Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Are changes to the drink-driving limit afoot?

February 10th, 2016 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

beer 300x225 Are changes to the drink driving limit afoot?The drink-driving limit in England and Wales could be about to change. Of course, the powers that be aren’t thinking of raising the limit, so you can have four bottles of Aftershock in you while you drive at 14mph down a motorway.

No, the limit could well be lowered by a third, which in real terms, means it would be illegal to drive after you’ve had one pint, or a glass of wine (or a half pint for a woman, and a small glass of wine).

This comes from transport minister Andrew Jones, who thinks that England and Wales could follow Scotland, where the limit has been lowered from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg in 2014. Jones is going to meet up with his Scottish equivalent and see what the craic is.

Jones said: “I am intending to discuss with the Scottish Minister about the experience of the lower limit in Scotland and about the timescales to get access to robust evidence of the road safety impact.”

“It is important to base our decisions on evidence and the Scottish experience will be crucial to that before we consider any possible changes to the limits in England and Wales. This Government’s current position however remains to focus resources on enforcing against the most serious offenders.”

Google’s driverless cars headed for UK

February 8th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

google self driving car 300x182 Googles driverless cars headed for UKThe gaffers of the UK transport scene are having “active discussions” with Google about bringing and trialling their driverless cars to these shores. Seeing as thorough trials of the cars haven’t been done much outside of America, it is thought that they’ll soon be getting the once over in London.

Deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring said: “It’s going to have to work in big cities so why don’t we start trialling it now? We met them a few weeks ago to see whether they would do trials here.”

“It is still very early days but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries.”

The prototype cars are pretty distinctive, as you can see from the image above, and they use lasers, radars, cameras and all manner of things to make their way around the roads. They’re electric too, which of course, is a hot topic in the world of motoring.

The Government said last week that they’re going to be investing £20m in a host of driverless car projects, and obviously, seeing as they’re big pals with Google (as anyone with an interest in big companies paying tax will know), it is likely that the tech behemoth will be sending some of their cars to Britain.

Dedring continued: “One of the interesting benefits of driverless vehicles is we can construct a much smaller tunnel because you don’t have to have the same safety requirements.”

So while that’s all happening, no-win no-fee lawyers will be prepping their files for when someone gets knocked down by one of these vehicles. Kerching!

old driver car Would removing road markings make for better drivers?Would you be a better driver if someone removed the white lines on the road? Well, this is something that is being thought about, in a bid to slow people down.

It seems the uncertainty that comes with roads that have no markings, could make things safer. Research is saying that doing this could see average speeds reduced by as much as 13%. Are you thinking this is crazy talk, by any chance?

Either way, there’s some pilot schemes happening, which are being drawn up in Norfolk, which would see that lines on narrow roads being erased. There’s already been trials in Derby and Wiltshire, and lifted lines have not been replaced on three roads in South London.

Transport for London’s experiment said that “removing central white lines resulted in a reduction in vehicle speeds” and that the results displayed a “statistically significant” reduction in vehicle speeds as a result of the removal of central markings. That’s because these lines “can provide a psychological sense of confidence to drivers that no vehicles will encroach on ‘their’ side of the road.”

“There can also be a tendency for some drivers to position their vehicles close to a white line regardless of the traffic conditions, believing it is their ‘right’ to be in this position” they added.

While some are in favour of this, the AA’s head of road policy, while talking to The Times, is not one of them, saying that the white lines saved lives.

So what do you make of this? Do you think a driver’s common sense would see that the roads were largely safe, or indeed, do you not like the idea because you worry about the lack of common sense that some people have?

Petrol price drop – looks like it is over

February 3rd, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

petrol Petrol price drop   looks like it is overIf you’ve been enjoying the price drops in fuel for your car, don’t get used to it as it looks like it is over. For now at least.

The RAC are predicting that the cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps is going to start nudging upward again. With wholesale prices on the rise again, last week’s fuel-for-under-a-quid aren’t looking like they’ll be coming back any time soon.

The RAC’s fuel guy, Simon Williams, told Sky: “Motorists have seen petrol and diesel prices reach their lowest points since 2009.”

“January saw the oil price go into free-fall with talk of a barrel dropping to $20 and possibly even to $10 dollars, but since the low of $26 a barrel the market has started to creep back up.”

“However, the oil market is notoriously volatile, even in more stable economic times, so it’s still possible that the price could drop back again.”

So don’t lose hope drivers! The fuel market is up-and-down more times than Charlie Brown’s mood, but any drop in price won’t be happening soon.

New DeLoreans to be made!

January 28th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

delorean 300x168 New DeLoreans to be made!You will know the DeLorean car from the Back To The Future films, but unless you’re a nerd about motoring, or the ’80s, you probably don’t know much more about them.

Well, the easiest way to learn about the whole thing is to listen to Neon Neon’s ‘Stainless Style’ album, where Super Furries frontman Gruff Rhys sings all about the history of the car and the person behind it.

Either way, the original car was built in Belfast and Houston, and are set to go into production for the first time in over 30 years. Originally, there were around 9,000 of the cars made, with only 6,500 still in existence (apparently).

Well, no more, as a chap called Stephen Wynne is going to be building new versions, still using the name the DeLorean Motor Company. This is all thanks to a change in the law, regarding small scale car manufacturers.

If you buy a new DeLorean, you’ll need around $100,000 or so. ”There’s no reason to change the appearance of the car,” said Wynne. ”As we go into the programme, we’ll decide what areas need to be freshened up.”

And when can you get your hands on one? Well, the earliest looks like it’ll be some time in 2017. Get saving.

EU to bring new rules for emission testing

January 27th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

car pollution 300x187 EU to bring new rules for emission testingThe European Union is proposing new rules when it comes to testing the emissions from cars, which is obviously something they’ve started thinking about after the Volkswagen scandal.

Now, the EU are looking at tests that will be carried out by independent assessors, and basically, are not in any way connected to vehicle manufacturers. Of course, anyone can be bribed, but that’s not what the EU are hoping for.

The labs that do the tests are paid directly by the manufacturers, and this is looking like it will stop, in a bid to stop conflicts of interest.

They also want to be able to recall any cars across the whole of the EU, and be able to undertake spot checks to cars that are on the road.

As well as being bad for the environment, decimating the trust in various companies, this scandal highlighted just how weak the rules were in place, that were put in place regarding the testing and certifying of cars that were being sent out on the road. The commission wants to get more power, so they can be tougher with manufacturers.

Where things slip through testing, the idea of random spot checks on the road should, in the EU’s view, ensure that anyone who cheated a test, would be caught.

Of course, these proposals could take years to go through, as everyone in the EU has to agree on the terms. Don’t hold your breath, eh? Unless you’re stood behind a VW car.

road works Should councils be fined £5,000 a day for leaving roadworks unmanned?Are you absolutely pig sick of roadworks? Are they a blight on your very existence? Well, someone’s come up with an idea that councils should be fined £5,000-a-day, if they leave roadworks unmanned. This means that roadworks will be done over the weekends as well, but someone’s clearly thinking of getting rid of needless road jams.

It isn’t just councils – utility companies could also get slapped around with big fines for doing the same thing, leaving road works in place while no-one is actually working on them.

Now, there’s already daily fines of £5,000 in place, for roadworks that overrun, however, this could now extend to those who leave temporary traffic lights somewhere, after a job has been finished, according to the Department for Transport.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I want to deliver better journeys for drivers. Roadworks can be essential but that doesn’t mean they should be in place any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

“That is why I am looking at proposals to reduce queues and make drivers’ lives easier. These common sense measures will be a welcome relief to those trying to get from A to B on our local roads. Over Christmas we were able to lift a massive number of roadworks on trunk roads, but this package of measures will benefit drivers all the year round.”

Now, drivers will no doubt be thrilled at the prospect of the UK’s roads getting fixed up, and in a more timely manner too – however, while collectively, we’re already paying for the repairs through taxes, if any jobs result in fines, surely we’d collectively end up having those passed on to us as well?

Should we get rid of loads of traffic lights?

January 25th, 2016 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

traffic jam Should we get rid of loads of traffic lights?The roads of the UK can be tediously slow at times. Ever wondered what it’d be like if someone got rid of all those obstacles, so you could crack on with what you need to do?

Well, according to one think-tank, what we need to do is get rid of 80% of all traffic lights… and no, it wouldn’t be dangerous, they reckon. Of course, the roads would be unjammed too, which drivers would enjoy, no doubt.

The Institute for Economic Affairs wrote a report which stated that the 40% rise in traffic lights in 20 years “made life a misery”, so they’ve suggested shared spaces that have no lights… or railings… or bollards. Now, this hasn’t been plucked out of thin air – a town in Germany and a town in Holland have done this, and a trial Portishead kicked out the jams.

Of course, this whole idea hinges on drivers respecting each other, or people trusting people not to take liberties on the road and spoil it for everyone.

Either way, Dr Richard Wellings, head of transport at the IEA, thinks this is all a marvellous idea. He said: “For too long policymakers have failed to make a cost-benefit analysis of a range of regulations – including traffic lights, speed cameras and bus lanes – making life a misery from drivers nationwide.”

“It’s quite clear that traffic management has spread far beyond the locations where it might be justified, to the detriment of the economy, environment and road safety.”

“The evidence of shared space schemes shows the transformational benefits of less regulated approach, whilst the removal of a high proportion of traffic lights would deliver substantial economic and social benefits.”

Morrisons to drop petrol price below £1

January 22nd, 2016 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

There’s been a price battle with the supermarkets at their petrol pumps, and Morrisons have announced that, as of 3pm today, they’ll be dropping theirs to below a quid.

They tweeted about it and everything, look:

morrisons petrol 500x155 Morrisons to drop petrol price below £1

Of course, there’s been a lot of chatter about this, as we previously reported.

Again, this is all down to a drop in the global price of oil and, naturally, the big established UK supermarkets want to court your affections, as everyone has been running off to Aldi, Lidl, and Waitrose.

Asda also said that they’re doing the same, dropping their fuel prices below a quid. Either way, if you need to fill up the car, get to a Morrisons today and go buck wild.

Car insurance, up £100 in a year

January 21st, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

cosy coupe car 300x199 Car insurance, up £100 in a yearFigures show that the average cost of car insurance has gone up by over £100 in the past year, and false or exaggerated whiplash claims have added £50 to everybody’s policies.

This comes from AA Insurance, so say that the average price of insuring a driver for a year has risen by 20%, from £520 at the end of 2014, to £625 at the end of 2015. As if driving wasn’t expensive enough.

The biggest spike in price came in the last three months, with the average quote now standing at £59, which is 10% more expensive than it was this time last Autumn.

There’s another reason it has gone up – you can say thank you to George Osborne’s ”insurance premium tax”, which was introduced in the Emergency budget last summer. The tax went from 6% to 9.5%, and is paid every time an insurance policy is bought in the UK. It adds £13 to the annual cost of running your car.

Michael Lloyd, who is the director of AA Insurance, said personal injury claims are still a huge problem for the car insurance industry. He said: ”It’s this acceptance that it’s OK to defraud insurers that has become endemic. It is stealing and it affects the premiums paid by your friends, your family and your colleagues – those that most wouldn’t dream of defrauding.”

And analysts say that car insurance is going to keep getting more expensive in 2016, but hopefully, at a slower rate. Still, ain’t that a kick in the head?

Renault recall 15,000 cars… just in case, honest

January 19th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

renault logo 300x300 Renault recall 15,000 cars... just in case, honestThe fraud squad raided Renault recently, after they were suspicious that the car-maker might have been using the cheat-stuff that got Volkswagen into so much trouble. Renault said that they’re guilty of nothing, and are going along with the authorities investigations, because they’ve got nothing to hide.

All up to speed? Good. Well, Renault are going to recall 15,000 vehicles to check their engines.

Now, they’re doing this just to make sure, you understand. Crucially, these vehicles are being checked over before they go on sale, according to French transport minister Segolene Royal. She said that Renault “has committed to recalling a certain number of vehicles, 15,000 vehicles, to check them and adjust them correctly so that the filtration system works” in all temperatures.

This follows Renault saying that they were sorting out their plan to bring emissions down in their cars, after they failed pollution tests, which prompted the raids.

Now, the company’s shares are dropping as a result of all this, but the car-manufacturer are very clear that they’ve done nothing wrong, with their sales director Thierry Koskas saying “very firmly” that “Renault did not cheat”. He added: “We are not using any software or any other (fraudulent) methods. In test conditions, we respect emissions norms.”

“But when we are no longer in test conditions, there is indeed a difference between real conditions and control conditions, that is a fact.”

Are Renault protesting a bit too much and this all seems a bit fishy? Are they just annoyed that Volkswagen have made it impossible for them to go about their usual tests without everyone being suspicious all the time? We’ll see, in the coming weeks.

Fraud police raid Renault

January 14th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

renault logo 300x300 Fraud police raid RenaultThe fraud police have raided French car makers Renault, who were looking for units in the cars that might be cheating tests. Of course, we had the same thing with Volkswagen, but Renault say that there’s no evidence of defeat device software in their vehicles.

They confirmed that three of their sites were visited by fraud detectives last week, and that they are cooperating fully with investigations.

CGT Renault union first reported the raids, and said that the police seized the computers of a number of the company’s directors.

Even though they’ve said there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing, the news has seen Renault’s stock falling by more than 20%.

In the midst of all this, car rivals over at Peugeot threw a statement out, saying that their cars have also been tested for this cheat software, but again, there’s no evidence of any such devices being found, and that they are not involved in any of these fraud investigations.

This is provisionally good news, but then, Volkswagen said that they’d done nothing wrong for a while, so this is a story to keep an eye on. If found guilty of this, there’s going to be a lot of fines and compensation floating around in 2016, that’s for certain.

car scrap How to... check if theres been a recall on your carHave you heard something about your car being recalled? Did someone down the pub half tell you something about airbags being faulty and you think it might be your vehicle, but you got so blind drunk that you can’t really remember what they said?

Or maybe you read about a recall concerning your car in a newspaper and want to know more, like a sensible person?

Well, there’s a handy tool that you can use whenever you feel like, so you don’t have to rely on car manufacturers to get shipshape, or trawl around the internet looking for something to help you out.

The government have got a tool where you can check to see if there’s been a recall for vehicle, part or accessory, which is really handy.

The site says: “You can use this service to find out if a safety fault has caused a manufacturer to recall: cars, motorcycles, quadricycles and tricycles” as well as “caravans and horse boxes, child car seats, seat belts and harnesses, tyres, components and parts, agricultural equipment, lorries, buses, coaches and minibuses.”

Obviously, you’re going to have to have a few things at your disposal first. You’ll need to know the manufacturer, model, and date of manufacture. If you have that information, you’re away!

Click here to use the vehicle recall tool

Bitterwallet appeal parking tickets1 Car park operator investigated over doctored ticketsA car park operator, UKPC, are being investigated after they were accused of issuing tickets to drivers, which had been doctored. This is the second time the company have misleading drivers (we’ll stick an ‘allegedly’ in there, to be on the safe side).

After the claims were made about the company tampering with photos, UKPC was given a temporary suspension from using DVLA data to trace the addresses of drivers. This meant that any unpaid fines during that time, could not be followed up.

UKPC, who have said that staff misunderstood an email about all this, are being investigated again, by the British Parking Association. Last September, the BPA started to follow up claims that employees have been changing time stamps on car photos.

“If there’s a repeat of any kind of misbehaviour, that will almost certainly result in expulsion or further suspension,” said BPA head Patrick Troy.

So, if this isn’t out-and-out fraud, what’s going on? Well, the UKPC themselves said that these allegations refer to an “isolated photograph tampering incident” by a “few rogue employees”.

VW say sorry for emissions scandal again

January 6th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Volkswagen Logo 300x300 VW say sorry for emissions scandal againVolkswagen are again saying sorry for all that business with the emissions scandal, but this time, they decided to launch two cars while they were there. Nothing like an apology that comes with a sales pitch, eh?

They launched two new electric cars at CES 2016 – the e-Golf Touch and a microbus vehicle called Budd-E. This, they assure everyone, shows their absolute commitment to zero emissions. However, they were supposed to be committed to that while cheat software was being installed in some of their cars, so forgive us for not getting out the party hats.

Speaking at the dweeb event, head of the VW passenger brand Herbert Diess kicked off his speech by saying: “For more than 60 years Volkswagen has been at home in the US. The issue with diesel engines is nothing to be proud of, we disappointed…the American people, for which I am truly sorry.”

It is worth pointing out that the CES event is in Las Vegas, which is why the Americans got a special apology. Diess added that there were 8.5m affected cars in Europe, which he said will be fixed this year. “We are committed to making things right and ensuring something like this could never happen again,” he added.

And then, he showed off the cars which are part of the “new Volkswagen”.

So what’s the deal? The e-Golf was referred to as a “smartphone on wheels”, because it is operated by voice controls and has no buttons. You’ll have to say things like “Hey Volkswagen!” and waft your hands around a bit. It’ll have a digital interface which will be filled with all manner of apps so you can play music, take calls, or whatever. The e-Golf Touch is going to be on sale at some point in 2016.

The Budd-E, meanwhile, is a concept vehicle, which is fully electric. Apparently, the Budd-E’s 101-kWh battery pack will give you 373 miles of driving, and can be charged to 80% in half an hour.

Here’s what it looks like.