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Average-speed camera coverage in UK ‘doubles’ in three years

The length of the UK road network covered by permanent average speed cameras has more than doubled since 2013, new figures have revealed. Research, obtained by the BBC’s The One Show, found permanent cameras were now positioned in 80 UK sites, covering 263 miles – a distance longer than the M6.

The largest increase was in Scotland, where cameras were installed along a 100-mile stretch of the A9, in 2014. Transport Scotland said the cameras had helped reduce casualties on the road.

Richard Owen, from Road Safety Analytics, which carried out the research, said the cost of introducing the cameras had fallen in recent years. The cost was now typically about £100,000 per mile, compared with about £1.5m per mile in the early 2000s, he said.

Almost 600 people were charged with drug driving in the last year

Almost 600 motorists were charged with driving under the influence of drugs in the past year, new figures from the PSNI have revealed. There were 3,259 arrests on suspicion of drink or drug driving in Northern Ireland from March 2015 to April 2016.

These resulted in 588 drug driving charges and 1,413 for drunk driving. Manchester had a total of 3,284 arrests, comparable to here, although Northern Ireland’s population is smaller. But Manchester had just 315 drug driving charges along with 1,842 drink driving charges.

The Financial Times

Volkswagen eyes Porsche chauffeur service as part of Gett deal

Chauffeur-driven Porsches could soon be available on the streets of the world’s largest cities as part of a $300m tie-up between Volkswagen and Israeli taxi-hailing app Gett, the companies announced on Wednesday. VW has taken a stake in Gett to sell its cars to taxi drivers, alongside working on future projects together.

The German company is diverting significant resources into software and apps, and expects these services to account for a “substantial share” of its business over the long term. Under the Gett deal, announced last week, VW will sell cars from its range, which includes Skoda and Seat, to Gett taxi drivers at discounted rates. In addition, the companies said on Wednesday they were considering a high-end service offering access to VW’s luxury marques.

The Daily Telegraph

The one thing the government must do to raise UK living standards

The Government’s flagship plan to boost growth and raise living standards is being undermined by the introduction of the National Living Wage and is ignoring one of the most vital sectors of the UK economy, a think-tank has warned. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said there was already evidence that George Osborne’s introduction of the National Living Wage would add to business costs without providing the boost to productivity that policymakers envisage.

The think tank said boosting productivity in retail, accommodation, food and administration services, which employ around a third of Britain’s 31m workers, was that key to solving Britain’s “productivity puzzle”. Its research showed these “low paid” sectors, which drive around 23pc of UK output – were 30pc less productive than the rest of the economy.

The Government claims that the higher minimum wage, which is due to rise to £9 for over-25s by 2020, will help to raise living standards by encouraging businesses to invest in productivity-enhancing technologies and training.

Jaguar Land Rover’s turnaround shows Britain’s car industry is anything but an old banger

Jaguar Land Rover has become a case study in the fallibility of conventional wisdom. The British car industry is kaput? Well, tell that to the staff of JLR’s plants in Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Halewood who, according to chief executive Ralf Speth, “produced and sold more cars than at any time in our history” – over half a million vehicles in the last financial year. The current production levels of 500,000 vehicles a year are only set to rise as long it keeps coming up with premium cars people want.

There are bumps in the road ahead. There’s no electric or hybrid vehicle in the line-up yet, but this is in development, as signalled by JLR’s entry into Formula E racing. Such efforts cost and some might argue JLR has overspent.  Others might complain that plants abroad water down the JLR’s “Britishness”. But in a global market it’s a necessity to manufacture worldwide, whether to get round trade tariffs or simply because shipping the large volume of fresh air contained in cars is expensive.

Despite all these challenges JLR’s revenues rose £342m to £22.2bn last year. This is a company that was circling the drain eight years ago. In the past five years it has doubled headcount and sales, overtaking Nissan to become the UK’s biggest car manufacturer.

The Times

Drivers told to steer clear of cyclists

Motorists could be fined for passing too close to cyclists under measures designed to stamp out intimidating driving, The Times has learnt. Ministers are considering policies similar to those in parts of Europe and Australia where minimum passing distances of at least 1 metre have been imposed on overtaking vehicles, rising to 1.5 metres on faster roads.

It would be the first time that a legally enforceable distance has been set between cars and bicycles in Britain. The Highway Code orders motorists to give cyclists “plenty of room” — as much as they would when passing another vehicle.

The Daily Express

Driverless cars could save families £3,000 a year

A new study predicts that the arrival of self-driving cars could have a huge effect on our daily lives, including a huge cut in car ownership and massive savings in transportation costs for families.

The report – from automotive industry specialists Vendigital – is based on what we know about the way in which current developments in automated vehicle technologies, combined with the widely-held desire to make travelling by car easier and more enjoyable.

The report’s author, Mark Waterman, said: “As well as transforming the way we use Britain’s road network, driverless vehicles have the potential to dramatically change our lives for the better in a number of surprising ways. This is likely to be the biggest cultural change for several generations.”

Posted by Sue Robinson on 03/06/2016