18 May 2016

What’s new in the world of young drivers?

With the usual focus on stuff that particularly matters or is of interest to young or newly-qualified drivers, this week on The Root sees us round up the latest topics, debates and headlines from the world of motoring.

Will driving licences go electronic?

It wasn’t all that long ago when the DVLA got rid of those circular paper tax discs that drivers used to stick on their windscreens each year and also scrapped paper counterpart driving licences. Now it seems that the agency might be working on plans for driving licences to move across to the digital world as well.

Carrot Insurance for young newly qualified drivers 18-30b - photocard driving licence may go digital - smartphone app wallet

DVLA boss Oliver Morley tweeted a photo of a driving licence being displayed on a smartphone, saying that it’s “a little prototype of something we’re working on.” More specifically, the picture he posted was of a driving licence stored in the phone’s Wallet app, which is used by loads of people for storing their debit and credit card details, travel tickets and other personal stuff.

Mr Morley stressed that no date has been set for launching any digital driving licence system and that it wouldn’t replace the current photocard setup – but it wouldn’t be the first time a played-down concept goes on to become a reality, so watch this space.

Special Volkswagen ‘Polo Beats’ edition hits showrooms

VW has teamed up with Beats Electronics and announced the arrival of the Polo Beats. On the outside, the car gets fab’ 16-inch ‘Knight’ wheels, darkened rear lights, partially-tinted rear windows, a high gloss black radiator grill, wing mirrors in either Flash Red, Pure White or Black, and a Beats badge on the bodykit’s side sections plus the B-pillars.

Volkswagen VW Polo Beats special edition - Carrot Insurance for young newly qualified drivers 18-30

Inside, the centre console and air vents gain classy Cortina Silver trim, the door sill protectors are Beats-branded, the door panels include leatherette and the floor mats are finished off with red stitching. VW’s Car-Net ‘App-Connect’ cleverly combines Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink into one system, and Polo Beats models come with rear parking sensors and cruise control as standard. These unique Polos also feature Alcantara sports seats and LED lighting in the footwell, which really sets the car apart inside.

Volkswagen VW Polo Beats special edition - Carrot Insurance for young newly qualified drivers 18-30b

As you’ve probably guessed, the star attraction is really the Beats audio system, which produces 300 Watts compared to the Polo Match which has an 80-Watt stereo. The Beats setup uses a digital signal processor to produce really impressive sound quality and crispness through its eight channels and seven speakers. The A-pillars incorporate tweeters for those high-pitched sounds, the front doors and the rear of the car each include two speakers, and there’s also a subwoofer to make the bass notes sound amazing.

Available as a 3-door or 5-door, engine choices for the VW Polo Beats are 1-litre and 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre TDI diesel. Prices for the Polo Beats start at £13,910 on the road for the 1-litre 3-door, with the 1.4-litre TDI diesel 5-door costing £16,750.

Driving tests set to be modernised

With driverless car technology racing ahead at warp speed, roads becoming more congested and ordinary cars being fitted with increasingly brainy gadgets, the government has announced that it intends to overhaul the driving test to make it more relevant to current and future generations of aspiring drivers.

Lord Ahmad, the government’s transport minister, showed common sense when he recently said: “The way in which we drive is changing. The motoring agencies must adapt to the way we live now”. The Department for Transport, which he heads up, commented that the “DVSA will reform the driving test and pre-test learning to encourage more real life driving experience and ensure that it takes account of local variations and increasing vehicle automation.”

Carrot Insurance for young newly qualified drivers 18-30b - driving test changes sat nav

Use of sat nav systems, parking assistance technology, the ability to demonstrate eco driving, and motorway driving are all likely to be included in driving lessons and tests of the not-too-distant future.

The government has also stated this month that before taking their driving tests, learners will have to demonstrate that they can and will show courtesy towards vulnerable road users such as elderly drivers and cyclists. Pupils may also end up being asked to keep an online journal of their progress before taking their practical test.

New Top Gear less than a fortnight away

In case you’ve missed it, the BBC released the latest trailer for the new Top Gear car show at the start of the month. Set to air on BBC2 on Sunday May 29th, the hotly-anticipated ‘all-new’ version of the world-famous show led by Chris Evans looks like it’ll be worth tuning in for. The trailer features the ginger presenter and co-host Matt LeBlanc fooling around in Blackpool, with new presenter Chris Harris driving an Aston Martin, Jordan trying out some off-road driving and celebrity guests like Tinie Tempah and Texas’ Charlene Spiteri going on road-trips. If you join millions of others and tune in, let us know what you think of the new show.


On that note, we always love hearing from our customers and anyone else, really, on Twitter or Facebook. From insurance questions and customer support to general car chat, our friendly team is ready and waiting.

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.