UK-Driving-Secrets. Written by a Traffic Policeman with years of on-the-job experience... it gives Legal tips on all aspects of driving... getting stopped... appealing against various tickets... and taking the fight to Court.

Preventing Auto Accidents using Information Technology...
I A room with Computers.
Auto Accidents.
The Process.
To the Driver. 
About the Driver.
G.P.S. Technology.
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Auto Accidents.
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The concept... of reducing auto accidents and saving lives by using 'Information' may seem a little strange but, the whole process of driving, of successfully completing a journey from A-B involves accessing 'Information' from many different sources.  As we drive we are continually taking in 'Information' from... other drivers: the vehicle: over the radio about traffic conditions: from road signs: and from street directories.  This section takes a look at the different types of 'Information'... how it was presented in the past/present... how it could be presented in the present/future... and what difference [if any] having something like a Road Supervisors Network could make.  
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At some stage... 'Information Technology' usually means collecting much more Information than previously... but for the 'end-user' it just means having easy access to the right Information.  That means... Information which is relevant to you: which is accurate: accessible: when you want it: where you want it: and having it presented in a way which is simpler to understand... so that making decisions becomes easier.
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The Process.
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This section is about the process that a Road Supervisor type system would use.  All these processes are used already, but not in very effective ways.  Auto accidents occur for many reasons and just as that is a complex problem, so must the solution be.  The problem is far too complex to solve by just changing the odd law... enforcing one particular rule... or handing out more fines.  The problems stem from the drivers themselves... from the many particular traits... habits... and faults... of millions of individuals.
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The overall standard of driving needs to be raise considerably and to achieve this, 'the Process' could be... to use a rather complicated metaphor... compared to... having to repair a large and very complicated piece of electronic equipment which had been badly damaged.  You need to detect the faults on every individual wire... reconnect them properly... and then 'test' the connection.  A process which is complex and time consuming.
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The present approach... by the Authorities is the equivalent of just going in occasionally with a large hammer and hitting anything within reach!  Banging around making a lot of noise might fool some of the people... some of the time... but it definitely isn't going to fix the problem!!
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Motivation.
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The Old Way...  There is very little official attempt at motivating drivers to improve their skills.  Those who attend advanced driver training have to motivate themselves.  In sports such as... tennis: golf: or skiing: people do not expect to reach a high standard without expert coaching... but when it comes to driving most people withdraw from the education process on the day they pass their driving test.  With a bit of experience they will reach their natural level of competence and then that will be it... no more improvement however much driving they do... bad habits will have set in... for life!  
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The New Way...  Getting people to improve their driving because they choose to... not because they are being made to... would be much easier if it was part of an official policy.  With the target of becoming a Road Supervisor... there would be something very positive to aim for.  As a Road Supervisor a high standard of behaviour would be expected... this concept is not just about having a bit of power and trying to teach others... it's about being a good example... a positive influence... being prepared to learn from others... and to make improvements to yourself. 
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  A systematic improvement in driving standards would reduce the rate of auto accidents... and that means an improvement by everyone... even good drivers... turning good drivers into very good drivers... and very good drivers into excellent drivers.  There would also be a very definite commitment by a significant number of drivers to upholding a code of conduct which would put... safety: consideration: and courtesy... to other road users at the forefront of their minds.  
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Deterrents.
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The Old Way...  At present there is very little in the way of effective deterrents.  In Britain... the Police presence on the roads has become less and less.  The chances of being caught breaking the law are slim... and if you are one of the 5% who don't even register the vehicle at their own address... they are almost non-existent.  Insurance and Road Tax are expensive... the fine for having none is low.  Government policies actually encourage people to break the law.
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The New Way...  With a Road Supervisor's scheme, the chances of being caught would be very high.  A vehicle could be 'flagged' if registered at the wrong address... clamped if it didn't have any road tax... checked against an Insurance Database... reported by Mobile Phone and intercepted immediately.  Or at least... 'flagged' in the system... so that if they later pass a police car equipped with a Number Plate Recognition system they will be stopped.  But, effective deterrents only work if there is follow-up action... and at the moment there is a complete lack of Political will... when it comes to enforcing the law, on those who wilfully break it.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  It is an established fact, that the most effective deterrent is the perception of being caught... rather than the severity of any sentence.  Also... drivers who do not have their documentation in order are far more likely to break other laws... or flee the scene of an accident.  Drivers must have the perception that they definitely will get caught... that any punishment will be enforced... and that "it isn't worth the risk".
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Legal Alternative... In addition, there needs to be a viable alternative.  There are thousands of illegal immigrants driving around in death-traps who couldn't get insurance even if they wanted to... another situation created by Politicians.  Many young drivers have no Insurance because... they buy an old car for 200 and then it costs them 1-2000+ for the Insurance... but if they get caught... the Fine will probably only be about 1-200... so why bother?
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In Australia... they pay a 'Vehicle Registration Fee' which also covers the compulsory Insurance... for the Vehicle... so, any driver is automatically covered.  The cost is determined by the value and power of the vehicle... rather than the driver.  Small, low powered vehicles are cheap to Register... so anyone can start with a small car just to get themselves mobile.  Something similar could to be introduced in Britain... even if only offered on vehicles in the lowest Insurance Groups... it would give everyone a viable option.
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Education.
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The Old Way...  For most drivers formal education ended the day they passed their driving test.  Beyond that, their education is only developed through experience.  Governments usually make some attempt to 'educate' drivers... this usually involves using television advertisements to bombard every single driver with the same simplistic messages... year after year... regardless of their level of competence or experience.  
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Again... the banging around with a big hammer approach!
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The New Way...  Road Supervisors detect the faults.  Any Information sent out is relevant to the individual driver... and initially, the onus is on them to repair their own faults.  They could be sent many individual reports/inserts... and have many opportunities to fix the problems, before anyone else became involved.  But, if there were no changes, then inevitably, others would become involved and changes would be imposed.
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Whatever the approach the 'Process' is about repairing the small faults on the individual 'wires', and not hitting things with big hammers!
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Reduces Auto Accidents by... Raising the standard of driving by giving drivers 'unbiased feedback'... helping them to fine tune their driving skills... and iron out very specific faults.  
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Social Pressure.
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The Old Way...  If you don't know what someone is doing how can you get them to stop doing it?  The odd speeding ticket tells you almost nothing about a driver.  Again you are limited to Information concerning Fines and Accidents... and that just might be too late to do anything about it. 
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The New Way...  Once you have the Information... you know there is a problem... then you are in a position to do something about it.  If you are a... Parent: or an Employer: the very fact that you know... and they know that you know... may be enough for them to fix the problem.  If not, they may be in a position to exert some Pressure.  If it isn't working you would know because reports would continue to arrive. 
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So again... this process involves many people trying to fix very specific problems.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  Making Information available to those in positions of influence... so as to systematically repair the faults of those who are not fixing their own faults.
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Enforcement. 
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The Old Way...  Drivers are often made to attend courses after they have been involved in an auto accident... or if convicted of a serious offence in Court.  'Enforcing' a change on someone is not easy.  As the Authorities know almost nothing about the driver... they don't know if the course is really the right course... and once completed they leave and there is no way to monitor their progress... unless they have another accident.  So, on what basis can you judge any improvement?  None!  For all you know your efforts could have been a complete waste of time.  
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This is at least some effort to deal with the problems of particular individuals.  But this is like... we think there is some kind of a problem with this 'wire'... not sure what? we'll play around with it a bit... won't bother 'testing' it... and then we'll just move on an have a go at some other 'wires'!!
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The New Way...  If you are going to send someone on a course to improve their driving you need to know what they were like before hand: [pre-course Information] then you can make sure they are on an appropriate course... and you also need to monitor their progress afterwards: [post-course Information.]  Then you have some kind of basis to know whether you have been successful in changing someone's behaviour or not.  And if you haven't, you get them back in and try again. [A Review Panel would decide on the appropriate course after examining their file... and an extensive interview with the driver concerned... then monitor their post-course progress.]
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This 'Process' is the equivalent of... diagnosing the fault on a 'wire': making the repair: checking it: and if it still isn't quite right... you do it again.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by... identifying the most serious and persistent offenders... and systematically eradicating their high-risk behaviour.  
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Punishment. 
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The Old Way...  Consider one incident and decide on an appropriate punishment... often based on very little Information.  Then hit them with a big stick in the hope they won't do it again... and it will serve as a warning to others.  This really is a woefully inadequate system... all to often drivers find themselves in Court for no good reason... while others, who deserve to be dealt with severely walk away with a pathetically inappropriate sentence. 
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The New Way...  Also considers one incident... but any decision could be based on a lot more Information about the individual concerned.  A driver's File might give a much better insight as to whether something was a genuine accident or whether it was the inevitable result of high-risk activity which had been going on for some time without being corrected.  When someone starts driving again after a Ban... they should be given additional training if required... and their progress closely monitored. 
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  Reducing the worst kind of behaviour... because drivers know they would be held to account if they caused death or injury because of reckless behaviour.  
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We fully acknowledge that this is always going to be a very difficult area.  All the time people are going to travel around at high speed in large chunks of steel... mistakes will be made... and some people will inevitably be injured and killed.  If we want to use the roads it's a risk we just have to accept.
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As we look to the future... none of us can say for certain which of us will end up in Hospital: [or worse!] and which of us will end up in Court.  At the end of the day most people just want to see justice done.  The more Information you have at your disposal, the better the chances are that those who cause death and injury because of a blatant disregard for the welfare of others are punished... and that those who made a genuine error of judgement are not.  
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To the Driver.
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'Information' is given to... or absorbed by the driver in many different ways... and about many different aspects of driving... especially along unfamiliar routes.  Often Information requires some kind of a response... and relevant... accurate Information should make it easier to give the right, considered response in good time.  
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Article.   Technology and the driver Several technological advances that are making their way from theory to practice are outlined in this article.  (More Articles)
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About the Vehicle.  
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The Old Way...  Concerning its speed... whether there is fuel in the tank... warning lights for various functions... but little detail.  There is also more subtle Information which the driver absorbs about the vehicle... listening to the sound of the engine... the revs... or through the steering wheel.
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The Government... also wants to know a great deal about the vehicle.  Is it... Insured: Taxed: Roadworthy: Registered at the correct address: etc. etc. 
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The New Way...  Vehicle gives more Information... if the fuel is getting low... flashing lights if it gets extremely low.  It can tell you how many miles left in the tank... or other Information about... servicing: brakes: etc.  With sophisticated electronics prioritising this Information and 'Flashing' anything important.
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Illegal Activity...  When people deliberately Register their vehicles at the wrong address there is invariably a very good reason why they have done so.  They have been Banned from driving... vehicle is Unroadworthy... not Insured... or are engaged in some form of Criminal Activity.  It also means that tickets from such things as Speed Cameras... or for Illegal Parking... never catches up with them.  If they are involved in an accident they are far more likely to try and flee the scene.  With The Road Supervisors Network it would be far more likely that drivers would comply with the rules because the likelihood of being caught would be much greater... just one report, returned, 'not known at this address', and their chances of being stopped by the Police would be greatly increased.
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Reduces Auto Accidents... due to equipment failure.  If the Government keeps on top of the whole registration process it means less unroadworthy vehicles on the roads.  It is also better if vehicles don't break down... or run out of fuel... this can cause inconvenience and danger for others.  Having just one vehicle break down... stopping in the wrong place... at the wrong time... can cause a major hold up.  If someone has all their documentation in order they are far less likely to break the law... or behave in a reckless manner. 
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About Traffic Conditions.  
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The Old Way...  Very limited... mainly traffic reports over the radio... which often covers a wide area, so most Information is of no interest.  But you have to try and listen to it just in case your route is mentioned. 
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The New Way...  This is certainly better than it was... a system like 'Traffic Master' interrupts your radio station with reports in your general area.  But areas are still to big and the Information is not 100% accurate: [you hear about a traffic jam half an hour after joining it.]  On the latest equipment 'Traffic Information' can be linked into the GPS navigation system and give on-screen, or audio Information about interruptions along your pre-programmed route... and ask you if you would like an alternative route.  [A company like Cellint uses software to track mobile phone signals so it can calculate average speeds and can instantly know when traffic grinds to a halt.]
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Sending Information.  Vehicles could also be fitted with a facility to send Information:  i.e. GPS picks up where you are: using voice recognition technology: you say, 'Fog'--- 'Send', it then sends a warning to vehicles as they approach that spot: if they are given this message and there is no fog: they tell their system, 'No Fog'---'Send', [perhaps it takes 3 messages to start or stop a message, to prevent hoaxers: if a vehicle is positively identified as a hoaxer any messages from their vehicle could be blocked]  This could be done for a whole range of hazards so that Information is localised and up to the minute accurate.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by... Limited.  You do see drivers who unexpectedly hit a traffic jam and try to perform risky manoeuvres to try and extricate themselves from the situation.  If they were warned earlier it would reduce stress levels... and congestion... as they could take an alternate route.
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Navigation.
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The Old Way...  You get the required Information from road maps and street directories... but you still have to match it up with road signs and plates showing street names.  Someone in front suddenly stops when you're looking for a street sign and 'bang', you're one of those myriad of small accidents that happens every year... or worse.
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The Origin b2 is a multi award winning, unique and state-of-the-art Driver Safety and Information System using GPS satellite technology


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The New Way...  Satellite Navigation presents Information in a totally different way.  Just tell the system where you want to go... it will plan a route and give audible instructions as you go... 'turn left 200 metres... turn left 100 metres... turn left Now!'.  Not more Information: [you already have loads of Information in your street directory] just... the right Information: at the right time: given in small doses: easy to understand: and allows the driver to concentrate on the driving... instead of trying to drive and look for street names at the same time.
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This is an excellent example of how 'Information Technology' can make life easier for the 'End-User' by presenting Information in a totally different way.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by... Allowing drivers to concentrate on their driving... instead of looking everywhere for street names or road signs.  It also gets them into position in good time, so there are less sudden movements: i.e. braking: lane changing: turning: etc.
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When a driver misses a turning... the system immediately starts looking for an alternate route.  The system still needs refining, as often it doesn't use the smaller roads: [but also should not start using residential streets as 'rat-runs'.]  Could be 'fine tuned' to some extent by having a website for users to give feedback: i.e. 'the system told me to turn left and when I got there, there was a sign saying 'No Left Turn', [believe this has been tried but had a very poor response from the users.]  It is possible to 'customise' some systems... give it an address and records all your shortcuts which someone else could then use... like a spouse, or a relief delivery driver doing a round.
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Road Conditions.
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The Old Way...  Is by using Road Signs which give... directions: instructions: warnings: and more general 'Information' about the road itself... like, bend: road narrows: steep hill: etc. 
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The New Way...  Something like a 'Road Angel', which uses GPS technology, warns of 'Speed Cameras' [see Road Angel GPS.] and is also programmed to warn drivers when they are approaching known accident black spots: [using audio and visual signals.]  With a Road Supervisor's scheme much more Information could be made available to warn drivers of any 'reporting' black spots or potential hazards.  It is quite conceivable that a more sophisticated system could be developed which took into account even more variables... such as... the time of day: your speed: and decide whether to inform: warn: or give an 'extreme warning'. 
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i.e.  System knows... it's 8:30 on a Monday morning: knows the speed limit is 30mph: knows you are approaching a primary school: knows drivers need to do >20mph to avoid being reported: and knows you are doing 40mph.  So issues an 'extreme warning', 'approaching school... Slow Down: under 20mph recommended'.  The system could even record the fact that a warning was given... and the response.  Perhaps it would be possible to download the 'Memory' and see exactly how many 'warnings' were given over a specific period... and the responses: [a bit like a black box flight recorder:] which might then be used by... Review Panels: Police: Courts: Parents: Employers: etc.
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If a driver just carried on regardless in such circumstances and ran a child over... all the facts could be made available to the Courts.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  Allowing drivers to concentrate on their driving instead of looking at vehicle instruments and watching for road signs.
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About the Driver.
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This is the area... that Road Supervisors are most concerned with... Information about drivers.  Supplied to the driver about themselves... and to others... to ensure long term improvement of some individuals... and a more general raising of standards by everyone.
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About Themselves.
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The Old Way...  Often drivers have very definite opinions about other peoples' driving... but how does a driver get 'Feedback' about their own driving?  Maybe from someone sitting in the vehicle with them, like a spouse: [and we all know how well this goes down!]  From... other drivers: hand gestures: and verbal abuse: [Sorry, could you be more specific! why exactly do you think I am a ------- Idiot?] or if stopped by Police... or involved in an accident.  Very often any 'Feedback' is just taken as criticism and is vigorously contested. 
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The New Way...  Road Supervisors is about supplying driver to driver Information and everything in the 'Process' after that, is just aimed at ensuring the right response.  Gives drivers 'Feedback', [which is essential to iron out bad habits] on Reports and detailed Inserts which are relevant to them.  The 'Report' would be coming from an experienced driver and basically say... 'This is what you were doing... and this is why it was wrong': and the 'Insert', would be originating from experts and basically saying... 'This is what you should be doing in the future'.
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Back-seat drivers...  It is not an uncommon experience to get into the car with someone you know very well... maybe, someone who has been driving for years: [perhaps you have never been their passenger before] and for the experience to be a real eye opener.  Once behind the wheel of a car some people display a whole different side to their character.  They may think that they are a very good driver: [but they are surrounded by Idiots and Maniacs] while you are taking a totally different perspective on the problem.  But, would you take it upon yourself to try and explain the problem? become a back-seat driver... or just bite your lip and vow never to get into a vehicle with them again.  Obviously in depends on the relationship... but there is no doubt that it can be a very sensitive issue... and any 'Feedback' would probably go down better from an unbiased source.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  Improves a person's driving by giving them Information about themselves... giving them plenty of time to make changes... and 'fine tune' their driving skills... before anyone else starts to get involved.  It also lets the more serious offenders know that any reckless behaviour is likely to be noticed and reported.  
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About Others.
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The Old Way...  Generally, very little is known about drivers... their 'Record' may consist of any fines or convictions in a Court... and any Accidents recorded... but very little else.  
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At a serious auto accident...  Investigators may try and piece together tiny bits of Information to try and establish exactly what happened... but without any witnesses it can be very difficult to say who was at fault.  Sometimes there will be two totally different versions of the incident described by those involved.  When an individual stands up in Court... it is quite possible that nothing will be known about them: [the Legal system may say that this is a very good thing otherwise a person might not get a fair trial] but a person's 'Record' may be taken into account at some stage of the proceedings.
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The New Way...  Lots of Information could be made available [about the most serious and persistent offenders:] to... the Police: and Courts: [we have no particular view as to when a driver's 'Record' should be made available during Legal Proceedings... as these vary so much between Countries] and to... Review Panels: Employers: Family: etc.  It would only really become necessary for others to get involved if a driver had been reported many times... and they were doing nothing to improve the situation.  
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Reduces Auto Accidents by... Systematically improving driving standards through... Targeted Education: Social Pressure: Enforcement: and Punishment policies.   
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Theft.
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The Old Way...  Gone unless spotted by the Police... in which case a dangerous pursuit might start.  
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The New Way.  There is already a 'Tracker' system for stolen vehicles.  As a rule, we do not believe that technology should take control away from the driver... many people actually enjoy driving and it can be very dangerous.  But, with stolen vehicles this is very desirable.  If thieves have obtained/forcibly taken the keys, as often happens these days, the vehicle could be tracked.  Police could follow at a distance and once into position, just ask a central control for the 'immobiliser' to be activated... 'Stop the engine... Lock all the doors'... and move in.  Thieves would have no idea what was happening until it was to late. 
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Some people... would definitely not like the idea that Police could punch in the details of their vehicle and immediately know exactly where that vehicle was... had been in the past... or track it to see where it was going.  If a person happened to be involved in some kind of criminal activity that could certainly make life a lot more difficult for them.
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Reduces Auto Accidents by...  Less vehicles stolen for profit... less taken by 'joy riders'... or taken without consent... knowing there would be a very good chance of being caught.  
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G.P.S. Technology.
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Integrated Traffic System...  What is the ideal situation to get to?  Is it remotely possible using today's Technology?  Or conceivable in the not too distant future?  Everything mentioned below is already... on sale: available soon: in the pipeline: or possible using present technology.  How much further this can be taken remains to be seen.  
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Many aspects of driving... do or could use GPS Technology... but it would be much better for drivers to have one Fully Integrated Traffic Management System: [with a uniform standard for Software] than 3 or 4 separate systems stuck around the dashboard doing totally separate jobs.  Perhaps this would involve using... GPS Technology: microchips: bar codes: radio chips: Sensors placed along the side of roads linked to a centralised computer: Cameras: WAP Technology: Voice Recognition Technology: monitoring mobile phone signals: and even Vehicles transmitting and receiving signals from each other.
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Such a System... should be capable of dealing with... Traffic Information: Navigation: Road Conditions: and Security.  A System could be... built in: sold as a separate item: sent via WAP mobile phones: with companies producing software about particular areas.  Going on a trip to another Country?  Just purchase a DVD from a local shop... download via the Internet... or direct to your mobile. We use... Dell Computers: the "Dell Axim X51 Bluetooth TM GPS"... a personal organiser... Internet access... and GPS Sat-Nav.  Driving? mount it in your car.  Walking? carry it in your pocket!

[Some of the present 'top of the range' systems already have an amazing number of features... such as the "Dell Axim X51 Bluetooth TM GPS"... a personal organiser... Internet access... and GPS Sat-Nav.  Driving? mount it in your car.  Walking? carry it in your pocket!]

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Customise settings...  Different levels of Information may be required depending on the circumstances.  Choose settings: Visual: [flashing lights] Audio: [beeps and buzzers] Voice: [specific instructions.]  Going from Home to Work? a journey you've done a thousand times before... set to 'Minimum', only Traffic Information and 'extreme warnings'.  Driving to a busy City you've never been to before? set to 'Maximum'... Traffic: Navigation: and Road conditions.  
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So what might such a journey be like?
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Just tell the system... the address you want to go to... it selects the best route.  If Traffic becomes congested along the route it might ask you if you would like an alternate route.  As well as giving clear Directions it would also give details of any potential hazards... such as 'Accident' or 'Reporting' black spots.  As the system knows exactly... where you are: what the speed limit is: your speed: time of day: and the fact that you are approaching a school: [depending on the circumstances:] it could give a warning: or an extreme warning... 'slow down... school ahead'.
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Speedtraps UK. RoadPilot. Snooper. Road Angel GPS.
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Reached the Town? just give the System the name of the Town: then say 'Car Parks'-- 'Spaces'.  It gives you availability: 'xx Full: xx 200 spaces: xx 20 spaces:' if you want directions just ask.  Much more convenient for you... and less congestion as you're not driving around and around a strange Town looking for an empty space.    
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This sort of Information... really needs to be accurate and reliable.  If someone is told there are many spaces and there aren't, or vice versa... then credibility is lost and the Information will be ignored in future.
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Information Technology... offers many opportunities to tackle old problems in new ways.  So, whatever you think about these issues... good or bad... we would like to hear your... opinions: comments: and ideas.  Either... E-mail us direct or fill in a Feedback Form,  More generally... if this sounds like a Project you would be interested in becoming involved with have a look at our 'Help Us' section for details.
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