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£50 Fine Will Not Stop One In Five Drivers Smoking In Their Vehicle



As the Government implements new rules designed to stamp out smoking in vehicles with under 18s on board from the 1 October 2015, new research from financial comparison website, which was carried out amongst 1,000 drivers that smoke in their vehicles, reveals the proposed penalty may not be severe enough. In fact, 21% of those surveyed claim a £50 fine would not stop them doing it.

For those unfamiliar with the change in the law, the British Lung Foundation has some excellent information here. From 1 October 2015 it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 present.

Despite the Department of Health’s best efforts to publicise the change in law, 29% of drivers that smoke in their vehicles are completely unaware of it; a figure which hits nearly four in ten London drivers. With drivers at risk of being fined twice if they don’t stop passengers smoking this could be an expensive oversight.

Moneyfacts’ research also reveals that the extent of this widespread problem could be difficult to police as almost two out of three (61%) drivers that smoke admit they do so when they have passengers in their vehicles; 31% of these do it with under 18s on board. More shockingly, one in ten drivers admit they smoke with children aged 11 or younger in the vehicle. A further 6% think this it is okay to smoke with passengers aged four or younger.

Smokers seem to have some interesting views on why it’s ok to ‘light up’ with children on board. More than one in ten (11%) think it’s ok ‘as long as the windows are open’. One in ten reassure themselves with the belief that children are not at risk if you smoke in the vehicle they are travelling in. Interestingly, 13% admit they smoke in their home around under 18s and question why they shouldn’t smoke in their vehicle. Over one in five (22%) drivers that smoke think they should be able to do so in a private vehicle without incurring a fine – regardless of the passengers’ age.

When it comes to the Government’s decision to apply this law to passengers under 18, many drivers feel the age should be lowered. 12% think the ruling should be for passengers under 16 years old, not under 18s. 5% think it should be just for under 12 year old passengers and 4% think just applying the law to the under 5s is sufficient.

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of comments: “Smoking with passengers in a vehicle is not ideal, regardless of their age. However given this impacts over four million children, the fact that the Government has finally acknowledged this and are attempting to protect them from the dangers of passive smoking in such a confined space is certainly a step in the right direction. There is also a road safety issue to consider here as smoking can be a distraction which could make drivers a higher risk for accidents, maybe something insurance underwriters end up taking into consideration.

“As almost a third of drivers smoke in their vehicles with under 18s on board this is going to a difficult and time consuming law to enforce – maybe completely outlawing smoking when passengers are in the vehicle would be a better way to do this. There are also several nuances in the law that impact 17 year olds specifically as they could be fined twice if they’re travelling with friends of the same age who are smoking. To avoid the £50 fine, all drivers really need to read up on the rules on smoking in vehicles post 1st October; but this is especially true for new drivers who will already be struggling to cover the cost of driving and certainly can’t afford to risk an additional fine.”

Laws banning smoking in cars carrying children have been introduced in a number of jurisdictions in Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Bahrain and Mauritius.

Survey findings

61% of drivers admit they smoke with passengers on board, this affects over 300,000 children under four

– 31% of ‘smoking drivers’ admit they smoke with under 18s in their vehicle; this impacts over four million[2] children. One in ten smoke with under 11s on board and 6% admit they think it’s ok to ‘light up’ with children aged four and under as passengers
– 11% of drivers think it’s okay to smoke in a vehicle with children on board as long as the windows are open, a further one in ten do not think children are at risk if you smoke in the vehicle they are travelling in
– 21% of drivers that smoke say a £50 fine would not stop them doing so in their vehicle with under 18s on board. 13% claim they smoke in their home with under 18s around so why not in their car?
– Nearly a third (29%) of drivers that smoke in their vehicle are not aware of the forthcoming change in law that bans smoking with under 18s on board; this lack of awareness is highest in London (39%)
– 12% think the ruling should only be applied for passengers under 16 years old, not under 18s. 5% think it should be just for children under 12 years old and 4% think the rule should only be applied for the under 5s


Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.


The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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