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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Japanese firm offers cheap funerals for elderly motorists who give up driving

An undertaker in Japan is offering elderly motorists cheap funerals if they can prove they have given up driving.

According to The Times, the Heiankaku Co chain in Aichi prefecture is offering a 15 per cent discount at any of its 89 funeral homes if there is documentary evidence that the driver has handed over their licence. 

The newspaper claims this is the second business in the area to offer a discount, after a restaurant chain offered discounted food for those who had surrendered their licences.

In Japan, elderly drivers are two and-a-half times more likely to be involved in an accident than younger drivers, and they are deemed responsible for one in every eight of the country's accidents.

Last November the country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, called an emergency meeting after an 87-year-old man crashed his vehicle into a line of school children, killing a boy of six. The man had apparently been driving around aimlessly for 24 hours and could not remember the incident.

In the same month, a married couple were killed when an 83-year-old ran them over in Tokyo, while another elderly driver crashed into a bus stop, and yet another smashed through the front of a shop.

Monday, 20 March 2017

No Cake in sight...

Chairman Lida Davies, Robyn D’Albertanson, Valerie Prior and Lois Bellenie

Three ladies for the East Kent Women's Institute recently became advanced motorists by completing the IAM Roadsmart Course. Robyn D’Albertanson, Valerie Prior and Lois Bellenie all passed their tests together and were presented with their pass certificate by a very proud Chairman Linda Davies. 

Speaking to the ladies we asked if their was one piece of advice they would give to other women about joining up to become an Advanced Motorists all unanimously said to "just do it" with Lois adding that it's not scary at all and she enjoyed her time learning new skills and improving her driving. Valerie also adding that all the Observers were very friendly and good at what they do.

What's the plan now for the three amigos from the WI? Skid pan training... of course! 

Congratulations to Robyn D’Albertanson, Valerie Prior and Lois Bellenie

Weekends Presentations

Last weekends certificate presentations were at our Kingston area where chairman Linda Davies proudly hands out IAM Roadsmart test pass certificate to Patrick Simmonds.

 He added that the course was ‘well worth doing’ giving Patrick a boost in his driving skills. He also added that all his observers were very good and he enjoyed the experience.

 Congratulations to Patrick.

National Observer Pass

Our observers go through various assessment and tests to keep stands up on behalf of Kent Group of Advanced Motorists and the IAM.

Nigel Holden up graded his skills from an Observer to a National Observer after passing his test recently. 

A big congratulation to Nigal.

Friday, 10 March 2017

DVLA in sexism row over driving licences

Women have to choose a title on their licences, while men don't need to

DVLA in sexism row over driving licences

Two female scientists accused the DVLA of sexism for using 'Miss' or 'Mrs' on their driving licences when men's don't need a title.

Ashley Kent, 35, said she requested to have no title when she registered for a new licence, but when it arrived it said 'Mrs'.

Her colleague, Elin Roberts, also encountered the same issue. In a tweet conversation with the DVLA, she asked why she had to have the title.

She wrote: "Just received my new licence and it is wrong. I asked for no title on but it has come back with one on it. Can this be changed?"

The DVLA replied: "Hi, the purpose of the title is to allow the system to determine the male or female format of the driver number. I'm afraid it can't be removed."

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Last Weekend Presentations

Last weekends certificate presentations by Chairman Linda Davies for passing the IAM Roadsmart course goes to David Smith, Tina Tindell, Sheila Cousins, Ian Wilson (Rear Left) and John Allison (Rear Right)

Sheila Cousins not only thanked the group and the Observers who gave up their time to see Sheila through the test but also explained to the group's new associates that the course is worth while and it has increased her observations and safety behind the wheel. 

Ian Wilson, achieved a F1rst pass. He commented on the fact that even when you pass the learning doesn't stop. Tina Tindell's family attended the presentation and Tina, in an emotional speech thanked all the Observers and her family for their support and explained that her motivation to take the course was spurred on after a traffic accident a few years back. 

Our congratulations to David, Tina, Sheila, Ian and John on passing the IAM Roadsmart test and taking some of the biggest steps to improve their own driving ability and safety.

If you want to join David, Tina, Sheila, Ian, John and many others to become better drivers, and live in the county of Kent - why not take the IAM Roadsmart challenge. Visit our website, kentiam.org.uk for more details.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Driving with technology: tips from IAM RoadSmart

Mobile communications and GPS systems used as sat-navs are becoming very common in cars. Whether you are connecting your Bluetooth to blast tunes or looking for the nearest Waitrose, these have become a fundamental part of the daily drive for many of us.

This week's tips give advice on using technology to complement your driving, from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman.

  • Whilst a sat-nav aids in getting you from A to B try to not become reliant on it. It is important to pay attention to road signs and the road ahead, in case there's a diversion sign that the device may not have picked up


  • Get to know your sat-nav before you set off and always programme it when stationary. Many people trust their sat-navs not to get them lost but you also need to know about roadworks, diversions and places to stop. Keep an old fashioned map to ensure that you limit the chances of going completely off track


  • Create your playlist before you start your journey. Taking your eyes of the wheel to look or adjust your music can often prove to be hazardous. It only takes a few seconds distraction to cause an accident. Remember to also keep your music down in some circumstances; your hearing can keep you safe, so be prepared to turn the music off


  • Don't make or take calls when driving and never text or engage with social media on your smartphone. Through extensive research it has been shown that making calls, even  hands-free affects concentration and slows reactions when driving


  • Some vehicles have the ability to create a Wi-Fi zone allowing internet access. This should be used as a luxury for passengers whilst ensuring they do not distract you as the driver. For instance a computer screen reflecting in the dark is a dangerous distraction

Richard said: "The latest driver assistance systems can be the perfect back-up to cover our occasional human failings but are no substitutes for concentration. The driver must always remain connected to what is going on around them.  Multi-tasking is a myth and all too often that glance away can become a complete switch-off to an emerging risk.  No text, tweet, check in or status update is worth crashing for."

Fatal distraction - using a hand-held mobile phone can kill, says IAM RoadSmart

Using a hand-held mobile phone while on the move is a fatal distraction – that's the view of leading independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, as the increase in the punishment for drivers comes into force today (1 March).

Last November the Government announced that anyone caught using a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel of a car would be fined £200 and receive six points on their licence – a doubling of the existing penalty.

The issue was brought into sharp focus last November when lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years when he killed a family of four in a crash caused by searching for music on his smartphone.

Those surveyed last year by IAM RoadSmart are becoming increasingly concerned by the issue. In the charity's Driving Safety Culture Survey (reference 1) over 86% of UK motorists thought distraction caused by mobile phones had become worse in the last three years.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, said: "Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use whilst driving will require a combination of enforcement and education as well as drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility.

"IAM RoadSmart is disappointed that the government did not support our calls for first time offenders to be sent automatically on a re-education course specifically tailored to breaking our apparent addiction to being constantly connected. We also want to see car companies, mobile phone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to hand held mobile phone use in vehicles."

Neil added: "It is essential that drivers get the clear message that if you are on the phone and have a fatal crash you can expect to go to prison for a long time. There is a lot of support among the driving public for stronger penalties and more enforcement focus on mobile phones, but also a feeling that this is not always reflected in sentencing.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A man with 62 penalty points is still driving on our roads

A man with 62 penalty points on his licence is among thousands of motorists still allowed to drive, despite them exceeding the limit to qualify for a ban, an investigation has found.

The speeding West Yorkshire man was one of 10,000 drivers legally on Britain's roads last month who had racked up more than 12 points, according to Freedom of Information requests by the BBC.

Typically drivers with 12 penalty points must attend court to face a six-month ban but magistrates can choose otherwise if the offender shows that losing their licence will cause "exceptional hardship".

Some 203 people were still driving despite accumulating more than 18 points, while Greater London was the worst offending area with 1,385 motorists qualifying for a ban, the BBC said.

David Nichols of road safety charity Brake told the broadcaster: "The penalty points system is supposed to be in place to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders and it's appalling that these risky repeat offenders are allowed to keep driving."

It is not known why the West Yorkshire man was allowed to continue driving.

Common reasons for so many points to be amassed include a failure to inform the DVLA of an address change, followed by speeding offences.

The loss of a job is not enough to pass the "exceptional hardship" test but magistrates may decide not to ban an offender if it would cause bankruptcy or the default of a mortgage, legal experts say

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Vulnerable road users: Tips from IAM RoadSmart

Vulnerable road users: Tips from IAM RoadSmart


We are all made up of different shapes and sizes, from old to young and within our unique make-up we each have a different set of problems and vulnerabilities. This week's tips give advice on sharing the road with vulnerable road users, from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman.

  • Treat pedestrians in the way you would want to be treated. We all have to walk to get to various destinations. It is important give people time and space they need to use the road, especially those with who have restricted mobility. Pay special attention in the rain – you may just spot someone so keen to get out of the rain they may not see you before crossing the road in front of you 

  • Cyclists need space too. They share our roads and are vulnerable to other traffic. When driving ensure you have checked to see it's safe before changing speed or direction. You may be in a hurry but be patient; cyclists are easily affected by the elements and could wobble in instances of windy weather.  Before you overtake them, make sure you have given them enough room as they could adjust their road positioning unexpectedly for a pothole or drain. A few seconds delay is better than a lifetime of regret

  • Mobility scooters are becoming more common. This road user may have restricted movement, vision or hearing. Give this road user plenty of space and time, look for any clues which might help you work out where they are heading

  • Don't scare animals. Animals such as cows and sheep need to be driven past carefully. Horses are normally in rural areas and are accompanied by a rider. They could be nervous of traffic; however police horses can be spotted working in any area.  Turn the radio down and keep the engine revs low, be patient and take your time when passing a horse. Keep your car well away from them and proceed slowly

  • Look out for motorcyclists. They can be hard to see especially in blind spots created by pillars or when looking into the sun. You may find them filtering in traffic so before you change position - Think Bike!

Richard said: "Drivers need to remember they are inside at least one tonne of highly engineered metal box fitted with all the latest safety features.  Cyclists and pedestrians have no airbags, crumple zones or seatbelts to protect them.  Always give more vulnerable road users that extra little bit of space and time so you can react. The roads will be a much nicer place if we share nicely."