Category Archives: roads

The New Realities Of Speeding!

Most of us are guilty of speeding at one time or another. The authorities have traditionally allowed a tolerance of 10 percent of the posted limit plus 2mph before issuing a penalty. This meant if you were travelling at 57mph in a 50mph zone you were likely to get away with it – maybe!

However, this was based on giving the benefit of doubt to a driver and the questionable accuracy of the existing equipment.

From April 24th 2017 this could all be about to change.

With reliable technology now installed in most vehicles and the desire of government to make our roads even safer, the discretionary ‘leeway’ is likely to be withdrawn.

In addition, magistrates are to be issued with new guidelines for speeding offences. These will place speeding misdemeanors in one of three bands:

Band A – for the least serious speeding offence

Band B – for speeding offences regarded as more serious than Band A

Band C – for speeding offences regarded as being very serious.

The guidelines and penalties issued by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales are set out in the document below:

The full document can be read here

As you can see, the new penalties are now based on a percentage of weekly income of the offender as follows:

Band A – starting at 50 percent of weekly income

Band B – starting at 100 percent of weekly income

Band C – starting at 150 percent of weekly income

Magistrates still have the power to show leniency if mitigating circumstances can be demonstrated.

Additionally, they are still at liberty to add points to a licence or disqualify a driver either temporarily or permanently.

It appears the increased cost of breaking the posted speed limit is about to outweigh the gamble of getting caught!

(Picture courtesy Ian Jones)

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On Yer Bike! – Time For A Truce?

rage1e

The relationship between cyclists and motorists is similar to that of oil to water – they are not a great combination when using the same surface. Both travel along many of the same roadways and both seem to think they have right of way over each other.

Social Media sites like You Tube entertain us with a multitude of clips posted by aggrieved helmet cam wearing cyclists, who have recorded near misses, and often violent confrontations, with angry drivers while on the road.

A common theme of these ‘incidents’ is the overtaking motorist passing far too close to the cyclist and/or cutting in too quickly once they thought they had passed their two wheeled nemesis.

Many motorists assume that a cyclist should keep to the far left of the lane in which they are travelling but according to the Highway Code, it is permissible, and encouraged, to use the full width of the carriageway. It is the responsibility of the passing motorist to wait until the road is clear enough to attempt a full passing manoeuvre, leaving a gap of at least a metre between themselves and the cyclist. They should then make certain they are well ahead of the cyclist before returning to the lane they were originally in.

It sounds simple when written on paper, but when driving through congested towns and cities where heavy traffic fills the oncoming lane, it leads to fewer opportunities for executing a text book overtaking manoeuvre. That leads to frustration for the motorist and often an incident.

However, there are no excuses for ignoring the rules. Many police forces have recently set traps to catch impatient motorists. They use a Lycra clad officer riding a bicycle fitted with cameras. If an overtaking motorist passes too close, or cuts in too quick, they are stopped further down the road and either ‘spoken to’ or issued with a penalty notice.

Of course, not all drivers are bad and not all cyclists are good. There are members from both camps who take chances hoping they can get away with it.

What we have to remember is: we are all here to stay and where dedicated bike lanes are not available, we’re obliged to use the same road space.

Maybe it’s time for everyone to demonstrate some consideration – whether we’re on two wheels or more?

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Time To Take A Breath – Or Two

motorway_traffic

According to a recent survey of road users, the following behaviour annoys drivers the most:

  • 36% are annoyed by drivers tailgating them

  • 15% are irritated by motorists hogging the middle-lane

  • 15% are fed up of drivers not indicating

  • 11% are tired of congested roads

  • 7% don’t like slow drivers

One word could probably describe all of the above – frustration!

However, with the exception of congested roads, we are all probably guilty of one, or more, of the other annoying habits. After all, everyone suffers lack of concentration or tiredness at some point.

Middle-lane hoggers are considered selfish by the majority of complainants while a staggering 37% of drivers are not even aware it’s a driving offence – despite the introduction of on-the-spot fines in 2013.

66% of drivers believe the lanes on motorways are designated by speed with the inside lane being for slow traffic, the middle lane for ‘coasting’ and the right hand lane for fast driving. They are unaware of the wording in the Highway Code stating you should move over into the left hand lane as soon as the road ahead is clear.

This might help to explain the behaviour of the tailgaters. Might they be thinking that as they are driving faster (often in excess of the legal speed limit) than the car in front, they have the right to be in the ‘fast lane’ and everyone else should be forced to move over to let them pass? Surely, it’s a dangerous belief to hold.

So what can we do, as drivers, to relieve the frustration we feel?

Getting angry does not solve the problem but adds to the frustration and, thereby, increases the odds of being involved in – or causing – an accident.

If someone in front is being a lane hogger, fight the temptation to ‘undertake’ them, or to turn yourself into a tailgater.

If the person behind is tailgating you, resist your instinct to frustrate them further by flashing your brake lights or by slowing down. Simply move over when you can, and let them pass.

Congested roads cause frustration and are often the result of accidents. Accidents are often caused by frustrated drivers. It can easily become a vicious unsolvable circle.

Driving can be enjoyable. All we have to do is take a breath and allow some understanding for others who aren’t the perfect drivers we know we all are!!

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Hunting Down The Hogs…

lane_hog pic

It’s taken two years but finally someone has been punished for ‘hogging’ the centre lane of a motorway.

This week, Leeds Magistrates fined a motorist £940, with five penalty points on his licence, for inconsiderate driving. He is said to have declined numerous opportunities to pull into the left hand lane. The prescribed fine is £100 and three points, but the man had failed to attend court after ‘assuming’ it was only a minor offence.

Prosecutors claimed the offender had been observed blocking off at least six cars, who’s drivers had subsequently been forced to brake and overtake, when he had enough time and space to move into the inside lane.

But, it seems he is not alone!

A poll last year, by insurers Direct Line, found that 43% of more than 2,000 drivers questioned, admitted they regularly drive in the middle lane because it was an “easier way to drive” and “saves me changing lanes” A further 18% claimed it was just a “driving habit”.

However, officials say motorway capacity is being reduced by around 30% because of middle lane ‘hoggers’

How much in time and expense is that costing the logistics industry – and ultimately the consumer – each year?

If police continue to concentrate on sourcing drivers committing this offence, traffic flow on motorways will either speed up considerably, or motorists will be providing the Treasury with an even easier source of funds than we do now!

You can’t say we haven’t all been warned!

Note:

Part 264 of the Highway Code states: “You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.”

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Speed Cameras – Deterrent or Cash Cow?

speed camera

Speed cameras tend to produce the same reaction as Marmite: you either love them or hate them.

Those on one side of the argument think they are a valuable road safety tool while their critics think they are nothing more than just another means of raising money from motorists.

Whichever side of the argument you may take, there are some interesting details to be found within the recently released Kent and Sussex speed camera statistics.

One camera in particular, recorded nearly 8,500 speeding drivers over the last 12 months.

Are speed cameras working?

If you take comfort from the number of people caught by the region’s ‘top’ camera last year – on the A22 Eastbourne Road at Halland – such satisfaction would be short lived. Let’s compare the stats from the previous three years:

2011-2012 4,902 drivers caught

2012-2013 7,126 drivers caught

2013-2014 8,430 drivers caught

An increase of over 3,500 in three years hardly suggests a deterrent.

Road safety campaigners still insist cameras are contributing to saving lives but the above figures seem to suggest this particular camera is having little, or no overall effect.

Are speed cameras a cash cow?

The revenue from fixed cameras in Kent and Sussex, as a whole, over the last 12 months was a staggering £3.3m. – up more than £1.1m from the previous year.

If you total the revenue collected in fines from all the cameras in the UK, it must add up to a pretty tidy sum. Quite how much of this revenue makes it’s way back into the road system is unknown. However, the accumulated interest  must be considerable.

For financial reasons alone, it seems speed cameras will be around for a good while yet.

With an increase in the installation of unmarked HADECS (often referred to as ‘stealth’ cameras),which are reported to have caught over 700 drivers in two months on the M25, it seems it’s both safer, and more prudent, to observe and obey the posted speed limit at all times.

The argument goes on!

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It’s Time For Drivers To Clear Their Own ‘Fog’

Sheppey_crash

Yesterday’s multi-vehicle pile-up on the Sheppey Crossing, in Kent, rightly made the headlines across the country.

Over 130 vehicles were involved in separate collisions and eight people were seriously injured whilst driving off the island, onto the mainland, in thick fog; it seems a miracle there were no fatalities.

The official investigation is still ongoing, but it seems certain that excessive speed for the conditions, while driving too close and without lights, were major contributory factors.

The foggy weather did not suddenly appear and the area of the collisions is well known for its changing visibility (the approach road is built upon marshland) – a fact, of which, locals are fully aware.

Predictably, calls are now being made for speed restrictions or cameras on the bridge; matrix warning signs of hazardous conditions and better lighting. Ironically, none of these is likely to have been useful in preventing the collisions in yesterday’s thick fog.

After all, if you don’t notice the fog it seems unlikely you will notice the warnings.

What did appear to be in short supply is common sense and an awareness of the consequences of driving without due care.

It seems it was a classic case of going too fast and getting nowhere!

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New Laws For ‘Unsocial Driving’

How many times have you cursed while following a driver hogging the middle or outside lane of a motorway? Alternatively, how many times have you looked into your mirror and focussed on a blur of metal as an impatient driver tailgates you before you have the chance to move back into the inside lane?

Thankfully, in theory at least, from today things might begin to change.

The Transport Minister is planning a crackdown on those he describes as antisocial drivers.

In the past, prosecutions have been costly and time consuming to process. However, following today’s announcement, police traffic officers are to be given the power to issue roadside fines of £100, and up to three penalty points, to anyone they consider is in breach of the Highway Code.

If you have been ‘tailgating’ or ‘lane hogging’ for a distance of more that half a mile, you are very likely to become a candidate for their attention.

Edmund King of the AA said that such offenders had been voted as the most hated types of drivers in a recent poll.

Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation said:

”Anti-social behaviour is as big a problem on the roads as it is in wider society”

and

”Giving police more discretion to act, and freeing up resources to allow them to do so by cutting procedural delays in court, is good news.”

He did however point out that the threat of fines alone would not solve the problem; tougher enforcement of the new law is also needed.

Fines for other traffic offences like using your mobile while driving, failure to wear a seatbelt and ignoring traffic lights, are also set to increase from £60 to £100

But……do bad habits ever really die?

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