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. 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.
A5) 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.
A6) Yes. The Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 – introduced to Parliament by Sir Greg Knight MP – allows for a stringent new Code of Practice to be developed by the Secretary of State in conjunction with motorists groups and other experts. The Code is designed to end inconsistent practices and unfair treatment of motorists by a few rogue private parking operators.
A draft of the Code of Practice was laid before Parliament on 7 February 2022. The measures in the Code include:-
- New parking charge levels which will mirror the local authority system for publicly accessible car parks, halving parking charges for millions of motorists to £50. It will keep the current £100 cap in some circumstances such as abusing Blue Badge bays or if a motorist is trespassing on private land.
- Motorists will be offered a 50 per cent discount if they pay within 14 days.
- Parking debt collectors will be banned from adding additional excess fees to the level of the parking charge, currently as much as £70.
- 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.
The Code also includes the creation of a mandatory single Appeals Service and Appeals Charter for motorists to turn to if they are unfairly fined. Under options set out in the Appeals Charter, motorists could be able to appeal their fine and see it 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
Rogue firms which break these rules could be barred from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data, making them unable to pursue motorists for their charges through the post.
All the changes had been due to be introduced by the end of 2023 at the latest. Full details can be viewed here.
However, a number of parking firms recently launched legal action to challenge the proposed caps on the amounts they can charge motorists for suspected infringements of parking regulations on private land. The government has accepted that it needs to set out formally its analysis of the implications of these limits on business in an impact assessment and so has temporarily withdrawn the Code of Practice pending review of the levels of private parking charges and additional fees. Further details can be viewed here.
A7) Full details can be found in the congestion charge section of the Transport for London website here.
A8) The number of filling stations in the UK has reduced from over 30,000 in 1973 to 8,380 forecourts at the end of 2020.
This fall in numbers was as a result of strong competition between fuel retailers and the increasing costs of compliance with environmental regulation which favoured large service stations with lower overheads per litre sold. This meant that many smaller filling stations were economically unviable.
However, closure rates have tapered off in the last five years and the long-term trend of declining numbers of forecourts in the UK appears to have stabilised. Since 2015, there has been a net annual decrease of 22 stations per year with a total of 5 sites closing in 2020.
A9) At the end of 2020, there were 1,502 supermarket filling stations in the UK – just over 18 per cent of all filling stations. Although numerically in the minority, sales at the supermarket forecourts accounted for 59.2 per cent of the total market share by volume.
From 2010 – 2019, the number of supermarket forecourts increased at a rate of 1.9 per cent per year. However, in 2020 there were 95 fewer supermarket sites compared to the previous year, the first year on year fall in the number of supermarket sites since records began in 2000.
A10) 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.)
A11) There are various websites offering advice on the cheapest petrol in an area including PetrolPrices.Com
A12) 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 NOT start 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.
A13) 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.
A14) Use the RAC Route Planner to plan journeys in the UK, across Europe and the USA.
A15) 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.
A16) 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.
A17) 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 .
A18) 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.
A19) 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.
A20) 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.
A21) “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
A22) 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
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) 101,198 offences of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” were logged by the police in England and Wales in 2021. This equates to about one vehicle being reported stolen every five minutes.
The figure is 7 per cent higher than the 94,601 vehicles reported stolen in 2020.
A25) 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.
A26) 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.
A27) 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.
A28) 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.
A29) This information can be obtained by inputting the registration number and make of car on the MOT-history-net website.
A30) You can sign up to get free reminders by text message or email advising when your vehicle’s next MOT is due here.
A31) 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.
A32) 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.
A33) 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.
A34) The advice given by Citizens Advice can be viewed here.
A35) 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.
A36) 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.
A37) 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.
A38) No. On 14 June 2022, the government closed the plug-in car grant scheme to new orders of electric vehicles (EVs) – which were worth up to £1,500. All existing applications for the grant will continue to be honoured and where a car has been sold in the 2 working days before the announcement, but an application for the grant from dealerships has not yet been made, the sale will also still qualify for the grant.
The scheme had supported the sale of nearly half a million electric cars across the UK over an 11 year period – at a cost of around £1.4 billion.
The government also announced that to continue its drive towards net zero and ensure effective use of taxpayer funds, £300 million in grant funding will now be refocused towards extending plug-in grants to boost sales of plug-in taxis, motorcycles, vans and trucks and wheelchair accessible vehicles.
It was also announced that the government now intends to refocus funding towards the main barriers to the EV transition, including public charging and supporting the purchase of other road vehicles where the switch to electric requires further development.
A39) 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 £2,500.
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 £5,000.
For further details, including a list of eligible vehicles, see here.
A40) 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.
A41) The Plug-In Motorcycle Grant enables riders purchasing a qualifying, new low emission motorcycle to receive a grant of 35 per cent of the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £500. To be eligible for a grant, the motorcycle must have a recommended retail price of less than £10,000, including VAT and delivery fees.
For mopeds, the grant will pay for 35 per cent of the purchase price for these vehicles, up to a maximum of £150. To be eligible for the grant, the moped must have a recommended retail price of less than £10,000, including VAT and delivery fees.
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.
A42) Yes. Subsidies are available to buy wheelchair accessible vehicles, small trucks and large trucks.
For full details see here.
A43) Yes, in certain circumstances.
The EV chargepoint grant provides a 75 per cent contribution to the cost of one chargepoint and its installation. A grant cap is set at £350 (including VAT) per installation. However, the Scheme is only open to:
- homeowners who live in flats
- people in rental accommodation (flats and single-use properties)
NOTE: Previously, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) offered 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. However the Scheme is no longer open to new applicants. If you have already applied for an EVHS grant and your case is under consideration, you do not need to submit a new application under the EV chargepoint grant scheme. The EVHS will remain open to resubmissions until 31 March 2023.
A44) As of 1 April 2022, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) has funded the installation of 291,549 domestic charging devices, with a total grant value of £123.7 million.
In the last 12 months the number of EVHS funded charging devices has increased by 121,001, up 86 per cent compared to April 2021.
(The figures exclude the Domestic Recharge Scheme which funded an additional 40,333 domestic charging device installations between 2013 and 2014, before it was replaced by the EVHS.)
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 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.
There are a number of grant eligibility conditions and these can be seen in the guidance.
A46) As of 1 April 2022, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) has funded the installation of 26,424 sockets in workplace car parks since the scheme started in 2016.
Of these, 10,727 sockets were installed in the last 12 months, up 60 per cent from April 2021