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 following appropriate bodies:-
- Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) This is an adjudication service for motorists seeking redress where a Parking Charge Notice has been issued by a member of the British Parking Association. (From 1 May 2019, POPLA has also been able to consider appeals against Parking Charge Notices issued in Scotland and Northern Ireland).
- The Independent Appeals Service (IAS) administered by the International Parking Community (IPC). This is an adjudication service for motorists seeking redress where a Parking Charge Notice has been issued by a parking operator who is a member of the IPC’s Accredited Operator Scheme.
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. New measures to help prevent the worst excesses of rogue parking companies have recently become law.
The Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 – introduced to Parliament by Sir Greg Knight MP – aims to 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.
The government launched a consultation on this new, binding Code of Practice in August 2020.
Amongst the measures proposed in the new framework are:
- A new, tiered approach to parking fines with a cap for less serious offences between £40 and £80 depending on the parking charge system chosen (but both lower than the current £100 cap), and a new, increased fine of up to £120 for drivers who wrongly park in disabled bays or ambulance bays
- A compulsory 10-minute grace periods before firms can issue a late fine
- A compulsory 5-minute cooling-off period in which a motorist can consider the terms and conditions and change their mind about parking
- A crackdown on parking firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists into paying fines
- A requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions of parking, contact details and how to appeal a charge
There will also be the establishment of a single, independent, appeals body together with an appeal charter. Under the charter, “motorists could be able to appeal their fine and see it reduced to a maximum of £20, or cancelled entirely if”:
- they have a mitigating reason for overstaying their parking ticket such as their vehicle breaking down
- they have made a genuine innocent error, like keying in a digit in their number plate incorrectly
- they have a valid ticket, permit or Blue Badge but failed to display it correctly
A8) Full details can be found in the congestion charge section of the Transport for London website here.
A9) Over the last forty or more years, the number of filling stations in the UK has reduced from over 30,000 in 1973 to 8,385 forecourts at the end of 2019.
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.
A10) At the end of 2019, there were 1,597 supermarket filling stations in the UK – just over 19 per cent of all filling stations. Although numerically in the minority, sales at the supermarket forecourts account for 44.8 per cent of the total market share by volume.
Since 2010, the number of supermarket forecourts has increased at a rate of 2.7 per cent per year.
A11) Almost four fifths (78%) of households with a car or van now have a big four supermarket filling station on their doorstep.
Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that of the 19.6 million homes in the UK that have access to a car or van 15.2 million are situated within three miles (as the crow flies) of at least one Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or Morrisons fuel forecourt.
When the net is widened to five miles that figure rises to 17.3 million (88%).
At ten miles it jumps to 19 million (97%).
|Car or van owning households|
|Total||Within 3 miles of supermarket fuel||Within 5 miles of supermarket fuel||Within 10 miles of superm’t fuel|
|England||16.4 m||13 m
|Scotland||1.65 m||1.19 m
|UK||19.6 m||15.2 m
(Note: The analysis does not include Tesco Express Esso forecourts.)
A12) There are various websites offering advice on the cheapest petrol in an area including PetrolPrices.Com
A13) 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.
A14) 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.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the guidance issued by the government on what UK drivers now need to do to drive when visiting the EU can be viewed here.
A15) Use the RAC Route Planner to plan journeys in the UK, across Europe and the USA.
A16) 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.
A17) 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.
- 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.
- Drive fewer miles – reduced mileage equates to a greater saving.
There is also some helpful advice on how to get cheaper insurance on the Which? Money website that can be viewed here.
A18) A frequently asked question from people being offered and attending courses is whether or not an NDORS course offer and attendance should be notified to their insurers.
The response that is carried on the NDORS website states that legal advice is that attendance on an NDORS course is not a conviction, nor should it be treated as a conviction, unlike a fixed penalty. So, unless the question regarding NDORS course attendance and completion is specifically asked at the time of taking out the policy, or at any other time during the lifetime of the policy, there is no obligation whatsoever on a driver who has completed an NDORS course to disclose this to their insurers. However, as always, the detail is in the small print.
NDORS Data is not shared with insurance companies and they have no access to it.
The information that is published on the NDORS website regarding this matter can be viewed here and the full advice should be read carefully in connection with any queries relating to this matter .
A19) 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.
A20) 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.
A21) 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.
A22) “Crash for cash” scams are run by fraudsters who manufacture collisions, sometimes with innocent road users, hoping to profit from fraudulent insurance claims.
There are three types of “crash for cash” scams:-
- The staged accident: fraudsters crash their own vehicles together or mimic damage from a genuine crash.
- The induced accident: the fraudsters targets an innocent motorist to become the ‘at fault driver’, for example by deliberately slamming on the breaks of their car to ensure the car behind crashed into them.
- The ghost accident’: fraudsters submit completely fabricated claims for accidents which never actually took place.
If you think you have been targeted:-
- Note as much information as you can about the event, the driver, any passengers and the circumstances
- Take photos of the incident, if you are able and it is safe to do so
- Call the Police and report your suspicions
- Call the Insurance Fraud Bureau’s Cheatline on 0800 422 0421
A23) Analysis by the Insurance Fraud Bureau of 2.7 million motor insurance claims made across the UK between 1/10/2019 to 31/12/2020 has identified over 170,000 claims which could be linked to “crash for cash” networks.
The hotspots analysis confirms Birmingham remains the most prevalent area in the UK for the dangerous scam, followed by postcodes in Bradford, Manchester, London and Luton. The top 30 high-risk postcodes can be viewed here.
Source: Insurance Fraud Bureau
A24) 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.
A25) 94,915 offences of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” were logged by the police in England and Wales in 2020. This equates to roughly one vehicle being reported stolen every five and a half minutes.
The figure is 16 per cent lower than the 113,644 vehicles reported stolen in 2019.
A26) Fewer than half of all stolen cars over the last 10 years have been recovered by police.
A total of 522,214 vehicles were logged as stolen across the UK between 2009 and 2018 – yet just 236,636 were recovered. This equates to an average nationwide recovery rate of 45.31 per cent.
The data also shows significant geographical variations in recovery rates. Merseyside Police recorded 35,624 vehicles as stolen between 2009 and 2018 and logged 26,816 as recovered — a recovery rate of 75.27 per cent well above the national average. Conversely, the West Midlands Police posted a recovery rate of only 11.73 per cent with 73,644 cars stolen and just 8,643 registered as recovered.
The data should be treated with caution as it does come with a number of caveats.
A27) If your vehicle is stolen you should report it immediately to the police and your insurance company.
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.
If your insurance company pays out a claim for your stolen vehicle, you must tell DVLA it has been sold to the insurance company.
For full details see here.
A28) A catalytic converter helps clean your car’s exhaust emissions. It is made up of precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium and the price of some of these metals has risen sharply in recent years. In particular, rhodium has tripled in value since March 2020 and is now worth far more than gold. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of catalytic converters being stolen.
Cars that are most frequently targeted are hybrids as the converter is used less frequently and is generally less corroded. Older hybrid cars, such as the pre-2008 Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius (2004-2016), Toyota Arius (2012-2018,) Lexus RX (2005-2008) and the Honda CR-V have been particularly targeted. But all cars with a catalytic converter are at risk.
In order to protect your catalytic converter from being stolen:-
- Park your car in a locked garage if possible.
- Avoid parking half on a kerb, because that gives thieves easier access to the underside.
- When using a garage is not possible, park close to fences, walls or a kerb with the exhaust being closest to the fence, wall or kerb to make theft difficult.
- Speak to a car security specialist about fitting a tilt sensor that activates the alarm if thieves attempt to jack up the car to access the catalytic converter.
- Consider fitting CCTV on your home or driveway and use PIR or LED security lighting to make your vehicle more visible to help deter thieves.
- If your catalytic converter is bolted on, consider having the bolts welded to make removal difficult.
- Fit protective coverings on catalytic converters. For example, Toyota has its own device called a CATLOC. These devices can make it much more difficult for thieves.
- Have your catalytic converter etched or forensically marked, and put stickers in the windscreen to say this has been done.
A29) 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.
A30) This information can be obtained by inputting the registration number and make of car on the MOT-history-net website.
A31) You can sign up to get free reminders by text message or email advising when your vehicle’s next MOT is due here.
A32) 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.
A33) 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.
If you think you have been the victim of vehicle cloning you should:-
- Return any fines or correspondence to the issuing authority, providing them with any documentary evidence that you have to prove your case.
- Contact the DVLA. They will record your correspondence on the vehicle record for future reference.
- Contact the police. They can trace and prosecute the culprit to prevent this illegal activity from continuing.
A34) 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.
A35) The advice given by Citizens Advice can be viewed here.
A36) 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.
A37) A safety recall is a pro-active action taken by a manufacturer when a critical safety defect is identified that affects a range of on-road and off-road vehicles, including vehicles with an operators’ license.
Manufacturers will only issue a safety recall for those defects which have the potential to cause serious injury. These are defects that have the potential to put you, your passengers or other road users in danger if not acted upon
You should act promptly act on a Safety Recall letter and follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. You should also keep your keeper record up to date with the DVLA – this is the data that the manufacturer may use to locate your vehicle during a safety recall. If you no longer own the vehicle, be proactive and inform the manufacturer. This will protect the new owner.
Full details may be viewed here.
A38) If your car is damaged by a pothole, you may be able to claim compensation.
A helpful step-by-step guide to claiming compensation has been published by the RAC. The advice can be viewed here.
A39) 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. Not all low-emission vehicles will get a grant. Only vehicles that have been approved by the government are eligible for a grant.
Further changes to the Plug-In car grant were announced on 18 March 2021. To be eligible for the grant, cars must now cost less than £35,000 (this is the recommended retail price and includes VAT and delivery fees) and have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all.
The grant will pay for 35 per cent of the purchase price for these vehicles, up to a maximum of £2,500.
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.
Funding for the grant is intended to last until 2022-23 but the government has advised that it will continue to review the grant as the market grows.
For further details, including a list of eligible vehicles, see here.
A40) The Plug-In Van Grant enables motorists purchasing a qualifying, new low emission van to receive a grant towards the cost of the vehicle. The value of the grant depends upon the size of the van.
Small vans – these are vehicles less than 2,500 kilograms (kg) gross vehicle weight, have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 96km (60 miles) without any emissions at all – are eligible for a grant of 35 per cent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £3,000.
Large vans – these are vehicles between 2,500 kg and 3,500 kg gross vehicle weight, have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 96km (60 miles) without any emissions at all – are eligible for a grant of 35 per cent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £6,000.
For further details, including a list of eligible vehicles, see here.
A41) The Plug-In Taxi Grant enables motorists purchasing a qualifying, new purpose-built low emission taxi to receive a grant of 20 per cent of the purchase price of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £7,500.
The vehicles must have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and be able to travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all.
For further details, including a list of eligible vehicles, see here.
A42) The Plug-In Motorcycle Grant enables riders purchasing a qualifying, new low emission motorcycle or moped to receive a grant of 20 per cent of the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £1,500.
Motorcycles must have no CO2 emissions and be able to travel at least 50km (31 miles) between charges and mopeds musts have no CO2 emissions and be able to travel at least 30km (19 miles) between charges.
For further details, including a list of eligible vehicles, see here.
A43) Yes. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme offers a grant of up to 75 per cent towards the cost of one chargepoint and its installation up to a maximum of £350 (including VAT) per household/ per eligible vehicle.
A44) 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 chargepoints. The contribution is limited to the 75 per cent of purchase and installation costs, up to a maximum of £350 for each socket, up to a maximum of 40 across all sites for each applicant.