News

UK motorists against driverless cars

Written on September 30, 2014

A new poll from Fleet News has shown that nearly three quarters of fleets questioned are against the idea of driverless cars. 72 per cent of respondents to the poll said that they would not run driverless or autonomous cars in their fleet.

In a similar poll by Smart Witness, nearly nine out of ten road users said that they would expect autonomous vehicles to have forward facing video incident cameras to show whether or not they were at fault in the event of a collision.

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the move last month (July 2014) for a new £10m trial for driverless cars to go ahead in three cities, including on certain roads such as motorways and in specified lanes.

Managing director for Smart Witness Simon Marsh said:

“Two thirds of motorists said that the Government was premature in allowing driverless cars on UK roads and that more tests were needed to ensure the safety of the new technology.

“Also there were concerns raised about liability and whether these vehicles could be insured because computer error could easily be called into question on any accident involving a driverless car. As a result nearly nine out of ten motorists called for incident cameras to be compulsory in these so-called Robo Cars so that there would be clear evidence of which vehicle was at fault in the event of a collision.”

According to the Smart Witness survey around 80 per cent of motorists felt there would probably be complications to resolving insurance disputes in the event of an accident involving an autonomous cars, and the computer error would nearly always be suspected as the cause of the crash. As a result, insurance premiums for the vehicles would likely be much higher.

The Coalition Government has fast-tracked measures for driver-free cars to be allowed on certain British roads by January 2015. The technology for the vehicles boasts that it is able to give complete control to an on-board computer, the car itself being guided by radar, laser sensors, cameras and sat nav.

Mr Marsh added;

“There will be serious issues surrounding the insurance on driverless cars unless they use incident cameras that provide court admissible data.”

Fleets invited to participate in chargepoint project

Written on September 28, 2014

Transport for London (TfL) and the Energy Saving Trust have announced a new initiative designed to help identify potential locations for electric vehicle infrastructure in the capital, with one of the main aims for the scheme being to expand the use of cleaner vans and light lorries in the Greater London region.

As part of the scheme, both bodies are inviting businesses to contribute through helping to map out where future chargepoints in London could best be located in order to best support the increase in electric freight vehicles.

The Energy Saving Trust, in partnership with vehicle scheduling firm Route Monkey, will be responsible for analysing fleet telematics and scheduling data in order to recommend potential locations for the chargepoints that best serve the capital’s various business fleets.

Isuzu and Paneltex will be providing data on mid-sized commercial vehicles (i.e, those up to 12.5 tonnes) to help model how organisations can best manage the switch from diesel to electric.

Each participating fleet in the “Rapid Chargepoints” project will receive a tailored report indicating when there is a business case for adding electric vehicles to their fleets.

The project is designed to build on the work done by the Energy Saving Trust’s Plugged-in Fleets initiative, which was itself funded by both the TfL and the Department for Transport (DfL). The initiative helped more than 100 organisations understand more about the potential benefits that plug-in vehicles could introduce.

Philip Sellwood, the chief executive for the Energy Saving Trust, said:

“There is a strong business case for the adoption of electric vehicles and this has been shown through our previous work with business fleets.

“These benefits are particularly prevalent in London, with TfL recognising the potential for electric vehicles supported by rapid charging infrastructure.

“We are confident that our work through the ‘Rapid Chargepoint Mapping’ project will provide the information needed to facilitate new electric vehicle infrastructure throughout London.”

The Energy Saving Trust’s fleet analysis revealed potential fuel savings of up to 75 per cent for businesses prepared to go electric.

There is also the opportunity for additional savings for firms based in London, with 100 per cent capital allowances allowed on zero emission goods vehicles.

Colin Ferguson, CEO at Route Monkey, said:

“The role of telematics and scheduling data from business fleets in mapping potential rapid chargepoints will be vital to ensure that electric vehicles are a cost-effective alternative for business fleets.”

Ian Wainwright, meanwhile, heads up the freight and fleet programmes at TfL, adding:

“Ensuring the most suitable locations are selected for charging points will vastly improve the efficiency of electric vehicles, helping to make them the economical alternative for fleets.

“With vans and other lightweight goods vehicles accounting for over three-quarters of the freight miles in London, this project has the opportunity to make a significant contribution to reduced emissions in the capital.”

Firms looking to participate in the ‘Rapid Chargepoint Mapping’ project can get in touch with Fergus Worthy directly on 020 7654 2613, send an e-mail to Fergus.Worthy@est.org.uk or apply online here.

British drivers would consider LPG

Written on September 25, 2014

Results from a new public survey have indicated that British motorists would consider converting to LPG if it meant being able to avoid the increasing costs of petrol and diesel.

Latest figures estimate that over the next six years, the cost of petrol and diesel will rise by around 10.4 per cent.

The government recently announced a new 10-year tax trajectory which will support low prices for gaseous fuels such as LPG Autogas. As a result, small car drivers could end up saving an average of five hundred pounds a year for at least the next six years by switching to LPG. Drivers of larger vehicles, meanwhile, could end up saving thousands of pounds per year.

Linda Gomersall, the general manager for Autogas, said:

“The survey results show that the rising cost of fuel is a considerable financial concern for families and it is likely to become a bigger worry as the cost of petrol and diesel is predicted to rise significantly over the next six years.

“The cost of living is at an all-time high at the moment and families are looking for ways to ease the burden. Converting to LPG presents a real opportunity to save significant amounts of money over the next few years.

“Currently LPG Autogas is around half the price of unleaded and diesel and available at 1400 refuelling sites across the UK. More needs to be done to end the duopoly of these fuels and give people more cost-effective and cleaner alternatives.”

“Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s introduction of a 10 year duty trajectory, there is now a plan that for the next 10 years that LPG autogas remains significantly more cost effective to consumers and small businesses when compared to petrol and diesel. Therefore, there is a clear case for consumers being able to make decent savings and we are urging the Government to consider how this can be encouraged further including looking at ways to reintroduce ready-to-drive LPG Autogas cars into the UK which are already commonplace in Europe.”

IT Fleet and Breast Cancer Research

Written on September 25, 2014

A very good day to you all.

In support of the Breast Cancer Campaign, IT Fleet will be fundraising for this very important charity from the 20th to the 24th October. This will involve various events including the “Look Good Sweepstake”; a “Pink Day”; cake sale & a “Grand Raffle” with prizes donated from both our suppliers & valued customers within the automotive industry.

Now in its 13th year, wear it pink raises over £2 million every year for world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving women quicker diagnosis and more effective treatments. Every year 50,000 mothers, daughters, sisters and wives will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer and 12,000 women still die, with millions continuing to live with its long term impact. – See more at: http://www.breastcancercampaign.org/support-us/wear-it-pink#sthash.2zxCqLt4.dpuf

We would be forever grateful if you could help us to support this fantastic charity by either making a donation, purchase raffle tickets, or donate a prize for the raffle on behalf of your company. This can range from a box of biscuits to a free hire of a rental vehicle, a bottle of bubbly to an Extreme Day Out. All donations will assist us in selling as many tickets as possible & raising much needed funds for this great cause.

Local, & if possible, national media will be involved in our fund raising week & we will ensure any companies donating prizes will be “suitably advertised” for their generous donations. I trust you will agree with me that this is a great cause & hope you can help us make a difference.

The raffle tickets will go on sale as from the 1st October so If you are able to contribute in any way please let us know by the Monday 22nd September in order to promote your prizes.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

wear it pink on 24 October!

http://www.breastcancercampaign.org

Mobile phone distraction to become Britain’s biggest motoring killer

Written on September 22, 2014

Road safety campaigners have warned that mobile phone distraction will be the biggest killer on Britain’s roads by 2015, even over-taking drunk driving.

The amount of motorists using their phone to text, make phone-calls and visit social media sites whilst driving has risen substantially, with distracted drivers likely to cause more and more accidents as a result.

Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin last week floated the idea of doubling the current penalty for mobile phone use to six points on a motorist’s licence. However, the new law wouldn’t come into effect until the next Parliament at the earliest, and safety campaigners are still pressing for a more severe penalty of a one-year ban.

Department for Transport figures show that 378 accidents involving mobile phones were reported in 2012, which was higher than any year on record. Those accidents led to 548 casualties, including 17 deaths.

Interestingly, motoring experts have said that this figure represents a false impression of the true scale of the problem, with many cases involving phones instead being classed as an ‘in-vehicle distraction’. In-vehicle distractions led to 9,012 accidents and 196 deaths between 2010 and 2012.

If the two sets of figures are combined, the death toll reaches 213, only 27 less than for drunk driving. With the current steep decline of drink drive deaths, mobile phone distraction is expected to become the biggest cause of death on the roads by sometime in 2015.

Simon Marsh, the managing director of SmartWitness, an incident video camera firm, said:

“The problem is far more widespread than Department of Transport believes and driver distraction due to mobiles will soon be the biggest single cause of death on the roads.

“We believe a large number of serious and fatal accidents are wrongly classed as in-vehicle distraction when the specific cause of the accident was down to mobile phone use.”

He added: “The only real deterrent is a one-year ban from driving for anyone caught texting at the wheel. It’s clear that the current legislation isn’t working and an increase to six points for mobile offenders will not be enough to stop the death toll.

“Lives are being ruined just for the reason that someone wants to send a text message whilst driving. The only message that should be sent is from government to motorists that this is not acceptable.”

The number of offenders using a mobile phone whilst driving has shot up in recent years. Recent research showed that between 2009 and 2012, the number of motorists caught using their mobile whilst driving rose from 1.2 per cent to 2.6.

In 2012, 583,686 drivers were fined £60 and given three points on their licence, more than ten times higher than convictions for drink driving in the same period (which were measured 55,300).

Large fleets likely to be targeted by EU legislation

Written on September 19, 2014

Energy used by company cars and vans (including grey fleets) must be included in a new Audit designed to meet EU regulations.

Experts have already suggested that the audit – which is likely to affect thousands of fleets – could result in a significant reduction in the amount of corporate mileage. This is particularly the case with employees who drive their own cars on business.

The new energy audits are mandatory, and are designed to promote faster take-up of energy efficiency measures, with the eventual aim being to reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality as a whole.

As part of the drive to meet the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive, the UK Government has established the new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). The Scheme requires all non-SMEs to complete an audit every four years, with public organisations currently exempt. (The scheme classes SMEs as companies employing 250 or more people or with an annual turnover that exceeds £40 million).

Qualifying firms must measure their total energy consumption across transport, building and industrial activities during an initial 12 month period, with the first report being sent to the scheme administrator at the Environment Agency by December 5, 2015. The qualification date for the first audit, meanwhile, is December 31, 2014.

The initial audit must include new recommendations for cost-effective energy efficiency measures, with estimated costs and benefits quantified. Interestingly enough, participants are not required to implement the energy efficiency recommendations that are identified by their ESOS assessments. However, the government has said that firms will only achieve the financial benefits of avoiding energy waste if the recommendations are implemented.

Energy efficiency recommendations could collectively lead to £1.6 billion savings for businesses in the period leading up to 2030.
Greg Baker, the until-recently energy minister, said:

“We know that many businesses in the UK are already committed to energy efficiency.

“But we also know that there is still significant untapped energy potential in the UK economy. ESOS will help large organisations identify savings they can make on energy bills.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) established ESOS, and have estimated that around 9,400 companies will qualify for the analysis, with around 8,500 of them assumed to be fleet operators.

The government’s own ESOS guide estimates that an audit could trigger a 2 per cent reduction in energy consumption for business travel in company car fleets, and 1 per cent in vans.

New HUD could help minimise fog collisions

Written on September 15, 2014

Glasgow Caledonian University is currently developing a fighter-jet-style windscreen capable of displaying to drivers the location of other cars in dense fog.

The new heads-up display (HUD) could substantially cut down the amount of accidents that occur in poor weather conditions.
HUD is the work of Professor Vassilis Charissis and his team based in the Virtual Reality and Simulation Laboratory (VRS Lab) at the School of Engineering and Built Environment.

The display had originally been developed and evaluated in a 3D driving simulator capable of letting drivers navigate perfectly reproduced simulations of the M8, the M74 and the M80 in a number of different conditions. One of the simulator’s main options lets the driver drive down the motorways in a dense fog before giving them the chance to drive the same stretch again using the HUD.

When the HUD is initiated, the car’s windscreen highlights any other vehicles within a 400 metre range, and is even capable of letting the driver know when it’s safe to change lanes.

Professor Charissis said:

“Driving is a demanding psychomotor activity which can be significantly hampered by adverse weather conditions.

“Being able to see clearly obstacles on the road while driving, despite visual restrictions such as thick fog, is important to avoid collisions. Head-up displays are a potential solution to this problem as they can provide the user with information directly in the field of view, allowing the driver to remain focused on the road.

“The HUD system projects crucial information on the windscreen, using augmented digital input to enhance the real environment. The presented data can provide notification of road markings, the proximity of neighbouring vehicles and warnings of traffic congestion to enhance human responses and improve driving safety.”

Spatial and situational awareness has been shown to suffer in poor conditions, with other vehicles and objects being harder to see (and as a result, harder to avoid).

Professor Charissis is an award-winning computer scientist and engineer who’s participated in a wide range of different academic projects investigating Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

More than 150 different user trials have already been performed as part of evaluating the HUD interface, and the response times for every day drivers have improved by up to 70 per cent on average, indicating that the project could eventually have a huge impact on the UK motoring world.

Distracted driving accidents more likely on sunny days

Written on September 12, 2014

According to recently released statistics, the chances of having a near-collision whilst driving nearly doubles on days where the weather is good.

Lytx, the driver safety and compliance company, have determined that drivers are more likely to engage in distracted driving when weather conditions are clear. As a result, the chance of collisions occurring actually increases.

Del Lisk, vice president of safety services for the firm, said:

“Our data shows there are nearly double the number of near-collisions when the weather conditions are clear than when it’s stormy,”

“We have concluded that drivers are not as alert and may engage in distracted driving more often when the weather is clear.

“We have released this data to remind drivers the perils of distracted driving and importance to drive alert regardless of the weather conditions.”

Analytics experts at Lytx studied more than 2.5 billion miles driven between September 2011 and April 2013, finding that there are 8.6 near-collisions for every collision in clear weather, and 4.6 near-collisions for every collision in poorer weather.

Paul Jones, the company’s general manager in Europe, said:

“At Lytx our goal is to help make our roads a safer place for both the commercial drivers we support and the general motorists who share the roads with them.

“Over 1,700 people were killed and more than 180,000 people were injured on UK roads in 2013, according to Department for Transport figures.

“The majority of these incidents are due to human error and are avoidable.

“We’re dedicated to using our technology to help professional drivers adopt safer driving habits and measurably reduce the risk that is present on our roads every day.”

One million drug drivers on UK roads

Written on August 29, 2014

The equivalent of over one million UK drivers have admitted driving whilst on drugs in the last year, with just over one on ten people believing that they may have been a passenger in a car with a drug driver.

The new data, which came from road safety charity Brake and insurance firm Direct Line, also found that three in 10 UK passengers might not speak out to stop a friend driving on drugs.

The findings have come at an opportune time, with a new law set to come into effect on March 2, 2015 that will make it an offence to drive with drugs in your body across the UK. It’s hoped that the new law will make it much easier to prosecute drivers on drugs.

Julie Townsend, the deputy chief executive at Brake, said:

“Our message to everyone is never to underestimate the effects of illegal drugs on driving.”

The findings in the survey suggest a genuinely alarming level of ignorance or complacency about the negative effects that illegal drugs can have, especially among male and young drivers.

Three in 10 wouldn’t speak out if a friend was going to drive on drugs, and one in 20 said that they wouldn’t speak out even if their friend was clearly out of control.

Young people, and particularly males, were the most likely to have been a passenger with a driver on drugs. 18 per cent of young drivers and 15 per cent of male drivers admitted to having been in a similar situation within the past year.

Lucy Whitaker, a leading motoring law expert at Rothera Dawson, noted her surprise that the figures weren’t actually higher, saying:

“Unfortunately taking certain drugs such as cannabis seems to be just a way of life for some people. That being said, drug-drive cases are relatively few and far between, so we need to be thinking about the number of people that are putting lives at risk and getting away with it.

“Part of the problem is the fact that, at the moment, police can only take action against drivers if they’re found to be ‘unfit’ to drive through drugs.

“However, the situation will change dramatically from 2 March 2015 when a new law comes into place that will mean it will be an offence to be over the specified limits for each drug whilst driving, as it is with drink driving.

“The new offence will work alongside the existing offence of driving whilst unfit through drugs. Substances covered by the new rules include cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

“The interesting thing is that the limits for illegal drugs will be extremely low – according to the Think government website one smoke of cannabis could put you over the limit, so all of those people who admitted to drug-driving in the survey, need to think very carefully about their actions.”

Drivers told to cut engines or be fined

Written on August 26, 2014

Islington Council has decided to crack down on idling vehicles in a new campaign that is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Enforcement officers are tackling hotspots in the borough, trying to inform and educate drivers as to the benefits of turning off their engine.

An idle engine can release just as much pollution into the air as a moving vehicle. Completely turning off the engine, though, can reduce the amount of harmful pollutants being released into the air, as well as cutting down the amount of fuel used.

In addition to offering advice about the harmful effects that leaving vehicles idle can have, the council officers will also be able to hand out on-the-spot fines to drivers that don’t switch off their engines when asked.
Islington has worked alongside the Transport for London (TfL) to try and encourage high polluting buses to switch off their engines whilst idling at bus stops (such as when there is a driver change, or when the bus has reached the end of its route). However, the council believes that Boris Johnson, currently the mayor of London, could do more to promote the health of residents in the borough.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, the Islington Council member for environment, said:

“We are committed to improving air quality in Islington which is why we are clamping down on idling buses, lorries and diesel cars, as part of our air quality strategy.

“We are taking action to tackle the problem of air pollution in Islington but we need Boris Johnson to do his share: by introducing a low-polluting bus fleet, and addressing the high number of polluting lorries that travel through our streets on a daily basis affecting residents’ health.”

The Mayor has estimated that 200 deaths in Islington each year are caused by poor air quality. The new campaign is simply the latest part of the council’s scheme to reduce air pollution and increase air quality. It follows on from the launch of the Islington Air Quality Strategy, the introduction of 20mph speed limits and the ‘Air Text’ service for residents.