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New green number plate confirmed design

Electric car green number plates to launch in autumn

New green number plate confirmed design

The government has given the go-ahead to green number plates for 100% zero emissions electric cars. The new plates will be introduced from autumn 2020.

Both front and rear EV number plates will carry a green strip on the left-hand side.

Only fully zero emissions electric cars will be eligible to use them.

The idea behind the green number plates is to make it easier to identify 100% zero emissions vehicles.

This will, for example, help local authorities spot EVs eligible for specific initiatives such as entry into zero-emissions zones, or cheaper car parking.

Green front and rear number plates

Zero-emissions cars, vans, taxis, motorbikes, buses, coaches and HGVs will all be eligible to carry a green number plate.

The scheme will be non-mandatory and EV owners will be able to opt out.

“Green number plates could unlock a number of incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

The go-ahead for green EV number plates comes after the government first suggested the idea in 2018.

Car makers, motoring groups, local authorities and the public all fed into the subsequent consultation on how best to introduce green number plates.

Surprisingly, only 1 in 5 motorists actually supported the idea behind green number plates when quizzed last autumn.

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner also questioned the policy behind green number plates, calling for the process to be “tightly controlled”.

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How to apply for or renew a Blue Badge online

Disabled Blue Badge holders only

Disabled drivers rivers eligible for a Blue Badge can apply online via the government website.

A Blue Badge allows parking in disabled bays, so people with mobility issues can stop closer to their destination.

The online service should make the process of applying for one quick and easy. The Department for Transport (DfT) says it can be completed in less than half an hour.

ALSO READ: Parking fines: When and how you should appeal

In the past, applicants were asked to send supporting documents in the post, leading to lengthy waits while the application was processed.

A survey found it took an average of 17 days for a driver to receive a Blue Badge – or 28 days if a medical assessment was required.

Now, all documents, including photographs and proof of identity, can be uploaded to the Blue Badge website. The process takes around 13 minutes, or up to 30 minutes if additional information is required.

Video guide to applying for a Blue Badge

To apply or renew, visit the Gov.uk website. You will need details of your current Blue Badge (if you have one), a digital or signed photograph, your National Insurance number, proof of identification, proof of benefits (if you receive any) and proof of residence.

The fee for a Blue Badge is up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland, while Welsh motorists don’t have to pay. A badge usually lasts up to three years.

Note: you can save your application and return to it later if needed.

The process is also different if you live in Northern Ireland. Follow this link to apply if so.

Most accidents happen on slower roads

Most accidents happen on slow roads

More than two-thirds of accidents take place on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less. That’s according to Department for Transport statistics.

Using figures from 2018, the research shows that 73,408 (60 percent) of accidents happened on roads with a limit of 21-30mph. Meanwhile, 10,661 (nine percent) took place on roads with a limit up to 20mph.

The data also shows that you’re less likely to have an accident on a motorway or derestricted road.

However, accidents on faster roads are more likely to be fatal. For example, while ‘just’ 12 percent of accidents take place on a road with a 51-60mph limit, they make up 32 percent of fatal accidents. There were 542 fatal accidents in 2018.

Given the above, it will come as no surprise that London has the highest proportion of road accidents, but the lowest rate of fatalities. The key figures from a regional perspective are accidents and fatalities per one million people.

In London, the figures are 2,881 and 12 respectively. At the opposite end of the scale – and indeed, the country – Scotland saw figures of 1,178 and 27.

The East Midlands has the highest rate of fatalities, with 37 fatal accidents per one million people. The South West (31), Wales (30) and Yorkshire and the Humber (30) saw similarly high rates of fatalities.

  • Region of the country
  • London
  • South East
  • Yorks/Humber
  • East of England
  • East Midlands
  • South West
  • North West
  • West Midlands
  • North East
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • All accidents in the region
  • 25,662
  • 19,164
  • 10,526
  • 11,762
  • 8,603
  • 9,792
  • 12,701
  • 9,907
  • 3,899
  • 4,214
  • 6,405
  • Accidents per 1m people
  • 2,881
  • 2,098
  • 1,921
  • 1,897
  • 1,791
  • 1,749
  • 1,742
  • 1,679
  • 1,467
  • 1,343
  • 1,178
  • Fatal accidents in the region
  • 109
  • 237
  • 165
  • 163
  • 179
  • 172
  • 184
  • 167
  • 51
  • 95
  • 149
  • Fatal accidents per 1m people
  • 12
  • 26
  • 30
  • 26
  • 37
  • 31
  • 25
  • 28
  • 19
  • 30
  • 27

Rural roads remain the most dangerous

Accident on rural road

The research commissioned by Choose My Car shows that you should take extra care at T junctions or staggered junctions. Nearly 36,000 accidents took place on these junctions in 2018 – that’s nearly two-thirds (29 percent) of all accidents and 19 percent of fatal incidents.

Combined, crossroads and roundabouts accounted for around 20,000 of all accidents.

Finally, although two-thirds (67 percent) of road accidents take place on urban roads, the majority of fatal accidents (62 percent) happen in rural areas. 

Rural roads are often narrower, derestricted, unlit and lacking the safety features seen in urban areas. Leave the road in the countryside and you’re likely to encounter a stone wall or tree.

See the full results of the Choose My Car research.

Covid-19 MOT exemption

How the 6-month coronavirus MOT extension works

MOT test centre sign

MOTs for cars, motorcycles and light vans due from Monday 30 March 2020 have been granted a temporary six-month exemption, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced. 

This is to allow key workers to get to work and people to get essential food and medicine during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The six-month exemptions are granted automatically: motorists do not need to do anything. 

Covid-19 MOT exemption

Current MOTs will be extended by six months from their original expiry date. So, if your MOT was due on 3 April 2020, it is automatically extended to 3 October 2020.

If your three-year-old vehicle’s first MOT is due, you will be automatically given a six-month MOT extension from the due-date. 

ALSO READ: 10 million cars fail first MOT test

This also means car insurance WILL remain valid: motorists are required to have a current MOT as part of car insurance rules (Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). 

The new legislation applies in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has separate arrangements. 

How does the MOT extension work?

MOT expiry dates are automatically extended by six months, stresses the government: owners don’t need to do anything. It is actioned about a week before the original date is due to expire. 

A new paper MOT certificate will NOT be issued, to save on paperwork. 

However, the online MOT record WILL show the revised date, so the police will be able to tell you have a current MOT. 

Online check MOT status tools will also use the new, extended date. 

You’ll still be able to tax your vehicle, adds the government – however, if both your MOT and tax run out in the same month, you may have to wait until later in the month before taxing it. 

What if my MOT was due on or before Sunday 29 March?

MOTs due before 30 March 2020 have not been exempted. Motorists will still need to get an MOT and can still be prosecuted for driving without one.

If a vehicle’s tax has run out, a valid MOT is required before it can be renewed.

ALSO READ: Simple and essential checks before your car’s MOT

Garages and MOT test centres remain open as they are considered an essential service to keep cars safe.

A new tool allows you to search by postcode to find open centres nearest to you.

The garage will not give you a paper copy of the MOT certificate though, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Owners can download a copy online after the test.

If you cannot get to an MOT test station, government advice is to register your car as off the road – this is known as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification).

Reasons to register it as SORN include not being able to visit a test station because you’re self-isolating.

You must not take your vehicle for its MOT If either you or someone you live with have coronavirus symptoms.

The Department for Transport also instructs those extremely vulnerable from coronavirus to not take their car for its MOT.

DfT is working with insurers and the police to make sure you are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT while you’re being shielded.

Can I still be prosecuted for not having an MOT?

Technician carrying out a car MOT

Motorists are responsible for making sure their car is always safe to drive, or ‘roadworthy’.

Even cars with an MOT can be unsafe and classed as unroadworthy.

Motorists are told they ‘must still keep your car in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open for repairs’. 

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

How long will the new legislation last?

The legislation granting a six-month MOT exemption came into immediate effect on 30 March 2020 for 12 months.

This means that even if your MOT is not due for another six months, on 30 September 2020, it will still be extended by six months to 30 March 2021.

The transport secretary is expected to give further guidance about how the new legislation will gradually evolve.  

What about MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches?

MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches were earlier suspended for up to three months from 21 March 2020.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) will be issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption (CTE) until further notice.

New advice has now been published on what operators need to do to exempt their vehicle.

The government reminds operators to keep their vehicles maintained, in a safe-to-drive and roadworthy condition.

They should also still be operated within the terms of the operators’ licence conditions.

What did transport secretary Grant Shapps say?

“We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps when making the MOT exemption announcement.

“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”

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Cars could be banned to aid social distancing

Cars to be banned

Councils could be free to ban cars from urban streets, the BBC has learned. The idea is to help key workers cycle or walk more safely during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department for Transport has written to local authorities saying: ‘This is a temporary guidance and will be withdrawn once conditions allow’. Normally, it would take weeks to implement car-free measures, but the government is keen to remove the red tape.

To date, few cities have taken the step of closing streets to cars, despite road travel plummeting by 73 percent. The near-empty streets have resulted in a large drop in air pollution, as people heed advice to stay at home.

Noise pollution is also down, encouraging wildlife to enter urban areas.

‘Extra safe open space’

Madeira Drive Brighton

Brighton and Hove City Council has responded quickly to the government letter, taking the decision to close Madeira Drive to traffic to allow local residents more space to walk, run and cycle. The changes come into force today (20 April).

Councillor Anne Pissaridou, chair of the city’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Madeira Drive is a long, wide road right by the seafront and will create an extra safe open space for local people in the area to use for their daily walk or bike ride.

“It will provide a traffic-free place for the many residents in that area who do not have access to a garden. We are pleased to be able to offer this change so quickly and are considering other locations to see if we can extend this to other roads in the city.”

Other parts of the world have been quick to implement car-free measures. Last week, four streets were closed in New York City to aid social distancing. The city has also removed 80 basketball hoops due to non-compliance.

Meanwhile, Berlin has widened cycle lanes, while Bogota has created 47 miles of additional cycle lanes.

‘Moral responsibility’

Coronavirus car insurance to fall

There are calls for car-free measures to be kept in place after the lockdown. Campaign groups have pointed to the improved air quality and the ongoing climate crisis as reasons to ban cars from urban areas. 

Ashok Sinha, from the London Cycling Campaign, told BBC News: “First we have a moral responsibility to keep staff safe whilst cycling to work during the crisis.

“We know this crisis will end – but we will still be faced with an ongoing climate crisis which, longer term, will cause much more loss of life.

“We are being taught a lesson here about what a difference it makes to people’s activity and air quality and carbon emissions if we allow people to cycle safely.”

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Government figures reveal huge decline in road and rail travel

Transport figures show effect of social distancing

The Department of Transport has published figures that reveal how various modes of transport have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The graph below shows motor vehicles, national railways, London (TfL) buses and the London Underground. 

Transport figures show effect of social distancing

On February 27, everything is at 100 percent. By 3 March, the underground shows its first sign of decline.

By 18 March, tube use had halved, while bus use was at just over 75 percent. Travel by National Rail experienced a similar drop, at around 75 percent. Travel by car, meanwhile, had only just started to drop off by March 18.

However, the rate of drop after this date – around when the UK ‘lockdown’ first began – is enormous. By 25 March, car driving was down to 50 percent, dropping almost overnight from 75 percent. At this point, the three forms of public transport are down at or below 25 percent.

Transport figures show effect of social distancing

It’s difficult to compare these figures with UK cases of the virus, hospital admissions and the death rate, due to incubation periods, testing availability and so on.

However, in terms of new cases, the so-called curve appears to have softened, with the first drop-off occurring on 28 March, following the stark jump on 27 March. 

The real effects of the social distancing measures, evidenced in these transport figures, will only be visible in the longer term. For now, at least, it seems that most of the population has listened and stayed at home.

coronavirus lockdown could cause more drink driving

COVID-19 lockdown could lead to increased drink-driving

coronavirus lockdown could cause more drink driving

UK motorists are being warned about driving while over the alcohol limit as the coronavirus lockdown causes home drinking to dramatically increase.

Now it’s suggested there could be more people drink-driving on the roads.

Home drinking in the UK has nearly doubled, with 100 million pints of beer being consumed each week. The problem, we’re told, is people driving early the following morning, to make the supermarket run before essential supplies sell out. 

Drink driving accidents highest since 2010

Some drivers aren’t knowingly driving while over the limit, then. Rather, it’s residual units from the night before, which remain when they fire the car up in the morning.

Studies have shown that even a small amount of alcohol in your system can impede reaction times and performance behind the wheel. That also applies to quantities below the legal limit.  

Around 20 percent of drink-drive convictions come from those caught in the morning. And around a third of all breath tests following an accident are conducted between 7am and 1pm.

England should lower drink drive limit, scotland says

Department for Transport figures indicate a 25 percent jump in drink-drive accident fatalities in the past two years.

“If you consume three pints of beer or three large glasses of wine before retiring at 11pm, you’re unlikely to be totally clear of alcohol when driving to the supermarket for 7am,” said Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense.  

Drink driving accidents highest since 2010

“Even if you’re just at the English/Welsh legal drink-drive limit, research shows you are 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober. The only way to be sure that alcohol has completely cleared your system is to use a personal breathalyser.”

“The impact of COVID-19 is worrying enough without the added stress of being banned from driving, or involved in a car crash”.

Empty Westminster Bridge

Coronavirus: Can I still drive my car?

Empty Westminster Bridge

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed British people to stay at home.

Restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks from Monday 23 March and every British citizen is instructed to comply with the new rules.

There are only four reasons people should be leaving their homes: shopping, one form of exercise a day, medical needs or essential work travel.

“That’s all,” said the PM. “These are the only reasons you should leave your home.

“If you don’t follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them.”

Can I still drive my car?

Driving cars has not directly been restricted. These are the permitted reasons for driving a car:

1) Shopping for basics, as infrequently as possible

‘Basics’ means food, medicine or fuel. All ‘non-essential retail’ shops and community spaces have been closed. The government has also advised that food delivery services are used ‘where you can’ to avoid the need to go out.

2) Medical needs or caring for a vulnerable person

This can include travelling to care for someone in a different location, where no alternatives for care exist. 

3) Travel to and from work – but only where absolutely necessary

If you are able, you must work from home instead of commuting to your place of work.

4) Taking children to school or parents’ houses

Schools remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers critical to the COVID-19 response. Where the school is some distance away, parents or guardians can drive children to the school.

‘Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes,’ explains the government guidance.

Which types of car-related business are essential?

Garages have been confirmed as essential businesses, to keep cars safe and roadworthy. The Department for Transport has not currently suspended the need for cars, motorcycles or vans to have a valid MOT.

Garages are still required to carry out MOT tests – and if your car doesn’t have a valid MOT, you’re not legally allowed to drive it.

Are roads and motorways closed?

All roads and motorways remain fully open.

Petrol stations and garages are listed as essential businesses, so are allowed to stay open despite the lockdown.

Many filling stations are advising customers to support social distancing by using pay-at-pump facilities.

How long will these restrictions last?

The government will review the restrictions after three weeks and say it will ‘relax them if the evidence shows we are able to’.

The advice continues: ‘These measures will reduce our day-to-day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus’.

Should I still drive my car?

Quiet costal road

Although there are no strict clampdowns on driving your car, motorists should think carefully about whether they should.

If you break down, for example, you risk being stranded – or forcing a recovery service to come and rescue you.

Many police forces are asking motorists to reduce the strain on the already-overstretched emergency services. Slowing down and driving more safely, or not driving at all, is the best way to do this.

As the Prime Minister said, “I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives”.

The message is clear: you should not drive your car unless you absolutely have to.

A new road sign has been approved – but not everyone is happy

Lynton Lynmouth funicular railway

The Department for Transport (DfT) has approved a new road sign, but not everyone is happy.

Devon County Council applied for authorisation to use a brown sign ‘for the purpose of informing road users of the location of cliff railways’. The application was approved before Christmas.

It means that visitors to Devon should see the new cliff railway (funicular) sign when they return to the county this summer. There are two funicular railways in Devon: one in Babbacombe and the other one connecting Lynton with Lynmouth.

There’s no word on whether other local authorities will seek to use the new brown sign. Other funicular railways can be found in the likes of Saltburn, Bournemouth and Southend.

Cliff railway funicular brown sign

The approved design hasn’t been met with universal acclaim. Alex Ingram, a ‘researcher focused on transport’ tweeted: “Concerns have (naturally) been raised that funicular railways have the door at the end of the carriage and not on the side. Thus the sign needs amendment.”

Mr Ingram retweeted a suggested redesign presented by Funimag – an online magazine devoted to funicular railways. The subtle tweaks sees the removal of the door, with the magazine tweeting: “There are plenty of Cliff Lifts like this in Britain except none have their doors on the long sides but on the short sides.”

Fun in the sun

According to Devon County Council, brown tourist signs are designed to safely guide visitors to an attraction along the most appropriate route. They’re also used to indicate attractions or facilities that a tourist would not reasonably expect to find in that location.

‘A national embarrassment’

The funicular sign joins a long list of brown tourist signs in the UK. It’s not the first time that a design has proved to be controversial. In 2017, 20,000 people signed a petition calling for the redesign of the sign used to direct people to a football ground. ‘Maths crusader’ Matt Parker labelled the football sign “a national embarrassment”.

In response, a spokesperson for the DfT said: “The purpose of a traffic sign is not to raise public appreciation and awareness of geometry, which is better dealt with in other ways.”

As this brown sign enthusiast website shows, some of the designs provide a more accurate representation of the attraction or facility. We suspect the funicular railway sign is here to stay.

Accidents from driving too SLOWLY are increasing

Slow driving causing more accidents

The Department for Transport (DfT) says the number of road deaths in the UK directly related to slow driving is on the up.

According to DfT figures, 26 people were seriously injured and two were killed in 2019, in incidents where slow driving was a contributing factor. And 132 more sustained less severe injuries in slow driving incidents.

Slow driving itself is rarely the direct cause of incidents or injuries. However, there are behaviours associated with it that are dangerous. Over-ambitious overtakes, undertaking on the motorway, tailbacks and road rage can all be directly related to slow driving. Those who incorrectly merge on motorways, coming to a stop on slip roads, for example, find themselves facing cars passing by at 70mph.

Motorway speed limit 80

Although punishments are normally associated with excessive speed, you can face a fine and points for driving too slowly. In the UK, the punishment is similar to low-level speeding: three points and a £100 fine. Whether a speed awareness course is an option for motorists caught driving too slowly is unclear.

Minimum speed limits are a rarity in the UK, though some high-risk areas do have them, where it’s important to avoid tailbacks. Some tunnels will have a minimum and maximum speed limit. Mersey Tunnel, for instance, has signs to tell drivers the minimum speed limit. The only difference is the number will have a red line through it.

Minimum speed limits are more common in certain parts of Europe.

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

“I’m not in the least bit surprised by these worrying statistics,” said Hugh Bladon, a founding member of the Alliance of British Drivers.

“I have advocated for a long time that driving too slowly causes frustration for other people and can cause them to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre, which is the most dangerous thing you can do on the roads.”