Latest News


73,000 young drivers may be illegally back on road

As many as 73,000 disqualified novice drivers could have returned to the road illegally over the past decade, figures reveal today.

A record number of newly qualified drivers – 160,000 – have been banned under the controversial New Drivers Act since its introduction in June 1997.  This law automatically revokes the licences of drivers who run up six penalty points in their first two years on the road, meaning they have to retake their driving test.  Yet official records show that since the law came into force, only about half of those banned have subsequently taken and passed their retest.

MPs fear that many of those who have not done so – about 7,000 a year or 73,506 since the Act was introduced – are now driving illegally without a valid licence. Often they are also without tax, or insurance. Some eight out of ten of those banned under the New Drivers Act are under the age of 24.   The details emerged in answer to a Parliamentary question by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker.

The findings have so rattled transport ministers that they have launched a review of how the law is working and are set within weeks to seek to plug the glaring loophole with ‘additional measures’ to help novice drivers stay ‘safe and legal’.  Mr Baker said: ‘A disturbingly large number of disqualified drivers don’t take the test. It is highly unlikely they are all not driving. But if they are, they are doing so illegally.  ‘This loophole is driving a coach and horses through the law and must be plugged.

‘There is nothing wrong with the law, but the Government is not following through.

‘The average fine for driving without a licence was £71 in 2006. Given that the cost of taking the test alone in the evening or on a weekend is £67 – and not including lessons, tax, and insurance – the fines are really very low.’

Disqualified drivers cannot be detected by speed cameras and if they are driving properly taxed cars, it is unlikely they will be stopped by increasingly rare traffic patrols.

Two million motorists of all ages are thought to drive illegally and cost honest drivers an extra £30 a year in premiums to cover accidents involving uninsured drivers.  A spokesman for road safety charity Brake said: ‘This is extremely worrying. Action must be taken to plug this loophole.’ The Government’s Driving Standards Agency admits that the law ‘isn’t working as intended’.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The New Drivers Act is designed to encourage safe and responsible road use by newly qualified drivers while they build their experience. ‘The Government takes the safety issues associated with novice drivers extremely seriously and so has already announced a fundamental overhaul of the current training and testing regime.

‘There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be driving without a valid licence.   Anyone who does so is knowingly breaking the law and faces tough penalties.’


Call for Late-Night Curfew For Young Drivers

A motoring group is calling for a late-night curfew on teenage drivers to cut the number of car-crash deaths in which they are involved.  A survey by the RAC found teen motorists accounted for nearly one in eight serious crashes, with 11.9% of crashes – where someone was killed or injured – involving a driver aged between 17 and Teenagers in London account for just over 5% of serious collisions.  The survey covered five years between 2008 and 2012 and suggested newly qualified young drivers should have a limit on the number of passengers they carry for the first few months after taking their test.

The suggestions come within a proposal for a graduated driving licensing (GDL) system which is aimed at cutting deaths of young people on the road.  GDL is operating in other countries and, based on figures taken from them, transport research laboratory TRL, which carried out the study, said that some 4,500 fewer people would have been victims in an average year – about 430 within that figure would have been killed or seriously injured.

Currently, the RAC says, one in five young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test.

Speaking of the report, the RAC’s Stephen Glaister said “Whichever way you cut it young drivers pose a significant and  disproportionate risk to themselves and to others and it is in rural areas where the casualty rate is highest.  That is despite the fact that this group only accounts for 1.5% of licensed drivers.  Dyfed Powys in South Wales is worst affected, with 18% of accidents there involving a teenage driver.  That is followed by Gwent, Cumbria, the Northern and Grampian regions and Cornwall.


Parking on zig zag lines

Huge rise in school-run parents fined over parking: Number of tickets for stopping on zig-zag safety lines doubles in two years

Number of fines soared from 14,564 in 2011 to 28,169 in 2013

Wardens appear to be targeting the school gates more

Responsibility for enforcement has switched from police to local councils

PARKING ON ZIG-ZAG LINES OUTSIDE SCHOOLS

Parking on zig-zag linesYear          No of £70 tickets issued

2010          14,564
2011          18,227
2012          20,123
2013          28,169

School-run parents have seen a doubling in the number of parking tickets slapped on their windscreens for parking illegally on zig-zag safety lines as they drop-off and pick up their children.

The number of £70 fixed penalty charge notices given in the past three years for parking on zig-zag lines has soared from 14,564 in 2011 to 28,169 in 2013 – an increase of 93 per cent, according to fresh data from Freedom of Information requests.

One reason for the rise is that wardens appear to be targeting the school gates more than in the past with experts suggesting that ‘a zig-zag parking crackdown on parents is underway.’


Motoring offences while abroad

Police in Europe get power to hunt down UK drivers who speed or commit other motoring offences while abroad. CREDIT-CARD STYLE PHOTOCARD DRIVING LICENCE, AND COUNTERPART DUE

  • British motorists will face heavy fines if caught on camera.
  • Offences include speeding, running a red light and driving while using a mobile phone.
  • Fines would be sent out and, if necessary, pursued through the courts.

This will allow them to chase motorists with GB plates across the Channel for motoring penalties accrued anywhere in the EU.

Offences covered include speeding, running a red light and driving while using a mobile phone.

Demands for fines would be sent out and, if necessary, pursued through the courts.

British drivers can currently be fined for motoring offences in Europe only if stopped by an officer who can issue an on-the-spot penalty or march them to a cashpoint.


TOUGHER SENTENCES ON DRIVERS THAT CAUSE DEATHS.

M62 MotorwayA disqualified driver who causes death will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, instead of 2 years and the new crime will carry a four year term. The government said it was bringing in the changes after listening to concerns raised by victims’ families.  The changes are expected to come into force in 2015.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling, who wants to make our roads safer, said he also  intended to launch a review of driving offences and penalties to ensure people who put people’s lives at risk were punished properly. This will include those offences caused by  uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

He added disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for a good reason.  Those who choose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.

He has had concerns raised about the issues with space in prisons and although it was agreed that those driving without insurance that cause serious injuries or deaths should be properly punished but the government needs to assure the public that they have enough space in prison to cope with the increased demand.

The government said it planned to change the law shortly, which will apply only to England, Scotland and Wales because there is a separate framework of traffic offences in Northern Ireland.

 About 8,200 were convicted of driving while disqualified, according to Ministry of Justice Figures.

 There were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions for causing death while disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.


DEATH BY NUMBERS:

THE STATISTICS THAT LAY BARE THE DANGERS OF BRITAIN’S MOST DEADLY ROADS

Deadly RoadsRisky: The A537 (picture) was ranked the most dangerous road in Britain

1,754 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012.

11,457 were killed on British roads in the 5 year survey period 2007-2011, compared with 16,533 in the previous 5 years – a drop of 31 per cent.

The 28,0000-mile network of motorways and A roads outside major urban areas analysed in this report represents just 11 per cent of Britain’s road length – but carries 56 per cent of traffic  and more than half (51 per cent) of all deaths.  Motorways and dual carriageways have seen the greatest improvement with a 24 per cent reduction in the survey. The improvement for single carriageways is 18per cent.   On average, four people are killed or seriously injured on each mile of motorway and A-roads outside major urban areas each decade.
In the 2007-2011 data period, single carriageway A-roads are seven times more risky than motorways. In the 2002-2006 period this figure was six.   Travel on single carriageways is three times more risky than dual carriageways.    62 per cent of fatal and serious crashes occur on single carriageway A-roads, 12 per cent on duals, 15 per cent on mixed single/dual and 11 per cent on motorways.

The most common crashes on motorways and A-roads leading to death are run-offs (30 per cent).

The most common crashes leading to either death or serious injury occur at junctions (36 per cent).    21 per cent of fatal and serious crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists; 10 per cent were head-ons  and 8 per cent shunts.    22 per cent of fatal crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists; 19 per cent were head-ons and 6 per cent shunts.     99 per cent of motorways are rated in the ‘low risk’ category; 97 per cent of single carriageways are not.

The British economy loses more than 2 per cent of GDP in road crashes.

British road users pay 1 per cent of GDP on motor insurance.

In the last five years, Britain suffered serious injury costs of £1.9 billion on motorways, £8.4 billion on primary A-roads and £5.9billion on non-primary A-roads.

Motorways account for 36 per cent of travel on the network analysed, 18 per cent on duals and 32 per cent on singles.

Motorcyclists make up just 1 per cent of traffic but 21 per cent of fatal and serious crashes on Britain’s motorways and A-roads.


Children with smart phones at risk crossing roads

Child and Smart PhoneChildren obsessed by smart phones are at risk when crossing roads, safety report warns.

A quarter of school children admit paying more attention to their smart phone than traffic when crossing the road.

Their eyes are more likely to be glued to a screen than watching out for oncoming cars that could kill or injure them, a road safety report warns.

The danger is set to increase as more children bring electronic gadgets to school.

Research carried out by AXA car insurance shows 75 per cent of 12-year-olds take a mobile phone to school every day, rising to 95 per cent for 16-year-old pupils.

And almost 23 per cent of children admit they have been distracted when crossing a road on the way to school.

Nearly one in five pupils said they have to cross five or more roads every day during the journey.

Mobile phones are the most common gadget taken to school by children, closely followed by MP3 music players and tablet devices.

Among pupils’ top distractions on the walk to and from school were listening to music, which 61 per cent said they had done, or exchanging text messages, which occupied 60 per cent.

More than a third of schoolchildren spend the daily walk to lessons updating Facebook, while almost as many make or receive phone calls, and more than one in five browse the Internet.

According to AXA’s report, the average age at which children first own a mobile phone is 11. But children aged 11-12 are most at risk of road accidents and account for a third of all child pedestrians killed or seriously injured during journeys to and from school.


New MoT failure figures reveal surprises

Mot pictureBETWEEN January and August 2013 253,000 vehicles failed their first MoT, according to new data.

70 million records from the Vehicle Operation and Services Agency (VOSA) were examined to reveal the patterns of failure for cars receiving their first MoT, required three years from the date of first registration.

               2009 Toyota iQ           However, while the best performers have pre-existing reputations for reliability, the bottom of the table reveals some surprises.

The best performing individual models were almost exclusively German or Japanese – only the Land Rover Freelander, the ninth best-performing car, broke the trend.

The model with the best record was the tiny Toyota iQ, with a pass rate of 91.82% based on 2,835 tests. Second was the Honda Jazz at 90.40% and third was the Honda CR-V at 89.83%.

Down at the bottom were the Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo, achieving a 63.54% and 67.84% respectively.

Lexus was the best-performing brand overall, with an average of 89.4% of its cars passing their first MoT. Subaru and Honda took second and third places respectively to complete a Japanese podium, with Toyota fourth.

The least likely brand of car to pass its first MoT was Citroen, with its score of 76.18% not helped by woeful performances from the C4 and Berlingo.

Volkswagen was a surprise entry to the bottom 10, indicating that the brand might not be entirely deserving of its reputation for build quality.

Mini, Volvo and Alfa Romeo also featured in the bottom 10, along with Seat, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot and Chevrolet.

The study excluded supercars and low-volume brands that had been MoT tested less than 2,000 times, so brands like MG, Maserati and Caterham do not feature.


New MoT failure figures reveal surprises

BETWEEN January and August 2013 – 253,000 vehicles failed their first MoT, according to new data.

70 million records from the Vehicle Operation and Services Agency (VOSA) were examined to reveal the patterns of failure for cars receiving their first MoT, required three years 2009 Toyota iQ from the date of first registration.

However, while the best performers have pre-existing reputations for reliability, the bottom of the table reveals some surprises.

The best performing individual models were almost exclusively German or Japanese – only the Land Rover Freelander, the ninth best-performing car, broke the trend.

The model with the best record was the tiny Toyota iQ, with a pass rate of 91.82% based on 2,835 tests. Second was the Honda Jazz at 90.40% and third was the Honda CR-V at 89.83%.

Down at the bottom were the Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo, achieving a 63.54% and 67.84% respectively.

Lexus was the best-performing brand overall, with an average of 89.4% of its cars passing their first MoT. Subaru and Honda took second and third places respectively to complete a Japanese podium, with Toyota fourth.

The least likely brand of car to pass its first MoT was Citroen, with its score of 76.18% not helped by woeful performances from the C4 and Berlingo.

Volkswagen was a surprise entry to the bottom 10, indicating that the brand might not be entirely deserving of its reputation for build quality.

Mini, Volvo and Alfa Romeo also featured in the bottom 10, along with Seat, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot and Chevrolet.

The study excluded supercars and low-volume brands that had been MoT tested less than 2,000 times, so brands like MG, Maserati and Caterham do not feature.


Beware of blue BMW drivers

Beware of blue BMW drivers who really are the most aggressive and more prone to road rage when they get behind the wheel.

Men who drive blue BMWs are more likely to be aggressive than motorists in any other car, a study claims and the peak time for drivers to get angry is 5.45pm on a Friday as they fight the rush-hour – followed by the dismal Monday morning commute.

BMW 1The likeliest road rage culprits are men aged 35-50 with blue BMW cars, the study of 2,837 motorists found. Drivers also reported run-ins with owners of Land Rovers, Audis, Subaru and Vauxhalls. Blue was seen as the most aggressive colour, followed by black, silver, green and red. Angry drivers: Range Rover owners were the second worst for losing their temper on the road.BMW 2

Men said they lost their temper behind the wheel seven times a month on average, while women got angry on only three occasions.    Drivers most often expressed road rage by shouting and swearing, followed by erratic driving and obscene gestures, the study revealed.

The poll also found, unsurprisingly, that Monday morning and Friday evening proved to be the most stressful times, when motorists are queuing to get to and from work.    Aggression: Male drivers on average lose their temper seven times a month in the car

TOP FIVE WORST CARS FOR ROAD RAGE DRIVERS

  1. BMW (35%), 2. Land Rover (32%), 3. Audi (29%), 4. Subaru (22%), 5. Vauxhall (18%)

TOP FIVE COLOURS OF CARS WITH THE WORST ROAD RAGE DRIVERS

  1. Blue (47%), 2. Black (33%), 3. Silver (26%), 4. Green (19%), 5. Red (15%)

BMW 3Motorists were asked the pick the make and colour of car from which they have experienced the most incidents of road rage – and blue BMWs came out on top.

During peak periods of traffic, whether it be the Monday morning school run or the hectic rush hour on a Friday evening, it is all too easy to allow the common manifestations of road rage to get the better of us as motorists.

‘This research, although slightly humorous in some of its findings, does indicate an important point. ‘Road rage is not something to be taken lightly and these results show that many motorists need to remind themselves that sometimes losing your temper whilst driving can result in serious altercations, assaults, and collisions that cause injuries or worse.’


Blinded by the dazzle of the sun

The dazzling sunsets that kill 36 drivers in 12 months: Glare contributes to 3,000 accidents and is particularly dangerous at this time of year.

The glare of the setting sun during rush hour is to blame for 36 deaths a year, a report from the AA warns today.

The danger is particularly high now as autumn turns to winter and the sun sets at around 6pm –  just as most drivers are heading for home.

It plays a part in nearly 3,000 accidents every year with drivers at risk of being temporarily ‘blinded’ by the dazzle of the sun on the windscreen.

Blinded by the dazzle of the sunThe AA says the risk will continue until British Summer Time ends on October 27, when the clocks go back. The biggest danger is on minor roads.

The AA report says that of the 2,905 accidents in which sun dazzle was reported to be a factor last year, 52 happened on motorways, 1,203 on A-roads, 428 on B-roads and 1,222 on other minor roads.

AA president Edmund King said most drivers were sensible enough to slow down when they are dazzled.

NOTE! I have found in the past, when driving into the sun which is very low on the horizon and a fully lowered ‘sun visor’ is not adequate for those shorter drivers, that it can be very dangerous.  I folded an A4 size piece of paper and inserted it in the small gap above the driver’s ‘Sun Visor.’ I adjusted the fold so that the paper hangs down lower than the visor and acts as an acceptable temporary ‘Sun Visor. When the visor is lifted up the paper goes back up to the roof.  Have you ever tried this as a ‘Remedy?’


How eco-friendly is your driving?

Mountain Road‘Eco driving’ is about driving in a fuel efficient fashion, using less fuel to travel the same distance and you don’t need to own a Toyota Prius or an electric car to be an eco-driver.

The benefits of eco-driving are myriad: reduced costs, less harmful emissions released into the atmosphere and a relaxed, comfortable and often safer drive.

While driving style hasn’t changed much over the years, vehicle’s engines and gearboxes have advanced, and they are far more fuel efficient.

Eco driving techniques

It’s best to embed these techniques into your driving style when you learn to drive with an approved driving instructor (ADI). All techniques are underpinned by the ‘Safety First’ rule – safety should never be compromised to save fuel.

As driving test candidates are now assessed on their eco driving, IDT’s driving instructors will be giving coaching on these techniques.’

Anticipate

Look well ahead and try to predict the road and traffic conditions. Heavy acceleration and high engine revs combined with heavy braking increases fuel consumption. Always aim to maintain a safe distance when driving behind moving vehicles so that you’ll have more time to respond to developing hazards.

Maintaining a steady speed

Aim to drive smoothly at a steady speed whenever possible to increase your kilometres per litre (or miles per gallon if you prefer imperial!) for a less stressful and safer drive. Select the highest gear that is suitable for the road and traffic conditions.

This reduced need to be continually accelerating and braking means you use less fuel. Many modern engines cut the supply of fuel in slow-moving traffic, another good reason for maintaining a consistent speed.

Select the optimum gear

While the type of vehicle you drive and road layout has an impact, as a rule the higher the gear, the lower the revs, and the less fuel you use. However sometimes for safety, you may need to use a lower gear, positive acceleration, and increased revs, for example when you overtake.’

Your eco-driving lessons with IDT will ensure your safety and the safety of other road users is never compromised.


Holiday driving

Summer_drivingWe often make our longest car journey of the year during the summer in the UK or abroad, and it’s also a time when we find ourselves in unfamiliar hire cars too.

Try using this catchy acronym for basic car checks at the start of any journey: POWDERS which stands for Petrol, Oil, Water, Damage (to vehicle), Electrics, Rubber, Secure loads. Compare this to the AA’s FLOWERS acronym.

A tricky aspect of holiday driving in Europe or North America (other countries that drive on the right are available…) is making faulty gear changes on a manual hire car with left-hand drive. This is more likely to happen when dealing with traffic hazards as you adjust to making right hand gear shifts, which may initially feel unfamiliar.

An automatic transmission will make a left-hand drive car slightly easier to adjust to, but you’ll still need to maintain higher levels of concentration as you begin your holiday car tour on the “wrong side of the road”…

A useful tip when driving on the right is to check your left-door mirror before you overtake, to ensure there is no-one overtaking you on the left.

You should also be mindful of local traffic regulations. For example, in many countries you must drive with dipped headlights at any time of the day. But most of all stay safe and enjoy your holiday drive.


Summer driving

Hay_fever_summer_drivingSummer can be the best time of the year for drivers: long sunny days (if we’re lucky), some clear days without rain…and it can be the perfect season to start your driving lessons.

But for many drivers the down-side of summer is hay fever. Runny eyes and a runny nose combined with sneezing fits are unpleasant at the best of times. But that same experience behind the wheel could convert a pleasant weekend drive into a nightmare.

For example, did you know that if you’re driving at 70mph and you close your eyes while sneezing for just one second, you travel just over 30 metres?

In future, just before you sneeze, consciously hold onto the steering wheel with both hands and keep the wheels straight. If you try to blow your nose while driving, you could get distracted and lose control. It’s preferable to pull up somewhere for a safe nasal evacuation…

If hay fever is seriously affecting your driving perhaps you should seek advice from your local GP.


Seat belt laws, saving lives since the 80s

Wearing_seat_beltsMany of the more mature readers amongst us may have had a Life of Brian-esque argument about an infamous decade: “What have the Eighties ever done for us?”. The music, the politics, the fashion…there’s plenty to debate.

But for one Eighties legacy there’s no argument. Over 60,000 lives have been saved since seat belt wearing in the front passenger seats was made compulsory on 31 January 1983. And eight years later when it was made compulsory to wear seat belts in the back of cars.

Evidence suggests that seat belt use across the UK remains high, with 95% of car drivers and front seat passengers belting up. This figure drops a few percentage points to 89% for rear seat passengers, and to around seven out of ten for other types of vehicle.

The evidence for seat belt wearing is irrefutable, which is why IDT insists all our drivers wear a seat belt on every journey.


Driving skills in the TV spotlight

Interest in driving and driving skills continues to be a hot topic on TV. We’ve been watching “Barely Legal Drivers” on BBC3 which puts two young drivers in the spotlight over two car journeys filmed by secret cameras. The recordings are viewed and analysed by their parents and a driving expert.

A verdict is reached on the young drivers’ driving skills who are either rewarded with their own car for demonstrating good skills and attitude behind the wheel or advanced driving lessons when there are real concerns about both.

The series bears out a number of factors we’re already aware of including:

  • 95% of crashes are contributed to by poor attitude and behaviour.
  • Learners are not assessed on their attitude and behaviour on the driving test.
  • Most young people want to pass their driving test as quickly as possible and often don’t want to learn anything above the bare minimum.

A few weeks ago “The One Show” recently ran a piece with John Sergeant that posited the question: “How many of us could still pass our driving test?”

The item touched on some familiar issues about driving skills amongst all drivers such as the number of people who believe they are good drivers and that it’s possible for everyone to improve the safety of their driving.

We aim to coach all our learners to drive with a responsible attitude and behaviour as we think this gives them a far better chance to have a safe and accident-free lifetime of driving.

At IDT Driving School we also offer Pass Plus for drivers who have recently passed their driving test, and refresher lessons for drivers who passed their test a few years ago, but have not not been on the road recently and want to get back into driving for a variety of reasons.


Keith Lowcock

Keith Lowcock an IDT driving instructor is a former Deputy Chief Driving Examiner for the Driving Standards Agency and keeps us updated on industry developments.


Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre

Jeff Gibbs, one of our longest-serving driving instructors and instructor trainers featured on BBC TV’s “Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre” – his student passed first time with flying colours.