As commuters are hit with the largest rail strike in 30 years, leading UK car-share platform, Liftshare points to car-sharing as a practical solution to growing commuter frustrations and rising traffic levels.
Over 40,000 rail workers walked out in protest on Tuesday 21st June, with more strikes planned for the following Thursday and Saturday. Commuters have been advised not to travel, as services are suspended across the country.
“Commuters being asked not to travel is just not practical, with reports of hospital staff staying overnight to avoid endangering patient safety. Car sharing is a real untapped resource when it comes to making these essential journeys. There are more than 47m empty seats on our roads every rush hour and that’s only set to increase as more people are forced into their cars during the rail strikes.” said Ali Clabburn, Founder and Chairman of Liftshare Group.
“For those that can drive, we’d ask them to consider sharing a lift. There are over 20,000 people looking to car share on our liftshare.com community site. It’s free to join and connect with people making the same journeys. This makes driving more affordable, which is ideal with the added pressure of rising fuel costs.”
Traffic levels have reportedly increased in a number of UK cities, exacerbating commuter emissions which account for 5% of the UK’s total emissions – 18 billion kg of CO2e annually.
President of the AA, Edmund King, spoke to Radio 4’s Today Programme about the ease and environmental benefits of Liftshare. “You just go to the website, put in the journey you want to take and see if other people are going the same way. It’s a very efficient and environmentally friendly way to travel.
“As the rail strikes cause huge disruption to people across the UK, sharing a car is a sustainable and cost effective solution to the disruption of the rail strikes. Over the last 20 years, we have seen spikes in car sharing interests correlate with strike action. The cost of living crisis means more people are actively seeking to reduce their travel costs permanently and car-sharing is a simple and effective solution to this.”
Summer of thunderstorms warning for motorists
As weather forecasters predict the country could be in for a summer of thunderstorms, a leading insurance comparison firm warns motorists to check their insurance policies before venturing out.
The Met Office says a ‘hotter than normal’ summer will bring outbreaks of torrential downpours, hail and thunderstorms as temperatures cool after heatwaves.
A glimpse of what could be a blistering summer, with high temperatures, heavy downpours and thunder and lightning was seen last weekend – particularly in the south.
Heavy and thundery rainfalls are predicted for the coming weekend, especially in the west.
Quotezone.co.uk, a leading car insurance comparison website, says any damage to cars caused by driving through flash floods might not be covered by insurance policies. It warns motorists to carefully check their policy exclusions, and even if routes are partially blocked, drivers should think twice before using waterlogged roads.
If drivers find themselves stuck in the car during a thunderstorm, official advice from the Met Office is to wind up the window and stay inside the vehicle – the metal frame of the car should act as a conductive Faraday cage, passing the current around the passengers and into the ground, should it be struck by lightning. Open or soft top vehicles are best kept under cover.
Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “Motorists who have taken out third party only or third-party, fire and theft insurance wouldn’t be covered for any storm damage to their vehicles – only fully-comprehensive policyholders are likely to be protected in those cases.
“If a storm is predicted, look at official flood warnings, avoid roads that are likely to flood and allow more time for your journey, note you may have to pull over and wait it out if the downpour starts to affect your visibility – not forgetting to put on the hazard lights.
“Unfortunately, if motorists do decide to drive through waterlogged roads, there’s a very real risk that they won’t be covered for any resulting water damage to the car – even fully-comprehensive drivers.”
Greg also warns motorists that have to go out, to make sure their cars are roadworthy before setting off, which includes checking tyre tread and windscreen wipers.
Nearly 90% of drivers break speed limit in 20mph residential areas
As many as 87% of Britain’s car drivers routinely break the speed limit in 20mph residential areas, according to the latest figures from the Department for Transport.
The new statistics released earlier this week, compiled throughout 2021, also show 51% of drivers still go over the 30mph limit.
Even though speeding came down from a spike of 63% during the first lockdown, the return to pre-pandemic levels of traffic looks to have had no long-term impact on driver behaviour.
The data also reveals that 48% of motorists broke the speed limit on motorways, although this fell to 11% of cars for single carriageways last year.
Drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10mph hovered around 5-6% last year, while 10% went over the speed limit by at least 10mph on motorways.
Only 1% of car drivers on single carriageways broke the speed limit by more than 10mph.
Respondents who admitted to exceeding the speed limit gave the top excuse as: ‘I drive according to the speed of other road users’. On 20mph roads, users most often cited the speed limit as being ‘inappropriate’.
Other popular reasons given for breaking the speed limit were: ‘It’s sometimes safer to go faster’, ‘pressure from other drivers’ and ‘I don’t look at the speedometer enough’.
The government figures are based on driver behaviour on roads with free-flowing traffic where there are no impediments such as bends or steep climbs.
Responding to the new data, Greg Wilson, Founder of leading car insurance comparison platform Quotezone.co.uk, says: “It’s staggering to realise that half of all motorists are still breaking the speed limit in residential 30mph zones and there is no encouraging longer-term downward trend. Residential areas are one of the areas drivers should be most cautious, given the high volume of pedestrians and children playing so it’s worrying that this is still an issue.
“While many drivers might think it’s a minor fault breaking the speed limit by a small margin, the law takes a different view. There’s no ‘look the other way’ if motorists go over a speed limit by less than 10 percent – that’s a myth.”
Motorists can face a fine of £100 and three penalty points on their licence if they break the speed limit – which can increase to six points and a fine of up to £1,000 if they’re doing more than 41mph in a 30mph zone.
Wilson says penalty points can add anything from 5% to car insurance premiums for the first three points on a licence, which can rise to 25% for six points.
Wilson continues: “If convicted, it’s important to be honest and fully disclose the offence to your insurance provider, because failure to do so can result in the policy being invalidated, meaning you won’t be covered. Some providers do offer car insurance policies with competitive rates for convicted drivers, which can help motorists find an affordable premium, but it probably goes without saying that the best way to keep your car insurance price low is to obey the speed limit.”
Last year, the Welsh Government announced plans to make 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas, with eight areas trialling the scheme, including Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire and Cilfrew in Neath Port Talbot.
At the time, Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “Making 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas is a bold step that will save lives.
“We have made progress on reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads over the 21 years of devolution, but despite our considerable efforts the highest proportion of all casualties – 50% – occurred on 30mph roads during 2018. This cannot be tolerated, so a reduction to 20mph on our residential and other busy pedestrian urban roads has to be the way forward.
“Decreasing speeds reduces accidents and saves lives, and alongside this the quality of life will improve, making room on our streets for safer active travel. This helps reduce our environmental impact and has a positive outcome for our physical and mental wellbeing.”
Sgt Ian Price, from Go Safe – Dyfed-Powys Police Road Harm Reduction Unit, said: “Dyfed-Powys Police, with the support of Go Safe, is working with our road safety partners to help change driver attitudes in recognising a cultural and potential legal change, regarding restricted road status from 30mph to 20mph.
“Historically we have grown up to know that streetlights mean 30, but potential legislative changes in Wales in 2023 will default a restricted road status to 20mph. Too many people are being killed or seriously injured in existing urban areas, in which a reduction in speed limit along with compliance, can only reduce the number of these incidents. We can also make our communities safer places to live by walking and cycling those short journeys.”
‘Very high’ hay fever warning for Welsh motorists
The Met Office is issuing a ‘very high’ pollen forecast for Wales, which could give hay fever sufferers more than watery eyes from today.
Welsh hay fever sufferers who are vulnerable to grass and nettle pollen and Cladosporium spores, which will increase in intensity with the warm, dry sunny days should take note, especially if they take medication to lessen symptoms.
The Met Office forecast has led to a warning from one of the country’s leading car insurance comparison websites, that many motorists are unaware of the fact that ‘driving under the influence’ could result in hefty fines and points on their licence. Some hay fever medications could see drivers committing this type of motoring offence without even realising it.
Insurance comparison website Quotezone.co.uk says the government legislation that bans driving while under the influence, does not distinguish between illicit drugs, prescription medication and over-the-counter medications. This means any type of drug that affects a motorist’s driving abilities could potentially result in a drug-driving conviction, even if it’s something as simple as hay fever medication that causes drowsiness.
One in four people in the UK has hay fever, that’s approximately 16 million people, according to the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. Grass pollen is arguably the biggest cause of seasonal allergies, affecting approximately 90% of hay fever sufferers – with peak season from mid-May until July.
Welsh hay fever sufferers could consider the following advice before getting behind the wheel:
Five driving tips for hay fever sufferers
Check medication – antihistamines and hay fever medications can differ in strength, check with the doctor if in any doubt about possible side effects and always read the label – the warning, ‘do not operate heavy machinery’ is commonly found and applies to cars, forklifts and any other heavy machinery.
Plan journeys – check the Met Office Pollen warnings or download the weather app, which gives a 5-day forecast for high pollen counts.
Keep the car as pollen-free as possible – clean the car regularly to get rid of dust that could trigger symptoms before setting out, regularly change pollen filters in the car’s ventilation system and keep car windows closed during journeys.
Get stocked up – keep the car stocked with fresh tissues, hay fever medicine, a bottle of water, eye drops, anything used to ease the symptoms, should they strike unexpectedly.
Drive safely – better to err on the side of caution, giving lots of space to fellow road users and taking breaks if hay fever symptoms start. If drivers don’t feel well or the pollen count is high, play it safe and don’t make non-urgent journeys.
Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “A lot of people aren’t sure exactly when the hay fever season starts, it actually runs for seven months of the year – March to September – depending on the type of pollen people are allergic to, so it can catch drivers off guard.
“Most people assume that the term ‘drug-driving’ refers to driving while under the influence of illicit narcotics, but the truth is that driving after taking any type of drug, could result in a motoring conviction if the motorist’s driving abilities are impaired.
“While some hay fever medications are non-drowsy, some types do cause drowsiness, and some prescription hay fever tablets in particular carry a ‘do not operate heavy machinery’ warning. If a driver fails to obey this warning and gets behind the wheel, they could risk a hefty fine of up to £5,000, points on their licence and endanger themselves and other road users.”
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