Monthly Archives: April 2011

April 29, 2011
STREET PARTIES EQUALS TRAFFIC FREE ROADS

2 million people are thought to be attending street parties today with more than 4000 formal applications put in for road closures and many others arranging street parties at short notice.

David Cameron has clearly stated that if you want to have a street party then have one. It is hoped that councils will allow communities to come together in a stress free environment and ignore health and safety legalities gone mad.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond had already informed councils to relax over health and safety and allow road closures if possible to do so.

This is a national occasion where we can come together and celebrate just like we did 30 years ago.

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April 28, 2011
Revving up consumers about green motoring should be a priority for car brands

By all accounts the “green” car market is a fledgling one. According to statistics from research firm Datamonitor, and as featured in last week’s trends feature, hybrid and electric cars make up just 0.9% of the UK car market.

It isn’t surprising, when Datamonitor’s figures indicate that consumers still perceive environmentally friendly vehicles to be out of their price range, despite a range of incentives available. But more than half of those in Datamonitor’s survey say they aren’t aware of such incentives, such as Government subsidies on some models, free parking in London, a waiver of the congestion charge and free access to public recharging points.

Clearly more needs to be done to persuade people of the benefits of buying green, as the environment as a stand-alone selling point merely falls on deaf ears. But this industry needs to take a step back.

Just what does it all really mean? Of course, this burgeoning new sector should be applauded for taking steps to help us all reduce our carbon footprints and overall global carbon emissions. It won’t get anywhere though if they can’t convince enough people to purchase. And they can’t get enough people to purchase simply because they are confused – myself included.

This brave new world of green motoring is littered with jargon for starters. Electric, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell – just what’s what? Who sells what and who should buy what? Your average car buyer, who has grown up with a pretty average vocabulary of diesel, petrol, hatchback, four door and the like, will have no idea.

People would rather carry on driving their polluting fuel guzzlers because they understand them. Most people can talk the lingo with their local car dealer and they can compare like for like. But they just don’t know what they are getting into when they cross into this parallel universe with all these scary alien names.

To have a better chance of achieving mass take-up, the industry needs to start off simple. Forget these fancy words that do more to depress than impress. Pick one exhaust reducing model and make it the industry standard that all car brands should develop, so a real market begins to generate. Consumer choice might be key in some markets, but while this sector is still so nascent it needs to take baby steps.

Once one green model becomes the industry standard, then car brands can add it to their portfolio and perhaps even start phasing out some older, fuel-reliant models.

They can pour a significant amount of resources into developing the technology and communicating that one standard well, before introducing other so-called green models and having people leave before the party has even started.

Despite all this talk of hybrid, electric and hydrogen, Honda’s UK marketing director Martin Moll reckons that the industry will eventually move in the one direction by putting its money on the hydrogen model.

It seems then that hydrogen will supersede hybrid and electric. So if the industry knows this is going to happen, wouldn’t it be better off focussing on bringing out this technology sooner than spending lots of money developing models that people may not even be driving in 20 years time?

If car brands put their vain bragging desires aside to produce one green standard, then more in-roads would also be made towards the development of the right infrastructure to support it, whether it’s through widespread charging points or garages stocking hydrogen at the pumps – whatever it may be to literally get this sector off the ground.

Datamonitor analysts predict sales in the UK of hybrid and electric cars will reach about 75,000 a year by 2015. That’s still miniscule compared with the size of the entire car industry. But if each car manufacturer was aligned towards a common goal there could be real progress.

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April 27, 2011
THE WEDDING COACH BULLET CATCHER

The royals wedding coach which will transport them does not have some fancy bullet protection system, it’s in fact an armed cop that will protect Prince William.

In the event of an attack, the armed royal cop is expected to sacrifice himself in order to save the prince. However, it’s a different story for Kate Middleton as she would be left to fend for herself. The only other person on the coach will be there to calm the horses in an emergency.

The 1902 wedding coach also used by Charles and Diana when they wed will be open and William and Kate feel this is the best option as tens of thousands of people want to see the couple on this special day. Rain will be the deciding factor as to whether they use a closed coach.

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April 26, 2011
Everything You Need To Know About Car Insurance

It is common knowledge that car insurance premiums have increased consistently over the last few years. There are many reasons for this, including increased numbers of uninsured drivers, insurance fraud and lower investment returns.

While it may have become more difficult to get cheap car insurance, it is still possible. Knowing your way around the insurance options and the best ways to grab a bargain will put you ahead of the rest. So, it is time to get educated on car insurance; who knows, it could save you a fortune.

There are three basic types of car insurance available and which one you choose will depend on your circumstances. Car insurance is compulsory and if you do not have it you can be prosecuted and will end up with a fine and points on your licence. This will also mean that you may find it hard to get insurance in the future.

Comprehensive car insurance

This is the most expensive type of insurance you can buy. It will cover you for accidental damage to your own car and/or a third party’s car. This applies whether it was your fault or not.

You will also be covered for damage to property or injuries sustained by another person. In addition you will be able to claim if your car is stolen or vandalised and for the loss of any possessions which are kept inside the car. There are usually limits set on the amount you can claim, however.

Third party, fire and theft car insurance

As the name suggests, this type of insurance covers your car in the event of fire or theft, but not for accidents. Any damage to another person’s car or property will be covered. This is a good option if you car is not very expensive and if you think you would be able to survive without it if it is written off.

Third party only car insurance

This will cover you for injury or car damage caused to another person. Your own vehicle will not be covered and so it is really only suitable if your car is not worth insuring at all. This may be a good option for those on a tight budget, but it does come with risks.

If you own your car via a finance company you may want to take out Guaranteed Asset Protection in addition to your standard insurance policy. This agrees that if the car is written off the insurer will pay off any finance still owed on the car. It may also include paying for a deposit for a new car.

Insurance companies will often offer additions to your policy, including, mostly notably, breakdown cover. This is usually cheaper to buy as part of your insurance policy and can be invaluable if you travel away from home often. In addition to this, your policy may also cover you for legal expenses.

The cost of your premiums will be calculated based on a number of factors. Insurers base their quotes on the risk posed by the driver and the experience they have of other drivers with similar backgrounds. Premiums are usually based around following factors:

* Your age. Young drivers are statistically involved in more accidents.

* Your gender. Young men are on the whole more likely to drive faster and more recklessly than young women.

* Your job. If your jobs means that you must travel long distances or if you work shifts or long hours this could affect your premium.

* Your driving background. If you have points on your licence or a history of speeding or drink driving you can expect your premiums to be significantly higher.

* The type of car. More powerful and faster cars are often more expensive to insure. If you own a classic or unusual car it may be best to approach a specialist car insurer for the best quote.

* Where you live and how you store your car. Some areas will attract higher insurance rates because of car crime in the area. If you car is stored in a garage you may be able to get lower premiums.

The best way to get a lower car insurance quote is to try a comparison site. Not all insurers are listed on these so you may want to contact others directly. It is important that you do this every time your car insurance comes up for renewal as sometimes insurance companies only offer the best deals to new customers.

Hopefully the world of car insurance now seems less daunting and you will be confident when it comes to considering the ways in which you can lower your car insurance premiums.

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April 25, 2011
SPEED HUMP IRRITATION

Nine out of ten motorists say that speed humps cause them most annoyance on the roads.

Surprisingly speed humps were only introduced in 1991 and the idea behind them was to slow down traffic and decrease risk of accidents. They are also intended to reduce traffic volume down residential roads.

Most speed humps measure around 12-14 feet in length and 3-4 inches in height. Many span the width of the road however, some wider roads will have two or three individual road humps beside each other.

The idea is simple and should work yet speed humps seem to cause just as many problems as they are looking to prevent.

One of the most important issues is the slowing of emergency vehicles. Other motorists find their cars being damaged due to badly installed speed humps or due to simply not slowing down. Many motorists will increase their speed between road humps and slow just before approaching, this not only defeats the point of having them but increases pollution.

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April 22, 2011
SHOULD YOUR CAR BE BEHIND LOCKED DOORS

There is some ambiguity over where you should park your car in order to get the best car insurance quote.

Some insurers will reduce your insurance premium if your car is parked on a driveway as opposed to on the street and this is understandable. There is less chance that your car will be scratched, knocked or crashed into if it is parked on a private drive.

However, the big question is whether parking in a garage brings the premiums down even more. Some insurers relish the idea that your car is locked away from potential vandals and thieves however, others assess whether parking in a garage allows for you to scratch the vehicle, dent it whilst trying to park in a tight space or have objects in the garage fall on the car.

Holly Harper of Britannia Driving School said: “So anyone that’s thinking of having their garage converted into that extra bedroom or games room, have a look at car insurance quotes and see where your money can be saved.”

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April 21, 2011
More motorists caught drink-driving in spring than at Christmas, Government says

ONE in six motorists stopped by police in the spring were done for drink-driving compared to just one in 20 in the Christmas party season.

A Home Office report out yesterday shows that the number of drivers testing positive or refusing a breath test was at its highest from March to May, 2009.

March saw 17% of drivers being caught out in England and Wales, with 16% in April and May. In contrast, December had 5% of motorists over the limit, despite many more being stopped.

Only 47,000 breath tests were carried out in March as well as April, compared to 189,935 in December.

A survey by road safety charity Brake and insurance company Direct Line yesterday said 53% of drivers think there is a less than one in four chance of being caught over the limit.

Brake’s Julie Townsend said: “The number of breath tests being carried out is wholly inadequate.”

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April 19, 2011
Drink Drivers

The Road Traffic and Highways (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill was successfully taken through its clauses stage by Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK.

The bill increases the minimum ban for drink-drivers from one to two years and the maximum from three to five years. It sets out that someone whose drink-drive reading is between 115mg and 173mg in blood (the legal limit being 80) would receive a ban of two years, someone with a reading between 173mg and 230mg would receive a three-year ban and anyone over 230mg would be banned for five years.

Juan Watterson (Rushen) tabled amendments to the clause but said rather than moving them he wanted to just raise the issue of graduated penalties.

He said he had no problem with the principle of a higher penalty for higher levels of alcohol but said he thought the top end was set ‘rather high’.

Different forms of punishment, such as restorative justice, community service, should be used instead, said Mr Watterson.

He made it clear he did not advocate drink-driving but said he was concerned at the effect such a long ban would have on some people’s overall quality of life, for example in terms of getting to work.

Quintin Gill (Rushen) agreed with Mr Watterson that ‘the proportionality needs addressing’.

Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK weighed in to say he did believe the upper limit was proportionate.

‘It’s a privilege to have a driving licence, not a right,’ said Mr Brown.

‘If you have that privilege you have a responsibility to the wider public to take care if you are consuming alcohol.’

Mr Gawne also said he thought the higher level of ban was ‘absolutely reasonable’.

‘This is not about someone that’s gone out the morning after a hard night’s drinking, this is someone who is seriously drunk and should not be anywhere near a motor vehicle,’ he said.

John Houghton (Douglas North) tabled an amendment to the bill proposing that its wording creating an offence of causing grievous bodily harm to another person as part of a motoring offence should be changed to ‘serious bodily harm’.

Mr Houghton said the amendment was designed as a helpful measure to differentiate between the charge of GBH in criminal law and this motoring offence.

Mr Houghton said he did not want to diminish the seriousness of the offence but wanted to make it more understandable. Mr Gawne agreed.

The bill also includes provision for the Department of Infrastructure to charge HGV operators for damage caused to the road. This provision only covers new cases and not established operations.

It sets out the police’s powers to seize a vehicle if the driver is suspected of certain offences.

And it introduces sanctions against anyone taking business as a driving instructor without the relevant qualifications.

The next stage will be for Mr Gawne to take the bill through its third reading.

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April 18, 2011
LITTER PROVES A PROBLEM ON BRITIANS MOTORWAYS

Drivers disposing of litter on the motorway are causing problems not only for other drivers but for those clearing it up and wildlife too.

It is estimated that around 700,000 sacks of litter have been collected over the last few years, with other rubbish including surfboards, tents and footballs.

Dumping any form of little on the motorway or any other road can lead to accidents. Cars have been known to lose control of their vehicle or have their view obstructed due to litter.

It is extremely risky and expensive to have people remove the litter, an expense the taxpayers are forking out for.

Just as importantly wildlife and the environment is taking a knock too.

Emily Smith of Britannia Driving School said: “Ultimately we all suffer, so the simple message is: don’t litter. There are designated sites and dumps to dispose of your rubbish, if you are doing a long trip on the motorway keep a spare bin bag in the car, fill it up and dispose of it safely at the end of your journey.”

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April 15, 2011
RACING AWAY AT 80MPH

The experimental speed limit of 70mph was introduced in 1964 and in 2011 MPs could push for a new speed limit of 80mph.

The new speed limit would not be applied to all motorways with the M25 maintaining a 70mph limit, but the changes being applied to the M5 and M4.

There will also be debate as to whether the change in speed should only be applied to certain times of the day.

Motorists in other parts of Europe have a higher speed limit and it is thought that with the advances in car technology and improvements in highway engineering, we can handle an increase.

However, some are opposed saying an increase in speed could also see an increase in road casualties.

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