Drivers urged to
take time out to enjoy their lunch
DRIVERS are being urged to
take a break and enjoy their food away from their vehicles, as road
safety charity Brake and Direct Line reveal 62% have eaten at the
wheel in the past year. 29% unwrapped food themselves at the wheel;
a telling symptom of busy lifestyles putting lives at risk. Studies
have suggested eating a meal at the wheel increases your risk of a
devastating crash as much as talking on a phone.
Brake and Direct Line's survey of 1,000 drivers reveals that in
the past year:-
29% have opened and eaten food at the wheel.
► 33% have eaten food that was
unwrapped and passed to them by a passenger.
► 2% has narrowly avoided a crash in
the past year, having had to brake or swerve to avoid a hazard
because they were distracted by food or drink.
The numbers of UK drivers eating at the wheel reflects a wider trend
towards eating on the move, as lifestyles become ever more
fast-paced. Britons have been found to spend more on food eaten on
the move than any other country in Europe, with our continental
neighbours more likely to take time out to enjoy meals.
Brake and Direct Line's survey shows it's not just meal times being
squeezed by our busy lifestyles, as 20% of drivers admit to doing
their hair, applying make-up or otherwise tidying up their
appearance while at the wheel. 5% admit doing so in free-flowing
traffic, risking appalling crashes.
Eating at the wheel is part of the wider problem of distracted
drivers, believed to contribute to around 22% of crashes. Drivers
who attempt to multi-task at the wheel are two to three times more
likely to crash, and complex tasks like unwrapping and eating a
burger increase the risk even more. The consequences can be deadly,
as in May 2012 when cyclist Joe Wilkins was killed by a driver who
was eating a sandwich. More details in case study below.
Brake urges all drivers to give the road their full attention and
save any other activities for regular breaks, which should be at
least every two hours on long journeys. Brake also calls on
government to make traffic policing a national priority to stop
multi-tasking drivers putting lives at risk. Recently introduced
on-the-spot fines for 'careless driving' offences are a step
in the right direction and have already been used on a lorry driver
brushing his teeth. However, Brake argues the current £100 fine
needs to be much higher to effectively deter this potentially deadly
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:- "Driving
is the most complicated and risky thing most of us do on a regular
basis, so it is vital we give it our full and undivided attention;
we can't afford to treat our cars as an extension of our kitchen or
bathroom. Eating at the wheel often means taking your eyes, hands
and mind off the road and dramatically increases your chances of
crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone. Drivers need to
take regular breaks and make time away from their vehicles to enjoy
lunch or perform other tasks. We are also appealing to government to
increase fines for distraction and careless driving offences, to
stop risky multi-tasking drivers."
Rob Miles, director of Motor at Direct Line, commented:- "It's
imperative that motorists focus their full attention on the road.
There has been significant research into the increase in drivers'
reaction times while talking on a mobile phone, but other in-car
distractions that take the driver's attention away from the road can
be equally harmful. We advise motorists to always build in time for
a break if they are going on a long journey, and use this time to
refuel with food and drinks as well as with petrol."
Read about Brake's drive smart campaign. Tweet us:- @Brakecharity,
hashtag #DriveSmart. Read the survey report.
Joe Wilkins, 39, from Eynsham in Oxfordshire, was killed when
cycling in May 2012. The driver, Paul Brown, 30, was eating a
sandwich and claims he didn't see Joe. He crashed into the back of
Joe's bike at 60mph, sending him flying into a ditch over 20 metres
from where he was hit. Joe died at the roadside, despite attempts by
a passing nurse to resuscitate him.
Brown was convicted of causing death by careless driving. He was
ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from
driving for a year, close to the minimum penalty that can be given
for this offence.
The father of 2 young children, Joe was a fire fighter with 10
years' experience and described as "one of the nicest people
you could ever meet" and "a credit to the community".
Joe's partner Nicci Saunders says:- "My family has been blown
apart. Our two young daughters have to grow up without their dad and
me without my soul mate. The girls have been utterly traumatised and
still wake in the night crying for their Daddy. I am trying to
support them through it, but I miss him terribly too. None of our
lives will ever be the same again. Road crashes are avoidable, and
Joe's death could have been prevented so easily by the driver giving
his full attention to driving."
A study of in vehicle video footage of driver behaviour taken from
over 2 million miles of journeys found 22% of crashes could be
caused, at least in part, by driver distraction. It also showed that
drivers who perform a secondary task at the wheel are two to three
times more likely to crash. Some very complex tasks increase this
risk even more.
Many drivers take risks by eating, smoking, changing music tracks or
using a phone in the belief they are skilled enough to keep control.
In fact, research shows drivers are not able to correctly estimate
the level of distraction they are suffering and 98% of drivers are
not able to divide their attention without a significant
deterioration in driving performance.
Mobile phones and other technology are well known causes of
distraction, but other things, including eating, drinking or doing
your hair or make up can be just as dangerous. One study suggested
that eating that involves unwrapping food at the wheel slows your
reactions by up to 44%, more than texting. Some studies have
suggested eating a meal while driving increases crash risk as much
as talking on the phone.
Distraction is deadly. Drivers need to keep their mind and eyes on
the road and both hands on the wheel to drive safely. Giving into
distractions is a bit like drink-driving, that it affects reaction times
and control, and could easily cost someone their life.
Eating and drinking on the move might seem harmless but research
shows it reduces our ability to react quickly. Eating should be a
pleasure, so take the time out and savour your meals when you're not
On long journeys, stop for breaks every two hours and use that time
to eat, catch up on phone calls and messages, and do any personal
grooming you need to do. When you get back in the car, your mind
should be completely back on the road.
Calls for government action
Brake recently welcomed the introduction of a new £100 fixed penalty
notice that can be issued on the spot by police for 'careless
driving' offences. However, Brake believes £100 is not nearly enough
to effectively deter risky law-breaking behaviour. The fixed penalty
notice should be increased to at least £500 or preferably closer to
£1,000, reflecting that it is a crime that endangers lives. Brake's
own research has shown that 47% of drivers think a fine of £500 or
more is appropriate for offences including careless driving, and 46%
say they would take more care on the road if penalties were tougher.
However, a more appropriate financial penalty is of little use
unless there are enough road traffic police to detect risky
law-breaking behaviour. Brake calls on government to stem worrying
cut-backs in traffic policing by making it a national policing
priority, to ensure we have sufficient numbers of specialist
officers enforcing vital safety laws on roads.
About the report
These survey results come from Report 5, Section 1 of the Direct
Line and Brake report on safe driving, 2012 to 2014 Fit to Drive,
released on Tuesday, 20 February 2014. The survey consisted of
1,000 drivers and was conducted by Surveygoo.
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop
the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads
every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in
road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community
education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week, that runs
from 17 November to 23
November 2014, and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to
companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims
through a helpline and other services.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable
events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work
to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives
have been torn apart by needless casualties.
Monster crane will chill Ormskirk
A 300ft high monster will dominate the skyline
of Ormskirk on Saturday, 1 March 2014. The giant crane will be
lifting a new chiller unit on to the roof of Ormskirk hospital. The
work is part of a £270,000 refurbishment scheme to the cooling
Andrew Green, Facilities Manager at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital
NHS Trust, said:- "The crane weighs 500 tonnes and should be
quite a sight. We are carrying this work out at a weekend to keep
disruption to the hospital to a minimum."
The crane will occupy the entire patient transport ambulance parking
area to the left of the main hospital entrance.
As a safety precaution, part of the hospital will be
closed between 6am and 5pm, but apart from the temporary closure of
the chapel, this should not affect patients or visitors. Traffic
marshals will direct visitors and staff as necessary. Pedestrian
access to the main hospital and West Lancashire Health Centre will
be via the hospital main entrance. Vehicular access will be
maintained to the rear access road for maternity Ambulances and any
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust traffic.
City to work
with small builders to revitalise vacant land
LIVERPOOL City Council is
launching a new pilot project to bring vacant land across the City
back into use for small scale housing projects.
The City's Property and Asset Management team has drawn up an
initial list of 16 Council owned sites, some of which have been
vacant for decades. This land; which includes sites in Walton
Village, Kirkdale, Croxteth and Princes Park; will now be marketed
to individuals or groups who may be interested in small-build
The plans aim to bring some of the City's vacant land back into
meaningful use and stimulate growth in areas where little interest
has been shown in housing development for many years. Most of the
sites previously contained housing which was demolished.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said;- "We are taking every
possible step to drive forward housing growth in this City. A big
part of this is making the most of our assets, so we can support the
delivery of new homes in areas which need it most. At the same time,
we want to tackle the problem of vacant, derelict land which blights
We have a number of sites which are suitable for small schemes.
Making them available to builders or individuals who want to build
their own home makes eminent sense, as part of our wider work to
provide affordable housing in every part of our City and attract
people back into our communities.
We will now be inviting submissions from individuals or
organisations who want to work with us to deliver schemes. We are
looking for projects of quality design, which can be delivered
quickly, and which will complement the area in which they are
located. I have pledged to deliver 5,000 new homes for our City by
2015 and this is the type of innovative approach which will be so
important in achieving that target."
The 16 brownfield sites identified by the Council range from 286sqm
to 9622sqm in size. As such, the majority are suitable for between
one and five houses; with three bigger sites in Croxteth, which
formerly held tower blocks, suitable for larger custom build
Liverpool City Council will shortly be advertising the available
land and contacting small builders, community organisations, social
housing providers, charities and people who wish to build their own
house, to invite expressions of interest.
Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann
O'Byrne, said:- "We have talked extensively with small-build
organisations in this the City - and we know that there is certainly
an appetite and demand for these types of schemes.
We want to respond to that, and identifying these initial sites is a
major step in the right direction. I'm confident that it will help
get a range of small build schemes off the ground. This is a pilot
project, and if it is a success we'll be looking to bring forward
more sites in the future. We'll also be working with Liverpool
organisation Comtechsa to promote the use of local architects and
builders where possible. These plans will help bring a new lease of
life to areas of the City which have been in desperate need of
regeneration for many years. It will also help small builders turn
their ideas into reality and empower communities in the
redevelopment of their neighbourhoods. Most importantly, it will
allow us to transform vacant land into the high quality, affordable
housing which this City so badly needs."
Housing schemes which focus on the re-use of obsolete or under-used
land in built-up areas are known in the urban planning industry, as
The City Council owns the freehold to the land and plans to dispose
of the sites by way of a long leasehold. The Council is inviting
expressions of interest for both individual sites and for groups of
sites, and from individuals as well as small builders interested in
small scale (1 or 2 new build units) to larger scale proposals
(above 5 units).
Expressions of interest will be expected to include a financial
offer for the site, and interested parties will be asked to provide
a range of other details, including their financial arrangements to
deliver the proposal; a timetable for delivery; design principles;
how the site will be managed; and any wider social, economic or
environmental benefits to be delivered. All proposals will be
assessed by the City Council with a decision on the outcome of the
initiative taken by late Spring.
PROTECTION WITH DASH CAMS
SALES of dashboard car cameras are soaring as
motorists seek to protect themselves from crash claims.
Insurance companies report camera evidence is increasingly being
used as "an independent witness" to establish who is at fault
after an accident and protect an innocent driver's premium from
Car parts and leisure retailer Halfords has seen demand for the
dashboardmounted mini video cameras double over the past year and
say the devices could easily become as common-place as sat-nav's,
which are used by 2 out of 3 drivers.
The in car cameras, known as dash-cams, record the view through the
windscreen and capture events before, as the car travels along the
With prices starting as low as £50 many motorists are seeing this
purchase as a sensible investment, not only to protect their
no-claims bonuses, but also to combat crash for cash fraud claims.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates around 30,000 so called "cash
for crash" incidents take place every year, costing insurers
around £350 million and pushing up premiums for honest drivers.
Halfords Product Manager Alec James said:- "We've seen
interest in dash-cams double over the past year, with a
corresponding increase in sales but this may be the tip of the
iceberg. With around 28 million cars on UK roads and only a small
proportion yet to realise the benefits in-car cameras the market
could be substantial. If the use of dash-cams became as common-place
as sat-nav's it would be a market worth in excess of £2.5billion.
The knowledge that even a minor bump can cause a significant
financial penalty if it results in the loss of a no-claims bonus and
rise in your insurance premiums, as well as the rise in fraudulent
'cash for crash' claims, is also driving up demand."
Dash cams do not currently make drivers eligible for automatic
discounts on premiums but if camera footage proves you were not to
blame for an accident yours would be treated as a "no-fault"
claim. Consequently your no-claims bonus would be unaffected; you
would not be charged an "excess" penalty and would not face a
sharp rise in your next year's premiums.
Also insurers believe that in the future in-car cameras could result
in a reduction in costs as having one would encourage drivers to
stick to speed limits and in general drive more carefully, in the
same way telematics has had a positive effect on young motorists by
monitoring their driving and reducing accidents by at least 30%.
The recorded footage from dash-cams could also be used by defendants
against accusations of lane-hogging or tailgating on motorways
following new fixed penalty legislation which came into force last
Alec James added: added:- "Our range of in-car cameras
incorporate technology that has been widely used by the emergency
services for many years and and capture high-quality digital footage
which is essential for insurers."
Fishy fuel seized at Liverpool
A 23 year old man from Northern Ireland has
been arrested after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized almost
20,000 litres of suspected laundered fuel, in a load of fish, at
Gladstone Docks in Liverpool.
HMRC Road Fuel Testing Unit officers were checking ferry traffic
arriving at the port yesterday morning when they uncovered 20
containers of illegal diesel in a lorry. The load, which had arrived
by ferry from Dublin, was described as fresh fish. It has an
estimated loss of £16,000 in UK taxes and duties.
Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Criminal
Investigation, HMRC, said:- "Our activity today has stopped a
large amount of illicit fuel entering the legitimate market,
preventing further revenue loss and helping legitimate traders fight
unfair competition. It is wrong that honest businesses should be
undercut by criminals and those involved in making or selling
laundered fuel. Fuel fraud is organised criminality. Buying illicit
fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these
dangerous activities within our communities. If anyone has
information about fuel fraud we would encourage them to contact the
Customs Hotline on:- 0800 59 5000."
The vehicle was seized by HMRC and the illegal fuel will be
environmentally disposed of or used to fuel the National Grid.
Investigations continue into this seizure.