Category Archives: road safety

Most woman place road safety towards the top of their car shopping list

FOXY adds female voice to MoT consultation

Sent to

On behalf of UK women drivers, this is FOXY Lady Drivers’ Club’s response to the UK government’s proposal to extend the MOT test ‘grace period’ of new vehicles from three to four years. As you can see we are not impressed.

Dear Sirs

I run the UK’s only motoring club for women drivers, FOXY Lady Drivers Club, and am writing to you, on their behalf, about your proposal to delay vehicle first MoT tests from their 3rd to 4th birthday.

I was a signatory of the previous Pro-MoTe campaign, when this proposal was last aired and I remain as baffled, if not more, about the Government’s agenda here. I am particularly concerned about the implications re tyre safety.

MoT Consultation Concerns

These are the points I’d like to submit for your consideration within the consultation period.

1) A Misguided Moneysaver

The safety issues raised outweigh the one-off saving of some £54.85 (ie one MoT fee) even for the many women who dislike visiting garages.

2) Dangerous Cars on UK Roads

Delaying a first year vehicle MoT from 3 years to 4 years is increasing the number of dangerous cars on our roads, for longer.

An unacceptably high number of vehicles are failing their first MoT and whilst it might be tempting to think that tyres and brake failings are the main road safety issues, we must not overlook the risks drivers run with inadequate lighting, wipers and or windscreen washer levels.

Even worse, a van could have driven some 150k miles before its first MoT safety snapshot. Hence their higher first time MoT failure rates.

3) Newer Cars Aren’t Always Safer

Badly maintained ‘nearly new’ cars are NOT safer than well maintained older ones. A modern car with a typical 30,000 miles on its clock, driven by a motorist who is oblivious to tyre care and TPMS warnings is too common an example to ignore simply because a car has covered fewer miles.

4) Car Servicing Standards

Car servicing/manufacturer/vehicle handbook servicing regimes/checklists cannot be relied upon to alert motorists to car maintenance neglect in between garage visits.

5) Motorists Knowledge of Car Maintenance

My experience talking to groups of women drivers confirms that many of them are poorly informed about tyre safety in particular – I imagine this is true of male drivers too.

The Tyresafe infographic draws attention to this, extrapolating that 1 in 4 vehicles on our roads is potentially travelling on illegal ie dangerous tyres.

They also record that the level of ignorance relating to TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems) is increasing. See 2016 research.

6) The Cost of More Road Accidents

An increasing number of dangerous vehicles on our roads will result in more road accidents, more serious injuries and fatalities, more days lost at work, more traffic jams and more stress for our emergency services alike. As I see it, this is the potential risk you run were you to actively postpone essential safety checks on UK vehicles from their 3rd to 4th birthday.


All in all, I’d rather be talking to you about organising courses to help women drivers understand how to/what it takes to run safer vehicles.

Finally, I remain unconvinced that MoTs should be discounted. Demand is inelastic and MoTs should be seen as a fixed cost. Too many MoT offers look like a ‘sprat to catch a mackerel’ tactic. I’d prefer to see some of the full fee being spent on delivering better customer service.

Yours sincerely


Steph Savill


FOXY Lady Drivers Club


BN44 3GF

March is a mad month for MoTs

After its third birthday your car needs an annual MoT safety check.

Just think about this for a moment.

If you drive 20,000 miles a year, that’s 60,000 miles before too many cars get any independent safety checks.

This is because many motorists do little or no car maintenance until and some 40% of all cars in England, Scotland and Wales then fail their first MoT test. Which equates to a high percentage of cars on our roads in an unsafe condition.

Now imagine if our Government gets its way and decides to delay the first MoT test for vehicles until the fourth year? As FOXY sees it, this means even more unsafe cars on our roads than before.

We cannot see how this would be a good solution for anyone, even if it could potentially save motorists a one-off £50 (per car) by delaying the MoT by one year. Think of the associated road safety and accident handling costs you’d cause here, Mr Chris Grayling MP.

And let’s also remind ourselves that the 3 year first MoT regime is the same for vans. Yet vans are more likely to do an average mileage closer to 50,000 per annum. That’s a total of 150,000 miles before a van needs an MoT. And they fail this test in higher numbers than cars at 3 years old. How long have these vans been unsafe through maintenance neglect we’d like to know.

What An MoT Includes

We were reminded about this by an infographic we liked which was supplied by Motorparks.

Today’s MoT test looks at safety elements relating to Lights, Suspension, Brakes, Tyres, Windscreens, Exhausts, Fluids, Mirrors, Seatbelts, Doors, Horns, Registration Plate, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), Bodywork and Fuel.

If you know you have a problem in any of these areas, it might be wise to get this addressed/fixed before the MoT.

Remember that your MoT test is but a safety snapshot on the day. Even if your car passed the MOT, make sure you read and know about any ‘advisories’ listed. Chances are these will need safety-related attention soon.

If it’s to do with car tyre tread levels, ask the MOT station to estimate when you’ll need new ones – you don’t have to buy them from that business of course but at least you’d have some time to save.

FOXY Advice: “I’ve driven a range of tyres and I always say buy the best ones you can afford, especially if you drive a lot. You’ll know the legal tyre tread is 1.6mm but that tyre is virtually worn out. I always go tyre shopping when my tread is closer to 3mm. I’ve seen the difference this makes in wet conditions. And even 3mm tread is a long way short of new tyres at 8mm tread.”

Remember that your MoT doesn’t include engine checks. This is what your car service does and why you need one regularly.

You probably need a car expert to make sure all’s well on the mechanical side of things before the bills start to ramp up – or your car lets you down.

And whilst YOU might be mechanically-savvy, few of us are (male or female) so a professional mechanic will likely spot engine problems we’d miss, so they can be fixed more cheaply than when the part in question (or engine if it’s been starved of good oil) finally gives up the ghost.

If after inserting in treads around tyre, you can see any of the 20p coin rim your tyre needs checking now.

Is there anything you suspect your car’ll fail its MoT test on? Maybe you could remedy this in advance?

New car tyres for instance? If your tyres don’t pass the 20p test (see side image), chances are they’re both illegal and dangerous. And could kill if you need them to stop and they can’t in time.

In all cases, the driver is responsible for the condition of the car they drive and we all know accidents happen. So best not to wait to be told that your car caused or contributed towards a bad accident. When it’s easy to run a safe and reliable car – once you know how.


If you want to know how to run a safe and reliable car, why not join The Club and we’ll get there together!

How to make a safe car choice

stop-the-crashWe asked Thatcham Research, the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre, to tell us about their work because we wanted Club members to understand their safety-related choices when buying a new car. Which they kindly did for us, as follows.

We all know we’re driving around in more protective cars than we were 10 years ago but there is still room for improvement in this critical area.

With a better understanding of how new cars are tested and the best safety options to consider, this knowledge will undoubtedly help motorists make a safer new car choice in future.

How does the EU test car safety?

Across the EU, independent organisations subject modern cars to rigorous safety testing which results in the award of a safety rating by Euro NCAP (the European New Car Assessment Programme).

All cars have to be tested in impartial conditions and Thatcham in Berkshire is the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre to carry out this important work.

Euro NCAP testing doesn’t just provide new car buyers with an overview of safety standards; it also sets future safety targets for vehicle manufacturers to aim for, ensuring that vehicle safety standards are continually improving for all even if they are only led by a few to begin with.

How are Thatcham tests conducted?

An extensive range of crash tests are conducted in a controlled environment including a track. These tests include frontal and side impact plus whiplash scenarios. Adult drivers and passengers are not the only consideration during testing; the impact on child occupants and pedestrians is also measured and influences the complex Euro NCAP rating.

Physical testing changes rapidly as modern vehicles evolve. For example, one of Thatcham Research’s most crucial roles is testing the new leading-edge technology that is designed to reduce the chances of an accident in the first place.

A good example here is the technology called ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) which plays an increasingly crucial role in the overall vehicle assessment. As vehicle safety standards rise, all manufacturers strive to keep up with the safety leaders here and to maintain their much coveted 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

To give you an idea of today’s Euro NCAP 5 star stated rating requirements, vehicles are expected to offer “Overall good performance in crash protection AND be well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.”

What is crash avoidance technology?

One of the most important safety features to consider when buying a new car is the fitting of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as an ADAS. In its most basic form, AEB monitors traffic ahead using sensors fitted to the vehicle and applies the brakes when the driver is distracted or unable to, reducing the chances of a front to rear accident by an impressive 38%.

With one in four accidents being a front to rear impact, the potential benefit of AEB is evident.

Despite the safety benefits and the relatively low cost to manufacturers of AEB, this Advanced Driver Assistance System is not as commonplace as you might expect. In fact, whilst 48% of new cars in the UK can be fitted with AEB, it is only included in 21% of them (2016 figures).

So, if you didn’t know about AEB or didn’t ask for this feature at the time of order, your new car will likely be delivered without the one safety feature most likely to keep you and your family accident free in this area.

Not only does AEB contribute towards a valuable 5 star safety rating today, it can also help reduce insurance costs. Choose a car with AEB fitted and you should expect a drop of around 3-5 insurance groups which is the equivalent to saving some 10% in motor premiums.

So it’s well worth choosing a car that either has AEB as standard or asking your dealership if this is an “option” you can have fitted pre-delivery.

Which cars have AEB options?

To find out if your current vehicle is AEB equipped, or to arm yourself with the information you need to ensure your next new car is as safe as it can be, you can check safety specifications, using Thatcham’s handy AEB checker.

You may also like to see how we conduct crash tests at Thatcham Research, where you can see exactly what a crash test dummy goes through.

FOXY says: The Volvo XC90 includes AEB and leads the market with an award winning package of active and passive safety measures. This makes the Volvo XC90 Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever. Of particular note, Volvo Cars and the XC90 are all available at affinity discounts to Club members in 2017. Terms apply and Club members must have joined the Club a minimum of three months before becoming eligible for this offer.

Are you a distracted driver?

girl-phone-car-damageA new survey conducted by Exchange and Mart reveals that nearly 1 in 4 motorists admit to driving when distracted which is a known factor in too many road accidents.

So, they’ve developed an excellent ‘Distracted Driving’ website, during Road Safety Week, to draw motorists’ attention to this.

And we’re adding some simple tips based on our experiences to help motorists who might be affected by these distractions.

Distracted Driving – the Facts

In Great Britain there were over 185,000 road traffic injuries and fatalities during the year ending June 2016) and an estimated 139,000 could have been prevented if motorists had been less distracted behind the wheel.

Loss of concentration through tiredness, affecting driving ability, is the greatest cause of road accidents (62%) and the Exchange and Mart research confirms that nearly 1 in 4 motorists readily admit to regularly driving in these circumstances.

Jim Murray Jones, General Manager for Exchange and Mart explained that their idea of a Distracted Driving website is to encourage more people to make the Brake Pledge.

A new cause for concern is the tendency of some motorists to use their mobile phone whilst driving despite knowing this is illegal and carries a fine of £100 plus 3 penalty points. In the Exchange and Mart survey 9% of motorists said they used their mobile phone when driving, rising to a worrying 33% in the 18-24 years age bracket.

Another cause of driving accidents is ‘distractions outside the vehicle’ including the likes of eye-catching bill-board advertising and being nosy about other vehicles involved in road traffic accidents.

Regular Driving Distractions

When asked ‘Which of the following distractions are regular happenings?’ the number of reported incidents rose as did the average number of motorists of all ages to admit this.

In order of significance
+ 63% admitted to fiddling with the car radio/in-car entertainment or heating/air con
+ 40% were distracted by passengers (Mums know this all too well)
+ 36% adjusted seat belts, seat positioning and mirrors whilst behind the steering wheel
+ 35% ate and drank whilst driving.

Driver Distractions by Age Group

The following activities distracted one age group more than others as illustrated below.

Altering the car radio/in-car entertainment/heating/air con
Distracted 74% of 55-65 year olds

Eating and Drinking
Distracted 56% of 18-24 year olds

Lighting, smoking and extinguishing a cigarette
Distracted 56% of 65+ motorists

Vehicle Passengers (including children)
Distracted 53% of motorists aged 35-44 years

Loss of concentration through tiredness
Distracted 44% of responders aged 65+

Adjusting seatbelts, seat positioning and mirrors
Distracted 44% of 18-24 year olds

Mobile phone usage
Distracted 33% of 18-24 year olds

Looking at something outside, like advertisements or a road accident
Distracted 33% of 65+ drivers

Using external devices, such as Sat Nav or hands free equipment
Distracted 29% of 25-34 year olds

Tips to Counter Driver Distractions

If you recognise any of these signs, you are at risk of being distracted at the wheel.

These tips will help you stay safer whilst hopefully improving your driving concentration.

1 Commit to staying safer on our roads in future by signing the Brake Pledge.

2 Plan ahead. Always make sure your driver seat and mirrors are correctly positioned for maximum visibility and that any SatNav or info-tainment systems are correctly programmed for your journey BEFORE you set out.

3 Don’t drive if you’re too tired (and don’t have to). If you absolutely have to drive yet know you didn’t get a good enough night’s sleep, resort to strong coffee at the outset and regular stops for some fresh air, food and drink.

4 If travelling alone and feeling the need to concentrate, consider talking out loud, describing your car journey in the greatest of detail. Sounds mad but it works because you have to concentrate to do this well so you can’t be thinking about other things at the same time.

5 Put your mobile phone in the boot so you aren’t distracted by it when driving.

6 Suggest that older children assume responsibility for looking after younger children so you can concentrate on driving.

7 Remember that accidents are caused when drivers are being nosy about other road accidents. This might be human nature but it’s too dangerous for you to indulge in yet you need to be ultra alert to less savvy others.

8 If travelling with children you might involve them to help you spot the speed limit signs. This helps them prepare for safer driving too.

9 When driving on A or B roads why not play a driving game? The winner is doing precisely the lower speed limit when she/he enters a lower speed zone (as in leaving a 60mph speed limit and entering a 30mph zone). Think of this as a curtain – when you drive through this curtain into the lower speed zone you should be doing the new speed precisely… And you shouldn’t speed up until you pass through that curtain again, into a faster speed zone!!

These are all things that hopefully will help you concentrate, stay alert and avoid the most common driving distractions.


PS: Thank you to Brake and Exchange & Mart for reminding us about our driving vulnerabilities here.

Needless to say, if you would appreciate this sort of advice and support in future (or know a female who would) – to help you or them reduce motoring stress, save money, enjoy better services and become a better driver, you’ll find yourself in good company by joining The Club HERE.

Justice For Joseph road safety award

liz_mcinnesLiz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, has received road safety charity Brake and the Direct Line Group’s Parliamentarian of the Month Award for her involvement in the Justice for Joseph campaign as well as her ongoing work in support of Brake’s Roads to Justice.

Joseph Brown-Lartey was killed instantly on his drive home by Addil Haroon who smashed into Joseph’s Audi cutting it in two.

Haroon was unlicensed, uninsured, ran a red light and was travelling at 80mph in a 30 mph zone when he killed Joseph.

The collision was described by police officers who attended the scene as the worst they had ever seen on an urban street.

Addil Haroon received a six year sentence after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and will serve three of those years behind bars before he is automatically released.

The Justice For Joseph road safety campaign

Liz McInnes has been extremely supportive of the family and their campaign ‘Justice for Joseph’ which has had significant backing from regional radio station Key 103. In April she joined the family in presenting a petition at 10 Downing Street which had been signed by more than 20,000 people.

Liz also brought the case to the attention of then Prime Minister David Cameron in Prime Minister Questions. And in July she was one of several MPs who attended the launch of Brake’s Roads to Justice campaign which is calling for stronger sentences for those that kill and severely injure people.

Accepting her Award, Liz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, said: ‘I am very humbled to be given this award. There are many others both inside and outside parliament who work tirelessly to champion this cause and I accept it on their behalf. Victims of dangerous driving and their families deserve justice, and sentencing laws for these crimes urgently need to be reviewed. I will continue to apply pressure on the government and to do all I can to promote Brake and the Justice for Joseph campaign.’