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A mobile phone app could stop young drivers from checking their smartphones while at the wheel.

Romex has developed an app which uses the phone’s GPS system to determine whether a car is travelling at 4mph or more.

If it believes the car is in use, the device is locked – disabling calls, texts, emails and social media.

Romex already provides the service to companies that want to track their fleet, but is now eyeing the consumer market, according to Auto Express.

It will be specifically targeted at younger drivers and could launch later this month.

Sales director Steve Arscott told the website: “It’s called Distraction Prevention. We’re approaching younger drivers because they’re the ones most likely to be glued to their phones.”

The paid-for service will work in conjunction with an app called Guardian, which sends location information on young drivers to their parents.

Guardian also shows whether a driver has been speeding. Mr Arscott said: “We’re looking for insurance partners at the moment.

“One good incentive for a young driver to have it on their phone is they would get a rebate on their insurance policy.”

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£100 fine and 3 licence points for driving with snow on car roof

 

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Driving with snow on your car roof could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

And if you find it hard to believe, check rule 229 of the Highway Code

Rule 229 states before you set off

 You MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows

 You MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible

 Make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly

 Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users

Check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted

Police say motorists could be prosecuted for careless or inconsiderate driving if they are involved in an accident and it is deemed that snow on the roof was a factor.

Motorists could face a £100 fine and three points on their license if snow on the roof of their car contributes to an accident. This could apply if snow falls forward onto a driver’s windscreen, obscuring the view, or backwards causing a hazard for motorists traveling behind them.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: ‘Many people are not aware of the hazard that snow on their cars can cause. Falling snow can be dangerous for all road users.’

Rule 229 of the Highway Code states, in a section entitled ‘driving in adverse weather conditions’, that snow should be removed from your car.

The full rule says: ‘Before you set off you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows. You MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible, make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly.

‘Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users. Check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.’

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Department for Transport proposals would allow driving instructors to supervise novice drivers on motorways

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Learner drivers could be allowed on motorways for the first time, under government proposals aimed at increasing road safety.

The Department for Transport is considering the move as a way to make sure learners are properly prepared for everyday driving before they pass their tests. Under the plans, they would be allowed to gain experience on motorways under the supervision of an approved driving instructor.

At the moment, learner drivers are not allowed to go on motorways but can do so without having had any practical experience after passing their test.

The possibility of learners on motorways will be explored under a £2m project examining driver education. It will look at whether the current regime gives the best training for learner and novice drivers. Compulsory basic training for learner motorcyclists will also be reviewed.

As part of a package of reforms known as the road safety plan, transport ministers are also planning a £50m grant for better cycling training in schools, and looking at forcing lorries to keep their sideguards to better protect cyclists.

There will also be increased punishments for drivers who use hand-held mobile devices while driving, with an increase from three penalty points to four and the fine rising from £100 to £150. In 2014, mobile phone usage was a contributing factor in 21 fatal road accidents and 84 serious accidents. The penalty for using a mobile while driving larger vehicles such as HGVs will go up from three to six points.

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said he was putting forward “common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads”.

The move to let learner drivers have supervised practice on motorways was welcomed by Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. “One in five young drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test so putting the learning process under the spotlight has to be a good thing,” he said.

“Mile for mile, motorways are our safest roads but can be intimidating places for novice drivers. Exploring ways of letting learners have controlled access to them is welcome. The important thing is the official seal of approval provided by the approved driving instructor who will accompany them down the slip road. This is definitely not the time to have mum or dad in the passenger seat.”

The government is currently considering a number of reforms to driving tests in order to improve the UK’s road safety record. It is already thinking about giving those who pass their driving test first time a refund of part of the cost. The plan is intended to raise the low first-time pass rate, which stands at just 21%.

At one point, the government was also considering banning newly qualified drivers from carrying non-family members under proposals to cut the number of road accidents involving teenagers.

www.thedrivingskool.com

Cell_phone_use_while_driving

Young Drivers are more likely to use their mobile phones while driving than older motorists, a survey suggests.

The poll for driving safety charity Brake found 49% of 17-24 year olds had been in work calls while on the road, compared with 17% for all age groups.

About 35% of young people said they had spoken to family, and 21% with friends – compared with 23% and 15% overall.

Brake asked about hand-held and hands-free calls. They are both a distraction “risking devastating crashes”, it said.

“It is a sobering thought that a significant number of these life-threatening distractions come from drivers’ own friends and family,” said Julie Townsend from the charity.

The survey questioned 1,000 drivers from across the UK on whether they had spoken on the phone while driving, hand-held or hands-free, in the last 12 months. If so, they were asked who they were talking to.

Using a hand-held phone while driving was made illegal in 2003. Using a hands-free kit is allowed but a driver can still be stopped if police believe they are being distracted.

Brake says that making calls hands-free is still a cause of distraction and are campaigning for it be banned.

The charity is advising drivers to put their phones on silent while driving, with their phone away from them. The safest way to make a call is to stop, they say.

According to an observational study by the Department for Transport last October, motorists who use phones are more likely to be texting or using social media than making calls.

Brake has also warned about the dangers of being tired while driving, saying that it is wise to break for at least 15 minutes every two hours.

When asked how often they driven for more than two hours without a break in the last 12 months, 8% said weekly or more, 16% once a month and 29% once a year.

www.thedrivingskool.com

Apple has patented a system that would lock drivers out of their smartphones while on the move, in a bid to cut down on accidents caused by texting and other distracting features

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Apple has patented a system that would provide a “lock-out mechanism” to stop drivers texting or using other distracting functions of their smartphones while on the move.

The patent describes how a device could determine if it was moving by looking at data from GPS, phone towers or even images from the camera. Visual clues would enable the device to calculate if its owner was driving the car or merely a passenger, imposing limits in the former case but not the latter.

Algorithms would look for a steering wheel in close proximity to the camera, or search for the number of faces – only one visible person would indicate that the user must be the one driving. It could also differentiate between the interior of a car and a train carriage or seat on a bus, where safety features would be unnecessary.

The application even suggests that the accelorometer could be used to detect when an unscrupulous driver was tilting the phone so as to not reveal the steering wheel and evade the safety feature. Sensing the speed of travel would also prevent the limits from kicking-in if the user was just walking.

Apple says in the patent application, filed in 2008 but only published and granted this week, that texting while driving has become a “major concern” of the police, and cites a 2006 study which found that 80pc of crashes were caused by distractions such as applying makeup, eating and text messaging.

The patent also claims that it is “doubtful” that police can stop people texting while driving because it can be done on the lap and is harder to spot.

Other studies have shown that sending text messages while driving was as dangerous as being a quarter over the legal drink-drive limit. The road safety charity Brake says that texting increases the chance of a commercial driver crashing by 23 times, and slows reaction times by 35 per cent.

The first part of Apple’s suggestion would use the phone’s own hardware to determine if it was travelling above a certain speed, and then lock the owner out of certain functions such as text messaging. It further develops the idea by suggesting that the car itself, or perhaps just the key, could be modified to send a signal to the phone to shut down certain features.

The application says that such a feature could be “a significant selling point in the eyes of concerned parents, and it could lead to legislation that would require all handheld computing devices to disable texting while driving.”

There are several Android apps which aim to perform a similar function, but Apple’s tight controls on what apps can and cannot access on the iPhone’s hardware have largely prevented similar software from launching on the iOS platform.