Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Cars getting too big for car parks

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

car parking 225x300 Cars getting too big for car parksCars are getting bigger and car parking spaces are getting smaller, according to a new report.

A rise in minor accidents and the like is costing UK drivers around £750 million a year in repairs and, apparently there’s more than 500,000 collisions per year – working out at approximately 1,373 per day.

The Accident Exchange report revealed that car park incidents are second to rear-end shunts as the most common car mishap, costing motorists an average of £1,428 each time to repair.

The report says there were an estimated 2.2million accidents on UK roads in 2011 of which ‘general car park incidents’ represented nearly a quarter (22.78%) of the total.

A spokey for Accident Exchange said: “Most parking incidents take place at slow speeds but that does not stop motorists damaging doors, wheels, bumpers and other parts of the bodywork.”

“A possible contributing factor is that today’s larger vehicles are now squeezing into smaller parking spaces.”

The findings that emerged from their survey of car parks was very illuminating, discovering that the average car park space is an eye-opening  7ft 9.5 inches (237.5cm.) However, the average car has grown in size over the years, and even the smallest models of yore have at least another foot added to their size.

Yet due to the pesky Transport Department, parking space sizes have remained the same since 1994

It’s no joy for the drivers either, they’re getting taller and fatter and are causing themselves pain trying to get out of tight spaces. Well, it needn’t be painful if you know how to work it.

Liz Fisher of Accident Exchange said: “Looking at the statistics, you’d think there is chaos in car parks up and down the country and that drivers are literally battling for spaces to park. But the fact is that drivers are having to squeeze their larger cars into smaller spaces and there are many more car journeys made than just a decade ago.”

Car parks being a load of rubbish – who would’ve ever thunk it?

Smoking to be banned in your car

November 10th, 2014 25 Comments By Mof Gimmers

cigarette Smoking to be banned in your carNext month, you won’t be allowed to smoke in your own car if you have children riding with you. If you do, you’ll be fined £60 or you’ll have five points added onto your driving licence.

So, if you’re a driver who is considered to be failing to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent others smoking in cars with children, you can face a fine up to £10,000. Just imagine how many cartons of cigarettes you could buy with £10,000.

The law applies to any cars carrying children and, in addition to this, a proper ban will come into place in December, being implemented proper in October 2015.

Obviously, smokers are going to have to start putting their children on the roof rack if they want to get stuck into some Benson & Hedges.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The time has come,” for a ban, like some ominous overlord.

This change in law will be made under provisions in the Children and Famlies Act. Legally speaking, a child is anyone up to the age of 18, but of course, 16 year olds can toot bifters as well, so that’ll be a fun game for those enforcing the law.

Anyway, there you have it. No more smoking next to your children while you’re driving. What do you make of that? Do you feel like people who smoke around children are arses, so sod ‘em? Or, is it the principle of the matter, with the government telling you what to do in the privacy of your own vehicle, that ticks you off?

RAC say fuel prices are “highway robbery”

October 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

petrol guage 300x199 RAC say fuel prices are highway robberyThe RAC have had enough of fuel prices at motoroway service stations, calling them “21st century highway robbery.”

They said that they’ve looked into the whole practice and researched it all, and their findings show that petrol and diesel costs are sometimes over 15p-per-litre more expensive than normal stations, which is unacceptable for drivers who are being had over a barrel (of oil).

RAC’s survey showed that motorist felt they were being “held to ransom” and one-in-four said that they refused to buy fuel at services. Two-thirds who took part in the survey said that they wanted a price cap and that the industry or Government needed to take action. Holding your breath is not advisable if you are waiting for the industry or parliament to sort this out.

The results of the investigation show that there’s “real concern” about drivers risking running on empty fuel tanks rather than filling up at motorway services.

The RAC’s fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s no wonder that motorists feel held to ransom with prices on the motorways inflated to such an extent. In some cases motorway petrol and diesel might even be 15p dearer than the cheapest forecourts, which would add as much as £8 to the price of a tank of an average family-sized vehicle.”

“We can see no reason why motorway fuel should be so much more expensive. In fact, arguably it is much easier from a delivery point of view than it is getting fuel to urban filling stations. We’re calling for motorway fuel retailers to be more reasonable with their pricing.”

The car seat that detects heart attacks

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

old driver car The car seat that detects heart attacksAll hail the car seat that detects heart attacks! The motor company Ford has unveiled a car seat that can detect when the driver is having a heart attack, therefore allowing the vehicle to come to a safe stop.

Heart attacks are clearly a thing in Fords, so this is an issue that obviously needs sorting.

Using ‘electrocardiograph’ (heart-monitoring) sensors in the seats to detect an irregular heartbeat, combined with an in-car camera that detects when the driver slumps in his seat, the car can activate automated steering and braking systems to bring the car to a stop safely when there’s a problem.

It can then ring the emergency services for you if you’re so inclined. Or not, if you’d prefer to simply perish in your automobile.

Ford’s Research Centre director, the splendidly named Pim van der Jagt, told the FT that the technology is developed for when “100-year olds driving cars will not be abnormal in the future. About 30% of people above 65 have some kind of heart irregularity. And with the number of older car buyers set to rise dramatically this is an area of concern.”

Ford is yet to reveal when exactly this technology can be made available, as there’s no actual date of release yet, but Mr van der Jagt believes it will be in all new models within the next few years.

Toyota recall over a million vehicles

October 15th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Toyota Logo 4 300x258 Toyota recall over a million vehiclesDo you drive a Toyota? Well, you need to know that you might be driving something that doesn’t have working brakes.

The Japanese car manufacturer is recalling 1.75 million vehicles worldwide because of three separate defects including a faulty brake master cylinder that could hinder the brake’s performance.

So which vehicles are affected?

The defect is found in some models of Toyota’s Crown Majesta as well as the Noah and Voxy models produced between June 2007 and 2012. There’s also issues with the Corolla Rumion and Auris, as well as more than a dozen Lexus models.

So if you bought one of them or are currently sat traffic reading this on your phone, you’ve been warned.

Importantly, Toyota have said in a statement that they are not aware of any accidents, crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by this fault.

This comes after Toyota recalled 6.39 million vehicles globally in April and then, two months later, the company recalled another 2.3 million vehicles for faulty airbag inflators. They’ve not been having a good year, in fairness.

Toyota should be getting in touch with owners, but if you can’t wait,  you should get in touch with your local Toyota dealer to see what they say or check here on their recall website.

**UPDATE**

The only registered vehicles in the UK (we’re leaving the other vehicles affected in the article for overseas readers) are the Lexus IS, GS and LS models manufactured between January 2005 and September 2010.

Owners of these cars will be contacted by Lexus within the coming weeks by post or telephone and asked to make an appointment to bring their car to their nearest Lexus Centre, in accordance with Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) guidelines. The work needed to fix the problem will take a “three to four hours to complete and will be carried out free of charge.”

You can call the customer helpline on 0800 1388744. For access to the full statement, please visit this link.

The petrol wars kick off again!

October 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

petrol guage 300x199 The petrol wars kick off again!Once again, there’s a price war at the petrol forecourts as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s slug it out in a bid to win motorists’ affections.

Sainsbury’s and Asda will cut the price of diesel by up to 2p a litre and unleaded petrol by a penny from today.

Meanwhile, over at Tesco, they will cut unleaded petrol by 1p per litre, with diesel reducing by at least 1p a litre although some sites will get a 2p a litre price cut.

This all comes about after the price of Brent crude oil fell, which means the supermarkets can pass on some savings to you car-havers. They’ll also be hoping you buy your shopping from them too, rather than buggering off to Lidl and Aldi.

Asda’s petrol trading director Andy Peake, who is an incredibly dynamic, rollercoaster of a man, said: “We’re giving drivers the opportunity to fill up their cars with some of the cheapest fuel prices in the market for years.”

“No matter where customers live they will benefit from the same fuel price with our national price cap.”

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.

tax disc New system means those trying to renew car tax, cantYou won’t believe it – after ditching tax discs for cars and setting up a new online system, the whole thing has buggered up.

Thousands of drivers haven’t been able to renew their car tax online, after the DVLA sank under the huge amounts of traffic. The high volume of people accessing the site was predictable and as clear as the nose on your face, however, it looks like the DVLA weren’t prepared.

According to reports, some people have spent up to 13 hours online trying to sort their car tax out. At some point, they should’ve stepped away from their computer, but there you go. Some people are crackers.

The DVLA said the site had seen “an unprecedented volume of traffic”. Feel free to make your own ‘DVLA unable to deal with traffic’ puns.

Our pals at the DVLA said that an extra 30,000 people had visited the site and apologised for the farcical situation and said that, if you are desperate to get your tax sorted, you should go to the Post Office instead. Of course, with Post Offices being closed all over the country over the years, you might have to drive there as well.

The AA aren’t happy either. They reckon that this new system could see some cars being taxed twice. Nice little earner for the government that, eh? You see, someone buying a car will no longer be able to benefit from an unused period on a tax disc, which means there’ll be a lot of crossover with two drivers paying tax on a vehicle at the same time.

“Someone driving a car that costs £500 a year to tax would lose £41 if they sold it at the beginning of the month,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president. Likewise a buyer purchasing a car mid month would have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty for the entire month.”

car crash 239x300 Theres going to be some overhauling in the car insurance marketThings are getting shaken-up in the world of car insurance. Does it mean cheaper car insurance for all? Of course it doesn’t. Did you have glue for your breakfast this morning because that’s a stupid thing to think.

Basically, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA from now on) have said that exclusive pricing deals between motor insurers and price comparison websites need to be banned. Basically, because of these deals, insurers are being denied the chance to make their products available for cheaper, elsewhere.

The CMA also noted that consumers need better information on no-claims bonus protection insurance.

This review came about after the Office of Fair Trading asked the CMA to get stuck into the motor insurance market, and after a year of weighing things up, this is what the CMA have come up with.

They say that, because of the deals being struck between insurers and price comparison websites, it is pushing the price of premiums up across the board.

“They certainly help motorists look for the best deal, but we want to see an end to clauses which restrict an insurer’s ability to price its products differently on different online channels,” said CMA deputy panel chairman Alasdair Smith.

The CMA also tossed some work to the Financial Conduct Authority who should be examining how insurers tell consumers about add-on products to car insurance policies and the like.

“The way motor insurance-related add-on products are sold makes it hard for consumers to obtain the best value,” Smith added, with no-claims bonus protection being a particular concern: ”We are requiring insurers to provide much better information.”

Alas, the CMA said that they weren’t able to work a way around the problem of high car hire and repair charges for drivers who were not at fault in an accident.

Fixing that, they say, would require a “fundamental change in the law”.

tax disc £167m   the cost of tax evasion now the tax disc has gone?Now that the tax disc for cars is being sent to the giant incinerator in the sky, people are getting a bit worried about the whole thing.

From October 1st, cars that have a tax disc in the window will either look a bit daft or they’ll be the kind of people who get old motors and renovate them so they look all shiny and they can pretend they’re living in the sixties.

The RAC aren’t finding this funny though. They’ve been pacing around and nervously wringing their leather driving gloves.

They think that the lack of tax discs could lead to tax evasion which will cost the economy £167 million a year. They’re worried that the number of drivers dodging tax could equal the number who try to avoid paying motor insurance. We’ll let them explain.

An RAC spokesman said: “We could be looking at about £167m of lost revenues to the Treasury, far exceeding the £10m saved by no longer having to print tax discs and post them to vehicle owners. The big question has to be whether enforcement using only cameras and automatic number plate recognition will be sufficiently effective.”

Currently just 0.6% of cars do not have road tax, which equates to something like £35 million in lost revenue from the 210,000 cars concerned. The RAC are worried that the same number of drivers won’t have insurance either.

The DVLA aren’t having it: ”There is absolutely no basis to these figures and it is nonsense to suggest that getting rid of the tax disc will lead to an increase in vehicle tax evasion,” said a spokesperson.

Like the sound of a car that brakes automatically?

September 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

CarCrash 300x168 Like the sound of a car that brakes automatically?A lot of people in the automotive industry are getting very excited about automated brakes in cars at the minute, saying that they’re the biggest development in car safety since the seatbelt.

Seems no-one gives a monkeys about airbags and crumple zones.

Of course, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) has been knocking about for a few years now, but there’s talk of making them compulsory, which will no doubt infuriate drivers.

This tech can slow or stop a vehicle before a crash occurs at speeds of (up to) 50mph. Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham, the motor insurers’ research centre, told What Car!!! magazine that this auto-braking could reduce the number of accidents significantly. They’ve been doing some maths, too.

Thatcham reckon that fitting all cars with AEB from 2015 could result in 17,000 fewer deaths and serious injuries from car accidents by 2025, and on top of that, it would reduce insurance premiums by 10%. Of course, there’s nothing on Earth that can reduce insurance premiums – they’ll find another thing to charge you for.

Shaw said AEB, which utilises radar and lasers to detect obstacles and hits the brakes for you if you can’t be bothered, “has the potential to be as important a breakthrough as the seat belt in terms of vehicle safety” and added that the Treasury really should be offering £500 subsidies for cars fitted with the technology.

Edmund King, president of the AA, threw his views around wildly: “It is incredibly impressive technology. If you look at things in the past from the seat belt to airbags to anti-lock braking systems, every so often a technology comes along that breaks the mould and is a great advancement in road safety and we certainly believe this is one of the future technologies that will make a great difference.”

When driverless cars come in to play, there’ll be no need for you at all. You’ll be sat at home watching Top Gear while your cars goes off to a supermarket’s car park doing doughnuts with it’s robot car friends.

car scrap Should diesel drivers by paid £1,000 to scrap their cars?Do you own a diesel car? Well, you could be paid a grand to scrap it if Boris Johnson gets his way.

He’s trying to tackle air pollution [insert satirical joke about his needless emissions and hot air here] and wrote about this £1,000 scrap scheme to the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee, who are looking into the air quality of the capital.

This proposal builds on the national scrappage scheme which was introduced in 2009 which offered drivers of vehicles over 10 years old £1,000 toward a new car. This initiative ended in 2010, but Johnson wants it back.

“A national scrappage scheme for diesel and other polluting vehicles is now needed as a priority in order to compensate people who have bought polluting diesel vehicles in good faith, as well as to drive forward air quality improvements,” the submission reads.

 

As you know, there’s already a load of guff about doling out on-the-spot pollution fines to those who keep their motors running while stationary (of course, those giving the fines out will have their engines running while stationary, just for peak farce) and there’s suggestions that diesel drivers will have to pay an extra £10 per day on top of London’s congestion charge.

That said, diesel cars do pump out more soot and nitrogen dioxide, so it isn’t surprising that it is being looked into.

It is little wonder that London isn’t expected to comply with EU legal air pollution limits until after 2030 – at least 20 years after the original 2010 deadline set by the European Commission.

So, fancy scrapping your diesel car and getting £1,000 in return, so you can buy an old petrol banger which is probably just as bad for the environment?

Sat navs send homeowner round the bend

August 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

TomTom 281x300 Sat navs send homeowner round the bendA lady in Somerset has pleaded with drivers to ditch their sat navs.

This isn’t as some kind of ‘be free of technology! Throw off your mental chains!’ type nonsense, she’s just a bit pissed off with lorries driving into her cottage.

Caroline Cockman, reckons lorries have caused £50,000 of damage to her home in Coxley, Somerset, due to believing everything that the sat nav tells them.

Cockman has lost count of the amount of vehicles that have got stuck up her lane.

It’s an ongoing hassle for the poor woman, claiming that just this week, there’s been three large vehicles trapped in her narrow strip of road.

“Their sat navs direct them down the lane and they ignore the evidence of their own eyes that it’s too narrow and just carry on until they get stuck.”

“The worst incident happened a couple of years ago when a big lorry blew out my back wall – it cost £33,000 in repairs. There have been many other incidents – I can’t remember them all. It must be well over £50,000 of damage in total.”

Understandably Cockman is now pleading with council officials to make signs at the top of the lane more obvious.

“The trouble is some drivers still use domestic sat navs instead of commercial ones. I’m told the commercial ones do carry warnings about the lane’s width but the domestic ones don’t.”

“Last Monday we had a big sewage tanker, with an escort to make sure it travelled safely, and it took him half-an-hour to reverse out. Then on Wednesday night someone collided with our low wall which stops vehicles coming off the lane and into our courtyard.”

“Another guy was trapped for six hours. If only truck drivers used their common sense as the lane got narrower and narrower.”

Perhaps we do need those new robot lorries after all?

Do we want robot lorries to roam the roads?

August 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

lorry 300x268 Do we want robot lorries to roam the roads?There’s plans to have computerised truck convoys which are controlled by a single driver and they look like they’re going to be tested on British roads as soon as next year.

Of course, with robot lorries, school children on coach trips will miss the opportunity to moon at drivers, get lorries to beep their horns at them or, in some cases, get mucky drivers to show off centrefolds from dirty magazines at them while everyone cackles on the back seat.

These driverless trucks will be electronically linked together, so that the driver in the front vehicle will control the lot. Could be nightmarish if they’re falling asleep at the wheel and working through a hangover.

The Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 prototype has already been trialled in Germany.  Scania have also been doing their own tests for the last couple of years. It looks like the automated lorries would have to have humans in them, just in case there’s an emergency, which means that they’ll either have to do admin work or just drink strong tea from a flask while looking at dirty pictures on their phones.

The idea is that these lorries would cut down on congestion. The reality is that businesses will opt for the cheapest thing.

A government source told the Times: “There are potential benefits, notably reduced costs for haulage firms and reduced congestion for motorists, so there is sense in looking into it. Equally we have to be cautious and ensure that safety isn’t compromised in any way.”

There’s going to be inevitable issues with other drivers trying to enter and exit motorways and being able to see the road signs behind a train of robot trucks.

What do you make of it all?

 

The car insurance postcode lottery

August 18th, 2014 11 Comments By Mof Gimmers

scrapped car The car insurance postcode lotteryCar insurance is unfair, everyone knows that. However, someone’s gone to the trouble of finding out just how unfair it is.

Take two drivers with identical cars, spotless driving history who park their cars on their respective drives, but in different areas, and you’ll find there’s a discrepancy in how much their car insurance costs.

For example, someone who lives in London will pay three times the amount of someone in the Isle of Man. It doesn’t matter if you’re a responsible driver – if your car has a greater chance of being nicked, then you have to pay for it.

Central London motorists pay an average of £922 a year on insurance, whereas those in the Isle of Man pay just £231, according to figures from the AA.

London boroughs and those just outside it attract top premiums, while in the North, Manchester residents will pay £821, and folk in Bolton and Liverpool will cough-up £737 and £720 respectively. Meanwhile, up in Scotland, someone in Aberdeen will pay £286 on average, while someone who drives in the Orkney Islands will pay just £252. The cheapest rates in England can be found in Truro, Cornwall (£280) and Dorchester, Dorset (£286).

It seems that, where car insurance is already cheap, the premiums are most likely to fall as well. Not in London. Drivers in the capital are just going to be asked for more and more as time goes on.

Janet Connor from AA Insurance said that insurers are looking to put their prices up across the board: “I believe that this time next year, the AA’s Index will be reflecting a rising trend (in cost). But I don’t expect to see the sharp premium inflation we saw between 2009 and 2011, when over a 12-month period premiums rose by more than 40 per cent.”

“The premium reflects the likelihood of a claim being made and, in some urban areas, there is much greater risk of a collision taking place, or of car crimes such as theft. Sadly, the criminality of some people has a detrimental effect of the premiums paid by honest motorists in such places.”