Hastings Direct news: winter beckons

The past week has proved a mixed bag for motorists, with the good news stories offset by a handful which are less than ideal. However, with ugly weather conditions now upon us, it's time for drivers to acknowledge that they need to up their game on the road. It goes without saying that drivers should put safety first at all times of the year, but this is especially true as we enter the colder and wetter months. Rain, wind and snow necessitate higher concentration levels from motorists, so give yourself every chance of staying safe this winter by adhering to the rules of the road and employing some common sense.

Drivers display poor road-sign knowledge

road signs

Perhaps it's time to re-familiarise yourself with the Highway Code? It might have been years since you've seen a copy, but with 90% of British drivers saying they find road signs confusing, it suggests motorists would be wise to go out and buy one.

In fact, as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recently reiterated, motorists are now able to view the Highway Code in its entirety online. The DVSA also make it possible to receive any official changes via email or social media.

As the research from car finance company Zuto shows, many motorists would be wise to make use of the service.

The sign causing drivers the most problems was found to be 'no vehicles carrying explosives', with half of Zuto's respondents unable to identify it.

Arguably the most worrying finding the study yielded, however, was that almost one in three drivers do not know what the national speed limit sign looks like.

As Zuto points out, though, there is also an argument that the signs themselves are to blame for the confusion.

"As the research has shown, I'm sure every motorist can relate to being baffled by road signs at some point and, after 60 years serving the UK roads, perhaps it's time for some signs to enter retirement," said James Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto.

Police to clampdown on motorway speeding


One road sign that all drivers are familiar with is that showing a speed camera. On motorways, however, they are not always observed, with motorists of the understanding that they are given a bit of leeway.

However, that could all change, after one police force set in motion plans to a "zero-tolerance" approach to motorway speeding.

The proposal from Bedfordshire Police would mean that all drivers who exceed 70 miles per hour on the motorway face being fined, the Telegraph reports.

The announcement has been met with great resistance from motoring groups who fear that other regions will follow suit as they look to make up the shortfall in their revenues.

"I am really appalled that a police force should be even considering such an idea," said Hugh Bladon, co-founder of the Association of British Drivers.

"My fear is that if police forces see this working in one area they will quickly adopt a similar approach and soon the whole motorway network will be operating a zero tolerance policy."

Olly Martins, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, did not hide the fact that the scheme is a means of raising funds, flaming the debate about whether the speed camera is still a road safety tool or just a revenue generator.

Welsh government trials accident screens


Another issue that plagues motorways is that of rubbernecking. Road safety charity Brake said drivers' inclinations to turn and look as they pass a crash site is now a "serious issue".

The Welsh government has acknowledged the severity of the issue too; borrowing 30 screens from Highway England to prevent rubbernecking motorists causing tailbacks and further collisions at accidents on the A55.

Incident Response Units will be trained in the deployment of the screens, which will be used cover up to 75m of the carriageway to hide crashes from passing motorists.

However, Brake would not be drawn on how effective the screens are in curtailing rubbernecking until it has been shown clear evidence that they have reduced the number of slow-speed accidents on the A55.

Fuel prices continue dropping

petrol pump 2

We always like to end our round-up on a positive note. This week it is the news that the average price of a litre of petrol has fallen for the fourth consecutive month.

In October, motorists paid an average of 107.82p for a litre of unleaded, down from 109.45p at the start of the month. That equates to a saving of 90p on the cost of filling up a car with a 55-litre tank, which might not sound a lot, but it is good news for motorists nonetheless.

When you compare it to the 138.5p that drivers were paying for a litre of petrol this time in 2012, it's even more impressive.

RAC fuel spokesperson, Simon Williams, explains why it is that petrol prices are so important to drivers:

"Fuel is without doubt the biggest cost of motoring and the forecourt price is a constant cause of concern for drivers which makes this relief at the pumps all the more welcome," he said.

It also goes without saying that a safe-driving approach can help drivers save even more money on fuel.

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