Wider use of mobile safety cameras is good news for road safety says IAM RoadSmart


An investigation by IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity has found that more than a third-of police forces are using their mobile safety camera vans to prosecute drivers not wearing seatbelts or using a handheld mobile phone.

The information comes from a Freedom of Information request submitted to 44 police forces which found that 16 of them use the pictures from the cameras in their vans to pursue these offences as a matter of routine, and a further four do so occasionally.

With 80% of drivers telling us that driver distraction from phones has got worse in the last three years this can only be good news for road safety.  IAM RoadSmart surveys also show that drivers put enforcing mobile phone laws in second place behind drink and drug driving as a road traffic policing priority.  Seatbelt use is in sixth place but it is well established that those not wearing a seatbelt are much more likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash.

IAM RoadSmart’s Freedom of Information research found that the 16 police forces that routinely use their safety cameras to seek out other offences recorded more than 8,000 unbelted drivers between them and around 1,000 with a mobile in their hand in 2016 (three police forces provided a category called “other offences” which totalled about 500 in 2016).

Some police forces had reservations about using safety cameras or camera vans to record non-speeding offences.  Questions still need to be resolved completely around Home Office Type and image quality for successful prosecution.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “Drivers should be reassured that the police are using all the tools in their road safety toolkit to address their top worries.  For too many drivers it is only the fear of being caught that will stop them putting themselves and others at risk from smartphone distraction.  Not wearing a seatbelt also puts an unfair burden on our emergency services who have to deal with the aftermath of such selfish behaviour.   If drivers don’t know about this added enforcement technique then its impact will be reduced so the police should have no hesitation in publicising its use.”

She added: “Our research shows that the use of mobile safety camera vans to pursue phone users and seatbelt offenders varies from one force to another. What we need are clear and consistent guidelines on what the cameras are being used for, what training staff are being given and how the images are being used as evidence. The last thing we want to see are resources being wasted or the road safety message being diluted by careless drivers being acquitted.”





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 Driverless cars bring up more questions than answers and training will be crucial, finds ‘Driver Ahead?’ Conference

Driverless cars could create a highway to confusion unless training and coaching catches up with the fast pace of change and helps drivers cope with a whole new set of
That is the overall conclusion reached by a collection of industry experts who converged on London for the IAM RoadSmart/RAC Foundation/Pirelli ‘Driver Ahead?’ Conference last week.
More than 100 experts in the industry and beyond it talked about their findings and research for the conference, which sought to “map a safe route to the driverless car.”
During the Conference, speakers discussed how the next generation of autonomous cars will record much more information than ever before.  This data can be used to resolve any post-crash insurance claims but also, critically, to inform and
personalise future driver training.
Opening the conference, guest speaker Victoria Coren-Mitchell entertained delegates with a thought provoking speech.  She introduced the concept of “death by code,”
challenging us to decide if deaths caused by a computer are better or worse than those caused by human error. She pointed out that: “‘What would I do in a driverless car?’ The answer is ‘Scream!’ What is driving this thing?”
Simon Thompson, Human Factors  Specialist at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Without the driving, there will  be the desire to do secondary tasks – but how does the car engage with  the driver when it needs him or her? There is a lot more that needs to
be done in designing cars so that controls are easier to find, when  asking the driver to take over control again.”
Other experts added that some  drivers would inevitably misuse the vehicle systems, or simply find a  way round them because they find it too complicated.
Professor Nick Reed, head of  mobility research at Bosch, said: “Any system needs to be aware of the  effective use or misuse of it.”
Professor of Human Factors at  University of Nottingham Sarah Sharples, added: “People will break unbreakable technology if they find it inconvenient. What’s more, people pranking and having fun will cause security risks.”
Professor Neville Stanton,  Professor and Chair of Human Factors Engineering at Southampton  University pointed out there is a danger of switching the driver from
underload to overload – where he or she  has had nothing to do, then has
a sudden requirement to intervene in an emergency situation, and ends
up panicking and creating a tragedy.
He said: “The problem with automation is that it is not currently powerful to render the driver completely redundant. It requires the driver to monitor continuously and
intervene occasionally. The car needs to support, not replace the
driver.”Nic Fasci, lead engineer for vehicle engineering and homologation at Tata Motors European Technical centre, said: “The key to autonomous vehicles is training, training,
training! The skill of driving must be robotic before the software can
be developed. The skill of driving is being eroded and this can be seen
every day.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and
research at IAM RoadSmart, concluded: “Having the views of so many
experts in the industry for our conference was very valuable. It showed that the driver will require a great deal of re-educating before entering the world of the autonomous vehicle. “There is a myth that the car will do everything for the driver. It is clear the driver will always have a part to play – but is the driver ready for his new role? Clearly not.
That’s the reality we have to prepare for.”


 ‘It’s not all about enforcement’ says IAM RoadSmart as roadside testing reaches its 50th anniversary

As the breathalyser device marks 50 years of use by UK police, the UK’s biggest road safety charity IAM RoadSmart is suggesting visible policing and a cut to the drink-drive
limit are not the only ways to achieve a significant reduction in the numbers killed and seriously injured on our roads.
The charity also recommends that a drink-drive rehabilitation course should be made compulsory for those convicted of the crime, as opposed to it being voluntary.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “The increase in serious injury crashes and the overall increase in drink related crashes is worrying and
suggests the problem is not reducing among a hard core of drivers willing to take the risk. 
“The Government should introduce a lower limit in England and Wales but that is unlikely to eradicate the problem completely, although it would deliver a small but significant decrease in drink drive casualties and underline the clear message that
driving and drinking don’t mix.
“The best way to catch those who ignore the limit is through intelligence led high profile policing so investment in roads policing must be protected.  The reality of being
caught must match the campaign messaging.
He added: “But, it must not be forgotten that drivers who take a drink-drive rehabilitation course are less likely to re- offend. Currently a convicted drink-driver has to
choose to take a course when they appear in court.  At IAM RoadSmart we believe a more effective option would be to make the course compulsory and force drivers to opt out only if they choose to do so. 
“In our experience drivers drink and drive for a variety of reasons often related to personal and financial problems.  Treating their reliance on alcohol to ‘solve’ their
problems can deliver a more permanent solution that improves road
safety and deals with underlying addiction issues.”



Shaving, doing your hair, telling off the kids … all in a day’s work for UK drivers, finds IAM RoadSmart 

A poll by the UK’s biggest road
safety charity IAM RoadSmart of more than 2,300 visitors to our website
has lifted the lid on some of the worst motoring distractions drivers
have spotted on the road – it reveals that UK drivers appear to treat
the driving seat as an extension of the bathroom mirror with a wide
range of personal grooming activities going on behind the wheel.
The three most frequently observed
activities are smoking, eating and drinking - all of which have been
observed by more than 95% of those surveyed.
But more surprisingly ‘telling off
children’ and ‘styling hair’ were also high in the charts, with this
being witnessed by 82% and 55% of responders respectively.
Some 63% of those surveyed had
seen a driver look at a laptop or tablet screen. Further down the chart,
but no less worrying; were those trying to control a pet (seen by 46%)
reading a book at the wheel (seen by 3%) and shaving (seen by 24%).
Most worryingly many of these
distracting behaviours are being witnessed time and time again on nearly
every journey. Of those surveyed a quarter saw someone drinking at the
wheel every day and a fifth saw someone eating. One in seven said they
had seen people looking at their laptops or tablets every day, and one
in ten daily saw parents telling off children whilst driving.
And more than half (57%) said they
had been affected by drivers who had been distracted for any of the
reasons seen in the survey.
Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief
executive officer, said: “We understand that the pressures of modern
life mean we cannot always keep our cool, especially when children and
pets often don’t understand the concept of ‘concentration.’
“But it is exactly in these
situations that a tragedy can occur. Talking to any passengers can wait
until there are no other potential problems around. Pets should always
be securely transported in their carriers.
“As far as the other bad habits
revealed in the survey, these are all things that should be done at
either end of the journey – not during it. Otherwise they can be a major
distraction to the driver.”
Over 60% of respondents either
hadn’t seen or couldn’t recall seeing any campaigns about driving
distractions so IAM RoadSmart has created a short film starring
ex-Formula 1 test driver and current Aston Martin racer Darren Turner
which shows exactly how distracting children, pets and mobile phones can
be, even for a professional driver.

Go to https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdNOskBcm90
Added Sarah: “We need to persuade drivers there is no such thing as ‘multitasking’ when it comes to motoring.

Driving needs to be the sole activity going on whilst at the
wheel. Everything else can wait.”


Drivers need reassurance on safety, cybercrime and terrorism if truck platoons are to deliver, says IAM RoadSmart

With the Department of Transport
announcing today (25 August) trialling of platoons of self-driving
lorries on England's motorways, Britain’s biggest independent road
safety charity is advising there must be more reassurances on issues
such as  cyber attacks as well as basic road safety needs such as
telling other drivers which trucks are in the platoon.
The trial, due for 2018, will see
up to three lorries travel in automated convoys which will be controlled
by a driver in the lead vehicle in a bid to cut congestion and
emissions (reference 1).
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director
of policy and research, said: "Motorways are our safest roads and that
record must not be jeopardised by any rush towards autonomous
technology. The pilot study may answer these questions but car and
motorbike users will need a lot of reassurance that the systems will not
block the inside lane with an extra-long ‘wall’ of trucks."
IAM RoadSmart members were polled
by the organisation in September 2016 (reference 2) on driverless
vehicles and cybercrime was the top concern.
Neil added:

“The technology exists to implement platooning but in the real world it must deliver real economic benefits to outweigh our safety worries. How will other drivers know which trucks are in a platoon?  Will the sight of tailgating
trucks be a distraction?  Can we still use slip roads and view important
roadside signs clearly? 
“The public quite rightly also have real concerns in the light of current terrorist attacks and the rise in cyber crime generally. These are all genuine questions in
people’s minds that need to be answered by the trial.”

Official dash cam guidance urgently needed says IAM RoadSmart

The UK’s biggest road safety charity
IAM RoadSmart has warned that the rush of drivers investing in dash cams
may not yield any increase in prosecutions for dangerous driving as
many hope – and may also lead to fewer visible traffic patrols as
officers spend more time analysing amateur footage.

In 2015 The Daily Telegraph
reported that sales of dash cams had increased by 918% (reference 1),
with many insurance companies now accepting footage as part of insurance
But IAM RoadSmart has urged caution, as drivers are potentially lulled into a false sense of security in thinking a dash cam will protect them or exonerate them from all blame in the event of a crash – when in fact the opposite might be
the case.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director
of policy and research, said dash cam footage often does not show the
full picture of a crash – often being too short, poor quality, failing
to show how a crash developed or only showing one very restricted angle.
He added that there is no consistency over which police forces would accept dash cam footage – on Monday (21 August) both North and South Wales Police were widely quoted in the media as saying they would welcome it (reference 2) through its Operation Snap, but as of now the situation is vastly different or
unknown by many across the country.

Neil added: ”IAM RoadSmart is
calling for consistent national guidelines on the standard of dash cam
footage required for prosecutions, what the police will do with it and
how to submit it in the correct way. Our members are very supportive of
high profile policing but it takes time for police to evaluate the
footage, decide what to follow up, trace the driver, serve paperwork and
then obtain a successful prosecution within legal time limits. Our main
concern is that dash cams must not become a replacement for fully
trained officer undertaking high profile roads policing.
Neil said: “A dash cam isn’t the be-all and end-all. People need to realise they must improve their own standards of driving as well as expecting others to do the same. “We at IAM RoadSmart are very concerned that drivers might be investing in a dash cam as a substitute for better driving, instead of using it as a
“In many ways a dash cam is the end of the line; real accident prevention requires better driver training and tackling ingrained attitudes and behaviours.”














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