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Vans and tailgating: another form of aggressive driving

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 21, 2015 10:00:00 AM

slow-traffick-1449352-1279x1648.jpg 

Business Vans: The Vans Website posted a blog in February referring to AXA Business Insurance statistics: van drivers are 50% more likely to be involved in a collision caused by tailgating or following too closely behind another vehicle.
 
Police statistics add that van drivers are also more prone to driver fatigue than ordinary motorists, this is compounded by the fact that driving a van is more challenging due to its laden weight, more restricted road visibility for its drivers and the, often, larger dimensions of the vehicle.
 
Vans are more heavily laden than cars, meaning that when a van applies its brakes it can take up to four times longer to stop. Furthermore, accidents caused by tailgating can be significantly more dangerous for van drivers.
 
During daylight with good, dry roads and low traffic volume, you can ensure you are a safe distance from the car ahead of you by following the "three-second rule". (The distance changes at different speeds.)
 
If you are unsure how to determine the right following distance—follow the three-seconds-rule. First, select a fixed object on the road ahead such as a sign, tree or overpass. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, slowly count to yourself “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand”, if you reach the object before completing the count, you are following too closely.
 
Making sure there are three seconds between you and the car ahead gives you enough time and distance to respond to any problems directly in front of you.
 
If you are a victim of a tailgater, do not try to “teach him a lesson” or react aggressively to his/her attitude. It might be wiser to adopt a submissive style rather than try to “fight fire with fire”; change lane if possible to let him pass, for example, or—if it is convenient and safe to do so—try to encourage the tailgater to overtake by slowing down, stopping or even turn off at the next opportunity. This might seem like you are allowing yourself to be bullied, but there are no winners in a car crash.
 
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, accidents, aggressive driving, road rage, tailgating, Safety, driving style, roadsafety, dangerous driving

New speed limits for HGV in England and Wales

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 16, 2015 10:00:00 AM

 Limitation_de_vitesse

 

A new speed limit for HGVs—Heavy Goods Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes—has just come into effect from April 6th in England and Wales.
 
The new speed limits, active on single carriageway roads, has actually increased from 40 mph to 50 mph and on dual carriageways the limit has also increased, from 50 mph to 60 mph.
 
The decision was taken by the government with a view to boosting the economy—it has been predicted that implementing these measures will stimulate economic growth by £11 million (around €15 million).
 
According to transport minister Claire Perry, the new limits are better suited to the characteristics of modern HGVs and will help in using carriageways more efficiently; reducing the speed differential between HGVs’ and other road users.
 
However, other parties argue the decision is “short-sighted” and in no way ideal from a safety perspective. This is precisely what Gary Rae, campaigns manager for road-safety charity Brake, is arguing—according to Rae, the relationship between speed and casualties is well-proven and higher speeds will only increase risks.
 
The news has been received with mixed reactions. Haulage companies are generally supportive; they tend to think the speed limit increase will not have a negative effect or be directly responsible for more accidents, on the contrary, drivers will be less frustrated by having to respect out-dated speed restrictions and, as a consequence, less prone to driving impetuously.
 
RAC spokesman Simon Williams stated that a similar measure that had been implemented on Danish roads actually led to a reduction in accidents on single carriageway rural roads—contradicting the beliefs of safety campaigners—and might lead to a more thorough investigation.
 
The UK’s FTA (Freight Transport Association) supported the measure as well, and Malcolm Bingham, head of Road Network Management Policy, stated that the measure will improve on safety as the 20 mph speed difference between cars and trucks often lead to hasty, risky overtaking resulting in casualties.
 
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, speed limit, speed limits, speeding, Safety, roadsafety, News, Stats & Facts, speed

England and Wales: new drug drive legislation

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 17, 2015 9:00:00 AM

 New_drug_drive_legislation
 
 
A new drug driving law is coming into effect as from next month—March 2015—in England and Wales. The new measures establish a strict policy, not only on illegal drugs but also on prescription medicines which had previously not been considered.
 
According to the new drug drive legislation, if traces of illegal drugs are found in a driver’s blood it will be illegal to drive, even if the quantity does not impair the driving.
 
The same will happen for some legal drugs (prescription medicines), such as:
 
• clonazepam
• diazepam
• flunitrazepam
• lorazepam
• methadone
• morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
• oxazepam
• temazepam
 
If any of these drugs have been prescribed to you and they do not impair your ability to drive, you are within your rights to drive, but you could be prosecuted if any of these substances are found in your blood and you have not been prescribed them, or they actually affect your driving.
 
The law does not cover Northern Ireland and Scotland but you still could be arrested if found unfit to drive. In the Republic of Ireland, a Roadside Impairment Testing (RIT) is already in force. The Irish national police force—An Garda Síochána—has the power to test drivers whom they suspect might be driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).Anyone suspected of driving under the influence can be required to undergo five straightforward impairment tests: Pupil Dilation Test, Modified Romberg Balance Test, Walk and Turn Test, One Leg Stand, and, lastly, a Finger to Nose Test.
 
If you are taking medicines and are not sure about the effect they might have on your driving, ask your doctor.
 
According to the new law, if you are convicted of drug driving you might get a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 (around €6,700), up to a year in prison and a criminal record. Your driving licence will show you have been convicted for drug driving for eleven years. In the event of a person causing death while driving under the influence of drugs, he or she might face a prison sentence of up to fourteen years.
 
If you are convicted for drug driving there might also be other serious consequences: a criminal record, increased car insurance premiums, problems if you want to find work that involves driving (or complications if you already do drive during the course of your work), and you might have difficulties travelling to countries like the USA.
 
The UK’s Department of Transport has already started a THINK! campaign to promote awareness of the new drug driving legislation.
 
 
 
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, drug driving law, roadside impairment testing, drug drive legislation, Safety, drug driving, roadsafety, drug drive, News, Stats & Facts, THINK! campaign

How to tackle driver fatigue

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 10, 2015 9:30:00 AM

When you are tired, your body reacts differently than it would if it were fully charged and awake. Much like alcohol, tiredness and fatigue have a very dangerous effect on the ability to drive safely.
 
According to America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, impairments in human performance when driving tired include: slower reaction time, reduced attentiveness and weakened information processing skills.
 
driver_fatigue-9
 
Some tragic (but unfortunately, accurate) data from the RSA (Road Safety Authority) of Ireland on driver fatigue reveal that 4,000 people are killed each year throughout Europe because of driver tiredness; collisions related to tiredness are three times more likely to result in death or serious injury; fatigue related injuries are more likely to occur between 2:00-6:00 a.m. and 3:00-5:00 p.m. and motorists are thirteen times more likely to have a tiredness related collision in the early morning than in the mid-morning or afternoon.
 
A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based in the USA, found that people who get less than five hours of sleep at night were four to five times more likely to be involved in a car crash.
 
In order to prevent this and tackle driver fatigue, there are some tips you might follow prior to your journey and while driving.
 
Before driving:
  • - Make sure you get adequate sleep, which also means good quality sleep: avoid stimulants and coffee before sleeping, try not to eat too heavily, definitely avoid alcohol and ensure you have a restful, quiet place to sleep.
  • - Maximise the amount of sleep you get before going back to work and try to begin any work period as well rested as possible.
  • - If you need any treatment for flu or allergies make sure you inform your GP that you drive for work; your doctor can advise you as to how the prescriptions may affect your driving.
  • - If you are a shift worker switch off your phone while sleeping, let your family know that you are on a shift and need proper rest; take positive measures that contribute to a good night’s sleep.

 

Minimise risks while driving:
  • - Prepare your journey, and plan where you can take a safe break while driving.
  • - Stop in safe places when you feel tired, always find somewhere sensible to park, don’t just stop on the hard shoulder or somewhere where you may be a hazard to other road users.
  • - Drink a cup or two of strong coffee or caffeine drink.
  • - If you have a nap make sure you lock the doors before settling down for it.
  • - Don’t be tempted to keep driving just because you are close to your destination.

 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, sleep behind the wheel, accidents, fatigue, Safety, improvedrivingstyle, tackle driver fatigue, tired driver, roadsafety, tiredness, driver drowsiness

A good driver's new year's resolutions

by Fuelimprove.com on Jan 3, 2015 9:30:00 AM

 New_year_resolutions_
 
New Year is traditionally the time we list all the things we would love to do in order to improve our lives and feel better about ourselves, but more often than not we come up with a whole host of aims that we fail to follow through with...
 
Now is the time to buck that trend, here are some valuable tips to improve your driving style, hopefully they won’t be consigned to that long list of forgotten resolutions!
 
Here we take a look at just three New Year’s resolutions, so you won’t have too much to work on. As these guidelines should already be part of your daily practice, they should be easy to maintain.
 

1 – Pay attention to speed

Excessive speeding is not part of a good driver code of conduct, it is not safe and, not only is it against the law, it does not help your fuel economy. It is a risky activity that can be devastating to you, other drivers, as well as pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. It can also cost you a lot in fines, and your insurance rates could be affected by frequent speeding violations.
 
So pay attention to the speedometer, to speed limits on the road, and plan your travel in advance. Speeding to be on time, is not a sensible or professional attitude. Try to begin your travel in advance, as speeding won’t realistically save you that much time anyway.
 

2 – No penalty points

If you drive safely, you will significantly minimise the possibility of getting penalty points.
 
As a reminder, in Ireland the RSA (Road Safety Authority) states: “Any driver accumulating 12 penalty points within any given three-year period will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months. A lower threshold of 7 penalty points leading to disqualification applies to any driver taking out a first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014 while he or she drives under any learner permit and subsequently during the first two years while he or she is driving under a full driving licence.”
 
Penalty points remain on the licence record for a period of three years.
 
Referring back to the New Year’s resolution and speed reduction discussed previously, there are actually two offences regarding speeding, that can result in a fine and three penalty points:
 
  • Using any vehicle not equipped with a speed limitation device or using a vehicle equipped with a speed limitation device that does not comply with the requirements specified in the regulations
  • Speeding—as in failure to observe temporary or permanent speed limits.

     

3 – Pay attention to your driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car collisions. There are three types of distracted driving: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (doing something that requires drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel) and mental (thinking hard about something other than driving). Texting while driving involves all three.
 
Whenever you get behind the wheel, take steps to eliminate whatever distracts you from driving. Eat before you get into the car. Let the phone call go to voicemail. Give the kids something to keep them entertained that isn’t distracting and allows you to focus fully on the road. Don't be shy about asking your passengers to tone it down for a minute if you need to concentrate.
 
If any of this seems like a time-consuming inconvenience to you, or a bit dull, imagine just how inconvenient or deadly serious a car crash can be.
 
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, professional driver, Safety, improvedrivingstyle, roadsafety, new year's resolution

Drink driving limits and myths

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 30, 2014 9:30:00 AM

 
According to an Eurocare report issued for the European Union, the rate of people killed in road traffic accidents in the fifteen member countries of the Union, between 2000 and 2010, was approximately 40,000 a year.
 
Nearly one third of the deaths and disabilities caused by motor vehicle accidents were due to alcohol.
 
This enormous burden upon the community needs to be reduced; some of the tougher measures the EU want to implement include a lower blood alcohol concentration limit, the introduction of unrestricted powers to breath test, and the automatic and immediate suspension of a driving licence if a tested driver is over the legal limit.
 
According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) of Ireland, the UK’s drink drive limit of 0.08 (80 milligrams [mg] of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) and Malta’s limit of 0.09 (90 milligrams [mg] of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) are now the highest in the EU. All of the available evidence from research indicates that reducing the legal limit of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) from the old limit of 0.08 to 0.05 will reduce the risk of being involved in a road traffic collision, and consequently will save lives and prevent serious injuries.
 
In terms of per capita alcohol consumption, Ireland is among the highest in the EU. The existing legal limit for fully licensed, Category B, drivers is 0.05 as per EU standards and the limit drops for professionals, learners and novice drivers to 0.02.
 
According to the Eurocare report, research has demonstrated that tasks related to driving performance are affected at BAC levels much lower than those normally associated with legal intoxication.
 
Society’s attitudes are changing, however, and drink driving is no longer considered something to brag about, even though it still happens frequently: in 2006, an RSA study asked drivers to rate drink driving, in terms of shamefulness on a ten point scale (where one is not shameful and ten is extremely shameful) and also how it compared to other antisocial behaviours. Of the people surveyed, 80% rated drink driving as extremely shameful and, indeed, considered it worse in comparison to shoplifting, adultery and tax evasion.
 
drink-driving-2004
Don't drink and drive campaign - source: http://think.direct.gov.uk/
 
One of the perennial myths concerning drink driving is that you can drink until you reach the legal limit, knowing precisely when you have reached it. The reality is that you can never be entirely sure; it depends on a number of determining factors, such as your weight, age, metabolism, whether you have eaten and even your stress levels while drinking. It isn’t just about the quantity of alcohol you drink in measurable units.
 
Another dangerous myth is the one about the “morning after”: most people are convinced that they can drive the day after a drink, even though they are still, more than likely, very much under the influence of alcohol.
 
There is only one fail-safe approach to drink driving: never drink and drive.
 
 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, BAC limit, Safety, BAC, roadsafety, blood alcohol concentration, drink driving

More helpful winter driving tips and techniques

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 27, 2014 9:00:00 AM

drivingwinter
 
Over the last few days we have seen temperatures dropping, and in some European countries the first blasts of snow have already arrived.
 
You might live in an area where snow is fairly uncommon, but you may still experience foggy conditions or have to drive on icy roads, or you may have to travel to other regions with severe winter weather.
 
Whatever the case, you can find useful information on winter tyres in our previous blog posts and winter driving tips in our recently published eBook. If you haven't read anything on the subject of winter driving, here is a quick refresher to prepare you for a busy driving schedule leading up to, and over, the festive season:
 
  • Try to drive smoothly, slowly, without making sudden manoeuvres. Use comfortable shoes while driving, and bring boots in case you need to use them for walking later;
  • Plan plenty of time for your car journey and don’t be tempted to rush, put safety before punctuality and plan for an overnight stay in the car should the weather turn particularly bad—pack plenty of warm blankets, a torch, food, drink etc;
  • Make sure visibility is not impaired by your windscreen: clean your windscreen before setting off, also, your car lights, mirrors and windows too.
  • Always let someone know where you are driving to, leave with a fully charged mobile phone (take an in-car charger too, if you have one) and an emergency kit.
 
Fog and ice are most likely the worse winter weather conditions to expect in Ireland, rather than severe snow—here are some tips on how to adjust your driving style to suit these conditions:
 
  • When visibility is very poor, switch fog lights on but make sure you don’t dazzle the other vehicles.
  • Leave a suitable distance between you and the vehicle in front, so you have enough time and space to react.
  • If your vehicle breaks down, move it off the road; in foggy weather, visibility is reduced and you don’t want to create an unnecessary road hazard.
  • Reducing your speed smoothly and in plenty of time before reaching bends and corners, brake very carefully, use low gears to maintain your grip on the road.
  • Avoid sharp braking, quick acceleration or over-steering, in order to reduce your stopping distance and the likelihood of skidding.

 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, Safety, Winter Driving, roadsafety, solutions, safe winter driving tips

Safe driving at Christmas time

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 25, 2014 8:00:00 AM

 Christmas_road
 
Road traffic increases at Christmas time, especially on specific dates when shopping activity peaks and when families are free from school and work commitments to travel in order to gather together for the seasonal festivities.
 
Although this time of year is typically “downtime” for employees who drive for their company in a professional capacity (other than taxi drivers), you still have to be careful when out on the road and practise safe driving at Christmas.
 
The festive season is the occasion for celebrations, toasting and good cheer; be it Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or any of the days in between! If you are intending to partake at dinner or at a party, be sure to avoid driving later.
 
The best way to avoid drinking and driving, is to make the decision before you have your first drink. If you are attending a party celebration, consider the possibility of spending the night at your family or friends’ place, booking convenient accommodation, or simply ordering a taxi back home.
 
According to the RSA (Road Safety Authority) of Ireland, in the decade from 1997-2007, 1,557 people were seriously injured in road accidents during the traditional six-week Christmas and New Year period.
 
With all the traditional preparations and rush for Christmas, people often forget about other safety-related matters such as winter weather. If you have to drive during this time of the year—apart from taking into account the aforementioned advice—try to check your route in advance, as well as taking stock of the weather conditions.
 
Drive slowly and carefully and leave plenty of time for your journey. Don’t be tempted to rush on the road simply because you are running late, but rather be late and make your apologies: always put safety before punctuality.
 
If you are tired, pull over and take a nap, have a strong caffeine drink when you wake before resuming your journey. Remember all of these safety factors when driving this Christmas so you get to fully enjoy the festive season without incident.
 
 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, accidents, Safety, driving style, roadsafety, Christmas

The real cost of road traffic accidents

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 20, 2014 9:30:00 AM

 

Road_accident

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) sources, 1.3 million road traffic deaths occur yearly throughout the world.

 
The cost in terms of human trauma, both physical and emotional, is incalculable, but the economic impact that these crashes have on society as a whole is also considerable. The WHO estimated that the direct cost of road traffic accidents, globally, is something like US$ 518 billion a year.
 
Tragically, it appears that road traffic accidents are increasing in developing countries and even though they are on the decline in Europe, they are still far too high.
 
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the USA, private insurers only cover 50% of the overall costs of car accidents. The other half is taken care of by the victims, any third parties involved, charities, health care providers, states and municipalities. But even those not involved in crashes contribute to the overall costs through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay.
 
 
What are the primary human costs involved in road crashes?
 
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) of Ireland—which quoted official sources from The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work—these are the primary factors involved when taking into account the human cost of a car accident:
 
Workers and their family—the person involved in the accident as well as those in their immediate sphere; their partner, family and friends;
Employers and co-workers;
Government—which has the duty of guaranteeing emergency services and social security. In the case of serious injuries or related illnesses, it has to take care of injury compensation, including loss of life, and the disability benefits awarded after the investigation;
Society—injuries, illnesses and various incapacities resulting from a road crash have a big impact on society, which loses the individual contribution of those involved.
 
What are the overall costs involved in road crashes?
 
The great burden of fatalities and injuries is unfortunately not the only one for society, which has to bear the other costs:
 
Productivity costs—vehicle crashes may result in missed orders and loss of output;
Healthcare costs—these vary if the vehicle led to a serious injury or not, but include emergency and medical treatment, the cost of the medicines and the time dedicated to the accident victims;
Administrative costs—social security benefits arising from investigations (and the cost of the investigations themselves) are an additional and very significant cost for businesses and government;
Insurance costs—compensation payments may result in higher premium costs.
 
Both human and overall costs have led to a series of corrective actions and requirements increasing risk management studies on driving, and implementing safety policies on the road and in work environments. This makes us hope the trend can invert and the global number of road crashes, diminish.
 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, speeding, Safety, improvedrivingstyle, roadsafety, cost of road traffic accidents

Best practices to avoid a traffic accident

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 18, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Motor vehicle accidents can be devastating, and the enormous costs involved in terms of human trauma cannot be calculated, nor can the environmental impact. Even minor traffic accidents to the vehicle(s) can be costly to drivers, passengers, other road users, the infrastructure and the environment.
 
Part of an accident cost to consider, is the indirect effects of a collision: the increased stop-and-go traffic due to an accident not only significantly reduces the fuel efficiency of vehicles, but it also increases their overall emissions.
 
Avoid_traffic_accident
Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/86650563@N08/7931269038/">srd-france</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>
 
 
Remember these few tips every time you get into your vehicle.
 
1 – Make sure you are in a comfortable position while driving
Ensuring good control of your vehicle begins by assuming the best possible seated position, so that you can comfortably reach the steering wheel and pedals. Adjust the mirrors to ensure optimum visibility of the road behind you. The adopted seated position should assist the driver to make the quickest and most coordinated response in the event of an emergency.
 
2 – Do not jump traffic lights, and try to start your journey in good time
Are you ever tempted to jump a traffic light when you are in a hurry? Other people may be too, so be on the lookout for them.
 
3 – Check the necessary servicing to your vehicle
Vehicles can cause an accident in a number of ways. To avoid these unexpected situations, always have your vehicle maintained on a regular basis.
 
4 – Learn where your vehicle’s blind spots are
Every vehicle has at least one blind spot. These are minor flaws in a vehicle construction that block your vision for one reason or another. Blind spots are why you should always turn your head to make sure a lane is clear before manoeuvring. Check them each and every time you change lanes or execute a turn.
 
5 – Make sure you are familiar with your vehicle
Many accidents happen simply because a driver pushed their vehicle beyond the limits of what it was capable of. Know how fast you can safely manoeuver your vehicle, as well as its emergency stopping capability.
 
6 – Maintain the necessary distance
Following too closely to any vehicle does not give you enough time to execute an emergency manoeuvre. It is recommended that you maintain at least a 3-second lag between you and the vehicle in front at all times (5-seconds during bad weather).
 
7 – Make sure you pay attention when driving at night
Night-time driving is particularly hazardous for a number of reasons other than the obvious lack of visibility; this is the time when drivers feel the most fatigue, and you will have a greater chance of encountering a drunk driver.
 
8 – Be especially careful in bad weather
Poor weather conditions involving ice, snow, fog, and rain are hazardous no matter what type of vehicle, or how good a driver you are.
 
9 – Respect speed limits
The simple fact is that greater speed reduces your reaction time and increases the likelihood of an accident.
 
10 – Pay attention to the road generally
Always be aware that children, pets, joggers, and bikers can appear at any moment.
 
 

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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, accidents, Safety, driving style, roadsafety, traffic accident, road accident, automotive accident

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