Monday, 25 November 2013

Top Gear duo banned from driving in France for three months

Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond have been banned from driving in France for three months after they were both pulled over by French police for speeding.

Clarkson 'fessed up in a column in The Sun, saying that he and his Top Gear co-presenter were caught doing 141 and 143 km/h (88 and 89mph) respectively.
While both had thought that the standard French motorway speed limit of 130km/h (81mph) applied, it turned out they were driving along a stretch which was restricted to 90km/h (56mph).

French police were not amused, and the pair were fined "everything [they] had in [their] wallets".

What's more, the gendarmes took away their driving licences, leaving the duo stranded and unable to drive the Aston Martin Vanquish and Porsche 911 GT3 that they had been travelling in up to that point.

"This wasn't the end of the world for us, because the film crew came to the rescue," said Clarkson, "but if you're travelling alone, you are properly stuffed.

"We subsequently learned that we would not be allowed to drive in France for three months."

Clarkson added that they had been on their way to film new sections of Top Gear's annual DVD.

He quipped that the ban "explains why, in the next series of Top Gear, you may notice we seem to be doing an awful lot of stuff in Italy."

Snow - the dreaded white stuff

Waking up in the morning, with a hint of white light shining through your curtains, the first thought is – I'm late for work. Peering through the curtains, you realise, it's snowed!

First thing's first, how bad is it? If it's really bad, avoid travelling unless it's completely necessary. Don't ignore police warnings or advice to avoid specific routes. Can you work remotely, or change your schedule.

Ensure your windows are clean and clear, and that you have all-round visibility before you set off. Also take the time to clear snow off the roof of your car.

When driving in snow, get your speed right - not too fast that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when it is needed

From stationary, start gently and avoid high revs. Stay in a higher gear to avoid skidding and maximise control. If it is very slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear, rather than just using first.

If you get yourself into a skid, the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.

Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front so you are not relying on your brakes to be able to stop; it simply may not happen! It's better to think ahead as you drive to keep moving, even if it is at walking pace.

Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using short cuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes and housing estates.

Bends are a particular problem in icy conditions – slow down before you get to the bend, so that by the time you turn the steering wheel you have already lost enough speed.

On a downhill slope get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try and slow down once things get slippery.

And if the worst does happen: Keep track of where you are. If you do have to call for assistance, you need to be able to tell the breakdown or emergency services your location.

If you must leave your vehicle to telephone for assistance, find a safe place to stand away from the traffic flow. If you have just lost control, the next driver could well do the same in the same place.

If you break down or have to pull over on a motorway or dual carriageway, it is always better to leave your vehicle and stand a short distance behind and to the safe side of it. Don't stand in front of it if at all possible.  Balancing the risks of a collision and hypothermia is something that depends entirely on your situation. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Christmas is coming ............

Stuck for a Chrimbo pressie idea? 

Why not a go on the Skid Pan treat?  – thoroughly enjoyable and only £60.00!

Contact Mick Cranfield on 01622 630337  or email


Mid Kent Group Annual Dinner

Some members enjoying the Mid Kent Group Annual Dinner held at the Hilltop Hotel Stansted Nr Brands Hatch.  Excellent food, excellent venue and excellent company – just what the doctor ordered on a freezing November night.  Not to mention the wonderful log fire in the bar! 

Next year's Dinner will be on September 27th 2014 so put it in the diary now before you forget.

Speed sign error lets hundreds off tickets


Almost 500 drivers will be thanking their lucky stars today, after it was revealed that their tickets for speeding had been quashed due to a technicality involving a speed limit sign.

The sign was positioned on the approach to a weak railway bridge near Berkeley in Gloucestershire, where the speed limit had recently been changed temporarily from 60mph to 30mph.

Mobile speed camera vans had caught nearly 500 motorists driving over the new limit in the weeks since it had been changed.

However, it turns out the sign showing the new limit was invalid as it was placed on a grey backing board which featured a black border.

According to the government's Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, a speed limit sign may be mounted on a grey or yellow backing board – but backing boards are not permitted to have a border.

The inclusion of a border on the Berkeley sign meant that it had no regulatory power, and was instead purely advisory.

Gloucestershire County Council admitted that the sign had "a small technical fault", and said that it'd be replaced as soon as possible.

A spokesperson added that the new speed limit was a necessary part of "important work to protect the structure of the rail bridge", and added that drivers should still keep to it irrespective of the sign's faults.

It isn't the first time that a local council has fallen foul of the border requirements for such a sign, though.

In 2006, Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire fell foul of the same regulation by placing speed limit signs on yellow backgrounds with black borders.

The error was found when one driver was stopped by the police for speeding, and discovering the fault, used it in his defence at court.

Man survives car being crushed by lorry in motorway accident


Man trapped under lorry on M40

A man has survived an horrific motorway crash in which a lorry crushed his Mercedes.

The out-of-control lorry, which was said to be fully-loaded at the time, obliterated a motorway central reservation barrier, ending up on the opposite side of the carriageway.

The Mercedes, a nearly-new E-Class model, was pinned beneath the truck's trailer as it veered across the road.

In an astonishing stroke of luck, it seems that neither driver suffered any serious injuries.

The crash took place at around 7:45 yesterday morning.

Eyewitnesses say that the lorry was travelling northbound on the M40 between Junctions 15 and 16 near Warwick, when the driver lost control.

The truck smashed through the central reservation, demolishing the barrier, tipping almost onto its side, and wedging the luxury saloon between its wheels.

The clear-up operation took several hours, and caused tailbacks that stretched up to 10 miles at one point.

One passer-by told the Daily Mail: "I couldn't believe my eyes when the lorry went flying through the barrier. It just smashed through the barrier like it wasn't there and collided with a few cars on the wrong side.

"It was just a mess, and then suddenly I looked again and there was a Mercedes stuck underneath the lorry.

"How nobody got seriously hurt I just don't know."

A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: "There are not thought to be any serious injuries but the incident caused major delays.

"The lorry was fully laden and had collided with at least one car."

Mechanic's 92mph joyride discovered by tracking device


 Mechanic's 92mph joyride discovered by tracking device

When Gary Brown booked his BMW in to have some work done on its brakes, he certainly didn't expect was to find out that the mechanic had taken his car out for a joyride at speeds of up to 92mph – before the worn brake pads had even been replaced!

But that's exactly what the tracking device he'd installed in the car reported back to him – within minutes of the car being collected from his home in Berkshire.

Brown arranged for the BMW to be collected through Servicing Stop, an online service previously featured on Dragons' Den, which sub-contracts repairs out to local companies.

The car was picked up by a mechanic from Karcare Services Ltd, an independent firm based in Reading.

Shortly afterwards, the TrackYourGPS device that Gary had installed in the car in case of theft sent him a text message to tell him that the car had broken the speed limit.

Brown told the Daily Mail: "I can't believe how irresponsibly someone was driving my car – especially because they knew it needed new brakes.

"It was so dangerous – the car might not have been able to stop quickly at such high speeds."

A spokesman for Servicing Stop said: "Servicing Stop are aware of an incident on the November 7 whereby a member of staff from a sub-contracted garage exceeded the relevant speed limit in a clients' vehicle, such circumstances are unacceptable and after considering our audit teams findings we have undertaken a disciplinary action against the garage in question.

"Alongside this our audit team have presented control recommendations which will be implemented as we look to ensure that Servicing Stop protect our clients and provide them with the quality of service we all expect.

"Whilst we are confident that the scheduled works on the vehicle were completed to the standards expected, this does not detract from the severity of this case and we are sympathetic to the distress and inconvenience this matter has caused our client."

Karcare Services declined to comment.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Motorists support for speed cameras goes down in 2013

19 November 2013

The use of speed cameras are supported by the majority of the motoring public, according to the latest research published today by road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists. 

Eighty per cent of motorists accept the use of speed cameras, but this is down one per cent on last year's survey.  Seventy nine per cent think that speed cameras are useful to reducing injuries, a fall of six per cent from the 2012 findings.

There is still scepticism amongst the motoring public.  Over half of drivers (52%) do not believe that cameras are only sited at locations where accidents happen.  Almost half of drivers think that raising money is the main purpose of safety cameras. 

Scottish motorists are the least likely to have someone in their household with speeding points but they are also the most against speed cameras and speed awareness courses. 

Support for speed awareness courses has increased.  Three quarters of motorists support the use of speed awareness courses up from 70 per cent in 2011.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: Speed cameras are a successful road safety solution at key crash sites and it's important that the government and safety camera partnerships work to maintain a positive view so that the rising suspicion amongst motorists does not become a trend."

"During times of austerity, drivers are increasingly seeing speed cameras as revenue raising apparatus and are sceptical of their importance for road safety."

Regional breakdown of results 



% in favour of speed cameras



South East




North East


South West


West Midlands


East of England


North West


Yorkshire and Humberside


East Midlands





Monday, 18 November 2013

Social evening 19th November 2013

Hi Everyone
Tomorrow evening's speaker is Robin Peters from the Victim Support Organisation - 8pm at Grove Green.
Hope you can make it
Best wishes

No cold stalling

Now that winter has well and truly arrived, you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time to prepare your car. Spending time to get the car ready for the weather conditions is important so that it copes well throughout your journey. Now is the time to check the battery and that your screen has a freeze-resistant additive.

Clear the snow from the windscreen and windows, from the roof and the car of the bonnet as well as it will blow black on to other cars when you get moving. Bear this in mind when following other vehicles, particularly lorries. Ice and snow from the roofs of lorries can blow onto the road.

Whatever the weather, make sure your windscreen and windows are clean. Low winter sun will highlight smears and scratches and cars get much dirtier more quickly when the roads are wet. Clean your windows inside and out – a dirty screen will cause the windows to mist up much quicker.

Don't switch the engine on until you are ready to go; a modern car does not need to warm the engine up. When you get in the car, make sure all extras such as lights, heaters and the radio are turned off before you try starting it. When you're ready to go, switch the heater or the air con on, so that the windows don't steam up. Check that you can see through all the mirrors and windows before pulling away. Use the 'ice' setting if your car has one.

As well as making sure your car is ready, it's important that you're appropriately prepared too. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged. Program the number for your breakdown provider into it, and ensure you have any policy numbers or membership cards that you might need. Think about your emergency kit, particularly in rural areas – a high viz jacket, food and water, boots, de-icer, scraper, torch and shovel are all musts when the weather is particularly bad. And if you take regular medication, make sure you have enough with you in case you're delayed.

Don't forget, if the weather is really bad; think about whether you really need to make the journey before travelling. If so, ensure you take out the time to prepare your car from the elements you face.


Monday, 11 November 2013

When the frost bites

You sleep through your alarm; you spring out of bed frantically trying to get ready and sprint out the door to the car. Only to find your car covered in frost. Yes, frost. It may seem as though those days are far away but with temperatures dropping, there's no such thing as being too prepared.

Giving yourself an extra ten minutes to prepare yourself will make sure that you and your car are ready for the journey ahead.

But of course, before you pick up your car keys, you'll need to check the road conditions. If the roads are looking icy, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you really need to travel at all. If you do, it's best to keep to the main roads as they're more likely to be gritted. If you're making a long journey, check the weather conditions for the route you plan to travel and your destination too. The weather may well differ along your way.

During the winter months, keep a de-icer and a good scraper in the car. Before setting off, make sure you clean any frost or ice from all the windows so that you can see clearly.

Set off gently in second gear and try avoiding high revs. Higher gears will improve your control when on the move and avoid wheel spins. The important thing when moving is to get your speed right – don't go too fast, that will risk losing control. But keeping moving where possible, even if only at a slow pace. This is especially important when you're going uphill.

On ice, stopping distances increase by up to 10 times, so leave much more distance than usual between you and the car in front. You'll need to plan so you're not relying on your brakes to stop - on ice they may not do that for you. On bends, approaching junctions, and going downhill, reduce your speed early so you have control and are in a suitable gear before driving through them.

If you feel like your car is losing grip, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels to where you want to go. Braking, accelerating or steering harshly will only unsettle the car. Only use your brakes if you can't steer out of trouble. If you do skid, steer into it.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Dangerous trend of Instagram 'driving selfies' sweeps the USA

Driving selfie

A new craze of Instagram 'driving selfies' is sweeping social media websites in the USA as over 3 million users have posted self-taken snaps of themselves driving.
Using the hash tags 'driving home' and driving selfie', the Instagram users have been putting themselves and fellow road users in danger by taking their hands off the wheel and posing for snaps before uploading them to the popular photography application.

The reckless motorists have been warned by authorities of the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving and have been reminded that distracted drivers were the cause of 3,331 deaths on US roads in 2011.

The risky trend has be likened to texting at the wheel as participants first have to access the application, pose for and take a photograph and then navigate a phone's menu screen to upload and 'tag' the shot.

Dr Linda Degutis, of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the USA has warned of the increased dangers among younger drivers.

She told The Daily Mail: "It's especially risky for young, inexperienced drivers - who are already extremely vulnerable to crashes - to be distracted when they are behind the wheel. Answering a call or reading a text is never worth a loss of life."

The trend has been brought to the attention of manufacturers in the US who have begun filming and airing expensive adverts to raise awareness of the dangers. Toyota recently released an advert that depicted a car crash through various different Instagram filters with the strapline, "Don't shoot and drive."

Searching the popular photography app throws up a number of worrying hash tags, with more than three million posts tagged #driving, nearly 50,000 posts tagged #drivinghome, more than 9,000 tagged #drivingtowork, and more than 3,500 listed as #driving selfie.

Other users have adorned masks, applied special effects to their pictures and even accompanied posts with comments such as, "I hope I don't crash," and "Cruise control set, time to chill."

Thefts of catalytic converters are on the rise


Reports of stolen catalytic converters have more than doubled over the past three years, according to the BBC.
Between 2010 and the first six months of this year, approximately 25,000 thefts were reported to police forces across the country.

Independent dealer Jim Reid Vehicles based in Aberdeen, told Car Dealer Magazine that last month alone, four catalytic converters were stolen from its local MOT station while a further six were taken from another local dealer.

Dealer principal Jim Reid said: "Only last month our local MOT station had four catalytic converters stolen and the local car dealer had six stolen, all from 4x4s.

"This is because the road clearance makes it much easier for the thieves to crawl under with specially designed cutters. The removal takes around two minutes but the cost to replace can be more than £500 per vehicle."

According to the BBC, areas such as Bedfordshire and South Yorkshire have seen catalytic converter thefts increase by more than tenfold, while Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Leicestershire have seen thefts triple during the same period.

According to James Goodson, senior analyst with British Transport Police, the illegal trade is fuelled by the rise in the global price of platinum.

He told the BBC: "We've seen that in the past such metals such as platinum and palladium are affected by the changes in the market. That would be reflected at scrap metal dealer level by the dealer offering a better price for that material.

"We've identified that when there are increases in the price of these metals and materials then we often see an increase in levels of theft reported to us."

The news report adds that in 2011 a staggering 15 vehicles from small business owner Jonathan Elvidge's fleet of delivery vans were stripped of their catalytic converters within 45 minutes, when his depot was raided one night before Christmas.

Elvidge said: "We're all about gifts and gadgets, we're all about Christmas, so it was a massively busy time for us.

"The cost to the business was significant. I mean keeping the vehicles on hire and bringing in new vehicles would have cost us £15,000 to £20,000.

"But the real cost is the lost revenue in the stores, which we estimate will be in excess of £100,000. So the real risk to the business, was going out of business."

He added: "We employ 600 people at that time of the year and all those jobs could have been at risk because we couldn't get the stock out to the stores."

A legislation, which came into force on October 1, banned cash payments for scrap metal in order to make it easier to trace thieves and stolen catalytic converters.

4x4 buyers urged to act now before prices rise

Land Rover Discovery drives through a flood

Thinking of buying a 4x4 this winter? Well, you'd better get your skates on, because prices could be on the rise as more and more people have the same idea.

British Car Auctions says that the recent stormy conditions across the UK already seem to have driven higher demand for off-roaders.
"The onset of bad weather usually marks an increase in demand for four wheel drive vehicles and that generally pushes up average prices", says Tim Naylor, editor of the auction house's Used Car Market Report.

"And, despite the fact that temperatures were unseasonably warm in October we've already seen prices creeping up as demand increases."

Average used values of 4x4s peaked last year in December at £14,816, up from £13,023 in October 2012.

By contrast, the value of the average 4x4 in October this year was £13,864.

What's more, BCA suggests that values are likely to rise more as the temperature drops and freezing conditions set in.

"The correlation between falling temperatures and rising prices for 4x4 vehicles is well charted", says Naylor.

"For many motorists, particularly those living in rural areas, a 4x4 is becoming a necessity in winter. Buying now, before the arrival of snow and harsh winter conditions, could be a prudent move."

Many buyers consider a four-wheel-drive to be the vehicle of choice for the cold winter months thanks to their higher levels of traction.

However, some experts suggest that outfitting a standard passenger car with winter tyres is a more advisable solution, as doing so also increases the amount of grip when braking in cold conditions

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Learner driver caught cheating on 19th theory test spared jail

Learner Driver

Ali Mohammed, 26, from Birmingham is being labelled as one of Britain's very worst drivers after he was caught attempting to cheat his 19th theory test after failing the previous 18 efforts.
Mohammed had splashed out hundreds of pounds attempting to pass his theory test but after failing an astounding 18 times, he decided to rope in a 'ringer' to help him get one step closer to owning a full licence.

The scam was quickly rumbled when eagle-eyed staff at the Driving Standards Association realised the stand-in didn't match the picture that was on Mohammed's provisional licence.

Birmingham Crown Court heard how this wasn't the first time the defendant had attempted to cheat his way to a driving licence - he was rumbled back in 2007 when he tried to use a double in a Stoke test centre.

Mohammed, originally from Turkey, admitted fraud and was handed a nine-month prison term, suspended for two years for his latest attempt to fool the authorities. He was also handed 200 hours' community service.

The reported that his barrister, Nigel Stelling, said: "He has tried again and again to get his licence legitimately."

"He is a family man with commitments to a partner and a child. He has resolved to sort his life out."

Recorder Edward Coke told him: "It is with hesitation I do not send you (to prison). It is very serious because a full driving licence is a valuable document.

"Without the theory, members of the public could be maimed or killed because of an ignorance of the theory of driving," the Manchester Evening News reported.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Recent Test Passes

A big congratulation to those who recently passed their Advanced Motoring test. Examiner Terry Friday was on hand to present certificates to Ruth Brind, Stephen Blackhurst, Rachael Rogers Stephen Foreman and Stuart Lillierap

Ruth Brind, Stephen Blackhurst, Rachael Rodgers, IAM Examiner Terry Friday, Stephen Foreman and Stuart Lillierap
Chairman Linda Davies and Examiner Terry Friday were also on hand to present the groups second 'First' pass to Rachael Rodgers.  Terry was her examiner on the day and he was proud to award Rachael with the high standard certificate, explaining to the group he was very proud to award his very first 'First' pass to a lovely young lady with a high standard of driving.   Congratulations

IAM Examiner Terry Friday presenting Rachael Rodgers the IAM First certificate 
 Chairman Linda Davies also presented a special certificate to Pam Medlock. Pam has become the first person in the country to gain a Local Observer Qualification under the IAM's new IMI award system. Congratulations to Pam and special thanks went out to John Bowman, the groups only National Observer and Training Officer Phil Mason for their time helping Pam to prepare for her test.

Pam Medlock receiving her certificate for passing her 'Local Observer Qualification. The first in the country.