Posts Tagged ‘motoring’
According to the AA, more than 90% of motorists say that they find it hard to see cyclists while driving and so, they’ve started a campaign called the ‘AA Think Bike’ which advises you put stickers on your wing mirror, because drivers obviously need reminding how to drive.
This coincides with the launch of a national Think Bikes awareness campaign, which showed that 55% of motorists are frequently “surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere”.
They’ve made a video about it all and it features a naked man and lots of people whooping.
One million free stickers will be distributed to drivers, which will acts as a reminder that they should keep an eye out, in case they kill someone.
AA president Edmund King said: “Our campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. hose on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users.”
All the cars have been learning their routines for the annual vehicle pageant, the Car of the Year awards. They have their little dance routines and speeches sorted and, triumphant, Peugeot’s 308 saw off the competition and is now the best car in the world. Not bad for a little hatchback.
Irritatingly, the Peugeot scored 307 points (they really should’ve added an extra point on) versus the second-placed BMW battery-electric i3, which got itself 223 points. They were followed by the battery-electric Tesla Model S (216 points) and the Citroën Picasso (182 points).
The points were awarded by a panel of 58 Car of the Year judges across 22 European countries.
“We feel this vindicates our radical choices made with the 308,” said Maxime Picat, Peugeot chief executive. “Also it was the company’s attempt to improve quality beyond anything that went before that was one of the key reasons the 308 has won this award.”
This is good news for the company, as PSA Peugeot Citroën haven’t been doing too well recently, having to get bailed out by the French Government and the Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng Motors. Each of them will be putting £660 million into PSA Peugeot Citroën in return for a stake in the company.
Either way, if you’re looking for a new car, it is obvious that you should check out the 308. Be warned though, the dashboard layout isn’t for everyone and the steering wheel is tiny, like it is designed for a child. However, there’s a load of people who love the new design, so there you go.
Volvo recently showed off their new Tablet Crammed Into A Dashboard Thing, and now, Apple have decided to show off their new technology which takes them into the world of motoring.
Basically, Apple are taking iOS into your motor with CarPlay. In short, it is a version of the iOS interface, but simplified so you don’t crash your car while using it. It’ll have voice-controlled stuff, obviously, and interestingly, there’ll be no virtual keyboards.
CarPlay is able to sync up with your calendar and emails, and as a result, will anticipate meetings and give you suggestions for relevant destinations and direct you there. Siri will read your text messages too, while allowing you to dictate a response.
This is all furiously bad news if you’re having an affair.
Of course, you’ll be able to listen to music through iTunes and Spotify and, as yet, Apple aren’t letting many apps through that they don’t own. CarPlay is driven entirely from your phone (iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c). If you’re getting a Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, and have an Android phone, this is a bit useless to you.
More on all that, over at Apple.
If you drove into work today or, indeed, drove anywhere in the past few lifetimes, you’ll know that fuel for your car is not cheap. Of course, you’re not daft and you know that it is a fossil fuel so it won’t exactly be given away… but you’ll know, like everyone has always known, that British people pay too much for it.
So with that, stating the obvious but at least backing you up when you moan about it, RAC Foundation research has been done for the millionth time, pointing out that in Britain, we pay a higher rate of tax on fuel than any other person in the European Union.
61% of the price of a litre of unleaded petrol bought on these shores, goes to the government as fuel duty and VAT. If you have a diesel engine, it’s 59%. This study has been timed just as George Osborne prepares his budget, to be issued later this month. Seems likely that there won’t be any reprieve for drivers in that. Seeing as the government have frozen fuel duty since 2011, that will probably see a small rise. Meanwhile, the other 27 states that make up the EU will be pouring fuel down grids for a laugh. Possibly.
The interesting thing is, before tax, Britain actually has some of the cheapest fuel in Europe. All the hikes come from levies. Meanwhile, over in Luxembourg, they’re paying 98p per litre and in Bulgaria, they’ve got the lowest tax at 45 per cent.
Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “On 19th March the Chancellor will deliver his budget. He has made much of the fact that fuel duty has not risen for three years. However this has made little impact on the huge proportion of tax the UK’s 36 million drivers pay on their fuel.”
“The irony is that if you take tax out of the equation we actually have the fifth cheapest diesel in the EU and the second cheapest petrol.”
Volvo have gleefully announced their new “human machine interface” which will be shown off at the Geneva Motor Show.
You get a screen embedded into your dashboard which is divided into tiles. Most prominently, there’s information on navigation, media and stuff about your car and secondary features for messing about with your phone and the temperature of your vehicle.
Volvo say that this new dash ‘reduces visual noise’. To you, it looks like someone put a tablet in the dashboard, which is pretty snazzy.
Rural drivers have been getting stiffed on petrol prices for a while now. If you consider how much everyone gets done over on fuel costs, you’ve really got to feel for those out in the sticks. They can’t even afford the petrol to move out of the countryside.
With petrol priced differently depending on where you live, there’s been something of a postcode lottery when it comes to what you pay at the pumps.
However, that appears to be changing, thanks to a shortening of the price gap.
The difference in prices in country districts compared with urban areas has narrowed from roughly 5p a litre to as low as 2p, according to the AA.
This drop in rural prices has contributed to a general nationwide dip in price, which now averages 129.63p a litre compared with 130.46p in mid-January. The AA deduces that the strengthening of the pound against the dollar had accounted for much of the fall in pump prices.
Yorkshire and Humberside has the cheapest petrol with an average of 129.2p a litre.
AA president Edmund King said: “Across whole towns, for months if not years, drivers and businesses have been charged 4p to 6p a litre more for petrol compared to what retailers charged for the same fuel in neighbouring towns. Drivers don’t know whether to rejoice or get very angry that supermarkets and other fuel markets can actually trade at 2p to 3p a litre above prices in cheaper areas.”
Most of us might not risk drinking or driving, but it turns out that over half of us are not averse to stuffing our faces at the wheel – putting ourselves and everyone else at risk of Krispy Kreme related car accidents.
That’s according to a survey by road charity Brake and Direct Line, who found that three in five drivers have admitted to driving while scoffing some form of tasty service station treat. And 2% of us have actually almost caused an accident while trying open a Big Bag of beefy Hula Hoops.
Experts contend that eating at the wheel is just as distracting as using a mobile phone, which of course, is illegal.
But it turns out that we don’t just use our car as a banqueting hall. 15% of the 1000 drivers surveyed also admitted to personal grooming while driving.
Deputy chief executive of Brake, Julie Townsend said:
‘Driving is the most complicated and risky thing most of us do on a regular basis, so it is vital we give it our full and undivided attention. We can’t afford to treat our cars as an extension of our kitchen or bathroom.’
(You mean we can’t shave, have a bath, do the washing or make a stir fry? BORING).
However Edmund King, president of the AA, rather amusingly said that the problem wasn’t that bad, and that people needed to take the results of survey ‘with a pinch of salt.’
On top of a KFC chicken bucket that you’re eating with a knife and fork in the fast lane of the M6.
Seems, thanks to a crackdown, your motor will now face INSTANT FAILURE when you get your MOT done thanks to those kindly souls at the Department for Transport.
Modern diesel cars are fitted with a DPF thanks to European rules which said we all had to filter nasty nonsense and reduce emissions. It’s good for the environment and good for your car tax.
Alas, these filters are expensive to maintain and they need replacing often. As such, some drivers have had the DPF removed. Now, if you don’t have the filter in, like you’re supposed to, MOT testing stations will have to fail your MOT. And then you’ll have to get one installed. And maintain it. It’s going to cost you a lot of money, basically.
Robert Goodwill, roads minister, said: “I am very concerned that vehicles are being modified in a way that is clearly detrimental to people’s health and undoes the hard work car manufacturers have taken to improve emissions standards. It has become apparent the government had to intervene to clarify the position on particulate filter removal given the unacceptable negative impact on air quality.”
“This change to the MOT tests makes it clear – if you have this filter removed from your car it will fail the test.”
Of course, the irritating thing is that DPFs don’t work properly unless you’re driving your car at a constant speed for around 20 minutes, as it needs to warm up. So even if you do have one and are only nipping to the shops and back, or in stop-start traffic a lot, it isn’t really helping the environment at all.
Not that this matters. The Department for Transport want you to have one and they won’t be budged.
Ok, so if you park on a double yellow and nip to the shop to get fags, and a traffic warden catches you, it’s a fair cop, guv. But if you’re WAITING IN A QUEUE OF TRAFFIC AT A RED LIGHT, then you don’t expect a ticket, do you?
Well that’s what happened to poor Victor Hankins, who was idling next to a bus stop waiting for the lights to change when a traffic enforcement vehicle mistakenly pinpointed him for a parking violation.
When he received the ticket Mr Hankins, from Bradford, said it was ‘an absolute joke’ and immediately appealed against the ludicrous decision.
It doesn’t sound like the council was particularly friendly at this point, because after checking the highway code, Hanky got serious on their ass, and said:
‘I told them that I would be removing the appeal and I’d be seeing them in court and I wanted the camera operative in the court with me. At that point they overturned everything, apologised and the attitude couldn’t have been more helpful and totally the opposite (from before).’
Bradford Council backtracked and did more groveling to Mr Hankins, saying: ‘All images are checked before a Penalty Charge Notice is issued. In this case a mistake was made. When we find out that we have issued a penalty notice in error we cancel it and refund as appropriate.’
(Which makes it sound like it happens all the time.)
The Highways Agency are looking like they’re going to increase the stretches of ‘managed motorway’ we have, so sections of road will have the overall speed of traffic adjusted in a bid to avoid traffic jams and bottlenecks.
So, instead of driving along at 70mph, you’ll more regularly reach those segments that slow everyone down and have a camera installed at each end of a section, to ensure you don’t drive any quicker than they want you to.
This means a whole load of new cameras cropping up on the roads, covering large stretches of motorway. The plan is that over 400 miles of the busiest motorways will be covered. There will also be cameras to make sure no-one is going faster than 70mph, so hard lines if you’ve just bought a fancy sports car.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Speed cameras are an extremely well evidenced, cost-effective way to improve safety and reduce deaths and injuries on roads where they are placed, preventing families going through the trauma of a sudden bereavement or life-changing injury.”
“Put simply: speed cameras reduce speeding, which helps to prevent deadly crashes. Breaking the speed limit is risky and illegal, so only drivers who break the law will face fines.”
Do you agree?
Cycling has been a hot-topic of late, with both sides of the argument being equally useful and filled with unswerving pricks. However, the fact remains – people have died so something needs to be done.
With that, lorries which don’t have new safety equipment to protect pedestrians and people on bikes will now be banned from London, according to councils and Boris Johnson.
Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes – which are responsible for a disproportionate amount of deaths – will now have to be fitted with sideguards and extra mirrors. Patrols, CCTV and on-street checks will ensure the lorries are safe enough, so people aren’t dragged under their wheels.
A report noted that , of 16 cyclist deaths in London in 2011, nine of them involved HGVs, seven of which were construction lorries.
Johnson said: “In my cycling vision, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. I am pleased to say that after negotiations with London councils, we can now combine our powers to propose a simple and comprehensive ban.”
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) aren’t having it though, saying this is going to be very expensive for the businesses and that the safety equipment might actually cause accidents of their own.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of urban logistics policy said: “These proposals will affect anything larger than a transit van and are not targeted, as we believe they should be, at construction traffic. Many large vans and small HGVs would in fact fall foul of other legislation if they fitted additional mirrors as their cabs are too low and pedestrians and cyclists would be at risk of being struck by these low mirrors.”
“This is the danger with politicians developing new standards without working with the industry. Safety on the roads is a complex issue and politicians often reach for the simplistic solution.”
Today, England’s first motorway service station pub opens, which will inevitably cause a huge kerfuffle as people assume that drivers won’t be able to resist the temptation of getting bladdered behind the wheel, despite the fact millions of drivers successfully scoot past pubs every day without ending up swilling pints in their cars.
The pub is called the Hope and Champion and is two storeys of boozy goodness. You can find it at the services on the M40, next to junction 2 near Beaconsfield which is in Buckinghamshire.
The pub opens at 4am and closes at 1am. They’ll serve beer from 9am.
Wetherspoon’s are planning more of these motorway boozers and point out that it isn’t just a pub as they’ll be selling a range of non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee (with free refills) on top of the usual local real ales, wine, spirits and beers. They’re probably going to sell food too, so if you’re in need of a fry-up while driving, they’ll be on it, going toe-to-toe with the Little Chefs of the road.
A spokesman for Wetherspoon’s said they think most of their profits will come from passengers buying a pint or people on coach trips, adding: “We are not naive. We know that giving drivers the chance to have a pint off the motorway is an unusual offer. But equally we do not live in a nanny state. We expect drivers to act responsibly.”
The motorway pubs will have the national Drink Drive Awareness logos on… well, everything. As well as that, soft drinks will be much cheaper than they usually are in pubs and elsewhere in the service station.
Various charities and pressure groups are not happy, picturing our motorways ablaze with car-wrecks thanks to drink driving. However, service stations aren’t exactly paragons of virtue as it is. Their original purpose was to provide rest spots and toilets for people on long journeys, but rather than a bit of piece of quiet, service stations are more like a mini Vegas, filled with gamblers and video games.
If Wetherspoon’s undercut the ridiculously high prices we find in service stations already, we’re all onto a winner until some berk spoils it for everyone by getting battered on cheap ale and driving into traffic. Play nice. Don’t spoil it for everyone.
Whether drivers should have to pay a congestion charge or not is another debate, but in the meantime, it is there and has to be dealt with. Making matters worse is the number of websites that are helping you to pay for congestion fee, even though they’ve got nothing to do with it.
One company in Hampshire who trades as PayLondonCongestion.co.uk, allows you to pay but sticks a £6 ‘processing fee’ on top when you could just pay the TfL direct without the extra charge on top.
The ASA have got involved and told the company that their adverts are “misleading” and that their adverts on Google “must not appear again in their current form”. The Advertising Standards Authority said: ”Many consumers presented with the ad as a search result for the search ‘Congestion Charge’ would expect it to relate to the official method of payment for the London Congestion Charge.”
“We considered that it was not clear from the ad that the link led to a website unaffiliated with the official congestion charge payment website run by TfL and that for that reason the ad was misleading.”
Now, the website specifies what the fees are and that they are in no way affiliated with TfL.
Basically, the lesson here is that you should only use the TfL website if you’re going to cough-up for the congestion charge. The TfL themselves reckon that there’s around 1,000 people per day using unofficial sites to paying more for the privilege.
So, for the avoidance of doubt, use tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/congestioncharging.
Now, feel free to slag off the need for a congestion charge in London in the comments or wind up drivers by saying it is absolutely necessary.
As you may have seen in our Deals Of The Day yesterday, Asda have dropped the price of fuel for motorists and Tesco have followed suit, with both supermarkets reducing pump prices of petrol and diesel by up to 2p a litre. Asda have said that drivers will pay no more than 126.7p a litre for petrol and 133.7p a litre for diesel.
Pete Williams, head of external affairs at the RAC, said: “The supermarkets are helping to brighten up January by knocking 2p a litre off petrol and diesel in reaction to falling wholesale prices.”
The good thing is, is when supermarkets start lowering their prices, everyone else does in response, which means a price drop across the country for everyone. Thanks to prices having gone up rapidly in recent years, these reductions still don’t stop fuel costs sticking in the craw, but at least there’s a small solace in the fact that, if prices fall to within 2p of the supermarker’s, we’ll have the cheapest fuel since February 2011. Depends whether you’re a half full/half empty person.
AA president Edmund King said: “Fuel price reductions at the pumps will bring a sigh of relief to many drivers who are struggling to make ends meet after bigger than normal financial outgoings during the festive period.”
“We hope that other supermarkets and fuel retailers follow the lead of Asda and Tesco to cut their prices at the pumps, otherwise we just end up with a fuel-price lottery based on proximity to certain supermarkets.”
Say you have tons of annoying kids and you need to ferry them around all the time because they’re too young/lazy to learn to drive. You’re going to need a big car. But you can’t afford a new big car, so you have to buy a used big car. So which big used car are you going to buy?
Buying a used car is usually a nightmare involving Gumtree, general dodginess and having to talk to someone who looks like Frank Butcher in a freezing car lot. So Which! has decided to take some of the awfulness out of it and tell you the best model for the job.
Generally speaking, Japanese models are most reliable, with some scoring 90% in the Which! survey. And the winner is? The Toyota Prius – that most sensible and unsexy of hybrid cars. As well as being good for the environment, it’s so reliable that it has an annual repair bill of just £14 and a breakdown rate of only 5%.
Of course, you’ll also want to know which one is the stinker. That would be the Peugeot 407, which is the least reliable in the survey. Buy one of these and you can look forward to £391 worth of annual repair bills, as well as suspension faults, bad air conditioning and braking problems. In fact, the scrap yard is too good for it.
So now you know. When the kids grow up you can get a divorce and buy a Mazerati, but until then, you can get your kicks doing donuts round the Sainsbury’s car park in a used Prius. Exciting.