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New cameras catch 100,000 drivers using phones

Cameras catch phone drivers

New cameras designed specifically to catch drivers using hand-held mobile phones will be permanently installed for the first time. The announcement follows a successful six-month trial.

The two fixed cameras caught more than 100,000 drivers using phones during the test period.

UK drivers won’t be seeing them yet, unless they take a driving holiday to Australia. That’s because New South Wales (NSW) is the first state in the world to install the technology. 

Cameras catch phone drivers

“Unfortunately some people haven’t received the message and think they can continue to put the safety of themselves, their passengers and the community at risk without consequence,” said NSW roads minister Andrew Constance.

“We have to, unfortunately, use the element of surprise to get people to think ‘well, I could get caught at any time’.

“There is strong community support for more enforcement to stop illegal mobile phone use with 80 per cent of people we surveyed supporting use of the mobile phone detection cameras.”

Cameras catch phone drivers

The cameras will be installed from December, with both fixed and mobile (van-mounted) systems being used. A total of 45 locations across NSW have been proposed initially.

The Australian government will invest £47.7million ($88 million AUD) in the project – but judging by the number caught by the trial, it won’t take long to make its money back.

There’s no word yet on whether this type of enforcement will be used elsewhere. You can bet the UK Department for Transport will be watching closely.

France abandons ‘controversial’ breathalyser law for drivers

French breathlyser law repealed

France is repealing its law that all drivers must carry a disposable breathalyser kit in their car. First introduced in 2013, being caught previously meant an €11 fine. 

Although apparently a response to the high number of road deaths in France linked with alcohol, the law was controversial from day one. The head of the lobby group demanding it be introduced was an executive at the manufacturer of the breathalysers.

It has been the source of confusion and conjecture, not least because the fine was abandoned relatively soon after the law was introduced. 

Lower drink-drive limit than the UK

French breathlyser law repealed

France’s drink-drive limit is lower than in the UK, at 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre of blood, versus 0.8mg/ml in the UK. If you’re a younger driver who passed your test less than three years ago, it’s even lower: 0.2mg/ml per litre of blood.

Being caught with between 0.5 and 0.8mg/ml can incur a fine between €135 (£120) and €750 (£665), plus a six-point penalty. The Police can carry out random breath tests, and will automatically test you if you’re involved in an accident where someone is injured, or if you have committed a serious motoring offence. 

French breathlyser law repealed

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “While the law governing drivers carrying breathalysers in France might be about to change, drivers heading across the Channel should still remember that the country has a much stricter drink-drive limit than in the UK – and anyone caught over the limit faces some very tough penalties.

“The best advice is to never drink and drive, whether driving in France or elsewhere. For any driver that still chooses to, it still makes a lot of sense to carry a portable breathalyser to check they are well below the relevant legal limit.”

Is your car child seat dirtier than your toilet?

Dirty car child seat

A new investigation into germs on child car seats by consumer group Which? has yielded troubling results. Your child’s chair could harbour more bacteria than your toilet seat.

Swabs were taken from the harnesses, headrests and buckles of car seats – areas touched often by both parents and children. Researchers then compared what they found with swabs taken from toilet seats.

If we asked you which had 30 different types of bacteria and which had 16, you can guess the result.

Dirty car child seat

Child seats were found to harbour 30 different types of bacteria, including those common to the human digestive system, and indeed what it produces. They include e-coli, staphylococcus and c.difficile.

Worrying amounts of bugs that could cause sepsis, including enterobacteriaceae and enterococci, were found. As germs that cause ‘opportunistic infections’, these are dangerous if your child has any open cuts or grazes.

How to clean your child’s car seat

Dirty car child seat

Remove and vacuum

Start by removing the seat and vacuuming it. Take off all the trinkets and toys that may be attached to it, for ease of cleaning.

Remove the cover and wash it

If you can, remove the car seat cover (see your instruction manual), and get it in the washing machine. If you can’t remove it, hand-scrub the fabric with a gentle soap and water mix before leaving it to air-dry.

Get the dirty spots

It’s worth emphasising there will be hot spots for grubbiness and bacteria. Deal with the stains and, less obviously, the problem areas listed above.

Dirty car child seat

Rub down the plastic areas

The ‘chassis’ of the car seat could always do with a wipe down, too. Surface cleaner and a wipe with a wet cloth should do the trick. Give any plastic toys attached this treatment as well.

Reassemble and install

Once the seat is dry, put it all back together and reinstall it in your car. The best cure is prevention, so if your car seat is cleaned regularly, you have the best chance of fending off nasty bugs.

The safest used cars for young families revealed

These are the safest used cars for young families

The safest used cars for young families revealedWhat is the safest used car you can buy as a new parent? A child-friendly safe set of wheels is something on many a young couple’s list of things to buy in the lead up to the big day – but babies are expensive, and it’s not always feasible to go out and choose from the very newest cars to keep your new arrival safe. 

Co-op Insurance in association with Thatcham Research has thus taken the liberty of collating the safest used cars for young families, based on a specific set of criteria.

A five-star NCAP rating is a given, with a specific focus put on child occupant safety. Front and side protection, as well as how easy and safe it is to fit child restraints in the rear seats, were factored in . An additional essential feature was Autonomous Emergency Braking.

And the five safest used cars for young families are..?

5: Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4

Proof that taller and bigger isn’t necessarily better. The RAV4 is alone in being anywhere close to what you might call a ‘proper’ SUV on the list. It’s also one of the safest used SUVs young families can buy. But other more compact machines still do it better…

4: Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

Proof that most popular isn’t necessarily quite best. That’s not to discredit the Nissan’s smash hit best-seller. While it’s fourth on this list of five here, it’s still among the very safest bets for a young family looking to get moving.

3: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW 2 series Active Tourer

A first foray into this segment for the premium German manufacturer. BMW’s engineering fetishism extends beyond performance and technology, with the big 2er being one of the safest and easiest to operate used family cars on the market.

2: Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen Touran

A safe buy in terms of actual safety, reliability and residuals. You can’t go far wrong with Volkswagen – the Touran will last, it’ll hold its value better than most contemporary offerings and if you do have a prang, you can rest assured you’re in one of the best used cars for new families out there.

1: Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

Mazda will forgive us for referring to it as something of a dark horse in the new car market. Never a sales leviathan like Ford or VW, but always with near-top class products. The CX-5 is no different (after all, it was shortlisted in the 2018 World Car Awards final) and its place heading this list comes as no surprise to us whatsoever.

Read more:

ADAS car windscreen

‘How to’ guide for recalibrating ADAS replacement windscreens

ADAS car windscreenCars fitted with ADAS Advanced Driver Assistance Systems rely on cameras mounted onto the windscreen – and if you need to replace your screen, you also need to have these safety systems recalibrated or they won’t work correctly, says vehicle safety expert Thatcham.

That’s why it has led a new working group called the ADAS Repair Group, which has just published a new code of practice for those fitting replacement safety windscreens.

  • More advice on Motoring Research

The guide helps technicians identify the various ADAS systems that may be fitted, show how to remove them from the old screen and fit them to the new one, and offer full guidance on how to recalibrate them.

ADAS car windscreen

This, says Thatcham, is a crucial safety measure: as they become more commonplace, customers are becoming increasingly reliant on them – any miscalibration can adversely affect performance and safety.

The guide also includes notes on how to explain this to customers so they have full confidence in a car with a new windscreen. Replacing the windscreen on a car with ADAS? Expect to have all this explained to you by the person doing the job.

Euro NCAP research shows ADAS systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) have helped reduce real-world rear-end collisions by 38%. Currently fitted to 6% of vehicles on the road, ADAS may feature in 40% of cars by 2020.

Hence the need to make sure the safety process for fitting new windscreens is robust; cracked screens are an inevitability and it is vital to ensure ultra-safe modern cars don’t become less safe because their advanced safety systems are compromised…

ADAS car windscreen

'How to' guide for recalibrating ADAS replacement windscreens

ADAS car windscreenCars fitted with ADAS Advanced Driver Assistance Systems rely on cameras mounted onto the windscreen – and if you need to replace your screen, you also need to have these safety systems recalibrated or they won’t work correctly, says vehicle safety expert Thatcham.

That’s why it has led a new working group called the ADAS Repair Group, which has just published a new code of practice for those fitting replacement safety windscreens.

  • More advice on Motoring Research

The guide helps technicians identify the various ADAS systems that may be fitted, show how to remove them from the old screen and fit them to the new one, and offer full guidance on how to recalibrate them.

ADAS car windscreen

This, says Thatcham, is a crucial safety measure: as they become more commonplace, customers are becoming increasingly reliant on them – any miscalibration can adversely affect performance and safety.

The guide also includes notes on how to explain this to customers so they have full confidence in a car with a new windscreen. Replacing the windscreen on a car with ADAS? Expect to have all this explained to you by the person doing the job.

Euro NCAP research shows ADAS systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) have helped reduce real-world rear-end collisions by 38%. Currently fitted to 6% of vehicles on the road, ADAS may feature in 40% of cars by 2020.

Hence the need to make sure the safety process for fitting new windscreens is robust; cracked screens are an inevitability and it is vital to ensure ultra-safe modern cars don’t become less safe because their advanced safety systems are compromised…

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

Top 10 safest used cars in Britain revealed

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)The safest secondhand cars in Britain have been revealed by Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research as part of an initiative to reduce confusion over car safety information for buyers.

The top 10 safest used cars have been selected, say the organisations, because they’re all relatively affordable, proving safety is not reserved for those with the deepest pockets.

> More car news on Motoring Research

Co-op and Thatcham Research set criteria to hunt down Britain’s safest used car: they must all have a five-star Euro NCAP safety score, be freely available on the secondhand market for less than £15,000 and also boast CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less. So let’s count down Britain’s top 10 safest used cars.

10: Fiat 500L (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The roomy Fiat 500L is the five-seat people-carrying version of the Fiat 500 city car. Like every car in the top 10 safest used cars in Britain, it has a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, with a 94% rating for adult occupant protection.

9: Mazda CX-5 (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

Mazda’s mid-size crossover SUV was given an 86% score for safety assist features by Euro NCAP in 2012. This rates the standard inclusion of key active safety features such as ESC electronic stability control and seatbelt reminder (standard for all five passengers on the CX-5).

8: Honda Civic (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The British-built Honda Civic was tested by Euro NCAP in 2012 and also earned an 86% rating for safety assist features, plus 83% for child occupant protection; Euro NCAP praised the clarity of labelling regarding the status of the front passenger airbag deactivation device.

7: Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The current-shape Mercedes-Benz A-Class was tested by Euro NCAP in 2012, earning a five-star safety score. The boxy high-rise old-shape model also has a five-star score, but don’t be misled: it was tested back in 2005, when test rules were much less strict and inclusive than they are today. The two scores are not comparable.

6: Mazda 3 (2013)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

Again, the 2013 model Mazda 3 scored a five-star Euro NCAP score, as did the previous 2009 model. But the rules were tougher by 2013, requiring 81% for safety assist and 93% for adult occupant protection to earn the rating.

5: Vauxhall Astra (2015)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The latest-shape Vauxhall Astra is just coming onto the used car market as a nearly-new option. It’s worth seeking if you want the safest British-built family hatch on sale, with a strong score across all four of Euro NCAP’s testing criteria: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian safety and safety assist features.

4: Peugeot 308 (2013)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The 2013 308 was a breakthrough car for Peugeot in terms of ability and appeal. This strong user experience is backed up by a good safety score, with Euro NCAP testers praising its side impact protection and standard inclusion of a driver-set speed limiter.

3: Nissan Qashqai (2014)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

One of Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars, the second-generation 2014 Nissan Qashqai is packed with clever safety assist features such as AEB autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning system. It would have scored even more highly had these been fitted as standard, as per Euro NCAP rules…

2: Volkswagen Golf (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf Mk7 does have AEB autonomous emergency braking as standard, which operates at speeds of up to 50mph to either bring the car to a full halt in an emergency, or rapidly reduce the severity of any impact. Thatcham Research has data that shows Mk7 Golf drivers have 45% fewer personal injury claims as a result…

1: Volvo V40 with safety pack (2012)

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

The 2012 Volvo V40 became the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP in 2012, with a superb score across the board – including an unprecedented 100% for safety assist features. It was one of the first mainstream cars to offer AEB autonomous emergency braking, which Volvo calls City Safety, while models with the optional safety pack add even more functions: road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and driver tiredness monitor are amongst the features. “A class leading car that has exceptional safety features and all for a reasonable price” summarises Thatcham Research.

Top tips for finding the safest used family cars

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

Thatcham Research has advice for used car buyers seeking out the safest family cars from Britain’s 30 million-plus used car market. The first is, simply, to choose a car with a five-star Euro NCAP safety score. Remember too, the newer the car, the stricter the safety testing will be.

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

AEB autonomous emergency braking will automatically slow the car if it detects an emergency ahead to which the driver does not respond. It’s been fitted to cars since 2008 and became increasingly commonplace on regular family cars from 2012.

Safest used cars in Britain (2016)

Once you’ve ticked those two boxes, be on the lookout for additional safety features. You may need to do some deciphering here, but it’s worth it: active cruise control uses radar to automatically keep you a safe distance from the car in front, lane keep assist uses an array of warnings to alert you if you’re drifting out of lane on the motorway, a driver monitor detects drowsiness and sounds wake-up warnings while high beam assist will automatically put your headlights onto main beam – and dip them again when it detects oncoming traffic. All are worth hunting down if you want the safest used car you can get for your money.

Euro NCAP Alfa Romeo Giulia 2016

Five Euro NCAP stars for three new cars thanks to autonomous tech

Euro NCAP Alfa Romeo Giulia 2016Alfa Romeo, SEAT and Volkswagen have all been awarded five stars for their latest new cars in the latest round of Euro NCAP testing – thanks to generously including latest-generation safety equipment as standard across the range.

The new Alfa Romeo Giulia (pictured above), SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan have all been awarded five stars, with Euro NCAP not having to issue Dual Ratings this time round because all three cars are so well-equipped with safety kit as standard.

Since the start of 2016, Euro NCAP has run the Dual Rating system: a ‘stars’ score is given for standard models in the range, with an additional one for those fitted with optional safety equipment packages.

This means that volume cars can score fewer stars than those with optional kit added on, a slightly confusing situation that’s pleasingly not an issue with these three cars because they have all the important safety stuff as standard.

A key piece of technology is AEB Autonomous Emergency Braking, says Euro NCAP, which helps mitigate the impact of low-speed collisions, or even avoid them entirely. Euro NCAP (and its umbrella group, Global NCAP) would ideally like to see it fitted to all new cars as standard.

Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said: “Euro NCAP shows what can be achieved when governments, consumer groups and motoring clubs from across Europe collaborate. Together, we can exert an influence on the car industry that would be hard to achieve otherwise.

“We are glad to see some of the major manufactures making safety equipment standard across the EU28, although we know that markets outside the Eurozone are sometimes less well served.”

Autonomous Emergency Braking

Video: How does Autonomous Emergency Braking work?

Land Rover demonstrates how AEB will stop you from crashing into the car in front

STOPTHECRASH

London Motor Show visitors encouraged to ask three ‘life-saving’ questions

STOPTHECRASHVisitors to the 2016 London Motor Show are being encouraged by Thatcham Research, Bosch, Continental and ZF TRW to quiz exhibiting dealers about the safety credentials of cars on display – because doing so could save lives.

The three questions show visitors are being asked to revise and challenge dealers on are:

  1. What Euro NCAP rating does this car have?
  2. Is Autonomous Emergency Braking fitted to this car – and is it standard?
  3. What else should I do to maximise the safety protection offered by this car?

The four organisations want to raise awareness of modern active safety systems, of which many car buyers are simply unaware. Systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking should be the number one priority for those looking at a new car, they reckon: instead, it’s well down the list.

Autonomous Emergency Braking, or AEB, automatically brakes the car when it detects an imminent crash. In the real world, it’s statistically proven to cut rear-end crashes by 38% – yet it’s only standard-fit on a paltry 17% of new British cars. Less than half of new car buyers are adding extra safety features on as options.

That’s why the UK still has such a high toll of rear-end crashes: 100,000 a year.

“In the absence of legislation to make it mandatory, we are encouraging consumers to use the power of choice to ensure that every new car coming onto the road has this life-saving feature fitted,” said Global NCAP secretary general David Ward, a Brit who’ll be attending the show to personally drive home the safety message.

“Research shows that three quarters of all collisions occur at speeds under 20mph: even the most basic AEB system in conjunction with sensible tyre safety could prevent the vast majority of these incidents.”

The three-question challenge for the London Motor Show is part of the Global NCAP #STOPTHECRASH partnership, an initiative charged with cutting car accidents in the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety.

The organisations will be demonstrating the power of Autonomous Emergency Braking in bold fashion at Battersea Park: by running live demonstrations of how the system auto-stops when it detects obstacles ahead.

There will also be a showcase of an online tool hosted by Thatcham Research that allows car buyers to check which new cars have AEB as standard.

Video: What is Autonomous Emergency Braking?