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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

New breathalysers to catch more drink drivers

'Cut drink limit for lorry drivers'

As part of the Government's drive to clamp down on intoxicated motorists, police are to get a new type of roadside breathalyser that will make it easier to successfully convict a person of drink-driving.

Currently, drivers who fail a roadside breath test must be taken to a police station so a more accurate sample can be taken for use as evidence in court.

However, the amount of time taken to put a drink-driving suspect on the evidentiary breathalyser often means the alcohol level in their system has dropped, resulting in a negative reading.

The Home Office is now evaluating new, more accurate roadside breathalysers, which could do away with the need for a second sample.

The new technology, which could be in use within months, would improve conviction rates and free up officers' time, according to Home Office minister Mike Penning.
"Drivers who get behind the wheel while under the influence put their own lives at risk as well as those of innocent pedestrians, motorists and their passengers,"
"The police vigorously enforce the law on drink-driving but the development of these new breathalysers will not only ensure that people who drink and drive are convicted but save officers' time so they can get back on the beat."

The breathalysers will join new drug-testing kits that police have been using to enforce new drug-driving laws that came into effect in March. Using a simple cheek swab at the roadside, officers are able to determine whether a driver is under the influence of a range of different illegal and prescription drugs, with magistrates issuing mandatory driving bans for those found over the prescribed limit.

Telegraph journalist guilty of middle lane hogging, and proud

Motorway stock

The rules of the road are written so as to provide a safe, yet speedy environment for drivers to get from A to B.

We've all seen the consequences caused by exceeding the speed limit or using a mobile phone, but the spotlight has now been turned on 'middle lane hoggers' - drivers who believe that maintaining a constant speed in the middle lane of a motorway is in fact the best way forward.

Whilst neither speeding, nor driving too slowly, these drivers are now breaking the law, which was changed in 2013 to make lane hogging an offence, as well as other anti-social driving behaviour such as tailgating.

This month saw a van driver – believed to be the first in the country – prosecuted through the courts for obstructing the middle lane. It's a case that has caused one newspaper columnist to speak out in favour of middle-lane hoggers.

A Telegraph journalist, Allison Pearson, has caused controversy is a recent column, in which she proudly admits to being a middle lane hogger, suggesting that it is the best "place where you are safest from maniacs".

She went on to detail her "barely containable fury" at her fellow drivers, and her disapproval at their driving habits, describing them as "loonies", "Clarksons" and "random psychopaths".

However, far from agreeing with her assertion that her and other members of Pearson's self-dubbed "Central Lane Residents' Association" are the safest drivers on the road, almost all of the 1,500 commenters on the article criticised her way of thinking, with some suggesting she re-read the Highway Code, and other simply resorting to calling her a "dangerous idiot".

A reader poll included in the column shows that only 14 per cent of over 8,600 participating motorists admit to middle lane hogging, with the remainder claiming to use all three lanes correctly.

Do you middle-lane hog? What is your reason for breaking the law? 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Don’t go red in the face when dealing with blue lights

This week's motoring tips from the IAM's head of driving standards and ex-police driving instructor Peter Rodger are looking at how to respond to an emergency vehicle. Here's how you can help an emergency vehicle reach its destination quickly and safely.
  • If you see an emergency vehicle has stopped, slow down and make sure you give them a wide berth as you pass them. Watch out for people rushing about near them in a panic.

  • If there is an emergency vehicle behind you, be prepared to pull over and stop where it is safe to do so – look for where you can let it pass through safely. Avoid blocking junctions or stopping in the middle of the road – indicate to let other road users and the emergency driver know what you are doing.

  • When pulling over avoid stopping on kerbs, pavements, bends and verges as they can hide potential hazards from the emergency driver and put pedestrians using the pavement at risk.

  • If you hear the sound of emergency sirens but can't see where they are work out where there is space to go if it does come your way.

  • There may be more than one emergency vehicle approaching so don't forget to check your mirrors and blind spot before merging back in with traffic.

  • If you are travelling on a one-way street and you are unable to pull over because of congestion, continue driving – don't slow down and make it squeeze past. Don't panic and rush either. Allow the emergency vehicle to overtake you only when there is enough space and when it is safe to do so.

  • Never speed up and outrun an emergency vehicle. If you go through a red light or into a bus lane to make way for an emergency vehicle you are still breaking the law.

  • When travelling on the motorway, emergency vehicles may use the hard shoulder. Avoid blocking it to allow them to pass quickly and easily if they need to.

Peter said: "Emergency drivers are trained to deal with awkward situations, and are allowed to use bus lanes, go through traffic lights, etc. Don't panic in front of them – stay calm and move out of the way so they can get past. Look at their indicators if you are near a junction – the emergency driver will try to let you know where they need to go."

For more information on how road users can help emergency vehicles with their journeys, please watch a short video by GEM Motoring Assist called Blue Light Aware. A link to this video is shown below.

Blue Light Aware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btRHvQEIkcU


Friday, 19 June 2015

Well done Neil Oliver !!

Neil Oliver - Winner of the 2015 Stan Hawkins Award
This years coveted Stan Hawkins Award went to Neil Oliver for 25 years on the Committee at East Kent, 17 years of which as their Treasurer.  During the merger Neil ensured that the financial handover was seamless and stepped in and very short notice to review the 2014/15 accounts.  Thank you and congratulations Neil from all at the KGAM

Well done Roger Byard

Hearty congratulations to Roger Byard for passing the SFL test
Well done that man!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Investigation launched after police car collision

Police crash

Police in south Wales have launched an investigation after two of its vehicles collided on a deserted country road.

The crash occurred in Penpont, near Brecon, with a police Ford Kuga and Vauxhall van colliding head-on, on the road between Brecon and Sennybridge.

Despite the severity of the impact, the two officers on board escaped with only minor injuries, though both vehicles are likely to be written off, with damage estimated to run into thousands of pounds.

A 120-year-old Victorian post box was also destroyed in the collision, which occurred in daylight hours.

The road was closed to traffic for around 90 minutes to allow the stricken vehicles, which were blocking the road, to be removed.

Police have yet to confirm whether either of the vehicles were responding to an emergency call or speeding when the crash occurred.

A Dyfed-Powys spokeswoman said: "The circumstances are being investigated and both vehicles are non-operational."

The Daily Mail reports that the drivers of the two vehicles have not been suspended or arrested, and remain on active duty.

The Royal Mail confirmed that the destroyed post box would be replaced

Congratulations to...

A big congratulations go to James Blamire, Sarah Campbell, Neil Bunce and Margaret Boarman (pictured below) who have recently passed their Advanced Motoring test and picked up their certicicate just over a week ago.

A big congratulations and well done to them all

If you wish to join James, Sarah,Neil and Margaret and become an Advanced Motorists, please head over to our website for more details

Monday, 15 June 2015

Annual General Meeting.

Last month Kent Group of Advanced Motorists held its 2015 annual general meeting.

Chairman Linda Davies welcomed guests Mark Lewis - IAM Director of standards,  Tom Docherty - Regional Manager and Hannah Brown - IAM Examiner to this years AGM. 
Linda opened this years meeting with praise to all observers for their hard work throughout the year. Linda thanked Max Power who has recently spent time in hospital yet was still able to fore-fill a number of his duties and maintain support to The Chairman as Vice Chairman and Social Secretary. Max’s wife Val was also thanked for her support to the group as Secretary despite Max’s recent health issues.  Linda presented Val with flowers of thanks.
Linda, in her report explained that the group’s success rate had recently dropped but added that action was already in full swing to resolve this. She explain that 93 associates started,14 sadly dropped out,16 are still in training and 10 are waiting for test (as of May).  Of the 53 tests taken 43 were successful, 10 were not. Linda explained that this equates to a pass rate of 81%. Slightly lower then the national average which is currently 85%
Linda went on to report about the National Observers program. Since the introduction of the IMI qualifications the Group now has 17 National Observers who under the guidance of our Training Officers and The Observer Management Team will now play their part in our Observer training program. Linda paid tribute to all Observers and Training Officers for their efforts and dedication to the group and helping make Kent's roads a safer place. 

Our Membership at the moment stands at 668 this is made up of 587 Full members including two life members, 71 Associates, nine friends and one Honorary member.  

Linda congratulated John Bowman and Alan Billingham for passing their Masters test. The groups first two Masters and for the ten members who have achieved a F1rst. 
Linda also thanked the lecture team for their professional presentations at each Sunday sessions and a special thanks to Terry Nunn our Associate Coordinator who works tirelessly to look after at present 71 associates. Including associates from the East Kent area.
Outside events has been busy thanks to Phil Mason, Alan Rowe and Alan Billington (from the East of our region).  The team attended a number of events around the county including: Cars on the Green at Bearsted, Cats Protection League Bredhurst, Kent Classic Car shows at Woodchurch and Sandwich, Kent Police HQ Open Day and the Kent County Show were just a few our team attended. Linda thanked the team for giving up their weekends to attract new members. 
Linda also explain the success of the website and social media since the Mid Kent group became Kent Group. We are achieving around 500 visitors a month on average to our website and some 5000 visitors to our blog since October. 
Linda explained that despite Social Secretary's three months absent, Max Power left things very well organised - having organised various social evening talks from guest speakers and trips to the Dog Racing and our annual Hill Top Pre-Christmas get together.
Linda thanked Darren Bubb and Neil Oliver for their hard work with the book keeping during the merger of Mid and East Kent Groups.  Daren took the rains to present the figures to the group in an entertaining way. In summary the group is very health fund wise and Daren encourages our members that funds can be made available to any ideas that archive our charitable aims.
Linda continued with management team elections and committee member elections. All elected and seconded by members of the group in a fairly quick and effective way. The elected members can be found here 
Left to right - Richard Thomas and Alan Billington with their Chirman's award. Chairman Linda Davis, Mike Ingram with his 30 years of service certificate and John Mills with his 25 years of service certificate.

Presentations. Linda invited John Mills to collect his 25 years of service to the group and Mike Ingram for 30 years of service. Congratulations to both gentleman.
The Stan Hawkings Certificate of Merit went to Neil Oliver for his outstanding service and time dedicated to the group and the hours and help in the transition of the accounts between the two groups. Neil sadly was able to attend this evenings AGM, but Linda will present his certificate in person at The Barn in Kingston on their next meeting.

Chairman awards this year goes to two individuals for there outstanding service to the group. Richard Thomas and Alan Billington. Congratulations.

Mark Lewis the IAM Director of Standards took the stand as our guest speaker once all the formalities were complete. Marks' presentation started with an entertaining video of a formula One pit crew in the 1950’s taking 56 seconds to fuel and change two tyre's followed in comparison with today’s formula one pit crew taking 4 seconds to refuel and change four tyres. Leading to marks point about how the IAM needs to change as technology in vehicles and roads and our attitudes change. Mark explained that changes are coming and standardisation to what is being tough, and what shouldn’t be tough with groups around the country and the examiners. A positive move from the IAM that will benefit associates as a whole.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

2 jags to No jags?

John Prescott Is The Latest Labour Heavyweight To Visit The Northeast

Labour peer John Prescott has been banned from driving for six months after being caught speeding in his Jaguar.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, 77, was caught doing 60mph in a 50mph zone by a police speed trap near the Humber Bridge in Lincolnshire, as he helped his son David move house.

He received a fixed penalty notice including three penalty points. With nine points already on his licence, Lord Prescott was automatically banned from driving under the 'totting up' system, having accrued a total of 12 points.

He will not be allowed back behind the wheel until the end of November.

Driver caught watching TV at the wheel

Hector Cabrera watches a live direct tel

The government is planning to introduce harsher penalties for using a mobile phone while driving, as some drivers are still not getting the message that they are putting themselves and other road users at risk. One motorist who certainly falls into that category is the driver of a Ford Fiesta who was caught watching television on his phone.

Captured on the dash cam of a following car, the driver was quickly branded "idiotic" for being so engrossed in the video, despite getting ready to join the M27 near Whiteley, Hampshire.

DVLA licence website crashes on launch day

DVLA jobs risk

Moving motorists' driving records online was meant to make things simpler and easier. However, the DVLA's new licence records website has collapsed on its first day as thousands attempt to access their details.

From yesterday, the paper counterpart licence is no longer valid, with a driver's record now held online. Any company or other body requiring access to these details can do so using an online code generated on the website by the licence-holder.

The code is of particular importance to those looking to hire cars, as most companies will not accept just the card licence as full proof of ID. However, holidaymakers attempting to generate a code from the website yesterday were greeted with an error message, leaving them unable to rent a vehicle.

Although the website began to operate normally on Monday evening, a rise in demand for the service during the upcoming school summer holidays has led to fears of another crash.

Speaking to The Telegraph, AA president Edmund King said: "A lot of people will be checking the site at the same time as soon as the schools break up, as they hit the road for the ferries.

"The worry is that it may overload the site in the summer when people desperately need it."

To generate a code from the DVLA website, drivers will need their licence number, National Insurance number and the postcode to which the licence is registered. Motorists looking to rent a car abroad are currently advised to take their paper counterpart with them, as a precautionary measure.

This is not the first time the DVLA has come into trouble as it attempts to streamline its services by moving them online. In October, many motorists found their cars clamped for failing to have valid vehicle tax, following confusion and technical errors surrounding the online system after the abolition of paper tax discs.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

'Car Share' Star Peter Kay Admits He Had 176 Driving Lessons

Peter Kay has undoubtedly created a comedy gem with his show 'Car Share', showing him at the wheel of his car, driving a colleague to and from the supermarket where they both work.

But it transpires the comedian was not, in real life, quite so confident in the driving seat, taking an astonishing - and surely expensive! - 176 lessons before he passed his test.

car share

Peter Kay with Sian Gibson on BBC comedy hit 'Car Share'

Peter said : "I was not very good at driving. It would not click. It took me six years, 176 lessons. I started when I was 16 in 1990 and passed in 1996. Best thing I ever did - but you have to persevere.

Nearly two decades later, Peter admits he's still no Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel.

"I've no sense of space. I am always bashing my car or hitting things if you go into bays or things. I just don't think I was ready when I was younger. It cost a fortune.

Counterpart driving licence axed from Monday

UK driving licence replacement costs

The paper part of the UK driving licence is being scrapped next week, which will have several knock-on effects for motorists, particularly those looking to hire a car.

Newly qualified drivers will no longer receive the counterpart, and instead will simply be issued with a card licence.

This move comes as part of an effort by the DVLA to streamline its services. Where the counterpart licence previously held details of penalty points and driving restrictions imposed on the licence holder, this information will now be held online, with drivers able to print out details as required.

Administration of penalty points will change, with drivers required to surrender their photocard licence temporarily to have the endorsements added.

Hiring a car will also become slightly more complicated, as firms don't consider the photocard licence to be adequate proof of ID alone. Customers will now have to obtain a 'check code' from the DVLA website, within 72 hours of renting a car, which can be used by the hire firm to check details.

To obtain a check code, drivers will need their full driving licence number, national insurance number and their postcode. Each code can only be used once, and only five can be requested in a 72-hour period.

However, drivers are currently advised to carry their counterpart with them anyway when travelling abroad, in case the car-hire desk in question isn't aware of the changes.

Sarah Sillars, the Institute of Advanced Drivers' chief executive officer, said: "People are not aware of how many of the current procedures are changing. Similar to the abolition of the tax disc, they assume much of what has happened before will continue,"

"The onus is very much on the individual to obtain the information they need beforehand. So we very much hope people will not be caught unawares, especially if they don't want a nasty surprise when arriving to collect their car at the start of their holiday."

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Summer in the city needn't be stressful

This week's motoring tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger, are looking at how to cope with driving through busy city roads. With forward planning and careful approach city driving needn't be something to fear.
  • Plan your journey before setting off. If you are travelling through an unfamiliar city, use Google maps or street view to get a sense of your journey.
  • Try to look as far ahead as possible to prepare for what you need to do next. For example, you may need to slow down or get into the correct lane where you are approaching a junction.
  • Travelling through busy cities can cause motorists to drive and ride erratically – be alert and watch out for sudden or unexpected manoeuvres by other road users.
  • Watch out for lanes and roads that are closed to cars. Cycle lanes, one way streets, advanced cycle stop lanes and bus lanes all require close attention. Make sure you're aware of when bus lanes operate too – other vehicles using a bus lane during operational times will be fined.
  • When sharing the road with cyclists and motorcyclists give them extra space, particularly when overtaking. If a motorcyclist is trying to get past in heavy traffic, let them – don't hinder their progress if you are stuck.
  • Watch out for bus lanes on your inside which may have motorcyclists, cyclists, buses and taxis travelling faster than you might expect.
  • If you can see traffic ahead increasing avoid changing lanes constantly, ease off the accelerator and avoid tailgating. The more often you change lanes the more chances of an accident occurring.
  • When stuck in traffic make sure you are not blocking any junctions or pedestrian crossings.
  • If you have missed a turning or an exit don't panic. Carry on and find a suitable area where you can turn back, or continue with your journey until you find an alternative route.
  • As always, check your mirrors regularly, signal in advance to make a turn or change lanes, and watch out for pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists at all times.

Peter said: "There are plenty of things that could potentially distract you on a city journey and as ever, preparation and your frame of mind are they key factors that will get you through you it incident free. Stay calm and don't compete with others on the road – and you will end your journey as relaxed as when you started it."