RESEARCHERS in Belfast have found that a recent pilot project reducing speed limits on the city’s roads to 20mph resulted in no statistically significant differences in safety. 
 
The new study is published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers analysed 76 roads in central Belfast before and after the new 20mph speed limits were introduced, comparing them to other roads in Northern Ireland where 30mph or 40mph speed limits had been retained. The findings were that there were “no statistically significant differences” in the long-term rate of crashes and casualties, or of the average speed of traffic. 
Roads with 20mph limits did, however, experience less traffic, according to the research. 
 
“The study concluded that policymakers considering implementing 20mph speed limit interventions should consider the context and scale of implementation. RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “The findings of this study are surprising, as they appear to suggest that drivers on 20mph roads in Belfast hardly slowed down at all, despite the lower speed limit, which is at odds with other reports. 
“It seems
 there is a serious problem with compliance, as we would expect that even without enforcement average speeds would drop. Consequently, the study may demonstrate a need for councils to find other ways to get drivers to slow down, whether that’s through enforcement or modifying road design with traffic islands, well designed speed humps or chicanes. 
 
“It’s also important that 20mph limits are used in places where they stand to make the biggest positive impact, such as in built-up areas and in locations where there are large volumes of motorised traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, but clearly that depends on a meaningful drop in overall vehicle speeds. Equally, our research shows drivers are less likely to comply with a lower limit if they don’t believe it’s appropriate for the type of road.”

 

LET’S KEEP IT CLOSE TO HO-HO-HOME

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IT’S coming up to Christmas and thoughts for many turn to presents for their loved ones. 
 
If you are going to give car related presents, online giants such as Amazon, Not on the High Street, Etsy and eBay offer car prints, mugs, personalised key rings, car fragrance, man cave signs, T-shirts, socks and much more. 
 
Demon Tweaks have everything for the motorsport enthusiast, Halfords have scooters, bikes, car cleaning gift sets and gadgets for him or her. Car magazine has dashcams, Lego car kits for grown-ups, Autoglym car care, and snow foam shampoo kits, while autoparts businesses such as Europarts have car vacuum cleaners, wipers and service kits – a veritable cornucopia.   
 
But this Christmas please try and support local businesses. There are local driving instructors, car valet centres and mechanics who offer gift vouchers and can be found on Yell or Google, they deserve our support But no matter what you buy for the practical person in your life, if they work on cars or bikes or do DIY in the house or garden, do not buy them tools or equipment. Speaking from experience, it is only the person who uses the tools that knows what they need for their area of interest. As an example, a single 15mm premium brand spanner can cost a professional £30 or more, whereas a whole set of spanners can cost as little as £10, but they might break the first time they are used. The wrong tools are simply a waste of money.
Happy Christmas motoring shopping to you all.

Verstappen ends season in style

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MAX Verstappen (right) signed off 2022 in style in Abu Dhabi, but Charles Leclerc denied Red Bull a championship one-two.
 
49 weeks on from one of the most dramatic days in F1 history, a completely different F1 circus arrived in Abu Dhabi for the 2022 race. Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton arrived with very different memories of what happened here last December when Verstappen dramatically and controversially snatched the title from Hamilton on the very last lap of the season. This time around, there were no titles on the line, and for Hamilton only pride was left to fight for, not having won a single race in 2022 and significantly, trailing in the title race. Verstappen claimed a dominant victory to extend his record of wins in one season to 15. Ferrari’s Leclerc, however, denied Red Bull a perfect season finale by holding off Sergio Perez to take second place in the race, and the championship. The win never looked in danger when Max held off his teammate into the first corner, but the battle behind was absorbing and went down to the final laps. Leclerc and Perez came into the final race tied on points with the Ferrari the underdog behind the Red Bulls, but the two-stopping Perez could not catch Leclerc in the final laps, failing by a mere 1.3 seconds. 
Carlos Sainz was fourth in the second Ferrari, with Mercedes struggling in the last race of what was a difficult campaign. Hamilton was running just ahead of the charging Sainz, but on the penultimate lap suffered a hydraulic issue – Mercedes' first mechanical failure of the year. That sealed what was inevitable – Hamilton failed to win a single race in a season for the first time in his 22-year career. His teammate George Russell finished in fifth after serving a five-second penalty for an unsafe release from the pits. 
 
History will record this as the weekend when Formula 1 said goodbye to two of its biggest names: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. In the final race of a glittering, title-laden career, Vettel scored a single point for tenth, one place behind Ricciardo in the McLaren. Completing the top ten was Lando Norris in sixth, Esteban Ocon seventh and Lance Stroll eighth. 
 
In World Superbikes, County Antrim’s six-time world champion Jonathan Rea rounded off the 2022 season with a first, a second and a third in the three races in Australia. 2022 champion Alvaro Bautista recorded two wins and a fifth and championship second-placed Toprak Razgatlioglu completed his season with two seconds and a fourth as the top three continued to dominate the season right to the final flag. Bautista won the title with 601 points from Razgatlioglu on 529 and Rea on 502. 
 
Roll on 2023.