Precious Passengers

Road safety charity The Institute of Advanced Motorists  are offering weekly motoring tips from a guest advanced driver, this week Amanda Smith advised on driving whilst pregnant.

Amanda provided the following information for expectant Mums:-

  • Protect your baby and belt up. Your seat belt is the only thing stopping you from flying forward and hitting your abdomen on the steering wheel.
  • Wear the lap strap below your bump, as low as possible, from hip-bone to hip-bone.
  • Keep the diagonal strap between your breasts, moving the strap around the side of your bump.
  • Incorrect use can harm the baby in the case of a collision, so always make sure the seatbelt is worn above and below the bump, not over the middle.
  • Adjust the fit of your belt to be as snug and comfortable as possible.
  • You can move the seat back, as long as you adjust your mirrors accordingly and can reach the brake, accelerator and clutch.

Amanda Smith said: “There is much advice available on whether or not it is safe to drive while you’re pregnant. As long as you feel well and are comfortable, you can continue to drive up until labour.”

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Dangerous Males

Men are 6.4 per cent more likely than women to pass their practical driving test, according to road safety charity the IAM. But while young men are more likely to pass their driving test, they are also three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured (KSI) behind the wheel.

The findings are a result of analysing pass rates statistics from the Department for transport published in August for the financial year 2011-2012.

For example, the pass rate for men in Bradford (Heaton) is 39 per cent, compared to 26 per cent for women. In 2010 in Bradford, 22 young male drivers were killed or seriously injured in car accidents, while just four young female drivers were.

Other areas which reported a significantly high gender gap for test passes were Wolverhampton,­­­­ where men are 12.6 per cent more likely to pass their test. In 2010, 13 young male drivers and one woman were involved in KSI crashes.

In Birmingham (South Yardley) men are 12.6 per cent more likely to pass their test, while there were 38 young male drivers from Birmingham in KSI incidents in 2010 and six young female drivers.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “As men make up the majority of drivers, a slight variation in figures can be expected. However, these figures suggest something is going wrong with the way we teach new drivers to cope with risk on the road. Unless we can crack the gender problem in road safety young men will continue to die in higher numbers.

“These findings must be used to inform research to find out why pass rates and causes of fatal car accidents vary so much between men and women.”

Road safety budgets slashed across England.

Local councils in England slashed their road safety budgets by 15 per cent (£23 million) last year compared to average spending cuts of just six per cent for other council services, according to road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

This includes cuts to services such as rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to schools schemes and school crossing patrols.

The research also shows that over half of English councils cut their spending on road safety and traffic management by more than ten per cent. Of the 152 councils contacted, 81 replied.

Spending on road safety saw huge variations. For example, London’s Camden Council cut road safety spending by more than 70 per cent (£4million), despite the fact that road casualties have increased by 10.6 per cent there since 2006. More than 100 people were killed or seriously injured on Camden’s roads in 2010. At the same time, neighbouring Islington Council increased funding for road safety and traffic management by £134,000. Read more of this post

Smartphone use greater danger than drink driving

Using smartphones for social networking while driving is more dangerous than drink driving or being high on cannabis behind the wheel according to research published today by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). Despite this, eight per cent of drivers admit to using smartphones for email and social networking while driving – equivalent to 3.5 million licence holders.

Twenty-four per cent of 17-24 year old drivers – a group already at higher risk of being in a crash – admit to using smartphones for email and social networking while driving.

For their research, the IAM and TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) used DigiCar – TRL’s car driving simulator – to examine the effects of young drivers using smartphones to access facebook. In every test of driving performance, young people who were using facebook while driving were badly affected.

When sending and receiving facebook messages:

  • reaction times slowed by around 38% and participants often missed key events;
  • participants were unable to maintain a central lane position resulting in an increased number of unintentional lane departures; and
  • were unable to respond as quickly to the car in front  gradually changing speed.

When comparing these new results to previous studies the level of impairment on driving is greater than the effects of drinking, cannabis and texting.

  • Using a smartphone for social networking slows reaction times by 37.6 per cent;
  • texting slows reaction times by 37.4 per cent;
  • hands-free mobile phone conversation slows reaction times by 26.5 per cent;
  • cannabis slows reaction times by 21 per cent;
  • alcohol (above UK driving limit but below 100mg per 100ml of blood) slows reaction time by between six and 15 per cent; and
  • alcohol at the legal limit slows reaction times by 12.5 per cent.

Drivers to blame?

In a poll by the IAM, 58% of respondents said that drivers should be held legally responsible for accidents between cars and more vulnerable road users in pedestrian-priority zones.

The most sophisticated pedestrian zones, known as Woonerfs, originate from the Netherlands. The concept is designed without pavements and gives cars, pedestrians and cyclists equal use of the same road space. This was considered a good idea by 48% of the 4,000 respondents; with 27% giving it the thumbs down.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Our poll reveals a surprisingly positive attitude towards better protection of cyclists and pedestrians, both in road layout and legal responsibility. On the continent, attractive street design is used to make it clear where pedestrians have priority but this approach is in its infancy in the UK.

“The IAM supports any move to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, but research is needed into the best way to inform drivers about changes in legal responsibility, and also on the effect a Woonerf might have on the road sense of children brought up in such a zone, when later exposed to less protected areas.”

20 mph zones get thumbs up.

67% of people think that 20mph zones should be used outside schools, according to a poll by the IAM.

The poll of nearly 4,000 people also reveals that 38% think that 20mph zones should be used on roads with amenities such as parks and shops, but only a quarter would like to see them made the default speed limit in all built-up areas.

 43% would like the road outside their house to have a 20mph speed limit, while 39% would not.

Kevin Delaney, IAM head of road safety, said: “The IAM supports the selective use of 20mph speed limits where there is clear evidence that the risk of casualties will be reduced. But blanket 20mph speed limits or limits at inappropriate sites risk widespread disregard by drivers who do not recognise a necessity for them. Consultation with, and buy-in from, local people here is essential. “Passive enforcement measures, such as speed bumps, are unpopular and active enforcement by police is unrealistic in the current financial climate. If lower speed limits are restricted to locations and times where there is an obvious need, responsible drivers, who are the overwhelming majority, will adhere to them without the need for enforcement.”

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