Monthly Archives: August 2009

August 28, 2009
BSM Head Avoids Driving Ban

The head of BSM has managed to avoid a driving ban despite having 17 points on his driving licence.

Abu Haris Shafi, managing director of British School of Motoring (BSM) appeared in court after his car was clocked by a speed camera breaking a 50 mph speed limit.

But when asked to admit who was driving the car at the time Mr Shafi, 47, refused, earning him six points on his licence, on top of 11 he already had.

Mr Shafi managed to persuade Bournemouth magistrates that banning him from driving would risk his job. Instead he was fined a paltry £750

Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School said: “It’s unacceptable for the boss of Britain’s biggest driving school to have 17 point on his driving licence and be caught speeding at 50mph; it’s the case of do as we say,  but not as we do.”

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August 27, 2009
Birmingham is driving test fraud ‘hot spot’

POLICE today revealed they were regularly being called in to challenge the identity of people sitting driving tests in a bid to put the brakes on bogus pupils.

It is feared fraudsters are assuming the identity of provisional drivers to help them pass the test, either as a favour to friends or for a cash payment.

The problem is so bad that Birmingham is considered one of the country’s “hot spots”.

Elsewhere in the Midlands, there is a regular police presence at test centres such is the prevalence of fake pupils sitting the tests to help people get a driving licence.

PC Steve Rogers, from the West Midlands Police’s Road Traffic Department, said officers worked with investigators from the Driving Standards Agency to beat the cheats.

“Birmingham is one of the hot spots for the country,” he said.

“While officers are not routinely stationed at test centres we are routinely asked to assist the Driving Standards Agency.

“There are regular interventions taking place at test centres in Birmingham to challenge the identity of people and people have been arrested for a number of offences.

“We don’t want people on the roads who have not been trained properly but there are potentially people on the streets of the city who have never taken a test.”

Zhiar Rostam, aged 24, of Colonial Road, Birmingham, was jailed for six months by a judge at Coventry Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud.

The court heard he had posed as another man to take his driving test for him at the Nuneaton centre.

Vicki Lofrese, prosecuting, said a man called Ahzo Mohammed was due to take his practical driving test at the Nuneaton centre but when examiner Paul Owens went to the waiting room to collect him, Rostam stepped forward.

He was caught because he looked nothing like the person on the provisional driving licence.

Miss Lofrese said: “Staff at the centre were on their guard. It was known that this type of offence was becoming prevalent, and there were police officers at the scene for this reason.”

Sally Cairns, defending, said Rostam was a Kurd who had fled Iraq in 2002 because his family had been persecuted, as a result of which he has emotional difficulties.

Jailing Rostam, Judge Coates said he needed to make an example of him.

In 2003, detectives in Alum Rock uncovered a major driving test scam which could have put dozens of unqualified drivers onto the roads of Birmingham.

The six-month police probe led to the arrest of three people on deception and conspiracy offences.

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August 25, 2009
Fully Comp Insurance Cover Notes

Drivers need to check the small print on their car insurance or they could end up out of pocket.

To keep prices competitive, policies may not be as comprehensive as people believe.

One great motoring myth is that those with fully comp cover are insured to drive any car.

The reality is increasing numbers of insurers no longer offer the “driving other cars” extension and those that do place restrictions.

Even when it’s available, motorists could lose out as it is for third party only, meaning you will have to pay your own repair costs. It doesn’t cover under 25s or named drivers, only those with their own policies, and it’s for use only in an emergency.

Graeme Trudgill, of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, said: “Insurers are wary as this cover has been misused in the past . Drivers should check the small print.”

To insure yourself for driving someone else’s car, either get yourself added as a named driver to their policy or get them to take out cover for any driver over 25.

Don’t risk having the wrong policy or, even worse, driving illegally. You could end up with a conviction – six points on your licence and a fine of as much as £5,000.

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August 23, 2009
Tips for Cheaper Motoring

As a rule of thumb if you do long – distance or motorway driving then a diesel engine is better for fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions. For town driving, we suggest petrol may be better, because it emits fewer pollutants.

Investigate converting your petrol car to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). You’ll pay over £900, but the fuel costs are almost half those of petrol. Drawbacks include fewer filling stations and being banned from the Eurotunnel.

Keep the pedal off the metal. Driving at 60mph uses up to 25 per cent less fuel than driving along at 70mph.

You can also cut consumption by removing roof racks when not in use, leaving the air conditioning off and keeping tyres properly inflated.

Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School said: “Save money and help to save the plant by sharing lifts to work. You can find suitable lift through car pooling schemes at your workplace – or check out websites such as liftshare.com or carplus.org.uk”

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August 20, 2009
Driving licence conflict

THOUSANDS of motorists are at risk of being fined up to £1,000 because they are unwittingly driving without a valid licence.

They risk prosecution after failing to spot the extremely small print on their photocard licence which says it expires after 10 years and has to be renewed – even though drivers are licensed to drive until the age of 70

The fiasco has come to ligh t a decade after the first batch of photo licences was issued in July 1998, which have now expired. Motoring organisations blamed the Government for the fiasco and said ‘most’ drivers believed their licences were for life.

To rub salt into wounds, drivers will have to a pay £17.50 to renew their card – a charge which critics have condemned as a ‘stealth tax’ and which will earn the Treasury an estimated £437million over 25 years.

Official DVLA figures reveal that while 16,136 expired last summer, so far only 11,566 drivers have renewed, leaving 4,570 outstanding.

At the heart of the confusion is the small print on the tiny credit-card-size photo licence, which is used in conjunction with the paper version. Just below the driver name on the front of the photocard licence is a series of dates and details – each one numbered. Number 4b features a date in tiny writing, but no explicit explanation as to what it means.

The date’s significance is only explained if the driver turns over the card and reads the key on the back which states that ‘4b’ means ‘licence valid to’.

Even more confusingly, an adjacent table on the rear of the card sets out how long the driver is registered to hold a licence – that is until his or her 70th birthday.

A total of 25million new-style licences have been issued but, motoring experts say, drivers were never sufficiently warned they would expire after 10 years.

Motorists who fail to renew their licences in time are allowed to continue driving. But the DVLA says they could be charged with ‘failing to surrender their licence’, an offence carrying a £1,000 fine.

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August 18, 2009
Magistrates object to on-the-spot driving fines plan

Transport ministers are expected to press ahead with plans to allow the police to issue fixed penalty fines for careless driving offences, despite objections from magistrates today about the rise of “out of court justice”.

The proposal would mean motorists guilty of minor careless driving offences being issued with a £60 fine and three penalty points on their licence. At a magistrates court the maximum penalties would be a £5,000 fine and nine penalty points.

The Association of Chief Police Officers says it intends to issue strong guidance on the dividing line between minor careless driving offences, when an on-the-spot fine should be issued, and more serious cases which should go to court.

John Thornhill, the Magistrates’ Association chairman, said that recent years had seen a rapid rise in the use of “out of court” justice. In 2003, 68% of all criminal cases were decided by the courts, but this had fallen to only 48% by 2007.

“We have been investigating the use of out-of-court disposals, on-the-spot fines, for the last 12 months, and the evidence we have suggests that on many occasions where the matter is serious police go for the easy option of the on-the-spot fine, because it is done and dusted, dealt with there and then,” said Thornhill.

“What this is doing is turning the police into jury and sentencer. Many of the police actually don’t want to do this, because they believe it’s more important that an independent tribunal which is not fettered by financial considerations or targets makes that decision.”

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August 17, 2009
Open Road Ltd Reaches End of the Road

The Open Road promotional scheme for Driving Instructor Association (DIA) members has been closed down, due to the company going into liquidation.

Open Road Ltd, the company responsible for running the scheme in association with the DIA, blamed current economic conditions.

The scheme offered driving instructors a range of discounts on high street purchases.

The scheme’s website has now been shut down and emails have been sent to individual driving instructors who signed up to the scheme.

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August 13, 2009
Mobility scooter driver convicted of 8mph drink driving

A man was convicted of drink-driving his mobility scooter under an 1872 law to cover anyone in charge of horses and cows.

Disabled Peter Bright, already banned from using a car after a boozing conviction, was stopped by police doing 8mph. He was 50% over the limit.

He could not be prosecuted under driving laws as he did not need a licence.

Norwich magistrates told Bright, 63, of Tasburgh, Norfolk, to pay £65 in fines and charges. He said later: “Someone grassed me up.”

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August 11, 2009
Driving offences down in London

London Councils has revealed that parking penalties in the capital were down by 11% last year.

Figures released by the organisation show a total of 4.68M penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued for parking offences between April 1 2008 and March 31 2009

A two-tier parking penalty system was launched throughout the capital in July 2007 to represent the seriousness of offences. The new figures show that three-quarters of the PCNs issued were for contraventions in the ‘higher seriousness band’.

In total, 5.466M PCNs were issued across the capital for a range of motoring offences. The number of penalties issued for illegally driving in bus lanes was down by 20% from last year to 233,927. This figure has halved over the course fo the past two years.

The number of PCNs issued for moving traffic contraventions stood at 540,000.

Cllr Mike Fisher, chairman of London Council’s transport and environment committee, said the figures showed the two-tier parking system was successfully targetting motorists that caused the most disruption on the capital’s streets.

‘It appears that people are beginning to heed the warnings that if they break the rules they will get a ticket. At the same time, councils are successfully making more efforts to focus their activities on parking contraventions that matter most while spending less time penalising minor cases such as overstaying on a meter for a few minutes.

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August 10, 2009
Eat and Sleep at the Driving Wheel Doing 70mph

Motorist will be able to sleep, read, work or watch television behind the wheel of their cars at 70 mph on the motorway or dual carriageway, using technology being developed by scientist.

A system which will lock cars together using sensors and wireless technology, allowing up to ten at a time to cruise in “car train” convoys. The only steering and braking would be done by a professional driver at the front of the convoy.

Drivers would pay a subscription of around 10p for every 1.6 miles travelled and would have to book ahead to secure a place in the convoy at a designated time or particular slip road.

At the point where the driver has booked to leave the convoy, their car would be guided by the new technology on their chosen slip road.

Inventors have been investigating “car trains” since the 1990s but previous projects have failed because they required dedicated roads to be built.

Volvo, the developers of the new system, claims the convoys would be 20 to 40 per cent more economical than cars travelling independently.

Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School said: “The car train convoy would be the same as sitting on a bus or a train, with the big difference that when you come to your exit you take over and go directly to your destination without having to switch vehicles. Volvo claim this technology could be unvalued within two years.”

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