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Is prevention of bridge strikes one of the top driving safety topics?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM


Though, usually, the hottest driving safety topics seem to be driver distraction, speeding and drink driving, there is one topic that is becoming increasingly popular in Ireland, even if it is already a well-known issue for the UK as well—bridge strikes.

Irish newspapers have recently published a warning by Irish Rail, who told truck drivers to “wise up” (the exact words used!) and to be more aware of their vehicle's height as this issue has cropped up again after some time and particularly affects the DART route.

The latest occurrences drew these comments from Irish Rail: “The basic intelligence and competence of drivers involved in these incidents must now be called into question. We have endeavoured to inform and educate drivers, we have advertised, we have improved our signage, we have seen prosecutions and we have introduced new technologies – the message has to get through.  It is basic safety for truckers to know the height of their vehicles and the bridges on their routes.”


Photo Credit: © Irish Rail


What is a bridge strike and how can it affect road safety?

A strike has occurred if any part of a road user‘s load or vehicle has collided with a bridge (usually a railway). Most frequently there are collisions with under-bridges (of restricted height) and over-bridges (road over railway, when a driver has made a misjudgement or lost control of their vehicle)—both can have serious consequences.

The causes of bridge strikes can be wide ranging. However, they can be prevented with prior planning and adherence to warning or diversionary signage. Bridge strikes can lead to

  • loss of life or injury to the vehicle driver, passengers and other members of the public;
  • traffic delays and congestion;
  • train delays.


How can we prevent a bridge strike?

1 - Traffic signs are provided at bridges to show the maximum permitted vehicle height:

  • Red circles prohibit
  • Red triangles warn

2 - Road risk assessment helps identify routes and bridge height. They help drivers:

  • assess the risk of bridge strikes based on the height and width of the vehicle;
  • select routes to eliminate the risk of bridge strikes;
  • assess routes for vehicles under maintenance or engineering test to avoid bridge strikes.



  • schedules should not cause the driver pressure, stress or fatigue as this may increase the risk of bridge strikes;
  • local highway or road authorities—guidance may be obtained on vehicle heights limits under bridges;
  • vehicle height checks are encouraged during first use—check the maximum height as displayed in the cab of the vehicle (always there as a reminder for drivers).


How should drivers be sensitized to this topic?

Drivers should be aware of the following:

  • The vehicle height in metres and the corresponding imperial measurements
  • The maximum vehicle height
  • The maximum vehicle height as displayed in the driver cab
  • The importance of checking that the load is secure
  • The number to call in case of an emergency


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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving

Young drivers at work and in traffic: what are the risks?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 21, 2015 9:00:00 AM

According to a recent, joint publication by ETSC (European Transport Safety Council) and the PRAISE project (Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees), young drivers at work and in traffic is the category most at risk when it comes to road safety.
According to the data provided in the publication, entitled “Managing young drivers at work”, between 2001 and 2010, around 140,000 young people aged 15 to 30 were killed in road collisions in the EU27. In 2010, 9,150 young people aged 15 to 30 were killed in road collisions, compared with 18,670 in 2013. In other words, road fatalities have more than halved amongst the age group over the space of 9 years.
Of course, if on one hand there have been improvements, on the other hand young drivers continue to be a high-risk category, young males above all. As regards young drivers, the road mortality rate for them is 69% higher than for the rest of the population. If we consider specifically young males, the date is increasing even more, up to 168%. One in four young people who die in Europe do so as a result of a road collision.
If young drivers are such a high risk category, it means they do not only impact on themselves, but also provide a greater risks to their passengers and to other road users. The report continues by saying that for each young driver killed, an additional 1.2 passengers or other road users are killed during the same accident. Collisions involving a young vehicle user account for 37% of total road traffic deaths.
With such a high rate of young drivers involved in traffic collisions, the need for targeted actions in companies who employ young drivers, is self-evident.
Just which actions, exactly, do companies need to consider in order to protect young drivers at work, as well as other road users?
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, drivers'training

Dangerous driving campaigns: a small selection

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jun 29, 2015 10:00:00 AM


Speeding, harsh acceleration, distracted driving are all examples of dangerous driving and possible causes for traffic accidents. The number of road accidents per year in Europe is still too high: approximately 1.3 million people die each year in road fatalities, while serious injuries account for 20 to 50 million; hence the need for campaigns to sensitize audiences against the risks of dangerous driving.

Here are a few samples of these types of campaigns, from across Western Europe, highlighting those risks.


1 - Loaded weapon—Road Safety Authority (RSA) of Ireland

In this video, three guys are in a car. All of them, not only the driver, exhibit dangerous behaviour inside the car by distracting one other and the driver isn’t paying enough attention to the road; however, he is also guilty of speeding—everybody’s behaviour is having an impact on safety. Furthermore, the reckless behaviour, demonstrated by these three young men, is not only putting them in harm’s way, but also other road users.

The dangerous conduct is compared to toying with a loaded weapon, as the catchphrase suggests: “Your car is a loaded weapon. And everyone in it has their finger on the trigger.”


2 – THINK! - It’s 30 for a reason—Department for Transport (DfT), UK

This video follows the daily routine of a man, from the moment he wakes up until the end of the day.

Throughout the whole day in various scenes, in various locations, you can see the image of a dead child on the floor, the pavement, the grass in the park etc. It becomes gradually clear that the man is experiencing guilt because he caused the death of a child through excessive speeding.

The video ends with this striking statement: “Kill your speed, or live with it…. It’s 30 for a reason”.


3 – Trop vite, trop tard [Too fast, too late]—Securité Routiere du Gouvernement, France

This French campaign video pictures a family in a car in a frozen image just before hitting another car as it pulls out in front of them; at the same time the family are eerily moving and talking outside the car discussing what is about to happen.

The mother tries to reassure the child by saying the father is going to brake sharply, but it is obvious, even if he does, that it will be impossible to prevent the crash. The car now moves (as if the play button is pressed) and we witness the devastating impact.

The voiceover exclaims “On ne regrette de rouler trop vite que quand il est trop tard”—you regret driving too fast, only when it’s too late.


4 – Únete a nosotros, únete a la vida [Join us, join life]—Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT), Spain

Once again there is a family inside a car. They seem to be in a rush as the father says they have already stopped three times, and later adds that “We will never reach…” referring to the fact that, although his daughter is thirsty, he does not want to stop again to buy water for his child. In order to reach his destination quickly, the father accelerates and then attempts a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre; he subsequently loses control of his car and crashes.

We witness the crash and then hear the same sentence “We will never reach…” once more, this time referring to the fact that there was a car crash—that’s why they will never reach their destination.

The video continues, this time showing the correct behaviour—slowing down and paying due attention when overtaking.


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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, speeding, Safety, dangerous driving, speed

Bank holiday speeding safety alert

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 30, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Next Monday’s bank holiday, June 1st, is seen as the starting point for what is normally considered to be the most dangerous time on Irish roads.
Local authorities as well as the police force set up a speeding safety alert in an attempt to underline once again the dangers of speeding, particularly now after some Garda divisions revealed that motorists have been caught travelling at up to three times the speed limit on some very busy roads.
According to sources, one motorist was clocked travelling at 140kmh on the Cappagh Road in Dublin 11, where the maximum limit is 50kmh. Unfortunately this is not the only case: a driver was caught doing 178kmh on the R563 at Faha East in Kerry (that actual speed limit is 60kmh) and another was travelling at 195kmh at Ballacolla in Laois, where a 120kmh limit applies, followed by 189kmh at Keadue in Donegal, where the limit is 100kmh.
The Gardaí are trying to enforce controls and rules more effectively in light of these episodes which only prove just how poor the awareness of safety issues such as speeding is—one of the major causes of accidents leading to serious injuries and fatalities.
According to Garda National Traffic Bureau sources, more than 7,500 drivers have already been caught speeding in 2015 (where speeding means travelling 30 km/h or more above the designated speed limit).
Last year during the same long weekend, road traffic accidents led to 11 serious injury cases and 2 fatalities.

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Topics: Safe Driving, speed limit, aggressive driving, speeding, Safety, dangerous driving, bank holiday, drive safely

Vans and tailgating: another form of aggressive driving

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


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



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

2014: a worrying hike in fleet driver fines

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Despite the stress given to the importance of driving safely and the increased sensitization campaigns about the dangers of speeding and distracted driving, the year 2014 has seen a significantly higher number of fleet driver fines, of drivers committing road traffic offenses.
According to a survey carried out by Lex Autolease, shared by Fleet Point in February, fleet drivers were fined 145,000 times during 2014; company drivers committed 20,525 more driving offences than in the previous year—2013.
The offenses do include parking fines, but there has been a considerable rise in number related to safety, such as speeding, dangerous driving or mobile phone misuse behind the wheel. The latter increased from 34,495 incidents in 2013 to 40,001 in 2014.
The statistics are quite worrying for companies (as well as for road users), because the survey only accounts for the drivers who were actually spotted and fined for flouting the rules, so there is more than likely a sizeable percentage of drivers who aren’t observing basic standards of safe driving and haven’t, as yet, been “caught in the act”.
Speeding, distracted driving, risky manoeuvring and unsafe driving behaviour may not only result in dangerous collisions leading to serious injury, trauma or even death, but, of course, there are also the fines, penalty points, downtime and the consequences of failing to comply with “the duty of care” to consider.
Companies must try to be aware of this unwelcome increase in work-related driving offenses and just how their employees’ style of driving can impact on both their drivers' safety and their company's image and costs.
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Topics: Safe Driving, mobile phone misuse, aggressive driving, sanctions, speeding, offences, Safety, distracted driving, penalty points, parking fines, driving safely, dangerous driving, News, Stats & Facts, safe driving style, fleet driver fines

England and Wales: new drug drive legislation

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

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.
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

The risks of driver fatigue

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 8, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Most people are aware of the dangers related to drink driving and regard it as not only risky but also very antisocial behaviour, while frequently ignoring the perils of driver fatigue.
Sleepiness and driving is just as dangerous a combination; significantly increasing the chances of a vehicle collision. According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) of Ireland, research indicates that one in every five crashes on Irish roads could be caused by driver fatigue.
It isn’t straightforward to pinpoint fatigue as the exact cause of a crash; there is no objective test that can be conducted to determine “sleepiness behind the wheel”, unlike blood or breath tests that can calculate alcohol levels. Therefore, drowsiness can sometimes be difficult to identify as a decisive factor in any crash.
There are many contributing factors that can induce sleepiness behind the wheel:
  • Lack of quality/quantity of sleep (interrupted sleep, chronic “sleep debt”, untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders).
  • Driving at times when you would normally be sleeping (along with other factors also induce “sleep debt”).
  • Sedative drugs, certain medications and alcohol.
  • Nobody is really immune from driver drowsiness but some groups are more at risk than others: young drivers (due to lack of experience), shift workers, commercial drivers (who usually drive long distances, and at night) and business travellers (often suffering from jet lag or having poor quality sleep).




It is also very difficult for drivers to self assess their level of fatigue and becomes harder the more fatigued they get; drivers, especially professional ones, still have confidence in their ability when tired.
Nevertheless, some quite obvious symptoms are a sure sign of driver fatigue:
  • Narrowing of attention.
  • Inability to keep eyes open.
  • Slower reaction time.
  • Wandering thoughts and daydreaming.
  • Constant yawning.
  • Drifting in the lane.
Keep in mind that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of fatigue, it is very likely that your driving performance is already impaired.
The consequences of driver fatigue can be disastrous.
Fatigue impairs mental processing and decision making abilities, drivers can lapse into a "micro-sleep" without realising. This may last for only a few seconds but the risk of crashing is greatly increased. Fatigued drivers do not make any attempt to avoid an impending crash and that’s why the effects of driver fatigue are so dangerous.
We hope you found the post useful. Feel free to share your comments or questions below.
If you need professional help to improve the efficiency and safety of your fleet with vehicle tracking, do not hesitate to contact us.
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Topics: Road Safety, Safe Driving, accidents, Safety, improvedrivingstyle, driver fatigue, sleepy behind the wheel, driver drowsiness

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