Posts Tagged ‘driving’

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 .gov.uk in the URL, avoid it.

car selfie Third of young drivers take selfies while drivingYoung people are vain. This is nothing new. Before cameras, they’d preen at their reflections in shop windows and such. Unless, of course, you’re a hideously ugly human and don’t ever want to know how awful the front bit of your head is.

Well, with camera phones, you can take pictures of your own face and then put them online where other people tell you how handsome you are, how strong your eyebrow game is and that your new haircut is incredible.

However, as many as a third of young British drivers have taken a selfie while driving a car, according to a survey from the Ford Motor Company showed.

33% of British kids confessed to taking photos of themselves while at the wheel. The figures in other European countries were lower. In Germany and France it stands at 28%, while Romanians are closely behind with 27% of 18-24 year olds taking self-portraits from their cars. In Italy 26% do it, and Spain it is 18% and Belgium 17%.

The Europe-wide survey found that 25% had used social media while driving. Young men are the worst offenders.

“Taking a selfie has for many young people quickly become an integral part of everyday life. But it’s the last thing you should be doing behind the wheel of a car,” said Jim Graham, manager of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme. ”It is deeply worrying that so many young drivers admit to taking a photo while driving and we will be doing all we can to highlight the potential dangers through driver education.”

 

Apparently, you can drive the equivalent of a football pitch while distracted by your phone, which is obviously bad news if you’re a dreadful multitasker.

Of course, kids pissing around on Facebook and crashing to their deaths could be seen as natural selection, but the worry comes if they start mowing down pedestrians or what have you. Unless, of course, those same pedestrians are messing about on their phones and not looking where they’re going.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Mobile phone use has been a problem for some time and there’s not been enough action to tackle it. Using a hand-held phone or texting while driving must be made socially unacceptable.”

motorway Motorways: drivers face lane closures every single day of the yearThis will be no surprise to some (because ‘some’ are smartarses who say “well, duh!” at everything, regardless of whether or not they actually know anything), but there’s a good number of major motorways in Britain that spent a whole 365 days of the year without operating at full capacity.

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request show that there were lane closures for a full calendar year on the M1, M4, M5, M6, M25, M27, M40, M54, M60 and M62.

The motorways with the least amount of lane closures in days were M48, M53, M58, M61, M65 and M69.

The figures were obtained from the Highways Agency by Swiftcover, who said that 2013 saw more than a third of motorways with lane closures for at least six months. Only a quarter were fully open for 25 days or less.

They said: “Motorists can expect an increase in motorway road works during 2014 as a result of the Government’s £317 million ‘pinch point’ programme. This ambitious programme includes 123 extensive road works projects across the UK. However, less than a quarter of these have so far been completed.”

Swiftcover.com product manager Roman Bryl said: “Some of our busiest road networks are never fully operational, and lane closures and diversions are a source of real frustration to drivers. Obviously it is important that motorways are kept in a good state of repair, but maintenance works can be very disruptive and stressful.”

“Drivers should bear in mind that motorways may not actually be the quickest route for their journey, and plan ahead in order to avoid potential delays.”

No wonder road rage is still a thing.

Cost of Driving Licence to fall

July 28th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

scrapped car Cost of Driving Licence to fallThe cost of applying for a driving licence is going to be reduced, and about time. If you’re a new driver, it costs £50 to apply, but under new rules, in the future it’ll only cost £34.

If you’re renewing your licence after 10 years of driving, it’ll now cost you £14 instead of £20. In addition to that, all driver tachograph cards would be £32 from the old price of £38.

The new transport minister Claire Perry, said: “The cost of driving can be significant, especially for new drivers. I’m pleased to say that we are planning to save drivers £18million a year by cutting licence fees, thanks to the DVLA making significant savings to their running costs.”

This is a smart move by the coalition, but the Lib Dems won’t let the Tories speak without chipping in themselves, so over to creepy schoolboy robot, Danny Alexander, who says: “I have been working hard to drive savings across the whole public sector and it’s great to see the benefit of these efficiencies feed through to drivers and businesses’ pockets. What the DVLA have shown today is that you can do more for less.”

It is worth pointing out though that this is a review, so someone might scupper this plan. However, the DVLA are reviewing all the fees they charge to motorists, so it looks good for drivers new and old.

This consultation closes on August 25th (2014, so they’re not mucking about) and it is thought that the Government will introduce the new fees by the end of October 2014.

Sadly, no-one is able or willing to do anything about rip-off mechanics and petrol prices for you drivers.

l plate Superstitious learner drivers seem a bit mentalPeople learning to drive feel like they need all the luck they can get, which has made some of them weirdly superstitious.

And the AA Driving School has created a list of some of the more peculiar rituals for getting luck on test day, which are way beyond wearing lucky socks and such.

One student got her mother to crack an egg on each tyre before they took their test, which another complete lunatic spent the last lesson parking up and standing on drain covers every time they spotted them in pairs.

In the case of the latter, you might think they failed their test for being a complete nuisance on the road, but alas, both eggy wheels and drain coverist both passed their tests. Feel free to complain about the quality of driving these days, compared specifically to when you got your licence.

Learner driver Will Law, aged 17, is hoping it is his skill behind the wheel that gets him his licence: ”I’m not superstitious at all. I have never been. I could see why people would do those little things before their test because it’s quite nerve-wracking and intense I guess for many people.”

While Will Law sounds completely sane, his driving instructor believes in magic, specifically the kind of luck that is brought from a monkey toy. Mr Martin said: ”Monkey always sits in the back, and I always tell them monkey knows that they can pass and he is waiting for them to pass.”

“Other rituals I have is I always get them to book their test for the morning … usually 9.07am, sometimes 10.14am – whatever they feel comfortable with. If it works, it’s safe and you drive to the right specification to pass the test then you will pass whether it’s Friday the 13th, first thing on a Monday or last thing on a Friday.”

Other people have done things like wave at magpies while driving, while one lady insisted on wearing a t-shirt she wore when she gave birth to her daughter – hopefully it was washed.

So there you have it – Britain is filled with people who crack raw eggs on wheels, wear placenta covered t-shirts and believe in the power of toy monkeys. No wonder we’re doomed.

Don’t text and drive – drink instead

June 9th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

driving selfie Dont text and drive   drink instead If you’re going to text and drive at the same time, you may as well open a bottle of Jim Beam and down it at the lights. Yes, using your phone while driving poses more of a challenge to your concentration and judgment than drinking, according to a study by the Transport Research Laboratory.

The study found that texting while driving slowed down reaction time by a whopping 37%. Even if you’re so out of your head on sweet Mary Jane that you think you’re a giant green floating trumpet, you’ll have a better reaction time – cannabis slows it by only 21%. And if you drink to the legal limit, your reactions will have slowed by 13%.

But it’s talking on a handheld phone that drains all your concentration faster than a knackered iPhone battery. When you’re chatting about what you’re going to have for tea, reaction times are slowed down by 46%.

The research has led campaigners to demand that phones are banned completely at the wheel. At the moment, using your phone carries a fine of £100 and three points on your licence, but the Alliance of British Drivers are calling for phone use to carry the same penalty as drinking – an automatic year’s ban.

What do you think? Or are you too busy texting and crashing into the back of a lorry?

Sales of petrol fell to a record low in March, as drivers abandoned their cars to do other things, like pay energy bills, feed their children and buy scratch cards in the vain hope that they’ll win £2.

petrol pumps 300x214 Petrol sales slumped in March because were all skint

Government figures showed that 1.367 billion litres of petrol were bought in March – a fall in demand of 24.7%. The only similar low figure in recent years was 1.376 bn litres last March. Back then, though, you could see the reason – March 2013 was freezing cold with petrol prices at a sky high £1.40 a litre. But this year was warm, with prices at a steady £1.30 a litre.

So what’s causing us to ditch the car? Well, AA boss Edmund King blames our boilers. He said (well, to be honest, he waffled):

‘Either the fear or reality of gas and electricity price surges has triggered an avoid-the-petrol-pump backlash to balance family spending, or the trauma of speculator-driven road fuel price spikes over more than three years has seared into the psyche of the UK driving consumer.’

We may find out in the next couple of months as the boilers and heaters are turned off – and drivers look forward to summer motoring and trips out.’

Ah, yes, summer motoring….with the hood down and a flagon of ginger beer in the picnic hamper.

Marvellous. (Oh, wait, we can’t do that, because the bailiffs repossessed the car. Oops.)

DEATHWATCH: Maps made of paper

March 31st, 2014 4 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Remember the lols when your Mum and Dad would have vicious map reading arguments in the front seats of the Austin Allegro? That paper map would obscure the windscreen, leading to the age old argument that women can’t read maps, then your Dad would say he was having an affair and your holiday to Bognor would be ruined.
map arguing DEATHWATCH: Maps made of paper

Well now, paper maps are as obsolete at the Austin Allegro, with the news that the Ordnance Survey’s sales have shrunk by a third as walkers, ramblers and drivers rely on Satnav and smartphone maps.

In response to the decline in sales, OS maps will only be available for popular walking areas like the Lake District – and even then you’ll only be able to get them in bookshops. And while the OS has a statutory responsibility to map the whole of Britain, if you want a map for another area you’ll have to order it online and download it.

‘Rather than stocking the whole country, we’ll have them on demand’ said an OS spokesman from his dusty cave. ‘But you won’t be able to walk into a shop and buy them.’

Selfies while driving – a new low

March 20th, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

We’re a nation of dribbling selfie obsessives, so it’s no wonder that one in 14 idiots people say that they’ve taken a selfie behind the wheel. Because who cares about dying in a twisted metal fireball when you can take a picture of your face contorted into a surprised pouting expression that only your own warped mind considers attractive?
driving selfie Selfies while driving   a new low

It’s also no surprise that idiots people between the ages of 18 and 24 are the worst selfie offenders. They’re also twice as likely to check Snapchat while they’re driving. In a survey commissioned by Confused.com, one in ten admitted that they’d logged into social media sites at the wheel.

Laura Woods of driving safety charity Brake said: ‘This is a case of selfie selfishness. Using a phone in any way at the wheel dramatically increases the risk of crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone.’

NO S***

Excuse me while I go into the woods and scream ‘MORONS’ at the sky until nightfall.

Ok, so you haven’t put in any screenwash for a while, and you’ve got a Blackpool Pleasure Beach sticker on the windscreen, and you haven’t washed it since Christmas. So what? There’s no way your otherwise perfectly good vehicle would fail its MOT for THAT, right?

Mechanic Conducting MOT Test1 Cars are failing their MOTs for being a bit manky

WRONG. Whatcar.com has found that test centres are regularly failing cars for very simple and avoidable faults. Out of 285,000 MOT fails, 4649 of them were because people hadn’t topped up screenwash. And 2852 drivers failed their MOTs because their cars were filthy and full of old KFC boxes and empty coffee cups.

Usually cars fail their MOTs for balding tyres, wrongly aimed headlights and worn down brake pads. But drivers regularly throw away the £45 MOT charge by not cleaning their cars before they head to the garage. Emma Butcher from whatcar.com said:

‘There are some really simple things that every motorist can do to help a three-year-old car pass its first MOT test, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do them. Many people probably don’t even realise that MOT testers can refuse to test your car if it’s too dirty or full of clutter.’

Time to take that dirty pair of knickers off the gear stick and buy yourselves a Magic Tree, you skanks.

horse in petrol station 225x300 Is the price gap closing in the petrol postcode lotteryRural drivers have been getting stiffed on petrol prices for a while now. If you consider how much everyone gets done over on fuel costs, you’ve really got to feel for those out in the sticks. They can’t even afford the petrol to move out of the countryside.

With petrol priced differently depending on where you live, there’s been something of a postcode lottery when it comes to what you pay at the pumps.

However, that appears to be changing, thanks to a shortening of the price gap.

The difference in prices in country districts compared with urban areas has narrowed from roughly 5p a litre to as low as 2p, according to the AA.

This drop in rural prices has contributed to a general nationwide dip in price, which now averages 129.63p a litre compared with 130.46p in mid-January. The AA deduces that the strengthening of the pound against the dollar had accounted for much of the fall in pump prices.

Yorkshire and Humberside has the cheapest petrol with an average of 129.2p a litre.

AA president Edmund King said: “Across whole towns, for months if not years, drivers and businesses have been charged 4p to 6p a litre more for petrol compared to what retailers charged for the same fuel in neighbouring towns. Drivers don’t know whether to rejoice or get very angry that supermarkets and other fuel markets can actually trade at 2p to 3p a litre above prices in cheaper areas.”

60% of drivers Eat and Drive

February 20th, 2014 6 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Most of us might not risk drinking or driving, but it turns out that over half of us are not averse to stuffing our faces at the wheel – putting ourselves and everyone else at risk of Krispy Kreme related car accidents.

eating in the car 60% of drivers Eat and Drive

That’s according to a survey by road charity Brake and Direct Line, who found that three in five drivers have admitted to driving while scoffing some form of tasty service station treat. And 2% of us have actually almost caused an accident while trying open a Big Bag of beefy Hula Hoops.

Experts contend that eating at the wheel is just as distracting as using a mobile phone, which of course, is illegal.

But it turns out that we don’t just use our car as a banqueting hall. 15% of the 1000 drivers surveyed also admitted to personal grooming while driving.

Deputy chief executive of Brake, Julie Townsend said:

‘Driving is the most complicated and risky thing most of us do on a regular basis, so it is vital we give it our full and undivided attention. We can’t afford to treat our cars as an extension of our kitchen or bathroom.’

(You mean we can’t shave, have a bath, do the washing or make a stir fry? BORING).

However Edmund King, president of the AA, rather amusingly said that the problem wasn’t that bad, and that people needed to take the results of survey ‘with a pinch of salt.’

On top of a KFC chicken bucket that you’re eating with a knife and fork in the fast lane of the M6.

Ok, so if you park on a double yellow and nip to the shop to get fags, and a traffic warden catches you, it’s a fair cop, guv. But if you’re WAITING IN A QUEUE OF TRAFFIC AT A RED LIGHT, then you don’t expect a ticket, do you?
Bitterwallet appeal parking tickets1 Motorist gets parking ticket    while he’s in traffic

Well that’s what happened to poor Victor Hankins, who was idling next to a bus stop waiting for the lights to change when a traffic enforcement vehicle mistakenly pinpointed him for a parking violation.
When he received the ticket Mr Hankins, from Bradford, said it was ‘an absolute joke’ and immediately appealed against the ludicrous decision.

It doesn’t sound like the council was particularly friendly at this point, because after checking the highway code, Hanky got serious on their ass, and said:

‘I told them that I would be removing the appeal and I’d be seeing them in court and I wanted the camera operative in the court with me. At that point they overturned everything, apologised and the attitude couldn’t have been more helpful and totally the opposite (from before).’

Bradford Council backtracked and did more groveling to Mr Hankins, saying: ‘All images are checked before a Penalty Charge Notice is issued. In this case a mistake was made. When we find out that we have issued a penalty notice in error we cancel it and refund as appropriate.’

(Which makes it sound like it happens all the time.)

England’s first motorway pub opens today

January 21st, 2014 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

beer 282x300 Englands first motorway pub opens todayToday, England’s first motorway service station pub opens, which will inevitably cause a huge kerfuffle as people assume that drivers won’t be able to resist the temptation of getting bladdered behind the wheel, despite the fact millions of drivers successfully scoot past pubs every day without ending up swilling pints in their cars.

The pub is called the Hope and Champion and is two storeys of boozy goodness. You can find it at the services on the M40, next to junction 2 near Beaconsfield which is in Buckinghamshire.

The pub opens at 4am and closes at 1am. They’ll serve beer from 9am.

Wetherspoon’s are planning more of these motorway boozers and point out that it isn’t just a pub as they’ll be selling a range of non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee (with free refills) on top of the usual local real ales, wine, spirits and beers. They’re probably going to sell food too, so if you’re in need of a fry-up while driving, they’ll be on it, going toe-to-toe with the Little Chefs of the road.

A spokesman for Wetherspoon’s said they think most of their profits will come from passengers buying a pint or people on coach trips, adding: “We are not naive. We know that giving drivers the chance to have a pint off the motorway is an unusual offer. But equally we do not live in a nanny state. We expect drivers to act responsibly.”

The motorway pubs will have the national Drink Drive Awareness logos on… well, everything. As well as that, soft drinks will be much cheaper than they usually are in pubs and elsewhere in the service station.

Various charities and pressure groups are not happy, picturing our motorways ablaze with car-wrecks thanks to drink driving. However, service stations aren’t exactly paragons of virtue as it is. Their original purpose was to provide rest spots and toilets for people on long journeys, but rather than a bit of piece of quiet, service stations are more like a mini Vegas, filled with gamblers and video games.

If Wetherspoon’s undercut the ridiculously high prices we find in service stations already, we’re all onto a winner until some berk spoils it for everyone by getting battered on cheap ale and driving into traffic. Play nice. Don’t spoil it for everyone.