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Posted: 19 August 2013

A quarter of drivers blame footwear for motoring mishap in survey

One in three road users get behind the wheel in flip flops and a study shows they are more dangerous than driving in high heels.

One in three drivers get behind the wheel in flip flops – a shoe which appears to cause 1.4 million road accidents or near misses every year.

In a poll, 27% of drivers admitted driving in flip flops had caused a mishap, and 11% said the shoe had got stuck under pedals.

A device to make flip flops, which reduce braking times, more stable has been brought out by insurers Sheilas’ Wheels.

The firm’s Jacky Brown said it was the “ultimate” summer car accessory.

The design tucks into a car glovebox and securely customises any flip flop providing extra foot support around the heel while offering added stability on the pedals.

The flip flop accessory can also be scrunched up to fit inside a handbag or pocket.

Just one in seven motorists (14 per cent) have chosen not to drive due to concerns about their footwear with 36 per cent of safety-conscious women carrying a pair of driving shoes in the car - compared to just one in eight men (12 per cent).

More than half of motorists (53 per cent) called for further guidelines and advice on the impacts of driving in different footwear to be made available as a quarter (26 per cent) admit to choosing style over safety, picking out their footwear based on whether it goes with their outfit.

One in 10 women (10 per cent) revealed that they have even worn shoes behind the wheel that they have struggled to walk in.

The survey revealed the top five summer footwear styles which Brits struggle to drive in: 1. Flip flops (51 per cent) 2. Bare feet (49 per cent) 3. Wedge heels (38 per cent) 4. Espadrilles (25 per cent) 5. Sandals (18 per cent)

Joseph O'Connor, from Sale, blamed a 'poor choice' of flip flops as footwear when he appeared in court last week to plead guilty to drink driving and driving without due care and attention.

He said his foot slipped on the break - causing him to crash into a minibus full of pensioners in Sale. He was banned from the road for 14 months.

And a 50-year-old woman currently on trial at Bristol Crown Court charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent after hitting a pedestrian and reversing back over him blamed her flip flops for getting caught in the pedal.

Navlet Anderson denies additional dangerous driving offences.

[Road Safety]  
Posted: 14 August 2013

Texting While Driving: How Dangerous is it?

If you use a cell phone, chances are you’re aware of “text messaging”—brief messages limited to 160 characters that can be sent or received on all modern mobile phones. Texting, also known as SMS (for short message service), is on the rise, up from 9.8 billion messages a month in December ’05 to 110.4 billion in December ’08. Undoubtedly, more than a few of those messages are being sent by people driving cars. Is texting while driving a dangerous idea? We decided to conduct a test.

Previous academic studies—much more scientific than ours—conducted in vehicle simulators have shown that texting while driving impairs the driver’s abilities. But as far as we know, no study has been conducted in a real vehicle that is being driven. Also, we decided to compare the results of texting to the effects of drunk driving, on the same day and under the exact same conditions. Not surprisingly, Car and Driver doesn’t receive a lot of research grants.

To keep things simple, we would focus solely on the driver’s reaction times to a light mounted on the windshield at eye level, meant to simulate a lead car’s brake lights. Wary of the potential damage to man and machine, all of the driving would be done in a straight line. We rented the taxiway of the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Oscoda, Michigan, adjacent to an 11,800-foot runway that used to be home to a squadron of B-52 bombers. Given the prevalence of the BlackBerry, the iPhone, and other text-friendly mobile phones, the test subjects would have devices with full “qwerty” keypads and would be using text-messaging phones familiar to them. Web intern Jordan Brown, 22, armed with an iPhone, would represent the younger crowd. The older demographic would be covered by head honcho Eddie Alterman, 37 (or 259 in dog years), using a Samsung Alias. (Alterman also uses a BlackBerry for e-mail. We didn’t use it in the test.)



Our long-term Honda Pilot served as the test vehicle. When the red light on the windshield lit up, the driver was to hit the brakes. The author, riding shotgun, would use a hand-held switch to trigger the red light and monitor the driver’s results. A Racelogic VBOX III data logger combined and recorded the test data from three areas: vehicle speed via the VBOX’s GPS antenna; brake-pedal position and steering angle via the Pilot’s OBD II port; and the red light’s on/off status through an analog input. Each trial would have the driver respond five times to the light, and the slowest reaction time (the amount of time between the activation of the light and the driver hitting the brakes) was dropped.

First, we tested both drivers’ reaction times at 35 mph and 70 mph to get baseline readings. Then we repeated the driving procedure while they read a text message aloud (a series of Caddyshack quotes). This was followed by a trial with the drivers typing the same message they had just received. Both of our lab rats were instructed to use their phones exactly as they would on a public road.

Our test subjects then got out of the vehicle and concentrated on getting slightly intoxicated. They wanted something that would work quickly: screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice). Between the two of them, they knocked back all but three ounces of a fifth of Smirnoff. Soon they were laughing at all our jokes, asking for cigarettes, and telling us about some previous time they got drunk that was totally awesome. We had them blow into a Lifeloc FC10 breath-alcohol analyzer until they reached the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content. We then put them behind the wheel and ran the light-and-brake test without any texting distraction.

[Road Safety]  
Posted: 24 June 2013

Motoring services such as driving tests and goods vehicle testing are going to be provided by a single agency.

Motorists and businesses will benefit from more convenient and cost effective motoring services - such as driving tests and goods vehicle testing - under changes announced today (20 June 2013) by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond.

The services currently provided by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) will be brought together into a single agency. This will allow for the delivery of the same high quality testing and standards services to motorists and businesses, but with greater efficiency. The DSA and VOSA are already undertaking work to make testing more flexible and convenient for customers and this merger will allow them to explore opportunities to extend this in the future. These services will be delivered by the single agency in 2014. A transitional board, under the leadership of VOSA Chief Executive Alastair Peoples, who will head the agency, will start work next month to determine the structure of the organisation.

Stephen Hammond said:

We need to make sure that we continue to keep pace with customers’ needs and deliver services in a way which is both convenient and cost effective.

These changes will put customers at the heart of the services they rely on and allow for a more coherent approach to service delivery. By bringing testing and standards services into a single organisation we will make life easier for customers and potentially reduce the fees we charge.

Staff at the DSA and VOSA do a great job in delivering for customers every day and we will work closely with them to support them through these changes.

Customers should be reassured that the same high quality service delivery will continue throughout the transition period.

This announcement follows the consultation on the motoring services strategy which ran from 13 December 2012 to 7 March 2013. The strategy proposed rationalising the roles and numbers of agencies to provide an improved and more efficient delivery of motoring services to customers. Respondents to the consultation were generally supportive of this proposal, recognising the benefits that such a move would bring but were keen to protect the quality of services.

A summary of responses to the consultation has been published by the department. Decisions on the other proposals detailed in the motoring services strategy, will be announced in due course.

Notes to editors

Alastair Peoples is Chief Executive of VOSA. Rosemary Thew, the DSA chief executive, will be leaving the agency at the end of June.

Roads media enquiries

Posted: 24 June 2013

DSA and VOSA to merge

DSA and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are to merge into a single agency which will bring together their testing and standards services.


Rosemary Thew, DSA Chief Executive, has also announced that she will be stepping down and leaving the Civil Service on 30 June 2013.

Alastair Peoples, VOSA Chief Executive, will become joint Chief Executive for the 2 agencies and will oversee their strategic operations towards a full merger over the next year.

Rosemary Thew said:

“I’ve been considering moving on for some time, for private and personal reasons. The creation of a single agency replacing DSA and VOSA seems the right time for me to do so.

“I’m confident that the team here at DSA under Alastair’s leadership will continue to offer our customers the very best service they can as the merger proceeds and the combined agency emerges.”

No impact on our services

The changes won’t impact on:

  • the services you use that are provided by DSA and VOSA, eg driving tests
  • progress of other ongoing reform programmes

Better and more convenient services

The reforms are an outcome of the recent motoring services strategy consultation. They’re designed to offer motorists and businesses better and more convenient services, while making sure that road safety and first class customer service remain a top priority.

Posted: 17 January 2013

Bereaved dad recognised for dedication to saving young lives on roads


Tony Davison from Otley has won a national award for road safety education from Brake, the road safety charity, in recognition of his long-running dedication to saving young lives on roads, presented at the Houses of Parliament last night (picture attached).


Following the death of his son, Adrian, age just 18, in a road crash in 2002, Tony has worked tirelessly for almost a decade to raise awareness about road safety, by engaging young people on the risks they face, and working with Brake in support of its national campaigns on young driver safety.


After attending a Brake 2young2die training course, he has been one of Brake’s most dedicated ambassadors, delivering countless workshops with young people across his local area and beyond. He works closely with his local fire service and council to spread life-saving education as widely as possible and inspire young people to take on board important road safety messages and commit to safe road use.


His presentations, some in front of hundreds of teenagers, include a powerful retelling of his experience of tragically losing his son Adrian, who was killed as a passenger, along with his best friend at the wheel.


Tony received the award at ceremony at the Houses of Parliament yesterday evening sponsored by Direct Line Group, attended by politicians, high-ranking police and fire officers, road safety campaigners, fundraisers and professionals, company executives, charity and public sector partners and press.

Tony said: “I am honoured to receive this award, and very glad that over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be able to reach out to young people and make a difference, working alongside Brake and local agencies. Nothing can ever put right the loss of my son, but helping other young people to be safe on roads is so critical, and it’s all made worth it to hear the response of the young people I work with. I’m proud to have been able to do this in Adrian’s memory.”

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Tony is an inspirational volunteer who has dedicated himself to working with young people to spread life-saving awareness. Over a decade, he has stood up in front of thousands of young people, bravely and powerfully retelling the story of his son’s death, in the hope it will stop other families going through the devastation of a serious road crash. And there is no doubt that Tony really gets through to the young people he speaks to. As well as delivering presentations and workshops, Tony has also been a staunch supporter of Brake’s national campaigns over the years, helping us call for an improved training and testing system to protect inexperienced drivers, and raise awareness about drink driving. He is a fantastic advocate and an absolute star. We are delighted to give him this award, which he more than deserves.”

Read about Brake’s Too young to die campaign and work engaging young people in road safety.

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line Insurance Group plc

Direct Line Insurance Group plc (Direct Line Group) is headquartered in Bromley, Kent; it has operations in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Through its number of well known brands Direct Line Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include; Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. It also offers insurance services for third party brands through its Partnerships division. In the commercial sector, its NIG and Direct Line for Business operations provide insurance products for businesses via brokers or direct respectively.

In addition to insurance services, Direct Line Group continues to provide support and reassurance to millions of UK motorists through its Green Flag breakdown recovery service and TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery and telematics business.


Franki Hackett, campaigns and media officer

Brake, the road safety charity
dd: 01484 550063 sb. 01484 559909
Helpline for people affected by road crashes: 0845 603 8570

[Road Safety]  
Crown Copyright material has been reproduced by permission of the Driving Standards Agency which does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the reproduction.