Thursday, 10 November 2011

New Technology Promises To Change Driving Experience

Experts Predict All New Cars Will Be Internet-Ready In 3 To 5 Years

New technology is coming to your car, and companies promise it will change your driving experience.

Experts predict a huge explosion in the next few years in the number of vehicles in our area that will be connected to the Internet.

The world's newest Internet onramp is already installed in the Audi A7 sedan.

"In essence, your car is a moving mobile Wi-Fi spot," said Kevin Koa, tech guru at Miramar Audi.

The new technology allows a driver to use a small SIM card to connect to a wireless network -- similar to how SIM cards work in smartphones.

Once connected, drivers can check on real-time gas prices. Passengers can watch streaming movies and browse news headlines on tablets, and drivers will get more direction. Combined with satellite radio, maps are updated and traffic updates are live.

The connected car remains rare, as about five percent of cars are logged on. However, some industry experts recently predicted 100 percent of new cars will be Internet-ready within three to five years.

Cadillac just launched its connected car feature at a recent convention in San Diego.

When it comes to traffic, the live updates will soon be more accurate.

"There's a lot of potential in the project," said Samuel Johnson, chief technology officer at SANDAG.

Regional leaders say a bevy of road sensors are one part of an $8.7 million federal grant for Interstate 15 that could give connected cars improved traffic data and drive times.

"The better information we can get to folks, the better choices they can make about when and where to drive," added Johnson.

Better traffic updates won't be the only Internet feature of the future. Cars will eventually be able to contact dealers about problems and even schedule service appointments.

In Europe, some Audi models already combine cameras, road sign recognition and Internet data on real-time speeds to guide vehicle speeds.

"The vehicles will actually react before humans can react," said Koa.

The monthly charge for the Audi wireless connection is about $30.

Ford is introducing a Wi-Fi feature in its 2012 Focus in Europe.

Source :

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Drive Down Your Motor Insurance

Young drivers are finding it increasingly difficult to get affordable car insurance as costs continue to rocket.

Over the past two years, premiums for those aged between 17 and 22 have risen, on average, by 80 per cent, according to AA Insurance, while findings from show that the average 17 to 20-year-old male now pays a massive £4,006 a year for comprehensive cover.

“The number of crashes on Britain’s roads is falling, but the percentage shared by young drivers is growing,” says Simon Douglas from AA Insurance. “Young people are much more likely to suffer a crash than older, more experienced drivers.”

Given that younger drivers also make far higher claims, many insurers refuse to cover them at all, which adds to the pressure on rates.

All of this has led to a high level of frustration, with 93 per cent of young drivers now feeling that they are priced off the road, according to specialist insurer Young Marmalade.

For those who are determined to get behind the wheel, it may be tempting to go without cover, but if you are not insured you are breaking the law. However, there are ways to keep costs down.

Firstly, choose a slower car with a smaller engine, as this will fall into a lower insurance group. You can also make savings by driving less and staying off the road late at night.

Look into paying your premium annually rather than monthly; this may require a large initial outlay, but in most cases, the total over a year will be lower.

By purchasing your cover through a cashback site such as, you can get large sums back on the cost of the insurance.

Also, try to choose a policy that will allow you to build up your no-claims bonus. Avoid just being named on your parents’ policy as you won’t build up your no-claims bonus if you do this.

Ensure you have an alarm and an immobiliser fitted and steer clear of sporty modifications.

“For young drivers, particularly young males, it has never been more important to shop around for the best price,” says Gareth Kloet from “Interestingly, our research also shows that young male drivers can see their car insurance costs reduce significantly if they are married and add their spouse to the policy.”

However, adding someone else as the main driver when this is not the case is known as “fronting” and is classed as fraud. If you are caught fronting you risk invalidating claims or could find yourself facing a fine or a ban.

Young drivers could also benefit from the development of “black box” technology, which a number of insurers are now using to record customer’s driving habits.

For example, insurer Young Marmalade monitors drivers using a tracking device and rewards safe motorists with lower premiums, while the Co-op also offers a pay-as-you-drive scheme using a Smartbox to measure how well the car is driven.

There are also plans to introduce a new post-test driving qualification, to replace the Pass Plus, with an emphasis on speed awareness.

If this is successful, it could also help responsible young drivers reduce their premiums.

“The existing Pass Plus scheme, which comprises six informal sessions, and no exam or test, has become discredited because many young drivers simply took it to get insurance discounts,” says Douglas.

“We are also urging the Government to add ‘road awareness’ to the National Curriculum in a bid to cut down the number of young driver casualties. This could also eventually help reduce insurance premiums.”

Drivers are being urged to check their motor policies for exclusions, as new findings from show that “fully comprehensive” car cover may not be as comprehensive as it sounds.

According to research, the cost and policy details can vary significantly, with some not including legal cover or courtesy cars.

“Motorist shouldn’t be fooled into assuming ‘fully comp’ is ‘fully comp’,” says Peter Harrison from “Exclusions are commonplace, so drivers should scour the small print with a fine-toothed comb to ensure they don’t get caught out. The key is to shop around for the best policy to match your driving needs.”

Source : Esther Shaw -

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Young Driver Insurance Costs Fall

New figures released by the AA have shown a 5.6% drop in annual car insurance premiums for motorists in the 17-22 age group to £2,294 in the second quarter of this year, compared with the first three months.

Men aged 17 to 22 pay an average premium of £2,872, while women in the age group pay £1,671.

Simon Douglas, AA insurance director, said: "Young drivers have for a long time been the biggest losers in the insurance market with premiums driving them off the road.

"They share the greatest number of serious crashes, premiums have been rising at a disproportionate rate, but it seems at last that insurers are starting to compete a bit more for their business with rates starting to come down."

The average cost of annual car insurance premiums for all motorists reached £924 in the three months ended June, up 3.6% over the first quarter - the lowest increase for 18 months.

Source :

Thursday, 21 July 2011

DSA Online Services This Weekend

Some of DSA’s online systems won’t be available from midnight Friday 22 July to 6.00 am on Sunday 24 July. This is due to essential maintenance work.

It will affect access to:

• online instructor services on Business Link
• the online booking service for practical tests on Directgov
• all online Driver CPC services
• DSA’s national speech recognition service for changing practical tests

You’ll still be able to use online theory test services by visiting

You’ll be able to go online from 6.00 am on Sunday as normal.

DSA is sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
Source : DSA

Monday, 27 June 2011

Dads Have Shorter Fuse With Their L Plate Off Spring

The results of a light hearted AA membership poll, completed exclusively by parents who have dared to take their son or daughter for a driving lesson reveals that dads by and large have a lower patience threshold than mums when it comes to instructing their children.

In the AA Membership poll which was completed by more than 3,700 parents across a wide range of ages, 28.5% of the dad’s quizzed, said they believed themselves to have been a very patient teacher, stating they remained calm and constructive throughout the lessons. A higher percentage of mums however, 35.9% gave themselves this same rating.

At the other end of the patience scale 11.3% of the dads surveyed during the AA Membership poll said they simply didn’t have the temperament for teaching their off spring how to drive. A slightly lower number of mums said the same. 9.2% of mums surveyed said teaching their children how to drive was far from their natural calling and a major test of their patience.

Among the individual comments received from this less successful group of parents were “never again!”, “my son simply would not take on board instructions”, “my foot was glued to the imaginary brake”, “I was a nervous wreck” and “I had holes gouged in the passenger seat”.

Overall 3.6% of the parents who trialed a lesson with their child said it was an unmitigated disaster which resulted in a massive argument followed by abandonment of the lesson altogether.

Source :

92% Of Teens Claim To Be Safe Drivers

Teens and summer are often a volatile cocktail, especially when it involves driving.

Results from a new survey show that when it comes to “near misses”, speeding, texting and distracted driving account for a high percentage of these incidents. The same survey shows teens are apt to blame everything from the weather to other drivers for these close calls – but not themselves and their inexperience.

The results of the 2011 Liberty Mutual/SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) teen driving study “gives parents reason to pause before they hand over the keys to their newly freed young driver,” according to SADD. The American study was initiated with a series of four focus groups in October 2010 and followed by a survey of 2,294 teens in eleventh and twelfth grades from 28 recruited high schools across the United States in January 2011. It discovered an “alarmingly high” number – 68 per cent of new drivers admit to having “narrowly avoided a crash” and a disturbing tendency to lay the blame elsewhere.

More than half (56 per cent) of the teens who experienced a “near miss” say they have experienced multiple such incidents. “Yet young drivers are more apt to blame external causes such as other drivers or the weather rather than owning up to any personal responsibility in the near-miss,” the report says.

More than one-third of them blame other drivers while 21 per cent say the weather was the primary cause. “But,” the authors of the report say, “when asked what they were doing in the car at the time of the incident, teens admitted to a rash of distractive or dangerous behaviors: Speeding, 30 per cent; Texting while driving, 21 per cent; Talking to passengers, 20 per cent and changing songs on their MP3 player, 17 per cent.”

When asked what was the primary contribution to the near miss, 9 per cent identified excessive speed, 13 per cent said it was texting while driving and 6 per cent admitted that talking with their passengers had distracted them.

There are a few glimmers of good news in the survey. For some young drivers, a close call causes them to re-examine their driving behaviour, albeit briefly. More than half (55 per cent) of those who admitted to a near miss said it made them clean up their act – mostly in terms of paying more attention (44 per cent), text less (26 per cent) and slow down (13 per cent). But 42 per cent admitted that these new behaviours lasted less than a month.

On the other hand, those who were actually involved in a crash, made “significant” changes in their driving habits. Almost 70 per cent of new drivers said the experience changed their habits and 58 per cent said it did so “forever.”

While crashes get all the attention, it is the more prevalent close calls “that should serve as a wake-up call to any driver,” says Dave Melton, Liberty Mutual’s managing director of global safety. “We don't want to wait for the crash to happen before we subscribe to safe driving practices; parents and teens can unite now on a commitment to responsibility behind the wheel.”

“The high prevalence of distracted and dangerous driving continues to be a concern, especially as we head into the summer months when the highest number of driving fatalities occurs,” said SADD Chairman Stephen Wallace. “We know from past Liberty Mutual/SADD research that teens are behind the wheel 44 per cent more hours each week in the summer (23.6 hours) than during the rest of the year (16.4 hours), adding some urgency for parents and teens to sit down and review their family rules of the road.”

And I’ve saved what might be the best for last. The survey also showed that 92 per cent of teens consider themselves to be safe and cautious drivers. But 12 per cent admit to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the summer months.

Source : Richard Russell -

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Uninsured Drivers Face Loss Of Car

New laws to crack down on uninsured drivers are due to take effect, with offenders facing the possibility of having their car destroyed.

The new Continuous Insurance Enforcement law makes it an offence to be a keeper of an uninsured vehicle rather than just driving while uninsured.

From Monday registered keepers identified as having an uninsured vehicle will be sent a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured, and warning them of the consequences if they fail to take action.

Those who do not act on this warning - either by taking out insurance or declaring their vehicle off the road - will receive a £100 fine and could have their vehicle clamped, seized and destroyed. They may also face a court prosecution.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "Anyone who receives a warning letter should take action immediately by getting insurance or contacting the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to declare their vehicle off the road."

The Motor Insurers' Bureau chief executive Ashton West said: "We know who the registered keepers are with vehicles that have no insurance and letters will be dropping on to their doormats from this week. It's no longer a case of if you will get caught, but when you will get caught.

"An estimated 1.4 million drivers are flouting the law by driving without insurance. This is a serious offence and results in accidents that cause about 160 deaths each year and more than 23,000 people are injured by uninsured drivers. It also adds around £30 per year to honest drivers' motor insurance policies."