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Safety first

Much of the news this week has centred on making driving, and drivers, safer.

The week began with incredible figures from the Road Safety Foundation (RSF) revealing more than 300 people have had their lives saved or avoided serious injury as a result of simple improvements on just 15 roads across the UK.

These improvements included things like appropriate signage, layout of junctions, barriers and resurfacing i.e. the fundamentals of a good highway. Indeed, Dr Joanne Hill, RSF director, described them as “practical, largely inexpensive solutions which will pay back the costs of investment in an average of ten weeks”.

It goes to show that the simple things make a huge difference. RSF figures show fatal and serious crashes on the improved roads dropped by a significant 62 per cent from 494 to 190.

Meanwhile, the focus moved to young drivers in the 17-24 age group, whose chances of being in an accident are significantly higher than those over the age of 25. Insurance companies are beginning to introduce intelligent ‘pay how you drive’ satellite technology to help young drivers monitor how safely they drive and receive discounts on their insurance if they drive well. Of course, the flipside is that poor driving could be penalised with higher premiums.

The first of these is the ‘smartbox’ by The Co-operative Insurance, available now, which is designed to measure acceleration, braking, cornering and speeds, as well as the length of journeys taken. Young motorists are then scored and can log on to see how they fare.  According to BBC Newsbeat, the premium is ‘recalculated every 90 days’ and motorists who drive well could receive up to 11 per cent discount, while those who drive poorly could pay up to 20 per cent extra.

It’s a great idea; let’s hope it encourages young motorists to reflect on how their driving is progressing, not just because it might save them money, but to make them safer on the roads.

That’s not the only new ground-breaking technology revealed this week which could make a real difference to road safety. Thatcham has been working with Loughborough University to identify the most common crash situations which could lead to an accident involving pedestrians. Based on this research, they are developing autonomous emergency braking systems incorporating cutting-edge features such as radars, cameras and lasers to automatically stop a car before it hits a pedestrian. Vehicle manufacturers already interested in this technology include BMW, Ford, Toyota and Volvo.

All in all – a good week for road safety. We look forward to seeing the end results.
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