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Prepare for carnage: Jeremy Clarkson fires up The Grand Tour Amazon TV show on 18 November

Prepare for carnage: Jeremy Clarkson fires up The Grand Tour Amazon TV show on 18 November

Whatever you do, don’t call it Top Gear. On Friday 18 November, petrolheads around the world will be tempted to take a cheeky sick day, as they get their first chance to watch Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in action together on The Grand Tour.

The three troublemakers have been doing their best to avoid controversy since the BBC decided not to renew Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, last March.

But now they’re back and the carnage can recommence, with an all-new car show that will continue to play on the relationship between the ‘three middle aged blokes’ as much as it will celebrate some of the most incredible things on four wheels.

The first episode will be made available through Amazon Prime on 18 November. The Grand Tour has agreed a deal with Amazon for three series over three years, with 12 episodes in each. Here’s what to expect…

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How to transport fireworks safely by car

Transport fireworks safely by car

It’s that time of year when children are getting excited and mums are warning dads not to get carried away buying industrial quantities of fireworks that resemble a bunker buster. But while plenty of guidance is given to help everyone have a safe fireworks display at home or in public, little thought is given on how to transport fireworks safely by car.

Fireworks are extremely dangerous. The Government’s last recorded figures on injuries caused by fireworks, from 2005, showed that 990 people were hurt during a four week period around November 5.

However, there are some sensible tips and several essential steps that drivers should take to ensure that carrying fireworks in a car doesn’t result in a serious accident.

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Hacked Tesla Model S highlights the difficult road ahead for self-driving cars, say experts

self-driving cars

Tesla has updated the software of its Model S to help resist hacking attempts (Picture © Tesla)

As an acknowledged leader in the field of electric self-driving cars, California-based Tesla is the golden boy of the Golden State. But over the last couple of weeks, dazzling-white smiles have been thin on the ground at the American car maker. Hackers have revealed they could take over a Tesla’s brakes, open the boot and unlock doors, operate the indicators and even move the electrically adjusted seats.

The cyber attack was carried out remotely by Chinese hackers. Tesla has confirmed that it was informed of the vulnerability in its software and systems several weeks ago, and has subsequently issued updated software as a free download to all affected customers.

The American electric car manufacturer worked with Keen Security Lab, which approached Tesla after discovering the weak areas that led to the hack. Keen Security Lab is part of Tencent, one of the giants of China’s booming technology and communications industry.

How was the Tesla Model S ‘hacked’?

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Disqualified drivers: 18 banned drivers stopped at the wheel every day

Disqualified drivers

Untaxed cars and drink driving are on the up while nearly 7000 banned drivers were found still at the wheel last year

New figures show some worrying trends on Britain’s roads: thousands of disqualified drivers have been caught at the wheel; the number of drink drivers is on the up; and there’s been a rise in the number of untaxed cars. Official statistics from the Ministry of Justice found 6592 disqualified drivers were stopped for driving in England and Wales in 2015. That’s the equivalent of 18 banned drivers being halted by the police every day.

The report, compiled by Churchill car insurance, also discovered that the average fine for being disqualified from driving was £247. And 44 per cent of drivers were fined £150 or less. That is despite putting other road users in potentially life-threatening situations. The maximum fine for not having a TV licence, meanwhile, is £1000. And the harshest financial penalty for fly tipping is £400.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, said: “Disqualification from driving isn’t just a punishment for committing a very serious driving offence, or series of offences; it’s in the interests of all road users and their safety. With the average fine for driving while disqualified averaging a mere £247, Churchill believes the penalties should be considerably tougher to serve as real deterrents and ensure the public’s safety.”

Last year, 87 of the 6592 disqualified drivers prosecuted were aged 17 and under. Between 2005 and 2015, 3911 banned drivers who were stopped were 17 or younger. It means these drivers had picked up two driving bans, despite being too young to drive in the first place.

Driving while being disqualified is the fifth most popular way of losing your licence in the UK; drink driving is the reason most drivers lose their licence. Last year the number of drink drive accidents was up by two and a half per cent compared to 2014.

The second most frequent reason drivers lose their licence is by the points totting up process. However, last month we revealed that an increasing number of drivers are keeping their licence despite exceeding the 12-point limit.

There have also been reports of an increase in the number of untaxed cars since the paper tax disc was abolished in late 2014. Between October 2014 and March 2015, £2.7bn was paid in Vehicle Excise duty. In the six months prior to that, 3.2bn was collected.

Read all you need to know about taxing your car here

Drivers escaping bans: More car owners than ever keep motoring despite 12 or more points

Drivers escaping bans

Some drivers are keeping their licences despite breaking the law repeatedly

Drivers escaping bans despite reaching the 12-point limit are increasing. The threat has always been that if you accrued 12 points or more for driving misdemeanours you’d be banned for a period of time. But latest figures from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) reveal that the number of drivers being allowed to continue driving despite having 12 or more points has grown by a quarter in the past year.

What does the law say?

Currently, if you accrue 12 points or more over a three-year period, you are banned from driving for six months. If you get a second disqualification within three years of that, you are banned for 12 months. Continue reading

Electric car and PHEV drivers to face £5 charge to top up at motorways

Electric car and PHEV drivers to face £5 charge to top up at motorways

Recharging an electric car like the Nissan Leaf will cost a minimum of £5 at motorway service stations (Picture © Nissan)

British drivers who choose electric cars or plug-in hybrid models to save money while doing their bit to help the UK combat climate change have been hit with shocking news, after the main provider of motorway charging points for electric cars announced it will introduce a £5 fee for a 20-minute rapid charge.

The decision was taken by Ecotricity, a Gloucestershire-based company that until recently was the sole provider of charging points for electric cars at Britain’s motorway service stations.

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Used car tourism: Second-hand car buyers travel for cheaper prices

Used car tourism

Car dealers visit auctions all over the country to get the best price. Now private buyers are travelling too (Picture © BCA)

Used car tourism is on the rise with car buyers being urged to travel to take advantage of the regional variation in car prices. Popular used cars can be more than £1000 cheaper depending on where you buy them across Britain.

Used car valuation service CAP HPI has revealed that it found a three-year old Audi A1 selling for £1600 less in Nottingham compared to a similar model in the south east of the country. The result has seen an increase in drivers travelling from one part of the country to another to take advantage of cheaper used car prices elsewhere, according to one expert.

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Incredible towing records from pulling a train to hauling the Space Shuttle

Pulling power: from towing a train to pulling the Space Shuttle, these are the world’s most impressive towing records

Pulling a caravan this summer? If so, you may like to see these towing records, proving that the average SUV is a lot more capable than you might think. The first film shows what looks like a perfectly ordinary Land Rover Discovery Sport, the popular seven-seat SUV. But when it drives up onto railtracks and lowers two pairs of small steel wheels from its chassis, what happens next is most definitely not an everyday occurrence. Continue reading

Mum and Dad’s taxi service is worth up to £28,000 a year

Mum and Dad’s taxi service is worth up to £28,000 a year

It’s a common grumble amongst parents across Britain: life can feel like it’s a constant cycle of Mum and Dad’s taxi service. Now research reveals how much time the typical parent spends ferrying their kids around – and the numbers could cause a family squabble.

A total of 2000 parents who drove were asked to share their driving history. On average every month, Brits clock up nearly 12 hours at the wheel, make 47 car journeys and travel 250 miles. In London, that would be the equivalent to £28,000 a year in taxi bills.

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London Motor Show preview: what’s going on, where and when

London Motor Show preview

F1 world champ Nigel Mansell is one of the star attractions at the London Motor Show

Britain doesn’t have its own international motor show so the London Motor Show will be trying to fill that gap when it opens in south London’s Battersea Park on May 6.

Unlike traditional motor shows which are simply glorified car parks that rely on the quality of exhibits from car makers to draw the crowds, British Motor Shows have been a bit different in recent years. This one follows the UK’s trend for shaking things up. Rather than simply having cars to ogle over, this show is promising a more interactive experience.

When: Opens Friday May 6, 10am-6pm. Runs until Sunday May 8, 5pm.

Where: Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW8 4NW

London Motor Show preview: what will be there?

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