|(Other news' outlines articles circulating in the public domain, listed in random order. Inclusion does not imply endorsement.)
GROWING CALLS TO CRACKDOWN ON DISTRACTED PEDESTRIANS PLAYING ON THEIR SMARTPHONES
The Australian public is being urged to put away their smartphones when walking near roads as the number of pedestrian deaths in the country continues to rise. There have been 228 pedestrian deaths on Aussie roads in the 12 months to June 2016, according to government statistics. That is 29 more pedestrian fatalities than the same period a year earlier, equating to a 14.5 per cent increase.
While it is difficult to know the exact role smartphone distraction played in the increased figure, a national road safety report released earlier in the year found that 30 per cent of 18-30 year olds admitted to using their smartphone for texting or internet access at risky levels while crossing the road.
The figure in on par with studies done by the Journal of Injury Prevention which found one in three pedestrians were distracted when crossing the road. The issue has been taken up with renewed energy in recent weeks due to the success of the hugely popular smartphone-based game Pokemon Go which requires players to visit real-world locations to carry out tasks on their device.
Pedestrian Council of Australia chair Harold Scruby has described the problem of people crossing roads while distracted as an “epidemic” and called for on the spot fines of $200 to be handed out by local council workers. It may sound insane to begin issuing fines to people who walk in public while playing on their smartphone but that’s exactly what a growing number of cities around the world have been considering.
A bill proposed earlier in the year by a politician in the US state of New Jersey would see those caught texting and walking risk a $50 fine or 15 days in jail, the same penalty as jaywalking. Five other US states have previously tried to pass legislation aimed at addressing the problem of “distracted walkers” but have so far proved unsuccessful.
Taiwan has also tried to crackdown on smartphone-using pedestrians by issuing fines. Meanwhile Germany has taken a different approach by installing traffic lights on the ground designed to catch people’s peripheral vision while they’re looking down at their phones.
In 2013 seven Sydney councils launched an advertising blitz aimed at distracted pedestrians reminding them to look both ways before crossing the road.
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NT NEWS: CRASHES WITH LIVESTOCK INCREASE IN OPEN-SPEED ZONES IN NORTHERN TERRITORY
Crashes with livestock have become more common in open-speed zones. The booming Barkly cattle industry has added to the risk of high-speed crashes, according to Barkly MLA Gerry McCarthy. Mr McCarthy said new management practices allowed cattle to graze in previously unusable land. The result has left higher numbers of cattle crossing sections of open-speed-limit highway.
Statistics from the Department of Transport reveal six accidents where a car had struck a beast between Tennant Creek and Barrow Creek so far this year. Only five accidents were recorded for all of 2015 on the same stretch of road.
Townsville man Alan Cooney and his wife Louise were among the motorists who collided with a cow while heading south from Tennant Creek last month. Mr Cooney said he was travelling at 110km/h when he spotted the beast 80m in front of him in his headlights at 7pm. He veered left, but so did the cow. He hit the cow head-on but, fortunately, he and his wife escaped the crash with just cuts and bruises. He said open speed limits should be restricted to daylight hours only.
Mr McCarthy said the Territory had seen a lot more areas come under cattle. “I have lived in the bush for 35 years and the cattle industry is booming and one of the reasons for that is a lot of new management practices,” he said. “This has now become an issue with animals and stock and a lot more cars hitting beasts. But it is not as simple as fencing properties.
“You can’t do that in isolation because of the way cattle are managed ... cattle are crossing highways to access watering points and pastures. It’s an issue where the Government’s response to that is they say drivers need to drive to the conditions. So if you are driving to the conditions you would be driving very slowly because of the risk of hitting cattle.”
Transport Minister Peter Chandler said safety and road conditions were considered as part of the Government’s decision. “Everyone should act responsibly on the road and drive to conditions,” he said.
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SA NEWS: SOUTH AUSTRALIAN DRIVERS MORE LIKELY TO BE SNAPPED OVER SPEEDING IN 50KPH OR LESS ZONES
Almost all of South Australia's highest earning mobile speed camera locations were in suburban streets where limits were 50 kilometres per hour or less. The latest figures show 18 of the top 20 most lucrative camera locations were in local streets where drivers were known to take shortcuts to avoid main roads.
The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) has backed nabbing speeding drivers as long as the speed limits were clearly displayed. RAA road safety spokesman Charles Mountain said motorists needed to know they were breaking the law and needed to be aware of their environment.
"So that's what we're saying in these locations where speeds appear to be consistent, the motorists consistently travelling higher than the desired speed limit, then they should have a closer look at signage and other factors that might be contributing to that." He said speed limits were put in place for "a genuine reason" but to be effective they needed to be compiled with.
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MORE SA NEWS: HUNDREDS CAUGHT UP USING PHONES AND NOT BELTED UP WHILE DRIVING, SAPOL SAYS
More than 700 drivers were caught last financial year putting young lives at risk by failing to make sure children had seatbelts on. The alarming figures come as police launch a month-long crackdown on seatbelt wearing and revealed four children were among 62 people killed in car crashes who were not wearing seatbelts between 2013 and June last year.
Operation Belt Up will coincide with a crackdown on mobile phone use, as latest police figures obtained by The Advertiser also show hundreds of novice drivers on L and P plates were caught on the phone while driving last financial year.
Superintendent Anthony Fioravanti, officer in charge of Traffic Support Branch, said police would have a visible presence on roads to enforce seatbelt wearing and Operation Distraction targeting mobile phone use. He warned drivers: “We’re targeting areas at specific times and locations with high traffic flow, because we want road users to see police activity.”
Operation Belt Up will focus on regional South Australia, to ensure children are restrained properly in cars. “We’re seeing some children moved into bigger seats, or prematurely graduated to seatbelts alone, when it is not appropriate for their size and weight, exposing them to greater risk of injury,” Supt Fioravanti said. “A child properly secured in an approved and appropriate child restraint is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than a child who is not.”
Police figures show almost 495 drivers were fined up to $463 for failing to ensure passengers under 16 were wearing a seatbelt or appropriate child restraint, while another 226 were cautioned, last financial year. Among those busted were 105 drivers with multiple children in the car. The 721 drivers detected in the financial year just gone was almost 20 per cent – or 105 more – than those caught in the financial year before.
Police are also targeting drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel, with Operation Distraction to focus on metropolitan areas. Traffic offence records show more than 270 Provisional 1 licence holders and eight L-platers were caught using a mobile phone last financial year, with fines totalling around $90,000. These motorists were among more than 11370 caught illegally using a mobile phone while driving in that period.
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WA NEWS: PHONE-FIXED PEDESTRIANS COURT DANGER
Mobile phones are wreaking havoc on WA roads, with dozens of drivers caught playing Pokemon Go at the wheel and warnings pedestrians are so consumed by their phones they risk walking into traffic. Police stopped 58 people who were using their mobile phone while driving in the city on Monday morning, after catching 55 motorists playing the mobile phone game Pokemon Go over three afternoons last week. The number of pedestrians killed on WA roads has increased in the past year and road safety advocates are warning distraction is now the biggest threat to road users.
Traffic enforcement group inspector Mike Sparkman said traffic officers caught 55 motorists driving and playing Pokemon Go on Fraser Avenue in Kings Park last week. “At the same time, you have numerous pedestrians walking on the road playing Pokemon ... you also have cyclists,” he said. “This is an ongoing issue causing very dangerous situations.”
Insp. Sparkman said officers at intersections had filmed drivers so engrossed by their phones they would miss a change of lights and not notice the police motorcycle next to them until the officers sounded their siren. Last weekend, Sydney woman Tanami Nayler died crossing a road in Melbourne in an alleged hit-and-run while she was playing Pokemon Go.
WA Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia said Pokemon Go crashes were gaining attention, but research showed pedestrians were also getting hurt while texting, talking or listening to music. “Don’t become the next Pokemon Go pedestrian statistic, check the streets before you step off a kerb, don’t jaywalk and keep your headphone volumes low so you can hear street noise,” he said.
“If you must talk or text, stand aside from the stream of pedestrian traffic and be courteous to others. The current trend, particularly for millennials — 18 to 34-year-olds — seems to be you can’t walk down the street without doing something with your mobile phone. But while the risk impacts everyone, women over the age of 55 were most likely to suffer serious injuries while distracted walking while on the mobile phone.”
Georgia Sweeting, from Road Trauma Support WA, said younger road users were heeding the pleas to not drink-drive and to wear seatbelts, but not the message about the danger of being distracted by mobile phones. “They are digital natives,” she said. “It’s an extension of themselves. Whether in the car or walking, I think they just can’t bear to be apart from them for any long period. Games like Pokemon add another layer of danger because they are another layer of distraction.”
The WA Road Safety Commission said eight pedestrians were among the 106 people who had died on the State’s roads this year. Seven of them were hit by cars and one by a truck. Their ages ranged from 23 to 80. Fifteen pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the 12 months to June 2016, compared with 12 in the previous year. Pedestrian road deaths in WA reached a six-year high of 27 in 2013/2014.
Royal Perth Hospital’s Dr Sudhakar Rao said pedestrians accounted for 10 per cent of road trauma casualties admitted to the hospital’s trauma service. Medics saw lower limb trauma, head injuries from hitting the windscreen and spinal injuries. Dr Rao said the increasing prevalence of four-wheel-drives and SUVs had led to more severe injuries.
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MORE WA NEWS: DRIVERS FAIL TO 'BELT UP' KIDS
Police are catching up to five drivers a day risking the lives of their child passengers by failing to restrain them correctly in their vehicles. More than 2000 drivers were issued infringement notices in the 2015-16 financial year for not ensuring children in their cars were buckled in. Almost 60 per cent of those drivers were caught in regional WA.
In April, a photo taken by police of two cartons of beer securely strapped in the back seat of a car, north of Broome, went viral when it was revealed a baby was freely crawling around the same car.
In the same traffic operation, officers stopped a driver who allegedly blew 0.224 while under a suspended licence. Of the 10 occupants in the Toyota Rav4 at the time of the stop, six of those were unrestrained children. In metropolitan Perth, the number of drivers caught failing to restrain their children increased 9 per cent.
Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said it was extremely concerning parents were failing to restrain their children correctly in their cars. “This should be their No. 1 priority before they even turn the key in the ignition,” she said. “An unrestrained child is extremely vulnerable even in a minor bingle, let alone a serious crash.”
Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia said children were incredibly vulnerable in car crashes. “Recognising that you are 10 times more likely to die in a car crash if you don’t wear a seatbelt should prompt people to ensure their kids are properly restrained for safety,” he said.
He said despite seatbelts becoming compulsory to wear in 1971, people continued to die and be seriously injured today as a result of not wearing a seatbelt. “This fact is particularly distressing when children are the victims,” Mr Papalia said.
“With the energies generated in a car crash it is impossible for a grown man to hold on unrestrained, so it seems obvious that children are so much more vulnerable and we should all be doing what we can to provide them protection. “Our research and police enforcement indicate the deplorable practice of not wearing seatbelts is particularly prevalent in regional WA.”
Read the Full Story here. Read the Related Article 'Driver 'used seatbelt for beer carton, not children' here.
NSW NEWS: NEW RULES IN NSW BAN P-PLATE DRIVERS FROM USING PHONES WHILE DRIVING
A new law will see both red and green p-plate drivers in NSW banned from using a mobile phone at all while driving from this December (2016). In a ruling that has already come in for criticism, P-plate drivers in New South Wales will be subject to strict new regulations regarding in-car mobile phone use.
Both red and green P-plate drivers will be completely banned from using hands-free mobile phones while driving from December (2016). Other changes to the rules will also come into force next year including the deferment of a full licence if the driver is caught speeding.
Young drivers will have their P-plate restrictions extended by a further six months for every speeding offence or other driving infringement. Other changes include the scrapping of the Driver Qualification Test, a current requirement for green P2 licence-holders to move to a full licence. Following the changes, P2 drivers will need to demonstrate a good driving record before being granted a full licence.
Meanwhile, the Hazard Perception Test that P1 licence-holders are required to pass under the current scheme before being granted a P2 licence will be brought forward and drivers will now need to pass the Hazard Perception Test before they can begin driving unaccompanied.
However, it’s the new rules about mobile phone use that is causing some concern. P2 licence-holders are at present allowed to use their mobile phones when driving as long as they are used only for calls and audio, and the phone is securely mounted or an automated audio device is used. The new rules will make it illegal for P-platers to use a mobile phone for any reason while driving or riding.
The problem for many people is that more and more modern cars no longer offer built-in sat nav and instead rely on a mobile phone app. This option will no longer be available to young drivers. One example of the inconvenience was cited by a plumbing firm that requires its employees (many of them apprentices) to stay logged on all day for the their app to track them, direct them to their next job, automatically text clients to tell them they are on their way and advise when a job has changed.
P-platers will still be permitted to use dedicated sat nav units, including those that mount to the windscreen, even though they are barred from using their phones for the same purpose and under the same conditions.
A spokesman for the NSW Centre for Road Safety claimed that mobile phones posed “a higher risk for inexperience drivers than a purpose-built GPS as there is the temptation to use it for other functions.”
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MORE NSW NEWS: MAN ALLEGEDLY CAUGHT DRIVING 200KM/H ON HUME HIGHWAY FINED $2,300, BMW SIEZED, LICENCE SUSPENDED
A man who was allegedly caught driving almost twice the speed limit on the Hume Highway near Gundagai on Tuesday copped a $2350 fine, had his BMW seized and his licence suspended. NSW Police officers from the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command stopped the car near the Snowy Mountains Highway intersection just after 5pm after they caught the 42-year-old driver zooming at an alleged 200km/h in a 110km/h zone.
The man was fined $2350 for speeding by more than 45km/h over the speed limit, his BMW was towed from the scene - and will be kept by police for three months - and his driver's licence was suspended for six months.
Traffic and highway patrol commander, assistant commissioner John Hartley, said this behaviour was not tolerated. "We are working hard to educate people on road safety through campaigns like 'Toward Zero', which is about lowering the road toll, but we also need to continue to target bad driver behaviour," Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.
"Our ongoing road enforcement activities across the state aim to ensure those people who are putting put their own lives and the lives of others at risk on our roads by doing the wrong thing are targeted and detected."
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MORE NSW NEWS: SMALL TRUCKS TARGETED IN NSW POLICE BLITZ
Small and medium rigid trucks were targeted in a police operation yesterday. New South Wales police attached to the Joint Traffic Task Force and Traffic Support Group led the operation using marked patrol vehicles and motorbikes in the Parramatta, Blacktown and Wetherill Park areas.
A number of trucks were intercepted by police throughout Western Sydney during Operation Towards Zero which ran from 6am to 2pm.
Officers issued infringements for the following offences:
- Not wear seat belt (x7)
- Speeding (x2)
- Load restraint (x14)
- Defects (x7)
- Parking offences (x3)
- Court Attendance Notices for over-weight loads (x2)
- Substantial load breaches (unsecured load, empty pallets not restrained, one significant mass breach) (x3)
- Charges for a suspended and a cancelled driver (x2)
Officers also conducted 250 Random Breath Tests and 33 Random Drug Tests, with a car driver returning a low range reading.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said while this operation was focused was on high demand-small trucks, all road users will see more police operating on roads to address the state's road toll. "All road users, including delivery truck drivers, need to consider their driving behaviour, particularly with more police on our roads throughout the operation," said Assistant Commissioner Hartley. "We are there to ensure those drivers, loaders, and particularly customers are focussed on the safety of their trucks, employees, and goods, in order to reduce serious injury and fatal crashes on our roads."
There are further activities planned during Operation Towards Zero, focussing on other road user groups.
"To have truck drivers with suspended or cancelled drivers licences, driving overweight, poorly loaded, and defective trucks, proves the worth of our work in preventing these trucks, drivers, and companies in becoming involved in further road trauma," he said.
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NZ NEWS: AA TO DRIVE HOME SAFETY TO ELDERLY DRIVERS
AA has launched a new driving programme aimed at keeping those in their golden years safe on the road. From the beginning of August, AA members 80 years and older can take up the offer of a free practical driving session every two years. "It's called AA Senior Drivers and it's specifically designed to help senior drivers stay confident and safe behind the wheel," a spokesperson says.
Our need for vehicles doesn't just end when we retire says AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn. At age 75 drivers are assessed by a doctor to make sure they're fit to continue driving and may be required to sit the on-road test. After we turn 80, that process occurs every two years, so the Senior Drivers programme coincides with that," says Mr Venn.
"Whether you're 18, 45 or 80, the truth is we all want to retain the mobility, freedom and independence that driving gives us," he says. We know when seniors stop driving it has a massive impact on their lives. They feel isolated from friends and family, experience a sense of loss of control and struggle to run their everyday errands and tasks."
For many senior drivers new road infrastructure or traffic hotspots can be intimidating, Mr Venn says. "Giving them a chance to navigate these changes with an instructor and in their own car helps to confirm their awareness of their own skills and build their confidence, which also makes them safer on the road."
If involved in a crash, the elderly are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed because they're more frail than younger drivers. The AA believes the initiative will help elderly drivers safely extend the life of their driver licence. "With majority of all crashes on New Zealand roads coming down to driver error, we believe a regular skills refresh is a positive way to keep some of our most vulnerable drivers safe on the road," Mr Venn says.
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MORE NZ NEWS: ALCOHOL INTERLOCKS TO BECOME MANDATORY FOR NZ'S WORST DRINK-DRIVERS
New Zealand's worst drink-drivers will soon be forced to have devices installed in their cars which stop them from driving over the limit - and they'll have to foot the bill. The Government says making the alcohol interlock devices mandatory for serious and repeat drink-drivers will makes Kiwis safer - and a former offender says the device kept him from having "blood on my hands". Alcohol interlock devices disable a vehicle from being driven if alcohol is detected on the breath of a driver, who must breathe into the system to start the engine.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss announced the devices will become mandatory for anyone convicted of two or more drink-driving offences within five years, as well as first-time offenders caught driving more than 3.2 times over the legal limit.
Foss said the move would target drink-drivers who were "seriously abusing our rules and regulations" and help keep Kiwis safe. "Far too many funerals" were happening in New Zealand because of drink-driving, with alcohol a factor in at least two-thirds of all fatalities on the country's roads.
Once up and running, up to 5000 people a year would have a sentence involving a mandatory interlock, Foss said - up from about two per cent of a similar number at the moment. The interlock would typically be in place for a year, with the sentence starting again if an offender blew a positive test with the device. Offenders would have to report to a service centre once a month for the data from their interlocks to be uploaded.
While it was always possible for people to abuse the system, Foss said there would be "significant penalties" - including potential jail time - for those who tampered or abused the interlocks.
Cabinet had agreed to provide $4 million of funding to help pay for the devices, as the $2500 cost to install and run them was one of the main barriers to their use. However, offenders would have still have to pay for the interlocks, with the government funding going towards a subsidy scheme.
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MORE NZ NEWS: UBER MOCKS SAFETY LAWS, AND FACES BAN, SAYS GOVERNMENT
Uber is defending its approach to vetting drivers after the Government threatened to ban the company from New Zealand. The company insisted today that passenger safety remained a top priority, following critical comments by Transport Minister Simon Bridges about its screening process.
In one of his strongest statements on the issue, Bridges said that a total ban on Uber was one of Government's options if the taxi service failed to comply with safety laws. Uber changed its vetting process in April to no longer require drivers to hold a passenger or "P" endorsement, which meant some drivers were now flouting New Zealand law.
An Uber spokesman described its vetting system as cheaper and more affordable than the official regime. "Our safe, fast and affordable screening process enables more Kiwis to access economic opportunities provided by ridesharing, while delivering the safety outcomes the travelling public want and expect," he said.
The company said New Zealand's licensing requirements cost local drivers more than $2000 and took up to three months to complete. Its own vetting system cost just $20 and took 6 days.
Uber now wanted to work with the New Zealand Government to develop a different regulatory framework. "We would be willing to meet with the Government to discuss a path forward that puts consumer safety first and makes it possible for everyday Kiwis to share rides in their spare time," the spokesman said.
Earlier today, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said a ban on Uber was not the Government's preferred option, but passenger safety was paramount. The company was mocking the law by not properly checking its drivers' criminal and medical histories, he said. "Clearly it's an important matter. We want the law enforced and not mocked, as it frankly is being by some at the moment."
The P endorsement includes a police check, a fit-and-proper person inspection and regular checks that the driver is able to provide a transport service. Uber carries out a lighter check, based on Ministry of Justice criminal records and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) driver licence records.
Bridges said "dozens and dozens and dozens" of Uber drivers were now being dealt with by the NZTA.
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VIC NEWS: LICENCE TESTS - VICROADS UNDER FIRE FOR MEDICAL REVIEWS OF DRIVERS
Hundreds of thousands of Victorians with a medical condition that may make them unsafe drivers are going undetected by VicRoads and potentially putting other drivers at risk, a Fairfax Media investigation has revealed. Critics have slammed the licensing authority's medical review process as chronically underfunded, unclear and inconsistent.
VicRoads data shows only a fraction of Victorians with some of the most common long-term medical conditions – including high-blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression – have been referred for a medical review, which assesses whether their licences should be maintained, suspended, cancelled, or made conditional. Meanwhile, more "visible" medical conditions, such as amputations, are reviewed in an apparently ad hoc way by VicRoads staff, sometimes against health experts' advice, raising procedural and equity issues.
An insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said the medical review department was chronically understaffed, and the often temporary administration and customer service staff have only limited knowledge of disabilities and the review process. "If all Victorians with reportable medical conditions actually did what they are required to do and report[ed] their diagnosis to VicRoads, the department would collapse with the volume of case files," the insider said.
Under Victorian law, drivers are obliged to report any serious or chronic medical condition or disability that may impair their ability to drive safely. But health experts say there is widespread ignorance and sometimes deliberate avoidance of this legal requirement. Doctors can also be unwilling to dob-in patients, fearing it will damage trust.
Among 4.5 million Victorian licence holders on June 30, 2016, only 120,843 had been medically reviewed, according to VicRoads, with the most common conditions being hypertension, diabetes, muscular-skeletal disorders, depression/anxiety and epilepsy.
The prevalence of those diseases among the general population indicates the scale of potential under-reporting. About one in five people have uncontrolled hypertension, one in seven arthritis, and one in 19 diabetes, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. In any one year, about one in 10 people have anxiety and one in 20 depression, according to beyondblue.
"We suspect there is quite a bit of under-reporting," said Associate Professor Judith Charlton, acting director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre and the lead author of a major 2010 reporton the influence of drivers' chronic illness on car crashes.
The report shows other conditions that elevate crash risk include sleep apnoea (up to 7.5 per cent of the population), cataracts (up to 5 per cent of the population), dementia and schizophrenia (1 per cent each).
While many drivers are unaware of their self-reporting obligations, Professor Charlton said, others made their own judgements about their impairment. "Someone with mild arthritis might say it doesn't affect my driving, I'm fully able to compensate. That's why the level of under-reporting is very difficult to pin down."
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QLD NEWS: ROAD RAGE, RUNNING LATE AND SLOW DRIVERS PUSH PEOPLE TO TAILGATE, RESEARCH DISCOVERS
A Queensland study has discovered why Australian drivers choose to tailgate and how they decide how close is too close to be behind other vehicles. The Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) invited drivers to take part in an online survey asking what they think is "too close". The project gathered information about driver knowledge and their perception of following gaps with an aim to reduce rear-end crashes.
University of Queensland researchers are examining what ticks road users off.
(Supplied: University of Queensland)
Research associate Dr Sebastien Demmel said many drivers believed they were a good judge of distance. "Motorists said that two to three seconds is a safe distance to leave between cars," he told 612 ABC Brisbane's Spencer Howson. "But some people count in car lengths and they would say two car lengths. People think about that distance but they don't actually do that."
Dr Demmel said when drivers were asked why they tailgated, road rage and anger was the top response. "If there's too much of a gap between them and the car in front of them, they are scared that someone might come and close in. They do it to avoid people taking space in front of them."
Drivers say one thing, do another. The study compared responses from the online survey with actual headway data (distances between vehicles recorded on the road) and video imaging from locations in south-east Queensland. Dr Demmel said slow driving was also rated as a high factor for tailgating. "About 15 per cent of people said that the people driving in front of them were driving too slow so then they tailgate. More than 10 per cent of people said they were tailgating because they were running late."
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ALL CARS ON AUSTRALIAN ROADS WILL BE DRIVERLESS BY 2030: TELSTRA EXEC
The chief scientist at Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has joined the increasing number of industry watchers and insiders predicting not only that autonomous vehicles are the future of road transport, but that this future will arrive sooner than we think.
In comments made at a Perth roads seminar on Friday, Tesltra chief scientists Hugh Bradlow predicted all vehicles on Australian roads would be driverless by 2030, and warned that road builders must begin work to create smart roads to interact with them.
The Australian reports that Dr Bradlow said his “conservative and realistic” forecast was based on the rate of autonomous car development, with 14 trials underway in California, as well as on the falling costs of retrofitting the technology to existing cars, which would soon fall to the $US1000 range.
“My expectation is that governments will very quickly realise that they need to make them mandatory to help overcome the statistic that 90 per cent of road accidents are caused by human error,’’ he said, adding that they would first need to agree on safety and communications standards before building an intelligent road network.
In April, South Australia was the first state to legalise controlled testing of autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads after hosting driverless car trials last year, while an inquiry launched by the NSW parliament is working to research what a “driverless vehicles regulatory framework” would involve.
Dr Bradlow, who spoke as part of a series of Australian Asphalt and Pavement Association workshops around Australia this month, said the combination of autonomous vehicles and the use of ride-share services such as Uber and GoGet would remove vehicle numbers from Australian roads and reduce road capacity.
This echoes the thoughts of Tesla boss and founder Elon Musk, whose recently published Master Plan part two included the dual innovation goals of “develop(ing) a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning,” and enabling cars to make money for their owners when they aren’t using them.
“Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are,” Musk wrote. “Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.”
Of course, as we have reported, Musk has already hit some serious potholes along this road. Nonetheless, he argues in his blog that the technology “is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves, and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”
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AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES WORLD FIRST RESEARCH TO STUDY POKEMON GO DISTRACTION ON OUR ROADS
Pokémon Go-induced car crashes are already occurring on Australian roads, and The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB Group) is concerned about the increasing amount of gaming related incidents.
In a response to drivers trying to ‘catch’em all’, the ARRB has announced a world first in-depth study to investigate the extent and impact of Pokémon Go distraction on pedestrians. It comes after reports from Perth police that they are catching more than 50 motorists a one week playing the games behind the wheel.
The study will utilise multi-directional treadmills VR headset set to mirror a regular street environment with cars, pedestrians, cyclists and other Pokémon Go players. The subjects will be sent free in the virtual world to ‘catch them all’ in a simulated environment while the team studies the behaviour while they’ve got their head in the game. This will also be compared to regular pedestrians and those using mobile phones for texting and other apps.
While there have been suggestions around how to adapt the game to improve road safety, we’re left wondering what kind of impact will augmented reality games have on pedestrian and road safety long term, given this will be the first of many apps to capture attention.
The research findings will be used to inform government policy, infrastructure design to improve pedestrian safety, and recommendations into how the game and future VR games can become more embedded into societal safety.
In the meantime…
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NEWS FROM JAMAICA: PM SUMMONS ROAD SAFETY STAKEHOLDERS AS CARNAGE CONTINUES ON THE ROADS
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has summoned road safety stakeholders to an emergency meeting this week as the carnage on the nation's roadways continued yesterday with another major motor vehicle crash that claimed multiple lives. The early morning two-vehicle collision along the Duncan's Bypass in Trelawny, which claimed three lives, is the sixth multiple-death crash in the last two months that has claimed a total of 25 lives.
More than 227 persons have died in 186 fatal crashes since the start of the year, according to statistics compiled by the Road Safety Unit in the Transport Ministry. The data shows that while fatal crashes are on the decline, the number of persons killed on the nation's roadways since January 1 is up four per cent when compared to the corresponding period last year.
Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), revealed yesterday that Jamaica House has invited members of the NRSC to an "emergency meeting" tentatively scheduled for Thursday to discuss a range of measures to stem the carnage on the roads. "At the heart of it is a new public education drive. But other issues such as rapid passing of the new RTA [Road Traffic Act], the use of speed detection cameras and fixing a defective ticketing system will be on the table," Jones told The Gleaner.
An American citizen is among the three persons killed yesterday when, according to Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, head of the Police Traffic Division, a Toyota motorcar heading towards the Sangster International Airport with five persons on board veered into the path of a Nissan minivan travelling in the opposite direction.
Those killed have been identified as Leslie Murray, of a New York address in the United States; and Delroy Clarke and Leon Salmon, both of Bamboo in St Ann. Allen said seven persons, including five from the minivan, were hospitalised with various injuries.
"The level of impact we saw suggest that the vehicles were travelling at a high rate of speed," the senior cop revealed, while noting that the road surface was wet from overnight rain. "Our drivers need to realise that they need to develop greater discipline when they are using the roads," he continued.
On May 27, five persons were killed when a minibus overturned along the Llandovery main road in St Ann after the driving shaft reportedly broke. Less than a month later on June 21 three employees of the Grand Bahia Principe hotel were killed when the motorcar in which they were travelling crashed into a truck and another parked car along the same roadway.
A total of 14 persons were killed just days apart in three crashes in St Catherine last month. According to police reports, four persons died in a crash along a section of Highway 2000 on July 13; six persons were killed when a sport utility vehicle plunged into the Rio Cobre at Flat Bridge in the Bog Walk Gorge three days later; while four others, including a police sergeant, were killed in a head on collision along Dyke Road, in Portmore, St Catherine on July 21.
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NEWS FROM TONGA: SERVICE FOR TONGAN CRASH VICTIMS ON SAME NIGHT ADS MINISTER'S ROAD SAFETY MEETING
Koli Vaipulu, Sitiveni Vaipulu, Halani Fine, Sione Teulaka, and Samuela Taukatelata died when their car collided with a truck on State Highway 2. A public meeting was also held in Katikati by Transport Minister Simon Bridges, who had scheduled the meeting before the crash happened, which focused on road safety.
The stretch of road where the men were killed is a notorious spot for crashes, and significant sums of money have been already spent and pledged for the future to upgrade the highway there.
Mr Bridges opened by acknowledging the deaths, and reading their names to the large group of locals which had gathered. "In other circumstances I'd say it's great to be here, but that doesn't seem right on this occasion," he said.
He then spoke about the road and what could be done to improve its safety. "This is a complex and a treacherous piece of road - the geography is challenging," he said. "In terms of the improvements ... we know they save lives ... we know that the number-one killer on our roads ... are from the head-ons and the run-offs. We can make a road more forgiving - and we will - but what is also true is that crashes still happen on such roads."
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NEWS FROM INDIA: MUMBAI PLANS 1% ROAD SAFETY TAX ON NEW VEHICLES
A 1% tax on the cost of new vehicles has been proposed in the state to collect money for a Road Safety Fund that will be used to curb accidents across Maharashtra. The state transport department proposal is awaiting an Assembly nod. Once implemented, the on-road price for new vehicles will jump by Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 for cars worth Rs 5-10 lakh.
"If the new cess is introduced during this assembly session, it will help raise Rs 250 crore annually which can be used for road safety measures and to prevent fatalities," said a senior transport official. Currently, vehicle buyers have to pay a lifetime road tax and insurance charges during registration.
The state has witnessed 64,000 mishaps on an average every year for the past five years, in which an average 13,000 people have been killed and 40,000 disabled.
Since car owners will have to pay 1% extra tax for new registrations, the tax slabs will have to be restructured. "The proposal needs the approval of the House as the rules will have to be amended to change the tax slabs," the official said.
Officials said the proposed cess could help procure more CCTV cameras and advanced surveillance systems such as drones to keep watch on highways, expressways and arterial roads. It will also help in creation of several speed-breakers, equip the enforcement authorities with more speed guns, provide funds for drivers' training on road safety and also medical check-ups.
"It is important to provide free medical check-up to every driver, especially those plying buses and heavy goods vehicles. Most of those above 40 have vision-related problems and this leads to mishaps," said a senior IAS officer from Mantralaya. The proposed fund could also be used to provide emergency medical facilities during the golden hour after an accident so that more lives can be saved. This will include ambulances well equipped with medical first-aid and para-medical staff who can rush victims to a hospital at the earliest.
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MORE NEWS FROM INDIA: HERE'S HOW THE NEW ROAD SAFETY ACT AIMS TO MAKE INDIAN ROADS SAFER
The Transport Ministry has put up a proposal to impose stringent penalties on road and traffic violations, rash driving besides streamlining the procedure regarding registration of vehicles and issuing of driving licenses.
India has the dubious distinction of the highest number of road accidents. And resultant fatalities in the world. Every year there are 5 lakh accidents on Indian roads resulting in 1.5 lakh deaths. Thirty per cent of the driving licenses are bogus. All this, will hopefully, be a thing of the past once the stringent amendments to the existing Road Safety Act passed by the Union Cabinet become the law.
While the entire attention was focused on the landmark Good and Services Tax Amendments that was being passed in Parliament, the Union Cabinet gave it's ascent to a equally significant proposal by the Transport Ministry.
The proposals include imposing stringent penalties on road and traffic violations, rash driving besides streamlining the procedure regarding registration of vehicles and issuing of driving licenses. Significantly parents of minors driving cars that cause fatalities will be held accountable. They will have to pay a fine od Rs 25000 and face three years imprisonment.
Talking exclusively to India Today, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said, "the intention is to put in place stringent laws, enhance fines, eradicate corruption in the licensing process and make those who allow minors to use their vehicles, accountable."
Road safety is an issue close to the minister's heart. He broke his leg in a road accident. His secretary's son died in an accident. "It's shame that so many accidents take place on our roads. We have put in place measures which will hopefully bring accidents down by at least 50 per cent," he said.
The government now proposes to install cameras on roads to film traffic violations, road accidents and thereby reducing the possibility of police personal letting off defaulters for a consideration.
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NEWS FROM US/UK: UBER HASN'T HAD AN EFFECT ON DRUNKEN DRIVING DEATHS, STUDY FINDS
The introduction of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft hasn't had any impact on the number of fatalities related to drunken driving, a newly published study finds. Researchers at the University of Southern California and Oxford University looked at the 100 most populated metropolitan areas, analyzing data from before and after the introduction of Uber and its competitors, and found that access to ride-sharing apps had no effect on traffic fatalities related to drinking alcohol.
Uber has repeatedly pointed to drunken-driving reduction as a benefit of its service. A 2015 blog post on its website, titled "Making Our Roads Safer For Everyone," notes a survey Uber conducted with the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving that found anecdotal evidence that people believe their friends are less likely to drive drunk since the introduction of Uber.
In June, a report by researchers at Providence College and Stonehill College found a reduction in fatal vehicle crashes associated with ride-sharing app availability.
Uber has also held up a 2015 study by data scientists at Temple University that showed a correlation between decreased alcohol-related driving fatalities and the introduction of Uber services in California. The authors of that study, Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal, say they examined data from only one state and did not control for other factors that could affect drunken driving, such as changes in legislation. "Further work is necessary to ensure that there are not confounding factors which also influence the findings," they wrote in the paper's conclusion.
In the latest study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers analyzed county-level data from 100 metropolitan areas in dozens of states and controlled for the effects of state laws that could affect drunk driving fatalities, such as bans on texting while driving, marijuana-related legislation and taxes on alcohol.
The authors also separated total alcohol-related traffic fatalities from those that occurred on weekends or holidays, and found no reduction in deaths with the introduction of Uber in either case.
So, why? The authors of the study speculated that drunk people might not want to shell out for the services:
In response to the latest study, Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told The Washington Post in an email:
The Post quotes one of the study's authors, David Kirk, as saying: "The takeaway for me is that there's still tons of room for improvement when it comes to reducing drunk driving fatalities."
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NEWS FROM CANADA: DRIVERS STILL LIABLE IN ACCIDENTS, EVEN IN NEAR DRIVERLESS CARS, SAY CANADIAN LAW FIRM BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS
Until Canadians own cars that truly drive themselves, they can forget getting off the legal hook if they’re in an accident with a vehicle that still has a steering wheel, suggests a report from Canada’s biggest law firm. Under Canada’s common-law legal system, driving in semi-autonomous mode isn’t much different than operating a vehicle with cruise control, says the brief issued by Borden Ladner Gervais.
“As long as a driver with some ability to assume or resume control of the vehicle is present, there would seem to be a continuing basis for driver negligence and liability as they presently exist,” said the report entitled Autonomous Vehicles, Revolutionizing Our World, published this week on the firm’s website.
The report comes as the federal government contemplates developing regulations for automated vehicles. Ottawa set aside $7.3 million over two years in the spring budget to improve motor vehicle safety, with part of that money earmarked for developing new rules for self-driving cars. But until fully autonomous vehicles hit the consumer market, there’s not much need to enact new laws, says BLG partner and report author Kevin LaRoche.
“With regards to driver liability, common law, coupled with the current legislation, may be sufficient to address liability involving all levels of autonomous vehicles, short of fully autonomous vehicles which do not require any level of human control,” LaRoche wrote. “For fully autonomous vehicles, it would seem that legislative amendments would be required to clarify whether the owner would be vicariously liable and under what circumstances.”
Several jurisdictions have allowed testing of fully autonomous cars, buses and trucks. Ontario launched a program in January – under specific restrictions – to let auto manufacturers and high-tech companies try out their driverless inventions on the province’s roadways. None of the carmakers had applied for a testing permit under the program as of early July. But with semi-autonomous vehicles – such as the Tesla Model S – already being sold to consumers, few jurisdictions have yet put legislative parentheses around where, when and how to drive them.
Ontario uses the SAE Standard to define categories of self-driveability on a scale from zero to five, with zero representing no automation features and five being full automation. Category three vehicles are those considered to operate with conditional automation that requires a driver to pay attention to the road and take over control if the vehicle encounters a problem that can’t be handled fully by automated systems. Category four vehicles would still have a human “driver,” but wouldn’t necessarily need the human to take over the controls in a pinch.
Germany’s federal transport ministry said recently it was working on a draft law to govern SAE level three and four cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States is working on new guidelines, but currently regulates autonomous vehicles under a slightly different system that was adopted in 2013.
Regardless of which scale is used, unless the car has no steering wheel, the driver will always face potential liability in an accident, with the scope depending on the circumstances of the mishap, said BLG partner Robert Love. “There’s always going to be, we believe, that element of saying, ‘Did the driver act appropriately, prudently, in the circumstances of either engaging or disengaging whatever feature it happens to be?’” said Love.
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NEWS FROM SOUTH AMERICA: LATIN NCAP LATEST RESULTS DISAPPOINTING - ZERO STARS FOR BYD AND THE FIAT NEW PALIO DROPS TO ONE STAR UNDER NEW ASSESSMENT PROTOCOL
Latin NCAP’s latest crash test results were released today at the annual FIA Region IV American Congress being held in Paraguay. The results were disappointing with a zero star model and a star reduction for a top selling model in the region.
The BYD F0’s most basic safety equipped version disappointed by scoring zero stars for adult safety and only one star for child occupant protection. The model, similar to the well-known Peugeot 107, offered a stable structure in the frontal impact, but showed high-risk injuries in adult dummies due to the lack of airbags. The Fiat New Palio scored only one star for adult occupant and three stars for child occupant protection. The poor adult result was due the chest impact recorded by the dummy, however there was a good performance of the structure during the side impact test. The model obtained maximum protection for child occupants in the side impact test.
María Fernanda Rodríguez, Latin NCAP chairperson said: “These Latin NCAP results again show how some manufacturers in the region still do not make safety, and more specifically child safety, as a priority. In the last six years and as the voice of consumers, we have been asking governments and manufacturers to work with us and other organisations to democratise car safety, so that all countries in our region provide the same safety levels no matter the price of the car. Our citizens deserve the same vehicle safety as Europeans, Japanese, Australians and North Americans citizens receive".
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