Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

TomTom launch free sat-nav app

March 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

TomTom 281x300 TomTom launch free sat nav appTomTom have gone a launched a free sat-nav on Android called TomTom Go Mobile. If you’ve just bought a sat-nav, gutted for you.

So what do you get with it? Well, it looks like it has more features than the competition, with live traffic updates and speed camera notifications and all that. Oh, and of course, you can navigate yourself with it. That’s pretty obvious though.

You can also take trips to millions of ‘points of interest’ and if you’re worried about hammering your data, you can download offline maps for the 111 countries covered by TomTom.

What’s the catch? Well, it is free to download, but that’s limited to 50 miles per month. If you’re driving in advance of that, then you’ll need to look at the £14.99 per year subscription (or £34.99 for three years).

Of course, you could just use Google Maps for free, or indeed, the Google-owned Waze which also won’t cost you a penny.

However, Google Maps can be a bit of a faff, while TomTom Go Mobile has big, clutter-free buttons, which is advantageous if you’re behind the wheel. Either way, sat-navs as we know them are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, so TomTom need to do something, and with this freemium model, they might be onto something.

Unless Google are scheming something…

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.”

fuel gauge 285x300 Are diesel drivers subsidising unleaded motorists?Not only are diesel drivers being ‘demonised’, but there’s a suspicion that they’re also subsidising all the unleaded drivers too, which is just not on.

The RAC is calling for a cut of 4p-per-litre at the pumps because something doesn’t add up regarding what motorists are paying and the wholesale costs. The group noticed that the wholesale price of diesel was 1p a litre more than petrol, however, diesel drivers paid nearly 6p more than petrol-havers at the forecourt.

So what’s going on there then?

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s hard not to think that business is being taken for a ride by the fuel retailers. Traditionally, business runs on diesel, and with sales of diesel at an all-time high the retailers have maintained a higher margin on diesel, perhaps to subsidise petrol sales”.

It appears that diesel drivers are being rinsed as the forecourts trying and recoup money as oil costs have lost (up to) 60% of their value. And while diesel prices hit a five year low in January, they’re not dropping as fast as unleaded. The latest figures show that the average diesel prices at the pumps is 118.31p per litre, while unleaded costs stand at 112p.

driving license 300x186 DVLA kills off paper section of the UK driving licenceWave goodbye to the paper bit of your two-part driving licence if you live in the UK. That’s because it is going to be replaced by a brand new online system from June 8th this year, according to the DVLA.

Of course, the DVLA are really great at holding everyone’s details, as we saw with their unsecure parking data and the fact they unlawfully lose loads of our letters, so no-one needs to worry about a thing.

This new system will store all the details of all the licensed drivers in the country.

And now, the DVLA say that, after June 8th 2015, the paper bit of your licence will have no legal status and you can shred it and throw it in the bin (unless you have a paper licence which is pre-1998). Your photocard should be kept. If you have points on your licence, they’ll be stored at the DVLA and if you want to know what they are, you can check online or if you prefer, ask for them on the phone or via the post.”

“The reason for abolishing the counterpart is to reduce the burden on motorists.” a government spokesman stated. “For most drivers there simply isn’t a need to have this information on a piece of paper when it is now freely and easily available online. It also saves drivers from paying £20 to replace a lost or damaged counterpart.”

“Paper driving licences issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998 will remain valid and should not be destroyed.” DVLA spokesperson said.

Whiplash costing drivers £93

March 13th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

CarCrash 300x168 Whiplash costing drivers £93Whiplash is great isn’t it? No matter what car accident you’ve had, all you have to do is rub your neck and wince a bit, and you’re away!

Of course, we’re being sarcastic and whiplash claims have, according to a report from one insurer, hit record levels.

The result of all this is that on average, motorists are getting £93 added to their motor insurance premium. So, thanks to people with no neck ache, everyone else is paying for it. Nothing new, but galling all the same.

So what’s brought these new levels about? Well, once again, we can thank the no-win no-fee law firms who have been drumming up business on daytime TV and doing very well for themselves.

Aviva reckons that, despite the best efforts of the government  to sort out compensation culture and lower motor insurance costs, more needs to be done if there’s going to be any reduction in whiplash claims. According to their figures, whiplash is costing drivers as a whole, £2.5bn a year. Their research also showed that the UK is on course to bring in advance of 840,000 motor injury claims to the Claims Portal, which allows insurers to submit claims, for the year ending April 2015.

Last year, 80% of motor injury claims included whiplash. Compare that to France where it only makes up 3% of injury claims, and you can see that something’s awry.

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

Diesel drivers are being demonised!

March 11th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers
gishocar 300x198 Diesel drivers are being demonised!

A diesel car, this morning

Diesel drivers are getting it in the neck and because of that, there’s a campaign to combat what’s being dubbed as the “demonisation” of diesel.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), along with the more recognisable names of BMW, Ford, and Jaguar Land Rover, reckon that fears over diesel are misplaced.

What are these fears? Well, there’s been calls for a ban on diesel vehicles because they’re ‘harmful’ and super pollutant. The campaign aims to show that this isn’t on.

“Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality,” said Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT, in a statement. ”Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view.”

However, not everyone agrees.

Gavin Thomson from the Healthy Air Campaign said: “We need action from all levels of government to protect our health and substantially reduce the diesel in our towns and cities. This should include government supported retrofit schemes, a national network of low emission zones and support for other modes of travel.”

pothole 300x199 7 in 10 drivers hit potholes   and how to claim Potholes are the blight of anyone who uses the roads in the UK. According to a survey, 7 in 10 drivers have had problems with them, yet, only two-thirds of cars that have been damaged by them have successfully claimed some compensation.

Which!!! did some research and found that 4 out of every 10 drivers who had hit a pothole didn’t bother claiming because they didn’t know how to, while some said that they didn’t bother because it wasn’t worth the hassle.

However, 55% of satisfactorily resolved claims got some money, paying out an average of £188, which means drivers are missing out and should be submitting claims to the Highway Agency or local authority.

According to the research, successful claims usually depend on whether or not a pothole has already been reported. Local authorities have a statutory defence thanks to Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, which basically says that, if an authority can show that reasonable care was taken to make the road safe and that it wasn’t dangerous to drivers, they’re covered. However, if a local authority knows about a pothole and hasn’t repaired it, drivers could put a claim in.

Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd, said: “With so many drivers hitting potholes and damaging their cars it’s important that people know their rights. Our research shows it’s worthwhile making a claim. If you do need to make a claim, our advice is to find out if the pothole has been reported, collect photographic evidence and get receipts of any work to fix the damage.”

If you want to put a claim in, then Which!!! have a step-by-step guide you can follow and guidance about the whole thing for both drivers and cyclists. Click here to have a look.

10 minutes grace for parking tickets

March 6th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet appeal parking tickets1 10 minutes grace for parking ticketsMotorists are going to get 10 minutes’ grace after a parking ticket they’re issued with runs out, before they can be slapped about with a fine. That is, of course, provided the fines themselves hold up at all and aren’t being rebated for being illegal.

The change in the law could come in within a matter of weeks and is going to apply to on-street and off-street council parking spaces in England.

These new rules have been approved under the Deregulation Bill, which will also include the right for residents and businesses to force their local council to review the parking situation in their area. CCTV camera cars that issue automatic fines are also going to become illegal, except in areas near schools or in bus lanes (basically, any area deemed ‘sensitive’).

Fines for places where parking meters are not working, and there’s no alternative way to pay for your parking, will also become a thing of the past, as well as guidance which will try to stop councils from using parking fines as a way of making profit.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “We are ending the war on drivers who simply want to go about their daily business. For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.”

“Over-zealous parking enforcement undermines our town centres and costs councils more in the long term. Our measures not only bring big benefits for high streets, motorists and local authorities – they put common sense back into parking.”

Rural drivers to get 5p fuel rebate

March 5th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

farmer Rural drivers to get 5p fuel rebateRural petrol stations are going to get a rebate, so they can offer lower prices at the pumps, thanks to the EU. Forecourts will be allowed to claim back up to 5p a litre on diesel and unleaded duty.

17 areas will be able to apply for the rebate from May 31st.

This is good news because, until now, prices have been higher because of the cost of extra transportation needed and the lower demand for fuel.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said: “This is great news for motorists in these areas and brings a duty discount a step closer. Even though fuel prices are falling across the country, they are still higher in very rural areas. As someone who comes from one of the most rural areas in the UK, I know that for people who live in these areas cars are a necessity, not a luxury. I’ve fought hard to reach this major milestone.”

“While we have one more stage to go, I want to make sure we are ready to implement this as a top priority so we will press for this to be heard as soon as possible and are today publishing the necessary draft regulations. I’m determined to implement the rural fuel rebate in the current Parliament as part of this government’s drive for a stronger economy and fairer society.”

Roughly translated, what Danny Alexander just said was: ‘It might be an idea to get the farmers onside just before an election.’

There are some places in the Highlands, North Yorkshire, Devon, Northumberland and Argyll and Bute that are eligible and if you want to see the areas, click here.

Parking ticket data breach for tens of thousands

February 24th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

eating in the car Parking ticket data breach for tens of thousandsA database full of around 10,000 people’s parking ticket details isn’t as secure as previously thought as somehow, it has ended up being published online.

According to Sky News, the company called PaymyPCN.net, which has collected penalty charges for two decades has a direct link to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database, which means people who shouldn’t be looking, can see drivers’ names and addresses.

Not only that, there’s public access to the content of emails that are appealing charges and photos of drivers and the cars. In addition to all that, this database allows the aforementioned photos to be uploaded and deleted, which is just magic.

How did this all come about? Well, a link to all that lovely data was published on Twitter by Michael Green after a private parking firm sent it to someone in error.

Green said: “I am not surprised by this. The DVLA claims to have safeguards in place to ensure drivers’ details are safe but these only exist as media soundbites. Our campaign challengethefine.com aims to get people compensated for parking data breaches. Despite the RAC Foundation questioning the legality of these charges the DVLA still passes millions of details on to private firms.”

database 1 1 480x360 Parking ticket data breach for tens of thousands

Of course, this is the DVLA that have come under heavy fire for their collective failure to vet and audit the companies in which they are prepared to sell the names and addresses of motorists, so this latest news isn’t a shock at all. This is also the same DVLA who have been acting unlawfully when it comes to losing your letters that you’ve sent them (and here’s what you can do if the DVLA say they’ve lost your letter).

A DVLA spokeswoman said: “This is not a DVLA error. We take our duty to safeguard data very seriously and we will not compromise data security. DVLA does not hold or provide data such as photographs, emails and phone numbers to private parking companies.”

As for PayMyPCN – if you want to get in touch with them to see about data breaches, here’s the number to call and their email: Tel: 03450 737 209, enquiry@paymypcn.net.

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.

Audi make tax-free car!

February 18th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Audi have made a car that you won’t have to pay tax on, which is nice. It is also very, very efficient thanks to a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine.

The new Audi A1 will replace the old 1.2-litre affair and it will ramp up fuel economy and hack into CO2 emissions, which is all rather good and will be very kind on a driver’s pocket.

This is awful news for those of you who like your cars to go incredibly quickly and use huge amounts of fuel to make the ferocious engine frighten the birds out of the trees, but then, you invariably wouldn’t be weighing up anything that has a 1 litre engine. You’d probably turn your nose up at a lawn mower with an engine that small.

2015 audi a1 sportback 1 500x312 Audi make tax free car!

The little number goes 0-60ish in 10.9 seconds and will be available in three and five door models.

The CO2 emissions which Audi are claiming to achieve are at 97g/km, which is low enough for tax-free motoring under the present rules. That changes to a £20 a year charge if you get the one with a S Tronic automatic gearbox in it, but again, that’s not exactly going to break the bank.

If you’re Earth-minded, the 1.6-litre diesel A1 claims to have an economy figure from 74.3mpg to 80.7mpg, with the relevant drop in emissions.

So how much to buy one? The new 1.0-litre model is going for somewhere around the £14,300 mark, while the five-door equivalent will set you back around £14,900. They’re available this summer and look like great little runarounds. Looks a bit nicer than the also-taxless Hyundai i10 hatchback and Skoda Citigo hatchback and around the same price as the popular Mini hatchback.

Ford take blind dates for insane joy ride

February 12th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Imagine you’re on a blind date and you meet an attractive woman and, being a man’s man (in reality or in your head), you decide to impress her with tales of how much you like to party or whatever.

At some point, you get into her car and you decide to help her with her driving. In this Ford hidden-camera blind date, it is at this point when things get interesting.

As you can see, the men are taken on the razz of their lives and the lady in question reveals herself to be a professional stunt driver. Most of the men in the clip take it in the fun it was intended, which is nice.

We guarantee that the folks of Bitterwallet would’ve been filmed sobbing and then tipping our soiled undergarments out onto the pavement while the stunt-woman wrung the vomit out of our hair.

Smoking ban in England if you have kids in the car

February 11th, 2015 22 Comments By Mof Gimmers

cigarette Smoking ban in England if you have kids in the carRemember when we told you that you wouldn’t be allowed to smoke in your car if you had children in it? Well, we weren’t having you on as from 1st October, drivers will be banned from smoking if they’ve got children as passengers in their vehicle.

What constitutes a child? Anyone under 18 years old. So, potentially, they might already be chunging 20 Lamberts a day, but you won’t be able to light up.

There’s already a similar ban in Wales and Scotland are also thinking about following suit.

If you’re found ignoring the rule, then you could be on the end of a £50 fine. If you’re driving alone, the rules don’t apply to you (although, you wouldn’t bet against a ban on smoking in cars at all, coming into place). If you have a convertible and have the top down, you won’t get fined either.

These new regulations were passed in the Commons with 342 MPs voted in favour, and 74 against.

Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, said: “Three million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk. We know that many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of second hand smoke.”