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Kids get driving bans

Children are increasingly being banned from driving before they are even old enough to get behind the wheel according to research.

Churchill Car car insurance found that 923 children under the age of 17 have been prosecuted more than once for driving offences, with children as young as 12 convicted multiple times. Once child aged 16 has already been prosecuted 15 times for driving offences. Statistics revealed that 87 young people had been prosecuted for at least five driving offences and 15 have already been convicted of at least 10 offences.

Child in car

UK driver’s top gripes

Driving Instructor Magazine recently published the top 20 annoyances about other road users, their findings were based on a survey from UK car leasing company Flexed.co.uk.

 

The top 20 annoyances about other road users

 

  • Lack of courtesy – people who don’t thank you
  • Using a mobile phone while driving
  • Driving too slowly in the middle of third lane
  • Cyclists running red lights
  • Tractors that don’t pull over to let faster traffic past Angry driver
  • Bad parking
  • Tail-gating and driving too close
  • Throwing cigarette ends out of the window
  • People who don’t indicate
  • Loud music
  • Not moving up in a traffic jam, letting other cars in
  • Not dipping headlights at night
  • Seeing other drivers picking their nose
  • Drivers who block the road when an emergency vehicle is trying  to get through
  • Motorbikes filtering through a jam
  • Wheel spinning
  • Dirty or unreadable licence plates
  • Spitting out of the window
  • People who keep changing lanes in a traffic jam
  • Drivers who slow down to look at an accident

 

Which is your favourite?

Increased speed limit proposal for HGVs – have your say.

The government recently launched a consultation on plans to increase the speed limit for HGVs on dual carriageways.
The proposals would see the speed limit increasing from 50 mph to 60 mph.

Visit GOV.UK to find out more details about the consultation and how to respond.

You have until 5 September to have your say.

 

Increased speed limit on single carriageways

Transport Minister Claire Perry also recently announced the move to raise the speed limit for lorries on single carriageway roads to 50 mph.

This is part of a package of measures to cut congestion, reduce dangerous overtaking and help get the country moving.

Read the news story for more details.

Driving licence costs to fall

Licences to drop

Driving licence fees are set to fall according to a government consultation announced today (28.7.2014).

Under the proposals, licenses would fall by 32% for digital transactions and 15% for paper applications.

New drivers would see the fee for their licence drop from £50 to £34 while ten-year renewals would see the fee drop from £20 to £14. All driver tachograph cards would fall from £38 to £32.

The government claimed the proposals would save drivers nearly £18m and the industry around £2m every year. DVLA is currently reviewing all the fees they charge to motorists and the consultation launched today is the first step in this ongoing review.

The consultation is open until 25 August.

‘Three in four drivers would fail’

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A new survey claims three quarters (76%) of experienced drivers would fail their driving test if forced to take it again,

The figures have been released by Direct Line car insurance, which saw 50 experienced drivers take mock tests at 10 locations, including Cardiff.

The average driver surveyed recorded 16 minor faults – one more than the maximum number allowed during a test.

In a real test, a single serious fault would result in failure.

The survey’s drivers recorded an average of three serious or dangerous faults.

So, would you pass your test if you had to re-take it?

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Brendon Williams: Putting his driving skills under the instructor’s eye once again

BBC Wales reporter Brendon Williams decided to see if his own skills behind the wheel are up to scratch.

I’m not a nervous driver. But sitting beside an instructor who’s analysing every aspect of your motoring skills is enough to make even Lewis Hamilton’s stomach churn.

It doesn’t help when you commit your first fault quicker than you can say mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

No sooner had I revved the engine and started to pull away, than my instructor – Stuart Walker of Wrexham-based Walker Driving skills – delighted in telling me I had forgotten to check my blind spot.

Fault number one.

Number two followed quickly… I forgot to turn on my side lights on what was a wet and gloomy day.

Two mistakes within 20 yards is not the best of starts. Not even my first test 15 years ago (which I failed) went so disastrously.

It was also lucky that these are classed as minor faults – of which you are allowed 15 or fewer to pass your test.

The dreaded major fault wasn’t far behind though, at 60mph on the main Wrexham bypass.

“I’m afraid we’ve got our first serious fault,” said Stuart….”not making allowances for the wet road, and we’re tailgating on the A483″.

Tailgating? Isn’t that what angry white van men and boy-racers do? It’s also an offence under new laws.

This is not good news. The rules say you can not pass your test if you record any serious or dangerous faults.

Game over. Within less than a mile of driving I had failed my test. Could I really be one of those 76% the survey highlights?

Not to be too harsh, Stuart tells me my distance probably would have been okay under normal circumstances, but on a wet day like this it is, quite simply, dangerous.

My emergency stop wasn’t quite emergency enough, but I did keep closely to the kerb as I reversed round a corner.

I drive a lot every day, so it’s a bit of a shock to hear my driving skills “have potential”.

Thankfully, Stuart explained: “You’ve either got it or you haven’t, and you’ve definitely got it.

“You’ve let your standards slip over the years…tailgating, position could be better in places, missing our blind-spot checks moving away… but on the whole, it’s not as if I felt unsafe in your driving.

“I do actually feel safe in your driving and I think if you had some training, your standard could be very high.”

 

Free stickers to deter tailgaters

The Highways Agency has commissioned Transport Research Limited to investigate the effectiveness of decals (stickers) on influencing tailgating, and it needs the help of organisations who are willing to stick stickers onto their vehicles.

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The stickers, which are 19x47cm, are suitable for vans or lorries and will be provided free to those companies that take part. The sticker design is shown on the left.

The text at different speeds should only be readable to those drivers who are less than three seconds behind the vehicle in front. If a driver is travelling at 30mph and can read the small 30 on the sticker, they’re too close. Likewise for 50 and 70.

There might be some benefit in the reduction of nose-to-tail accidents for cars that have these stickers, but at Right Driver we don’t think this will have a lasting effect because there are too many other variables and pressures:

  • People’s eyesight – there are many people who drive without glasses that should be wearing glasses
  • People’s perception of how far away they should be – drivers may have (should have!) heard of the two-second rule and as theses stickers are set to three seconds this could cause confusion or apathy
  • It doesn’t change a driver’s motivation
  • There’s no reward for driving further back
  • There’s no context around the stickers

Small initiatives like this may make some difference but need to be used in conjunction with other enforcement methods.

Contact Poppy Husband for your stickers: phusband@trl.co.uk.

Health risks in being an ADI

For many years there have been studies on taxi drivers and truck drivers who spend long hours in their vehicles. ADIs can be exposed to similar situations with back-to-back pupils. Surveys of professional drivers (mostly truck and taxi drivers) often show the following symptoms being raised. We could find no surveys of driving instructors anywhere in the world, however this paper from Economic Associates in Australia does talk about the risks to learner drivers of poor health by driving instructors. We spoke to a number of health professionals and read numerous scientific papers published by universities and institutions to bring you this easy-to-read list of potential illnesses.

Bladder infections

Many professional drivers often drive with a full bladder for too long. This has been shown to predispose those drivers to bladder infections and kidney stones. One UK organisation is currently surveying lorry drivers to build a data bank of issues around access to toilets. There are other potential problems with dehydration causing highly concentrated urine to sit in your bladder for long periods of time.

Weight issues

Driving can be a sedentary job sometimes with restricted ability to make easy healthy food choices. ADIs should be aware of how much or little they move in the day, and ensure that they get enough fibre, vegetables and quality protein. Even though we’ve been indoctrinated with the 5+ a Day fruit and vegetables guidelines, it’s actually better to have at least 10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (and predominantly vegetables as fruit is full of sugars). The Australian government recommends 2+5 per day (two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables).

It is general cheaper both in the short term (because vegetables are cheap) and long term (because of health issues that might cause a premature death or, at least, stop you working) to have a healthier diet. It’s purely a case of not being lazy so that you can learn some simple recipes.

Snacking on sugar-rich foods causes unnatural elevations of certain hormones and can predispose you to diabetes.

If you are overweight and you take pioglitazone for diabetes then you already have an elevated risk of bladder cancer.

Back and neck problems

Sitting for long periods of time weakens muscles in the back which can lead to pinched nerves, herniated discs and sciatica. A physiotherapist, personal trainer or similar can give you exercises you can do to strengthen your back, even while in the car. Some people are now calling sitting down the new cancer on society. The human body is not designed to be sitting down for a long period of time (as I write this I’m standing at my desk, something I do occasionally if I am unlikely to be leaving the office all day).

If you are frequently turning to your student this can cause back strain.

Impotence

The cause of this is often cited as poor circulation plus stress. As drivers are also predisposed to being overweight due to being sedentary, this may be a factor

Gastric issues

Hiatus hernia, heartburn, wind and bad breath are all possible results of being overweight and eating a poor diet. These are also adverse factors for your students who may not want to be sitting in a closed space if you’re not smelling fresh.

To avoid having a full bladder some drivers dehydrate themselves which leads to excess stomach acid. Combine this with stress and you can develop stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and worse.

Dehydration can lead to sensations of thirst masquerading as sensations of hunger – the body craving any kind of input that would contain liquid. This can result in you eating more than you need, and there would be resultant weight gain.

Fluid retention

Inactivity can lead to fluid retention in the lower legs, ankles and feet which can cause cellulitis, blisters and other skin disorders. There are exercises you can do while being driven by a student similar to those you would do for deep vein thrombosis on an airline. If you are driving, taking a two-minute break every hour to stretch and do something that gets your blood moving will help enormously.

Exposure to noxious fumes

This applies to all types of vehicles. Sitting in traffic means you are surrounded by an atmospheric cocktail of pollutants that are not good for your health that include sulphur dioxides, nitrogen dioxides, diesel particulates and carbon monoxide which can lead to breathing-related disorders such as asthma.

Benzene, which is present in diesel and petrol fumes, is implicated in cancer.

Noise exposure

While this is less of an issue with modern cars, it can still be a problem for motorbikes and trucks. Constant noise exposure even at moderate levels will eventually affect hearing, gradually reducing high frequency response. Motorbike instructors that use intercoms are at risk because the voice in the intercom needs to be sufficiently loud to overcome the volume of the bike itself.

A hearing test can help pick up frequency loss in specific ranges due to over-exposure to certain frequency bands.

Stress-related issues

While some instructors don’t find teaching learners stressful, others do. Stress can causes a huge number of illnesses, but insomnia and high blood pressure are common. Insomnia is dangerous for instructors because being constantly tired dulls reaction times.

Effects of medication

Doctors may want to prescribe various medications for some of these symptoms. Some effective prescription drugs are not able to be used when driving.

However, ADIs should not let their situation get to the point of requiring drugs. This should be about prevention rather than fixing symptoms.

If you choose to continue your research online, be aware of any hidden agendas by a website to sell you medication of any kind. In general, remaining active, eating healthily and minimising your exposure to pollutants will radically reduce your risk of most of today’s common illnesses and ailments.  Talk to your doctor, a nutritionist and a physiotherapist to help create a plan to keep you healthy because every day you can’t be in your vehicle is a day you can’t be earning money.

This article is designed to be a springboard to your own efforts and research in maintaining a healthy body, not a definitive guide.

A third of drivers would fail their driving test

Nearly a third of drivers believe they wouldn’t pass their driving test if they had to take it again, according to new research.

In a poll of 1,991 UK drivers aged over 18 years, 31 per cent feared they would fail a test because of all the bad habits they have picked up during their time on the road.

The research was conducted by the money saving website, Vouchercloud.com, after it was noticed that there was a rising number of people using the website to find motoring related discounts,

Respondents were first asked ‘Did you pass your driving test first time?’ to which nearly a quarter answered yes (24%). Another 33% said they passed the second time , while the remaining 43% took more than two attempts to pass their test.

Motorists were then asked; ‘Do you think you would be able to pass your full driving test now, if you were to take is again?’, to which only 39% said a firm ‘yes’. Another 30% said that they would need a ‘refresher lesson’ before being able to pass again, while the remaining 31% said ‘no’, they didn’t think they would pass their test if they took it again.

Those who thought they wouldn’t pass their test again were asked where they thought they would be most likely to fail. Nearly a third (32%) thought they would fail the theory test, hinting a worrying lack of knowledge of the basic rules of the road while nearly half (47%) thought they would fail both the practical and theory tests. The remaining 21% thought they would fail the practical.

When asked what parts of the practical test they thought they would most likely fail on, the top five stumbling blocks were:

1. Not checking mirrors – 63%

2. Inappropriate speed – 51%

3. Use of signals – 44%

4. Lack of steering control – 23%

5. Incorrect positioning – 19%

Despite the prevalence of bad motoring habits which could mean motorists would fail a re-test only 39% thought that bad driving habits made they worse drivers. The majority, 61%, thought that the were a ‘perfectly capable driver’ despite the bad habits.

Nonetheless, 44% said they motorists should be made to take re-tests to ensure continued safety on the road.

Matthew Wood of vouchercloud.com, said: “I think that the majority of us pick up bad habits to some extent when we actually start driving. Correct hand positioning on the steering wheel and repeated checking of mirrors seems to vanish overnight, but are we actually so bad that we think we’d fail the test completely?”

He continued: “You’d like to think that a simple refresher lesson would be enough. Whilst it’s quite worrying that a third of drivers on the road think they’d fail a test, at least the majority think that it doesn’t detract from their driving ability. Perhaps a refresher test every 10 years or so would be a good idea though… just to make sure!”