Drivers who are caught using their mobile phones at the wheel could face fines of up to 150 and four penalty points if new government plans are approved. Proposals to bring in bigger punishments are part of the government s Road Safety Plan, and are targeted towards those drivers who repeatedly re-offend. Currently, the fine for using a mobile device while driving is 100 and three penalty points, which was increased from 60 in 2013. HGV drivers would face the harshest punishment, collecting six penalty points if they re caught using a mobile phone at the wheel. It s understood the larger increase for lorry drivers is designed to reflect how much more severe accidents involving HGVs can be.
Under the scheme, first-time offenders will still be offered an educational course rather than a fine. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said he wants to see using a phone while driving become a social taboo, like not wearing a seatbelt .
Using a mobile phone while driving is reckless and costs lives, he said. The message is clear: keep your hands on the wheel, not your phone. If you keep taking calls at the wheel you could end up being banned from the road. Figures from the Department for Transport show that there were 1775 road deaths on UK roads in 2014, a 4% rise on the previous year. The use of a mobile phone was a contributing factor in 21 fatal accidents in 2014.
President of the AA Edmund King said: This epidemic of hand-held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and drivers have demanded action. Three quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones on some or most journeys, with one quarter seeing it on every journey according to our polls.
The majority of drivers will welcome these increased fines and penalty points, alongside driver improvement courses, to tackle those who use hand-held mobiles at the wheel.
A consultation on the new plans is due in 2016.
In the biggest change since the introduction of the photocard licence, the DVLA is scrapping the paper driving licence as part of its plans to digitise drivers’ records.
The changes come into force today, but many drivers appear to be unaware of the changes and could be caught out by them, particularly when trying to rent a car abroad.
So what does it mean for Britain’s 46 million motorists?
What is happening to the driving licence and when?
The paper counterpart displays details not included on the photocard, including vehicle categories and any penalty points or disqualifications.
After the changes, details of driving convictions will instead be held on the DVLA’s digital records.
Motorists can check their driving record by calling DVLA or visiting www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk4. You will need your driving licence number (found in section five of your driving licence photocard), your National Insurance number and your postcode. However, some users reported problems in accessing the website today.
Alternatively, drivers can apply by post to see what information the DVLA holds on their driving licence.
You will need to give the agency your full name and address, your driving licence number or date of birth, and a cheque or postal order for £5.
Why are driving licences changing?
The decision to phase out the paper counterpart is a result of the government’s Red Tape Challenge and is part of the DVLA’s commitment to simplifying its services.
“Motorists shouldn’t have to keep numerous bits of paper just to prove they can drive and have bought insurance – we live in digital age and we need to embrace that,” then Transport Secretary Justine Greening told the Daily Telegraph6 when the measures were first announced.
“Reducing the number of rules and regulations in our life is absolutely vital to removing barriers to economic growth and increasing individual freedoms.
“This whole process just proves that there’s so much sitting on our statute books that at the very least needs a good spring clean or can be scrapped entirely.”
Is everyone in favour?
No, the AA has some concerns. “This change could cause confusion,” spokesman Paul Watters told the South Wales Evening Post. “Not all drivers are comfortable with computers and surfing online.
People will also be concerned at who exactly will be able to get access to your electronic driver record, and the potential for fraud and scams.”
The AA is advising people to check that the details on their paper counterpart, including penalty points, are identical to those on the DVLA’s electronic system before destroying the document.
What happens when a driver wants to rent a car?
In the past, car rental companies have requested to see the paper counterpart to a driver’s licence.
Now they will be able to view a driver’s details on the electronic database, as the DVLA explains in the video below.
Employers who need to check an employee’s driving record will also be able to use the service.
To enable a car hire company or employer to see your driving record, you will need to create a “licence check code” by logging on to www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk7. This single-use access code is valid for 72 hours. Used alongside the last eight characters of your driving licence number, it will allow the company to see which vehicles you can drive and any penalty points or disqualifications you have been given.
For those without internet access, a phone number has also been set up so that drivers can call the DVLA and give permission for their driving record to be checked verbally by a nominated person/organisation.
Should people destroy the paper counterparts?
As it will no longer have any legal status, the DVLA recommends that drivers destroy their paper counterpart. However, motoring groups have warned that people could struggle to hire a car abroad if they follow this advice. The AA is advising people to keep hold of them, as they might still be asked to produce them when travelling abroad.
The organisation found that one in three of its members had been asked for the document over the past five years and warned that some overseas car hire companies will refuse rentals unless they see a copy of their driving record.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told the Telegraph8: “It is possible that hirers overseas, who have been used to checking a British driver’s paper record in the past, may not know of the change and still ask to see the counterpart.
Although the paper counterpart has now been rendered invalid, we are advising our members not to tear up their counterparts just yet, but to take them abroad as a ‘belt and braces’ measure if they intend to hire a vehicle.” DVLA has suggested that holiday makers take their National Insurance numbers away with them in case they need to create a licence check code while abroad.
Either way, motorists must retain their photocard and remember to renew it when necessary. If drivers only have an old-style paper driving licence – issued before the photocards were introduced in 1998 – they must not destroy them as they are still valid. If those drivers need to change any details on the paper licence, such as a name or address, they will be issued with a new photocard free of charge.
Otherwise, they should continue to use the paper licence.
- ^ BBC (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ tax discs last year (www.theweek.co.uk)
- ^ DVLA (www.gov.uk)
- ^ www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk (www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk)
- ^ Auto Express (www.autoexpress.co.uk)
- ^ Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk (www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk)
- ^ Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- Fred Coker had to pull over on M25 when his rental car stopped working
- Enterprise rental firm said he had carried on driving with warning light on
- Company sent him huge bill claiming Vauxhall Corsa needs a new engine
- But he claims he did not see warning light and believes he is the one who should be compensated
A teacher has been landed with a £4,400 bill after the hire car he was driving conked out – with the hire firm blaming him for ‘ignoring a warning light’ for 15 minutes.
IT teacher Fred Coker, from Luton, Bedfordshire, hired the four-month-old Vauxhall Corsa in March last year from Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
But as he drove it along the M25, the car, which only had 1,200 miles on its clock, slowed before breaking down, with Mr Coker pulling over to the hard shoulder.
Fred Coker (pictured) has been landed with a £4,400 bill after the hire car he was driving conked out – with the hire firm blaming him for ‘ignoring a warning light’ for 15 minutes
The 43-year-old called Enterprise and told them the car had ‘just stopped’, but that it had not run out of petrol.
A recovery truck was sent to pick the car up and Mr Coker was given a replacement car for the day.
The Corsa was taken to a Motorbodies Vauxhalll, a specialist Vauxhall garage in Luton to be checked over, but workers at the garage could not find out what caused the car to severely overheat.
But a report stated that a temperature warning light had been on for 14 minutes and 46 seconds at the moment the car broke down.
It stated that the car had been ‘driven to complete destruction’, adding: ‘If attention had been paid to the temperature warning light indicated on the instrument cluster, consequential damage could have been saved.’
Bosses at Enterprise then contacted Mr Coker and wrote to him saying he was responsible for wrecking the car’s engine and that he should have pulled over as soon as he saw the warning light.
It said he owed the firm £3,400 for a new engine, admin charges and more than £300 for ‘loss of use of the vehicle’.
He also faces having to pay legal fees.
Last week the bailiffs turned up at Mr Coker’s home demanding full payment.
Speaking this week, father-of-two Mr Coker said he had not noticed the warning light on the dashboard – and that he should be compensated for being given a duff car.
A file picture of a Vauxhall Corsa is shown above
He said: ‘Bailiffs turned up at my home last Thursday and demanded that I pay the money or possessions would be taken from me.
‘They have claimed there was a warning light, but I didn’t see one.
‘This is not my fault, the question is what happened to a vehicle registered in February 2014 and that had done only 1,200 miles to develop a fault.
‘They did not address the fact that they rented out a car that had a defect or fault but rather I am accused of continuing to drive the vehicle 15 minutes after warning light occurred.’
He told the Luton Today website: ‘I don’t deserve this treatment.’
‘My daughters, who are five and eight, saw that and it has left me emotionally distressed.’
A county court judgement in January found in favour of Enterprise, but Mr Coker says he will ‘fight on’.
A spokesman for Enterprise spokesman said this week that its rental agreement states that drivers ‘must stop using the vehicle’ if they become aware of a fault.
He said: ‘Our rental agreement clearly states that drivers must stop using the vehicle and contact us as soon as they become aware of a fault.
‘In this instance, we can only conclude that our terms and conditions have been breached and that the damage has been caused by the vehicle being driven when it should not have been.
‘Enterprise expects there to be fair wear and tear to its vehicles during the rental period.
‘However, when damage is caused by the driver disregarding a warning light, we believe that they should be responsible for the damage to our property.
‘When you drive a rental car, you should treat it just as you would your own vehicle.’
Technology giants, Google and Apple Inc, have been slogging it out for the dominance of the mobile OS market in recent times. However, Apple seems to have gotten the lion share of the mobile OS and consumer electronic market. Apple has responded to Google s Android Wear by announcing that it would be launching its Apple Watch in April 2015.
The Smartwatch is basically a computerized wristwatch and it s one of the latest wearable technologies in vogue. Both Apple and Google seem to have taken keen interest in the development of Smartwatch technology and have unveiled their own brand of smartwatches, with Apple yet to fully launch the Apple Watch.
Although the Apple Watch is yet to be officially release, its pre-order sales has already surpassed that of the Android wear which was released last year. By far, the Android wear and Apple Watch are definitely the most popular smartwatches at the moment. It s either you stick with Android Wear or you switch over to the Apple watch.
Depending on the phone you operate, the Apple watch is more suitable for iPhones running the iOS 8 operating System. We shall compare both the Android wear and the Apple Watch under the following headers: Design
Apple Watch: The Apple Watch has an ultra-modern square Shape design with well rounded corners, giving it that sleek look customers crave. It comes in 3 luxurious casings : 18-karat gold watch edition, stainless steel and Aluminum.
The entry level watch is protected by the Ion-X glass while its two high-end Smart watches come with scratch resistant Sapphire Glasses. Android wear: Android wear has more varieties; in fact, they have about 8 different designs. Some of which include the circular LG G Watch R, LG Urbane, Huawei Watch, and the Moto 360.
The square-shape Android Wear smart watches include: Samsung Gear live, LG G Watch, Sony Smart watch 3, Samsung Gear and Azus Zen Watch. More design improvements are expected to feature in the forthcoming LG and Huawei smart watches, which involves the use of stainless steel. Winner: Android Wear
Display Apple Watch: The Apple Watch features a small OLED screen that reaches a resolution of 312 X 390 and 272 X 340 for the 42mm and 38mm Apple smartwatches respectively. This amazing Smartwatch can detect different levels of pressure sensitivity, and the technology behind it called Forced push, and can be used distinguish between hard and soft touches.
Android Wear: Most Android wear come with good screen resolutions, but the best of them all come from Sony, Samsung and Asus, thanks to their LCD screens with 280 pixels per inch and their 320 X 320 AMOLEDs. Although the Android Wear does not feature the Force Push technology featured on the Apple watch, Google hasn t ruled out introducing it in the nearest future. Things are currently looking good for Android wear as Huawei promises to unleash its 1.4-inch round AMOLED Smartwatch featuring a 400 X 400 resolution and 286 ppi, make its smartwatch display the best in the industry.
Verdict: A Tie Controls
Apple Watch: Features a digital crown that allows its users interact with the smartwatch easily. Here, the user magnifies content by twisting the digital crown, and if he needs to go back, all he needs to do is to press the digital crown. Despite this amazing feature, Apple watch can still be control via its touch screen.
Android Wear: Unlike the Apple Watch, most of the functions on the Android Wear are controlled with swiping. Android wear features Google s intelligent personal assistant, Google Now, that helps to scrutinize your phone and comes up with the best advice. This Smartwatch can help you monitor the weather; live matches and many other activities.
Winner: Apple Watch Straps Apple Watch: The Apple watch has 38 straps you can use on your smartwatch, depending on your mode of dressing or the occasion you are planning to attend.
Some of these straps are made of cheap rubber, stainless steel, Gold and other materials. Android Wear: Android wear features straps that are more customizable because most of their smartwatches supports the same standard 22mm size. Verdict: A Tie
Applications: Apple Watch: the Apple Watch comes with 20 standard apps by default.
The calendar App is amazing and can help you keep up with appointment. The stocks, weather and photos help you plan effectively. The map, Camera remote and Passbook provide its users immense value.
Android Wear: The Apple Wear is able to run virtually all Apps featured on Apple Watch, unlike Apple Watch, it s unable to receive phone calls. The Android wear features a special app called Wear Aware, that triggers an alarm when you leave your home without your Android Smartphone. Winner: Apple Watch
Battery Life Apple Watch: The Apple Watch is capable of lasting 18hrs but needs to be recharged every day.
Android Wear: Unlike the Apple Watch, Some Android smartwatches, such as the Moto 360, can last close to 24hrs because it features a 320 mAh battery. The Sony smartwatch, with its 420 mAh battery, is able to last close to two days on full charge.
Winner: Android Wear The Bottom Line Apple Watch and Android wear are great smartwatches.
It s difficult choosing between the two because what s lacking in one is available in the other and vice-versa. If you are an iPhone owner, you have no choice but to stick with the Apple Watch, same applies to Android Smartphone users and the Android wear. The Major advantage of using Android wear is the vast array of smartwatches to choose from as well as its superior battery life.
If you fancy receiving phone calls with your wrist, the Apple Watch is your best bet.
Having taken into consideration their features and specs, I just might crown Android Wear as the King amongst the two.
Photo Credit: ubergizmo.com, youtube.com, arstechnica.net
Weather Watchers Kit WWKIT BBC. Comes complete with Wind Vane, Rain Gauge, Thermometer, Weather Charts, Forecas Stickers and two Weather Watcher Badges. Perfect gift for any Weather Enthusiasts, Children and perfect educational resource for schools. – Reviews
- This weather watchers kit includes:Wind vane, Plastic rainfall measure, Min/max thermometer and Record sheets and sticky weather symbols with UK and European maps.
- Involve the weather information in after school and weekend activities.
- Equipment included with the Weather Watchers Kit is intended for outdoor use.
- This weather watchers kit allows you to measure wind direction, rainfall and minimum and maximum temperatures, which can then be recorded on the record pad provided.
This weather watchers kit allows you to measure wind direction, rainfall and minimum and maximum temperatures, which can then be recorded on the record pad provided.
You can then involve the weather information in after school and weekend activities!
The Weather Watchers Kit can be used along side school lessons in various Key Stage 1 and 2 subjects including, Geography, Mathematics and ICT.
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