Daily Brief 19 August 2013

Last updated 18:20 BST.

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TISPOL Speed Week. Police across Europe will be on the look out for speeding drivers this week, so watch out.

Speed Week. Police across Europe will be concentrating on speeding drivers this week, so watch out. Co-ordinated by TISPOL the pan-European police association. As far as we know officers from one country will not be present at operations in any other. That would be weird: prosecuting motorists for driving at 130kph in Belgium, for instance, while just across the border in France that speed is perfectly legal. As well as cracking down on speeding – over half a million drivers were caught during last year’s August speed week – the campaign is about raising awareness. Along with drink driving, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone, excessive or inappropriate speed is apparently one of the four main causes of fatal accidents. Follow the action on Twitter at #fatal4.

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Channel delays: Condor.

Weather alerts: Amber: heavy rain south Germany; high temps south west Spain; storms, heavy rain north east Italy and Austria; forest fire Slovenia, high temps Serbia & Montenegro.

Weather: showers west; thunder Alps; heavy rain north east; hot and sunny across the south.

Traffic: see @DE_Traffic.

See Travel/Traffic/Weather for more.

NEWS: Speed week – France jam record. But – Silk Road plans – Usain Bolt ‘really bad driver’ – Autocar likes Model S – crash mars new Hemus link road.

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Finland – Usain Bolt says he’s a ‘really bad driver’ and wants to improve his skills at a Finnish driving school. Bolt famously flipped his BMW M3 in 2009 and crashed again in June last year, both times in Jamaica.

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Tesla could hardly have hoped for better. The all-important Autocar first impression is in. They liked it: ‘There seems little question about its towering status… where electric power is transformed from a restrictive to a liberating influence in our collective perception.’ It turns out the range is a genuine 300 miles and though it is super saloon fast though it doesn’t have super saloon handling. ‘It isn’t the perfect big saloon,’ writes Matt Saunders, ‘But what it offers as a direct result of the way it’s propelled seems to dwarf what holds it back.’ Photo: the first Swiss Model S, delivered this weekend, via @TeslaMotors.

Tesla could hardly have hoped for better. The all-important Autocar first impression is in. They liked it: ‘There seems little question about its towering status… where electric power is transformed from a restrictive to a liberating influence in our collective perception.’ It turns out the range is a genuine 300 miles and though it is super saloon fast though it doesn’t have super saloon handling. ‘It isn’t the perfect big saloon,’ writes Matt Saunders, ‘But what it offers as a direct result of the way it’s propelled seems to dwarf what holds it back.’ See www.autocar.co.uk for more. Photo: the first Swiss Model S, delivered this weekend, via @TeslaMotors.

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France – record jams on Saturday. At 12:30 there were 877km of queues beating the previous best set in 2007 by 35km. It doesn’t tell the whole story however. Traffic was noticeably bad in France on Saturday morning but there weren’t the long queues on the routes to the south coast from Paris there were on previous weekends. Far from it in fact. Instead there were hundreds of small queues, mainly along the coast from Narbonne to Nimes and around. The traffic counting method changed in 2010 to include every jam, no matter how small. Let’s not get too carried away. Ironically, @AAPresident Edmund King tweeted last night, ‘Returned from France where we didn’t encounter any congestion in two weeks to a snarled #RoadtoHell M25.’ As bad as traffic was in France over the weekend, we’d argue it was as bad, or worse, in and around the Alps, and northern Italy.

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Turning off E79 onto the Sofia Ring Road heading for Hemus Highway in May 2013. As of today the road ahead is open.

Turning off E79 onto the Sofia Ring Road heading for Hemus Highway in May 2013. As of today the road ahead is open.

Bulgariaa terrible crash this morning marred the opening of the new link between the Sofia Ring Road and the Varna-bound Hemus highway. Two people died and five were injured after an oil tanker ploughed into a line of slowing traffic on an existing motorway section of the road. One car was damaged beyond recognition. The opening ceremony was abandoned apart from the traditional pouring of blessed water on the carriageway. Despite being just 9km long the link road, which bypasses three villages, cuts 20 minutes off the 450km Sofia-Varna journey. The road is now fully open.

Meanwhile, a new border crossing at Makaza is waiting on approval from the Greek parliament. It was expected today. Cars and light vans will be able to cross but the sticking point is heavy trucks. The new frontier point will relieve queues at existing crossings. Congestion at Kapitan Andreevo yesterday, the biggest on the Bulgaria/Turkey border, saw a 4km line of 150 trucks waiting overnight.

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Uzbekistan. Lots of Daewoo Matiz. That's because there's a Daewoo factory in Asaka in the Fergana Valley in the far east of the country. Photo via www.uzavtoyol.uz,website of the state road building company.

Uzbekistan. Lots of Daewoo Matiz. That’s because there’s a Daewoo factory in Asaka in the Fergana Valley in the far east of the country. Photo via www.uzavtoyol.uz website of the state road building company.

The Silk RoadThe Adventurists say the vastly improved roads in Central Asia have made their Mongol Rally boring. That’s why the vehicles have been downgraded – ‘devolved’ – for next year to make it more difficult (one litre maximum engine size ‘in a car generally considered to be crap’). Personally we cannot wait to speed to the Caspian Sea and beyond in air-conditioned, five star luxury. So it’s good news that Uzbekistan has overhauled another 4,070km of highways so far this year on top of the 2,100km in 2012 (within their 184,000km of roads in total). That includes a new road through the Fergana Valley in the east, a centre of agriculture, one of the country’s most important industries, and an original staging post on the ancient Silk Road. By 2015, nearly 1,500km of national highway will be dual-carriageway. Interestingly, a meeting of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States last week – comprising Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey – whose major theme was transport, reiterated that a top priority was redeveloping the Silk Road routes between Asia and Europe. The focus however is on rail for now.

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