Welcome to Total Drive Industry Round-Up, the place for any need-to-know industry news. Our updates are aimed directly at you, the driving instructors of Britain, and are full of all the things you should know. Here’s what has been going on recently:
‘Speeding on autopilot’: over half of drivers still speeding on 30mph roads
New data has revealed a drop in speeding offences across English roads this year from the spikes registered during the depths of lockdown in 2020 according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
According to the new DfT figures, there was a 12% drop in motorists speeding on 30mph roads between April and September of this year, compared to the same time period last year. This decrease in speeding offences was recorded across all road types, with single carriageways witnessing a 28% drop this year, while drivers on UK motorways were 4% less likely to speed than last year.
However, this year’s figures are still up on pre-pandemic levels, with a 20% increase in penalties for motorists breaking the speed limit by less than 10% across single carriageways. On 30mph roads it is a 28% increase.
Alarmingly, over half of motorists still speed on 30mph roads, with 52% of drivers speeding on these roads this year compared to 59% last year. These roads are often located in pedestrian areas, as shown by streetlights and residential houses, these speeding violations represent a significant risk to children and pedestrians.
If caught speeding, offenders should expect three points on their driving licences and a minimum £100 speeding ticket although the amount fined depends on what the speed limit was and by how much they exceeded it. It’s usually a percentage of their weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (or £2,500 if speeding on a motorway). Drivers could also be disqualified from driving or have their licence suspended if the offence was deemed to be particularly severe.
Learner drivers urged not to take test unless they are ‘confident they can pass’ as Covid-fuelled backlog hits half a million
Learner drivers are being urged not to take their tests until they are ‘confident they can pass’ as the backlog caused by the Covid pandemic hit half a million.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) yesterday warned people not to take their test until they were ready because they could end up waiting a significantly longer amount of time for a retest.
Figures for October 22, obtained by the AA Driving School from the DVSA, showed that 538,832 tests were booked for the following 24 weeks Loveday Ryder, the DVSA chief executive, told The Daily Telegraph:
‘I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that they are properly prepared for their test and don’t take it before they are ready. With more than half of candidates failing and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test when they are confident they can pass. This will help them avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the driving test waiting list.’
The DVSA has also announced a number of measures to boost test slots, including holding tests outside normal hours including on weekends and bank holidays. They have also launched a campaign to recruit more examiners and asking recently retired examiners to return. The large backlog of driving candidates has been caused largely by the coronavirus lockdowns during which driving tests were prohibited.
Some drivers have also waited so long for their practical tests that their theory test pass certificate has expired.
Credit: Daily Mail
National Highways warn drivers: “Don’t ignore the Red X’
National Highways has urged drivers using the new smart motorways not to ignore the Red X signal as it may put themselves and other road users at risk.
Formerly known as Highways England, National Highways has launched a campaign called ‘Don’t Ignore the Red X’. This comes ahead of a network-wide-roll-out of cameras specially designed to detect those flouting the rules.
As found in its spring 2020 motorways campaign evaluation, the government-owned company is determined to improve the worrying fact that only 60% of motorists are aware of red X camera auto-detection.
Maintaining safety on motorways is vital, so obeying the red X sign is key to do this. The X warns of a closed lane, either to protect drivers in difficulty, or when road workers and emergency services need a space to work. Closed red X lanes must be avoided by drivers.
98% of drivers respect the red X signal with compliance, however those who don’t put all road users in danger, with non-compliance still accounting for thousands of offences.
A few say that they would wait to see what the problem is before moving out of a closed lane, however 97% of drivers recognise the correct behaviours.
A total of 75% agree it’s illegal to drive in red X lanes, with a good base knowledge of fines, but a minority are still confused around the legal side.
To comply with red X rules is within drivers’ best interest for safety first and foremost, but also to avoid being penalised. Technology that can automatically detect and record vehicles driving in lanes closed by red X signs is being introduced across the motorway network by National Highways. Network-wide enforcement is expected by spring 2022.
This comes as part of the upgrade to the smart motorway traffic management system, and will allow police to enforce compliance remotely across the country.
Earlier this year, The Times discovered that around half of smart motorway safety cameras can’t enforce red X closed-lane signs.
Eight red X awareness campaigns have been produced since 2016 by National Highways, with the March 2020 campaign withdrawn prematurely due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
You could face fines of up to £100 if you’re caught driving in a red X lane and three points, and in some cases more severe penalties or a court appearance.
To drive safely and obey the red X and all signals correctly, follow these steps issued by National Highways.
5 Highway Code tips on how to drive safely in the snow and on icy roads in the UK
Winter makes for one of the trickiest times of the year when it comes to driving, and if you’re planning on taking to the roads this Christmas, we’ve got all the Highway Code tips you need for tackling roads covered with snow and ice.
From Christmas shopping to taking long journeys across the country to visit friends and family for the festive season, driving in winter poses plenty of challenges.
In fact, transporting your Christmas tree home on your car’s roof could land you with a hefty £1,000 fine as overloading your vehicle is a Highway Code no-no.
And, once you’ve tackled de-icing your windscreen on cold winter mornings, you may find your next challenge being driving on snow – or ice-covered roads.
While it can be challenging, and best avoided, we’ve got is plenty of guidance for how to drive safely on icy roads from the Highway Code.
How to drive safely in the snow according to the highway code
Though it can be tricky, and requires drivers to be completely alert to their surroundings, driving in the snow is permitted if your journey is essential.
Here’s what you need to know about the Highway Code’s guidance on driving in icy or snowy weather.
Check the weather forecast
Prior to leaving your home, or even making plans for a journey that isn’t essential, be sure to check the weather forecast locally and that of your destination’s.
According to rule 228 of the Highway Code, if the forecast warns of icy or snowy weather conditions, do not drive unless the journey is essential.
The guidance states that if you are taking an essential journey, you’ll need to prep for it by ensuring that you’ve got de-icer and a scraper with you for your windscreen and car.
You’ll also need to bring a torch, jump leads and a shovel, as well as emergency supplies for if your car gets stuck or breaks down.
Ensure your visibility is at its best from all windows and the windscreen
Rule 229 of the Highway Code states that you need to be able to see clearly from all of your windows.
Do this by allowing ample time to de-ice your windscreen and to scrape any snow from your car. You must also scrape any snow from your lights and number plate by law.
Look out for snow-covered mirrors, too, as you’ll need to be able to see all angles when driving.
Stay alert and keep a safe distance
While it may seem obvious, when driving in adverse weather conditions you need to be on high alert at all times.
And, though you always need to keep a safe distance from fellow drivers on the road, during snowy and icy weather it’s crucial to keep a far larger gap between the road user in front of you.
Rule 230 of the Highway Code also advises taking care when overtaking vehicles spreading salt or de-icer. You should also be careful of snow ploughs, due to the snow thrown out of them while working.
And, while one short patch of road may be clear of snow and ice, you must prepare for a potential extreme change in conditions further down.
Slow down when roads are covered in snow or ice
When driving in snowy or icy conditions, you’ll need to drive slower than usual. Rule 231 of the Highway Code states: “Drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently.”
There is also guidance to slow down at bends where loss of control is more likely. It adds: “Brake progressively on the straight before you reach a bend.
“Having slowed down, steer smoothly round the bend, avoiding sudden actions.”
Finally, you should be cautious of how safe the surface you’re driving on is for braking gently The guidance explains: “If the steering feels unresponsive this may indicate ice and your vehicle losing its grip on the road.
“When travelling on ice, tyres make virtually no noise.”
Check your tyres
While the snowfall in most of the UK is far from the extreme conditions elsewhere in the world, your tyres may still hinder your safety.
Check to ensure your tyre tread has enough grip to keep you safe on slippery surfaces such as slushy melted snow or ice.
You can do this by popping a 20p going into a main tread groove in your tyre. If the outer border is hidden in the groove, your tyre is safe and legal to drive. If not, you’ll need to get that tyre replaced.
The legal tyre thread depth limit is 1.6mm in the UK. So, if your tyre thread is looking bald or worn-down, do the test or get them checked by professionals.
Do I need to change my tyres for the snow and icy roads?
While colder countries with much more snowfall require tyres to be changed for snow, winter tyres are not mandatory in the UK and are optional for drivers.
There are alternative ways to adapt your tyres for those who live in areas where snowfall is particularly bad.
One option is to purchase snow socks to fit over your car’s wheels. These are fabric covers that improve the grip of your wheels when driving.
Another is to fit snow chains on your tyres, but this depends on your car. They also need to be removed as soon as you get to stretches of gritted and snow-free road as this can damage both the road and your car.
100,000 drivers are one offence away from driving ban
Almost 100,000 drivers have nine, 10 or 11 penalty points on their driving licence, according to the latest Government data.
It means that many could reach the 12-point threshold for a driving ban with just one offence.
The latest figure (97,187) is an increase on the 92,000 that were identified as being ‘at risk’ of a ban by IAM Roadsmart, in April.
Licence Bureau is warning companies that failure to regularly check drivers’ licences could potentially result in driver shortfalls, or worse risk drivers on fleets who should not be driving.
The company has carried out more than 830,000 licence checks on behalf of clients over the last 12 months, of which 5,000 checks picked up active drivers within the workforce who should not have been on the road.
These invalid drivers had issues ranging from driving while disqualified, to provisional licence holders, drivers with revoked licences, non-GB licence holders with endorsements, and expired or voluntarily surrendered licences.
Andy Wheeler commented “These latest figures make for sobering reading for fleet managers, as even for companies that are actively engaged in trying to manage their driver risk compliance, they show there is a one in 166 chance that an employed driver on the road today should not be driving.
“For companies who are not actively managing their risk, these figures could be significantly higher, with potential consequences not just for compliance but also for a diminished workforce should these drivers be removed from the roads in any large numbers.”
Credit: Fleet News