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Issue:- 8 July 2009

Red Light To Car Litter!

MOTORISTS in the North West spotted dropping litter from their car should be fined and receive one penalty point on their licence says Keep Britain Tidy.  The anti-litter charity has launched a campaign to tackle lazy drivers who lash the trash.  More than 700,000 bags of litter are collected each year from England’s roads at huge cost to the public and risk to maintenance staff. Much of this is hurled from cars, vans and lorries and ends up stuck in hedges or piled high at traffic lights.  Throwing litter from a car is disgusting and turns our roadsides into a dumping ground for fast food litter, cigarette stubs, drinks cartons and apple cores.  Shockingly, nearly a quarter of people (23%) admit to dropping litter from their vehicle, according to latest Keep Britain Tidy research.  In relation to litter from vehicles, the law as it stands is complicated. Any passenger or driver can be fined for dropping litter. But often it’s difficult to identify the litter-throwing occupant especially if the vehicle is going at speed.  To make it easier to prosecute offenders, Keep Britain Tidy now believes it’s time that the owner of the vehicle should be fined and receive points on their driving licence – unless they provide details of the culprit.  In London people caught throwing litter from motor vehicles are facing fines of £100 thanks to new penalties agreed by London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee (TEC).  Phil Barton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive, said:- “Our research shows that the best deterrent to stop motorists littering is points on their licence, community service and a large fine – in that order. It needs to be easier to prosecute offenders. The owner should be responsible for the actions of those inside the car. We therefore want the law to go further and see a penalty point put on the licence of those that litter from vehicles. It is one of the most annoying things to see – a lazy driver pulls up at the lights and dumps their litter on the road. Our streets have become a giant dumping ground. Drivers and their passengers should take their litter home with them.”

A month-long car litter campaign will see posters going up nationwide to remind motorists of their responsibilities.  Nearly 100 councils in England will be working with Keep Britain Tidy to gather evidence on when and where car litter offences occur. They will also be campaigning to raise awareness of the problem.  North West councils working with Keep Britain Tidy on the Car Litter Campaign are:-  Bury MBC, Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East Council, Lancaster City Council, Oldham MBC, Preston City Council, Stockport Council, Tameside MBC.

People will also be asked to report incidents of littering from vehicles on the Keep Britain Tidy website. This information will go on a database and used to analyse trends in littering from vehicles.

Rear-end bumps prove a pain in the neck for motorists

REAR-END accidents are by far the most common type of accident on British roads. Now leading car insurance expert, Admiral has calculated there are over 420,000 rear-end bumps in the UK each year*, and they account for one in four of all road accidents. While the percentage of UK motorists having road accidents has been falling steadily for several years**, the number of accidents where one motorist hits another in the rear has not followed this trend, suggesting many motorists are not paying enough attention to the road ahead.  

Admiral estimates that rear-end accidents cost the insurance industry over £500 million a year. This is not only for car repairs or total loss cars but also for personal injury claims. Around one in ten rear-end accidents cause whiplash for the occupants of the car. While whiplash alone costs insurers £1.9billion a year and accounts for 75% of all bodily injury claims***.  

Admiral managing director, Sue Longthorn, said:- “Rear end bangs and shunts are all too common on our roads, I think this is indicative of how many of us drive. On main roads, many drivers don’t leave enough space between themselves and the car in front so if that car brakes they hit them in the rear. The stopping distance at 40 mph is 36 metres, the equivalent of nine car lengths. In built-up areas, where traffic is so slow moving, people tend to get frustrated and drive a little too aggressively. When they do this there is more of a chance they will bump the car in front.” 

There is another worrying statistic that could explain the rise in rear-end accidents. The number of staged accidents is rising and rear-end accidents are the easiest to stage. Fraudsters will pull off in traffic or at a junction and then break suddenly. This will cause the car behind them to hit their rear. They will then make a claim for not only car damage but more importantly whiplash. All insurers have reported an increase in this type of fraudulent claim. And while they are vigilant to the signs, fake accidents can be very difficult to prove. 

Sue Longthorn, said:- “Insurance fraud costs our industry £3 billion a year. Unfortunately this cost has to be met in increased premiums, so it is definitely not a victimless crime. It works out at an additional £40 on everyone’s premium. We’d ask everyone to be vigilant on the roads and just don’t drive too close to the car in front.”

*Based on 24.3% average of accident claims being for rear-end accident and total accidental damage claims in UK 2007.

    **Association of British Accidents research shows claims frequency has fallen each year since 2003

           ***Estimates by the Association of British Insurers 2008.

Four in ten run out of money before pay day in Merseyside

WITH four in ten people surveyed in Merseyside regularly running out of money before their next pay day*, working out a budget during these difficult times is even more important to help make ends meet, cope with any emergencies and plan for your future. Moneymadeclear, a new service offering practical help and information on money matters for people in the North West was recently launched by The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and HM Treasury, and has now published Ten Top Tips to help people with every day money management.

Dawn Evans, a Moneymadeclear ‘Money Guide’ based in Merseyside, says:- “Moneymadeclear offers real help that’s tailored to individual needs, whether it’s getting to grips with budgeting and saving, help to cope with the effects of the downturn, or understanding tax and pensions planning. Help is available through the Moneymadeclear website - which features tools such as a financial health check and a budget calculator – from trained ‘Money Guides’ over the phone, or face to face at participating local centres but, in the meantime, here are some useful Moneymadeclear tips to help you get started.”

1. Review your money situation:- Setting aside a few minutes a week is all it takes to review your money situation. Using a ‘Budget Calculator’ like the one on the Moneymadeclear website will help you work out your weekly or monthly income and prioritise your spending.

2. Keep track of things:- Once you’ve got your budget sorted, you need to stay in control by, for example, making a note of when your annual payments are due so that you can budget for them in advance and avoid late payment fees. You should also set up Direct Debits for payments like utility bills or credit cards so that the money is automatically paid from your account when it’s due. Check your bank and credit-card statements as soon as you get them to review your spending. Know roughly what your balance should be and contact the bank or credit-card company if you think anything looks wrong.

3. Avoid over-commitment:- It is easy to become overcommitted; every time you sign up for a new service (for example, cable TV, gym membership, or a mobile phone contract), buy something on hire purchase, or credit card, you add to your monthly commitments. When this happens you need to review your budget and adjust your spending priorities to allow for it.

4. Shop around and limit yourself:- Whenever you shop, either in a store or online, there are often vouchers you can use to save money, which can be found in magazines or online. But remember, don’t buy something just because you have a money-off voucher – you may not need it anyway. Writing a shopping list can also help you stop buying things on impulse that you don’t really need. Set an affordable limit on luxury items and gifts being before going shopping, and stick to it.

5. Check you’re paying by the cheapest method:- Often paying by Direct Debit is the cheapest method, and some companies may charge you a handling fee if you pay by credit or debit card, so always check.

6. Don’t buy insurance you don’t need:- Check whether you’re already covered by existing insurance before you take out new cover. Your home contents insurance may cover you for loss of personal items while away from home, electrical items may be covered if they break down and your employer or bank may offer health or travel insurance as a benefit.

7. Save energy:- You can save money but cutting down energy consumption in your home and car. You can check whether you would be eligible for a grant to help pay for insulation, compare prices of energy providers and get tips on how to cut down energy consumption in your home on the Energy Saving Trust’s website. Directgov's ‘Greener driving tips’ could also help you save one month's fuel over a year ( ).

8. Build up some savings:- It’s a good idea to put some money aside for emergencies or unforeseen costs, such as replacing expensive household items like washing machines if they’re not covered by your insurance. As you won’t know when you’ll need this money, make sure you can access it easily. If you put aside a little each month and make sure you’re getting a good interest rate, it will soon build up.

9. Set yourself goals:- Using Moneymadeclear’s ‘Financial Healthcheck’ tool, you can set yourself goals along with a time you want to reach them by. These could be long terms goals such as saving for children’s education and retirement or short term goals such as saving for a holiday and reducing credit card debts.

10. Don’t ignore problems:- If you find that your finances are spiralling out of control, try not to panic or ignore the problem. It’s best to act sooner rather than later, as the people you owe money to may be able to help you manage your repayments. The Moneymadeclear ‘Dealing With Debt’ will give you some ideas of what you can do.

For impartial money guidance please visit:-  or call:- 0300 500 5000 for a completely confidential chat or to arrange a free face to face session with a money guide near you.

* Based on a survey conducted by online market research company with a total of 6,151 respondents from across the North West and North East of England, March 2009s

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