Survey shows main in-car distractions

Distractions caused by occupants, mobile phones and music have been cited as the main causes of accidents and near misses in Britain.

New research has uncovered the dangerous driving habits which are causing accidents on UK roads, with in-car distractions, mobile phones and music voted the biggest dangers. Of drivers who have had accidents, the most common music to be listening to at the time was revealed as Adele, Justin Bieber and Sia.

The research was conducted as part of an ongoing study into attitudes and behaviours of British drivers. 2,186 Britons took part in the survey, all of whom were aged 18 and over and had held a full driving licence for a minimum of two years. All respondents had stated that they had caused at least one car accident when behind the wheel.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘How many car accidents have you had in the past two years?’ to which the average response was two accidents. They were then asked how many near-misses they estimated that they had experienced over the same period, to which the average answer was fourteen.

All drivers were asked to state any distractions they had at the time of their accidents or near-misses, to which the following were revealed as the top things distracting British drivers on the roads; ‘in-car distractions e.g. children, partner’ (31%), ‘my mobile phone’ (25%) and ‘the music I was playing’ (20%).

All respondents were then asked what musicians they had been listening to when they had been involved in a car accident, or come close to having a car accident. When provided with a list of possible responses and told to select all that applied, the top 10 musicians were revealed as Adele (18%), Justin Bieber (17%), Sia (15%), Slip Knot (14%) and others.

According to the poll, when asked why the music had been such a distraction, the relevant respondents cited reasons such as ‘I was singing and dancing when I should have been focusing on the road’ (43%) and ‘I was adjusting the channel or volume’ (39%).

According to George Charles, a spokesman for the company carrying out the research, “If music is going to be that much of a distraction that you might have a near-miss or actually have an accident, you need to rethink your options. Maybe create a playlist of songs that you enjoy, but that aren’t going to pull on your heartstrings and take your focus off the road, or songs that you’re not going to want to dance along to whilst you need to keep your hands and legs in certain places, like on the floor and on the steering wheel. Celebrities aren’t to blame – we are.”

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Modular self-learning brake control for commercial vehicles

Adaptive brake control system provides commercial vehicle manufacturers with a modular architecture to meet increasing vehicle autonomy.

Knorr-Bremse’s Global Scalable Brake Control (GSBC) is an innovative brake control system that makes full use of the scope offered by modern software architecture.

With harmonised components and more closely integrated functions, the new control system reduces development and assembly costs for vehicle builders and facilitates intelligent networking with various different vehicle systems.

As Bernd Spies, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Commerical Vehicle Systems, explains: “GSBC offers an ideal platform for driver assistance functions by providing the central element in the kind of efficient redundancy architecture required for tomorrow’s highly-automated driving. A key role is played by its open software architecture and powerful, highly scalable processor family. Improved self-learning functions for the brake control system and a harmonised component portfolio also offer vehicle manufacturers potential cost savings.”

GSBC’s modular design enables components to be combined and configured according to the required functions and equipment level. Installation positions, routing of cables and compressed air lines and the positioning of connection points have all been radically simplified, as have the individual components themselves. This significantly reduces manufacturers’ adaptation costs across the entire spectrum of vehicles, whether an ABS system in a standard tractor unit is involved, or an EBS system with multiple additional functions in a four-axle special-purpose vehicle.

Cost-optimised system layout

Knorr-Bremse has also opened up new possibilities in terms of system layout. This increases the cost-effectiveness of a high-volume standard vehicle like a two-axle tractor unit, as a complex electro-pneumatic component found in conventional brake control systems is no longer required. The heart of the system – the central control unit – has also been standardised, with added acceleration and yaw sensors providing data to all the other applications in the vehicle. The software, too, is modular in design, enabling easy integration of customers’ own functional modules.
Further self-learning software functions and pre-defined parameter sets reduce manufacturers’ application costs for different vehicle variants: For example, the system automatically recognises and adapts to wheel spacing and steering geometry. For manufacturers, operators and workshops, the modular system and extended diagnostic functions for maintenance and repair mean shorter downtimes, improved spare parts logistics and reduced staff training requirements.

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Campaign group urges correct use of child seats

The Toyota Buckle Up For Life campaign is using Child Passenger Safety week in the USA to spread the word on correct child safety seat use.

Correct use of restraints keep children saferWith 75% of child car seats in the USA not being used correctly, a national car seat education programme from Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is sharing its top safety tips, just in time for Child Passenger Safety Week which is taking place from September 18th to 24th.

“An alarming three out of four car seats are not installed properly. We can and must do better for our children,” said Gloria Del Castillo, child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and specialist of community engagement for the campaign. “We know that proper use of car seats and booster seats can help prevent many child injuries and deaths. That’s why the Buckle Up for Life campaign teaches parents, care providers and children about the proper use of car seats and provides free seats to families in need.”

To help parents make the right choices, the campaign advises:

1 Vintage isn’t always a good look: purchase your own new car seat.

When it comes to car seats, safety experts agree that it’s best to purchase a new seat. This lets you know the seat’s full history. For example, if it has been through a crash, its ability to protect your child may be compromised. Additionally, the plastic can degrade over time. If you do have a used car seat, check its expiry date, which can usually be found on a sticker affixed to the seat.

2 Measure twice: check for fit and wrinkles in car seat straps.

After you’ve strapped your child in, pinch the car seat strap near their shoulders. If you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten the strap until it is snug. Then grab the car seat at the bottom where it is attached to the car and tug from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it.

3 Give them a boost: Shorter children need booster seats.

Little ones can be eager to sit like big kids. However, seat belts often don’t fit young children properly and can ride up around their waists or necks, potentially causing injury during a crash. Such children should sit in booster seats, which elevate them so that seat belts can fit properly.

“Cincinnati Children’s has been a fantastic partner for more than a dozen years now. Together, we’ve made a real difference in improving child passenger safety across the country – one family at a time,” said Mike Goss, General Manager, Social Innovation, Toyota Motor North America. “We look forward to helping even more children get places safely with Buckle Up for Life.”

Since 2004, Buckle Up for Life has reached thousands of people with critical passenger safety information. Organisations that offered the programme observed a marked improvement in members’ auto safety behaviour, including:

* The average rate of children unrestrained in cars (i.e., not in a car seat or booster seat or fastened in a seat belt) decreased from one in four to fewer than one in 20;
* The average rate of children in car seats increased from roughly one in four to one in two; and
* The use of seat belts by adults increased by an average of 13 percent, from 68 percent to 81 percent.

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IAM tips on driving in the rain

With rain on the way, the UK IAM is providing advice to drivers on how to cope with the deluge.

With torrential downpours in some parts of the UK having already been witnessed this September, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman explains how you can stay safe when travelling in wet weather.

* Be sure to check your local weather forecast beforehand so you can plan your journey accordingly. If you have no choice but to travel, use main roads where possible which are less likely to get flooded.

* Don’t forget to check your windscreen wiper blades and lights are working properly. You’ll need to use your dipped headlights if visibility is significantly reduced so give them a check too.

* On flooded roads, think before driving through deep water, don’t stop in standing water and drive through the highest section of the road slowly. If there is any doubt don’t enter it. Once you have managed to drive through, check your brakes and dry them out as quickly as possible – a light touch of the brakes whilst still moving should do the trick.

* Roads will be more slippery than usual in wet weather – be sure to give yourself more time to react when approaching a hazard. Increase your following gap to at least four seconds from the moving traffic in front.

* Keep your eyes peeled on the road at all times as spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility. Remember it affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared.

Richard said: “If your tyres begin to lose traction, ease off the accelerator, avoid braking and allow the speed to naturally decrease until you have full control of your car again.

“Driving in wet weather can be challenging, and with delays and increased concentration needed it can be more tiring too. By allowing increased time to stop and extending your following distance you can remain safe.”

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Majority of US child seats incorrectly installed

During the US child passenger safety week, campaign groups are educating parents on the importance of correct child safety seat installation.

Self installing child car seatFrom September 18th to the 24th, the USA is holding Child Passenger Safety Week, a period of time dedicated to educating parents about the importance of seat belts and car seats. One of the biggest issues that continue to plague parents is how difficult it is to correctly install a car seat. In fact, 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly, and according to an Oregon Health and Science University Hospital study, car seat misuse is even higher among new parents with as many as 93% of families taking a newborn home from the hospital in incorrectly equipped vehicles.

“Being a new parent is stressful and exhausting. There is a ton of stuff to learn and to think about,” explains Dr Benjamin Hoffman, a pediatrician and expert in child passenger safety. “We know that car seats are hard to use in the best of circumstances, but when you add the stress of leaving the hospital, you increase the risk of making a serious installation error.”

Tips for Correct Installation

According to Dr Hoffman, there are three categories of errors parents need to be aware of and take into consideration when installing a car seat:

* Selection errors – Make sure that you pick the right car seat for your child and your needs. You want to select a seat that fits the child (ensuring your child is the correct weight and height for the seat); fits the vehicle; and one that can be used correctly each and every time.

* Positioning errors – Once you’ve selected the right car seat, make sure that you position your child correctly in the car seat. Grab your car seat manual to ensure you have the harness through the right harness slots. Make sure that the chest clip is placed at armpit level and then pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you’re not able to pinch any excess slack, you’ve secured the harness correctly.

* Installation errors – Make sure to follow the instructions in your manual when installing the car seat. You want to make sure you get a tight fit – with either a LATCH installation or seat belt installation. You’ll also want to make sure that you use the correct lower anchors to install the car seat. To ensure a correct installation, it’s a good idea to have your car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), like a police officer or fireman.

“We’ve found that families who worked with a certified CPST prior to delivery were 10 times less likely to make mistakes,” says Hoffman. “However, 77% of those families still made serious errors, so it is not enough. Practicing with the car seat before the baby is born, learning how to install and use it correctly, and then working with a certified CPST is best.”

A new option that is now available to new parents is a self-installing car seat. Through robotics technology and advanced sensors, the car seat installs itself correctly by automatically levelling and tensioning, verifies the installation before every ride and then continuously monitors its status during use, giving parents complete peace of mind every time they put their baby in the car. The seat guides parents through the installation process with visual and voice commands on both the car seat base and in an app, which is required for auto installation.

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Automatic enforcement protects Portsmouth schools

Key danger areas around schools in Portsmouth will gain additional protection as the new term starts with automatic keep clear zone enforcement systems.

Portsmouth steps up road safety around schoolsPortsmouth City Council is adding school safety to the range of enforcement applications running on its hosted Digital Video Platform.  The council has started by deploying the Videalert system outside schools where illegal parking on keep clears has been identified as putting children’s lives in danger.  The cameras are being installed after a survey of parents, teachers and school governors showed an overwhelming 84% support for this initiative.

Cllr Jim Fleming, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, said: “The safety of children is of utmost importance and the Videalert system extends our ability to enforce keep clear markings outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times. It provides continuous and consistent enforcement at these high risk locations and frees up our team of civil enforcement officers to focus on tactical patrols at other schools across the city.”

The new school safety cameras will work in conjunction with Videalert’s hosted civil enforcement platform that was deployed in 2015 to capture bus lane contraventions. This innovative platform provides councils with the flexibility and future investment protection to add further enforcement applications including parking on keep clears, as covered in parking law by Contravention Code 48.

“Videalert’s hosted enforcement system has proven reliability, accurately captures the number plates of vehicles committing offences in busy traffic conditions and minimises the incidence of false reads,” added Michael Robinson, Parking Services Manager at Portsmouth City Council.  “The system also has the flexibility to allow cameras to be redeployed during school holidays to monitor and enforce additional bus lane contraventions and enhance system productivity throughout the whole year.  This will enable us to extend protection to more schools and increase driver compliance during term time.”

The Videalert system combines automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) with video analytics to deliver the highest productivity at the lowest operational cost.  Using a single PTZ camera, it continuously monitors the keep clear zones and automatically captures only the drivers that are stationary in defined ‘watch areas’ and exceed the ‘watch times’.  Trained council operators can access the dedicated hosted server and review the evidence packs using standard web browsers.  Confirmed offences are then transmitted to the council’s Xerox SI-Dem back office processing system for the issuance of PCNs.

“This ease with which Portsmouth City Council has been able to add the enforcement of keep clears outside schools demonstrates how this platform meets the changing needs of councils,” added Tim Daniels, Sales and Marketing Director at Videalert.  “Our innovative hosted product not only enables rapid deployment of CCTV enforcement at problem locations, but also provides future investment protection whilst minimising infrastructure costs.”

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RoadSafe tips for safe school runs

IAM RoadSafe is providing advice to parents on how to stay safe during the daily commute as children head back to school after the summer break.

Sharing the school run with neighboursWith the long summer break nearly over, children are shortly returning to school and parents will be once more embarking on the daily school run, something which IAM RoadSmart points out carries increased risk regardless of how experienced drivers are in taking their children to school. This increased risk stems from the hurry people are in and the increased levels of distraction.

To help mitigate these risks, the UK road safety organisation’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, has compiled a list of tips to help parents make the school run as safe as possible for all road users.

Reduce the hurry – A rushed breakfast, forgotten school lunches and half-dressed kids can put you in the wrong frame of mind.

Check the seating – If you use child or booster seats, check they are still fit for purpose and correctly secured.

Park considerately – Think about how you park and don’t obstruct crossings or use the zig-zag “no-waiting” areas directly outside the school.

Check blind spots – Children are thinking about their friends and the day ahead and not your car as they rush to the school gate.

Be alert and ready to stop – Children can be very unpredictable and are likely to be concentrating on other things and don’t always have the experience to judge your speed.

Watch out for cyclists – Children on bikes are often inexperienced and might have a few wobbles. Slow down and allow plenty of space between your vehicle and the cyclists. If in doubt, wait

Keep it down to 20 – Speed limits in school zones are lower for a reason and remember it is a limit not a target.

Teach road safety – Make sure your children know the basics of road safety. Simply looking right then left then right again can save lives. Take time to show them the right thing to do and remember if you run or ignore the red man they will too.

Commenting on the school run and keeping children safe, Richard said, “Making a few simple changes to our driving can help keep our ‘precious cargo’ as well as other peoples’ children safe. Consider parking a short distance away from the school and completing the journey on foot, which will reduce the parking congestion in the school area.”

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Electronic air suspension for Chinese HGV suppliers

Wabco is supplying the three major HGV manufacturers in China with electronically controlled air suspension for improved safety.

Heavy duty Howo truck with OptiRideSeveral major Chinese heavy duty truck manufacturers including China National Heavy Truck Corporation (CNHTC), Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor Company (DFLQ) and Shaanqi, are continuing to increase their adoption of OptiRide electronically controlled air suspension (ECAS) from WABCO in series production.

Featuring intelligent lift-axle control and load monitoring, the OptiRide technology detects axle overload and provides automatic load transfer to improve the vehicle’s traction performance, which also helps reduce vehicle wear-and-tear and other operational costs. Unlike steel-spring suspension, OptiRide also enables the vehicle to be lifted and lowered, resulting in more efficient cargo handling and time-saving operation. In addition, the optimal ride quality provided by OptiRide delivers better load protection and more stable truck operation which increase vehicle and road safety.

“Chinese truck makers are increasingly upgrading their vehicle platforms and axle configurations to be more competitive for long-haul transport and logistics operations,” said Sujie Yu, WABCO Vice President, Asia Pacific. “OptiRide further differentiates by improving vehicle efficiency and safety and by enhancing driver comfort. WABCO continues to deliver the most cost-effective, specially designed electronic air-suspension control systems, which satisfy local needs at high standards for quality, reliability and service.”

In China, WABCO continues to produce anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic braking systems (EBS) and electronic stability control (ESC), among other vehicle safety and efficiency technologies.

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ANPR supplier teams up with camera manufacturer

Vivotek and PlateSmart Technologies join forces in the provision of software based ANPR systems using cameras from Vivotek.

PlateSmart Technologies has entered into an integration partnership with IP surveillance provider Vivotek. Through their association, the two companies will introduce PlateSmart’s Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) based video analytics technology to Vivotek’s growing global client base.

With this new relationship, PlateSmart affirms ARES ALPR’s reputation as among the security industry’s most versatile and affordable producs. The software is compatible with a wide range of off-the-shelf surveillance cameras, which enables users to add ALPR-based video analytics to their security systems affordably and without having to “rip and replace” their existing cameras. Having certified Vivotek cameras for use with ARES, PlateSmart takes its place in Vivotek’s Integration Alliance programme, an initiative to create security products that meet the needs of a diverse user base all over the world.

For PlateSmart CEO John Chigos, the new partnership with Vivotek is a significant step forward in advancing his vision of a safer world. “The law enforcement and security officers that protect us have hard jobs, and those jobs get harder every day,” Chigos said. “PlateSmart is committed to providing them with the best intelligence-gathering tools available. The more widely technologies like ARES are deployed, the easier those officials’ jobs become and the safer we all are. Working with great companies like Vivotek makes that goal possible.”

“Vivotek is continuing to expand cooperation with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software partners to offer customised systems and enhance customer efficiencies and capabilities” said William Ku, Spokesman and Vice president, Brand Business Division, Vivotek. “Through the strategic alliance, Vivotek will provide highly secure, efficient and professional IP surveillance products that can seamlessly integrate with PlateSmart’s Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology. Combining the expertise of the two companies also drives the growth and development of the Smart City in the United States.”

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Tracking watch monitors driver and vehicle health

Scania has released a wristwatch to help goods vehicle drivers monitor their health and fitness during their working day.

Scania 140 V8 watch braceletAdding to existing in-vehicle apps for monitoring driver performance as well as vehicle parameters, Scania is now extending its technology to watch over the health and fitness of the driver. Long periods of sitting in the driving seat broken only by short periods of physical labour can take its toll on drivers and the new Apple Watch Scania Edition can be used to track the health and fitness of the wearer.

The new watch replaces Scania’s previous “Black Griffin” wearable technology offering and also offers the same functions of fuel consumption and other vehicle data monitoring as well as driver health.

In addition to health monitoring, the watch is also able to detect when the driver needs a rest period and provides an alert to give the wearer time to recover before starting to drive again. The watch also has a built-in fall detection app, which can be useful in detecting accidents that might occur when the driver is loading or unloading the vehicle. When such an event occurs, the watch automatically dials the driver’s designated emergency contact.

Commenting on the functions available on the new Scania Edition watch, the company’s Director of Digital Business, Jonas Svanholm said, “We believe that the new watch can help drivers as they go about their daily routine.”.

Bracelet taken from V8 engine

Scania has also created a unique optional accessory to mark the launch of the Apple Watch Scania Edition. A vintage engine block from the LB 140 V8 engine has been melted down, re-forged and turned into a cast iron watch strap, called the Scania 140 V8 watch bracelet.

Scania’s Magnus Andersson explained that the bracelet was created to celebrate the V8, which is an engine configuration that has always been at the heart of Scania. “With this bracelet, we can let you wear a piece of motoring history on your wrist and connect part of our heritage to our future,” he said.

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