Dec 15

Top Tips for Winter Driving

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Winter presents drivers with a whole host of potential problems caused by freezing temperatures, snow and ice, all creating hazardous driving conditions. You can maximise your safety by following these handy tips.

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Dec 15

Prescription Drugs and Driving: The Law

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While the safety information and advice about the dangers of driving under the influence of drink or illegal drugs is widespread, what is less well known among many drivers is the law regarding driving and prescription drugs. It can be easy to think that because a medication isn’t illegal and has been prescribed by a friendly GP, that there is no danger when it comes to driving; however, this isn’t always the case.

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Dec 15

Christmas Gifts for Petrolheads

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It’s that time of year again, when you face the task of finding last-minute gifts for those you love. Whether you are looking for that perfect gift for a petrolhead member of your family, or seeking out something to put on your own Christmas list, we thought we would save you the trouble of trekking for hours around crowded shops by finding the best Xmas gifts for those that love to drive. You’ll have to be quick though!

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Dec 15

DVLA used Faulty Equipment for Eyesight Test

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The DVLA has been in contact with over 600 motorist who failed eyesight test after it came to light that the equipment used to carry out the test was faulty. The licensing agency blamed the manufacturers of the eye testing equipment, which was used by DVLA accredited optometrists between 2010 and 2015, for the problem.


Of the 604 motorist contacted, around 80% who agreed to a retest have since had their licences restored. But some drivers want the DLVA to take full responsibly for the mix up by offering compensation to those affected, many of whom had to sell their cars or pay for public transport.

Derek Harlow, 78, was one of the drivers wrongly banned. When he lost is licence he also lost an important lifeline as he cares for his disabled wife.

“My wife struggles to use public transport and has become progressively housebound for much of the time since then.” he said.

When Mr Harlow was informed of the testing error and invited to be reassessed he was passed as fit to drive and had his licence restored to him.

He went on, “When the initial elation subsided, I felt aggrieved that my life has been disrupted so needlessly,” he says. “I have complained to the DVLA but have received a ‘not-our-fault’ letter obviously encouraging me to take no further action. Surely the DVLA cannot absolve itself of the responsibility having contracted specific opticians to carry out the eye tests on its behalf? I had no choice as to which optician to use.”

Medical Conditions

DVLA rules state that drivers with certain medical conditions must reapply for their driving licence every one to three years and must undergo optical test with optometrist appointed by the DVLA if their condition or treatment changes.

According to the DVLA, less than half of the people affected by the fault have reapplied for their licences, 71 are awaiting reassessment and 232 have not responded.

A DVLA spokesperson said, “As this software issue originated at the point of manufacture and not as a result of any action or inaction by the DVLA, we are not responsible for any losses that might have resulted from the defect.”

Not only has the DVLA rejected liability but they have refused to disclose the name of the company which manufactured the equipment, making it extremely difficult for the drivers affected to make a claim against them.

The problem was only discovered when the DVLA signed a £8m contract with Specsavers to provide its visual field and acuity test over the next 4 years. Specsavers have issued a statement saying that it was due to the new contract that the problem with the equipment was discovered.

“Since being awarded the contract, we have tested nearly 60,000 people on behalf of the DVLA, of which less than 300 were affected by this software issue.

“The software issue has been rectified and Specsavers has taken the decision to replace the machine entirely. Our stores are doing their very best to work with the DVLA to ensure these patients are prioritised and that their new test results are sent to the DVLA for processing as quickly as possible.”

Dec 15

How to Protect your Car Battery this Winter

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We are now entering the grip of winter and the arrival of cold, damp weather can create absolute chaos when it comes to your vehicles battery and electrical system. On cold mornings car batteries are a lot like people – they like to be kept warm and to be fed and don’t always want to get started. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting in a car that won’t start, trying again and again to get it going. Your battery has to work a lot harder in winter and your starter motor will require the maximum current in order to get the engine going.

Warning signs that you might be at risk of suffering a battery related breakdown include:

  • A grinding or clicking sound as you turn the ignition on
  • Your engine turns over slowly when you attempt to start it
  • Your headlights dim when the engine is idle but brighten when you give the engine some revs

Follow the tips below to make sure you can get your car started this winter.

Electrical Connections

You should check the terminals on your battery to ensure that the cable connections are clean and tight, this will enable proper current flow. Any corrosion of the terminals will add electrical resistance increasing the chances that your car won’t start. You should clean the terminals periodically using a wire brush and water. When doing this make sure you wear gloves and eye protection as the white lead sulphate power is toxic.

Keep Your Battery Clean and Charged

A dirty battery can lead to power discharge and corrosion. Avoid getting oil or grease on the battery. An under charged or under used battery will lose its charge and go flat over time. You should also check the water level of your battery every month and top it up with distilled water if needed.

Reduce the Load

When starting your car in freezing conditions you should switch off everything electrical, such as the radio and dip the clutch as you turn the ignition on. This will reduce the work load of the battery and increase the chances of the engine starting.


If you can park your car in a garage over night you should do as this will help keep the battery warm. If you do not have access to a garage you should park so that the bonnet is facing away from the wind.

Booster Packs and Jump Cables

You could consider investing in a battery booster pack which will enable you to give your battery a quick charge if it is failing to start the engine. Jump cables are also useful if you have access to another car that will start.

Battery Age

If your battery is over 5 years old and it begins to show signs of struggling to start you should get it replaced as soon as possible. Don’t wait around and hope that this is a temporary blip that will pass – once batteries start to experience problems it generally only ends one way – with a motorist stranded on the roadside.