June 2018: News Roundup

Welcome to our round-up of all the driving news you need to know from June. And what a month it’s been! England are doing well in the World Cup, the sun has been shining for more than 4 days in a row and British people are running out of things to moan about! Not to mention, there’s been some major changes in the world of driving.

So, before you overdo it with that ‘burnt-to-a-crisp-and-pretty-damn-proud-of-it’ British aesthetic, take some well-needed time in the shade to peruse some car-related news…

Learner drivers in the fast lane

Aerial view of motorway surrounded by trees

Probably the biggest story to hit the driving scene this month is the major changes to the rules regarding where learners are allowed to drive. As of June 4th, the motorway is no longer off limits to people still rocking the L-plates—as long as they’re with an approved driving instructor in a car that’s fitted with dual controls.

The new law is intended to provide pupils with a more well-rounded driving experience before they’re allowed out on the road to do it alone. Though motorway driving still won’t come up on the practical test, it’s a very important style of driving to master.

The idea of learner drivers joining the rest of us on the motorway may seem a tad worrying at first. Rest assured, these lessons will only be offered when students are deemed to be capable drivers. It’s very unlikely that learners will find themselves in the teaching scenario: Day 1 – how to steer; Day 2 – how to overtake at 70mph… We like to think so, anyway!

For a full rundown of the new rules and their implications, check out our post covering learner drivers on motorways.

Saudi women take the wheel

Road and road sign in Saudi Arabia
Photo © yosoynuts (cc-by-nd/2.0)

There’s also been some major driving rules changes happening internationally. Most notably in Saudi Arabia, where the ban on women driving (in place since 1990) has been lifted.

The somewhat unexpected ruling, implemented by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, opens up a whole new range of opportunities for women in the country. We all know the amazing freedom that comes with being able to take on the open road!

The new law came into place on Sunday (the beginning of the working week in Saudi Arabia) 24th, and some women were able to convert their foreign licences and hit the road almost immediately.

It’s not all been plain sailing, though. Stories have emerged of harsher crackdowns on activists and huge waitlists for gender-segregated lessons. Those women without foreign licences may have to rely on their male relatives being willing to teach them how to drive. Plus, as we know here in the UK, learning to drive can be costly. Not everyone will be able to make the most of the new law.

Despite the setbacks, it’s already had a hugely positive effect on the lives of many women. As one woman explained when asked how the lifting of the ban has affected her: “I feel so free. I feel like I can do anything.

Autonomous cars may never get the go ahead

Are driverless cars the future?
Photo © Smoothgroover22 (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Is a future of roads filled with self-driving cars destined to remain a fantasy? According to Ian Robertson—BMW’s representative to the UK—it is. The German car giant already boasts a large number of self-driving cars, several of which are allowed to roam various parts of Europe. However, in an interview this month, Robertson expressed his scepticism that governments will ever fully sign off on autonomous cars being used for everyday purposes.

On top of the obvious safety concerns and currently less-than-perfect technology, Robertson points out that self-driving cars are banned by the holy grail of car manuals: the Highway Code. He explains:

“The Highway Code… actually prevents autonomous driving. It is not allowed. And the Highway Code is a fundamental part of lots of other regulation.”

So, would it be simply too much of an overhaul to rewrite our driving laws to allow more robots into our midst? Only time will tell. While it would be mighty convenient to be able to send your car out to the shop for you, we have to agree with Robertson that “even though the car is more than capable of taking an algorithm to make the choice”, we’re not too comfortable with that choice being between the life or death of a pedestrian!

Bunny in the bonnet

rabbit sitting on grass

We’re sure you’re all aware of the MOT changes that came into effect last month. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the rules, even though it may seem like a dull task. I mean, let’s face it—the MOT doesn’t really add any excitement to our lives. Unless you’re Aberdeenshire mechanic Dave Gordon, that is…

Gordon was carrying out an MOT on a motor in his garage this month, when he noticed something a little more than the engine under the bonnet. He popped the hood only to discover a live rabbit! He was more than a little shocked, as he told the BBC:

I thought they had hit something, until I saw it moving. I have never seen that happen before.

We should hope not, Dave! He scooped up the little fella, took him to the vets for some checks and contacted the owner of the car to see if they were missing a pet (they weren’t).

Thankfully, this strange story comes with a happy ending—Dave took the critter home with him. The rabbit is happy, healthy, and already making friends! Yep, Dave’s dog Cooper has been very accommodating and enjoys hanging out with his new furry friend on a regular basis. Awww!

So, next time you hear a funny noise coming from your car, there’s more than one reason to check under the bonnet!

And that’s a wrap on the month of June! We look forward to seeing what July has to offer. Can the sunshine hold out? Are live animal checks going to be added to the MOT? Will football, at long last, be coming home?! You’re sure to find out in our next roundup. Until then, check out what’s new on the blog and enjoy this lovely British summer!

By Isobel Robb

Isobel enjoys the freedom of the open road and loves driving to new places. She's here to offer helpful hints and tips to improve your motoring skills. When not keeping up to date with the latest driving info you can find her discovering new restaurants or exhausting her Netflix subscription.

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