Young drivers unaware of drug drive law change

One-in-eight young drivers are unaware of the change in drug driving laws that came in last month.

According to research from telematics-based insurer Carrot Car Insurance, many young drivers were unaware that, under the new laws that came into force in March, police officers can test for drugs like cocaine and cannabis at the roadside with a new ‘drugalyser’, while also requesting samples for other illegal substances at a police station. Previously, officers had to arrest suspects and take them to a police station to undergo time-consuming tests, conducted under medical supervision.

In addition, just over one-in-five were unaware that it is also now illegal to drive with certain prescription drugs in the body.

Thirty-nine percent failed to identify all of the correct controlled substances from the official list of Clonazepam, Diazepam, Morphine, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Methdone and Rohypnol. In fact, only 2.4% correctly identified the ‘date-rape’ drug, Rohypnol as being banned when behind the wheel.

A further 20% were also unaware that the penalty for drug driving can be up to six months in prison, and a minimum one-year driving ban.

Carrot Car Insurance product director Ed Rochfort said: “It’s clear from our research that the change in laws around drug driving have left motorists confused and vulnerable, especially when it comes to the reclassification of some prescription medicines.

“More should be done to educate drivers, beyond the initial campaign launched by Think!, to ensure motorists are better equipped to understand all points of the law so they are not at risk of breaking it.”

Winter Driving Advice

Some advice when driving in severe weather conditions
Only travel if your journey really is essential. If you have to travel you should make sure you allow extra time for your journey and have with you – warm clothes, blanket, food, water, boots, torch, spade and a fully charged mobile phone. You should also let someone know your route and when you are expected to arrive. Before setting out, it is also important to make sure the vehicle to be driven is roadworthy: clear of snow and ice, and the oil and water have been checked. Check whether there is anti-freeze in the car and that you have enough fuel. Motorists need to be aware that:
Even when roads have been salted it takes time for the salt to become effective.
Rain can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to icing.
In severe weather conditions salt will not always prevent roads from icing up.
Tips for winter driving
Always tune in to 96.4 Eagle Radio to get details of conditions before embarking on your journey
Ensure that your vehicle has a well charged battery and antifreeze coolant; most breakdowns in winter are caused by these failures.
After heavy snowfall, you should plan you journey carefully. If road conditions are poor, ensure you have sensible clothing in case of emergency. You are also advised to take a flask of hot drink, a torch, mobile phone and a shovel on long journeys.
Ask yourself if your journey is really necessary. If it is, try and find alternative routes, allow yourself extra time to get to your destination and make sure that your vehicle is prepared for the journey.
Always drive according to the prevailing conditions. Use dipped headlights in poor weather, avoid sudden acceleration and braking and keep your speed down to an appropriate level for the conditions.
Do not assume that the roads are free from frost and ice, even if the road looks clear.
If you are caught behind a salting vehicle, please keep well back and be patient until the vehicle turns off the road.
If you have to abandon your vehicle, try to leave it so that snow ploughs can pass. Leave a note so that you can be contacted when the road has been cleared.

Snow and ice are not very nice. A little time can make winter driving easier.

Winter can be a busy time for everybody. Whether working, at school or on holiday, there’s so much to remember.
But whatever occupies your time this winter, don’t get caught out when driving in severe weather.
Don’t just drive, prepare.
Putting aside ten minutes to plan your journey before you set off could make all the difference. Check your planned route where you can find up-to-date traffic information. You should also check your vehicle is ready for the drive by checking the condition of your tyres as well as making sure your windscreen and lights are clean

Regularly servicing and checking your vehicle is in good running order before setting out, will reduce your chances of breaking down on the road. It’s worth making these checks regularly – and particularly before a long journey:

Check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator
Make sure your lights are clean and check the bulbs
Ensure your windscreen is clean
Replace the battery if it’s not reliable
Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and replace them if the tread has reached the legal minimum.

As you pack your gifts, for a long winter journey, you should pack your emergency kit in your car. This simple array of everyday household items could be your salvation if you get caught out by adverse weather conditions on the journey. You only need to pack it once at the beginning of the season leaving you with one less thing to worry about this winter

Your emergency kit should include:
Ice scraper and de-icer
Torch and spare batteries
Warm clothes and a blanket
Boots
First aid kit
Jump leads
Mobile phone charger
Food and a warm drink in a vacuum flask
A shovel
Reflective warning sign
Road atlas
Sunglasses (the glare off snow can be dazzling)
Don’t forget to take any personal medication too.

So whenever you plan to drive this season, make time for winter.
Remember to keep your radio tuned to 96.4 Eagle Radio for all the latest weather and travel news

Three-point turn may be dropped from UK driving test

The three-point turn could be dropped from the UK driving test as part of biggest update to the exam in 20 years.

Under a revised practical exam, learners may also be asked to use a satellite navigation system instead of following road signs.

About 1,000 learners will take part in a trial of a new practical exam.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said any eventual changes would be subject to full public consultation.

“We are carrying out initial research to explore how the driving test could better reflect real-life driving,” said a DVSA spokesman.

The DVSA is an agency of the Department for Transport and sets the standards for driving and motorcycling in the UK.

The theory test was introduced in 1996 and a section where motorists are asked to find their own way to a destination – aimed at assessing “independent driving” – in 2010.

Under the other changes being considered, drivers may no longer need to reverse around a corner.

The DVSA said drivers may instead be asked to focus on more realistic everyday manoeuvres, such as reversing out of a parking bay, or re-joining the flow of traffic from the side of a road.

But reverse parking – either into a parking bay or parallel parking – would remain as one of the manoeuvres candidates could be asked to perform, a spokesman said.

The two vehicle-safety questions are currently asked at the start of the test. In future, one these may be asked while the candidate is driving. The DVSA said a candidate, for example, may be asked to show how they would operate the rear heated screen while driving.

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