compliance of drivers in the gig economy era

by Eleonora Malacarne on Nov 15, 2018 9:00:00 AM

The safety and compliance of drivers in the gig economy era

We are always talking about safety and how to deal with it—how to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the potential risks surrounding fleets and drivers—as something essential. It is undoubtedly never an easy task  (well, maybe  for some companies more than others), but in some instances this is not just down to the fact that companies do not know how to approach this vital requirement, it is because responsibilities don’t always seems to be a hundred percent clear.

When we think about this for a moment, we might take a closer look at the ‘grey fleet’ sector to illustrate the point: despite vehicles not being actually owned by the company, they still fall under its purview, at least during the hours in service of that particular company (they might be privately owned as acquired through a particular employee scheme, for example). But what happens to those drivers who work in the so-called ‘gig economy’?

We assume you are not new to this term. If you are unsure, it basically means that drivers who work in the gig economy do not get a fixed salary but are rather paid for each completed ‘gig’, which in this case is a single ride, often assigned via an app. Gig economy driving has been the subject of ongoing controversy since the companies who provide the platform which makes the jobs available for workers (usually a smartphone app), are claiming this type of work simply provides the means for drivers to choose their own working hours. On the other hand, drivers are not strictly hired and it is claimed by these companies that they are in fact self-employed and the app simply provides a service for them to obtain work, hence why the health and safety responsibilities have become harder to pin down.

During the 8th annual conference on work related road safety, organised by the ETSC (European Transport Safety Council), Ms. Heather Ward from London’s UCL Centre of Transport Studies presented this as an important topic for the audience to consider: an evolving commercial scenario whereby safety training is distinctly lacking and responsibilities are opaque due to this particularly new type of working arrangement facilitated by the development of smartphone apps.

The UCL work team interviewed drivers and launched an online survey for those working in the gig economy and it emerged that those drivers had no risk training, are not given safety vests and can experience particularly intense pressures during peak times.

Another issue revealed the lack of time tracking for those working for more than one of these companies at a time, so potentially it is possible for those drivers to work for 12 hours without a break and do it for 2-3 weeks continuously. Some drivers claimed that having to use the app in order to get jobs while on the road was a source of distraction for them (since they need to keep their phone on in order to get these gigs) or that they have felt forced to speed or to park in areas where it is not allowed to make their deliveries.

The first set of data was officially published in an article by the tech section of the BBC at the end of August, where Ms. Ward and Ms. Christie, both involved in the research work, made a call for the government to regulate transport and impose stricter safety management in these cases.

 

 

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