The rise in private parking fines

A new bill to regulate private parking is being backed by 93% of drivers, according to the RAC. Private parking firms hold a bad reputation with drivers and it’s thought to be because two-thirds of drivers think they are too aggressive when they try to collect fines. On top of this, 84% believe that the fines don’t reflect the offence.

The Daily Mirror has reported that millions of parking tickets aren’t in fact legal, meaning many drivers are able to fight for a refund. RAC Foundation Director, professor Stephen Glaister, said: “We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”

Parking fines in 2017, are thought to have cost the British public a staggering £94 million, with certain cities having issued over half a million penalties in the past three years. According to UK Carline, Brent, Bristol and Croydon were the cities that drivers were most likely to be hit with a parking fine. All three cities had issues more than 250,000 fines in 2016. Brent soared ahead of other cities across the UK, issuing 537,128 fines across the three-year period. The top 10 councils with the highest number of issued parking fines is as follows:

Rank

City No. parking fines issued
(over three years)
1 Brent 537,128
2 Croydon 339,121
3 Bristol 267,913
4 Ealing 236,733
5 Newcastle 221,659
6 Enfield 189,619
7 Sheffield 155,552
8 Leicester 147,358
9 Bradford 141,692
10 Plymouth 121,429

 

It’s worrying that there was a total of 2,752,900 penalty charge notices issued across the three-year period, with 2016 alone seeing 941,888 tickets issued. If each penalty was charged at the maximum fine of £100 per offence, these penalty charges could be costing motorists an astonishing £275,290,000 per year! And further figures from the RAC suggest these figures continued to rise in the month running up to Christmas 2017 – with figures signifying there was a 10% increase in the number of tickets issued when compared to 2016’s figures, with around 17,137 tickets issued every day. Furthermore, ParkingEye Ltd was found to have requested the largest amount of data from the DVLA, with more than 533,000 records obtained in the most recent quarter, at a cost of £2.50 a record.

Steve Gooding, director of RAC Foundation, states that the data shows that private parking firms are “looking to maximise their profits from drivers out and about doing their festive shopping”. An opinion that seems fair to dish out, considering 72% of drivers say that parking terms and conditions notices are often hard to read or hidden in car parks – with a further 69% claiming parking charges were too high.

Further figures provided by UK Carline also highlighted that there seems to be a pattern on which days are most likely to see you issued with a fine. Their research shows that  drivers were most likely to receive a fine on a Saturday, while Sunday was the least likely. Figures show that just 235,584 tickets were issued on Sundays – a figure which still looks to be high but is significantly lower than the 430,035 tickets that were issued on Saturdays over the three-year period. Are drivers better behaved on Sundays? Or are parking firms more lenient?

No driver wants to see that big yellow envelope placed on their windscreen, or receive the dreaded letter through the post, knowing it means they are facing an unexpected charge for parking. The RAC suggests that there are areas which need to be addressed within the newly proposed bill in order for it to be a wide success, shifting driver attitudes towards a more positive consumer confidence in private parking firms.

Road policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes, said: “Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists.”

It’s a reputation that clearly needs to be worked upon, especially as over four in five drivers feel firms have a bad reputation.

In January 2018, it looked as though the future of parking and a reduction in harsh parking fines was positive, as the proposed Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from former Conservative minister, Sir Greg Knight, was expected to be heard by the House of Commons for a second time. The proposed new code of practice hoped to ensure fair treatment of motorists and parking firms alike – a practice that is clearly needed following data that shows ticketing has reached epidemic proportions. The RAC were pleased that the code of practice would mean that firms which did not comply with the new code would be blocked from accessing motorist’ information via the DVLA.

However, local authorities and councils could soon be part of the ‘war against motorists’, as a Conservative MP describes it, if the latest news from the RAC is anything to go by, with permits and car parking anticipated to rise by 45% in certain areas of the UK. This includes with the introduction of Sunday parking charges. With councils already racking up a huge £819 million in parking fines, fees and permits during 2016/17, how much could they be looking at making if charges increase by 45%? Motorists could be in for a shock – though also giving them more reason to fight back and support a bill to regulate private parking.

It’s clear that the cost of parking and fines is an issue that has been raised to the government, but could we see positive changes being made in the future? For motorists’ sake, let’s hope so.

This article was brought to you by Audi dealership, Vindis Group.

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How can you afford your dream car?

Thousands of car buyers each year seek their dream car with a brand-new registration. Buying a new car over one that is second-hand can bump up the price tag, but driving off the forecourt in your dream car is a feeling like no other. So, without breaking the bank, how can you afford your dream car?

Personal Contract Purchase agreement

This is where the end value of the car is agreed at the start of the contract, so you can plan your payments accordingly. Payments are often less than what you’d pay in a hire purchase agreement as you pay the full price of the car, plus interest but minus the guaranteed future value of the car. You must pass credit checks before you’re eligible for a PCP agreement.

To lower the monthly cost, you can place down a large initial deposit if you can afford it. Saving a lump sum for a large deposit is easier than saving up for a car, while reduced monthly payments can really help out too. Always evaluate your current monthly payments before you agree to a finance agreement, as being behind on your payments can lead to financial issues.

When it comes to the end of your PCP agreement, you can either pay off the future value of the car to become the full owner, hand back the keys or trade the car in as a deposit for a new finance agreement.

Be aware though, if you have exceeded the forecasted mileage on the car, there will be further charges to pay. This is because more miles decrease the value of the car. Also, any damage to the car will be charged to you, so you must be prepared to take good care of the vehicle.

Hire purchase agreement

This is relatively similar to a PCP agreement. It involves monthly payments with the option to purchase the car at the end of your agreement based on its new value.

A usual deposit for a car is 10% of the car’s value, but often you can pay more to reduce the follow-up monthly payments. The rest of the car is then payed off in instalments over a period of one to five years. The longer this period, the less you have to pay each month but due to interest charges, the total cost of the car becomes higher.

Buying a car by credit card

If you want to buy a car by credit card, it’s best to speak to your car dealer first as some dealerships don’t accept this method of payment.

Paying through your credit card company can give you added protection on the full purchase cost (often as long as the value of the vehicle is over £100 and less than £30,000). Of course, you have to be able to meet your monthly payments too.

This method allows you to put down an even lower deposit than 10% and pay the rest of the vehicle off using a debit card. It’s best to consider all options here, as often the interest that you pay on a credit card could be significantly higher than that of a finance agreement.

 

As we can see, there are a range of finance options available to you for purchasing new cars — allowing you to drive that dream car you’ve always wanted without forking out loads of cash. Save up what you can for a significant deposit and always make sure that you can cover the payments before signing any agreements.

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Could self-driving vehicles result in job losses?

Automotive technology has been rapidly developing for many years with now more safety kit and more cool tech in cars than ever before so it was only a matter of time before self driving vehicle technology would be developed. We could be seeing self-driving vehicles a lot sooner than we might think.

According to Sky News, self-driving lorries have been given the green light for trials to begin across UK roads – to which the Government have committed to a £8.1 million investment to finance the trials. This comes as no surprise to the UK who already have vehicles on the roads which operate with semi-autonomous driving systems, from cruise control and lane departure warning to active park assist. But as the Government funds further developments, we could see them on our roads sooner than we think.

It’s not just driverless cars that are going to be introduced to the UK roads, self-driving trucks and lorries are said to be amongst the first autonomous vehicles to be rolled out across our roads. The Government’s funding will go towards paying for semi-autonomous platooning lorries, which will drive closely behind one another and linked via electronic connections which communicate with GPS, radar and wi-fi. By reducing the gaps between the vehicles, it’s said to reduce air drag, cut fuel consumption and reduce emissions, potentially by 20%. But what does an autonomous fleet of lorries mean for UK truck and lorry drivers?

Specialists in long term van hire, Northgate, have investigated if self-driving vehicles signal a major loss of jobs, due to the driver essentially being taken away from the process.

After all, autonomous technology aims to take away the human need in driving. Those who drive for a living worry that it could be the end of the road for their career. In the US alone, it is predicted that there could be up to 25,000 jobs lost a month, according to Goldman Sachs. With truck driving one of the most common occupations in the US, that figure could turn into over 300,000 job losses per year. In the UK, low-end estimates suggest that over 1.7 million truckers could also be replaced by self-driving counterparts – which could rise to as high at 3 million, suggesting many could rid their manual drivers of their job. Steve used to do driving as a job and may be going back to it part time so this could be a worry for us.

Einride have already developed their own self-driving truck, that will be ready for 2020, and it does not have space for the human driver, or even passengers. The all-electric T-Pod truck measures approximately seven metres, can carry up to 20 tonnes in weight of freight and is fully autonomous. The vehicle is capable of self-drive on motorways and highways, and can be controlled remotely at a driving station for urban areas. The first fleet is estimated to be active by 2020, in the cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg in Sweden – and they aren’t the only manufacturer to show keen interest in developing electric and autonomous commercial vehicles, with Mercedes revealing a glimpse of their 2025 concept, and Tesla indication their interest.

However, some industry professionals believe that autonomous cars, and trucks or lorries, could actually create jobs for people. Just as automobiles created millions of jobs for people, it is suggested that autonomous vehicles will do the same – though, they might be different to those jobs that face a loss. The UK aims to be at the forefront of development of autonomous alternatives and predict that acting as a world leader in the sector will boost the UK’s economy. The SMMT valued autonomous cars and the systems that connect them to the internet as being worth £51 billion a year to the UK economy by 2030. Success in the field could also see around 320,000 jobs created. 

Additionally, drivers will need to form semi-autonomous platooning lorry convoys – a lead driver is likely to be essential to the process which the government proposes. For lorries to follow safely, a lead driver is likely to needed to navigate the first lorry – and of course, there are likely to be jobs created to build new road infrastructure required for autonomous vehicles.

Whilst autonomous technology could cause a potential temporary job shortage/loss for those who drive for a living, we must remember that this could just be temporary, plus autonomous technology will also improve road safety and reduce harmful emissions too. In the US alone, there are over 350,000 road accidents a year involving trucks, which the majority of those are traced to human error. Similarly, with the UK, there were over 1,810 incidents in 216 where someone was killed or fatally injured in a road traffic accident. Autonomous vehicles eliminate human error on the roads to make them a safer place.  

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