Friday, 27 April 2012

Tips from the experts: driving through flash floods

With the Met Office warning of torrential rain for a good while to come, here's the IAM's advice on driving through flash floods. As it happens, we drove through some of the worst of yesterday's downpour, and it was far from a pleasant experience; this advice, from the IAM's Drive & Survive series, is timely and very useful.

Drive on the highest section of the road and don't set off if a vehicle is approaching you
Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.

Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by "slipping the clutch" (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water.

If you can't see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.

In deep water never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe.

Once you're out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.

The IAM's Peter Rodger said: "A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists, but cyclists and motorcyclists too.

"When driving in wet conditions remember that stopping distances will increase, and visibility will be reduced. Drop your speed and give yourself more time to slow down."

Monday, 23 April 2012

Advanced Driving Success !!

Hearty congatulations to Elliott Seal, Terry Luckings and Andrew Bibby on recently passing
the Advanced Driving Test - well done guys !!

Motorists question proposed fine increase

Half of motorists disagree with a government proposal to increase fixed penalty notices from £60 to £90, according to research by the IAM.                          

Fixed penalty notices can be given for a range of offences, but are most commonly associated with driving offences including speeding and jumping red lights. Under the plans, the £30 increase will be used to give a £30m cash boost to the fund for victims of crime and witnesses support.

Of the 1129 respondents, fifty one per cent disagreed with the proposal, 28 per cent strongly, 35 per cent agreed with the proposal, and 13 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed.

When asked what they would think if the money went into improving road safety as opposed to victim support in general, 80 per cent were happier with this proposal.

Eighty per cent of respondents think that this scheme could reduce driver's trust in the purpose of enforcement measures, including safety cameras.

When asked what the biggest deterrent to bad driving was, 68 per cent identified 'enforcement – the likelihood I will get caught', with 48 per cent choosing 'the fear of the consequences in terms of causing death or injury to myself/my passengers or other road users in the result of an accident', and 42 per cent saying' the severity of the punishment if I was caught'.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "While funding victims of crime is laudable, the real aim of fines for motoring offences should be deterrence. We want to stop people breaking the law. Having an income that relies on dangerous driving won't help reduce crashes. There is a strong case for this money to be spent on road safety."

This article has been re-posted from the IAM website -

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tips from the experts: managing managed motorways

Driver training specialist IAM Drive & Survive is offering weekly motoring tips to drivers from its head of training, Simon Elstow. This week he is advising on managed motorways.

"Managed Motorways" is the term for variable speed limits, sometimes in conjunction with opening the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times. The IAM says that managed motorways are very successful: the first one was the M42 near Birmingham, in 2006, and it has shown a decrease in personal injury crashes of more than half, none of them fatal.

The key to the system are the signs on the overhead. The six signals are:

• A red cross without flashing beacons. The hard shoulder is only for use in an emergency or breakdown.

• A speed limit inside a red circle. It is absolutely mandatory and may have cameras enforcing it.

• A blank signal. Usual motorway rules apply.

• A white arrow with flashing beacons. This applies to all lanes and means you should move into the lane which the arrow points to.

• A red cross with flashing beacons. You should not continue to use the lane.

• A national speed limit sign is shown. The national speed limit, 70mph maximum, applies to all lanes apart from the hard shoulder.

Elstow said: "Managed motorways not only help keep motorways moving – they are also safer than conventional ones. Their numbers are set to continue, so brush up on your knowledge of the signs so you can get the biggest benefit out of the information they are giving you."

Monday, 9 April 2012

Group Social Event - Jack The Ripper

On a warm Sunday evening in March a group of 49 intrepid travellers gathered at Grove Green. We boarded Peter's coach for a trip to London, on arrival we met Shaun our Blue Badge guide for the evening.

A quick coffee and comfort break and we were off, into the gathering gloom of the evening. Shaun explained the living conditions in London at the time (Autumn 1888) the difference between the wealthy City and just a street away the absolute poverty of the Whitechapel area. We moved from the City and into Whitechapel, at the site of every one of Jack the Ripper victims, Shaun stopped and told us the details of the victim, the horrific and gory details of what was done to each victim.

The last was near Petticoat Lane and we left there and rejoined Peter on the coach, on the journey to the Strand Shaun told of the numerous theories about Jack the Ripper and as we reached the Strand we all agreed it remains a mystery. Shaun took us all up to a private room in the pub and before leaving us made sure we were all being fed, a very nice meal which everyone enjoyed. Then back on the Peter's coach for the journey home, a very good evening which all 49 people enjoyed.

If you need any information about Mid Kent's Social activities contact me at

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

UK to get Smart car sharing scheme

Daimler (the official name of Mercedes Benz's parent) will introduce its Car2go Smart car sharing scheme in Birmingham, after a highly successful start in America and Europe.

The scheme will allow Brummies to rent one of 250 petrol-powered Smart Fortwos within a 30 square mile operating zone in the city.

Launched in 2009 in Austin, Texas, the Car2go scheme has burgeoned in America and Europe, now boasting more than 70,000 members.

Birmingham City Council is the first in the UK to accept the scheme, which Daimler says is "the world's first mobility program...without fixed rental locations." The scheme was one of a few offered to Birmingham, after the council put out an invitation to car scheme companies to bid.

Due to begin this autumn, the scheme will see specific 'car2go edition' Smarts hit the Midlands, which can "be rented spontaneously inside an operating area of around 30 square miles, [covering] the city centre and several densely populated suburbs."

Drivers don't have a specific return location for the car, says Daimler, although we're certain that abandoning it in a random back lane isn't acceptable; Daimler has paid Birmingham council a fee so that the car can be left on the street, or in certain designated off-street parking spots.

The cost to the customer hasn't been announced yet - nor the mechanics of actually renting - but drivers will be charged for the distance they go in the car, and can rent for as little as a couple of minutes, it's claimed.

If successful, there's little doubt that Daimler will look to provide Car2go in other major UK cities

Monday, 2 April 2012

Training Day

On Saturday 31 March members of the observer team enjoyed a training day, delivered by Trevor Dickenson and his team. This evolved not only observer training but a drive coached by an examiner.This picture is of
Trevor and his wife accepting a bouquet from the group as it was also their 40 wedding anniversary.