Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 31, 2014
Driverless Cars To Be On The Roads By January

The UK government announced yesterday that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year.

It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.

In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK’s road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines.  UK engineers have been experimenting with driverless cars but concerns about legal and insurance issues have so far restricted the machines to private roads.

The term driverless cars tends to refer to vehicles that take charge of steering ,accelerating, indicating and braking during most if not all of a journey between two points, much in the same way aeroplanes can be set to autopilot. Unlike the skies, however, the roads are much more crowded, and a range of technologies are being developed to tackle the problem.

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July 29, 2014
Safe Driving Tips

With more drivers on UK roads now than ever in history, it is much more important for modern motorists to practice their safe driving. Whilst all legal drivers have learned the sufficient skills to pass their driving test, a large proportion are quite open to the fact that they lapse into bad driving habits once they have their pink license – but something needs to be done about this.

Whilst it should go without saying, driving after drinking is still a common issue. Even the slightest amount of alcohol can affect your reaction time and make you a danger to other road users. Likewise, always ensure to drive according to the weather around you – take note of the conditions outside, and adjust your driving to suit the weather.

Driving when tired can have just as serious consequences as driving when drunk. Take regular breaks on long journeys, and try to avoid driving altogether when fatigued. Avoiding distractions such as mobile phones, music or other passengers when behind the wheel will significantly reduce the risk of an accident and make you a safer driver.

Finally, always make sure you wear your seat belt – they are there to save your life in the event of a collision. Even if you are only driving for a couple of minutes to the shop, being on the road puts you at danger of being in a crash, and having your seatbelt on for those couple of minutes could make the difference.

As always, safe driving from Britannia!

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July 28, 2014
Driving Licence Fees To Fall

Driving licence fees are set to fall by up to 32% under plans announced today by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and Transport Minister Claire Petty.

The proposals to reduce the fees have been set out in a public consultation on driver licensing fees. The consultation sets out a proposed reduction in driving licence fees of 32% for digital transactions and 15% for paper applications.

As part of the proposals, drivers who apply online for their first driving licence would see the fee drop from £50 to £34. Drivers who renew their licence after 10 years would see the fee drop from £20 to £14. All driver tachograph cards would fall from £38 to £32.

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July 25, 2014
Hot Weather Driving

Whilst the last few weeks most of Britain has been experiencing a welcome heatwave, giving us a hot summer to remember, many motorists may not be aware of the negative implications this could have on your vehicle.

Driving in heat can have certain repercussions on your car, ranging from mild annoyances and uncomfortable driving experiences, all the way to full-blown catastrophes if the problems are not prevented or treated fast enough.

For example, whilst many drivers are aware of the problems cold weather can have on your battery life, it is a relatively little-known fact that opposite conditions can have the same detrimental effect. If your car is not stored in a cool location such as a garage, then prolonged exposure to the hot elements can significantly decrease the batteries life span. Always check this and ensure that the battery is fully charged before any journey, especially any long trip.

Also always make sure that your Air conditioning unit is functioning properly. Whilst it can be nice to have the windows down instead when driving along, if your car is stationary for a prolonged time (such as in a traffic jam) during the heatwave, then opening the windows will simply be allowing more unwanted hot air into the vehicle. Check that your Air-Con is working before setting off for a drive.

Do you have any other tips for our summer drivers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Safe driving from Britannia!

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July 24, 2014
Self-Driving Cars Narrowly Avoid A Crash

Google has been advocating the benefits of its self-driving cars for years, so a team of stuntmen decided to put the technology to the test.

The tests were carried out at the Mojave Desert, California.

As they went around the track at speeds of 50 mph, the motorists switched on the smart cruise control and lane assist features, which allowed the cars to drive the 6.4 mile circuit unaided.

At this point, a large lorry with a flatbed drove alongside and four of the stuntmen climbed out through the roofs, and jumped unaided onto the back of the HGV.

Only the driver at the front of the convoy stayed in the car, knowing there were four cars travelling behind him with no-one at the wheel.

He then crossed his arms, with the lorry pulling up on front and slamming on the breaks.

The Hyundai’s automatic emergency braking system immediately kicked in and the car came to a standstill before it could smash into the track. The four driverless cars behind also slammed the brakes on – preventing a serious accident.

The cars did exactly what Hyundai promised they could and all drivers and vehicles came out unscathed.

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July 23, 2014
50th Year As An Instructor

Veteran instructor Chris Bloor, from Stoke-on-Trent, has celebrated her 50th year as a driving instructor.

She began her career very soon after passing her test at the age of 18 by taking on a few of her father’s clients. Back in the 60s, she was one of only two female driving instructors in Stoke-on-Trent.

She briefly left the company for several years to pursue a career in advertising but soon returned to her father’s driving school and remained there ever since.

After so many years in the job, she has seen many changes in the driving tests and learners. In the late 70s and early 80s, there was an influx of Chinese people, prompting her to learn to speak Cantonese and she can now conduct lessons in the language. Attitudes have also changed: at first a lot of Asian men refused a female instructor and the women had to have a chaperone in the back. She highlights that a few men even prefer a female instructor.

She adds the most rewarding part of her job is seeing her students pass their practical tests.

At Britannia Driving School we have female instructors in manual and automatic cars. Let us know your views in the comments section below:

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July 22, 2014
The Worst Excuses for Using the Hard-Shoulder Are…

Most motorists are aware that pulling over on the hard shoulder of a motorway is in fact an offence, unless there is an emergency. However, this does not seem to prevent many drivers from using the hard shoulder as anything from a place to pull over to make a phone call, to a convenient place for a snooze after a long motorway drive.

Here are some of the best (or worst) excuses for pulling over on the hard shoulder:

– One driver seeing the word “Fire” showing on his dashboard display panicked and pulled into the hard shoulder, expecting his car to be ablaze within minutes. It turned out that was the title of the Adele track he was listening to on his CD player.

– Disoriented drivers checking maps or re-setting their sat-navs.

– One driver pulled up after realising his insurance policy had expired – so that he could call around for the best quote to renew.

– Photographing their children in the car on a sunny day.

– Falling asleep after feeling sleepy when behind the wheel.

– Picking flowers for a loved one.

– Having a drink and chatting to fellow passengers.

– Trying to find the best location for mobile phone signal along the motorway (this one raises so many questions…)

These are just some of the strangest excuses we have heard for drivers illegitimately using the hard-shoulder. What bizarre excuses have you heard for appalling driver behaviour?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Safe driving from Britannia!

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July 21, 2014
Tougher Penalties For Cycling Deaths

It has been found that more than a quarter of those found guilty over cyclist deaths did not receive driving bans.

In 2013, 109 cyclists were killed on UK roads and more than 3,000 were seriously injured.

Campaigners are arguing that drivers are being let off too lightly and want tougher penalties. In the last seven years, 148 people were charged with killing a cyclist. Of those found guilty, 44% went to prison. The average jail sentence was less than two years while the average length of driving ban was 22 months. For 26% of drivers, no ban was imposed.

Pro-cycling group and the sport’s governing body, British Cycling, says it wants tougher bans and longer prison sentences, especially for repeat or serious offences. Driving groups think it is wrong to demonise one type of toad user and that it is impossible to increase penalties just for cyclists.

The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years and five years for death for careless driving.

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July 18, 2014
Penalty for Phone-Driving to Double

The penalty for using your mobile phone when behind the wheel is set to double, under new plans from the Government.

The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin has announced that he intends to increase the punishment from three points to six, after a recommendation by Metropolitan Police after the first increase in mobile-related road deaths in ten years.

The move could have dramatic repercussions for repeat offenders – meaning that if you are caught using the phone whilst driving more than once in a two-year period, you are liable to be banned from driving.

Using the phone when driving a car is an extremely dangerous activity – one that puts not only yourself and your passengers in danger, but also pedestrians and other road users around you. It seems that the main problem is simply that those using their mobile when driving simply don’t think they are going to get caught – however with these tougher penalties being imposed, hopefully the rate of accidents related to mobile phone use will be able to drop as much as possible.

What are your thoughts on this article? Are the proposed new penalties too harsh, or has this been long overdue?

Sound off in the comments section below!

Safe driving from Britannia!

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July 17, 2014
Two Calls Could Take You Off The Road

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that the high death toll directly caused by motorists using the phone whilst driving. This has influenced his decision to change the rules which would see the penalty for using your mobile at the wheel increase to six points on your licence.

This would have a dramatic effect on newly-qualified drivers in particular who could be banned after only one offence because their threshold for a ban is six points. The increased penalty would also affect a driver’s insurance premiums. In addition, the Department For Transport is looking at raising fines from £100 to £150.

This follows research showing texting at the wheel can be more distracting than the effects of drink or drugs.

Motoring groups and MP watchdogs have welcomed this move, however, some have highlighted that harsher penalties are only part of the solution. This change would be more effective if enforcement of the law was improved.

What are your thoughts on this article? Send your views to Britannia Driving School by using the comments link below:

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