2018 items

select for full details Highways England - Traffic Officer Ride Out
Energy Saving Trust looking at ways of reducing emissions from Traffic Officer Vehicles
By Tim Anderson 6 Nov, 2018

Energy Saving Trust works to helps people save energy when they're at home and on the move. One of our key areas of expertise is working with businesses to help them manage the emissions from their fleet. Energy Saving Trust is working with Highways England to do just that.

We've all seen the ubiquitous Traffic Officer Vehicles, which patrol the motorways up and down the country. These hard working vehicles and their crews are there to keep traffic moving and ensure the roads are safe places for everyone to use.

Energy Saving Trust is looking at ways of reducing the emissions from these Traffic Officer Vehicles. In particular, we are examining whether ultra-low emission vehicles (i.e. electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids) could be deployed to help reduce fuel costs and emissions. But there are some challenges.

Highways England needs a vehicle that does it all. As well as being reliable, safe and comfortable, it needs to be able to tow heavy vehicles off the carriageway, carry large amounts of heavy kit and be all-weather capable. Highways England officers currently use large 4x4 vehicles to meet these needs, but they have fuel consumption and emissions to match. Highways England is committed to investigating alternatives.

As part of the project, I have been working with the Highways England lead, Matthew Leeder, to engage with the Traffic Officer Service team to understand how the vehicles are used. I joined the team at Knutsford outstation in Cheshire at 6am on a rainy morning in November for the early shift to get the full experience. Welcoming me aboard the Mitsubishi Shogun were Traffic Officers Martin Wallace and Dean (Deano) Schnieders.

Once the morning briefing was complete, the vehicle inspection took place with a walk around the vehicle to check all the kit was stowed.


select for full details 'Fake ambulance' pulled over by Swansea police
An "apparently fake" ambulance vehicle was pulled over as it was being driven by a man in Swansea, police have said.
By BBC NEWS 13 Nov, 2018

The estate car, which was covered in highly-visible paint and logos, was stopped at Penclawdd, Gower, on Monday.

The 19-year-old driver was held on suspicion of driving whilst disqualified, with no insurance and other offences.

The Welsh Ambulance Service confirmed it was not one of its vehicles and the driver was not an employee.

Twitter "Male arrested this morning for driving this ambulance in Penclawdd for driving whilst disqualified/no insurance+other offences. Great team work by #team3townhill @SWP_Roads #GowerNPT + @WelshAmbulance.Please note this is not a @WelshAmbulance vehicle nor is the driver an employee"


select for full details BMW driver gets six points on licence after waving arms out of window
'Careless' driver handed fine and penalty points after taking hands off wheel and waving them out of the window - right behind traffic officers
By Shropshire Star 15 Nov, 2018

A 'careless' BMW driver has been handed six points on his licence on top of a fine after waving his arms out of the window - while behind Highways England traffic officers.

Video recorded by a Highways England vehicle show Jeremy Dillon, 51, of Hespek Raise, Carlisle, following close to a car heading a rolling roadblock in place to allow an obstruction at junction 44 of the northbound M6 to be removed.

Officers said Dillon's proximity and lane change during the incident on May 4 gave them the impression he was trying to get past the roadblock. Having followed the traffic officers, Dillon can then be seen taking his hands off the wheel then waving them out of the window.

Interviewed by Cumbria Constabulary, he initially told police officers he felt his driving wasn't careless - before being shown the footage. He then accepted that the distance between his car and the Highways England vehicle amounted to driving without due care and attention.

He said he couldn't recall sticking his hands out of the window, but admitted it was a "stupid act" and couldn't provide a reason other than being annoyed at the roadblock.

He was due to appear in court on November 6 but pleaded guilty by post to a charge of careless driving. Along with the penalty points, Dillon also received a £286 fine.








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America leads the way on Three Strikes Laws

Should the UK follow that lead?

welcome to Prison Officers .Org.UK The state of Washington passed the first three strikes law in 1993. Anyone convicted of three separate violent felonies was then sentenced to life in prison with no chance for Parole. The state of California followed, in 1994, by enacting a three strikes law that mandates a sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony conviction. Unlike Washington, the California law counted nonviolent felonies, such as Burglary and theft, as "strike" offenses. The popularity of the three strikes law in California was pronounced. By 2001 over 50,000 criminals had been sentenced under the new law, far more than any other state, with almost one-quarter of the inmates facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.welcome to Prison Officers .Org.UK Not surprisingly, California's law has drawn the most attention in the debate over three strikes statutes.

Should the UK follow that lead?

Back here in the UK, we have plenty of criminals who are career criminals, so many "catch me if you can" career criminals, simply return to their criminal ways virtually as soon as they are let out of prison (again)

The UK's Revolving Door Justice System serves the public poorly

Spending money to keep society safe is money well spent and that is THREE STRIKES in a nutshell. 25 years have passed since America started the process of introducing THREE STRIKES Laws. Isn't it about time that the UK at least began TALKING about THREE STRIKES?






2018 items

Meanwhile over in the U S A, California
select for full details California Highway Patrol may have used Tesla's Autopilot feature to stop driver asleep at the wheel
Redwood City California Highway Patrol stopped a Tesla Model 3 they suspected was running Autopilot with a drunk driver asleep at the wheel.
By Dami Lee 3 Dec, 2018

The incident occurred last Friday, November 30th at 3:37AM PT, when officers observed a car going 70 mph on Highway 101 with a driver that appeared to be asleep.

After flashing their lights and sirens in an attempt to pull the car over, the officers deployed a strategy based around their assumption that the Tesla Model 3 was running on Autopilot. According to the CHP incident report, two unit cars pulled up in front and behind the Tesla to get the car to gradually come to a stop, after a seven-mile chase. A statement from the CHP reads, "We cannot confirm at this time if the 'driver assist' feature was activated but considering the vehicle's ability to slow to a stop when the driver was asleep, it appears the 'driver assist' feature may have been active at the time."

It's difficult to determine whether Autopilot was actually on at the time, as the feature requires drivers to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel for it to stay engaged. It's possible that the driver may have had another Tesla Model 3 feature on, like Traffic Aware Cruise Control, which manages speed against the car in front of the Tesla.

It's not clear which exact feature was engaged, as Teslas have several different autonomous driving features and it can be confusing to keep track of all of them. Most people, even cops and some Tesla drivers, aren't totally sure what Teslas can do. Tesla warns that Autopilot is only meant to be used on highways, and still requires the driver to remain fully alert while driving, but cases like these show that drivers will continue to abuse Autopilot features and misinterpret them as 'self-driving.'


select for full details Driver, 71, caused death of pub landlady and friend when he parked in motorway 'fast lane'
Two women were killed when a van ploughed into the car they were in after the driver inexplicably parked in the 'fast' lane of a motorway as he was trying to get to Birmingham Airport.
By David Banner 22 Nov, 2018

Car driver James Graham Davies, from Welshpool, had become disorientated because of diversions on the M42 - and had stopped to ask a Highways Agency worker on the opposite carriageway for directions.
He pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court earlier this month to causing the deaths of Welshpool pub landlady Barbara Jones and his own partner Christine Evans by dangerous driving.

At the resumed hearing Davies, 71, of Sguar Heulwen, Welshpool, was jailed for two years and four months and banned from driving for 11 years and two months, after which he will have to take an extended test to get his licence back.

Prosecutor Simon Davis said the case centred on events on January 5 this year at 3.18am on the M42 northbound between junctions 9 and 10 in Warwickshire.

Highways Agency employee Jake Ashmore was parked in his vehicle on the southbound carriageway, which was closed that night for maintenance work, with its orange warning lights flashing, when there was a tap on his window.
It was Davies, who began asking him for directions, and Mr Ashmore "looked across and saw the defendant's vehicle parked in the outside lane of the northbound carriageway".
Davies, who with his partner Christine Evans had been taking Barbara Jones and her partner Gareth Isaac to Birmingham airport, had left his passengers in his Vauxhall Meriva.


select for full details Q and A: Hiring the messenger - Highways England's telecommunications
This autumn saw the completion of the handover phase of the £450m National Roads Telecommunications Service 2 (NRTS2) contract, which Highways England awarded to telent Technology Services Ltd in late 2017.
By Dom Browne 6 Nov, 2018

NRTS2 provides the telecommunications backbone that enables the national road network operator's seven regional control centres across the country and its national traffic operations centre to connect to the strategic road network's (SRN's) 30,000 roadside technology assets - including message signs, CCTV cameras and emergency roadside telephones including smart motorways.

The contract started on 16 March 2018 and runs for seven years. In the first six months of the contract, services were transitioned safely and successfully over to telent.

Transport Network speaks to Kevin Hamer, head of programme, national road telecommunications services information and technology at Highways England about this massive project and the improvements it can bring to the SRN.

Q - How does the system feed into the smart motorway network and its real-time management of issues such as traffic flow and stop vehicle detection?

The NRTS2 service must provide a 24/7 365 day a year, highly reliable and resilient service to our regional control centres and traffic information services. This enables them to provide accurate, real-time travel information to drivers and travel news providers; it also enables the operation of technology on our smart motorways, which helps smooth the flow of traffic and provide a safer, improved service to our road users.


select for full details Highways England: union slams DfT company's 'insulting' 1% pay offer
Union says Highways England chief received 9.7% rise last year
By CSW World 29 Nov, 2018

Highways England has drawn fire from the civil service's biggest union for offering staff a 1% pay rise - well below the controversial 1.5% cap that government departments are currently subject to.

As a government-owned company, or GovCo, Highways England is not bound by the latest HM Treasury and Cabinet Office guidance on pay increases and could choose to offer its 5,000-plus staff a cap-busting rise if it wanted to and could afford the move.

But the PCS union said the company, which is accountable to the Department for Transport had made an "insulting" offer to rank-and-file workers when its annual report and accounts revealed its chief executive Jim O'Sullivan had received a 9.7% rise between 2016-17 and 2017-18. O'Sullivan's current pay is listed as £402,576 in the document.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said staff were considering all of their options, including industrial action.