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Cruise control blamed for 190 km/h drive—legal action follows

A driver was said to have had his life saved by his mobile phone. Initial reports said that the driver had overtaken a truck on the A71 freeway in central France and that the car’s cruise control had stuck at 191 km/h. The driver had called the police in panic about the car being out of his control and spoken to them for an hour as he sped south. Reports quoted the police as saying that eventually they were able to calm the frightened man and that eventually he was able to cut the engine and roll to a stop 20 km north of a toll plaza that had been evacuated. Three days later car manufacturer Renault said that the Vel Satis MPV vehicle showed no signs of malfunction and is seeking legal redress to protect its reputation. The car will be tested by a third party and Renault have not ruled out suing for damages (reported by AFP October 2004; contributed by Ian Scott).

Head protection for young soccer players

The New York State West Soccer Association, overseeing about 80 000 youth players in western New York, is expected to announce that headgear will be mandatory next spring for players under 14. Altogether 35 000 kids will be required to cover their foreheads to get into games. Omer Doron, association executive director, says he’s not aware of any soccer body making headgear mandatory “and we’re happy to be the first”. FIFA, soccer’s top governing body, has specified only that acceptable headgear not include hard surfaces, sharp edges, or loose straps. Obviously, the US market is potentially huge—about 12.4 million kids aged 6–17 play soccer, and the sport trails only basketball in popularity. One company claims says it has sold 100 000 models and had 11 players using the gear in Olympic soccer in Athens and four players use it in Major League Soccer. NYSWSA’s Doron says the use of headgear by elite players will change things: “That’s living proof that headgear doesn’t change the game” (from USA Today, October 2004; contributed by Anara Guard).

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