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Another dangerous driver disqualified for 12 months 
On 08/10/2013 at Hinckley Magistrates Court, Ryan Stevens was sentenced after pleading guilty to the following offences: Drive a motor vehicle dangerously on 08/03/2013. The defendant must comply with the following requirements by 07/10/2014: Unpaid Work Requirement: Carry out unpaid work for 60 hours within the next twelve months. This work will be supervised by the responsible officer. To pay victim surcharge of £60.00. To pay costs of £85.00 to the Crown Prosecution Service. The driver is also disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 months. 
This prosecution was brought about with interaction between and Leicestershire Police. says: 
Chairman of PoliceWitness Matt Stockdale, said: ““We are delighted that one of our members has helped to rid our roads of another dangerous driver by reporting the incident in a timely manner through our online reporting system. In doing so giving both ourselves and the police access to the video evidence that ultimately was responsible for this positive outcome. 
“Law abiding motorists have had enough of those who flout the law and put other people’s lives at risk - this result shows that we can work together to help the police, even if they haven’t witnessed the offence themselves. 
“We hope, through hearing about this case where video footage has been crucial to the successful prosecution, people will be able to see the value of in-car cameras and how we can take a stand against irresponsible road users.” 
Anti-social driver warned vehicle could be crushed 
An inconsiderate van driver was threatened with having his vehicle crushed after he was captured on film overtaking a line of traffic on a busy Bradford street. 
The blue Ford Transit driver was recorded by another motorist, as he impatiently crossed the central white line to pass other vehicles while traffic was approaching in the opposite direction. 
As a result of the recording of the incident, which took place in Bradford, the van driver was traced by police and issued with an anti-social driving notice, meaning his vehicle can be seized and crushed if he repeats his driving behaviour. says: – the company behind the in-car camera and police reporting system said: “This video shows some typical driving standards, for Bradford and around the country. The driver received a vehicle seizure warning that if he continued to drive in that manner his vehicle would be seized and crushed. 
“West Yorkshire Police should be given credit for responding to this incident immediately and managing to successfully apprehend this driver, who with any luck will have changed his style of driving for the better. It is not about our members becoming vigilantes or taking the law into their own hands, but simply about helping to keep our roads safer for all of us.” 
Citizen Cops changing the way we police our roads 
A dangerous driver – with a string of previous motoring offences - will soon be off our roads thanks to a Citizen Cop, in what was a unique, landmark conviction. An in-car camera system was used as evidence to help secure the conviction of 47 year old Adrian Maynard - and all possible without a police officer in sight, proving the public really can make a difference in helping keep our roads safer. 
Maynard, a truck driver from Northampton, already had three points for speeding on his licence when he was caught on camera in May 2012. He was found guilty of dangerous driving in March this year, by Magistrates in Northampton. 
He appealed his punishment (a year-long ban from driving, 40 hours community service and the instruction for him to re-sit his driving test before getting behind the wheel again) and was allowed to continue driving pending a date for the appeal. In doing so, the system allowed a dangerous driver to continue to put other road users at risk 
In the five months between the conviction and the appeal hearing yesterday, Maynard then racked up a further 9 points for additional driving offences – taking him up to the 12 point disqualification limit. Despite the success of his appeal against the dangerous driving conviction, Maynard instead pleaded guilty to careless driving, which could see Maynard’s driving licence amass as many as 21 points, meaning Maynard will face an automatic ban regardless. says: – the company behind the in-car camera and police reporting system – were present at the appeal. Chairman, Matt Stockdale, said: “We are delighted to have made a significant contribution in helping to remove a dangerous driver from our roads, despite the dubious and even incompetent actions of the CPS. 
“For a member of the public to bring a successful prosecution of this kind is absolutely huge. There are fewer and fewer police officers on our streets but this just goes to show you, or I, can make a difference in holding dangerous drivers to account. 
“This highlights the fact that we don’t need new legislation and laws but that the existing laws can be community-enforced using services such as PoliceWitness, just as the Home Secretary, Theresa May envisaged. 
“It’s not about being vigilantes; motorists recording their journeys with a discreet in-car video camera not only gives a considerable amount of personal protection for them and their family, it has the added advantage of being able to report those who flout the law – thereby keeping our roads safer”. 
'Flash for Cash' the latest Insurance Scam 
With the news warning about the latest insurance scam ‘Flash for cash’ we urge you to take action now, get a dash cam. Flash for cash is where another driver will flash you out of a junction but then drive into you, (normally in an old banger) claiming you pulled out on him suddenly, and subsequently a personal injury claim is submitted. Without video proof, you will be blamed. says: 
Remember, dash and helmet cams provide independent, irrefutable evidence, giving you the ability in the event of a collision, to prove to your insurer or the authorities that an accident was not your fault. In doing so safe guarding your no claims bonus, your policy excess and of course next year’s premium - as well as the additional benefit of supporting the police in changing driver behaviour, by reporting bad drivers to the police via 
We work together with normal members of the public, just like you, and have a track record in ensuring that those who flout the law are held to account, with fines, points, seizure warnings, compulsory re-training and a driver ban evidence of our success. We welcome your involvement as the more people there are reporting bad drivers, the safer our roads will become. 
The Metropolitan Police issue a notice of intended prosecution 
The Metropolitan Police roadsafe initiative viewed the incident and have issued a notice of intended prosecution to a taxi driver that pulled out of a junction nearly knocking a cyclist off his bike. 
Roadsafe London is an information and Intelligence gathering tool. It is the Metropolitan Police response to requests to provide a means for members of the public to advise us about criminal, nuisance and anti-social behaviour on the roads of London. It is part of the Road Crime Intelligence Unit and staffed by experienced traffic officers. says: 
We are very pleased that Roadsafe are working with us to ensure that the dangerous driver was prosecuted using video evidence submitted by a member of 
Former Assistant Chief Constable attends court to witness dangerous driver sent for trial in January 2013 
The driver entered a plea of not guilty and the case was adjourned for trial on the 6th March 2013. 
The driver was reported by a member of the public via The incident was captured by a Milton Keynes Police Witness on the A508 towards Northampton, when the offending vehicle was driven on the wrong side of central bollards and crossed solid white lines on the approach to a blind spot. The defendant has previously admitted being the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence ... despite which he has entered a not guilty plea. says: 
This type of driving and the lack of police on our roads means we can all become victims every day – and be powerless to do anything about it. Thankfully, an ever increasing number of motorists are refusing to be left powerless and are acting to protect themselves from idiots who flout the law by recording their journeys, and the poor driving around them. How often have you thought ‘Where are the police to stop that?’ when something dangerous happens right in front of you? The Police Witness who instigated today’s prosecution has ensured that he will never suffer that frustration again. 
Fixed Penalty Notice 
In recent days it has been confirmed that another fixed penalty notice has been issued by Sussex Police - ironically to a driver with the DVLA. says: 
We commend Sussex Police for the prompt and effective manner in which they brought this driver to justice. The DVLA employee tasked with keeping others 'legal' now faces not just a fixed penalty, but also an internal investigation about his conduct. 
Anti-social behaviour 
A member of has captured video evidence of anti-social behaviour/dangerous driving. The incident is currently with Essex Police to review says: 
" is not just for reporting cases of dangerous driving but also incidents such as anti-social behaviour...keep those clips coming in! 
Vigilantes Take To The Streets 
Members of the public are taking matters into their own hands as ex police chief provokes human rights campaigners. Liberty’s view is that the large-scale expansion of cameras watching the public in recent years poses a threat to our way of life... 
- click to read more 
Now imagine thousands - if not tens of thousands of mobile traffic cameras on our roads, not fitted to high visibility police vehicles but installed in private cars, rusty old vans, lorries making deliveries, and even public buses, coaches and taxis. 
Controversial even in its name, recruits and encourages ‘Visualantes’ to capture acts of dangerous driving on video and then report these incidents via a website. The reports are then forwarded to specific, dedicated contacts within each police force for consideration of prosecution or 
indeed (for better or worse, depending on your view) a stern letter. 
The former ACC of Northants Police, Alan Featherstone, was never far from controversy in his role as a senior police officer; however with front line policing cuts it would seem his private crusade in retirement is being met with public enthusiasm. 
Ex-ACC Featherstone said: “Our research has indicated that people are simply not going to sit back during these policing cuts, the public want people who flout the law, and put the lives of others in 
jeopardy, held to account.” He added “With fewer officers and working speed cameras on our streets I have personally already seen people’s driving styles change for the worse. Nearly every time I get into my car I see some idiot take a risk not just with their own life, but with others ... how many times have you witnessed a close call? ... Exactly my point...” 
The thought of Cameron’s Big Society springs to mind as so called ‘Police Witnesses’ take to our roads, cameras in hand, with justice in mind. However, for, driving offences are just the start: the power of the digital video camera is immense when obtaining independent evidence of any crime, it’s like having thousands of unmarked police cars on our streets organised crime and lawless youths beware! 
Road related incidents aside, think about the immense amount of intelligence the police will obtain with literally thousands of evidential video clips being submitted from the general public. Police forces across the country are already interested in the opportunities which come from this initiative, with implications for use in Neighbourhood Policing as well as fighting crime. 
But is it legal? 
Yes, the fact is we all have a perfectly legitimate right to film or take pictures in public. So fear not. says: 
" provides a service not found anywhere else, and that service is not only to the public but to the police themselves across the whole of the British Isles. 
- click to read more 
Our background, and our commitment to the best traditions of the police as a public service, meant that - in developing our concept to benefit the public - we put just as much effort into ensuring that the benefits to the police service massively outweighed the minimal resource implications. 
This is a service which will transform both the public and professional approach to road safety, and do so at minimal cost - the perfect solution!" 
The end of boy racers? High-tech key system allows parents to limit top speed of their family car for teenagers 
For parents worried about lending their precious car to their even more precious teenage children, it sounds like the answer to their prayers. 
- click to read more 
An electronic system will be fitted to new Ford cars from next year that will force young motorists to drive safely when they ask to borrow the family motor. 
The system will limit the car’s top speed and even stop teenagers turning the volume up too high on the stereo. 
The safety feature, which has already been dubbed ‘teenage mode’, springs into action when the young driver uses a special second car key. 
Officially known as MyKey, the system is programmable by parents, allowing them to set a top speed of between 45mph and 80mph. 
Once the car reaches a certain speed, a chime sounds, and the car plays a spoken warning to slow down. 
The system also features an early warning when the driver is running low on fuel. 
Another safety feature is ‘emergency assistance’ in the event of a crash serious enough to trigger the passenger airbags. 
If there is such a collision, the car’s on-board computer will send a message through the mobile phone network to the emergency services. The message will include the co-ordinates of the accident. 
It is not only ‘boy racers’ whose antics will be curtailed, but teenage girl drivers, too. 
Ford cites research which shows that while excessive speed is the cause of 30% of accidents involving young male drivers, it is also the cause of 21% of accidents with young female drivers. 
Paul Mascarena, Ford’s chief technical officer, said of MyKey: ‘It’s targeted at young drivers, though it is useful for fleet operators as well.’ 
The car maker said that it had feared the ‘electronic spy’ would prove unpopular with teenagers, but initial trials in America have proven otherwise. 
It was found that parents were more willing to lend their car with the safety feature operating. 
‘We were concerned that children would see it as Big Brother watching them,’ said Mr Mascarena. ‘But they are now getting more access to the vehicle. And from a parental perspective, there is peace of mind.’ 
Ford said research shows that 46 per cent of parents say speeding is their biggest worry while their offspring are driving, followed by talking on mobile phones while at the wheel (37%) and their child being distracted by others in the car (35%). 
Matthew Avery, crash and safety research manager at safety testing company Thatcham, said it was possible insurance companies might reduce young drivers’ insurance premiums for using the system. 
MyKey will be introduced into all new Fords in Britain next year. 
The move was welcomed by a spokesman for London Ambulance Service, who said: ‘We work closely with the other emergency services to try to educate young people about the dangers of speeding. 
‘It can sometimes come down to peer pressure, but the results can be devastating for themselves, their passengers, families and other road users. 
‘Our staff can also be affected by responding to calls where youngsters have been killed or seriously injured and it is even sadder because a lot of the most serious incidents could be avoided.’ 
Source: 02/09/2011 says: 
"Full marks to Ford for trying! 
Only 2 out of 10 for achieving. 
Sadly, using a blunt instrument will rarely achieve a successful operation. People do not have to wait to buy a new car in order to have a solution to the problems which Ford seeks to address. That solution can be far more refined and massively more effective for a fraction of the cost. 
- click to read more 
Installing a camera and ‘black box’ technology in your car will not only allow you to identify precisely how your teenage child is driving, it can also allow you to monitor it on a live basis if you wish, and to see precisely where, when and by whom it is being driven. 
It's what the Americans call a ‘no-brainer’." 
'Perfect storm' of fraud, rising injury bills and high crash rates hits cover for young drivers 
Young drivers in some parts of Britain are in the midst of a 'perfect storm' that threatens to price them off the road through unrealistic insurance. 
A combination of widespread fraud, rising injury costs and the high accident rate of inexperienced drivers has led many insurers to shun wide swathes of the country. 
- click to read more 
Men aged between 17 and 20 are paying an average of £4,006 a year for comprehensive cover, a staggering rise of £1,511 in the past two years. 
The figure for young women in the same age bracket is £2,151, up £1,335 in the past two years, according to the latest Towers Watson/confused. com car insurance price index. But this average masks some blackspots where the price of cover has gone through the roof and beyond. 
As was reported last week, one 20-year-old female student from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was quoted a ridiculous £53,000 to insure her Vauxhall Corsa. Even after shopping around, the best deal was £5,000, still more than double the average cost for a driver of her age. 
Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers' Association says younger drivers in some areas are trapped in a vicious three-way squeeze. 
'Insurers look at the accident statistics and know that someone aged under 21 is ten times more likely to make a claim than someone aged 50 or over,' he says. 'Also, when they do claim, the costs on average are more than twice as high.' 
On top of this, dearer personal injury claims are driving all premiums higher. At the same time insurers are treading far more cautiously in some areas where fraud and losses from uninsured drivers are highest. Insurers uncovered a record 40,000 bogus motor claims last year. 
Dan Clark of broker Adrian Flux in King's Lynn, Norfolk, which specialises in insuring younger drivers, says: 'Even on some of our younger driver schemes there are areas where it is virtually impossible to obtain cover at any price.' 
Simon Warsop, director of pricing at Aviva, says insurers now have more detailed information on each area and this has led to a wider variation in premiums. 'There is a bigger gap between the good postcodes and the bad postcodes,' he says. 
Source: 27/08/2011 
To read the full story click here says: 
"If people simply spent a few pounds on a quality in-car camera, or better still a camera with ‘black box’ capabilities, they could help themselves immensely - and in the course of doing so help resolve all the issues in this article. 
- click to read more 
‘Crash for cash’ - responsible for a huge proportion of these bogus claims - would be effectively eradicated from our roads if the majority of drivers used such equipment. Who says so? The senior detective responsible for addressing these issues across the Metropolitan police area. 
The same equipment would demonstrate immediately who was at fault in a collision, and it would demonstrate precisely the driving standards of any young person. So what? 
So, no longer would huge premiums be passed on to millions of innocent drivers. Anyone taking out insurance and driving like an idiot would know that future insurance would at best be extremely expensive and potentially would consign them to riding on buses for years to come. 
What is needed? All the insurance companies have to do is require the use of such equipment whenever the vehicle is driven on the road in order for the policy to be valid. 
Fined after parking for exactly 17 seconds: Spy cameras hit innocent drivers as tickets soar fivefold 
Persecuted motorists are being handed five times as many parking tickets as they were a decade ago, figures show. 
New mobile CCTV cameras are being used to catch drivers who may only have stopped momentarily. One case was based on just 17 seconds of film. 
- click to read more 
There have even been instances of automated fines being generated for moving vehicles. 
More than four million tickets with penalties of up to £105 a time were dished out by wardens and councils across the country last year. 
Numbers have leapt more than ten per cent in the past two years, fuelled by the introduction of controversial CCTV-equipped camera cars. 
Instead of tickets being slapped on the windscreen, drivers discover a fine only when the automatically generated ticket drops through their letterbox. 
But misuse of the cameras has led to a stinging rebuke from the official appeals watchdog, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. 
The number of people successfully challenging their tickets has risen by an astonishing 20 per cent in the past two years. 
In one case that was thrown out on appeal, a council issued a ticket using CCTV footage of ‘some 17 seconds’. 
In another rejected case, a fine was issued when a car stopped for 46 seconds to allow driver and passenger to swap places. 
The report also highlights cases of camera cars parking on double yellow lines to catch errant drivers and councils that fail to put up signs warning drivers that CCTV is in operation. 
Motoring groups said cash-strapped councils were increasingly using parking charges and fines to fill ‘black holes in their coffers’. 
Government guidance says councils should use automatic CCTV cameras ‘sparingly’ as motorists regard such enforcement as ‘overzealous’. 
The Association of British Drivers said the damning statistics proved that the ‘war on motorists was far from over’. 
ABD founder member Hugh Bladon said: ‘Councils are desperate for money and the motorist is an easy target. Things can only get worse.’ 
AA spokesman Luke Bosdet added that ‘putting in cameras has turned a cottage industry into an industrial process’. 
The Traffic Management Act, which came into force on March 31, 2008, was claimed to make parking enforcement ‘fairer’ by reigning in overzealous wardens. 
To read the full story click here says: 
"NIMBY- Not In My Back Yard. 
I don't want it to be me either, but if I know the technology is there and I still do it why would anyone have sympathy with me? 
- click to read more 
Okay, so the offending motorist may not have known the technology was there. It's new. Like anything new we have to get used to it and very quickly it becomes the norm. 
It isn't that many years since drinking and driving was the norm. Yes, really. And real men didn't wear seat belts. How stupid does that sound today?" 
Helmet cameras capture bad driving 
Cyclist Ben Porter's brush with a white van man resulted in the driver being convicted of careless driving - click to read more 
With more cyclists than ever on Britain's roads, an increasing number are coming into conflict with other road users. 
Their latest weapon is wearing a miniature camera attached to helmets or handlebars, to capture bad driving. 
Ben Porter, a stagehand from London, bought a camera to show incredulous friends and family just how dangerous his daily commute could be. 
Like many others, he uploaded clips of the worst driving onto YouTube and would discuss them on cycling forums like CycleChat. 
For most cyclists, "naming and shaming" drivers is as far as it goes. But Ben decided to take things further after one van driver overtook him too close and then jumped out to confront him, shouting abuse. 
"I think he wanted to teach me a lesson. It wasn't very nice, but he didn't notice the camera," he said. 
Mr Porter, 37, took the footage to his local police station and the van driver was eventually prosecuted and found guilty of a public order offence and driving without due care and attention. He was fined £300, with costs of £150 and given five points on his licence. 
The cycling organisation CTC says the more people cycle, the safer it becomes, as drivers become used to watching out for bicycles. The organisation says there has been a 91% increase in cycling in London alone since 2000, while casualties have dropped by a third. 
However, there are still around 17,000 injuries a year and 104 deaths in 2009, the latest year that official figures are available for. 
Most regular cyclists have horror stories of near misses, the bus that overtook too close, the car driver who did not see them on the roundabout, the van that forced them off the road. 
With the technology getting cheaper - cameras can be found on the internet for £15, although some people spend up to £200 - and the quality improving, more cyclists are documenting their struggles with drivers. All that is needed is to strap the camera on, set the hard drive recording and away you go. 
Simon Robertson, from Haywards Heath, West Sussex, bought his camera from Ebay for less than £20. During his daily commute through central London he was undertaken by a coach while crossing a busy roundabout. 
"The driver was in the wrong lane and cut right in front of me from the left, forcing me into the lane to my right. I was just lucky there was no car there - it was terrifying," he said. 
Simon posted a link to his video on RoadSafeLondon, a Metropolitan Police website set up for road users to report bad driving. The coach driver was fined £150 and given three points on his licence. 
Such criminal prosecutions resulting from camera footage are still rare but are set to increase, according to DCI Nick Chalmers, who runs the website. 
He said an increasing number of cyclists were posting links to their footage which made his job easier, although it was "not a magic bullet". 
"The greater the number of cameras covering London's roads the more likely we are to secure a conviction for what are very serious offences. I think head-cams will help produce more considerate driving but video footage does not always show the full picture and the police will only prosecute if the evidence is clear," he said. 
Carrying a camera is no guarantee of success and while video is increasingly being used in insurance claims and now in the civil courts, cyclists say the police's attitude to their footage varies between forces and even between police stations. 
Nor are all cyclists convinced by the trend. Paul Kitson is a lawyer specialising in personal injury cases involving cyclists. He uses footage in cases but has yet to be convinced to wear a camera on his commute. 
"A camera helmet can secure a case for you, but personally I think it's going a bit too far. I do own a cycle helmet camera but I use it for skiing." 
However, those cyclists who do use them hope the mere presence of more cameras on the road will encourage other road users to be - in their eyes -more considerate. 
Source: 01/02/2011 says: 
"As petrol prices soar we can expect to see an increase of cyclists on our roads. We greatly support the use of helmet cams and with more and more users it may eventually get the motorist thinking more about the cyclist!"  
'Cash for Crash' gang jailed for insurance fraud 
Three members of a Luton gang involved in a £5.3m "cash for crash" insurance scam have been jailed 
- click to read more 
The gang engineered crashes involving unsuspecting motorists as well as making bogus injury insurance claims. 
Kamsan Mahmood, Peter Charlery and Istafa Hussain, all of Bedfordshire, were found guilty at Luton Crown Court of conspiracy to defraud on 14 April. 
On Wednesday, Mahmood was jailed five years, Hussain for four-and-a-half and Charlery for 18 months. 
Mahmood, 42, and Charlery, 45, both of Long Meadow Farm, Chalton, and Hussain, 35, of Lincoln Road, Luton, were sentenced at Luton Crown Court. 
Police came across the insurance fraud while they were investigating organised criminal activity in the town. 
With the Insurance Fraud Bureau, they uncovered a "web of deceit" involving people from professions including the legal, medical and motor trade. 
The car insurance fraud centred on an accident management company based in Leagrave Road in Luton. 
The gang also used land at a farm to the north of the town to store the damaged vehicles. 
The police investigation saw 39 defendants appear at crown court in separate hearings over three years. 
Source: 27/04/2011 says: 
"If people simply spent a few pounds on a quality in-car camera, or better still a camera with ‘black box’ capabilities, they could help themselves immensely.  
- click to read more 
‘Crash for cash’ - responsible for a huge proportion of these bogus claims would be effectively eradicated from our roads if the majority of drivers used such equipment. Who says so? The senior detective responsible for addressing these issues across the Metropolitan police area. 
The same equipment would demonstrate immediately who was at fault in a collision, and it would demonstrate precisely the driving standards of any young person. So what? 
So, no longer would huge premiums be passed on to millions of innocent drivers. Anyone taking out insurance and driving like an idiot would know that future insurance would at best be extremely expensive and potentially would consign them to riding on buses for years to come. 
What is needed? All the insurance companies have to do is require the use of such equipment whenever the vehicle is driven on the road in order for the policy to be valid." 
Spot fines: Police can focus on most dangerous drivers, says Hammond 
Police are to be given new powers to fine careless drivers on the spot, rather than taking them to court
- click to read more 
Motorists who tailgate, undertake or cut-up other vehicles could face fines of up to a hundred pounds. 
It is part of a Government strategy to make Britain's roads safer. 
Motorists who make a genuine mistake will be offered help to improve their driving. Critics say the approach, which is likely to be introduced in 2012 in England, Scotland and Wales, is too simplistic. 
Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said offending drivers would also be offered police approved training courses. 
Source: 11/05/2011 says: 
"We very much agree with Travel Secretary, Philip Hammond." 
Crash scam figures at record high, insurers warn 
"Crash for cash" scams where fraudsters stage accidents to claim on other drivers' insurance are at an all-time high, the BBC has learned. 
- click to read more 
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) estimates around 30,000 accidents were staged last year. 
The scams cost insurers about £350m in 2009 and added £44 to the premium of every driver in the country. 
Birmingham was the UK's top fraud hot-spot and incidents rose in parts of London, the industry-funded body said. 
Until recently the claims were largely confined to north-west England, and the other four top spots for insurance fraud of this sort were filled by Liverpool, Blackburn, Manchester and Leeds. 
Vulnerable victims. 
But the scam appears to be moving south, with parts of London in the top 10 for the first time. East London takes sixth position while north London is in ninth position. 
The fraudsters ensure an innocent motorist drives into the back of their vehicle by braking suddenly on a clear road or roundabout. Often they use the handbrake so there are no warning lights. 
It is usually accepted that a driver rear-ending another car must be at fault. 
Sgt Mark Beales, from Greater Manchester Police, said fraudsters choose their "victim" drivers carefully. 
"What these fraudsters tend to pick on are people who are single mums or elderly people, people who are less likely to cause them any issues. They also target drivers of commercial vehicles, because drivers tend not to care as much if they're not driving their own vehicle," he said. 
The claims made average around £17,000 and can include demands for payment of storage costs and recovery fees as well as the usual personal injury claims. 
Earlier this month two men, 35-year-old Rehan Javed and his brother Rezwan, 33, from Burnley in Lancashire, were convicted of running a £12m scam. 
They processed many of the claims themselves via their own claims management company. 
Andrew Wigmore, Policy Director at the Claims Standards Council, says the scam is "highly organised fraud". 
"If you imagine the claims management company is the acquirer. He might be part of the gang. He then sells that claim for a fee to someone which is also part of the gang, or in his family which is a solicitor's firm. 
"They then measure that injury by employing a doctor (who) is also in that supply chain so before you know it you've already ramped up two (or) three thousand pounds worth of fees," he told the BBC. 
Glen Marr, from the IFB, said the scam costs everyone: "We estimate there are around 30,000 staged accidents a year costing the insurance industry £350m. 
"And overall, fraud adds £44 to the insurance premium of every motorist - no matter what no claims bonus or safe driving record he or she may have." 
IFB investigators say in one case they are currently working on, the fraudsters even called the fire brigade to have a passenger cut from the car to lend weight to their claims - yet the vehicle was barely damaged and the "injured passenger" had got out of the car and been walking about in the immediate aftermath of the accident. 
Their advice to motorists caught in such an accident is to stay calm, not to accept liability and, if possible, to record photographs of the other driver and any other passengers in the car on their mobile phone. 
Source: 21/08/2010 says: "Only when all our cars are fitted with a quality in-car camera, or better still a camera with ‘black box’ capabilities can we begin to eradicate these 'crash for cash' scams." 
1.3million driven off the road as cost of petrol passes £1,700 a year 
An estimated 1.3million people have given up driving over the past year because of the rising cost of motoring
- click to read more 
The average car owner is now spending around £1,720.69 per year to fuel their vehicle, which is a 22.9 per cent year-on-year increase, Sainsbury's Car Insurance said. 
Some 76 per cent of motorists have changed their driving habits in the past 12 month, according to the research, in a bid to cut the cost of driving. 
The research comes amid challenging conditions for consumers as the soaring cost of living and muted wages growth stifles spending power. 
The average cost of petrol is 136.07p a litre, according to most recent figures from the AA, down 0.86p on the mid-May average but higher than the 135.75p-a-litre figure on June 5. 
Elsewhere, households are feeling the pressure from rising food prices, utility bill hikes and increased duty on alcohol and tobacco. 
Some changes to motoring habits identified by the research include stopping filling up tanks fully, which 26 per cent admit to doing, and instead purchasing specific values of fuel. 
Some 45 per cent of motorists - 16.5million people - are now driving less and seven per cent have started to car share, the research revealed. 
A further 10 per cent - 3.53million - have downgraded their car for one that is cheaper to run. 
Last month, Green Flag reported that 14 per cent of motorists plan to stop using their car or get more fuel efficient vehicles and seven per cent have swapped their cars for motorbikes. 
The breakdown firm launched a study after seeing a 40 per cent rise in fuel-related call outs at the start of the year, as motorists avoid filling up, only to then run out of petrol. 
Since then, prices have continued to rise, barring a small decrease in June, hitting an average of 136.6p per litre for unleaded compared with averages of 111.49p in 2010. 
Source: 06/07/2011 says: 
"People are having to make choices which many have not previously faced. 
Some are understandably choosing to use other forms of transport and avoid the high costs of vehicle ownership. For many this is not an option, but one thing that they might consider is reducing the costs of their motoring by up to 20%. Having fitted a PoliceWitness black box into my own vehicle, and used it to help me monitor my driving from many different perspectives, I have achieved reductions in excess of 20% in both fuel consumption and maintenance costs." 
'Pay how you drive' car insurance brought in for teens 
'Pay how you drive' is the new type of car insurance that companies are targeting at young drivers. 
- click to read more 
They test how safely you drive and the idea is the better you are, the cheaper your insurance becomes. 
On the flip side, if your driving is not up to scratch, it's going to cost you. 
A couple of companies offer this type of car insurance with more expected to follow this year. 
It's aimed at under-25s, those usually hit by the highest premiums. 
The latest to offer it is The Co-operative Insurance who've launched 'smartbox'. 
Source: 26/05/2011 
Trackers: Black box saved the Corsa (and my premiums) 
Steffan Hutton has had a cruel introduction to the world of motoring 
Barely three weeks after buying his first car last month, 17-year-old Steffan got up for work to find that his pride and joy had been stolen. 
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His R-registration Vauxhall Corsa had been parked outside the home where Steffan lives with his parents, Martin, 43, and Pamela, 40, and his brother Anthony, 20. 
Thieves had broken into the house overnight and grabbed a handful of valuables and the keys to the car, which they used to make a getaway. But Steffan, an apprentice electrician from Bradford, West Yorkshire, had one consolation. 
He is one of a growing number of young motorists who have agreed to have their driving monitored in the hope of qualifying for cheaper insurance premiums. His car is fitted with a satellite-tracking system, recording where and how he drives. 
A useful bonus is that this black box technology doubles as a theft tracker, which means the car can be located quickly if it is stolen. 
Martin, a civil servant, says: ‘As soon as I woke up and realised what had happened, we got straight on to the tracker company. It then informed the police.’ 
Less than 15 minutes later, police found Steffan’s car abandoned only half a mile away near a park. Martin says: ‘An officer had just arrived at our house to take details of the break-in when the message came through on his radio that the car had been found. It was such a relief.’ 
The keys were missing and there was one scratch, but the car was otherwise undamaged. Recovering it quickly also meant that there was no time for vandals to get to work on the abandoned car and no need for Steffan to make any insurance claim or pay the £350 theft excess. 
Steffan bought his cover with Cooperative Insurance, which launched the Smartbox young driver plan in March. The black box monitors braking and acceleration forces, cornering and speed. It also tracks when a car is used, as most accidents involving young drivers occur late at night. The data is combined to create a driver rating, from one (dangerous) to five (safe). 
Premiums are reviewed every 90 days in line with the rating. Those who score four or five are rewarded, saving potentially 15 per cent. Those who score one or two will see premiums rise, with the worst paying 20 per cent more. 
Drivers can get feedback on each day’s driving via a website and get emails every six weeks with their latest ranking. 
Steffan, who uses his car for work, is averaging a driving score of five. ‘I am keen to get a discount,’ he says. ‘Most of the time I find it fairly easy to keep smooth and steady, though sometimes the drivers behind get frustrated because you’re going at the speed limit.’ 
The rocketing cost of insurance for young drivers has created an opening for this kind of black box technology. The average premium for drivers aged 17 to 22 has risen by a staggering 64 per cent in the past 12 months to £2,431, according to AA Insurance. 
While the Government is keen to improve training for novice drivers (see above), satellite trackers are an easy way for drivers in their teens and early 20s to show that they are not boy racers and so be rewarded with cheaper insurance. 
Steffan pays almost £2,000 a year for cover, though he has the chance to trim this by up to £300 in the first year if he keeps driving well. In year two, premiums should fall further if there is 12 months of sensible driving. Likewise, if insurers record reckless behaviour they will raise premiums or even cancel cover. 
Other companies to offer trackers include Insurethebox and Intelligent Marmalade. With Insurethebox, you buy 6,000 miles of cover each year but then earn bonus miles through safe driving. Intelligent Marmalade, due to launch its product shortly, is planning prizes and rewards for safe driving. AA Insurance will be launching its own tracker cover in the autumn. 
The Department for Transport published a new road safety strategy earlier this month. Plans for tougher penalties for reckless drivers and roadside tests for motorists suspected of driving under the influence of drink or drugs caught the headlines. But the Government also wants improved training for young and novice drivers. 
At present, those who have passed their driving test can take the Pass Plus qualification (see Offered by driving schools, this consists of six modules covering skills such as driving at night, in poor weather and on motorways. 
Insurers and brokers, including Churchill, Endsleigh, Swinton and RSA, grant typical discounts of between ten per cent and 15 per cent for those who complete the course. 
But many are sceptical of the benefits of Pass Plus and now the Government says that it should be replaced with an updated course that applies more rigorous assessments. It wants to work with the insurance industry to develop a new qualification. 
Source: 21/05/2011 says: 
"Fantastic!! Instead of the government seeking to revise expensive and ineffective additional tests for young drivers, they should make it obligatory for them to have a black box such as these, and those provided by police for example, fitted for at least two years. 
Speeding drivers to be shamed by system that turns traffic lights red if they go too fast... upsetting ALL motorists 
Speeding motorists will be 'shamed' into slowing down by a new safety system which turns traffic lights red whenever a car breaks the limit - holding everyone else up. 
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Sensors installed in the road will monitor speed levels and turn the next set of lights red when an approaching vehicle is speeding. 
As a result, dozens of surrounding cars will also be held up - bringing shame on the offending driver. 
The pilot scheme - the first of its kind in Britain - will be tested on two 40mph roads in Swindon, Wiltshire, this autumn after successful tests in Europe. 
Swindon became the first town in Britain to switch off all its speed cameras completely in 2009 and council leaders vowed to invest the money saved into alternative schemes. 
Peter Greenhalgh, cabinet member for sustainability, strategic planning, property and transport at Swindon Borough Council, said he hopes 'social pressure' from other drivers will prevent speeding. 
He said: 'It will irritate drivers but if you maintain a steady speed at or around the speed limit you will get to where you want to be quicker because you won't be held up at traffic lights. 
'There is an element of shame but we expect people will learn very quickly not to speed. A little bit of social pressure from other drivers is not necessarily a bad thing. 
'A couple of glares through windows once they catch up with a motorist at the red light isn't a bad thing. 
'Habitual speeders will see they will get to their destination quicker if they stick to the speed limit.' 
The two roads involved in the trial have a speed limit of 40mph but have suffered significant numbers of speeding vehicles and several accidents in the last five years. 
Statistics show that 67 per cent of vehicles exceed the speed limit in Thamesdown Drive and 38 per cent of vehicles go too fast on Queens Drive. 
Source: 19/05/2011 says: 
"What a load of rubbish: if ever there was an idea dreamt up by politicians in order to enhance their profile - and I'll bet it was politicians in France, Spain and Portugal as well - this must be it.  
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Those who have commented upon this idea are absolutely right: it will lead to road rage, it will lead to people being immensely frustrated and therefore more tense and anxious on the roads, and therefore to more accidents. It will not improve driver behaviour, because as soon as drivers begin to recognise that a particular point is relevant to identifying their speed and causing the traffic lights to change they will do just as they do with static speed cameras and reduce their speed for the relevant period only. There are far better ways to spend this level of resourcing in order to improve road safety." 
Our crumbling roads: Scathing report reveals how Britain's highways are in a terrible state 
England's roads are crumbling as cash-strapped councils battle to fix millions of potholes, says a damning report from government spending watchdogs. 
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Improvements have ‘stalled’ and the road network overall is ‘starting to deteriorate’, they said. 
The nation’s local roads are under attack from increasing traffic volumes, severe winters, soaring repair costs and dwindling highways funding. 
But ministers – who recently doubled to £200million the cash available to repair the potholes from the winter spell – say councils must become more efficient, work ‘smarter’, and get to grips with spiralling costs. 
The Audit Commission report says the cost of maintaining England’s 236,000 miles of local roads is 50 per cent higher than it was ten years ago. But in the next three years there will be a 26 per cent drop in government funding for local authorities and 16 per cent less capital funding via local transport plans, the commission said. 
The report highlighted how councils can get more for their money, including cost-saving collaborations with neighbours, asset management to show when road maintenance will be most effective, new ways of keeping residents informed, and weighing short-term repairs against long-term resilience. 
Commission chairman Michael O’Higgins said: ‘Prevention is better than cure, but councils have to consider the safety and insurance risks of damaged surfaces. 
‘Roads costs are rising while councils’ belts are tightening. Improvement in A roads seems to have stalled, and the road network overall is starting to deteriorate. Sadly we found collaboration between councils to be rare, with too few councils procuring in cost-saving partnerships.’ 
He added: ‘Pick up any local newspaper and you will see that people care very much about their local roads. Our report aims to help councillors maintain their local network against a backdrop of reduced funding. 
‘Roads in disrepair can put the brakes on trade, economic prosperity, even emergency services. But a well-maintained network helps people, goods and services to move freely and safely.’ 
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the report highlighted the need for councils to become more efficient. 
He said that while spending on roads was decreasing over the next four years, it would be higher than for the past four years. 
Mr Hammond said: ‘I think the most important point that the Audit Commission report makes is around the efficiency of highway expenditure. 
‘Everybody has to get more efficient. The report suggests there are many ways in which local authorities can deliver much smarter response to highway maintenance.’ 
AA president Edmund King said: ‘Harsh winter weather over three years has clearly taken its toll. 
‘We have to keep up the battle against the pothole blight which damages cars and risks road safety, especially for those on two wheels.’ 
Local transport minister Norman Baker added: ‘I hope that local councils carefully consider this report as they plan and manage their road maintenance programmes. 
‘They are best placed to use their local knowledge and experience to decide how to prioritise expenditure across all their services, including their local roads.’ 
He added: ’Despite the current severe fiscal restraints, we are providing more funds to councils for road maintenance over the next four years than was provided over the previous four years, more than £3 billion in fact. 
'We have also allocated an additional £6 million to develop a comprehensive and long-term efficiency programme for highways maintenance to help local authorities improve performance. This chimes with the helpful observations in today’s Audit Commission report.’ 
Source: 27/05/2011 says: 
“Political short-termism, both local and national, has much to answer for. 
Roads are built cheaply in the full knowledge that hard winters and increases in traffic will inevitably bring problems. But those problems will be someone else’s. The politician ‘responsible’ will have moved on. And of course no-one in the civil service or local authority will be accountable. Ever.  
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My advice to the public? Sue them, and to make it affordable and manageable for yourself, do it to the maximum allowed through the small claims court so that lawyers cannot get involved. It is simple and you will win every time if you have evidence to support you.” 
The fright way to slow traffic? Spooky army of 'Doctor Who' children put up outside school to slow down cars 
They may be designed to keep schoolchildren safer – but these spooky bollards seem likely to scare them out of their wits as well.  
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When parents were asked about installing the 3ft bollards to slow traffic outside Compton primary school in Plymouth, one said: ‘They look hideous, like something out of Doctor Who.’ 
Another reaction, this time on Facebook, read: ‘Looks like a remake of Village of the Damned. Don’t look them in the eye or one’s 4x4 will burst into flames.’ 
Plymouth City Council, which originally gave the bollards planning permission, is now reviewing the proposals. 
The three-foot high bollards had been planned to be placed by the side of the road. 
The idea was mentioned in a newsletter which went to parents of pupils at the school. 
'Don’t look them in the eye or one’s 4x4 will burst into flames’ 
But some were so stunned they compared the stony-faced bollards, which cost £350 each, to sci-fi horror props. 
One parent said: 'They're expensive, the school has to foot the bill and there's no proof that they more effective than normal bollards.' 
Stony faced: Parents feared the eerie life-size statues would scare children 
Another said: 'They're going to be there all the time. In the middle of the night you'll see these weird-looking things. 
'They will be defaced, they will have lots of graffiti on them.' 
The school said it had received the largest number of comments it had ever had for a consultation, but said opinion had been evenly divided. 
Plymouth City Council said: 'In recent discussions with the school it has been agreed that action to stop inconsiderate parking on pavements is a priority. 
'The use of the themed bollards is being reviewed and alternatives are being looked at. 
'The safety of children trying to get to and from school is the most important consideration.' 
Adrian Briggs, of makers Marshalls Street Furniture, said: ‘We consider the bollards cheap and effective compared with traffic cameras. 
'Cameras would be tens of thousands of pounds.' 
He said that although other areas of the UK had raised concerns about the bollards, they had worked. 
'If you see a child next to the road, there is a natural reaction to slow the vehicle down,' he said. 
Source: 24/06/2011 says: 
"Some people will complain about anything. 
A good idea, with an excellent motive and rationale, may be scrapped because a minority think it might scare their child. Their children will have far greater things to be scared of than dummy children. People need to give some thought to the wider benefits, I suggest." 
Back-seat drivers cause one in seven accidents and near misses... but the chances are you're guilty of it too 
Britain is turning into a nation of 'Hyacinth Bouquet' backseat drivers with one in seven motorists having a road accident or near miss caused by a distraction from a rear passenger, a new study reveals today.  
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Partners are cited as the worst culprits for back seat comments, but women are revealed as being most likely to get angry at criticism of their driving. 
Many drivers - of both sexes - admit they are even reduced to tears by the comments from the back seat. 
But the study reveals that it is men who are most likely to take their eyes off the road to chat to passengers. 
The survey of more than 1,000 motorists found they are 60 per cent more likely to have a serious crash if driving with passengers. 
And young motorists are the most distracted with more than half taking their eyes off the road whilst driving to chat to passengers - the highest of any age group on the road. 
The 'Driver Distraction' study, commissioned by esure car insurance revealed that 14 per cent of motorists have had an accident or near miss due to being distracted by a back-seat driver. 
It found that more than half of motorists (51 per cent) have got angry behind the wheel as a result of back-seat drivers, while 40 per cent reported being made anxious
Passengers (31 per cent) 
Changing music (27 per cent) 
Eating or drinking (20 per cent) 
Back-seat drivers (51 per cent) 
Nearly a third of those polled (31 per cent) said that they would rather drive alone than with passengers due to the distraction back-seat drivers pose, while a quarter (25 per cent) thought they were more likely to be involved in an accident when driving with passengers. 
Young motorists were the most hot-headed when passengers commented on their driving, with nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) getting angry behind the wheel and one in seven (14 per cent) being reduced to tears. 
And despite the sexist stereotype of female chatterboxes, it was actually men who were more likely to take their eyes off the road to chat to passengers (47 per cent) compared to women (38 per cent). 
Despite the known distraction threat, a staggering 92 per cent of motorists admitted to being a back-seat driver themselves when someone else was at the wheel. 
Partners came out top as the worst back-seat drivers, according to more than a quarter (27 per cent) of motorists. This was followed by mothers (17 per cent), fathers (14 per cent) and children (14 per cent). 
Mike Pickard, head of risk and underwriting at esure car insurance, said: 'We all laughed at the ultimate nightmare passenger Hyacinth Bouquet in classic sitcom Keeping up Appearances, but the risk posed to drivers by distracting or interfering passengers should not be underestimated. 
'Passengers should respect the driver of their vehicle and appreciate that motorists already face a multitude of distractions when behind the wheel - and should try not to add to these.' 
Source: 22/06/2011 says: 
"Whilst I accept that there is an element of distraction in receiving ‘advice’ from a passenger, offending drivers really do need to be able to take responsibility for their own failings when they are at fault in a collision. If such a level of distraction causes the driver to respond badly to such an extent, he or she should think carefully about their fitness to drive in the first place." 
Keep on driving! Motorist with 30 penalty points is not banned because it will cause 'exceptional hardship' 
A driver clocked up a remarkable 30 points on their licence but still managed to avoid a ban.  
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The motorist, from Blackburn, Lancashire, convinced magistrates that they would suffer 'exceptional hardship' so were able to stay on the roads. 
Normally 12 points triggers an automatic ban but the driver escaped despite being two-and-a-half times the limit, according to a Freedom of Information request. 
Another driver from Burnley, Lancashire, also had 27 points on their licence but did not lose their licence. 
Across East Lancashire there were 165 drivers who had 12 or more points but were not disqualified. 
The 30 point motorist is the latest in a line of motorists to escape a ban. A 27-year-old man from Stockton-on-Tees was not banned from the road despite having 54 points on his licence, it was revealed last year. 
He eventually lost his licence after a freedom of information request was made. 
Lawyer Nick Freeman - dubbed Mr Loophole for getting a series of celebrities off the hook for motoring offences - said he had never defended someone with more than 27 points. 
'The basic rule is that 12 points on a driving licence leads to a six month ban,' he said. 
'However there are a limited set of circumstances, known as exceptional hardship - such as losing a job as a consequence of losing a licence - which can be argued and which afford the magistrates discretion to allow the offender to continue to drive. 
'If the offence is repeated within three years, this particular argument cannot be used again. 
'However exceptional hardship can be argued - again within three years - so long as the argument relates to a new set of circumstances. 
'So instead of losing one's job, the argument for retaining a licence may hinge on being able to care for an elderly relative. 
'The magistrates have to be persuaded on the balance of probability that there is evidence of exceptional hardship. 
'They can still disqualify, reduce the length of a disqualification as well as not disqualify at all. 
'In my view there's no requirement for the law to be changed. There is nothing wrong with it as it stands.' 
Caroline Perry, from road safety charity Brake, said that drivers who repeatedly get caught breaking the law should be banned. 
'It's appalling that so many people are being allowed to drive with more than 12 points on their licence. 
'By breaking the law these drivers have shown a wilful disregard for the safety of other road users. 
'All drivers have a responsibility to keep others on the roads safe and these people have shown that on numerous occasions they refuse to take this responsibility seriously.' 
The DVLA did not reveal any further details of the 165 drivers with 12 points or more and would not say what offences were involved. 
Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary, said it was surprising that someone could get so many points and not be banned. 
'It is quite right that the law does give magistrates the discretion to deal with cases of exceptional hardship, but I am very surprised that someone has got 30 points,' he said. 
'I would be keen to know how anybody can have 30 points and still be driving. 
'But there shouldn't be a rigid cut off point for an automatic ban, it is up to the magistrates to deal with each case.' 
Source: 01/07/2011 says: 
"Do we reserve our strongest criticism for the incredible naivety, and lack of professional judgment, to be found in some magistrates, or for the stupidity and cynicism displayed by motorists who get themselves to 20 points, let alone 30 or more? 
It’s difficult to say, but the legal profession on both sides of the bench should certainly be held accountable as well as the offending motorist". 
Distracting hands-free devices are 'as dangerous as a mobile' 
'Pay how you drive' is the new type of car insurance that companies are targeting at young drivers. 
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Hands-free mobile devices do not improve road safety, according to a study. 
A transport watchdog found that they are just as dangerous as holding a phone while at the wheel. 
The report by the U.S. Governors Highway Safety Association was based on analysis of more than 350 scientific papers on ‘distracted’ driving. 
It also found texting at the wheel definitely raises the risk of crashing. 
It suggested a complete ban on mobile phone use, hands-free or not, for inexperienced drivers and a blanket ban on texting. 
‘Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,’ said the association’s executive director Barbara Harsha. 
‘Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.’ A ban on the use of hand-held phones in cars has been in force in Britain since 2003, but many drivers still flout the law. 
Police caught 170,000 offenders last year alone. 
According to the Department of Transport, using a mobile while at the wheel makes a driver four times more likely to crash. 
The U.S. study found that regardless of the law, two thirds of American motorists report using a mobile while driving, about one third of them saying they do it every time they are in a car. 
One in eight drivers admitted to texting at the wheel. 
The American study also found that in dangerous driving situations, the average motorist paid less attention to their phone conversation and focused more on the road, bringing their level of concentration close to that of a driver not using a mobile. 
Driving distractions, primarily by mobiles and other electronic devices, were linked to a quarter of all car crashes in the United States, the report found. 
It claimed drivers are distracted for as much as half their time at the wheel by activities that include eating, checking music on iPods, talking and changing radio stations. 
‘When it comes to distracted driving, one thing is clear: any activities that take extended focus away from the primary task of driving are both unsafe and unwise,’ said association spokesman Lynda Tran. 
In the U.S. in 2009, nearly 5,500 deaths and about half a million injuries resulted from crashes involving a distracted driver. 
The report said laws banning hand-held cell phones while driving had initially reduced usage by roughly half before the level of offending crept up again. 
Thirty-four US states have imposed bans on texting while driving and nine prohibit talking without a hands-free device
Source: 09/07/2011 says: 
"This winds me up, probably more than any other single issue to do with motoring. Why does anyone think they have the right to risk my life, that of my family, and particularly the lives of young children because they like to use their phone in the car?  
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I can live with that. I can live with them wanting to chat while they drive because the vast majority of drivers, even of rather limited ability, can drive whilst they talk with a good degree of safety. What they cannot do is hold the phone, talk and drive at the same time, with that same degree of safety. 
The reason they need crucifying for using a mobile phone whilst driving is that a reasonable hands-free kit costs a fraction of the price of a half decent phone. Even a good, fitted hands-free kit costs a lot less than a good mobile phone. And there's no monthly rental to pay!
The cash for crash conspiracy: The £4.6bn racket involving greedy lawyers and insurers that's sending YOUR premiums sky high 
You are driving along happily in your car when, suddenly, another vehicle pulls out in front of you. There is a screech of tyres, followed by a thud. 
The collision leaves the bonnet of your hatchback badly dented and the axle buckled. 
- click to read more 
This is the story of what happens next: how motorists involved in road accidents all over the country unwittingly become rich pickings in a grubby, money-making food chain. 
It is a chain which, controversially, even includes the police, and is fuelled by the greed of ambulance-chasing lawyers and middlemen. 
The bottom line? It’s you and I — everyone, in fact, who owns a car — who are picking up the tab for this ‘huge racket’ (not our words, but those of former Justice Secretary Jack Straw) through rocketing insurance premiums. 
In 2008 and 2009 (the most recent figures available), West Midlands Police, for example, raked in more than £1.3 million from such charges. 
A handsome return for the police. But bad news, we now know, for hard-pressed motorists, who are hit with removal and storage bills by these garages (this, after all, is how they turn a profit), while their own insurer then has to make a further collection of the damaged vehicle from the recovery depot. 
Insurance companies say it is much cheaper for drivers to get in touch with them directly to arrange the pick-up from the crash scene, thus avoiding additional and unnecessary charges. (These costs, as we shall see, are passed on to all drivers in increased insurance premiums.) 
However, in Manchester and many other parts of the country, because of the financial arrangements the police have with preferred garages, this rarely happens. As you will see in the following incidents. 
Walton Wilkins, who owns a garage in Birmingham, was driving through the city last year when he spotted a friend’s car which had been involved in a minor collision. The police, he says, were already at the scene. 
‘When he saw me, my mate asked me if I could tow his car back to his home,’ said Mr Wilkins. 
‘But one of the officers butted in and said that wouldn’t be possible, because the garage the police use [from the ‘approved list’] was sending a recovery truck, and if I attempted to take the car he would arrest me.’ 
Another motorist, IT consultant Edward Riordan, recalled what happened after he injured his rib-cage in a road accident near his home in Cambridgeshire. 
‘As I was being stretchered into the ambulance, I told the police officer I was a member of the RAC and that my card was in my wallet. I knew that the RAC would charge no more than a nominal fee for recovering my vehicle. 
I was conscious throughout, but the officer did not take the card. Later, I discovered the police had called out another recovery firm [which paid the police a “tip-off” fee]. My insurers told me to get my vehicle back as soon as possible. 
‘The recovery firm returned it within two days — along with a bill for £360. That’s extortionate. I was very unhappy with the behaviour of the police.’ 
Nor is this the end of the saga. Mr Riordan, 57, was still in hospital, hooked up to a heart monitor, when his mobile phone started to ring. 
‘It was someone asking me if they could represent me on a “no win, no fee” basis,’ he says. ‘I was astounded. In all, I must have had ten different calls from ambulance-chasing personal injury firms.’ 
So who passed on his details, in breach of data protection law? Mr Riordan suspects either the police or the garage. He is not the first person to raise such concerns. 
Not that the police and garages are the only ones who stand accused of being complicit in the racket: so too, it seems, are the insurance companies, who are the next link in the food chain. 
Take the case of Laurence Cook, 32,a manager with a solar panel company, who was driving near his home in Reading when his BMW was struck from behind. 
Afterwards, he started receiving calls from the sharks in the compensation industry. ‘I told them I had not been injured and I did not want to make a claim.’ 
The calls are still continuing two years after the prang and he, too, suspects his insurance company passed on his details 
Three years later, Mr Cook is still receiving calls. 
‘I asked where they had got my name from and they told me it was from my insurance company [Direct Line]. But when I challenged them about it, they denied it.’ 
A Direct Line spokesman said: ‘Direct Line does not sell customer claims data to other organisations . We are currently investigating this matter further.’ 
Or take the case of Phil Riley, who had a minor prang driving from Preston to Blackburn two years ago. ‘I stopped at the traffic lights and the bloke behind me didn’t,’ recalled Mr Riley, 63, a retired IT project development manager. 
Within days of the incident, he started getting similar calls to Mr Cook, and text messages. (‘You have still not claimed the compensation you are due for the accident you had,’ read one such text. ‘To claim, pls reply CLAIM. To opt out, text STOP.’) 
‘I wasn’t injured, so why should the other bloke get lumbered with a bill,’ said Mr Riley. ‘It’s not fair.’ Again, the calls are still continuing two years after the prang and he, too, suspects his insurance company passed on his details. 
That might seem like self-defeating behaviour by the insurers — but it isn’t. Trading in customer details is a lucrative business in itself; too lucrative to ignore, it seems. 
Each tip-off to a claims management company — the third link in the chain — earns between £200 and £1,000. 
‘Referral fee’ is the polite term for such dubious, though still legal, transactions. Another is ‘back-hander’. 
Either way, the insurance industry makes — as our own Money Mail team revealed earlier this month — an estimated £4.7 billion a year from such arrangements. 
A staggering sum. In fact, it’s four times more than they make from insurance premiums. Could there be a more scandalous statistic? 
These ‘middlemen’, or Claims Management Companies (CMCs), have one purpose only: to find people like Edward Riordan, Laurence Cook and Phil Riley. Just six years ago, these firms numbered fewer than 500. Now there are more than 2,000. It’s one of the few sectors of the economy that is booming. 
One of those firms is called First 4Lawyers. You could be forgiven for thinking that the individuals who run this operation from offices in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, might actually be lawyers. 
In documents filed at Companies House, the directors describe their occupations as ‘legal’. In fact, Arfan Anwar and Qamar Anwar used to run a firm selling bread, cakes and confectionery, and don’t appear to have legal qualifications. 
First4Lawyers was launched in 2009, but can already afford to advertise on TV. 
Promising cases — drivers with alleged ‘whiplash injuries’, for example — are then sold on to the likes of James Rymer, senior partner with solicitors firm Silverbeck Rymer, for around £700 per referral. 
Britain has four more whiplash injury claims than any other country 
It is men like Rymer, who lives in a £1 million ivy-clad mansion on the outskirts of Liverpool, who are at the top of the compensation racket’s food chain. On its website, Silverbeck Rymer says it ‘handles all aspects of post motor accident claims’. 
Are such firms trustworthy? Two years ago, Rymer and a fellow partner were disciplined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for using £117,000 of compensation money owed to sick miners, whom they had been representing, to pay referral fees to a Claims Management Company. 
The SRA found them guilty of three breaches of the Solicitors’ Code of Practice, including failing to act in the best interests of clients. 
However, there is no suggestion the firm has breached any rules over traffic accident claims. 
Firms like this promise accident victims that they can turn whiplash into cash. 
According to the AA, Britain has the safest roads in Europe, with the lowest number of recorded crashes per person. Yet we have four times more whiplash injury claims than any other country. 
Whiplash, incidentally, is notoriously easy to fake, because it is an injury no scan or X-ray can detect. 
While the cost to the insurance industry of such claims is £2 billion, the cost to the NHS of treating whiplash injuries is just £8 million. 
Which suggests that either many Britons have necks with miraculous self-healing powers, or that fraud in whiplash claims is spiralling out of control, with the supposed victim climbing aboard a tawdry gravy train whose passengers include not only unscrupulous ambulance-chasing middlemen and lawyers, but, in one way or another, the police as well. 
The net result of all this is that the average annual comprehensive insurance policy now costs a staggering £892 — which is a rise of 40 per cent over the past year. What’s more, the average is expected to break the £1,000 barrier by 2012. 
‘A huge racket’ is how former Justice Secretary Jack Straw described the story behind those figures. Would anyone, apart from those with their snouts in the compensation trough, disagree? 
Source: 02/07/2011 says: 
"This is much ado about nothing. 
The public sector has been encouraged to take such initiatives for many years, and indeed rely upon the income stream to provide such a good level of service. There is an open tendering process for the recovery work and it is shared out very strictly. There is no fraud here and no story, just a desperate attempt to find a story on the back of the legitimate outrage about insurance companies and their lack of any customer focus." 
Young male drivers aged 17 to 20 hit with £4,000 insurance bill... but for girls it's nearly half the cost 
The cost of car insurance for young men has crashed through the £4,000 barrier. 
The average price of a year’s comprehensive cover for those aged 17 to 20 is now £4,006, a study has shown. 
The average for women in the same age group is just £2,151 
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The figures mean many cash-strapped parents are spending the equivalent ofnearly six months of university fees on annual cover for their sons. 
Overall, the average cost of comprehensive cover in the UK is now £858, a rise of £22 over the last 3 months and £170 higher compared with this time last year. 
Insurers say young men pose the highest risk on the road, and therefore pay the highest premiums. 
However, legislation will make it illegal for companies to discriminate on grounds of gender from the end of next year. 
Women are likely to see their premiums rise, while men should see theirs fall. 
Experts have warned that the soaring price of insurance will tempt some to drive uninsured rather than be driven off the road by the rising cost of motoring. 
A spokesman for, which compiled the figures with services firm Towers Watson, said: ‘In order to afford a £4,000-a-year premium and cover the cost of running a car, the average single male [aged 17 to 20] would need to spend £6,500 a year – almost half of the average salary of full-time employees at this age. 
‘This effectively prices them out of the market.’ 
Source: 08/08/2011 says: 
"By this time next year, when the European Court ruling kicks in, girls, and their parents, will not be so happy. They will be paying the same premium as the boys, and if you think it will be any less than the boys pay now because, of course, the insurance companies will just balance the amount out (!) - think again. 
- click to read more 
They will all be paying £4000 a year, unless they take their fate in their own hands. 
To be fair to insurance companies (I know... why should we? They aren't fair to us) they can only differentiate on the basis of known reduced risk. With their usual intelligence, the European authorities have removed the single biggest element of that with a stroke of their mindless ‘equal opportunities at all costs’ pen (i.e., girls were a demonstrably better risk than boys). 
Yet, if those young drivers, or their parents, were to simply fit black box technology into their car - for as little as 10% of the annual insurance premium they will be faced with - insurers could be presented with clear and sustainable evidence of driving standards to justify massively reduced premiums. 
Wake up, and dictate your own premiums. Don't let the system grind you down. 
Big Brother is watching you: The town where EVERY car is tracked by police cameras 
A sleepy Home Counties market town has become the first in Britain to have every car passing through it tracked by police cameras. 
Royston, in Hertfordshire, has had a set of police cameras installed on every road leading in 
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The automatic number-plate recognition system will check the plates against a variety of databases, studying them for links to crimes, and insurance and tax records, and alerting police accordingly. 
There were just seven incidents of vehicle crime in the town last month, and residents believe the unmarked cameras are an invasion of their privacy. 
The system, due to be switched on in the next few days, also allows police to compile 'hotlists' of vehicles that they are interested in and which will be flagged up when the ANPR system 
Details of the cars movements will stay on police records for two years, or five if the car is connected to a crime, the Guardian reported. 
The system, which is operated regionally, has sparked fears that the data could be abused and has led to claims that it is a big brother network that the public are completely oblivious of. 
Guy Herbert, general secretary from NO2ID, which campaigns against databases storing the public's details, said: 'It's very sinister and quite creepy. 
'They can approach anyone they like, but there's no legal basis for them doing so. 
'There's no way to regulate how they use ANPR, they are the authority on it and they have their own rules. 
'So there's no way to protect people's privacy.' 
Mr Herbert also takes issue with the fact that the cameras are not advertised to the motorist, so many are unaware they have even been caught on the camera. 
But Inspector Andy Piper, the ANPR manager for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and a Royston resident himself, insists that the system will not be abused. 
He told the Guardian: 'We only deal with people we're interested in stopping - that's the criminal element that comes into our county intent on committing crime, and unsafe drivers, disqualified drivers, or people driving uninsured vehicles, who we want to take off the road. 
Source: 30/07/2011 says: 
"And why not? 
At least the residents of Bradford - which already has 80 such cameras - know that there is a far higher possibility of the criminal fraternity being apprehended than would be the case if the cameras did not exist. What's more, the cost of any alternative intelligence and detection system which was anywhere near as effective would dwarf the national debt. 
- click to read more 
Rejoice good people of Royston, for you have a local authority and police service with the vision and courage to implement modern technology against age-old problems. And what price do you have to pay? None, unless you are one of those who knows that the police will be able to prove that you were in the vicinity of every burglary committed in the town!"Initially hidden text 
Did you see this coming? The 'mind-reading' technology that will help drivers to brake in time 
Researchers looking to cut down on car accidents have found a way to improve response times of drivers - by attaching electrodes to their scalps. 
Using electroencephalography (EEG), the technology stops the car using the drivers brain signals. 
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This cut out the time it takes between the intention to break and physically moving to press the brake pedal.and could prevent accidents caused by human error. 
A study hooked 18 participants up to an EEG before putting them in a driving simulator to identify the parts of the brain that are most active when braking. 
Myoelectric (EMG) activity, which is caused by muscle tension in the lower leg and can be used to detect leg motion before it actually moves to the brake pedal was also recorded. 
During the simulation, the participants were told to stay within a 20 metre distance whilst maintaining a speed of 62 mph behind a computer-controlled lead vehicle. 
At random intervals, the vehicle in front braked rapidly to trigger an emergency braking situation. 
The time taken to release the accelerator and press the brake pedal, as well as the deceleration of both vehicles and the distance between them was recorded. 
Scientists carrying out the study at the Berlin Institute for Technology found that a mind-reading system could detect a driver's intention to brake 130 milliseconds faster than a normal brake response. 
Source: 29/07/2011 says: 
"It had to be the Germans didn't it?! 
Joking apart, and obtuse as this is (because none of us are going to drive around with electrodes attached to our scalp, however much it reduces our insurance premium!) we have thousands of strange little developments such as this to thank for the safety of our cars today. 
- click to read more 
Just try driving your 1970s Ford Fiesta in the same way as you can drive a Ford Fiesta today. You probably will not stay on the road very long. There is hardly any way in which it has not been improved. It's not just faster, stops quicker, more comfortable, and safer in such obvious ways as ABS, traction control and airbags, it is collectively more sophisticated than the best car which money could buy in those days. 
Thank God for quirky scientists who are not afraid to have the Mickey taken. They have saved my life on more than one occasion." 
Emergency stop: 112,000 driving tests almost ended in a crash last year 
Nearly 112,000 hapless would-be drivers fail their driving tests because they are involved in near misses. 
Of these blunders which were caused by a 'dangerous fault' - such as failing to judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle - more than 1,000 led to an accident or the examiner being physically or verbally assaulted.  
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Many crashes were avoided by examiners taking control of the car according to figures released from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). 
In 339 cases either the candidate or examiner was hurt and in two instances the injuries were serious. 
On one occasion a candidate suffered a fatal heart attack, although this was not directly linked to the test itself. 
According to the agency, in these cases 'the examiner had to take an appropriate action to avoid collision'. 
The main reason for failing a test was poor observations at junctions which, according to figures. 
Incorrect use of mirrors led to over 200,000 candidates being failed, with more than 30,000 cases being classified as dangerous. 
Parking accounted for around 150,000 failures. 
Nevertheless, almost half of the 1.5 million learner drivers passed their test last year, a small increase on 2009. 
The theory test was failed by just under 40 per cent of candidates, who were unable to correctly answer the required 43 out of 50 questions. 
Next year the DSA will stop publishing a list of potential test questions to avoid learner drivers learning by memory. 
Alan Esam, the AA's learning and development manager, said : 'It is all to do with people not observing effectively. 
'If they are going to make a mistake at a junction, it is because they are not seeing if there is anybody there. 
'if they are going to make a mistake carrying out a manoeuvre, it is because they are missing another car in the same area.' 
Source: 30/07/2011 says
"Shock news! 
Drivers with hardly any experience, placed under extreme stress can make mistakes and might - just might - be more likely to have an accident than those who have been driving for years. 
Now there's a surprise!" 
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