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Monday, 27 July 2015

More than 600 drivers' licences revoked after failed vision tests

A4MBPC Getting an eye exam

Following the introduction of new police powers, more than 600 motorists have had their licences revoked for failing eyesight tests at the roadside since 2013.

Figures sourced through a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association found that UK police forces had applied to revoke drivers' licences 631 times since 2013 after motorists failed to read a number plate from the legal minimum distance, with 609 of these occasions seeing licences successfully revoked.

This comes after a 16-year-old girl, Cassie McCord, was killed by an 87-year-old driver in 2011 as motorist Colin Horsfall lost control of his vehicle and mounted a kerb in Essex just days after failing a police vision test. The teenager died after sustaining serious head injuries in the incident with the elderly driver, who was allowed to continue driving after the police eyesight test thanks to a legal loophole.

Three days before Cassie was killed, Essex police spent two hours attempting to persuade Horsfall to give up driving after being involved in a collision and failing a vision test. However, at the time officers were unable to immediately suspend his licence.

Following the fatal crash, Cassie's mother Jackie Rason launched a campaign to change the law on taking away licences of drivers whose eyesight doesn't meet the legal minimum requirements, which sees the Driver and Vehicle Leasing Authority (DVLA) being able to revoke driving licences more quickly than before.

New rules mean that officers are able to request urgent revocation of a licence, which now happens within 48 hours.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Low-speed dumper truck chase sees two police cars destroyed

Norfolk Police dumper truck chase

The idea of a police chase may conjure up the image of criminals racing down the road in a stolen car with sparks flying off the punctured tyres, but it seems that law-breakers in Norfolk may prefer altogether slower – and much larger – machinery.

This comes after police in the county were involved in a two-hour, 37-mile pursuit of a bright yellow dumper truck, with the oversized vehicle averaging a mere 18.5mph. Despite easily managing to keep up, police did face plenty of dangerous driving as the criminal made his way from Norfolk into Suffolk. A 39-year-old man has been arrested following the incident.

During the chase – which took place around 12:30pm on Monday just outside Norwich – a police Volvo V70 and a Ford Focus were written off, with a BMW X5 police car also being damaged. The bill is thought to run to £50,000. The truck had been stolen from the village of the Spixworth north of Norwich and was pursued into Suffolk, finally being stopped around 2:30pm near Brandon.

DC Andy Vinsen said "We're keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed this incident and who hasn't already spoken with officers.

"In particular, we want to trace any motorists who were driving in the wooded area between Methwold and Mundford at about 1:45pm on Monday who witnessed the damage of a BMW X5 marked police car.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Terrafugia's TF-X 'Flying Car' Is The Ultimate Replacement For Your Daily Commut

flying car

Flying cars have never really lived up to our expectations, that is of course, until now.

The Terrafugia TF-X is the super futuristic new design for Terrafugia's first flying car. With a new streamlined body that makes it look even more like something out of 'Star Trek' the TF-X is the car that hopefully you'll be able to buy when it eventually goes on sale a few years from now.

What sets Terrafugia's flying car apart form the competition is the way in which it flies.

flying car

Rather than opting for the enormously cumbersome wings of a conventional plane the TF-X uses a hybrid rotor system which lifts the car off like a helicopter and then becomes a stubbed wing as the car's rear propellor kicks in.

The combination of the two means that it doesn't need a runway so you'll be able to take off from your driveway and then land it again in town.

flying car

To say the plan is ambitious is an understatement, Terrafugia's wish list of features are long and complex: auto-landing, auto-take off, fly-by-wire computer-controlled flight systems not to mention the skyscraper of paperwork that's going to need to be approved before it even takes off.

The good news is that all of this is actually possible, and we don't just mean that in a 'It's actually possible to land on Mars' sort of way. All of the technology already exists, it's now just a case of putting it all in one place.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Police stop car towing another car with a van wedged in the boot

Car tows van towing car

Police in Gloucester were left stunned after spotting a car driver towing another car with a van strapped to the second vehicle's boot on Monday.

In typical bodge-job fashion, the man who was stopped just west of the city had only used one blue strap to link the rear two vehicles, in the vain hope that it would be sufficient to keep them together.

To make the van a little lighter and easier to tow, the front wheels, doors and engine were all removed before being wedged into the boot of the second car for the risky journey.

The man was eventually stopped by the police who did not arrest him but warned him that he could be summonsed for motoring offences.

Car stopped for unsafe towing

Gloucester police officers took to Twitter to post pictures of the bizarre set up and express their disbelief. The force tweeted: "The van was quite literally strapped to the car. Driver reported for dangerous condition. No lights 2."

The images posted on Twitter show that the middle car and van were linked by solely the flimsy strap, which was simply looped around the car's rear pillars at one end and the van's foot well at the other, with the car's hatchback left open to accommodate the front of the van.

Just to top things off, there were no lights on the car-van train, which would have made the convoy even more dangerous as the evening wore on and the light faded.

Driver ignores road markings after sat nav said to go straight

Driver crashes into other car after blinding following sat nav instructions

Sat navs have been to blame for all sorts of accidents in the past, with a number of drivers ending up in the sea or on railway tracks after blindly following navigation instructors.

The latest sat nav incident, however, has seen five people injured, after a driver completely ignored road markings telling her to give way and collided with another car, after taking the instruction from her sat nav to go straight on very literally.

The Peugeot driver failed to slow at all for the junction – a junction which saw the death of a 17-year-old girl three years ago after her TomTom did not tell her to give way. One woman was taken to hospital after the crash on suspicion of spinal injuries after the crash near the East Yorkshire village of Walkington on Saturday evening.

Confirming the nature of the incident, Humberside Police issued a tweet on Saturday which read: "RTC at Walkington. Sat nav says go straight on. Road signs and marking say give way." The crash saw the Peugeot driver given first aid before being taken to hospital while four others received minor injuries, needing treatment from paramedics on the scene.

A photo issued by Humberside Police shows the extent of the damage, with the front of one car completely destroyed in the impact and a second lying on its side in the distance.
No arrests have been made following the crash.

How not to blow a gasket when driving in the countryside

This week's driving tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger are looking at how to drive safely on country roads.
Driving on rural roads can be a highly enjoyable experience. But did you know rural road accidents account for nearly two-thirds of road deaths? (1). Here are our top tips to ensuring your journey is as safe as possible.
  • Look as far ahead as possible. If you can, look across bends and along the road – sometimes you can see the direction it is going to go in and spot any large vehicles coming towards you earlier.
  • No matter how familiar you are with the road, you will always need to use your full concentration. Be extra cautious of oncoming vehicles, overgrown verges, bushes and bends in the road – you will need to adjust your speed accordingly.You must always be able to stop on your own side of the road in the space you can see is empty.
  • Look out for wildlife warning signs. Drive at a steady speed so you have enough time to react and leave a wide enough berth to pass them safely. Summer is a busy time for deer's in particular – especially around dusk and dawn.
  • Country roads are also attractive to vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians. Make sure you pass them wide and slow, even if this means holding back until you can do it safely.The same applies to horse riders.
  • Keep an eye out for motorcyclists and allow them to overtake you if necessary. Check your mirrors regularly so you are aware of what is going on around you.
  • Agricultural vehicles naturally travel at much slower speeds in comparison to cars. Avoid tailgating them, leave longer following distances, and only overtake them when it is safe to do so. Bear in mind some vehicles maybe longer and wider, don't rush to overtake them if there is not enough room to manoeuvre.Harvest time is coming, so be patient with farmers who have a very busy period coming – these are their local roads. Remember that something travelling slowly – like a tractor – can turn immediately into a gate or field entrance.
  • Where there are farm vehicles about there is likely to be slippery mud on the road when it's wet. Don't drive quickly through it as you're more likely to skid and lose control of your car. And patches of mud on the road can be a clue of a tractor, or a herd of cows just round the bend.
  • The national speed limit on rural roads is 60mph for both cars and motorcycles. However, speed limits differ for drivers that are towing, and for commercial vehicles.
Peter said: "Country roads offer the best this country has in pleasurable driving routes. But drivers must watch their speed, and not fall into the trap of thinking that they are always empty of other road users or hazards. Oncoming traffic, pedestrians, horses or cyclists on a narrow road should never be a surprise to you – expect the unexpected and maintain your vigilance.
"But get out there while summer is still here, and rediscover the joy of countryside driving."

Friday, 10 July 2015

Vehicle tax system overhauled in new Budget

Britain Budget

The budget has brought big changes for new car buyers, with a new Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) tariff introduced for cars bought after April 1 2017.

The new system will see new vehicles fall into one of three tax bands: zero, standard and premium. Only cars emitting 0g/km of CO2 (fully electric or hydrogen powered) will be eligible for zero VED, while owners of other cars will now pay £140 per year, after a first year payment based on CO2 emissions. Buyers of new cars costing over £40,000 will also be subject to an additional £310 annual charge for the first five years.

The new tariff only applies to new cars, and current owners will continue to be taxed on the current CO2-based system.
Mr Osborne said: "There will be no change to VED for existing cars - no one will pay more in tax than they do today for the car they already own."

He also announced that money raised from VED from 2020 will be put into a Roads Fund, for exclusive use on the UK's transport infrastructure.

Despite the chancellor's assertions that drivers would on average be paying less than they currently do, industry experts have raised concerns that the new tax system doesn't benefit efficient vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, which are being bought in increasing numbers.

Also likely to affect motorists is a rise in insurance premium tax from six per cent to 9.5 per cent, which is likely to result in a rise in the cost of annual cover for both vehicle and home owners.

However, there is some small respite, as Mr Osborne announced that fuel duty would remain frozen for another year.

What do you think of the changes to the vehicle tax system? 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Supermarkets start war on diesel prices

Petrol prices hit six-month high

Decisions by Tesco and Sainsbury's to cut the pump price of diesel by 2p per litre could spark a price war, according to the RAC.

The supermarkets, which together have 800 filling stations in the UK, said the change will come into effect tomorrow.

Peter Cattell, fuel director for Tesco said: "With summer holidays just around the corner, we're helping our customers to get away with their families by dropping the cost of diesel by 2p per litre at all of our 500 filling stations from tomorrow."

Tesco is Britain's biggest fuel retailer with 500 filling stations. Sainsbury's has 300.

Avishai Moor, Sainsbury's head of fuel, said: "This is another great piece of news for our customers today, following the announcement that fuel duty will remain at the same level this year.

"Fuel can be a big expense, so we're proud to be offering our customers great value for money when they fill up with Sainsbury's."

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the move should prompt similar moves from other retailers and could be the start of bigger falls in diesel.

He said: "This is welcome news for diesel drivers coming just in time for the summer holidays and it is exactly what our RAC Fuel Watch monitor has been calling for.

"The wholesale price of diesel has been significantly lower that of petrol throughout June. We believe that there is scope for at least a five pence cut in the price of diesel which will be the first time that motorists have seen diesel cheaper than petrol at the pumps in almost fifteen years."

Mr Williams said: "We need greater transparency and a fairer pricing model for both petrol and diesel and this is likely to spell the end of the focus on petrol prices alone."

Tesco axes fuel discount scheme

Fuel prices
Tesco is scrapping its Fuel Save scheme, which offers customers up to 20p off the price of a litre of petrol, after just 16 months.

While the website still proclaims 'Keep on saving up to 20p a litre with Clubcard Fuel Save', a new addition has appeared warning customers that the offer will end on August 31.

The scheme, which has already been extended by two months, gives Clubcard holders 2p off a litre of petrol for every £50 they spend in-store, up to a maximum of 20p. When it was launched in March last year, the company trumpeted it as being 'unlike other fuel promotions, which are generally short-term and involve a one-off minimum spend.'

Last summer, the then chief executive Philip Clarke said Fuel Save 'will be a key point of difference in building long-term customer loyalty.'

Now, though, Tesco plans to stop issuing vouchers at the end of next month, and customers will need to trade them in by September 30.

It says that, while the scheme has been popular, many customers would prefer to see savings on their shopping instead, and that it now plans to concentrate on cutting prices in-store.

The current low fuel prices have also had their effect, making the scheme rather less of a draw.

"[Fuel Save] has proved very popular with shoppers, particularly when it was launched at a time of record fuel prices. It has also helped to break the pressures of demand surges on stores linked to the fuel couponing campaigns that were previously run regularly," says consultancy firm IGD.

"However, clearly Fuel Save carries significant running costs for Tesco and with fuel prices no longer such a major issue for shoppers, the retailer has decided to stop issuing Fuel Save points at the end of August."

Fuel costs are currently low - 117p per litre for petrol and 120p for diesel, according to the RAC. However, according to the International Energy Agency, worldwide demand is increasing. Prices are likely to carry on rising - meaning that Tesco customers may miss Fuel Save rather more in a few months' time.

Last month, Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis told investors he planned to simplify pricing, and ease off on the heavy promotional activity of last year.

Indeed, IGD says it believes the company may scrap the Clubcard altogether, on the grounds of cost-effectiveness: "With Sainsbury's having cut the Nectar points that its customers earn on everyday purchases at a time when Tesco needs to compete harder on price to reclaim market share from the discounters, Clubcard is likely to come under scrutiny," it says.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Weekend Celebration...

Congratulations to Glynn Nash who was presented with his Skill For Life pass certificate today. 

Glynn explained that he enjoyed the course and thanked all those who have helped him become a safer driver. 

If you wish to join Glynn and many others in the Kent region to take up the challenge of becoming an Advanced Driver, please visit our website -  kentiam.org.uk. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Don’t be fast or furious on the roads this summer

This week's motoring tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger, are looking at the different speed limits applied to the type of vehicle you are driving, or the type of road you are driving on.

Many drivers fail to stay within the speed limit and will often end up being fined or prosecuted.  Avoid a speeding ticket by following our latest hints – remember speed limits are a maximum, not a target.

  • In a built up area with street lighting, the speed limit is 30mph – unless stated otherwise. A 30mph speed limit may not be denoted by a traffic sign, so keep an eye out for street lighting. Whatever you do, don't assume it's more than 30mph unless it tells you otherwise.

  • A 20mph speed limit will always be shown by a traffic sign and often backed up by road markings. They are usually found in residential areas, busy town centres, and near schools. Keep an eye out for the signs.

  • On the motorways electronic speed limit signs may be displayed as either advisory or mandatory instructions. For example, if you see a rectangular speed number with flashing amber lights you are advised to travel within the recommended speed. However, where the speed limit is contained inside a red ring you must not exceed the speed shown and can be prosecuted for breaking that limit.

  • If you are driving a van beware that the speed limits will vary depending on the road you are on, the weight and the design of your vehicle. For example, in a national speed limit area, vans may only be driven at 50mph on a single carriageway and up to 60mph on a dual carriageway. If you are driving on the motorway the national speed limit applies at 70mph. Vans adapted from standard car designs are subject to car limits and can go faster, but it is wise to check your registration documents if you are unsure if the vehicle is 'car derived' or 'commercial'.

  • Under new regulations across England and Wales the speed limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes have changed. If a truck is driven on a single carriageway the speed has increased from 40mph to 50mph, and on a dual carriageway it has increased from 50mph to 60mph. This does not apply in Scotland except on parts of the A9 route.

  • Car drivers must be aware that many commercial vehicles and buses have a speed restricting device fitted in their vehicles to effectively control these vehicles from speeding. Do not tailgate these vehicles in the hope that they will speed up – they should not be hurried along.

  • Be aware that cars towing trailers and caravans are subject to lower limits on a single carriageway (50mph), dual carriageways (60mph) and motorways (60mph). These limits also apply to vans pulling trailers. Be prepared to wait for a safe overtaking opportunity for longer vehicles.

    Peter said: "Drivers should recognise that limits are there for a reason – which are sometimes not easy to see. Speeding traffic is a frequent complaint of residents across the country. Make driving without breaking the limit something you do easily – and avoid the fines."

France bans eating while driving and more

Man eating and driving car

France has banned drivers from eating at the wheel, as part of a crackdown on distracted drivers.

New legislation passed this week will see drivers caught consuming food while driving stung with a £50 on-the-spot fine.

Other prohibited activities include applying makeup, reading a map and listening to 'excessively loud music'

Bluetooth earpieces – a common sight on Britain's commuter routes – have also been banned, and drivers are also not allowed to wear headphones, whether they're in charge of a car, motorbike or bicycle.

Furthermore, French authorities have outlawed smoking in a vehicle in the presence of a child aged 12 or under, as well as in children's play areas, including outdoor ones such as those at motorway service stations.

Notices are to be erected at border crossings and motorway areas to inform motorists of the new restrictions.

This is not the first time France has introduced stringent road safety rules. In 2012 it made it compulsory for drivers to carry an alcohol breath test kit in their car. This is in addition to the warning triangle, hi-visibility vest, spare light bulbs and headlamps converters that foreign drivers are already required to carry.

It is also illegal to use any form of speed camera detector while in France, even if the capability is built into a sat nav device, or part of a mobile phone app. Drivers caught flouting this rule could face a fine of up to £1,000