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Fuel hikes threaten consumer spending
The price of fuel has hit a three-and-a-half-year high as the price of oil continues to climb, putting more pressure on consumers. The average price of petrol has risen to 127.22p a litre and diesel to 129.96p a litre, following a rapid rise in the oil price. Recent figures suggest a squeeze on incomes has begun to ease, with wages growing faster than prices. However, rising fuel prices threaten to prevent inflation slowing.
Who is to blame for ‘self-driving car’ deaths?
The confusion between fully autonomous self-driving cars and those that simply offer driver assistance technologies is leading to deaths on the road. Who is to blame and what should be done about it? Self-driving cars already exist and there will be more of them in future, but the chances are that you won’t be driven by one any time soon. You may, however, already be using a car that can steer, brake or park by itself. The fear is that the hype around driverless cars has led some drivers to test the limits of existing technology in ways that are downright reckless. A Tesla driver in the UK, for example, was recently prosecuted for climbing into the passenger seat of his car while it was moving at around 40mph (64km/h) in motorway traffic.
Moped crime: New rules to protect police pursuit drivers
Police drivers will have more legal protection if they are involved in a crash, in a bid to tackle criminals on mopeds, as part of Home Office plans. New proposals aim to smash the “myth” that officers cannot pursue riders who are not wearing helmets. “Criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way,” policing minister Nick Hurd said. The Police Federation, which has called for the changes, welcomed the reforms. But the federation’s roads policing lead Tim Rogers urged government to “act quickly to prevent more officers suffering unnecessary and often mendacious prosecutions”. The reforms – which would affect forces in England and Wales – follow concerns among officers that they risk prosecution for careless or dangerous driving if they chase criminals at high speed, particularly those on mopeds and motorcycles.
Air pollution plans to tackle wood burners
Plans to tackle sources of air pollution – such as wood-burning stoves – put too much responsibility on local councils, critics say. The government, as part of its clean air strategy, wants to clamp down on all sources of pollution, including coal-burning and ammonia from farms. Campaigners welcome the consultation, but say it does not go far enough. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said it would be “disproportionate” to have a uniform ban on certain fuels. He said the air pollution effects in rural areas of fuels, such as diesel or coal, are significantly less compared to urban areas as they are dispersed.
UK seeks power to bring criminal charges against car emissions cheats
The UK government is looking to bring criminal charges against car manufacturers that use software to cheat emissions tests, in an attempt to prevent another Volkswagen scandal. Ministers are seeking powers to recall vehicles that emit illegal levels of harmful nitrogen oxide fumes that are linked to respiratory conditions in inner cities, and bring criminal charges against the groups that manufacture them. The move will be announced as soon as Tuesday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a clean air strategy document. The policy proposal, which will be subject to consultation, is also expected to be a key tenet of the “Road to Zero” strategy being drawn up by the Department for Transport. That document is expected to be published this month, with further details on the government’s plan to shift British drivers away from petrol and diesel cars.
Ditching the car cuts risk of heart disease death by a third
Leaving your car at home could cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 30 per cent, a study suggests. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College London, said commuting by foot, bike or public transport dramatically reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular problems or having a stroke. Their results, published in the journal Heart, were based on data from 358,799 people enrolled in the UK Biobank study. About two thirds of those who commuted three or more times a week relied exclusively on the car. Those who walked, cycled or used public transport, even for only part of their journeys or some of the time, had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) over seven years, the team said. Active commuters had a 30 per cent lower risk of dying from CVD, while those who also used alternatives to the car on non-commuting journeys had a 43 per cent lower risk of dying.
Aston Martin gears up for flotation but sales slip as new cars launched
Aston Martin has taken a hit from sterling’s fluctuating value caused by uncertainty over Brexit, with headline profits at the luxury car maker halving in the first quarter. Pre-tax profit dropped almost 50pc compared to the last time round on a statutory basis to £2.8m as sterling’s weakness hit the Gaydon-based business. Stripping out currency movements, pre-tax profit was up almost 50pc at £7.4m. But on an underlying basis profits at Aston – which is understood to have hired banks ahead of an expected flotation – kicked up a gear, despite it selling fewer cars than in the same period last time round. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation climbed 3pc to £43.7m, despite revenues slipping 1.5pc to £185.4m.
View on Saudi female drivers: going backward
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will give women the right to drive. But if they ask for anything else he says they can go straight to jail. Saudi Arabia is about to lift the ban on women driving. So it has started jailing defenders of women’s rights instead. This sounds like a scene from Through the Looking-Glass where the Red Queen announces that what seems obvious is the opposite of what is really obvious. This time the role of logic-defying royal is played by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will end the embarrassment of Saudi Arabia being the only nation to ban women from driving, but only, it seems, give those who stay quiet the right to drive.
London one of worst capitals in Europe for clean, safe transport, study shows
London is trailing behind other major European capitals in its effort to create a clean, affordable and safe transport system, according to a new report. The study of 13 EU cities found London has the joint third worst air quality after Moscow and Paris, as well as the most expensive public transport and the highest number of cycling accidents. Copenhagen came out top followed by Amsterdam, Oslo and Zurich. London comes third from bottom, performing better than Rome and Moscow but worse than many other leading European cities including Madrid, Paris and Berlin. Paul Morozzo, from Greenpeace which commissioned environmental consultants at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany to carry out the study, said: “London has a reputation as a fast-moving city, but its efforts to boost clean, safe and affordable transport are trundling behind other EU capitals. [London mayor] Sadiq Khan has shown real commitment in tackling air pollution – now more needs to be done to make cycling safer and public transport better and cheaper.”
Opticians must inform DVLA if drivers fail eye tests, says family of three-year-old crash victim
The parents of a three-year-old girl who was run over by a pensioner with poor eyesight are calling for a change in the law to stop more “unnecessary and pointless deaths”. Poppy-Arabella Clarke was walking over a pedestrian crossing with her mother when 72-year-old John Place went through a red light and killed her in July 2016. He told police he had not seen the traffic lights or crossing, having been told by two optometrists that even with glasses his eyesight fell below the DVLA’s standards. Poppy’s parents are now calling for opticians, doctors and other medical professionals to be legally required to report drivers who are unfit to be behind the wheel.