Number Plate Theft

Vehicle number plate theft is a national problem and has more than doubled in the last 5 years. This is due in part to an increase in speed cameras, a rise in petrol costs, toll and congestion zone charges.

Both vehicle registration and proof of identity are required to obtain number plates. Without these, thieves resort to stealing number plates from vehicles.

With CCTV and ANPR cameras in force, offenders use it as a way to engage in criminal activity whilst avoiding detection.

Plates from all makes and models are taken from vehicles in remote or dimly lit locations.

How to protect your plates:

• If you can, park your car in a garage overnight.
• If you have to park on the street, park in busy well-lit area
• Always use safe, well-lit public car parks
• Consider using tamper proof screws. Fitted using a screwdriver but can’t be undone using normal tools.
• Consider using theft-resistant number plates. They may cost a little more but are designed to resist known attack methods. They break apart if someone tries to remove them by force.
• Report stolen number plates straight away. Otherwise you might start receiving parking fines, speeding fines or worse!

If you see a car with a number plate missing or with different plates front and back:
Report it on 101; the police non-emergency number.

Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Currently, there is no upper age limit for driving a car. All drivers have to renew their licence once they reach the age of 70 and every 3 years thereafter.

Those approaching their 70th birthday will be sent a renewal form by the DVLA. When completing the form you have to confirm any medical conditions you may have. Your eyesight must also meet the requirements for driving.

So why are we still driving into our twilight years?

Figures show that with the introduction of the NHS our life expectancy has increased. Living longer, having children later and working longer can all cause the continued use of a motor vehicle.

Technological features all make driving a car for the older person easier and safer. These include:

• cruise control
• power assisted steering
• self parking
• reverse warning or blind spot sensors
• rear cameras
• seats with lumbar support
• and adjustable steering wheels

It may surprise many that the estimate of over 4 million drivers are aged over 70. A little over 200 people aged over 100 are still driving too. With the growing population and longer lifespan, this is only going to increase.

For years there have been arguments for and against allowing the elderly to continue driving. The argument for the “Silver Surfers” is usually upheld by those past the ages of retirement. Most feel that they are still active, capable and don’t want to loose their independence. Those against the “Geriatric Trundlers” are the usually younger generations. Some feel that their elders have poorer eyesight and reactions/reflexes.

To class everyone over the age of 70 unfit to drive would be wrong. A senior citizen is no more likely than anyone else to cause an accident. A mature driver has greater experience and adopts a more careful and restrained driving style to the young in what has been termed as the “boy racer”.

Regardless of this, people latch on to stories of the aged mistaking accelerate for reverse or driving the wrong way down a motorway. With regular calls for the over 70’s to self-certify their own capability to drive.

The awkward moment; how to tell your aged relative or friend it’s time to give up driving

To tell someone that they are past it is a very hard thing to do. If you have any concerns about an elderly person’s driving address the matter sooner rather than later. A delay in doing so could be fatal.

Plan what you want to say and if you can talk it over with a close friend or relative first, do so. One who has already had experience of either side of this particular coin would be a good choice.

Take time to consider the drivers’ point of view. It isn’t only a reminder of a growing inability to take care of themselves the lack of independence, of mobility, the inconvenience of using Public Transport and the practical issues such as the weekly shop.

Giving up driving could also have an effect on where they live, whom they can see and what interests and leisure activities they can pursue. This won’t be a one chat and it’s agreed, car keys handed over and the car is up for sale the next day. Unfortunately, this might seem a simple health and safety issue but to them, it represents an end to the life as they know it.

Don’t go in all guns blazing, think of this as an opening discussion, a way to broach the subject so it can be dealt with. You may need to revisit the subject on a couple of occasions. Remember, unless they are suffering from dementia it’s not up to you to demand the person immediately stops driving. If you think that it is for the best, they are adults and as such you need to respect their rights.

But, if all else fails and you have real concerns over a person’s fitness to drive you can contact the D.V.L.A. They promise anonymity and will write to the driver requesting they see their doctor to complete a form. Unfortunately, if the doctor agrees that they meet the Medical Standard of Fitness and signs the form, the DVLA has no power to revoke the licence. It would be against the driver’s Human Rights, but if the worst happens, at least your conscience is clear!

Towing a Caravan or Trailer This Summer? 9 Useful Tips

With winter now in the rear view mirror and the warmer weather ahead of us, thoughts turn to days out and holidays.

If you are considering on hitching up a caravan or trailer, then beware. What you can tow depends on its size, weight, the type of license you have and when you passed your test.

Follow our guide to hassle free and safe journey;

• New to towing?

Be aware that towing a trailer will affect the handling of the vehicle. Extra care needs to be taken when braking and reversing.
Consider taking a towing course with one of the caravan clubs.

• Insurance:

Don’t assume that your car insurance covers you for towing. Even if it does there may be certain size or weight restrictions. This also applies to Breakdown cover. Check with your insurance company as cover varies between policies.

Have you declared your tow bars and roof racks? These are often regarded by insurers as ‘modifications’.

Unlike motor vehicles, there is no legal need to insure touring caravans or trailers. Thus it is unlikely that you have cover for this under your car insurance policy. You need specialist caravan insurance to provide cover against theft, damage and liabilities.

You should also consider insuring any contents as these are often a target for thieves.

• Equipment:

For vehicles registered after 1st August 1988 –
Any equipment used for towing must be type approved for your vehicle and meet EU regulations.

Fit suitable towing mirrors if the trailer is wider than the rear of your car.
Fines for towing without proper mirrors – up to £1,000 and 3 penalty on your license.

You must display the same number plate on the trailer as the towing vehicle.

Braking systems are required on trailers over 750kg.

You must use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling. This engages the trailer’s brakes (if fitted) or stops the trailer should it become detached from the vehicle.

• Know your weight limits:

The maximum authorised mass (MAM) also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW) is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be safely transported on the road. Check the maximum weight in the owner’s manual and shown on a plate or sticker fitted to the vehicle.

Date of driving test Maximum weight
Before 1 Jan 1997 Drive a car/van/ minibus towing a trailer up to a combined weight of 8,250kg
1 Jan 1997 – 18 Jan 2013 Drive a car/van up to 3, 500kg
With a towing weight up to 750kg
N.B. to tow more than 750kg the combined weight should not exceed 3,500kg
Since 19 Jan 2013 Drive a car/van towing a small trailer up to 750kg
N.B. Total combined weight not to exceed 3,500kg

(Information correct as of 26/04/2017)

To tow anything heavier you need to take a car and trailer driving test (also known as the B&E test).

Know your speed limits
Built up area 30 mph
Single carriageway 50 mph
Dual carriageway/motorway 60 mph

These are the maximum limits allowed and are not necessary safe driving speeds. Always take into account the weather conditions and adjust your speed accordingly.

• Know your towing width limit:

The maximum trailer width is 2.55 metres.

• Know your towing length:

The maximum trailer length is 7 metres.

• Be prepared:

Carry out maintenance checks on both vehicle and trailer.

Ensure the trailer is correctly secured in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Adjust the tyre pressure of the vehicle accordingly for the load towed.

Take care when packing, do not overload. The load should be evenly distributed by placing items centrally and above the axle. The loaded weight of your caravan or trailer should be no more than 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle. This can be found in the manufacture’s handbook.

Fines for a vehicle in a dangerous condition – up to £2,500, a ban and 3 penalty points on your license.

• Whilst driving:

Incidents involving towed vehicles are not only distressing for those involved but cause long delays for other road users.

Be considerate of other drivers, don’t keep switching lanes.

It is illegal to drive in the outside lane of a motorway whilst towing a caravan or trailer.
Be aware when travelling abroad that the laws vary from country to country, so read up before you go.

For the latest rules and regulations about towing go to: www.gov.uk/towing-with-car

A woman using her mobile phone whilst driving.

The Use of Mobile Phones When Driving

The use of a mobile phone or hand – held device whilst driving is illegal. As of 1st March 2017 police are cracking down on the continuous use of mobile phones by drivers. You could have 6 points deducted from your licence including a £200 fine. For new drivers, this could mean having your licence revoked.

When can you use a mobile device whilst driving?

You may only use your device in case of an emergency to call 999 or 112. This is only if it’s unsafe and you are unable to stop.

When can you use a mobile device in your vehicle?

You are not allowed to use your phone at any point when you are driving or even if the engine is running. You may only use a device in your vehicle if you are safely parked and the engine is off with the keys out of the ignition.

Using your device for navigation:

• A cradle is a popular option for hands-free navigation when using your mobile device for commuting.
• When using a device for navigation plug it in before you put the keys in the ignition. Holding/touching a device even if switched off is still a felony. You must not touch it at all once the engine is on.

Using your device for Music:

• Under no circumstances should you use your device to change music. Either use the car radio or prepare a playlist before you enter the vehicle.
• If you must have music from your phone device make sure it is set up before you set off.
• Use of headphones can mean 6 points off your license and a £200 fine.

Uber or cab drivers:

By law, you are not allowed to touch your device when the engine is running. If you work for a cab firm this means you cannot accept work whilst on the move.

Using Bluetooth:

You can use a cellular device via Bluetooth whilst driving. Yet, using the loudspeaker from your phone is not allowed and seen as a danger and distraction.

Be aware:

Death by dangerous driving is no longer the short term of 14 years. You can now serve life imprisonment.

If you ever make a call and the person on the other line is driving – hang up. Similarly, If you are a passenger in a vehicle where the driver is using a cellular device – take it off them. It is a serious danger to both them and the passenger/s of the vehicle.

As an employer, encouraging your staff to use a mobile device whilst driving can result in imprisonment and fines for your company, as well as possible suspension of service.

For more information:

https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law

Winter Driving Tips. Interior view from the inside of a car looking out onto a winter scene of a motorway

Winter Driving Tips

Driving in winter is very different to other times of the year, bad weather conditions and longer periods of darkness can make even familiar roads treacherous and unpredictable.

When planning on driving in adverse conditions listen to the weather warnings and ask yourself if your trip is really necessary.

If travel is unavoidable, ensure everything on your car is in good working order, especially your tyres, lights and windscreen wipers. Keep a full tank of fuel and emergency kit in the car in case of accidents, breakdowns or jams.

Before setting off make sure all internal glass surfaces on your car are clear of mist and externally clear of ice and snow. It is illegal and dangerous to drive if visibility is impeded.

Always put safety before punctuality and leave plenty of time for your journey. Get your speed right to maintain the correct stopping distances between vehicles.

Remember your journey can contain many micro climates so always beware of the weather and driving conditions.

Here are a few tips to driving safe in our changeable weather;

Heavy rain:

Use the windscreen wipers to aid visibility.

Reduce speed to avoid aquaplaning. Should you find the car sliding, ease off the accelerator and brake until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again.

Remember you need twice the braking distance to slow down and stop.

Do not attempt to drive through deep or fast flowing flood water.

Remember to test your brakes after driving through water.

Snow & Ice:

If you start to skid when driving in snow or icy conditions, don’t panic, reduce your speed, apply the brakes slowly and smoothly, release and de-clutch, keeping the wheels pointing towards where you want to go and allowing your speed to fall.

Remember you need up to ten times the braking distance to slow down and stop.

When driving downhill, reduce speed, keep in a low gear and avoid using the brakes.

When driving uphill, choose a suitable gear in advance, keep at a constant speed and avoid stopping.

If stuck in a rut, move the vehicle slowly backwards and forwards using the highest gear you can. Do not rev your engine as this will make matters worse.

If you are truly stuck, do not leave the vehicle, switch off the engine and call your breakdown service for help.

The biggest danger is “black ice”, not really black but transparent and invisible. It forms most commonly when the temperature is at their coldest. It forms readily on Bridges and on parts of the road where the sun doesn’t shine such as under overpasses as they are normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw.

Fog:

In gloomy conditions reduce your speed and always use dipped headlights, never use full beams in fog as it reflects light back.

Put your fog lights on if visibility drops below 100 meters.

If visibility is very poor, it is advisable to approach junctions and crossroads slowly and wind down your window to enable you to listen out for approaching traffic, however; if you really cannot see, you should consider pulling over and stopping until it is safe to continue your journey.

Strong winds:

Reduce your speed.

Avoid driving a high sided vehicle.

Keep tight control of the steering wheel.

Take extra care on bridges and exposed roads.

Low sunshine:

Reduce your speed

Ensure your windscreen is clean and streak free inside and out

Have a pair of sunglasses to hand

For further information:

http://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/better-driving/winter-tips/

Concourse of Elegance (Windsor Castle)

On Friday the 2nd of September we were kindly invited by Azur to attend the Concours of Elegance event at Windsor Castle. The most exceptional cars from all over the world, ranging from classic cars to high performance/ luxury cars were there for the fifth year running and this year was a very special one, celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

There were over 60 showcars parked in the castle’s quadrangle and outside the Quadrangle another 1000 or so cars were parked, representing some of the finest of the UK’s car clubs.

Ahead of the UK Concours of Elegance 2016, a selection of Concours of Elegance cars, led by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, embarked on a 300-mile driving tour ahead of the Windsor Castle event. They endured the best driving roads and backdrops — from the Cotswolds to the Brecon Beacons.

This year was a very successful turn out with over 12,500 visitors that attended the event . Best of Show at the Concours went to a 1938 Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia, which is proudly owned by Peter and Merle Mullin. This award is picked not by judges but voted on by all 60 entrants.

A key objective of the annual Concours of Elegance is to raise significant sums for charity. This years charities were The Queen’s Choral Foundation, The Household Cavalry Foundation and Springfield Youth Club Hackney. With this year’s donations of almost £200,000 the Concours of Elegance has now raised more than £1m for charity. I am sure you will agree that this is quite an achievement!

Peacock Blues

Following on from yesterday’s claims story, we have another somewhat more bizarre story from the claims team
at AIG.

A peacock-blue car ruffled the feathers of a real peacock on an estate. Whether it was the car’s colour, or whether the peacock mistook its own mirrored image for a rival isn’t clear, but it wasn’t just the peacock’s ego that had been dented after the prolonged pecking attack. This frenzied attack left the car somewhat worse for wear and although an unusual case, AIG Private Client Group quickly and happily covered the claim.

Story courtesy of AIG – Featured in Issue 1 of BIG Magazine

When Online Car Insurance just won’t Cut the Mustard

The Insurance giant AIG share with us a hair-raising story about a client who crashed his prized Ferrari Enzo causing over £300,000 in damage.

Only 400 Ferrari Enzos were ever made so, appreciating how rare the car was, AIG transported it to the Ferrari manufacturing plant in Maranello to be repaired by the people who originally built it.

AIG also flew the client out to the repair shop to view the repairs before completion to ensure that the client was happy with the work before transporting the car back to the United Kingdom.The client was very happy and the value of the vehicle was protected.

Motor insurance cover is a very competitive business. However, for many of our clients, the prime motivation for purchase is quality of cover and service as opposed to cost, whether they are owners of a Classic and High Peformance Vehicle or not. We will work very hard to get you the best quote for the widest cover available in the market.

Story courtesy of AIG – Featured in Issue 1 of BIG Magazine