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Car crime

Revealed: the worst places in the UK for car crime

Car crime hotspotsLondon, Manchester and Bradford are the worst area in Britain for vandalism, car crime and road safety – with a staggering 1 in 3 Londoners having suffered car vandalism while parked up in their home area.

The figures are from official 2016 police data, claims data and consumer research. More Londoners than any other UK resident have suffered vandalism – 33% of them, in fact. That’s far ahead of Leeds and Glasgow which are placed second. 13% of locals have had a car vandalised there.

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But even this staggering figure doesn’t place the UK capital number one for the highest rate of car crime. That dubious honour goes to Manchester.

A whopping 192 car crimes per 10,000 registered vehicles have been recorded in Manchester – compared to, for example, 48 crimes per 10,000 vehicles in Glasgow, which ranked 10th in the analysis carried out by Rias.

London places ‘only’ third in the car crime rate, with 162 crimes per 10,000 vehicles.

However, while only 7% of residents in Bradford have experienced car vandalism, the roads in the area themselves are far tougher on cars and motorists: 64% think the roads are actually unsafe. More than half of drivers in Bradford say others routinely ignore the speed limits, for example.

Liverpool, in contrast, has the lowest car vandalism rate, and more Liverpudlians perceive their roads to be safe than in any other region of the UK.

Adam Clarke, managing director of Rias (a car insurer for the over 50s) said: “While official data appears to show that some cities have higher vehicle crime rates than others, people should always be mindful of crime in their city and not get complacent even when the crime rate is low.”

His top tops for cutting car crime include:

  • Never leaving valuables on show to tempt ‘smash and grab’ thieves
  • Turn your wheels towards the kerb when parking – it will put thieves off as it will take more time to drive away
  • Make sure your car is actually locked – it’s more common than you think!
  • Add on some anti-theft measures (don’t forget this when ticking the options boxes on a new car too)
Motoring selfie

RAC reveals motoring mobile phone ‘epidemic’

Motoring selfieMobile phone use while driving has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions, says the RAC, as tens of millions of drivers admit they reach for their smartphones while behind the wheel.

A staggering 11 million drivers have taken or received a call on a handheld mobile in the past year; even more worryingly, 5 million have taken photos or videos while driving. Some even admit to making video calls when driving.

1 in 5 drivers feel it is safe to check social media updates while waiting at traffic lights, and 44% of younger drivers aged 17 to 24 admit they have taken photos or videos when stationary behind the wheel.

In 2014, just 8% of motorists admitted they used a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel: this year, it’s shot up to 31%, with the proportion of drivers saying it’s not acceptable to take a quick call at the wheel actually falling by 6% – in other words, more and more drivers think it’s now acceptable to take a use a smartphone while driving.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said there is now clear evidence the use of handheld phones behind the wheel is on the increase. “The fact that drivers have little or no confidence that they will be caught when braking these laws is a likely contributor,” he said. “Every day, most road users see other drivers brazenly using their handheld phones – a sight which should be a thing of the past.

“The use of handheld mobile phones is the biggest road safety concern among motorists today: we call on all stakeholders to step up efforts to shift cultural attitudes and make the use of handheld mobile phones as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”

Motoring selfie

RAC reveals motoring mobile phone 'epidemic'

Motoring selfieMobile phone use while driving has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions, says the RAC, as tens of millions of drivers admit they reach for their smartphones while behind the wheel.

A staggering 11 million drivers have taken or received a call on a handheld mobile in the past year; even more worryingly, 5 million have taken photos or videos while driving. Some even admit to making video calls when driving.

1 in 5 drivers feel it is safe to check social media updates while waiting at traffic lights, and 44% of younger drivers aged 17 to 24 admit they have taken photos or videos when stationary behind the wheel.

In 2014, just 8% of motorists admitted they used a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel: this year, it’s shot up to 31%, with the proportion of drivers saying it’s not acceptable to take a quick call at the wheel actually falling by 6% – in other words, more and more drivers think it’s now acceptable to take a use a smartphone while driving.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said there is now clear evidence the use of handheld phones behind the wheel is on the increase. “The fact that drivers have little or no confidence that they will be caught when braking these laws is a likely contributor,” he said. “Every day, most road users see other drivers brazenly using their handheld phones – a sight which should be a thing of the past.

“The use of handheld mobile phones is the biggest road safety concern among motorists today: we call on all stakeholders to step up efforts to shift cultural attitudes and make the use of handheld mobile phones as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”

20mph speed limit

Safety group unconvinced about 20mph Edinburgh safety scheme

20mph speed limitRoad safety charity IAM RoadSmart says Edinburgh’s 20mph city-wide speed limit set to come into force on Sunday 31 July is a cheap, blanket approach that doesn’t address specific safety issues.

The Scottish capital will be the first to impose a 20mph speed limit on more than 80% of city streets, an initiative intended to make roads ‘safer and calmer’.

But the IAM says it’s potentially confusing because drivers take their cues from the environment and, on some roads, it “looks and feels safer to go over 20”.

The new Edinburgh speed limit will be policed in the same way as other speed limits: transgressors will be hit with a £100 fine and three penalty points.

Councillor Lesley Hinds leads Edinburgh’s transport division and admitted to the Edinburgh News that it “would take a bit of time for it to become second nature.

“It’s a change of attitude. People used to drink and drive and that attitude changed.”

The IAM believes there’s some way to go: “Covering whole areas in one 20mph limit and putting up some signs is a cheap way to do it,” said policy and research director Neil Greig.

“If you look at the evidence, what seems to work is measures like speed bumps and narrower roads.

“We’d rather see investment made in dealing with the streets where there will be most benefit.”

Driving at night

Overtired drivers admit they have dozed at the wheel

Driving at nightA staggering 4 in 10 British drivers admit they have fallen asleep at the wheel – despite more than a quarter of serious car crashes being tiredness-related.

Indeed, over half of motorists say they ignore official guidance to take a break every two hours on long journeys: 1 in 5 drivers instead carry on even when they know they’re overtired.

More than a third have knowingly put themselves or others in danger because of this.

“Tired drivers are a huge danger to not only themselves but other drivers and passengers on the roads,” said Debbie Kirkley, co-founder of OSV vehicle leasing, who carried out the research.

Drivers “should always plan their journeys carefully to include regular rest breaks. A minimum of 15 minutes every two hours.”

Sadly, in reality, 81% only stop because they need the loo or are hungry: a mere 25% actually stop because they feel they’re tired.

More than three quarter of drivers counter tiredness behind the wheel by other means: drinking coffee or water, turning up the radio or eating. Solutions that are usually ineffective, says Kirkley.

It’s men who are more likely to driver overtired than women – although the research also shows it’s female drivers who are more likely to nod off or fall asleep at the wheel. Luckily, women are more sensible than men and, suggests research, are more likely to take regular breaks.

The world's first car-crash-proof person

Graham: surviving the car crashes that would kill you

The world's first car-crash-proof personMeet Graham: he’s rather ugly but he can do something nobody else in the world can: survive a car crash.

Created by the Victoria Transport Accident Commission in Australia, Graham has been designed to expose human vulnerability in a car accident by showing what’s necessary to survive one.

Graham thus has a flat, flabby face to absorb the energy of an impact against a steering wheel or windscreen. Ears are protected; his nose is tiny and there’s lots of fatty tissue around his cheekbones.

His brain is the same size as ours but his skull is much larger, almost helmet-sized; it’s packed with more fluid and ligaments to support the brain in an impact.

The world's first car-crash-proof person

Graham has ultra-strong ribs, a much larger chest and bizarre airbag-like sacks between each rib. They also provide more protection for his heart and other internal organs.

His skin is much thicker and tougher to protect against abrasions: lacerations in a car crash can strip skin down to the flesh, causing permanent nerve damage and scars. He also has knee joints that move in all directions, making it less likely to break.

Graham even has double-jointed lower legs to reduce the forces in an impact – and they also help him as a pedestrian, allowing him to jump out of the way of an accident altogether.

The world's first car-crash-proof person

Human bodies can only cope with impacts at speeds they can reach on their own. Running at full pace into a wall is survivable: driving a car into a wall is probably not. Hence Graham’s rather unique physique.

Of course, Graham isn’t a real person. He is a life-sized sculpture that’s now going on show in the city before going on a road safety roadshow.

“Graham is an educational tool that will serve the community for years to come as a reminder of why we need to develop a safer road system that will protect us when things go wrong,” said TAC chief executive Joe Calafiore.

Video: meet Graham

Pokemon GO

Pokémon Go: stop exploring when you’re driving

Pokemon Go drivingPokémon Go risks taking the illegal use of hand-held smartphones behind the wheel to a whole new level, the RAC has warned.

The addictive smartphone game has already broken download records but it’s vital not to get hooked into it when driving a car, says the RAC.

“It has to be Pokémon no-go when driving,” says RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams. “It is critical drivers are not tempted to have the app running on their mobile phones while driving” – not least because pedestrians hooked by the game and exploring their locality may create road safety dangers of their own.

Indeed, the RAC is also warning pedestrians “not to get caught into the Pokémon mist and find themselves stepping into the path of danger. The risks are obvious but this feels like a whole new level of gaming addition and another reason for people to be glued to their smartphones instead of looking where they are going.”

And even motorists who resist the lure of using Pokémon GO themselves may still be reeled in by the game – with requests from children to change route, slow down or speed up so they can catch Pokémon characters…

Pokémon GO was launched by Nintendo earlier this month. It is a location-based smartphone game for iOS and Android that uses augmented reality and GPS to locate virtual Pokémon in the real world as they walk.

Its success has seen Nintendo’s share price rise by more than 50% since its launch.

Motorway at night

Motor-no-way: 1 in 5 Brits steer clear

Motorway at nightAlthough they’re statistically Britain’s safest roads, motorways still strike fear into millions of British motorists, with a new survey revealing 22% of the nation’s 38 million drivers rarely use them.

The overwhelming reason, according to the analysis by the RAC? For nearly 7 in 10, it’s the speed at which traffic travels at: over half say this means they feel more at risk of being in an accident.

The statistics disagree: motorways carry 21% of British road traffic, yet account for 5.4% of road fatalities and less than 5% of injured road casualties.

“Despite motorways statistically being some of our safest roads, many people still seem to rely on partners, friends and family when they need to use one,” said the RAC’s Simon Williams.

“The message to them has to be: with the right instruction and advice, plenty of care and practice, confidence in motorway driving can easily grow.”

But there is another significant reason for not using motorways: 32% feel they’re simply too boring…

British motorway facts

  • There are 2,300 miles of motorway in Britain
  • They carry 21% of all traffic in Britain
  • In the year to September 2015, 65.4 billion miles were driven on British motorways
  • That’s an all-time high figure – and 2% up on 2014: yes, motorways are getting busier
  • Of the 1,775 fatalities on British roads in 2014, 96 occurred on a motorway
6 ways the Government plans to improve road safety

6 ways the Government plans to improve road safety

6 ways the Government plans to improve road safety

The Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed a series of proposals in a bid to improve safety on Britain’s roads.

A series of consultations on each of the specific proposals will take place in 2016, and they could come into force over the next few years.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to improve that record.

“Today we are delivering common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads.”

The proposals, outlined below, come after a series of new laws were introduced in 2015 – including a ban on smoking in cars containing children, and an increase in speed limits of heavy goods vehicles.

Motorway training

Motorway training

It’s currently illegal for anyone with a provisional licence to drive on the motorway – even with an instructor in the passenger seat. The first time they’re allowed on the country’s fastest roads is after they’ve passed their driving test – and often unsupervised.

But the new proposals include allowing learner drivers on the motorway, as long as they’re in a dual-controlled car with a professional instructor.

[bctt tweet=”This is definitely not the time to have mum or dad in the passenger seat.” via=”no”]

RAC Foundation director, Steve Gooding, said: “One in five young drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test so putting the learning process under the spotlight has to be a good thing.

“Mile for mile, motorways are our safest roads but can be intimidating places for novice drivers. Exploring ways of letting learners have controlled access to them is welcome.

“The important thing is the official seal of approval provided by the approved driving instructor who will accompany them down the slip-road. This is definitely not the time to have mum or dad in the passenger seat.”

Mobile phone penalties increased

Mobile phone penalties increased

Since 2007, anyone caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving in the UK could be handed an on-the-spot fine and points on their licence. This was initially a fine of £60 and three points on your licence, rising to £100 in 2013.

But the DfT is proposing even heavier punishments for those caught on their phone while driving – including £150 fines and four points for car drivers. For drivers of larger vehicles, such as lorries, this could be increased to six penalty points.

£750,000 police grant

£750,000 police grant

One of the biggest criticisms the police face from motorists is the lack of manpower – with many concerned that speed cameras are being used instead of traffic cops patrolling the roads.

Speed cameras can’t spot dangerous driving or detect whether someone is driving under the influence of drink or drugs – which is why the Government is proposing a £750,000 grant to fund more police officers in England and Wales with expertise in drug recognition and impairment testing.

The move, the DfT suggests, will allow a more targeted enforcement of drug drivers. It comes after a special ‘drugalyser’ machine was introduced earlier this year, along with new laws to lock up anyone caught driving under the influence.

£50m cycle training grant

£50m cycle training grant

In 2014, more than 21,000 cyclists were injured in accidents on UK roads – including 3,401 who were seriously injured, and a shocking 113 who were killed.

In a move to reduce this figure, the Government is proposing a £50 million grant over the next four years to support the Bikeability cycle training scheme in schools. This grant is twofold, says the DfT: not only will it increase children’s road awareness, it’ll also encourage them to be healthy and active.

Since it was launched in 2007, more than 1.5m school children have so far received training through the Bikeability scheme – and a further 275,000 are expected to benefit from the service in 2015/16.

Cycle safety consultation

Cycle safety consultation

It’s not just through cycle training that the DfT plans to make riding a bike on UK roads safer. Since 1 September 2015, lorries driving through Central London have to be fitted with essential safety equipment to protect cyclists – including extra mirrors to prevent blind spots, and side protection bars to prevent cyclists being dragged under an HGV’s wheels.

Under the new proposals, the DfT has said it will consult on how to further improve cycle safety – including making sure sideguards on lorries are not removed after being fitted.

£2m driver education research programme

£2m driver education research programme

The driving test is changing – a 10 minute independent driving section has already been introduced, where the learner is instructed to use road signs and prior knowledge to get to a destination. More changes are already being trialled – including a 20 minute independent driving section, with candidates allowed to use a sat-nav to navigate.

But further changes could be on the horizon, with the DfT proposing a £2 million in-depth research programme in how driving training could be improved.

RAC Scouts

RAC joins the Scouts to promote road safety

RAC ScoutsThe RAC has teamed up with The Scout Association for a three-year road safety partnership that will reach more than half a million Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts.

The three-year partnership will see RAC patrols visit Scout Groups to teach road safety, focusing on campaigns such as how to be road smart in the 21st century and in-car safety.

The RAC road safety campaign will be combined with the Scouts’ road safety programme; the RAC will sponsor the Cub Scouts’ Road Safety activity badge, fronted by the Horace mascot, as part of this association.

The RAC has also created a Road Safety Awareness Charity, with the aim of raising enough funds to give every Cub Scout in Britain a high-visibility vest by 2018.

RAC road safety champion Jacqui Thompson said: “This a fantastic opportunity to engage and work with young people across the UK to raise awareness of road safety and to equip them with the skills to be road smart and develop as responsible and safe road users.

“Together with The Scout Association and the Department for Transport’s THINK! Campaign, we can reach drivers and other road users too with responsible and safe driving messages – and bring the number of children killed on UK roads to zero.”

Alarmingly, 2,082 children were killed or seriously injured on UK roads in 2014. Deaths were up 10% and serious injuries were up 5% – the first annual rise in nearly 30 years.

Road safety minister Andrew Jones MP helped Horace and Cub Scouts from the 8th Marylebone Scout Pack launch the new partnership at the Abbey Road zebra crossing.

“I welcome the new partnership between the RAC and The Scout Association,” he said.

“Everyone should know the rules of the road and the new road safety badge is a great step towards getting young people interested in helping themselves, and others, stay safe.”