News item

Are you the safest driver in Milton Keynes?

Take the driving safety test to find out at www.DriveSafelyMK.org 

Milton Keynes Council is working with the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), Citizens Advice Bureau, and Thames Valley Police to steer local drivers in the right direction when it comes to buying a used car and staying safe on the roads.

The drive is part of a month-long campaign launching on 4 November – also the start of the TSI’s National Consumer Week, which this year is themed around buying a used car.

The safety partners will be working together to urge people who are thinking about buying a used car to ‘check it, don’t regret it’ by assessing whether it is safe, legal and what it seems. 

To add some fun to the message, partners are launching an online Driving (Safely) Test, which just like a real driving theory test asks questions about common hazards and distractions as well as questions about buying and maintaining a used car.

The test can be found at www.DriveSafelyMK.org and every person over 18 in Milton Keynes who takes part by 30 November 2013 will be entered into a prize draw for an iPod Touch. In addition, everyone who completes the test will be able to print off a voucher entitling them to a free winter car check at a trading standards approved garage under the Buy With Confidence scheme.

If you’re particularly proud of your driving safely score, you can choose to share your result through social media – and challenge friends and family to do better!

Karen Ford, Head of Milton Keynes Council’s Regulatory Unit said: “While we’re choosing a fun way to get the message across, and we’re looking forward to finding out which age group has the safest drivers in Milton Keynes, our message is a serious one. 

“A second-hand car that is not up to scratch and is littered with faults can be a danger to the driver and other road users.

“It’s important the used car industry puts a brake on bad practices by dealers being up front with their customers about the condition of cars. That way people can make an informed choice as to whether it is the car for them.” 

The second week of the month long campaign focuses on younger drivers. An innovative theatre education project called Safe Drive Stay Alive will be held on 13 and 14 November for school students to attend.

Safe Drive Stay Alive is aimed at 16 to 18 year olds and explores the circumstances and consequences of a road traffic collision. The event is centred around a specially prepared film of a crash in the local area with roads and hospitals familiar to local students.

Safe Drive Stay Alive is produced and delivered by a road safety partnership including Thames Valley Police, Milton Keynes Council and the Safer Roads Partnership. Each partner has been working for years to reduce the number of people dying on the roads.

The third week is focused on winter driving, and an event (date tbc) will be held in Central Milton Keynes where free winter driving kits will be distributed, as well as information on winter gritting routes around the borough, a free winter car check voucher, and advice on driving in challenging weather conditions.

Adrian Carden, Road Safety Team Leader for Milton Keynes Council, said: "Good vehicle maintenance is particularly important in winter. Motorists should take extra care and carry out simple maintenance checks including tyres, lights and the windscreen wash level before setting off. Drivers should ensure they clear all windows on their vehicles and check the local and national weather forecast before setting off on their journey. Allowing a few extra minutes to make checks and to plan your journey before you set off could make all the difference."

HM Coroner for Milton Keynes, Mr Tom Osborne added: “The coroner is delighted to support this initiative as it will help avoid unnecessary deaths on our roads.”

In the final week of November, partners will be targeting the illegal taxi trade; focusing attention on private hire drivers who are picking up hackney fares, meaning they are not insured, and  carrying out a safety operation where vehicles will be sent for spot testing to determine if they are safe to be on the road.

Ben Thomas, the Milton Keynes Citizens Advice Bureau advice service director added: “Used cars are the biggest single issue being reported to the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline. Last year more than 80,000 used car problems a year were referred to the service.”

“In Milton Keynes, the bureau has seen a 33% increase in enquiries about second hand vehicles between April and September of this year.  Many of our clients report problems with the roadworthiness of vehicles, often just days after purchasing them from a garage. Many others report problems in getting garages to accept responsibility for making necessary repairs and in obtaining refunds or replacement vehicles. The impact on our clients isn’t just about the inconvenience of being without a car – it also has a profound effect on things like their ability to get to work and take their children to school.”

“Before buying a car we recommend you spend some time making a few simple checks before you hand over any money. It won’t cost you very much or take that long to do and could save you a lot of money and distress in the long run.”

“Our website has some really comprehensive and easy to understand information on how to check a car’s history, its mileage and if it’s still on hire purchase. We’ve also developed a number of step by step guides and videos that explain how to deal with a garage if things go wrong.”

Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk to find out more.

Throughout the campaign, the TSI’s national activity can be followed on Twitter via #usedcars or @tsi_uk. 

Ends

Note to editors

If you wish to be involved in the operations around taxi enforcement, or for a high resolution version of the campaign visual below please contact Craig Barton on 01908 252009.

Case studies are also available (details below) – please contact Craig Barton on 01908 252009 to request an interview with any of the case studies.

X purchased a second hand car from a dealer. He part-exchanged his car and paid £2,500. The car was sold with one month’s mechanical breakdown. After two weeks the car started to make a loud noise when the air conditioning was turned on and when the X asked the garage to repair it, he was told that the car was £700 cheaper than it should be because of the faults. This wasn't pointed out when the car was sold to X.

Earlier this year X purchased a P reg/1996 car for an agreed price of £650. X did not receive a warranty on the car. X was told that car had a MOT and the tax was due at the end of September. X believed MOT was due at same time. The car developed problems within weeks of purchase - water was needed daily as the pipe to the radiator had burst and eventually the car broke down. X maintains that no faults on the car had been pointed out to her. The original garage was not helpful so X took the car to another garage and was told no MOT had been registered. Garage produced a list of problems, including a hole in the side of the car. X is seeking her money refunded as she believes she was sold a car that was not roadworthy. 

X brought a car from a dealership was given three months’ warranty and an MOT by the dealership. However when she got it home she realised the car had a lot of problems and after six days in took it back and asked for a refund. The dealership refused but said they would pay for the repairs if she took it to any garage of her choice. X did this and had to pay £200 and sent the bill to the dealership. Since then they have not responded and have still not paid the money. X plans to take them to court to get her money back.

DATE: 5 November 2013