Thursday, 25 April 2013

Thousands of drivers waiting for correct tax discs from DVLA

Thousands of drivers waiting for correct tax discs from DVLA

The personalised number plate market is big business for the motor industry – but it seems demand is outstripping tax disc supply.

Drivers who have switched their car's number plate with a cherished one are finding they cannot display the matching tax disc due to the DVLA's processing system.

The agency is now telling drivers: Display your old tax disc – despite their cars clearly displaying their personalised number plates and not matching their tax discs.

The planned closure of local DVLA offices right across the UK by the end of this year is the reason for the situation. Previously cherished number plate applications were dealt with at a local level, but are now being shipped to the DVLA's head office in Swansea.

Motorists are now receiving their new V5C registration certificates before their new tax disc displaying their personalised registration.

Notices have been put up in DVLA local offices stating: "If you get your registration certificate (V5C) before your tax disc, you can still legally drive your car and display the new registration plates. Your tax disc will arrive shortly afterwards."

It's widely known that if a car's number plate does not match the tax disc on display, the driver is breaking the law. But the DVLA says that in this instance, motorists will not be committing an offence.

A DVLA spokesperson confirmed the news, exclusively telling AOL Cars: "We are advising customers who are changing their car's number plate to a personalised one and have received a new V5C but not their new tax disc to carry on displaying their old tax disc.

"The two different number plates will match our records and motorists will not be penalised."

According to the spokesperson, a bulletin has been issued to all police forces informing them of the situation

Ooops - size does matter!

Stuck truck: Lorry driver jams HGV under bridge

There is a joke that involves male drivers and parking spaces and something about not knowing what six inches looks like but it's probably too rude to publish here.

Regardless, a hapless lorry driver attempted to squeeze his 15ft tall HGV underneath a bridge that was six-inches too short near the M1 in Nottinghamshire.

The driver approached the bridge that was clearly marked with a warning sign that read "14ft 6in" but decided to press on despite driving a vehicle that was 6-inches taller than the stated maximum height.

As a result, the trailer and cab became wedged underneath the bridge and part of the truck's roof was torn off.

Emergency services were called to the scene where they found the stricken lorry with its wheels lifted clear from the road below.

Stuck truck: Lorry driver jams HGV under bridge

Luckily no one was injured but it did cause delays in the Stapleford Road area of Nottinghamshire as rescue crews removed the lorry and assessed the bridge for damage.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Male drivers fail to see the point

Over 8000 UK drivers are still driving despite having 12 or more points on their licence.  The top fourteen licence point holders with 25 points or more are all men.

The official upper limit for license points according to DVLA is 12, or six for those who have held a licence for three years or less. However, a freedom of information request to the DVLA showed many male drivers with 25-36 points were still driving.

A male driver from Warrington has the highest number of points, 36. 

Currently, there are 20,439,578 male and 16,804,524 female licence holders in the UK, but it's men who fall foul of the law more often:

  • Of the top thirty-four licence point holders, only two are women.
  • Of the top 99 licence point holders, just fourteen are women.
  • 2256 men are still driving with more than 12 points on their licence.
  • 351 women are still driving with more than 12 points their licence.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "Law abiding drivers will be shocked that so many drivers are on the road who have more than 12 points.  The 'totting up' principle is supposed to give a simple four strikes and you are out message. Anything more than this should be a disqualification, unless there are the most exceptional circumstances.

"There must be tighter practice in courts and at the DVLA to take these motorists off the road or ensure they take a driver retraining course to help them break their points habit."

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Drive it amidst daisies

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, with National Drive It day coming this weekend, encouraging people to take to the roads for an enjoyable drive, he is advising on driving in the countryside.

  • Always ensure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear on your own side of the road. This will mean you probably need to significantly reduce your speed when approaching bends. Accelerate only when you can see enough clear road.
  • Be aware that vulnerable road users including cyclists and horses are more likely to use these roads, and give them plenty of space when you do come across them.
  • Rural roads can be very winding. Use the line of hedges, trees or telegraph poles as a guide to help see which direction the road goes in well ahead.
  • Drive with extra care past apparently isolated houses and buildings, in case people or vehicles are around.
  • Mud on the road may mean that farm vehicles and animals will be moving around. Look out for them emerging from field entrances and expect them around bends and over brows.
  • Don't swerve uncontrollably if a small animal like a rabbit darts out in front of you. It's better to have a broken fog light or a dented bumper than the loss of control or a serious accident. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: "Driving on rural roads requires different skills than driving on urban roads. The unexpected hazards, twisty roads and high speed limits make rural roads tricky, so take extra care and adjust your speed to match how far down the road you can see. A skilful drive on a country road can be an especially enjoyable one – it's worth the effort."

Monday, 15 April 2013

Motorists favour driving and smoking ban

Fifty-six per cent of motorists think that smoking while driving should be banned, according to a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). However, almost half of respondents (forty-five per cent) think that such a ban would be unenforceable.

Respondents clearly have concern over the effects of smoking while driving.  Seventy-five per cent of motorists think that lighting a cigarette while driving is a serious distraction.

Fifty-two per cent of those surveyed think the act of lighting a cigarette is the greatest potential danger of smoking and driving. While just two per cent believe that there are no dangerous elements to smoking while driving.

Other survey results reinforce the negative perception of smoking and driving. Respondents felt it was:

  • Irresponsible (forty-eight per cent)
  • As dangerous as using a mobile phone (forty-six per cent)
  • Dangerous (forty-three per cent)

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "Smoking is clearly seen as a serious issue by motorists and highlights the impact of distractions in the car.

"The health benefits may be clear but more research needs to be done to determine whether there are actual road safety grounds to act on these concerns by banning smoking and driving altogether."

15 April 2013 Drive it day


Driving isn't always enjoyable. Think about the times you've sat in a traffic queue making five millimetres progress in as many minutes. The frustration, the time wasted and the lack of progress all make driving that much more unpleasant. But making progress is a key part of advanced driving and that doesn't mean going faster. It's going the right speed for the conditions. That's the great thing about driving on rural roads. You can make progress as there are fewer traffic lights, fewer people and fewer cars. So in conjunction with Drive it Day – which is on 21 April 2013 – why not take out the car and rediscover the enjoyment of driving?

Dry roads and lighter evenings are ideal conditions for driving. But there are things that you'll need to remember before you take the road to the countryside. And remember, rural roads aren't hazard free.

Watch out for the unexpected. When you're in the city, seeing horses around is fascinating but their home is the countryside. So, if you see horses ahead, pass wide and slow, and if this means hanging well back until you can overtake, do it.


As well as the horses, horse box drivers will be around. But be patient, they will avoid stopping and leave longer following distances to give their passengers a smoother ride. Don't cut them up.


But it's not just horses you will need to watch out for. Where there are wildlife warning signs, take heed of them. They're there for a reason. And if a deer runs across in front of you, more may well follow – so watch out.


Ease off when approaching field entrances and gateways – you don't know what might be waiting to emerge. Where there are farm vehicles, there is likely to be slippery mud on the road. Be extra vigilant and manage your speed.


Speed limits on rural roads are often much higher than local urban roads. But remember, the national speed limit, 60mph, is a maximum, not a target. You can drive up to that speed. Don't forget, if you're towing a trailer, the maximum speed on rural roads is 50mph.


Rural roads often have overgrown verges, bushes and trees which will block your view. Anticipate the hazards they may pose to you in advance.

Country roads are more fun to drive than long, straight ones, but they are responsible for the majority of fatal and serious accidents. That's why it's important to be aware and consider the impact that different hazards will have on your car. Ask yourself, can you stop in the distance you can see to be clear? If you can, then you're doing it right.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Honda creates special potholed road to mimic UK driving conditions

Honda creates special potholed road to mimic UK driving conditions

It's a sorry state of affairs when Honda has to create a special, pothole-ridden road surface in order to test models destined for the UK.

Alas, the state of our roads has become such an issue manufacturers are forced to come up with ways of testing and producing cars that can cope with our mottled road surfaces and meet UK customers' high ride-quality expectations.

Engineers at Honda have had trouble replicating British driving conditions on the super-smooth highways of Japan so have resorted to creating a crumbling, battle-scarred surface in which to stress test upcoming models.

The four-mile track, based at the firm's test centre in Hokkaido, is made from the more absorbent tarmac used in the UK. Its porous surface cracks easily and replicates the rutted roads British drivers endure on a daily basis.

It can also be temperature controlled to create the sub-zero conditions of our winters. For added realism, the test track also includes UK-style roundabouts and road signs.

A Honda spokesman said: "The road surfaces in continental Europe, especially in the North, are paved with hard material that does not absorb water.

"This is because, in severe winter, absorbed water in the material may freeze, turn into ice and destroy the roads.

"England doesn't tend to suffer with this severe winter, and so the surface is made with softer materials with many pores to absorb rain to prevent a slippery surface.

"As a result, UK roads have a rougher surface, which creates more road noise than other European roads."

The 'Swiss cheese' road surfaces appear to be here to stay, with many councils opting to pay compensation to pothole-damaged car owners rather than tackle the problem head-on

Florida woman escapes heavy-duty engine falling onto car

Florida woman escapes heavy-duty engine falling onto car

A Florida woman is lucky to be alive after an enormous engine fell off a passing lorry directly onto her car.

The woman - whose name has not been released - was driving on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami when an oversized articulated lorry carrying enormous industrial engines attempted to drive underneath a bridge next to her.
The lorry failed to clear the overpass and two of the engines were forced onto the road, with one landing directly onto the driver's side of the woman's Honda Accord.

The Accord attempted to avoid the falling engine by swerving but failed, and to make matters worse, crashed into the car in front.

Even though the engine fell onto the driver's side of the Honda, the driver was not injured. Miami police believe the secret to the driver's survival was down to her quick thinking as she slid across to the passenger seat just before the giant engine struck the car.

The truck driver also escaped with no injuries, as did the driver of the car rear-ended by the Honda Accord.

Authorities have not yet said whether the lorry driver, whose name was also not released, will face any charges.

Local news website WPLG reported there are no clearance warning signs posted on either side of the overpass

Monday, 8 April 2013

Britain's most exclusive parking space goes up for sale

Britain's most exclusive parking space goes up for sale

The parking space costs more than a three-bedroom house in Yorkshire but well-heeled opera fans surely won't be concerned about such trivial matters as this spot is in one of the most exclusive areas in the country.

An estate agency in Knightsbridge is offering an extremely rare parking space that sits right near the Royal Albert Hall in London's affluent SW7 postcode.

The space is said to be large enough for two medium sized cars but agents WA Ellis are quick to point out that it could also "easily accommodate a Rolls-Royce".

Spokespeople for the agents are maintaining that the six-figure sum is reasonable for a parking spot of this nature, even though the prospective buyer only pays for an 84-year lease rather than owning it outright.

The firm's Robert Lewis, who is selling it, revealed to the Daily Mail that the space would cost a lot more if it were nearer Harrods.

He said: "We generally see garages come on the market for between £180,000 and £275,000.

"A lot of people have townhouses and flats that are Victorian and don't have parking, and people don't want to park their Ferraris in the street; this is a secure underground car park."

He added: "It can also be beneficial for people's insurance and if you were selling a house nearby you could sell it "with parking".

"The garages and spaces we sell near Harrods can sell for a lot more, you often see Bugatti Veyrons parked in there.

"There isn't a lot of parking in central London so people like to know they have always got a space."

The parking space price tag is likely to make most people wince - considering the average house price in the UK is currently £162,638 - but homeowners in the City of Westminster fork out a wallet-busting £1,278,787 on average.

Changing lanes


Last month, the government announced a green paper on younger drivers would be published this summer. Finally, an opportunity to redress the need for more guidance and training for younger drivers, early in their driving careers. After all, this is when drivers are most at risk. The key is getting as much experience as possible in the first few years of your driving career.


One of the biggest fears for most new drivers is the unsupervised drive on the motorway. The high speeds can be daunting and the idea of merging on to a motorway can absolutely terrify you to begin with. Don't forget, motorways are in fact our safest roads.


The key is to look ahead. By looking ahead, you can anticipate the actions of other drivers and take action accordingly.


Make sure you use all of your mirrors regularly, as well as before making any manoeuvre or lane change.


Signal early to give other road users time to react – many will be happy to let you out if given enough warning.


Change lanes gradually. Don't expect or force other drivers to move out of your way. This will only make it more difficult for you and other road users to progress.


Don't compromise your safe following distance when changing lanes. Always look out for other cars aiming to move into the same space as you from another lane.


Never get in the way of other vehicles unnecessarily. Always try and stay on the left hand side of faster moving traffic.


Read the overhead gantry signs – they give useful information and can help you decide which lane to use.


Keep an eye on your mirrors and keep a 360 degree awareness of the traffic around you to make changing lanes easier, but always double check before making the manoeuvre

Friday, 5 April 2013

Dodge Charger from Steve McQueen's Bullitt goes on sale

Dodge Charger from Steve McQueen's Bullitt goes on sale

One of two surviving Dodge Chargers from the iconic 1960s cop movie Bullitt has gone on sale via American car collector's marketplace Hemmings.

The car was used in the film's most famous scenes where a cool McQueen can be seen leaping and screeching through the streets of San Francisco in his green Ford Mustang fastback.

His assassin pursuers were behind the wheel of this - a gorgeous 1968 Dodge Charger R/T, whose 440bhp V8 engine mated to a four-speed transmission did a good job keeping up with Detective Frank Bullitt's hasty Mustang.

The chase scenes became a benchmark in Hollywood as McQueen and his stunt men reached highly illegal speeds on real roads to properly capture the essence of a high-speed car chase.

This particular model is just one of two surviving chase cars and it only has 62,000 miles on the clock.

The interior and exterior are immaculate thanks to a complete rebuild and restoration over in the States.

The car is one sale for a cool million dollars and collectors with spare cash to burn will have to head to Tuscon, Arizona if they fancy kicking the tyres.

It seems an eye-watering price to pay for vintage American muscle, considering a Charger of a similar age can be picked up for around $50,000, but those who appreciate Steve McQueen and the impact he had on the action genre will surely dig deep to own a slice of history.

Crossing the line: Britain's shortest double-yellows appear in Cambridge

Crossing the line: Britain's shortest double-yellows appear in Cambridge

It seems local councils are now clamping down on unicycle owners who continue to park their chosen mode of transport at the side of the road because we can't think of much else that could encroach on these tiny double-yellow lines.

The yellow daubing appeared on Humberstone Road, Cambridge and they measure a little over a foot long, nestled in between specially marked parking bays.

Cambridge County council say the lines have been laid to deter drivers from encroaching on the disabled bays either side.

Motorists will face a fine of £70 if they do place a wheel on the miniscule parking deterrents but many local residents feel the lines are a waste of time and money.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Liz Hazell, 51, who lives on Humberstone Road, said: "It's the craziest set of double yellow lines I have ever seen. It just defies logic as to why they bothered painting them on the road."

Her son Nik, 21, added: "'It's ridiculous. I have no idea why they have done that. You can't even fit a remote control car on it."

Crossing the line: Britain's shortest double-yellows appear in Cambridge

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council hit back, saying: "This is common practice.

"The yellow lines are at either end of a disabled parking bay and are there to prevent vehicles parked either side from encroaching on the disabled bay."

But councillor Damien Tunnacliffe branded the lines "cute" and said he hoped they would become a visitors attraction.

"I think they're cute and could be on the tourist trail. We should get the blue badge tour guides onto it," he told the Daily Mail.

The city of Norwich was the previous record-holder for Britain's shortest double-yellow lines, with residents waking up to a set that measured just 17 inches long in Stafford Street in 2011.

Logical or a complete waste of money? Have your say in the comments section below

UK drivers no longer need a permit to drive in Florida

UK drivers no longer need a permit to drive in Florida

British holidaymakers hoping to soak up the sun while cruising the streets of Florida no longer need to hold an International Driving Permit.

The US state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has repealed the law that required drivers from outside the USA to apply and carry the official document.

The law, which came into effect on January 1, came to light in February when a Briton was refused a hire car because he didn't hold an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The Department has subsequently announced that the law "wouldn't be enforced".

Rosie Sanderson, head of AA International Travel said to The Telegraph: "It was an ill-considered piece of legislation that was primarily aimed at holders of foreign language driving licences and it caused considerable confusion within the lucrative fly-drive market in Florida.

"There was yet more confusion when the Florida authorities said that the law would not be enforced, but uncertainty led to some car hire firms demanding an IDP and others not."

Holidaymakers are still advised to check with their intended car provider or rental firm prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precaution.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Golden Wedding

Hi to all I.A.M. Members
Our thanks go to all members that signed our Golden Wedding Card.  So nice to see so many signatures. 
We had a wonderful day in the company of so many friends and family.
I'm sure those that attended the evening celebration had as good a time as we did....thank you to everyone
Val & Max                                                         

1.5 million MOT failures could be avoided thanks to new site

Most MOT failures could be avoided, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with many drivers neglecting to carry out basic checks of their cars.

The group suggests that as many as 1.5 million failures each year wouldn't happen if motorists proactively spotted failures early and now, it is encouraging car owners to carry out quick checks of their vehicles before test day.
Launching a new website,, the SMMT has suggested a list of 10 check points that are relatively easy for owners to look for – including anything from headlight and indicator bulbs to tyre tread depths, with even the condition of a car's windscreen wipers worth a once-over.

Number plates are also said to be a key reason for MOT fails – with some cars missing the mark simply because their plates aren't clean and legible. Low amounts of screenwash can lead to a fail too, as can an inability to adjust the drivers's seat – the SMMT suggesting both are checked and fixed before the big day.

Some checks however, such as engine oil level, can prove confusing for some drivers to carry out – and in those situations, the SMMT says that dealerships will be on hand to help.

"Every" car manufacturer in the UK is said to be participating in the "Minute Or Two" campaign, meaning that a total of 5,545 main dealers across the country will soon be handing out advice to customers. Technicians will be "ready and able to assist customers" who might be unsure about doing the checks themselves.

"The message that we are keen to get across to motorists is that an MOT fail could very easily be avoided if a simple visual check is carried out beforehand," said Mike Baunton, SMMT interim chief executive.

"Technicians at manufacturer main dealerships across the UK are ready and willing to help vehicle owners carry out the visual inspection before the test, and to rectify any issues before conducting a manufacturer-guaranteed MOT.

"With the introduction of a number of new additions to the annual MOT test just last month, it is even more important for vehicle owners to understand the advantage that a few simple checks could make to the outcome of their test."

Sue Robinson, national franchised dealer association director, added: "The 'Minute Or Two' checks are easy and simple to perform and will save motorists time and aggravation when taking their vehicle for its annual MOT test.

"If consumers have any concerns about the state of their vehicle in the run-up to its MOT, they can call a manufacturer main dealer, whose fully trained technicians will be able to provide advice on carrying out the checks for all makes and models."

Porsche Panamera to achieve 91mpg

2014 Porsche Panamera to achieve 91mpg

The Panamera, Porsche's take on the four-door supercar, is to become an unlikely eco-hero thanks to the addition of a new hybrid model.

Proving that the usually mutually exclusive facets of performance and economy can be enjoyed together, the Panamera S E-Hybrid plug in (to give it its full name) boasts 410bhp and will crack 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, yet still returns an astonishing 91mpg in EU efficiency tests.

Even more astonishingly, particularly given the Panamera's 3.0-litre V6 engine, Porsche is claiming CO2 emissions of under 100g/km. Official figures have yet to be announced, but if accurate it would mean owners would pay zero road tax under the current rules.

All this eco-worthiness hasn't come at the expense of performance, either. A top speed of 167mph ranks the Panamera amongst the fastest four-doors money can buy.

Thanks to an enlarged battery pack over the outgoing Panamera hybrid, the S E-hybrid is capable of 83mph and will travel between 11-22 miles on electric power alone.

2014 Porsche Panamera to achieve 91mpg

Along with changes under the skin, the entire Panamera model range has benefitted from a facelift to keep it looking fresh, with smoother rear styling and optional full LED headlights at the front.

The Panamera S E-hybrid will be unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in April

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Young drivers need continuous support

Young drivers need more guidance and support in the first six months of obtaining their license, according to road safety charity IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Last month, the DfT announced a green paper would be published this summer looking at ways to improve the safety of young drivers. The announcement includes the possibility of introducing graduated licensing, with curfews and controls which will prevent young people from gaining experience on the road.

The IAM will be recommending to the government the following changes to help improve young driver safety:

  • A tougher test to include rural roads – where young people are most vulnerable
  • A new focus on treating driving as a skill for life – through continuous learning with post test checkups in the first six months of solo driving
  • A minimum driving period during learner stages to increase exposure to as wide range of traffic conditions as possible
  • A relaxation of the rules allowing learner drivers on motorways

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: "Continuous learning will do more to keep young people safe on the roads than restrictions. During and after supervised learning, new drivers need to gain as much experience as possible to prepare them for driving independently – something which curfews simply cannot deliver."

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

8,000 motorists avoid driving ban

8,000 motorists avoid driving ban

Anger, frustration and dread: a cocktail of emotions experienced by any driver who has been flashed unexpectedly by an unseen speed camera. For drivers with nine points or more, that flash is accompanied by the very real prospect of losing your driving licence.

Well, not necessarily, according to the latest figures from the DVLA, which show that 8,000 drivers who have reached the 12-point threshold, are still driving around perfectly legally, having escaped a ban in court.
That equates to 9% of motorists who are eligible to be banned. Courts can use driving bans at their discretion and often choose not to if the driver can prove that the loss of their licence would cause them "exceptional hardship".

It seems that narrowly escaping a ban doesn't mean drivers are learning their lesson. The Sun newspaper reported one Cheshire driver who is still on the road despite having racked up an incredible 36 points on their licence.

Other reasons for drivers escaping with their licences intact include poor communication between the courts and the DVLA. In total, over 3.3 million motorists hold a licence with endorsements.

Reacting to the news, Peter Rodger, of road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists, warned: "If everyone thinks this is what happens, then the respect for the rules of the road will be removed."