‘Failing to look’ causing more than 30,000 accidents per year

Written on August 3, 2015

More than 30,000 vehicle accidents a year are being caused by drivers’ ‘failure to look properly’, according to data from a new Freedom of Information request from the Department for Transport (DfT).

As part of their process, the Police can record up to six separate contributory factors from a list of 77 for each incident to explain why they feel the crash had occurred, and must then highlight the two primary reasons.

Analysis taken from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that ‘failure to look properly’ and ‘failure to judge another person’s path or speed’ were the two most common reasons cited and these reasons combined were responsible for nearly 13,300 different accidents: seven per cent of the total reported.

The other major reasons given were ‘carelessness or recklessness’ and ‘judged to be in a hurry’, both of which totalled five per cent, or 9,132 accidents.

The third most common combination was ‘failure to judge another driver’s path or speed’ and ‘carelessness or recklessness’ or the driver ‘judged to be in a hurry’, which accounted for 4,339 accidents (two per cent of the total).

The top 20 combinations of reasons totalled over 200,074 accidents.

Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer, IAM, said:

“These figures show conclusively that simple human errors continue to cause the majority of accidents. Drivers cannot blame something or someone else for a collision happening, it is down to every one of us to make a difference.

“We feel that many people eventually get complacent behind the wheel and inattention creeps in. Combine this with fatigue and distractions, inside and outside the vehicle and the message is clear that drivers must apply their full attention to driving – you simply cannot do two things at once if one of them is driving.

“We have consistently advocated that continuous assessment is one of the main ways to ensure no driver gets into bad behaviours that cannot then be rectified.”

The DfT recently published the latest road accident statistics for Britain, showing that casualties have risen for the first time in 18 years.  There was a four per cent increase in reported road deaths between 2013 and 2014.

Over 10 million illegal tyres on British roads

Written on July 31, 2015

According to new research, more than a quarter of drivers had an illegal tyre on their vehicle when they last took it in to be replaced.

The information came from TyreSafe in conjunction with Highways England, and suggests that nearly 10 million of the tyres on British roads could have been illegally fitted.  This was one of the most comprehensive surveys of Britain’s tyre industries to date, and collated data on the tread depth of tyres.  810 retail outlets through the UK contributed information to the survey.

TyreSafe has urged all drivers to check their tyres to ensure that their safety isn’t being put at risk.  The legal minimum of tyre tread is currently 1.6mm, with tread depth playing a decisive factor in braking and steering, especially in the wet weather.  Research indicates that the braking distance from 50mp to standstill in wet conditions will increase by over 14 metres with worn tyres compared to new ones, substantially increasing the chances of a collision.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said:

“TyreSafe does not believe millions of drivers are intentionally putting others at risk – it is more a question of educating motorists to take responsibility for their safety and that of others on the road,”

“As vehicles have become increasingly reliable, owners have become less used to performing what were once considered basic precautionary checks before setting off on a journey. Tyres too are much more technologically advanced but they do wear and can get damaged so it is down to the driver to regularly check they’re safe”

“The evidence provided by the TyreSafe survey underlines what we already feared – awareness among Britain’s motorists’ of the importance of tyre safety urgently needs to improve.”

Tyre thickness can only be measured using an accurate tread depth gauge, with previous research showing that few drivers carry out any kind of tyre check.

Budget 2015: Company car tax hike and fuel duty freeze for fleets

Written on July 28, 2015

Company car drivers are to face a three percent year-on-year increase on their company car tax starting in the 2019/2020 financial year.  However, as part of the new budget the government has also indicated that ultra-low emission vehicle rates will increase ‘more slowly’ than previously announced.

Drivers of plug-in vehicles will face year-on-year increases for the next four tax years, with Chancellor George Osborne being accused by some of actually discouraging the take-up of ULEVs following the changes to company rates announced in budget from the previous year.

Under the previously announced terms, benefit-in-kind tax rates for ULEVs would rise much more quickly than those for higher emission cars.

The chancellor seems to have recognised that this was an error, and is set to slow the increase on taxes for company ULEVs and also to increase the year-on-year charge for cars that emit more than 75g/km of CO2 emissions.  (The level below which cars are considered ULEVs).

Andrew Hogsden, senior manager for Fleet Consultancy at Lex Autolease, said:

“The announcement that BIK rates will rise by 3% in 2019 makes it even more important for businesses to identify vehicles with low CO2 emissions that are both fit for purpose and attractive to drivers.

“They should also consider new and alternative technologies, which will become increasingly available by 2019, as well as best in class traditional fuels.”

The chancellor also announced that the fuel duty increase that was originally planned for September 1st this year will be cancelled.  In total, the government will have eased the burden on UK motorists by around £22.4 billion in total by the end of the 2015/2016 tax year, equating to a saving of £675 for a typical motorist, £1,400 for a small business with a van and £21,000 for a haulier.

By the end of the 2015/2016 financial year, fuel duty will have been frozen for five years, the longest freeze for more than two decades.

Hailstone vehicle damage could cost £1.5 million

Written on July 24, 2015

Damage to road vehicles caused by giant hailstones saw AA Insurance take nearly £1.5 million in claims earlier this month.

The broker has estimated that over 1,700 cars will end up having suffered damage in the storms that hit England in the first week of July, with some claimants reporting that their cars were dimpled enough to look like ‘golf balls’, with roofs and bodywork sustaining serious damage.

One driver in particular reported that hail had cracked his front windscreen, smashed the rear screen and caused substantial damage to the chassis.  What’s more, the car was ‘full of water and huge hailstones’ when inspected.

Janet Connor, managing director for AA Insurance, confirmed that claims made due to storm damage would be accepted, but warned that some drivers might lose some or most of their no-claims bonus.

However, Ms Connor did also state that those with bonus protection cover would get the full pay-out, less their excess, without their bonus being affected.

Connor also noted that in some cases, extreme hail damage can be enough to completely write cars off.

‘Dozens of panel dents usually makes the repair cost greater than the value of the car,’ said Connor.

The AA’s home insurance arm also received a number of calls, with claimants reporting broken windows as well as smashed greenhouses and conservatories.

Ms Connor added:

‘Thankfully, while storms of this kind are not uncommon in mainland Europe during the summer, they are rare in the UK and are usually isolated’.

The last time hailstones caused such widespread damage was in Leicester in July 2012, when over 200 claims were made.

Diesel still more expensive than petrol despite lower wholesale prices

Written on July 22, 2015

RAC research has found that, despite the wholesale price of diesel being lower than petrol during June, motorists still paid 3p per litre more at the pumps.

The RAC’s fuel watch report for June showed that current wholesale prices for diesel are 1p to 3p per litre lower than petrol, despite average forecourt prices being 120p per litre – 3p more expensive.

Whilst some retailers have attempted to close the gap between petrol and diesel on the forecourt, very few have adjusted the price to truly reflect wholesale costs.

Indeed, the vast majority of retailers have opted to maintain a substantial gap between diesel and petrol forecourt prices.

Analysts believe that this is due to the very thin margins on petrol, and that retailers are continuing the much higher mark-up on diesel in order to compensate.

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, said:

‘The retail price of diesel has almost become a taboo subject despite 2.4 billion litres being sold in May, compared to just 1.5bn litres of petrol.

‘While there are twice as many petrol cars on the road, the increase in diesel usage shown in Government statistics and the new car sales figures which show more than 50% of cars and light commercial vehicles leaving the showroom are powered by diesel, confirm that we are increasingly relying on diesel for both business and private use.’

The report shows that according to wholesale prices, the pump cost of diesel should drop by around 5p a litre in the next two weeks, though the lack of previous movement seems to indicate that this is unlikely.

Mr Williams added:

‘Essentially, what is required is a fundamental re-balance of pricing in the retail fuel market.’

‘We need greater transparency and a fairer pricing model for both petrol and diesel.’

Fleet technology appetite not matched by government

Written on July 16, 2015

97 per cent of the UK’s fleets are excited about the potential changes that technology could bring to the automotive industry, but a majority feel that quantifying those benefits remains difficult.

The figures are sourced from the latest BVRLA Fleet Technology Survey, which collected the views of more than 150 fleet managers, rental operators and leasing companies.

Whilst one-third (34 per cent) of respondents claimed to be early adapters of new technology, more than half said that they prefer to wait until a clear return on investment can be demonstrated before introducing new tech to their process.

Autonomous driving and safety tech have both had an extremely positive impact on the fleet industry, second only to ultra-low emission powertrains in terms of importance according to respondents.  Reduced accident rates and reduced transport costs were both cited as major benefits of the technology.

Respondents said that Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and in-car video are likely to be the most important safety technologies for fleets going forward.

AEB in particular is widely regarded as the most important safety innovation to have emerged in recent years, and has been officially recognised by both motor insurance research organisation, Thatcham and the Euro NCAP safety performance assessment programme.

The BVRLA has called for the Government to take a more active role in helping to promote this potentially life-saving technology.

BVRLA chief executive, Gerry Kearney, said:

“Motor insurers and safety assessors have recognised the importance of AEB, as has the fleet industry.”

“It is now time for the government to take a lead by mandating the use of AEB-equipped cars across its own fleet and promoting wider uptake through the use of tax and other incentives.

“A progressive tax regime has helped the fleet sector achieve huge cuts in CO2 emissions. With the right support it could deliver similar reductions in the number of people killed or injured in road accidents.”

London buses will trial speed safety technology

Written on July 13, 2015

A new innovative technology that prevents vehicles from exceeding national speed limits is to be trialled on 47 London buses in the late summer.

Intelligent Speed Adaption (ISA) was first outlined earlier this year as part of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.  Making use of Transport for London’s (TfL) Digital Speed Limit Map of the capital, it can recognise speed limits and restrict vehicles accordingly.

Two different routes will be used to trial the technology: route 19 (Battersea to Finsbury Park) and route 486 (North Greenwich to Bexleyheath).  Both have been chosen because they include a number of different road environments and multiple speed limits, guaranteeing a thorough test for the new technology.

The trials – which will run until the autumn – should also help to increase awareness regarding the attitude of individual drivers and passengers to the technology and, if successful, could lead to its introduction across London’s 8,700-strong bus fleet.

Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor, TfL, said:

“London’s buses are central to keeping the city moving and our fleet is one of the safest in the world. However, with nearly 9,000 buses on the Capital’s roads it’s clear they have a major role to play in continuing improvements in road safety.

“This trial is a great example of how we’re harnessing innovation and new technology that will aide bus drivers on the job and help to improve the safety of other road users.”

Leon Daniels, managing director of Surface Transport at TfL, added:

“London’s bus drivers are some of the best trained in the world, carrying more than 6.5 million passengers a day. However, in a city that is becoming increasingly busy, it is important that we do everything we can to make our roads safe for all.

“Intelligent Speed Adaptation improves road safety by reducing incidences of speeding for all road users, allowing drivers to focus on looking out for potential issues on the road rather than checking their speed limit.

“If this trial confirms that this technology could be beneficial to the safety of London’s roads, it could be introduced across our bus fleet.”

The TfL’s Digital Speed Limit map of London was re-launched last year in order to help spur development of in-vehicle technologies and mobile phone apps designed to make driving safer.

Over half of company car drivers still unaware of business mileage rules

Written on June 29, 2015

According to new information from YouGov, over half (56 per cent) of company car drivers are currently unaware of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regulations on reclaiming business mileage.

Any business that uses a company car must legally report it to HMRC, especially if the car is also used for personal trips.

It’s a legal requirement for companies to keep mileage reports in order to demonstrate how their vehicles are being used.  If the company doesn’t provide free fuel for company drivers to use privately, then their records must demonstrate this.

Drivers are required to record both ‘to’ and ‘from’ locations as well as the reason for the journey and the number of miles travelled.

The survey, commissioned by ABAX, found that 36 per cent of employees don’t update their mileage log any more than once a fortnight, leaving their companies exposed to inaccuracies as a result.

Frank Ystenes, ABAX UK managing director, said:

“It is crucial business owners and employees understand the laws and ensure accurate records are kept otherwise the penalties can be high.”

Cambridgeshire-based engineering company, Ivor Searle were a notable example.  They received a visit from HMRC earlier this year and it was found that their employee mileage claims were actually being estimated and couldn’t be reconciled with their fuel card invoices.

As a result, the company may now be fined and the driver could face a full benefit charge despite the number of unaccounted miles being relatively small.

David Eszenyi, operations director for the firm, said:

“It is something you don’t necessarily think about on a day-to-day basis when you are concentrating on the bigger picture of running a company.

“Our employees were manually logging their mileage in to a spreadsheet each month. The HMRC inspector noticed a small number of discrepancies in one of the mileage logs and alerted us to them.

“We employ around 110 people and as a medium sized business we don’t have someone specifically looking after our vehicle fleets, it is a combined effort. We now realise our understanding of the tax regime wasn’t as it should be and are taking steps to make sure it is in the future.”

One-in-six business drivers feel ‘invincible’

Written on June 22, 2015

One-in-six business drivers feel ‘invincible’ when driving and never consider their safety to be at risk, according to new research from Masternaut.

Van and LCV drivers are the ones most likely to feel ‘invincible’, with only 10 per cent not considering their safety whilst driving.  This contrasts heavily with the 26 per cent of public transport drivers and 17 per cent of business fleet car, HGV and lorry drivers who do.

15 per cent of business drivers said that they feel vulnerable all of the time whilst driving, with HGV and lorry drivers feeling the most unsafe at 21 per cent.

2,000 UK employees were surveyed in order to highlight the progress in road safety education amongst those that drive as part of their job.

Steve Towe, chief commercial officer and UK managing director, Masternaut, said:

“Our research shows that a high percentage of business drivers don’t consider their safety to be at risk – despite driving being amongst the most dangerous profession.

“Research from The Institute of Advanced Motorists’ Drive & Survive shows that 86 per cent of fleets have experienced an accident in the past 12 months, so it’s alarming to see so many drivers still not considering their safety when driving.”

Motorways were unsurprisingly cited as the most unsafe roads on which to drive, with 27 per cent of drivers concerned about safety whilst using them.  This is interesting, as 3.9 per cent of all 2013 UK accidents actually took place on a motorway, making them statistically the safest type of road to drive on.

Rural roads also caused drivers to feel unsafe, with 25 per cent saying they felt vulnerable. This figure rose to 42 per cent for HGV and lorry drivers and 36 per cent of LCV and van drivers.

More than half of drivers remain unsure about drug driving

Written on June 18, 2015

A new report has found that nearly half of drivers are still confused by the new drug-driving law.

The survey – which was carried out by Insurance Revolution – found that 53.3 per cent of drivers believe they still don’t know enough to completely understand the change in law.

The new legislation came into effect on March 2nd, and includes restrictions on 16 drugs.  Penalties include a minimum one-year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

Two people per day were said to be caught in the early days of the new law, with police officers using ‘drugalysers’ to test drivers.

One of the major concerns of the new law was that it could affect those using prescription drugs as well as those taking illegal drugs.

16 of the drugs covered under the new law are available on prescription:

  • Clonazepam,
  • Diazepam,
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam.

Mark Rigby, head operating officer, Insurance Revolution, said:

“Drug driving is deadly and needs to be wiped out, but while this is a good step towards that, we need to be sure that there is no confusion regarding the implementation of new driving laws and regulations moving forward.”

Though the issue is serious, it’s apparent that there is genuine confusion amongst UK motorists.  Many people are simply unaware that prescription drugs are covered under the new law.

Almost a third (28.8 per cent) of participants in the survey believed that the new law would definitely help cut the number of drug drivers and accidents, with 38.2 per cent unsure that the repercussions for driving under the influence are strict enough.

34.4 per cent of those with experience of drug driving claimed that it doesn’t affect the body in the same way that alcohol does. Indeed, more than half of those aged between 18 and 24 believed that drug driving actually makes you a better driver.