Tag Archive | "car safety"

Could Ultimate Car Control Be Taken From You?


A few days ago Motor Blogger queried the intentions behind technology whereby your car could be controlled by others. You can refresh your knowledge here. Now there’s a new, or additional, threat – depending on your point of view. It is called Intelligent Speed Adaptation.

It seems that seventy five percent of European drivers are concerned that the use of Intelligent Speed Adaptations (ISAs) will compromise safety, according to new research. Last month, the European Union announced that they were considering rules for new cars to be fitted with ISA technology. This would be capable of detecting speed limits through cameras or satellites and automatically applying the brakes of your car without so much as a by-your-leave. Even existing vehicles could be forced to have the technology fitted, no doubt at the owners expense.

Seventy-eight per cent of motorists don’t want to see the retro fitting of ISA technology onto older vehicles. The research also shows that fifty-seven per cent of drivers feel that ISAs would not have a positive impact on road safety – avoiding crashes, deaths and injuries and so on.

However, there is overwhelming support for the science when car control remains with the driver. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents would prefer ISAs to operate with warning messages with no control of the vehicle. That does make sense.

Respondents do feel that there are some benefits to ISAs. Fifty-two per cent see a reduced likelihood of speeding convictions and less money spent on traffic calming measures such as road humps. Thirty-one per cent of respondents – presumably older, more experienced ones – feel that, if enforced, ISAs should be restricted to younger drivers, newly qualified drivers and drivers with previous road-related convictions.

Certainly this high-tech stuff could help to save lives but it’s clear that drivers remain dubious about the benefits of the technology. More research into the benefits would help to reassure the public that this will improve road safety.

In short – we don’t trust it. We suspect – with good reason – it is yet another way to control drivers. The real answer is of course to ensure that drivers are trained properly in the first place.

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Driving in Winter


Though snow is a reasonably unusual occurrence in the UK, we all know it’s going to happen sooner or later during the winter. It still doesn’t stop it from being a bit of a surprise when it does arrive! Here are some tips from car safety charity GEM about how to prepare for winter journeys, and for driving in winter weather.

Maintenance:

• Have your car looked over by a professional and sure that your brakes are in tip top condition
• Check oil and water levels regularly
• Keep a bottle of water in the car to top up your windscreen washer in an emergency

Always keep in the car:

• High-vis clothes
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• Cash
• Torch and batteries
• Food and drink – chocolate bars, nuts, flask for a hot drink, plus bottled water
• Sunglasses in case of glare from the snow

Things to watch out for on the road

If driving in the snow, you should always evaluate the need for your journey. If it’s not essential, don’t drive.

Aquaplaning
Also known as hydroplaning, this is when water builds between the tyres of a vehicle and the surface of the road, which reduces traction – so make sure you have plenty of tread depth and your tyre pressure is correct.

Black Ice
When ice forms over the road it’s sometimes impossible to see. Stopping on ice can take up to 9 times longer than usual, so be aware of this and alter your speeds accordingly. Make sure your brakes are in good working order.

What to do if you get stuck in snow

• Try and manoeuvre your car to the side of the road and come to a stop.

• Always stay with your car as it will protect you from the elements, unless you are extremely close to buildings with people inside.

• Keep the exhaust pipe unblocked so that if you need to run the engine to keep warm, there is no danger of carbon monoxide build up.

• Try and clear snow from your roof and hood so that it can be easily seen, or put something brightly coloured on top for visibility.

For even more advice on driving in winter – such as driving overseas and in mountainous territory, download the free GEM Winter Driving eBook.

Vivienne Egan writes for GEM

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Why should motorists carry oxygen in a can?


Oxygen is something we all need and most of us have little trouble getting enough, as we inhale it in air. There are some circumstances when it helps to have an added supply and one of them is when you are undertaking a long road journey.

It may seem a little strange to suggest that you should put an oxygen can in the glove box of your car, van or truck before setting off on a trip, but it can help to keep you safe. Driver fatigue is one of the biggest causes of fatal crashes, but your chances of being affected by it can be reduced by taking a few breaths of pure oxygen.

The science behind this is quite straightforward. Even a very small oxygen deficit will leave you feeling tired, irritable and struggling to concentrate, but this can be alleviated quickly by increasing the amount of the gas taken into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream. The swiftest way to do this is to inhale four or five mouthfuls of medically-pure oxygen, which you can buy in cans small enough to fit into a handbag or glove box.

If you think purchasing a special product just to help you stay fresh and alert while behind the wheel sounds a little excessive, you may wish to consider how big the problem of fatigued motorists is. Leading safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates that 20 per cent of all serious crashes on the UK’s roads are caused by a driver either falling asleep or being too tired to concentrate properly.

Road safety experts also calculate that a collision involving a driver who is asleep is 50 per cent more likely to result in a death or serious injury, as they are unable to try to swerve to avoid the impact or brake to lessen the force of the smash. It is thought 300 people a year die in sleep-related road accidents.

Should you be involved in such an incident and walk away without injury, you may think you have been lucky. However, the repercussions are likely to go way beyond having to get your car repaired, as you may also face charges. That could result in penalty points on your licence, a driving ban or, if someone else was seriously injured or killed in the smash, a prison sentence.

Very few drivers actually fall into a deep sleep while behind the wheel, but many people find they have difficulty concentrating as they become tired and some of them experience a ‘microsleep’ – a period of sleep lasting just a few seconds that can happen when you have to make a real effort to stay awake. It is a problem that you can deal with in two ways – planning and knowing how to cope with it.

When preparing for long journeys, make sure you schedule them for daylight hours if possible and certainly ensure you won’t be driving between midnight and 6am, as your alertness and energy levels will be low at that time. You should also make certain you are not tired when you get into the car, so do not arrange to take trips after a hard day at work.

Once on the road, you should plan to take breaks of at least 15 minutes every two hours, so you do not become tired or just lose concentration because you are bored of staring at the motorway. If you begin to feel fatigued while driving, pull over at the earliest possible opportunity, remembering that stopping on the hard shoulder for a rest is illegal. Knowing to do this can be the difference between a safe journey and being involved in an accident.

During the breaks, take a nap and have a cup of coffee, as both will help you to stay awake when you set off again. To get even more benefit from the rest stops, inhale a few breaths of pure oxygen, as this will almost immediately improve your alertness and energy levels.

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