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The 10 Worst Parking Fails

June 23, 2015
Posted in Editorial,Humour — Written by Nationla Numbers

Even the best drivers don’t enjoy parking at the best of times. Lots of people will even go out of their way to avoid parallel parking or parking too close to other vehicles. This is common, but even the least confident drivers will look at these 10 jokers and wonder how then even managed to get on the road in the first place. We have everything from vehicles parked in the wrong places, to inconsiderate drivers not even caring to park at all, and not forgetting the drivers who leave absolute terror in their wake.

#1

Tesco’s Finest Parking Fail

Parking Fail Trolley

What was the driver thinking?

“My Lord, why is no one using this sheltered parking space? It seems ideal for small vehicles!”

What are we thinking?

“Have you never been shopping before?”

Parking Fail Score: 8/10

 

#2

The Blocker

Parking Fail Block

What was the driver thinking?

“Well no where to park. I’m sure these disabled people don’t mind if I prevent them from driving any time soon.”

What are we thinking?

“At least he had the courtesy to not use the last disabled space, that would have been inconsiderate …”

Parking Fail Score: 7/10

 

#3

Motorcycles Only!

Parking Fail Motorcycles Only

What was the driver thinking?

“These markings are more of a suggestion than a rule.”

What are we thinking?

“For real, you can’t read can you?”

Parking Fail Score: 5/10

#4

Two Space Hog

Parking Fail Two Spaces

What was the driver thinking?

“All these other cars smell.”

What are we thinking?

“How little confidence do you have in your parking ability that you need that much space?”

Parking Fail Score: 5/10

 

#5

Wrong Space, Wrong Number of Spaces

Parking Disabled

What was the driver thinking?

“I won’t be here long. Better make sure I’m twice as annoying as usual.”

What are we thinking?

“If there was a Parking Fail bingo card, this guy would win.”

Parking Fail Score: 6/10

 

#6

Car Hokey Cokey

Parking Fail Back Up

What was the driver thinking?

“That’ll do. You can see what I was going for.”

What are we thinking?

“Was the extra two seconds of gas too much?”

Parking Fail Score: 4/10

 

#7

Hit the Grass!

Parking Fail Grass

What was the driver thinking?

“If anyone asks I’ll just say I broke down.”

What are we thinking?

“Better tow it, then.”

Parking Fail Score: 6/10

 

#8

Balancing Act

Parking Fail Double Yellow

What was the driver thinking?

“Does this not count as a curb?”

What are we thinking?

“Does that not count as being on two double-yellows? (Quadruple yellow?)”

Parking Fail Score: 8/10

 

#9

Smart Car Indeed

Parking Fail Smart

What was the driver thinking?

“I’m not in the way, am I?”

What are we thinking?

“Nice car. It’d be a shame if someone smashed into the side of it because you cannot parallel park.”

Parking Fail Score: 6/10

 

#10

Only in America

Parking Fail USA

What was the driver thinking?

“… Like a glove.”

What are we thinking?

“Trust the Americans to take Parking Fails to the next level.”

Parking Fail Score: 10/10

 

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5 Personalised Plates Myths … Busted

June 16, 2015
Posted in Editorial,Interesting — Written by Nationla Numbers

Personalised plates can mean one of two things – 1. Private registrations that Nationla Numbers sells, and 2. The plastic plates that you put onto your vehicle.

You are probably aware already what you can and can’t have on a private registration, but what many people aren’t aware of are the rules and regulations relating to the plates themselves.

Personalised number plates are just strict as the DVLA’s format for car registrations, and the penalties can be hugely costly if you deliberately or accidentally use an illegal set.

In today’s blog we will address the common myths surrounding personalised plates, and we will tell you exactly what you can and can’t have.

 

Myth #1

“I can space personalised number plates however I want.”

singh personalised number plates

Many people forget that when you buy a personalised registration you are still buying what is a valid vehicle registration number from the DVLA, and so it is still in format. However, since it is a personalised plate you might still make the assumption that you can modify it to look however you want.

For example, if you buy F511 NGH because your name is Singh then you might want to space it so 511NGH is together, thus spelling the name. It makes sense, but it is illegal as it doesn’t match the official format.

All personalised plates much meet the standard DVLA formats, which have been explained here. Spaces are legally mandated and cannot be omitted, altered or moved.

Singh personalised plates

 

Myth #2

“I am allowed to use my own images on a personal reg.”

derek personalised number plates

You might have noticed that some plates have a flag on the left side. You might think this is a customisation option and you could potentially have any picture you want in place of that, but unfortunately that is not correct.

Flags act as identifiers and the EU symbol is compulsory for any vehicle travelling through Europe. Like characters and spacing, the size, shape and even colour are mandated by DVLA. The only ones you can have are as follows:

  • Union Flag (UK)
  • Cross of St George (ENG)
  • Cross of St Andrew – also known as the Saltire (SCO)
  • Red Dragon of Wales (WALES, CYM)
  • Euro Flag (GB)

I have had customers ask for things like the Cornish flag in the past, but even this is not allowed unfortunately.

derek personalised plate

 

Myth #3

“It is okay to add my own slogan at the bottom of my number plates.”

sa personalised number plates

If you get number plates from a car dealership you will notice that they will put their name at the bottom. You might this this is them trying to get some free advertising and that if you had your own personalised plates made up you can add your own name or slogan at the bottom.

However, that is not correct. According to DVLA:

The British Standard sets out the characteristics of the number plate. This includes visibility, strength and reflectivity. To meet the British Standard, each number plate must be permanently and legibly marked with the following information.

1. The British Standard number (currently BS AU 145d)

2. The name, trademark or other way of identifying the manufacturer or supplier

3. The name and postcode of the supplying outlet

(Source)

This is basically so the supplier of the number plate can be held accountable if there is anything wrong with the plate, such as it not being made to legal standards.

The space reserved for the name can be no more than 13mm in height, so is barely visible at a distance, and no other advertisement is allowed.

sa personalised plates

 

Myth #4

“Personal number plates don’t have to use the standard sizes and colours.”

des personalised number plates

Technically, this is sort-of half true if you are talking about the size and shape of the acrylic number plate. Many makes and models even require specially cut and shaped number plates these days, such as the curved Ferrari plates.

Other than this though, DVLA do have set guidelines for the size of the font, the colour of the font, and the material used. All personalised plates must be made of reflective acrylic and must be white on the front and yellow on the back, all with black text.

You couldn’t for example had a red number plate to match your Ferrari, like one customer asked for.

You cannot actually have anything in the background on the number plate. It much be plain white or yellow. Even the honeycomb that some number plate suppliers issue is no longer allowed.

des personalised plates

 

Myth #5

“The font on personalised plates can be changed.”

marty personalised number plates

No matter what personalised number plate you have, no matter the format or the length, every single character on a number plate is deliberately formatted within DVLA’s specifications. You cannot have any variation on the font.

We’ve been through what this format is in the past, but as a summary it is as follows:

  • Characters must be 50mmx79mm (except for I/1), and 14mm thick.
  • Spaces of 11mm between each character.
  • Spaces in the format must be 33mm.
  • Margins at the top and bottom must be 11mm.

Even if you have your own personalised number plates made up you cannot change the font if you want to be able to drive the car. It is this way so every number plate on the road can be easily identified. In fact, that is the reason why many of these rules are in place to begin with.

marty personalised plates

 

 

If you are caught violating any of the rules mentioned you could face fines of up to lb1,000 and your MOT will be invalidated, even if you are using personalised plates.

Remember, these are in place to keep you and other drivers as safe as possible. Do not fall for any of these myths, it is not worth it!

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Driving Test: The DOs and the DON’Ts

June 9, 2015

June 1st marked the 80th birthday of Britain’s driving test. It has changed a lot over the years – for example the ability to reverse park was only added to the criteria in 1991.

For many drivers the driving test has been the source of many memories – both happy and traumatic – over the last 80 years and it will continue to be just that for the hundreds of new drivers coming through every day.

To celebrate the Oak Anniversary of the DVLA’s driving test we asked our followers on Twitter and Facebook and our customers what their fondest (and darkest) memories were, what we got was a great list of DOs and DON’Ts that should be studies by all young, future drivers hoping to take their test soon.

 

- Do -

driving test tips

Get Confident

You know how to drive!

This is just one of those times where you know you are being watched and you have a lot riding on the next 40+ minutes of driving, so you are going to be nervous. Just remember all the preparation you have put in and let the pressure fall off your shoulders and you will get through your driving test no problem.

One young lady thought she failed her driving test in the first five minutes after narrowly avoiding a van. Thinking it was over she continued driving naturally, and it turned out she passed!

Getting confident and loose could mean the difference between a failed driving test and a successful driving test.

 

- Don’t -

don't get clever

Get Clever

You are always being watched, but you don’t need to overthink things. Stick to what you know, you have had enough time to learn from your instructor what is expected of you.

When asked to do a three-point turn in the road, Iain from Wales thought he found a loophole of sorts when he used a driveway to perform the manoeuvre. Obviously the examiner was not impressed.

Another gentleman, Daniel, recalls his first driving test when he noticed his assessor did not have his seatbelt on and thought he’d earn extra points by sternly requesting he do so. “We were still on the private ground of the test centre car park,” the examiner said. “I am not required to do so.” It was all downhill from there.

Your assessor is the one who decides whether you pass your driving test or not, don’t try to get one over them or you aren’t going to have a good day.

 

- Do -

do strike up a conversation

Strike Up a Conversion

Seeing as your driving test lives and dies at the whim of your examiner you may as well get them on your side. I know whether they like you or not shouldn’t affect your scores but we are all human so it will have some impact at least.

Sarah from Manchester got on with her assessor so well that at some point during the driving test she stopped being directed and was told to drive until she found somewhere to test her parking. 15 minutes later they were back at the test centre and Sarah was apologising for forgetting to find somewhere to park. “It’s okay, I’m sure you’re capable” said the examiner!

I’m not suggestion you become a teacher’s pet, but being friendly and getting off on the right foot with your examiner will go a lot way.

 

- Don’t -

dont radio

Turn the Radio On

There is such a thing as too confident and nothing says this more than a radio during a driving test!

Keeping in mind you are supposed to get on with your examiner, the last thing you want to do is to put the radio on. I know it can be awkward if there isn’t a conversation going, but blanking out your assessor isn’t the way to go.

Not to mention it could potentially be distracting and could even drown-out your examiner’s instructions. This will not help your final score.

That said, who knows, maybe you can bond over your taste in music? I wouldn’t risk it though.

 

- Do -

do expect the unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

Did you know in certain cities in America there is such a thing as an automatic pass in a driving test? You basically have to avoid or prevent an accident. It is basically a shortcut to telling your examiner that you are a safe driver, which is enough across the pond.

Unfortunately it isn’t enough over here – not that you should want to be anywhere near an accident on your driving test anyway – but it can be points in your favour.

Jordan, from Newcastle, was warned that there would be an emergency stop on a particular road. The examiner looked out the back window while on the road, likely checking if there was anything behind them, so Jordan waited for a signal. Suddenly, a child on a bicycle rode out in front of them. Jordan slammed down for an emergency stop, sending the examiner into the windscreen.

“Okay, you’ve passed,” said the examiner. “Please take me back to the test centre, my head hurts.”

 

- Don’t -

dont let your fears

Let Your Fears Get the Better of You

Fear combined with nerves is a horrendous combination, and it is what leads to more driving test failures than anything else.

Mark remembers stopping at a crossroads and outright refused to drive any further, purely out of fear of causing an accident. Anne from Berkshire even remembers asking her examiner to take the wheel at a roundabout. These are instant failures, and brought on by fear.

Some go even further. One girl, who has never passed her test, and swerved and bailed from the vehicle while it was still moving during a driving test. The reason? A wasp flew into the car. She says if she was ever in that situation again … she would react in exactly the same way.

Fear makes fools of us all.

 

- Do -

do prioritise

Prioritise

Just like how some people let their fears takeover you also find young drivers putting themselves in position to fail just by focusing on the wrong thing.

Gary from London bravely admits he failed his first driving test after checking his phone while driving, and his second after asking his examiner to take the wheel while he checked his phone. I guess you can count that as improving, sort of?

You’ve got to remember some things are more important than others. On a driving test a major fault has more weight than a minor, for example, so avoid majors at all cost even if it means a minor here or there.

Kathryn remembers putting herself in a similar situation on a driving test. She describes it much better than I ever could.

“I swerved to avoid an injured pigeon, and ended up in the path of an articulated lorry. At this point, I did the sensible thing and closed my eyes. My instructor took the wheel and deposited us in the roadside ditch. Upon opening my eyes, I discovered my instructor was nearly in tears. I failed.”

Disaster.

 

- Don’t -

dont forget your basics

Forget Your Basics

Once again, you can drive!

You should have logged at least 30 hours before you even thing of having your driving test, at which point, if you used the same instructor, you should the vehicle you take like the back of your hand.

Don’t be like Kerry who found herself rolling down the hill while attempting to parallel park, completely missing the fact that she had stalled the vehicle.

Don’t be like Simon who sabotaged himself by completely forgetting how to open the hood of the car during the show-me-tell-me portion of the test. You’re better than that!

You should have also passed your theory test with flying colours, so you shouldn’t have to be reminded that 40mph isn’t the national speed limit, like Freddy from London had to.

 

- Do -

do improvise

Improvise

The harsh reality of driving tests is that you will make a mistake – you know it, I know it, and your examiner knows it. All drivers make mistakes, it isn’t an issue, you just need to convince the examiner that you can handle it safely.

Tim vividly remembers his first driving test when he was asked to take the next right, and he did – right into the forecourt of a garage.

“Erm … on second thought perhaps we don’t need petrol,” Tim stammered as he pulled up next to the pumps. He turned back out onto the main road and made the correct turn off as suggested by his assessor.

Tim is still haunted by the mistake 36 years after passing, but it his rather humorous recovery that likely saved him. You know the examiner knew he made the mistake, but he wasn’t going to fault him after he reacted accordingly.

You might find yourself in similar situations. Just remember, you can drive, and you can get yourself out of a situation with a bit of quick thinking.

 

- Don’t -

dont give up

Give Up

Last, but certainly not least, is this.

In 2014 only around 50% of tests were passed. This is counting people who took multiple tests. This means most people fail at least once, and a lot of people might take several tries.

You can react to this statistic one of two ways.

Either you can panic and let your fears get the better of you, meaning you get nervous, forget your basics and make your job a whole lot hard.

Or you can realise the pressure is off. You can have fun with your test and make it an enjoyable experience for you and your examiner. And if you fail, so what? It was a learning experience and you will be twice as good next time.

Keep persisting, keep trying, put the work in and you will see results.

Above all else, remember, you CAN drive!

By

 

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY TO THE DRIVING TEST!


CASH FOR CRASH: How To Avoid Becoming A Victim

April 27, 2015
Posted in Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

CASH FOR CRASH is one of the latest fraud scams increasing in popularity among criminals. It is a con that puts innocent drivers in danger, as well as prays on the weak and forces insurance companies to increase premiums while con artists receive huge pay-outs.

Insurance company, Aviva, have reported a 51% increase in Cash for Crash cases since 2012 – a shocking figure. A further study by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) shows that 1 in 7 personal injury claims are believed to be fraudulent, resulting in a bill of almost lb400m a year that is paid for by innocent drivers through premiums.

cash for crash

What is CASH FOR CRASH?

The scam tricks or otherwise forces unwitting drivers into getting into accidents in which they can be blamed. Tactics include braking suddenly and giving false signals in order to cause the victim into making a mistake so they can make an insurance claim. Hence “Cash for Crash”.

The most common of these would see the criminal get in front of their victim and get as close to them as possible and then, without just cause, slam down the brakes to force the victim to crash into the back of the vehicle. Victims have little or no time to react by design, but are blamed for the collision regardless.

Sometimes these scams are organised by gangs who plant false witnesses, pressurising the victim in incriminating themselves.

Who Is At Risk?

The thing about this Cash for Crash scams is that everyone is at risk. All the criminal needs to do is get in front of you and brake. That said, there are certain people more likely to be targeted. In general, criminals will want their victims to be unwilling to make a scene or unable to stay calm.

In particular the following are most at risk:

  1. Parents/Families. Criminals will most likely take advantage of a worried parent who has children in their car and are more concerned about their safety than the situation at hand. Criminals will look for a quick resolution to their advantage, often making up details that the parents cannot disprove.
  2. Older Drivers. As they tend to be more passive and uncomfortable with confrontation, older drivers can be more willing to back down. Criminals have also used the health and well-being of pensioners to their advantage by claiming the victim is unfit to drive.
  3. New Vehicles/Kept Vehicles. Drivers with new vehicles are vehicles that are clearly well looked after will often have their mind on the damage to their vehicle rather than the accident. Unfortunately, private number plates can be a dead giveaway.

cash for crash

How to Avoid Being Scammed

  1. Stay vigilant. Be wary at all times of hazards, pedestrians and other motorists. If you notice anyone driving in an odd way, i.e. they try to get in front of you and slow down, back off and get away from them.
  2. Only A Fool Breaks The 2 Second Rule. Try to keep a two second gap between yourself and the driver in front of you at all times to give yourself enough time to react to a situation.
  3. Get a dashcam. These are growing in popularity because of scams like Cash for crash, and they are invaluable in this sort of situation. It films everything in front of you, so you can use it to prove that the criminal slammed on the brakes for no reason. You can pick them up for about lb30, so it is well worth it.
  4. Stay calm. Criminals pray off chaotic situation and will take advantage of you if you are visibly shaken or panicked. Just stay calm, do not admit to any wrong doing at the scene and try to take in as many details about the situation as possible.
  5. Take photos. Record everything you can that could help your case and/or damage the criminal’s case. Photograph the damage on both cars, the interior of the criminal’s car (to prove he had no passengers), and if possible the criminal itself.
  6. Take the other driver’s information, e.g. address, name, and make and model of vehicle. Note any strange behaviour – for example, are they complaining of any injuries? Do they sound like they’ve over-prepared for the situation? Are they try to get you to take responsibility?
  7. Don’t be confrontational. If you believe you are being scammed do not come out and say it as that may heat up the situation and incriminate you. However, do call the police and your insurance company to let them know of your suspicions. Remember it is better to make sure the criminal is caught then scare them off so they can try it on someone else.

What Is Being Done

You will be pleased to know that the Cash for Crash scam is no longer a well-kept secret or a quick way to make some cash. The ringleader of a gang known for their cash for crash scams worth lb1m has recently been convicted, and more and more checks and balances are coming in place as insurance companies become more aware of the fraud. Some insurance providers are even cutting premiums if you install a dashcam.

More and more people are being caught out. The worst offenders are facing convictions of up to a year per case. Even minor Cash for Crash offenders, those just trying the fraud once for a quick cash, are having to pay out huge fines and will also be subject to a permanent fraud marker on the licence which will make it next to impossible to get car insurance in the future.

The UK insurance injury and law enforcement are making it so this crime will not pay, you just have to make sure you do not get caught out by these opportunistic scammers.

By


It’s Official, We’re Losing the Counterpart

January 15, 2015
Posted in DVLA,Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

What you’ve heard is true, the DVLA have announced that the paper driving licence counterpart is to be scrapped. This has been on the cards for a while, as you’ve probably read, but they met with some resistance, particularly from the fleet industry. We’ve been told that the date of abolition is, unlike previous announcements, is firm so there is no going back now.

You may be asking what difference the counterpart makes and how this development affects you, and hopefully I can help shed some light on that.

counterpart driving licence

What is the counterpart?

You’ve got one, even though you might not have noticed it previously. The counterpart comes alongside the photocard when you receive your driving licence. Officially it acts as your driving licence in the event that you don’t have a photocard – for example you usually would need to present the counterpart when you are trying to have a lost card replaced.

The counterpart also acts as a physical record of sorts, containing addresses and other information relevant to the driver. It is because of this information that the counterpart is important for things like insurance, vehicle hire, and pretty much anything that would require a driver’s information to be looked up by a third-party.

What’s the problem?

As mentioned the counterpart is used as a reference for businesses to check driver details. The vast majority of opposition the counterpart abolition has had has been from the businesses that reply on the access to information. Car hire companies, fleet companies that need to keep an eye on their drivers, etc, they all need the paper counterpart.

At the moment the DVLA are developing something to replace this need, but as it stands there is no real way to replace the counterpart for the companies that reply on its information. You can see why they are worried about this.

Why are they doing it?

The official line is the cut red tape. DVLA have called the counterpart an “unnecessary burden”, and so it makes send to eliminate it like it has done recently with the tax disc, and soon will be doing with number plate certificates. Reducing on the physical pieces of paper in favour of digital records has become DVLA’s thing.

When will this take effect?

June 8th, 2015. From this point the counterpart will no longer be valid and all future applicants will be issued with a photocard only.

What do I have to do?

It is advised that everyone destroys their counterpart as of the 8th of June. I’m not sure why this is important – perhaps just to avoid confusion of trying to use them in the future? I guess it comes down to the prerogative of the individual, but know that they’ll be no new ones being issued so eventually they be dwindled.

But I don’t have a photocard, what do I do?

If you received your driving licence before 1998 you may only have the counterpart. In which case you get to be exempt from the counterpart cult. You do not have to apply for a photocard and most importantly YOU DO NOT DESTROY THE PAPER COUNTERPART. Of course, when you next renew you receive a photocard instead of another counterpart.

How can I check my driving licence information?

This much has been covered by the DVLA. A free “View Driving Licence” service has already been introduced last year and allows all GB licence holders to check the information that would usually be covered on the counterpart. Things like addresses, driving qualifications, penalty points, etc can all be checked on the internet. On top of this the service is free and is available 24/7.

What if a third-party needs to see the counterpart?

At the moment the plan is to introduce a new service called “Share Driving Licence” that allows drivers to send their information to a third-party. This would, in theory, fully replace the function of the counterpart and would allow employers, hire companies and others to check your information. DVLA assures us that this will be entirely safe and only those you have given permission to access the information may see it.

Unfortunately this is only a work in-progress and has yet to be put online. As per usual DVLA plans to release a public Beta version down the line with the expectation of it being ironed out and put online before the counterpart is benched for good. That is the hope anyway.

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Shameless Attempts to Avoid Plate Recognition

November 25, 2014
Posted in Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

Today I’m taking a look at number plate recognition technology, which we should be all familiar with at this point (if not, we have previous wrote about it on this blog), specifically about how drivers react when faced with one of these cameras. They are definitely the new trend in motoring law enforcement, often being paired up with speed cameras to detect vehicles that are uninsured or without tax. As with everything though there will be those who will try to avoid them … and not just by doing the obvious like not driving anywhere near them.

Lets take a look at a country famous for over-the-top characters: The United States of America!

Number plate recognition is the trendy thing across the pond as well, but dodgy drivers are being a lot more creative than they really should bother being when faced with one of these 1984-esq cameras. Especially at a local level where these cameras are used for toll roads. Bearing in mind that said tolls can be as little as 26 CENTS (about 17p!) it is baffling how much effort goes into avoiding Automatic Number Plate Readers.


1motorbike

 

Here we see one American biker performing the dangerous stunt of leaning off the side of his motorcycle to cover his number plate. Clearly he doesn’t have as much control as he should over his bike, not to mention that he is only using one arm to steer. It cannot possibly be safe. Let me stress once again that he did this to avoid a toll of 26 cents. Was it really worth it?

Fortunately other drivers have found a way with obscure their number plates without putting their life in immediately danger, such as convertible drivers getting their passengers to lean back out of the car to cover the plates with their hands. Admittedly, not exactly safe but better than the example above. Others use duck tape and plastic sheets to cover their number plates in a not so subtle way.

You’ve then got the clever clogs who think outside the box. They know they don’t have to cover the number plates to hide them from the cameras, they’ve just got to make sure than ANPRs cannot read them. Some drivers use clear spray paint to dull their plates – to the naked eye it won’t look like anything has changed but it takes away the reflective coating plates normally have, which means infra-red cameras won’t get feedback. Obviously this also means other cars won’t be able to spot your number plate either, so once again is it really worth it?

2bent

Other drivers, like the one above, actually bend their metal plates. This makes it a lot harder for ANPRs to read your number plate clearly, and in some cases not at all when the plates are bent all the way under the vehicle axis. Number plate readers are programmed to detect off-kilter alignment and different angles and distances, but the addition of a crease throws some models off. Of course, here in the UK this can’t be done thanks to the acrylic plastic we make our out of – bending plates will result in them snapping.

3opaque

In one example this artful dodger got away thanks to the use of see-through plastic. Once again the manipulates the function of the cameras to miss the registration in most cases. This driver has thought of everything though – notice the smear of grease obscuring the last three digits on his registration? Once again though, this cannot be done in the UK because all number plates are made out of the same material.

The lengths some people will go to, just to avoid small tolls. You would think it would be easier – not to mention safe – to just pay the fee or find a different route!

This is the US we are talking about though, where number plate laws vary in all 50 states. In the UK we have pretty strong laws about vehicle registrations, how they can be displayed and even how they are spaced. Admittedly it won’t stop people attempted that little bike trick we showed earlier, but I don’t any sane person would actually attempt such a stunt, especially when half the time you are unlikely to even know when one is watching you anyway!

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Everything You Need To Know About Paper Driving Licence Changes

October 27, 2014
Posted in Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

It is a scary time to be an older driver in the UK. The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency are doing all they can to reduce costs and put all their services online. Their latest changes saw the authority do-away with paper tax discs, which confused a lot of our customers who were unaware it was happening, and now they’ve announced plans to scrap paper tax driving licences completely.

Newer drivers might not know of paper driving licences but believe it of not the photocard many of us now hold did not get introduced until 1998. Before then your licence was a piece of paper with all your details on – including previous motoring offences, such as speeding fines – and no photo identification. Since 1998 you still get a paper licence in the form of a Counterpart, but there are many, many people in the country that still only hold the old style paper licence.

do-it-online-apply-for-your-driving-licence-257-image1

As of January 2015 the DVLA will no longer be sending out paper driving licences. Anyone renewing a paper licence will receive a photocard in return. Sound scary? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below is everything you need to know …

1. Your paper driving licence is still valid!

Paper licences remain valid even though the DVLA are no longer issuing them, so you can proceed as normal until you need to renew it. Paper licences do not usually need to be renewed until your 70th birthday, so mathematically there are people who have another 34 years to get used to the idea of the photocard!

2. It does not cost anything to get a photo licence.

The DVLA are allowing those with paper driving licences to receive their first photocard completely free of charge, so if you want to update to a modern licence you will not be paying out anything.

3. Photo licences are actually very useful.

I would urge anyone who has a paper licence to consider transitioning to a photocard licence simply for the convenience of it. Photocards are smaller and easier to keep on your person than the paper licence, which will crumple and tear over time. Photocards are more discretionary as they do not detail previous speeding fines and other motoring offences. I would definitely consider it.

4. None of your details will change.

When updating your driving licence to a photocard all your details will change over seamlessly. The only difference will be what you get back from the DVLA. Unfortunately this does mean penalty points will not reset and will change over also, if you were thinking it might be a good way to get around that!

5. This change will save you money.

The DVLA are doing this for a reason: it saves the Government money and it saves the general public money. It is estimated that scrapping the paper driving licence will save drivers around lb18 million every year. Plus the motor industry will save about lb2 million a year.

6. The Counterpart will be going digital.

While I admit this will not be good news for everyone, the DVLA are currently developing a digital service that will allow you to view all the information current displayed on the paper licences online. Employers, leasing companies and insurance companies will also be able to access this information, meaning you do not have to supply the information yourself.

7. There is a hefty fine for driving with an invalid licence.

I know we’re an honest lot but just in case you are not aware: if you are caught with an invalid licence, e.g. an expired paper licence, you can face a big fine of up to lb1,000. In other words, eventually you will need to give up your paper licence.

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Should cyclists be made to display number plates?

October 21, 2014
Posted in Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

Whether you think it is right or wrong, we would all agree that cyclists get a lot of hate from motorists in Britain. I won’t go into where I personally stand on the issue because weighing up the reasons why and why not would take an entire blog post in itself! What I would like to talk about is this recent idea that is being floated around – should cyclists display number plates?

Sussex Police Commissioner, Katy Bourne, brought the idea into relevance a couple of weeks ago, saying it would make prosecution of cyclists who disregard road laws. Bourne has road safety at heart, highlighting negligent cyclists who ride through red lights and put other road users in danger. She isn’t the first with these views, I remember a few years ago Ken Livingston, Mayor of London at the time, put forward the same idea.

bicycle2

Speaking at a public meeting, Bourne said: ‘I would like to see cyclists wear some form of identification like cars have … This way when they go through traffic lights, you can actually identify them and then you can prosecute them for breaking the law.

Katy Bourne also made it clear she wanted equal punishment for cyclists and motorists who break the same laws. In her opinion this would make life much easier, and law enforcement easier. She would agree that this is more a case of the few spoiling it for the many, but nevertheless if a car has to be identified regardless she sees no reason why a bicycle shouldn’t have to either.

Obviously she has her opponents on this matter. The Telegraph’s Andrew Critchlow said the idea was “impossible to enforce” in his blog on the matter, and Simon Usborn of The Independent called it an “unworkable policy”. What Katy Bourne has implied about the competency of cyclists in general has also inspired heated opposition, as you would expect.

The point is that the idea, in general, is impractical. When you say cyclists should have number plates in a literal sense one would wonder how you would go about displaying them. Your average car number plate is rectangular and clunky, very awkward for the frame of the bicycle. Plates more akin to the smaller square ones motorbikes display are still a problem because there is simply nowhere to put them.

You are left with a very big decision about whether you would make a completely new design bicycles can display – and I have no idea what that would be – or you simply ban certain bikes from the road if they cannot fit a number plate, which right now is most. Another problem would be required modification to allow a place for the number plate – who will be paying for that? The cyclist?

I’m sure there are ways around this – Number plates printed on cycling jerseys? Number plates on helmets? Number plates on the side of the bicycle? One way or another it would be very hard to solve the problem of identifying the cyclist as all of these would, in someway, obscure the actual mark.

cycle number plates

The other problem is where exactly are this registration numbers coming from? For vehicles these are issued by the DVLA, and it is based on location and date of first issue, which alone is practically unenforceable. How would one go about assigning an age to a bicycle? Or would the DVLA create a new department specifically so cyclists can register their bikes for the first time? Would they then sideline a specific combination of registration marks like they do with exported vehicles – CY15 ABC for example?

We’ve explained how number plate formats work in the past, but even if we can work it out that is still a huge strain on the DVLA. By estimation there is about 3.5million regular cyclists in the country (based on recent sales and survey statistics), and 43% of the country have access to a cycle as well – all presumably would need to be registered. That is a lot of unique number plates the DVLA would have to give out, presumably for free.

Not to mention how you would go about enforcing which bicycles are road worthy or not. At what point would a recreational bike become a road bike? There are way too many variables that would make this entirely impossible, unless you do something over-drastic like outright banning certain types of bicycles from the road completely, and that is not something people would be enthused about.

It is hard to disagree with Katy Bourne’s original sentiments – it should be as easy to report a cyclist who has broken the law as it is for a dangerous driver, if just for the continued safety of road users, but there is no magic bullet for this problem. The world of vehicle registrations is complicated and the last thing that needs to be done is to rush into it without a plan, and a plan itself would take years to iron out.

I echo statements made by others: Rather than instigate a War of the Roads between cyclists and motorists we should be more focused on building a respectful relationship between the two and encourage the education of proper road use. That is the best, and so far only practical, solution to help protect both drivers and cyclists alike, as well as pedestrians.

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How the Tax Disc Changes with Affect You?

October 10, 2014
Posted in DVLA,Editorial,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

If you have taxed since October 1st you will have noticed something different in how the DVLA issue tax discs to you. In fact it is very different, because they don’t issue a tax disc at all any more. You still have to tax your vehicle but you do not get anything to display.

The recent launch of this new system has been nothing less than chaotic with the website crashing on the very first day due to what has been called “unprecedented demand”. Servers are back up and running though and approximately 270,000 people have been through to process. However there are still millions of people unclear on how these changes affect the grand scheme of things. The article should hopefully cover the issues.

UK Tax Disc

How does this affect number plate transfers?

In order to transfer a number plate any vehicle involved needs to be taxed and as proof of this a copy of the tax disc must be sent to us at Nationla Numbers so we can forward it to the DVLA. In the event that a copy of the tax disc could not be sent to us we could get by with the expiry date and the serial number. We still advise you still send us this when possible.

If you no longer have a tax disc we technically will not need to take anything, as the DVLA should acknowledge the vehicle as taxed when the transfer is submitted. However because of this we cannot conduct any checks ourselves. E.g. in the past if we receive a tax disc that looks like it will expire before transfer is complete we would advise customers to send us the tax application as well to avoid delays.

Customers must be mindful of when their tax expires and how long the transfer can take as if it is submitted and the tax runs out the DVLA will simply kick it out and we’ll have to start from scratch. For that reason we will still likely ask for tax information such as the expiry date.

How does this affect the DVLA?

The DVLA claim that the new paperless tax disc system will save them lb10million annually thanks to the obvious need for less printing and posting. Administration processes are set to receive a cut because of the increasing amount of paperless services – including the ability to tax online.

DVLA are striving to do away with as many pieces of paper as possible. They’ve already announced plans to do-away with old style paper driving licences at the end of the year, sending out photocards to anyone who renews afterwards, and they will only continue to streamline more and more of their processes in the future.

How does this affect the public?

In theory the public should receive a simple and easy service without much hassle at all. As of November 1st the DVLA will start allowing direct debit payments on tax renewals, which is immensely convenient, as well as the ability to pay for tax monthly (previously drivers only had the option to pay for 6 or 12 months). The DVLA have made these changes with the public very much in mind.

One source though explains that disc-less tax could end up costing taxpayers an extra lb38million every year due primarily to the sale of used vehicles. Previously when a vehicle was sold the owner could pass unused tax to the new owner, but this has been changed. Now all new owners would be expected to tax the vehicle from the 1st of every month and the seller will only be refunded on whole months of unused tax.

e.g. A sale on a vehicle taxed until the end of November goes through on October 25th. The seller of that vehicle will receive a refund for November while buyer pays two months tax for the rest of October and November. In that case the DVLA have gained an extra month of tax than they would under the old system. At an average of lb14 for monthly tax and 2.73million cars sold annually you can see how DVLA will be making a pretty penny.

Will this lead to more untaxed vehicles?

There is a fear that the removal of the tax disc could lead to more drivers deliberately or mistakenly driving around without any tax or insurance. In a survey conducted by the RAC 63% or drivers were worried about this, while 44% believed it would encourage drivers to break the law. While admittedly it would be impossible for members of the public to spot and report untaxed vehicles it should actually be easier for authorities to catch tax dodgers thanks to speed cameras.

Speed cameras use number plate recognition to identify vehicles and bring up a digital record of the tax. Unpaid duty is immediately flagged up and a fine is automatically issued to the driver’s address. Unless a driver somehow manages to avoid all speed cameras it’d be almost impossible for them to last long without tax and insurance.

Of course, some technophobes argue that digital records are unreliable and could lead to some drivers being wrongfully fined, but this remains to be seen. The DVLA will still be issuing tax reminders to motorists coming up to their renewal date and warnings to drivers that have let their tax expire, so there should not be an issue will drivers simply forgetting they need to tax their vehicle.

What should I do with my old tax disc?

Well, we have a few ideas …

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In Response to the recent “Fraudulent” Number Plate Supplier case

June 7, 2014
Posted in Cars,Editorial,Media — Written by Nationla Numbers

We have recently reported on a number plate supplier in Stockport who has received a two-year suspended sentence due to the illegal supply of acrylic number plates. The man sold over 13,000 number plates over a two-year period and the illegality of the operation only came to light after a customer noticed an issue with the address the plates were sent from.

Despite the man declaring not guilty the court came down hard on him. He received a two-year jail sentence (suspended due to him being a single parent) plus community service, a driving ban and even a curfew. All for fraudulently selling number plates. But what does this mean?

You are probably aware of the legal requirements on the display of number plates. Letters have to be a certain size with an exact spacing between them. But did you know there are also legal requirements to even sell these number plates? Most don’t, and if you believe the man in Stockport neither did he.

The judge called him an “inefficient and lazy business man” who “chose to take a shortcut”, but the same time accepting that he had “no intention” of actually selling illegal number plates. But he was found guilty anyway. Ignorance is not a great defence by any means, but could it be that this 39-year-old set it up as a side business without actually knowing the legal requirements?

You’ve got to look at how the DVLA themselves regulate this. Since the 1st of January 2003, it was illegal to sell number plates unless you were on DVLA’s RNPS (Registered Number Plate Suppliers) list. Being on this list confirmed you were selling legal number plates in a legal fashion. Part of those requirements were:

  1. Record Keeping. All number plate suppliers must keep a record of the registrations they have issued and who they have been supplied to. These must be kept for a minimum of three years. Details must include the registration mark, the customer name, contact details and method of purchase.
  2. Customers must prove their identity. This can be via a photo card ID, bank statement, and utility bill or credit/debit card.
  3. Customers must prove their right to display the registration. This can be proven with a number of DVLA documents including a V5 logbook, V778 retention document, V750 certificate of entitlement, or letter of authorisation from DVLA/leading company/fleet supplier.

Of course, the companies are expected to supply legal plates only also.

The Stockport business man allegedly asked for no evidence from his customers, which is why they courts came down hard on me. Problem is there is a grey area here, as there are websites who knowingly sell “illegal” plates by specifying that they are in fact supplying “show plates”. My research has found no indication that there is anything wrong with this and in fact DVLA say so themselves.

question on dvla about show plates

 

dvla rep explains number plates

The key quote being:

The companies you have identified in your email all state that ‘show plates’ can only be displayed on vehicles ‘off road’ for shows, rallies etc and ultimately it is the responsibility of the person keeping or using a vehicle on the public road to ensure that the number plate displayed on their vehicle complies fully with the regulatory requirements.

Given that the offending company was “showplates2go.co.uk”, you would assume that he could be cleared from blame on this basis? They are clearly a show plate supplier rather than a legal number plate supplier going by the name of the website. However, as the website is no longer around I cannot say whether or not the website content itself made this clear.

I think the issue is there is too much of a grey area. If the DVLA are cracking down on show plates as well perhaps there should be clearer guides in place about who can supply what? In light of this I have to say a lot of the comments I have seen that damn Andrew Shaw might be judgemental of the situation. Clearly it is not a black and white case of a man wilfully doing something illegal to make money, there is some misunderstanding all the way around.

What do you think? Do you think the punishment fits the crime? Do you think the Stockport man got what he deserved or have the courts been unfair? Let us know in the comments below.

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