Tuesday, 31 January 2017
The average price of petrol in the UK has reached £1.20 per litre for the first time since December 2014, Government figures show.
Filling up a typical 55-litre family petrol car now costs £66, compared with £56 in March last year.
Diesel is also at its most expensive level since December 2014, at £1.23 per litre.
The weaker value of the pound and a recovering oil price sadly means motorists are now paying more for their fuel than they have done in over two years.
Looking back to December 2014, it was a very different, much brighter picture, as the oil price was consistently falling, going from 70 US dollars to 55 US dollars in the month and the exchange rate was 1.55 US dollars.
Today, however, oil has risen to 55 US dollars a barrel and the pound is worth just 1.25 US dollars, which means with fuel traded in dollars, the cost of filling up has once again become a far greater financial burden to drivers.
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Highways England is considering the initiative, which would come into force along a stretch of motorway that runs close to schools and homes in Sheffield.
The motorway between junction 28 and 35a already breaches UK and EU air quality limits hundreds of times each year, but it's set to get worse as the Department for Transport is converting it to a smart motorway.
Under the £106 million scheme, between 5,000 and 10,000 more cars are expected to travel the route because the hard shoulder will be opened during peak periods.
However, Highways England's own reports suggest that increasing traffic flow to that degree could make nearby residents' exposure to pollution hit illegal levels.
The organisation's operations director Nick Harris wrote to local MPs last month, saying: "We are looking into initiatives that might avoid or reduce the need for these speed limits."
One such initiative, which involved painting barriers with special paints that soak up pollutants, had already been deemed unsuccessful.
He said: "Car users are always the easy hit when it comes to pollution when actually they are not one of the main contributors.
"There is a very good chance that the traffic is already moving at that speed during rush-hour."
Monday, 23 January 2017
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Families enjoying the snowy weather that fell on the Brecon Beacons had their fun cut short – as police issued the cars they left behind with parking tickets.
After the hilly area of south Wales received a heavy downpour of snow, sledge-lovers headed straight to areas surrounding the A470 near Pen y Fan.
However, the sheer number of vehicles parked on verges of the busy road soon caused traffic build-ups.
Dyfed Powys Police began issuing warnings to motorists through Twitter, at first saying: "If your vehicle is one of those parked on A470 Storey Arms you are in the process of receiving a parking ticket."
The Police reaffirmed their first statement the following day, saying: "A470 Storey Arms – have fun sledging but park safely and securely OFF the road otherwise you will have a ticket."
Most cars were parked off the road and it was ok but then it got manic and left no room for lorries on this major artery.
One driver said "It's so beautiful up there that I'm not surprised people want to flock there in their hundreds.
Recent research by has revealed that these new tax rules will particularly affect buyers of new eco-friendly models, many of which are amongst Britain's most popular cars. At the same time, owners of some more-polluting vehicles will benefit from the legislation.
Previously, the government has enticed new car buyers to opt for eco-friendly vehicles that emit less than 99g/km of CO2, with the promise of no VED. However, now, with 74 per cent of new cars emitting less than 130g/km of CO2, ministers have made a U-turn, and introduced these new rules.
On cars registered from April 1 2017, the government will replace the current 13-band tax system with three new bands - zero, standard, premium. There will also be a surcharge for electric cars with a list price above £40,000.
This will mean that some of Britain's cleanest and most-efficient cars, emitting below 99g/km, will face significant fees. Owners of a Toyota Prius, for example, will end up paying £405 in tax over four years, while Tesla Model S buyers will receive a bill of £930.
But while buyers of new cars over £40,000 – such as the Tesla – will be forced to pay an extra £310 a year for five years, the research by the consumer motoring site revealed a gap in the tax law that allows some of the UK's highest polluting cars under this price limit to benefit.
"It's a bit of a mixed message to increase tax on fuel efficient cars while reducing it on less eco-friendly models when the government is trying to increase the uptake of low and zero-emissions cars."
The police-liveried Polaris Slingshot motorcycle was unveiled at this weekend's Autosport International Show at Birmingham's NEC.
The two-seater was used by the Central Motorway Police Group, which covers about 400 miles of motorway in the West Midlands, as a talking point to promote road safety, alongside a virtual reality driving simulator and other audience-engaging activities.
A giant CMPG bear named Perry and police dog Yasmin manned the force's stand alongside a team of officers.
The Polaris was displayed alongside other high-powered Police vehicles, which included a Vauxhall Insignia VXR, BMW 1200RT and a Ford Focus RS.
The CMPG bade farewell to the powerful machine yesterday, announcing on Twitter that it was being returned to the manufacturers.
"Sadly we've had to return the #slingshot to @UkPolaris @Slingshot," it wrote. "Thanks for the loan, it was a great talking point to promote road safety."
A lot of you may be in the mentality of 'New Year, New Me' and hopefully fulfilling your News Year's resolutions, walking down the road of positivity. Some drivers will be going for their MOT checks and it would be a negative start to the year to fail this. This week's tips give advice on how to avoid failing your MOT, from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman.
Richard said: "If we maintain our car correctly during the year MOT time will not be as much as an issue, remember a failure means you are driving around in a car that fails to meet the recommended 'minimum' safety standard and that is not how an advanced driver operates."
Friday, 13 January 2017
Snowing me, snowing you … there is something we can do!
IAM RoadSmart brings you expert advice on driving in snow from its head of driving and riding advice Richard Gladman.
Best advice is to avoid travelling in extreme weather. If no one is moving, you just add to the problem - so listen to travel advice.
If you do have to travel in bad weather, plan your journey thoroughly. Think about where you are going and what it will be like all the way along the journey. If you can, avoid travelling on less-used roads or country lanes as these are less likely to be gritted.
Before setting off, clear all your windows and mirrors fully. Clear off snow piled on the roof of your car and the bonnet too, as it can fall and blow on to the windscreen. Don't leave anything obscured.
Start your car gently from stationary and avoid high revs. If road conditions are extremely icy and you drive a manual car, you should move off in a higher gear rather than first gear. You should stay in a higher gear to avoid wheel spin.
It's important you get your speed right when travelling in snow. Never drive too fast that you risk losing control, and don't drive so slowly that you risk losing momentum for getting up a slope.
Increase your following distance from the vehicle in front of you. It may take up to 10 times as long to stop on snow or ice build this into your following distance – this will give you more time to slow down using engine braking which is less likely to induce a skid.
Make sure you slow down sufficiently before reaching a bend so you have enough time to react to any hazards that appear as you go round it – and so you do not skid as well. You should have finished slowing down before you start to turn the steering wheel.
If you break down or have to pull over on a motorway or dual carriageway, you should leave your vehicle and stand to the safe side of it - ideally well over the armco to the nearside of the road, but not in front of it, when waiting for help.
Richard said: "Many of the problems associated with travel during snow could be avoided if people planned in advance. People routinely travel with only the minimum of safety equipment, without realising their journey could be a lot longer than expected.
"At the very least you should have a shovel, torch, blanket, jump-leads and tow rope. You should ensure your mobile phone is fully charged, and the number of your recovery organisation is saved into it. A bottle of water and a snack may also prove useful and don't set out without knowing the locations of petrol stations on your way.
"This all might sound obvious, but too many of us forget to do any of this. Don't be one of the ill-prepared, and listen to the weather forecast for the whole length of a winter journey to help you prepare for it."
Thursday, 12 January 2017
|What's in your boot? A selection of kit carried in the vehicle as |
a 'Just in Case'. Including Hi Vis jacket, water, oil, folder away
shovel, window cleaner, snacks and a 12v kettle.
Monday, 9 January 2017
Congratulations to Antony Palourti who recently passed his IAM Road Smart course and collected his certificate yesterday (Sunday). Antony achieved a F1rst pass only being marked down slightly for his 'spoken thoughts' Antony found the course very helpful and was impressed with all the observers he had during the course.
Monday, 2 January 2017
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Happy New Year!
We truly hope that you've all had a good time over the festive period and indeed you arrived at each and every destination safely too. With so much to do over the festive period it can be easy to succumb to some bad driving habits. Rushing around completing last minute Christmas shopping, searching car park after car park for a space or stuck in traffic frustrated that your not moving as fast as you want with all that needs to be done before the big day. Office parties and gathering with friends and family provide some light relief. Hopefully you took a taxi or public transport home after a few glasses of that strong Mulled Wine.
Then the new year comes. The final party of the season approaches and once again decisions on who's party your going too and how you get there has to be made. Once again we hope you all travelled safely. Then the high street sales comes along - as if you've not had enough with shopping, you find yourself struggling to find parking in town once again. The New Year also gets us all thinking about what's happened over the past 12 months and what we all like to do, see, experience and or course improve upon for the next 12 months. Stop smoking, lose weight, join a gym are just a few items on many people's New Years resolution list. But I'd put money on not many people will have 'Improve my driving skills' on that list. Yet for most people, driving is something that we do most days. It's our independence and in many cases its a life style and even a life line. Yet most people have never had any form of training or re-cap since passing the standard driving test.
Some people find as roads become busier and cars become larger, their confidence behind the wheel doesn't seem to be as good as it once was. Then you have the other end of the scale. As we grow more experienced with life and the road, we can become complacent with our skills behind the wheel. The New Year is a great time to stop and think about our skills, confidence levels and our own attitudes in our vehicles we drive today.
At the begaining of 2016 Sarah Lewis done just that. She joined the Kent Group of Advanced Motorist to address her confidence levels and was kind enough to write for us her reasons in joining and her experinces of completing the IAM Road Smart course.
I had gradually lost my confidence behind the wheel over the last couple of years, likely due to my advancing age and the ever increasing volume of vehicles on our roads, but mainly following the purchase of a rather 'sharp' little sports car. Unfortunately (or fortunately as it transpired) the new car was so quick and responsive that it had turned me into a quivering wreck very rapidly; ironic since over the 31 years since passing my driving test I had confidently driven all kinds of vehicles from vans to Land Rovers and everything in between, had driven abroad, negotiated central London at its busiest, towed a horse trailer to Normandy, driven a 7.5 ton horse lorry with 2 ton of horses behind me, 2 young daughters on board and 2 dogs. So quite why this little sports car had broken my confidence, I really don't know. When my husband Charlton jokingly told me one day that my driving was becoming like Miss Marple's and that he was going to install a basket on the front of my car, things had to change!
We saw an IAM stall at the Bearsted summer green motor show, it was a bit of a eureka moment and without hesitation I signed up with my husbands full support and encouragement. When I started the course, to pass the test was never a goal, only to regain my confidence. As time went by and I turned out (with a groan) on the regular Sunday mornings for the lecture and my observed drive, it turned into so much more. With the help of my assessors (David, David, David and Nick), I not only found my confidence returning, but I got to refine my driving skills and began to appreciate how to drive my high powered car safely, efficiently and enjoyably. With my regained confidence and growing knowledge, when the test recommendation came up, I decided to go for it. Nobody could have been more pleased than me on the handshake and congratulations from my examiner Hannah Brown on the day of my test, other than my husband who now insists I drive everywhere! He's next to be signed
My tips for success in becoming an IAM driver are: Read the book. No, really... Read the book! Learn from the lectures. Understand what they're saying and ask if you don't. Take advantage of your assessors while you have them in the confines of your car (!) - ask loads of questions and take advantage of their knowledge. Use the many online quiz sites for Highway Code questions and answers. Practice what you learn every single time you drive. Challenge yourself to be better and better with every journey - it soon becomes second nature to drop old habits in favour of new ones and you don't have to drive for miles and miles every day (my 3 mile drive to work 4 days a week was enough, together with the occasional weekend drive further afield)
Remember.....Nobody made you do this, it was your decision to sign up, so make the most of it and enjoy yourself!
Thank you to Sarah and we hope that her story inspires you to make the call and join in to become a better driver, no matter what your level of skills are behind the wheel. Find details about the IAM Road Smart course on our website.