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Car-tious Brits: One in three motorists are anxious and scared about rising traffic levels due to threats from aggressive drivers and their own rusty driving

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After more than a year spent under lockdown restrictions, Co-op Insurance’s ‘Covid and the Car’ report has revealed that more than one in three (35%) British motorists are feeling anxious, nervous and scared as traffic on the nation’s roads returns to normal levels.

Research shows that almost four in ten UK drivers (39%) admit that their main fear is other drivers being aggressive, with a further 30% claiming their own driving skills are ‘rusty’ and ‘out of practice’.

The insurer has already seen a jump in claims relating to bumps and accidents from the week commencing 12 April – when step two of the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown kicked in – compared to the week before, highlighting the increased risk of incidents as more drivers get behind the wheel.

As test centres open up this week, it appears that young drivers aged 16 to 24 years are the most anxious group to emerge from the pandemic, with two-thirds (64%) saying that busier roads are a major concern for them and a further 32% of these claiming they haven’t been on a motorway during lockdown.

Similarly, almost half of females polled (46%) confess to being nervous about busier traffic levels, compared to 25% of men – with 38% of female drivers saying they dread hostility from antagonistic drivers. And one in ten women (11%) admit to being concerned about driving on busier roads with a new baby on board, compared to 4.6% of males.

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When it comes to car maintenance, a worrying one in four (26%) car owners confess to not having carried out a MOT, service or other essential checks on their vehicle in the last six months.

The way Britons get around on a daily basis is also at a Corona-crossroads according to the report, which shows that Covid has turned people off using public transport, with almost four in ten (37%) of those polled stating they’ll use it less than ever. Reasons cited are that they fear it will be too crowded and there is less chance of catching Coronavirus while in their car.

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It’s not all doom and gloom for motorists, with over a fifth (21%) saying they’re excited to get back behind the wheel. And almost a third of those polled said they are planning to buy a new vehicle in the next 12 months, with one in three set to splash out on a hybrid vehicle (31%) and one in four on an electric car (27%). Only 15% planned on buying a fossil fuel vehicle, showing that petrol and diesel are falling out of favour with today’s more eco-conscious drivers.

On average, men are prepared to splash out a staggering £27,403 on brand new wheels, whilst women will spend £20,326.

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It also looks like two-car households across the country are set to decline – 9% of respondents have already stopped using a second car, 20% say they’re considering it to save money and 11% want to do so to reduce their carbon footprint.

A third of those surveyed said they were planning on buying a new car in the next 12 months

Charles Offord, Managing Director, Co-op Insurance, said: “It’s concerning to hear that many of the nation’s drivers feel anxious about busier roads and aggression from other drivers. We’re urging people to reacquaint themselves with their car before embarking on longer journeys and to check that it has had all relevant checks and services. Knowing your car is safe and roadworthy should offer drivers peace of mind and help to boost their confidence. And it goes without saying that all motorists should show consideration to other drivers at all times.”

Racing driver and car fanatic, Jodie Kidd, added: “For me there’s nothing like the thrill of the open road and setting off on a road trip is just as exciting as arriving at the destination! It’s great to hear that many British motorists share in my excitement but also understandable that the last year may have changed the way many of us feel about driving, particularly those who have been learning to drive on quieter roads or those who have welcomed a baby and might not have ventured too far. My advice to anyone who is feeling apprehensive is to build up your confidence with regular trips on familiar roads before heading out onto the motorway.”

Last September, Co-op Motor Insurance launched the ‘T’ plate to help young or newly qualified drivers with telematics to feel safer on the road. Like an ‘L’ plate, the ‘T’ plate is displayed on the car to indicate to other road users that the vehicle is fitted with a black box and the driver is being monitored.

It also launched a pay-by-mile trial with By Miles to offer customers whose driving habits have changed, greater flexibility. Rather than paying an annual premium, drivers pay a fixed amount each year to cover their non-driving risks, such as theft and vandalism, then pay for the rest of their cover monthly, based on how many miles they drive.

And for those who are working at home and haven’t been behind the wheel as much, the insurer, alongside car care specialist Fixter offers a convenient MOT and car servicing option for car owners. Vehicles are picked up at home and returned at a place and time to suit.

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Motoring

Revealed: Swansea is one of the UK’s worst cities for road rage – although not as bad as Cardiff

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Swansea has been revealed as the 9th worst place in England and Wales for road rage according to new research.

The city saw 51 instances of recorded road rage in the last year.

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The Road Rage Index, was compiled by specialist car group Motorfinity, which sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces across the country.

Drivers in Swansea also had 15 cases of dangerous driving.

Cardiff topped the list, with 301 instances of drivers ranting at other road users in the city, followed by Leicester at 291.

A combined figure of 240 incidents puts Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton in third place.

Meanwhile, both Lancaster and Preston had 191 reports of road rage between them that attracted the attention of police, while Leeds had 108.

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Police forces for Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, and Lancaster and Preston were only able to provide the data when grouped with the other cities.

With 32 million motorists vying for space on British roads, it’s little surprise that things get heated. In fact, it’s claimed that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to sometimes suffering from road rage whilst they’re driving.

Top 10 cities with the most road rage incidents

CityRoad rage incidents in 2021
1Cardiff301
2Leicester291
3Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)240
4Lancaster and Preston (combined)191
5Leeds108
6Sheffield79
7Bradford68
8Derby51
9Swansea51
10Hull49

As part of the research, Motorfinity also asked police forces for the number of counts of dangerous driving incidents, of which the city of Oxford came first with 480 counts, followed by 363 for Bradford.

Top five cities with the most dangerous driving incidents

CityDangerous driving incidents in 2021
1Oxford480
2Bradford363
3Leeds321
4Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)178
5Newport121

Motorfinity CEO Daniel Briggs believes that, although all the top 10 cities in the list are very busy urban areas, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more motorists means more anger.

He said: “The fact that the top few cities have so many more incidents than others suggests that drivers there may unknowingly copy each other’s bad behaviour. These results show that there are some clear hotspots when it comes to angry or impatient drivers.

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“It’s never ideal to be on the receiving end of road rage, but it’s also pretty unpleasant to be a regularly angry driver. Motoring should be an enjoyable experience, or at least one that people don’t dread.

“Given that road rage is generally considered commonplace, it’s likely that someone experiencing it has also been on the receiving end of another driver’s anger at some point. So, it’s worth remembering that a car door probably doesn’t insulate your emotions as much as you first think.”

It has been previously said that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to regularly being angry at other motorists while they’re driving.

(Lead image: iStock)

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