A1) Many local authorities and public venues have parking guides on their website. Before travelling, type ‘parking’ and the name of the place you are visiting into a search engine such as Google. Here is a typical example from Manchester City Council.
There are guides to parking signs commonly found on-street in the Highway Code
A2) ‘Which?’ has a very useful page on its website giving information about what to do if you get a parking ticket on-street or in a local authority car park.
There is advice about what to do if you receive a ticket in a car park operated by a private company such as those in shopping centres and at railway stations in the “How to appeal a parking ticket” section of the Know Your Parking Rights website.
Never ignore a parking ticket. If your informal appeal to a local authority is refused, remember you can appeal to independent adjudicators. Who you appeal to depends on where you live. London Tribunals covers London; the Traffic Penalty Tribunal covers the rest of England and Wales; the Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal covers Northern Ireland; and Scotland is covered by the Parking and Bus Lane Tribunal for Scotland.
If your appeal against a ticket issued on private land is rejected by the operator, you may take your appeal to the Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) service provided the parking charge notice was issued by a member of the British Parking Association. The service is not available in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
A3) A legal opinion for the RAC Foundation by John de Waal QC, a barrister at Hardwicke, argues that tickets issued for parking on private property are likely to be unenforceable by the courts as the charges imposed on drivers are out of all proportion to the losses suffered by landowners as a result of motorists’ actions.
However, on 23 April 2015 three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed a case brought by a driver against a private parking firm brought on the basis that the £85 charge levied against him after he overstayed at a carpark was disproportionate and hence unlawful.
In their ruling the Judges unanimously decided that the charge was “not extravagant.”
The case was taken to the Supreme Court for final decision and heard on 21 July 2015. The appeal was dismissed on the grounds that whilst penalty charges should not be excessive, this charge was “neither extravagant nor unconscionable… taking into account use of this particular car park and clear wording of the notices”.
The ruling gave no guidance as to what an excessive charge might be.
A4) Yes. In March 2015 the Prime Minister transferred power for regulating private parking from the Department for Transport to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
In a written statement entitled ‘Off-street Parking (Machinery of Government Change)’ he said: “This written statement confirms that responsibility for off-street parking will transfer from the Department for Transport to the Department for Communities and Local Government. This includes schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 in respect of the recovery of unpaid parking charges. Responsibility for those aspects of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Traffic Management Act 2004 which relate to off-street parking will also move to the Department for Communities and Local Government. This change is effective immediately.”
A5) Yes. Since 1 October 2012 it has been illegal in England or Wales to clamp or remove vehicles parked on private land. The change came about because of a provision in the Protection of Freedoms Act which became law earlier in 2012.
There are some exceptions. The legislation does allow those with “lawful authority” to continue to clamp and remove vehicles parked on private land. Those with such authority will include the police. Local by-laws might also allow clamping to take place in some port, airport and railway station car parks. DVLA and VOSA will also continue to clamp or tow away vehicles which are un-roadworthy or have not had their vehicle tax paid.
The RAC Foundation has produced a Q&A Sheet which explains how the changes might impact on motorists. A copy can be viewed here.
A6) Yes. The Department for Transport strengthened laws around ticketing in private car parks, so unpaid charges can be claimed from the keeper of the vehicle, as well as the driver. The Government also agreed that an Independent Appeals Service funded by the British Parking Association (BPA) would be established from 1 October 2012 – see question 2 above.
A7) Yes. If a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Sir Greg Knight MP – the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill – becomes law it will allow for a stringent new Code of Practice to be developed by the Secretary of State in conjunction with motorists groups and other experts. This Code is designed to end inconsistent practices and unfair treatment of motorists by a few rogue private parking operators. Those operators falling foul of the rules would be blocked from accessing vehicle keeper data from DVLA and issuing fines, effectively forcing them out of the industry.
An amendment to the bill has been tabled which will also allow ministers to establish a single, independent, appeals service.
A8) Full details can be found in the congestion charge section of the Transport for London website here.
A9) Yes. Demand for diesel has risen 76 per cent over the past 20 years (compared with a 46 per cent decrease for petrol) and diesel is now being sold twice as fast as petrol.
This mismatch is set to accelerate. Forecasts suggest that demand for diesel will keep rising – according to some estimates by as much as 20 per cent by 2030 – while demand for petrol drops. At this stage diesel would outsell petrol by four litres to one. This will leave the UK facing a growing gulf between the diesel fuel it needs and what it can produce, meaning a growing reliance on imported stocks.
In 2013, 45 per cent of the UK’s diesel needs was already being met by foreign supplies (whereas we remain net exporters of petrol). Our growing dependence on imports is partly down to the closure of refineries. In 2009 there were nine major refineries in the UK. Today there are six and a number of these have been or are up for sale. The imbalance is also due to some of the older refineries being configured to produce petrol rather than diesel. Retrofitting them to produce more diesel is hugely expensive and often not commercially viable.
The above report was written in 2015 and relates to current consumption patterns. How recent changes in the purchase of new vehicles – there was a sharp decline in the number of diesel cars being registered for the first time in 2017, down 17 per cent compared to 2016 and down 33 per cent in the first 3 months of 2018 as compared to the first three months of 2017 – will effect these patterns remains to be seen.
A10) Over the last forty or more years, the number of filling stations in the UK has reduced from over 30,000 in 1973 to 8,422 at the end of 2017.
In the last twenty years, on average around 300 filling stations have closed each year due to strong competition between fuel retailers and the increasing costs of compliance with environmental regulation. This has favoured large service stations with lower overheads per litre sold. As a result, many smaller filling stations have become economically unviable. However, closure rates have tapered off in the last four years and the long-term trend of declining numbers of forecourts in the UK appears to have stabilised.
A11) At the end of 2017, there were 1,553 supermarket filling stations in the UK – just over 18 per cent of all filling stations. Although numerically in the minority, volume sales account for about 45 per cent of total market share by volume.
The number of supermarket sites has been increasing at a rate of 3 per cent per year in the past 10 years.
A12) Analysis by the RAC Foundation in 2012 showed that 87 per cent of car-owning households in the UK are located within 5 miles of a supermarket petrol station.
A13) The number of filling stations per capita is highest in Northern Ireland with around 307 filling stations per million relative to England with 117 per million
A14) There are various websites offering advice on the cheapest petrol in an area including PetrolPrices.Com
A15) Every year around 150,000 drivers put the wrong fuel in their car. Driving your car after filling up with the wrong fuel can cause catastrophic damage to your engine – as much as £5,000 in the worst case.
If you do put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, do NOTstart the engine or turn on the ignition – this can circulate the contaminated fuel around your vehicle’s fuel system and increase the risk of potential damage. Instead, seek assistance at the earliest opportunity.
The RAC offers a service that drains the vehicle’s tank and entire fuel system of contaminated fuel. It flushes the system through with clean fuel and supplies an amount of fuel to get the vehicle mobile. Details of this service are available here.
A16) If you intend driving when visiting or moving to another country, it is important that you understand what is required of you, what you need to do before you go and what you should take with you.
A17) Use the RAC Route Planner to plan journeys in the UK, across Europe and the USA.
A18) When collecting a vehicle from a hire company, some companies may only ask to see your photocard licence or your pre-1998 paper licence. Others, however, will want to check whether you have any penalty points on your licence and they may ask for a code so that they can check your licence online or for a printout of your licence details.
To obtain a code or a printout go to View Driving Licence and follow the instructions.
A19) Shop around as premium rates will vary between insurers. Comparison websites may also be able to help. Insurance brokers can also assist, especially if you have a specialist need. Additionally,
- If purchasing a car think about the insurance costs, as smaller lower-powered cars will be cheaper to insure. This is especially important for young, newly-qualified drivers.
- Consider taking a post driving test course especially if you are a young driver.
- Investigate whether a telematics based insurance policy might help reduce your premium.
- Fit an approved immobiliser, as this can often earn you a discount on the premium.
- Consider opting for a higher voluntary excess (the first part of each claim that you pay yourself), as the higher the excess, the lower the premium.
A20) Fraudulent insurance policies are sold by illegal insurance advisers, commonly known as ghost brokers. Fradulent motor insurance policies are sold in two ways:
- Genuine policies are bought from legitimate insurance companies using false information and then doctored before being sold on to customers
- Fake policy documents bearing the logo of legitimate insurance companies are created and sold on to customers
To avoid being sold a fraudulent policy, check that your insurance adviser is on the Financial Services Register before you buy a policy from them. Also, beware insurance policies sold via social networking websites, pubs, clubs and bars, newsagents and motor repair shops.
If you suspect you have bought a fraudulent insurance policy, check if your policy (with the correct details) is listed on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database, which records the policy details of all vehicles insured in the UK. If your vehicle is not listed on the database your policy is not legitimate.
For more information, see the Association of British Insurers’ advice on this matter.
A21) The Motor Insurance Database (MID) is the only central record of all insured vehicles in the UK. It is used by the police and DVLA to enforce motor insurance laws.
You can check that your own vehicle is correctly recorded on the MID by going to www.askMID.
A22) If you are involved in a road traffic accident, you can use the ‘askMID Roadside’ service on your smart mobile device at the side of the road to instantly check the Motor Insurance Database and confirm the insurance details of the other parties involved in the accident.
You should then obviously speak to your own insurance company.
In addition, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), may be able to help if you are involved in a accident with a driver who is not insured or who leaves the scene of the accident. The MIB operates a central fund to provide a means of compensating the victims of road accidents by negligent uninsured and untraced drivers where compensation cannot be claimed from another source such as an insurance company.
A23) RAC Foundation analysis in July 2017 showed that insurance premiums in the UK tend to be higher than the rest of Europe because the compensation paid in the UK to those injured in road accidents is much higher than in the rest of EU. Meeting the long-term care costs of those catastrophically injured in road accidents can result in compensation payments of around £10 million in the UK, significantly ahead of Germany (£6 million) and France (£6 million). In Sweden, compensation might be as little as £0.6 million.
Other reasons why the cost of UK motor insurance tends to be higher than in the rest of Europe include:
- Markets in other European countries, such as France, are generally more regulated with, for example, limitations on how much premiums can rise and fall
- UK insurers assess risk primarily on the age and experience of drivers, before taking other things into account, whereas in many other countries the type of vehicle is the starting point
- In the UK people can start driving at 17. On much of the continent the age is 18 and because accident risk reduces very rapidly with age, UK insurers exposure to claims is higher
- Third-party insurance is common across continental Europe and is usually cheaper than comprehensive cover which will pay out in more scenarios. But in the UK, comprehensive cover is most common and counter-intuitively those requesting third party only are seen as posing a higher risk and attract a higher premium, even for less perceived cover.
Full details can be viewed here.
A24) The guidance provided by RAC Motoring Services can be viewed here.
A25) Latest figures show that 109,459 motor vehicles were stolen in England and Wales in 2017, compared to 92,795 vehicles in 2016. This is a 18 per cent rise compared to the previous year’s figure.
The number of vehicles stolen in England and Wales has fallen by about 44 per cent since 2006/07 but has been rising in recent years.
A26) If your vehicle is stolen you should report it immediately to the police. The police will notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the details of the theft and any recovery of the vehicle on your behalf.
For full details see here.
A27) Buying a used vehicle is a serious business and, while there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t be a victim of vehicle crime, you can reduce the risks.
The advice given by Citizens Advice can be viewed here.
You can also check that your chosen car is safe and roadworthy with an expert inspection from an RAC engineer. Car data checks designed to ensure a vehicle is not stolen, written off or still on finance are also available. For full details, see here.
A28) This information can be obtained by inputting the registration number and make of car on the MOT-history-net website.
A29) You can find out if a vehicle has up-to-date vehicle tax or has been declared SORN (off the road) on the Check if a vehicle is taxed website.
A30) Cloning involves the copying of the identity of a similar (non-stolen) vehicle already on the road. Criminals find an exact match of the car they have stolen, they then copy the identity of the legitimate vehicle, thus making it look legal based on false number plates being fitted.
If you are being contacted about fines or charges for which you are not responsible because someone else is using your registration mark, it is possible that your vehicle has been cloned.
The motoring section of the Government’s former direct.gov website contains some helpful advice if you find yourself in this situation. For full details see here.
A31) Regularly maintaining your car could save you money over time. More importantly, you will also be making sure your car is safe on the road.
The Car Care section of the RAC website has a facility to compare garages and MoTs and to book a car service and repair.
A32) The advice given by Citizens Advice can be viewed here.
A33) If your vehicle fails its MOT, and you are unhappy with the way your MOT test was carried out, you need to discuss your test results with the test centre before anyone starts repairs.
You can appeal against the failure if you think it’s wrong. Fill in the complaint form and send it to DVSA within 14 working days of the test.
For full details see here.
A34) A step-by-step guide can be found on the potholes.co.uk website.
A35) You can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers.
You do not need to do anything if you want to buy one of these vehicles – the dealer will include the value of the grant in the vehicle’s price.
Ultra low emission vehicles are placed into different categories on the basis of their CO₂ emissions and their zero emission range.
These categories are:
- category 1 – CO₂ emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles
- category 2 – CO₂ emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles
- category 3 – CO₂ emissions of 50 to 75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles
Following the change in rates, the grant will now pay for 35 per cent of the purchase price of a Category 1 vehicle, up to a maximum of £3,500.
Category 2 and 3 vehicles are no longer eligible for the grant.
A36) As of 30 September 2018, 176,962 claims have been made through the Plug-In Car Grant scheme.
A chart showing the claims per quarter take-up and the cumulative figure can be viewed here.
A37) The Plug-In Van Grant enables motorists purchasing a qualifying, new electric (plug-in) van to receive a grant of 20 per cent towards the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £8,000.
A38) As of 30 September 2018, 5,218 claims have been made through the Plug-In Van Grant scheme.
A chart showing the claims per quarter take-up and the cumulative figure can be viewed here.
A39) A chart showing the number of licensed vehicles in the UK eligible for the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant and Plug-in Van Grant schemes by model can be seen here.
NOTE: The total number of eligible vehicles licensed might not match the number of grants taken up as some vehicles might have been bought without the benefit of the grant or are not currently taxed.
A40) The Plug-In Taxi Grant enables motorists purchasing a qualifying, new electric (plug-in) taxi to receive a grant of 20 per cent towards the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £7,500.
A41) As of 30 September 2018, 744 claims have been made through the Plug-In Taxi Grant scheme.
A42) The Plug-In Motorcycle Grant enables riders purchasing a qualifying, new electric (plug-in) motorcycle (or moped) to receive a grant of 20 per cent of the cost of the motorcycle, up to a maximum of £1,500.
A43) As of 30 September 2018, 396 claims have been made through the Plug-In Motorcycle Grant scheme.
A44) Yes. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme offers a grant of up to 75 per cent (capped at £500, including VAT) off the total capital costs of one chargepoint and associated installation costs.
A45) Yes. The Workplace Charging Scheme is a voucher-based scheme designed to provide eligible applicants with support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of Electric Vehicle charge points. The contribution is limited to the 75 per cent of purchase and installation costs, up to a maximum of £500 for each socket, up to a maximum of 20 across all sites for each applicant.