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Issue:- 16/17  December 2009


PUBLIC speaking, moths and vomit are just some of the phobias gripping the nation.  A massive 72% of Brits find themselves anxious and panicked on a daily basis as they come face to face with their fears.

The most common phobia shared by 38% of people is Spiders, otherwise known as arachnophobia.  25% of people are terrified of heights, and snakes put the fear of God into 15% of people.  And the 4th most common phobia, shared by 10% of folk, is flying. Aerophobia, or aviatophobia, means that 1 in 10 holidaymakers find going abroad a traumatic and unhappy experience.

Other phobias to appear in the top 10 include injections, bees or wasps, and public speaking.  More unusual fears include moths for 9% of folk, dying for 10% of people and pigeons for 5% of people.

A spokesman for the iPILOT Flight Simulator, which helps people overcome their fear of flying and which conducted the poll of 3,000 people said:- ‘The poll demonstrates that most people are afraid of something, and much of the time the phobia can be quite debilitating.  For some people, their fears can largely be avoided without too much trouble – spiders, moths and bees can be run away from, snakes are rarely seen and public speaking is only necessary for a finite number of jobs.  But fears such as heights, flying or enclosed spaces are on a completely different level - all of these phobias are recognised as being incredibly stressful, life altering and incapacitating.

Luckily there are ways and means of making a phobia more bearable so that people can do ordinary things such as getting in a place to go on holiday or walking out of the house without being frightened.  Our research shows that people’s fear of flying is part of being exposed to the unknown.  Taking control of our flight simulator under the guidance of an experienced commercial pilot helps people understand how aircraft fly, which noises are normal and that turbulence is nothing to worry about - we don't just create sensation of flying, we teach it.”

The poll shows that symptoms such as rapid heart beat, sweaty palms and nausea are common occurrences for people with a phobia.  Unfortunately for more serious sufferers, having a fear of something can be damaging for relationships and family life.  15% of those questioned said a relationship with a partner had suffered because of their phobia, and 18% have regular arguments will family members because of their fears.  10% of people have had to give up a job they loved due to their dread, and 14% of people have had trouble making friends as a consequence.  Worrying, phobias are often passed from one generation to the next, as parents influence the way their child thinks and reacts.  14% of parents say their children already suffer from exactly the same phobias.

The spokesman for iPILOT, which is being launched in Westfield Shopping Centre in London, continues:- “The fact that fears can be picked up from other people is very concerning indeed, but this is another reason why people should address their fears and try to get help as soon as possible.”

1. Spiders 2. Heights
3. Snakes 4. Flying
5. Injections 6. Bees or wasps
7. Public speaking 8. Enclosed spaces
9. Moths 10. Dying
11. Social situations 12. Drowning
13. Vomit 14. Lifts
15. Dark 16. Dogs
17. Pigeons 18. Thunder & lightening
19. Walking over bridges 20. Gaining weight

Tunnels clampdown on crime

Mersey Tunnels Police Officers conduct a roadside test

MORE than 260 vehicles were stop-checked by Mersey Tunnels police as part of a clampdown on crime that took place overnight on Friday 11 December 2009.  The Tunnels Police coordinated the joint agency “Operation Mercury”, launched to tackle illegal taxis, dangerous cars and Christmas drink drivers. 

The police operation, based at the Kings Square exit of the Queensway Tunnel, was supported by VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency), immigration services and licensing enforcement officers from Wirral and Liverpool.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- "The safety and security of drivers using the tunnels is paramount. This is an important operation and one that supports the high visibility patrols of our Tunnel Police force.  Illegal drivers and drink drivers are not welcome. The two tunnels are some of the safest stretches of road in the country and we want to keep them that way.”

Mersey Tunnels Police issued 1 fixed penalty notice for tyre offences and 2 stop notices for potential insurance offences.  During the operation 14 drivers were breathalysed; all passed; and 174 drivers were questioned in relation to the national drink drive campaign. 

VOSA issued 9 immediate prohibition notices; 1 delayed prohibition notice and launched 1 prosecution for vehicles deemed unroadworthy because of defects or faults.

Liverpool Taxi Enforcement team issued 3 suspension notices, 5 defect notices and 3 prosecutions to taxi drivers. A total of 65 Liverpool-based taxis were stop-checked during the campaign.

Wirral Taxi Enforcement team issued 3 suspension notices and 9 defect notices to taxi drivers. A total of 32 Wirral-based taxis were stop-checked.

UK Border and Immigration Officers investigated 9 suspected illegal immigrants with 1 investigation pending.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel added:- "The Mersey Tunnels have an extremely good safety record and this project is a great example of agencies working together to tackle crime and enforce the laws that are there to protect us.  We have spent millions of pounds upgrading and improving both tunnels, including the new escape chambers in Queensway. It is important our enforcement matches that commitment."

Operation Mercury was set up to detect and prosecute unroadworthy cars and other vehicles, illegal taxis and drivers and a range of other offences.  The aim of the operation is to promote a safer environment in and around the Mersey Tunnels and their approach roads.

Previous operations have also included Merseyside Police and officers from Customs and Excise and Benefit Fraud Inspectorate.

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