Doctors Must Report Issues That Affect Driving To DVLA:
The General Medical Council (GMC) has insisted that GPs report patients who are medically unfit to drive to the DVLA.
The new guidance is in draft form and open to public consultation, but the regulator has said doctors have a public protection duty to inform authorities if a patient is driving against medical advice.
Patient consent is not required for doctors to inform the DVLA if a patient has continued driving.
However, this new, stronger advice is part of a public consultation on the GMC's core guidance on confidentiality, which aims to help doctors balance their legal and ethical duties of confidentiality with wider public protection responsibilities.
The guidance says doctors must disclose information - which can include risks of violent crime, serious communicable diseases, or risks posed by patients who are not fit to drive - which could help protect the public.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘Doctors often find themselves in challenging situations.
“This is difficult territory - most patients will do the sensible thing but the truth is that a few will not and may not have the insight to realise that they are a risk to others behind the wheel of a car. A confidential medical service is a public good and trust is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship. But confidentiality is not absolute and doctors can play an important part in keeping the wider public safe if a patient is not safe to drive. We are clear that doctors carrying out their duty will not face any sanction - and this new guidance makes clear that we will support those who are faced with these difficult decisions.”
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “Thirty-seven million drivers depend on the car for getting about and for those with serious medical conditions there is a real fear around losing their licence. But with the right treatment, many illnesses will not lead to people having to hang up the keys. The worst thing motorists can do is ignore medical advice. If they don't tell the DVLA about something that impacts on their ability to drive safely, then their GP will.”
You're doing it wrong: How holding the steering wheel at the old '10-and-2' spot could tear off your hands in a crash
Millions of people who learned to drive before the age of modern air bags are risking severe damage to their arms and hands -- and even amputation -- because of how they hold the steering wheel.
Driving experts say the old position at the top of the wheel, 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, risks potentially traumatic injuries in a crash, thanks to the force and direction of air bags in modern cars.
Instead, holding the wheel at a lower position, 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, will protect drivers' hands and the arms better.
Wrong: Holding your hands too high on the steering wheel risks injury if the airbag deploys
The National Transpiration Safety Board, the agency that monitors and oversees car safety in America, has reported some truly horrific injuries as a result of drivers improperly placing their hands on their steering wheels, according to MSNBC.
These include, in extreme cases, severed fingers or hands, broken arms and even degloving -- the skin being torn away entirely from the fingers and hand.
In more common, and less terrifying cases, arms can be flung into faces during airbag deployment,causing broken noses and concussions.
Experts say the higher on the wheel your hands are, the more likely they are to be struck by the steering wheel cover that shoots off as the airbag violently expands at 150 to 250 mph.
Dangerous: Airbags deploy violently, at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. They can cause traumatic injuries to hands and arms
Fixing the problem calls for holding the wheel lower, with hands almost parallel.
Old-school driving instructors taught their students to hold their hands high on the wheel for better control.
Looking at the steering wheel as a clock, it meant drivers putting their hands at the 10 o'clock position and the 2 o'clock position.
But drivers need to move their hands down to the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions.
Some instructions say hands should be even lower -- 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock -- but some research suggests that position might result in less vehicle control.
Are untaxed drivers getting away with it now paper discs have gone?
According to confused.com, officials say there has been no spike in drivers trying to evade tax since the disc was phased out. But new rules on car sales are catching some buyers out.
The abolition of the tax disc last autumn raised fears it would become easier for motorists to get away without paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
Since October 2014, it has no longer been a legal requirement for owners of cars, vans and motorcycles to display their tax disc on their windscreens.
More using online option
But the DVLA says that, despite some motoring organisations warning that the change could lead to a sharp rise in the number of untaxed vehicles, "the vast majority of drivers continue to tax their vehicles on time".
A spokesman adds: "Since 1 October, more than 16-and-a-half million drivers have taxed their vehicles – with over 70% doing it online, more than ever before."
The DVLA is confident that the new system will not see more tax evasion.
This is largely because, even before its abolition, the tax disc was not the chief means of ensuring VED had been paid.
"In terms of enforcement, the majority of action is taken direct from our records," says the spokesman.
This means that DVLA staff rely on its own database to see who has failed to tax their vehicles, with the keeper of an untaxed car sent a penalty notice in the post.
Fines for failing to pay tax can be steep: there is a potential fixed-penalty notice fine of £50 and untaxed vehicles can be clamped, with a £100 release fee charged.
A £160 surety also has to be paid before the vehicle is released, although this is refunded provided the vehicle is taxed within two weeks.
More learners recruiting lookalikes to cheat driving test
A record number of drivers are sending impostors to take their driving and theory test exams for them
An increasing number of learner drivers are being caught trying to cheat by sending lookalikes to sit their tests for them, according to Government figures.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed more than 670 cases of impersonators sitting both theory and practical exams have been reported so far in 2014/15 – more than a fifth higher than in the previous year, where just 554 were caught.
From April to the end of December 2014, there were 677 reported cases, compared with 554 for the whole of 2013/14 and 628 in 2012/13.
Nearly 200 arrests have been carried out so far in 2014/15, with 55 convictions for fraud offences. A further 37 people have been jailed and 97 driving licences revoked, according to the figures published by the DVSA after a Freedom of Information request by The Times.
Andy Rice, head of the DVSA’s fraud integrity team, said learners trying to beat the system were putting “innocent road users at risk”. But he added “stringent measures” were in place to detect offenders, which explained the rise in the number of fake learners.
The highest number of reported cases in the last decade was 816 in 2011/12, but this year's total is expected to break that record with the final three months of the financial year still to be added.
Mr Rice said: "The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly. Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.
"Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly. We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice. Thankfully this type of crime is extremely rare."
Woman stopped SUV in fast lane because fuel light came on
A driver narrowly avoided causing a pile-up on one of Britain's busiest motorways, after stopping her car in the fast lane because the fuel warning light had come on.
The unidentified woman had been driving her Audi Q7 on the anti-clockwise carriageway of the M25 in Kent when the light illuminated, advising her that she would soon need to stop at a fuel station.
Panicked, the driver thought it would be a better idea simply to bring the car to a halt in lane three.
Police attended the scene after other motorists reported the car had broken down. It wasn't until they spoke to the shaken driver that they realised the true nature of the incident.
A Surrey Police spokesman said: "Her fuel warning light came on so she stopped in lane three as she was confused due it not being a car that she usually drives," The Telegraph reports.
"She was given suitable advice and directions to the nearest garage."
The incident occurred between junction 6 for Godstone and 5 for Sevenoaks on January 8. The incredulous traffic officers even took to Twitter to express their shock.
The School of Mum and Dad...
According to a survey by Green Flag, young drivers are turning their backs on driving schools and learning from their parents instead - and test pass rates are falling.
Squeezed budgets could be to blame for the findings of the Green Flag driving behaviour study, which was carried out to mark the company's 20th anniversary.
Only 34% of young drivers now choose to learn with a driving school; down from 50% in 1994.
In the same time period there has been a 25% jump in the number choosing to learn with their parents, and questions are being raised over the standard of drivers that this is producing.
In 2014 77% of parents are actively involved with tuition to help their children pass their driving tests, compared to 52% when Green Flag was created.
Mums have got on board the new era with gusto, with 30% now teaching their kids to drive compared to just 11% two decades ago.
But parents, most of whom have no qualifications as driving instructors, might be doing a bad job. First-time driving test pass rates have fallen from 48% to 42% in those 20 years.
Boys are to blame for the drop, with 1994's 54% first-time pass rate now having collapsed to just 39%. Girls are doing better, passing at the first attempt in 46% of cases now, compared to 43% in the mid-nineties.
British Gymnastic Champion Nile Wilson, 18, commented: "I loved learning to drive, for me it was like trying to learn a new sport! I used a driving instructor, but my dad helped out by giving me extra lessons.
"Despite the additional help, I failed my first two driving test attempts because, in my opinion, I still didn't have enough on-the-road experience. I won't comment on what that says about my dad's teaching skills!"
Three drivers in ten admit that they can't locate the screen wash bottle.
Three out of ten wouldn't know where to fill up the windscreen washer bottle, according to a Flexed.co.uk survey.
Suggesting that many car breakdowns are directly caused by owners' ignorance of everyday checks, the company says that this is one subject which should be taught at schools, sixth forms and colleges, or even as part of driver training.
"Millions of us drive every day, but it turns out that huge numbers know very little about the machine they're operating," said spokesperson Mark Hall.
To find out how much we take the automobile for granted, the survey asked over 3000 drivers if they knew how to carry out basic maintenance tasks:
49% didn't know how to change a wheel
31% didn't know how to check their tyre pressures
63% were unable to check the oil level
29% were unable to fill the windscreen washer bottle
58% didn't know where to top up the oil1% didn't know how to fill up with petrol
"If school pupils are shown how to do even the most basic of task, that's a skill that they've got for life," said Hall.
Theory Test Wins National Safety Award.
The hazard perception section of the driving theory test has been recognised with a national road safety award for its role in reducing the number of accidents and potentially saving hundreds of lives every year.
The Prince Michael International Road Safety Award highlights that the introduction of the hazard perception test in 2002 could account for an 11 per cent reduction in accidents, helping to improve road safety and reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.
The hazard perception element of the test uses video clips to test candidates’ reactions to developing hazards on the road. The original filmed clips are soon to be replaced with highly realistic animated clips, incorporating a wider range of hazards in more realistic scenarios.
DVSA chief executive, Alastair Peoples, said: “I am extremely pleased that the hazard perception test and its contribution to road safety have been recognised in this way. The theory test plays a vital role in making sure that new drivers know the Highway Code and the rules of the road, helping them to drive safely and responsibly and making our roads safer.”
Director of the Prince Michael Road Safety Awards scheme, Adrian Walsh, said: “Although this element of the test is now considered by most candidates as nothing special, its effect in reducing casualties has been significant. Analysis shows that a statistically significant reduction of 11.3 per cent in accidents on public roads can be attributed to hazard perception testing. An award to the team behind this outstanding innovation is long overdue.”
The judges said that the hazard perception test was an outstanding innovation, which had made a considerable improvement to road safety and was well overdue for recognition.
In June this year the Hazard perception section of the driving theory test also received the John Smart Road Safety award at the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) Awards 2014. The judges praised the research leading up to the introduction of the hazard perception test, and highlighted that the test potentially saves £89.5 million a year through reducing the number of collisions.
Every year around 1.5m hazard perception tests are taken as part of the theory test, with an average pass rate of 85 per cent for the hazard perception section.
Happy birthday traffic signals!
The time... December 10th 1868 - the place, London.
The first non-electric, gas lit, traffic lights were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London to control the traffic in Bridge Street, Great George Street and Parliament Street. They were promoted by the railway engineer J. P. Knight and constructed by the railway signal engineers of Saxby & Farmer.
The design combined three semaphore arms with red and green gas lamps for night-time use, on a pillar, operated by a police constable. The gas lantern was manually turned by a traffic police officer, with a lever at its base so that the appropriate light faced traffic.
Although it was said to be successful at controlling traffic, its operational life was brief. It exploded on 2 January 1869, as a result of a leak in one of the gas lines underneath the pavement, injuring or killing the policeman who was operating it. With doubts about its safety, the concept was abandoned until electric signals became available.
Electric traffic lights have been around since 1912 when they were introduced in Salt-Lake-City, Nevada. Three-colour signals, operated manually from a tower in the middle of the street, were installed in New York in 1918.
The first lights of this type to appear in Britain were in London, on the junction between St James's Street and Piccadilly, in 1925. They were operated manually by policemen using switches. Automatic signals, working on a time interval, were installed in Wolverhampton, in 1926. The first vehicle-actuated signals in Britain occurred on the junction between Gracechurch Street and Cornhill on the City, in 1932. By some strange quirk, these were also destroyed by a gas explosion.
The meaning an colours of lights vary around the world with the latest introduction in the UK being the lights used to control trams.
New Scottish Record!
But not one that you would want!
A learner driver from Glasgow has set a new Scottish record after failing his car driving theory test 36 times.
The unnamed 22-year-old man, from Glasgow, spent a staggering £1,147 in a bid to show he knows the rules and hazards of the road.
He failed all of his tests before finally passing on his 37th attempt earlier this year. However, he still has his practical driving test to overcome.
The multiple failed attempts makes him the worst ever learner at the driving theory test in Scotland since the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which governs the tests, started keeping records in 2004.
The previous worst record was held by a 35-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man, both also from Glasgow, who failed it 29 times.
The record for the most failed attempts at the practical driving test is still held by a woman from Anniesland, Glasgow, who took 25 attempts before finally passing on her 26th in 2009.
The figures, revealed by the DVSA under freedom of information laws, also revealed a 43-year-old woman from Dunfermline, Fife, holds the record for the most failed motorcycle tests after taking 10 attempts to pass.
AA survey reveals figures for drink-driving
First published Wednesday 10 December 2014 in News
AS MANY as 19 per cent of motorists have driven the morning after a night of heavy drinking – even when they thought they might have been over the legal limit, according to a survey.
But 54 per cent of drivers do try to avoid drink-driving by agreeing a designated driver before going on a night out.
Based on responses from 19,887 adults, the AA/Populus survey also found that drinking lots of water and eating a fried breakfast were the two main ways of reducing alcohol levels.
The figures were released to coincide with a Christmas anti-drink driving campaign from the AA and drinks firm Pernod Ricard UK.
The poll showed that women (58 per cent) were more likely than men (52%) to nominate a designated driver before a night out drinking, but only 43 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds would do so, compared with 58 per cent of those aged 65 or over. Londoners were the least likely to agree a designated driver but the most likely to plan to use public transport or taxis. Drivers in the east of England and in south-west England were most likely to agree a designated driver.
In Scotland, where the legal drink-drive limit has been lowered from 80mgs to 50mgs, nine per cent of drivers opted for Irn Bru as an alcohol-reduction measure compared with only one per cent in the UK.
The drinking-lots-of-water method was most popular in London and south east England, while the fried breakfast trick was favoured most by Londoners, those in north east England and by younger drivers.
Other ways of trying to reduce alcohol levels included eating chocolate or going for a run.
AA president Edmund King said: “It is encouraging to see that many people are choosing to select a designated driver before a night out but it’s really important that they also consider arrangements for the morning after too.
“Alcohol levels in the body can still mean that drivers are over the limit the following morning and we want to ensure that people are fully aware of this when they are making the decision whether or not to get behind the wheel.”
Pernod Ricard UK managing director Denis O’Flynn said: “It’s clear that a lot of people are making the right choices but often they don’t"
Police warn that cold and flu drugs are pushing drivers over limit
Heavily-medicated drivers suffering from common colds or flu could be unwittingly breaking drug-driving laws without even knowing it.
A large number of over-the-counter remedies can result in drivers being unfit to get behind the wheel - and police officers are seeing an increase in the number of offenders this year.
AOL Cars spent the day with a police drug-driving patrol in Hampshire where officers warned that prescription medication is one of the most common substances detected during impairment tests.
"Prescription and other medications easily purchased at pharmacists, such as Night Nurse, can make drivers very drowsy and severely affect their driving," explained PC Jon Lansley, a specially-trained drug detection traffic officer based at Havant, Hampshire.
"These drugs make it clear they can affect driving on the labels, but often when drivers feel unwell they dose themselves up on these and don't realise the consequences."
At this time of year, drug-driving offences for perfectly legal substances is higher than that of cannabis and cocaine, explained the police officer.
Police in Hampshire were among the first in the country to test new drug-screening kits – calledDrugWipe 3S – which detect illegal substances from a swab of saliva. However, officers have caught drivers under the influence of cough and cold medicines with roadside Field Impairment Tests.
PC Lansley added: "These cold remedies can sometimes be safe in normal doses, but you'll find most people take more than the recommended amount and then vision can blur and other functions vital to safe driving start to deteriorate too.
"I'd always advise to read the labels carefully and be aware that drugs – whether legal or illegal – can have a serious effect on your ability to drive."
Police breath test failure rate hits three-year high
The proportion of motorists in England and Wales failing police breath tests has increased to its highest level for three years.
Almost 6,000 drivers tested positive for alcohol in 2014, 4.39% of the total - the highest percentage since 2011.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which compiles the data, said drivers under 25 were most likely to fail.
The association said officers carried out fewer tests overall last year.
Of the 133,996 breath tests carried out, 5,885 were failed. The failure rate was 6.33% among the 28,228 drivers under 25 tested.
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: "The use of an intelligence-led approach by officers may give the impression, through our figures, of members of the public not taking seriously the consequences of driving under the influence, but I am confident that our messages on the topic are getting through.
"Rather, targeted testing is helping officers to pick up on offending in a more efficient way."
Getting away with it?
We set out to establish whether today’s motorists actually know what’s legal and what isn’t?
So what do motorists expect to get caught for? On the whole, the majority of motorists expect to get away with most motoring offences. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that they would like to see a greater police presence on our roads to enforce motoring legislation more effectively on other motorists, which in turn would act as a genuine deterrent.
How likely do motorists' think they'd be caught for offences?
UK driving test to take new turns
Learner drivers may be asked to use satnav and three-point turn could be scrapped in favour of more common manoeuvres
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is testing exam measures designed to 'better reflect real-life driving'.
The three-point turn could be dropped from driving tests after the government signalled the biggest shakeup in 20 years.
Learners may be asked to use a satellite navigation system as part of a revised practical exam and the three-point-turn – more recently known as the “turn in the road” – could be scrapped altogether.
About 1,000 learner drivers across the UK will be invited to a trial of new practical exam measures designed to “better reflect real-life driving”.
The test has existed in its current form for about two decades, although “independent driving” – where motorists are asked to find their way to a destination – has formed part of the practical exam in recent years.
A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesman said: “We are carrying out initial research to explore how the driving test could better reflect real-life driving. Any future changes to the test would be subject to full public consultation.”
The trial will consider extending the independent driving section from 10 to 20 minutes of the total 40-minute length, and asking candidates to follow directions on a satnav, as an alternative to using road signs.
It will also consider replacing the “reverse around a corner” and “turn in the road” manoeuvres with more realistic everyday moves, such as reversing out of a parking bay, or pulling up on the left or right before rejoining the flow of traffic, the DVSA said.
Learners may also be asked one of the two safety questions while on the move rather than at the start of the test. This could involve operating the rear windscreen heater while driving.
The Driving Instructors Association (DIA), the largest industry body for driver and rider trainers, has welcomed plans to review the driving test.
Carly Brookfield, 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.
“The DIA and its members will play a key role in the project as it is critical customers of the test, such as driving instructors and candidates, have their input in making the test more fit for purpose and more reflective of modern driving.”
A good news story
It's taken 10 years and about 20 failed attempts – but Salendine Nook woman Surraya Begum has finally passed her driving test.
The 65-year-old has ripped up her L-plates after passing her test this month – much to the delight of her driving instructor Mian Azhar, who has been patience personified over the past six years teaching her to drive.
Mian, 63, a former taxi driver who runs Direction Driving School in Marsh, said Surraya had already been trying to pass her test with a number of other driving instructors for about four years when he agreed to help her. Some had even refused to teach her because they did not think she would ever be able to pass.
“I told her it would not be easy, but I would work with her,” he said. “I accepted the challenge! She was having two or three lessons a week to begin with. I asked her how much she had spent on driving lessons, but she can't remember!”
Mian said: “Her big issues were lack of confidence, proper observation and planning and memorising the sequence of actions she needed to take.”
As well as learning to cope behind the wheel of the driving school's Nissan Micra, Surraya was also hampered by her lack of English, which initially proved a barrier to her passing the theory test. “She had to work at it a lot,” said Mian.
Now Surraya has realised her ambition and has bought herself a Toyota Yaris to make short trips to the shops and for appointments.
Mian, who passed HIS driving test first time, said he also had a sense of achievement. “It seems unbelievable to me,” he said. “We've achieved something that seemed an impossibility. She was the oldest student I have ever had. Now she is driving smoothly and safely.
“There are people who think they will never pass the test. They go away, stop learning to drive and then come back to it 10 years later. I always tell them that I will help all I can, but in the end they have to work at it.”
Compulsory Rural Driving Lessons:
Rural driving lessons should be a compulsory for all learner drivers, according to a road safety charity.
Figures from the Department for Transport show that 120 young drivers lost their lives in 2015 – the last year for which statistics are available – with 80 per cent of these deaths taking place on country roads.
Comparatively, 16 per cent took place on urban roads while just four per cent occurred on motorways.
Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “High speeds, sharp bends, narrow lanes, risky overtaking and the presence of vulnerable road users like cyclists, make rural roads the most dangerous by far. The combination of rural roads and novice drivers is lethal – a staggering 80 per cent of all young car driver fatalities occur in rural locations.
“Brake is calling for a total overhaul of the learning to drive system to help cut fatalities and injuries. A graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period, mandatory training on rural roads and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers – such as a zero drink-drive limit – will allow new drivers to build up more skills and experience over a longer period of time.”
Wakeford explained that similar systems in countries such as New Zealand and Australia had “dramatically reduced road casualties” and could save as many as 400 lives per year if introduced in Britain.
He added: “Brake is also calling for a review of rural speed limits and for ‘Voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation', which helps drivers keep within the limit, to be fitted as standard to new cars. There is also the need for better and more affordable public transport, so fewer young people see starting driving in their teens as a necessity.”
However, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) ruled out the possibility of rural lessons being introduced.
They said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we are determined to do everything we can to make them even safer.
“We encourage learner drivers to experience as many driving conditions and road types as possible before taking their test, however making lessons compulsory on rural roads would be impractical for people due to geographical distances and potential associated costs.
“We are constantly taking action to help keep young drivers safe including allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways with an approved instructor, tightening the laws on drug driving and using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and we are spending £175 million upgrading 50 of England's most dangerous local A-roads.”
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn added: “DVSA's priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving which is why we have modernised the driving test. This includes driving for longer without instruction, on a wider range of roads at different speeds, and using a sat nav, so we are better testing a driver's ability.
“These changes have been welcomed by the Driving Instructors Association, the BSM and the AA because of the positive impact they will have on road safety.”