Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Should we have a lower drink-driving limit?

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

car crash 239x300 Should we have a lower drink driving limit?No-one gets as agitated as a driver being told what to do, so with that, what about the idea of a lower drink-driving limit?

Well, according to a new survey, three quarters of those drivers who were asked (74% to be precise) were in favour of lowering the amount of booze you can have if you’re getting behind the wheel. Of course, this comes after Scotland announcing that they are lowering their limits.

31% reckon that the UK should follow Scotland’s (and a lot of the EU) lead by dropping the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50mg/100ml). 43% said the UK should go even further by introducing a limit of 20mg/100ml, which is in place in Sweden among other countries.

One 26% think that we’re fine with the current 80mg/100ml level.

 

The survey was pretty unanimous that, in the cases of repeat drink-drivers, the penalties for them must be considerably more stern. 95% think that repeat offenders such face higher penalties.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “The current drink drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive. Even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The law needs to make that crystal clear.”

Now, here’s the kicker.

The survey was carried out by road safety charity Brake in tandem with Direct Line. A road safety charity and an insurer will be more likely to yield results with a certain skew on it. You’d inevitably find very different results if you asked the readers of Top Gear magazine, the Daily Mail or whatever.

With that, we open it up to you lot – should we have a lower drink-drive limit? Should we hammer people who are repeat offenders? Should we be allowed to drink at all before driving?

Supermarkets start to drop petrol prices

December 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

petrol guage 300x199 Supermarkets start to drop petrol pricesIn a handy move for Christmas, the supermarkets have started a round of price cuts on petrol and fuel.

Asda and Sainsbury’s are cutting their petrol by 2p a litre and diesel by 1p a litre, tomorrow. That’s nice isn’t it?

The RAC reckon that, thanks to world oil prices, petrol could be below £1 a litre in the new year, which would be the lowest pump prices since 2009.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “What’s currently happening at the pumps with falling fuel prices is something many motorists will not remember seeing before. Talk of prices going up like a rocket and falling like a feather could not be further from the truth as retailers have been quick to pass on savings at the forecourt since we forecast on December 6 that prices were due to come down by 7p a litre for petrol and 6p for diesel.”

Did it take you a couple of attempts to see what the crap he was talking about then? Anyway, it isn’t all happy-happy-joy-joy.

AA president Edmund King is being altogether more cautious: “With duty on each litre of fuel at 57.95p and VAT around 20p, plus the pound at its lowest level against the dollar for three months, it would take another almighty drop in crude prices to reach £1 a litre at the pumps.”

“Drivers would love to see £1 per litre but a white Christmas might be a better bet at the moment. However, for canny drivers there are still variations in pump prices of up to 5p litre in the same town. So shop around and make the most of the lower prices.”

What to do if the DVLA have lost your letter

December 3rd, 2014 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

dvla.jpg 300x300 What to do if the DVLA have lost your letterBack in 2010, we wrote about the problems with the DVLA (where do you start, right?) and how, if you send them a letter and they lose it, they’ll blame you. Their off-road notification system was described back then as “a shambles” and “legally unenforceable” and in “administrative chaos”, and it looks like nothing much has changed.

There’s have been court cases which have shown the DVLA had been acting unlawfully concerning drivers who have failed to notify them when they’ve taken their vehicle off the road (SORN) and judges have agreed that it isn’t the driver’s fault that the DVLA or the Royal Mail have lost letters.

Drivers, judges have said, shouldn’t have to pay for recorded deliveries every time they send a letter and, indeed, they shouldn’t have to ring to confirm letters have been received by the DVLA either. Imagine a scenario where everyone has to send everything by recorded delivery AND ring up to make sure letters have been received by companies. That way, madness lies.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: “The DVLA does not impose any requirements for customers to obtain proof of posting or use recorded delivery in their dealings with us. However, and this is a key point, the onus is on the customer to ensure their off-road notification is delivered to DVLA.”

“With reference to non-receipt of acknowledgement letters by customers, there is no legal obligation on the customer to contact DVLA if they do not receive their acknowledgement letter. However, and another key point, we do advise customers to contact us if this happens so that we can confirm if their notification has been delivered to us or advise them otherwise how to comply”.

However, the DVLA will still send bailiffs and threaten drivers and we’ve had people getting in touch with us about more trouble with this absolute shower. To add insult to injury, they’ve also been selling everyone’s personal details and pocketed £25 million in the bargain.

After 4 years and judges deciding in favour of the drivers, the DVLA are still losing drivers’ log-books and letters and then sending threatening letters and asking for hundreds of pounds. One of our readers got in touch to say that the DVLA had “lost identity documents of both my kids!” and if you look at these comments, you’ll see that things are a mess.

So what can you do?

Well, if your case goes to court, or indeed, you want to tell the DVLA on the phone how the law works, you can say that you have indeed sent your letter and, according to the law of the land, the Interpretation Act 1978 Section 7 says: “Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expression “give” or “send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”

In English, if you say you’ve sent a letter, then it is assumed that it was received the next working day (if sent first class). Unless the DVLA can prove they DIDN’T receive it, then by law, it is accepted that it was delivered to them.

If you’d like to make a complaint about the DVLA, then ironically, you have to do it in writing. You should give your full name and address, your date of birth or driver number, the vehicle registration, make and model (if the case is about a vehicle) and your phone number and send your complaint to: Customer Services Manager, DVLA, Swansea SA7 0EE.

You’re right not to trust them with a letter, so you can complain online and fill in the form here. The DVLA aim to answer complaints within two weeks. In all complaints, you can always ask to be referred to an independent complaints assessor or get your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We’ll keep tabs on this and remember: don’t let the DVLA shove you around. It is mostly empty threats and they will try to get you to pay a smaller fine by threatening you with a larger one. If you have fulfilled your side of the bargain, don’t budge.

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?

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.