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News Professional Driver

UK motorists could be faced with pay-per-mile road charging in the future

Drivers could be faced with pay-per-mile road charging and other fresh levies to plug a £40 billion financial black hole caused by the mass advent of electric cars, which are currently exempt from road tax and generate no fuel duty revenue.

The news comes after the cross-party Transport Select Committee announced it was starting a “national debate” on road pricing, with a formal inquiry beginning in 2020.

The Committee highlights that “road pricing does not only mean tolls”, with congestion and low emission zones being other possibilities, along with extra fees for heavy goods vehicles, and workplace parking levies.

Citing a desire to encourage a “modal shift” away from cars, and decarbonise the transport sector, the Select Committee wants the national debate to be open to “drivers and non-drivers alike”, while the inquiry will consider the pros and cons of road pricing and its economic, environmental, and social effects.

Pay-per-mile charging

Road tolls, GPS data loggers (mandatory on new cars from 2022), the UK’s vast ANPR camera network (which scans 10 billion number plates a year), or a combination of all three could be used to charge drivers based on the length of their journeys.

Workplace parking taxes

Drivers who park at work could be charged for the privilege of doing so. Nottingham council already runs a WPL scheme, charging employers (including schools) with more than 10 staff £415 per parking space, per year. Birmingham is also proposing a WPL.

More charging zones

London’s Congestion Charge Zone generated £1.9billion in net revenue up to 2017, while the ultra low-emission Zone charges owners of pre-Euro 6 diesel cars or pre-Euro 4 petrol extra to enter the Zone. 

Other towns or cities that have considered or are considering emission zones include Birmingham, Bath and Glasgow.

HGV levies

Lorries weighing over 12 tonnes are already liable for the HGV levy, which costs up to £1,200 a year, depending on lorry type and emissions class. Foreign trucks are also subject to levies. Ministers could opt to increase the charge of make its conditions stricter.

The UK’s long road to road charging

The fact that the Treasury faces a huge revenue loss due to EVs not using petrol or diesel and currently being exempt from VED has been an elephant in the room for some time. It was only last week that the Institute for Fiscal Studies recommended the introduction of road pricing to recoup lost fuel duty and vehicle excise duty (VED) revenue. Back in 2007, the then Labour government scrapped proposals that would have seen drivers pay up to £1.30 per mile following public opposition.

Auto Express, meanwhile, submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Treasury in October 2018 asking what methods the Government was considering replacing VED and fuel duty revenue lost to EVs. Our request was refused as it related to “an area of live policy development.”

And in 2017 Edmund King, president of the AA, and his wife proposed a ‘Road Miles’ system that would see each driver given an annual mileage allowance that they could trade or swap with other drivers, while also being able to buy extra miles by entering auctions and lotteries.

Announcing the start of the debate, Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “We need to ask how we will pay for roads in the future and in answering that question we have an opportunity for a much wider debate about our use of road space, cutting carbon emissions, tackling congestion, modal shift and how we prioritise active travel.

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Professional Driver

Drivers face a £1,000 fine if they don’t declare these medical conditions

Money to burn – Don’t throw it away. 

Thousands of drivers could find themselves stuck with a hefty fine if they fail to declare medical conditions to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Whilst some conditions are more of a given, such as epilepsy and heart conditions, others are rather less obvious.

Eating disorders and Déjà vu also make the list of illnesses that should be declared to avoid being slapped with a £1,000 fine.

Motoring experts at LeaseCar.uk has published a list which the DVLA say they must be told about.

A spokesperson said: “There are some conditions however, that seem too unrelated to even consider spending the time to fill out a form to tell the DVLA about.

“If you suffer a broken limb or severe head injury that affects your memory or ability to perform everyday tasks, you’re also probably not going to be able to operate a vehicle safely either.

“In these cases, it seems obvious that you’d have to let the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency know about it.”

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, also added: “Knowing which conditions you do and don’t need to flag to the DVLA can be confusing. Things that might seem minor, such as headaches and déjà vu, can actually affect your ability to drive safely.

“Many drivers don’t realise that an undisclosed medical condition can not only result in a hefty fine, but also invalidate your car insurance. If you’re in an accident and you need to make a claim, but you’ve not notified the DVLA of your condition, this could be a real issue.”

The medical conditions that could see motorists hit with a £1,000 fine if not declared:

Déjà vu

We often talk about this in passing when we feel like we have seen, heard or said something very similar before as the French terms literally translates in to “already seen”.

But surprisingly, it is one of the health conditions that the DVLA say could affect your driving.

However, this applied to medically induced déjà vu which can be associated with certain types of epilepsy.

According to the NHS, a symptom of simple partial (focal) seizures, or ‘auras’ as they may be known, is “a feeling that events have happened before (déjà vu).”

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep Apnoea is a relatively common condition which sees the walls of the the throat relax and narrow during sleep which interrupts normal breathing.

Man with sleep apnea and CPAP machine

This can lead to interrupted sleep which can have a negative impact on your health and your life increasing the risk of developing certain conditions.

It could also cause you to fall asleep at the wheel and it goes without saying that this is very dangerous.

Eating disorders

Though it may not be immediately obvious that an eating disorder could affect your ability to drive, side effects of such ilnesses could cause you to feel weak or dizzy.

Therefore it is something you must tell the DVLA if it affects your ability to drive safely. This can be spoken about with your doctor if you are unsure.

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that causes the delicate structure deep in your ear – called the labyrinth – to become inflamed.

This can then affect your hearing and balance which can be crucial when it comes to getting behind the wheel.

a woman talking on a cell phone: Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection © PA Photo/thinkstockphotos Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection

Usually, the infections will clear up in a few weeks and there would be no need to declare this as a medical condition.

However in some cases, symptoms can last longer and impact your ability to carry out regular tasks.

This can include some hearing loss and changes in vision, such as blurred vision or double vision.

Arthritis

A common condition that affects more than 10 million people, arthritis causes pain and inflammation to a joint such as the hands, spine, knees and hips.

If the condition affects your driving and has lasted more than three months then you should contact the DVLA.

Other medical conditions

Heart conditions, diabetes or a brain condition or severe head injury as well as epilepsy, stroke, neurological and mental health conditions and physical disabilities and visual impairments should also be decalred.

You can find a full list of the medical conditions the DVLA need to know about on the Government website here.

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News Professional Driver

Drivers will face a life sentence in jail

Drivers who cause death when looking at their mobile phoneswill face life in jail for the first time under Government plans to be revealed on Monday.

In a major hardening of sentencing guidelines, ministers will propose raising the upper limit of imprisonment for dangerous drivers who kill from 14 years to a lifetime.

It is designed to send a “clear message” that people who cause “immeasurable pain” to families with reckless driving should be given a “punishment that fits the crime”.

The move comes after a string of high-profile cases where children have been killed when people at the wheel failed to brake while being distracted by their phones.

Last year, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and a further 21 people were convicted for killing someone when under the influence of drink or drugs.

jail

Ministers have become concerned at whether the punishments are harsh enough, with evidence showing the average sentence for causing death while driving is less than four years.

Sam Gyimah, the justice minister, said: “Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses.

My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence

Sam Gyimah, the justice minister

“While impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime.

“My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”

Ministers will tomorrow propose increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving or when under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.

They will also suggest creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of three years.

Dangerous driving includes speeding, street racing and also using a mobile phone when at the wheel, which ministers have become increasingly concerned about.

In October, a lorry driver who killed a woman and three children by hitting their stationary car while looking at his mobile phone was jailed for 10 years.

Tomasz Kroker, 30, smashed into the vehicle carrying Tracey Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan Houghton, 13, and Josh Houghton, 11, and her stepdaughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, at 50mph on August 10.

Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size, immediately killing the family, from Bedfordshire, at the scene on the A34 dual carriageway north of Newbury in Berkshire.

Kroker, from Andover, Hampshire, had pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Reading Crown Court on October 10.

The court had heard that Kroker, who himself had become a father five months before the incident, was so distracted by his phone that he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.

Passing sentence, Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor that he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.

Just an hour earlier he had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel.

Kroker’s truck ploughed into a stationary queue of two lorries and four smaller vehicles which were stuck behind a slow-moving articulated lorry near the villages of East and West Ilsley at around 5.10pm.

A man was seriously injured and four other people were hurt in the horrific accident.

Ref:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/31/mobile-phone-truck-driver-who-killed-family-of-4-is-jailed-for-1/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/04/drivers-kill-mobile-phones-will-face-life-sentences/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_fb&fbclid=IwAR3wMFVm7_d2xDoAEJj7xUtFYCVCLG6RmiHxa6X0ky6tRgM_aJj12FJ6_1I

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Professional Driver

UK laws on drug driving explained

Until 2015, drug driving was the ‘safe’ option by some motorists. That doesn’t mean they necessarily thought they were in a fit state to get behind the wheel, it just means that perhaps thought they wouldn’t get caught.

While the dangers and consequences of drink-driving have been well-publicised, drug driving was clouded by complicated laws and difficulties for police testing at the roadside. Making it difficult to detect when a driver was under the influence and easier to get away with.

Research conducted by road-safety group THINK! revealed that around 20 per cent of people know someone who has driven after taking illegal drugs.

Of those who admitted to driving under the influence of illegal drugs, 55 per cent said they did so because they felt safe to drive as it gave them a false sense of confidence.

In 2015, new laws were put into place, and there are now strict “zero tolerance” rules around drug driving and technology to catch the motorists at the roadside. In fact, even the smallest amount of narcotic consumption could result in a positive roadside test and a driving ban, along with a fine and criminal record.

Since these new laws came into effect, an average of four UK motorists every day are found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs, and drivers are now as likely to be found guilty as those who drink and drive.

But it’s not just the ‘recreational’ (and illegal) narcotics which can cause drivers issues. Prescription medication can also restrict your ability to drive, and it is crucial to know what the legal limits are and how soon you can get behind the wheel after taking them.

For illegal drugs, the rules are simple. If you have taken drugs, you shouldn’t drive. Unlike the guidelines for alcohol which suggest safe limits for driving, the government guidelines only allow for the merest trace. Even after a few days you may still have traces of the drug in your system which could be detected by a roadside saliva test.

To help with detection, police use ‘drugalyser’ kits, which take a sample of saliva to test for common recreational drugs such as cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. The check takes around 10 minutes to deliver a result, and a positive test will end in your arrest and a further blood sample being taken at a Police station.

Since the new laws were introduced, they can also run blood tests at police stations for drugs such as ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin without having to gather evidence that the driver seemed to have impaired driving ability, as was previously required.

The results of those blood tests will decide if you will be charged. Apart from very small amounts, which are deemed as ‘accidental exposure’ (such as passively breathing in cannabis smoke in a room at a party, for example) you are likely to fall foul of the law. 

Even these small amounts are likely to attract questions from the police, regardless of the quantities involved, as they are simply illegal.

Driving while on prescription medication

The question of ‘legal’, medicinal drugs is more complicated. Many prescription medications can leave you unfit to drive, and the best advice is to seek the guidance of your doctor, pharmacist and to read the packaging carefully before taking them to see if they will affect your ability to drive. If you fail to do so and get caught or have an accident, don’t expect the law to be on your side.

The government does publish the legal levels for ‘medicinal’ drug driving limits (below), but there is no way of a driver knowing what these levels mean. It is impossible to provide a rule of thumb for what dosage equates to the threshold levels as it differs from person to person and is affected by variables such as diet, water intake and exercise.

As always, the rule is that if you are in any doubt at all, do not drive a vehicle.

Punishments for drug driving

The laws and punishments for drug driving run along the same lines as those for drink driving. Risk it, and you are likely to lose your licence, face a stiff fine of up to £5,000 and be given a criminal record. 

In addition, users of illegal drugs will face other charges for possession and are likely to be asked some awkward questions too.

Ref:https://www.msn.com/en-gb/cars/news/drug-driving-uk-laws-explained/ar-AAG6Yij?ocid=spartandhp

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Professional Driver

How to avoid being a victim of road rage

Road rage is a common problem on UK roads. A recent poll of 3,000 people found that nearly one in five road users are threatened with physical violence each year.

In a separate study, 22 percent of motorists claimed to have got out of their car to argue with another driver in a road rage incident.

Dangerous overtaking is said to be the main trigger for road rage, prompting 28 percent of drivers to engage in an argument with a fellow motorist. Tailgating, using a mobile phone at the wheel and breaking the speed limit were the other sparks of anger named in the study.

Read more: M25 road rage killer released from prison (Sky News)

Ahead of the end of the summer holiday period, road safety and breakdown company GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to spot the signs of road rage. Tens of thousands of motorists will hit the road over the bank holiday weekend, with Highways England removing roadworks to relieve stress.

“Most of us will have some experience of being on the receiving end of someone else’s aggression,” said Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM.

“Thankfully, violent and unprovoked attacks are rare, but it pays to be observant and if possible to recognise signs of trouble at their earliest stages.

GEM has identified a few steps that it says will reduce the risk of a driver being the target of someone else’s aggression. These are:

  • Keep calm and show restraint: every journey brings the risk of frustration and conflict, so be patient and avoid using your horn. Hand gestures should be avoided, too.
  • Avoid the desire to ‘get even’: don’t attempt to educate or rebuke a driver who you believe is in the wrong.
  • Don’t push into traffic queues: wait for a signal from a fellow motorist.
  • Say thank you, say sorry: if you make a mistake, offer an apology to defuse any anger.
  • Move away from trouble: if you feel threatened, lock the doors and drive to the nearest police station. Alternatively, move to a busy area, such as a petrol station. Contact the police and/or press the horn repeatedly to deter an attacker.
  • Neil Worth added: “We encourage drivers to leave plenty of time for their journeys, which means they can feel calm and in control at the wheel. Stress can lead to risk taking, and this in turn increases the likelihood of aggressive incidents.

“We also urge drivers to avoid becoming involved in situations they recognise as dangerous or risky. If you’re worried about another driver who may be in danger, then stop and call the police.”

Olympic gold medal winning cyclist and jockey Victoria Pendleton has backed a campaign aimed at encouraging a constructive debate on ‘road equality.” She said everyone has “an equal right to be on the road”.

“So let’s be more compassionate and considerate to others and see what change we can drive.”

USA Road Rage Study May Help You Drive Safer

Road rage has become a way of life, both on and off the track. And more and more, in cities across America, people are acting out their frustrations on our roadways with dangerous results. It’s bad for professional and everyday drivers alike.In a new study sponsored by the Affinion Group and its AutoVantage automobile membership club, drivers from 20 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. were surveyed to learn more about consumer views on road rage.”This new study focuses on important attitudes and habits of drivers on the open road nationwide,” said Brad Eggleston, vice president of AutoVantage. “This groundbreaking research is an important tool to help educate and influence safer driving habits throughout the United States.”The study showed the cities with the worst road rage were Miami, Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and Boston. Most courteous cities were Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, Seattle and Atlanta.When asked the major causes of road rage in the survey, the most frequent theme was people being in a hurry, running late, being impatient and/or speeding, with stress, frustration and bad moods also contributing.Behaviors by other drivers that cause stress for commuters, and that can lead to road rage, include driving too fast (57 percent observe this happening every day), tailgating (50 percent see this every day) and cutting over without notice (44 percent see this every day).Commuters reported that other drivers frequently talk on their cell phones (98 percent observe this at least once a week), run red lights (59 percent observe this at least once a week) and slam on the brakes (54 percent see this happening at least once a week).As a reaction to rude or bad driving by others, people surveyed reported that they honked their horn at the offending driver (40 percent), cursed at the other driver (32 percent), waved their fist or arms (9 percent), made an obscene gesture (8 percent) or called the police to report the driver (5 percent).Overall, 30 percent said they see drivers doing other things like putting on makeup, shaving or reading while driving. Los Angeles (43 percent) emerged as the city where this is most likely to be seen, while Seattle (18 percent) emerged as the place where this behavior is least likely.The most courteous cities within the USA are Minneapolis, Nashville and St. Louis. Least courteous: Miami, Phoenix and New York.

Roadway rage is getting worse, says RAC study

Roadside rage is getting worse, says RAC annual report discloses road rage is a loosing concern, with some motorists detailing it as their leading worry behind the wheel.

Generally, road rage was up from 28 percent a year ago. But the number who called it their biggest concern has actually soared from 4 percent to 8 percent. That puts it 4th in the leading 20 for 2019.

One in three said they would certainly observed physical run-ins in between vehicle drivers over the past year. As well as the majority stated they have  seen road  side abuse.Just as, 60 percent of chauffeurs stated they were seeing more road rage these days than a year earlier. and three-quarters believe that the public  have actually come to be much less patient.Why are British drivers getting angrier?The RAC reckons stressful modern-day lives as well as raising road traffic are fueling this enhanced stress.”All the anxieties associated with the behavior of various other drivers on the road have never featured as highly in our research study as leading motoring worries as they have this year,” stated Simon Williams, RAC roadway safety, and security agent.

“One of the most likely description must definitely be a mix of variables, including the stress of modern-day life, dependence on the car for many trips and increase traffic, and congestion was leading to never before seen frustration at the wheel.

“Perhaps it is also the case that our tolerance of other people who make mistakes while driving is falling. A quick ‘sorry’ in the form of an apologetic wave could go a long way to taking the heat out of a situation, but unfortunately all too often it is a hand gesture of another sort that leads to an unpleasant car confrontation.”

Other motoring concerns

So, road rage came 4th overall.

What was judged even worse?Drivers using cell phones, the expense of petroleum and the problem and maintenance of regional roads all scored more than 30 percent on respondents’ lists of problems. 

Fret about the expense of fuel have likewise increased over the previous 12 months

Learner drivers are also harassed on the roads

Up and down the country, learner drivers are having to deal with road rage aimed at them when they’re on the roads. 

Whether it’s in driving lessons or private practice, as soon as those L-plates hit the car, many fully qualified road users take this as a sign to hurl abuse at the learners. 

From tailgating to dangerously overtaking, we recently conducted a survey of 610 Driving Instructors*, to see how bad the issue really is.

Abuse learners are experiencing

  • 77% of UK driving instructors have said they regularly experience abuse and intimidation from other road users when teaching students
  • 31% experience it on a daily basis!
  • 91% of learners have been subjected to overtaking
  • 90% witness tailgating
  • Two thirds (66%) of learners have been subject to abusive hand gestures
  • Half (49%) have experienced verbal abuse on the roads

These shocking and worrying statistics are leading to learner drivers to lose their confidence and make mistakes out on the road, which can lead to potentially fatal consequences.

How’s it affecting learners

Driving Instructors have reported that:

  • 85% of learners who are trying to deal with this abuse become more nervous and start making more mistakes.
  • Almost a quarter (22%) of UK learners have cried as a result
  • A third have had to pull over to compose themselves
  • 8% have become too scared to carry on learning to drive entirely.
  • 1.5% have been involved in an accident as a result

It’s easy to forget that at one point, everyone was a learner driver. No one jumps behind the wheel and is instantly Lewis Hamilton, so why are drivers not giving learners the time and space they need to become confident drivers to pass their test? Here at Marmalade, we want to encourage learner drivers to become confident and skilled behind the wheel, so we’re taking a stance against this abuse that you all too often face.

Is it because of how they drive?

Some of you may be thinking that learner drivers are treated this way because of their driving ability. We can all get a little frustrated from time to time – so perhaps that’s where the abuse is coming from?

Wrong. Almost all of the driving instructors we surveyed (93%) claimed they were treated differently when they had L-Plates on the car, despite them being fully qualified drivers, and there being no change in their driving ability to when they drive without an L-Plate, where they don’t get abused.

It seems that drivers are seeing L-Plates, assuming the person behind the wheel is incapable of driving and reacting in dangerous ways around them – which needs to stop! Learner drivers need more time, space and patience from other road users when they’re learning.

They’re more likely to make mistakes, but we need to give them the opportunity to learn from these, not add additional pressures. We’ve all in the situation when you stall one too many times at a junction – it’s all a part of learning! We need to give them time and let them try again, not hurl abuse their way.

So what are we going to do about it?

We want there to be consequences for this kind of behaviour, so we’ve launched a petition to call on the government to impose penalties on road users who act dangerously towards learners. If you would like to sign this petition, you can do so here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276599

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Professional Driver

Driving distractions is a leading cause of road accidents

The dangers of texting while driving is well-known, but a new study found that it’s not the only dangerous distraction. 

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that two-thirds of drivers are distracted in the seconds before a driving accident occurs. 

Celluphones were the most common cause, but drivers were also distracted by reading or writing, reaching for something or using a touchscreen on their dashboard.

They estimate that engaging in distracting activities while behind the wheel more than doubles the risk of a crash. Still, more than half of the drivers in the study did so.

In 2016 out of 1445 fatal crashes in Britain that resulted in one-or more deaths, the police recorded 397 incidences of contributory factors of “failure to look” and a further 140 incidences of driver in-vehicle distractions, distractions outside the vehicle, and phone usage.

“We tend to underestimate the hazards of driving because we do it so often and it’s a critical part of daily life, but we shouldn’t take our safety for granted,” says Dr. Sandhya Nagubadi, an internal medicine physician on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.

To accurately track people’s driving habits, researchers installed interior video cameras and other tracking devices in more than 3,500 cars and followed volunteer drivers ages 16 to 98 over a three-year period.

Previous studies have relied on experiments with test drivers and reports from crash investigations. In those instances, it was difficult to determine what exactly happens in those critical seconds before an accident occurs.

“Traffic accidents are so common that they are the leading cause of death for American teens,” says Dr. Nagubadi. “States across the country have enacted laws banning cell phone mobile use while driving, but clearly the problem persists.”

When using roads driver thoughts  can easily wander to things other than the safety of the task at hand. 

Driving, particularly on a familiar route, can be perceived as something we can all do on semi-automatic or a place where we consciously decide to “think about other things , such as work or relationships, or reflect on a memory.

This can be particularly the case in a busy world “where there is little down time” to be on our own and sit with our own thoughts. 

In one study, more than half of driving thoughts (“what are you thinking about”) were on subjects unrelated to the driving task or road safety.

In 2014, there were more than 6 million automobile accidents reported to police, in which more than 30,000 Americans died and another 2.3 million were injured, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA recently reported a steep 9.3 percent increase in traffic-related deaths for the first nine months of 2015, as compared to 2014. Previous research estimates that human factors contribute to 94 percent of crashes.

If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over for a moment and do it safely. You have to ask yourself, is this one thing so urgent that it’s worth more than our lives?

If you want to drive safely:

Plan your route ahead of time and cue up your playlist before you hit the road. Electronic devices can make a drive easier or more pleasurable, but not if you’re programming them while behind the wheel.

Don’t eat or do any personal grooming while driving.

Doing so may be convenient and save you time, but it puts you at risk. Try to wake up earlier or plan extra time between commitments so you don’t feel as rushed.

Don’t drive when tired. Some studies have found drowsiness to be equally as dangerous as driving drunk.

Invite a friend along for the ride. Research from the National Safety Council found that adult passengers can help drivers by monitoring traffic and the environment around them.

They may offer clues about looming dangers by stopping a conversation mid-sentence, for instance.

Conclusion

How many of professional drivers know they’d face a four-week suspension for using a mobile phone while driving a commercial vehicle?

Or that they’d be suspended for six weeks for a second speeding offence?

Some possibly don’t even know the Traffic Commissioner can act against their professional driving licences.

That’s why our vocational driver guidance has 26 different examples of how traffic commissioners deal with driver conduct.

The case studies cover a range of circumstances, including:

  1. mobile phone offending
  2. drink driving bans
  3. using a magnet to interfere with the tachograph
  4. using another driver’s Digi card
  5. failing to respond to the directions of a DVSA stopping officer 

The guidance also lists the starting points which traffic commissioners consider for different offences.

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Professional Driver

Why do men think about DIY when driving

Distraction when driving can be a dangerous activity, this has been covered within a previous article and within the CPC course.  Its rather surprising to find DIY within this list of distractions but I have been guilty of day dreaming when I hear on the radio about a person winning the lottery, and by the end of the journey, I have successfully spent the winnings a dozen times over on various activities and joint business ventures.

But seriously, 15% are thinking about DIY rather than focusing on the task of driving.

How boring must your car be if you’re thinking about DIY when driving? Unless your name is ‘Handy Andy’ or Tommy Walsh, DIY should be avoided at the best of times, let alone when you’re behind the wheel.

However, according to a survey of 16,307 AA members, 15 percent of men and 9 percent of women admitted to thinking about home improvements while driving. What’s more worrying is the fact that just 11 percent of men were concerned about breaking down.

Worrying about arriving on time is the biggest distraction for men (45 percent) and women (57 percent), followed by work (34 percent overall) and planning for the future (25 percent). Money, life admin and social life are all tied on 22 percent.

And you thought ‘Hello Boys’ billboards and exotic motors were the biggest distractions when behind the wheel…

Just 30 percent of drivers said they only ever think about driving when behind the wheel, meaning two-thirds admitted to being distracted in the car.

In many ways, it has never been easier to be distracted while driving. Whether it’s a cursory glance at a mobile phone, using an aftermarket sat-nav or changing the setting on a touchscreen, there are many attention-seeking devices vying for the driver’s attention.

Throw into the mix the fact that cars are easier to drive and safer than ever before, and you have a recipe for distraction. Little wonder the government said that in 2017, there were 4,573 injury crashes where distraction was recorded as a contributory factor.

Of these, 774 were serious and a chilling 125 were fatal.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said “The AA Trust has run some hard-hitting campaigns in recent years highlighting the dangers of distracted driving mobile phone use.

“But, while we can all make ourselves more aware of steps to take to minimise certain distractions, like putting mobile phones in the glove box, it is harder to switch our minds off day-to-day worries like childcare or work.

“So long as your thoughts aren’t so demanding that they overwhelm your ability to concentrate on the road then there is nothing wrong with a bit of thinking time in the car.

“Drivers can give themselves the best possible chance of keeping their concentration by making sure they are well-rested before they start a journey and take appropriate breaks on longer journeys.”

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Professional Driver

Marijuana (cannabis) and road safety.

Many professional drivers will have their own views on Marijuana (cannabis) and its recreation usage. I had previously looked at the effects it had on mental health and the research study found that psychotic behaviour’s indents were more prevalent in young adults using this drug.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its use is widespread among young people. In 2015, more than 11 million young adults ages 18 to 25 used marijuana in the past year.

Both hemp and marijuana are from the same genus and species (cannabis sativa). Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis plant. tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It’s this chemical that distorts how the mind perceives the world. In other words, it is what makes you high.

  • THC: The cannabinoid that can make you “high”—THC—has some medicinal properties. Two laboratory-made versions of THC, nabilone and dronabinol, have been approved the therapeutic properties found in cannabis to treat nausea, prevent sickness and vomiting from chemotherapy in cancer patients, and increase appetite in some patients with AIDS.
  • CBD: Another chemical in marijuana with potential therapeutic effects is called cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD doesn’t have mind-altering effects and is being studied for its possible uses as medicine. For example, CBD oil has been approved as a possible treatment for seizures in children with some severe forms of epilepsy.
  • THC and CBD: A medication with a combination of THC and CBD is available as a mouth spray for treating pain or the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

The therapeutic properties of the cannabis are well documented but smoking a marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) in a public location could possible land you in jail.  You need to be familiar with the different types of legalisation for medical or recreation use.

Within the UK, recreational cannabis use is still illegal but there is a movement to change this law.  Medicinal / medical use of cannabis is used under licence only.

What effect has it had on road safety?

There are some parts of the USA that cannabis is legalised. It’s been several years since recreational cannabis was made legal in some US states.

It’s not unreasonable to reflect upon this knowledge to see how reducing / removing this legalisation would work within the UK, with regards to road safety and health.

A newspaper report in April 2019, (Guardian) said what almost half of cannabis users believe it’s safe to drive when you’re high, according to a new study by PSB Research and Buzzfeed News. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who abstain from weed, take a different view – only 14% believe someone who’s stoned can drive safely.

The dangers of driving while intoxicated have been so well established that it’s easy to assume it’s the abstainers who are right and pot-smokers are simply failing to recognize the danger they pose to themselves. But a few studies into the issue have produced a murkier picture.

It’s true that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, can impair a person’s levels of attention and their perception of time and speed, important skills you might think for driving a car. One meta-analysis of 60 studies found that marijuana use causes impairment on every measure of safe driving, including motor-coordination, visual function and completion of complex tasks.

But a 2010 analysis published in the American Journal of Addiction found that while “cannabis and alcohol acutely impair several driving-related skills and marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving by utilizing a variety of behavioural strategies”. The authors concluded that while marijuana should, in theory, make you a worse driver, in tests it doesn’t seem to. “Cognitive studies suggest that cannabis use may lead to unsafe driving, experimental studies have suggested that it can have the opposite effect” .

However, it has been estimated that 22 million Americans (9.4% of the population) have a substance use or dependence problem. As marijuana is the most commonly used drug of abuse, having been tried by 40% of the population, and is also smoked most commonly in the age group that also has the most road traffic accidents, the contribution of marijuana smoking to road traffic accidents is concerning.

A federal report to Congress, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, came to similar conclusions in 2017. In one test, volunteers were given either marijuana, alcohol or both and then used a driving simulator. The researchers found that the stoned drivers were more cautious, exhibiting “reduced mean speeds, increased time driving below the speed limit and increased following distance during a car following task”, although they did find it more difficult to maintain position within a lane.

Both studies come with the caveat that the amount of THC consumed, and the user’s tolerance levels had an impact on results, with heavy smokers likely to be more greatly impaired. Cannabis users are often unaware of how much THC they have consumed – it’s easy to track the difference between one bottle of Budweiser or two, but harder to know how much THC is in each puff of a joint.

For that reason, this kind of research has only limited applicability to the bigger question of whether stoned drivers are likely to cause more accidents in the real world. Perhaps the more pertinent question is whether states where cannabis has been legalised have seen an increase in crashes and collisions.

A 2017 study found that fatal collisions have not risen in states where weed has been legalised, compared with control states where it remained criminalised. However, two further studies have shown that accidents, in general, are more common since weed became legal in certain states.

The Highway Institute found a 12.5% increase in insurance claims on collisions in Colorado following legalisation and a 9.7% increase in Washington. But using the same methodology, they found no observable increase in accidents in Oregon (the authors suggest this may be because legal cannabis use is not continuing to increase in Oregon as it is in the other two states).

Another study by the same organisation found an average increase of 5.2% in police reporting of crashes in states where cannabis is legal compared with control states.

So, it seems that further research is needed to work out the amount of weed that is dangerous and what exact effect it has on driving ability (and don’t those studies sound fun). While most studies suggest that drinking is more dangerous than smoking when it comes to driving ability, there is at least a correlation between increased cannabis use and car crashes.

Categories
Health & Fitness Professional Driver

professional drivers: Early diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea

Introduction to obstructive sleep apnoea

This briefing arose from a campaign by Unite lorry drivers in the North East of England who wanted to raise awareness about obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) for professional drivers.

Feeling tired at work may be for a variety of reasons, not necessarily because they are suffering from OSA, and they should seek advice from their GP.

Proper and early diagnosis of any condition along with appropriate medical treatment from the NHS is essential for members’ continued health at work. Seeking medical advice is also important to ensure that professional drivers can comply with the DVSA medical standards – self-diagnosis is not a suitable option.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

OSA is a serious. potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than is generally understood. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a breathing disorder characterised by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. It owes its name to a Greek word, apnoea. meaning “without breath”.

As we go to sleep, the muscles of the throat relax as a normal part of the sleep process. In individuals with OSA, this relaxation progresses to the point where the passage for air is partially or completely blocked, dramatically reducing or stopping airflow into the lungs.

This causes an increase in Carbon Dioxide levels and the brain responds by waking up the individual for a short while to open the air passage. Breathing begins again, but the natural sleep cycle is interrupted.

Having OSA means that a person can stop breathing for periods when asleep. These interruptions (apnoea). which last for 10 seconds or more, occur when the airway narrows so much that it closes. These stops breathing, and the brain reacts by briefly waking up, causing the airways to re-open and breathing to restart.

The individual is usually unaware of this awakening and this process can be repeated up to several hundred times during the night. Proper restful sleep becomes impossible, resulting in sleepiness and impairment of daytime function. Early recognition and treatment of OSA is important.

The excessive sleepiness associated with OSA impairs quality of life and places people at increased risk of road traffic and other accidents.

It may also be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, impairment of cognitive function and mood and personality disorders.

Who suffers from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Apnoea occurs in all age groups and both men and women; although it is more common in middle aged men. OSA affects an estimated 4% of the male and one percent of the female middle-aged population.

Recent research has suggested that the disorder is much more prevalent in the transport industry. A 2005 study found that 16% of HGV drivers in the study has OSA and a corresponding increased risk of accidents.  

Other studies found that drivers with OSA have a 2 to 13-fold increase in accident rates. The risk of an accident for an OSA sufferer appears to be greatly increased. Further studies show that approximately 33% of OSA sufferers have had an accident in the past 5 years, with 19%-27% of OSA patients admitting to falling asleep at the wheel. UK research estimated that 20% of all motorway accidents are caused by sleepiness.

If untreated, OSA is a major threat to nightly rest. People most likely to have or develop OSA include those who snore loudly, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have a physical abnormality in the nose, throat, or other parts of the upper airway. If left untreated or undiagnosed the results can be tragic.

Stimulants (like coffee) taken to counter the effects of tiredness but is not a substitute for sleep. The regular use of stimulants by individuals may be a clue to the existence of an underlying sleep disorder. Ingestion of alcohol, sleeping pills, or smoking, can exacerbate OSA.

What are the signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

If you. or someone you know, snores nightly and has one or more of the following signs or symptoms. OSA may be the cause (though there may also be other reasons).

Common signs and symptoms of OSA include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Nightly snoring interrupted by pauses in breathing
  • Falling asleep when you shouldn’t – at work, while driving, etc.
  • Loss of energy, fatigue
  • Choking and gasping during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck size greater than 17″ in men, 16″ in women
  • Being overweight
  • Depression
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

  1. Some studies have shown that a family history of OSA increases the risk of OSA two to four times.
  2. Being overweight is a risk factor for OSA, though not all individuals with OSA are overweight.
  3. OSA is more likely to occur in men over 40 than in women, but it can affect people of all ages.
  4. Abnormalities of the structure of the upper airway contribute to OSA.
  5. OSA may be more common amongst certain ethnic groups (African, Mexican, Aborigines)
  6. Smoking and alcohol use increase the risk of OSA.
Treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Treatment can include:

Lifestyle changes – weight reduction and reduction of alcohol consumption

Oral appliances

In a small number of cases surgery may have a place if there is a definite anatomical cause though a variety of treatments are available.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most common and effective treatment for OSA. The individual wears a mask over the nose or mouth during sleep and gentle pressure from a quiet air blower forces air through the nasal passages.

The CPAP machine adds gentle pressure to the air as it is breathed in. This prevents the airway from collapsing and stops obstruction during sleep.

Your Next Step

Restful sleep is required for a normal healthy life Daily wakefulness should be effortless and free from unintended sleep episodes. Excessive sleepiness is far more common than often realised and can be dangerous.

If you or someone close to you regularly shows the signs of excessive sleepiness, or complains of constantly feeling tired

get help from your GP. OSA can be simply screened, diagnosed and treated. 

Treatment of OSA is effective, affordable and uncomplicated.

Important

This article only provides general information about OSA Individuals should contact their GP for medical advice about OSA and the NHS treatment which is available.

Sources of further information

Loughborough Sleep Research Centre/Awake www.awakeltd.info/

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on CPAP and OSA www.nice.org.uk

Unite Health and Safety Unit. Direct Line: 020 7611 2596 e-mail: [email protected]

Reference:

Len McCluskey, General Secretary Unite House. 128 Theobalds Road

London WC1X8TN

Categories
Professional Driver

Roadside Eye-Catchers Drive Motorists To Distraction

UK drivers are putting themselves at risk because they struggle to keep their eyes on the road.

Roadside objects such as billboards, flashing signs and Christmas decorations cause a third of motorists (32 percent) to lose concentration while behind the wheel.

With 41 percent of these drivers confessing to being distracted for up to 5 seconds – which equates to driving 15 car lengths at 30mph – two and a half times, the stopping distance needed at this speed.

At 60mph, this means drivers would find themselves traveling at least the length of a football pitch without their full concentration on the road.

Overall roadside distractions are pulling the attention of 83 per cent of UK drivers away from the roads, Privilege finds.

And its male drivers who are most affected as one in five (22 percent) confess to being captivated by scantily-clad women on adverts, compared to just one in ten female drivers by semi-naked male models (11 percent).

As public spaces become cluttered with illuminating and moving visuals, 26 percent of British drivers have been distracted by huge advertising hoardings, a fifth (21 percent) by the new vehicle activated signs and 17 percent by Christmas lights and decorations.

Dr. Mark Young, an expert in transport ergonomics at Brunel University, said:

“While we currently know a lot of more about in-vehicle distractions such as mobile phones than external distractors, there is a growing body of concern about the lack of any coherent strategy for arranging roadside furniture.

“Drivers’ visual workload varies through the course of a journey, and at crucial times – negotiating a difficult roundabout, for example, there is a small but significant risk of distraction from novel stimuli like advertising. In fact, this risk is probably underestimated, and we need to do more research on the possibility of excluding non-essential information when the driver is already busy dealing with the road.”

Ian Parker, Managing Director of Privilege Insurance, said:“It appears that the development of new technologies, products, and advertising techniques is getting in the way of road safety. The implications of the increase in eye-catching roadside objects such as illuminating signs have not been monitored until today. Privilege is providing motorists with tips on how to concentrate while driving amid the increase in distracting objects.”

To help drivers focus on the roads, relevant signs and drive as safely as possible, Privilege is providing drivers with the following tips and advice:

Try to take notice only of official signs and notices which are crucial for driving. Try saying them out loud as you pass them if it helps make you concentrate on them. If someone asks you what the last sign was, you should be able to tell them.

Constantly scan the road environment for other potential hazards. Don’t let your vision wander off from the beaten track.

When you are stationary try to keep your gaze on the traffic in front – or any road signals. Listen to mid-paced music to relieve boredom, rather than allow your concentration to wander to roadside distractions.