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.’

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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 -