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John's Blog Posts

Brexit for drivers and driver trainers

I thought I would write a bit about Brexit. After all, everybody else is. What happens regarding Brexit will influence road safety and driving in the future.

As we all know the government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement has been defeated for a third time in the House of Commons and the UK and EU have agreed a delay to 31 October. But what difference does that make to drivers and driving instructors?

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New thinking required on our arbitrary speed limits

© GOV.UK

According to statistics released recently, the number of road users who have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010 has topped ten million. Nine million of these have attended a speed aware course. Inappropriate speed is still a major cause for concern and is a significant problem in many European countries. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) suggests that Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) might be the answer to the problem.

ISA uses a speed sign-recognition video camera and/or GPS-linked speed limit data to advise drivers of the current speed limit and automatically limit the speed of the vehicle as needed.

ISA systems do not automatically apply the brakes, but simply limit engine power preventing the vehicle from accelerating past the current speed limit unless overridden. Vehicles with this kind of ISA system factory fitted are already on sale – helped in part by the Euro NCAP’s decision to reward extra points for vehicles that include ISA.

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World’s safest drivers

Just Tyres have analysed data on the number of road traffic accidents in countries around the world to find out which country has the safest and most dangerous drivers. You can view the findings in their graphic below.

Key points:

  • The safest country in the world to drive in is Norway, with only 20 road deaths per million of the population in 2017
  • Other countries in the top 5 safest countries to drive in include: Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Denmark
  • The most dangerous country in the world to drive in is the USA, followed by Romania and Bulgaria
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It looks like a simple case of problematic quantification

‘Problematic quantification’ is not an expression I can claim to have heard in the past, and it’s certainly not one I’ve ever used myself.

However, at a recent meeting of The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) the expression came up in a discussion about the review of the legal framework for automated vehicles being conducted by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission. The consultation is open until 8th February. If you want to know more, details can be found on the Law Commission website 

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What might 2019 bring?

So what’s new? In December 2018 I wrote about the government’s proposed ADI cycle training scheme. Back in November the report on the NASP meeting with DVSA talked about the agency’s proposed Mock Test guidance. Now we learn that DVSA is to start trialling sending text messages to driving test candidates before they sit their practical driving tests.

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A spoke in the wheel for government’s ADI cycle training scheme

Readers of this blog will recall that the minister with the brief to cover road safety and cycling, Jesse Norman, announced a £500K project in August that will offer ADIs training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers. Teaching driver trainers how to teach learners now to handle cyclist.

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Time to change gear

 

Claire, Karen, Carol & John Lepine. Buckingham Palace 1991

My wife Carol and I have decided that, after 35 years of working for the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, the time has come for us to have a change of gear and we plan to retire soon after the association’s National Conference in Nottingham in March.

We hope to see as many MSA GB members there as possible so that we can thank you for the fantastic support we have received over the years.

I will not be standing for the role of President of the European Driving Schools Association (EFA) when my period of office comes to an end in May next year.

After we retire we hope to do some travelling and have a proper look at some of the places we have only been to for flying visits, spend some time in the garden and generally relax.

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What’s the best way to look after most vulnerable road users?

In May (Everyone has an opinion on road safety I reported that I had attended a meeting to discuss the Department of Transport ‘Call for Evidence Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Safety Review’.

That meeting was attended by a wide variety of stakeholders including representatives from transport operators, cycling and walking organisations, associations representing other road users, disability groups, road safety professionals, researchers and academics, community health bodies, ADIs, cycle trainers, and other interested parties.

Following on from that Call for Evidence wit emerged in August that ADIs were to be offered bespoke training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers, as part of the Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Safety Review. The review’s aim is to make walking and cycling the natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer one, rather than driving. This, of course, fits into the higher order skills outlined in the GDE Matrix Level Three “modal choice”

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Cyclical road safety campaigns

 

An ophthalmologist examining her patient’s eyes

Over the years there have been various campaigns to toughen up road safety standards. Like so many campaigns, however, things tend to be cyclical and come around several times before anything is done.

Here are a handful of examples that immediately spring to mind to prove my point:

Single/Double British Summertime (SDST)

Campaigners say that one of the consequences of the UK’s current time system is that more people are killed and injured on the road because of darker evenings in the autumn and winter than there would be if we used SDST.

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No pupils? Don’t believe everything you read!

Proportion of people holding a full driving licence

During July the Department for Transport produced a whole heap of data on who holds a driving licence and why some don’t want to. The figures are part of the statistics and data about the National Travel Survey, which is based on an annual survey to monitor trends in personal travel.

One of the big stories coming out of the figures was a perception that ADIs were going to struggle in the future, as young people were losing interest in learning to drive. Indeed, that story made it on to Radio 5 Live. Yet in fact the actual findings painted a very different story, as I will explain.

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