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Tesla Model X a ‘stand-out performer’ in Euro NCAP safety tests

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

Euro NCAP has published its penultimate results of the year – and this one’s a biggie. The Tesla Model X, Porsche Taycan, and new Ford Kuga have faced Euro NCAP’s crash testing. 

Some good news for Tesla – the Model X has been described as ‘stand-out performer’. It’s safety assist score was a heady 94 percent, the same score that the Model 3 got earlier this year. The big Tesla also got 98 percent for adult occupant protection. That makes it a contender for Best in Class for 2019. 

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

It’s not the only strong-performing EV in this round, though. It’s joined by the Taycan, Porsche’s newly-minted thorn in the side for Tesla’s high-end EV monopoly. It scored five stars, too, though it’s individual percentages aren’t as impressive as the Tesla. It got 85 percent and 73 percent in adult occupant and safety assist respectively.

“The devil’s in the detail when you compare the Euro NCAP assessments of the Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan. Both are safe cars, but the Tesla Model X is the stand-out,” said Matthew Avery, director of research, Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP board member.

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

In the realms of more conventional cars, Skoda’s new Octavia, the new Renault Captur, Ford’s new Kuga, the facelift Audi Q7 and the new Subaru Forester all scored five stars. Peugeot’s 2008 just misses out on an unconditional five stars, given that safety packs need to be equipped.

The addition of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) helps keep some older cars up to date. The Ford Mondeo earns five stars as a result, while Volkswagen’s Sharan and its sister car, the Seat Alhambra, both hold a steady four-star score. Worryingly, however, the Sharan was penalised for its door detaching in a side pole test. This poses a risk of occupants being ejected in an accident.

The Jeep Renegade got a bad rap, too, still only having AEB as an option. It’s the only sub four-star score of 2019. Last year, the Wrangler got a pitiful one-star rating – one of the lowest ever seen.

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

“Well done to Tesla and the other five stars performers for not only bringing best in class performance in testing but also making safety systems accessible and standard across the European market,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s secretary general.

“It is also good to see manufacturers – Ford and Volkswagen in this case – standardising AEB and keeping safety up-to-date even for older cars, to the benefit of their customers. It’s a pity that not everyone follows this example, and by prioritising looks over substance Jeep ended up at the bottom of the list of this year’s rated cars. The good news is that consumers have more choice than ever to find a safer alternative.”

Drivers should stop listening to Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud dangerous to drivers

Drivers should avoid listening to Girls Aloud or the Spice Girls if they want to stay safe this Christmas.

A recent study in America found that songs with more than 120 beats per minute (BPM) resulted in faster and more erratic driving. To stay safe, drivers should listen to music that mimics the human heartbeat.

Ideally, songs with 60 to 100 BPM.

Which is bad news for drivers with Girls Aloud and the Spice Girls on their playlist.

A finance company has analysed the UK Christmas number ones since 1952 to identify and safest and most dangerous songs to listen to while driving.

Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud is deemed to be the most dangerous. The 2002 hit single has a BPM of 164 and an energy score of 0.85.

Spice Girls dangerous to drivers

But there’s bad news for fans of the Spice Girls, too.

Two of the songs in the top ten most dangerous Christmas number ones are credited to Sporty, Baby, Scary, Posh and Ginger: 2 Become 1 and Goodbye.

Tim Schwarz, head of marketing at Moneybarn, said: “Christmas is one of the busiest driving times of the year and wintry weather can make roads more dangerous.

“We all love feeling festive when ‘driving home for Christmas’, but make sure your song choices aren’t distracting you from the road”

The top 10 most dangerous Christmas number ones

1. Girls AloudSound of the Underground
2. LadBabyWe Built This City
3. Pet Shop BoysAlways on my Mind
4. The BeatlesDay Tripper
5. SladeMerry Xmas Everybody
6. Winifred AtwellLet’s Have Another Party
7. Spice Girls2 Become 1
8. Band Aid 20Do They Know it’s Christmas?
9. Spice GirlsGoodbye
10. Benny HillErnie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)

You’ll need to break into your parents’ playlist if want to make it home for Christmas in one piece. Five of the top ten safest tunes were released in the 1950s.

That said, looking through the list, your biggest challenge might be trying to stay awake behind the wheel.

Shayne Ward is dangerous to drivers

The top 10 safest Christmas number ones

1. Frankie LaneAnswer Me
2. Whitney HoustonI Will Always Love You
3. Al MartinoHere in my Heart
4. Dickie ValentineChristmas Alphabet
5. Harry BelafonteMary’s Boy Child
6. Alexandra BurkeHallelujah
7. Johnnie RayJust Walking in the Rain
8. Lewisham and Greenwich NHS ChoirA Bridge Over You
9. WingsMull of Kintyre
10. Shayne WardThat’s my Goal

Motorists warned about effects of cold and flu tablets

Motorists warned about the effects of cold and flu tablets

Motorists are being warned about the dangerous effects some medications can have on driving.

Even cold and flu treatments can cause drowsiness, reducing a driver’s ability to concentrate on driving. Not only is this dangerous, but drivers could be charged with a criminal offence.

It’s illegal in England, Scotland and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.

Over-the-counter medication is covered by the same drug-driving laws as illegal substances such as cocaine and cannabis, so drivers are advised to study the list of prescription medicines affected by the legislation (see below).

The police can stop drivers and demand a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they suspect drugs have been taken. If they deem a motorist to be unfit to drive, they’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.

‘Read the label’

Read the label

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “You may not be aware that your driving can be compromised by medicinal drugs. Therefore you could be breaking the law without realising.

“A conviction for drug driving carries a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. You will have a criminal record that means you may have trouble getting a job or travelling overseas. Even once you are able to get your licence back, it will be endorsed for 11 years.

“So we cannot stress enough the importance of reading labels and seeking advice from healthcare professionals before driving. If you find that a specific remedy is likely to make you drowsy and impair your driving, then you must not drive after taking it. If you need to drive, make sure you ask a healthcare professional for a medicine that will not cause drowsy side-effects.”

Prescription medicines affected by the law

Jaguar Land Rover sneeze

Motorists should consult a doctor about whether they should drive if they’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

  • Amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

Drivers are permitted to drive after taking these drugs IF:

  • They’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional.
  • They are not making a driver unfit to drive – even if they’re above the specified limits.

GEM has produced a fact sheet on the dangerous effects some medicines can bring. This can be downloaded here.

Mazda CX-30 gets ‘almost perfect’ safety score

Euro NCAP results

The latest round of Euro NCAP crash-test results has been published, and it’s good news for a range of crossovers and SUVs. However, the new Vauxhall Corsa falls short.

The Mazda CX-30 was the star performer in the tests: awarded 99 percent for adult occupant protection. Its score was, in the words of Euro NCAP’s Michiel van Ratingen, “almost perfect”.

Euro NCAP results

“There are still several cars to be rated in 2019, but it is unlikely we will see better for this part of the assessment,” remarked van Ratingen. “And congratulations to Ford and Mercedes-Benz for their five-star ratings, too.”

The GLB compact crossover is the sixth Mercedes to earn five Euro NCAP stars this year.

Ford’s Explorer SUV, which is coming to Europe as a plug-in hybrid, also achieved a five-star rating.

Euro NCAP results

Vauxhall only managed four stars for the new Corsa, an unfortunate result given it missed out on five stars by a single percentage point. The Corsa was awarded five out of five in three out of the four assessment areas, but its Safety Assist performance wasn’t quite up to scratch.

“Euro NCAP is now gearing up for new tests in 2020, but we’re confident that manufacturers will continue to deliver the highest levels of safety to their customers, said van Ratingen.”

Europe mandates new car safety tech for 2022

Europe mandates extra car safety tech 2022

A raft of new safety technologies will become mandatory in European vehicles as of 2022. The overall aim: to protect passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Human error accounts for 90 percent of fatalities and injuries on our roads, says the European Commission. Advanced safety features will reduce the number of accidents and pave the way towards a connected and automated future, it says.

Two headline features include alcohol interlock installation facilitation and intelligent speed assistance. In other words, built-in breathalysers and speed limiters.

The Commission expects the proposed measures to save around 25,000 lives and 140,000 injuries by 2038. 

It’s part of a wider plan to ‘help drivers get gradually used to the new driving assistance… [enhancing] public trust and acceptance of automated cars’.

The mandatory safety features will cover cars, vans, trucks and buses. Key features include:

  • For cars, vans, trucks and buses: driver drowsiness and distraction warnings, intelligent speed assistance, reversing safety with camera or sensors, ‘black box’ data recorders in the event of an accident.
  • For cars and vans: lane-keeping assistance, advanced emergency braking, crash-test improved safety belts.
  • For trucks and buses: improve the direct vision of bus and truck drivers, remove blind spots, detect and warn of vulnerable road users.

All will become mandatory from 2022, with the exception of direct vision for trucks and buses, which requires necessary structural design changes.

‘We can and must act’

Road safety charity welcomes tougher seatbelt laws

Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error.

“We can and must act to change this. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when the safety belts were first introduced.

“Many of the new features already exist, in particular in high–end vehicles. Now we raise the safety level across the board, and pave the way for connected and automated mobility of the future.”

Click here for more safety technologies that will become mandatory in 2022.

How to stay awake behind the wheel

How to stay awake behind the wheel

Figures show that 20 percent of road accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Little wonder, then, that a third of UK drivers are scared of driving in the dark.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) also says that tiredness and drowsiness are factors in up to 25 percent of fatal and serious accidents.

Just as worrying is the fact that these types of crashes are 50 percent more likely to result in death or serious injury. The reason: because a driver who has fallen asleep cannot take action to reduce the impact.

RoSPA says accidents caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen:

  • On long journeys and on monotonous roads, such as motorways
  • Between 2am and 6am
  • Between 2pm and 4pm (especially after eating or drinking just one alcoholic drink)
  • After a night of interrupted or less sleep
  • After drinking alcohol
  • If taking medicines that can cause drowsiness
  • After working long hours or a night shift

How to spot the signs

Half of van drivers falling asleep at the wheel

It’s important to recognise the signs of tiredness. Failure to do so could result in an accident caused by reduced reaction times, decreased attention levels and an inability to judge risks.

Symptoms include:

  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes
  • Frequent blinking
  • Daydreaming
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Drifting from your lane

How to stay awake when driving

Why sleep is the best prevention for drowsy driving

Not getting behind the wheel when tired is a good place to start, but Moneybarn has the following tips for staying awake when driving.

  • Prevent tiredness: make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep the night before you drive. If you’re regularly feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep, arrange to see your doctor.
  • Plan ahead: design your journey to allow you to take regular rest breaks, especially if you’re driving during peak tiredness times.
  • Minimise the risk: plan to stop at a motorway services for a quick rest. Arrange to share the driving with a friend or family member. Coffee will help, but it’s NOT a solution to tired driving.
  • Stay cool: excessive use of in-car heating will make you feel sleepy. Keep the car comfortably cool and open the windows to get some fresh air.

Moneybarn also points to Highway Code rule number 91, which says that a minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended.

For more information on a driver’s fitness to drive, visit the Highways Code website.

A third of drivers are SCARED of night driving

Motorists scared of driving in the dark

Thirty-one percent of Britain’s 38 million drivers are too scared to drive at night, according to a new study.

Figures released by RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) show that 40 percent of all road accidents occur in the hours of darkness.

Falling asleep at the wheel is a significant factor, accounting for 20 percent of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in Britain. Reduced visibility is an obvious danger – the distance a driver can see is shortened and it takes time for eyes to adjust to the dark.

It’s also harder to judge speed and distance, so other cars could be travelling faster than expected.

Essilor, the lens manufacturer behind the new study, found that 91 percent of drivers are regularly dazzled by oncoming traffic. Government data shows that around 300 collisions every year are caused by glare.

Driving at night is a glaring issue

Glare when driving in the dark

RoSPA says that, between the ages of 15 and 65, the time it takes to recover from glare increases from one to nine seconds.

Dr. Andy Hepworth from Essilor said: “With such short days in the winter – and driving conditions frequently made worse by the British weather – often people have no choice but to drive in the dark.

“But this means that we face glare from oncoming traffic and other light sources, which is arguably the biggest issue regarding the reduction or loss of visibility, and glasses lenses can actually create more reflections impacting your vision further.

“There are a couple of other factors that hinder your vision at night as well. If you try to see something in the presence of ‘over-bright lights’, this can cause your eyes to tear up, smearing your vision. Low-light levels lead to a reduction in the contrast of images.

“Combine the two and night driving can seem like a nightmare. If you’re dazzled by glare at night when you are travelling at a speed of around 60mph, it can almost double your stopping distance. That’s a significant difference.”

How to improve nighttime vision to stay safe

Essilor has compiled a list of seven ways to improve nighttime vision, helping motorists to stay safe when driving in the dark.

  • Keep windscreens clear: make sure the outside of the windscreen is clean and streak free. Keep the washer fluid topped up and carry a microfibre cloth in the glovebox to keep the inside of the screen clean.
  • Use anti-glare lenses: ask your optician about spectacle lenses designed to reduce glare and reflection
  • Check and adjust mirrors: dip the rear-view mirror at night or consider a car with an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
  • Dip, don’t dazzle: remember to dip your headlights when faced with oncoming traffic. You should also adjust your lights when carrying heavy loads.
  • Slow down or stop: if you’re concerned about vision, stop the car. Pull over in a safe measures and make adjustments to improve your vision.
  • Adjust your eyes to the dark: give yourself a few minutes behind the wheel to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.
  • Keep your distance: it’s harder to judge speed and distances at night, so allow more space between you and the car in front.

Election 2019: charity launches manifesto for road safety

IAM Roadsmart election manifesto

With a General Election on the way, there are renewed calls for a government that puts road safety near the top of its priorities.

Safety charity IAM RoadSmart has come up with a manifesto of its own. It details how the number of casualties has scarcely decreased over the past seven years. In 2018 there were, on average, four deaths per day on UK roads (1,784 in total).

IAM RoadSmart says there are seven points that require the government’s focus: young drivers, older drivers, driver re-testing, driver rehabilitation, professional drivers, driverless cars and motorcyclist proficiency.

IAM Roadsmart election manifesto

Graduated licencing for young drivers

For young drivers, the charity wants a 12-month minimum learning and test period, plus a graduated licence system. It also wants younger drivers to be subject to training interventions in the first year after they pass their test.

Re-testing and GP certification for older drivers

Older drivers represent what the charity calls a ‘demographic time bomb’. It wants to debate how best to keep them safe on the road. Eye tests, a doctor’s certification and compulsory retesting for drivers over 85 are on the agenda.

Refresher courses

More comprehensive education and testing is a general theme in this manifesto, for drivers of all ages. IAM RoadSmart thinks periodic refresher courses could get driver deaths back in decline.

Driver rehab

Specific negative driver and rider behaviours should be targeted with rehabilitation courses, the charity says, in the same way drink-drivers are rehabilitated.

IAM Roadsmart election manifesto

Driving for work

A renewed focus on the safety of those who drive for work is mentioned, too. This should be ‘at the core of good corporate governance and procurement practice in the private and public sector’.

Driverless car legislation

Autonomous cars are on the horizon, and present an enormous legislatory challenge. How we transition, and how we use them, needs to be examined soon.

Motorcycling

Motorcyclists are some of the most at-risk motorists. IAM Roadsmart reckons they should be allowed in bus lanes, and there should be wider support for advanced riding courses. 

IAM Roadsmart election manifesto

“The UK has one of the best road safety records in Europe, but still 1,784 people a year are killed,” said Mike Quinton, IAM RoadSmart CEO.

“We believe by working together with government and the road safety ‘industry’, we can deliver a step-change in road safety and significantly reduce the fatalities and injuries that occur daily on our roads.

“We will be writing to politicians to highlight our manifesto priorities and urging them to be instrumental in the road safety debate when the new government is formed.”

Government to close legal loophole for using mobile phones while driving

mobile phone driving laws could 'change quickly'

A leading motoring organisation has given its backing to the government’s pledge to review the offence of driving with a handheld mobile device.

But it warns that more needs to be done to catch those who flout the law and put the lives of other road users at risk.

The government said it will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for handheld mobile phone use while behind the wheel.

This follows a successful appeal against a conviction for filming a crash,  with Ramsey Barreto arguing that he “wasn’t using it to communicate”.

The revised legislation will mean a motorist caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe.

“Drivers who use a handheld mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.”

mobile phone driving laws could 'change quickly'

The Highway Code states that it’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. Drivers must use a Bluetooth headset, voice control, dashboard holder, windscreen mount or a built-in sat nav.

Anyone caught committing an offence will receive six penalty points and a £200 fine.

Effective enforcement required

RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said: “We welcome the Government’s decision to review the offence with a view to closing the existing loophole.

“It seems very wrong that prosecutions can currently only be made if drivers are using a handheld phone for the purposes of communication when there are so many other ways of using a smartphone, such as taking pictures, filming or selecting music, which put the lives of other road users at risk.

“We know from RAC research that 17 percent of drivers admit to checking texts, email or social media while driving, but worryingly this is much higher among those under-25, with 35 percent saying they do this.

“It should also be said that tightening the offence, along with increasing the penalty two years ago, is only as powerful as the level of enforcement. In the absence of technology being used to catch offenders, the decline in the number of roads police officers means there is a much lesser chance of being caught in person today than there was 10 years ago.”

How to drive safely in the rain

How to drive in the rain

Heavy rain and flooding have hit parts of Britain over recent weeks, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.

In wet weather, stopping distances are at least DOUBLE those required on dry roads. This is because your tyres have less grip on the road.

The ‘two-second rule’ no longer applies, with the Highway Code advising drivers to allow at least twice the distance on wet roads. Further advice includes:

  • If the steering becomes unresponsive, it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road. This is called aquaplaning. Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually, maintaining a good grip of the steering wheel. The car will regain its grip as the water clears.
  • Rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen.
  • Spilt diesel may make the surface very slippery, especially after a prolonged period of dry weather.
  • Take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe.

“In the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Further advice for driving in rain

How to drive in floods

IAM RoadSmart has the following additional advice for driving in the rain, including what to do in a flood.

  • If you need windscreen wipers, you need your headlights. Automatic lights may not activate in bad weather, so make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on. Daytime running lights are not suitable in heavy rain, especially as your rear lights may not be illuminated.
  • Keep your windscreen clean, the wipers in good condition, and the washer jets positioned correctly.
  • If you approach a flood, ask yourself some questions, for example:
    • Can you find an alternative route? If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If in doubt, stay out.
    • What caused the flood? If it was a burst water main, the road surface may be completely broken up.
    • Are other vehicles able to get through? If not, find an alternative route.
    • Is the water fast flowing? If it is, DO NOT drive through the flood – there’s a danger your car could be swept away.
  • If you drive through standing water, do it slowly. Press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on the accelerate to increase engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed to precent water from entering the exhaust. When you have passed through the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and operating correctly.
  • Remember, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your licence for accidentally splashing pedestrians. Do it deliberately and you could receive a court order and a fine.

Click here for tips on how to drive in summer rain.