Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Driving test is about to change in the UK

November 19th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

learner driver 300x199 Driving test is about to change in the UKThe government are looking at changing the way the driving test works in the UK, saying that it is the “biggest shake up of the driving test in a generation”.

Oh really? They’re introducing proposals for a ‘cashback’ incentive for the test, which would see you putting a deposit down, which is returned to you if you pass. Great news, provided they don’t make it impossible to pass your test.

What happens if you end up taking multiple tests? Either way, the government are certain that this is all going to make sure that learner drivers are, in their words, “better prepared for taking their test and driving independently”, “less likely to have an accident in the months following the test”, and that learners are only going to take “their test when they are ready and confident of passing”.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We want to make learning to drive safer and more affordable. This change will give those who pass first time some money back and provide an incentive for learners to be more prepared before they take their test. These common sense proposals mean that all learner drivers can feel the benefit.”

The RAC are on board too, with director Steve Gooding saying: “We support measures that will encourage learner drivers to get the experience they need to pass their test first time with flying colours, rather than barely scraping through or failing and having to repeat the process a few months down the road at yet more expense.”

There’s going to be reviews on all fees for services provided by motoring agencies, as well as a shake-up of when driving test times can happen, as well as offering a range of venues of people wanting to take a test.

The government say that they want your views on all this, so if you want to chuck your two pence’s worth at them, have a look here.

Here’s a video to watch

Automyze – helping drivers save money

November 19th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poolside Car wash 300x197 Automyze   helping drivers save moneyBuying a car is a pain in the hole, and sometimes, they cost you far too much in repairs, compared to the price you paid for it.

And so, to Lucy Burnford who bought a car, which ended up having a catalogue of problems, which then saw her coming up with something to help other drivers from having the same problems as her.

She’s come up with Automyze, which is being referred to as an online ‘personal assistant for your car’. The AA liked the idea so much that they snapped it up. The idea is that the MOT history of a car is more important than the service history. Instead of knowing what necessary work has been done on a vehicle, instead, you can find out all the maintenance work it has had.

Lucy says: “I developed the idea but not from a tech or auto background but I, and everyone I spoke to, thought it had legs. A full service history is basically a book with a couple of stamps – it does not tell you if the car has had bigger bits of maintenance done. I asked the guy selling my car and he said it had all been done but you have to take someone’s word for it. You can buy service books from eBay and sell them on yourself.”

And so, wanting all the documents for a car in one place, she hit on an idea: “I really wanted to create a digital hub and a portal where you could see if the car has had any major things go wrong and been serviced correctly.”

Lucy and her team came up with Motoriety, which eventually became Automyze. Drivers set up an account, and then you can call up information on MOT, tax, vehicle servicing, repairs, insurance, and all that stuff. Within the next 12 months, it is predicted that there’ll be half a million cars registered on the service.

Even though this is a joint venture with The AA, you don’t have to be a member to use it. If you want to have a look at it, click here.

Park on double yellows for £5 in Devon

October 26th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Double yellow lines in an Alleyway in Swindon 225x300 Park on double yellows for £5 in DevonDouble yellow lines, on the UK’s roads, mean that there’s restricted parking at most times of the day. Parking on them, is not advised. You imagine that this is for a myriad of safety reasons, unless of course, you live in Devon, where you’ll soon be able to buy a permit where you can park on double yellows for £5.

That’s cheaper than parking in most car parks.

These passes will be available to business owners, landlords and contractors, and of course, they’ll probably be hired out or sold on the black market for a tidy little profit. If there’s a related accident, there’ll probably be a bunch of court cases too.

Until then, Devon County Council are letting permit holders park almost anywhere.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The usage of the dispensation permits, as with all permits issued by the county council, are monitored by our civil enforcement officers. All dispensation permits require the display of contact telephone numbers and our team will make contact with the permit holder should there be an issue or concerns over their use.”


Every time we write about petrol, we’re either talking about someone taking 1p off the price, or complaining about drivers getting ripped off at the pumps.

Well, now, we’re talking about an old lady who made a spectacular two-wheeled exit from a petrol station in Wales. Hurray!

The lady’s wheelie was captured by the station’s CCTV, where she clips the kerb and ends up driving like she’s The Fall Guy or something. Mercifully, she was safe and everything was fine and she was on all four wheels in no time.

Footage was uploaded online by Sian Jones, who said: “She wasn’t fazed at all. She was going on to the main road to re-approach the forecourt to be the right side for petrol.”

Now, killjoys, feel free to complain about old people being unsafe on the road, and how road safety is no laughing matter, in the comments.

Driver fined for eating a banana

June 29th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad bananas 300x201 Driver fined for eating a bananaMost drivers are pretty aware of what they’re doing, hence the reason why you can go for entire months without seeing a bad crash. Drivers, contrary to popular belief, are not stupid because crashing your car is a) Expensive and b) Might mangle you up.

So with that, one driver was stuck in a traffic jam and thought they’d have a bite of a banana. Sounds innocent enough? Well, she was astonished to find that a policeman in an unmarked car was pulling her over and doling out a fine of £100.

Elsa Harris from Dorset said the banana was already half-peeled before she set off to work, and thought she’d have a bite while her car was stationary. The police pulled her over and then accused of momentarily not being in control of her vehicle and was given a fine and the option of three penalty points or paying for a driver awareness course.

She said: “I was dumbfounded. I was horrified that he gave me a ticket – it’s the most expensive banana I’ve ever had in my life. I had already peeled it and started driving. Then when I stopped at a roundabout I pulled down a little bit of banana skin momentarily and carried on eating and driving. Unbeknown to me, there was an unmarked police car that followed me all the way down the dual carriageway and then pulled in front of me and slammed its brakes on. It caused confusion with other drivers and people were beeping.”

“I wondered what on earth was going on and wondered if it was something coming along and he was warning me. When the officer got out he was really angry from the offset, but I was still completely unaware I had done anything wrong. The officer said I was driving without my hands on the wheel and that I was a danger to other drivers.”

“I couldn’t believe it. He put me in the back of his car like a criminal and told me what a danger I was. He gave me a docket and fined me £100 and treated me in a very dismissive and rude fashion. Understandably, it is illegal to take both hands off the wheel but I don’t think I was a danger to anybody. I have never been in trouble with the police before and a warning should have sufficed.”

“You get drink drivers, people texting and eating while they speed along. Surely, me eating a banana in a traffic jam is not that important.”


Middle lane hoggers – now getting fined!

June 22nd, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

old driver car Middle lane hoggers   now getting fined!A van driver has been fined almost £1,000 and slapped with five penalty points, becoming the first person in the country to be convicted in court of being a hogger of a motorway’s middle lane.

The driver in question, was stopped by West Yorkshire police, was nicked after persistently driving in the central lane and not budging on the busy M62. The police said that a number of drivers had to brake and swerve to overtake.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court noted that the driver had a lot of opportunities to get into the inside lane, but didn’t. As an aside, the driver didn’t turn up to court, was fined £500 in absence and has to pay £400 in costs with a £40 victim surcharge.

This is thought to be the first time someone’s been done for lane hogging, since the law was changed in 2013.

PC Nigel Fawcett-Jones from the Road Policing Unit of West Yorkshire said of people not budging from the central lane: “It reduces the capacity of roads and motorways, and can lead to dangerous situations where other drivers ‘tailgate’ the vehicle in front to try and get the lane hogger to move over.”

“Members of the public regularly tell the Road Policing Unit that lane hogging and tailgating are real problems on our roads and this conviction shows that the police and the courts understand the public’s concerns and take this offence seriously.”

So there you go. You’ve been warned. Or, indeed, you’re someone who hates this driving behaviour, so replace the warning for punching the air.

car Drivers fined by police after insurers stop cover with no warningDrivers are finding themselves being stopped and fined by the police thanks to insurers cancelling their car cover without telling them.

The Financial Ombudsman Service says that they’ve seen a spike in complaints about policies being stopped without any warning and that, in the worst instances, motorists only find out about it when they’ve been pulled over for driving with no insurance.

The Ombudsman says that those who allow their insurer to renew their policies automatically, but don’t realise that they must declare any change in circumstances since first purchasing the cover, are the people most at risk.

Basically, if your insurer thinks that things are different, they may cancel your policy and there’s a chance they won’t tell you. It seems that motorists who have benefited from reduced premiums for having a no-claims discount are also at risk from getting their policy cancelled without being told.

And this is not to be sniffed at, as the penalty for driving without insurance is six points on your licence and a £300 fine. The Financial Ombudsman says: “These types of communication breakdowns can have very serious consequences for the people affected.”

So if your car insurance automatically renews, it is worth contacting your insurer and seeing if you can change that option or, indeed, ask them to provide you with clear correspondence of any changes in your policy.

Your bad driving habits are costing you £700m

May 13th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

nick clegg electric car 300x213 Your bad driving habits are costing you £700mDrivers in Britain, collectively, are costing themselves £700m a year thanks to their lousy driving habits. That’s £84 per year, because you haven’t turned off your engine when your car is stationary or because you’ve been driving in the wrong gear.

Research is showing that over 636 million litres of petrol are being wasted each year in the UK, thanks to drivers failing to adopt eco-friendly driving techniques. Like what? You should be using your handbrake when you’re waiting a traffic lights, as well as making sure you’re in the right gear (that’d be the gears that propel your car, rather than drivers needing to wear leather stringback driving gloves and a monocle).

The Barclaycard Fuel study claims that younger drivers are, on-the-whole, better at driving efficiently, with 17-24 year-olds getting a gold star from the teacher, while half of those over 65 are in detention.

John Bostock, Account Development Director at Barclaycard, said: “With such a huge amount of money wasted on fuel, we would benefit massively as a nation if we were more mindful when it comes to driving in a more eco-friendly way. We keep a close eye on our grocery spending, so shouldn’t we do the same here when it’s apparent how much we could save just by driving more efficiently?”

Here are 10 ways you can drive more efficiently

- Make sure you’re driving in the correct gear
- Remove roof racks and roof boxes when they not needed
- Always be sure that you’ve checked your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure
- Use the handbrake when waiting at traffic lights and in traffic jams, rather than using the clutch and accelerator
- Use up-to-date map tools to plot the most fuel-effective route
- Try not to use the air conditioning or heating
- Try to keep the sun roof and windows closed
- Use cruise control where appropriate
- Don’t accelerate up to lights or traffic when you know you’re going to have to brake
- Drive along roads with speed bumps smoothly to avoid unnecessary acceleration and declaration

Deathwatch: Hidden speed cameras

April 13th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

speed camera large 300x235 Deathwatch: Hidden speed camerasHidden cameras – the blight of drivers everywhere and the reason that there’s been a 25% increase in speeding fines – are looking like they could soon be a thing of the past.

After the General Election, Labour have vowed to paint these things bright yellow so drivers can spot them more easily. The Tories meanwhile, are looking at scrapping them if their current review decides they’re a bad thing.

Roads minister John Hayes, who commissioned the Highways England review, will get the report back in the summer. He’s shown concern about ‘stealth cameras’ and said that it is important that drivers know about the whereabouts of these grey menaces.

With almost 113,000 drivers getting speeding fines last year, the figure has shot up from 89,000 in 2013 and around 55,000 in 2010. These hidden cameras have been one of the reasons that there’s been a spike. And we all know that someone is making a pretty penny out of the whole thing.

So, if one of the big two parties wins the General Election, it is looking like the days of the hidden speed camera could be numbered. With £100 fines and points on licences being added for each offence, this is good news for motorists indeed.

That is, of course, if politicians manage to keep their promises.

pothole 13 years and £12bn   thats what is needed to fix potholesDrivers and cyclists all know that there’s a big problem with potholes in the UK. The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) claims the money spend on repairing roads in the last year has been “wasted”.

We assume Scotland and Northern Ireland are doing their own thing, but as far as England and Wales are concerned, to fix the problem, it would cost £12 billion and need 13 years of work, which is a damning viewpoint indeed.

The AIA annual found, unsurprisingly, that there’s been an increase in the amount paid in compensation to motorists in England, hovering somewhere around the £20m mark. Add to that, the increased costs of local authorities staffing the situation and to process claims, that’s another £18m.

Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the AIA, said: “Essentially, the money spent on filling the 2.7 million potholes reported is wasted – it is inefficient and short term in its effectiveness. So, while we understand that the Department for Transport is promoting permanent repairs, the point remains that money would be better spent preventing potholes forming in the first place.”

“The £6bn of funding pledged between 2015 and 2021 is welcome, and hopefully will be confirmed by an incoming government. But the truth is that although it sounds like a big investment, it will only be enough for local authorities to tread water and it will do nothing to tackle the backlog or prevent continuing deterioration.”

Mackenzie’s not the only one who is alarmed by all this. Peter Box, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: “Councils need billions, not millions, to bring our roads up to scratch. Every mile of motorways and trunk roads will receive £1.4m funding over the next six years compared with £31,000 per mile for local roads.”

“This makes little sense given the Government’s own traffic projections predict an increase in local traffic of more than 40% by 2040.”

What is the most stolen car in Britain?

March 12th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

burglar What is the most stolen car in Britain?What do you think the most stolen car in Britain is? No, we’re not talking about Fred who keeps leaving his car unlocked, despite the fact he’s seen his motor taken for 3,592 joyrides by scallies in the last two years.

We’re asking which model is stolen most.

Well, according to a new survey, it is the BMW X5. The figures show that, if you want to increase your chances of your motor being nicked, then buy a 4×4 as the top ten of most swiped vehicles is dominated by them. As for the BMW X5 – this is the sixth year in a row that is has topped the stolen table.

BMWs are always prone to catching the eye of burglars and the M3 sits in second place. Jumping into third place this year was another German car - the Mercedes C Class.

Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker (who compiled the results), said: “The 2014 figures illustrate that prestige models continue to catch the eye of thieves, but the average value of stolen cars we recovered was just £25,600, suggesting that older models of prestige cars could be just as attractive to criminals as newer models.”

“Interestingly, the number of vehicles that are being stolen without keys has steadily risen over the last few years, accounting for 43per cent in 2014. We believe this is down to the growth in car hacking where criminals target keyless vehicles by bypassing their security systems, using technology they’ve bought on the internet.”

“Indeed, experts have warned that as keyless security systems become commonplace in cars, the skills to bypass these will be widely practised by most criminals and in turn, lower value keyless vehicles will be equally at risk. We recommend that car owners invest in an added layer of security.”

Top 10 most stolen vehicles in 2014:

1. BMW X5
2. BMW M3
3. Mercedes C Class
4. Audi S4
5. BMW M5
6. BMW 3 Series
7. Range Rover Sport
8. Range Rover Vogue
9. Audi S3
10. Mercedes E Class

Bitterwallet appeal parking tickets1 Tens of millions of pounds worth of illegal parking fines to be repaid?The RAC on the warpath over what they claim to be millions of pounds worth of ”illegal” parking fines which were issued on private land. They say that ”fines” of up to £100 for infringing conditions in private car parks might not be legal and they want the Government to put an end to it.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Millions of drivers could be in line for a refund. We estimate that in 2013 alone, drivers might have been overcharged by some £100m.”

Glaister added that the Government should be determining what a reasonable charge is: ”They allowed a system of ticketing to emerge which is barely regulated. In effect, drivers have been short-changed.”

As you’ll know, clamping cars on private land is not allowed thanks to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. However, charges for parking infringements have shot up.

The thing is that, while some private landowners have been charging motorists up to £100, the genuine loss suffered by said landowners is considerably less. Penalties that far exceed the loss are rendered unenforceable in court.

With more and more drivers appealing these fines, the penalties are looking increasingly shakier. Figures show that nearly half (49%) of these fines are overturned in favour of the driver. Not only that, the advent of ‘early payment discounts’, which are usually used to get drivers to cought up coins more quickly, are unlawful because they constitute a price escalation clause.

Add to this, signs being vague or not prominently displayed, there’s more and more reasons for drivers to challenge these penalties.

Police start roadside drug testing

December 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

young drivers 300x187 Police start roadside drug testingPlanning on enjoying all of the drugs this Christmas? Well, you do what you like, but don’t drive, yeah?

The police will be out in force with their roadside teams, with new testing kits to determine whether you’re off your nut or not.

The kits were approved by the Home Office last week, and will be put into action over the week ahead to test any drivers they think may be on one, or whatever.

The tests will also allow police to check whether motorists have taken prescription medicines, including strong painkillers, sleeping pills and drugs to treat anxiety, that can impair their ability to drive.

Policing minister Mike Penning said motorists pulled over will not know whether they will be breathalysed, ‘drugalysed’ or both.

“This is something that has plagued society for far too long. People will have exactly the same view of drug-driving as they do of drink-driving: it is an abhorrent thing to do.”

“Not only do you put your own life at risk, but you put innocent people’s lives at risk. We will drive this menace off the road.”

‘Drive this menace off the road’. You see what he did there?

The previous drug-testing situation required the police to arrest suspects and take them down the cop shop to be tested. Now, with a swift swipe of saliva, they can do it on the road. Anonymous/Pirate Party types will no doubt be livid at the notion of the State taking swabs of your spit with all that lovely DNA in it too.

Either way, be careful out there. Or essentially, ask a friend to warn you when you’re on your third hour of gurning, and get them to call you a cab.

BMW to launch car version of Boris Bikes

December 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

bmw logo BMW to launch car version of Boris BikesBMW are launching a Pay As You Go scheme in London called DriveNow. The car-manufacturer has already launched the service in Berlin, Vienna and San Francisco, and now it is Blighty’s turn.

So what the crap is it? Well, kicked off in 2011, DriveNow is a joint venture with car rental company Sixt. The idea is that it is a ‘car sharing’ service, rather than the usual car rental business. Looks like BMW have seen the relative success of Zipcar, and wanted in.

Instead of dropping your car off at a depot, DriveNow allows you to leave you car parked in any public space in the local area, so it is a bit like London’s Boris Bikes.

Whether Londoners will take to the idea is another matter. Daimler tried the car2go scheme in 2012, but no-one really took to the idea and Daimler found that they failed to find a solution to the “unique challenges” of co-ordinating a fluid network of vehicles and parking spaces. While Boris Bikes are evenly distributed across the city by being picked up and moved by lorries, the shifting of cars is a bit more taxing.

So how do you get on board with this? Well, it is reported that DriveNow customers will have to pay a registration fee, and then, you can drive a Mini around, or the electric i3 car on a pay-per-minute basis. You’ll get access to the cars via an app or bank card and your tax, insurance and parking tickets are all included.

Can you see it taking off? It’s a growth area in the States and Europe, where households have noted that cars are expensive and that you don’t use them as much as you’d like, so maybe Brits will find that this is a perfect solution for the few times they need a car?

Drivers! Beware copycat government websites!

October 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

car scrap Drivers! Beware copycat government websites!Hey drivers! Here’s something you should know: there’s a chance that you’re being charged for services that are normally free thanks to ne’er-do-wells setting up copycat government websites.

Thanks to these sites, people have been paying extra for things like applying for a driving test or congestion charges. We’ve looked at these sites before, with tax returns and others, but these shady sites just won’t go away.

Seeing as the government can’t be arsed warning you about these impersonators, we might as well be the ones to do it.

The AA have told the Transport Select Committee about these snide-sites, and reports have been submitted looking at the work of the DVLA, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

What these sites do, is act as a needless middleman so they take some money off a duped driver to process something for a fee, when the motorist could’ve done it for free through an official government website. Transport for London have already asked the DVLA to send letters to drivers who have used these unofficial swines and are in talks about a proposal that won’t accept payments made from these third parties.

Of course, all the motoring bodies should be doing this, but they’re being very, very slow on the uptake and it seems no-one is addressing the issue.

One thing that clearly needs to happen is some action from the Government Digital Service (GDS), who liaise with Google and the like, and they can take action against “websites that add little or no value to existing online Government services”. The National Trading Standards Board needs to pull its finger out also – they’ve received additional funding to ‘clamp down on misleading websites’.

With the DVLA struggling to manage the new paperless car tax system, it is obvious that the government isn’t coping particularly well with drivers’ needs. As well as adapting to the changes, the government need to do more to warn drivers about these third party websites. And while they’re at it, the DVLA also needs to look at how they share personal data with companies that rinse drivers through costly parking enforcement.

There’s a lot that needs to be done, but remember this for now: if it doesn’t have in the URL, avoid it.