I’m probably not alone in feeling that August has positively flown by in Ussain Bolt style, the main Rio Olympics now over, the Premier League already in its second week with the top of the table back to being dominated by familiar teams, and the last bank holiday before Christmas very soon upon us. Here’s my roundup of the latest motoring-related stories of interest to Carrot Insurance’s young and newly-qualified drivers.
Pokémon STOP in parts of France and Thailand
The world’s been going crazy over Pokémon GO, which has now been downloaded by more than 130 million smartphone users worldwide. Fair play, one of Nintendo’s desires is that its fantastically popular app game will encourage people to get off their bums and out into the fresh air, interacting with other human beings when their eyes aren’t glued to the screen in pursuit of Pikachu and PokéStops. The official website does warn people “for safety’s sake, never play Pokemon GO when you’re…driving a car”, but some drivers have obviously been ignoring this advice.
In Bangkok, Thailand, for example, 12 people have been nicked by the police at the start of a campaign specifically aimed at preventing people from playing the game whilst driving (carelessly) and causing accidents. Thailand’s Land Transport Act bans mobile phones being used while driving, and the drivers caught playing Pokémon GO whilst in their cars were each fined 1,000 Thai Baht, which is about twenty quid. Thai police have even banned players from accessing certain areas of the capital, Bangkok, where a dedicated team of 50 officers are on the lookout for gamers whose addictions are posing a threat to public safety.
Closer to home, in France, the mayor of Bressolles has banned Pokémon GO’s makers from his town because he believes the free app poses a danger not just to distracted drivers but also to pedestrians who aren’t paying any attention. Monsieur Beauvois is also worried that young people are becoming addicted, groups wandering around his town late at night.
Here in Britain, the Institute of Advanced Motorists has also advised drivers not to ‘hunt for Squirtle on Spaghetti Junction, Jigglypuff on the Hangar Lane gyratory or Magikarp on the M4’ when driving a vehicle. “While looking out for Eevee, Weedle and the rest is great fun, it is important to keep concentration on what matters – and that’s keeping your eyes on the road. Psyduck can wait for later”, comments IAM’s 23-year-old digital content executive, Samson Ruwangu.
Four gamers stay awake for two nights playing Forza Motorsport 6
Surviving on power naps, 32 energy drinks, 47 soft drinks, 146 bottles of water plus 3kg of sweets to keep them alert, four gamers from across Europe came together to complete not just one but two virtual runs of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race on the La Sarthe circuit in the Forza Motorsport 6 for Xbox One video game from Microsoft. Taking it in turns to drive virtual Ford GT cars non-stop for two whole days, Cara, Helene, Johannes, Andrea and Jesus set a new Guinness World Records title in car-racing video game playing.
In real life, this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours spectacle was won by a Ford GT race car and for those thinking the gamers had it easy in comparison, racing driver Stefan Mucke said “they did an amazing job” explaining that the achievement requires “extreme levels of concentration, attention to detail, and most important endurance, because they had to keep going for twice as long”.
Microsoft called on engineers from Ford to help them make Forza Motorsport 6 as realistic as possible, with each vehicle looking, feeling, sounding and handling like it does in real-life. Ford even used the computer game to provide a sneak preview of certain features of the new GT car such as its active rear wing.
At Carrot Insurance we’re all about safe driving so it goes without saying that nobody should drive if they feel too tired due to lack of sleep or any other reason, no matter how many energy drinks they have. Fatigue kills, so either don’t drive til you feel suitably alert, or pull over safely as soon as possible for a nap and a caffeine drink if you’re already on the road.
Lincolnshire deserves a pat on the back
Scunthorpe Advanced Motorists teamed up with the Road Safety Team at North Lincolnshire Council, their aim to help young drivers aged 17 to 24 to improve their driving skills by giving them the enviable opportunity to go through the Roadsmart Skills for Life advanced driving programme from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
Recognising that young drivers, who make up around 24% of people killed on the road, are especially at risk particularly in the first year after passing their driving test, North Lincolnshire Council wanted to play a key role in helping them become more confident behind the wheel, with improved observation and driving skills. The first two young drivers to successfully pass the IAM course are James Dannatt and Chloe Pattinson, who were presented with awards on the 24th of August. Well done, guys.
Learners in a pickle in Weston-super-Mare
Most driving school pupils can’t wait to book their practical test and be able to take to the road on their own once they’ve passed, but in Weston-super-Mare, learners are facing delays that one instructor claims can be as long as four months. The government is trying to keep driving test waiting lists down to six weeks and even if sixteen weeks is a bit of an exaggeration, even the DVSA admits that test centres in the area are working to thirteen-week waits at the moment.
Neil Bayliss from Weston and Mendip Advanced Motorists is worried that “with this length of waiting list it’s more likely that some won’t bother to take or retake the test and just drive anyway”, resulting in a rise in uninsured drivers in the region. He says that the DVSA is blaming long waiting times on the larger than expected number of people wanting to sit their driving test, after a 7% increase. If you live in the area or know someone who does, have your say and contact us on Twitter or Facebook.
Sharing the road with cyclists
Summer is one of the main times of the year when people try and get healthy, cycling instead of driving, so the IAM has provided some great tips on how to successfully share the road with our two-wheeled friends.
Expecting the unexpected, it’s sensible to check mirrors and blind spots before setting off or turning, junctions being particularly dangerous for cyclists, who sometimes aren’t spotted by motorists til it’s too late. Patience is also recommended, realising that someone on a bike will be slower so won’t be able to accelerate away as quickly.
Slow down more smoothly if you’re approaching a junction so that you don’t end up running into the back of a bike, and give cyclists a wide berth when you overtake them. If the road’s too narrow, stay back and wait for a more suitable time to overtake. Children on bikes may suddenly move from the pavement onto the road, so be extra alert in residential areas or near schools, sports centres, parks and other public places this summer.