Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Cars more than 30 years old could be granted MOT exemption

Stock - Car Maintenance

Drivers of cars built 30 years ago or more could soon be excused the hassle of having to arrange an annual MOT test, under proposals put forward by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Currently, only cars registered before 1960 are exempt from the annual safety inspection, but a new EU directive means this privilege could be extended to any vehicle over 30, provided it hasn't been substantially altered or modified.

The reasoning behind the move is new DfT research, which has found classic cars to be generally much better maintained by their owners, resulting in a far lower MOT failure rate. Figures for 2009 show that less than 10 per cent of pre-1960s vehicles failed the test, compared to 30 per cent for more modern cars, Motoring Research reports.

Incidents of classic cars being involved in accidents are also disproportionately low, further supporting the idea that their owners take fastidious care of them.

Currently, new vehicles require an annual MOT test three years after the date of their initial registration. The government had considered looking into making older vehicles subject to a biennial test, though is more likely to extend the exemption currently afforded to pre-1960s cars.

A decision on whether this will occur is still some years away, but the DfT is now gauging the opinion of the public on the matter, and wants to hear from motorists.

Do you think exempting vehicles from mandatory safety testing is a good idea? What do you think the implications will be for road safety?

Don’t have a ‘taxing’ time over vehicle tax changes, says the IAM

With the abolition of the vehicle tax disc taking effect from 1 October and a flurry of confused people asking about the situation through social media, leading road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists has taken the opportunity to clarify the rules.


Basically you will still need to buy vehicle tax to keep any vehicle on the road. You will still receive a reminder from the DVLA, and you can continue paying using the previous methods. However now you will be able to pay by continuous direct debit – meaning there will never be a risk of forgetting to pay, and driving with an out-of-date disc.


The direct debit will continue as long as there is a valid MOT for the vehicle.


You can apply online to tax your vehicle using the 16 digit reference code from your vehicle tax renewal reminder (V11) or 11 digit reference number from your log book (V5C).


One major change the new road tax rules has created is that vehicle tax can no longer be transferred with the vehicle if you sell it – often an added incentive when purchasing a vehicle. If after 1 October you sell a vehicle and have notified the DLVA, you will automatically receive a refund for any full months remaining on that vehicle tax.


You will now always have to buy new vehicle tax when you purchase a new or used vehicle.


As of 1 October, you will no longer be obliged to display a paper tax disc on your car – so you are free to remove and destroy it. However you might want to keep it as a souvenir, if you are feeling sentimental over the disappearance of an iconic part of UK motoring life!


Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: "As with all new systems, it will take a little time to get used to. But the move to allow people to set up a direct debit will mean greater peace of mind for many, so your vehicle will never be untaxed.


"However, moving more of these processes online will make things very difficult for those without regular internet access – as ever, the poor and elderly could lose out.


"And it will be interesting to see if some people think that without a visible tax disc it will be easier simply not to buy one. We'll see in time how effective this has been in catching those who avoid paying."


For more information visit the website

Many drivers unaware that tax discs are being phased out

Autumn statement 2013

Nearly half of UK drivers are completely unaware that in-car tax discs are being abolished from October, according to research by

Despite the death of the paper tax disc after 93 years on UK windscreens, all cars will still need to be taxed for use on the road. The penalty for drivers who do not have a valid tax disc will stand at a substantial £1,000 when the new setup comes into force in less than six weeks.

Of those drivers who are aware of the changes, 50 per cent do not know the exact date this will take place, with six per cent believing that it will happen some time in the next year. A further seven per cent do not know what the changes will be, while 32 per cent are not planning to do anything to find out what the changes are.

Another significant change is that tax discs will no longer be transferable when owners come to sell on their vehicle. Those selling a car will now be able to receive a refund for any full months of road tax remaining, while those buying a car will have to get new road tax for the vehicle before driving it away. If the seller does not inform the DVLA of the change of ownership they could face steep fines and remain responsible for taxing the vehicle.

A new direct debit option will be available, with 53 per cent of drivers claiming that they will use this option, even though there is an additional five per cent charge for paying monthly or biannually. This extra charge is half the current premium added to the prices for six months of road tax, which 23 per cent of drivers currently opt for. Meanwhile, paying by credit card will incur a £2.50 surcharge.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of, says: "Changes to the vehicle tax system are no bad thing and we fully welcome the introduction of direct debit payments. It will also help to eliminate the problem of people who genuinely forget to renew their tax and end up being stung with a hefty fine. However, I suspect the new system may experience some teething problems so drivers really need to make sure they're on top of their game.

"Just because you don't have to display a tax disc doesn't mean you can get away with not paying it, if anything you're more likely to be caught now than before. This is particularly an issue if you are buying or selling a vehicle."

Monday, 25 August 2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Investigation uncovers service station parking loophole

welcome break

Service stations are deterring motorists from taking vital rest breaks at times when they need it most because of "ludicrous" parking restrictions.

Flying in the face of government advice to motorists not to drive tired, draconian parking charges are being imposed on drivers who stop and nap at services for more than two hours.

An investigation uncovered a little known loophole in the parking restrictions in force at 58 service stations operated by Moto, where drivers who have been issued charge notices for genuinely napping can have their tickets quashed.

However, rivals Welcome Break – which operates 28 stations around the UK – stuck by its strict two-hour parking rules, even if it meant dangerously deterring drivers from stopping and having a sleep.

Tim Shallcross, spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "Motorway service areas are provided in order to enable people to take a break from driving in the interests of safety.

"If they are then going to deter people from parking there, the whole object of having them in the first place is defeated."

A reporter received a demand for £100 by both Moto and Welcome Break after sleeping in his car to test the theory at service stations operated by the different companies. On both occasions he entered after midnight and left the car park before 8am.

When contacted Moto said it immediately it cancelled the ticket and revealed its little-known parking policy, however Welcome Break was not as forthcoming.

Shallcross added: "A charge for somebody who's parked for more than two hours in the early hours of the morning is absolutely ludicrous and there is no justification for it whatsoever.

beautiful woman is sleeping in...
"It generates the risk that next time you're driving down the motorway and feel tired, you'll run the risk of having a crash because you won't want to stop and potentially incur another penalty. It runs entirely counter to the whole purpose of having a motorway service area in the first place."

Andrew Leatham, spokesman for Moto, said that the charge would be rescinded – and others could claim relief too.

"It is not our policy to issue parking charge notices to drivers who have genuinely fallen asleep," he said.

"What most people do when they find they have stayed for longer than two hours is go in and speak to the duty manager and they will just erase the parking charge there and then. If it ever happens to you, I would advise that is what motorists do."

However, Welcome Break was not as helpful. It refused to cancel the charge and said it stuck by its parking policy.

Rod McKie, chief executive, said he believed two hours was "ample time for drivers to take a break and refresh themselves for their onward journeys".

He added: "If customers did not have to pay at night, our car parks would be full of people sleeping in cars, vans, caravans, etc. This is a major concern for us."

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for the road safety charity Brake was concerned with Welcome Break's approach.

He said: "Tired driving is a major killer on UK roads, and taking regular breaks is essential to tackling the problem.

"We advise all drivers to take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours. If you feel sleepy, you should pull over somewhere and safe and have a nap."

Our advice would be to be very careful to choose a service station owned by Moto if you do...

What do you think of these parking restrictions? Have you ever been caught out? 

Sat nav errors wear thin for homeowner

stuck lorry

A Somerset woman is pleading with her council to improve signage on her narrow road, after having her Grade-II listed home repeatedly struck by HGVs.

Coxley resident Caroline Cockman is fed up with lorry drivers blindly following sat nav devices and getting stuck in the 6ft wide lane that runs in front of her house.

The lane already has a sign warning drivers that the lane is unsuitable for large vehicles, but that hasn't stopped countless lorries getting stuck, with three stricken vehicles needing rescuing in the past week alone.

Aside from the inconvenience of the road being blocked, Ms Cockman estimates that around £50,000 worth of damage has been caused to her and her neighbour's garden walls by impatient drivers who have got wedged, and then attempted to force their way through.

Stuck lorry

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the 54-year-old homeowner said: "Their sat navs direct them down the lane. They ignore the evidence of their own eyes that it's too narrow and just carry on until they get stuck.

"The worst incident happened in 2008 when a big lorry got stuck then tried to ram its way down, costing £13,000 in repairs.

Ms Cockman is now urging the council to make signs warning drivers about the road's narrow width more prominent, in a bid to deter those who unquestioningly follow their sat nav devices.

A Somerset county council spokesperson told the Daily Mail that the current signage was adequate and that further notices were not necessary.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Speeding driver detected at 139mph on 60mph Scottish road

New figures obtained by leading road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) through a Freedom of Information request to Police Scotland have revealed the top 20 recorded speeding offences in Scotland for the past 15 months.

They show that of the top 20 recorded top speeds between 1 April 2013 and 30 June 2014 just one took place on a motorway – the rest were on A roads. The speeds were captured on either fixed or mobile speeding cameras and ranged between 114mph and 139mph.

The highest figure was a driver recorded at 139mph on a 60mph stretch of the A96 Keith to Huntly Road, one mile east of the B9115 Junction in Aberdeenshire on a mobile speed camera.

The remainder of the top three were recorded on 70mph limit roads; 129mph on the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen Road at Waterston Road, Angus caught on a fixed speed camera, and 127mph on the A9 Perth to Inverness Road at Moulinearn, Perth and Kinross on a mobile speed camera.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "These speeds show there are still drivers out there displaying a contempt for the law and for the safety of their fellow road users.

"This is made doubly worse by the fact the vast majority of the incidents took place on A roads, therefore putting oncoming motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians at greater risk."

The top 20 recorded top speeds are as follows:

Offence speed/speed limit/road

1. 139mph/60mph/A96 Keith to Huntly Road approximately one mile east of B9115 junction Aberdeenshire

2. 129mph/70mph/A90 Dundee to Aberdeen Road at Waterston Road Angus

3. 127mph/70mph/A9 Perth to Inverness Road at Moulinearn Perth and Kinross

4. 125mph/70mph/A92 Crossgates to Cowdenbeath

5. 122mph/70mph/A90 Dundee to Aberdeen Road near Mill of Forest Stonehaven Aberdeenshire

6=. 121mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow - Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to Greenhillstairs overbridge Beattock

6=. 121mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow - Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to Torwood overbridge junction 17 Lockerbie

6=. 121mph/70mph/A90 Aberdeen to Dundee Road at Haughs of Finavon Farm Angus

9. 120mph/70mph/A9 Perth to Inverness Road at Moulinearn Perth and Kinross

10=. 119mph/70mph/M80 near to Barnego Road overbridge Dunipace

10=. 119mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow-Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to Holms overbridge Beattock/ 12=. 118mph/70 mph/A1 Road Adniston East Lothian

12=. 118mph/70mph/A9 Perth to Inverness Road at Pitlochry A924 Perth and Kinross

12=. 118mph/70mph/A9 Perth to Stirling Road at Windyedge Farm Perth and Kinross

14. 117mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow-Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to north overbridge junction 19 Ecclefechan

15. 116mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow - Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to Torwood overbridge junction 17 Lockerbie

16=. 115mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow - Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to Whicketthorn overbridge Kirkpatrick Fleming

16=. 115mph/70mph/A1 Road Adniston East Lothian

16=. 115mph/60mph/A82(T) public road near White Corries Rannoch Moor Highland

19=. 114mph/70mph/A74(M) Glasgow-Carlisle Road southbound carriageway near to north overbridge junction 19 Ecclefechan

19=. 114mph/70mph/A1 Road Adniston East Lothian

By comparison the highest speed recorded on a road in England and Wales was 149mph, by a motorist on the M25 at Swanley between April 2013 and May 2014. This figure was revealed following Freedom of Information requests to 39 police authorities by the IAM and announced by the charity in May.

From that survey there were seven separate recorded instances of top speeds over 130mph recorded by a speed camera that exceeded the limit. They were:

Offence speed/speed limit/road/recorded by police force area

1.149mph/70mph/M25 Swanley/recorded by Kent Police

2.146mph/70mph/M25 Swanley/recorded by Kent Police

3.135mph/no limit supplied/M62 (Westbound)/recorded by Merseyside Police

4. 133mph/no limit supplied/M62 (Westbound)/recorded by Merseyside Police

5. 133mph70mph/A1 Barrowby Thorns/recorded by Lincolnshire Police

6. 130mph/70mph/A4146 Leighton Buzzard to Bletchley Road/recorded by Thames Valley Police

7. 130mph/70mph/A46 Sedgeberrow by-pass/recorded by West Mercia Police

In addition, there were a further 23 separate instances of speeds between 120 and 129mph captured on speed cameras by the following police areas: Avon and Somerset Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Dorset Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary (three times), Hampshire Constabulary, Kent Police (three times), Lincolnshire Constabulary, Norfolk Constabulary (twice), Northamptonshire Police, North Wales Police (twice), South Wales Police (twice), Suffolk Constabulary, Sussex Police, Thames Valley Police (three times).

Monday, 11 August 2014

Driving in the Citay

Ahhh, summer, sunshine and icecream. Yes, it's the school holidays. Keeping the kids entertained is no easy task. Perhaps a trip to the capital will help keep them entertained! So if you're driving to London between this summer, you're in for a surprise. Or not. But if you must travel in or around the capital is a tough business don't just pray and hope your journey will be hassle free.

There are two things that you can be sure of. There will be congestion, which will in turn increase the amount of fuel you have to use. The good news is I have advice to deal with both of these issues, or at least to mitigate the impact they'll have on your stress and fuel levels.

'Green' driving can easily improve your miles per gallon by up to 15 per cent. But there's no dark-art about it. Everyone can save fuel by making a few common-sense changes to their driving. The main principle of advanced driving – looking ahead to avoid having to stop so often – is also the key to green driving. Keep your vehicle moving as long as you can, even in traffic queues. Driving at a constant speed is far more fuel efficient than accelerating and braking. It is also safer because stopping increases the risk of being hit from behind.

Checking your vehicle regularly makes driving more efficient. In particular check the pressure of your tyres weekly, when they're cold. Wrongly inflated tyres have a big impact on fuel economy and they are also more vulnerable to damage. Keep the inside of the front and rear windscreens squeaky clean. This reduces the time you need to spend using the heating or air con to clear the screen.

Around town open your windows to cool the car down, but at high speeds, keep your windows closed to maintain the aerodynamics of the car. Use air-con to get the car to a comfortable temperature, and then turn it off.

Stick to the speed limit. This may seem a bit of a joke when you reach London, but when you're heading up the M25, or down the M1, cutting your speed from 85mph to 70mph, will save nearly half a litre of petrol every ten miles.

In traffic, people get frustrated and tired and will be inclined to behave unpredictably – watch out for people changing lanes suddenly as they try and get ahead of the traffic. Be wary and anticipate the actions of road users around you.

Stay calm. Being stuck in traffic is stressful, made even more so if you're running late. Allow a lot more time than you're likely to need for the journey. If you're going to be late and need to let somebody know, pull over into a safe place and avoid rushing the rest of the journey to make up time. Better late than never.

Finally, check the weather forecast before you travel, especially when making a long journey. Heavy rain always slows traffic down, and looking out of the window this morning there's no hint that it is likely to get any nicer in the near future. When you are on the road, listen out for traffic updates on the radio in case your route is affected, but never look for updates on your mobile phone or satnav while on the move.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Getty Images The small tax disc mounted on windscreens is set to disappear from

Road Tax Rise Causes A Stir

The small tax disc mounted on windscreens is set to disappear from vehicles from October 1. Tax discs will also no longer be transferable between owners when it comes to selling a car.

This means that those selling a used car will be responsible for informing the DVLA when they sell their vehicle and will receive a refund for the remaining months of tax left. The new owner meanwhile, will have to arrange six or 12 months of car tax for the vehicle, or pay by Direct Debit.

However the absence of a brightly coloured disc on the windscreen may make it harder for buyers and sellers to remember to claim a refund or renew their tax. Owners will still need tax to drive, while the police will be able to use number plate recognition cameras to automatically spot tax evaders.

According to Phil Pearce, commercial operations director for vehicle information provider HPI: "We're hoping that the new DVLA initiatives will make it harder for drivers to head out on the road untaxed.

"It's easy to check if a vehicle is taxed by heading online at the Vehicle Enquiry Service, making this the first step for dealers and consumers alike who want to avoid the risk of fines."

HPI also warns car dealers to ensure they don't get caught out with fines for cars they no longer have on their forecourts. Dealers who fail to inform DVLA will still be liable for vehicle tax even if they no longer own the vehicle.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

'Smart' seatbelt aims to prevent tiredness related accidents

beautiful woman is sleeping in...

Since they were made compulsory in 1983, the seatbelt has arguably gone down as the most important advancement in vehicle safety, saving countless lives by pinning passengers to their seats in the event of a crash.

However, in its 29 years in use, the seatbelt hasn't really undergone much development, until now. A team of Spanish scientists is developing a new type of smart seatbelt, codenamed 'Harken', that can actively wake a driver up if it detects they are nodding-off behind the wheel.

The new device incorporates a sensor system that monitors a driver's heart rate and breathing. If the rate of either drops too much, a warning alarm will sound.

Jose Solaz, of Valencia's Biomechanics Institute, told the Daily Mail: "The variation in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue. Harken can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the symptoms appear."

The system, which is incorporated into the fabric of both the seat belt and seat cover, is claimed to cancel out readings from the motion of the car, and will be invisible to the user.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), crashes that involve tired drivers are a whopping 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury, as drivers cannot brake or take avoiding action to mitigate a collision, resulting in greater average impact speeds.

This is compounded by the fact that such collisions are most likely to occur on motorways and other straight, monotonous roads. Research suggests that young male drivers, shift workers and company car drivers are most at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

A ROSPA spokesman said: "Sleepiness reduces reaction time, a critical element of safe driving. It also reduces vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities, such as driving, is impaired.

"The speed at which information is processed is also reduced by sleepiness. The quality of decision-making may also be affected."

Girl aged 12 banned from driving

DVLA Office in Oxford

A 12-year-old girl and 38 other youngsters aged 14 or under were banned from driving over the last year – before they were even eligible to apply for a provisional driving licence, Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) figures reveal.

A total of 230 under 17s received a driving ban between July 2013 and June 2014, though this is a fraction of a percentage of the 92,000 drivers banned overall over the same period. A huge 85 per cent of those banned were men, with a third aged between 20 and 30 years old. The age with the highest number of disqualified drivers is 25, with 3,748 people having been served a ban – 3,294 men and 454 women.

Simon Best, chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "It is of great concern that youngsters not even eligible to hold a provisional licence are being banned at such young ages. Parents need to be aware their children are putting their own lives and those of others at huge risk by taking the wheel of a car on public roads."

Best continued: "These statistics strongly reflect the research we have already carried out in this area - that young males are very much the at risk group when it comes to driving safety.

"We believe targeting the attitudes of these drivers specifically, through advanced training for example, should be a major part of future road safety campaigning. Reducing offending in this age bracket would dramatically improve safety on our roads for all road users."

Figures were supplied by the DVLA following a Freedom of Information request submitted by the IAM.