Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Police catching up with drivers using mobile phones – at last!

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Today’s the start of the new police campaign. Covert filming from unmarked cars. 6 points (enough to take a novice driver off the road) and £200 fine.

I look forward to seeing the results.

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Original post from 23/01/17

The promised crackdown on irresponsible drivers who use mobile phones began in earnest last November when a week-long campaign by 36 forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not Scotland for some reason) resulted in 8,000 fixed penalty notices given at the rate of 40 an hour.

This followed the tragic deaths of Tracy Houghton and her family members when they were crushed by Tomasz Kroker who was scrolling through his music on his phone when driving his lorry. He received a 10-year prison sentence.

The campaign stopped 10,000 vehicles, detecting almost 8,000 mobile phone offences plus other distraction offences. These figures are four times that in previous month-long campaigns in 2015 (twice) and last year.

The good news for safety conscious drivers and pedestrians is that the police are doing it again this week!

They are running targeted operations and education campaigns. And ministers are still planning to double the fines to £200 and the penalty points to six (which means for new drivers it will be one strike in your first two years of driving and you’re off the road).

I’d go further and introduce an iSBO – take the phones away, recycle them or crush them, burn them in a public bonfire (probably a health & safety issue with that). You get my point. It’s stupid and irresponsible and causes accidents.

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Stop nuisance calls on your mobile phone

ulearn2bu

300px-Mobile_phone_evolutionYou may know that you can register your landline number with the Telephone Preference Service which makes it illegal for companies to cold call you (except the ones abroad seem to get round it). About 85% of landlines are registered with the TPS.

Now you can do the same with your mobile phone.

Text “TPS” and your e-mail address (for verification purposes only) to 78070.

You will then receive a text from TPS saying you have been added to their database.

It can take up to 28 days for the service to be fully operative but you should notice an immediate reduction in nuisance calls.

It is already illegal for companies to send unsolicited text messages.

The head of TPS said “Texting will make it easier to register their mobile number and help us stamp out rogue callers.

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More needs to be done about drivers using mobile phones

ulearn2bu

texting_behind_the_wheel_1600_wht_10007It seems some motorists are addicted to using apps when driving and the current £100 fine plus 3 penalty points is no deterrent (which was to be increased to £150 and 4 points – 6 for HGV drivers after the consultation period ended in March).

An RAC survey found that drivers think that the fine should be even bigger, perhaps £450, to try and deter drivers using everything from texting to updating Facebook because drivers see the existing fines as unduly lenient.

10% of drivers believe that using a phone when driving should lead to instant disqualification, and I couldn’t disagree with that. Mobile phone use is the top complaint by drivers.

Prosecutions have dropped  by almost half between 2009 and 2014 and fewer drivers have been handed fixed penalties. This suggests that the police aren’t taking it seriously. All they would have to do is park near my nearest…

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Nuisance phone calls, a fatal accident, bull elephants and how to have some fun…………….

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

I was sat at my desk at home yesterday afternoon when my mobile phone rang. A voice with a strong Indian accent asked me if I was Mr ……………..to which I replied yes.

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He then said he was ringing on behalf of an insurance company as they had a record that I had had an accident in the last two years. Well what follows is a transcript the conversation (I kid you not):-

Caller: I understand you had a car accident within the last two years, is that correct?

Me: yes, roughly two years ago I had a major car accident in Lithuania

Caller: and were you injured in any way?

Me: yes I was severely killed and have been dead for the last two years

Caller: can you describe the circumstances of the accident?

Me: I was driving along a quiet road when a bull elephant ran out and…

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Crackdown on drivers using mobile phones

A couple of months ago the government asked the police to get tougher on drivers using mobile phones, and this is the week it’s happening.

texting_behind_the_wheel_1600_wht_10007Before this week over half a million drivers had been prosecuted for using a handset or being otherwise distracted at the wheel and drivers talking on the phone were responsible for  548 casualties including 17 deaths.

The head of roads policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said “As technology has advanced we’ve seen a change in the behaviour of some drivers who are allowing themselves to become distracted and putting themselves and others at risk”

Research at Newcastle University shows that hands-free devices are just as dangerous because it the concentration required to have a conversation that causes driver distraction. Drivers using mobiles divert concentration away from the road and put others at risk.. 80% of offenders are male (which surprises me as I regularly see women drivers on their phones and they are more attached to them than men).

Transport Research Laboratory studies show that reaction times among drivers using hands-free sets were 30% slower than driving with a blood alcohol level equal to the drink-drive limit and 50% slower than driving sober.

Although there have been calls to ban hands-free sets the government has no plans at present but police can stop and arrest anyone they believe is not in charge of their vehicle for whatever reason.

The new penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone are a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points.


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Driving us mad

texting_behind_the_wheel_1600_wht_10007It may not come as any surprise to learn that there are people driving round in the UK with over 30 points on their driving licences (12 within 3 years being the normal number for a disqualification).

A women in London accumulated 42 points after failing to name the driver of her car for a series of traffic offences and a man from Warrington was given 36 points after he was caught without insurance six times in a month last year but still allowed to carry on driving!

These are just some of the examples uncovered by the Institute for Advanced Motorists after a freedom of information request. Apart from drivers allowed to keep their licences due to hardship others are juts forgotten about because of a lack of communication between computers at the Department of Justice and the DVLA. Well that’s OK then.

Some good news about tackling bad driving habits though as the Transport Secretary has ordered police to crack down on drivers using mobile phones as evidence mounts that the law is being flouted by millions of drivers. You’ve all seen them; lorry drivers driving their heavy loads with one hand and people driving round roundabouts chatting away on their phones. And not just chatting but texting as well (how do they do that?).

The numbers of fixed penalty notices has been dropping although the fine for using a mobile phone has just increased from £60 to £100. Perhaps they should confiscate and destroy the phone as well but it would probably be a breach of their “human rights” (to endanger other road users).

The Transport Secretary is meeting with the Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO) in November to review how the new penalty system is being enforced. He says his department is considering getting tougher by doubling the penalty points to 6 and forcing young drivers to retake their test if caught using a phone during their first two years of driving.

He is also concerned about the number of accidents young drivers have (25% of the total) and may be proposing graduated licences where young drivers could be banned from late night driving or be restricted in the number of passengers they can carry. The Association of British Insurers claims that barring young drivers from driving between 2300 and 0400, restricting them to one passenger under the age of 20, and enforcing a zero drink-drive limit, would reduce premiums by 20%.

Parents are also concerned about their children driving. According to a survey by Direct Line insurance almost half of parents would welcome “black box” curbs on young drivers i.e. the installation of a mandatory GPS tracking device. Moreover 75% of parents believed that such measures are an acceptable way of reducing insurance premiums for their children (as they are probably paying for it for them) and almost the same proportion thought it would reduce danger for inexperienced drivers.

Insurance premiums have doubled in the last two years for drivers aged 17-22 to an average of £1,860 for males and £1,464 for females. Direct Line offers a 20% discount for drivers who have black boxes fitted (hence their interest in doing this research).


Bare bums on seats?

If you’ve seen or heard about the film “Contagion” you know it’s about how germs are easily spread by touching surfaces like doorknobs. And scientists reckon it’s pretty close to the truth.

Carol Midgley picked up on this the the Times  last week when she wrote about people who don’t wash their hands after using the lavatory.

We’ve all seen it, people cheerfully leaving a cubicle or a stall without so much as a wave at the hot water taps. Apparently only 10% of us take the trouble to wash our hands. Those who do, have probably also developed strategies for getting out of a public toilet without touching the door handle. My favourite is waiting for someone else to open the door and then use a foot and my elbow to keep it open so I can get out.

The more you think about it the worse it gets. At work for example when you are meeting and greeting and inevitably shaking hands or sharing office equipment. Maybe  Nathan Wolfe’s suggestion that we adopt the japanese habit of bowing has something going for it when you realise that most cold germs are transmitted by touch.

Midgley then mentions the even worse statistic that 1 in 6 of us have mobile phones contaminated by faecal matter.

Do not take your phone into the loo to dash off a few quick messages! Apart from the chance you might drop it down the lavatory it will get covered in microscopic particles of urine or shit.

So next time you want to borrow someone’s phone think twice before you ask and at the risk of offending them have a handy  disinfectant wipe to hand (and surely it will only be a matter of time before there’s an app for that).

And if you think that’s bad the same edition of the paper ran a story about California. In San Francisco it is legal for you to go into restaurants completely naked. The local council is voting to ban the practice and also make it mandatory for nudists to put a cushion under their bum when using public seating. One council member said “I believe sitting nude in a public place is not sanitary. Would you want to sit on a seat where someone had been sitting naked?

There’s a local group called the “Naked Guys”  who take to the streets wearing only a hat and shoes. Restaurateurs have complained that they are driving away business and while most restaurants have signs saying shoes and shirt required they don’t mention trousers. If the vote goes through the offenders could be fined a $1,000 and up to a year in prison.

Aren’t you glad I told you that?