Category Archive: Learner Drivers

Lost Your Licence? Had It Stolen? Here’s What You Need to Do

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You fought long and hard for it, putting in countless hours of practise and revision to get your hands on one – but it appears once we’ve got our licence, we’re not very good at actually keeping hold of it.

Brits spent almost £19 million in 2017, replacing lost or stolen licences according to the latest research from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Over 930,000 applications for replacement licences were submitted between January 2017 and January 2018 with the cost of each replacement coming in at £20.

It means that within a 12 month period, we shelled out a whopping £18.6 million with “younger people most likely to apply for photo renewals and replacement cards after misplacing their licence,” according to the DVLA.

On you, in car or at home?
Such figures suggest that it’s best to leave your licence at home – but you may be asking yourself if you’re even allowed to.

After all, you do need a licence to prove you can drive, something that young drivers across the country have clearly taken to heart with 87% carrying their licence with them at all times (plus it helps offer proof of age when trying to get into clubs/pubs or buy alcohol, etc.).

But carrying your licence with you might explain why licences are being so regularly lost or stolen. It’s worth remembering though that you are not legally required to carry your licence with experts recommending two alternatives instead.

First, you could keep your licence stashed in your car in, say, the glovebox so it’s out of view like the Scots do – according to the DVLA, drivers in Scotland are almost twice as likely to keep their licence in their car compared to other Brits.

Secondly, you could be like the Welsh – who are the most likely to keep their licence at home – and store it with other vital motoring-related docs such as insurance paperwork.

It seems we are as good at losing driving licences as we are socks, pens and teaspoons. At least we no longer have to worry about looking after the paper counterpart to our licence, which was phased out in 2015. In the year they were abolished almost half a million of these were lost too.”

– Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity, the RAC Foundation.

When the worst happens
If you do lose your licence (full or provisional) then you can apply for a new one online. It’s worth bearing in mind that if your licence is stolen, you must report the theft to the police.

To apply for a replacement licence:

• Head to the official portal to begin the process; you will need a debit or credit card to pay the £20 fee and also be able to provide the address (or addresses) of where you’ve been living over the past three years.

• Don’t forget your National Insurance number, passport number and driving licence number (if you have them).

• For your replacement driving licence photo, the DVLA will use an electronic copy of your existing passport photo if your photocard licence is due to expire within the next two years.

• If it isn’t, then the DVLA will send you a form so you can update the agency with a new photo for your licence.

• Once your application has been submitted, expect to wait a week for your new licence to arrive.

• Remember, if you find your lost licence in the meantime, you need to send it back to the DVLA.

• If you prefer, you can apply for a replacement licence by calling the DVLA or contacting them via post.

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Learners to be Allowed on Motorways from June

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The Driving & Vehicles Standards Agency has finally announced the date that learners will be able to head out on to UK motorways – June 4th.

Learners will only be allowed on to motorways if they are with an approved driving instructor (ADI) in a car fitted with dual controls. It means if an issue should arise during the motorway lesson, the ADI will be able to step in and take over quickly.

What the Change Means for Students
The DVSA says that motorway driving is strictly voluntary and will not be included in the driving test. Critically, it will be up to instructors to decide if they feel their students are ready to head out on to Britain’s busy network of motorways.

Remember though that until the new law comes into play, it is still illegal for a learner to drive on a motorway and, if you’re a trainee motorcyclist, you still won’t be allowed on to them after the new law is introduced.

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Image © Highways England

Bad Weather: Could Your Driving Test Or Lesson Be Cancelled?

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Find out what to do if you think your driving test or lesson is at risk of being cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

With the so-called Beast from the East currently causing misery on UK roads, Theory Test Pro offers a guide to the impact it and other adverse weather conditions can have on your your test or lessons, and whether bad weather could leave you out of pocket.

Adverse weather & your driving test
For the practical driving test, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency has a clear policy – if the DVSA believes that it is unsafe to drive due to ice, fog, high winds or flooding, it will cancel tests. The question is how should you check if your test has been postponed? If you have any doubts, phone up the test centre on the day using the number found on your booking confirmation email.

If you’re doing your test in the morning, call them as soon as you get up. Alternatively, if your test is in the afternoon, call them late morning because weather conditions can change all the time. You may also want to call your instructor who has probably already phoned the centre to check that you’re good to go.

If your test is still going ahead, then make your way to the centre; remember though that your safety is of paramount importance to the DVSA, so if the weather has worsened by the time you arrive, the test could still be cancelled.

If your test is postponed, the DVSA will automatically book you in for a new test as soon as a slot becomes available. You won’t have to pay for the new test, though if your test is cancelled due to bad weather, out-of-pocket expenses can’t be claimed back.

The agency will send the details of the new test to you within three working days but it can take up to seven days if there is an extended period of bad weather. Remember, you can change the date of the new test if it is not convenient to your own schedule by heading here.

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that if for whatever reason you can’t get hold of someone at the test centre, you should still go along even if you feel the weather is too bad for testing; if you fail to turn up and your test wasn’t cancelled, you will likely be charged for a new test because you were a no-show.

DVSA has a duty of care when conducting driving tests. When we consider whether or not to go ahead with testing, our main priority is to make sure that it’s safe to do so for the candidate, other road users along the route, and the examiner.

We also want to give all candidates an equal chance to be assessed fairly, to prove they are capable of continuing to learn without further supervision. Letting them take their test in adverse weather conditions may disadvantage them.”

– Neil Wilson, Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency

Bad weather & your driving lessons

Like the DVSA, good driving instructors will have your best interests at heart and will want you, themselves and other road users to be as safe as possible when out on the road. If weather conditions are extreme and the police are advising drivers not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary, your instructor should contact you to cancel your lesson and rebook it for another day at no extra cost to you.

Your instructor though could decide to take you out for a lesson in adverse weather as long as they – and the police – don’t believe conditions are dangerous. You may feel hesitant about heading out but it’s an excellent opportunity to attain invaluable experience; it means that the first time you experience driving in, say, snow, you won’t be on your own. Instead, you’ll have an expert sat next to you, guiding and advising you on how best to drive in such conditions.

Do bear in mind though that your instructor may not wish to take you out in adverse weather if they feel you don’t have enough confidence or experience yet to deal with road conditions that are out of the norm. If you have any queries, call your instructor; they will be happy to talk about your concerns and offer you their honest opinion about what your current abilities are and how best to proceed.

Finally, once you have qualified, we do recommend gaining more supervised driving in adverse conditions; consider taking a Pass Plus course (more details here) or if you really want to go for it, then check out the many extreme winter driving courses available; how does a spot of Lapland ice driving sound?

You’re going to have to [drive in snow] when you’ve passed, and it makes sense to learn how to do it now while you have the chance. A lot of people never see snow until they’ve passed their tests, then they don’t know what to do and end up crashing.”

– Entry from Diary of an ADI

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Why Vaping at the Wheel Could See Your Licence Go Up in Smoke

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Police are urging drivers to exercise caution when vaping while driving – or risk facing a ban.

With many people making the leap from smoking to vaping for health reasons, it could actually lead to terminal health problems for your driving licence. While vaping at the wheel is not illegal, you could be pulled over by police if they believe your use of a vaping device is potentially dangerous and distracting – and if convicted of driving without due care and attention, you can expect a heart-stopping three-to-nine points on your licence or a sudden and violent coughing fit when handed a fine of up to £2,500.

The problem isn’t with the vaping device itself, say police, but with the resulting vapour as users exhale after taking a long drag; the resulting vapour cloud can temporarily obscure the driver’s vision of the road ahead, which like sun glare, can ‘blind’ the driver for a moment, increasing the chances of a crash.

“The smoke caused by vapes are a distraction and the consequences of them can be dire; all it takes is a moment to become distracted and potentially cause a crash and even worse, a fatality,” says Sussex Road Policing Unit’s Sergeant Carl Knapp. “I strongly advise people to pay 100 per cent attention to the roads when driving as anything that takes that attention away has the potential for severe consequences”.

To ensure you remain legal while vaping in your car, the sergeant advises that you open your windows and blow the vapour directly out to ensure your vision remains unimpaired. Road safety campaigners also agree with the police’s concerns; road safety charity Brake states that “vaping while driving increases your risk of crashing, causing visual disruption and physical and mental distraction. Attempting any type of activity that takes your eyes off the road increases your chances of causing a crash, and killing or seriously injuring someone.”

And with three million people now using e-cigarettes – and many of them qualified drivers – the police and Brake have a valid point, so be sure to vape safely when on the move by opening that window.

“We believe that drivers should always follow the rules set out by the highway code and must always exercise proper control of their vehicle and avoid any distractions, including vaping.”
– Department for Transport


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New Drivers Could Face Second Driving Test After Two Years

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As part of a series of restrictions being considered by the Government, new drivers could face a new driving test two years after qualifying.

The Government is exploring a potential Graduated Driving Licence, which would see new drivers under the age of 24 facing serious restrictions. For two years after passing the driving test, they would:

• Not be able to drive after dark or drive cars with larger engines

• Not be able to drink alcohol before driving because of a lowered drink drive limit

• Have to take another test at the end of the two-year probation period.

The proposals are part of a push to tackle the number of deaths that occur on UK roads each year with 17-24 year-olds responsible for a quarter of all accidents that lead to death or serious injury.

The Prime Minister has stated that, “there are too many people who suffer a loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers and we will look at that”. While we suspect she means new drivers, not learner drivers who are supervised by a professional instructor or suitable adult, the Graduated Driving Licence still has serious ramifications for drivers who have just qualified.

But could there be a silver lining if the Graduated Driver Licensing proposal is given the green light? New drivers currently spend up to 10% of their earnings keeping their car insured but experts believe that the new style license could drive down insurance costs.

The idea behind these new plans is clear, and these measures should result in safer roads for all. While it may initially feel like a harsh restriction for new drivers, it’s worth considering that these limitations on their licenses should reduce their insurance risk profiles, which could ultimately see the cost of their insurance reduce significantly.”
– Simon McCulloch,

The idea of a Graduated Driving Licensing system isn’t as outlandish as it might first seem either and would actually bring the UK in line with other countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand where drivers are unable to drive at night or drive with passengers who are under the age 25 unless there is someone older supervising. And according to Brake, the road safety charity, the changes can’t come soon enough.

“Young and novice drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of road crashes and the introduction of a comprehensive Graduated Driver Licensing system is critical to reverse this trend,” said a spokesperson for the charity. “Brake is calling upon the Government to bring the UK’s licensing system in line with best practice worldwide, requiring a minimum of 10 hours professional tuition for learner drivers and introducing a novice license, with restrictions in place for two years after passing the practical driving test.”

With the new driving test plus stricter penalties for mobile use when driving, it’s clear that the Government is determined to cut road deaths on UK roads – the question is are the new proposals going too far?

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Panic! © Aaron Van Dike

Convicted! The Learner Who Tried to Cheat On His Theory Test

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A learner has been caught trying to use a Bluetooth device to cheat on his theory test, leading to concerns that such scams could be more widespread than previously thought.

Hoping to pass his theory test without putting in the hard work, chef Isa Yazgi, 23, tried to cheat on two separate occasions in 2016; the first time at a test centre in Kent, the second at one in Staffordshire. Using a Bluetooth earpiece connected wirelessly to a mobile phone, Yazgi successfully managed to slip the earpiece inside the test centre’s headphones on his first attempt but couldn’t get a signal; inevitably, he failed the test.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Yazgi tried the same technique again at the Staffordshire test centre but was caught by a member of staff after being spotted pulling something out from under his waistband before again slipping it inside the test centre’s headphones; a search revealed the earpiece and he was subsequently charged with fraud.

During the investigation, it transpired that the equipment was provided by a criminal gang as part of a theory test cheat service. If Yazgi had passed his theory test using the ‘service’, he would have been expected to pay £1,000 to the gang for the privilege. In court, the learner was subsequently given a 12-month community order plus 180 hours of unpaid work. He must also pay £185 in court costs plus an £85 victim charge.

It’s alarming that people are driving around who don’t understand the rules and the road signs. We have to send a signal out that this is not acceptable.”
– Magistrate chair Christopher Dalton

Isa Yazgi’s case highlights a growing concern at the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that such cheat technology is becoming more prevalent. In 2016, the agency investigated 467 cases of fraud using Bluetooth technology, representing a 52% rise from the 308 investigations conducted in 2015. Thankfully, 50 people have been successfully prosecuted and served prison time since 2016 for attempting to cheat on their theory test. Such prosecutions will hopefully deter those who are tempted to try and cheat the system in the future.

We need evidence and we are changing the CCTV in the test centres to enable us to do that. I have to say that people who invigilate those tests are very good at picking out people with Bluetooth earphones. It is just the odd behaviour like scratching your ankle constantly because your mobile phone is in there.”
– Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, who is planning to implement new measures to crack down on cheating.

Follow the Rules, Don’t Break Them
The theory test can be stressful enough for most of us – so ensure you are properly prepared. Do expect staff to check you for devices that may aid in test cheating such as headphones, bags or watches. If you are carrying anything that is regarded as a potential cheat risk, you will be asked to place the item in a secure locker and pick it up once the test is complete. Bear in mind that if you refuse to let staff check you, you will be barred from the test.

For more information about what to expect during your theory test, check out our Beginner’s Guide here.


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Top 10 Most Failed Theory Test Sign Questions of 2017

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Get yourself ready for theory test success by ensuring you don’t fall foul of the sign questions that are shown to confuse learners the most.

We’ve pulled together the most failed questions with signs based on the answers of tens of thousands of learners who use Theory Test Pro each and every year. Use the results to ensure that you have no blind spots when it comes to the Highway Code:

10. What does this sign mean?

Two-way traffic crosses a one-way road

9. What does this sign mean?

Contraflow bus lane

8. The driver of this car is giving an arm signal. What are they about to do?

Turn to the left

7. How can you identify traffic signs that give orders?

Red circles

6. What does this sign mean?

End of restricted parking area

5. Where can you find reflective amber studs on a motorway?

On the right-hand edge of the road

4. Where on a motorway would you find green reflective studs?

At slip-road entrances and exits

3. At traffic lights, what does it mean when the amber light shows on its own?

Stop at the stop line

2. What does this sign mean?

Waiting restrictions apply

The Most Failed Theory Test Sign Question of 2017

1. Where would you see a contraflow bus and cycle lane?

On a one-way street.

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Top 10 Most Failed Theory Test Questions of 2017

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Use our countdown of the most failed theory test questions to make sure you’re pitch perfect on the big day.

We’ve sifted through the thousands of dummy theory tests taken by our learners to discover which questions are being failed time and again. Learn the following to help you finish in pole position:

10. You park at night on a road with a 40 mph speed limit. What should you do?

Answer: Park with parking lights on

9. A cycle lane is marked by a solid white line. You must not drive or park in it…

Answer: … during its period of operation

8. You’ve broken down on a motorway. In which direction should you walk to find the nearest emergency telephone?

Answer: In the direction shown on the marker posts

7. What should you do before making a U-turn?

Answer: Look over your shoulder for a final check

6. In good conditions, what’s the typical stopping distance at 70 mph?

Answer: 96 metres (315 feet)

5. A casualty isn’t breathing normally. Chest compressions should be given. At what rate?

Answer: 120 per minute

4. When can you park on the right-hand side of a road at night?

Answer: When you’re in a one-way street

3. Overall stopping distance is made up of thinking distance and braking distance. You’re on a good, dry road surface, with good brakes and tyres. What’s the typical braking distance from 50 mph?

Answer: 38 metres (125 feet)

2. Where may you overtake on a one-way street?

Answer: On either the right or the left

The Most Failed Theory Test Question of 2017

1. Your vehicle needs a current MOT certificate. What will you be unable to renew without this certificate?

Answer: Your vehicle excise licence.

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Meet the ADI: Phil Jones

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Former army man and Heavy Goods Vehicles driver turned driving instructor, Phil Jones, reveals the secrets behind the success of his driving school.

After becoming disillusioned with the franchise he was working for, Jones has gone on to create the Go Learn 2 Drive driving school based in North Wales. Here we discuss his attitude to instructing, hiring ADIs (or not in this case) – and why business must come first if you hope to survive and thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Tell us about your previous careers before becoming an ADI?

When I was at school, the only thing I ever wanted was to be was a soldier so I joined up aged 16 in 1978. I served eight years in the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and had an exciting life. I decided though that I either needed to get out while I was still young enough to adapt to civilian life or stay in for 22 years.

I decided to leave and became a self employed motorcycle courier with the aim of funding Heavy Goods Vehicles lessons. I passed my class 1 and started a career of driving all over Europe and the UK. I did this for about 15 years but eventually thought it was about time to settle down and be at home at night instead of sleeping in a lorry for weeks at a time.

What attracted you to instructing?

I saw various articles about becoming a driving instructor and decided to give it go because I needed a change in direction and a new challenge. I passed my part 3 in May 2006 and started a franchise with a local school. However, after a couple of years, I realised that 90% of my pupils were self-generating plus the school I was with didn’t want to move with the times. So I thought “this is no good for me” and decided to go solo.

How have your experiences in HGV driving and the army informed your approach and teaching style?

My time in the army and my vast experience of driving have given me the confidence to pass my knowledge on to others. Also, the ability to think on my feet and make quick, important decisions is crucial – plus the ability to take responsibility for your actions is also important. A lot of my pupils say I’m firm but fair and like the fact that I say it as it is. I don’t believe in sugar coating!

The one thing I would change about the industry is for a national or local minimum hourly rate of, say, £26 to be set; this would put an end to all these cheap deals that are stopping instructors from earning a decent wage.”

– ADI Phil Jones on the solution to the industry’s cut price lessons issue.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of the job?

Like most driving Instructors, the best part of the job is getting a pass; it’s priceless especially with a pupil who has special needs and has struggled. The worst part has got to be the book keeping and tax returns; thankfully, the advent of IT has made this side of things much easier.

What’s been your biggest professional learning experience?

My biggest learning experience has been going on a small business course. It doesn’t matter how good an instructor you are, if you can’t run a business, you will fail. It’s important to realise that you are a businessman first who just happens to teach people how to drive.

What was it like striking out on your own for the first time?

When I first started Go Learn 2 Drive, I had a few reservations but decided to do both manual and automatic. I very quickly had too much work for me to cope with on my own so I took another instructor on – a woman – giving me more flexibility plus attracting even more pupils. I also had a fantastic website and was able to concentrate on doing all my marketing online.

I am now expanding and am training my own instructors. I find this is a better approach than taking on an already qualified ADI as I can mould them into what I want for my business; ADIs are too set in their ways and don’t seem to like change.

What advice would you give to an ADI wanting to set up a driving school?

I would say anybody thinking about setting up on their own needs a business plan plus you need to set yourself a target and have a USP for the school. Also charge as much as you can and don’t let any pupil get away without paying; personally, we work on a pre-paid basis so if someone cancels with short notice, it doesn’t matter as I’ve already been paid!

Finally, how do you find Theory Test Pro helps your students?

It’s a great tool to have as I find pupils seem to pass the theory test a lot quicker when using it. It’s also great for part 1 training as well.

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Revealed: New Driving Laws for 2018 & Beyond


A new year inevitably sees the announcement of new laws that could threaten your licence if you’re not fully up to date on the latest Highway Code.

Read Theory Test Pro’s guide to the new driving laws breaking cover this year to ensure you’re ready for them when you finally get your licence.

Learners to be allowed on motorways (at long last)

After years of rumour and speculation, it was finally announced that learners will be allowed on to Britain’s motorways during lessons in 2018. There are a couple of stipulations however – first, the learner must be accompanied by an approved driving instructor (ADI) and secondly, the ADI must have dual controls fitted in their car.

It’s worth bearing in mind that until an exact date has been set for heading out onto the motorway with an instructor, learners remain banned from going anywhere near them. Ultimately, the decision couldn’t have come soon enough according to the latest research with an RAC survey last year stating that 86% of drivers didn’t feel ready for motorway driving after passing their test.

Drivers need to get smarter about ‘smart motorways’

Talking of motorway use, new legislation is being introduced to stop bad driving habits on the UK’s network of smart motorways. Using them correctly is proving difficult for some motorists and according to press sources, Highways England has had enough.

It is to introduce roadside cameras that will photograph errant drivers and dish out a £100 fixed fine and three penalty points, in particular targeting those who ignore the red ‘X’ featured on smart motorway gantries; normally, you can drive on a smart motorway’s hard shoulder, using it as an official ‘fourth lane’.

When a red ‘X’ is displayed though above the lane in the gantry, you must move out of the lane. Trouble is that some drivers aren’t paying attention to the ‘X’ signs, creating a potentially lethal hazard. And it’s a big issue; since December 2016, 80,000 warning letters have been sent to drivers who break smart motorway laws with a third of them relating to ignoring the red ‘X’.

The new law is expected to be introduced in spring this year – so ensure you read Theory Test Pro’s guide to smart motorway use so you don’t get caught out either in a lesson or once you have your licence.

Cars will be allowed to be much smarter

In what was seen as a heaven-send for those of us who loath parallel parking, car makers have been busily introducing cars that park themselves. Instead of lining your motor up and reversing into a space between two cars, the vehicle does it for your at the press of a button.

It’s a popular option on cars that offer the system but there is a problem; if being operated by a mobile or a key fob, it’s technically illegal and you could be fined if caught.

To sort out the nonsensical situation, the Government has recently launched a consultation asking for the public’s opinion about both remote control parking and technological assists in motorway driving; the former states that drivers would be able to park their cars remotely from either inside or outside the vehicle.

Unless there are major and unexpected objections, we expect the change to the law to happen this year as the Government rushes to create an image of Britain as a hotbed of tech and automation in the post-Brexit era.


Diesel car owners will continue to be punished

Thanks to the Volkswagen diesel scandal and concerns about deadly emissions of NO2 from the engines, diesel is well on its way to becoming ‘blacklisted’ for good. Adding another nail in the coffin is the Government who is increasing the Vehicle Exercise Duty for new diesel cars come April 1st this year if you’re a private buyer.

According to What Car? Magazine, it means the showroom tax for buying a Ford Focus diesel with 99g/km CO2 emissions will rise by £20 and if you’re an exceptionally wealthy first time driver, “a Range Rover Evoque SD4 (153g/km CO2) showroom tax will rise by £315 to £830”. For more information about car tax bands and how they effect you, head to the RAC’s in-depth guide here.

MOT test to be scrapped for certain cars

Looking to save money on your first car’s running costs? Then consider buying one that from May 2018 won’t require the MOT road safety test. The only downside? The car will need to be over 40 years old to qualify for the exemption so you can kiss any modern safety features and reliability goodbye.

The new exemption will see 293,000 cars in Britain benefiting from the dropped MOT – that’s about 1.5% of cars on our roads – with the government arguing that there is no need for them to be MOTed any more because such classic cars are usually extremely well maintained by enthusiasts and not driven regularly. Time will tell.


Confusion over sat nav windscreen placement rules now cleared up?

The new year has kicked off with confusion over where you are allowed to legally place your sat nav on your windscreen. According to a recent tweet by the Greater Manchester Police, many of us have been breaking the law it seems by not placing our sat navs in the bottom right of our windscreens. The force posted a picture showing the correct position, only for members of the public and motoring groups to tell the police that they were wrong.

The Highway Code states that “windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision” with GMP criticised for saying in effect that a sat nav placed at the bottom middle of a windscreen is illegal.

The force has now deleted the tweet and replaced it with general sat nav placement advice. Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you’re road legal is to attach the sat nav to a mount which slots into an air vent, removing your windscreen from the equation altogether.

As a side note, while touching your sat nav/phone screen at any point when driving or stationary with your engine on is illegal (hello £200 fine and six points!), the AA recently stated that while the sat nav should be programmed with the route before setting off, “if it pops up with a message which requires just one press of a button, such as ‘A faster route has been found. Accept/Decline’, you should be OK to do this, as you would with an in-built sat-nav.”

The use of the word ‘should’ though is hardly reassuring. Perhaps then some clarification on both these issues via updated legislation in 2018 might help clear up any remaining confusion in the minds of the public – and the police.

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Police cars © West Midlands Police

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