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Smart Motorways – Part 2

 

History

Managed Motorways, now known as Smart Motorways, are sections of motorway in the UK that uses Active Traffic Management methods to improve journey times and reduce emissions during busy periods. This is primarily done by using variable speed limits and making use of the hard shoulder.

Congestion costs approximately £2 billion a year, a quarter of this coming from incidents. Reducing congestion not only helps counteract the increase in vehicles on our roads but create economic benefits for the local area and country.

The UK’s first Smart Motorway was introduced in the West Midlands on the M42 in 2006. Analysis of the gathered data showed that:

  • Injuries caused by accidents reduced by more than 50%.
  • Planned journey times improved by 22%.
  • The few accidents that did occur consisted of zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.

Success of this, I want to say experiment, meant that plans were announced in 2007 to extend funding to reach two different sections of the M6. Studies into the use of Smart Motorways on the M1, M4, M20 and M25 were launched.

The beginning of 2010 saw a £2 billion contract announced to adapt the M1, M4, M5, M6, M60 and M62 to have Smart Motorway functionality. £11 billion has been funded for projects between 2015 and 2020.

 

UK map

 

 

Post Opening Evaluation of the M62 J25-30 Opened October 2013

The M62 J25-30 reaches 15 miles south of Bradford and Leeds, it has a mixture of Smart Motorway Schemes in operation providing extra capacity in both directions. One year after opening the following observations were made:

 

Objectives Objective Achieved?
To achieve additional motorway capacity, making best use of existing infrastructure where possible Yes
To reduce the number and severity of accidents per vehicle kilometre Yes, but too soon to assess severity
To minimise the detrimental effects on traffic on the surrounding road network where possible Yes
To improve journey time reliability, as measured by the average delay experienced in the worst 10% of journeys Yes
To improve journey times Improved during peak periods but not between peak times.
To offset the detrimental environmental effects of the scheme through mitigation measures where technically and economically feasible Yes
To improve the quality of information provided to drivers about the state of traffic flow in the motorway Yes

 

 

Key Findings:

  • Increase in traffic levels, but not as high as anticipated.
  • Journey times have decreased during peak periods.
  • Journey time variety has decreased.
  • Safety has increased better than expected, with one third less collisions.
  • Unnecessary limits set to 60mph has increased journey times during inter-peak times.
  • Traffic flow is smoother in the peak periods on the busiest sections – demonstrated by the fact all lanes are travelling at similar speeds.

Next Up!

Next, we will take a look at how to correctly use the Smart Motorways, this will include key criticisms, something close to my heart following my own personal experience that the Highways Patrol Officer told me was a “life or death” situation.

Thank you for reading!

Written by – Danny Atkin. Transport Director

 

Sources:

Highways England –

http://www.highways.gov.uk/smart-motorways-programme/

Gov.uk – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515796/POPE_of_Major_Schemes_M62_J25-30_SM_OYA_Executive_Summary.pdf

UK Construction Media –

https://www.ukconstructionmedia.co.uk/news/manchesters-smart-motorway/

Telegraph –

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/features/smart-motorways-can-we-really-afford-to-lose-the-hard-shoulder/

 

 

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Smart Motorways – An Exploration of Purpose, Cost and Reward – Part 1

 

With the government announcing plans to allow learners onto our motorways never before has learning about the tarmac arteries flowing through our country been more relevant. With 2,173 miles of motorways keeping our country alive, correct usage is vital.

The inspiration behind this series of blogs comes from my own personal experience, I commute from Scunthorpe to Manchester several times a week and spend plenty more time going up and down the country, experiencing the Smart Motorways. It did dawn on me though, at my relatively young age of 25, I’ve never been taught the do’s and do not’s of using the new system. If I’ve not been formally taught, then that means potentially everyone my senior has also not been taught, which means there’s potentially a huge chunk of the driving population that don’t have a clue what’s going on.

I had a scary situation on the M6 Northbound near Birmingham, I broke down on lane one and had traffic swerving around my car, I was left thinking, this doesn’t seem so “Smart.” So, what we’re going to do is explore the purpose of Smart Motorways, i.e. what’s caused the massive investment to take place, and is it really necessary. We’ll take a look at what goes into making a Motorway “Smart.” We’re going to look at the safety protocols, and what to do, if like me, you break down on one. Then we’re going to attempt a cost/benefit analysis. Hopefully from all this we can be filled with eternal optimism for the future, and less frustration at the present with the 50mph stretches.

 

Background & Facts on Motorways

A motorway is defined as a: “Limited-access dual carriageway road, not crossed on the same level by other traffic lanes, for the exclusive use of certain classes of motor vehicle.”

The Motorway zones run clockwise from the M1

Motorway map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Nilfanion and Dr Greg. © OpenStreetMap contributors. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2010., CC BY-SA 4.0,

 

The first motorway was opened in 1958, this was the M6 Preston Bypass. By 1972, 1000 miles of motorway had been built.

The longest motorway in the UK is the M6, stretching 236 miles.

The M25 is the longest two-digit motorway, stretching 117 miles.

My beloved M180 is the longest three-digit motorway stretching 25 miles.

When the M1 was opened in 1959, there was no speed limit, central reservations, lighting or crash barriers.

The widest section of road with multiple carriageways is on the M61, reaching 2.5 miles over 18 lanes.

Source: Sabre Roads

 

Fatality Facts

25,160 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2016, a rise of 6% on the previous year.

For the same period, motorway traffic levels were up 1.4%.

The casualty rate per mile decreased by 5%.

Motorway fatalities was up 8% to 270 in the third quarter of 2016, compared with the same period the year before.

Source: Department for Transport

 

Next Up

The next blog post is going to look at Smart Motorways, and how they came to be a part of everyday life for millions of commuters. We will delve into the research that surmised their necessity for a sustainable and safe future.  We will look at the intended goals and objectives of Smart Motorways and see if the initial data we have matches up to justify the incredible investment put into the projects.

Until next time.

 

Written by: Danny Atkin, Transport Director

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Pupils to be allowed to learn on motorways from 2018

 

 

motorway

 

 

Andrew Jones, our Road Safety Minister, has announced that pupils will be able to learn to drive on our motorways from 2018. Currently, motorway lessons are available for people that have passed their test however, uptake is low. The proposed deregulatory measure will enable pupils to gain professional tuition on motorways with the intention of making our roads safer.

 

Why are pre-test motorway lessons important?

As it stands qualified drivers can take a pass plus course that includes motorway tuition, drivers can also pay for a motorway lesson once they’ve passed.

However, uptake is incredibly low, in the 2015/2016 year there were just over 21,000 Pass-Plus certificates issued out of nearly 720,000 practical test passes. This suggests that only 3% of newly qualified drivers received professional motorway tuition.

Motorways present different challenges to dual carriageways, with an increased number of lanes, slip road set ups and ‘Smart Motorways.’ 8% of drivers do not comply with the “red X” on sections of smart motorways.

 

What the government want to implement

The government want to make it so that learner drivers can go on the motorway whilst they’re in a dual controlled car AND with a qualified approved driving instructor.

They want to make it an optional part of learning to drive.

It will not be mandatory, due to there been some areas in the country that are unrealistically far away from motorways. See below picture of motorway network.

 

motorway network

 

(Crown copyright and database rights 2016, Ordnance Survey Licence Number 100039241)

 

Benefits

  • The Learner gets more practice of driving at higher speeds
  • Correct usage of motorways is learned – Some people have never been told that sitting in the middle lane can cause congestion.
  • Theoretical knowledge can be tested.
  • More people should, as a result, use motorways correctly, henceforth improving the flow of traffic and safety.

 

Risks

  • The stakes may be higher at higher speeds. Potentially, learner drivers could pose as a hazard to other road users.
  • Impatience of other road users around the learners.
  • If more people are learning to drive on motorways, more people could use the motorways, increasing traffic and potential for more collisions.

 

What others say

Our own Michelle Partington, Customer Account Manager here at Surepass, commented “Slip roads are the scariest element of a motorway to me and also route planning, i.e. which junctions you need to exit etc. These are things I’ve had to learn for myself (after refusing to drive on a motorway for 10 years). This is a positive addition, motorways are scary places!”

James Collier commented on a Conservative Facebook post about the subject, “So the motorways are now gonna be full of incompetent idiots going 40mph. Very safe, just what I need when I’m on my bike.”

 

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What I say

I recall passing my test in Manchester many moons ago, I also had my new car waiting for me in Manchester once I had passed. The only issue I had was I lived in Scunthorpe. From Manchester to my home just outside of Scunthorpe it is exactly 100 miles, 90 of which are on the motorway. I used the skills I learnt on dual carriageways and got on with it. I WAS TERRIFIED. This was my first solo drive, driving under conditions that were intimidating. I made it out alive, mainly because I drove at 60mph the whole way. Back then, I remember thinking this should be a part of pre-test learning. The concept of someone passing their test and instantly been allowed to drive on motorways quite simply left me puzzled. I for one, welcome the change!

 

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Occupational Health Advice for Driving Instructors – Part One – Back Pain

 

 

Back pain

Credit : Getty Images

 

The following series of blogs is going to look at the health risks involved at being a driving instructor and the steps you can take to not only reverse these but swing the pendulum the other way and feel healthier than ever before.

Whilst not being a driving instructor I still spend my fair share of time behind the wheel. I used to get the back pain, I used to get the claustrophobic feeling after 14 hours in the same vehicle, I used to go into every fast food restaurant that I drove pass. It’s not sustainable for our long-term health to maintain this lifestyle.

 

Part One – Back Pain

 

Back pain 2

Credit: Pinterest

 

The most common physical pain comes from the back. Sitting for a prolonged amount of time can either be the cause of lower back pain or aggravate an existing problem in the back. The sitting posture is static which means there is increased stress in the back which adds pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

There are three main causes for back pain while driving: vibrations from the engine (which can’t be changed), our sitting position, and the length of time we spend in our cars.

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

A reaction to sitting for a long time is a slowed down metabolism, a slower metabolism makes it harder for the body to break down fat and to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.

The link between illness and sitting first emerged in the 50’s, researchers found that London bus conductors had half the chance of having a heart attack as their bus driver colleagues.

The 70’s dawned a burst of research on astronauts, their findings were that whilst living in zero gravity, bone and muscle loss was accelerated causing quicker ageing.

Professor Biddle says, “Sitting for an extended period of time is thought to simulate, albeit to a lesser degree, the effects of weightlessness on astronauts.” (source: NHS)

 

Have I scared you yet? Yes? Good

 

Whether you are looking for a career as a driving instructor, just starting out as a PDI or a seasoned veteran; It’s not all doom and gloom.

No matter what your occupation, regular exercise is always advised. I’m not saying you need to go to the gym twice a day 7 days a week, the NHS says to go for 150 minutes of exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity a week, more on this can be read by clicking here. You can also do a fitness self-assessment by clicking here.

There is a good guide that helps “Undo the Damage of Sitting.” Despite the article being aimed at men, the stretches can be done by women too. The whole routine can be done in just 10 minutes and involves very simple exercises, it’ll help to provide relief to your hamstrings, quads, hips, glutes, groin and lower back. Check it out here.

 

When in the Car

 

Back pain 3

Credit: Pinterest

 

The Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust published guidance notes on driving, they recommend taking a break once an hour. This is easily achievable as an instructor and doesn’t have to be a long break. It could be simply taking a couple minutes walking around the car before a lesson. You could take a break to go through some show me tell me questions with a pupil. It could be checking the tyre pressure or tyre tread. It could be parking up and walking inside to get your morning coffee. You get the picture; these actions may seem insignificant for your body but the benefits are well documented.

Another tip they give is to move around, they stress that it shouldn’t be drastic adjustments to your seat position, but to just adjust the height or back position a notch can help vary the pressure going down the spine, they recommend doing this every 30 minutes.

The full document can be read here.

 

Let’s Draw This to a Close

Alright, so I’m not saying we’re all going to get sick and get diabetes and overweight. The point of this blog is to highlight the stress we put on our bodies when in the same position for extended periods of time. We can all do more to improve our health. I’d be surprised to meet a professional in the driving trade that will claim to never have experienced back pain. Take a peek at the recommendations in the articles, some simple stretches could transform your comfort during your working day, give it a go, the worst that can happen is you feel a little more limber! Next up in this series we’re going to take a look at how McDonalds could be ruining your business.

Happy motoring!

 

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Basic maintenance tips for your car

As an instructor, your car is your office, it is the place that you earn your living. If you neglect very basic duties it can lead to time spent off the road, which in turn, costs money. Let me walk you through some basics that could save you from the embarrassment of been turned away from a test by the examiner.

Some of this may seem basic, but will only appear if it is a real situation faced over the last year of me working for Surepass.

 

Tyres

 
By law you need to have tread of at least 1.6mm. The easiest check for this is to feel if the tread hump is level with the rest of the tyre. If it is, you are running illegal tyres. Good practice is to phone your local Kwikfit, Halfords or ATS when your tyres are on about 2.5mm of tread and book to have the tyre replaced at your convenience. Don’t forget to check for bulges too!

 

You must also ensure that your tyres are running with the correct pressure. The information for tyre pressure on your vehicle is either inside the fuel panel or on the inside of the front doors. Correct tyre pressure will ensure you not only get better mileage, but also have evenly worn tyres, giving you more time on the road.
Here is a handy, inexpensive tool I use to check my tyres’ tread and pressure, it even fits on your key ring!

 

tyres

 

 

 

tyres 2

tyres 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Tyre finders and Dartford Tyres and accessories

 

Oil

 

Here at Surepass we have service intervals of 20k miles, this maintains the manufacturer’s warranty. Each service your oil and filter will be changed. It is imperative you don’t miss a service as this can lead to various engine problems that equate to more time, for you, spent off the road.

Your oil should also be checked once a week, by you. This should be done on a level surface, whilst the engine is cold, try first thing in the morning before you head out. Cars can develop leaks at any time. Leaks are relatively inexpensive to fix, but a turbo and a timing chain running on no oil is certainly no cheap fix, and are quite time consuming repairs.

Whilst checking your oil, if you notice it to be any colour other than honey brown or black then head to your closest Halfords and get it checked out. It could be nothing, but it could also be a sign of a bigger problem. If you find yourself having to top up frequently it is also advisable to get it checked out. Some oil does burn away but seals can also break, and although your driveway doesn’t have oil on it, there could still be a leak.

Here’s a guide to checking your oil: Here

 

Wipers

If you don’t have wipers that create a clear view you could be putting your pupil and yourself in danger, you could also risk been turned away from a test. Check out the below image to give you an indicator as to when wipers should be replaced.

windscreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips for getting the most out of your blades:

  • Don’t go too long without using them – especially in dry weather they can crack.
  • When cleaning your vehicle also clean the rubber bits on the blades, removing any trapped dirt or sap from trees.

 

A Brief Summary

Simple, right? How about creating a weekly checklist? Done at your convenience. Tyres, wipers and oil. Each can save you time compared to ignoring a small sign and letting it develop into, in some cases, a severe problem. We are all busy and time can seem sacred and hard to come by, but every one of these things can be checked in just a few minutes. Let’s be proactive and not reactive!

 

 

 

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Speed awareness

Speed awareness

 

Speed Awareness

 

This week we shall take a look and see how speeding affects yourself and those around you and see if the rush is really worth the reward. Provisional figures show that there is a 2% increase [1] in road deaths in 2016, this is despite our cars been ‘safer’ than ever before. The years before this showed a steady decline. [2] Green Flag state there has been a 44% increase in speeding over the last 5 years. [3]

Let’s begin by showing the various speed limits for various vehicles:

 

speed chart

 

 

Naturally, the type of vehicle you drive determines the speed in which you are allowed to go, but just because it’s the speed limit doesn’t mean you have to reach it. For example, if you are driving down a high street, or perhaps a country road with tight bends.

The importance of teaching safe driving to pupils is paramount as the early habits and teachings are usually engraved into their minds. Equally important is to conduct yourself professionally and within the boundaries of the law on the road. If a pupil sees an instructor speeding or ‘cutting corners’ they are more likely to think it’s the norm.

 

What are the main reasons for speeding?

  • Late? Set off earlier, don’t punish other road users.
  • Went through a bad patch of traffic and need to make up time? Set off earlier, don’t punish other road users.
  • There’s no one else around? How do you know?
  • You know the roads like the back of your hand? Apollo Robins states it’s the things you see every day that you are most blind to. Check this video out.
  • Tired and you just want to get home? Speeding whilst tired?!
  • It’s cool? Steve Coogan at his best.

A wise HGV driver once said that you should “anticipate everything, expect nothing.” You don’t know what’s around that corner, or what’s just down the road. Just the other day the M62 had a 3 mile tailback because a pig escaped a wagon and was running wild along the motorway (you may be pleased to know the pig survived). My point is, circumstances may occur that seem absolutely crazy and unexpected.

Whilst driving you take in millions of bits of information every second, every mile per hour faster you go this reduces. Go ahead and have some fun with this video, you may have seen it already: Click here

 

What’s the Government’s Role in This?

 

As of the 24th April this year new laws are coming into place to deter motorists from speeding by implementing heavier fines.

There will be a new band system.

Band A relates to drivers going between 1 and 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Band B relates to drivers going between 11 and 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Band C relates to drivers going 21 miles per hour and over the speed limit.

Drivers can receive 3 points for a band A offence, between 4 and 6 for a band B and 6 points for band C.

A typical charge for a band A offence will be 50% of your weekly income, for band B it is 100% and band C is 150%. The maximum fine has risen from £1000 to £2500.

Moving Forwards

So, next time you find yourself tempted, for any reason, ask yourself, is it worth it? There are social consequences and professional consequences that can have a serious impact on your life. Should you cause an accident, you shouldn’t expect any sympathy and your actions rest solely on your shoulders. Should you acquire too many points, as an ADI, this is your career at stake. How about explaining the fine to your spouse? There goes that summer holiday you were planning. Just stop, think, is it really worth it?

 

 

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-provisional-estimates-july-to-september-2016

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-in-great-britain-main-results-2015

[3] http://blog.greenflag.com/2017/speeding-drivers/

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Changes to the ADI test

In 2014 the DVSA introduced the standards check for already qualified instructors to ensure that their methods were still in line with the national standard. Overall surveys showed this was well received by ADI’s and examiners.Click here for an example of the marking sheet

Two years later in 2016 proposed changes to the ADI part 3 test were put forwards with two surveys been conducted with the aim of seeing how well prepared organisations would be for the changes and their general awareness of the changes. The full survey results can be found here.

The changes aimed to bring the part 3 test in line with the standards check and abolish the restricted rehearsed scenarios that the examiner plays. Allowing the person sitting the test to use a real pupil and therefore show off a much broader spectrum of competencies.

The goal is to improve the standard of training and testing that the trainees receive to, in turn, improve the quality of drivers that occupy our roads, which is in line with the DVSA’s strategic goal.

Here is a part of the press release:

The DVSA will publish the new assessment form and accompanying guidance soon, but main changes that trainers and trainees need to be aware of are:

  • The same criteria as the standards check will be used with a competency-based assessment
  • Trainees will be assessed over a single one-hour lesson on the 3 main competencies of lesson planning, risk management and teaching and learning strategies. They will be assessed using the additional 17 sub-competencies set out in the current standards check assessment form and to the national standards of Driver and Rider training
  • Examiners will no longer be able to role play. Trainees will be required to provide a ‘real’ pupil which could be friends, family members or colleagues, and the lesson will have to reflect their learning goals and needs. This doesn’t have to be a learner, but could be a full licence holder seeking driver development

The full press release can be found here.

 

Concerns That Need Addressing

On paper the changes may seem great but you don’t have to be an expert to realise that the door could potentially be left open for abuse and a subsequent flood of below par instructors passing their part 3 with little or no training.

With a “real” pupil been used, a rehearsed lesson could take place. There could become a black market of companies providing “real” pupils that enable the trainee instructor to tick all the right boxes. The DVSA’s response to this is that their examiners will easily spot something rehearsed. How can they be so sure?

Let’s say that this becomes an epidemic in the industry, and there are over all more, but fewer well trained instructors on our roads. Been a driving instructor used to be a symbol of integrity, but if the gates are open for anyone to qualify there lies the real chance that, with the increased number of instructors able to teach on the road the cost of lessons will be driven down, the quality of tuition will be driven down and the number of good instructors will be driven down because there lies a tarnished industry.

Click here to read about problems with the new test

Now that was an extreme example. In reality, it has to be assumed that the DVSA has thought about this and will have methods of avoiding the outcomes mentioned. With the changes coming into place on the 2nd of October, it is surely time that more guidance on the exam structure is given. Until then, I, and many others are not wholly convinced.

 

Danny Atkin

Surepass Ltd

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Use of mobile phones in cars

Mobile Phones in the Car

As of the first of March, using a mobile phone at the wheel brings a much tougher punishment. Previously using a phone would bring a £100 fixed penalty notice. The Conservative government has pushed through changes that now mean using a phone behind the wheel, or while supervising a learner driver will get you a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on your license.

The implications? A new driver using their phone will get disqualified and must re-sit both their tests. A driving instructor will receive the same points and fine, the accumulation of that many points may get your PDI/ADI badge suspended.

Why Have Tougher Laws Been Imposed?

Using a phone whilst driving or supervising reduces your ability to react to hazards.

It has been proven that while using a phone at the wheel, you are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, endangering yourself and others. Further information here.

Scenarios and Whether You Can Use a Mobile Phone

  • At traffic lights – Nope
  • In stationary traffic – Nope
  • To answer a call on speaker phone – Nope
  • To simply skip to the next song – Nope
  • To change your navigation – Nope
  • To call 999 or 112 when it’s not safe or suitable to stop – YES
  • Can you still use your mobile to navigate? Sure, just don’t you dare touch your phone again once the engine is going.

Responsibilities as a Driving Instructor

As an instructor, you have two responsibilities associated with this law.

Firstly, to teach the importance of not using a phone when driving. In your lessons, you must explain the risks involved, the danger it puts people in. The fact that if caught in the first two years they will be revoked back to their provisional license and must sit both tests again. Whilst the punishment, now, is enough to put many off from using their phone behind the wheel, the pupils must understand why the punishment is so severe.

Show them this video. If that doesn’t work, try this one. The latter really puts the message out there, showing a girl texting with her friends in the car, she then crashes into another car and another car crashes into her, multiple people are dead at the scene, a boy is orphaned and the girl that was texting at the wheel is surrounded by her dead friends. Another heart wrenching commercial is from American mobile phone provider AT&T. The message is important, “You’re never alone on the road.” “Distracted driving is never ok.”

The second responsibility is to practice what you preach. As an instructor, you are also in control of the car. While on a lesson, don’t take calls and don’t respond to texts on your phone. It can wait until after the lesson is completed.

Are the New Punishments Fair?

In my opinion, yes, they are. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the new punishment just so happens to be the same number of points learner drivers need to lose their license. Younger generations have been brought up on technology and a mobile phone is usually a surgical extension of their hand, generally speaking (not all teens are like this), statistics show young drivers are more likely to drive distracted.

There’s a huge national campaign aimed at cracking down to immediately get the message across. I’m predicting this will lead to a fall in numbers of people using their phones, and a bigger negative stigma attached to those that do still use their phones while driving, in the same way that driving drunk was clamped down on.

There are other ways to communicate whilst driving, plenty of cars come with steering wheel mounted controls that enable you to take calls. Look back at the blog a couple weeks ago, that explores how manufacturers are changing with the times with infotainment systems such as IntelliLink. Leave your phone alone, it can wait.

 

Danny Atkin

Surepass Ltd

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IntelliLink – benefits for a driving instructor

Exploring IntelliLink and How It Improves ‘Office Life’

 

As a driving instructor, your office is your car, you spend anywhere up to 16 hours a day in your ‘office,’ so comfort and convenience is a must. Time spent between lessons is a valuable opportunity to check in and organise future lessons with your pupils. In 2016 Vauxhall introduced its all new and improved IntelliLink infotainment system. This introduction was arguably the biggest change by Vauxhall in a decade. It allows you to effortlessly organise your day, week and month. The 7” screen allows you to safely get the most out of your Android or Apple device.

 

What is IntelliLink

 

What IntelliLink gives you is AM/FM/DAB radio stations along with Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to make and receive calls along with stream music straight from your media device.

The real show stealer is when you connect your iPhone or Android via USB cable. This launches Apple Car Play or Android Auto. Apple Car Play and Android Auto will display Apps and turn the 7” touchscreen into a central hub. Key Apps will be displayed and read to you, such as Phone, Messages, Audible, Podcasts, Spotify and the most practical one, Maps.

Few people know that when using Maps, it is not actually too data intensive, modern phones have GPS built in, the only data used is the download of the actual route you are taking. GPS in the phone takes care of the rest. Check out this Reddit post where users of Maps back this up. So, plugging in your phone to the USB slot gives you a GPS displayed on the screen to get to your next pupil’s address.

Maps and Google Maps also track addresses in your texts, emails and recent history to try and predict the location you’d next like to go.

If you’re still worried about using data, check back for the next blog that will look at Vauxhall’s OnStar assistant.

 

How is this different from using a mobile phone while driving?

 

Voice commands, long gone are the days of failing with in-car voice commands, instead you have the billions of Dollars invested by Google and Apple, understanding your every word. These companies invested heavily in making sure the commands can understand different dialects, click here for more information.

On the steering wheel, there is a button that will activate your Android or Apple “assistant.” Here are a few commands as an example of how your day can be made easier.

“Take me home.” This command using an iPhone will load up, on the 7” screen, the fastest way home, avoiding heavy traffic and other delays meaning that you are home in plenty of time for tea, or stopping you from been late for that next lesson.

“I need some fuel along the way.” This will give you options to set as a way point, simply give the voice command of the option you’d like to go to, for example: “Take me to Shell.”

“Send Chloe a message saying, Are we still on for the 1pm lesson tomorrow.” When using an iPhone, Siri will read the message back to you and confirm that you would like to send the message, reply “Send” and the message will go. As she replies Siri will tell you that a new message has come in and play it out aloud for you to hear and give you the option to reply. Imagine she asked to move it to 2pm you can then command Siri using the button on the wheel to “Change Chloe’s appointment tomorrow to 2pm tomorrow.” What you have done is effortlessly reorganised your diary, safely, between lessons.

Conveniently as well, Calendar will display any appointments on the screen with a warning time as set by you.

 

Is IntelliLink really the best thing since sliced bread?

 

Whilst I am not a driving instructor, I still have a varied day that requires organisation. I also spend a lot of time going to instructors across the country. The IntelliLink system has revolutionised what I can get done in a day whilst on the road.

Firstly, I don’t have to lug a GPS around with me anymore. Secondly, I can now text and drive (it still feels wrong to say that), which is a key communication tool with instructors, I can send an ETA without having to pull over into a service station or on the side of the road, this decreases my time spent travelling between destinations. I can even take part in the weekly customer account manager conference call that is done through Skype, albeit without the video. Thirdly I can safely command different podcasts to play, along with music and audio books. Finally, I have the benefit of having a 100% unobstructed view whilst driving, I have no need for a phone or GPS holder.

 

For more information on the IntelliLink system follow these links:

FAQ’s – http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/owners_services/help-and-advice/intellilink-faqs.html

Apple CarPlay Apps and more info – http://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/

Android Auto Apps and more info – https://www.android.com/intl/en_uk/auto/

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Should Driving Instructors do the work of the Police?

Driving Instructors doing the Police’s Work?

 

The BBC reported that Essex police are trialling a new (or is it) method of catching criminal behaviour. They are asking driving instructors to sign up a scheme that will see their cars fitted with GoPro cameras. The intention is for instructors to be an “additional resource”.

Instructors will record crimes and be asked to provide their own report of the incident.

Should the police work be left to the… Police?

The BBC reported a similar story back in 2003 when West Midlands Police tried something similar back in 2003. Back then there was wide criticism as such a scheme could be seen as a cost cutting method. It wasn’t well received then, why is it now? One theory could be that the worst of the cuts have already happened. It’s no secret that there’s less patrol officers on the road now.

Another theory is that there is a correlation between traffic officer numbers dropping and the number of deaths on the roads rising, as reported by the Independent. With the cuts, already having happened, unconventional methods of policing should be trialled. Yorkshire police are already allowing submissions of incidents caught on dash cams.

With most patrol cars that are left, being highly visible, driving instructors may hold the key. Driving instructors are highly trained to be aware of the surroundings, primarily for the safety of road users. Tapping into this awareness may well lead to more prosecutions.

Do driving instructors have more opportunity to catch crime?

We have all been in a rush to go somewhere before and ended up getting stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, lorry, cyclist, learner driver etc., some people have patience and let it slide, others get riled up and enthralled with road rage. AutoExpress reports that the UK is the road rage capital of the world. Discussions with instructors have brought some unbelievable stories to light.

One instructor had a learner who missed an opportunity to enter the roundabout, eventually the learner entered and exited the roundabout with the enraged road user in close pursuit. The enraged motorist continuously flashed their lights and sounded their horn until the instructor advised the pupil to pull over and allow the angry motorist to pass. Instead of passing the motorist also pulled up and got out of their car and started swearing at the instructor and the upset pupil. The angry motorist then went back into their car and sped off, with complete disregard to any speed limit in place.

Another instructor reported being on a dual carriageway with a pupil doing the 70mph speed limit, they pulled out into lane two to overtake, once the manoeuvre was complete they pulled back in to lane one. Another motorist that was behind them then pulled in front of the instructor and slammed their brakes on almost causing a rear end shunt.

If instructors were fitted with cameras with clear signs stating that cameras were in use do you think these two incidents would have occurred? They might have, but the chances are they probably wouldn’t. If people know they’re being filmed it soon makes them think for a second. In these instances, both instructors said they would be willing to work with the police if it helps to drop the intimidation placed on their pupils.

I say bring on the cross-profession cooperation. Make it as easy and stress free to report crimes and I’m sure instructors will have no problem acting as informants for the police forces of our land.

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