Unmarked HGVs to target dangerous driving on England’s motorways

Three new unmarked HGVs will be let loose on England’s motorways and A roads to crack down on dangerous drivers

The unmarked HGVs will patrol the roads to track down motorists using mobile phones and committing other offences

The HGVs have been fitted with wide-angle cameras to capture unsafe driving behaviour. They also have had flashing lights installed in case of an emergency. The lorries also have a derestricted speed limiter to allow police officers to chase down drivers who try to outrun them.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, said: “Highways England has been funding a single cab for the past couple of years and we’ve been impressed with the impact it’s had on improving safety.

“We’ve found that the vast majority of drivers are sensible behind the wheel but a few have got into bad habits, or are simply ignoring the law and putting themselves and others at risk.

“We’ve therefore decided to fund two extra unmarked HGV cabs to continue to target dangerous driving on England’s motorways and major A roads.

In total, 28 police forces have taken part in the HGV cab safety initiative since it began in April 2015, pulling over 4,176 drivers in relation to 5,039 offences in its first two years.

The cabs allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.

Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were stopped were illegally using a mobile phone while driving, despite the latest statistics showing that mobile phone use is a factor in an average of two deaths on the roads every month.

Offenders were also caught watching DVDs, brushing their teeth, reading books and even boiling a kettle.

The UK’s new speeding fines

Speeding fines to increase

Fines for the most serious speeding offences are set to rise in order to better reflect the gravity with which the courts view them.

Currently the minimum penalty you can expect to receive for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence, but from April 24, 2017, magistrates in England and Wales are being directed to apply a Band C speeding fine for the most serious offenders.

What does that mean if I’m caught speeding?

A Band C speeding fine means that anyone speeding at 51mph or above in a 30mph limit – for example – faces a fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income, and 6 penalty points on their driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 56 days. If you’re disqualified for 56 days or more you must apply for a new licence before you’re able to start driving again.

For anyone earning £25,000 a year, a speeding fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income means handing over a minimum of £720 – no small amount.

You might receive a Band B speeding fine for doing between 41-50mph, in which case you’d face a fine equivalent to 100% of your weekly income (£480), and 4 penalty points on your driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 28 days.

A Band A speeding fine would be appropriate if you are caught speeding between 31-40 in a 30mph zone, and you can expect to receive a fine equivalent to 50% of your weekly income (£240), and 3 penalty points on your driving licence.

Disqualification from driving vs penalty points

If you get caught driving at a speed that will land you with a Band B or C speeding fine, the magistrates may believe your speeding is too serious for penalty points. In this case, you may be disqualified from driving for a period of time instead of being given penalty points.

You might wonder if you’re better off being disqualified from driving for a short time, rather than taking the 6 penalty points on your licence – especially if you’ve already racked up a handful of points with previous motoring offfences. In some instances you’d be right, especially if the addition of 6 penalty points would take you over the 12 point limit, as this would attract a six month driving ban rather than up to 56 days.

However, magistrates are aware of this potential ‘loophole’, so odds are that they would be reluctant to ban you for a short time in lieu of penalty points, especially if you have been consistently driving at dangerously high speeds.

If this is the case, perhaps you should be asking yourself exactly why it’s so important for you to get where you’re going so quickly, and consider rethinking your attitude to the laws that are, essentially, there to keep everyone safe on the roads.

Fleet Driving Solutions, providing fleet driving training services to companies throughout the UK. Call 0203 633 4682

Watch Out For Motorbikes!

As we move into summer, it’s worth talking about some of the road users that begin to appear when the weather improves. Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups to injury or fatality when involved in collisions.

When a crash happens involving a motorcycle and other vehicle, who is typically found at fault?

It’s most often the fault of the OTHER DRIVER…. SURPRISED?

In fact when it’s not a single vehicle incident involving the motorcycle, it’s usually the other driver who has made a mistake that resulted in the accident.

What is the most common place and type of collision involving a motorcycle and other vehicle?

There are certainly many places where vehicles can collide; but the most common place for another vehicle and a motorcycle to collide is at an intersection when the other driver is turning left or right and turns in front of the motorcyclist.

Why does this happen? (a driver turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle)

There are 2 primary reasons that this can happen:

  • The driver of the other vehicle simply did not see the motorcycle. Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see and many drivers don’t think to actually watch for them.
  • Speed: The driver of the other vehicle DOES see the motorcycle but thinks he has time to turn because he misjudges the approach speed.

Tailgating Tips:

Motorbikes are vulnerable road users; they do not have the protection that a car or Lorry has. Almost, always result in injury.

If you expect to see motorbikes, you are more likely to detect them. Often we can filter out the things we don’t expect and just not see them Always look for motorbikes especially at intersections

Motorbikes are much more lighter than other vehicles and can stop in much shorter distances. This means that when you are following a motorbike, you should leave more distance. If the rider has to make an emergency stop, the bike will stop in  a much shorter distance than your vehicle.

When you see a motorcycle approaching, realize that it’s easy to misjudge the speed because the size of the cycle and the fact that its coming towards you makes it difficult to estimate speed.

  • Keep Your Eyes Up – It’s tempting to look down and over the bonnet of the car at the centre line or the tail lights in front of you, but this can cause several problems. When your eyes are looking downward over the bonnet, steering can become choppy and require many more adjustments, and frequently you will either cut corners or run wide. It’s much more effective to keep your eyes up and this practise prepares you for the next technique.
  • Eye Lead Time – Look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of where your vehicle is at any given time. As your speed increases, so will the distance you look ahead if you always look for this time interval.
  • Move Your Eyes – This takes practice and intent. Look right, left, ahead and into the mirrors and as you look, identify potential problems so that you can decide what you will do about them. Moving your eyes is particularly important to see things to the side because your peripheral vision becomes increasingly ineffective as your speed increases.
  • See the Big Picture – By moving your eyes, you get a ‘big picture’ perspective of the traffic environment and your place in it. Pilots call this ‘situational awareness’ and it helps you to make good decisions about speed and movement such as lane changes, well in advance.
  •  Eye Contact – The only way to know if another driver sees you is to make eye contact with them. If they are looking at you and you see them making eye contact with you, you can be fairly sure (but not guaranteed) that they see you. If another driver is moving into your space and you want to establish eye contact, a light tap on the horn will attract their attention.

Practical Challenge:

For the next week, make a point of watching for motorcycles and develop a habit of identifying them as soon as you can. Be especially careful at intersections/junctions!

Fleet Driving Solutions, providing fleet driving training services to companies throughout the UK. Call 0203 633 4682

Cyclists!

Other road users that drivers need to be aware of on the road are pedestrians, motorcycles and of particular note, cyclists.  Cyclists can come from a full spectrum of ages and abilities.  Like drivers, cyclists must also follow the regulations for road users as riding on the footpath is prohibited.

What types of cyclists can be expected on roadways?

  • Young children learning and wobbling around with or without training wheels
  • Experienced cyclists commuting to and from work
  • Recreational cyclists on mountain bikers or cruisers.
  • Racers training for the next event

What challenges do bicyclists pose to drivers?

  • Dealing with cyclists can be frustrating, particularly if they are slow and in your lane where you don’t have room to pass.
  • Every cyclists has different skill levels and capabilities and a different attitude towards traffic
  • They are not permitted to ride on footpaths and gravel shoulders are difficult and dangerous for most cyclists; they are required to be on the roadway and it’s everyone’s responsibility to share
  • Some don’t all use hand signals to communicate intent

How does a cyclist communicate when on the road?

While cyclists are required (like other road users) to signal, they also need to keep their hands stationed on the handle bars at all times for steering and to control the brakes.  This hinders their ability to use hand signals to communicate intents such as a left or right turn.  Being aware of a cyclist’s bike lane position will help a driver anticipate the cyclist’s next movement.

What can you do as a motorist?

  • Keep Your Eyes Up: It’s tempting to look down and over the hood of the car at the center line or tail lights in front of you.  It’s much more effective to keep your eyes up
  • Eye Lead Time: Look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of where your  vehicle is at any given time and actively search for cyclists.
  • Move Your Eyes: This takes practice and intent.  Look left, right, ahead and into mirrors.  Cyclists are small and difficult to see and they may position themselves in your blind spots.  Moving your eyes is particularly important to see to the side because your peripheral vision becomes increasingly ineffective as your speed increases.
  • See the Big Picture: By moving your eyes, you get a ‘big picture’ perspective of the traffic environment and your place in it. Manage your space effectively and don’t crowd cyclists particularly as you pass
  • Eye Contact: The way to know if a cyclist sees you is to make eye contact with them.  If they are looking at you and you see them making eye contact with you, you can be fairly sure (but not guaranteed) that they see you.

Keep a sharp eye out for cyclists and when passing them, leave lots of room.  One small wobble or bump can send them right into your path.  The best plan is to wait until you can move way over into the other lane and not pass so closely or squeeze them towards the curb or ditch. New riders are focused on controlling the bike and are easily startled by closely passing cars.  This can cause them to jerk the handlebars and lose control!

For more information please go to The Highway Code rules for cyclists

www.fleetdrivingsolutions.com

Check Your Following Distances!

Many rear end collisions can be prevented by maintaining a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you.

What is a safe following distance and how can you check that you are leaving enough room?

The only way to accurately check your following distance is by using the ‘2 second rule formula’ which works by picking a fixed landmark like a sign or some other stationary object and counting seconds as the vehicle in front of you passes it. The number of seconds that you count is your time interval.

Under the best conditions, the minimum number of seconds needs to be 2 and more as conditions change or deteriorate.

What is this so important?

Stopping distance is a combination of reaction distance and braking distance. Reaction distance is the distance that your vehicle travels from the time you see a reason to apply brakes to when you actually move your foot to the brake pedal and begin to slow down. If you are too close to the vehicle in front, you will hit them NO MATTER HOW GOOD A DRIVER YOU ARE because you can only get to the brake as fast as a human can move and by the time you get there, if the guy in front is already braking hard, you don’t stand a chance.

What are some conditions that would require an increase in following distances?

  • Weather conditions, like rain or snow
  • Road conditions, such as gravel or uneven surfaces
  • Lighting. At night or if you are looking into reflected sun or glare, you need more space because you will not see things as easily.
  • Traffic conditions. As traffic gets heavier, you need to be more aware, than in lighter traffic. This occupies your attention, so more space in front buys you more time to react.
  • Your vehicle. The size of your vehicle (Car, Van or Lorry). Loaded/Unloaded. The towing of a trailer/caravan or boat The condition of your vehicle, brakes & tyres
  • YOUR condition; if you are tired or otherwise not 100%, leave more space (Or don’t drive at all!) because your reactions may not be as quick.

Fleet Driving Solutions, providing fleet driving training services to companies throughout the UK. Call 0203 633 4682