A police crackdown on drivers with defective eyesight has been launched. Every motorist stopped by roads police officers from three forces in September will be required to read a number plate from 20 metres. The initiative is being run by forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, and is supported by road safety charity Brake and optician firm Vision Express.
Anyone who fails will have their driving licence immediately revoked.
Officers can request an urgent cancellation of a licence through the DVLA if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road.
The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie’s Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex. It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.
Presently, once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to tell the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight. It has been suggested that a recent eye test should be required when licences are renewed every 10 (3) years.
It’s that time of year. Too late for holiday advice, too early to panic about blizzards or shortage of road salt, so every motoring organisation and journal will be dusting off the “Prepare your car for winter” press release.
Check the lights, inspect the tyres, test the antifreeze… heard it all before? Of course, you have; the same advice has been trotted out every year since the Cortina was a best seller and the Mini was a small car.
Cars change and technology moves on. Let’s assume you know how to check your lights and tyres; instead, here are a few tips to keep you and your 21st century car on the winter roads with everything working the way it should.
Washers. Yes, fill the washer reservoir with washer fluid and check the spray nozzles are clear, but don’t forget the headlamp washers. If your car has Xenon lights (also called HID), there will be high pressure washers, usually under a flap in the front bumper. These must be working, otherwise you risk dazzling other motorists when the lens gets dirty. To check them turn on the headlamps, operate the windscreen washers and get a friend to watch the lights or look for the spray which you’ll see over the front of the bonnet.
Light level switch. Talking of dazzling other drivers, if you don’t have Xenon lamps, you will probably have a headlamp level switch, usually numbered 0 to 4. You’re supposed to turn the switch according to how the car is loaded. Many of the complaints about dazzling headlights are because people forget to adjust the level. 0 is usually just the driver and no luggage, 4 is for a full load, but check the handbook for your car.
Leaves. Leaves never used to hurt a car but they can now! Lift the bonnet, look in the engine bay around the area of the bonnet hinges. You’ll see a chamber on each side that collects water as it drains from the windscreen. These chambers have drain holes in the bottom to keep them dry, but leaves can block the drains. If water stays in the chambers it can leak into the car, often soaking sensitive electronic bits, leading to very expensive repairs. Get any leaves or other debris out of the chambers and if water is present, root around until you find the drain holes and unblock them.
Steamy windows. Get some soapy water and kitchen roll or a clean microfibre cloth and clean the insides of all the windows. Getting them squeaky clean will dramatically reduce the glare from the low autumn sun on morning and evening drives and it will make the windows much less likely to mist up in damp weather. It also means you’ll waste less fuel because you won’t need to turn on heated windows and air conditioning in a bid to clear them.
Cabin air filter. Today’s cars have a filter for the air entering the car through the heater. Often called the pollen filter, it can often get overlooked at a service and if it’s full of dirt, your heater will be much less efficient. Worse still, if it’s wet – which can happen if you don’t clear those leaves out of the chambers – your windows will constantly mist up as the heater pumps damp air into them. Changing the filter is usually a simple DIY job – look in the owner’s handbook – and the filters are quite cheap and widely available online.
By Tim Shallcross, IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy
The school summer holidays are at an end and for some parents not a moment too soon. Order and normality will resume along with the dreaded school run which starts again for another year. Derby Advanced Motorists offer the following tips to drivers on how to survive the term time road rush.
Make sure everyone is in the right seat. If you use child or booster seats, make sure they are still fit for purpose and correctly secured.
Pack for success. Dependent on the age of the little one pack some healthy treats to distract them and keep them engaged, even on a short journey
Leave enough time. Setting off for school can be frustrating and rushed experience with the constant reminding you have to do about PE kit, and other important forgotten or last-minute things. A half-eaten breakfast and badly combed hair can put both you and your child in the wrong frame of mind for the start of the day
It’s not a race. In many areas with local schools the motto is ‘20’s plenty.’ Remember that this is limit, not a target. Always help out the school crossing patrol, you will get a friendly wave and a smile
Start them while they’re young. Teach your children about road safety so they know how to behave around moving traffic. Setting a good example while in the driving seat will stay with them in preparation for when they learn to drive. Parking in a safe place and walking the last few metres will not just help with congestion; it will also allow you to teach them the right way to cross a road looking left and right (then right again for us Green Cross code users). Teaching children to use the road sensibly will save lives
Remember, traffic always picks up again after the school holidays so journeys will take longer and potentially be more stressful. Make sure the car is fuelled up and fit and ready for stop-start traffic so you have one less thing to worry about. Due to close supervision children are normally very safe around schools but you can help by taking care. Be aware that after school they are much more likely to be playing in and around the street and safety can be the last thing on their minds after a hard day in the classroom.
From an article by Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards
If you’re planning a bank holiday getaway then be sure to read our tips on how you can make your journey a safe and stress-free one.
We asked IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, for some tips to help you prepare for your journey.
Richard said: “With so much planning involved in a holiday, many of us forget about the first bit – how we get to our destination.
“If your journey is a long one, take some time to plan where and when you will be taking a break – just so you can get a little rest and have some water to stay hydrated. Enjoy the journey and more importantly, enjoy the getaway.”
A little preparation goes a long way! Take some time to check your vehicle inside and out before you set off. Check the tyre pressure and fluid levels are right and make sure your car ancillaries are working properly.
Secure your luggage in your boot so it’s out of the way and doesn’t obstruct your view.
Here’s a short story just to hold your attention whilst I get my thoughts in order.
The other day I was in my car, legally parked, on a street in Mickleover, waiting for my good lady. Just then there was a tapping on the window. “You can’t park here!” said the owner of the offending knuckle. Keeping the window firmly closed, I enquired as to what the problem might be. “You can’t park here!” insisted the knuckle owner. “But I’m parked in a quiet Cul-de-Sac and most certainly not obstructing any traffic.” I pointed out. “I don’t care what car you’re in, you can’t park here!”
In Chatter 6 – 2, I posed the question as to what would happen if two driverless cars met, bonnet to bonnet, on a narrow lane. Would there be a precedence to giving way? Autonomous technology is certainly on the way but it will be many years before true driverless cars will be available to us all and by then the above scenario will have been sorted out, one hopes.
Apparently, there are four key stages to get working properly before we can all zip around without a care in the world. Often referred to in the motor industry as: Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off and finally, Brain Off. Although we have all come across drivers who have reached stage four already. Autonomous cars have been hailed by many as the solution to our congested roads and pollution. Back in February 2015, Claire Perry, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary Department for Transport wrote in the Forward to The Pathway to Driverless Cars Summary Report and Action Plan:
“Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to be a real game changer on the UK’s roads, altering the face of motoring in the most fundamental of ways and delivering major benefits for road safety, social inclusion, emissions and congestion.”
I, dear reader, have long been a student of the University of the Patently Obvious and I find the research carried out in its hallowed laboratories is far ahead of some of the most prestigious centres of learning in the world. And once again this has proved the case. Just this weekend, the media have been reporting on a Department for Transport study that suggests driverless cars will cause more road congestion because the vehicles will behave too cautiously. Researchers have found that the performance of autonomous cars will be limited by the behaviour of other vehicles around them.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “There’s a prize to be had in terms of swifter, safer journeys, but the transition to that world will be challenging. There are around 32 million conventional cars on the UK’s roads – as driverless cars come in, traffic flow could initially get worse rather than better, potentially for many years. Much will depend on how an autonomous car’s parameters are set and just how defensively these vehicles will be programmed to drive.”
Any benefits, it seems, will only be felt when 50% to 75% of the traffic comprises of automated vehicles. According to the most recent RAC Report on Motoring found 58 per cent of motorists believe that fully autonomous vehicles will only outnumber conventional ones by 2050. I’ll be 103 years old!
Well, despite all this wonderful technology, I’m going to continue to buy and drive Cul-de-Sacs. Very reliable, quiet and cheap to run!