Many Happy Returns: The Driving Test Turns Eighty

March 26th, 2015

happy birthday signAs the driving test approaches its 80th birthday motoring organizations are questioning whether it’s ‘fit for the 21st century’. The driving test has played a large part in making our roads some of the safest in Europe (second only to Sweden) so there’s certainly plenty to celebrate. But while motoring has moved on over the past eight decades; the driving test remains comparatively unchanged.

The 1930s was a period of enormous social change and much of it was down to the mass production of the motor car. As cars became more affordable the country’s roads became chaos and in 1934 a record high of 7,343 deaths was recorded. Action was desperately needed and Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha decided that he was the man for the job.

Things quickly got personal for the newly appointed Minister of Transport as he was left reeling at the kerbside having nearly been run over by a speeding sports car. Hore-Belisha set to work pushing the 1934 Traffic Act through parliament and bringing to law a number of measures that would revolutionise road safety.

The first was introducing a 30mph speed limit in urban areas and the second was introducing the driving test. And as if that wasn’t enough he also gave his name to the ‘Belisha beacons’ that still mark zebra crossings today. The driving test became compulsory on 1st June 1935 and many of the original elements would be recognisable to motorists today. After a sight test candidates were quizzed on The Highway Code and then asked to perform a series of manoeuvres (including: a hill start, an emergency stop and a turn in the road).

The driving test has played a pivotal role in making our roads safer (there are over 34 million vehicles on the road and last year 1,760 fatalities), but more needs to be done. Understandably much of the focus is on young drivers who are involved in a disproportionate number of collisions. Figures show that 17-19 years olds are involved in 11.9% of serious crashes despite comprising just 1.5% of licence holders.

The Institute for Advanced Motorists (IAM) and the RAC Foundation agree that newly qualified drivers would benefit enormously from an extended period of learning before getting a full licence. During the proposed ‘probationary period’ new drivers would have certain restrictions placed on them (such as limited passenger numbers or limited late night driving) while they build-up invaluable experience. ‘Graduated driving licences’ would allow drivers to safely experience scenarios which aren’t covered in the current test (such as driving on motorways or in wintery conditions).

It’s a bittersweet birthday for the driving test that’s summed-up neatly by Neil Greig of the IAM “The driving test today does test a driver’s ability to a very high level, but it has fallen behind what is urgently needed in 2015”.

New Drug Driving Laws Explained

March 24th, 2015

drug drivingLong overdue changes to laws surrounding ‘drug driving’ have been warmly welcomed by motoring organizations. The moves are designed to stamp out drug driving which is thought to cause 200 fatalities each year. Limits have been placed on eight illegal drugs (including: heroin, cocaine and cannabis) and eight prescription drugs (including: morphine, clonazepam and diazepam). Read the rest of this entry »

Ten Tips to Beat Increased Car Insurance Costs

March 19th, 2015

car insurance costsIt’s bad news for motorists, after three years of falling car insurance costs, new data suggests that premiums are beginning to creep up. To help beat the price rises here’s a quick reminder of how to cut the cost of cover: Read the rest of this entry »

More drivers are using their mobiles

March 16th, 2015

mpobile car useA survey commissioned by the Department of Transport has uncovered the extent of illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel, and the results make for worrying reading. The report found that 1.6% of drivers (spotted from the roadside) were using handheld devices which equates to a staggering 470,000 motorists breaking the law every day. Read the rest of this entry »

Are your car keys covered by your insurance?

March 12th, 2015

car keysIt’s been a great start to the day but as you leave the house you realise that you can’t find your keys. Five minutes later and you’re in a frenzy rifling through kitchen draws and diving down the back of the sofa. Eventually you manage to track-down your keys (exactly where you left them) and set-off to work under a cloud. Read the rest of this entry »

Insurance News Stories Hitting the Headlines

March 9th, 2015

news round-upWeird and wonderful home insurance claims

In a bid to prove that insurance companies do have a sense of humour one leading provider has been digging through last years’ claims and made some interesting discoveries. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Five Easter Holiday Ideas

March 6th, 2015

easter breaksWith the evenings stretching out and the mercury rising spring has finally sprung. Make the most of the bank holiday with an inspired Easter break and here are our favourite five: Read the rest of this entry »

Term Life Insurance & Whole Life Insurance Explained

March 4th, 2015

life insuranceRecent research has found that nearly three quarters of adults don’t have any life insurance. As a nation we are reluctant to talk about death and the subject remains something of a conversational taboo. Given that we don’t want to ‘think about the unthinkable’ it’s hardly surprising that such a small percentage of the population is covered. What is much more surprising is the fact that over 60% of life insurance claims are made by people aged 40-60 and the figure rises to 70% for critical illness claims. Read the rest of this entry »

The Keys to a Perfect Crime

February 27th, 2015

keys and burglarsWhy bother breaking and entering when you can let yourself in through the front door? Last year the police recorded more than 6,000 burglaries as ‘unforced entries’ where stray spare keys were used to gain access to the property. Sometimes the keys had been stolen, sometimes they had simply fallen into the wrong hands, but most often they had been ‘hidden’ somewhere near to the property. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for Driving in Europe

February 24th, 2015

holiday carIf you are planning on taking your car to the continent it’s important to know the local rules of the road. Motoring laws (and habits) vary from country to country and the following tips are designed to help your holiday go without a hitch: Read the rest of this entry »