Author Archives: Pete Barden

Tell us what you think about the smoking ban in cars with under 18s

Smoking ban in cars – have your say

Tell us what you think about the smoking ban in cars with under 18s

Tell us what you think about the smoking ban in cars with under 18s

Make sure you vote in our poll below.

Smoking in cars with children under the age of 18 will be banned from October, but is it a long-overdue move or just a profound erosion of an individual’s freedom?

The move has been backed by 700 senior doctors, saying smoke in a confined space – like a car – make the health effects much worse for kids.

However, many MPs – including PM David Cameron – initially voiced confirms about the practicalities and libertarian effects of a ban. Liberal leader (and smoker) Nick Clegg said such a move would be “profoundly illiberal”.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The passing of regulations to make smoking in cars carrying under 18s illegal is a significant victory for protecting children’s health from second-hand smoke.

“Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar.”

Research estimates that 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family car on a weekly basis.

Tell us what you think

Protecting kids from smoke is sensible, but should it be backed by a law or should parents be left to take responsibility? Is it also correct that a car driven by an 18-year-old with 17-year-old friends as passengers should also become a forced no-smoking zone?

New laws? Has the new law opened the way for more legislation? Should drivers receive more penalty points for road offences committed while children are in the car, or should pets be forced to wear seatbelts when travelling in cars, for example? Tell us below.

Vote in our poll and tell us of any new laws you think should be introduced now the ball has started rolling…

New laws… Use the comments below to tell us new laws, such as drivers receiving more penalty points for road offences committed while children are in the car, or forcing pets to wear seatbelts when travelling in cars?

Your questions answered

How driving licence changes signal cheaper, easier insurance quotes

New MyLicence scheme revealed

New MyLicence scheme revealed

Want to cut the amount you pay for insurance and make sure you’re not being charged extra for expired endorsements or penalties? You need to read on and find out about the all-new MyLicence scheme and how it affects you and your licence.

Designed to help drivers get cheaper and faster insurance quotes, it’s also a new weapon in the fight against fraudulent insurance declarations and out-of-date licences. The scheme is also designed to work in conjunction with new driving licence changes that come into effect on June 8, 2015.

Operated by the DVLA and Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), the scheme shares digital information held on your driving licence with insurers, which will enable them to produce fast, accurate quotes and protect against unwittingly making false declarations regarding motoring convictions which could invalidate insurance cover.

This will prove useful for drivers who need to check for motoring convictions after the paper counterpart section of the licence is axed in June 2015 – leaving them with no locally held record of endorsements on their licence.

MyLicence – all you need to know

Your questions answered

Your questions answered

Here’s all you need to know about the MyLicence scheme.

What is MyLicence: The new scheme explained
What is MyLicence: This is a scheme that allows insurance companies to check your licence for convictions and entitlements.
What are the benefits of MyLicence: How it might help save time and cash
What are the benefits of MyLicence: The scheme will negate the need to endlessly enter huge amounts of personal details every time you apply for a quote. Participating insurers and price comparison websites will simply need to enter your driving licence number.
Could it save me from invalidated insurance: Stay legal
Could it save me from invalidated insurance: Yes. If you accidentally forget to mention a conviction or other restrictions on your licence, your insurance may not pay out in the event of an accident. The new scheme will provide all pertinent information straight to the insurer when you apply for a quote. Currently, nearly one in five policyholders under-declare the number of motoring convictions they have – some by accident, others maliciously in order to pay a lower premium.
Will it save me money, too: And how much
Will it save me money, too: Yes – it could well do. Research shows 7% of drivers over-declare their convictions and endorsements – meaning they pay too much. The MIB reckons honest drivers will save an average of £15 on their insurance policy. They’ll also pay a lot less in phone charges by swerving the long list of questions they’d otherwise have to answer.
Can my driving licence be accessed again: Once the quote is accepted
Can my driving licence be accessed again: No. Insurers are not allowed to check for new penalties etc during the course of a policy. The contract was accepted on the basis of data provided at the inception of the policy. It can be checked again at the time of renewal.
Is it compulsory: Do I really need to take part
Is it compulsory: No, but insurers can choose to not offer you a quote if you don’t provide your driving licence number. Price comparison sites are particularly unlikely to offer a service to those who withhold their number and ‘self-declare’. The Association of British Insurers says: ‘The customer should be advised that it would be to their advantage to provide access to their data.’ Be warned.
Can named drivers join the scheme: Who else needs to give their number
Can named drivers join the scheme: Yes entering the driving licence number of named drivers could save more money and protect you from invalidated policies, according to the MIB and DVLA.
What information will be passed on to insurers: You need to know
What information will be passed on to insurers: Joining the MyLicence scheme will provide the following information to insurers preparing a quote:

Type of licence held
Length of time the licence has been held for

Entitlements to drive
Penalty points
Convictions
Conviction dates
Disqualifications

Why is it needed: The facts revealed
Why is it needed: The paper counterpart section of a photocard licence is where information on convictions and current penalties is held. With the abolition of this counterpart in June 2015, drivers will have to check online using the View-Driving-Licence service. This may not be convenient at all times. You need your driving licence number and national insurance number to view your details.
Will my licence details be shared: Is it a licence to spam
Will my licence details be shared: Your personal details and driving record will only be used to calculate a motor insurance quote and won’t be shared with anyone. MyLicence adheres to the Data Protection Act 1998, and there are strict controls in place about what data is provided, and how it can be used. The database is being built by a private firm, so if you believe your data is being shared to third parties, make sure you report it.
Will the service help me keep my licence up to date: Beat fines
Will the service help me keep my licence up to date: It could do. Your insurer is allowed to advise if the photocard is out of date or if the postcode on your application and licence does not match. This information could help you dodge fine of up to £1000.
Will parking fines be declared: And cost me more
Will parking fines be declared: Don’t worry, these are not kept on record by the DVLA so won’t be declared.
My record was not available to the insurer: What have I done wrong
My record was not available to the insurer: For roughly one per cent of all cases, the record will be supressed and will not be available to insurers. This is typically due to the record being under maintenance (for example, an address is being changed), and the insurer should not infer anything from this response, other than the need for the individual to self-declare.
Where can I find out more: I am, errr, intrigued
Where can I find out more: Hmm – how about the official website, right here

Help – I don’t know my driving licence number

How to find your driving licence number

How to find your driving licence number

The new MyLicence scheme makes it more likely that many insurance companies won’t issue a quote without your driving licence number, so a mislaid document could leave you without cover in extreme cases.

Help is at hand, with a new DVLA-based system that can help you instantly reveal your driving licence number.

What you’ll need: To find your driving licence number you’ll need the following:

  • National insurance number – You can find your National Insurance number on your payslip, P60 or tax return. If not, call 0300 200 3500
  • Postcode: The one that’s on your licence. Remember if this differs from your current address it could also thwart attempts to obtain a motor insurance quote.
  • Your name and date of birth

Find your driving licence number here

Driving licence health check

health Is your licence in rude health? An ailing document – displaying incorrect information such as address or entitlements and spent convictions – could result in your broker refusing to cover you or charging more than necessary. It could also result in your insurance firm refusing to pay out in the event of a claim. Take our driving licence health check to ensure it’s fit to insure.

Incorrect address: How to change it
Incorrect address: Are you one of the 2.6million drivers who haven’t updated their licence with a current address – and risk being slapped with a £1000 fine? Don’t play fast and loose with your cash, simply change the address now.
Change address here
How much: Free
Wrong name: Just married - or divorced
Wrong name: Research reveals that 3% of married women still have their maiden name on their licence. Changing your name on your licence is simple – and free. Firstly, you’ll need to complete a D1form – which you can get from the Post Office or by ordering it online here. You’ll need to send supporting information such as a marriage certificate, decree absolute or Deed Poll certificate. All documentation must be original. You’ll also need to send your photocard and counterpart (if before January 1, 2015), or your old-style paper licence.
How much: Free
Medical change: Tell the DVLA now
Medical change: If you’ve suffered a medical event that could effect your driving, you must contact the DVLA with details. It will then decide if any changes need to be made to your driving licence. These could include giving a shorter licence of 1, 2 or 3 years, demanding that you adapt your car or even give up your licence.
Find out about your medical condition and how it might afffect your licence:
Contact the DVLA here
How much: Free
Out of date photo: Change it or pay the fine
Out-of-date photo: Around 40,000 drivers are currently at risk of a fine for failing to update the photo on their photocard licence. This needs to be done every 10 years and while a reminder is sent out, many people claim the correspondence is confusing. So, check the valid from date on your licence then add 10 years – this is when you need to renew your photo.

Here’s how to change you photocard photo:

By post: Get yourself a D1 form from the Post Office or by calling the DVLA to order one on 0300 790 6801
How much: £17.00

At the Post Office: Take your renewal letter or completed D1 form along to the Post Office – not forgetting a passport style photograph, too.
How much: £24.50

Online: To use this service you will need a valid passport – because this is the photograph that will be used on the licence. Click below to get full details.

Change your licence photo online:
Do it here
How much: £14.00

Expired licence: Here's how to renew or exchange... and how much
Expired licence: Around 2million Brits have an expired licence, according to research from Direct Line – equating to around £2billion in potential fines. Reasons for this could be anything from age to the type of vehicle being driven, so make sure you know when yours need renewing. Here are some costs involved: (These prices are set to fall from 0ctber 31, so will be updated then.)
Reason for renewingFee
Renewing an expired driving licence£17.00 by post or £14.00 online
From age 70Free
For medical reasonsFree
Bus or lorry driversFree
After disqualification£65.00
If disqualified for some drink-driving offences where the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) needs to arrange medical enquiries£90.00
After revocation (under the New Drivers Act)£50.00
Reason for exchangeFee
Add entitlement to full or provisional licenceFree
Paper licence to photocard with change of details (eg, name or address)Free
Removal of expired endorsements£17.00 by post or £14.00 online
Full Northern Ireland licence to a GB licenceFree
Full European Community, European Economic Area or other designated foreign licence, if a previous GB licence heldFree
Northern Ireland licence with a GB test passFree

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All-new Skoda Fabia: At-a-glance guide

Join us for a virtual tour of the all-new Skoda Fabia

Join us for a virtual tour of the all-new Skoda Fabia

The all-new Skoda Fabia is available to buy now and a must-view addition to any supermini-buyer’s shortlist. Join us for a look around the new What Car? Car of the Year 2015.

Read on and join CDG Cars for a virtual test drive of the all-new car. Have a look at where it came from, the new features and get inside to have a closer inspection with our exclusive interior zoom feature.

ABOUT THE 2015 SKODA FABIA

Showcasing all the traits that draw buyers to the brand, Skoda’s all-new Fabia offers superb build quality, impressive practicality and great-value pricing wrapped in a stylish package.

Skoda fans will also be pleased to see the 2015 Fabia is instantly recognisable as the car they know and love, but that it also brings a new and more purposeful stance with its lower and wider countenance adding a some sporty attitude.

DESIGN: While the Fabia isn’t a radical departure from the existing design – if it’s not broke and all that – it does offer an insight into the design genius of a brand that’s rapidly becoming one of the most innovative around. Fabia fans will need to look no further than the car maker’s Vision C concept car revealed at the 2014 Geneva motor show to see just where influence in design changes originate from. See the two cars below.

The Vision C concept car inspired design elements on the new Skoda Fabia (inset)

The Vision C concept car inspired design elements on the new Skoda Fabia (inset)

ALL-NEW SKODA FABIA AT-A-GLANCE

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ENGINES
The new Fabia will be offered with a range of new powerplants that will be up to 17% more efficient for economy compared with the outgoing model.

The entry-level units are versions of the 1.0-litre petrol engine and will be available in 59bhp and 74bhp states of tune. It will come with five-speed transmission.

A 1.2 turbocharged four-cylinder version will also be offered, with either 89- or 109bhp. The more powerful unit will get either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto ’box. The least efficient petrols will still emit no more than 110g/km of CO2.

Diesel options will be based around the new 1.4-litre unit that’s just been added to the VW Polo range. This will be offered in 89bhp of 103bhp form. The lesser-powered engine will also be offered with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

SAFETY
Supermini buyers will also be interested to hear the new Fabia gets a boost in safety kit. The new model adds automatic emergency braking – which stops the car if the sensors detect an impending collision – along with a rear-view camera and hill-hold assist.

SPORTY APPEAL
Opening the car up to a new range of customers, the new Fabia updates its look with a more purposeful stance.

Low-set fog lights in the bumper accentuate the car’s sporty intentions, while the sharp waistline stretching from headlamps to tail-lights visually extend the car’s length and presence.

The new model is 9cm wider than the model it replaces, and 3cm lower.

TECHNOLOGY
MirrorLink is a stand-out piece of tech that’s worth mentioning. It mimics the display of your smartphone on the Fabia’s display screen. This allows drivers to connect their phones with the car’s entertainment system.

COMFORT
Comfort for occupants is high on the list of Skoda’s priorities, and with the new car bringing a slightly longer wheelbase than the previous car, six footers can happily (and simultaneously) inhabit both the front and back seats.

Parents with toddlers will also appreciate the wide-opening rear doors for easy access to baby seats.

PRACTICALITY
Bootspace is not something usually associated with superminis, but the Fabia brings a generous 330 litres expanding to 1,150 with the seats folded down.

ECONOMY AND EMISSIONS
All variants claim economy of more than 50mpg, with the most popular 1.0 and 1.2 models hitting 51- and 54mpg respectively. The Fabia Greenline claims an amazing 91mpg and CO2 emissions of just 82g/km – only hybrids can beat that.

ALL-NEW SKODA FABIA AT-A-GLANCE

Have a look at what’s new with the 2015 Skoda Fabia with our at-a-glance guide. Simply hover on the hotspots to get more information.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK… GET INSIDE THE ALL-NEW FABIA

Inside is where you’ll spend most your time on the road, so making sure you’re happy with your automotive environment is essential. Have an intimate look around the Skoda Fabia’s interior here. Simply hover your cursor over the small image to zoom in.


PRICES AND DEALS

Check out the latest prices and deals from the Crawley Down Group here

CDG Skoda Fabia here

Book a test drive here

Request a brochure here

health

How to remove penalty points from your driving licence

How to get rid of expired endorsements and more

How to get rid of expired endorsements and more

Big changes are coming to your driving licence and you need to stay up to date. With the paper counterpart being axed from the summer, staying in control of your endorsements will suddenly become a lot harder – and significantly more important. Follow our guide to keeping a healthy licence that’s safe from the dangers of digitalisation…

Read about driving licence changes coming into force on June 8, here

Give your licence a full health check

A poorly maintained licence can result in higher than necessary insurance premiums, cancelled policies, problems with the police and even prosecution. The abolition of the paper counterpart could make it even harder to ensure your permit to drive maintains its health. Use this driving licence health check to make sure yours is fit for purpose.

Visual check-up

Follow our health check for your licence

Follow our health check for your licence

Firstly, let’s check your document’s vital signs and make sure it’s got all the correct information and isn’t hiding any unpleasant surprises. You can do this by using the DVLA’s View Driving Licence website; where you can enter a few details and find out exactly what ‘s on your licence and driving record.

What will it tell me: Log in and the service will tell you when your licence expires, how many penalty points you have and which vehicle’s you’re licensed to driver… from tractors to ride-on mowers and beyond. The service will also tell you what personal details you have registered with the DVLA. Make sure you change them if they’re wrong or risk a big fine. We tell you how here.

What information do I need to log in: Getting into the service isn’t that easy; you’ll need the following:
1) Your driving licence number
2) Your National Insurance number
3) The postcode on your driving licence

How much and when can I use it: The View My Licence website is free to use and available 24 hours a day.

Use the View Driving Licence service here

Here’s a video explaining the new system.

Endorsement treatment

Staying on the right side of the law is the only way to avoid edorsements. Picture <a href="http//:www.hyundai-car.co.uk" target="_blank">hyundai-car.co.uk</a>

Staying on the right side of the law is the only way to avoid edorsements. Picture Hyundai-car.co.uk

You’ve checked your licence and perhaps you’ve come across some endorsements? This is an area you’ll need to know about when it comes to getting a job, insurance quotes and hiring cars. We’ll be looking at what they mean and how long they’ll remain on your licence.

About endorsements: Individual endorsements have a unique code and come with penalty points on a scale from 1 to 11. The more serious the offence, them more points it attracts. Some offences will be so serious they’ll attract an instant disqualification.

Endorsements and penalty points by offence: Here’s a full list of offences with the endorsement and penalty points they attract.


Endorsement codes and penalty points: Click here for a full DVLA list

Accident offences

These codes stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
AC10 Failing to stop after an accident 5 to 10
AC20 Failing to give particulars or report an accident within 24 hours 5 to 10
AC30 Undefined accident offences 4 to 9

Disqualified driver

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
BA10 Driving while disqualified by order of court 6
BA30 Attempting to drive while disqualified by order of court 6

Careless driving

Codes CD10 to CD30 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
CD10 Driving without due care and attention 3 to 9
CD20 Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users 3 to 9
CD30 Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users 3 to 9

Codes CD40 to CD70 must stay on a driving licence for 11 years from the date of the conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
CD40 Causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink 3 to 11
CD50 Causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs 3 to 11
CD60 Causing death by careless driving with alcohol level above the limit 3 to 11
CD70 Causing death by careless driving then failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis 3 to 11

Codes CD80 and CD90 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
CD80 Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving 3 to 11
CD90 Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers 3 to 11

Construction and use offences

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
CU10 Using a vehicle with defective brakes 3
CU20 Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of use of unsuitable vehicle or using a vehicle with parts or accessories (excluding brakes, steering or tyres) in a dangerous condition 3
CU30 Using a vehicle with defective tyre(s) 3
CU40 Using a vehicle with defective steering 3
CU50 Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers 3
CU80 Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, mobile telephone etc 3

Reckless/dangerous driving

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
DD10 Causing serious injury by dangerous driving 3 to 11
DD40 Dangerous driving 3 to 11
DD60 Manslaughter or culpable homicide while driving a vehicle 3 to 11
DD80 Causing death by dangerous driving 3 to 11
DD90 Furious driving 3 to 9

Drink or drugs

Codes DR10 to DR61 must stay on a driving licence for 11 years from the date of the conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
DR10 Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above limit 3 to 11
DR20 Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink 3 to 11
DR30 Driving or attempting to drive then failing to supply a specimen for analysis 3 to 11
DR31 Driving or attempting to drive then refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity 3 to 11
DR61 Refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity in circumstances other than driving or attempting to drive 10

Codes DR40 to DR70 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
DR40 In charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit 10
DR50 In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink 10
DR60 Failure to provide a specimen for analysis in circumstances other than driving or attempting to drive 10
DR70 Failing to provide specimen for breath test 4

Code DR80 must stay on a driving licence for 11 years from the date of the conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
DR80 Driving or attempting to drive when unfit through drugs 3 to 11

Code DR90 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
DR90 In charge of a vehicle when unfit through drugs 10

Insurance offences

Code IN10 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
IN10 Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks 6 to 8

Licence offences

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
LC20 Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence 3 to 6
LC30 Driving after making a false declaration about fitness when applying for a licence 3 to 6
LC40 Driving a vehicle having failed to notify a disability 3 to 6
LC50 Driving after a licence has been revoked or refused on medical grounds 3 to 6

Miscellaneous offences

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
MS10 Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position 3
MS20 Unlawful pillion riding 3
MS30 Play street offences 2
MS50 Motor racing on the highway 3 to 11
MS60 Offences not covered by other codes (including offences relating to breach of requirements as to control of vehicle) 3
MS70 Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight 3
MS80 Refusing to submit to an eyesight test 3
MS90 Failure to give information as to identity of driver etc 6

Motorway offences

Code MW10 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
MW10 Contravention of special roads regulations (excluding speed limits) 3

Pedestrian crossings

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
PC10 Undefined contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations 3
PC20 Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations with moving vehicle 3
PC30 Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations with stationary vehicle 3

Speed limits

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
SP10 Exceeding goods vehicle speed limits 3 to 6
SP20 Exceeding speed limit for type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles) 3 to 6
SP30 Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road 3 to 6
SP40 Exceeding passenger vehicle speed limit 3 to 6
SP50 Exceeding speed limit on a motorway 3 to 6

Traffic direction and signs

These codes must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
TS10 Failing to comply with traffic light signals 3
TS20 Failing to comply with double white lines 3
TS30 Failing to comply with ‘stop’ sign 3
TS40 Failing to comply with direction of a constable/warden 3
TS50 Failing to comply with traffic sign (excluding ‘stop’ signs, traffic lights or double white lines) 3
TS60 Failing to comply with a school crossing patrol sign 3
TS70 Undefined failure to comply with a traffic direction sign 3

Special code

Code TT99 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of conviction.

It shows disqualification under ‘totting-up’ – if the total of penalty points reaches 12 or more within 3 years, the driver can be disqualified.

Theft or unauthorised taking

Code UT50 must stay on a driving licence for 4 years from the date of the offence.

Code Offence Penalty points
UT50 Aggravated taking of a vehicle 3 to 11


How long will endorsements remain on my licence: Once you’ve been given an endorsement, the penalty points will remain on your licence from 4 to 11 years depending on the offence. The time that the penalty points stay on your licence can either be from the date of the offence, or the date of conviction. Here’s how this applies:


Four years from date of conviction: Click to reveal details

An endorsement and the penalty points will stay on a licence for four years from the date of conviction, if the offence…

A) Is for reckless/dangerous driving – shown on the licence as DD40, DD60 and DD80
B) Results in disqualification

Example… Date of conviction 28 May 2011 – the endorsement must stay on the licence until 28 May 2015.


Four years from date of offence: Click to reveal details

In all other cases from those described above, the endorsement and points remain on the licence for four years from when the offence was committed.

Example… Date of offence 10 June 2012 – the endorsement must stay on the licence until 10 June 2016.


11 years from date of conviction: Click to reveal details

This will be the case if…

A) The offence is drink or drug driving and classified under endorsements DR10, DR20, DR30, DR31, DR61 and DR80
B) The offence is causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs – shown on the licence as CD40, CD50 and CD60
C) Causing death by careless driving, then failing to provide a specimen for analysis – shown on the licence as CD70

Example… Date of conviction 3 December 2009 – the endorsement must stay on the licence until 3 December 2020


Endorsements and new drivers: Anyone receiving six or more penalty points within two years of passing their driving test will have the licence revoked.

Any unexpired points on your provisional licence will be carried over to your full version if you pass your test.

If your licence is revoked within two years of passing your test, you’ll have to retake it – both the theory and practical elements.

Getting the all-clear – removing endorsements from your licence

Get the all-clear and return to happy care-free motoring with a clean licence

Get the all-clear and return to happy care-free motoring with a clean licence

First, let’s look at how to remove expired endorsements from your photocard’s paper counterpart – which will remain valid until June 8, when it will be axed. We’ve also got the information you need for removing penalty points in a post-paper counterpart world.

Removing endorsements from your photocard (before June 8, 2015): Endorsements aren’t shown on the photocard element of your licence, so you’ll need to remove the expired penalties from your paper counterpart until this is axed in June, 2015.

To remove your expired endorsements complete form D1 (which is the application for a driving licence. You then need to send this form – along with your photocard, paper counterpart and a cheque or postal order for £20.00 – to the following address:

DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1BU

Order your D1 form online here

Removing endorsements from your paper licence: If you’ve got an old-style green, pink, or pink and green paper licence, having endorsements removed will mean swapping it for a new photocard version.

To do this you’ll need a completed a D1 licence application form and the following:

  • Original documentation confirming your identity
  • A passport type photograph and your paper driving licence
  • A cheque or postal order for £20 payable to DVLA (do not send cash)

Then, send it all to:
DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1BU

Order your D1 form online here

Removing expired endorsementS after June 8, 2015
With the paper counterpart being withdrawn in June, drivers’ records will become entirely digital with checks through the online database. The good news is those with expired penalty points will no longer need to take any action, or make payment to have them removed.

The DVLA has confirmed that after June 8, any spent endorsements will automatically be wiped from drivers’ records without intervention or cost to the licence-holder.

Top tip: If your endorsements are due to expire over the next few months, save your cash and simply wait until the paper counterpart is withdrawn in June when they’ll automatically disappear for free.

Order your D1 form online here

Share your driving licence
Need to share your licence with an employer, or perhaps a hire car company? Here’s how you can make this happen once the paper counterpart goes in June. This also means that you have to give permission for your licence details to be viewed by a thrird party,

 

You need to know about new drug driving legislation coming this spring

New drug-driving law that you need to know about

New drug driving legislation comes into effect from March 2, 2015 – and it’s not just those using illegal drugs that will be affected by it. Read on to find out how the new drug-driving law means your prescription medicines and over-the-counter remedies could result in a driving ban of at least 12 months – or even imprisonment.

Beat the confusion and keep your licence with the CDG easy-to-read guide covering the new rules that come into effect on March 2, 2015.

New drug driving law instant guide

It's not just illegal drugs that can claim your licence... read on now

It’s not just illegal drugs that can claim your licence… read on now

Read on and get the information you need to ensure your licence stays safe…


What is the new law:

Getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs – either illicit or prescription – has always been an offence if the police can prove their use impairs your ability to drive. The new law will work alongside the existing offence, but will now make it an offence to drive while over a specified limit for each of the 16 drugs included in the new law – bringing it in line with drink-driving legislation. Police will no longer need to prove impairment for this new offence.


When does it come into effect:

The new law comes into effect on March 2, 2015


Surely this won’t affect me:

You might not be snorting cocaine or injecting heroin, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by this legislation. Government stats reveal that around 19million prescriptions are written for medicines that are made up of substances included in this new legislation.


How will police test for the drugs:

Previously, police would ask motorists suspected of driving while impaired by drugs to take a roadside impairment test. This includes areas such as having their pupils assessed for size, condition and reaction to light. However, new roadside saliva tests have now been approved for police use. These will work in a similar way to breathalysers and will provide a pass or fail reading for the 16 drugs covered by the new law.


What drugs are included and what are the limits:

The following prescription and illicit drugs will be included in this new law. The limits are also included and effectively relate to a zero-tolerance policy for illicit substances.

Generally prescription drugsIllicit drugs
clonazepam, 50 g/L
diazepam, 550 g/L
flunitrazepam, 300 g/L
lorazepam, 100 g/L
methadone, 500 g/L
morphine, 80 g/L
oxazepam, 300 g/L
temazepam, 1000 g/L
benzoylecgonine, 50 g/L
cocaine, 10 g/L
delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol), 2 g/L
ketamine, 20 g/L
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 1 g/L
methylamphetamine (Crystal Meth or Ice), 10 g/L
methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA – ecstasy), 10 g/L
6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – heroin and diamorphine), 5 g/L


All that sounds confusing – how much does that relate to:

Traces of illicit and prescription drugs can remain in your body for many days, which is why a panel of experts assisted the government in setting levels at which they are likely to impair driving ability.

However, the amount of time it will take for drug levels to fall to an acceptable level will depend on various factors, such as a person’s weight, tolerance and amount of substance taken.


Does that mean I should stop my medication:

No. Do not stop taking your prescribed medication, but you will need to make sure you’re taking it exactly as prescribed by your doctor, health professional or on the packaging.

If your prescribed medication includes drugs on the restricted list, you have what is known as a ‘Medical Defence’. However, you should make an appointment with a doctor or health professional to discuss the dose of drug you are taking. In some cases, it may be necessary to reduce or modify the amount of drug you take.

The government is advising anyone taking prescription medicines covered by the new law that it would be ‘helpful for you to keep some evidence of this with you in case you’re stopped by the police’.

If you exceed the dose prescribed by your doctor, or health professional you will no longer be able to use the medical defence, making it likely that you’ll be open to prosecution under the new legislation.


What happens if I am stopped and fail a roadside saliva test:

If you provide a positive roadside saliva test, you will be taken to a police station where you’ll be requested to provide a blood sample as evidence for any subsequent prosecution.

However, if you’re taking the medication under advice from a doctor, you are entitled to raise the statutory ‘medical defence’ at any stage. Providing you have reasonable proof of this, there should be no grounds for arrest or requirement to take a blood test.


What should you keep in your car:

If you are taking medication that includes a controlled drug, obtaining a letter from your doctor confirming your legitimate use of the drug and dosage required should help avoid problems with cops at the roadside. Your doctor might charge anything up to £20.00 for this, but it could save a lot of time and inconvenience if you’re stopped by the police.


Tell me more about the ‘Medical Defence’:

The ‘medical defence’ can usually by raised if the following conditions apply:

  • IThe drug was lawfully prescribed, supplied, or purchased over-the-counter, for medical or dental purposes; and
  • The drug was taken in accordance with advice given by the person who prescribed or supplied the drug, and in accordance with any accompanying literature.


When medical defence does not apply:

If the police have evidence that the ‘patient’s’ driving was impaired due to drugs, whether prescribed or not, they can prosecute under the existing offence of driving whilst impaired through drugs as described in section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, for which there is no statutory “medical defence”:


What happens if I am convicted under this new law:

Penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink driving. If you are convicted you will receive:

A minimum 12-month driving ban
A criminal record
A fine of up to £5000 or up to 6 months in prison or both


Don’t ignore effects of alcohol:

The effects of many drugs, both prescribed and illicit, can be enhanced when combined with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and drugs can lead to significant impairment and prosecution even if intoxication levels are within legal limits.


Does this law supersede the current law of driving while impaired:

No. Driving while impaired through drugs (whether due to non-medical use of drugs or due to legitimate use of medicines) in section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, will operate alongside this new offence.


Driving while impaired – existing law instant guide

The size of pupils can be used to check impairment due to drugs - legit or otherwise: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupil#mediaviewer/File:Eye_iris.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

The size of pupil can be used to check impairment due to drugs – legit or otherwise: image credit

Along with the new test that measures the amount of a certain drug you have in your blood, the existing offence of driving while impaired by a drug will still apply. Here’s all you need to know about this law and how it might affect you – and what medications motorists should be careful of using.

Here’s all you need to know about the current ‘driving while impaired’ law.


Is this the same as the new law?

No. The new law involves a roadside test that checks the level of certain drugs in your blood. This existing law is used to look for road users whose driving is impaired by drugs. The new law covers 16 drugs, while this existing law covers all medications and illegal substances.


Is it true that everyday medication can affect my driving?

It certainly is. Research has revealed that even over-the-counter medications for mild colds can cause drowsiness and dramatically increase reaction times. See our graphic below for more information.


But the medications are legal, so I am okay to use them, right

Wrong! Driving under the influence of any drug – legal or otherwise – is a serious offence and covered by the Road Traffic Act 1988. It’s also treated with the same severity as drink driving – attracting the same penalties.


But if my doctor prescribed it, I am covered?

Not necessarily the case, if the drug impairs your driving then it’s your responsibility to stay off the road. However, your doctor should warn you of potential issues when prescribing the medication.


The new law has a ‘Medical Defence’ so I am okay if my doc prescribed the drug?

It’s correct that the ‘Medical Defence’ applies to the new law, but it certainly doesn’t apply to this existing legislation. If the police can prove your driving is impaired by drugs, then you can be prosecuted.


How do I know if a medication could impair my driving

Read the patient information leaflet, which comes with the product. If in doubt, have a chat with the pharmacist who’ll be able to tell you if the medication could make you feel drowsy.


So should I stop taking my medication?

Once again, speak to your doctor for advice. In some cases it may be you’ll need to change drugs, but don’t stop taking any treatment without first discussing it with a GP.


I've been prescribed drugs and none warn of drowsiness – am I oK to drive?

This might not be the case, combining medicines can create unpredictable reactions. Don’t drive until you’ve tested the combination and spoken to your doctor. This advice also applies to over-the-counter medications.


How do police check for this offence?

The police may ask drivers they suspect are under the influence of drugs to perform a series of physical tests, usually at the roadside. These include tests such as walking along a straight line, touching the tip of their noses with their finger, and standing on one leg. The police also examine drivers’ pupils to see if they are dilated while checking for slurred speech and poor co-ordination. If the police officer is not satisfied the suspect is taken to a police station and a blood test undertaken.


Danger in the medicine cabinet

Don’t think that popping a headache pill or taking a pill to soothe your cold are exempt from danger. Many over-the-counter medications are capable of leaving your driving impaired – and you open to prosecution under existing law. Here’s the information you need on everyday remedies you can buy at your local pharmacy…

How your medicine cabinet could claim your licence

How your medicine cabinet could claim your licence

Older drivers
It’s essential that older drivers should pay special attention to warnings on over-the-counter medicines, because as people age, we become more susceptible to sedation and performance impairment due to renal dysfunction in old age.

* Source: The British Allergy Foundation

How illegal and prescription drugs affect driving

Combining any type of drugs with driving means this is more likely

Combining any type of drugs with driving means this is more likely

Do you know someone that might be driving while under the influence of drugs? This is how illicit and prescription drugs can affect behaviour behind the wheel…

Illegal drugs

Effects of illicit substances can be unpredictable because they are unregulated, but research shows that these common factors apply to those using the various groups when behind the wheel. Effects can also last long beyond when the drug was taken, with disturbed, or shortened sleep patterns making accidents more likely.

Open each section below to see how illegal drugs affect performance behind the wheel.


Cannabis:

Using this drug will slow reactions, affect co-ordination and cause users to suffer a sedative-like effect. Research in simulators shows drivers who’ve used cannabis are less able to steer accurately and slower to react to developing hazards.


Cocaine:

This drug can boost confidence and cause erratic behaviour. Users will tend to drive faster and take risks while ‘high’ from the drug. Additionally, the ‘come down’ period over following days will leave affect concentration and make drivers feel sleepy.


Ecstasy:

Using this drug can boost the amount of adrenaline produced, leaving drivers behaving in an over-confident manner – and taking more risks.


LSD:

Using this can distort time and movement, making it impossible for drivers to judge the position and speed of other road users. Using the drug can also cause hallucinations, resulting in panic and confusion – not a good mix for drivers.


Speed:

This stimulant leaves users over-alert and excited, resulting in risk-taking and erratic behaviour behind the wheel. The drug will also make it difficult to sleep, so extreme fatigue will become a problem for users driving on subsequent days.

Amphetamines, also have medicinal use in the control of several conditions and the government consultation on maximum permissible limits in the blood is yet to be set.


Illegal drugs and crash risk
Research of fatal crashes in France between 2001 and 2003 revealed taking cannabis almost doubles the risk of involvement in a fatal crash.

Research from a European study reveals that cocaine and illegal opiate use increases a driver’s serious and fatal crash risk by up to 10 times.

Motorists taking a cocktail of illegal drugs combined with alcohol were found to be 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared with sober and drug-free drivers, according to research in the USA.


Prescription drugs

Just because drugs are dispensed over the counter, it doesn’t mean they’re exempt from new or existing drug-driving laws. Many medications can cause drowsiness, slow reaction times and affect concentration or vision. A UK-based study from 2000 revealed 5% of car drivers and 4% of motorcyclists killed in road crashed had taken legal medications that could have affected their ability to drive.

Medications that cause drowsiness or otherwise impair driving ability will carry a warning on the packaging and information label. However, a survey by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line found that one in six drivers admit they ignore warnings not to drive, or even checking the medication’s information leaflet at all.

The government is creating ‘partner packs’ for pharmacists in an attempt to create wider awareness of what drugs will be affected by the new legislation and making users aware of which over-the-counter medications could impair driving and risk prosecution – or injury.

Prescription drugs crash risk
A Norwegian study revealed the risk of being involved in a road crash double or tripled – depending on the type of medication – for up to a week after taking prescription drugs such as opiate painkillers and some types of tranquilizers. Additionally, a study in New Zealand found people using medicines prescribes drugs to treat bipolar disorder are more than three times as likely to be at fault in an accident than a drug-free driver.

Worried that someone has been using drugs

Are you worried that someone you know has been driving while impaired by drugs? Here are some of the tell-tale signs a person is under the influence of drugs.

Home drug test kits

Anyone who wishes to check for illicit drugs in their system or that of a car-driving child for example, can purchase a cheap, discreet home test kit. Here’s an example of what’s on offer.

Drug test4 Drug Screen – Saliva test
What is it: Easy-to-read home-based drug test kit that uses saliva for the sample.
What drugs does it test for: This test kit will look for evidence of the following illicit drugs at and above the stated levels: AMP Amphetamines (50 ng/ml), COC Cocaine (20 ng/ml), MOR Heroin/Opiate/Morphine (40 ng/ml), THC (Cannabis 10 ng/ml).
How much: £9.99 for single-use kit
Where: Get your kit here


 

Drug test home8 Panel Drug Test with Integrated Cup – urine test
What is it:
This is a multi-drug test kit that has all you need to get result in less than 10 minutes. Testing is carried out using a urine sample.
What drugs does it test for: This eight-panel drug test detects the presence of Amphetamines (Speed), Benzodiazepines(Valium), Buprenorphine (Subutex), Cannabis (Marijuana), Cocaine (Crack), EDDP(Methadone),   Metamphetamines (Crystal Meth or Ice) and Opiates (Heroin).
How much: £10.49 for single-use kit
Where: Get your kit here

We do not guarantee the accuracy of any third party drug test published here.

ROSPA Safe Journey planner
Are you fit to drive? From medications to general tiredness, this planner from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents will help you arrive at to your destination in one piece.
Download it here.

Driving test changes are on the way

UPDATED Jan 2015: Driving test changes you need to know about…

Big changes are coming to the driving test… find out what could be on the way here…

Big changes coming to a driving test near you soon

Big changes coming to a driving test near you soon

Yes, following on from big changes to the tax disc and driving licence, the next motoring essential to go under the knife is the driving test.

The three-point turn could soon become a thing of the past as the Government signals a consultation that could lead to the biggest shake-up for the driving test in almost 20 years.

Drivers might also be asked to prove to the examiner that they can listen to their sat-nav, or demonstrate they’re able to turn on the car’s heated rear screen while driving.

If you’re about to take the test, then make sure you check out our infographic looking at how likely you are to pass.

We’ve also got an instant road literacy test for full licence holders to see if they would still pass their test today.

UPDATE: Find out about important changes to Driving test

UPDATE: Find out about an important change to the Hazar Perception test here.

Read on to find what could be in, or out of the new driving test….

Driving test changes coming your way?

Driving test changes are on the way

Driving test changes are on the way

The UK’s practical driving test could be about to get its biggest shake-up in nearly 20 years, as the Government signalled plans to make the examination better reflect real-word driving habits and modern technology employed by motorists.

Around 1,000 learner drivers at 20 testing centres across Britain will take part in trials of a new practical exam next year. If popular, it’s expected the changes will become permanent, although the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) confirmed any changes would be subject to full public consultation.

Here are the main elements expected to be in or out for the new driving test – and what the experts say…


OUT: Three-point turn (turn in the road):

OUT – Three-point turn (turn in the road): This is where learners are asked to stop the car and turn around in no more than three vehicle movements. The DVSA says that this could be scrapped in favour of testing skills more likely to be used in everyday situations – such as pulling up at the side of the road and rejoining traffic.

What the experts say: AA President Edmund King has voiced surprise at the mooted exclusion of the turn in road, saying: “In our view a three-point turn is still an important manoeuvre for getting out of cul de sacs, dead ends and often car parks”.


OUT: Reversing around corners:

OUTReversing around corners: Feared by learners across the country, reversing around a corner without mounting the kerb could soon be kicked into automotive history. However, cut the celebrations short, it’s likely be replaced by more relevant tests such as reversing out of a parking bay. Reverse and parallel parking would  remain in the test.

What the experts say: Once again, the AA’s Edmund King is not convinced how future-proofed such a change would be. He said: “Eventually, self-parking cars will do away with parallel parking and, who knows, the driverless car might just do away with the test.”


IN – Test students' ability to use a sat-nav:

IN – Test students’ ability to use a sat-nav: As part of plans to increase the relatively new ‘independent driving’ element of the test from 10- to 20-minutes, candidates could be asked to demonstrate their ability to navigate to a predetermined location by using a sat-nav device.

What the experts say: Stephen Glaister, the director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “We all rely on our sat-navs, but they are not infallible and it is when they have led us down a dead end that we need to know how to do a three-point turn.

“It’s fine to add some aspects to the test but we should be cautious about removing the basics.”


IN – Safety on the go:

IN – Safety on the go: Learner drivers taking their test are currently asked two safety questions – in the form of ‘show me – tell me’ questions – before they commence driving, but new proposals suggest candidates could instead be asked these questions while on the move. Requesting a driver to operate the rear windscreen heater while driving, for example, would be intended to demonstrate how they’d act in real-world driving conditions rather than hypothetical situations.

What the experts say: Carly Brookfield, Driving Instructors Association (DIA) chief executive, said: “DIA has been heavily involved in the scoping of this project and is enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents to evolve the L-test to a level where it more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road based risk and driving in real life, on real roads.


What the driving instructors say…
It’s the UK’s driving instructors who are at the forefront of keeping our roads safe by using their skills to ensure learners get the best possible start to life behind the wheel, so what do the people who really know have to say about the trial of proposed changes?

Peter Harvey of the National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP), which is made up of the four main driving instructor associations in the UK, said: “I have had the opportunity to try out the ideas that will be used in the trial, I think they will work well and I believe they are a step in the right direction for the driving test in Great Britain”.

UPDATE January 12, 2015: Hazard perception test goes CGI

Anyone taking their theory test from Monday, January 12 will be met by a new-style Hazard Perception section. The tired, out of date, blurry video sequences have been replaced by CGI clips that show the same scenes, but with updated vehicles and much higher quality delivery.

See the new clips in action
Watch the video below to see an example of the all-new CGI hazard perception test.

There’s no change in the way the test works, but the updated and clearer scenes should make it easier for candidates to use.

The clips still feature everyday road scenes and contain at least one ‘developing hazard’ – but one of the clips will feature 2 ‘developing hazards’

Pass or fail… how time, place and sex matter

Want to know just how likely you are to pass your practical driving test? Check out our infographic compiled from exams taken in 2013-14, to find the best places and times to take your practical. We also have the most likely and least likely person to pass a test… Don’t book your slot before you read this…

Best and worst person
Combining figures from all tests taken last year, we reveal the person who’s most – and least likely – to pass their driving test. The result reveals gender, location and date.

Best and worst people to pass their test

Best and worst people to pass their test

Best and worst months to take your test
We list the best and worst months overall, along with the top times to pass – all broken down for men and women. See the historic pass rate for the month in which your test is booked.

When should you book your test?

When should you book your test?

Best and worst places to pass your test
Reading this will help you decide whether you need to call the estate agent – it’s the top and bottom 10 places to pass your test…

Here are the best and worst places to take your test

Here are the best and worst places to take your test

Want the full infographic on your site?
We’re happy to share our driving test infographic, so if you want to embed it on your website, simply grab the code below and paste it where you want the graphic to appear on your site.

 

Would you pass your test now?

The Government might be planning changes to the test for new drivers, but should ‘experienced’ drivers be targeted, too?

Take our six-part road literacy test to see just how much you know about road signs and driving rules…

If you’re a qualified driver who would fail a test now, you’re certainly not alone. Researchers found that two out of three fully-qualified drivers failed when taking a copy of the current test.

These experienced drivers were most likely to fail on recognising basic road signs. Just 33% of those with a full licence passed this part of the test, compared with more than half of novice drivers who succeed in their theory test.

More than a third failed the hazard perception section of the test, while 50%  missed getting a pass mark on the multiple-choice questions.

Experts have warned that high levels of ‘road illiteracy’ and feeling uncertain about road signs, can lead to slow and dangerous driving.

The research by Churchill Insurance also revealed 53% of drivers want a compulsory ‘retest’ of the theory exam every 10 years. The theory test was introduced in 1996 and consists of 50 questions taken from a catalogue of hundreds. To gain a pass, the candidate must answer at least 43 questions correctly within 57 minutes.

Many drivers will also have missed out on the hazard perception test that was introduced in 2002. This involves watching a video and clicking on the screen to show awareness of a hazard developing.

Take a driver refresher course

If it’s been a while since you took your driving test and you’ve lost a little confidence in your driving, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Beat your fears or just catch-up with the latest driving laws by taking a refresher course.

Many local authorities – such as Wiltshire Council – police forces and driving instructors offer these refresher courses for anyone who needs to sharpen their skills. Courses can often be tailored to match your specific needs – getting you back on the road with confdence and enjoying your motoring.

Search on Google for courses in your area

Booking a driving test? Don’t get scammed

Head to the official site and don't pay more than you should

Head to the official site and don’t pay more than you should

If you’re booking a driving test – particularly a theory test – ensure you book through the official Government site, or you could end up paying around £30.00 more than you need to.

The copycat sites mostly stay within the law, but will make charges not levied by the official site. Some will offer pass protection schemes – where candidate can retake their theory test for free if they fail – but these often rely on terms and conditions that many won’t satisfy.

Official sites:

Use these bona fide sites to book your test without unnecessary premiums:

Book your theory test here and pay no more than £25.00

Book your practical test here and pay no more than £62.00

Who can teach you…

Find an approved instructor

Find an approved instructor

With possible changes coming to the driving test, it’s more important than ever to keep up to date by getting professional instruction from a qualified instructor. Here’s all you need to know.

Anyone you who takes payment to teach you to drive must be an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) regulated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Find your nearest Approved Driving Instructor

Use this official search tool to find the ADIs in your area.

Search here

Driving with friends and relatives

This is a great way to get extra driving practise away from your official driving lessons, but the friend or relative must satisfy the following requirements:

Anyone teaching you to drive must…

  • Be over 21
  • Be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, eg they must have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car
  • Have held their driving licence for 3 years

Appy days: Apps to help pass your driving test

Want an extra boost when it comes to passing your test? Or perhaps you’re a hard-pressed driving instructor – we’ve got an app to help you. Just click on the hotspots below for details.

Driving tests around the world…

  • In Brazil, you have to pass a psychological exam before obtaining a licence.  Learners are also taught techniques for escaping from potentially life-threatening situations.
  • Spain’s Highway Code is believed to be Europe’s most in-depth driving rule book, with three times as many rules as in the UK. However, the practical driving test is described as a ‘group excursion’. Spain has one of the highest road mortality rates in Europe.
  • In China, you may be asked to explain to your examiner what to do if your car plunges into water.
  • In Pakistan, the practical test involves one simple task: driving through a short course of cones. There is an 80% pass rate.
  • Mexico has no test. Simply buy a licence for 626 pesos (£28).
  • In Japan, you can fail your test if you do not bend low enough to check the underside of your car for concealed cats.
  • Legislation introduced in Russia at the beginning of this year means transsexual and transgender people, fetishists, exhibitionists and voyeurs, as well as pathological gamblers and compulsive thieves no longer qualify for driving licences.
What to do next if you've forgotten to pay for your Dartford Crossing

Late payment of the Dartford Crossing toll – what next?

Did you know that up to 300,000 drivers forgot to pay their Dartford Crossing charge in December? This equates to a shocking £21m in fines. Make sure you’re not one of them this month by following the CDG Car’s guide to beating late payment fines at the Dartford Crossing.

What to do next if you've forgotten to pay for your Dartford Crossing

What to do next if you’ve forgotten to pay for your Dartford Crossing

The new payment system for the crossing has removed toll booths and relies on motorists remembering to pay the toll remotely by midnight the following day – or face fines of up to £105 for each crossing. Find out what you can do to beat the Dartford fines right here.

Why do I need to read this?

If you’re driving around the South East there’s a good chance you’ll need to use the Dartford Crossing at some point in the near future – and negotiate its new charging system.

Arriving at the crossing, you’ll expect to be met by barriers where you can pay a toll and be happily on your way. Sadly not. On-the-spot payments have been axed and replaced by a new scheme called Dart Charge.

The new system puts the onus on drivers to logon, or call a payment line, to settle their bill by midnight the following day or face a fine of up to £105.00 for each crossing. Figures show 300,000 drivers failed to do this in one month alone.

How to beat the fine

It's all-change at the Dartford Crossing: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2014_Dartford_Crossing_approach_from_south.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

It’s all-change at the Dartford Crossing: image credit

Motorists using the Dartford Crossing since the system changed have complained about unclear signage and a shortage of information on how to pay their toll. Many drivers have also complained the system is biased towards those with online access.

Payment and dissemination of information does favour those with internet access, but there are easy ways for non-connected drivers to pay up and beat the fines. Here are the main Dartford Crossing payment methods.


1) Set up a pre-pay account:

Set up a pre-pay account: This will need to be done in advance and will require you to pay in at least £10.00 when you register. You can manually top up the account or set it to add funds automatically. This is the cheapest way to pay, with registered cars costing £1.67 per crossing compared with the new price of £2.50 for those who pay in other ways.
Set up a new pre-pay account here
Change an existing Dart Tag account


2) Pay online:

Pay online: Pay for an individual crossing online by heading here before midnight the following day.
Pay here.


3) Pay in advance for a one-off crossing:

Pay in advance for a one-off crossing: If you only use the crossing occasionally, for trips to the airport etc, then paying a minimum of £10.00 into an account is not a good use of your cash. This option lets you pay for pay for individual crossings up to 12 months in advance.
Pay in advance here


4) Over the phone:

Over the phone: Those without internet access will be pleased that you can pay for the charge by phone. You will need to do this by midnight the following day.

However, don’t leave this until the last moment, because we phoned the number only to be informed it was too busy to take our payment.
Pay by phone (if it’s not too busy): 0300 300 0120


5) Payzone retail outlet:

Payzone retail outlet:This is where you can pop into a local store and pay for the charge by cash or other means. Simply use the store locator below to find the outlet that’s closest to you. Use the top drop-down option to select ‘Transport and ticketing’ then ‘Dart Charge’ in the next options list. Then input your postcode to find the nearest payment centre.
Find your nearest Payzone retailer here


6) Pay by post:

Pay by post: If you really don’t like using new technology, then Luddites will feel at home with this err… handy pay-by-post option. You can only pay in advance and must send your cheques to:

Dart Charge Customer Services
PO Box 842
Leeds LS1 9QF


How to make sure you don’t forget to pay the Dartford Crossing toll

Forgotten to pay? Don't panic, just read on

Forgotten to pay? Don’t panic, just read on

Now that you know how to pay, it’s just a case of making sure you remember to do so. Heading on holiday can be both exciting and stressful in equal measure, making it easy to forget banal chores such as paying for your trip over or under the Thames… Here are some suggestions to help ensure you don’t come home to a big fine.


Here’s the big news: Get an extra 14 days to pay: Early statistics show that 15% of drivers neglected to pay the toll on time in the first month alone – meaning out of two million crossings, around 300,000 failed to cough up – racking up potential fines of £21m.

Fortunately, the Highways Agency realises the new system is causing confusion and is allowing drivers more time to pay – extending the midnight deadline to 14 days.

A spokesman said: ‘The first penalty charge notice issued for any vehicle for non-payment of the charge will offer the driver an extra 14 days to pay – and pay for any crossings they have made since.

‘This measured approach strikes the right balance between being clear to drivers they need to pay Dart Charge and giving them every opportunity to do so.’

The additional 14-day period will help most drivers escape fines of up to £210 for a return trip, but please remember, this applies only to the first charge issued to any single vehicle.


Register a Dart Charge account: This will simply take cash from your account for crossings you make – without the need to log on and make individual payments. However, this is best for those who use the crossing on a regular basis, because users have to pay £10.00 to join. This is then used to pay for crossings, but occasional users will have dead money left in the account. See the section above for more details, or join up here.

Set up a new pre-pay account here
Change an existing Dart Tag account


Don’t get scammed: Just like services such as buying road tax and applying for passports, the new Dart Charge payment system – as it is officially known – is likely to be targeted by scammers with copycat websites. Not only will these sites leave you out of pocket for the toll, but they’ll also leave you facing a fine of up to £125.00 for non-payment.

To show how easy this is, a fake site has already been built by digital marketing expert Richard Summers. While his Dartfordcrossingtoll.com site is not asking for money, it’s likely that some won’t be for built with such innocent intentions.

Summers was infuriated by roadside signs sending drivers online to search services such as Google for the payment website – opening up the potential for scammers to take advantage of confusion over the correct website address.

He said: ‘Rather than directing drivers to the official payment website, the signs invite users to use Google. They are practically inviting fraudsters to target people who may not be the most technically savvy to get scammed.’

Don’t pay at any website other than https://www.gov.uk/pay-dartford-crossing-charge


Set a reminder by location on your phone: Have you got an iPhone? There’s a great feature that will let you specify a location for a reminder to be triggered. So, if you’re booking a holiday for example and will need to use the Dartford Crossing as you head to an airport such as Stansted, enter the terminal’s postcode so it’ll remind you to pay as you wait for your flight. You can then do the same for your home address to cover the homeward trip.

The following graphic shows how this smart feature works. Remember to set it when you plan your trip that will include the Dartford Crossing.

graphic

location reminder

1. Open your iPhone’s reminders app – it is standard on the handset
2. Make a new reminder to pay the Dart Charge
3. Hit the ‘i’ button and choose ‘remind me at a location
4. Enter postcode of the tunnel or your destination – where you can pay. Choose ‘when I arrive’
5. The phone will remind you to pay as you arrive at the your destination or crossing
6. Set an identical reminder for your homebound trip – using your home postcode
7. Enjoy a worry-free journey and don’t return to a big fine

 

There are plenty of ready-made apps that do the same thing for Android users too. Try this…

Android
Geobells Location Reminder…
Alert yourself when you reach or pass a certain location.
Get it here


Warn visitors from overseas: With open borders in Europe, many more people will come to visit the UK from overseas – whether on holiday or to see friends and relatives. Many will arrive through the Port of Dover and go on to other parts of the UK by using the Dartford Crossing. This could leave them open to fines because it has been reported that the smartphone-based payment system cannot handle foreign credit cards. This will result in many tourists being hit by charges through no fault of their own.

If this happens to you, make sure you use the telephone system – which will accept foreign cards – to pay the toll. Don’t expect to get away with fines because the car is registered abroad, either, pan-European collection agents will chase you.


Register with DartSave: This is a company set up to prevent you being fined if you forget to pay the Dartford Crossing charge. Signing up will also extend the time you have to pay from midnight the following day to seven days after using the crossing.

Register for free and Dartsave will pay the toll for you, then send an email reminding you to reimburse them within seven days. If this is not done, the firm will send another email with a £5.00 admin charge attached – still much lower than the £70 fine the Government would levy after just one day – even if you don’t get the email until you get back from your holiday.

Remember – like Transport for London and its Congestion Charge, you will not be reminded to pay your toll by the operating authority, which makes this a great service.
Join up here: www.dartsave.co.uk


Pay both ways: It might sound obvious, but don’t forget that payment is due for each crossing you make… both on your outward and return journey.

But has the new system improved journey times?

Yes. Despite the confusion surrounding the new payment system, removing the toll booths has resulted in significantly faster journey times for drivers using the Dartford Crossing.

Highways Agency statistics show reveal average journey times between 7am and 7pm have been cut by more than 9 minutes southbound, and more than 4 minutes northbound when comparing the first two weeks of December and the end of November.

Read our full guide to Dartford Crossing changes here.

 

scrape

Back-to-work checks for your car

The holidays are over and many of us will be heading back to work on Monday… but will your car be ready to hit the road?

Most of us won’t have stepped inside our cars over the festive period, so combine this lack of mileage with freezing conditions that hit the UK over the holidays and you could be risking a non-starting motor, roadside breakdown – or even a Monday morning ding if you don’t ensure your car’s ready for a return to work.

Here’s the Crawley Down Group‘s essential back-to-work automotive health check for commuters everywhere…

At-a-glance post-holiday checks
Don’t hit the road without carrying out these checks. Hover on the hotspots and click any links.


Tyre pressure: A car left sitting can lose tyre pressure – which can damage its structure and make it unsafe. Low pressure can also result in reduced grip and poor handling.

Action: Check your tyre pressure – either with your own air compressor, or at a local garage – and inflate to the correct pressure in preparation for Monday morning’s return to battle.

Get the right tyre pressure: Don’t just pick a random number, click the link to visit the AA’s tyre pressure finder. Simply enter your registration number.

Check here

Fuel: Make sure you’re not running on empty as you join the hordes returning to work on Monday morning.

Action: Ensure you have at least a quarter of a tank of fuel to counter any unexpected delays caused by overrunning road works, crashes etc.

Download this: Don’t ever get left without access to fuel; make sure you download the What Gas smartphone app to help you find the nearest petrol station wherever you are.

Download here

Windscreen washers: While you’ve been devouring turkey, the local authority and Highways Agency have been covering frozen roads with tons of grit. Combine this with damp weather and your windscreen will be suffering the automotive equivalent of blinding cataracts. Pushing your screenwash button only to see dry wipers slowly smear the grime into an even more impenetrable mess on the screen is enough to strike fear into any motorist. Add to this low winter sun and you’ll be driving totally blind.

Action: Go outside now and check your windscreen washer is firing on all cylinders. Look for blocked jets, then fill-up the washer tank.

Add screenwash: Don’t just add water, because this won’t cut through the winter grease and grime on the road. If you haven’t got any screenwash handy, check out the link for making your own.

Make your own screenwash

Window cleaning: Leaving your car idle can cause condensation and dirt to reduce vision on the inside of your car’s windows, too.

Action: Don’t just wipe the windscreen with the back of your hand, that will just help to reduce vision and increase dazzle from oncoming cars. Use a household window cleaner and paper towels to create a smear-free screen.

Start your engine: This isn’t just about ensuring your car starts, but will help to check if any issues have arisen while your motor’s been standing idle over the festive break. Cold weather can cause cooling systems to burst, components to seize and electrics to suffer from damp and condensation.

Action: Start your car and let it idol for up to 20 minutes – making sure you remain with it at all time. Look for any warning lights, unusual readings on gauges. Depress the clutch and try all gears, making sure they engage and disengage as normal. Finally, release the handbrake and gently move off; leaving your brake on for long periods of time can cause it to lock on. Moving gently should free them without causing any damage.

Please note: Make sure you do this in the open with plenty of ventilation and never in your garage.

Bulbs: We’ve all seen the hordes of cars careering along the highway with at least one bulb not working, but that doesn’t mean you have to join them. Dark nights and morning mixed with inclement winter weather make a full roster of lighting essential for anyone who wants to stay safe on the roads.

Action: Check all of your lights right now. You’ll be surprised how many there are, so write a checklist before you start and tick them off as you go along.

On your own: It’s easier to check bulbs with someone to help, but if you’re on your own, simply use reflections from a shop window or wall to ensure all your lights are working.

Clean your lights: Along with checking your light are working, you’ll need to cut through the grime and make sure that you can be seen.

Action: Salt, grit and grease will coat the lenses on your lights, making it difficult for motorists to spot you and reducing your vision of the road ahead. Don’t shirk on this job. Using warm water and your regular carwash will do the job.

If it’s not just grime: Headlight lenses deteriorate over time and reduce vision and visibility, so why not check out this link to see if you can save yourself some cash and restore yours?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_headlight_restoration

Battery check: The battery is the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold.

Action: Get it checked and replace if it’s not up to the job. Otherwise plan for unplanned visits to the roadside.

Free check: Kwik Fit is offering free battery checks, so why not take advantage and see if yours is up to the job. If you need a new one, give our parts department a call on 01342 859252 for a great price on a guaranteed replacement.

Kwik-Fit free check here

Frozen locks and doors: With cold weather set to return, make sure you’re not left locked out in the cold by frozen doors and locks.

Action: Smear a thin layer of Vaseline over door seals and squirt a little WD40 into your car locks… ensuring they never freeze you out.

Defrosting: Few things are more dangerous than a poorly scraped windscreen, so don’t rely on a credit card to get you out of bother in this situation.

Action: Take a trip to your local garage, hardware store etc. and grab a tin of windscreen de-icer. It’s simple and cheap. Make sure you grab a good scraper at the same time.

Not boiling water: Don’t forget, pouring boiling water on a screen with a tiny crack on it could shatter the whole screen.

Christmas tunes

CDG Cars Christmas video jukebox

The boss has left early for an ‘important meeting’ so forget about work, crack open the non-alcoholic fizzy and start the Christmas party now with CDG Cars’ festive jukebox. These are some of our favourites, so why not tell us yours at the bottom of the page?

Happy Christmas!

Now tell us yours…

We hope you enjoyed our selection, but we’d love to hear about your festive faves – and why you love them. Just send us a message below. Merry Christmas everybody…