Hastings Direct news: roads of the future
The motoring news observed in the past week or so doesn't make for particularly good reading for drivers. Not only are the majority of crashes on UK roads the result of driver error — no great surprise there — it seems that speeding is becoming more prevalent. Meanwhile, many motorists are finding themselves caught up in arguments with neighbours over parking — all of which suggests Britain's roads are far from cosy. Perhaps technology is the answer to making driving a more harmonious endeavour?
Drivers to blame for most accidents
It's somewhat instinctive to blame other factors even when you know you've done wrong, but the truth of the matter is that three in four car crashes in Britain are caused by driver error, according to new figures.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) discovered that 117,525 accidents in 2014 were caused by driver/rider error or reaction, which represents 74% of all accidents in the UK.
Meanwhile, the statistics from the Department of Transport show how 40,778 (26%) of accidents last year were the result of driver behaviour or inexperience, followed by so-called injudicious action, which was a factor in 25% of accidents.
Just 2% of accidents were found to be caused by vehicle defects, which led Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, to call for drivers to change their approach when behind the wheel.
"People must accept responsibility for enhancing their own skills and recognising their limitations," he said.
Government urged to make stopping speeding drivers a priority
An obvious way of cutting the number of accidents on UK roads is to reduce the number of speeding motorists, says IAM.
In addition to highlighting the root cause of most road traffic collisions in Britain, the road safety charity also revealed that the number of speeding drivers convicted in court has risen by 28% in the past 12 months.
Last year there were 148,426 drivers convicted of speeding offences — a significant increase from the 115,935 convictions in 2013.
Sarah Sillars, chief executive of IAM, says the figures suggest the UK has a speeding problem, and the onus is on the government to put this right.
"We can see from these figures that as the UK comes out of recession traffic levels have risen, speeding appears to be becoming more prevalent and regrettably casualties are rising again," she said.
Sillars noted that that 2014 figure is 2% higher than it was in 2004, illustrating how UK roads are no safer now than they were ten years ago.
Brits lose cool with neighbours over parking
If getting from A to B isn't stressful enough, UK drivers say they often find themselves having arguments with their fellow motorists after they've parked up.
Three quarters of the respondents quizzed by car leasing firm OSV Ltd said they have become embroiled in a dispute over parking with a neighbour.
The problem stems from the fact that many drivers consider the road space outside their homes as their "territory", OSV concluded.
OSV co-director Debbie Kirksey acknowledged that it can be hard to keep your cool when a neighbour seemingly shows little regard for personal space, but she stressed that arguing is not the answer.
Kirksey advised: "Rather than waging parking wars, we could try talking before our problems escalate, because in the end we have to be happy where we live, and there's more to life than a designated parking space!"
The survey also revealed that men are more likely than women to feel aggrieved when a neighbour parks in "their space", while some have even gone to effort of installing CCTV cameras to monitor the space they think belongs to them.
Toyota unveils its "mobility team-mate concept"
Many believe that technology is the answer to safer, stress-free roads. Toyota took a bit longer than others to come round to this way of thinking, but it is now firmly on-board.
This week, the Japanese manufacturer has unveiled its self-driving prototype, which is part of a vision it calls the "mobility team-mate concept".
That's because, unlike other driverless car designs, it makes the driver and artificial intelligence work together as a team — although all the driver really needs to do is press a button to get things started.
From there, the Lexus prototype is able to drive itself at the 60kph (37mph) speed limit for about ten minutes, changing lanes, braking and steering.
As you might have gathered, the technology is some way off being road ready, but Toyota believes that its self-driving cars will be up and running by the time the Tokyo Olympics gets underway in 2020.
"Our goal is to offer the freedom of movement to everyone, including the elderly and the disabled," explained chief safety technology officer Moritaka Yoshida.
It's an admirable ambition, but it remains to be seen whether Toyota's 2020 target is a realistic one.
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