Category Archive: Everything else

More Young Drivers Hitting Parents’ Wallets to Cover Motoring Costs

Leave a Comment

A new report reveals that newly qualified motorists are having to rely on their parents’ deep(ish) pockets more than ever to cover the cost of their motoring.

According to Compare the Market, over half (52%) of 17-24 year olds turned to their parents to cough up cash to stay on the road over the past 12 months. Parents are spending on average £762 per child –  spread that across the UK and you’re looking at an eye-watering £2 billion a year being drained from the bank of mum and dad.

The problem is costs for young drivers are escalating so parents are increasingly finding themselves digging deeper into their bank accounts to help keep their offspring on the road. On average, parents are contributing £288 a year towards insurance, £178 on repairs, £125 on taxes and £169 on petrol.

Rescue me
As well as these everyday costs, parents are also helping their kids buy their first cars, contributing £2,021 on average while nearly a third said they paid all or some of the costs toted up by their children in their first year of driving. One in ten parents admit that they continue helping out for the first three years.

But who can blame them? After all, as of July 2018, 17-24 year old drivers are paying an average insurance premium of £1,309 a year; that’s £600 more than the national average. To make matters worse, the Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) is adding £161 to that premium. Some experts say that all in, it can cost a young driver up to £2,400 a year to insure and run their motors for the first year.

With the odds so heavily stacked against young motorists, the fear is that one day soon even parents will end up baulking at the idea of paying out more as motoring becomes unaffordable for their kids, which is terrible news for those who rely on their cars to get to school, uni or work.

via GIPHY

Drive down motoring costs
If you’re worried about covering the expense of owning a car, use these quick tips to give yourself (and your parents’) bank account some blessed relief:

• Sign up with an insurer who offers a telematics-based insurance scheme; this will see a black box installed in your car that will monitor your driving and if you behave yourself, could see up to £380 taken off your annual insurance bill.

• Buy a car with a one-litre engine only and get a motor that is known for its reliability (hello Honda and Toyota!) – check out What Car? magazine’s latest list of the UK’s most reliable cars. Pick the right one and you won’t have to worry about expensive repair/maintenance costs.

• Consider taking out pay-as-you-go car insurance that will work out cheaper if you don’t do many miles each year.

• Check for the best insurance deals every time your insurance comes up for renewal; remember, insurance companies aren’t known for their customer loyalty so don’t show them any either.

• Get a parent added to your insurance policy; this should bring down the cost but never list the parent as the main driver if they are not; you could end up in court for insurance fraud.

Drive down the cost of passing...

… by increasing your chances of passing the theory test first time! Sign up to Theory Test Pro for free here.

Women ARE better drivers than men – but take longer to pass test

2 Comments

A new study has revealed that women are safer drivers than their male counterparts – but it takes them longer to get a pass in the driving test.

According to Confused.com research, it’s women who are in pole position when it comes to committing the least amount of motoring offences, being involved in the least number of accidents and having the least expensive fender benders.

The only downside? Women take longer to pass their driving tests; while more female learners took their test in 2017 than men, more of them failed too. That might offer some cold comfort for the male of the species – but not much.

The study was conducted by comparing official statistics for driving tests, crimes and insurance costs, and has revealed some startling findings.

Breaking the law
While the number of male and female drivers on our roads is broadly even, men are nearly four times more likely to commit a motoring offence:

• In 2017, over 585,000 motorists in England and Wales found themselves in court because they broke the rules of the road; of this bunch, a whopping 79% were men.

• The majority of speeding offences were committed by male drivers

• Men were done for drink-driving five times more than women

• Men were twice as likely to be penalised for driving without tax or insurance

• Men have more bad driving habits than women; for instance, 23% of male drivers have admitted they don’t indicate when changing lanes compared to 17% of female motorists.

Women pay less
The study also reveals that insurance companies are right to charge women less for their insurance, even though such discounts were officially banned by the EU in 2012 because of gender discrimination. Regardless, men still pay £92 more on average than female drivers for their insurance.

The report’s findings have predictably not gone down well with some male motorists who argue that men drive twice as many miles per year than women, which increases the likelihood of breaking the law.

But according to Brake, the road safety charity, even when such a disparity is taken into account, men are still shown to be the most law-breaking drivers by some margin.

As a female racing driver, I know women can hold their own when it comes to driving, and data suggests that they are in fact safer on the roads. And this is reflected in the fact that they are paying almost £100 less for their car insurance premiums.”
– Amanda Stretton, motoring editor, Confused.com

Male or Female...

… learn the rules of the road – sign up to Theory Test Pro for free here.

Be aware: Speeding laws are set to become far stricter

5 Comments

Police are currently reviewing their enforcement guidelines because they believe that the current punishments aren’t deterring speeding UK drivers.

According to reports, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, the head of road policing, has launched an official review into speeding on UK roads, specifically into the ‘buffer zone’; this sees drivers ‘able’ to go over the speed limit slightly before police will intervene.

While you can technically be done for speeding by breaking the limit by 1mph, the guidelines for the buffer zone say that drivers ‘can’ go over the limit by 10 per cent plus 2mph before they risk facing prosecution; it’s ultimately down to the police’s discretion. This means that drivers typically don’t face a speeding fine unless they’re going over 34mph in a 30 zone or over 78mph on the motorway.

The guidelines also state that any enforcement should be proportionate and take into account how visible speed limit signs are, plus what the road “feels like”. When you put all these together, it means that many police officers are dishing out speed awareness courses to offending drivers, instead of a fine and points.

But the Chief Constable believes that such a buffer zone sends out the message that “it is okay to speed” and he wants to challenge that perception. The announcement has led some commentators in the press to state that the review could see those going over the limit by 1mph end up with a fine.

Such a possibility though has been quashed by a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who stated: “There is no proposal for drivers to be prosecuted for driving one mile per hour over the speed limit – that would be neither proportionate or achievable.”

Instead, the review will examine all current speed enforcement guidelines, “looking at available evidence. The findings of the review will be considered by all chief constables before any action is taken”. The review itself has most likely been triggered by last year’s findings that speeding offences have reached a six-year high – and it is clear that something needs to be done to tackle drivers who believe speeding is okay.

I don’t want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught [speeding]. They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason. They should not come whingeing to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 at [in a 30mph zone] that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.”
– Chief Constable Anthony Bangham at the Police Federations roads policing conference earlier this year.

Know your limits

Learn the Highway Code inside out by signing up to Theory Test Pro for free here.

 

Driver Fined £36,000 for Speeding During a Single Night

Leave a Comment

A British driver has managed to amass speeding fines totalling tens of thousands of pounds after caning a rented Lamborghini in the emirates.

We all love the idea of owning an exotic sports car – but for most of us, it’s probably not something that we will ever be able to afford. Instead, you could make like the British tourist holidaying in Dubai who rented a Lamborghini Huracán to see what the highlife looks – and drives – like.

The car normally costs £180,000 and can hit speeds of over 200mph; the latter seems to be a speed that the tourist was determined to verify on Dubai’s eight-lane Sheikh Zayed highway. According to reports, the driver in his 20s managed to trigger every single one of the highway’s speed cameras in the early hours of July 31. He racked up 33 speeding infringements in all with 12 of the recorded offences putting his speed at over 124mph.

Cash crisis
The total amount in speeding fines comes in at £15,000 but to make matters worse, the young driver will have to pay a fee to get the car released from the police pound (once the car has been surrendered to the cops), bringing the total to £35,693 (a handy sum for anyone wanting to put a deposit down on a Lamborghini Huracán we would have thought…).

It appears that the tourist can’t plead ignorance to the speeding rules in Dubai either as the firm that rented the car told him that, “there are cameras everywhere in Dubai and he would be liable for all fines”. Currently, the tourist has the Lambo back at his hotel and the rental firm still has his passport as they argue over who should pay the police pound fee.

The Sheikh Zayed highway where the British tourist was clocked speeding 32 times.

 

Speeding in the UK

You might think that such absurd speeding could only happen overseas where UK drivers appear to lose all inhibition – but nothing could be further from the truth:

• A driver was caught doing 160mph on a motorway in West Yorkshire

• One motorist was snapped doing 106mph in Dundee in a 30mph zone

• Research shows though it’s not young drivers who are the worst offenders; it’s those aged over 65 on 6.5% with, admittedly, young drivers tailgating them close behind (6.2%)

• The worst speeders by car brand? Audi drivers (8.7%) followed by BMW drivers (8.3%). Why are we not surprised?

It’s worth bearing in mind that the minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to your licence – but for drivers who are still within two years of passing their test, their licence will be withdrawn if they manage to build up six or more penalty points. So for those of us who love speed, tell your right foot to behave itself and save it for a track day instead.

Know your limits

Learn the Highway Code inside out by signing up to Theory Test Pro for free here.

 

Lambo © Ben

Highway ©  Mohammad Sabbouh

Test: Can You Pick Out the Fake Signs from the Real Ones?

Comments Off on Test: Can You Pick Out the Fake Signs from the Real Ones?

According to research carried out by Leasing Options, the great British driving public aren’t very good when it comes to road signs – at all.

The company challenged 2,000 drivers to undertake a test where they were presented with eight real signs and eight fakes signs, and asked to identify which were the real deal and which were the made-up ones. Amazingly, the respondents made a total cock-up of the test.

For instance, 56% believed that the perfectly legitimate sign that depicts a toad crossing a road was fake (no, there really is a sign that depicts a toad that signifies ‘Migrating Toad Crossing Ahead’ in rural areas). But one of the fake signs managed to fool a whopping 75% of drivers into thinking it was true.

We won’t give away any clues about the wrong and right answers – instead take the test below to see how you do. Hopefully you’ll do a lot better than those surveyed as not one driver out of the 2,000 managed to get full marks – and only 8% got 14/16 or above.

Perhaps the real issue here though is that a third of drivers (31%) feel there are too many road signs in the first place; four in 10 (40%) believe that there is a lack of understanding around road signs; and three quarters (75%) say they would fail a theory test if they had to retake it today.

Road signs are important for public safety and so it’s a concern that there seems to be such widespread confusion around them. Three in four drivers said that they would fail the theory test if they took it today so more needs to be done to improve their knowledge and confidence in this area.”
– Mike Thompson, sales director at Leasing Options

Of course, as you’re learning your theory test inside and out at the moment, you’ll manage to score way better marks than most… right? And if you do pull off an 18 out of 18 score, then let us know in the comments. In the meantime, check out the test here – good luck!

Learn From The Real Deal!

Learn all the real road signs by signing up to the 100% authentic Theory Test Pro here for free!

Calls For Pothole Training To Be Included In Driving Test

Comments Off on Calls For Pothole Training To Be Included In Driving Test

After surveying driving instructors across the country, the AA is now calling for potholes to be featured in the hazard perception test and for official guidance to be included in the Highway Code

Potholes are the curse of Britain’s roads with one in five of our roads riddled with them and experts are predicting that if they are not dealt with soon, the effected roads could become unusable. The worsening situation is getting so bad, the AA is now calling for potholes to be introduced into the hazard perception test so candidates can demonstrate that they know how to spot them.

The breakdown specialist is also asking for official advice on how to safely steer round potholes to be included in the Highway Code.

A National Epidemic
The perils of potholes are well known, ruining tyres, alloys, suspension and more with drivers turning to the authorities to cough up compensation for any damage done to their cars. So prolific is the ongoing spread of potholes that motorists whose cars have been damaged by a pothole were paid half a million quid more in compensation by UK authorities compared to last year. Research shows there’s also been a 11% increase in breakdowns caused by rubbish roads.

Worse still is that the potholes are getting deeper as they are left unrepaired with The Sun newspaper reporting that one has been found that is knee deep! While the government and its critics argue over how much money is needed to fix the issue – latest estimates place the cost at £9.3 billon – it’s not only leaving motorists stranded at the side of the road, but also learners.

Lessons & Tests Potholed
According to am AA survey of AA Driving School and BSM instructors, everyone who responded said that they come across roads riddled with potholes in most or every lesson. To make matters worse, instructors say that they have ended up with a broken down car caused by potholes at least once in the past year.

It’s led to many instructors changing lesson plans to give notoriously potholed roads a wide berth. Pupils have also had to quit their driving tests part way through because their car has been damaged by a pothole. Specific pothole-related anecdotes uncovered by the AA’s research include:

• An instructor needing to purchase two new tyres since the end of November thanks to pothole damage

• Examiners being forced to point out potholes to candidates so they can be avoided

• Three tyres ruined in a single day according to one instructor because learners went through potholes.

With such a damning list of charges, Theory Test Pro believes that the AA is absolutely right to be calling for the changes to the theory test and the Highway Code; anything that can help learners become more aware of the perils of potholes can only be a good thing.

And with estimates stating that it will take at least 14 years to sort out the UK’s potty problem, this is an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Lessons and tests are being abandoned because of pothole related breakdowns. This is damaging to learners’ confidence and to instructors, whose livelihoods depend on having a fit-for-purpose road network and an undamaged car.

The situation is so serious that the hazard perception test and Highway Code need to change to reflect the state of the roads that learner drivers have to learn on. There is no advice for drivers about potholes anywhere in the Highway Code yet it is one of the most common hazards they encounter.”

– Edmund King, AA President

How to Drive Over Potholes
It’s a sad fact of driving life that you’re going to come across a pothole, well, potholes at some point. If so:

• Apply the brakes if you can’t avoid the pothole but ensure you release them before your wheel hits it; heavy braking applies forward pressure to the suspension and tyres, increasing the risk of damage to your car as you go over the pothole

• Make sure you keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel as you go over the pothole to stay in control

• Keep the car straight as you go over the pothole as well as hitting it at an angle can increase the risk of damage

• Avoid suddenly steering away from the pothole; you could end up veering into the other lane which could put other road users’ lives in danger.

Theory Test Driving You Potty?

Learn your Highway Code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Main image © Mike Mozart.

Van © Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

10 weeks: How long it takes after passing our test to become a bad driver

Comments Off on 10 weeks: How long it takes after passing our test to become a bad driver

A new study of 2,000 drivers shows that once we’ve passed our test, we have a horrible habit of adopting bad driving habits within a matter of weeks.

In fact, according to research by the Accident Advice Helpline, it takes some of us only 10 weeks before we start flouting the law on a regular basis, transforming ourselves from model students into lousy drivers. Worse still, one in ten of motorists surveyed said that they started to forget the Highway Code within two weeks of consigning their L-plates to the bin, some even admitting to running red lights within that time.

According to the survey, the top 10 biggest bad habits – and how long they take to be ‘adopted’ – are:

10. Overtaking dangerously: Four months & 24 days before we do

9. Parking on double yellow lines: Four months & 21 days

8. Middle lane hogging on the motorway: Four months & 18 days

7. Tailgating another vehicle: Four months & 15 days

6. Turning without indicating: Four months & 12 days

5. Holding the wheel with only one hand: Three months & 27 days

4. Not using your mirrors when manoeuvring: Three months & 21 days

3. Chucking litter out of the window: Three months & 21 days

2. Not using a seatbelt: Three months & 18 days

1. Stopping using ‘ten and two’ hands position on the wheel: Three months & 15 days.

It means that all the hard work we put in with our instructors could end up being chucked out of the window if we’re not careful. But is there anything we can do to ensure we remain at the top of our driving game?

First, consider going for a single lesson with your instructor every few months after you have passed to see if you’re developing any bad habits. You’ll already have an established relationship with them so the lesson should be simple, easy and hassle-free. Alternatively, sign up to one of the courses that are designed to keep new drivers developing their on-road skills so no bad habits creep in.

For instance, Pass Plus offers six modules that covers driving in town, in all weathers, at night and more, ensuring that you keep pushing yourself as a driver. You can also take an Advanced Driving Course via the IAM, which will help broaden your skills, increase your confidence and could even bring down your insurance costs.

Ultimately, we all need to keep honing our driving skills – and not become one of the 53% of survey respondents who admitted that they now have more bad driving habits than on the day they passed their test.

Passing your driving test is, for many people, one of the hardest things they’ll ever have to do. And for many of us, that testing day could have come years or even decades ago – plenty of time for bad habits to creep in. But it’s important to stay vigilant with observation and safety, as letting your guard down for too long could result in an accident.”
– David Carter, Accident Advice Helpline

Ace Your Theory Test!

Learn your Highway Code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Will This New Style Roundabout Be A Nightmare For Drivers?

Comments Off on Will This New Style Roundabout Be A Nightmare For Drivers?

Already used all over Holland, these roundabouts give right of way to cyclists and pedestrians before drivers. The intention? They’re supposed to save lives – but could they be a nightmare to use for motorists?

If successful, you could be looking at the future of British roundabouts. Being built in Cambridge for the princely sum of £1 million, the roundabout features a dedicated cycle path marked in red going round the entire structure.

Meanwhile, members of the public will be able to use the new pedestrian zebra crossings going across each of the four entry and exit arms. 

To further protect cyclists and pedestrians, the roundabout also features a visual reduction in carriageway width for vehicles. The upshot? It will help slow cars that are approaching the roundabout because the new design makes it appear as if there is less width to manoeuvre within.

Larger vehicles will still be able to use a central overrun strip in the middle of the road but again, the design is intended to make the vehicles slow down more than they typically would.

The reason for the introduction of the new-style roundabout is that there has been a high number of cyclists involved in crashes at the existing the Fendon Road and Queen Edith’s Way roundabout, and the council believes the new approach is the best way to reduce the problem.

Having a Dutch style roundabout which separates vehicles from vulnerable road users should be a win for road safety in Cambridge. It will be interesting to see how this benefits all road users and if they are worth considering in other parts of the country.”
– Rebecca Ashton, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driver Behaviour

Some Cambridge residents though are not convinced by the planned change with some believing the roundabout could actually do more harm than good according to local newspaper Cambridge News.

“Can’t wait for everyone (yes everyone) to get confused and the accidents to start happening,” Paul Howell told the paper while A Hughes stated: “If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, at least it’s near Addenbrookes [hospital] so the ambulances won’t have far to come.”

Question is what do you think? A step in the right direction for public safety or a potential liability on Britain’s busy roads?

Ace Your Theory Test!

Learn your Highway Code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Overhead shot @ Frank van Caspel

Cyclists @ Fietsberaad

Revealed: The Big New Changes to the Theory Test Questions

Comments Off on Revealed: The Big New Changes to the Theory Test Questions

In a bid to make the theory test questions more accessible to all learners, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revised a vast majority of them to make the questions more simple.

Working with the British Dyslexia Association and other organisations, the DVSA has changed 78 out of the 88 questions to make them easier to understand for those who might struggle with the phrasing featured in the old versions – but who are otherwise perfectly capable of becoming safe, responsible drivers.

The type of questions that have been completely revamped include the ‘continuation’ questions; these previously asked the candidate to select the right answer from a list of possibilities to complete a sentence.

In the new version, this approach has been junked – instead, they have now been changed into questions to aid in understanding. Here’s an example of the change:

Old version of theory test ‘continuation’ questions

If you use a hands-free phone while you’re driving, it’s likely that it will…

• increase your safety
• increase your concentration
• increase your awareness
• decrease your concentration.

New version of theory test ‘continuation’ questions

If you use a hands-free phone while you’re driving, what’s likely to happen?

• It will make you safer
• It will be easier for you to concentrate
• It will make you more aware
• It will be harder for you to concentrate.

As well as changing questions, the DVSA has also replaced longer, more difficult to understand words such as ‘increase’ with shorter, simpler words such as ‘bigger’ as well as changing more complex phrases and words such as ‘Vehicle Excise Duty’ and ‘medication’.

The agency has also stripped out negative language, so instead of a question featuring “When should you NOT”, it has now been replaced with “When should you”.

The changes have already gone live and Theory Test Pro has been updated so check them out.

We feel this is a good move as the Theory Test is an assessment of a person’s knowledge on the subject and often a common hurdle from the candidate’s point of view is trying to understand what the question is asking them. Language used should be accessible to minimise any barriers to understanding the question in the first place.”
– Olivia Baldock-Ward, Head of Membership and Training, Driving Instructors Association.

Ace Your Theory Test!

Learn your Highway Code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

How the New MOT Rules Could Impact on your Driving Test

Comments Off on How the New MOT Rules Could Impact on your Driving Test

Taking your driving test in your own car has always been permitted, but make sure that you are fully aware of the new (and existing) rules about their use – or else your test could end up being cancelled.

Many learners opt to use their own car or a family member’s for their driving test. While this is acceptable as long as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s rules are adhered to (see below), the recent changes to the MOT test mean there are now two new small but very significant rules that must be followed.

From Monday 4th June, the DVSA says you will not be able to use your own car if:

• it is displaying an engine Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) or has a MIL that doesn’t work

• it has inoperative reversing lights (if the vehicle was first used after 1st September, 2009).

This is in line with the new MOT rules introduced in May this year, which state that if a MIL is inoperative or is displaying a malfunction, it is now classed as a major defect. If a MIL should illuminate during the driving test itself but the car continues to operate normally, the test will be allowed to continue.

Making Your Car Test Worthy

Bear in mind there are a host of existing rules about using a personal vehicle for the test:

1. Check that the car is taxed, insured for the driving test (some insurers may not allow it so check the small print) and, if the vehicle is over three years old, is fully MOTed in the first place! To be on the safe side, bring all relevant documentation with you in a folder.

2. As well as the MIL light, ensure that other warning lights aren’t showing; an airbag warning light  for example will spell the end of your test before it’s even started.

3. Ensure all tyres are undamaged and have legal tread depths plus remember you are unable to take the test if you have one of those wretched space-saver tyres fitted. You should also only use a car that is able to do at least 62mph (so no wheezing classic cars please) plus there must a safety belt and a properly-fitted headrest for the examiner (again, leave that classic car at home then).

3. Make sure you have an extra interior rear-view mirror fitted for the examiner (don’t worry about the sat nav – they’ll bring their own) plus you’ll of course need L Plates fitted front and aft (or D Plates if you’re taking your test in Wales).

4. Remember there are certain cars that you are unable to use for a driving test. Why? Because according to the DVSA, they don’t offer the required all-round visibility needed by the examiner. The banned cars include the BMW Mini convertible, Ford KA convertible, Toyota iQ and VW Beetle convertible. If you do intend to use any kind of convertible, it’s best to double check with the DVSA before the test.

5. Oh, and if you’re a smoker, do not have a quick fag to calm your nerves in the car as you pull up at the test centre; any examiner will refuse to conduct the test if they are greeted by a cabin filled with smoke. You can’t really blame them!

• For more information about the do’s and don’ts of using your own car for the driving test, head here.

Ace Your Theory Test!

Learn your Highway Code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Main image © Wikimedia Commons

Student and examiner © ODOT’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services

Interested? Get started completely free.

Try it Now