March 2014 Newsletter


One in ten crashes caused by Distraction

Some drivers believe they can multi tasking whilst driving.

Vision Critical recently carried out a survey of 1447 drivers in UK. Having been involved in collisions they were asked a series of questions about other things which may have affected their concentration at the time. The results show:

  • Nearly one in ten (9%) of drivers admitted to crashing their cars because they were distracted.
  • 4% of drivers said that someone was injured in the crash.
  • Of the 500 divers who admitted to having a near miss, almost one in five (18%) then went on have a crash.
  • Men are nearly twice as likely to crash because of a distraction as women (11% and 6%).

The most common distractions pointed out by the drivers are:

  • Children in the car (29%)
  • Changing the radio channel (27%)
  • Back seat drivers (26%)
  • Mobile phone use (24%)
  • Satellite navigation (15%)
  • Attractive pedestrians, drivers or passengers (14%)

Click here for more information.

Drug Driving

Report with responses to 2 drug driving consultations

The Department for Transport has published a report about 2 consultations:

  • On the proposed approach to the drugs and their limits to be specified in regulations
  • On a proposed limit for amphetamine following consideration of responses to the earlier consultation

In consideration of the responses the government has concluded that there is support for its proposal to take a zero tolerance approach to 8 drugs most associated with illegal use and a road safety risk based approach to 8 drugs most associated with medical use.

However, the government has concluded that the concerns from the medical community on the proposed limit for amphetamine are significant and will therefore reconsider the limit and re-consult later this year. The government will therefore be presenting to Parliament the regulations with the drugs and their limits proposed in the consultation but with the exclusion of amphetamine. Amphetamine will be included in further regulations once a suitable limit has been determined.

Click here for more information.


Foreign truck firms set to pay to use UK roads for first time

Foreign hauliers have been charged to use UK roads for the first time since 1st April 2014.

UK truck drivers working in Europe currently have to pay tolls and levies when delivering goods abroad. But, until now, foreign trucks operating in the UK were not required to make similar payments.

The HGV Road User Levy introduces a charge that ensures British hauliers are better able to compete with their foreign counterparts.

The levy has long been called for by the UK haulage industry and creates a fairer system by removing some of the inequality UK hauliers feel when paying to use many roads abroad.

Levy amounts will vary according to the vehicle’s weight, axle configuration and time.

UK registered vehicles will pay levy costs at the same time and in the same transaction as vehicle excise duty (VED) with payments collected by the DVLA. VED will be reduced and, consequently, over 90% of HGVs will not see costs rise.

Vehicles registered abroad must make levy payments before entering the UK and details about levy amounts are available here. The levy can be paid by day, week, month or year and discounts are available.

For more information visit the DfT website.

Motorists unhappy with pothole performance

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has published the findings of a survey carried out with 1000 drivers’ opinions of government and council performance on road maintenance.

The survey found out that:

  • 67% of motorists in UK believe that the government are doing a bad or a very bad job of maintaining the nation’s roads.
  • 34% believe that their council is cutting spending on road maintenance but 60 per cent of drivers don’t know if budgets are being cut, suggesting councils are performing poorly on informing and engaging with local residents.
  • 52% of drivers think that local councils are doing a bad or very bad job of looking after local roads.

Some tips on avoiding the risks associated with potholes:

  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front so that you can see the road surface before you drive or ride on it.
  • If you do hit a pothole accidentally, make a point of checking your tyres once you’ve stopped. Check the inner as well as the outer tyre wall, which may have been damaged as a result.
  • Avoid suddenly pulling out to avoid a hole – you might discover that there is a motorcyclist trying to get past you, or encounter an oncoming vehicle.
  • Bikers and cyclists need to look well ahead and change direction early so they have time to deal with the holes, and so that their movements don’t cause surprise to other road users.
  • Potholes tend to reappear in the same place again and again as previous repairs fail - remember where you saw one and expect it to be there again.
  • Be extra vigilant on roads with lots of lorries and also around bus stops. Extra pressure is put on the road surface wherever heavy vehicles stop, start or turn.

Click here for more information.

Cyclists / Motorcyclists

“Think Bikes” campaign Evaluation

In 2013, THINK! launched a campaign to raise awareness of cycle safety in UK.

The campaign lasted 4 weeks and comprised a series of tips, developed to educate and remind drivers and cyclists about the correct way to drive and ride, and reduce the number of collisions on the road.

The key messages developed for the campaign were:

  • Drivers, look out for cyclists when getting out
  • Cyclists, ride a door’s width from parked cars
  • Cyclists, ride central on narrow roads
  • Drivers, look out for cyclists at junctions

Recently, a report with the evaluation of the campaign was published. The key findings are:

  • Recognition of the campaign was good relative to spend and TNS norms
  • The campaign worked well amongst cyclists, less so amongst drivers
  • The posters with specific tips worked better than those with broader information
  • Following the campaign there was increased reflection of behaviours
  • There was a lot of media coverage around cyclist deaths at the post stage but this appeared to help amplify the THINK! campaign rather than dilute it.

You can access the full report here.

You can see the campaign here.


Tyre Safety

Tyres are the vehicle's only point of contact with the road. The actual area of contact between the car and the road through the tyres is small, roughly equivalent to four size eight men's shoes. Bald tyres - 'slicks' - may be fine for a race car on a dry track, but no good at all for road vehicles on a wet road surface. Tyres treads are designed to pump water from the road surface and provide maximum grip. By the time the tread is worn down to the legal limit they will be unable to perform this task efficiently and MUST be replaced.

RoSPA recommends that worn tyres are replaced with an equivalent new unit well before the legal minimum tread limit of 1.6mm is reached - ideally as soon as they reach 3mm.

There is a fact sheet on the RoSPA website discussing Tread Depth and Wet Weather Stopping Distances.

Motor vehicle manufacturers choose the type, make, size, profile, load carrying capacities and speed ratings to match their vehicles, adjusting the tyre pressures to give the optimum grip, ride and handling characteristics. Only change the type of tyres on your vehicle on expert advice from the vehicle manufacturer, or tyre manufacturer.

Tyre checks survey

Ingenie and TyreSafe have carried out a survey to ask 1,000 young drivers what they know about tyre safety.

The survey showed that:

  • About 33% of drivers never checked their tyres.
  • 25% of drivers never checked the pressure in their tyres
  • 85% of drivers underestimated the fine for each illegal tyre while driving
  • 62% of drivers underestimated the minimum legal thread depth for a tyre
  • 57% of drivers didn’t know that the driver is responsible for road legal tyres

Click here for more information.

Tyre Maintenance

Tread depth

Pay special attention to the amount of tread remaining on your tyres, and measure them regularly (details of minimum legal tread depths is given below). Always replace tyres before they reach the legal limit.


The vehicle’s handbook provides guidance about how to look after your tyres. It will also contain information about vehicle loading and the required adjustments to tyre pressures which should be followed for safety. Tyre pressures should always be checked and corrected (if necessary) when they are cold. It is vital that tyre pressures are maintained at the levels recommended by the manufacturer to ensure maximum tyre life, safety, the best ride and handling characteristics.

Over or under-inflating tyres is likely to seriously impair their performance and may prejudice the safe use of the vehicle. Over-inflation increases overall tyre diameter, decreases the amount of tread in contact with the road, decreases sidewall flexibility and affects road-adhesion. Under-inflation decreases overall tyre diameter, increases sidewall flexion, generates higher tyre operating temperatures and difficult vehicle handling characteristics. Running an under-inflated tyre may cause premature tyre failure. Both over and under-inflation adversely affect tyre life.

Cleaning treads

Keep tyre treads clean of stones and other foreign bodies, and check regularly for damage to the tread and side-walls. It is vitally important that any damage is checked out by a tyre expert and any necessary repairs or replacements are carried out immediately.

Tyre valves

Check tyre valves carefully. Ensure the caps are in place and that there is no evidence of cracking or damage to the valve stem.

For more information about tyres visit RoSPA website.


End of Foreign Language Driving Tests end

The Department for Transport has announced the end of driving tests in foreign languages.

The changes have been in place following a consultation last year carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on a series of proposals reviewing the level of support available to candidates who cannot speak English.

Almost 2,000 people had their say on the proposals. More than 70% of the people who responded supported the withdrawal of foreign language voiceovers and interpreters on tests.

Many people agreed that a lack of understanding of the national language meant that some drivers may not be able to:

  • understand traffic signs
  • speak with traffic enforcement officers
  • read details of the rules of the road

There was also support for encouraging candidates to learn the national language to improve social cohesion.

The government intends to cut out the risk of fraud and help to ensure that all drivers in UK can read road signs and fully understand the rules of the road.

The changes will mean that candidates will now no longer be able to:

  • take their car and motorcycle theory tests with a voiceover in 1 of 19 foreign languages
  • use interpreters on theory tests and practical tests

For more information click here.

Click here to read the full report on the consultation.

Vehicle tax changes

The tax disc to show motorists have paid vehicle excise duty is to be replaced with an electronic system on 1st October 2014. This means that the paper tax disc will no longer need to be displayed on a vehicle windscreen as DVLA and police have access to electronic register.

In addition, when you buy a vehicle, the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred with the vehicle. You will need to get new vehicle tax before you can use the vehicle. You can tax the vehicle using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) part of the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) online or by phone - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, you may wish to visit a Post Office® branch.

If you sell a vehicle after 1st October 2014 and you have notified DVLA, you will automatically get a refund for any full calendar months left on the vehicle tax.

You will no longer need to make a separate application for a refund of vehicle tax. DVLA will automatically issue a refund when a notification is received from the person named on DVLA vehicle register that the:

  • vehicle has been sold or transferred
  • vehicle has been scrapped at an Automated Treatment Facility
  • vehicle has been exported
  • vehicle has been stolen
  • vehicle has been removed from the road and the person on the vehicle register has made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
  • person on the vehicle register has changed the tax class on the vehicle to an exempt duty tax class
  • person on the vehicle register has taken out new vehicle tax as part of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme (Standard Rate Mobility Element)

At present, motorists are able to choose whether they pay VED in twelve or six month instalments. The latter option costs 10% extra each year, but this is expected to be cut to 5%.

DVLA will offer motorists the ability to spread their vehicle tax payments should they wish to do so. From 1 October 2014 motorists will be able to pay vehicle tax by direct debit annually, biannually or monthly. There will be no additional handling fees for annual payments but to limit the impact on the public finances there will be a small surcharge of 5% of vehicle tax for biannual and monthly payments. This is half of the 10% surcharge that is currently applied to 6 monthly tax discs and which has been in existence for a number of decades.

Click here for more information about direct debit.

For more information about vehicle tax changes visit DfT website.

Changes to motorcycle, lorry and bus driving test rules

Some driving test rules for motorcyclists, lorry, bus and coach drivers are due from 10th April 2014

The main changes affecting lorry, bus and coach drivers will be:

  • removing the need for 8-forward gear ratios for large test vehicles (category C, C+E)
  • allowing people who take a lorry or bus test (category C, C+E, D, D+E) in an automatic vehicle, to get a manual entitlement for those vehicles if they already have a manual entitlement for cars, lorries or buses, with or without trailers (category B, B+E, C, C+E, C1, C1+E, D, D+E, D1+E)
  • letting car (category B) licence holders drive large trikes above 15KW power if they are aged 21 or over

The main changes affecting motorcycle riders to allow more flexibility will be:

  • reducing the minimum engine power requirement for medium motorcycles (category A2) from 25kW to 20kW
  • letting car (category B) licence holders drive large trikes above 15KW power if they are aged 21 or over

For more information visit the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website.

Occupational Road Risk Appeal to Employers, as part of RoSPA’s Family Safety Week

As part of its first-ever Family Safety Week, RoSPA called on employers to consider how they could make a positive difference to the safety of their employees who drive for work.

It is estimated that up to a third of road accidents involve someone who is using the road for work purposes. In 2012, this means that up to 7,679 people across Great Britain could have been killed or seriously injured because of an "at work" road accident.

With Family Safety Week covering all ages and stages of life, RoSPA encouraged employers to think about the impact that work-related road accidents can have, not just on the drivers and those on the road around them, and on the business, but also on the wider wellbeing of the families involved. It is also calling on drivers themselves, regardless of why they get behind the wheel for their job, to consider the issue.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “Managing occupational road risk is all about having a good system in place. But it doesn’t have to be a tedious, tick-box exercise - employers can make a real difference to the safety of their employees who drive for work by addressing this issue through risk assessment, training and other actions like journey planning, schedule setting, vehicle choice and maintenance and learning from accidents, should any occur.”

RoSPA has a wealth of free resources available to help firms manage occupational road risk. Its Driver and Fleet Solutions team also offers management of occupational road risk (MORR) services including policy reviews, risk assessment and driver training.

FREE ScORSA A3 Desk notepads with 2014 calendars and A6 driver notepads

The Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ScORSA) still has a number of A3 desk pads and A6 note pads, featuring road safety messages, to give away free of charge.

The pads are designed for small and medium-sized firms but have relevance to anyone who drives for work purposes or manages those who drive for work purposes. They remind managers of their responsibilities in terms of health and safety legislation and ask them to consider safety issues relating to the journey, the vehicle and the driver. The A3 desk pads include a 2014 calendar.

The pads are available in bulk to organisations across Scotland. Email us place an order.

For more information about ScORSA, please visit our website.