Drug Driving – New Law by 2014

A new drug-driving offence is to become law in 2014, making detection easier for police and penalties tougher for offenders. Drivers can be prosecuted for driving while impaired by drugs at present, but there are few convictions when compared with drink-driving. With no authorised equipment for roadside drug testing in the UK, police conduct what is called a field impairment test, examining such things as pupil dilation, balance and co-ordination.

Under the new system, police will be able to screen suspects at the roadside using a so-called drugalyser and then test their blood or urine for drugs. If samples exceed the specified limit for each drug, the penalty will be up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000 – plus an automatic driving ban of at least a year. Drug limits will be set following public  consultation and advice from a panel of drug misuse experts. Operators are obliged to report drivers’ convictions to the traffic commissioner, which could lead to a driver conduct hearing or affect the O-licence at a public inquiry.

The legislation, unveiled during the Queen’s Speech in May, has important implications for the road transport industry. With detection of offenders more likely, drivers will need reminding about the risks of taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Employers need to be aware of their obligations under health and safety at work and corporate manslaughter legislation.

New safety helmet ratings published ahead of Easter Bank Holiday

An extra 14 motorcycle helmet ratings from the Department for Transport’s Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) have been published today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Today’s ratings take the total number of helmets rated by SHARP – the Safety Helmet Assessment and Ratings Programme – to 261.

Mike Penning said:

“Many of us will be getting our bikes out and – with luck – take advantage of some sunshine over the bank holiday weekend.

“I would urge anyone thinking about buying a new helmet ahead of the start of the summer season to check out the SHARP website before making their decision. A properly fitted helmet with a high SHARP rating will provide you with the best possible protection in the event of an accident so it’s well worth checking the advice on the site before you buy.”

All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards to be sold in the UK but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash. The objective advice, which includes important guidance on how to select a good-fitting helmet, will help riders to choose the safest helmet suitable for them.

The SHARP tests – which award ratings of between one and five stars – show that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%. With helmets across a wide price range scoring highly all riders should be able to find a high performing helmet in a size and style that fits them and at a price they want to pay.

Full details of the SHARP Scheme can be found at http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/

Think Bike – Think Biker

A £1.2 million THINK! campaign urging drivers to see the person behind the motorcycle helmet was launched today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

The TV adverts will show bikers with flashing neon signs attached to their bikes. The signs show the rider’s name and information about them such as ‘shy retiring type’ or ‘new dad’. The voiceover at the end asks drivers to look out for motorcyclists next time they are out driving.

The campaign was informed by research showing that drivers are more likely to notice motorcyclists on the roads if they know a biker themselves.

The adverts put motorcyclists at the centre of the campaign in a bid to tackle the huge over-representation of motorcyclists in road casualty figures. Despite only accounting for 1% of traffic motorcyclists make up 22% of deaths on Britain’s roads.

Mike Penning said:

“As a biker myself I know how great motorcycling can be but as Road Safety Minister I know that the statistics show bikers are tragically over-represented in road casualties and I want to see this number come down.”

“The campaign I am launching today aims to get drivers to think again about how they look at bikers when they’re out on the road.  I hope this will help to reduce the number of bikers killed and injured in crashes with cars.”

The new ‘Named Riders’ TV campaign starts on Friday 2 March with radio and petrol station advertising running from Saturday 10 March.

Government publish report into local road safey delivery.

Independent research into local road safety, commissionedby the DfT, highlights concerns over staff and funding cuts, data analysis andco-ordination between stakeholders

According to a LocalGov.co.uk news report, independent research into local road safety, commissioned by the DfT, highlights concerns over staff and funding cuts, data analysis and co-ordination between stakeholders.

LocalGov.co.uk says that the three-year project, carried out by AECOM in association with the Tavistock Institute, also found ‘a shift towards route- and area-based treatments, and increasing consideration of specific groups such as motorcyclists, through targeted interventions’.

The report, Delivery of Local Road Safety, says that ‘staff reductions and restructuring are leading to the loss of established core functions and skills, and management input’, and that ‘staff turnover and a lack of succession planning continue to be central threats to effective delivery’.

Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: “We hope the report will be of interest to local authorities who are responsible for decisions on local road safety delivery and evaluation.”

Richard Redfern, AECOM’s regional director for transportation, said: “The evaluation demonstrated that road safety is a complex matter that requires the involvement of numerous agencies, such as the police, fire and rescue services, the Highways Agency, health authorities and other stakeholders.”

Traffic signs reviewed.

Unnecessary Whitehall bureaucracy will be tackled and costs for councils reduced following the biggest review into Britain’s traffic signing system for 40 years, announced today by Transport Minister Norman Baker.

The Government hopes that the review will dramatically reduce the number of signs councils need to use by relaxing rules – such as by removing the requirement for some signs – including those to indicate the start of a pedestrian zone, to be placed on both sides of the road.

The new measures will significantly cut red tape by allowing councils to put in place frequently used signs without needing to get government permission every time. There are also proposals to save councils money by allowing them to publicise their Traffic Regulation Orders in a manner that is appropriate for the target audience, rather than forcing them to pay for newspaper advertising as is currently the case.

In addition, there will be changes to reflect the way that travel has transformed over the decades, to make sure that road users are getting the right information at the right time. There will be new signs to alert drivers to parking spaces with charging points for electric vehicles and councils will be able to indicate estimated journey times on cycle routes, to help people plan their journeys.

Crashes cost £15billion per year.

The Department for Transport have published the 2010 road casualty figures for Great Britain. 

 The key findings from the  2010 report include:

In 2010, there were a total of 208,648 casualties of all severities in road accidents reported to the police, 6 per cent lower than in 2009. There were 1,850 people killed, 17 per cent lower than in 2009 and 22,660 were seriously injured, down 8 per cent.

Motor vehicle traffic fell by 2 per cent over the same period. The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road user, with a fall of 21 per cent for car occupants, 19 per cent for pedestrians, 15 per cent for motorcyclists. Pedal cycle fatalities rose by 7 per cent

 In 2010, it is estimated that 9,700 reported casualties (5 per cent of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit. The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents was 250 (14 per cent of all road fatalities). Read more of this post

First quarter of 2011 road casualty figures published.

 The Department for Transport has published road casualty data for the first quarter of 2011. The publication presents statistics on personal injury accidents in the year ending March 2011 on public roads (including footways) in Great Britain, which became known to the police within 30 days.

Estimates are based on information reported to the Department for Transport 14 weeks after the end of the latest quarter. For this release figures are based on information available on 13th July 2011. Read more of this post

Drink drive concern.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that the latest drink diving statistics published by the Department for Transport have shown that the proportion of young drivers either testing positive or refusing to take a test at all rose by 15 per cent over the past year.

Road safety and motoring groups voiced alarm at the trend, which they said coincided with a cut in Government spending on anti-drink drive campaigns, which fell from £3.4 million in 2009-10 to £550,000 in the current financial year.

While the number of people caught drink driving fell, this was a reflection of a reduction in the number of breath tests being carried out by the police, which was 12 per cent down on last summer. Read more of this post

Government launch new strategy for road safety

On 11th May 2011, the Government launched a new strategy for road safety, which has set the scene for further, continuous effort towards casualty reduction on Britain’s roads.

Read more of this post

Drink Driving – an opportunity missed to save 168 lives?

A package of measures to tackle drink and drug driving was announced today by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond following the long awaited North Review.

The prescribed alcohol limit for driving will not be changed, with the focus instead on improving enforcement and education to tackle the drink and drug drivers who put lives at risk.

This leaves the UK with one of the highest alcohol limits in the EU at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood as opposed to changing it to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood that is common in many european states. A cut from 80mg to 50mg would have according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents  have saved 168 lives in the first year of the law coming into place. However Government have decided to keep the existing limits in place. Many other organisations including PACTS have also published research along similar lines. Read more of this post

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