30th January 2019

Road safety snapshot with a global perspective

A core aim at the heart of Trak Global Group’s activities is playing a part in making roads safer, our portfolio including Carrot, our young driver insurance brand through which we’ve reduced accidents among the UK’s newly qualified drivers by 42%, and Appy Fleet, our at-work telematics app. With a reach encompassing fifteen countries, from Spain and the UAE to North America, we take our latest periodic look at road safety news, debates, challenges and initiatives from around the world.

The Netherlands

Starting with a country closer to home, Uber is under the spotlight in the Netherlands after four fatal road incidents involving the household brand’s drivers in the space of just a week along with a number of reported injuries in recent times, too. Regulation of services like Uber in Holland is currently less stringent than traditional taxis, so it is encouraging that the ride-hailing firm has had discussions with Amsterdam’s head of transport, Sharon Dijksma, with a view to utilising technology to improve road safety among its drivers1, in addition to the 12-hour limit currently in place for driving without a suitable break.

United Arab Emirates

This month in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)2, the Khaleej Times (KT) newspaper has been running a road safety campaign during which 77% of the 8,000 motorists surveyed said they feel safe driving on the country’s roads – a figure that would likely be higher if polled in the UK? Feedback also identified that increasing fines isn’t perceived by drivers in the UAE as a desirable or effective way to improve road safety, sentiments instead favouring additional efforts in education and culture-building starting with children at home and in school, through to educating adult drivers on vulnerable road users. Road safety education initiatives are certainly something we always welcome. Ian Littlefield, Dubai Driving Centre’s training and quality manager, advocates introducing segregated lanes for motorcyclists, while the preventative safety inspection of vehicles has also been promoted as part of the KT’s campaigns. RoadSafetyUAE’s view is correct that ‘a permanent commitment from the stakeholders concerned’ is required, from government and business to the media, and we hope the country’s motorists will take to heart messaging on speeding, tailgating, pedestrians and driving in bad weather, along with specific regional advice such as driving alone in desert areas.

Germany

Germany’s autobahns are renowned for having no speed limits on around 70% of their network, which many motorists view as a logical approach, believing that high speeds can be safe in the right circumstances and with sufficient driver skill. Things could finally change, though, with the news3 that Michael Mertens, deputy head of Germany’s Police Officers’ Union, has voiced support for a 130km/h limit to be introduced. A week earlier, this same speed limit was found to be proposed in order to reduce pollution and limit climate change, in a leaked draft document from the government-backed National Platform on the Future of Mobility. With heavy fines looming for countries and governments that fail to meet strict forthcoming EU emissions targets, the pro arguments are understandable. Significant support for the upholding of derestricted German motorways exists, though, with Bildt, a tabloid German newspaper, calling autobahns ‘a symbol of freedom’, while transport minister Andrew Scheuer commented that a speed limit is contrary to ‘common sense’.

South Africa

In South Africa, referring to the period spanning December 1st 2018 to January 8th 2019, transport minister Blade Nzimade described the country’s roads as “slaughterhouses”, which is naturally an alarming assertion to read4. The death toll on South Africa’s roads has risen by approximately 6% compared to the preceding year, the World Health Organisation attributing 58% of fatal RTAs to the failure to wear seatbelts, or to alcohol, with passengers comprising 36% of those killed and vehicles like minibuses under the spotlight. With the safety of South Africa’s children in mind, the used car site InspectaCar has freshly announced a CSR initiative5 to educate parents on the importance and benefits of fitting booster seats as well as ensuring that seatbelts are used. The initiative will see surplus car seats donated to non-profit charity Wheel Well, who will collect them from InspectaCar’s dealerships before checking and refurbishing them for other families’ children to be protected up to 45% better with while travelling in cars.

Trinidad & Tobago

Two hundred people die on the road every year in Trinidad and Tobago6 according to Angela Francke, a German transportation psychologist, and she places much of the responsibility on drivers not taking road safety seriously. In today’s connected, IoT-driven world, it’s perhaps unsurprising that smart technology is being harnessed not only to improve street lighting and traffic management, but also to remotely monitor vehicles on the move and bring telematics’ wide-ranging benefits to T&T’s fleets. A key aim of the stakeholders involved is to help organisations in T&T to monitor, analyse and reduce bad driving habits such as speeding or erratic behaviour, while companies like IBM and Massy simultaneously implement artificial intelligence solutions to strengthen driver training programmes.

United States

The last destination of this particular global road safety snapshot is the United States, where Trak Global Group has significantly increased its scale though the recent acquisition of Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS). Following the analysis of eight years of data up to 2017, Road Safe America7 has identified that fatalities involving big-rig trucks have increased in all but six states, and the organisation’s co-founder Steve Owings points to the non-mandatory status of speed limiters as a major contributor. “Unlike many other leading nations, our country does not require the use of … speed limiters, which would help to save lives of people in passenger vehicles and professional truck drivers”, he comments, before adding: “all that is needed is a requirement to turn them on and set them at a reasonable top speed such as 65 mph.” It’s reported that 80% of participants in a recent survey voted in favour of speed limiters becoming legally obliged, which would bring them in line with countries like the UK where HGVs are limited to 56mph on motorways and dual carriageways. There are also calls for autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which is an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that features in many new cars as standard, to be fitted to America’s big-rig heavy commercial vehicles, reflecting European laws that have seen Level 1 AEB compulsory since November 2015 and Level 2 from November 2018, enabling trucks to come to a stop even more quickly8.

With road safety at the heart of Trak Global Group’s activities and solutions, our blog continues to provide regular insights into news, views and initiatives around the world, with telematics, autonomy and other technologies increasingly playing a significant role.

 

Sources:
1. https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2019/01/dutch-road-safety-organisation-calls-for-tighter-uber-regulation-after-deaths/
2. https://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-for-good/kt-for-good-keep-calm-and-continue-following-the-rules–
3. https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/25/germany-considers-speed-limits-on-its-famous-autobahns
4. https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2019-01-16-sa-roads-are-still-slaughterhouses-report-shows-increase-in-festive-season-road-deaths/
5. https://www.mediaupdate.co.za/publicity/146029/inspectacar-announces-the-launch-of-its-new-csr-initiative
6. https://technewstt.com/smart-streets-safety/
7. https://www.thetrucker.com/road-safe-america-cites-hike-in-big-rig-crash-deaths-again-calls-for-speed-limiters/
8. https://www.commercialfleet.org/fleet-management/safety/dft-prepares-to-expand-heavy-truck-test-regime