Monday, 24 April 2017

New speeding fines for UK motorists

You’ll all be familiar with Honest John, whether from his 20 year stint as motoring agony columnist for The Daily Telegraph, or for HonestJohn.co.uk, the motoring website that helps consumers make informed choices about their cars … or, of course, from Car-tastrophes – 80 Automotive Atrocities from the past 20 years

What you may not be familiar with, is that from today, a new speeding fine structure for UK motorists is in force. You can be forgiven for not knowing, as this little bit of law has slipped pretty quietly into legislature … and you’re not alone in your ignorance: Honest John surveyed visitors to it’s website, and found that 84% of respondents were unaware of the new fines structure. 

The new structure allows a magistrate to set a fine that’s linked to an offender’s weekly take-home salary, and even minor offences can incur fines of up to 50% of this … major offences could see a fine of 150%. Here’s what Honest John found … 


Eight out of ten motorists have no idea about new speeding fine structure 


  • Drivers caught for most serious cases of speeding could be fined  150% of their weekly income in England and Wales
  • This means a motorist earning £50,000 a year would pay up to £355 for creeping over the limit, or £1000 for travelling 41mph in a 20mph limit
  • New fines system doesn’t address driver distraction risks, says leading consumer motoring website
  • 84% of British motorists are unaware of new speeding fines that come into force today

More than eight out of every ten British motorists are unaware of new speeding fines, which could see someone earning £50,000 pay a fine of £1000* for travelling 41mph in a 20mph limit, according to research carried out by leading consumer motoring website www.HonestJohn.co.uk  

In a survey carried out by the website**, 84% of respondents said they didn’t know what the new sentencing guidelines – which comes into force today, Monday 24th April – meant, while more than half (56%) were completely unaware that the penalties for speeding were changing.

Under new rules laid out by the Sentencing Council, the changes mean that magistrates have the power to fine motorists by up to 150% of their weekly take-home income, while even minor offences can lead to fines of up to 50% of an offender’s weekly income. There will be a cap of £1,000 per offence, or £2,500 if it is committed on a motorway.

HonestJohn.co.uk’s Managing Editor, Daniel Powell, said: 

“While most people agree that excessive speed has no place on our roads, and that greater deterrents are likely to reduce the amount of deaths and injuries related to speeding, the new fines policy appears to have entered the law almost unnoticed.”

The new speeding fine structure gives judges and magistrates the power to fine motorists up to 150% of their weekly income for the worst speeding fines, or up to 50% of their income for creeping over the limit, within 10mph of the prevailing maximum.


While the new rules set the bar for speeding fines, there are no plans to remove the option of Speed Awareness Courses for first time minor offenders. At present, those caught speeding by a small amount are frequently offered a half-day awareness course in lieu of points on their licence, with the courses costing the same as the equivalent fixed penalty. How these will be charged under the new system is as yet undefined.

“While the new fines are clearly a deterrent, the bigger issue here is that prevention is better than cure,” added Powell. “One very real concern is that, while speeding is easier to police, there are greater road safety concerns attached to driver distraction than creeping slightly over the speed limit.

“If sentencing guidelines for speeding are heading this way, then in an era of more connectivity behind the wheel, we should be addressing concerns around mobile phone use, in-car app and sat nav distractions in much the same way. Harsher fines are a deterrent, but we can’t help but think a better, more modern approach to driver education would have a greater influence on road safety.”

* Fines based on individuals with a standard tax code of 1150L. Take home pay will vary depending on personal circumstances

** Sentencing guidelines survey carried out via www.HonestJohn.co.uk on an independent panel of British driving licence holders aged 18-84 on April 19, 2017. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

John Surtees: legacy of a legend

John Surtees, MBE, OBE, CBE

John Surtees at Goodwood Revival, 2011. 
John Surtees is a name that most fans of motor racing will be familiar with. His racing career spanned 20 years, starting in 1952, but his involvement in racing continued until the end. A regular figure at race meets, circuits, and on TV, Surtees' trademark wide smile, enthusiasm, and energy won him many friends and fans. He won no fewer than 8 title wins, achieved – remarkably – on two and four wheels: a feat that is unlikely to ever be repeated in the modern era of motor racing.

Surtees was born into a family already mad about motorsport, and his first racing appearance came in the sidecar of his father's Vincent – a race that they won … but later disqualified for, for being too young. At 15, he raced in grasstrack competition, and, a year later, went to work for Vincent as an apprentice. The following year, he caught the attention of race goers and works teams alike, by keeping Norton's Geoff Duke honest and on his toes during a race at Thruxton.

With Norton's interest piqued, he was offered sponsorship by its race chief Joe Craig, and Surtees duly responded by beating Duke at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. Despite Norton's racing success, and partly due to it, the company faced financial difficulties, so Surtees accepted an offer from the more financially stable MV Agusta.

In 1956, he won the 500cc world championship, only partly assisted by a six-month ban for Geoff Duke, incurred from Duke's support of a riders' strike for more starting money. Whilst the following year only saw a third place finish for Surtees, Gilera and Moto Guzzi's retirement from GP racing at the end of '57 saw him pilot an MV Agusta to a further three 500cc titles, in 1958, '59, and '60 – as well as the world championships in the 350cc class in the same three years.

Surtees' astonishing career, which aside from his hat trick of class doubles, had seen him claim 250 race wins from 352 starts, had also made Surtees' known to a wider audience, and in 1959, he won BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He is still the only motorcycle racer to have been awarded the honour.

Surtees at the Isle of Man TT. This was his final TT win, the 1960 Senior. When he switched to four wheels, his place at MV Agusta was taken by Gary Hocking. From Racing Line.


In 1960, and despite his initial scepticism, Surtees switched to cars, in part due to MV Agusta's refusal to allow him to ride any other two-wheel marque. Racing against Jim Clark at Goodwood in Formula Junior, a rookie error led to him losing his chance of victory – but he was noticed by Colin Chapman, who signed him up to race in F1: a jump that modern F1 racers would find incomprehensible.

Surtees was immediately competitive, aided by the Lotus 18 of Chapman, but a falling out with Chapman, and fellow driver Innes Ireland, over who would drive beside Clark in '61, saw him walk from Lotus.

Stints for Yeoman Credit Cooper and Bowmaker Lola teams over the next few seasons enabled Surtees to continue to compete. Ferrari had already contacted Surtees, who felt it was too early in his career to drive a 'cavallino rampante.' Despite being told by Enzo Ferrari that he would not ask him again, at the end of a difficult '62 season, Enzo did just that, and Surtees accepted.

Surtees' first F1 win came at the Nürbergring. It was in 1964, however, following victories in the German GP and Monza, that he won his first F1 world championship, in the new V8 Ferrari 158, wearing the livery of NART (North American Racing Team).

The 1964 Mexican Grand Prix saw Surtees take second place,
behind Dan Gurney, and just ahead of team-mate Lorenzo Bandini. From Formula One – The Real Score?

The following year was a disappointment for Surtees, with no victories on the track. In September '65, Surtees crashed whilst practicing in his own Lola T70 at the Mosport Park circuit, Canada, and was in a life-threatenting condition for several days. Amazingly, he recovered enough to be back behind the wheel the of the Ferarri by the start of the '66 season.

Political machinations, and a long-sour relationship with team manager Eugenio Dragoni, eventually led to Surtees jumping ship mid-season to Cooper, whos Maserati V12-powered T/81 took him to victory in Mexico … he even managed to finish second in the title fight to Jack Brabham.

1967 saw a switch to Honda for two seasons, with whom he gained his last world championship success, at the Italian GP at Monza. A 1969 BRM stint left Surtees frustrated, and he decided to develop his own F1 cars. With Cosworth engines, the cars showed much promise – enough to coax another two-wheeled legend, Mike Hailwood, to its team … Hailwood went on to win the 1972 European Formula Two championship.

Surtees pilots the V12 Honda RA300. From Grand Prix Ford.

The team finally closed shop in 1978, and Surtees retired from the competitive racing circuit. Surtees held the vice-presidency of the British Racing Drivers' Club, a position he used to help continue and encourage British involvement in international motor sport.

Following the death of his son, Henry, caused by a freak accident at a relaunched F2 vent at Brands Hatch, he devoted his time to supporting the Henry Surtees Foundation, an organisation that helps young people with accident injuries, and develop their capabilities.

The charity became Surtees' main work in recent years, and has raised thousands of pounds for air ambulance services, and head injury research. It was in this capacity that Surtees attended many grass-roots events such as Goodwood, leading him become one of the most familiar, popular, and loved figures, even into his ninth decade. In 1996, John was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He was awarded an MBE in 1959 , OBE in 2008, and CBE in 2016.

On March 10th 2016, John Surtees passed away at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife Jane, and daughters Edwina and Leonora.

To find out more about the Henry Surtess Foundation, follow the link below:

http://henrysurteesfoundation.com

John Surtees photo courtesy Supermac1961 from CHAFFORD HUNDRED, England (Sir John Surtees Uploaded by Sporti) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Tuesday, 28 March 2017

What Car? reveals taxing times ahead

This year on 1st April, new rates of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will be introduced … and they could have quite an effect on the tax you pay for your vehicle … 

What Car? had revealed the biggest car tax rises ahead of the new rules. So who will be most affected, and will you be paying more?

• Some models will command almost 25 times more tax than before
Even greener hybrids are hit but still qualify for government grants of up to £2,500
Six out of 10 top sellers incur eye-watering tax increases

Imminent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) mean consumers have just a few days to secure a deal on a new car before tax rates soar by up to 2475%.

Analysis by What Car? has shown that the cost of taxing a car purchased after 1 April 2017 could be up to 25 times more, with even some of the most environmentally friendly plug-in hybrids commanding sharp tax increases.

It’s conventional hybrids such as the Lexus GS300h and RX450h that will be hit hardest, however. These have traditionally been an attractive option for those seeking a luxury car with small-car emissions, because under the outgoing legislation, the GS300h and RX450h cost owners as little as £40 to tax over three years. But under the new rules, that increases to £1,030.

Under the new legislation, only zero-emissions cars costing less than £40,000 will be free to tax, but buyers still have a few days to make significant savings by purchasing before the 1 April deadline, using the new What Car? New Car Buyer Marketplace, which lets people compare discounts from dealers in their area.

In the case of the GS300h hybrid, the near-£1000 hike in the three-year tax bill is made up of a £150 first-year rate based on its CO₂ emissions, followed by two subsequent payments of the new hybrid flat rate of £130 per year, which applies to all vehicles with emissions above 0g/km CO₂.

In addition, all vehicles that cost more than £40,000 are subject to a further £310 a year charge between years two and six. As a result, three-year tax bills on the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volvo XC90 T8 and Audi Q7 E-tron will also jump from zero to as much as £1,000.

On the up side, the Audi, Mitsubishi and Volvo remain eligible for a government grant of £2,500 thanks to their low CO₂ emissions of less than 75g/km, and if buyers order before the tax hike they could save almost half as much again.

Motorists who flocked to buy one of Britain’s top sellers in the first months of 2017 are also likely to have avoided a hefty tax premium and could still do so if they move quickly. Six of 2017’s top 10 sellers are among the highest risers. Certain derivatives of the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A3 and BMW 3-Series will command an extra tax bill of between £400 and £1,000 over three years.

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford said: “The new tax laws are designed to increase the advantage of running a zero emissions car, but they make things much more complicated and push up the price of many ‘bread and butter’ models. Fortunately, there are still opportunities to get a great deal.

“Buyers still have a small window to snap up a bargain before 1 April, and there are a number of grants for plug-in hybrids at their disposal. Tax aside, valuable savings can be made by using the What Car? New Car Marketplace to get the best possible price.”

The latest deals can be found at www.whatcar.com/new-car-deals.

Top 10 tax increases

Make/Model
Segment
Fuel type
Cost of tax for three years – 2016/17
Cost of tax for three years – 2017/18
Cost increase over three years
Percentage Change over three years
Lexus RC 300h 2.5 F-Sport 2dr CVT Auto
Coupe
Petrol Hybrid
£40
£1,030
£990
2475%
Mercedes-Benz C250d AMG Line Premium 2dr Auto
Coupe
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 4Matic Yellow Night Edition 4dr Tip Auto
Coupe
Petrol
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Lexus RX 450h 3.5 SE 5dr CVT Auto
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£40
£1,030
£990
2475%
Audi A6 3.0 TDI S Line 4dr S Tronic
Executive
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Mercedes-Benz C250d AMG Line Premium Plus 4dr 9G-Tronic
Executive
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Mercedes-Benz E200d AMG Line Premium 4dr 9G-Tronic
Executive
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Lexus GS300h 2.5 F-Sport 4dr CVT
Executive
Petrol Hybrid
£40
£1,030
£990
2475%
Audi A5 2.0 TDI Sport 2dr S Tronic
Conv'tble
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%
Mercedes- Benz C220d AMG Line 2dr
Conv'tble
Diesel
£60
£1,060
£1,000
1667%

Hybrid tax increases

Make/Model
Segment
Fuel type
Cost of tax for three years – 2016/17
Cost of tax for three years – 2017/18
Cost increase over three years
Percentage Change over three years**
Lexus RX 450h 3.5 SE 5dr CVT Auto
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£40
£1,030
£990
2475%
BMW X5 xDrive40e SE 5dr Auto
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£0
£970
£970
N/A
Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid 5dr Tiptronic S
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£0
£895
£895
N/A
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro e-tron 5dr Tip Auto
Large SUV
Diesel
Hybrid
£0
£880
£880
N/A
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 PHEV 4hs 5dr Auto
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£0
£880
£880
N/A
Volvo XC90 2.0 T8 Hybrid Inscription 5dr Geartronic
Large SUV
Petrol Hybrid
£0
£880

£880
N/A

UK top sellers

Make/Model
Type
Model’s overall UK sales chart position*
Fuel 
Cost of tax for three years – 2016/17
Cost of tax for three years – 2017/18
Cost increase over three years
% Change over three years**
Vauxhall Astra Astra 1.0T 12V ecoFLEX Design 5dr Easytronic
Hatchbck
3
Petrol
£0
£400
£400
N/A
Ford Focus FOCUS 1.5 TDCi 120 ST-Line Navigation 5dr Powershift
Hatchbck
4
Diesel
£0
£400
£400
N/A
Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta [Comfort Pack/Tech Pack] 5dr
Small SUV
5
Diesel
£0
£400
£400
N/A
Mercedes-Benz C350e Sport Premium 4dr Auto
Executive
6
Petrol Hybrid
£0
£895
£895
N/A
Audi A3 1.6 TDI SE 5dr S Tronic
Hatchbck
8
Diesel
£0
£400
£400
N/A
BMW 340i M Sport 5dr Step Auto [Business Media]
Executive
10
Petrol
£555
£1,400
£845
152%


*Sales figures sourced from SMMT cover February 2017 and refer to the sales performance of all derivatives of that model combined. Source: https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/car-registrations/ 

**Where the original tax value was £0, a percentage increase cannot be calculated accurately as there is no value for comparison.