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Thursday, 25 February 2016

IAM establishes new industry group to guide driver risk management

The UK's leading road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), recently hosted the inaugural meeting of its new Business Customer Advisory Group (BCAG). The gathering saw industry professionals come together to give their opinions on what they need from innovative driver risk management programmes that will deliver safer and more efficient driver activities for their businesses.

The meeting welcomed a variety of fleet, transport and safety experts from E.ON, TubeLines, Siemens, Cannon Hygiene, Belron, National Services for Health Improvement, London Borough of Newham, and assurance provider LRQA, a member of the Lloyd's Register group.

The first of a regular series of meetings, BCAG will advise on the direction of the IAM's product portfolio and help to find solutions to the issues which are challenging fleet managers today.

BCAG discussed the changing environment of those who drive for work, including factors such as traffic and technology and called for focussed and appropriate upskilling of their drivers. The primary demand of BCAG members was to keep their drivers safe.

Gary Bishop, fleet manager at Cannon Hygiene said: "Being a member of BCAG gives me the opportunity to shape the future of smart driver risk management. The IAM has gathered together a vocal and knowledgeable group and is listening to what we have to say – we expect great things to come from the group over coming years."

Lesley Upham, IAM's commercial director said: "Consultation with the Business Customer Advisory Group will help us understand what we need to do to create a supportive and holistic environment for both employers and employees.

"We are keen to provide cost-effective and accessible training, through the channels people prefer using, that give drivers transferrable skills they can take from their professional lives to their personal ones. For businesses we aim to provide a high-quality service that offers options to deliver effective fleet management for businesses across the country."

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

IAM Driving Tips

This week's tips from the IAM's director of standards, Mark Lewis, are looking at the challenges motorists face when they're unwell. With over 200 common cold viruses, the chances of us getting a cold are pretty high. Don't just ignore the symptoms and be sure to read these essential tips.

1. Driving or riding with a heavy cold will severely impact your concentration and can slow down your reaction time by up to 50 per cent – avoid making the journey if you're feeling unwell.
2. Some over-the-counter medicines contain codeine which can make you feel extremely drowsy and blur your vision – check the instructions beforehand. It's also best to check with your GP about any prescription drugs and their side-effects.
3. At 30mph you travel 13 metres every second. If you sneeze therefore that means you're travelling with your eyes closed – this could result in temporary loss of control of your vehicle.

Mark said: "We know winter driving is challenging enough as it is, so try not to add more stress to it by compromising yours and others' safety when you are ill. Taking plenty of rest away from the road is the ideal route to recovery."

Advanced Driving passes at The Kingston Barn

Congratulations to Alasdair Goluden seen here receiving his
Advanced Driving pass certificate from National Observer Trevor Cobb
at The Kingston Barn last Sunday morning
congratulations also go to Richard Pearce
and Steve Green.  Well done Guys !!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Driver who used smokescreen against police sentenced

A speeding driver who deployed a James Bond-style smokescreen device in a bid to shake off police has been spared jail.  Simon Chaplin, 62, rigged a bucket of diesel, a pump and pipes, behind the passenger seat of his Peugeot 309 to produce "colossal" amounts of grey smoke from his exhaust.  A court heard "eccentric" Chaplin activated the device when a policeman attempted to pull him over for speeding and covered the carriageway with fumes.  Chaplin tried to evade the officer's flashing blue lights but the policeman was simply able to follow the billowing plumes through country roads near Haverfordwest, Pembs.   Pictured here is the smokescreen in action  © WALES NEWS SERVICE
A speeding driver has been found guilty of causing danger to other road users by using a smoke device to try to evade police.

The 62 year old man, from Hebron, near Whitland, Carmarthenshire had rigged the device – made from a bucket, pumps and hoses – behind the passenger seat of his Peugeot 309, and activated it when a police officer attempted to pull him over for speeding.  The contraption is usually used to kill moles.
However the James Bond-esque smokescreen backfired because pursuing PC Dafydd Birch was able to follow the cloud billowing out from the car as the man attempted to make his escape through country lanes and he caught up with the eccentric five miles later in a farmyard.

The man had denied causing a danger to other road users, but after a trial at Swansea Crown Court he was found guilty and handed a community order of 100 hours' unpaid work.

Sentencing him, Judge Elwen Evans QC, said: 'You caused smoke to be emitted on a village road in such circumstances that any reasonable person would know it was dangerous.

"You were driving a vehicle when a police officer told you to pull over but you took that officer a considerable distance of some five miles.

"During that pursuit you activated a contraption which was dangerous and caused smoke to be emitted from the exhaust.

"It is in very unusual circumstances that you find yourself before the court. I do not want to see you here again."

DVSA warns of scam fixed penalty emails

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has issued a warning to members of the public after a spate of spam emails were sent purporting to be from the organisation.

The emails were reportedly received by a number of motorists and claim to be from the DVSA Fixed Penalty Office. They contain an attachment to a 'fixed penalty receipt'. 

A statement released by the DVSA has advised the public on what to do if they receive such a message.

It says: "DVSA never sends fixed penalty notices to customers by email. We strongly advise anyone who receives any of these emails to delete the email without opening the attachment."

Further to this advice, those who receive suspicious correspondence from the DVSA are asked to report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime.

No information on the whereabouts of the people contacted has been released.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Transport. It was launched on April 1, 2014, taking over the responsibilities of the previously-established Driving Standards Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

Amongst its duties, the agency sets standards for driving and motorcycling, and makes sure drivers, vehicle operators and MOT garages follow roadworthiness standards. It also provides services that cover licensing, testing, education and enforcement.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Plans to remove hard shoulder from motorways questioned

View of a busy M6 Motorway in The Midlands, traffic flowing with motion blur.

Senior traffic officers have said that the removal of 500 miles of hard shoulder along sections of Britain's motorway network will pose "significant risks" to motorists.
They have called for plans to take away the sections of hard shoulder to be scrapped, as drivers who break down will be left with nowhere to go – and stranded drivers could be put in even more dangerous situations. 
The idea behind the move is to ease congestion on busy roads, allowing traffic a fourth lane to provide extra room for gridlocked sections of motorway. However, many have said that the move would make it more difficult for emergency services to reach their destinations. Foreign HGV drivers have been mistakenly using emergency lay-bys to sleep in on roads that have already been converted, too.
A total of 212 miles of motorway have already had their hard shoulders converted into an extra lane, with emergency lay-bys spaced every 1.5 miles.
These 'smart motorways' have changing speed limits to keep traffic moving freely, while blocked lanes are closed by red X symbols displayed on overhead gantries.
However, Metropolitan Police has criticised the plans to increase the numbers of motorways included, saying that the changes would be counterproductive. It said that a broken-down vehicle on a motorway without a hard shoulder "is far more likely to result in a serious injury or fatality", according to The Times.
A spokesman for Highways England told the paper: "As we gradually roll out these upgrades on other motorways we will continue to work closely with all the emergency services so we can ensure safety is maintained.

British Motor Museum open to the public following revamp

A British motor museum has been called one of the 'best in the world' after a £5 million revamp.
The British Motor Museum, formerly the Heritage Motor Centre, has been given a host of new features, including a new car centre and life-sized match box cars. 
The centre, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, has over 250 cars on display. The change came after support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for south Staffordshire, said: "The British Motor Museum is instrumental in enabling visitors to learn more about the past, present and future of the British motor industry, its technology and its people.
"With the exciting improvements and enhancements now made, the museum can now be counted as being amongst the best motor museums in the world."
After being closed for the renovations at the end of the November, the newly-revealed motor museum is hosting Build A British Car Week during this week's half term, giving children the chance to attend hands-on workshops.
£4 million was spent on the Collections Centre, coupled with £1.1 million from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. The museum now features a wider variety of attractions than before, with areas such as royal cars and vehicles from film and television now being offered to visitors.The cars on display come from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust's own collection, along with those from the Jaguar Heritage Trust. A spokeswoman for the centre said that it was now "more interactive" than before, giving visitors a better chance of seeing cars on display more closely than before.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Driving safely in storms

This week's tips from the IAM's director of standards, Mark Lewis, are about driving safely in storms. As storm Imogen brings strong gusts of wind across the country, here's how you can make your journey a safe one for the road.

• If weather conditions are extremely bad avoid starting your journey. Take note of any weather warnings and traffic updates in your local area – this will help you make an informed decision.
• Driving in strong winds can be extremely dangerous, unsettling your car and even pushing it to change direction. Grip the steering wheel firmly and be mindful of vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, who will need more room than usual.
• Always look well ahead for gaps between buildings and be careful when overtaking larger vehicles – in both instances gusts might be particularly strong.
• The movement of trees on the roadside can give a useful indication of wind strength too.
• Be wary of debris on roads and allow yourself enough space to move around it if necessary. Driving at a steady speed will also ensure you give yourself more time to slow down before a hazard.

Mark said: "Keep an eye on the vehicles ahead of you – looking for clues as to how the wind may be affecting them will give you advanced warning of where it may be gusting strongly.

"Stormy weather can be extremely unpredictable – be prepared for the worst. And as always, avoid the journey where possible."

Monday, 8 February 2016

Recent Test Passes

This months congratulations goes to Robert Wicken for passing Skill For Life test. He thanked all the observers who were involved and explained that it took a while to pass as he'd had a gap between sessions to move home. A stressful situation indeed. However Robert was determined to pass his test and did so a few weeks ago.  Congratulations.

Robert will be our guest speaker at our members event on 16th February. 

Also achieving their goal is observer Keith Smith who passed his National Observers test. Keith thanked those involved including associates who helped by becoming stooges during his assessment and test. He joins a growing army of National Observers within the Kent Group.  


If you live in Kent and wish to take up the challenge and become an Advanced Motorists, check out our website for details of how to join us. www.kentiam.org.uk

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Drink-drive casualty figures ‘unacceptable’ – IAM renews calls for lower limits

The number of people killed and seriously injured on British roads as a result of drink driving have remained largely static for the last five years, according to the latest government figures released today.

The figures show that between 210 and 270 people were killed in accidents in Britain where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, with a central estimate of 240 deaths; unchanged since 2010.

The number of seriously injured casualties in drink-drive accidents fell by 2% from 1,100 in 2013 to 1,080. The government says that if this figure is confirmed in the final estimates published late this year, it will be the lowest number of seriously injured casualties on record.

The total number of casualties of all types in drink drive accidents is 8,220, down 1% on the 2013 figure, and the total number of drink drive accidents of all severities fell by 1% to 5,620 (reference 1).

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: "The latest drink-drive statistics show that Britain is flat lining on drink-drive deaths. Total numbers of drink-drive accidents have gone down slightly but 20 people still die every month in an alcohol related crash – this is simply unacceptable.

"The government has increased the powers of the police to make it more difficult to avoid detection but they continue to avoid the one simple measure that could deliver fewer deaths immediately. That is of course a lower drink drive limit in line with Scotland.  A recent IAM survey showed 70% of drivers support this measure.

"We need to break the deadlock on drink-drive deaths and a lower limit would send the strongest possible message that taking alcohol and driving is totally socially unacceptable in 2016."

Dont let your MOT become an Epic fail

This week the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is looking at some easy ways to increase your car's chances of passing its MOT test.

Many people don't prepare their car for an MOT at all, when a set of simple checks could save you time, money and inconvenience. Many cars fail on the basic items we're about to highlight, leaving you rushing around attempting to fix them at late notice and possibly great expense.

Mark Lewis, IAM director of standards, says start on the outside:

•    Wash your car. This will allow you to see any damage, especially to wheels
•    Check tyres. Make sure there is no damage and there is there is a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre width and around the whole circumference of the tyre
•    Clean your windscreen so you can see any cracks
•    Make sure all lights are working get someone to help with brake lights or look at a reflection in a shop window or garage door
•    Lift the wipers and check the feathered edge (the thin part of the blade that touches the screen) for any damage. Then wipe them with a damp cloth
•    Look under the car to see if there are any fluid leaks

Now let's talk fluids!

•    Make sure all fluids under the bonnet are topped up – these areas are often marked in yellow
•    Make sure the windscreen washer nozzles are working and aim at the windscreen
•    Don't forget about the rear wash-wipe if your car has one

Moving inside:

•    Make sure the horn works
•    Does the parking brake hold the car?
•    Pull all the seat belts out the entire way and make sure they retract. Unwind if necessary

Mark said: "These basic checks will help make your chances of passing an MOT much greater. So many fails are as a result of these issues.

"But what I have suggested should not just be a once-a-year activity – these are checks that should be part of a weekly routine to ensure your car is safe to be driven day in, day out."

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Man sues council for damaging windscreen with parking ticket

Parking ticket
An unnamed man has taken on Canterbury City Council and won – when he received £41 in compensation after complaining that a parking notice attached to his windscreen left a sticky mark.

The man somehow managed to make £16 profit after he was given a penalty notice for illegally parking his car. 

The driver demanded compensation after complaining to Canterbury City Council that the adhesive used to attach the notice had damaged his windscreen.

Surprisingly, Canterbury City Council paid the man compensation, despite admitting that there was nothing wrong with the way the notice had been attached.

The ticket that had been issued was originally £50, but the man was eligible for an early payment discount, dropping the fine to £25.

A council spokesman also said: "The allegation of damage to a windscreen following the issuing of a penalty charge notice was looked into fully. The claim was settled and the complainant received the payment from our insurance company.

"If we believe we are at fault, we do not make people jump through hoops, but equally if we believe the claim to be spurious, we will defend our position.

"It is inevitable, given the large amount of property and land we own and the wide range of services we provide, that there are occasional incidents where people will want to make a claim against us."

Highways Chiefs recomend white line removal

New research has led to white lines being removed from busy roads across the country.

According to new data, roads without markings are reducing the average speed of a vehicle by 13%. 

By eliminating the central white lines, which have been seen on British roads for the past 100 years, drivers are experiencing a higher a level of uncertainty which leads them to travel at a slower speed.

Three A roads in London have already experienced these changes, with recent resurfacing erasing the classic line with no plans to re-paint them.

Transport for London, which manages major roads across the capital says that the preventative measures which have already been used on parts of the A22 and A23 in South London, and the A100 in Central London may be introduced to other roads in the country.

Trial plans have already taken place in areas of Wiltshire and Derby, and now plans for a pilot scheme have been drawn up in north Norfolk