Thursday 27 January 2011

‘Over fifty per cent of fixed speed cameras not in operation at any one time’, Good Garage Scheme hears.

Speed cameras have long been seen as a crucial deterrent in the never-ending battle to reduce road accidents.

A study conducted by Which? under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that in England and Wales on average there are less than half of all fixed cameras in operation at any one time and in some counties, there are no fixed speed cameras at all.

Katie Shephard, of road safety charity Brake, said speed cameras "help to stem the huge cost to the economy of road death and injury."

Is the existence of the yellow camera box a sufficient deterrent as Which? also found the devices are moved around, dependent upon accident and speed data received?

Peter Rodger, chief examiner with the IAM, said: "A yellow camera box that has no camera is totally effective if it achieves casualty reduction with no prosecution. One that catches large numbers of people but doesn't reduce casualties is doing nothing useful. A yellow box has a huge psychological impression on drivers, whether or not it is live, and it is the effect of this that is important, rather than whether the camera is recording."

Which? editor Martyn Hocking added: "Speed cameras in some areas are always operational, whereas in others there could be a one in 10 chance the camera you've passed isn't working. It really is a tale of two counties." said.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Road maintenance spending cuts ahead but Olympian aids calls for more funding, Good Garage Scheme hears.

Last October we reported that billions of pounds were lost by British businesses each year due to inadequate road maintenance as revealed by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA). Councils are this year being forced to cope with further cuts totalling tens of millions of pounds, as revealed by the Local Government Association.

Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board said: “Ensuring our roads are kept up to a safe standard for motorists is a priority for councils and we will be working flat out to repair as many potholes as we possibly can.”

The AIA’s latest figures have revealed an average of ten potholes per mile on roads in England and Wales and with this new blow it can only be expected to get worse.

Helen Melhuish of the AIA, said: “If the government provided more funding to help get local roads back into reasonable condition, local authorities would be better able to implement their planned preventative maintenance programmes.”

However, Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton has given her support to calls for drastic improvements. With her fame is the world of cycling, she is supporting a scheme aimed at rewarding councils judged to be the best at pothole repairs.

The 30-year-old cyclist said: “I'm getting involved because anything that showcases pothole repairs and encourages councils to improve their roads has to be a good thing for both cyclists and motorists.”

Her high profile support can only be beneficial for all road users.

Friday 21 January 2011

Science-fiction is coming ever closer to reality, the Good Garage Scheme learns.

The EU-funded SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at enabling groups of cars to act together in an automated “road train”.

It creates numerous benefits, summed up by SARTREs project coordinator: "This is a major milestone for this important European research programme. Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilisation, improved driver comfort on long journeys and reduced fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions. With the combined skills of its participating companies, SARTRE is making tangible progress towards the realisation of safe and effective road train technology."

After successful simulations, an initial demonstration was successfully conducted at Volvo’s test track in Sweden with a Volvo truck and S60. The driver following was able to drink coffee and read a newspaper as no operation of the steering wheel, hand or foot controls were required.

It is hoped that in the near future many vehicles could be united behind one professional driver led vehicle. Each vehicle aligns direction, speed and distance with the vehicle ahead. While in convoy, although completely detached from the other vehicles, any driver following can relax until they are ready to take another road.

The main stumbling block will be the Eurozone, as 25 EU governments will need to pass similar legislation to enable the project to become a reality but with so many benefits it is something that needs to be made reality sooner rather than later.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Good Garage Scheme launches free mobile app. Motorists who register entered into free prize draw to win an iPad.

The Good Garage Scheme have launched a new initiative which could be a blessing for motorists whose vehicles break down in an area outside their home town or in remote locations – a free iPhone app. Everyone who downloads the new Good Garage Scheme app before the end of February can register for a chance to win an iPad in the accompanying, introductory free prize draw.

The number of iPhones registered in the UK is expected to soar to 6.4 million this year – an increase of 195%, according to research firm MobileSquared. Drivers can download the free app by clicking here.

Good Garage Scheme Marketing Manager, Anndi Sheppard commented: “Because more and more people want access to information while they are on the move we are rolling out our own iPhone app so that motorists will have even better access to services from our members. 

 “If you are away from home apps are great for finding a restaurant, hotel, petrol station or maps, and the same applies to finding a garage you can trust.

“It will be particularly useful if you have broken down or have a problem with your car and haven’t got access to a PC or a laptop. You’ll instantly be able to find a local Good Garage Scheme member and get all the contact details you need no matter where you are in the UK,” she said.

Thursday 13 January 2011

New police deterrent to speeding in West Midlands hits the roads, Good Garage Scheme hears.

Starting with a fortnight’s trial period, West Midlands Police have acquired a fully- liveried Lotus Evora on loan to patrol roads including the M6 toll road, the M62, M42 and M5 as a new deterrent to speeding in the region. 

For any speeding motorist thinking of trying to outrun the car in pursuit, this car can accelerate to 60 mph in under five seconds and can attain speeds up to 168 miles per hour. In short, it’s Britain’s fastest police car.

Talking to the Daily Mail newspaper, PC Angus Nairn said:  ‘It’s a very quick car and we hope it will prove an effective deterrent to anyone thinking of speeding or trying to outrun us. It will attract a lot of attention on the motorways but that is the whole idea - it will remind drivers of the need to keep to the speed limits at all times.’

PC Steven Rounds, from the Central Motorway Police Group, added: ‘The Lotus is a visually stunning machine which offers us the opportunity to engage with the public and reinforce and promote the life-saving messages of road safety.’

In the past, Lotus have loaned out other models to police forces, including the Esprit and the Elise. Forces across Europe have acquired high performance cars to assist policing and Britain has joined the élite with the Evora.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Good Garage Scheme commends new in-car technology developments.

Not since the development of hands-free equipment has there been such a leap forward in in-car-technology. New interior devices for cars can improve road safety further still by giving drivers an alternative to using mobile phones to text while driving. Innovations such as voice recognition software or text/e-mail are on their way.

Three new vehicles on the road: BMW’s 5-series, Bentley’s GT and Ford’s Mondeo have a voice/text facility, an e-mail touch-screen and a voice recognition system respectively.

Voice/text technology is quickly becoming the next big thing in the car marketplace. 2008 saw BMW becoming the pioneer of in-car e-mail access and voice/text systems were brought into 2010s 5-series. By the end of 2011, Ford is hoping to make it available on all the new medium-sized cars in their range.

Audi are also making big improvements on forthcoming models. Next year’s A3 will have technology akin to the iPhone and features like enabling driver input of data by drawing letters on to the touchpad is said to be just the start in their next generation of “vorsprung durch technik” or “progress through technology”.

When there is no traffic around and no law enforcement vehicles or gadgets, the inclination to text and drive can be much more tempting. The new in-car advances can render texting while driving a thing of the past. This can only be good for both motorists and other road users. Any technology improving road safety should be encouraged.

Thursday 6 January 2011

Good Garage Scheme hears of Volvo's ambitious plans to exceed its own reputation.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.2 million people are killed and more than 50 million wounded in road accidents annually.

Jan Ivarsson, Volvo's head of safety strategy has revealed bold targets to reduce this catastrophic total. He said: "Our aim is to build cars that do not crash. By 2020 no one should be killed or even moderately injured in a Volvo." In short they want to build an “uncrashable” car.

Volvo have been groundbreaking in safety developments for decades with innovations like anti-lock brake systems, three-point seatbelts and collapsible steering columns.
Therefore, what car manufacturer is better placed to take on this challenge, given that they have been gathering real-life accident data since the early 1970s, collecting information on over forty thousand mishaps involving over sixty thousand vehicles?

In 2008, an EU-funded initiative was launched which would be carried out during 2010. Through a multitude of sensors and other data sources on both vehicles and drivers of a fleet of a hundred vehicles, Volvo's crash safety researchers would have volumes of data available for analysis.

The Volvo team, while enthusiastic and confident of their ability to pull this off, retain an air of realism in the face of a daunting task. Jan Ivarsson added "We need to encourage better skills, better habits and better attitudes.” Attentive, active drivers are absolutely necessary if we are to achieve our goal of zero accidents."

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Treasury provides a not so happy new year, Good Garage Scheme reads.

Prices of petrol at the pumps have been soaring for months but motorists are now facing fresh misery as we start 2011 with increases in both VAT and petrol duty within the first week. This time last year saw an average price for a litre of unleaded petrol at 107 pence while now it is up to as much as 124p.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation said:  "It is a bleak mid-winter for motorists with already record petrol prices set to rise significantly with the fuel duty and VAT increases. And that won't be the end of it with more increases in fuel duty already scheduled for April."

"Given that each penny increase in fuel duty raises about an extra £500 million for the Exchequer, it is easy to see why the Chancellor is tempted to hike rates. But if the nation's 34 million motorists are pushed too far they will drive less and the Treasury could actually see their tax take fall. At the election there was much talk about a fuel duty stabiliser. Drivers will rightly be wondering what happened to that idea."

The Freight Transport Association added: "the fuel duty rise on January 1 would leave the freight industry "with a £95 million hangover".

Motorists have a right to ask – when will all these rises end?