High-mileage drivers sceptical about safety benefits of speed cameras

Written on September 2, 2015

According to new information from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), many high-mileage drivers remain sceptical about the safety benefits of speed cameras.

The new paper – titled ‘The Views of High Mileage Drivers’ – found that 28 per cent of high-mileage drivers had a negative view of speed cameras: this is 10 per cent more than other drivers.  It also found that more than half of the people surveyed felt that speed cameras were ‘little more than a money-making tool’

The paper was commissioned by IAM Drive and Survive, the commercial arm of the IAM responsible for providing driver risk management services.

60 per cent of high-mileage respondents to the survey thought that other reasons existed for the installation of speed cameras (apart from where the cameras were installed in black spots), compared to 39 per cent of medium mileage drivers and 47 per cent of low-mileage drivers.

High mileage drivers were also the most divided over whether money generated from speed awareness courses should be used to help operate speed cameras, and over a quarter of them believe that speed cameras have not assisted in reducing the number of road casualties taking place.

Government figures show that between 2008 and 2013, 3,493 people were killed in accidents involving a driver/rider who was driving for work.  515 crashes occurred in 2013.

Vehicle theft remains a ‘significant’ challenge

Written on August 28, 2015

According to the latest statistics, vehicle theft has fallen by 70 per cent across Britain in the last ten years.  Despite this, though, major cities still face a ‘significant challenge’ in tackling it, according to Tracker.

Figures taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that UK car crime is currently at its lowest since 1968, but that it remains a major issue in cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Andy Barrs, police liaison officer for Tracker, said:

“The Mayor of London’s Police and Crime Plan, outlines a focus on vehicle theft as a key priority, with sizable increases happening in key London boroughs, such as Westminster (59%), Islington (35%) and Camden (31%).

“It could well be that the London vehicle theft rate is being overlooked by the industry because the Home Office no longer break down individual categories of vehicle, for example ‘theft of’ and ‘theft from’ motor vehicle, preferring instead to measure them under the all-encompassing banner of ‘vehicle crime.’

“Nonetheless, the Home Office public facing crime comparator website clearly indicates that large Metropolitan forces are still struggling to stem the rising trend in vehicle theft, thereby indicating a clear disparity between the picture painted by the Home Office and the reality in London and the UK’s larger cities.”

Tracker has supported calls by the automotive industry for local authorities to collect more detailed data about how vehicles are stolen in their region, in order to try and increase the understanding on the types of theft being conducted across the country.

Chancellor’s four year MOT plans raise safety concern

Written on August 25, 2015

The fleet sector is divided over new government proposals to raise the first MOT test for cars from three to four years after registration.

As part of the recent budget, the chancellor announced a consultation on the proposed test extension.  However, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has called for a time and mileage based system instead, stating that fleets could end up having issues if they don’t take mileage into account.

Gerry Keaney, chief executive for the BVRLA, said:

“Cars are more reliable than ever, but extending the first MOT deadline could pose safety issues for cars that are doing high mileages and aren’t serviced regularly,”

“There could be a case for developing a time and mileage-based criteria for the first MOT.”

Extending the first MOT to four years would remove the obligation that the majority of fleet cars have for undergoing the test, according to new data from Fleet News.  The average company car replacement cycle is around 46 months: 10 months after the first MOT is currently due, but 2 months before if the change were introduced.

Kyle Truman, marketing director at Epyx, said:

“Effectively, this would mean that the majority of cars owned by fleets would never need to be MOT’d, because they are on shorter cycles than four years, which is a definite gain in terms of both costs and reduced hassle surrounding defleeting,”

The Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), however, has said that the plan can only damage the UK’s current road safety record.  Current belief is that the average mileage car is significantly more likely to be running on unsafe and worn tyres and brakes after four years than it will at three.

This means that an extension to the law will mean that more and more failures of safety related components – are likely to occur – especially in high-mileage cars.

Driving assembly calls for diesel car ban in capital

Written on August 21, 2015

The London Assembly has called for the Mayor to consider banning diesel cars from the capital.

A GLA Study found that London’s air quality is currently among the worst in Europe, as well as in the UK.  Estimates in the Assembly’s new report showed that over 3,000 deaths in the capital each year can be attributed to air pollution.

The Supreme Court ordered the UK Government to take immediate action in order to tackle the high levels of nitrogen dioxide found in the UK.  Pollution levels in London at the moment are considered illegal by European Union (EU) standards.

The report, ‘Driving away from diesel: Reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles’ report found that diesel road traffic is currently responsible for around 40 per cent of the capital’s nitrogen oxide emissions.

A number of recommendations that could help clean up the capital’s air quality are included within the report, including:

  • An introduction of a wider and stronger Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) before 2020.
  • The introduction of a scrappage scheme linked to replacing non-compliant vehicles with those that are low-emission.
  • A plan for introducing zero-emission capable taxis from 2018, with concrete details as to how the scheme will be delivered.
  • A plan to demonstrate how London will meet European air pollution limits by 2020.

Stephen Knight, environment committee member, said:

“The committee has been pushing for NO2 compliance for some time now but following the judgment from the Supreme Court in April, the Government is now obliged to act by law.

“We urge the Mayor and the Government to take our recommendations on board and we call on the Mayor to finally take ownership of the matter in order to help London’s air quality meet legal limits.”

First company charged with corporate manslaughter following driver death

Written on August 19, 2015

Baldwins Crane Hire has become the first company to be charged with corporate manslaughter, following the death of one of their company drivers.

Lindsay Easton was driving a heavy crane down a steep road when the vehicle crashed into an earth bank off the road.  It has been alleged that the brakes in the vehicle failed.

Jane Wragg, specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said:

“I have concluded that Baldwins Crane Hire should be charged with an offence of corporate manslaughter.

“I have also concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge the company Baldwins Crane Hire with offences under Section 2 and Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.”

Wragg believed that there was sufficient evidence in place for a realistic chance of conviction, and that under the relatively new law a prosecution would be in the public interest.

The case will go to trial in October.

Eight companies have been convicted of corporate manslaughter since it was introduced in April 2008.  Two have been acquitted, and four are currently awaiting trial.

Julia Messervy-Whiting, a partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said:

“There has been a surprising lack of convictions under the [Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide] Act and only one of those resulted in the minimum £500,000 [fine] anticipated by the guidelines.”

Company car drivers see maintenance as someone else’s responsibility

Written on August 12, 2015

According to a survey from Venson, only 42 per cent of company car drivers see maintaining their vehicle as their own responsibility, with the remainder considering it the responsibility of their employer; even in situations where the driver is legally accountable.

Venson has urged fleet managers to make their drivers aware of the responsibility they have for raising awareness of technical issues.

Only 52 per cent of respondents said they checked their water coolant levels, with 53 per cent checking oil and 66 per cent checking their tyre pressure.  Meanwhile, nearly one-in-three drivers (28 per cent) said that they had recklessly ignored warning lights on the dashboard.

Gil Kenny, operations director at Venson, said:

“Only 42% of the company car drivers we surveyed see maintenance as their responsibility, which could see fleet managers facing hefty charges at the end of the vehicle’s lease.

“This could be avoided if fleet managers, with the support of their fleet provider, communicate about service and maintenance responsibilities, not only at the time of handing over the keys of the car to an employee, but throughout the term of the lease to reduce wear and tear costs.

“In addition, by encouraging regular maintenance checks, businesses can identify issues early. This should include pre-collection inspections, prior to the end of a contract, to allow any damage to be identified and rectified.

“Fleet managers could also consider implementing a policy whereby company car drivers are fined as a result of issues not being reported, and result in unnecessary costs being incurred by the business for persistent offenders.”

Diesel cheaper for first time in 14 years

Written on August 10, 2015

For the first time in nearly a decade-and-a-half, diesel is cheaper than unleaded petrol at some filling stations.

The RAC has already applauded the move, declaring their hope that more retailers around the UK will follow suit and give motorists the chance to benefit from the decreased prices.

Currently, the RAC believes there is scope for making further cuts of up to 40 per litre, with the wholesale cost of diesel currently well, well below wholesale petrol.

Diesel prices are currently 118.98p per litre, with unleaded currently at 117.24p.  Diesel costs have been lower than petrol since May this year.

RAC fuel spokesman, Simon Williams, said:

“RAC Fuel Watch records show diesel was last cheaper than petrol 15 years ago on 17 July 2001, so these price cuts are great news for the nation’s 10.7 million diesel car drivers.

“Fifteen years ago when this happened last diesel was cheaper than petrol for two-and-a-half months, but with a new supply of diesel being produced from Saudi Arabia there is real chance that we may see the diesel price staying below petrol for some considerable time.

“With the price of crude oil standing at $56.50 and the pound relatively strong against the US dollar – the fuel trading currency – there is scope for further price cuts of up to 4p per litre off diesel over the next fortnight, and unleaded may even benefit from a slight reduction too due to the continued oversupply of oil.

“Drivers of unleaded petrol vehicles should not feel short changed – what we are seeing is the diesel pump price coming down to a level closer to what it should be due to the effects of greater refining capacity in the Middle East.

“However, if retailers are buying unleaded and diesel in for a similar price, it is right that they are sold on to motorists at a similar price, or cheaper if the diesel wholesale price is lower.”

‘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.