Posts Tagged ‘driving’
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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?
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)