This week we’re bringing you the lowdown on motoring news relevant to young drivers, along with a few reminders to keep you safe and out of trouble, plus a couple of news snippets that’ll interest younger car fans.
The summer budget and young drivers
Hot on the heels of the traditional spring-time budget, Mr Osborne (the Chancellor in charge of the nation’s money, if you’re wondering) delivered an emergency summer budget a few weeks’ ago and some of the changes will affect many young drivers, so we thought you should know about them.
Car tax – if you can’t afford to buy a brand new car, skip to the next paragraph. If you can, you’ll need to bear in mind that from the 2nd year, road tax will no longer be either free or as cheap as chips for very low emitting vehicles. Only electric cars will have zero road tax status from the 2nd year they are owned. Really clean cars will still cost £10 to tax for the first year if they emit less than 50g of CO2, or £25 if they emit between 50g and 100g, but from year two onwards, all cars will pay a flat rate of £140 in road tax. Mr Osborne intends that the extra dosh raised will go into a roads fund, which doesn’t sound like a bad thing.
Insurance premium tax – In November, it will increase by 3.5%, from 6% to 9.5%, which will hit younger drivers harder than most others, as their insurance premiums are typically much higher for the first few years. Choosing a ‘black box’ telematics car insurance provider like Carrot Insurance helps keep your car insurance down if you’re aged 18-30, as we reward you with lower prices if you drive sensibly.
MoT changes – At the moment, newish cars don’t need to be booked in for a MoT test until they are three years old, but from now on this has been extended to four years. The key is therefore to keep on top of maintenance so your car stays in good running condition. If in doubt, ask a relative or friend.
Ford invites video gamers to solve transport issues
This week sees Europe’s largest interactive computer games trade fair, Gamescom, take place in Cologne, Germany, and Ford is proudly exhibiting something called the Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge. Video gamers and developers are set challenges in online games, to solve urban transport issues and to show how different transport systems can be successfully integrated into tomorrow’s world. Ford hopes that input from gamers will help them develop driverless technology and other useful motoring apps even further.
Motoring laws to keep in mind
From October, young drivers who smoke will have to make sure they don’t do so when anyone under the age of 18 is in the car too, as it will then be against the law and you may be fined £50, which could be better spent on a video game, DVDs or a huge mound of chocolate.
Youngsters who take prescription drugs need to be aware that since March, official limits have been in place, so if you know you’re going to be impaired, it’s best not to get behind the wheel. Fairly common drugs or medication like Diazepam and Temazepam are covered by the new laws, which you can read up on here.
Many cities around the UK are seeing urban areas turned into 20mph zones, so keep your eyes peeled, even if it’s somewhere you think you know like the back of your hand. Schools, housing estates and town centres are places in which to be particularly alert.
If lorries are a common sight on any of the roads you regularly travel on, most of them will now be doing 10mph more, as the HGV speed limit has been increased to 50mph for single carriage roads and 60mph on dual carriageways.
The government is planning to introduce much stricter speeding fines and penalty points, so it seems like the days of tolerance and goodwill will be over, with no more getting away with doing 77mph on the motorway or 35mph in a 30mph zone. Nothing is set in stone yet, but please stick to the speed limit, as it’s usually there for a reason.
DJ & TV star Zoe Hardman teams up with SEAT for new Ibiza
The new SEAT Ibiza will be launched later this year and I’ll be driving it along with other journos in mid-November. Later this month, though, TV presenter and DJ Zoe Hardman will be driving from Ibiza to London, sampling sounds along the way, to create a soundtrack that will be aired at the London launch party on September 29th. SEAT feels that as a young woman who is going places, Zoe is perfect to represent the new Ibiza, which won’t look much different from the current one on the outside, but the interior will be cranked up a few notches. Watch this space.