Monday, 28 July 2014
There's nothing that terrified me more than when I first started to drive. I know I could have benefitted quite a bit from advice like this – so I hope you find it useful. And as for the experienced motorists – well, we all need a reminder every now and then!
As a young driver, shopping for car insurance can be a stressful task – you're likely to be faced with many unaffordable insurance quotes. Use comparison sites to shop around, and consider having a telematics box fitted to bring your premiums down. Further driver training will also bring costs down.
As part of learning to drive, it's likely that you will have been taught how to do basic checks on your vehicle – tyre tread and pressure, fluid levels, lights, and mirrors and windows. It's important that you spend a few minutes each week doing each of these checks in order to avoid a breakdown and drive safely.
The law states that you are allowed up to 80mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood before you are over the drink-drive limit. However, it's impossible to judge how much you can drink and still be under the limit – so make it none for the road. And beware the morning-after effect – there may still be enough alcohol in your system to land you with a conviction for drink-driving.
It's inevitable that once you pass your test you'll be expected to taxi about groups of your friends. But passengers are known to be one of the greatest and most disruptive in-car distractions. Make sure you keep your concentration on the road, rather than those in the passenger seats.
Learner drivers are currently not allowed on the motorway. This means that once they pass, they are faced with the often daunting task of driving on high-speed, unfamiliar roads. But there is no need to be anxious – motorways are statistically our safest roads, and the skills you learned to pass your test will equip you to take them on. Remember to check your mirrors more regularly and leave a minimum two second gap between yourself and the car in front
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Adrian Smith was snapped by a fixed roadside speed camera on the A57 near Dunham Bridge, Lincolnshire, in February.
The nightclub bouncer mistakenly believed he would receive six points for being 8mph over the 60mph limit, and feared that would result in him losing his licence due to previous endorsements.
Instead of waiting for a speeding ticket to arrive in the post, Smith returned to the speed camera the following day and set fire to it using petrol and old tyres, causing around £24,000 worth of damage.
Unfortunately for him, his actions were caught on a separate speed camera, which led police straight to his door. It was then that they discovered that Smith had been growing cannabis on a large scale in his basement.
Smith was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting arson and cannabis cultivation with intent to supply, at Lincoln Crown Court.
Handing down his sentence, Judge Sean Morris said: "You are not the first person to stand before me for setting fire to a speed camera. People need to know that anyone who does that will go to prison,"
"These speed cameras save lives. They moderate people's driving. This county has the worst roads in England for death and serious injury. That is why we have so many speed cameras.
"People who set fire to speed cameras must realise the consequences are a hundred times worse than taking the fine. A custodial sentence is inevitable."
Ministers today announced that they were bringing an end to decades-old legislation, which would allow lorries to travel at speeds of up to 50mph, in line with most other European nations.
The move is an attempt to reduce congestion in rural areas, and also to reduce the likelihood of drivers performing dangerous overtaking manouevres in frustration or being held up by slow moving vehicles.
The Government is also considering whether to raise the dual-carriageway speed limit for lorries from 50mph to 60mph.
The increased speed limit is expected to save haulage companies an estimated £11million each year.
Claire Perry, the new transport minister, said: "We are doing all we can to get Britain moving and boost growth. This change will do exactly that and save our haulage industry millions a year,"
"Britain has one of the world's best road safety records and yet speed limits for lorries have been stuck in the 1960s.
"This change will remove a 20mph difference between lorry and car speed limits, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans.
"Current speed limits for HGVs were introduced around 50 years ago and need to be updated given improved vehicle technology."
Do you think the raised speed limit for lorries on rural roads will benefit road safety?
Monday, 21 July 2014
It's that time of the year which some parents dread. It's the summer holidays. That's right. Six weeks of constant entertainment for the kids. While the mere thought might fill the average parent with terror, the rest of us may enviously look wishing we had six weeks off from our daily routine.
Alas, there is some good news that comes with the school holidays (apart from the quieter roads), that is – you guessed it – a summer holiday. So this year, as you prepare to drive to the airport – as well as making the usual checks for your passport, travel insurance, plane ticket, spare some time to check your vehicle is ready for the journey too. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way.
You should do a thorough check of your vehicle before the big day, including fluid levels, tyres, mirrors and windows – you'll be on a tight schedule on the day, so the last thing you need is a breakdown.
Make sure you pack your luggage packed into the boot of your vehicle. If you do need to put some belongings on the back seats, make sure they do not obstruct your view out of the rear window and secure them in place before setting off.
Leave in plenty of time – if you feel rushed on your way to the airport then you are likely to make silly mistakes or even creep over the speed limit.
Plan your route to the airport the day before, and check travel reports for any disruption or road closures before you set off.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before you travel to ensure you're alert from the very beginning of the journey. And if you have to travel a good distance to get to the airport, leave enough time to schedule in a rest stop to fight the onset of fatigue.
When parking up at the airport, try to find an area which is not too crowded – the fewer cars around you, the less chance there is of someone clipping your vehicle with their luggage. Nobody wants to return from a relaxing holiday to a damaged vehicle.
The last thing you need on the day you start your holiday is unwanted stress from a lack of preparation and a shortage of time. Preparing yourself and your vehicle before the big day and setting off nice and early will remove the obstacles to you taking full advantage of Duty Free.
Monday, 14 July 2014
Around 60,000 motorists were hit with penalty notices after crossing Lendal Bridge in the city, after controversial traffic calming measures were introduced last year.
The Council, which defended the restrictions as necessary to resolve traffic issues in the area, is now deciding on a process through which motorists can claim back money paid in fines.
Councillor David Levene said: "Whilst the trial achieved some of its aims, it had become too polarising an issue, requiring too much resource, and so detracting from other necessary transport policies," reported the Daily Mail.
He went on to say that refunds would not be volunteered and that motorists would have to apply for them:
"An application will have to be made for refunds to be given as 'a statement of goodwill' and will not be volunteered as that would legally say the scheme was wrong."
The debacle has led to call for the Council's leader to resign. Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of York's Liberal Democrats, told the Daily Mail: "The closure of Lendal Bridge was botched from start to finish and has done deep reputational damage to York," referring to the large proportion of tourists who were subject to penalties, making up around 80 per cent of those fined.
Has another driver ever pulled out on you, seemingly without noticing you're there? Almost inevitably it's nearly always someone else's fault. Sixty per cent blamed the other driver.
SMIDSY, or 'sorry mate I didn't see you', is when a road user pulls out in front of another vehicle or road user, stating 'they just hadn't seen them'. Failure to look properly is the most frequently recorded factor in all accident types.
This type of incident is much more common for smaller vehicles: in the last six months seventy per cent of motorcyclists, and eighty per cent of cyclists reported being involved in a SMIDSY moment with a larger road user.
This problem is also more dangerous for motorcyclists and cyclists, who are much more vulnerable without the protection of a car around them. Drivers must give them plenty of space, and be prepared for them to make sudden moves to avoid potholes and other surface problems, less obvious to car drivers.
Similarly, motorcyclists and cyclists need to keep room between themselves and other vehicles – creating space around your vehicle gives you more time to react to hazards.
Drivers should check their mirrors frequently, to keep an eye out for bikes approaching from behind. It's particularly important to check mirrors before changing direction, especially in traffic queues, when a motorcyclist or cyclist might be trying to get past. If they are, be tolerant and let them past– don't try to impede their progress just because you are stuck. But cyclists and motorcyclists need to ride defensively, and be prepared for other drivers to change lanes suddenly, especially when frustrated with the traffic. All road users need to look out for the body language of other vehicles – if another vehicle is slowing down or edging across a lane hang back.
As a smaller road user it makes sense to do everything you can to be seen. Always ride assuming that other road users haven't seen you, and improve your visibility by positioning yourself where a car driver would be sitting when travelling in a straight line – this is where other road users will be looking.
All road users should check their lights regularly to make sure they are all working. Communication is key, and you can't give clear signals if you have a dead bulb, so test all your lights weekly. Motorcyclists and cyclists should wear big blocks of bright colour – broken up or patterned clothing effectively camouflages you.
Drive or ride with the knowledge that another road user may behave irresponsibly, so you're ready to react when it happens. It doesn't matter who's fault it was if you damage your car, or more seriously are injured or injure someone else.
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Currently, foreign car drivers – including the UK – pay nothing to use the country's road network, but that could all change in 2016 if German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt gets his own way, Auto Express reports.
Under the plans, foreign drivers would have to buy a permit costing 10 euros (£7.90) for 10 days or around 100 euros for 12 months. Both would have to be attached to a car's windscreen and they would cover the cost of every single road in Germany – including the de-restricted autobahns, which are a major attraction for motorists across the continent.
The move would raise around 2.5bn euros a year and would bring Germany in line with most other European countries in charging drivers to use its roads. However, unlike neighbouring France and Switzerland, German nationals would not have to pay the toll fees.
As such, the plans could be in doubt as they clearly make a distinction between German and foreign drivers in the eyes of EU law.
A spokesperson for the EU's transportation commissioner told the Wall Street Journal: "Changes to Germany's existing car taxation scheme are a German responsibility. They should not be directly aimed at discriminating foreign drivers."
What do you think of the plans? Let us know your views
Six weeks after auctioning the registration MCL650S, the perfect follow-up, 650 S, is about to become available.
The registration, which has a reserve of £3,500, is among 1,500 that will go under the hammer during the DVLA's three-day summer auction which gets under way at the Williams Formula One team's factory in Oxfordshire on Wednesday, July 16.
Clearly the connotations towards the £200,000 McLaren 650S supercar aided in the sale of MCL650S, with the gavel finally coming down when the price reached an astonishing £16,000.
Jody Davies, DVLA personalised registrations events manager, said: "We were astounded by the interest and the battle that ensued around MCL650S. Who knows, 650 S could prove equally as exciting."
Visitors to the three-day event will be given access to Williams' museum displaying arguably the biggest collection of Grand Prix cars under one roof. The private collection belonging to F1 legends Frank Williams and Patrick Head is normally kept behind closed doors.
The priceless gathering chronicles Williams' F1 involvement starting with the team's first ever car, driven by Alan Jones, during the late 1970s. Others notable machines include the ground-breaking six-wheeler banned by the authorities for being too fast in 1980.
And FW14 – the car which powered Nigel Mansell to his record-breaking F1 Championship crown – stands alongside those driven by Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard and, of course, the late, great, Ayrton Senna.
Monday, 7 July 2014
It's a moment of dread. The engine's making strange noises, the stench of burning is in the air and a light you've never seen before is flashing on the dashboard. You're breaking down.
Nowhere is this more frightening than on a motorway, where traffic charges along, often well in excess of 70mph.
If you break down pull over on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can. Point your wheels in towards the kerb – if another vehicle hits your car from behind, it is better that your car is pushed into the crash barrier, than out into the traffic.
Turn on your hazard warning lights and get yourself (and your passengers) out of the vehicle by the left-hand doors. If you have them, put your reflective jackets on. You should never use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder.
While motorways are our safest roads, the hard shoulder is probably the most dangerous place to be. When out of the car get as far away from the road as possible, behind the crash barrier, and up the bank if there is one.
Driver location signs – small marker posts at the side of the carriageway, or large blue signs every 500m – give you precise information on where you're located. While they may not mean anything to you, take the details of the nearest one to give your breakdown provider, if you have a mobile. If you don't have your phone, follow the arrows on these posts – they point you to the nearest emergency phone. If this phone is broken, never try to cross the carriageway to the phone on the other side. Walk to the next one. There are numbers on all telephones that locate you precisely as well. Don't attempt even simple repairs yourself – your breakdown engineer will be trained in working as quickly and safely as possible.
If you feel threatened by someone, get back in your vehicle on the left-hand side, lock all of your doors, and call 999 from your mobile. Get out again as soon as you feel the danger has passed, and tell the police or your breakdown provider if you feel vulnerable, especially if you are alone at night.
While you can't always avoid a breakdown, making sure your car is properly prepared helps. Before you set off make sure all of your windows are clean, and that your lights are working. Check your tyre pressures, tread depth, and condition, particularly for cuts and bulges in the side wall – a blow-out on the motorway could be fatal. And make sure your windscreen wash is topped up. As well as being a legal requirement, it only takes a bit of spray to wipe out your vision completely