Drivers reminded of new fines for misusing cycle lanes

Drivers are being reminded that councils now have the power to identify and fine them if they are spotted misusing cycle lanes.

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the government has been redistributing road space to make roads more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists and reduce the use of public transport.

Cameras now permitted to issue fines

Rules on enforcement were changed this week (June 22nd), meaning English councils are now able to use CCTV devices to ensure motorists stick to the law when it comes to using and parking in bike-only lanes.

The Department for Transport said it hopes this will reduce the number of cases of cyclists being forced into oncoming traffic because there are cars blocking cycle lanes.

Drivers will face fines of up to £70 – or £130 in London – if they are spotted by CCTV cameras flouting the law on lanes marked by unbroken white lines.

Cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “These new measures also build on our recent £2 billion investment to create a green, healthier legacy and see more people travelling by bicycle or on foot.”

However, fleet organisations have criticised the move because it fails to take into account the needs of the service industry and others who must drive for business.

The Road Haulage Association’s chief executive Richard Burnett has written to transport minister Baroness Vere to criticise how much highway space is being taken away to favour a small minority, with access to properties for deliveries “already difficult” in urban areas.

Fleet drivers may notice more cyclists on the roads over the next few days, with Cycling UK currently promoting Bike Week.

Tom Cosway, brand representative at Fuel Card Services, comments: “It is commendable that the government wants to build on the environmental progress seen during the pandemic, but this should not come at the expense of fleet drivers. Perhaps there could be some exemption going forward for those who drive for commercial reasons.”

Drivers shunning MOT extension, poll finds

Relatively few drivers are making use of the six-month extension to their MOT certificate that has been available as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll has found.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced at the end of March this year that any car, van or motorcycle requiring the annual test would be exempt for six months in order to help frontline workers do their jobs and to assist people in adhering to the lockdown.

Garages were to be open for essential repair work only, the government said.

Keeping to the same routine

However, a new study by RAC Approved Garages has found that the majority of drivers are not intending to make use of the MOT extension, opting instead to keep servicing their vehicles as usual.

Only 14 per cent said they will use the exemption, with 44 per cent reporting they would be booking their car, van or bike in at their garage just like before.

More than half (52 per cent) said this is because they want to ensure the proper safety checks have been made when they are due, while 16 per cent pointed out there may be a long waiting list to book an MOT once lockdown formally ends.

Some 27 per cent of respondents to the survey revealed they hadn’t heard about the MOT extension and therefore did not know it was available to them.

RAC spokesperson Adam O’Neill said: “It’s encouraging to see that a large proportion of people clearly care about the condition of their cars and aren’t being put off from getting them through their MOTs or serviced as normal.”

However, he added that anyone planning to make use of the exemption must take their car to a garage as soon as possible if they believe there is a problem with its running.

“Every driver must remember that the safety and roadworthiness of their vehicle remains their responsibility,” Mr O’Neill added.

Tom Cosway, brand representative for Fuel Card Services, comments: “The MOT extension has been a useful initiative, particularly for fleet owners whose businesses have been on hiatus. However, remember that all garages are taking great pains to be COVID-safe, so they are still there if you need them and want to book in your usual services.”

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Tips for safely rejoining the road

With many drivers taking to the roads for the first time since lockdown was imposed, it is crucial to ensure your vehicles are roadworthy. The government announced that any car, van or motorcycle MOT due from 30 March 2020 will be extended by six months, however, you should have an obligation to check the safety of your vehicle before you drive it after a long period of time.

Here are a few tips on how to check your vehicles:

Lights

Ensuring your lights are fully functional is vital. However, there are specific lights that can be missed to double check: front and rear headlights, licence plate light, hazards lights, indicators, brake lights. If any of your warning lights are coming on intermittently, it’s worth getting them checked out before booking your MOT.

Tyres

There are two important aspects to maintain when looking after your tyres.

The first is tread. The legal requirement states tyre tread must be at least 1.6mm deep. You can buy tread depth tools that are available in petrol stations or online. Alternatively, you can put a 20p coin in the treads. If you can’t see the outer band, your tyres will need replacing. Plan to ensure you can drive to a garage safely to reduce any unnecessary journeys.

The second feature is pressure. Tyres need to be kept at their optimum pressure found on their sidewall as pressure is gradually lost over time. Even if left stationary for an extended period, the tyres can develop flat spots and lose their roundness. If your car may be idle for several months, roll it carefully now and then to keep them even.

Vehicle liquids

It is sensible to check the levels of fluid to ensure when you do return to the road that your vehicle is car ready.

Ensure your fuel, oil, engine coolant and windscreen cleaner are topped up, so your vehicle is prepared for its next outing.

Here at Fuel Card Services we can help with our new product MyDriveSafe.Expert.

MyDriveSafe.Expert is our daily vehicle checks app that gives drivers a simple, comprehensive range of checklists, covering almost all vehicles and compliance with up to date safety standards. The Company Managers portal allows the fleet manager or business owner to monitor their fleet in one place easily. Any defects registered can then be actioned by the fleet manager or business owner.

For further information on MyDriveSafe.Expert, visit https://www.fuelcardservices.com/my-drive-safe or download our app to improve service, savings, security immediately.

Take care with hay fever medicines, drivers warned

The hay fever season is upon us once more and with grass pollen levels rising, many sufferers will be reaching for the antihistamines to calm their symptoms.

However, one motoring organisation has warned anyone who also needs to drive to check their medication before taking it in case it causes drowsiness.

Common medicines may impair driving

GEM Motoring Assist said some common hay fever remedies can have a sedative effect, potentially making drivers groggy and unable to react to hazards in time.

Chief executive Neil Worth added: “It’s important to check with your GP or pharmacist, and to read those warnings contained on the labels of the medicines you plan to take.”

He also pointed out that the same laws cover over-the-counter remedies as apply to illicit drugs when it comes to impacting driving, meaning those caught ‘under the influence’ of antihistamines could face heavy penalties.

GEM has published a new leaflet called Medicine, Drugs and Driving to help anyone unsure about where they stand on taking particular remedies, which is available now.

Meanwhile, IAM RoadSmart also suggests that people who usually suffer from hay fever might want to take extra precautions before getting behind the wheel, including regularly changing the pollen filter of their vehicle and wiping down dashboards and other fixtures.

According to the NHS, 20 per cent of us suffer from hay fever, with the UK and Sweden having the world’s highest number of sufferers.

Tom Cosway, brand representative at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Hay fever is a very common ailment, but it can be really serious for drivers. We recommend that everyone should heed this advice – and we hope the ‘season of sneezing’ proves short for those of you currently suffering.”

VCV celebrates world’s longest production run for Transporter

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VCV) is celebrating 70 years of the VW Transporter – the
world’s longest continuous production run for a commercial vehicle.

The model has come a long way in its 70 years and remains among the most popular light
commercial vehicles on the market today.

Six generations since 1950

The Transporter T1 was produced from 1950 to 1967 and was the first model to hold this
prestigious name. It was entirely hand-built and saw many of its parts coming from the VW
Beetle, including the engine and gearbox.

Fast forward to the Transporter T2 (1967-79) and the marque saw the model evolve with a
new front end and sliding doors as standard. The Transporter T3 (1979-92), meanwhile, took
the vehicle to new heights of popularity with its expanded cargo space, wider wheelbase and
all-wheel drive.

A technical revolution was seen in the Transporter T4 (1990-2003), with multiple options for
customisation for buyers for the first time. It was then the Transporter T5 (2003-15) that
placed the comfort of drivers at the forefront of design thinking.

Finally, launched last year, the Transporter T6 (2019-present) now comes with all the latest
mod cons, including intelligent driver assistance, infotainment and two-tone paint schemes in
a nod to the T1.

It’s a model that continues to capture the imagination of buyers and one we hope will be in
production for many years more.

Ellie Baker, Brand Manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “The Transporter is a van
that’s synonymous with reliability and functionality. It’s great to see the model reach its 70-
year milestone, with many more years still in store.”