Getting the keys to the open road is an exciting moment. But changes are afoot (Picture iStock/Londoneye)
New drivers could face a strict probationary period after they’ve passed their test. Plans drawn up by the government will restrict what newly qualified drivers can do when they hit the road. The government wants to slash the disproportionately high number of accidents involving the 17-24 age group.
A Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesperson explained: “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) will establish a revised training and testing regime for car drivers and motorcyclists. It will introduce some post-test restrictions for drivers/riders to reduce the over-representation of new – mainly young – drivers/riders in fatal and serious road collisions.” Read on to find out more.
Are the changes definitely going ahead?
In the same week, a major recall and important alert have been launched by manufacturers of some of Britain’s best-selling cars. BMW has initiated a UK-wide recall of 312,000 cars after admitting certain models have suffered an electrical short-circuit. And Volkswagen and Seat are having to repair around 30,000 models due to a potentially dangerous seatbelt defect.
BMW is setting out to rectify an electrical fault that could leave drivers stranded with no headlights, brake lights, indicators or hazard lights. It made primetime TV after featuring on BBC One’s Watchdog show.
Meanwhile, independent safety tests revealed that the latest generation VW Polo, Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona, could unfasten one of the rear seatbelts without warning.
It is important that owners of the affected vehicles take action and follow the manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure their vehicle remains safe to drive. Here’s how to find out if the recall and alert involve your car.
How old is your car? If it’s getting on for the best part of 10-years old, don’t feel any shame in not keeping up with the Joneses: the average age of motors on UK roads is rising.
The typical vehicle is now 8.1 years, the oldest since 2000. The figures for all cars and light vans licensed in 2017 suggest that more drivers and businesses are holding on to their vehicle to help make ends meet.
Analysis by The Times shows that over the past two decades, the proportion of the very oldest cars on Britain’s roads – those more than 13-years old – has almost tripled in the last two decades.
So what’s causing more drivers to keep their car for longer?
Some car firms, such as Kia, have an entire range of SUVs (Picture Kia Motors)
On the face of it, drivers might say they hate SUVs. But actually, many of us secretly want to own one. More than half of people (54 per cent) claim SUV or Sport Utility Vehicle drivers are the most annoying on the road.
Despite this, chunky, high-riding off-road style motors – sometimes called crossovers or dual-purpose cars – have a certain appeal. More than a third (35 per cent) of drivers are attracted by the thought of owning one. And sales of new SUVs have bucked the market trend by exceeding record-breaking 2017 levels so far in 2018.
Why drivers DON’T like SUVs?
Do you drive with children in your car? Are you fully aware of the laws around using the appropriate child seat? If your knowledge is a little sketchy, the good and bad news is you’re not alone. Almost nine in 10 parents admit that they are baffled by new booster seat rules and regulations.
Introduced last February, the updated rules were meant to provide clarity for mums, dads and carers when it came to securing a child safely in a car. Yet safety experts say that far from helping clarify the use of child seats, the rules have caused confusion.
Worryingly, almost one in five drivers with children under the age of 12 admit they rarely or never sit them in a car seat. So what are the guidelines that drivers should be following?
What the survey found
One in seven drivers admits to dropping litter (iStock/Art of Photo)
It isn’t just driving that can put you in danger of a hefty fine. New laws have come into force meaning car owners can get bigger fines for dropping litter than speeding. And if more new rules get the green light, drivers who park partially on the pavement could face £70 fines. Read on to find out more.
New fines for dropping litter
Tyre swallowing potholes are a fact of motoring life (Picture istock/Tacojim)
When did you last see a pothole? If you’ve been on the road the chances are it was pretty recently. And an annual report into the state of the nation’s roads backs that up, concluding that Britain’s road are deteriorating faster than ever.
The study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has now been carried out for 23 years. Called the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, it canvasses opinion from local authorities the length and breadth of England and Wales. And its results are a concern for all drivers.
The AIA’s chairman Rick Green revealed: “It’s unfathomable to think that you could drive almost around the world on the length of local authority roads that could fail if they are not fixed in the next 12 months – but that is the reality.” Read on to find out more.
How bad are the UK’s roads?
Driving through mud isn’t rocket science. As you’ll see from my advice on how to cope with mud when you’re in a car, much of it is common sense. And that’s how I came to spend a day sitting at the wheel of an Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck, waiting to rescue competitors at the inaugural Green Flag Mud & Motors.
The event took place at the dauntingly named Devil’s Pit near Luton in Bedfordshire. We had Love Island finalist Chris Hughes plus six competitors. The idea was our six entrants had to do a lap of the four-wheel drive course. During that lap they had to make various choices based around common sense that would ensure they didn’t get stuck. They would score points on the way according to the decisions they made and the winner would get £1000. Here are four things I learned from the day.
Chris Hughes was great fun
For some drivers, the excitement of a showroom-fresh motor is short lived. Car faults can frequently take the pleasure out of owning a new motor.
At least, that’s the view of members of consumer champion Which?. Nearly 45,000 owners of cars aged up to three-years old were asked to rate their motor for reliability. Yet despite many of the vehicles still having that new-car smell, a surprising number of problems reared their head.
Here are the five most common faults that occur in a new car’s first three years of driving. And we’ve added the symptoms to help you understand if your car might be suffering from one.
Fault 1: Exhaust or emission control system Continue reading
Where do you keep your driving licence and is it safe? These are questions every driver should be asking after it was revealed that nearly one million licences were lost or stolen last year.
As if the hassle of applying and paying for a replacement licence wasn’t aggravation enough, security experts warn that lost or stolen licences can’t be cancelled. The result is crooks can continue to use another person’s driving licence as identification.
Victims of identify fraud can find that bank accounts have been opened in their name. Hire cars might have been stolen using their credentials. And new-car finance contracts could be applied for using stolen ID. To help drivers safeguard their licence and identity, here is the advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
What’s the scale of the problem?