Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Observation Skills : Roundabouts

Few weeks ago, we posted an observation or hazard perception task on our Facebook page. Their were three hazards to spot in the short video clip which was recorded while traveling off the M20 motorway and towards the Grove Green Community Centre (where we hold our meetings every month) Taking the spiral roundabout that connects the M20 and A249. 

So here are the three hazards we spotted along the way. 

The first, is the red car. You'll see that just before it enters the roundabout, it starts in lane two.That is fine in-itself. But short distance into the roundabout it crosses into lane one. You certainly wouldn't want to be along this vehicle's nearside.

The second, and staying with the red car, is it then starts to move from lane one to lane two further around the roundabout. But as it comes off it changes lane again from two to one. At least this time their was an indication. Again, being along side would certainly require some sort of action. Best advice, and given that we've seen the vehicles approach to and part way around the roundabout, is to stay clear and be aware of this little vehicles manoeuvres. 

The third, and this is a tricky one - notice as we travel around the round about, we see a vehicle waiting to enter the roundabout from the left. Although this vehicle is right on the line, waiting to go, which attracts our attention - it doesn't seem a problem. This vehicle doesn't seem to make a move as we approach. But look again. Notice the tint on his windows? Can we see the driver? More to the point - can that driver see us? 

Some may point out that there is a forth hazard developing. Coming up the slip road, in lane one is another vehicle. It looks like its traveling a speed and will lose visibility of the roundabout as it passing on the inside of caravan. However, it is at a distance and we would be off the roundabout and accelerating away by the time that one gets to the roundabout. So it's deemed not a hazard to us on this occasion. If it was closer, or we were further back, then the circumstances would be different.  One thing to consider throughout our drive, is the weather. It's a little damp on the roads (windscreen wipers are on as we approach the roundabout) It's not heavy rain and the roads are not covered in surface water, but the weather still needs to be considered never the less. 

As advanced drivers, these are the hazards we see on a regular basis. And here, its all about 'What we can see'. 'What we can't see' and 'What we reasonable expect to happen'  We call it 'The Driving Plan' and it's something that keeps us a little safer on Kent's roads.

If you found this video interesting and fancy learning advanced techniques, you can join our group. Contact Terry Nunn or fill in our online form here.

Video and text by group observer Graham Aylard.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

AGM presentations

Congratulations to Gino deserving winner of the 2012 Stan Hawkins award
Congratulations to Graham Aylard this year's winner of the Chairman's Special Award
Well done both guys and thanks for all that you do to help the Mid Kent Group promote road safety

Friday, 11 May 2012

Uninsured £150K Ferrari seized - plus £31 million of other cars

Figures from HPI, the car data organisation, show that 61,000 uninsured cars were seized by the police last year.

Within this number were five Ferraris (the most valuable being a new 458 Italia valued at £151,475), three Lamborghini Gallardos, an Audi R8 and a Bentley Continental. Whether they were being driven by people with such bad records that they could not get insurance, or so arrogant they thought they needn't bother, is unclear.
Among mainstream cars the type of recovered vehicles tends to reflect the overall market. The most commonly seized car was the Astra (373) examples, followed by the Focus, the Corsa and the Fiesta. Quite why Vauxhall drivers seem to be a bit more likely to be uninsured than equivalent Ford drivers (the Vectra was also seized more often than the Mondeo), is another open question.

The most frightening statistic though is the total number of uninsured drivers on our roads – currently thought to be 1.4 million. Given that insurance is now fully computerised, with records instantly accessible to the police, it surely can't be impossible to clamp down on this crime? Police forces do mount campaigns periodically: the Metropolitan police seized 300 vehicles in one day last October, but there is clearly plenty more to do.

The motivation of the police is partly to stop other crimes: they reckon that 70% of uninsured drivers are involved in other illegal activity, so the hope is that taking away criminals' wheels makes other crimes harder to commit.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Queens Speech & Drug Drivers

The Government announced plans today to crack down on those who drive while under the influence of drugs.

Legislation unveiled in the Queen's Speech will create a specific drug driving offence. Currently police have to demonstrate that driving had been impaired by drugs in order to prosecute.

Under the proposed legislation it will automatically be an offence to drive a motor vehicle if you have certain controlled drugs in your body in excess of specified limits. This will make it much easier for police to take action against drug drivers.

Devices to screen for drugs in the body are expected to receive type approval from the Home Office by the end of the year.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said:

"Drug drivers are a deadly menace – they must be stopped and that is exactly what I intend to do.

"The new offence sends out a clear message that if you drive whilst under the influence of drugs you will not get away with it.

"We have an enviable record on road safety in this country and I want to keep it that way. This measure will help to rid our roads of the irresponsible minority who risk the lives of innocent motorists and pedestrians."

An independent review of drink and drug driving law in 2010 recommended that a new specified limit offence should be developed. The exact drugs covered by the offence and the specified limits for each will be determined following advice from an expert panel and a public consultation.

Earlier this year the Department for Transport announced the formation of the panel and today is confirming the membership. It includes experts in the field of alcohol and drug misuse and will also work with officials from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Department of Health.

The penalty for the new offence will be a maximum of 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000, and an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "While we support the introduction of the drugalyser test and this offence, it needs to be backed up by some measure of impairment. Without this,the test could simply catch those people who have used drugs at some point, but are not necessarily still impaired by them.

"Impairment as the key factor is also essential in tackling drivers who may have used over the counter or prescription drugs, which while legal, can have an equal impact on driving ability as illegal ones."




Thursday, 3 May 2012

Car insurers clamping down on phone drivers

An investigation by the AA has revealed that some insurance companies are refusing to sell policies to drivers caught using their phone behind the wheel.

Phone driving is rising to the top of the road safety agenda, in particular the increase in drivers engaging in social networking on the move - a trend linked to the proliferation of smartphones.

Some drivers even admit to playing games like Angry Birds behind the wheel.

Driving while using a phone is on the up
, and has been likened to drink driving in terms of the effect is has on reaction times and concentration; clearly, it's an issue that needs serious attention.

So some insurers are taking a tough stance on those caught red handed; the AA discovered that four of eight insurers it surveyed won't quote a driver if they have a single CU80 offence (using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle).

Those insurers that will, it was found, will add around 20% to the premium.

The AA's Simon Douglas said: "Using a mobile phone while driving is a deliberate act. Many drivers may accidentally drift over a 30mph limit without realising. But no one accidentally makes or answers a call or text."

That view is shared by insurers, evidently, because the average premium rise for a driver with three 'SP30' penalty points (for speeding) is 9.3% - half that of the average CU80 rise.