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.

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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.

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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

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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.”

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