Hastings Direct news: petrol prices & road conditions

A possible drop in petrol prices below £1 per litre is expected but that's a small consolation for motorists who were delayed in traffic as Storm Barney hit the UK hard with strong winds and torrential rain. Learner drivers did not have a particularly good week either — driving examiners continued their two-day strike, with many hopeful new drivers returning home without the prospect of a licence. But Highways England made us chuckle with their top ten list of the most bizarre spills on its roads, including 6,000 chickens hitting the M62 in Manchester in May last year. Luckily they managed to save 5,000 of them!

Petrol prices could sink below £1 per litre in coming weeks


Let's start with the good news. The RAC is predicting that petrol prices could actually drop under £1 per litre for the first time in six years.

"There's typically about two weeks lag in the system. So there's very good chance that within a few weeks people will be selling fuel at £1.01, and then the temptation to move that extra penny or so will be unavoidable," RAC's chief engineer said on the BBC's Today show.

The RAC publishes petrol price data on its website, which reveals that the last time prices dipped below £1 was in 2009.

Wholesale prices have fallen by two pence in recent weeks and prices at the pump could follow in the next few weeks. Since 2014, oil prices have more than halved from north of $100 per barrel.

Storm Barney causes chaos for many motorists


Shortly after Storm Abigail, another one followed in its wake. Storm Barney hit the UK with 85 mph winds, causing floods, widespread damage and disruption.

The police and motor groups issued warnings to drivers, encouraging caution when driving on flooded roads.

The RAC's spokesman suggested that motorists should resist driving on flooded roads if possible and make absolutely sure when driving through standing water that it was shallow enough.

Driving examiners continue two-day strike

driving test

Driving and vehicle examiners continued their two-day strike, causing confusion among learner drivers scheduled to take their tests on those days.

Plans by the Drivers and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to increase the number of driving tests per day and possibly shorten tests, phasing out reverse parking and point turns, triggered the strike by members the Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union.

The agency suggested that candidates with driving tests on these days should still come for their test.

"Not all driving examiners are union members, and even if they are, they might not choose to go on strike," the DVSA said in a statement on its website.

"Theory tests aren't affected by the strike action and will be taking place as planned," it added.

The PCS union claims the changes will result in a pay cut for its members and affect road safety.

Cash-for-Crash scams cost insurance industry £400m a year

car crash2

The issue of so-called cash-for-crash scams resurfaced, with senior manager Mike Waters at vehicle leasing firm Arvel writing about the fraudulent behaviour on his blog.

It involves criminal gangs deliberately causing an accident and then bullying the other driver into handing over cash. And often these criminals continue to harass the other driver in the days following the crash by text or phone, asking for more money.

The gangs are known to target the elderly, people travelling with children and women driving alone in their cars. So please beware and never hand over money.

Waters claims that scams like this are costing the insurance industry a whopping £400 million every year, putting pressure on raising insurance premiums.

Tonnes of salmon cover motorway — Highways England reveals strangest road spills


Now to the bizarre! Highways England compiled a top ten list of the strangest items spilled on its roads. The report, published on the agency's website, comes just days after 24 tonnes of lard closed the M11 motorway for 24 hours.

This should give you an idea what the agency has to deal with on a daily basis:

  1. Raw human sewage was spilled over the A3 Stoke interchanger, near Guilford, after an HGV crashed and shed its load onto the road.
  2. Thousands of tins of baked beans spread across the M11 southbound. It took three hours to clear up the mess.
  3. It took agency workers 12 hours to clean up 20 tonnes of sticky black yeast extract from the M1 in South Yorkshire.
  4. A lorry had an accident at the M6 junction 2 in Coventry, resulting in thousands of lager cans spilling out and the road having to close for four hours.
  5. Ten tonnes of salmon covered the M62 eastbound, with each salmon having to be picked up by hand from the road.
  6. The Environment Agency was called in to help clearing and cleaning spillage of melamine formaldehyde resin and phosphoric acid, when an HGV overturned on the M62 eastbound.
  7. A tanker started leaking animal blood, following an incident on the eastbound A50.
  8. Six thousand chickens hit the M62 in Manchester, when a lorry lost its load. Rescuers were able to save 5,000 chickens after searching for several hours in the surrounding area in the dark.
  9. A chemical tanker, transporting refrigerated liquid oxygen, overturned on the A303. It took nine hours to clean up the chemicals. The driver was freed with hydraulic equipment by fire and rescue.
  10. Powdered cement got mixed with oil and diesel from one of the HGV's involved in an incident on the M6 in Lancashire, resulting in an 18 hour closure.

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