Don’t Get Ripped Off By Foreign Rental Companies When Travelling Abroad

Thursday, 13. April 2017

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

As Easter is nearly upon us I thought I would share something I read with you in the event you are travelling abroad and may be renting a car. I read that a chap was in France and needed to rent a car. He was handed the keys of a diesel and whilst they can sound a bit rough when diesel cars initially start up, they generally settle down and, after a while, sound from the outside as well as the inside, no different to a petrol car.

However, in this case, as the engine warmed up it got progressively noisier and as the driver knew a thing or two about cars he identified, quite quickly, that the car had been miss-fuelled. He took the car back to the rental company and swapped it for another car but it was what he was told by the major rental company rep. that was a little worrying.

He explained that as most rental companies have mixed fleets of diesels and petrols it was quite easy for a non French speaking client to top the car up with the wrong fuel whilst rushing to get to hand the car back before catching their plane home. But it was suggested that some unscrupulous rental companies were handing over cars that they knew to be miss-fuelled.

Then when you returned with the car arguing that the client must have miss-fuelled the car and charging their credit card with the cost of repair as it ‘wasn’t covered by the insurance’. The suggestion was that they wouldn’t repair the car, simply keep it to one side waiting for the next sucker.

So if this is the case make sure you use recognised, well established, rental companies with plenty of on-line recommendations. Make sure that the insurance policy covers miss-fuelling, run the engine for a short while and if the noise on startup gets worse within 5 minutes reject the car and ask for a replacement. Oh and of course, whichever country you are visiting, get to know the words for petrol and diesel. By Graham Hill

When Leasing A New Car Don’t Think Like A Buyer

Thursday, 13. April 2017

Just recently I have had a few enquiries for cars where customers have asked for a fairly low spec. car then added a pile of extras on it increasing the monthly repayments dramatically. In one instance a client had a problem with static from the seats so wanted leather seats but in terms of creature comforts that was all he wanted over and above a fairly standard car.

We priced up the increased cost of leather when added to the rentals on the standard car then, out of interest, I priced up the car that was two spec. levels above the standard car which had, amongst other things, leather as standard. Even though it had much more kit as standard it still worked out cheaper than the standard car with leather added.

And this is the case on many occasions when I have compared a low spec. car with extras added with a higher spec. car with all the extras as standard. The reason for this is several fold. On average a new car, on average mileage, drops to around 40% of its original list price after 3 years. However, added options will rarely return 40% after 3 years, except metallic or pearlescent paint.

In many cases the added options add nothing to the resale value of the car, at best it may make the car a little easier to sell on a dealer’s forecourt. And when the cars go through auction at the rate of one every 3 minutes traders probably wouldn’t even notice that the air con has been upgraded to climate control or the Sat Nav screen has been changed from a 5” screen to a 7” screen.

In some extreme cases extras can reduce the resale value of the car, for example a tow bar. On the other hand the car with the higher spec. only increases the cost of the car by a fraction compared to the increase if extras were added individually. But the resale value will still be around 40% of the purchase price. In addition higher spec. cars are produced in lower volumes but the used car buyers want as much ‘bang for their buck’ so the demand for higher spec. cars is higher than standard cars, even if the standard cars are fitted with a few customised extras.

So in summary it needs a change of mindset. Don’t think as a car buyer when leasing a car. Whilst the standard car with a few extras on may still be cheaper to buy than the next model up with the extras as standard (along with other features) the difference in resale value could be substantial making it as cheap if not cheaper to lease the higher spec. standard car. Talking to an expert can help. That’ll be me then! By Graham Hill

Judge Rinder Hands Out An Incorrect Ruling!

Wednesday, 12. April 2017

Shock horror, could Judge Rinder have got it wrong? As often happens, when anyone I know sees anything on TV that is mildly motor finance related they alert me to it so on Monday when the camp Judge Rinder, with an even stranger sense of humour than me, presided over the sale of a van, I forced myself to watch whilst he patronised those who were ushered into his ‘court’.

I was about to turn it off when John and Frank appeared. It seems that Frank has a building company and runs a fleet of vans. His old friend John, who is a painter and decorator, needed a van and agreed to buy an ex company van personally from Frank’s company for £1,000. The van was what’s known as a Combo so it had rear seats, the sort of vehicle that can be used for business and as private transport.

Everything said so far indicated a private purchase. All good so far but within 4-5 weeks John experienced some major problems with the van. Firstly he had problems with the windscreen wipers, then the diesel pump failed followed by a very dangerous fault with the steering. Clearly for the vehicle to go faulty so soon after buying it suggests that the faults pre-existed.

Frank’s case wasn’t helped when he explained that the van only had 3 months MOT left on the vehicle and it had no service history. Judge Rinder suggested that as the van still had 3 months MOT on it that this proved that the vehicle was roadworthy –  what planet does this twat live on? And the vehicle was sold without any service history but Frank gave John assurances that the van was sound (a northern word – means working OK – I can be just as patronising).

Anyway, moving on, John gave back the van to Frank who had the van repaired but charged John the £400 it cost to repair – I’ll deal with this in a moment but Judge Dopeynuts then asked John if the van was now driving OK? He said he didn’t want to drive it as it no longer felt safe to drive and lights had appeared on the dashboard, to which the ‘Judge’ responded by asking why he wasn’t driving the van as it was now repaired.

Had he arranged for an independent inspection that resulted in John being told not to drive it? No was the answer but whilst asking the question they showed a picture of the dashboard which displayed two warning lights. One was orange and the other red. Now if the Judge knew the slightest thing about cars and vans he would know that if an orange light comes on it is a warning, washer fluid is low – that sort of thing, but if a red light comes on you stop the car immediately and don’t drive it till the fault has been investigated so John was right not to drive the car – Judge Twat!

Our good friend Judge Rinder then makes a complete arse of himself by challenging John about whose responsibility it was that the vehicle was faulty. I agree that the John could have been more careful and the fact that the van only had 3 months MOT on it and no service history should have caused him to at least have the vehicle inspected but that isn’t required in law.

Rinder (notice how I’m now referring to him as Rinder – total disdain) pointed out a piece of law called in Latin, Caveat Emptor which means buyer beware. This applies to a purchase from another private individual, NOT to a purchase from a Limited Company. Now I should add at this point that he kept referring to John buying the van from Frank but at the start of this item Frank went to lengths to explain that this was one of a fleet of white vans that he runs in the business. So one can assume this was sold to John by the company.

This being the case under European Law, the Sale Of Goods Act and the Consumer Rights Act the same protection is provided to a consumer as if he had bought the vehicle from a car dealer. Rinder went on to point out that Frank wasn’t a specialist in vehicle sales and he even went on to say that the documents were in order to prove that the vehicle was safe. How ridiculous, there was no service history and a 9 month old MOT.

John was relying upon the word of his friend and therefore the company from whom he bought the vehicle. Clearly Rinder has no knowledge of the European 2 year unconditional guarantee that everyone must provide, unless the seller is a private individual, on all new and second hand goods. Over and above that our own Consumer Rights Act gives you similar rights.

Even if the van was sold as a private sale the seller is not allowed to misrepresent the goods. Frank told John that the van was in good condition even though he wasn’t qualified to make that statement but the fact that the van was sold as faultless under the Misrepresentations Act 1967 John would have a claim against the seller as a result of false or fraudulent claims.

But that is if the vehicle was sold privately, which it wasn’t. When summing up Rinder pointed out, quite incorrectly, that as John had bought the van from a friend who wasn’t a specialist seller of vans, he bought the van as seen. That my friend is simply not the law! If your local estate agent managed to buy a batch of TV sets and sold them through his shop and the TV set you bought proved to be faulty would you expect to have no consumer rights against the seller as he was not a specialist TV seller?

Ridiculous. John not only paid £1,000 for the van but also a further £400 for repairs to be left with an undriveable van! To add to the pain the so called Judge found against John who should now be seeking a solution through a proper court. Good grief! By Graham Hill

Your Credit Card & Section 75 – FAQ’s

Friday, 24. March 2017

I have mentioned in the past the great asset a credit card can be when dealing with consumer rights issues such as faulty goods. Provided the goods cost between £101 and £30,000 and you pay even a token amount on a credit card you are covered for the full value of the goods.

In addition the dealer (supplier) and the credit card company are jointly liable under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. So let’s take as an example a car that costs £15,000 for which you either have cash or you have taken out a personal loan. Either way when you buy the car it is seen as a cash purchase. However, when you saw the car at the dealership, whilst you arranged for the cash to be available you made a nominal payment of £50 on your credit card in order to hold the car.

That is sufficient for you to be covered up to the total value of the car of £15,000. I have read of instances whereby a dealer, in a bad way, has taken holding deposits from customers on credit cards. The dealer has then received the balance in cash but before the car is delivered he goes bust. On the face of it the customer has lost his cash but by making the deposit payment on a credit card he can now claim back the full amount paid of £15,000.

When this has been explained to people both myself and lawyers get asked similar questions, here are a few with answers:

If you buy several things on a credit card coming to over £100 are you covered by section 75? No, you are only covered for individual items costing over £100 each. Buy 4 tickets to a show costing £50 each in one transaction that don’t arrive – you aren’t covered.

If an item costs from £100 to £30,000 I’m covered by section 75. No, the goods must cost OVER £100, exactly £100 is not covered.

Will you still be covered by section 75 even if you pay the amount of the deposit or the cost of the item off? Yes

If you exceed your credit card limit in order to pay the deposit or the cost of the goods are you still covered? Yes you are.

Do you have to wait till the seller or dealer refuses to give you a refund before approaching the credit card company? No, both are liable so you can approach both for a refund.

When making a claim to the credit card provider are you limited to the amount paid on the credit card? As mentioned above, no, if the dealer/supplier can be proven to be at fault both parties are liable for the total cost.

This is a common one which causes confusion as it goes to the definition of a consumer. If a self employed person uses a credit card to buy a vehicle for business use they won’t be covered by section 75. This is false because whilst the Consumer Rights Act would not see a self employed person as a consumer the self employed person would be considered to be a ‘consumer’ within the Sale of Goods Act which is still in force.

Many businesses offer the ability to pay by credit card or through Paypal. If you pay by credit card through Paypal are you still covered by section 75? This is true. But Paypal offers its own protection which can occasionally work better than section 75 but you no longer have access to the FOS.

If you pay a deposit on a credit card with the balance on HP will you still be covered by section 75? Many people would believe that you are covered and you still have access to the FOS but the fact is that you aren’t covered by section 75 as the HP agreement supersedes the credit card payment. It will only cover a 3 party arrangement, in this case there are 4.

Items costing more than £30,000 are not covered by section 75. This isn’t strictly true as there is a section 75A which imposes a secondary liability on the creditor increasing the limit to £62,620 but the joint responsibility no longer applies.

Hope all that helps.  By Graham Hill

What To Do When Your Car On HP or PCP Is Faulty

Friday, 24. March 2017

For years I have been advising customers, SME’s and consumers in general about their rights regarding the purchase and finance of vehicles and what to do when things go wrong. You buy a vehicle and finance it on HP. In these circumstances there has always been an obligation on both the supplier (the dealer) and the provider of the finance as the transaction is regarded to be a ‘linked transaction’.

This made both parties jointly liable if a car that you bought subsequently displayed a fault that could be proven to have existed when the car was sold to you. This doesn’t just apply to cars, it applies to any other goods that you buy this way. However, had you ignored the dealer and complained to the lender in the first instance he would normally direct you, quite incorrectly, back to the dealer ‘as he supplied the car so is liable’.

I’ve even had rows with very senior members of staff at HP companies pointing out that the rights of the customer are exactly the same whether dealing with the finance provider or the dealer who supplied the goods. In fact as we now learn from the Financial Ombudsman it is the finance company who should put matters right. More of that in a moment.

But for most people this is where it starts to get strange because let’s say that the car was advertised as having 6 forward gears and when you bought the car the spec. of the car showed 6 forward gears and even the salesman explained that the car had 6 forward gears but when the car was delivered you find that it only has 5.

The car can be rejected as ‘not as described’ but the HP company is as liable as the dealer even though he was not party to the negotiations. Strange but true – but this isn’t the end. According to one law firm some of the confusion has now been clarified – or has it? According to them there is a very clear process. The car is inspected and agreed upon by the consumer prior to the purchase. In turn he agrees to take out HP or PCP and the car is invoiced to the lender.

The lender now owns the car and the transaction between the lender and the dealer is a commercial transaction and doesn’t fall within the rules of the new Consumer Rights Act. As a consumer your rights within the Act are now between you and the lender. If the goods are faulty, not fit for purpose or not as described you have a case – only against the lender. So if you take up the case against the lender don’t be pushed back to the supplying dealer. That is the lender’s problem – not yours.

 

As most lenders are very keen to get the case off their desk they are unwinding the finance and taking back the car then forcing the dealer to take the car back from them and refund to them the price paid under threat of withdrawing their credit facilities. The firm of lawyers is suggesting that the dealers start to fight back, no doubt earning the firm of solicitors fees. This won’t affect you as you have already returned the car, had the finance unwound and had your money refunded.

They are also suggesting to dealers to prevent the situation from happening in the first place by explaining to the customer something along the lines of, ‘We think highly of our customers and our cars so if you have any problems within the first 6 months of having the car please let us know and we will do our best to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction’. Not strictly the law but can avoid losing heavily by having to take the car back from a sympathetic lender. Know your legal rights and don’t be afraid to exercise them.

A couple of final points from the Financial Ombudsman Service from their website:

Where the dealer offers you a ‘Fixed Sum Loan’ that is linked to your car purchase this is covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act making the dealer and the lender jointly and severally liable:

For fixed-sum loans, it is because the transaction is covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

However, if you take out a loan separately from a bank or building society you are not covered by section 75. It has to be a transaction linked to the car at the point of sale.

Surprising to many, a Hire Purchase agreement does not fall inside section 75, here is what the FOS says:

Hire purchase agreements are consumer credit contracts that give the consumer the right – but not the obligation – to buy the goods at the end of the hire purchase term. Section 75 does not apply to hire purchase.

However, with so much confusion, the FOS will consider all claims from consumers for faulty goods, not fit for purpose or not as described. From my experiences the FOS will go to great lengths to lend a sympathetic ear to consumers and they don’t cost you anything. At the end of the process you can still sue the company concerned, especially if you feel that severe damages should be awarded. The FOS is restricted as to how much compensation it can award. By Graham Hill

The Truth About Credit Searches

Friday, 17. February 2017

After a spate of adverts on the TV in which various lenders suggest that they can carry out a search to see if you are eligible for a loan, without leaving what is known as a ‘footprint’ on your credit file, many questions have been asked by customers and those on my blog regarding theses searches and their own credit files. In general they want to know how this can be done, are our searches recorded and what is the purpose of having searches registered on your credit file if some lenders are apparently ignoring the rules?

 

OK let me explain. First of all the rules are very clear, if you make an application to a lender for credit, which will cause a lender to access the information held on your credit file, they will register the search with the agency. More on this later. However, the rate you are charged for finance is often based on your credit status so to help the industry and avoid you suffering as a result of ‘shopping around’ a new search was introduced known as a ‘quotation search’.

 

This is different to a credit application search, known simply as a Credit Search. All Credit Searches are available to anyone who has access to your file after you have given them permission. But only you can see the ‘quotation searches’, none of these searches are available to lenders or anyone else accessing your credit information such as potential employers, association membership applications etc. Each of the three UK credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian and Call Credit will list all ‘credit searches’ on your credit file once you have made an application for credit.

 

However, this encouragement to ‘shop around’ is promoted in the knowledge that whilst attempting to get to the best rate through lenders or brokers, your credit score won’t be penalised. That seems reasonable. However, lenders and credit card companies are using this loophole to drum up business. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not actually opposed to some form of pre qualification as it can save a lot of pain. If you are pre-qualified on the finance you will know, before you get excited over the new car you’ve chosen, if you will be offered the finance to acquire the car and the car salesman won’t waste time showing you cars that you can’t finance.

 

But it’s the abuse of the system that I, and many others, object to. There are some lenders and search agents that will offer to carry out a free credit search for you to see how your credit stacks up and your likelihood of receiving the loan you are thinking of applying for. But having carried out the search you are then inundated with offers of  ‘Pre-approved’ loans and credit cards. Not, in my opinion, in the spirit of the FCA regulations to treat customers fairly etc.

 

Anyway, let’s get back to the recorded searches and their affect on your credit. Different lenders have different attitudes towards the searches. If you have a number of credit searches on your file within a very short period of time, i.e. several over a few days they will approach your application with caution as it could be that you are applying for credit to many funders at the same time that could take you out of your affordability range.

 

Of course several searches could be the result of several applications being made around the same time. As the approval doesn’t get registered on your file, only the loan when you draw down the amount borrowed or, in the case of HP, when you take delivery of the car, the only way that lenders are aware of each other is via the searches. So whilst imperfect they can act as a warning.

 

For example, let’s say you have had agreed 5 different loans from different lenders, you could arrange draw down on the same day and only after that would each lender be aware of the other, so that’s why searches are important. To avoid the lender believing that you could be doing this make sure that if you are ‘playing the field’, when you ask for a quote the lender is only carrying out a quotation search. You should also be aware that when searches are registered they are only registered with the agency that the lender uses. In other words there is no sharing of information between credit reference agencies, so if the lender searches Experian the search will only be registered with them, not with Equifax or Call Credit.

 

Of course some of the larger lenders will search all three platforms, especially if the loan amount is substantial. When checking your own files, there are new agencies such as CheckMyFile who purport to check all the platforms for information on you but I’m unsure about the accuracy but in the meantime, because of the way the systems work you may find information on one platform about you that doesn’t appear on another. This is what one of the agencies said to me:

 

However, please know that the information held by xxxxxxxxx is dependent on what is shared with us by lenders. Not all lenders share account information with all credit referencing agencies, and so it’s possible that we may not hold any information at all about a particular account. This is why we recommend that you check your credit report with all three major credit referencing agencies, in order that you can get a complete view of the information held on you.

 

So much for the adverts on TV enticing you to check your credit score with them. If you are just going to check one it might be useful to know that 76% of lenders use Experian, 54% use Equifax and 30% use Call Credit. Why doesn’t this add up to 100%? Because some lenders search 2 or all three platforms. The Moneysavingexpert has helped out by listing the various lenders and which credit reference agencies they use. So if you are applying for say a credit card with the Co-op you will see that they only check Experian so that’s the one you need to check out. Here’s the link:

 

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/credit-reference

 

There are no legal obligations applied to searches and the amount of time they should remain on your file but for information credit searches remain on your Experian and Eqifax files for 12 months whilst they remain on Call Credit for 2 years.

 

Oh and as a couple of final thoughts, firstly if you are looking to take out a loan, thanks to the EU Consumer Credit Directive of 2010 those advertising representative APR’S must be seen to provide 51% of all customers with the rate advertised. This changed from 66% under our own UK legislation so the EU has provided banks and other lenders a licence to print money. And to prove my point, in an advert on Barclay’s Bank website they advertise a personal loan of between £7,500 and £15,000 at an APR of 4.9% Representative over 2 – 5 years. It also says rates may differ with a tiny 3 attached to it. This is what tiny 3 says right at the bottom of the page:

 

  1. The rate you’re offered may differ from the representative APR shown – and will be based on your personal circumstances, the loan amount and the repayment term. The Barclayloan advertised here is available over terms of between 2 to 5 years, with a maximum APR of 26.9%.

 

Wow, bit of a difference eh! And as they only need to provide the 4.9% APR rate to just 51% of the customers how many of the other 49% do you think are having to pay closer to 26.9% than the 4.9%? Hmmm!!

 

Secondly, and finally, there is confusion over your ability to obtain finance and your credit score. Having many credit searches on your file will, in many cases, drop your credit score slightly. So your score may drop from say 99 out of 100 to say 95. In some cases I’m told that your credit score won’t be affected at all but this doesn’t mean you can finance a new Ferrari on a take home pay of £2,000 per month.

 

And this is where the more important score comes into play, the underwriters ‘Score Card’. This score takes into account many other things such as where you live, what company you work for and the industry you’re in, how long you’ve been in your current job, number of dependents and of course your income along with many other factors, put together by each individual lender.

 

It is this scorecard that determines whether you will be advanced the money or not, not your credit score which is just part of the equation. By all means make sure that you look after your credit and maintain a high credit score but remember that a high credit score doesn’t mean auto accept on anything you want to finance.

 

Absolutely finally if you find that you have applied for credit at several dealerships over a few days then changed your mind, or applied online, not for a ‘quote’ but actually for the finance to several lenders, leaving a string of Credit Searches on your credit files, make sure that you explain what happened on each of the 3 credit agency files by posting a ‘Notice of Correction’.

 

Explain that you have been test driving cars and each time was talked into checking if you could be cleared on finance by their lender or if you have been applying for finance online and again not realised that search footprints, left behind, might affect your credit score, post a note to this affect. If you do this it forces an underwriter to check your file rather than rely upon the autoscore to either accept or reject your final application.

 

In fact the same applies if you have some negative activity on your file (defaults, arrears) as a result of say a marriage breakup or redundancy, you have 200 words to explain what happened and that you are now on top of things (if you are). It could certainly help your application if the problems took place some time ago, Just thought I would mention!

By Graham Hill

 

 

Huge Increase In Detection Of Mobile Telephone Use Whilst Driving

Friday, 10. February 2017

In an earlier blog I talked about speeding and the crackdown on those considered to be a serious speeder with the imposition of increased fines. Well not only are we seeing a crackdown on speeding offences but also distractions, in particular mobile phones.

 

In an exercise that involved 36 police forces last November they stopped 10,012 cars and detected 8,000 mobile phone offences. 7,800 fixed penalty notices were issued along with several  hundred verbal warnings and 68 court summons. In an earlier campaign in May 2016, 2,418 cars were stopped with 2,323 mobile phone offences detected.

 

When asked about the increase the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) explained that 6 more forces took part in the November campaign with more resources being dedicated to carrying out the roadside operation, especially by the Metropolitan Police. A further week long campaign was started in January 2017 the results of which are as yet unknown.

 

The exercise is a difficult one for the police as it is difficult for officers to differentiate between someone using a mobile rather than scratching an ear or nose or just raising a hand. But even so they managed to detect a frighteningly large number of offenders, many of whom weren’t aware of the increased fine and points as of 1st March 2017 (£200 spot fine and 6 points).

 

The NPCC said that outside these purges they are managing to detect more offenders as a result of new tactics and innovation employed, along with intelligence provided by the public, with particular success in catching repeat offenders. It would seem that this is something that the police will be doing on a regular basis following demands made by the public.

 

Whilst other distractions were detected such as eating crisps and chocolate and drinking from a bottle whilst driving they only amounted to 1.4% of the sample. So the police will continue to concentrate on mobile phone users whilst driving. You have been warned. By Graham Hill

Could We Be Seeing The End To Speed Bumps?

Friday, 10. February 2017

Let me ask you a question, what irritates you most? Pot holes, speed bumps or 20mph speed limits? For me there is little to choose but each of them has an affect on the way we drive with two meant to make roads safer and the other one simply slowing us down as we don’t particularly want to destroy our tyres and suspension.

 

Whilst you try to work out the one that destroys tyres I can tell you that speed bumps could be a thing of the past (hurrah and hurrah), to possibly be replaced by the wide use of 20 mph speed limits (damn, damn, damn). A report out at the end of last year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – yes I thought they only approved drugs also – suggests that local authorities do away with speed bumps as they lead to erratic driving which increases pollution.

 

As a replacement they have suggested variable speed limits and ‘no idling zones’. Statistically 64% of air pollution in urban areas is caused by road traffic costing the UK £18.6 billion each year. I wish they would explain that figure, I guess as it’s NICE they mean in consequential health issues but how do they prove that it’s not down to the sufferer’s lifestyle or place of work?

 

Anyway, moving on, they want to stop idling in certain areas but this has also caused me concern. You know the old strip lights that are still used in open areas, offices, kitchens etc.? Well I remember reading somewhere that if you turned one of these lights off then switched it back on a little later the starter used up more electricity than if you had left the light on for over 2 hours (can’t remember the exact time), so my point here is could the same principal apply to stop start engines that are meant to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere?

 

Could constantly starting the engine kick out more CO2’s and other noxious gasses into the atmosphere than simply leaving the engine ticking over? Just a thought – but a very good one Graham I hear you say. I digress. They suggest that 20mph limits be introduced in areas of regular congestion and drop motorway speed limits to 50mph in order to create steady traffic flow.

 

They recommend the wider introduction of congestion charging and laws to prevent parents from leaving cars idling whilst delivering children to school. I’d have thought a gentle tip off in the local hooligans’ shell likes should solve that one! Other rather entertaining proposals suggest new houses with living rooms at the back of the house, furthest away from roads (umm what about bedrooms?), car free days for some areas and siting cycle lanes away from main roads.

 

I’m all for saving the planet but do these people really think these things through? To avoid congestion in the centre of town during the rush hour won’t be solved by introducing a 20mph speed limit when you are lucky to achieve 3 mph on a good day. Still removing road humps will be a good start as far as I, and most Ferrari divers, are concerned. By Graham Hill

Calls To Disclose Active Medical Conditions Could Save Lives

Friday, 10. February 2017

Failing to disclose an active medical condition can not only result in a serious accident but also a prison sentence. This happened recently when a woman fell asleep at the wheel as a result of suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that isn’t uncommon.

 

Having fallen asleep her car crossed to the other side of the road and hit an oncoming car head on causing the death of the other driver. After pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and the court finding out that she had been diagnosed the condition 2 years earlier she was clearly heading for prison.

 

As soon as she had been diagnosed with the condition that could affect her driving she should have immediately informed the DVLA but of course this has raised the issue of when should the DVLA be advised and by whom. Whilst there may be a list of conditions that you must report if you have them I certainly don’t know them other than eyesight.

 

So should it be the responsibility of the GP already under pressure to treat lots of sick people in his waiting room? And even if a driver is diagnosed with a condition that should result in immediate confiscation of their driving licence there is an obvious incentive not to advise the DVLA knowing that they would have to submit their licence.

 

But the risks to their lives, the lives of passengers and other road users are too great to ignore this situation. The current procedures are a mess. Once a driver has been diagnosed with or believes they have a condition that could prevent them from driving they must apply for an independent assessment from a doctor in order to obtain the doctor’s approval.

 

But the DVLA doesn’t require evidence of this and the driver is allowed to continue driving pending the assessment. Road safety charity Brake have been assessing some of the safety issues and have so far come up with a recommendation for drivers to have an eye test before taking their driving test and a minimum of every 10 years thereafter.

 

It’s a start but far too weak in my opinion. In the meantime, having been the victim of a driver falling asleep in a car approaching and drifting across the road in front of me, I can tell you that it’s a scary experience. I mounted a dirt bank and avoided an accident with miraculously not even any damage to my car, but it could all have ended much much worse!

 

Be vigilant, you never know when you will need to take avoiding action. And if you are suffering a dangerous condition get checked out, it could save several lives. By Graham Hill

Major Increases In Speeding Fines From April Revealed

Friday, 10. February 2017

Under new laws that come into force from 24th April 2017 most serious speeding offenders will be fined 50% more. The Sentencing Council has issued new guidelines to be implemented in all magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

 

At the moment the most serious speeding offenders face fines that have a starting point of 100% of their weekly salary, this will go up to 150% of weekly salary (no I didn’t either). The upper limit doesn’t change though which clearly favours the better off amongst us.

 

The upper limit remains at £1,000 or £2,500 for those caught on a motorway. Again, in my opinion, arse about face. Speeding in a built up area should carry a bigger fine than on a motorway. As 10 times more people die on country roads (60% of total) it doesn’t make sense to penalise motorway speeders more than non motorway speeders.

 

A speeding offence is considered to be serious if you are caught driving at 51 miles per hour in a 30mph zone, 66mph in a 40mph zone,  or 101mph on a motorway etc. Some experts are calling for 3 month bans applied to those driving at speeds that drop them into the serious speeding zone.

 

I believe that would have a greater affect on those who speed but is it the answer – I really don’t know. For information the average fine in 2015 was just £188 with 166,695 offenders being sentenced. By Graham Hill