|(Other news' outlines articles circulating in the public domain, listed in random order. Inclusion does not imply endorsement.)
WHEELS NOT IN MOTION: AUSTRALIA RUNNING SHORT OF TRUCKIES
Australia is rapidly running short of truck drivers, and is on course for an economic hit in the next decade as transport companies increasingly fail to find enough staff to meet the growing demand to move freight. A large-scale survey of the trucking industry has found that it is ageing, overwhelmingly male and on the cusp of a big slump in driver numbers, with one in five working drivers at retirement age.
The average age of an Australian truck driver is 47, the survey found, up from 43 just two years ago. Less than one in five truck drivers in Australia is aged under 30, while women make up just 3 per cent of the workforce.
Projections show the amount of freight required to be moved by truck in Australia will double between 2010 and 2030 and Victoria's Transport Department has suggested in a 2010 report that the industry must step up its recruitment rates by 150 per cent to meet demand.
The looming skills shortage is considered so urgent that the $40 billion road transport industry will this year take radical action and begin touring primary schools to encourage children to consider a career as a truck driver. The recruitment drive is allied with a new truck safety campaign targeted at children, Stop, Look Wave, which launched in Melbourne this week with the involvement of grade one students from Glen Iris Primary School.
The program is being led by Volvo, which manufactures heavy vehicles in Australia and also commissioned the survey of 547 transport businesses.
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PERIL ON THE PAVEMENTS AS PLAGUE OF SPEEDING SCOOTERS BRINGS INJURY AND DEATH
The rise of mobility scooters in Australia is putting people at risk of serious injuries and death, prompting calls for helmets and other protective measures to be considered.
Doctors are concerned about an increasing number of people in motorised wheelchairs colliding with cars, pedestrians and other objects on footpaths, roads and in shopping centres.
Following estimates that at least 230,000 Australians use motorised wheelchairs that can travel at up to 10km/h (double a brisk walking pace), Dr Edward Gibson studied how many people had landed in South Australian hospitals because of them.
His audit found that, between 2010 and 2015, 81 patients had been injured by mobility scooters in some way, including 12 people who were not riding them but got caught up in accidents involving them.
While the youngest patient was six and the oldest 90, the average age of the injured patients was 68. One third of them had suffered head injuries and one third had fractured bones, most commonly in their arms and hands. Two thirds of the 81 patients needed to be admitted to hospital for further treatment.
Dr Gibson, a surgical registrar at Adelaide's Lyell McEwin Hospital said 12 per cent of the patients were scooter riders who had collided with cars. Many of the remaining people had crashed their scooter in some other way. For example, he said some may have lost their balance on a rocky path and tipped it over and some may have suffered a heart problem which caused them to lose control and crash into a stationary object.
The data follows a study commissioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2010 which reported 62 deaths involving mobility scooters between 2000 and 2010 across Australia and 442 hospitalisations.
While different states have different laws governing how scooter riders should behave (most ask them to follow pedestrian road rules), Dr Gibson said only Queensland required mobility scooters to be registered. The regulations governing their manufacture are voluntary and while they are not meant to exceed speeds of 10km/h, Dr Gibson said some of them which weigh 100-150 kilograms may be going faster than that. "It's not like anyone is using a radar to check their speeds," he said.
Furthermore, Dr Gibson said there were no consistent rules governing the assessment of who could use a mobility scooter and whether they should be trained to use one.
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ANCAP RECEIVES CONTINUING SUPPORT TO ENSURE SAFER CARS
06 May 2016
JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT:
ANCAP receives continuing support to ensure safer cars
The Australian Government will provide $2.2 million to continue support for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) over the next two years.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester announced the Government’s continued commitment to ANCAP during National Road Safety Week. “The Australian Government aims for a safe system approach to reducing road trauma through safer drivers on safer roads in safer vehicles,” Mr Chester said.
“Road crashes devastate too many families and communities with over 1200 lives lost each year and more than 30,000 seriously injured. “Safety should be top-of-mind every time we get in our cars and Australians need to be mindful of the benefits of purchasing cars with high safety ratings.
“When purchasing a vehicle, it is important to remember that not all cars are created equal. The combination of a sound structure and good restraint systems will provide the best chance of survival in a crash. While cars with active safety technologies, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), could in fact prevent a crash altogether,” Mr Chester said.
ANCAP Chair, Wendy Machin said it is encouraging that the Australian Government has again affirmed its commitment to ANCAP and promoting safer vehicles for a further two years with the potential for further long term support.
“This support, teamed with the long-term commitment of our other 22 member organisations, will further enhance our safety rating program as we move to ensure testing remains relevant over the next few years. Consumers will have greater information and choice which will encourage vehicle importers to ensure we have world best practice safety in our cars,” Ms Machin said.
“The ANCAP program is evolving to keep pace with new safety technologies and the progression to vehicle automation. We are developing a new global test protocol with our European counterparts so that vehicle crash test data can be shared between the organisations from 2018.”
For a full list of ANCAP's vehicle safety ratings and other vehicle safety information, visit www.ancap.com.au.
VIC NEWS: ROAD RAGE IGNITING ON CLOGGED STREETS AROUND MELBOURNE SCHOOLS
Parents are being asked to drop off and fetch their kids up to 1km away from schools as road rage ignites on clogged streets. Fed-up parents have exposed some of Melbourne’s worst schools for parking woes, with selfish and reckless drivers being named and shamed on social media.
Mums and dads who park on footpaths, across driveways and even in the middle of congested streets when collecting and dropping off children are causing angry residents to fight back.
The Herald Sun has been told of cases of residents menacing parents by pretending to drive into them when blocking their driveways, cars speeding off in 40km/zones in front of children, and council officers being abused for handing out fines.
The Education Department is so concerned about dangerous behaviour outside schools it has set up a School Safety Panel to find ways to reduce the risks. Principals say moves to roll out “walking buses” in a bid to address car chaos had been hampered by a failure to attract enough volunteers.
Cardinia Shire Council has led the way with Stop and Drop zones at 11 locations up to 1km around local schools. Children are to be dropped off at 8.30am, and can walk, skate or ride their bikes to the gate.
Schools battling the parking problem include Cranbourne East Primary School, which has to repeatedly request parents not to park on nature strips, block driveways or use the staff carpark as a thoroughfare.
Hazel Glen College in Doreen told parents of the “congestion and significant danger” arising from parents using the staff carpark as a drop-off point. Parking is also frequently an issue outside Deepdene Primary School.
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MORE VIC NEWS: DRINK DRIVE BLOW IN INTERLOCK PLAN
More than 6600 of our youngest or worst drink-drivers will be forced to install alcohol interlocks before getting behind the wheel again, after a legal crackdown. There have been 2700 bloody idiots processed in Victorian courts or at VicRoads to have interlocks fitted in the past year, after new laws were introduced in late 2014. An extra 3900 will join them if they want to get their licences back, after failing breath tests in the past year. If a vehicle has an interlock, drivers must do a breath test on the device before starting the engine.
The 2014 laws mean that drink-drivers have to spend about $1600 to get an interlock with a camera attached if they record a blood-alcohol content reading of 0.07 or more, were a learner or P-plater with any alcohol in their system, or if they were repeat offenders who blew up to 0.07.
Police statistics show that 5130 motorists were nabbed with a BAC greater than 0.07 last year, and 1483 learner and probationary drivers were caught with some alcohol in their system. But the number of young or serious drink-drivers was down on the previous year.
Police spokeswoman Clair White said officers were aiming at drivers who had been drinking or doing drugs. She said repeat offenders found with a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system could face $40,000 fines or prison.
VicRoads vehicle and road-use policy director, Robyn Seymour, said 2009 people had interlocks fitted through the agency’s program, while another 739 people who blew over 0.10 had been processed through the Magistrates’ Court.
“Alcohol interlocks are an important road-safety device in our efforts to reduce and eliminate drink-driving,” she said, adding cameras on interlocks were used to ensure the offender was the one driving the car and providing interlock readings. “Cameras assists VicRoads and the courts in determining if a drink-driver is ready to have their interlock condition removed,” she said.
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QLD NEWS: ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN FOR THOSE WHO WORK ON ROADS
The RACQ has officially launched a road safety campaign today raising awareness of the dangers faced by those people who work on Queensland roads. The Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week campaign (2-8 May) highlighted the daily threat to the thousands of emergency first responders such as police, ambulance, and fire and rescue personnel, the RACQ's roadside assistance patrols, and tow truck operators.
RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said too often motorists were blind to those working on the roadside. "Roadside workers spend their days in high-risk and often high-speed environments, risking their lives to protect others," Ms Ritchie said. We're urging all our members and other motorists in Queensland to slow down and give road workers - emergency or otherwise - plenty of space."
Ms Ritchie said in the past four years, support for the initiative had grown rapidly to include state governments, auto clubs and many other organisations around Australia. "Sadly, during that time there have been a number of serious injuries and fatalities here in Queensland involving road construction workers, traffic controllers and motorists stranded by the roadside," Ms Ritchie said. "During this week our fleet of 800 roadside assistance, traffic response and other vehicles will be flying yellow ribbons or stickers to highlight the road safety message."
Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week was launched in 2012 by Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Inc. following a fatal crash on the Hume Highway. A young woman, Sarah Frazer, who was broken down on the side of the highway and the tow-truck operator who came to her rescue died after being side-swiped by a passing truck.
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MORE QLD NEWS: BRISBANE DEPUTY MAYOR ADRIAN SCHRINNER BACKS VOLUNTARY HELMET TRIALS FOR CYCLISTS
Brisbane could offer itself up as a trial location for voluntary helmet laws for cyclists should a Senate inquiry open the door to legislative change, the city's deputy mayor said on Tuesday. Adrian Schrinner, also Brisbane City Council's public and active transport committee chairman, said helmets should not be compulsory for adult cyclists riding in "low-risk" environments.
His comments came after the council's transport strategy manager Andrew Lintern gave a presentation to the committee about the so-called "nanny state" Senate inquiry, spearheaded by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm. Mandatory helmet laws quickly emerged, much to the libertarian Senator Leyonhjelm's surprise, as a key focus of the inquiry.
Cr Schrinner said he would await the inquiry's findings, due on June 13, with interest and offered Brisbane up as a possible trial city for more relaxed helmet laws. "It's worth remembering that a number of cycling groups are calling for this themselves, so it's a bit of a passion for cyclists," he said.
Last month, Brisbane cycling groups identified mandatory helmet laws as one of the biggest impediments to the council's CityCycle bike hire scheme. "If you're looking at people making short trips in the CBD, where there's a 40km/h speed limit, it's a low-speed environment and that might be an opportunity to trial voluntary helmet use," Cr Schrinner said.
Mr Lintern told the committee the council did not make any submissions to the Senate inquiry, but had contributed to a Queensland state government inquiry in 2013.
That state inquiry recommended a 24-month trial that would exempt cyclists aged 16 years and over from the mandatory helmet road rule when riding in parks, on footpaths and shared cycle paths, and on roads with a speed limit of 60km/hr or less.
Read the Entire Story here.
MORE QLD NEWS: OPTIONAL BICYCLE HELMET TRIAL MOOTED, SLAMMED AND QUASHED WITHIN 8 MINUTES
Would you wear a bicycle helmet if you didn't have to? Or is that helmet the obstacle that stands between you and two-wheeled freedom? Cr Adrian Schrinner is Deputy Mayor of Brisbane and also the Chair of the city's Public and Active Transport Committee. He spoke with 612's Rachel Fountain about the latest research he's encountered on compulsory helmet laws and why he wants Brisbane to be chosen for a trial of optional helmet use.
Keep listening for Australian Medical Association Vice-President, Emergency Physician Dr Steve Parnis. Then State Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey, himself a cyclist, rules out a trial.
Read the Full Story here.
ACT NEWS: ROAD SAFETY AWARENESS LAUNCH
Drivers who use mobile phones behind the wheel will be the target of an intensified police campaign for the fourth annual Yellow Ribbon National Road Safety Week. The Chief Police Officer for the ACT, Rudi Lammers, launched the National Road Safety Week alongside Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury in Ainslie Place on Monday.
The theme for this year's campaign is "Stop Driving Blind!" and Mr Lammers said police will be "on the hunt" for people who text and use social media while driving.
"Every single second that people are distracted could mean a fatality on our roads," he said. The campaign was launched in front of a display of empty tables and chairs representing the 50 people killed on ACT roads over the past five years.
Mr Rattenbury said the 50 empty chairs, which included a baby's high chair, were a "really grim reminder" of what can happen when people are complacent while driving.
"It's a really extraordinary number for such a small territory," he said. "Here in the ACT we have extremely good roads and people do relax. But we can't be complacent and we need to know that if you take a text message or check your Facebook while driving, that time you are looking at the screen is time you are not looking at the road."
Read the Complete Article here.
MORE ACT NEWS: IS THERE A SPEED LIMIT FOR BIKES ON FOOTPATHS?
There is a speed limit for cyclists riding on Canberra footpaths and it's faster than you'd think. Naturally some pedestrians are worried about their safety. In the ACT it's legal to ride on the footpath and cyclists have been able to ride across pedestrian crossings since November 2015, as part of a two-year trial being run by the ACT Government.
Sharyn Sullivan from Stirling gave up cycling at 67 but when she did ride, she preferred to travel on the footpath for safety. But a recent accident involving a friend has made her wary of the cyclists she encounters on her morning walk.
"A friend of mine was knocked down by a bike on a footpath in Canberra and the bike was apparently going about 30 or 40 kilometres an hour and she was seriously injured," she said. "If you're going to go 30 to 40 kilometres an hour you should be on the road." It prompted her to ask Curious Canberra if there was a speed limit for bikes on footpaths.
In answering this question, I discovered what the speed limit is as well as how cyclists and pedestrians share paths, what road rules apply and how frequently accidents occur.
I met with John Armstrong, who is the executive officer of Pedal Power ACT, a cycling advocacy organisation.
"The speed limit goes back to the default speed limit, and the default speed limit for urban areas is 50 kilometres an hour," he said. But it would be bedlam if you had people riding their bikes at 50 kilometres an hour. The reality is the pedestrians have a right of way." John suggested I speak to Geoff Davidson, the Manager for Road Safety with the ACT Government.
"The average cyclist can't maintain a speed beyond 20-25 kilometres an hour," Geoff said. "[The speed limit] probably doesn't make that much difference in terms of the behaviours we get out on the path."
Station Sergeant Susan Bell is the Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations with ACT Policing. She explained that cyclists can be fined for three types of offences on shared paths and footpaths; for not keeping left, for not giving way to a pedestrian, and for not keeping left of an oncoming cyclist.
In the past five years ACT Policing has only issued one fine for any of these offences. In May 2011 a cyclist was fined for not keeping left of an oncoming bike.
I spoke to pedestrians and cyclists about their experiences of encountering one another on footpaths and shared paths. In Acton, I spoke to high school student June Ly who had recently been told to move off a shared path by a cyclist near a school. "I think it depends on their attitude. It's fine to ride on the path except it's not their path; it's a shared path, so I think they should actually take that into consideration."
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SA NEWS: MORE THAN 4000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN REPEATEDLY CAUGHT DRUG-DRIVING SINCE TESTS BEGAN A DECADE AGO
More than 4000 people have been repeatedly caught drug-driving since tests began a decade ago. The “staggering and unacceptable” figures come as the State Government plans tougher penalties. While 4055 motorists have been caught drug driving at least twice, there have also been 1301 people caught three times and 14 have been detected nine or more times since 2006, according to Transport Department figures obtained by The Advertiser.
Police said methamphetamine was the most common drug detected and 24 per cent of drivers and motorcyclists killed last year tested positive for illegal drugs.
In 2006, the State Government introduced roadside drug-driver testing and since then, more than 19,000 motorists have been caught. A blitz on Anzac Day tested 288 drivers for drugs and caught 16, compared with 4336 who were tested for alcohol with nine over the limit.
Road Safety Minister Peter Malinauskas said he was “staggered’’ by the number of drivers caught high behind the wheel. “These statistics are simply unacceptable. People who drug drive are a risk to themselves and other road users,’’ he said. “Since becoming Police and Road Safety Minister, I immediately identified drug-driving as an issue that I wanted to focus my attention on. I have instructed my department to look at ways we can crack down on people who drug drive.
“We need to increase the punishment to deter behaviour (and) address the safety concerns of giving repeat offenders their licence back.’'
Drugged drivers were fined up to $1300 for a first offence and up to $1600 and loss of licence for six months if caught a second time. The penalty for a third offence is a licence disqualification of at least one year and a fine up to $2200. Subsequent offences attract at least two years’ loss of licence and fines up to $2200.
Mr Malinauskas said illicit drug use was a problem throughout the community “which impacts on individuals and families on a multitude of levels, from the home to the workplace and everywhere in between’’. He said illegal drug use also had “significant consequences for a number of sectors, not least the health and justice systems’’.
Police also blamed increasing drug use in the community for the rise in drug-driving detection rates. And they said more resources and intelligence-led policing had contributed to the rate of drug detection rising from less than one in 20 drivers tested five years ago to one in 10 last financial year.
Read the Entire Story here.
NZ NEWS: ELECTRIC CARS IN BUS LANES - SILENT KILLERS?
Cyclists are horrified at plans to let drivers of electric vehicles use bus lanes. The idea is one of many revealed yesterday by Transport Minister Simon Bridges to get people out of gas-guzzlers and into clean, green e-cars. But with no combustion engine, electric vehicles are much quieter.
"Allowing cars into the bus lanes provides a threat to the safety of people riding bikes, who use bus lanes as a de facto cycle lane when there is no safer alternative," says Leroy Beckett, Auckland director of youth lobby group Generation Zero.
Cyclists on Twitter were just as shocked. But Mr Bridges says it'll be up to councils and local transport agencies to decide whether to let electric vehicles use bus lanes. "What we're doing -- and the Green Party's got this wrong -- is simply allowing this rule change," he told Paul Henry on Friday.
"Clearly the councils and the transport agencies are going to consult with communities, and let's see where we get to."
He says opening up bus lanes has been the "single most-effective non-financial incentive" to get people using e-cars overseas.
So far though, it's a more "do as I say" rather than "do as I do" for Mr Bridges, who is yet to get an electric car himself. "I don't hate them… I am getting one," he insisted. "The issue is there's probably only three or four [car yards that sell them]. I've been to Mitsi, I've been to Beamer, I've been to Audi. Yesterday, as you may have seen, I was in a Renault."
The Government's aim is to have 64,000 e-cars on the road by 2021. There are presently 1015, according to industry organisation Drive Electric.
Read the Full Story here.
US NEWS: TAKATA TO ANNOUNCE RECALL OF 35-40 MILLION US AIR BAG INFLATORS
Under pressure from U.S. regulators, Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata Corp (7312.T) is expected to announce as early as Wednesday that it is recalling 35 million to 40 million additional inflators in U.S. vehicles, three sources briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.
The expanded recall will be phased in over several years and more than double what is already the largest and most complex auto safety recall in U.S. history. The new recall will cover all frontal air bag inflators without a drying agent, sources briefed on the matter said.
To date, 14 automakers, led by Honda Motor Co (7267.T), have recalled 24 million U.S. vehicles with 28.8 million inflators due to the risk that they can explode with too much force and spray metal shards inside vehicles.
In recent days, officials from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Takata they need to expand the recall based on the government's determination of the root cause of the problems, sources briefed on the matter said.
NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas declined to confirm the expanded recall. "NHTSA has reviewed the findings of three separate investigations into the Takata air bag ruptures. The recall of Takata air bag inflators... continues and the agency will take all appropriate actions to make sure air bags in Americans’ vehicles are safe."
The new recall is expected to include about 35 million passenger-side air bags and some driver-side air bags without a drying agent. It is also expected to include some air bags that were previously replaced that did not have a drying agent.
Read the Entire Article here.
NEWS FROM INDIA: 15 DEATHS EVERY HOUR - WHY INDIA DESPERATELY NEEDS A STRINGENT LAW ON ROAD SAFETY
Leaving road safety to the mercy of gods has been one of India’s biggest misfortunes. While the demise of BJP’s Maharashtra strongman Gopinath Munde soon after taking oath as a cabinet minister in 2014 was expected to shake things up in terms of the government formulating a law to act as a deterrent to rash driving and the loss of innocent lives, nothing much has moved since then.
The result of the apathy has delivered shocking results. Road accidents in India account for the death of 15 persons every hour, the highest number of road accident deaths in the world, data released by Consumer Voice, a non-profit organisation, has revealed.
What is worse is the number of injured and rendered disabled as a result of reckless driving resulting in road accidents. In the past decade, over 10 lakh people have been killed in road accidents in India and over 50 lakh have been seriously injured or permanently disabled, data shows.
The ramifications of such accidents is not limited to the victims alone but has larger, social ramifications. An alarming number of families fall into poverty after losing their primary breadwinners to such accidents. Numbers suggest that almost 81 per cent of households reduced their income and 56 per cent had to take loans to deal with the impoverishment consequent to the accidents.
A comprehensive Road Safety Law with harsher penalties to prevent avoidable deaths and injuries to citizens is an urgent need for India, says Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Voice. “We are hopeful that the government will listen to the appeal from fellow law makers which includes MPs from their own party and introduce the new Road Safety Bill in the current session of Parliament,” he said referring to a campaign that seeks early passage of the bill.
According to Consumer Voice, 57 Members of Parliament – from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – have appealed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass the long pending bill finalised by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and is now pending cabinet approval.
According to a 2014 report by the Planning Commission, road crashes lead to an annual economic loss equivalent to 3 per cent of India’s GDP. At 2015-16 GDP figures, this amounts to a massive loss of Rs 4 lakh crore each year.
Read the Entire Article here.
MORE NEWS FROM INDIA: EVERY DAY, 400 PEOPLE ARE KILLED IN ROAD ACCIDENTS IN INDIA, SHOWS GOVERNMENT DATA
Its India's worst kept secret - we have the world's most unsafe roads and the situation seems to be getting worse by the year. Over 400 people were killed in road accidents every day in 2015, government data reveals. Fresh data submitted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the Rajya Sabha this week indicates just how alarming the situation is. 146,133 people were killed in road accidents in India in 2015, a 4.6% rise over 2014 when 139,671 people were killed.
In the past one decade, over 1.3 million people have been killed in road accidents but there is still no comprehensive road safety legislation in the country. According to the 234th report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture which has recently been tabled in Parliament, there are several stumbling blocks for replacing the existing Motor Vehicles Act with a proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015.
According to the report, the Ministry "wanted to change the entire architecture over road transport and road safety in the whole country, basically, setting up a set of authorities at the Central level and the State level to control all aspects of transport and public transport including driving licences."
However, this has not been possible because "the main hitch is on sharing of revenues between the Centre and the state" in implementing the changes which have been proposed. In an effort to still try and push the safety measures through, the government claims it is trying to focus on noncontroversial, achievable goals such as "an increase in the penalty for drunken driving or increasing the penalty for unauthorized driving, minor driving."
While it is well established that our roads and highways are deadly to travel on, according to the data, the states with the highest number of road accidents in 2015 are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. These states contribute 29.66% to the total number of accidents recorded nationwide. The same states also recorded the highest number of injuries at 2,75,873 in 2015.
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NEWS FROM CHINA: TESTING DRONE TECHNOLOGY TO ITS LIMITS
How far can drone technology take us? Is it possible that, one day, dangerous high-speed police chases will be a thing of the past, as drones take on the pursuit role? Such a future could make our roads safer and less congested as the need for emergency vehicles is reduced. In this video Jaguar tests the theory, in a stunt driver vs drone pilot face-off.
View the Original Video here.
FINNISH NEWS: AUTHORITIES CONSIDERING DOING AWAY WITH CYCLE HELMET REQUIREMENT
Road traffic officials are pondering legislative changes that could eliminate the requirement for cyclists to wear helmets on the road. Current legislation requires that bikers and persons being carried on bikes wear appropriate protective headgear when on the move - but doesn't prescribe any penalty for violations.
Although existing legislation calls for riders and passengers to always wear appropriate protective headgear on bikes, in practice many people ignore the recommendation.
That’s mainly because the law does not prescribe any punishment for not complying with the recommendation and police officers cannot therefore fine or otherwise penalise people who choose not to wear a helmet. However road safety officials are now working on amendments to current legislation that could change all that.
Chief executive of the Finnish Road Safety Council Anna-Liisa Tarviainen said that the final legislation could adopt one of three alternative approaches. "For instance we may not regulate the use of helmets at all in the legislation. Another alternative is that the law remains the same as it is now. In other words, we say in a forceful tone that a helmet must be used, but we don’t prescribe a fine. A third option is to introduce a fine," Tarviainen explained.
The last option would mean that wearing helmets would become legally obligatory and not using them could lead to a penalty, in other words, a fine. Officials have been working for some time on amending the Road Traffic Act. The road safety council said that the draft legislation will be circulated for commenting this year, perhaps during the summer.
"Some are of the opinion that regulations that take the shape of recommendations don’t belong in the law. They say that the law should contain the kinds of prohibitions and decrees for which penalties have been prescribed and which can be handed out," Tarviainen observed.
In other words, if police don’t have the resources to monitor the use of helmets by cyclists and can’t write fines, there is no point in including compulsory fines in toe legislation. "But we do have other statutes now that police don’t really enforce in practice: for example cyclists are prohibited from riding on sidewalks and pedestrians are not supposed to cross the street on a red light."
Whatever legislators eventually decide, the head of the road safety organisation said that cyclists would do well to protect their heads. "Protecting one’s head is always advisable, even if police aren’t watching and will not hand out fines," she concluded.
According to figures provided by the council, in 1990 just four percent of cyclists used a helmet while riding. In 2015, on average nearly half of bikers – some 43 percent used protective headgear. In Helsinki, the figure was as high as 80 percent.
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