January 2019 News Roundup

This January, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most important issues set to affect drivers throughout 2019. We’ll start with the potential effects of a no-deal Brexit on UK drivers in Europe, as well as examining the claim that 2019 may be the most expensive year for car ownership in history. In light of Prince Philip’s crash, we also ask whether there’s an age when drivers are too old to take to the road. Finally, we’ll take a look at our own Surrey launch.

What effect would Brexit have on UK drivers in the EU?

Portugal border

With March 29th, the date when the UK is set to leave the European Union, fast approaching, it’s hard to avoid coverage of the potential consequences of Brexit. One group sure to be paying particularly close attention to every development are UK citizens living in the EU—of which there are around 900,000.

So far, the EU has shown a willingness to maintain the rights of UK citizens who’ve settled in one of the other 27 member states (and vice versa). This doesn’t mean, though, that there won’t be any bumps along the way. With a no-deal Brexit a real possibility, the UK government has started issuing advice to UK nationals about preparations to take—and that includes some driving-related precautions.

At the moment, UK licences are accepted in other EU member states without the need to take another driving test. Similarly, EU licence-holders can drive in the UK on the same terms. However, this reciprocal recognition looks likely to come to an end as a result of Brexit—and particularly if there is no deal. Though the British government have assured that EU citizens living in the UK or visiting Britain after Brexit will still be able to drive here, it’s not clear whether the reverse will be true.

As a result, the government are now advising those living abroad that they may need to retake their test in their new country of residence to ensure they can continue to driving. It’s also worth noting that many European driving tests differ dramatically from that taken in the UK.

It’s not just those living in Europe who need to be conscious of the changes, though. Anyone planning on driving on holiday or for commercial purposes will need extra documentation as of March 28th, with additional preparation expected in the event of no deal. For more details, read the government’s advice on preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit.

2019 set to be most expensive year to own a car

Photo © Pictures of Money (cc-by/2.0)

Whether we’re bemoaning the cost of buying a house or simply longing for the days of a 10p Freddo, price rises affect all of us. Those of us who own a car will certainly notice this, with everything from fuel and servicing to road tax and insurance to take into account. A new article from Petrol Prices seems to confirm our suspicions, as they claim 2019 will be the most expensive year ever to own a car.

There are plenty of factors contributing to this, according to Petrol Prices. First off, there’s a planned increase in vehicle excise duty. Many will face small rises of around £5, but for some highly polluting, newer vehicles, the hike could be as great as £65 per year. Meanwhile, stricter emissions standards in central London mean that many driving in this area will need to pay daily charges.

Not everything is doom and gloom—recently released figures showed that there was a slight fall in fuel prices in autumn 2018, for example. Nonetheless, it seems as if those getting behind the wheel may increasingly need to tighten their belts.

When is someone “too old to drive”?

One of the month’s biggest motoring-related stories was the shock news of Prince Philip’s involvement in a car crash close to the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. After his collision with another vehicle, carrying two women and a baby, many laid the blame on one factor: the Duke of Edinburgh’s age. At 97, was he in a fit state to get behind the wheel?

Data from the DVSA shows that Prince Philip is one of only 11,624 drivers over 95 years of age. This small number is likely down to the fact that, after the age of 70, drivers must renew their licence once every three years, and must disclose to the DVSA any medical conditions which may affect their driving, such as dementia, Parkinson’s and diabetes—all of which are more likely as we age. Drivers renewing may also need to take medical examinations, driving assessments or eyesight tests.

Nonetheless, there’s no hard and fast rule about when someone is “too old to drive”. Some drivers are able to hit the road well into ripe old age. PassMeFast’s oldest alumnus, for example, passed his driving test at the age of 70! The important thing is being aware of any conditions or symptoms that affect your driving, and being honest with yourself about hanging up the car keys for good. For more information, read Age UK’s guide to driving after 70.

PassMeFast launches in Surrey

Collage of landmarks in Surrey

This may have been a relatively gloomy news roundup (blame it on the January weather!) but, closer to PassMeFast HQ, there have certainly been some bright spots. That’s because this month saw us launch in another new county: Surrey!

Our Surrey launch came just after the start of the new year, and (as always) saw us roll out our range of intensive and semi-intensive driving courses across the whole county. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out information about what we offer close to you:

Our courses are now available across so much of the UK that we’d forgive you if you were starting to lose track of all the areas we cover! We’re not done yet, though—watch this space for more launches in the coming months!

News in brief

  • An Ipswich driving instructor who tested positive for cocaine in a roadside drugs test will face no further action (Ipswich Star)
  • Severe winter weather across Great Britain has resulted in scores of cancelled driving tests across the country (DVSA Support)
  • For the first time since records began, grey was the UK’s most popular car colour in 2018, overtaking black (Auto Express)
  • Does learning to drive mean you’re finally a proper adult? Columnist Stuart Heritage tries to answer after passing at the age of 38 (The Observer)

Check out the PassMeFast Blog for all the latest driving news every month.

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.

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