March 2021 News Roundup

Another big hello to all of our readers! We’re already a quarter of the way through 2021. Though it might not have been a dream start to the year, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful. Chief among them (for us, anyway) is that lessons and tests are set to restart very soon! If you’re out of the loop, though, don’t worry. We’re here to help fill you in on all things motoring!

This month, we look at the staggering number of drivers with more than 12 points on their record. After that, we move onto some new restrictions proposed for over-70s, before checking out Highways England’s new campaign. Finally, we finish off with the news of the restarting of lessons and tests.

Almost 9,000 UK motorists are still on the road with 12 points

Image source: Pete (via Flickr)

Most of us know how the points system works. For certain driving offences, courts can add points to your driving record. This makes it possible to punish repeat offenders via a ‘totting-up’ system. The unlucky number here isn’t 13, but 12. Hit 12 points within 3 years, and you’ll face a driving ban.

However, there is a loophole in the rules. If a court finds that a driver would suffer exceptional hardship as a result of being disqualified from driving, they may grant them the ability to keep their licence. You may expect this to be a relatively rare occurrence—but new data suggests it may be more common than you think.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart revealed that up to 8,800 people are still driving despite having more than 12 points on their licence. They even found one motorist with a huge 68 points on their record!

The figures had yet more surprising stats, including the revelation that over-65s were 25 times more likely to have points on their licence than teenagers. Read the full release from IAM RoadSmart for more details.

Driving restrictions proposed for some over-70s

An old man driving a red car
Image source: Laura Thonne via Unsplash

Across much of the world, older drivers face tougher conditions when it comes to renewing their licence. In the UK, drivers must renew every 3 years after the age of 70, compared to every 10 years before this date. However, our rules are fairly liberal, with no medical required, and drivers relied upon to self-assess their own fitness. If you do declare that you suffer from a particular condition, though, such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease, you could lose your licence altogether.

Now, a new proposal has been put forward to help keep older drivers with a medical condition safe without completely stripping them of their licence. The suggestions, put forth as a result of discussions between the DVLA and Driving Mobility, include implementing restrictions and curfews on certain motorists. Some of these are:

  • Only allowing driving during daylight hours
  • Restricting driving to within 20-30 miles of a person’s home
  • Fitting cars with telematics (black box) devices
  • Alerting authorities if any worrying behaviour is picked up by the black box

While we here at PassMeFast are firm believers that there’s no such thing as ‘too old to drive’, the issue of keeping older drivers safe is becoming more prominent as our society ages. From these restrictions to a potential cut-off age for driving, we can expect to see the subject pop up more in the years to come.

Highways England launches ‘Go Left’ breakdown ad

Try as we might to prevent it, sometimes our cars run into trouble at the worst possible moment. One of the most dreaded such events is breaking down on the motorway. In fact, a survey of young drivers by Marmalade found that breakdowns were motorists’ #1 fear.

With the advent of smart motorways, hard shoulders are now often used as running lanes. This may help to ease congestion, but it does raise concerns over where to go in the event of an emergency. That’s why Highways England have launched a new ad campaign urging drivers to go left.

Parodying the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”, the song reminds drivers that they should either:

  • Exit the motorway at the next junction
  • Go to the hard shoulder
  • On a smart motorway where the hard shoulder is in use, go to an emergency zone

After this, you should leave your car via the passenger door and call for assistance.

As well as the details given in the song, you should also make sure to switch on your hazard warning lights. If facing a night-time breakdown, put on your side lights and fog lights too.

Want more information? Check out our guide covering what to do if your car breaks down.

Dates revealed for restarting lessons and tests

Coronavirus notice on the door of a driving test centre informing candidates that the waiting room is closed
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve kept a close eye on the impact that COVID-19 has had on learners. When last month’s roadmap out of lockdown was revealed, we dug into the report to find a glimmer of hope: the possibility of a return to driving lessons in step two.

This month, things have become a little more concrete, with the announcement of restart dates. Here’s the picture across Great Britain:

Lessons restarting Theory tests restarting Driving tests restarting
England 12th April 12th April 22nd April
Scotland 26th April TBA TBA
Wales 12th April 12th April 22nd April

Please note that all the dates above are provisional, and may change if there are any delays to the loosening of restrictions.

In Northern Ireland, lessons and tests will resume as part of the country’s step two. Unlike in the other nations of the UK, no timetable is in place as to when this will occur. However, the NI Executive are reviewing the rules on 15th April.

Here at PassMeFast, we’re gearing up for lessons and tests to restart soon. So, if you want to get in the fast lane, then now’s the time! Book with us now to get driving once lockdown ends.

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News in brief

  • Ford will no longer produce its iconic Mondeo car from 2022 onwards (The Guardian)
  • The Government has slashed the plug-in grant from £3,000 to £2,500 (Autocar)
  • Despite lockdown, a new report suggests that traffic offences are rising (Auto Express)
  • Fuel duty remained frozen for the 11th year in a row following this year’s Budget (City AM)
  • The DVSA releases driving and theory test stats for 2020/21 Q3

That’s all for the March 2021 news roundup! With the COVID-19 situation continuing to change day by day, the team here at PassMeFast will be keeping you updated via our blog. Be sure to check back for all the latest info!

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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