October 2019 News Roundup

Hello again, readers! As spooky season draws to a close, there’s only one thing on our mind here at PassMeFast HQ. No, not Halloween—the news roundup, of course! Yes, it’s the time of the month when we bring you the stories that may have passed you by.

We’ll start off by picking up the smart motorways story we featured last month, as further developments emerge. Next, we move onto new data from the DVSA showing a rise in those caught cheating on the theory test, before taking a look at one of the year’s worst driving test fails. After that, we’ll look at our latest county launches, before finishing off with our Highway Code tip of the month.

Government to review safety of smart motorways

Photo © Bill Boaden (cc-by-sa/4.0)

In last month’s news roundup, we reported on the concerns raised regarding smart motorways. The criticism followed the deaths of several motorists while the hard shoulder was in use as a running lane. Initially, Highways England responded by stressing that the roads were safe. Now, however, the Government has announced that they’ll come under increased scrutiny.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the launch of an internal investigation when speaking to a parliamentary select committee. The Department for Transport will carry out an “evidence stock take” in the next few weeks, with the aim of ensuring that “all of our motorways are as safe as they possibly can be”.

Recently, MPs stepped up their criticism when questioning Highways England head Jim O’Sullivan. They noted that Stopped Vehicle Detection technology currently features on just 18% of smart motorways, despite the organisation promising it would be used across the network. O’Sullivan even admitted that “undoubtedly one or two [deaths] might have been avoided” had it been in place.

While there’s no sign that the government plans to reverse the implementation of smart motorways, it will be looking closely into how to improve the network, including identifying areas that would benefit most from additional safety features. We’ll keep a close eye on this story here at the PassMeFast Blog as it unfolds.

Three times more candidates caught cheating theory test

© Crown copyright (Open Government Licence)

Once upon a time, many a driver believed that the theory test was ‘just common sense’. Now, most people are well aware that this is nothing more than a myth. The sensible thing to do, then, is to hit the books (or apps!) and do plenty of revision. Unfortunately, new figures suggest that hundreds attempt to cheat every year.

The data from the DVSA shows a sharp rise in the number of candidates caught cheating on their theory test. Indeed, over 1,000 candidates came under suspicion within just the first five months of the year. You can see the full data in the table below.

2013/14 454
2014/15 735
2015/16 672
2016/17 810
2017/18 579
2018/19 1,522
2019/20 (YTD) 1,009

The increasing figures reflects the DVSA’s tougher stance on cheating, with the agency taking prosecutions in house. Andy Rice, head of counter-fraud at the DVSA, stressed that they would take the “strongest possible action” against cheaters, including prosecution.

The message is clear, then: cram, don’t cheat! If you need some pointers about how best to study, check out our guide to theory test revision resources.

‘Stupid’ driver arrested after tenth practical test fail

It’s understandable why so many learners experience test day nerves. After all, there’s a lot riding on that forty-minute drive! However, while some candidates are unlucky enough to see their test descend into a horror story, others bring it on themselves.

Take this case, for example. A Birmingham driver who’d already failed no fewer than nine previous tests was about to head into his tenth. What unfolded was to be more dramatic than any of his previous attempts, though. Let’s see what happened…

Yep, this driver had broken one of the cardinal rules for learners by not having a supervising driver. Making matters worse, it later transpired that he had taken the car without the owner’s consent. Plus, in living proof that crime doesn’t pay, he failed his test to boot. Maybe get a proper driving instructor next time, mate.

PassMeFast launches in Berkshire and Hertfordshire

While we’re always eager to share top motoring stories, we can’t resist throwing in some in-house news, too. So, what’s the cause of the excitement? Well, October saw PassMeFast come to not one, but two new counties: Berkshire and Hertfordshire!

Back on October 1st, we welcomed learners from across both counties onto our range of intensive courses. This means that you can now book with us in any of the following locations…

So, if you live locally (or in any of the other areas we cover), don’t delay. Get on the road with us within weeks by calling 0333 123 4949, or book your driving course online.

Highway Code tip of the month

Raindrops on car window and side mirror

We’re well into autumn now, and those scorching summer temperatures are, sadly, a thing of the past. Though we’ve not quite hit the true chill of winter, wet weather is most certainly here. (It is the UK, after all!) So, let’s take a quick look at rule 227 of the Highway Code, covering driving in rainy conditions.

  • Firstly, remember that stopping distances will be longer in wet conditions, as the ground offers you less friction. There’s a simple rhyme to help: “Only a fool would break the two-second rule—and when it’s wet on the floor, increase it to four!”
  • With this in mind, keep well back from any vehicles in front of you. This will offer you a better view of the road ahead, and more time to act if necessary.
  • When water impedes your tyres’ grip, your steering may become unresponsive. Here, you should gradually slow down by using less force on the accelerator.
  • Note that rain and spray may affect your visibility and that of others. As such, take extra care when driving—especially around more vulnerable road users.

News in brief

  • From 2021, Bristol may become the first city in the UK to implement a ban on diesel cars (Bristol Live)
  • 35% of those who commute by car or drive for work have taken time off due to back pain caused by uncomfortable car seats (Express & Star)
  • The Department for Transport is launching a consultation on introducing green licence plates for eco-friendly cars (Gov.uk)
  • New figures reveal that almost 20,000 drivers lost their licence due to drug-related offences in 15 months (Auto Express)
  • One in three car manufacturers have already cut jobs in preparation for a ‘no deal’ Brexit (SMMT)

That concludes our monthly roundup for October! Come back next month when we’ll wrap up more of the stories you can’t afford to miss. Still craving more driving content in the meantime? Be sure to read what our customers had to say about us in this month’s top reviews. You can also check out some of our proudest passes in our top photos from October.

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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