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."


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Driving Lessons: It's Worth The Wait To Get In The Fast Lane

People who postpone their driving lessons get cheaper insurance and are safer on the road. It doesn't make passing any easier though, says late learner Elisa Bray.

I've just made a reservation at The Ivy and I'm feeling a little resentful. Some years ago, I made a bet with my younger sister that she wouldn't pass her driving test before me. The prize? Dinner at The Ivy.

My sister took her test at 17 and passed. But here I am, approaching 30 and nowhere near a practical test. What's more, I dread 2pm on a Friday – the time of my weekly lesson. My heart races and it takes at least five minutes to remember how to manoeuvre the car. To avoid oncoming cars, I'd be driving on the pavement if I could. As soon as I've mastered one thing, there's something else.

But plenty of people do learn to drive as an adult – 36 per cent of those who took their test last year were aged 25 and above. It just might take longer. For every year of your age, you need one-and-a-half hours of professional training, not including private practice. For a 30-year-old, that means 45 hours.

With every year, the pass rate decreases by a little over 1 per cent. According to statistics from the Driving Standards Agency, if I take my practical test next year I'll have a 14 per cent slimmer chance of passing than if I'd taken it at 17. The pass rate last year was 55.1 per cent for 17-year-olds, but in your 70s you're looking at half that.

Why the discrepancy? In our teens our sense of invincibility leads us to take more risks, but as we get older we are held back by our fears of consequences. Then there are the superior psychomotor skills (co-ordination) of a teenager and the ability to master new skills quickly.

Nothing has seemed as daunting as being charge of 1.3 tons of metal – manipulating both feet over three pedals, while grappling with a gear stick and steering wheel and watching out for parked cars, moving cars, road signs and pedestrians. I don't recall anyone at school discussing how difficult driving was, although a few years later it did take one of my best friends, despite an Oxford education, nine tests to pass. I've had a few stalled attempts at learning and, until last week, after 30 hours of lessons I'd never gone beyond 30mph and third gear.

Nothing is more frustrating than when I've checked my mirrors and am ready to go only to start fumbling around and have to start all over again. The AA's Head of Road Safety, Andrew Howard, says: "The ability to split your attention becomes harder as you get older. You're probably more mentally equipped to learn things when you're 17 or 18. You probably feel less immortal as you get older and are more worried. When we criticise young drivers, we tend to say they have the skills to drive but tend not to use them. When you [older drivers] eventually get to drive you're not going to have to impress your friends with your driving skills."

There is another benefit for older drivers. While younger drivers face insurance bills of thousands no matter how cheap their car is (the AA's quote is £5,232.56 for a 17-year-old male and £2,911.01 for a female), if I pass now, the insurance will cost a much less than that.

My main issue was confidence. Last lesson, I was so nervous I spent 15 minutes persuading my instructor that I wasn't ready to take on dual carriageways. Now I've just made it to fifth gear and 50mph on the A41. And my instructor even had to tell me to slow down.

Source : Elisa Bray -

No-Show Driving Test Examiners Cost Taxpayer £500,000 A Year

Driving examiners who call in sick are costing the ­taxpayer £500,000 a year in compensation.

New figures show that an average of 310 learners a day have their tests cancelled at the last minute.

Students who are let down can claim for loss of earnings, exam fees and the cost of hiring the instructor’s car.

But the shocking dent in the public purse would be three times as high if everyone entitled to ­compensation made a claim.

A total of 113,177 tests were cancelled with less than three days’ notice in the 12 months up to April. Of those, 23,000 were because examiners were ill.

A Driving Standards ­Agency spokeswoman said: “Driving tests are ­notoriously stressful for any learner. But this sickness record suggests that even the examiners are feeling the strain.”

Read more: : Adrian Butler -

Tips on Motor Insurance for Young Drivers

In recent years young drivers have seen the cost of car insurance increase with some annual premiums being more expensive than the price of the vehicle itself. From 20 June 2011 every vehicle must have a valid insurance policy even if it is not being used, unless a Statutory Off Road Notice has been obtained.

Insurance companies have to base their premiums on the level of risk that they face when insuring a vehicle. Many young drivers are inexperienced and are therefore more likely to cause an accident, however responsibly they drive. This inevitably means that drivers under 25 are often faced with higher insurance premiums and, coupled with the higher petrol prices, cannot afford to run a car.

Driving a vehicle without insurance carries a penalty fine of up to £5,000 as well as 6-8 points on your licence. The cost of accidents involving uninsured drivers is borne by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which is funded by insurance companies who ultimately pass this cost on to their policyholders.

In an attempt to reduce the number of uninsured drivers (and therefore reduce the average cost of insurance premiums) the government has introduced new legislation which states that from 20 June 2011 every car must either have a valid insurance policy or a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN). This applies to all vehicles, even if they are not being driven.

Keepers of uninsured vehicles will shortly be contacted and warned that they will face a fine if they do not take immediate action. Fines of up to £1,000 can then be imposed if the owner does not take steps to insure the vehicle and the car can be clamped, seized or destroyed without further warning.

Instead of opting not to take out insurance, young drivers should consider these 5 Top Tips to reduce the cost of your car insurance:-

1. Check the cost of insurance before buying a car. Vehicles with smaller engine sizes are generally cheaper to insure.

2. Keep the car in a secure place when not being used, such as a locked garage. Vehicles with less risk of theft can result in a less expensive quote.

3. Drive carefully. Speeding convictions and claims for accidental damage can increase the cost of insurance.

4. Reduce your mileage as much as possible. Drivers who use their cars less are less of a risk to insurers. This will also reduce the cost of petrol.

5. Shop around for the best deals. Car insurance is a competitive market and researching quotes from different insurers can often mean you get a much better deal.

Source :

The Costs of Getting On The Road May Be High, But What Price For Peace Of Mind?

Learning to drive is a significant milestone in a young person’s life but the costs associated with learning, coupled with the prospect of ever increasing car insurance premiums once the test is passed, can be quite a daunting prospect.

The Driving Standards Agency suggest that it is very unlikely that anyone except an approved driving instructor will have the knowledge and experience necessary to teach learner drivers properly. Research conducted by the agency shows that the average number of professional lessons required to pass a test is 47, along with 20 hours of private practice with someone who has held their driving licence for at least 3 years and is over the age of 21.

According to the AA driving school the average cost of a driving lesson in the UK currently is £24, which makes the prospect of having to afford 47 quite expensive; particularly among a group who are already being hit by increased education fees and a pressurised job market.

All of that said, currently there is no ruling to dictate that professional lessons have to be taken at all. Research carried out with young drivers by learner driver insurer Provisional Marmalade highlighted a worrying trend among this group to ignore the advice given by the Driving Standards Association and spend twice the amount of time practising with a family member rather than a professional instructor in an attempt to save money.

Car insurance comparison site has looked into the average costs associated to getting on the road for learner and newly qualified drivers, demonstrating just how costly it can be – this can be even more for male drivers who continue to pay much higher insurance premiums!

DRIVING LESSONS (BASED ON 47 @ £24) £1,128
COST OF A USED CAR ** £1,350
TOTAL £5,451

If the recent appeal by road safety charity Brake to move to a graduated licensing scheme is adopted by MPs, then a minimum learning period of a year prior to taking a test could be enforced, along with a firm ruling on how many hours tuition must be taken with a professional. This means that learners may end up having to pay out even more on tuition fees but in the longer term it should lessen the chances of them having a serious accident.

A spokesperson from car insurance comparison site commented; “At first glance these costs may appear high but they are normally spread out over a period of time, and a lot of families and individuals make provision for this with savings. Whether changes are made to the licensing system in the UK or not, the more time spent behind the wheel when learning has to be a good thing if it prevents younger drivers having accidents once they are qualified. In the past, practicing with a friend or family member has been problematic due to the cost associated to adding a learner to an existing standard policy and risking loss of a friend or family member’s no-claims bonus. Now there are more options.

"We have now partnered with Provisional Marmalade who provide policies specifically for learner drivers practicing in someone else’s car. Cover can be bought on a monthly basis for up to 3 months and the cover is fully comprehensive. Equally, once qualified, younger driver car insurance need not be un-affordable. Developments in telematics technology has resulted in a number of insurers offering policies using real driving data to price insurance, often meaning younger drivers can get a cheaper deal. There are also some clever ways in which young drivers can get cheaper car insurance. We have published a ‘Guide To Car Insurance for Young Drivers’ to provide guidance on this and it can be found in the news area of the site”.

* Based on cost of provisional insurance provided by Provisional Marmalade for 3 months for a driver in an Ipswich postcode.

** Parkers book price for a 2002 Ford Focus 1.4CL 3 door

*** AA Insurance Premium Index – average cost for young drivers (male and female) April 2011

Source :

Monday, 6 June 2011

Coping With Blues And Twos

Many motorists panic when they hear emergency vehicle sirens, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

The road safety charity says the problem comes because learner drivers are not taught, as a matter of routine, what they should do when they see flashing blue lights in their mirrors or hear the blast of a siren approaching fast.

Staying calm is the first rule, says Peter Rodger, Britain’s top advanced driver.

His five top tips on how to respond when encountering an emergency vehicle are:

1. Keep calm – if you hear a siren or see blue lights, turn off your music so you can concentrate, and take a few seconds to plan your next move. Panicking and stopping in the wrong place will just snarl up the traffic and delay the emergency vehicle more.

2. Stop – look for somewhere to pull over, and stop if it’s safe, even if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the road. Consider using your indicators, but only if it won’t confuse other road users.

3. Stay safe – avoid pulling on to kerbs, pavements and verges. Verges can hide a multitude of hazards, and moving on to the pavement can put pedestrians at risk.

4. Stay legal – at traffic lights or junctions, emergency drivers will try to find their way around you. If you go through a red light or into a bus lane, unless directed by a police officer to do so, you are breaking the law and could be fined, irrelevant of your good intentions.

5. Finally – be aware that there may be more than one emergency vehicle coming. Listen for different sirens, look all around before moving off, and bear in mind you may need to move over again.

Peter said: “Loud sirens and flashing blue lights cause many motorists to panic, mainly because drivers are not routinely taught how to respond to them. Emergency vehicle drivers want you to help them reach the emergency they are trying to get to so that they can deal with it as quickly as possible. Behave calmly, legally, safely and predictably and move out of the way as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Source :

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

£100 Fines For 'Idiot' Drivers

£100 fines for 'idiot' drivers: After years of speed cameras and penalties for ordinary motorists, ministers switch focus to aggressive boy racers.

* New fixed penalty notices of between £80 and £100 for careless driving rather than going to court

* An end to the right to request blood tests rather than breath tests for drink-driving

* Re-test for banned offenders before regaining licence

* Police station drug-testing and a possible new offence for drivers who drive under the influence of drugs

* The seizure of vehicles belonging to the most dangerous offenders to keep them off the road

Aggressive drivers are to face £100 on-the-spot fines in the biggest shake-up of road safety law for decades.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will today declare an end to the war on ordinary motorists who make honest mistakes.

But ‘boy racers’ who tailgate, undertake or cut up other motorists, those driving under the influence of drink or drugs and repeat offenders will face tough new penalties.

Tens of thousands who make minor transgressions will be spared points on their licence if they agree to undergo education courses to improve their driving.

Mr Hammond said Labour’s obsession with speed cameras meant motorists caught driving a few miles over the speed limit were currently prosecuted, while ‘idiots’ who endangered lives get off ‘scot-free’.

The Government has scrapped grants for councils to put up new speed cameras, and installations have already slowed down, he said.

Mr Hammond confirmed the Government was also considering raising the speed limit on motorways to 80mph, though he said no assessment had yet been done of the risks and benefits.

He said the Government’s new road safety strategy marked a ‘clear break’ with Labour’s approach since 1997.

‘We want to make a clear distinction between those drivers who are a real danger to road safety – reckless, dangerous drivers – and those who are merely occasionally careless or who make an honest mistake,’ he added.

‘That means much more emphasis on enforcement against those who represent the biggest risk and a big increase in the use of education for those who make minor transgressions.

‘The big problem under the last government was using technology. Speed cameras were installed and speed became the only focus of the road safety agenda. It ceased to be a road safety agenda and became a speed agenda.

'That meant somebody driving at 55mph in a 50mph limit might get prosecuted but the idiot who is weaving in and out of traffic and tail-gating gets off scot-free.’

The number of convictions for the offence of careless driving, Mr Hammond said, fell from 125,000 in 1985 to 28,000 in 2006. Police were increasingly discouraged from pursuing careless driving prosecutions because the courts were ‘clogged up’.
‘So we are going to introduce a fixed penalty for careless driving – something we don’t have at the moment,’ he said. They will be issued by police on the spot, but could also be sent to motorists spotted on roadside cameras. Like speeding fines, the notices will attract three points.

Minor offenders will be invited to avoid points on their licence by going on a driver education course.

‘Serious and repeat offenders are who we want to focus on because they are disproportionately responsible for accidents, deaths and injuries,’ Mr Hammond said.

‘There will be mandatory retraining for offenders before they get their licence back.’
On drink-driving, he said loopholes were allowing offenders to escape justice.

Those who are 40 per cent over the limit are able to demand a blood test but because that has to be carried out by a doctor there is usually a delay.

Mr Hammond said: ‘Alcohol can then clear the body. People are playing that loophole so we are going to close it – no more right to ask for a blood-test.’

There will also be a crackdown on drug-driving with the possibility of a new offence.

Currently, police have to prove both the presence of drugs and that a driver is dangerously impaired – meaning prosecutions are almost non-existent.

Mr Hammond conceded forces that have reduced the numbers of traffic police might have to rethink their priorities in light of the crackdown. ‘Chief constables will decide on how officers are deployed,’ he said.

The moves come as an RAC report reveals that young people are 17 times more likely to be killed on the roads than with a weapon. Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people aged 15 to 24 other than illness it says.

Read more:

Source : James Chapman -

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Drivers Face £80 Fines For Any Litter Thrown From Their Vehicle, Even If It Was A Passenger Who Threw It

Drivers are to face automatic £80 fines if litter is thrown from their vehicles – even if one of their passengers is to blame.

Ministers are considering a change in the law that will make motorists responsible for any rubbish dropped from their vehicles.

Council officers will be instructed to note the number plates of ‘offending’ vehicles, and an £80 penalty will then automatically be sent to the car’s registered owner

Evidence could also be collected by CCTV cameras.

Unless drivers are willing to identify the culprit they will have to pay the fine, even if they were not aware litter had been dropped while they were driving. Those who refuse could face trial in a magistrates’ court, with a potential fine of up to £2,500.

Councils and environmental campaigners have been pressing for the change for years, arguing that existing laws make it all but impossible to prosecute drivers for littering.

Supporters say the change would also spare council staff the need to confront drivers suspected of littering.
But there were warnings last night that the new law could quickly become another ‘cash cow’ for councils.

Motorists can already be fined for littering, but local authorities claim the law is almost impossible to enforce as officials have to prove the identity of the person who dropped the litter.

The planned change in the law would make the driver liable unless there was direct evidence that a passenger was responsible.
Clyde Loakes, of the Local Government Association, said the existing loophole in the law allowed offenders to get away ‘scot-free’.

He said the fines would help councils cover the annual £850million cost of keeping the streets clean.

Council staff could be deployed to ‘problem’ laybys and car parks specifically to enforce the litter laws. He added: ‘It’s time to get tough on lazy, selfish people who toss rubbish from moving cars and expect other people to cover the cost of cleaning it up. Getting tough on people who drop rubbish on our carriageways is one way to tackle a problem which is costly, difficult and dangerous to clean up.’

The change in the law could be incorporated in the Localism Bill that is going through Parliament.

More than two million items of litter are dropped in Britain each day, with motorists blamed for 70 per cent of the problem in some areas.

A survey by the Keep Britain Tidy Group found that a fifth admitted throwing litter from vehicles, with cigarette butts, chewing gum and drink cartons among the items most often discarded.

The study found that men aged under 35 were the most likely to drop litter from their cars, particularly if they were smokers.

Ministers have previously resisted extending the power of local authorities because of fears of a backlash from motorists. But they are now said to be persuaded of the need to act on environmental grounds.

Charlotte Linacre, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Motorists are already overtaxed. Councils have to make necessary spending cuts and there’s plenty of fat to trim, they shouldn’t look to plug gaps in their finances by ramping up charges on taxpayers.’

Read more:

Source : Jason Groves -

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Drivers Who Don't Renew Car Insurance In Time 'Will Be Clamped On Their Driveway'

Motorists who fail to renew their car insurance face having their car clamped in their driveway, seized and destroyed.

The clamp-and-scrap powers, being given to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by ministers, are a fresh weapon in the Government’s fight against uninsured drivers.

The new system, called continuous insurance enforcement, goes fully live in June and means cars must be insured at all times - and no long have to be spotted on the road to be clamped and seized.

The only exception is if the registered keeper makes an official declaration that the car is permanently off road and not being driven.

Motoring groups fear innocent motorists who forget to insure their vehicle on time because they are on holiday or have an extended stay in hospital will fall foul of the new rules which can also see drivers landed with a £100 fine.

But road safety minister Mike Penning insists drivers will be given a warning letter and a £100 fixed penalty notice before any car is clamped and seized from the driveway.

The Department for Transport said: ’Under continuous insurance enforcement it will be an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive when uninsured. The regulations laid today will allow the DVLA to take action against those who ignore warnings to get their vehicle insured.’

’If the vehicle remains uninsured - regardless of whether the fine is paid - it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed. The regulations laid in Parliament today would give the DVLA the powers to take this action.’

Road safety minister Mr Penning said: ‘Uninsured drivers injure 23,000 people each year and add £30 to every responsible motorist’s premium so we need to do everything we can to keep them off the roads.

'These new powers will help us to take targeted action while freeing up police time to deal with the hard core of offenders.'

But the AA's Paul Watters said: ’Many otherwise innocent motorists face being unwittingly fined or clamped for doing little more than being forgetful or distracted by the normal business of life.

‘There must be some flexibility or leniency, otherwise this will become just another scam, like some cowboy parking ticket or clamping operations. It must not become a money spinner.’

He added: ’Safeguards must be in place to ensure that where offences are committed inadvertently, for example through illness delaying renewal of insurance or where a simple registration number mistake has been made on an insurance certificate, drivers are dealt with sympathetically. ‘

The Transport Department said that under the new system the DVLA will work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify from their database vehicles which are uninsured.

The Department said: ’Motorists will receive a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.

'If the keeper fails to insure the vehicle they will be given a £100 fine. If the vehicle remains uninsured - regardless of whether the fine is paid - it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed.

'The regulations laid in Parliament today would give the DVLA the powers to take this action.’

Vehicles with a valid Statutory Off Road Notice will not be required to be insured, he added.

The first insurance ‘advisory letters’ warning individuals that they ‘appear to be uninsured’ will be sent at the end of June following a publicity campaign to raise awareness of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme.

The Motor Insurance Database will be used to identify registered keepers of vehicles that appear to have no insurance.

Drivers are advised to check that their vehicle is recorded on the database - via

Latest official estimates suggest that 1 in 25 motorists (four per cent) drive uninsured - up to 14 million.
The penalty for driving without insurance is a maximum fine of £5,000 and six to eight penalty points. About 242,000 offenders are convicted for uninsured driving every year.

Measures already introduced in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 gave police improved access to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau database and powers to seize vehicles. In 2009 around 180,000 vehicles were seized.
AA Insurance said their own survey had shown that 6 out of 10 motorists were completely unaware of the changes that could see their car clamped and impounded from their driveway.

An AA/Populus study of nearly 13,000 AA members, an ‘extraordinary’ 59 per cent had not heard about the new law and of the balance who were aware of it, with four out of ten (38 per cent) saying they ‘don’t know what it means’.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: 'This tough action is to be welcomed but it is vital that the Government undertakes a campaign to increase awareness.’

Read more:

Source : Ray Massey -

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Majority Of Parents Would Fail Driving Test

Most parents "don't bother" to educate themselves with road rules before teaching their learner drivers, a driving instructor says.
Mark Fraser from Drive Smart Driving School said his experience showed it was unusual to find adults who scored well on driving skills tests.

His comments follow yesterday's release of a national survey by learner driver program keys2drive which found that more than 40 per cent of parents did not know the basic road rules.

The Advertiser asked Mr Fraser to test the driving skills of Tracy Neldner, a mother of three, who was given a 15 minute basic driving test that included making left and right hand turns, straight and general driving and sign knowledge.

She was given a score of five out of ten or 48 per cent for her driving skills - which Mr Fraser said was a high score when compared with other adults he had tested.

"If I do these assessments normally (with adults) I get somewhere between 3 and 13 per cent," he said.

"Most adult drivers don't get more than 30 per cent on a test like this and (some) would get zero."

Mrs Neldner, who received driving lessons when she was a learner driver, said she had not sat a test since 1981 and tried to "model good behaviour" with her sons who currently receive driving lessons.

"It's quite a long time since my husband and I have both had lessons," she said.

"We needed someone who was able to teach (the kids) properly."

Source : Martina Simos

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Drivers Avoid Speeding Penalties

Most of the police forces in England and Wales have signed up to new guidelines that will enable motorists to avoid points on their licence even if they are caught speeding at 86mph, it has emerged.

The new framework will allow speeding motorists to pay to complete a speed awareness course instead, if caught at up to 10% above the limit plus 9mph.

So far 37 police forces in England and Wales, now offer the Speed Awareness Courses ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers said.

An ACPO spokeswoman explained: "Over recent years, the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads has fallen significantly reducing both the toll of personal tragedy and the cost to the public purse.

"This reduction has been achieved through a combination of improved engineering, enforcement and education.

"The changes were proposed following a consultation with the UK's leading driver academics who helped to develop the National Speed Awareness Course.

"The initial results of an independent research project showed that Speed Awareness Courses were highly effective in improving long-term driver behaviour on the roads. There is no such evidence to suggest that fines or penalty points offer any long-lasting effect."

Previously, only those driving at at 10% over the speed limit plus 6mph were eligible for the course.

A spokesman for road safety charity Brake said: "We think these new guidelines sends out completely the wrong message to drivers.

"Speeding or driving at inappropriate speeds is a factor in a quarter of all road crashes, tearing families and local communities apart on a daily basis."

Source :

Driving Test Examiner Kidnapped By Angry Motorist

A furious learner driver kidnapped his examiner and took him on a 10-minute terror ride after his test was cancelled.

Crazed Artur Nowak put his foot down and raced through a red light and broke the speed limit along a busy road as frightened Karl Pollitt begged him to stop.

The examiner finally managed to leap out as the car pulled into a side road, but his ordeal was not over as Nowak accelerated away, smashing Mr Pollitt in the eye with the car door.

A court heard the examiner was left “an emotional wreck” by the experience and had to take time off work and seek counselling.

Nowak, from Poland, erupted in rage after being told his test was cancelled because his car had an electronically-operated handbrake, which is not allowed in the examination.

Nowak was desperate to pass because he believed he needed a British licence for his work as a ­property maintenance engineer for a housing association.

But he did not know he would still be allowed to drive with his Polish driving licence.

Susan Carter, prosecuting, told Bolton crown court Mr Pollitt’s ordeal “has left him anxious and frightened.”

Mark Friend, defending, said Nowak, from Salford, Greater Manchester, who has lived in Britain since 2003, was genuinely remorseful after he flipped out when his test was cancelled in Rochdale last October 20. He said dad-of-two Nowak had been under immense pressure.

The court heard he had failed a previous test and been abusive towards another examiner.

Nowak admitted false imprisonment, and was last week ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 compensation.

3 Drivers are so baffled by road signs that one in three simply follow the car in front.

Castrol found 5% never look at signs, 3% are so confused they crash and half think the end of the 30mph speed limit means they cannot dip below 30mph.

: Paul Byrne -

Monday, 28 March 2011

Focus On: New Car Insurance For Young Drivers

While the fuel duty reduction announced in the Budget may have brought some relief to young drivers, for many the cost of motoring remains unaffordable due to steep insurance premiums.

Motorists in their teens or early twenties pay substantially higher premiums than older drivers because they are considered higher risk by insurers. According to the Driving Standards Agency, in the UK, an 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old.

But now The Co-operative Insurance has become the latest insurer to launch a policy specifically for young drivers, which promises lower premiums if the policyholder can demonstrate that they are responsible on the roads.

Here, we look at how the policy works and whether it could be right for you...

What's The Deal?

The new Young Driver policy calculates premiums based on driving behaviours and rewards those who demonstrate they drive safely with lower premiums. According to The Co-operative Insurance, the new product, which is designed for 17 to 25-year olds, will be on average £328 cheaper than competitor prices. It claims that over three quarters of young drivers could make a saving with this policy.

The insurer is able to monitor a driver's behaviour by fitting a Smartbox into the owner's car. Using satellite technology, the box then relays information on braking and acceleration, cornering, speed, and the time of driving - so whether most journeys are made during the day or at night time.

Driving is assessed every 90 days based on these four driving behaviours. If the motorist drives well, then they will receive a Safer Driving Discount that cuts the cost of the annual premium by up to 11%.

However, if the box shows bad driving behaviour, for example, repeatedly breaking the speed limit or taking corners too sharply, then their premium could increase by 15% of the initial policy price.

Motorists can log into a unique online 'Driving Dashboard' to see how their driving has been rated against the four driving behaviours. It also gives advice on what they can do to improve. Each behaviour is illustrated by a speed dial and drivers will be rated on a green (good driving), amber (generally good but showing some bad behaviours) and red (bad driving).

Any Catches?

If you aren't able to demonstrate that you can drive responsibly, then your premiums under this policy could end up being higher than if you opted for a conventional policy that doesn't monitor your behaviour.

Your insurance will be cancelled if you drive so far above the speed limit that a driving ban is imposed.


Young drivers who believe they pay higher premiums due to others' bad driving may well benefit from a policy which rewards good driving behaviour.

Any innovation in the insurance market that can help reduce steep costs for young drivers should be welcomed, especially if it encourages safer driving.

Aviva used to offer a similar policy, but it was withdrawn several years ago because the technology involved cost more then and premiums for young drivers weren't as steep as they are now.

Top Tip

Remember that there are plenty of other ways young drivers can reduce insurance costs. Taking additional qualifications such as 'Pass Plus' can reduce premiums, and you could also consider adding an older, more experienced driver to the policy as a named driver to keep costs down.

Don't, however, be tempted to ask an older driver to register themselves as the main driver - this is illegal and likely to result in any claim being rejected.

Source :

Learner Driver Attacked Examiner Who Refused Bribe

A learner driver was so desperate to pass her test she tried to bribe the examiner – then attacked him when he refused.

Jin Su handed the official a red envelope stuffed with cash during her FIFTH test and told him: "This will be good for you – and for me."

The packet contained between £400 and £500, Manchester Crown Court heard. Su, 35, a former teacher who has a young son, handed over the money just before she tried a road manoeuvre in Cheetham Hill. When Driving Standards Agency examiner Keith Ashcroft refused the the cash and terminated the driving test, Su got angry and attacked him in the street.

She grabbed his wrists and tried to push him back into the car, shouting: "I want the test to continue!" When quizzed after her arrest she said the money was to bring good luck, but later admitted it was a bribe.

Su, of Grasmere Road, Swinton, pleaded guilty to offering a bribe and common assault. She was ordered to carry out 50 hours of unpaid work and pay Mr Ashcroft £100 compensation.

The defendant attempted the bribe during a test on May 19.

She pulled out of the Cheetham Hill Test Centre and told Mr Ashcroft: "I feel confident I will pass my test today."

He asked Su to pull over to test her starting and stopping skills.

Michael Morley, prosecuting, told the court: "She reached into her front jeans pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a substantial amount of money, which was folded up. It appeared to be all £20 notes. She took the money and placed it in a red envelope and passed it to Mr Ashcroft and said: ‘This will be good for you, and for me’. He was in no doubt that it was an effort to bribe him. He was shocked and told her to put the money away, then terminated the test."

Su then got out of the driver’s seat and assaulted Mr Ashcroft.

Mr Morley added: "He said it drew a little blood, and there were marks on his arms. When interviewed by probation officers, she said she wasn’t trying to bribe an official. As is custom, she was trying to gain good luck by passing over money in a red envelope. However, she did not hand over the envelope until she was alone with him in the car and half way through the test."

Su later admitted she tried to bribe the examiner with the money. Michael Hopkinson, defending, said: "In the part of the world where my client originates it’s much more common than here, but she knows she must abide by the laws and rules as they exist here."

He added Su had no previous convictions and was pregnant.

Judge David Stockdale QC told her: "You offered the money in expectation that he would in due course record that you passed. That is corruption of a serious kind. Driving examiners carry out important work for the safety of all road users, by ensuring that all those who drive are competent to do so."

Source : Pete Bainbridge -

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Learner Driver Has Failed The Theory Test A Record 90 Times

A learner driver has failed her theory test a record 90 times – costing her £2,790 before she can even hope to sit a test.

The 26-year-old from Southwark, south London, last sat the £31 written test in November, the Driving Standards Agency revealed yesterday as it lifted the lid on Britain’s worst drivers.

However, our home grown entry in the hall of motoring shame still has a long way to go before she can steal the world record from Cha Sa-soon of South Korea

She passed the theory test at her 950th attempt in November 2009.

The figures also showed a 39-year-old from the West Midlands has sat the most number of practical tests.

He failed the last test – his 36th – just four months ago after sitting it in the Stoke area.

The Guinness World Record for the most practical driving tests ever taken is held by Git Kaur Randhawa, of Hayes, west London.

She finally triumphed at her 48th attempt in 1987 just weeks before her 50th birthday.


Calls For Motorway Training To Be Added To Driving Test

Motorway training should be integrated into the driving test to help improve the general standard of driving, according to the Driving Instructors Association which also wants the current Pass Plus scheme integrated into the driving test syllabus.

The DIA is the UK's largest body representing professional driver trainers and says those applying for a driving test should only be allowed to do so once instructors are confident that candidates have sufficient experience of driving on all the types of road they will encounter when they have a full licence.

The association also wants driving qualifications for qualified drivers need to be developed further. So drivers of company vehicles would have to achieve minimum national occupational standards for driving (currently there is no recognised syllabus for company drivers in category B vehicles). It says the qualifications should also have a shelf life to encourage refresher training.

Another issue that that the DIA wants addressed is the current lack of a formal training syllabus for potential Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to work to. The DIA’s belief is that there should be a prescribed syllabus to prevent customers wasting their money. The minimum entry level to the industry should also be raised to include recognised teaching qualifications (e.g. Preparing to Teach in the Life-long Learning Sector).

The final change proposed is that all drivers should have their eyesight tested by an optometrist, not at the driving test centre, with drivers’ eyesight checked at least every 10 years. Currently, the responsibility is with the driver to self-certify their eyesight has not deteriorated after the age of 70.

Source :

Higher Fuel Prices Slow Down Motorway Speeds

Soaring fuel prices have forced millions of drivers into the slow lane in a bid to lower their fuel consumption.

Some 59 percent of motorists have said they would cut their motorway speeds in order to save fuel, according to new research by the AA.

The AA has pointed out that, apart from being illegal, driving at 80mph is 25 percent less effective than driving at the national speed limit of 70mph. It claims that by just easing off on the motorway, motorists could save up to £500 a year in fuel bills.

The AA says that the figures showing drivers are willing to slow down, compiled by the Department for Transport to assess public attitude to climate change, mirrors its own research which says that 49 percent of drivers intend to drive more economically. The AA also reckons the average driver is paying £10 more a tank for diesel and £8.40 for petrol compared to a year ago.

Standard unleaded petrol currently costs an average of 129.0p a litre across the country, with a highest price of 143.9p according to Diesel is even higher at an average of 134.3p a litre, rising to a maximum of 146.9p in some places.

The current political unrest in places such as Bahrain and Libya has raised fears that costs are set to creep up ever further as well, as both countries are such major exporters of oil. Average oil prices have now topped $100 a barrel, rising to a recent high of $101.67 on the New York Merchantile Exchange.

Source : Tom Webster -