Spring 2009 ver2 Colour with Cover

Document Sample
Spring 2009 ver2 Colour with Cover Powered By Docstoc
					                     RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders
                                 N e w s l e t t e r o f t h e T h a m e s Va l l e y G r o u p

      PA ADVAN


    Secretary : Phil Parkinson
                                                                        Spring 2009

    Chairman : Dave Thompson
                                            S   D DRIVER
2    The Editor writes…
3    From the Spring Chair
4    Cars will go further on less fuel
5    Novice driving courses at £150
5    You learn bad driving from parents
5    Driver sent text before death crash
5    Double success for David
6    Death crash blamed on TV’s Top Gear
6    Insignia is 2009 Car of the Year
6    Recession hits Bentley sales
7    Fines bid to reduce careless driving
7    Royal cars to go ‘green’
8    A BMW is now Britain’s most reliable car
8    Handbags in cars targeted by thieves
8    The Nissan that is cool to be square
9    Speed trap your neighbour!
10   A fifth of cars have dangerous tyres
11   Young motorists who say they can drink and drive
11   Paying to drop someone off at the airport
12   Observation Post
12   Ford Ka may have lowest CO2 of all
13   Calendar of Events
15   Who’s who on the committee?
15   Cars now face tougher Euro NCAP tests
16   Where you take off your shoes before you eat…
16   Sat nav? Carry a map advises the AA
17   Money worries impact on safety
17   A powerful new Porsche for four big people
17   Award for VW’s new Sirocco coupe
18   More people want to teach driving
18   Try saying these words before you drive
18   Insignia gets fuel-saving tyres
19   Britain’s great closing down sale
20   One of the best years for new models
21   Captain Barnes’s sub-zero run
22   It’s around… and around we go
23   We have yet another jolly cold jolly
25   Bringing you up to speed…
26   Congratulations
       The centre pages, No’s 12 to 15, are designed to allow removal for use as a
     ‘pocket diary’ of Group activities with Committee contact details on page 15.
Page 1                                                  RoSPA Thames Valley Group
                   The Editor writes…
          Car insurance premiums, according to the Swinton group, are about to rise
by up to 20 per cent because of fraud and personal injury claims. The AA forecasts
the rise at a mere 10 per cent and reveals that 430,000 people claimed for whiplash
injury alone last year, an astonishing 40 per cent more than anywhere else in
Europe. That is almost one in 76 of all British drivers, and their total compensation
of £1.9 billion is equivalent to about £66 for every policy. When you add on the £50
or so it costs for the estimated two million drivers who do not have insurance, you
realise why insurance is more expensive here than across the Channel, despite our
generally safer roads and higher standards of driving.
          Dearer premiums are being fuelled by the growing cost of payouts with
more ‘no win, no fee’ claims pursued by lawyers as well as higher medical costs.
Many British motorists will have been shocked to read of shunts where minor
damage, which should have cost a few hundred and a couple of days to put right,
has been swollen into the thousands by demands for the cost of the hire of another
vehicle, compensation for inconvenience, and, of course, the legal costs in making
the claim instead of going down the once common route of allowing the matter to
be put right by insurance companies.
          There is also, from personal experience, the problem of the fraudulent
claim. While my daughter was driving to work in Hertford, using the M25, an old
Ford kept cutting in sharply on her little Peugeot and then speeding away. Ap-
proaching a roundabout, after she had left the motorway, the Ford again appeared
immediately ahead of her. The driver entered the roundabout and suddenly slammed
on the brakes. The Peugeot hit the back of the Ford chipping a corner off the
Peugeot’s number plate. There was no visible damage to the Ford, but the drivers
exchanged details.
          As a precaution my daughter took her car to her Peugeot dealers to have it
checked over and to have the plate replaced. Two weeks later a letter arrived from
solicitors, enclosing a picture of the rear of their client’s car, and a huge demand for
damages, including a replacement car, since the client, as a student, ‘needed a car
to get to and from university’. I was absolutely shocked. The rear of the Ford was
totally destroyed. My daughter wrote to her insurance company informing it of all
that had happened and gave the name of the dealer where she had had her car
checked over. She heard no more about the incident, which would imply that the
claim had simply been dismissed. But should such fraudulent claims go unpun-
ished? Staging an ‘accident’ could easily result in death or serious injury, especially
if successfully carried out on a motorway.
          Why is it that we impose hefty fines for parking offences and even lock up
people who refuse to pay their TV licence or their council tax, yet others commit
fraud and go unpunished? Isn’t fraud just as bad as mugging and a great deal more
          As I am sure Dave would advise you, mind how you go!
                                                               Max Davidson
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                        Page 2
                              From The Spring Chair

       There is still a chance for you to apply
     for a place on the day-long training drives
          I am hoping that by the time you get to read this all the ice and snow of
the last few weeks will be over and we shall have a good spring to look forward
to with the longer evenings and the advantages of being able to get out to do
some training in the daylight. The new 2009 course, as I write, is well under
way. There is a good intake, and the geographical spread is pretty good. Tutors
in the far flung corners of our Empire will be getting an Associate to train.
         I hope to be issuing the dates for the day drives soon. When I do, those
who have already applied will be given first dibs at the dates. So here is a
reminder that we are going to run day-long training drives to various parts of the
country, by the scenic routes, to enhance your skills in a variety of ways. The
only requirement is that you are a current Member (not an Associate) of the
Group, and that you are able to dip into your pocket, or use your powers of
persuasion to get hold of a car that can be shared with a few people.
        The day run training, which we have conducted in the past, has always
been a great success as well as enjoyable. If you too wish to have a nice day out,
then e-mail me to apply. Just say what you would like to get out of the day, and
we can arrange it.
         The next Advanced Tutors car course is also about to start. So we hope
to increase the Advanced Tutor pool again this year. May I remind you that if
you wish to be a Tutor, you should contact Tony Parish or Paul Sheppy, and we
will arrange the training and assessment.
         We hope to run a full programme of meetings and events this year. So
please join in and take advantage. The meetings are open to the whole Member-
ship, cars and bikes, as well as Members and Associates.
        The bikes are still cruising along nicely at near to capacity and producing
good results. Don’t forget that there is an open invitation to join them for their
monthly rides on the first Sunday of each month, whatever the weather. And car
drivers, if you feel brave enough, I am sure they will even let you ride pillion to
have the full motorcycle experience.
           Enjoy your driving and riding!
                                                   Dave Thompson

Page 3                                                RoSPA Thames Valley Group
Cars will go further on less fuel
          With the sudden drop in car buying, the car industry is in deep trouble.
The head of Fiat, despite his overtures to Chrysler, has predicted that soon there
may be only five gigantic world car companies, such as Volkswagen in Germa-
ny, Renault in France, one company in Japan, one in Korea and one in China.
Most of the rest will go out of business or cater for only a small niche market.
With many thousands of unsold cars parked in the open, makers have had to shut
down for months as they have had nowhere left to store cars coming off the
production line.
          Now they have a new headache. They will have to figure out how they
are going to achieve environmental targets, which will mean bringing out
models with a substantial change in engines and technology. As if with near
financial ruin they did not have enough to worry about, the EU has hit them with
an insistence that new car CO2 emissions must average just 130g/km by 2015.
It is all down to the bid to halt ‘climate change’, but it will come as yet another
blow to those buyers who expect their cars to have what they call ‘performance’.
          The CO2 target will not simply have to be met by one particular day in
2015, but will be phased in gradually. So by 2012 65 per cent of a
manufacturer’s cars must fall below the 130g/km average, 75 per cent by 2013,
and 80 per cent by 2014 before the full quota is reached by January 1, 2015.
Makers exceeding the targets will be fined heavily for every single g/km of CO2
over the quota emitted for every single car sold.
          From the owner driver’s point of view it is not all doom and gloom. The
CO2 target will mean that average fuel consumption will be 58 mpg in a diesel
car and 52 mpg in a petrol one by 2015, helping to lower running costs.
Companies such as BMW with its Efficient Dynamics is already well on the way
to achieving these targets. Its cars with the 143 BHP diesel achieve around 60
mpg and emit just 119 to 123g/km CO2. The 177 BHP diesel returns 58 mpg
and emits 128g/km CO2.
          But what about companies, such as Ferrari and Porsche, who have
discarded the idea of putting a diesel engine in a sports car? Currently they have
no chance whatsoever of hitting the EU targets. The answer to their problem is
that there is an exception to the new rules for ‘small volume’ and ‘niche’
makers, or those who sell up to 10,000 and between 10,000 and 30,000 respec-
tively. They will have separate targets. The later group must make a 25 per cent
reduction on its 2007 figure, while the ‘small volume’ target is still undecided.
What is clear is that there will be many amalgamations of companies keen to
lower the overall average CO2 output of the cars sold. So Porsche may see as its
salvation a closer link with Volkswagen-Audi.
          Statistics show that we are already buying cars which go some way to
meeting the lower CO2 targets. Average UK new car CO2 emissions have fallen
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                   Page 4
by 16.4 percent since 1997 from nearly 190g/km to 158.6g/km in 2008. Indeed,
the number of cars sold with CO2 emissions of less than 120g/km has doubled
in 2008 compared to 2007.
Get in Gear course for novices at £150
         New drivers in Buckinghamshire are being given the chance to improve
their driving skills and get cheaper insurance by joining the Get in Gear course,
funded by the Department of Transport, in a bid to reduce the number of new-driver
crashes. Drivers aged 17 to 24 signing up for the new course will be given a
presentation on driving issues and areas of risk. This will be followed up by four
hours of in-car training on motorway, dual carriageway and country roads.
         The course costs £150, but is available free to the first 150 new drivers who
apply. To qualify for the course drivers must live in Buckinghamshire and have
passed their test within the last 12 months. Those who complete the course will be
given a certificate entitling them to cheaper car insurance with supporting compa-
nies. For further information e-mail
Young learn bad driving from parents
          Research by the Department of Transport has found that all the parents
surveyed admitted taking ‘calculated risks’ from time to time in front of their
children. So what is regarded as ‘a calculated risk’? It is speeding when there is little
likelihood of being caught, using a mobile phone when driving, and not bothering
to wear a seatbelt. The DfT’s CopyCat Campaign has been designed to help parents
become more involved in road safety training and to make them aware of how they
can set their children a good example when it comes to road safety. A film has been
made from the rear of a car, from a child’s perspective, showing adults doing all the
wrong things which children witness on a regular basis. It is being piloted in two
schools in the Thames Valley area with the help of police community support
Driver sent text messages before crash
          A 21-year-old woman sent and received more than 20 text messages before
she hit the back of a stationary car at 70 miles an hour on the A40 while on her way
from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to stay with her boyfriend in Oxford. The other
driver, a 24-year-old woman from Horton, Northants, had stopped her Peugeot 106
to deal with a burst tyre. Her car was forced off the road and she was pronounced
dead from head injuries at the scene. After hitting the Peugeot, Philippa Curtis’s car
spun into oncoming traffic and hit two further cars. She was jailed for 21 months
and banned for three years.
Double success for David
         David Fryer, who is a regular Tutor for the Car Section of the Group, has
had his first Test success as a Tutor for the Bike Section. His Associate Mark Ed-
wards has passed his Motorcycle Advance Test at Gold grade. Congratulations to
you both. If you can match or better David’s achievement, please e-mail
Page 5                                                   RoSPA Thames Valley Group
When a trailer began to ‘snake’…
          A passenger was thrown out and killed as a driver tried to gain control of a
trailer he was towing down a steep hill in Cornwall. The driver told the Coroner’s
Court at Truro that he decided to follow advice, which had been given on BBC’s
Top Gear, that the worst thing you can do is to brake, and that you should put the
accelerator down and get on with it. ‘So that is what I did.’
          When his trailer began to snake on the A30 near Fraddon, Cornwall, the
driver accelerated his Mitsubishi Pajero to around 60 miles an hour before crashing.
A collision investigator told the hearing that increasing speed in such situations was
‘a motoring myth’. Recording an accidental death verdict, the deputy coroner for
Cornwall said: ‘It would be preferable if people who are going to drive trailers take
professional instruction before they begin.’
      The current edition of the Highway Code advises in Rule 74, paragraph 4: ‘You
should distribute the weight of your caravan or trailer with heavy items mainly over
the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball. Manufacturer’s recom-
mended weight and tow ball load should not be exceeded. This should avoid the
possibility of swerving or snaking and going out of control. If this does happen, ease
off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control.’
          So what about the whimsical advice on motoring matters, doled out to
impressionable young drivers on the hugely popular Top Gear, from towing cara-
vans to achieving a more ‘engaging drive’ by switching off the ESP, which does for
sudden changes of direction what ABS does for braking? A spokesman for Top
Gear, following the inquest in Cornwall, said: ‘The presenters are not professional
drivers. So I would not feel comfortable with them giving advice on the way to drive.
Giving advice to drivers is not something that we do.’ So now you know.
Vauxhall Insignia is 2009 Car of the Year
         The Vauxhall Insignia, the replacement for the much maligned and unfairly
ridiculed Vectra, has been voted 2009 Car of the Year by an international panel of
motoring judges. The new Ford Fiesta took second place and the new, much
improved Volkswagen Golf came third. The new top-of-the-range Insignia costs
£28,885 and has a 2.8-litre turbo-charged engine which enables it to sprint to 60
miles an hour in 6.7 seconds and reach a potential top speed of 155 mph. The entry
level 1.8 litre Insignia accelerates from rest to 60 mph in 10.9 seconds and costs
£15,935. The Insignia’s predecessor the Vectra was epitomised as a ‘rep mobile’
and disparaged by BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson who said that ‘the
Vectra was so boring that it was the four-wheeled equivalent of ditch water’.
         The other finalists in the Car of the Year competition, organised by Auto-
car, were the Citroen C5, Alfa Romeo MiTo, Skoda Superb and Renault Megane.
Recession hits global Bentley sales
         Even the very rich, it seems, are starting to feel the effects of the ‘credit
crunch’. Bentley, the Volkswagen-owned, Crewe-based company, has had to go on
short-time working as demand for its cars both at home and abroad has evaporated.
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                      Page 6
A bid to reduce careless driving
          Motorists who are at fault in minor accidents could soon face £60 fines and
three points on their licence if the Government heeds advice from the Department
of Transport to get tough on careless drivers. Tens of thousands of drivers who
previously would have escaped prosecution for collisions after simply exchanging
their insurance details are likely to face punishment as soon as the police become
          Minor accidents and many seemingly trivial offences are likely to lead to
action under proposals to give police powers to issue the fixed penalty notices. As
indicated in Rules 126, 127 and 128 of the new edition of the Highway Code,
careless driving could include eating, drinking or smoking at the wheel. It could also
be regarded as careless to read a map, tune the radio, program a sat-nav, drive
through standing water and soak pedestrians, or argue with a passenger or other road
user if your attention was diverted away from the road. Like the £100 million
revenue in fines from speed cameras, the money from the new on-the-spot fines
would go to the Treasury. According to the Association of British Insurers, any
conviction for careless driving would also increase a motorist’s insurance premium,
and is likely to raise the premium considerably more than a speeding conviction.
          The proposals to bring in the on-the-spot fines are contained in a Depart-
ment of Transport consultation paper which raises concerns at the sharp drop in the
number of convictions for careless driving. It speculates that this may because of the
amount of police paperwork needed, and the document says that it would imply that
there are many careless drivers who are escaping punishment.
          At present the police can prosecute motorists for careless driving only by
taking them to court. Most of those summonsed then plead guilty and are penalised
with points on their licence and a fine. But the Government has been alarmed at the
fall in the number of convictions for poor driving. In 1986 there were 107,600
motorists convicted of careless driving, but by 2006 this had fallen to 25,460. The
Department of Transport believes this cannot be explained by an overall improve-
ment in the standard of driving but more likely by the burden of paperwork. So a
simpler process is needed to bring the offence of careless driving into line with
speeding and so ‘increase the chances of enforcement action being taken’. As with
speeding, all drivers will always have the option to contest their case in court.

Royal Bentleys to go ‘green’
          The engines of the two State Bentley limousines, which are worth about
£10 million each, are to be replaced with similar-sized Volkswagen ‘flex-fuel’
engines to enable them to run on either petrol or bio-ethanol. The engines will have
a 40 per cent improvement in fuel economy over the present 400 BHP V8 engines,
which do at best 20 to 25 miles to a gallon. Prince Charles has already converted his
fleet of Aston Martins, Jaguars, an Audi A6 and a Range Rover to run on fuels such
as bio-ethanol made from surplus English wine and bio-diesel from cooking oil.
Page 7                                                 RoSPA Thames Valley Group
Japanese lose out to the Germans
         BMW’s 3 Series has been voted the most reliable car in a survey of
Britain’s vehicle leasing companies. The poll, which covered the reliability history
of nearly 900,000 vehicles in 2008, also revealed that BMW was the most reliable
manufacturer overall. Japanese car manufacturers traditionally dominate reliability
surveys, but in 2008 BMW topped the annual FN50 reliability poll. The BMW’s
MINI and BMW 1 Series also made the top ten, coming in at five and seven.
         The survey compiled by Fleet News looked at companies leasing models
from various companies. In total 881,000 cars were assessed, according to the
number of breakdowns per 100 of each type of model on each leasing company’s
fleet. Points were then awarded according to the number of times that brands or
particular models appeared in the tables supplied by the leasing firms and also for
the position in which they were placed.
FN50 Survey results:
Top 10 most reliable manufacturers: 1. BMW; 2. Honda; 3. Toyota; 4. Ford; 5.
Volkswagen; 6 Mercedes-Benz; 7. Audi; 8. Lexus; 9. Mazda; 10.Vauxhall.
Top 10 most reliable models: 1 BMW 3 Series; 2. Toyota Avensis; 3. Honda Accord;
4. Volkswagen Golf; 5. MINI; 6. Mercedes-Benz C-Class; 7. BMW 1 Series; 8.
Honda Civic; 9. Ford Focus; 10. Audi A4.
         Full details of the FN50 survey can be viewed at

Handbags in cars targeted by thieves
         More than 400,000 women are believed to have had their handbags stolen
from cars in 2008 at a cost of more than £178, according to research by Diamond
which specialises in providing car insurance for women drivers. Its survey of 3,300
revealed that the average cost of a woman’s handbag and contents is £431.68, and
that is before the cost of replacing car and house keys and also ignoring the cash
obtained by making use of stolen credit cards. Around 2.7 per cent of Diamond’s
claims in 2008 were for handbag thefts from cars. When set against the 15.3 million
female licence holders in Britain that equates to a potential 413,000 thefts a year.
         Diamond’s figure of £431.68 as an average for each theft is arrived at by
putting the cost of the handbag at £51.53, purse at £30, purse contents at £50.16,
mobile phone at £100, make-up at £50, sunglasses at £100, notepad at £4, umbrella
at £10, book at £3.99 and pens at £10. Handbags left on the passenger seat, even
with the doors locked, present an easy target for thieves in slow moving traffic as
the passenger window can be quickly shattered and the bag snatched.

The Nissan that is cool to be square
        Nissan has unveiled its new Cube, a small, square-shaped, four-door car
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                    Page 8
with a wheel at each corner. It will be on sale later this year as a rival to the MINI
and available with either a 1.5 litre diesel, or a 1.6 litre petrol engine. If you thought
that the MINI Traveller estate was not exactly elegant, just wait until you see the
Cube. It has, however, proved popular with all age groups in its native Japan, where
it is apparently cool to be square.

Speed trap your neighbour!
          Motorists will soon face amateur speed traps by local volunteer groups in
towns and villages across the country run with the blessing of the Association of
Chief Police Officers (Acpo), who have set out guidelines for the schemes which
have already been trialled in some areas with mixed success. Under the new rules,
which will be issued to the various local police forces, bands of volunteers will be
supplied with speed detection equipment and asked to use it to identify drivers
exceeding limits in their area.
          Drivers caught breaking limits by ‘community speed watch’ groups have
their number plates checked on the police national computer and are sent warning
letters by police forces. They can be targeted for prosecution if they get three letters
for speeding through volunteer group traps. Motoring groups are, not unexpectedly,
unimpressed with the proposals. They warn that the project risks setting neighbour
against neighbour and encouraging vigilantism. Some trail schemes, such as in
Fowlmere, near Royston, Cambridgeshire, had to be abandoned when schoolchil-
dren were recruited to operate the cameras and villagers were accused of spying on
one another.
          The decision to encourage speed trap volunteers follows the move by local
councils to recruit members of the public to watch for breaches of rubbish collection
and recycling schemes.
          A spokesman for Acpo said that the national guidelines would provide
police officers with advice on best practice and health and safety and recommended
speed measuring equipment. Volunteers in speed watch schemes will be trained to
use radar guns and detectors attached to speed warning signs to identify drivers
speeding in areas with 30 mph or 40 mph limits. They are also taught how to use the
police computer to check vehicle details. Volunteer groups may also be allowed to
use portable cameras as well as radar equipment.
          One big attraction of the scheme for area police chiefs is that the expense
will not come out of their budgets. Each group will cost around £2,000 to equip with
detection equipment, warning signs and high-visibility jackets, and each will be
expected to have at least six adult members. Police will pick out suitable roadside
sites and send out letters to the drivers accused of speeding.
          Do you think it is a good idea to appoint Community Speed Watch Groups
to make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians? Should speed watch volun-
teers have access to the police national computer? Please e-mail your views to

Page 9                                                    RoSPA Thames Valley Group
A fifth of cars have dangerous tyres
          More than 60 per cent of cars on British roads are driven with incorrect tyre
pressures, and of this 60 per cent 35 per cent of cars (about one in five of all cars)
have dangerously under-inflated tyres which pose the imminent risk of an accident,
according to a nationwide inspection survey conducted by Michelin Tyres. Almost
unbelievably, five per cent of drivers in the survey were even unaware that they had
a puncture. The Michelin Fill up with Air road show has travelled throughout the
UK and Ireland, checking and adjusting drivers’ tyre pressures in a campaign to
highlight the potential safety benefits, fuel savings and reduced CO2 emissions that
are directly related to having the car’s tyre pressures correctly set.
          Results in previous years showed that 80 per cent of British drivers neglect-
ed their tyre pressures. So the good news is that some improvement was made in
2008, but there are still too many drivers who are not undertaking the simple task of
checking their tyre pressures at least every two weeks and before any long journey.
The Fill up with Air road show visited 17 locations in the UK and Ireland and
checked more than 2,600 vehicles. The survey revealed:
• 65 per cent had incorrect pressures, including seven per cent which were over
• 35 per cent were found to have dangerously low pressures with their tyres seven
pounds per square inch (0.5 bar*) below the recommended pressure, with 10 per
cent of the tyres very dangerous at more than 14 psi (one bar) below the recom-
mended pressure.
• Five per cent had a puncture.
          Having the correct pressures in the tyres – the only contact between the car
and the road – is essential for safety and efficiency. Under-inflated tyres can be
dangerous; running 30 per cent below the recommended pressures gives a sharp
increase in the risk of aquaplaning on wet roads. Low pressure also affects the car’s
handling and reduces cornering ability, and can cause a build up of excess heat
which can permanently weaken the tyre’s structure, possibly causing it to fail.
Twenty per cent of a car’s fuel consumption, or one tank in every five, is used to
overcome the rolling resistance of tyres. Low tyre pressures increase this resistance
force, leading to increased fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and tyre wear.
          The correct tyre pressures can be found in the car’s handbook and also
usually on the driver’s door pillar. Be careful to identify the make, size and type of
your car’s tyres since car manufacturers fit various types to similar vehicles, and the
tyres may have differing pressure requirements according to the intended load.
          Although the legal minimum for tyre tread is 1.6mm, tyres, for safety
reasons, should be replaced when the tread reaches 3mm or the tyres are six years
old, whichever is the soonest. Tyres with little tread provide a poor grip in an
emergency and give a harsher ride.
* A bar is the metric measure of tyre pressure and is a pressure of one kilogram per
square centimetre and equivalent to 14.5 pounds per square inch.

RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                     Page 10
When it’s ‘cool’ to dice with death
          In a survey of 4,000 motorists, one in 12 drivers aged 17 to 25 claims that
there is no chance they will get caught if they exceed the legal alcohol limit. This
compares with a ratio of one in 25 for older drivers in a poll by road safety charity
Brake and breakdown service Green Flag. Brake says that the statistics are alarm-
ing, especially as 35 per cent of car crashes in which alcohol is a factor involve a
drink-driver who is under 25.
          ‘Without a strong deterrent, young people prepared to risk drink-driving
will have no reason not to, and this research shows that, for a significant minority
of new-generation drivers, that deterrent simply isn’t seen to be there,’ says Brake
chief executive Mary Williams. ‘Drink-driving can only be eliminated through a
multi-pronged approach of strong, ever-present enforcement and constant high-
profile TV advertising, explaining that you won’t get away with it. This just doesn’t
exist in the UK.’
          The charity and other road safety campaigners are currently preparing
responses to a Government consultation on drink-driving. For several years, Brake
has been calling for a lowering of the current 80mg/100ml legal alcohol limit for
drivers to 50mg/100ml in line with most other countries. Only Cyprus, Ireland,
Luxembourg and Malta share Britain’s limit, which equates to around a pint of high
strength beer, a double spirits, or a 250 ml glass of wine, but don’t use this as a
          Austria also has a lower 10mg/100ml limit for new drivers, and in Spain it
is 30mg/100ml for those recently qualified. In Estonia, Hungary, the Czech
Republic and Slovakia there is a zero limit for all drivers, which means in effect, if
you wish to drive, you should not drink alcohol at all.
          Sweden and Poland have a limit of just 20mg/100ml for all drivers, but
given the experience of the police in the United Kingdom in dealing with drivers
from Continental Europe, it is doubtful if setting very low limits alone, as Brake has
highlighted, will actually stop drink driving. The only safe message remains: If you
plan to drive, don’t drink!
Paying to drop someone at the airport
          Set-down lanes at some regional airports are being replaced by designated
stopping areas with a parking charge. Birmingham International provides no free
facility. Instead its ‘rapid drop off’ costs £1 for the first 20 minutes and £3 for every
15 minutes thereafter. At Liverpool the first 10 minutes are free, but each additional
10 minutes costs £2. Newcastle Airport offers five minutes free and then charges £1
for stays of up to 20 minutes.
          Birmingham blames the attack on Glasgow Airport for its decision to close
its free set-down lane. It has spent £2 million on arrangements for drivers dropping
off and collecting passengers and increased the number of pay machines to reduce
drivers’ waiting times. At Glasgow Airport a covered pick-up and drop-off zone
have been created opposite the terminal, and the first 10 minutes are free. Heathrow,
Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester still allow dropping off close to the terminal
forecourts and remain free.
Page 11                                                     RoSPA Thames Valley Group
                      Observation Post
         I am sitting here writing this article with the heating turned right up as
we are in the midst of the worst cold spell we have had for ages. Well, at least
that should shut up all those who keep saying we need ‘a proper winter like the
old days to kill off all the bugs’. There shouldn’t be a bug in sight for ages after
all the snow and freezing conditions of late.
         The System of Car Control really does come into its own in adverse
conditions as does the regular skid pan training which the Group offers at least
once a year. I would recommend anyone, who has not undertaken our skid pan
training course, or perhaps taken it some time ago, to contact me and I shall
organise a session for you.
         It is always better to make your mistakes in someone else’s car in the
controlled environment of the skid pan than to use the public roads or motorway.
         We have a very healthy number of new Associates for the first course
of 2009, which means that all the Tutors will be kept very busy. So it is
important that any Associates who have not completed their drives, or indeed
not applied for their Test, do so as soon as possible. This way we can avoid a
backlog, and perhaps prevent you having to wait until your Tutor becomes free
again before you can continue.
         We have dates set for this year’s Tutor Workshops. The first is on
March 11 at the Training College at Sulhampstead and will start at 7.30 pm. The
workshops are for Tutors or trainee Tutors only.
         For the next workshop I am looking to get out on the road with
Advanced Tutors honing the skills of the Tutors in giving instructional com-
         We are also about to embark on another Advanced Tutor course, and
have already received three applications. We wish them luck as they begin their
hard slog.
              Tony Parish, Advanced Tutor and Group Training Officer
Ford Ka may have lowest CO2 of all
         Downsizing is the name of the private motoring game at the moment,
and it is the new smaller cars, such as the Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500, Citroen C1,
Peugeot 106 and Toyota Agro and iQ which are finding buyers. Ford is planning
a low-CO2 Econetic version of the new Ka, which looks very much like the
Fiesta, but it has not yet decided if it will be petrol or diesel powered. The new
Ka is based on the Fiat 500 and uses Fiat engines. Its 74 BHP 1.3 litre diesel
would seem to be ideal for turning into an Econetic, using the diesel formula
already well tried by Volkswagen in its superb Bluemotion models. However
Fiat is working on a new range of small petrol engines that may be better suited,
and, with the new high tech forms of petrol injection, petrol is fast catching up
with diesel in terms of economy.
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                   Page 12
                                                     Calendar of Events

Page 13
                             MONTH               Committee/Tutors                         All Members
                             MARCH      4th: Test Talk. Venue: Sulhamstead   25th: Monthly meeting
                                        11th: TUTORS WORKSHOP                Roadcraft Focus on ‘Cornering & use
                                                                             of the Limit Point’. Interactive meeting
                                                                             led by a Group Tutor.
                              APRIL                                          22nd: Monthly meeting
                                                                             Guest speaker (to be announced)
                              MAY       6th: Committee meeting               27th: Monthly meeting
                                                                             Annual Quiz Night
                              JUNE      10th: TUTORS WORKSHOP                24th: Monthly meeting
                                                                             Drive-out event (tba)
                              JULY                                           22nd: Monthly meeting

                             AUGUST     26th: Committee meeting                    NO MONTHLY MEETING !
                            SEPTEMBER      2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd: RoadCraft Lecture Course. Venue: Sulhamstead.
                                                            30th: Test Talk. Venue: Sulhamstead
                            OCTOBER     14th: TUTORS WORKSHOP                21st: Monthly meeting. AGM

RoSPA Thames Valley Group
                               MONTH                  Committee/Tutors                           All Members
                             NOVEMBER       18th: Committee meeting                 25th: Monthly meeting
                                                                                    Prestige lecture (speaker tba)
                             DECEMBER       9TH: TUTORS WORKSHOP                          NO MONTHLY MEETING !
                                            Annual Social Event
                                            Venue: Theale Green School
                                                                      NOTES :-

RoSPA Thames Valley Group
                            SPEAKERS: Please let us know of any topics you would like us to arrange a meeting about or
                            any guest speakers you would recommend. Likewise, if you could give a talk on a topic you
                            think will be of general interest to members the please let us know. Contact: Paul Steward
                            Motorcycle Section Ride-outs: These normally take place on the first Sunday of each month.
                            Meet at Loomies Cafe (A32/A272). Contact John Barnes for more information.
                            In case of changes please refer to the website ( for latest information.
                            Up-to-date information and any late changes are also announced at the monthly meetings so
                            please make every effort to attend and to avoid disappointment !
                            All meetings start at 7:30 pm.
                            Venues as follows (unless otherwise advised) :-
                            - Open Meetings at Gateway Dance Studio, Theale Green School, Theale
                            - Tutors Workshops at Thames Valley Police Training Centre, Sulhamstead
                            - Roadcraft Lecture Courses at Thames Valley Police Training Centre, Sulhamstead
                            - Committee Meetings at ECA, Cyril Vokins Road, Hambridge Lane, Newbury

Page 14
                        Who is who on the Committee?
POSITION                 NAME             E-MAIL                          TELEPHONE
President / Publicity    Peter CATON      0118 942 4683
Chairman / Lecturer      Dave THOMPSON       07900 911 230
Secretary                Phil PARKINSON      07710 385 673
Treasurer                Gerry GRIFFIN      01929 556 009
Membership               Rob LOWE     0118 971 0036
                                                                          07903 359 008
Events                   Paul STEWARD         07811 218307
Newsletter               Max DAVIDSON         01494 726 516
Publicity                Mike BOWE   07779 763013
Training Officer         Tony PARISH       01635 869 761
                                                                          07971 141 918
Associate Coordinator Paul SHEPPY               0118 921 2588
Motorcycle Section       Panos SIMOU          07802 447 005
                         Paul EDWARDS                                     -
                         John BARNES                                      07990 733137
                         Tim CONSIDINE                                    -
                         Paul SHEEHAN                                     -
                         David FRYER                                      -
Webmaster                Sheila BRYANT
RoSPA HQ                 Mirlinda RAE                  0870 777 2099

Cars now face tougher Euro NCAP tests
         Buyers of new cars should now find it easier to compare the safety of
different models now that Euro NCAP has changed the scoring system for its
crash tests. Instead of there being various safety categories, there is now just one
overall rating which takes into account, adult, child and pedestrian protection,
as well as ‘safety assist’. This refers to accident avoidance systems such as
electronic stability control (ESC or sometimes with the initials ESP, the P being
for program). The value of ESC is now covered in the latest version of Road-
craft on page 90.
         Cars will have to have ESC (or ESP) if they are to get a five-star rat-
ing. Other active safety features, such as whiplash protection in rear-end colli-
sions, also become part of the test and will contribute to a car’s adult
protection rating.

Page 15                                                  RoSPA Thames Valley Group
Tokyo is now top for gourmet dining
         Planning a trip to Japan? Where better to start than Tokyo with its bright
lights and shops offering a dazzling array of electronic items? Perhaps surprisingly,
Tokyo, not usually regarded as a holiday destination, boasts some of the world’s
best dining experiences, and the recently published English edition of the 2009
Michelin Guide to Tokyo lists a selection of 203 recommended hotels and restaurants.
         The city’s Ishikawa restaurant gets three stars, 14 restaurants gets two stars,
and 35 get one star. Indeed with 227 stars in all, Tokyo is now the world leader in
gourmet dining with more stars than any other city. Even with the current, and
hopefully temporary, horrendous exchange rate, you can still get a room at a
four-star hotel for £150 a night. A Japanese-style lunch with noodles costs about £7
each. Dinner is just as expensive as you care to make it. Even with devaluation,
living costs in Britain remain relatively very expensive, as most other prices in
Japan seem reasonable.
         All the restaurants and hotels selected in the guide were inspected by
specially assigned Japanese and European inspectors, who are full-time employees
of Michelin. The 2009 guide now covers 13 Ku (districts), five more than previous-
ly. Japanese cuisine continues to represent more than 60 per cent of the restaurants.
So if you have a liking for sushi, then you will have plenty of places to choose from.
You will marvel at the artistry and colour which has been put into creating so many
mouth-watering morsels.
         Stars have been awarded only for the quality of the food on offer and, to
ensure a consistent rating, the same criteria are used by the restaurant inspectors for
awarding stars in all countries: quality of the ingredients, preparation and flavours,
level of creativity, value for money, and consistency. So what do the stars actually
mean? One star: a very good restaurant in its category. Two stars: excellent
cooking, worth a detour. Three stars: exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
         The Michelin Red Guide is well known by travellers to France for its
pictograms, fork-and-spoon symbols meaning the comfort of restaurants and pavil-
ions meaning the comfort of hotels. The Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009 has had to
adopt some new features and to create two new special pictograms to take account
of Japanese customs. One is for take off the shoes, and the other is for good selection
of Sake. Take off your shoes by all means, but watch you don’t lose your shirt with
the pricier items on the menu. As for the Sake, you would be better off with a
whisky, and, painful as it is to say so, Japanese whisky is not at all bad.
          *The Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009 is now on sale at all good bookshops,
price £9.99.
Sat-nav? Carry a map, advises the AA
         A third of motorists have got lost following a sat-nav, according to a poll
by the AA of 7,380 of its members. The AA also found that more than half of drivers
found a sat-nav a distraction. The AA warns that sat-navs are not failsafe and
advises carrying a road map at all times.
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                   Page 16
Money worries impact on safety
       Worries over money and keeping jobs have left a claimed nearly 49 per cent
of British motorists driving potentially unroadworthy cars as they skimp on vital
repairs, according to a survey of more than 3,000 motorists by Auto Trader maga-
zine. The poll showed that 10 per cent of motorists intended to delay putting their
car through an MoT until after the due date, thus committing a road traffic offence
and also invalidating the insurance. Some drivers said they were delaying getting
road tax and almost 32 per cent were holding off repairs, again potentially commit-
ting Road Traffic Act offences with serious consequences. More than half of
motorists also said they were worried about having to pay for any repairs found
during the MoT.
       Although Auto Trader has extrapolated the information from its survey to
apply to all motorists nationally, it is more likely that its findings relate mainly to
the readers of Auto Trader and to those on lower incomes for whom running car
poses a constant strain on the household budget. Auto Trader has been running a Cut
Car Costs campaign on its website in an effort to help drivers save
up to £500 on the annual cost of motoring. It features money-saving tips, advice and
discounts, including a half-price MoT offer in association with Nationwide Auto-
centres when you download a voucher.
A powerful Porsche for ‘four big people’
       Despite the recession, there are no money worries for the customers of
Porsche. The company, which now has a massive stake in Volkswagen, Europe’s
biggest car maker, will unveil its new four-door four-seater Panamera at the Geneva
Motor Show this month (March), and it will be on general sale in the summer at
prices between £70,000 and £120,000 for the most powerful and most well-
equipped versions. It is a section of the market which was once very well served by
Jaguar at considerably lower cost. There will be six versions of the new Porsche at
launch. The entry level model will have a 300 BHP 3.6-litre V6 six-speed manual
with rear-wheel drive. The top of the range will be a 500 BHP 4.8-litre V8
seven-speed four-wheel drive Panamera Turbo. For those wealthy customers with a
twinge of environmental conscience there will also be a ‘green’ petrol-electric
hybrid version giving a 28 per cent cut in fuel consumption and a 21 per cent
increase in cruising range. Porsche’s aim with its new model is to provide transport
for ‘four big people and their luggage’ in a luxurious but extremely fast hatchback.
About 20,000 Panameras a year are scheduled to be built at Porsche’s Leipzig factory.
Award for VW’s new stylish Scirocco coupe
        VW’s new Scirocco coupe was named Car of the Year at the Top Gear 2008
Awards where it was praised for being ‘fun, stylish and almost affordable’. Judges
said of the well-equipped car, which comes in petrol and diesel SE and GT versions:
‘It is a car we can understand, appreciate and afford.’ It costs £18,790 to £20,940,
but extras can easily add a further £3,000 to £4,000. Citroen’s Picasso was Family
Car of the Year and the Fiat 500 Abarth the Top Hot Hatch.
Page 17                                                RoSPA Thames Valley Group
More people want to teach driving
       Middle-class professionals fearing redundancy, or already out of work, are
turning in large numbers to what they believe are recession-proof lines of work
such as Government employment, education, and driving tuition. The Driving
Standards Agency, the Government body which oversees instructors, received
more than 10,000 applications from people wishing to teach driving in the second
half of last year, a 16 per cent increase on the same period in 2007.
       According to BSM, Britain’s largest driving school, the surge looks set to
continue. It had a 68 per cent rise in the number of would-be instructors on its
training scheme in the final 12 weeks of last year compared with the previous 12.
With driving now considered a ‘life skill’ and essential to modern living, many
people think this an occupation which will survive the recession better than others.
       Roger Ison, BSM’s head of instructor resourcing and training said:
‘Historically about three quarters of our instructors have been either early-retired
police and forces people, or people such as bus and lorry drivers to whom driving
instruction is an upward career move. Now we are getting more professional peo-
ple, such as estate agents, who have been affected by the economic climate.’
       BSM’s instructors, like those attached to the AA, are franchisees. It costs
£2,500 to train, after which a weekly franchise fee is payable. About half the driv-
ing tuition market, however, is still accounted for by self-employed instructors.
Try saying these words before you drive…
       The police in Suffolk have come up with a list of words which, they claim,
are a sure sign if the driver has difficulty in saying them that he or she is drunk
and should not be behind the wheel. They include innovative, preliminary and cin-
namon. The Force’s advance test for identifying drunks includes specificity, pas-
sive-aggressive disorder and transubstantiate.
       Suffolk Police has also had a poster campaign to encourage sensible drink-
ing which includes what it believes are humorous messages that drunks find it
downright impossible to say. So what are these mirth-making ditties? ‘Good
evening officer, isn’t it lovely out tonight?’ ‘Where is the nearest toilet? I cannot
possibly vomit in the street.’ And, ‘Thanks, but I don’t want to sleep with you.’
       On a previous campaign the police advertised Ipswich police station as ‘an
inn with lots of bars’, but it added that you might not wish to spend the night there.
The Lock Em Inn leaflets said the Ipswich Police Station Inn merited five golden
handcuffs for its convenient accommodation which came with a list of charges in-
volving payments, select cuisine, sturdy locks and (CC) TV in every room.
Insignia ecoFLEX gets fuel saving tyres
       The new Michelin Primacy HP, developed specifically for the new Vaux-
hall Insignia ecoFLEX, helps to reduce fuel consumption by about three miles per
gallon, thereby lowering CO2 emissions by more than four grams per kilometre.
The tyre thereby contributes to the Insignia’s excellent fuel consumption and CO2
emissions of fewer than 140g/km from a large family car with a 160 BHP engine.
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                   Page 18
Britain’s great closing down sale
        With new-car buyers hard to find and used car values at rock bottom many
car dealers are in trouble. When you next come to have your car serviced, you could
well find that your dealer has gone out of business. In January there were around
5,300 franchised dealers in the UK employing 200,000 people. Both of these figures
have since fallen dramatically as you can see from the many vacant premises with
somewhat optimistic ‘for sale’ signs.
        The accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers predict that one in five car dealer-
ships, with a similar number of shops in the High Street, will fail this year. The
global analysis company Experian is much more pessimistic. It reckons it could be
more like one in three.
        Pendragon, the UK’s largest dealer group, which operates the Stratstone and
Evans Halshaw chains, selling some very upmarket cars, has announced plans to
reduce its network by a fifth. Seventy five dealerships will vanish along with 2500
jobs. The parent company itself is hardly in good health. Its share price on the stock
market ranges between just 1.5p and 5p.
        Car sales are being driven down through a lack of finance and the unwilling-
ness of companies and individuals alike to commit themselves to new car purchases
at a time of insecure employment and savings earning virtually nothing. The sales
might be even worse than the official figures suggest as some dealers register new
cars to hit targets. Some new pre-registered X-type Jaguars, for example, are being
offered for sale ‘second hand’ with virtually no recorded mileage. The major snag
is that they may have been built almost a year ago.
        Dealers have also been hit by Government plans, subsequently revised, to
increase the vehicle excise duty on cars emitting large amounts of CO2. The value
of cars in this category, including many large 4 x 4s, has slumped. Modern cars need
less servicing and are generally more reliable. So that source of income has also
shrunk for the dealers. Some hard-pressed motorists are even scrimping on servic-
ing and attempting to do it themselves.
        There are, however, many people who want to buy new cars, but simply walk
away when they hear what their current car is worth. If this is your situation, you
should ask the salesman instead to quote you a price to exchange your car which
would include whatever discount he is able to make. If that is not sufficient, ask
about including the cost of extras, which are very profitable to the dealer, and free
servicing. Volkswagen is currently offering such incentives with its new Golf. The
Sytner Group also offers special discounts to RoADAR members. New cars at the
moment are probably the best value they have been for years, a situation which may
not continue if foreign manufacturers are compelled to increase prices significantly
to compensate for the huge devaluation of the pound deliberately engineered by the
Bank of England.
        Car sales too are being hit by anti-car local politicians, who want everyone
to use public transport. Car parks are being closed or reduced in size. Those which
Page 19                                                RoSPA Thames Valley Group
remain open are having their charges hiked. There are many more yellow lines with
limited waiting times and an army of traffic wardens ready to give out tickets for a
variety of offences. With high tax, insurance, the threat of road pricing, constant
harassment by the authorities and a rapidly depreciating investment, is it any
wonder that some households are now trying to manage with just one car or no car
at all?
One of the best years for new models…
        The world may be gripped by a financial crisis, but motor manufactures, this
year of all years, have produced a wonderful crop of new models. Among the City
cars and Superminis there is the Hyundai i20 which is a replacement for the Getz.
It is expected to score highly on safety when it goes through the tougher revised
Euro NCAP tests. If you want something sportier and more stylish there is the Alfa
Romeo Mito priced between £11,000 and £15,000. There is also a new VW Polo
with cleaner and more powerful engines. Some models will also have VW’s
excellent double clutch gearbox.
        Among the small family cars there is the new Golf, which is reckoned to be
better than ever, raising the class standards for quality and simplicity. The Golf GTI
will be introduced in the autumn with a turbocharged 207 BHP petrol engine which
will go from 0 to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds. There is also the new Vauxhall Astra
which is likely to echo the Insignia in taking a huge step forward in cabin quality.
        If you are in the market for a family car, there is the Insignia, which in a few
months’ time will come in an ecoFLEX version with CO2 below 140g/km and good
fuel economy. In the same vein VW is about to launch Passat Bluemotion with a
fuel consumption of just 69 miles to a gallon. It will have a stop-start system similar
to that on the BMW four cylinder manual models and a 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine.
There is also the new Toyota Avensis, much better looking than the old model and
certain to be every bit as reliable.
    Among the new coupes and convertibles there is the new MINI Cabriolet with
better engines and safety, a soft-top version of the Audi A5, a new BMW Z4, the
new Peugeot 308CC and the well-equipped Renault Laguna Coupe which has
pitched itself against Audi, BMW and Mercedes. The GT version has such innova-
tions as four-wheel steering and an automatic parking brake.
        MPVs are valuable family workhorses and Citroen is introducing yet another
new version of the C3 Picasso. There is a new Renault Scenic and Toyota Verso
and new MPV from Fiat called the Doblo. Its boxy body is claimed to produce lots
of passenger and load space.
        Finally there are some smaller 4 x 4s in the pipeline. BMW has its X1 and
Audi has the Q3 which will rival the Skoda Yeti and a new version of the
Land-Rover Freelander which will use stop-start technology and various other
mechanical changes to improve fuel consumption.
        The problem is that with the slowdown in car buying throughout the world
will these new models find enough buyers to remain in production?
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                      Page 20
Captain Barnes’s sub-zero run…
          Many believe that bikers are an odd lot. They get dressed up in leather and
spend too much time and money on noisy engines, but being odd perhaps allows us
bikers to get away with some political incorrectness occasionally. So can I just ask:
Where is all this global warming when you really need it? I mean, what a way to
treat a couple of returning faces, absent for too many months. Crisp December
Sunday morning? Not arf!
        Given the weather, an impressive 10 bikes gathered at Loomies on the A272,
with a couple more joining en route, for a jolly trip to the seaside. Personally I was
hoping to meet Roxy, but apparently she had had a better offer and very sensible as
it turned out. Our leader for the day, Captain Barnes, had organised a splendid route
through Hampshire and Dorset. Much of the scenery carried a traditional frosting,
very picture postcard, but postcards don’t have temperature gauges. As we headed
over to Salisbury even the scarecrows looked cold and also a bit threatening as they
seemed to march like zombies across the field towards us in their white coats. So
unsurprisingly the radio chat was not about the scenery. Instead temperature sound-
ings pinged out regularly like sonar… minus 4.5 C, then minus 3 and minus 1. That
was without allowing for wind-chill, and can you guess the really scary bit? We
seemed to be enjoying it.
        Odd lot, you see. I did warn you. Happily the soundings improved, and I can
tell you, hearing a sultry Three Degrees had never sounded so welcoming before.
For sure a bit of extra riding caution was required, especially in the freezing fog and
on the sharp bends, and even more interesting with the winter sun so low. But all
bikes arrived at the harbour’s edge in Swanage without any issues after a run past
Salisbury and on to Shaftesbury, and then through the glorious twisties towards
Lulworth and the coast. It must be all that excellent training from the Big Man.
Apparently he has a new technique, according to some Associates. If you don’t do
what he says, he puts on his grumpy face. Fortified by fish and chips (well, we were
at the seaside), frozen faces thawed into smiles, and it was even quite warm… seven
degrees. There was only one direction that could go… downwards.
        Returning through Dorset’s beautiful countryside, past Corfe Castle and up
to Wareham and back to Salisbury, we ended the day with a further 220 miles on
the clock, and temperatures dipping again. As bikers we are used to hot days, we
are used to wet days, and we are even used to cold days, but common consensus
was that this was the first day when it felt as if we had signed up for an Antarctic
expedition. The next time Captain Barnes says he is going outside for a while, I
think I might just let him. Thanks, John, for a great route and for keeping all of us
upright. Thanks also to Paul Sheehan for mopping up the stragglers.
                                                 Tim Considine, 1200GS

Page 21                                                 RoSPA Thames Valley Group
It is around… and around we go
        Thirteen bikers gathered at Loomies off the A272 on a Sunday morning with
New Year hopes for change, and lurking suspicions that we might not escape past
habits. The crisp weather was not a rival for December’s Subzero Run, but still cold
enough to warrant extra protection. While the trend is for heated clothing, you
would expect TVG bikers to find an alternative, wouldn’t you? Cosy seasonal
over-pants perhaps? Oooo, suits you, sir! Or even a hot water bottle? Maybe such
sights are the reason some souls can only bear to come along once a year. Welcome
back, Colin!
        And so to the ride. Our leader for the day, Captain Chris, had planned a route
on classic, well-loved biking roads, stretching from Loomies via Petersfield, along
the A272 and around Petworth, and around many villages with quaint churches and
strange country names, to Chichester, and then returning north to rest awhile at the
Devil’s Punchbowl cafe. I am not sure the National Trust walkers, also escaping the
cold, were ready for, or indeed have recovered from, the sight of the bright blue
        Of course, there is a downside to riding well-known roads. How do you
ensure the group keep their wits and enjoy the roads and countryside? Well, the
cunning Captain Chris had a plan. After all we were miles from Basingstoke and its
lovely roundabouts. So no one was suspicious. But hang on a moment. Did we not
just ride round four sides of a block of houses? The last time we did this, a man with
a clipboard jumped out to provoke an emergency stop. Hmmm, something is going
on here. Ooops, hang on, was that a marker hiding in the undergrowth at the
junction? Cunning that. Hide the markers just beyond the brow of the hill, and see
who can spot them. Our leader was certainly breaking with tradition, and making
sure we were on our toes. A little later, something else seemed familiar. Hadn’t we
seen this one-way system and stone walls before? Yes, Petworth, from the other
direction. And later still, these twisties seemed familiar. Ah yes, the A339, both
north and then south again.
        By this stage we were wise to Captain Chris’s dastardly plan. We had been
lulled into believing he had overcome his addiction to roundabouts. But eventually
we got it. We had been cleverly led into riding round in large circles. Rounda-
bouts? Pah! They are just so 2008. This year we are clearly setting our sights
higher on HUGE roundabouts. And next year, it might even be the Nurburg Ring,
where there is no need for any markers at all. Go for it, Chris, you have a year to
plan it. By common consensus this was the best run of the year so far. Thank you,
Chris, for a delightful route delivered with incomparable style. With 125 miles in
the bag, sides were sore from laughter as we took a late lunch at our final destina-
tion of North Warnborough. Oh, and thank you, Zumo. Who needs a route map
when you are approaching a junction?
                    Tim Considine Black (heated) 1200GS
RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                     Page 22
We have yet another jolly cold jolly
        Six intrepid adventurers met at Loomies for another round of this year's
‘endurance’ competition, where participants push themselves to the absolute limit
of mental and physical barriers by riding for as long as possible in sub-zero
conditions. The post Christmas informal fun run was a warm up at just under
freezing point for most of the ride. The temperature of the January run peaked at
minus 3C. So for the February run we had to endure Russian winds and sub-zero
temperatures all day. This was all in the name of ‘good fun’, I hasten to add.
        Panos was our leader for the day and we set off on some familiar roads, but
all the more pleasant for the distinct lack of other vehicular activity. Heaven knows
why? Upon entering the picturesque village of Wherewell, we spotted a lone
motorcyclist sitting at the side of the road. Gemma had decided to christen her
beautifully restored Aprillia 250cc two-stroke race bike and join our happy throng
(kick start and no heated grips – mad or enthusiast – you decide). What a lovely
smell to follow behind – better than any perfume.
        After some confusion as to whether Panos had a flat tyre or not (luckily he
had carried out his pre-ride checks and knew with conviction that they were fine)
pointed out by Andy, we continued onwards on some wonderful roads and sweep-
ing bends and passed through plenty of picturesque villages.
        Lunch at the Hare near Wantage was an enjoyable experience and gave us all
some chance to warm up and exchange insults with each other, as is customary at
these events. Lindsey took a liking to a metal duck sculpture, probably finding the
conversation with it more stimulating than ours.
        Après lunch some of the lightweights made a variety of lame excuses and
departed to go their own way, leaving the ‘hardcore five’ of Panos, Gemma, Colin,
‘Newboy Tim’ and Baldrick to continue their search of hypothermia. The pace
quickened as the thought of home and warmth entered our heads. Gradually people
peeled off to take the shortest route back to sanity, leaving Baldrick and Slim to
reach the finish line of Loomies after a wheel spinning, gravel spitting grand finale
along the infamous Morestead Road. Hot chocolate was the day’s reward, served by
Jane, who promptly showed us the door, because she too wanted to go home and
warm up. Little did we know that within less than three hours Southern England
would be under a blanket of the heaviest snow it had enjoyed for many years.
        Thanks to Panos for organising the challenge and ‘Newboy Tim’ for back
marking and laughing like a drain when I managed to perform a 180 degree spin in
the middle of the road right in front of him.
                                           Baldrick on the 1200 GS

Page 23                                                RoSPA Thames Valley Group
                        Captain Barnes’ Sub-Zero Run
  Smiles abound despite the weather and the temperature - well, it’s Christmas!

                                                 Excellent training is the norm
                                                 in the Bike Section. But when
                                                 associates don’t follow the
                                                 rules, the Big Man deploys a
                                                 new motivation technique. If
                                                 you don’t do what he says, he
                                                 puts on his grumpy face.

RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                 Page 24
Bringing you up to speed…
Vauxhall wants to build 220,000 Flextreme petrol-electric hybrid cars annually
in return for Government financial support and a promise to install thousands
of kerbside charging points since most British cars are street parked. The cars
will sell for around £20,000. Replacement batteries cost £5,000.
Trials of satellite-based road pricing technology are to take place in Buckingham-
shire, Suffolk, Essex and North Yorkshire and in the urban areas of Leeds, Milton
Keynes and South West London. The top rate of £1.30 a mile, it is claimed, will
apply to just 0.5 per cent of traffic.
The Liberal Democrat Council at Richmond has introduced a system in its council
car parks which increases the charges for the owners of cars of Road Tax Band E
and above to encourage residents to buy cars with engines emitting lower amounts
of CO2. It points out that its normal parking charges of £2 an hour are reasonable
for the London area.
Former England soccer star John Barnes escaped a driving ban after telling
Northwich magistrates he could not afford to pay a chauffeur, despite earning
£4000 a week. He was caught driving on the M6 without insurance and already
had nine points on his licence. He was fined £2000 and given a suspended six
points. Magistrates agreed that a ban would cause him ‘exceptional hardship’
by affecting his family, work and charity commitments.
A soldier who survived a roadside bomb in Iraq died in Oxfordshire while over the
drink-drive limit. He was doing 85 mph and might have survived if he had been
wearing a seatbelt.
Mike Tindall, the 30-year-old rugby star boyfriend of Princess Anne’s daughter
Zara Phillips has been banned for three years and fined £500 for drink driving by
Reading magistrates. He was arrested at Reading service station on the M4 after a
breath test at 10.45 am revealed he was over the limit from the previous day’s
drinking. He had already been banned for 16 months in 2000 for drink driving.
According to the Department of Transport, the number of disqualified and
unlicensed drivers and untaxed cars now on the roads has be halved compared
to 2006. The number of people driving without insurance has been reduced by
a third.
Mercedes has revealed a new version of its COMAND system called myComand,
which enables the driver to access any radio station in the world, make free
telephone calls and use the Internet. It also lets you book tables at restaurants and
obtain theatre tickets. No date has yet been given for its introduction.
A National Express coach driver with a history of speeding offences was jailed for
five years after admitting causing three deaths by dangerous driving when he
attempted to take the take a slip road with a 40 mph limit on to the M25 from the
M4 near Heathrow at 55 mph.
Page 25                                              RoSPA Thames Valley Group
...…to the following people who have passed their Advanced Driving
Test. We would all like to say ‘Well done’ to them and their Tutors.

Associate/Member                   Grade            Tutor
Mike Bowe                          Gold             William MacPhee
Peter Lawman                       Gold             Retest
Motorcycle section
Associate                          Grade            Tutor

Tim Cuell                          Gold             Retest
Darren Vincent                     Gold             Panos Simou
Mark Edwards                       Gold             David Fryer
Leo McCarville                     Gold             Retest

Gemma Allen and Paul Sheehan have passed their Motorcycle
Approved Tutor test with Panos Simou as their examiner.
Please remember to notify all Test results to:-
Max Davidson ....(01494-726516) or
Rob Lowe

Please also remember to let us have a note too of any re-test result.

Publishing results encourages those Associates who are about to take the
Test and gives an indication of how the Group is performing.

Would you prefer the Electronic Newsletter ?
Members who would like to receive their copy of the Newsletter via e-mail rather than
through the post can take up this option by e-mailing

RoSPA Thames Valley Group                                                    Page 26
                         PLEASE NOTE
The website and e-mail addresses now include an additional ‘r’
before ‘tvg’ to reflect the change of name to include ‘Riders’ !

             Web site :
  Committee e-mail addresses:
          Where ‘xxxxxxxx’ = committee post.

                         Published by
    RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders Thames Valley Group

                     Printed and distributed by
           First Option Ltd - The Winning Business Edge

          General correspondence should be addressed to :
                  RoADAR Thames Valley Group
                          7 Angel Mead
                            RG7 5SJ

                                              Helping to promote safer driving

         The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily
          subscribed to by RoSPA or the Thames Valley Group of
                   RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders.

      No responsibility is accepted for any such opinions or comments.

          The appearance of any advertisements in this Newsletter
        does not directly, nor indirectly, imply any recommendations.

Shared By: