A Change Of Use For Speed Cameras.

Friday, 9. February 2018

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

A study into the use of mobile speed cameras has found that 20 forces across the UK are now using speed cameras for other purposes. They have found that the quality of the photos taken by the latest equipment is now so good that, even at speed, it can capture the driver and detect whether he or she has a seatbelt on or is holding a mobile phone.

 

Whilst this is a good move towards safer roads Sarah Sillars, chief executive of IAM RoadSmart, was reported by AutoExpress as saying, ‘What we need are clear and consistent guidelines on what the cameras are being used for.’

 

I agree that we should be aware that police and local authority cameras can be used to determine whether you are breaking the law. Knowing that local authority town centre cameras can be used to convict those causing criminal damage, or worse, acts as a deterrent. In the same way, knowing that police mobile cameras could be used to catch those not wearing seatbelts or using a mobile phone, would also act as a deterrent as well as provide evidence for prosecutions. The move has to be welcomed given the fact that there are so few police on our roads. By Graham Hill

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Catseyes Could Be On The Way Out

Friday, 9. February 2018

Highways England have been trialling smart LED road studs at the Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey. The trial was successful and they are now being installed at the Switch Island junction near Liverpool where the M57 and M58 meet a trio of A roads. 90,000 cars use the junction every day with a crash occurring every 2 weeks. The smart LED road studs work in conjunction with the traffic lights guiding cars into the correct lanes.

 

The project is likely to be the first of many tech upgrades that will be introduced by Highways England across the country to make roads safer. The first project in Liverpool will cost £3 million and consist of just 170 studs. Oxford-based Clearview Intelligence is undertaking the project using the smart studs. Highways England is looking to make our road network intelligent with smart studs being able to communicate with cars in the future.

 

Eventually, the smart studs should be able to provide information on road conditions, weather and traffic conditions helping to pave the way for autonomous cars. They will also be able to facilitate communication between autonomous cars and normal cars. Accidents will be detected and emergency services alerted. When in full production the developers estimate that the cost of installing the smart studs will be £10,000 per mile which is apparently a low cost.

 

The idea sounds very impressive, I can’t wait to see them in action.  By Graham Hill

 

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Are Drivers Driving More Dangerously?

Friday, 9. February 2018

The AA has carried out a survey amongst drivers and found that two-thirds felt that they could get away with careless driving due to a lack of traffic police. Researchers asked over 19,500 drivers a variety of questions about driving offences. In response to the questions, 65% said that they felt that they were unlikely to be caught or punished for tailgating or hogging the middle lane of a motorway. 55% said they felt they would get away with driving a car in a dangerous or defective condition.

 

49% felt that they would get away with not wearing a seatbelt and 44% felt that they would escape prosecution for jumping a red light. When asked about visibility of traffic police, 65% felt there was no visible presence on local roads compared to 43% suggesting no visible presence on motorways.

 

The drivers were next asked if they thought cameras alone could do the job of detecting careless driving instead of physical police. 71% believed that they couldn’t but only 45% believed that greater powers should be given to Highways England traffic officers when it comes to enforcement.

 

AA President Edmund King commented on their findings by expressing concern that a lack of officers on the roads meant that drivers felt they could get away with careless driving and other serious motoring offences.

 

Whilst using a mobile phone when driving is one of the most dangerous offences more than half felt they could get away with it without fear of being caught. This is causing concern to both the AA and the Government who are keen to stamp it out.

 

In summary, the report has revealed that drivers are taking less notice of the law as a result of fewer cops in cars patrolling our roads and motorways. Whilst everyone agrees that cameras can act as deterrents something more needs to be done to prevent accidents and serious or fatal injuries. The only solution – get more cops in cars. By Graham Hill

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A Rethink Over Smart Motorway Refuge Areas

Friday, 2. February 2018

Following complaints and serious concerns expressed by drivers on Smart Motorways the Highways Agency has had a rethink and decided to place refuge areas, wherever practical, at distances of 1 mile and not 1.5 miles as is the case at the moment.

 

They will also extend a system, currently in operation, that automatically detects broken down vehicles in live lanes. Highways England will also install more refuge areas in locations  ‘with the highest levels of potential live lane stops’ and paint them orange to increase driver confidence.’ That’ll work then, nothing like a lick of orange paint to increase confidence eh!

 

Clearly something had to be done following a survey carried out by the AA that found 80% of respondents saying that they felt that smart motorways are more dangerous than traditional motorways. The automated breakdown detection system will be rolled out to all smart motorways across the country following a successful trial on the M25.

 

Smart motorways are now being accepted more but Highways England have found motorists still using lanes that have been blocked off with a red X signal. Whilst they have not been charging motorists for breaking the rules to date, in future they will incur fines as well as penalty points, due to begin this year – you have been warned. By Graham Hill

 

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Variable Speed Cameras Raise Millions – Where Are They?

Friday, 26. May 2017

As we all know speed cameras are only there to help to save lives not raise revenue – yer right!! I actually don’t mind speed cameras if they are genuinely saving lives, in towns, near schools and old people’s homes or where there are likely hazards on a stretch of road such as horses or a particularly bad bend where people have had accidents. But what about the variable speed cameras on motorways?

 

The overhead speed signs that change with road conditions. Now gradually slowing cars down whilst you approach a traffic jam is fine but when you’ve passed the broken down car on the opposite side of the motorway, that all in front slowed down to have a look at, rubbernecking, and the road is clear in front but the speed limit lights are still showing 30mph is it right to cop drivers on camera anxious to get a move on?

 

Well it seems that these variable speed cameras are earning a fortune with cameras between junction 19 and 20 on the M4 in Bristol raising a massive £4,032,000 since they were installed in July/August 2014. Confused.com have revealed the top 5 money making variable speed camera stretches of motorway in the UK with the Bristol stretch of the M$ responsible for issuing 40,320 penalty notices.

 

The findings revealed that 210,000 motorists have been caught out by sudden speed changes raising at least £21 million in fines – staggering. The standard fine for speeding is £100 with 3 points on your licence but penalties can increase to £2,500 with a ban if you are excessively over the limit.

 

Want to know the other speed camera ‘black spots’? Next on the list was on the M5 at Almondsbury  – Easter Compton J16-17, since June 2014 variable speed cameras have raised £2,739.800, Luton in Beds. J10-11 on the M1 has raised £2,175,100 since September 2013. Next comes the M25 in Surrey, J9-16 that has raised £1,919,400 since 2014 and finally, again on the M25 near J27 in Epping, Sussex since January 2013 they have raised £1,888,800. So there you have it, you have been warned! By Graham Hill

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Could We Be Seeing The End To Speed Bumps?

Friday, 10. February 2017

Let me ask you a question, what irritates you most? Pot holes, speed bumps or 20mph speed limits? For me there is little to choose but each of them has an affect on the way we drive with two meant to make roads safer and the other one simply slowing us down as we don’t particularly want to destroy our tyres and suspension.

 

Whilst you try to work out the one that destroys tyres I can tell you that speed bumps could be a thing of the past (hurrah and hurrah), to possibly be replaced by the wide use of 20 mph speed limits (damn, damn, damn). A report out at the end of last year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – yes I thought they only approved drugs also – suggests that local authorities do away with speed bumps as they lead to erratic driving which increases pollution.

 

As a replacement they have suggested variable speed limits and ‘no idling zones’. Statistically 64% of air pollution in urban areas is caused by road traffic costing the UK £18.6 billion each year. I wish they would explain that figure, I guess as it’s NICE they mean in consequential health issues but how do they prove that it’s not down to the sufferer’s lifestyle or place of work?

 

Anyway, moving on, they want to stop idling in certain areas but this has also caused me concern. You know the old strip lights that are still used in open areas, offices, kitchens etc.? Well I remember reading somewhere that if you turned one of these lights off then switched it back on a little later the starter used up more electricity than if you had left the light on for over 2 hours (can’t remember the exact time), so my point here is could the same principal apply to stop start engines that are meant to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere?

 

Could constantly starting the engine kick out more CO2’s and other noxious gasses into the atmosphere than simply leaving the engine ticking over? Just a thought – but a very good one Graham I hear you say. I digress. They suggest that 20mph limits be introduced in areas of regular congestion and drop motorway speed limits to 50mph in order to create steady traffic flow.

 

They recommend the wider introduction of congestion charging and laws to prevent parents from leaving cars idling whilst delivering children to school. I’d have thought a gentle tip off in the local hooligans’ shell likes should solve that one! Other rather entertaining proposals suggest new houses with living rooms at the back of the house, furthest away from roads (umm what about bedrooms?), car free days for some areas and siting cycle lanes away from main roads.

 

I’m all for saving the planet but do these people really think these things through? To avoid congestion in the centre of town during the rush hour won’t be solved by introducing a 20mph speed limit when you are lucky to achieve 3 mph on a good day. Still removing road humps will be a good start as far as I, and most Ferrari divers, are concerned. By Graham Hill

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Major Increases In Speeding Fines From April Revealed

Friday, 10. February 2017

Under new laws that come into force from 24th April 2017 most serious speeding offenders will be fined 50% more. The Sentencing Council has issued new guidelines to be implemented in all magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

 

At the moment the most serious speeding offenders face fines that have a starting point of 100% of their weekly salary, this will go up to 150% of weekly salary (no I didn’t either). The upper limit doesn’t change though which clearly favours the better off amongst us.

 

The upper limit remains at £1,000 or £2,500 for those caught on a motorway. Again, in my opinion, arse about face. Speeding in a built up area should carry a bigger fine than on a motorway. As 10 times more people die on country roads (60% of total) it doesn’t make sense to penalise motorway speeders more than non motorway speeders.

 

A speeding offence is considered to be serious if you are caught driving at 51 miles per hour in a 30mph zone, 66mph in a 40mph zone,  or 101mph on a motorway etc. Some experts are calling for 3 month bans applied to those driving at speeds that drop them into the serious speeding zone.

 

I believe that would have a greater affect on those who speed but is it the answer – I really don’t know. For information the average fine in 2015 was just £188 with 166,695 offenders being sentenced. By Graham Hill

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Quieter Cars Lead To More Accidents

Tuesday, 17. January 2017

One of the great things about new cars is the quietness of them. Improved car design reduces wind resistance and wind noise. Drive a diesel car and you could be mistaken into believing that diesel engines no longer rattle, they do, but because the soundproofing is of such a high standard now, you can hardly hear the engine from inside the car.

Tyre compounds and new suspension systems reduce road noise dramatically and of course hybrids and full electric vehicles are as quiet as a mouse when operating in electric mode. The problem is that many of the changes have come about very quickly so when a driver moves from a 3 year old car to a new car the noise level drops so significantly that he or she loses all perception of speed.

The main indicators such as engine noise, road and wind noise have been all but eliminated in some cars so the fear of many safety experts is that we will see a significant increase in accidents and/or speeding tickets as a result of speeding. Having read about the latest Tesla challenging Faraday Future FF91 capable of developing over 1000 bhp out of its electric engine taking it from 0 – 60 in 2.39 seconds without making a noise, I’m very worried.

Even petrol and diesel engine’d cars pose a threat to safety. So if I or anyone else has convinced you to ditch your 5 year old car for a brand new model make sure that you acclimatise yourself to the noise levels before you start ‘opening her up’ on an A road or motorway. You don’t want to be writing your new car and/or you off in the first few weeks of taking delivery! By Graham Hill

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Some Of The Technological Advances In The Latest Cars

Tuesday, 22. November 2016

Technology is advancing at an amazing rate in cars to the point where many new and used car drivers are quite oblivious to some of the latest features fitted to their cars. It is bad enough getting to find out what is fitted to your car when it is new but when you buy a used car from a used car lot the chances are that the dealer hasn’t a clue so you’ve no chance.

However, as always Hill is here to help so here is a breakdown of some of the latest features and what they do: 360 Degree Cameras: Rear parking cameras have been with us for about 15 years but the low cost of cameras and new technology enables you to have an all round view of the car and in some cases an image of your car from a position above. This technology can help with parking, especially into car park bays with cars either side.

However, what we need is continual surveillance and a voice that tells anyone, in no uncertain terms to F*** Off if they are about to key the side of your car and inform them that they have been photographed – something I could have done with a year ago. Bastards!

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB): This uses sensors to check to see if you are getting too close to an obstacle when driving. If, given your speed, you are getting too close a visual and audible warning is given. Get too close, where the system senses an accident is about to happen, and the brakes are applied with sufficient force to enable you to stop before impact. Euro NCAP safety tests favour cars with this feature fitted as it is believed to prevent 38% of rear end crashes.

Lane Departure Warning: Does what it says, if it feels that the driver is drifting across the lane markings the system will alert the driver with either an audible and/or visual alert and in some cars a vibrating steering wheel (leave it). This feature is already standard on many new cars.

Traffic Jam Assistance: This uses AEB technology along with lane departure technology to keep you in the lane in slow moving traffic with little intervention by the driver.

Blind Spot Warning: this detects cars approaching either side of the car from behind using radar technology to detect cars approaching in your blind spot. It doesn’t do this every time a car is about to overtake or a bike undertake – that would be silly!  Only when it senses that you are attempting a lane change and senses an approaching vehicle will it sound an alarm or lights appear around the door mirror on the side that the vehicle is approaching. Automatic Main Beam: You can switch this on continuously but will only automatically activate when the light dictates. The system senses when you are approaching a car in front or a car is approaching you from the opposite direction and automatically dips the main beam. It can even detect cyclists approaching and also drops to dip beam in lit up areas. Some new LED units can now give the driver as much light in front even though the headlights are no longer dazzling approaching drivers. Clever!

Rear Collision Warnings: This clever system senses a fast approaching car from behind and immediately switches on the hazard warning lights to alert the driver of both vehicles. If the car continues to close fast the seatbelt pre-tensioners are applied and the brakes are also applied to reduce whiplash injury and attempt to stop the concertina effect.

Evasive Steering Assist: This system senses an approaching vehicle on a single carriageway and prevents the car from veering into its path. Some systems can sense a pedestrian walking into the path of the car and allows the car to gently swerve to miss the person then return to the normal driving line.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert: This is activated when reversing out of a parking space and can sense anyone else approaching, possibly also in reverse, and stops the car in order to prevent a collision. Some can also sense cyclists and pedestrians.

Speed Limit Detection: This picks up the speed limit from speed limit signs and adjusts the cruise control speed automatically. It can also place the speed limit on the screen if you are exceeding it and it will gradually adjust the adaptive cruise control speed down to within 5mph of the limit. So there you have it, some of the latest advances in technology, most of which is either available as an optional extra or fitted as standard on new cars. By Graham Hill

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Danger Spots Revealed When Driving To & From Work

Friday, 5. August 2016

Employers have a duty of care to their employees when driving on company business even if they drive their own car and claim a mileage allowance or receive pence per mile expenses. However, that doesn’t extend to the daily commute (unless the driver is on his way to a customer or somewhere business related other than their normal place of work).

However, according to AA DriveTech more employees are killed whilst commuting to and from work than those killed whilst on company business – rather chilling! I should caveat this by saying that the figures include those commuting by car, motorcycle and pedal cycle and whilst I have picked this information up from a report I know that if an employee has an accident whilst driving home after an employer has forced the employee to work unreasonable hours the employer can be held responsible.

But the legalities are not the point of this blog post, it is to make everyone aware of the dangers of driving when commuting. Whilst an employer may not believe he is responsible for an employee’s welfare during their commute the consequences can be equally damaging to the business and the employee. Whether an accident happens whilst on the way to work or out on company business the loss of the employee or the time taken to recover is the same.

So you may like to take note yourself and pass on to colleagues and employees the findings of AA DriveTech who have found that there are three dangerous periods when commuting with most accidents happening at differing places.

Between 4.30-7.00am most accidents happen on bends and rural roads. Between 7.00-9.00am the most dangerous places are T junctions and urban roads and in the evening between 4.00-6.00pm most accidents take place within 30mph zones. So now you know, bear in mind if you commute during these times. By Graham Hill

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