Foreign drivers flock to switch licences
08 November 2012
More than one million motorists have converted foreign driving permits to a UK licence over the past 15 years, without needing any training on British roads.
The amazing figure was obtained via a Freedom of Information request by insurer Swiftcover.com, and prompted the cover provider to call for mandatory formal training for these motorists, who could have learned to drive in countries as far flung as Zimbabwe. Chief claims officer Robin Reames said: “UK roads are very different to those overseas, so it’s vital new motorists learn as much as they can, which could include a few lessons from an instructor.”
But apparently, not all insurers can judge whether these drivers pose a greater risk on UK roads, as they don’t collect data on where their policyholders obtained their licence – and this includes Swiftcover.com. Plus, the Motor Insurance Bureau admitted this data isn’t currently available on the Motor Insurance Database, which insurers use to share data.
The DVLA explained motorists obtaining their licence in some countries outside the EU can legitimately drive here for up to 12 months, before converting to a UK licence without extra lessons or a retest, as their training is seen to be equivalent to ours. But it admitted the system was open to abuse. A spokesman said: “We’ve heard of drivers exchanging a licence from a country we don’t recognise, say India, for a Hong Kong licence, then converting this licence to a UK one. We plan to close this loophole with a new law that could come in this year.”
Top licence switchers
Below are the top 10 countries with the highest number of drivers converting to a GB licence in the past 15 years.
Position Country Number
Thousands of casualties caused by poor vision
08 November 2012
A report commissioned by insurer RSA, has found that road crashes caused by poor driver vision result in an estimated 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million per year.
Brake and RSA are calling for the numberplate test to be replaced with a requirement for drivers to have a proper vision test with a qualified professional at the start of their driving career, and mandatory re-testing every 10 years thereafter linked to driving licence photocard renewal. Drivers should also be encouraged to voluntarily have their eyes tested every two years in line with NHS recommendations.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “This report gives an indication of how many violent and devastating casualties on our roads could be prevented through a simple eye examination. Being able to see clearly what’s in front and around you is fundamental to safe, responsible driving. That’s why we urge drivers to have an eye test at least every two years, even if you think your sight is fine. We also hope to see common sense winning through and the government tightening up the rules on driver eyesight. To make our roads safer and ensure everyone is fit to drive we need a scientific eyesight test at the start of your driving career and compulsory re-tests at least every 10 years thereafter.”
New trend identified in company car and van sector
08 November 2012
According to a new report, employers are moving to make drivers of company vehicles more responsible for their condition in an attempt to minimise end-of-contract charges and reinforce residual values.
The report says that, among its customer base, a number of employers are either implementing new and more stringent driver policies in this area or tightening up on existing ones.
A spokesperson said: “The story of 2012 in fleet has been about how a large number of businesses are revisiting some of the basic areas of their company car and van schemes to see whether there is potential for greater control to be achieved and this is set to continue into 2013. Addressing how drivers maintain vehicle condition is just one of the ways in which cost can be controlled. Fleets are getting much tougher on drivers on a number of areas such as ensuring that vehicles are serviced on time, spare keys are not being lost, kerbed alloys are being repaired and minor scratches and dents are being fixed.”
The spokesperson added that failure to maintain any one of these areas can sometimes run into hundreds of pounds per vehicle when it came to recharges at the end of contracts and can knock equivalent amounts off residual values. “Historically, many fleets have been fairly relaxed about drivers almost ignoring vehicle condition but this is something that is changing. There is a growing feeling that drivers treating a car or van in a shoddy fashion purely because it is a company vehicle will no longer be tolerated. What we are seeing is a tightening up of driver policy in this area and an increased willingness to recharge drivers for some or all of the amounts that their carelessness is costing the employer".
An important element of this process is of course in the continued education to drivers about the care of their vehicle in order to encourage them to spend time and effort on keeping the vehicle in good condition.
Volvo demonstrates self-driving technology
30 October 2012
Volvo Car Corporation has taken another step on the journey towards autonomous driving - self-driving vehicles - by demonstrating a new traffic jam assistance system.
Electric vehicle charging points will be .........
30 October 2012
.............'within 25 miles' by 2014.