GEM Motoring Assist’s monthly news round-up: August 2012

Posted on July 26th, 2012 by David Williams MBE

Motoring news for the month ending August 1st 2012. Including advice for beating Olympic travel chaos, an update about Steve Coogan’s speeding charge and why it’s best not to park near a lake in Austria!

Boris Johnson: fans travelling to the Olympics ‘should plan ahead’. Photo by BackBoris2012.

Boris Johnson: fans travelling to the Olympics ‘should plan ahead’. Photo by BackBoris2012.


How to beat the Olympic travel chaos

By the time you read this it is likely that the 2012 Olympic circus will be in full swing but will the capital’s complex transport system be capable of delivering spectators to the stadium by the time the athletes take to their starting blocks?

The omens don’t look good. On Thursday 24th July trains were unable to stop at Stratford, the main Olympic station, due to heat affecting the overhead power lines. There were also major delays on the A12 and the A13 in the heart of East London.

The threat of the RMT Transport Union calling its members out on strike could also leave many Olympic participants and spectators facing a race against time to get to events.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has reacted to the prospect of Olympic travel chaos by releasing a pre-recorded message played at train stations which starts with the words “Hi folks, this is the mayor” and goes on to warn passengers to “plan ahead”.

Luckily, more detailed advice is available in the form of GEM’s Top Tips for Olympic Travel; eight great tips for getting to the Games simply, quickly and in a hassle-free way. You can access GEM’s travel tips (including advice about free travel cards, private parking, lift sharing and river taxis) here.

Private wheel clamping to end from October

The days of ‘cowboy clampers’ – private firms which are given a licence to clamp cars parked on private land – are numbered. From 1st October 2012, wheel clamping without lawful authority will be banned in England and Wales.

News reports of firms clamping drivers’ cars and then marching them to cash points to pay fines resulted in the phrase ‘cowboy clampers’ being coined. So it will be a relief to many drivers that from October 2012 only bodies such as the police and local authorities will have the power to clamp.

Scotland outlawed the practice many years ago but motorists in Northern Ireland should still take care – the practice of clamping on private land is still legal over there.

Find out more about the chequered history of private wheel clamping by reading this BBC article.

Government under fire for rise in road deaths

The coalition government’s transport policy has come in for severe criticism after new figures revealed that road deaths increased for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to Department of Transport (DfT) statistics, 1,091 people were killed on Britain’s roads during 2010-2011; 51 more than the previous year and the first rise since 2003.

A report by the Transport Select Committee found that councils’ road safety strategies have been compromised by budget cuts and the loss of skilled staff.

The headline figures from the DfT research into road deaths during 2010-2011 are:

  • Car occupants: 883 deaths (up 6 per cent)
  • Pedestrians: 453 deaths (+12 per cent)
  • Motorcyclists: 362 (-10 per cent)
  • Cyclists: 107 (-4 per cent)

For further information: read this BBC website article about the Transport Select Committee’s findings.

Speed limit ‘to be slashed’ on quiet country roads

The rise in the number of road deaths could explain the government’s decision to give local authorities greater powers to reduce the speed limits on Britain’s quietest roads.

Rural roads currently have a 60mph limit but new Department for Transport Guidelines published on 13th July 2012 suggest that motorists could face fines for travelling over 40mph.

Find out more by reading this Daily Telegraph article.

Steve Coogan ‘not guilty’ of speeding charge

Steve Coogan, the comedian and actor famous for creating and playing the role of Alan Partridge, hit the news again this month after being cleared of a charge of speeding.

The TV star’s Range Rover was flashed by a speed camera when travelling at 39mph in a 30mph zone on Hove seafront in October 2011.

However, on 16th July 2012, Brighton Magistrates’ Court accepted Coogan’s defence that the car was being driven by a friend at the time. Coogan told the court that he was in the habit of lending out the Range Rover on a pool basis to friends, family and colleagues.

He identified the person driving the car as a Miss Jody Bayly, a friend who lives in Australia and who was on holiday at the time of the incident.

Find out more at the Independent.

Don’t park near a lake in Austria!

Travelling on foreign roads can certainly be confusing as speed limits and rules vary from country to country.

With this in mind, GEM has come up with a guide for driving in Europe just in time for the peak of the holiday season.

There are eight great tips in the guide and it also contains a top ten of most unusual foreign road rules – including advice that it is forbidden to park a caravan within 500 metres of a lake in Austria.

You can find GEM’s tips for driving in Europe here.

We would love to hear your views on the news items mentioned in this round-up. If you’ve got any Olympic travel stories, views on the proposed new rural speed limit or examples of strange foreign driving laws, please leave a comment in the box below.