Road Safety Ireland- January 2019
Tom Harrington LL B (Hons) F Inst. MTD
Stayin’ Alive at 1.5
Plans to legislate for a minimum passing distance for motorists passing cyclists have been shelved on the advice of the Attorney General-Seamus Woulfe. Transport Minister Shane Ross said the law officer had concerns about how a minimum passing distance could be enforced.
Mr. Ross said his Department is instead drafting a statutory instrument which will make dangerous overtaking, specifically of a cyclist, an offence without specifying a minimum passing distance. The alternative measure is set to be in place by April this year, but the penalties have not yet been decided. The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017 had proposed three penalty points and an €80 fine where a motorist passed a cyclist closer than one metre on roads with a speed limit under 50km/h and one and a half metres on roads with a higher speed limit.
From the outset, it was abundantly clear that this measure was flawed and would not work. How could one measure one metre or one and a half metres in moving traffic? Driver trainers would normally advise their pupils not to “shave the elephant” but allow adequate or sufficient clearance from cyclists should they swerve or wobble.
Ross’s Road Safety Crackdown Halted
It has been revealed that Transport Minister Shane Ross has been warned to ease up on his plans for new road safety laws. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has intervened to express the concerns of his TD’s (Members of Parliament) about Mr. Ross’s plans for a tough penalty points system. A large section of Mr. Varadkars party believes Mr. Ross has already caused enough upset in rural Ireland with his clampdown on drink driving. During a Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was among a number of TD’s who outlined objections to what is perceived as a crusade against motorists in rural Ireland.
As more and more insurers fight back against fraudulent motor claims, many are either being withdrawn of dismissed in court. A recent claim by five members of a family who claimed a total of €190,000 damages for car accident injuries abandoned their claims after a barrister’s interrogation. The claimants claimed they suffered injuries after their car was rear-ended. However, an expert motor assessor told the court that there were no marks on either of the two cars to indicate even the slightest collision. The defendants claimed the car was undriveable.
MP Jailed for Lying
Fiona Onasanya has become the first UK’s sitting MP to be jailed in almost 30 years after she was sentenced to three months in prison. The Labour MP for Peterborough was found guilty of perverting the course of justice following a retrial in December over the lies she told police to avoid a speeding ticket. Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith jailed the politician for three months at the Old Bailey, keeping open the possibility she could keep her seat and remain on the parliamentary payroll. Passing down the sentence, the judge said: “That is the shortest sentence I am able to impose”. He added: “There cannot be one way for those in positions of power, privilege and responsibility and another for those that are not”. Parliamentary rules require the removal of an MP who is jailed for 12 months or more. But if the sentence is less than that a recall petition can force a by-election if it is signed by more than 10pc of the electorate in her constituency.
Prince Philip’s Near Miss
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip was involved in a car crash near Sandringham Estate on 17 January 2019. Philip (97) was driving the car but was not injured in the crash. Police have confirmed he was breath tested at the scene and had not been drinking. The female driver of the second car, a Kia, suffered cuts while a female passenger sustained an arm injury, both requiring hospital treatment. It is understood that Philip had been pulling out of a driveway and onto the main road, when his Land Rover overturned onto the driver’s side. Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Duke had an up-to-date driving license. The Prince has now told the mother of two who was injured that he is “deeply sorry”. Passenger Emma Fairweather whose wrist was broken in the crash has called for the Duke to be prosecuted if found to be at fault. In a letter dated 21 January 2019, Philip wished her a “speedy recovery and said he “failed to see the car coming”. Following the crash, hundreds of insurers would be unwilling to provide cover for the Prince. It has been revealed only three insurance companies could formulate quotes for the 97-year-old royal while others considered the Duke ‘uninsurable’. The lowest premium quoted was £9,940.61 while the highest peaked at £24,170.82.
NCT & ‘Death Trap’ Cars
Nearly 33,000 ‘death trap’ cars brought for their NCT in 2018 were in such bad condition that they should not have been on the road under any circumstances. Shocking figures under new NCT classification rules show 32,907 – or 2.6pc of the 1,273,907 first-time tested to the end of November – fell into the potentially lethal ‘dangerous fault’ category. According to the NCTS, this means the cars constituted “an immediate risk to road safety”.
In other words, they were potential death traps for their occupants and other road users. When tested, NCT staff not alone told owners of the vehicles’ dangerous status there and then, and the failure on the report handed to them. A ‘failed dangerous’ sticker was physically attached to the car. The fee for a full test is €55.00 and a re-test costs €28.00. However, re-tests which don’t require test equipment is free – as in the case of a visual inspection. Cars get ‘dangerous fault’ results if they go through the NCT with tyres below the legal tread depth, for example or with badly worn brake discs.
‘Green Card’ for NI & GB?
Irish motorists will need a special ‘green card’ as proof of insurance cover in the North and Britain if there is a no-deal Brexit. The new measure will be especially relevant for drivers in Border areas who travel in and out of Northern Ireland frequently. Drivers from the North will also need the document as proof of insurance cover in the South of Ireland. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland has announced the industry is prepared to issue these ‘green cards’ where necessary. Under EU insurance directives, Irish drivers’ national insurance is acceptable in other European Union member states without additional documentation. But if, as feared, a no-deal crash-out Brexit happens on 29 March, then Irish drivers travelling to Britain and the North must revert to the ‘green card’ system which operated for decades before being overtaken by the EU.
Mini Happy Returns
The MINI is 60 years old this year. Yes, the car and name that changed motoring for ever – and came to epitomize the Swinging Sixties – has clocked up the years, the miles and the memories. Celebrating the 60th anniversary, a special edition model is being manufactured. There are only a mere 500 models being produced and those sold in Ireland will cost a pricey €40,370. It will be distinguished by a new Racing Green paint finish, a black contrast roof, special 17 inch alloys and a much-changed interior. It’s to be called ‘MINI 3dr Cooper S60 Years Edition’ and will come with automatic transmission only. Such opulence was far from the mind of Mini creator Alec Issigonis when it was officially launched in 1959. His idea was for a car that would be fun to drive and the Mini certainly achieved his aim of ‘fun’ with drivers racing from the Ace Café in Stonebridge (North Circular Road) to Neasden and back before a particular disc played on the juke box was finished. Yes, those were the halcyon days of the Sixties in London.
Autobahn Speed Limit
The German Transport Minister has clashed with environmentalists after he dismissed calls for a speed limit on the country’s motorways as “against all common sense”. The Minister -Andreas Scheuer- made the comments after a government commission set up by his own ministry recommended a national speed limit of 130kmh on autobahns and higher fuel taxes to limit harmful pollution.
The Minister described the proposals as “completely exaggerated, unrealistic mind games”. Germany is one of the last countries not to impose a speed limit. Germany is divided over the issue and environmentalists heavily criticized Mr. Scheuer’s comments.
Sat Nav Danger?
Sat Navs might get you there but they could also put you at risk on your journey it is claimed. According to Gem Motoring Assist, placing large devices-such as Sat Navs- on critical areas of your windscreen can dramatically reduce visibility and pose a ‘significant threat to road safety’. They say devices positioned in the middle of a windscreen “mean a potentially lethal reduction in driver visibility especially on left-hand bends and at junctions”.
The Carnage Continues …
Four young men died in a single car crash in Donegal on 27th January bringing the total to nine killed during the week commencing 21 January 2019. There were 16 road fatalities up to 1/2/2019 as opposed to 14 to the same time last year.
Repay or Lose Your Car
Record numbers of people are trying to sell cars they don’t own because they still owe repayments on them. According to data expert Cartell.ie the numbers doing so have surged to account for nearly one in six (16.1pc) cars advertised for sale. They are up from14.3pc this time 12 months ago. The study was based on a sample of nearly 6,000 vehicles offered for sale and checked via the Cartell.ie website in 2018.The figures can be interpreted as reflecting the plight of thousands who have stretched too far in buying a new car and now can’t keep up the repayments. Cartell.ie’s Jeff Aherne warns: “The finance company owns the vehicle until the last payment has been made. The bottom line is you can lose the vehicle.” He adds: “We have now returned the highest levels we have ever recorded for vehicles offered for sale with outstanding finance”.
In Brief …
A family were forced to leave their home after a learner driver mounted the pavement and crashed through the front wall of the property. The house owner said a woman emerged from the car. She was believed to be on a driving lesson and was in total shock. Mr. Kenny – Mr. Valentine’s father said driving instructors often brought learner drivers to the area for lessons, adding that greater care should be taken because of the number of children playing on the nearby green.
Frozen Lake Challenge
Co. Clare man Declan McEvoy – a self-diagnosed motorcycle adventure addict – will attempt a 634km ride across a frozen ice of the deepest freshwater lake in the world-Lake Baikal. In the process he hopes to set a new world record for the “longest journey undertaken by motorcycle on ice”. The journey posed significant risks for Declan especially as he will be riding on his own. Daytime temperatures can be as low as -20C and -30C at night. The logistics for this adventure are huge. According to Declan: “Even getting his motorcycle to Slyudyanka, the small town south of Lake Baikal and later getting it from Severobaykalsk on the north of the lake back to Ireland is challenging to say the least”.
Death for Making Noise
A three-year-old boy was crushed to death when his mother’s boyfriend deliberately pushed his car seat backwards after becoming annoyed at the noise he was making, a court has heard. The boy was placed in the rear footwell of his mother’s Audi A4 when her boyfriend became angry at the “noise and fuss” he was making and twice pushed his electric powered seat back. The boy was suffocated and suffered brain damage, eventually dying of “crush asphyxia”. Both mother and her boyfriend denied manslaughter at the Old Bailey, London.
‘Dirty’ Diesel Imports
The Government is to look at the possibility of banning up to 70,000 used car imports as part of a major overhaul of motor taxation policy. It has responded to demands for a ban on UK imports registered on or before 2014 by expressing concerns for public health over the volume of ‘dirty’ old diesels, in particular, being brought in. last year, more than 100,000 used cars were imported from the UK – the majority of them diesel. And of these, it is thought by experts that 70,000 did not meet Euro 6 standards.
An average four-year-old car emits 4.3 tonnes of CO2 a year. But a new carlike the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 diesel emits 25pc fewer CO2s tan its 2015 counterpart.
The Exchequer loses out on higher tax revenues from new cars when people opt to buy a lower-tax generating import. The tax take on a new car is a staggering €8,500 compared to €2,500 on a used import.
A Belfast man has been jailed for six months after kicking a taxi driver out of his car telling him “it’s my turn to drive”. The assailant subjected the taxi driver to verbal abuse after being told the cost of the fare.
Mum’s The Word
A young Northern Ireland man who admitted driving without insurance swore at his mother in court after she revealed his previous conviction for speeding to the judge. Judge Peter Magill sitting at Dungannon Magistrate’s Court doubled the 19-year-old driving ban after his mother’s intervention. A one-month driving ban and a £100.00 fine, to be discharged over 16 weeks, for the offence. The teen driver’s mother then called out: “He’ll need longer than that – he’s already paying off another fine from a different court”. The teen then clenched his fists to his face and told his mother to “f..k away off”. (Motherly love?)
A man who spotted sexually explicit texts on his wife’s phone caused serious injuries to the sender when he went to his home and drove at speed, causing him to crash into a wall of the property. The aggrieved driver was jailed for three years with the last 18 months suspended for offences such as dangerous driving causing serious harm. Gardai said the driver was unable to stop and he went through a wall of the house. A woman who was near the wall also incurred wrist injuries. The presiding judge said that the driver had a “disproportionate violent response to the texts”. The driver was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
A Connecticut woman who was drunk was charged with driving under the influence of vanilla extract. Officers found several bottles of pure vanilla extract in her vehicle. Police detected the odour of vanilla on her breath, her speech was slurred and she was unable to answer basic questions. She was then arrested after failing sobriety tests and was later charged.
The Hyundai Tucson is Ireland’s favourite car, and Volkswagen has put the fallout from Dieselgate well behind it by being the best-selling brand.
Those are the top statistics of a report by SIMI on last year’s registrations and buying trends. The top-selling car brands were: (1) Volkswagen (2) Toyota (3) Hyundai Tucson (4)Ford and (5) Nissan. Best –selling models were: (1) Hyundai Tucson (2) Nissan (3) Qashqai (3) Ford Focus (4) Volkswagen Golf: (5) Skoda Octavia.
Top 10 Safest Cars (2019)
Thatcham Research has revealed the 10 cars competing for the overall What Car? Safety Award 2019 (announced 22 January).Safety Award judge and Thatcham research director Matthew Avery said: “The 10 cars in this long-list are some of the safest cars ever made”.
The 10 contenders are: (1) The Audi A6 (2) The Audi Q3 (3) Ford Focus (4) Jaguar I-Pace (5) Lexus EX (6) Mercedes A-Class (7) Nissan Leaf (8) Peugeot 508 (9) Volvo V60-S60 (10) Volvo XC4.
And Finally …
No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or so good as drink. G.K. Chesterton. (However, are people who insist on drinking before driving putting the quart before the horse? Ed).