Safety is moved up a gear
New strategy aims to minimise road accident toll while Ford plays its part with MyKey, writes Campbell Spray
LAST week was important for all motorists as safety was moved up the agenda a couple of solid notches.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar talked a lot of sense launching the Government's fourth Road Safety Strategy which runs until 2020 and aims to cement Ireland as one of the safest countries in terms of road deaths and serious injuries in the EU.
"We must step up our good behaviour as drivers, continue enforcement and keep educating drivers and reminding the public of their responsibilities as road users and the human cost of road traffic collisions. Any progress made over the last decade can be erased very quickly," Minister Varadkar said.
The new strategy will be based on a Safe Systems approach to road safety – an OECD standard which aims to minimise road accidents in terms of fatalities or injury. It includes 144 specific actions to reduce road fatalities and the State body responsible for implementing each of the actions will be identified.
There will be a particular emphasis on areas of low compliance and vulnerable road users, along with a greater focus on education and public awareness. Enforcement will continue to target speeding, alcohol and drugs, helmets, seatbelts and use of mobile phones when driving.
Key measures include:
• Rehabilitative and driving awareness courses for repeat offenders will be considered, along with the feasibility of alcolocks to immobilise vehicles.
• Possibly extending the safety camera network to offences other than speeding.
• Combating car clocking.
• Employers will be encouraged to implement a handbrake lock for phone use by professional drivers.
• In-vehicle devices which sense tiredness will be encouraged.
• Regular audits of road markings, safety blackspots and signage will be recommended.
• Fixed charge notices for cyclists will be considered.
• The RSA will have more frequent access to Pulse data in order to spot trends.
• At least five new service areas on motorways will be built to combat tiredness.
• Tighter legislation to prevent the reintroduction of written-off vehicles.
• Breakdown kits for cars will be made compulsory.
Let's get on with it, the faster the measures are introduced the better.
Manufacturers are also taking action. When Ford introduced the new Fiesta last Monday, it also launched Ford MyKey in Ireland which is available on the car.
MyKey technology enables parents to place certain restrictions on young drivers to promote safer driving by limiting the vehicle's top speed and lowering the maximum volume of the audio system. It also provides earlier low-fuel warnings, prevents safety features including Electronic Stability Control and Active City Stop from being deactivated, and mutes the audio system if the driver and front-seat passenger fail to buckle up.
A study commissioned for the launch found that two- thirds of parents (67 per cent) either regularly or sometimes lose sleep worrying when one of their children is out driving late at night. Another two-thirds of parents (66 per cent) said that a system like MyKey would make them less worried when loaning their car to a child at night time.
For their part, a large majority of young drivers (70 per cent) agreed that their parents would allow them greater access to the car if they had access to a system like Ford's MyKey.
Meanwhile, the all-new Ford Kuga, which has also arrived in Ireland, is the most technologically advanced car that Ford has ever launched in Europe. The car includes an array of new and upgraded technologies including Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system; Curve Control (providing for safe cornering); and Ford SYNC with Emergency Assist. It also has the segment's first hands-free tailgate that operates with a gentle kicking motion and class-leading fuel efficiency.
I was really impressed with the Kuga when I tested the car earlier this year.
The new Kuga was awarded a maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP after achieving an overall protection score of 88 per cent, the highest-ever for a mid-sized SUV.
If everybody works together, the roads will be so much safer. Now to get those pesky cyclists off the footpaths and stop the horror story of all people using their phones while driving.