Thursday, 28 February 2013

Model Year 13: Unlucky for some?

Model Year 13: Unlucky for some PA

Are you superstitious? Do you actively avoid black cats? Does your superstition extend to motoring? If so, you won't be tempted to purchase a car with the unlucky number 13 on the plates when the new MY13 registration arrives on 1st March.

With the new reg just around the corner, we spoke to some of the motor industry's leading experts about their expectations for luck-conscious car buyers. See what they had to say and don't forget to tell us via the comments section whether you have any spooky motoring superstitions.

Edmund King, AA president

"An AA Populus poll found 10% of drivers said they would not buy a car with 13 on the number plate. A third said a car with 13 on it would make it harder for them to sell. Personally I would love a new Aston Martin DB9 with 13 on it."

Craig Stevens, Auto Trader group director digital marketing

"Will the '13' plate damage sales? On the contrary, a '13' plate could be a collector's item, particularly in the cherished plate market for people called BO13

Jon Williams, Toyota president and managing director

"I do not believe the '13' plate will have an adverse effect on sales. For those who are superstitious they can easily transfer their current registration plate to their new car, take out a personal plate, or wait until September for the '63' plate."

Can stylish new motorway service stations revive the UK economy?

Can funky new motorway service stations revive the economy?

The government wants to relax strict building regulations governing motorway service stations, believing that modernisation of these often-used areas could help stimulate the economy.

Britain's newest service station opened in Cobham last year and it brought boutique food and good coffee to a stretch of the M25 that previously featured nothing.

According to the BBC, the government wants more Cobhams to give more choice to the motorist.

The Department for Transport is consulting on the relaxation of the rules governing new building projects beside major roads.

The plans include lifting the restrictions that apply to the size of the shops and the abolition of the 12-mile minimum distance between service stations.

The AA believes the move will increase competition among petrol stations and therefore reduce the cost of fuel, which is higher on the motorway than anywhere else.

The government still enforces strict rules on service stations, stating that they must offer two hours of free parking, provide free toilets and open 24-hours a day for 365 days a year. Ever since their inception in the 1950s, service stations were always to be a place to refresh and refuel, not leisure attractions in their own right.

Private-sector operators find the rules difficult to work around, especially when trying to introduce more modern shops, food outlets and services.

The Cobham services battled the government for 19 years to bring a dash of luxury to the previously barren stretch of the M25 and this slight relaxation of the rules may pave the way for other, more glamorous service stations in the future

Traffic warden slaps parking ticket on council gardening buggy


Monday, 25 February 2013

Time for an eye test?


Time for an eye test? Car crashes into Specsavers

The popular high street opticians plays on the fact its poor-sighted potential customers have the potential to get themselves into sticky situations.

Whether it's astronauts accidentally landing at Luton airport or a hapless couple driving their luggage-laden estate onto an aircraft carrier, the punch line remains "Should have gone to Specsavers".

One hapless driver made that strapline a reality when their Ford Fiesta smashed into the window of a Specsavers shop in Sevenoaks, Kent on Sunday.

Time for an eye test? Car crashes into Specsavers

The red fluid that can be seen all over the pavement is likely to be engine coolant (not blood) as the radiator looks like it was ruptured as the car impacted the shop window..

"Pretty funny it crashed into a Specsavers though,"  "I mean what are the chances?"

Kent police were not available to comment and a spokesperson for Specsavers wouldn't say whether they'd be offering a free eye test to the unlucky driver.

What to do following an accident

25 February 2013

What to do following an accident


The reality is nobody wants to think about having a car accident. It's not a nice thought, but it's important to be prepared in case you are involved in one. In moments of panic, it's quite easy to get caught up in state. But knowing what you must do and taking simple precautions can make things easier afterwards.


If you do find yourself in this position, think about the following:


If you have the option, stop where it is safe.


If it's appropriate, turn the engine off and put your hazard lights on.


The initial feeling after an accident can leave you feeling in a state of panic and worry. Make sure you take a couple of minutes to gather your thoughts before you begin to deal with exchanging insurance details.


Keep yourself safe and check that any other passengers involved are safe and well too.


Stay calm. You will need to swap some details with the other driver(s). Unless that isn't possible because of injury or because they drive off. If you don't, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours.


Be sure to exchange details. Give your name address, and registration number and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle. You should get these details from the other driver(s).


If someone is injured, ensure you exchange insurance details.


Tell your insurers.  Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as you can.


Photographic evidence.  Get any witness contact details and take photos of the scene and vehicle damage. This may come in use later on when dealing you're your insurers.


Make sure you note carefully how many people are in the other vehicle(s) involved.


To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has a new website,, with traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter.


Tips cover rain, snow, ice, fog and wind – everything you can expect in a typically unpredictable British winter. Check it out before you travel.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Don't drive too close to me

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week he looks at how to avoid conflict on the road.

  • The things that other drivers do that annoy you are usually mistakes, not deliberate. Give them the space you would like yourself to sort an error out.
  • The horn is there simply to get others' attention and let them know that you are there. If someone else uses it to express annoyance, don't join in, just let it pass.
  • If you spot an oncoming vehicle approaching which still has its full beam on, consider that this is probably a case of forgetfulness on the part of the driver – retaliating by switching your full beam on would only increase risk.
  • Set an example by giving way at busy junctions or allowing traffic to merge into your lane when necessary – for example, at a motorway junction.
  • If another road user is driving threateningly, try to maintain extra distance between your car and theirs. Try not to react by accelerating, braking or swerving suddenly, as this will reduce your car control, and probably wind up the other driver.
  • Planning as far ahead as possible puts you in the best stead to predict other people's actions and mistakes on the road, allowing you to cope with them more easily.

Rodger said: "Even the best drivers make mistakes, so try and cut people some slack when they do so. Road rage doesn't improve the situation, and puts you, your passengers, and other road users around you at risk. The best thing is to stay calm and continue to drive sensibly as not to worsen the situation."

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Lesson Three - Route, Flustered Associate and Re-assessment of the Fundamentals

In part three of Neil's Observer training, Neil finds out how quickly an Associate can quickly become flustered when they do something wrong and how to go about calming the situation.

As an Advanced Driver it is tempting to think that you have nothing else to learn. However, as with anything in life the learning doesn't stop - each time you get behind the wheel you will face a new situation and, at the end of it, have hopefully broadened your knowledge and understanding. This is certainly true for me and, one thing that Observer training has given me, is the chance to re-assess the fundamentals of advanced driving, correct some bad habits that had started to develop and build some new skills in.

The third training run involved us as trainees devising a longer run, incorporating all types of roads if possible as well as the manoeuvres. During the motorway part of my drive I got to refresh my knowledge of dedicated lanes and the correct way of approaching them (a topic which is covered in the Sunday session on 'Motorway Driving') when I inadvertently undertook a lorry. Although it is legal to undertake in a dedicated lane that is leaving the motorway, the lane only becomes dedicated when the lane markings change to the short frequent white squares (usually at the half mile marker). Prior to this point the normal rules of the motorway apply and you should only pass vehicles on their right.

Another vital learning point, especially for a future observer, which arose during the session was how easily and quickly an Associate can get flustered if they do something wrong. Usually this causes them to compound the initial mistake so that, unless you're careful, a flawless run can very quickly turn into a disaster in the making; it is amazing how a simple mistake such as missing a turning can lead to them stopping at a green traffic light because they've mistaken it for red! In that situation I found that it was best to gently re-assure and highly praise the next time something went right, thus building the confidence back up and providing an anchor upon which the rest of the run can be secured.

The final bit of learning that this training session gave me was the importance of checking the route at the time (and if possible on the same day of the week) that you're planning on using it. A 45 minute run at 9am on a Saturday morning may turn into an hour or more at 11am on a Sunday morning once traffic and roadworks come into play. This can be the difference between having enough time to do the run sheet justice at the end, so that the Associate leaves with a clear understanding of what they did well and what they need to improve, or having to rush through it and potentially skirt over some key issues.

My training is now nearly complete with potentially one more practice run before being allowed to advise (under supervision) Associates. Future posts will therefore try and focus more on what I see and experience during the normal Sunday sessions.

Neil Lakeland - Trainee Observer.

Follow this link if you missed part one and two of Neil's blog on observer training.  

If your a member of the Mid-Kent Group of Advanced Motorist and wish to follow in the footsteps of Neil, please contact John Bowman.  If your not a member, and wish to take on the challenge of advance motoring, why not join us? Contact us by email or apply now on the web

Friday, 8 February 2013

Darkness on the edge of town

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week he is advising motorists on driving in the dark on the motorway.

Rodger said: "Driving after the sun goes down offers a rather different experience to driving in daylight. Speed is more difficult to judge, distances can be hard to calculate, facing a wall of headlights can cause distraction and impaired vision, and you are likely to be more tired than usual."

Rodger offers tips to help make your drive as safe and enjoyable as possible:

  • To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean. You should clean the inside of your windscreen as well as the exterior.
  • Use main beam to maximise the distance which you can see ahead, but when other drivers are approaching, make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic.
  • Turn off your interior lights and dim the dashboard if possible – this will cut down on interior reflections on your windows.
  • Make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. Stopping distances should be increased during hours of darkness, and even more so if the winter weather has made the roads more slippery.
  • If you're feeling tired, caffeine alone is not a fix. Take a break and have a 20 minute nap in a safe location. Opening your window to let some cool fresh air in will also help to perk you up.
  • Motorway driving can be monotonous, so share the driving is possible.
  • Look at how the traffic in front behaves for clues to possible problems you can't see yet. You should especially stay on the lookout for brake lights up ahead.
  • If you break down, pull over on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can, pointing your wheels in towards the kerb.  Then leave your vehicle and stand behind a crash barrier if there is one. 

Rodger said: "Currently there are several stretches of motorway in Britain which have no lighting, making the hours of darkness even more challenging for motorists. But this shouldn't put you off driving on the motorway at night. The roads are a lot quieter, making it a suitable time to make continuous progress."

To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched its winter driving campaign, which includes a dedicated website,, featuring traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter.

Tips cover rain, snow, ice, fog and wind – everything you can expect in a typically unpredictable British winter. Check it out before you travel.

IAM comment on quarter three road casualty statistics

The latest Department for Transport road casualty statistics released today show an increase in casualties for vulnerable road users.

  • There were 1,760 fatalities in road accidents in the year ending September 2012, a 7 per cent drop from the year ending September 2011 (1,883).
  • However, the number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured increased by 6, 8 and 4 per cent respectively in the same period.
  • This means 6,040 pedestrians, 3,270 cyclists and 5,440 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured between October 2011 and September 2012.
  • The number of fatal accidents on major roads (motorways and A roads) fell by 9 per cent and the number of fatal or serious accidents fell by 2 per cent.
  • However, fatal and serious accidents rose by 5 per cent on minor roads and similarly 5 per cent on built-up roads. 

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: "It is reassuring to see an overall drop in the number of road casualties, however this should not mask the increase of deaths and serious injuries for cyclists and pedestrians."

"The rise in the number of fatal and serious accidents on minor and built-up roads is concerning. The government needs to think about which roads are the safest and where they should be dedicating their resources."

The IAM would like to see:

  • Changes to the driving test to make drivers much more aware of cyclists and pedestrians
  • Improved infrastructure for cyclists, including more segregated cycle paths
  • The government commit to reinstate funding for road safety campaigns and education

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Recent Test Passes

Congratulation to Frank Webb and Joseph Risbridger who recently passed their Advance Motoring test.  Pictured here shortly after collecting their certificates from Chairman Linda Davies.

Also awarded today, as part of the groups on going training programme, observers John Mills, Max Power and Dave Thomas passed their observers re-test exam. Congratulations.  

Friday, 1 February 2013

One, two, miss a few...

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger.

This week the IAM recommends "block-changing":

  • Block-changing contributes to a calm and planned driving style.
  • It requires less driver input and so allows more time for other things like looking for problems or reading road signs.
  • A good driver will use the brakes or their acceleration sense to slow down, not the gears. Brake pads are cheaper to replace than clutches, so use the brakes if you need to. 
  • When increasing speed, you can save on fuel consumption by skipping out gears, for example perhaps going straight from third to fifth.
  • When slowing on approach to a roundabout or junction, use acceleration sense and/or brakes to decrease speed, and then select the right gear for the speed you are driving at.  This may mean skipping out several gears at once.
  • Gear changes should be made after braking but before turning the steering wheel.

Rodger said: "Block-changing means choosing and changing gear once, instead of working through all the gears.  Missing unnecessary gears saves on fuel, as well as wear and tear and saves driver effort.  Use your gears to go and your brakes to slow."