Mobile phones at the wheel – are men or women the biggest menace?

The number of drivers being prosecuted for using their mobile phone at the wheel may be falling but it’s not necessarily all good news.
  
The number of drivers being prosecuted for using their mobile phone at the wheel may be falling but it’s not necessarily all good news.
 
In 2014 there were 17,414 prosecutions in England and Wales for driving while using a phone, that’s down from 32,500 in 2009. On paper those figures may seem like a reflection of the tougher penalties working and acting as a deterrent – not so says a study by the Department for Transport (DfT).
 
According to findings from the DfT survey, more than 500,000 motorists used their mobile phone while driving in 2014, that’s nearly a 50% increase on 2008. If 1.5% of all drivers admit to using their mobile at the wheel why have prosecutions fallen? Some believe it can be attributed to increased police workloads forcing officers to turn a blind eye.
 
Pete Williams, RAC’s head of external affairs, commented that a reduction in the number of full-time traffic officers makes the law even more difficult to police. He said: “On average across the country there was a 23% cut between 2010 and 2014 – meaning there are 1,279 fewer officers patrolling our roads.”
 
The increase is, in part, being blamed on a reliance on social media particularly for younger drivers aged between 17 and 29. However, if the findings by our friends at Admiral in their Annual Survey of Motorists 2015 are to be believed, younger drivers are not the biggest problem. According to the survey, 29% of drivers aged 35-44 have used their phones to access social media while driving compared to just 0.56% of 18-24-year-olds.
 
A far higher proportion of the same age group also said they had used their phone to send a text message than the younger drivers, 35% compared to 6%.
 
When it come to who’s better at putting the phone down during the daily drive it looks like the ladies have the fellas beat. Some 79% of female respondents in Admiral’s survey said they had never used their mobile at the wheel, compared to just 67% of men.
 
Discussing the DfT survey, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are a worry. In 2013 the use of a mobile at the wheel was a factor in 22 fatal accidents and this is likely to be underreporting of the true figure. Research for us shows that texting while driving impairs reactions more than being at the drink drive limit. The disproportionate number of van drivers using mobiles appears to highlight the time pressures many are under and their likely use of mobile devices to check pick up and drop off destinations. The big concern is that with more and more technological and visual distractions in our lives and in our cars the risks will increase.”
 
 

The world’s most common online passwords revealed

“Oh damn! I’ve forgotten it… again.” It’s a common phrase of many people when trying to enter their password.
 
“Oh damn! I’ve forgotten it… again.” It’s a common phrase of many people when trying to enter their password.
 
But while there might be a tendency to keep it simple and straightforward, the following list is enough to leave any keyboard wobbling with fear.
 
Twenty-five of the most common passwords from the 3.3 million leaked online last year have been revealed by SplashData. The password management firm has been compiling the annual list since 2011.
 
For the second year running 123456 and password were top of the pile. Common passwords are much easier to guess and that makes users vulnerable to having accounts like email and online banking hacked.
 
New additions to this year’s list include: baseball, dragon, football, mustang, access, master, michael, superman, batman and 696969. Other number-related passwords on the list are: 12345, 12345678, 1234567890, 1234, 1234567, 111111, 123123. Most of the passwords stolen and revealed in 2014 came from users in North America and Western Europe.
 

Experts recommend avoiding favourite sports, birthdays and keyboard patterns when thinking up a new password. Shadow, monkey and phrases: letmein and trustno1 also made the list. Good advice, that last one.

 
And if you’re still in any doubt – Don’t use words, use phrases, like the first letter of each word and change it regularly.
 
 

Laying the foundations for ‘5G’ mobile

peoples phone ofcom logo

Ofcom is today calling on industry to help lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.
 
So-called ‘5G’ mobile communications are expected to be able to use very high frequency spectrum – the raw material that underpins wireless services.
 
This spectrum, which is above 6 GHz, could support a variety of uses, ranging from financial trading and entertainment to gaming and holographic projections, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, like city centres.
 
5G mobile is expected to be capable of delivering extremely fast data speeds – perhaps 10 to 50 Gbit/s – compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbit/s. holophone-text
 
5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve the fastest speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies. Therefore, higher frequency bands, above 6 GHz, for example, will be important.
The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands. It is important that Ofcom does the groundwork now to understand how these frequencies might be used to serve citizens and consumers in future. Ofcom is today asking industry to help plan for the future spectrum requirements of 5G.
 
Spectrum above 6 GHz currently supports various uses, from scientific research to satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. One of Ofcom’s core roles is to manage the limited supply of spectrum, taking into account current and future demands and allowing these different services to exist alongside each other.
 
Steve Unger, Ofcom Acting Chief Executive, said: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications. 5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs”

 
Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, said: “We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data. This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses.” Ofcom is seeking views on the use of spectrum above 6 GHz that might be suitable for future mobile communication services. The closing date for responses is 27 February 2015.

Jersey telecom company customers ‘would change’ home phone

The majority of people responding to a survey said they would change home phone provider if given the chance.
 
The majority of people responding to a survey said they would change home phone provider if given the chance.
 
The biannual survey is produced by the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities (CICRA). Just over a third of people responding to the survey rated Jersey’s only fixed line telecom company as satisfactory. JT, owned by Jersey’s government, is to face competition in the home phone market from June for the first time and 70% say they would change provider.
 
A similar survey in Guernsey of sole fixed line operator Sure, found 26% would change if they had the choice. CEO Graeme Miller disputed the findings of the survey, saying the company’s own customer survey had different results – but still showed a need to improve. He said he was confident their work to improve customer services was working. He said he would be offering a free service to a customer if they break their commitment to improve their service.
 
CICRA director Louise Read has called on JT to create an action plan to improve customer satisfaction levels. She said: “Our expectation was that operators value their customers and would initiate improvements themselves. This second round of survey results suggest that either JT has not initiated improvements or that the improvements it has made have not yet translated into improved customer satisfaction ratings. This is particularly disappointing.”
 
Mr Miller said: “Our data shows the service we are delivering to customers is steadily improving.”
 
 

 
 

Would You Give Up Your Mobile For The NoPhone?

We live in a society where a large percentage of us are addicted to our smartphones, so much so that often we can feel them vibrating with a new notification even when there isn’t one there and many of us feel lost when our smartphone isn’t in our hand for a large percentage of the day.

 
We live in a society where a large percentage of us are addicted to our smartphones, so much so that often we can feel them vibrating with a new notification even when there isn’t one there and many of us feel lost when our smartphone isn’t in our hand for a large percentage of the day.
 
If we aren’t checking emails we are on Facebook, if we aren’t on Facebook we are playing Candy Crush; the fact of the matter is, mobile phones are a huge distraction to us. However, would you give up your mobile for the NoPhone?
  
 Luckily, help is at hand for the mobile phone addicts among us. The NoPhone has been designed to help mobile phone addicts break their addiction without struggling with having ‘no phone’. The idea behind the NoPhone is simple, it is a plastic rectangular object shaped exactly like an iPhone but with a catch; it’s simply a plastic object. Nothing more, nothing less. 
 
The brains behind the NoPhone highlight it’s many benefits such as being battery free – never again will you worry when a battery reaches the dreaded 10% and runs out shortly afterwards – waterproof, shatterproof and will never require an upgrade or a cracked screen replacement. The key reason for the NoPhone is for users to feel safe knowing they have a ‘phone’ in their hand, whilst being able to cut themselves off from the technological environment, if only for a short time. 
 
The NoPhone is currently in a prototype stage with the designers behind it hoping to manufacture it in the future. Many will see the NoPhone as a novelty item, a possible gift for technology addicted friends, but is there some sense behind it?
 
With a large number of people spending an increasing amount time on their smartphone or tablet it is becoming increasingly more difficult to take time away from mobile phones, and it is just this reason why the NoPhone may work. There is a possibility that the NoPhone will trick individuals into thinking they have their phone on them at all times, in their pocket or in their hand, but without being disturbed by messages, emails and social media updates. However, with the power of the smartphone ever increasing it is likely that the NoPhone will be switched back to the iPhone in no time. 
 
There aren’t many people who would answer yes to the question “would you give up your mobile for the NoPhone?’ but at only $12 each, it may be worth a try.