March 2020 News Roundup

Welcome to PassMeFast’s news roundup for March 2020! This month, we’ll start by focusing on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including the suspension of theory and practical tests and extension of MOT validity. However, we’ll soon move onto positive news, starting with PassMeFast courses becoming available in two north-eastern counties.

After that, we’ll go abroad to meet the driver who had an unfortunate accident just minutes after passing his test, before taking a look at Russia’s answer to the Batmobile. Finally, we’ll provide a Highway Code tip of the month—with a twist. Let’s get started!

Theory and practical tests suspended due to coronavirus

Closed former driving test centre in Aylesbury
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The coronavirus pandemic has been an inescapable story this month, with the world of driving being no exception. In a blow to learners across the country, the DVSA has announced the suspension of theory and practical test across the UK.

Following the announcement, theory tests will not take place until after Monday, 20th April. If you were due to take your theory test before this date, the DVSA will cancel this test. You’ll get a refund of the test fee, though this may take some time to arrive. Unfortunately, if your theory test certificate is due to expire in this period, it will not be extended.

Meanwhile, practical tests are off for a period of up to three months—that’s until Saturday, 20th June. Unlike with theory tests, these appointments are being rescheduled, rather than cancelled. As there’s currently no set date for practical tests to restart, the DVSA are rescheduling appointments on a rolling basis. You’ll get an email with your new test date around two weeks before your original test appointment.

Tests will, however, continue for key workers. The DVSA have set up dedicated email addresses that those working in critical sectors of the economy can use to book emergency theory and practical tests. To learn more, visit our article on driving tests for key workers.

PassMeFast will be providing continuous updates to students throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. For full details on the current status of our driving courses, please visit our coronavirus blog post.

Drivers get six-month MOT extension

Ace MOT test centre
Photo © Elliott Brown (cc-by/2.0)

At the moment, the Government is advising all of us to only travel where essential. However, in certain cases, it can be difficult to know whether a trip is necessary or not. Take an MOT test, for example. Drivers understandably don’t want to fall foul of the laws, but will be wary about visiting a test centre.

To help motorists out, the DVSA have decided to extend all MOTs by six months if they were due to expire on or after Monday, 30th March. This means that your current MOT certificate will stay valid for an extra six months. You won’t need to do anything to extend it—this will happen automatically. It even applies to vehicles that have never had an MOT test before.

Drivers do, however, have a duty to ensure that their vehicle is still safe to drive. If your car is not roadworthy, police can still fine you or add points to your licence—even if your MOT and vehicle tax are valid.

It’s also worth noting that if your vehicle’s MOT was due to expire on or before March 29th, you still need to go for a test. MOT testing centres will stay open, and you are allowed to travel to a pre-booked MOT test. However, you should not go to an MOT test if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, or if you are in a high-risk group. For full details, visit GOV.UK.

PassMeFast launches in County Durham and Tyne and Wear

Let’s turn our attention to some more positive news now, starting with a scoop straight from PMF HQ. Yep, this month started with launches in two new counties: County Durham and Tyne and Wear!

Want more information about learning to drive with us in locations across these two counties? Your wish is our command! Take a look at the links below for more information on our driving courses across the region.

County Durham
Tyne and Wear

At the moment, we’re only operating courses for key workers. If you’re part of this group, we can make arrangements for your course to go ahead in the coming weeks. Don’t worry if not, though. If you book in now, we’ll prioritise your course to take place as soon as possible once the lockdown ends and tests resume. This means you can beat the rush and pass fast! Get in touch by calling us on 0333 123 4949 and speaking to a member of our friendly team.

Man passes practical test; immediately drives into canal

Here at PassMeFast, we know that a driving licence is an incredibly valuable thing to have. That’s why we teach all of our students to drive safely for life. It’s just a shame that our courses aren’t currently available in China. You see, one recent passer there learned the hard way that using your mobile phone at the wheel is a big no-no.

In the Guizhou province, Mr Zhang had just passed his driving test. Family and friends started texting messages of congratulations—and, astonishingly, Mr Zhang decided to check them while driving. Making matters worse, he was heading over a narrow bridge with no barriers—and swerved straight off the edge. Even more embarrassingly for the new driver, the whole thing was caught on video. Mr Zhang escaped with a dislocated hand, but was otherwise safe.

The story comes as yet more proof that you should keep your hands away from your phone while driving. Check out our top tips to help you avoid mobile use when on the road.

Batmobile defeated by new enemy: Russian traffic cops

Batman may help to keep the streets of Gotham City safe, but it appears he’s not as welcome in Moscow. This month, the caped crusader was taken down by an unexpected adversary: traffic police on the streets of the Russian capital.

The 32-year-old owner remains unnamed, so we’re unable to confirm if it really was Bruce Wayne behind the wheel. However, we can tell you that his car was impounded after being deemed unroadworthy. With the car’s excessive size, and with features such as a fake machine gun, it’s easy to see why.

The car allegedly cost a staggering 55,000,000 RUB, which is equivalent to more than half a million pounds. The owner hasn’t completely wasted his cash, though: he will be able to get his Batmobile back… after paying a fine equivalent to £600 to the towing company, plus an extra £30 per day. We all knew that crime doesn’t pay, but now it turns out that crime-fighting is equally as unprofitable.

Highway Code tip of the month

Woman riding bicycle
Image source: Murillo de Paula via Unsplash

We’re going a bit rogue with this month’s Highway Code tip. There’s a good reason for this, though. At the moment, the Government is urging all of us to avoid any unnecessary journeys. With this in mind, most of us should be leaving our cars in the driveway for the foreseeable future.

However, a bit of exercise on two wheels is well within the rules. That’s why we’re highlighting rules for cyclists this month. (Don’t worry, motorists—we’ll get back to cars ASAP!)

Yep, you may not have realised it, but the Highway Code offers a few tips for cyclists. They advise anyone looking to get out on the road to make sure that they’re confident in their abilities. Additionally, you should:

  • choose the right size bike for your comfort and safety
  • keep all lights and reflectors clean and in working order
  • ensure your tyres are in good condition and correctly inflated
  • check that your gears work correctly
  • properly adjust and oil the bike’s chain
  • adjust the saddle and handlebars to the correct height
  • fit a bell to your bicycle

You should also make sure that you have efficient brakes, and be sure to use lights and reflectors when riding at night. Cycle training can also be beneficial—for both kids and adults!

News in brief

  • A new breathing aid designed by the Mercedes F1 team is to be used by the NHS (autosport.com)
  • On the M6, a man was stopped by police for driving from Coventry to Salford—with his wife in the boot (Coventry Live)
  • Police in Australia pulled over a miniature Mercedes-Benz SUV with a dog at the wheel (Driven)
  • The NHS have turned the car park at Chessington World of Adventures into a drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre (The Independent)
  • In Surrey, a man was caught washing his hands for 20 seconds while driving (Surrey Live)

That completes this month’s news roundup! In the weeks ahead, we’ll be keeping you up to date with all the latest developments, as well as helping to lift your spirits through these unprecedented times. For now, though, why not check out this month’s top pass photos and customer reviews?

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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