Blanket ban on pavement parking could leave thousands without a parking space.

A blanket ban on pavement parking could lead to a need for thousands of new car parking spaces that towns and cities are simply not equipped to provide, warns IAM RoadSmart.

The warning has come after the House of Commons Transport Committee launched an enquiry into pavement parking and invited comments from interested parties in April, to which IAM RoadSmart has delivered its conclusions. All submissions have now been released for public viewing.

One suggestion that has emerged from the enquiry is a blanket ban on all vehicles parking on any part of a pavement – but IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, said this could cause a major parking headache for drivers across the country.

In its submission to the committee, IAM RoadSmart said: “Where data has been collated, the problems appear to be localised.

“Where pedestrians are being put in danger or denied access by inconsiderate pavement parking, or if costly long-term damage is being done, then we have no problem with local solutions being implemented for local problems.

“Local councils should be encouraged to use their existing powers to sign, define, review and enforce local bans as required.”

IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research Neil Greig noted that, with increasing numbers of cars on the road, local councils do not have the funding or the road capacity to provide the extra spaces people need to park. Nor do hard pressed local councils have the resources required to effectively implement a blanket ban.

“New traffic orders, new signposting, new road markings and new enforcement administration will all be required at extra cost if a blanket ban is introduced. Councils are already struggling to implement low emission zones, cycling and walking policies, active travel policies, 20mph zones and a host for other transport measures against a background of budget cuts and dwindling resources.”

IAM RoadSmart added that a blanket ban risked creating conflict between residents as they attempt to find a place to park, often in areas where there has never been a road safety problem.

In addition, while many would like to see stricter penalties for pavement parking, IAM RoadSmart said enforcement must always be seen to be fair and well targeted. Penalties should only be used to encourage behaviour change and the take-up of alternatives if they can be provided.

“If enforcement is going to be applied rigorously then councils should be forced to provide safe and secure alternative parking arrangements in those areas where pavement parking has been banned but worked perfectly well before. 

“If a blanket ban is to go ahead, despite our and other organisations’ recommendations, the income from fines should be ringfenced to improve parking facilities in the worst affected areas.”

IAM RoadSmart want to see much more research and pilot schemes before a decision is made to ban all pavement parking. In many urban areas, pavement parking is actively encouraged and the road marked up to allow it. IAM RoadSmart does not support a blanket ban that effectively removes this option at a stroke.

Get caravanning: tips from IAM RoadSmart

With another bank holiday on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience. By ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience.

With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that they have some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the summer months of May to September – a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.  

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.

  • We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage
  • The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law
  • Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up
  • A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is applies
  • Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high – this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency
  • Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast

Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says: “Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating. By getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe.

“In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”

More than 11,000 drivers hold licences legally despite having 12 penalty points or more

IAM RoadSmart has expressed its frustration that six years after calling for action, more than 11,000 drivers a year are still being legally allowed on the roads with 12 or more points on their licences.

The issue was brought back into the spotlight this month when Justin Madders, MP of Ellesmere Port and Neston, asked Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling how many holders of UK licences with 12 points or more have been allowed to continue driving.

The DVLA replied that as of 9 April 2019, the number of people with 12 penalty points or more who have an entitlement to drive is 11,105.

IAM RoadSmart first revealed the scale of the issue back in 2013 following a Freedom of Information request and subsequently met with the DVLA to discuss solutions.

Although six years ago there were 12,470 drivers with more than 12 points on their licences on the roads legally, IAM RoadSmart is still highly concerned that these numbers still run into five figures.

Despite proposing several ways to fix the issue of such an unacceptably high number of drivers holding licences legally after committing multiple driving offences, little obvious action appears to have been taken in the past six years.

Six years ago, IAM RoadSmart discussed a series of measures to tackle the issue with the DVLA:

  • Where ‘exceptional hardship’ has been used as an excuse for not losing a licence, that the reason for this plea is recorded. Then the driver cannot use the same excuse twice
  • The DVLA was due to introduce a new computer system which would allow courts to see past offences and reasons given
  • The courts with the poorest records of not banning drivers who have over 12 points should be named and shamed
  • Better training for magistrates and better sharing of information with DVLA.


Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said that while there is now better sharing of information between courts and the DVLA, many decisions on whether drivers should be banned are made by the courts without enough information from the DVLA – a process that needs to change urgently.

He said: “The DVLA told us they would sort this issue out years ago, and judging by the current numbers, it simply has not happened effectively enough. Licences need to be removed and drivers who have committed repeat offences encouraged to take remedial courses to bring home the impact of their behaviour and promote safer, more responsible driving behaviour in future.

“IAM RoadSmart calls on the DVLA to quickly extract all such cases manually and ask courts why there has been a non-disqualification on 12 or more points, so appropriate action can be taken to get irresponsible and dangerous drivers off our roads.”

Neil added: “Quite simply these are drivers who should be banned. Allowing them to continue to drive in all but exceptional circumstances not only undermines public trust in the well understood ‘four strikes and you’re out’ totting up method of driving punishments, it also put these motorists and other road users across the UK at greater risk.”

Dealing with vulnerable road users: tips from IAM RoadSmart

As we make the same commute every day to work and back, we can get used to seeing pedestrians on the streets, motorcyclists on the road and even a few cyclists appearing now that the season is changing. But this can sometimes mean we get a little too used to the things around us and may unintentionally stop paying attention to our surroundings. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides a set of tips to remind you how to manage vulnerable road users.

Note: If you have friends and family who drive, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

  • Check to see the type of pedestrians around you. Do you see an elderly person crossing the road? They may be walking slowly, so ensure they feel safe by reducing your speed. Children can be easily distracted and are unpredictable too, especially when crossing the road, so do all you can to help them out. Drive with care and be vigilant as a few extra seconds added to your day may make all the difference.
  • A cycling club will often cycle as a group rather than in single file. This makes it safer for all of us; a simple overtake on a short group is often easier and safer to achieve than 30 overtakes on separate cyclists. Before you overtake them, make sure you have given them enough room as they could adjust their road positioning unexpectedly for a pothole or drain. A few seconds delay is better than a lifetime of regret. It’s always good to remember that a young, fit individual on a bike is likely to be more stable than an older person doing their shopping run.
  • Take note that there are two types of mobility scooters. Class 2 scooters are only allowed on pavements and have a top speed of 4mph. Class 3 mobility scooters should be registered and are driven on the road with a top speed of 8mph. Bear in mind that this group of road users may have restricted movement, vision or hearing so give them plenty of space and time.
  • Have you thought about taking a more scenic route now that the days are getting lighter for longer? You may come across a horse and its rider walking along the side of the road. To avoid scaring the horse, turn the radio down and keep the engine revs low. Slow down and take your time when passing a horse. Keep your car well away from them and proceed with caution. The British Horse Society campaign encourages ‘Wide and Slow’ which reiterates driving no more than 15mph and leaving at least a car’s width gap. 
  • Who has heard of SMIDSY (“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”)? This is a regular acronym in a motorcyclist’s dictionary and often our strategy when looking for a culprit! The science behind this is called Saccadic Masking. The simple explanation is that people don’t see clearly when their head or eyes are moving, and they don’t pick up objects travelling towards them very well. So make sure you have a good look, not just a quick glance. A good tip is that if you’re specifically looking for motorcyclists or cyclists, then you are more likely to see them.

Richard said: “The importance of sharing the road space and understanding the needs of other road users cannot be stressed enough. If we are aware of vulnerable road users, we can make provisions to keep us all safe. Remember to treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Do you want to find out more ways to stay safe on the road? Try our Advanced Driving Course and get the best out of yourself and your car.

A smooth drive into spring: tips from IAM RoadSmart

It’s time to get your car hale, hearty and ‘beach body ready’ in preparation for the spring. This week’s tips give advice on getting your car ready for the warmer weather, from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman.

  • Lose weight; clear out those coats, boots, scarves and bags that took up permanent residence during the winter months. They add weight as well as taking up space, and surplus weight means wasted fuel
  • Cut down on the salt; modern cars are much less prone to rust than their forbearers, but corrosion-causing salt from gritted roads can build up under the wheel arches and the suspension. Use a hose pipe to flush the wheel arches clean; if you have a pressure washer, even better. If not, try washing the arches after driving on wet roads – the mud and grit will have softened. The neighbours might think you’re peculiar but you’ll reduce the risk of expensive repairs
  • Test your vision; the demister puts a film of grime from traffic fumes on the inside of the windscreen which can spread bright sunshine into a blinding glare. Get the screen squeaky clean with water and detergent, dry with a microfibre cloth and crystal clear vision will be restored. Don’t forget the other windows; clean screens rarely mist up so you’ll need the heated rear window far less – another fuel saver
  • Keep hay fever at bay; most cars have pollen filters, but they need changing periodically to remain efficient. Look in your handbook to find out how to get to the filter and if it looks bad, change it now. Some very good after-market filters are available online, often with a charcoal layer to filter out pollutants as well as pollen
  • Don’t get hot and bothered; air conditioning is a boon as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak away. If it gets too low, the air-con will blow warm instead of cold. Test it by turning the heater control to minimum, the heater fan to maximum and make sure the air-con is turned on (i.e., not in “eco” mode). If you don’t feel an icy blast after a couple of minutes, the system may need “re-gassing”; a simple job which most garages have the equipment to do.

Richard said: “In conjunction with other spring cleaning treat your car, the efforts to wash and polish it will last a bit longer now the winter salt has gone. Now is a good time to spend a therapeutic Sunday morning tinkering.”

Do you want to find out more ways to stay safe on the road? Try our Advanced Driving Course and get the best out of yourself and your car.

Rain, rain, go away ……

Recently we have seen the heaviest rain we have had for quite some time – here is some advice from IAM RoadSmart on how best to cope with it.
Heavy rain:
• Heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you should be two seconds when driving on a dry road, and at least four seconds in the wet. It is even longer on icy surfaces.
• Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windscreen, make any necessary adjustments and remove anything from the screen area before you start your journey.
• A good rule of thumb is that if you need windscreen wipers, then you need your headlights. Automatic light settings will not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on.
Aquaplaning:
• If the water is standing in puddles on the road surface, your car is at risk of aquaplaning. This is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. This is caused by the tread not being able to displace the amount of water present. To recover from aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.
Floods:
• First ask yourself – can you take another route? If not, then you need to identify how deep the flood is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If you are familiar with the road, you can judge the flood in relation to the kerb.
• If heavy rain was not the cause of the flood, then what was? And what impact on the road does it have? For example, if it is a burst water main, the standing water may look like a normal flood but the road surface beneath the water may be completely broken up. If you are unsure how the flood has formed, then avoid it altogether.
• Are there other vehicles of similar size to yours that are safely driving through? From this, make a judgement as to whether it is safe to travel through or not.
• If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of your car being swept off the road.
• If you have taken everything into consideration and decide to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start. This will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working properly.
• If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. Often modern saloon cars have the engine air intake in the wheel arch, which may be below the water level. If your engine should take in water, it will immediately stop and be severely damaged.
• Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally- even when causing splashes when driving through puddles at the side of the road – you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.
Richard Gladman, head of driver and rider standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the wipers and tyres in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent times we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible avoid driving through flood water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Budget pothole fund not nearly enough for disillusioned drivers, say IAM RoadSmart

Leading road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has said while the £420 million in new investment in tackling Britain’s pothole crisis is welcome, it doesn’t go nearly far enough and is merely a drop in the ocean to deal with a long-term and major issue.
The 29 October budget saw Chancellor Philip Hammond announce the cash injection for our beleaguered roads, alongside a £28.8 billion fund to upgrade England’s motorways.
Mr Hammond announced £25.5 billion for Highways England for major road upgrades between 2020 and 2025 and an extra £3.5 billion of funding allocated to major local routes, under the jurisdiction of local councils. The £420 million for potholes is on top of an existing fund of almost £300 million.
However just three months ago IAM RoadSmart conducted a survey of over 7,000 of its members, finding how disillusioned they had become with Britain’s rotten roads.
Over 3,400 respondents said they had experienced damage to their car, commercial vehicle, motorbike or bicycle, or personal injury as a result of hitting a pothole.
Around 90% had spotted a deterioration of some level in the roads they use with just over half rating the state of their roads as ‘much worse’ in the past three years and 38% rating them ‘worse.’
Close to 6,000 people said they have noticed ‘many more’ potholes in the past three years, and over half said they have to take avoiding action on every journey to dodge potholes, while 27% said they have to steer around a pothole every day.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “IAM RoadSmart welcomes the commitments to building more modern safe highways. What we really need to see however is the same long-term funding approach applied to potholes.
Extra money is always welcome but when it arrives unpredictably for one year at a time it does little to help the long term planning needed to really attack the pothole problems drivers and riders see and feel every day.”

What’s a roundabout? IAM RoadSmart reveals shocking lack of road knowledge by UK drivers

A survey conducted by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, found that many drivers have a real lack of awareness of the rules of the road, putting themselves and others in danger.
More than 50% admitted their road knowledge was so poor, they didn’t recognise the roundabout sign.
More than two-thirds of drivers admitted they had no understanding of the two second rule.
Over 1,000 motorists participated in the survey for IAM RoadSmart to test their knowledge of the Highway Code.
Some 68% of drivers were unaware of the two-second following distance in dry weather, with 53% confusing this for two car lengths. This results in a gap of less than a third of a second when travelling at 60mph, for an average-sized family car.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “This is truly shocking. The outcome of the survey brings to light some frightening statistics which demonstrates the need to constantly re-fresh on-road knowledge.”
The survey also found that only 43% correctly recognised the Highway Code ‘dual carriageway ends’ sign, with respondents aged between 17 and 39 being the largest group to answer this incorrectly.
When asked what to do when arriving to a scene of a serious crash, almost half (48%) were unaware that the first thing you need to do is to warn others of the danger by turning on hazard lights.
Of those who participated, over half were not able to identify that a circle shaped sign demonstrates traffic signs that give orders – a crucial piece of information when on the road. Drivers aged 70 onwards statistically scored below average on this question.
Worryingly, two-thirds of those surveyed admitted they were unable to recognise the colour of the reflective studs between a motorway and its slip road, with only one in five (20%) of those aged 17 to 39 answering correctly that they are green.
Neil said: “With many young drivers showing high levels of traffic sign ignorance these results reinforce IAM RoadSmart’s view that road safety education should be taught as part of the National Curriculum in schools to prepare teenagers for their future driving career.
“Many drivers don’t look at the Highway Code regularly after they’ve passed their test, but no-one’s memory is perfect and it’s crucial to read and understand the most recent version of the Highway Code for the safety of all road users.”

10 tips for driving back to university

Whether you’re starting your first year at university or heading back for the final time, travelling there can be an emotional rollercoaster.
One moment you’re excited at the thought of seeing friends and getting your independence back, then you’re full of nerves and finding it hard to part with those at home. So worrying about your motorway journey is the last thing you need. That’s why the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart have put together a set of tips for newbie drivers.
Read the advice below provided by the charity’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman:
1 – Become familiar with the layout of a motorway – is there a verge or hard shoulder (used for emergencies only)? Are there three or more lanes?
2 – Be observant. Look out for signs of merging traffic or warnings about approaching junctions. If you can see vehicles approaching the motorway, is there space for you to move into lane two to accommodate their needs?
3 – As you approach the motorway, evaluate the traffic so you give yourself time and space to smoothly merge in with the traffic already on the motorway
4 -What’s your following distance? Remember, on a dry road surface, the distance to the vehicle in front should be at least two seconds, and at least four seconds on a wet road surface. This applies for every drive you make, not just on motorways.
5 – Be mindful that there are no ‘slow’, ‘middle’ or ‘fast’ lanes. Lane one (on the left) is the travelling lane, all others are overtaking lanes. You should return to lane one when it is safe to do so.
6 – Remember to check blind spots as well as your mirrors when changing lanes, as some vehicles may not be visible through your mirrors.
7 – Take into consideration that at 70pmh you travel at 31 metres every second. This means your following gap disappears very quickly if the traffic in front brakes; look well ahead and respond to changing information early
8 – Use your lights. Flashing your headlights is permitted only to let another user know of your presence. It’s also important to use your dipped headlights when driving on a wet motorway with surface spray. You can also use your hazard warning lights on motorways to make other road users behind you aware of an impending problem ahead of you.
9 – Be considerate. Drive at the appropriate speed and position, and be courteous and considerate towards others and acknowledge those who extend those same courtesies to you.
10 – Keep your knowledge up-to-date and keep your vehicle in good order. To help you boost your driving knowledge of motorway driving, IAM RoadSmart is offering you a free Motorway Driving e-learning module which can be accessed here. Remember to use the discount code BACK2UNI to redeem this offer!

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards says: “Motorways are statistically the safest roads in the UK but we still need to concentrate; a moment of distraction can see us travel a considerable distance.   A well-planned drive will allow acceleration sense to be used to match the speed of the traffic, brake lights shown inappropriately will cause the traffic to slow and may cause issues – if you are using cruise control, cancel it using the button and not by tapping the brake; use your brake lights to communicate to the traffic behind. Concentrating can be tiring so remember to take a break at least every two hours.”

Pothole mania: half of IAM RoadSmart members have experienced damage due to potholes, says new survey

A survey conducted by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has found that its members are increasingly disillusioned with the state of the roads in the UK and feel the Government is not doing nearly enough to tackle the problem.
The survey of more than 7,000 IAM RoadSmart members found that the majority think that our roads have become much worse in recent years, that there are many more potholes than ever before, and that they have to swerve to avoid potholes on every journey.
Some 47% – over 3,400 respondents – say they have experienced damage to their car, commercial vehicle, motorbike or bicycle or personal injury as a result of hitting a pothole.
Around 90% have spotted a deterioration of some level in the roads they use with just over 50% rating the state of their roads as ‘much worse’ in the past three years and 38% rating them ‘worse.’
Some 81% – close to 6,000 people – say they have noticed ‘many more’ potholes in the past three years, and adding in the 13% who have seen ‘a few more’ that gives a total of 94% who report more potholes.
Over 56% say they have to take avoiding action on every journey to dodge potholes, while 27% say they have to steer around a pothole every day.
While a third of IAM RoadSmart members are willing to consider new funding ideas to help improve our roads, half were against a 2p increase in fuel duty and most of those were strongly opposed.
Mike Quinton, Chief Executive Officer of IAM RoadSmart, said: “IAM RoadSmart is deeply concerned at the safety implications of drivers having to swerve to avoid potholes as well as the high level of damage and injuries revealed by our survey.
“We are looking to the authorities to work together to produce a long term and sustainable plan to reduce the backlog of road maintenance before yet another damaging winter sets things back even further.
The figures from our survey are compelling and it is increasingly clear that those who use the roads on a daily basis are pretty much united on this one – enough time has now passed for a long term plan to be in place and for work to have started. As our survey has shown, this is now the motoring public’s number one priority.”