e-newsletter June 2010
  Welcome to the June edition of Hotspots  

As summer begins, we enter an exciting period for British politics and the AA is keen to find out what this means for motorists. In the meantime, we unveil our 2010 patrols of the year, and bring you news about fuel prices and the new transport secretary. Plus there's tips on misfuelling, loose chippings, driving tired, and a review of the all-electric Tesla Roadster Sport.

We've got several family cycle rides as well as a challenging bike ride – an exclusive extract from a new AA box-set. We've got ideas for Father's Day fun, reasons to visit the Isle of Wight, and the chance to spot the AA at a series of events this summer.

I do hope you find Hotspots interesting and informative. Please get in touch if you have any feedback or suggestions.

[email protected]

Hotspots Editor

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Patrols of the year crowned
Paul Leather

Motorsport fan Paul Leather, from Weston-super-Mare, is gearing up for a year in the spotlight after being crowned AA Patrol of the Year. Paul will spend the next 12 months as the 'public face' of the company, representing the UK's biggest motoring organisation to the motor industry and the media.

Alan PriceIn a double success for the south west, the new AA Recovery Patrol of the Year is Alan Price from Bristol. Alan and his fellow recovery patrols rescue vehicles that can't be fixed at the roadside. They drive flat-bed recovery trucks and spend the longest time on the road with AA members.

Read the full story »

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Don't drive tired

People are well aware of the dangers posed by drunk drivers, drugged drivers and ill drivers. The tired driver is every bit as dangerous, but often ignored as a safety risk.

The traditional image of the tired driver generally involves driving late at night, probably on the way to or from a holiday.

But these days we're usually tired for different reasons and the issue is frequently people driving for work – more often a victim of hours driven than the time of day.

People who spend the week working away from home, and those who have just landed in the UK, are also susceptible to sleep accidents.

The police record fatigue as a factor in only three per cent of injury accidents. But other studies put the number much higher – perhaps up to 10 per cent of car drivers involved in accidents, and even higher for accidents on motorways and long-distance routes.

Read the full story »

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Misfuelling mayhem

What to do if you take the wrong fuel

If you've put the wrong type of fuel into your car, you're not alone. It's estimated that at least 150,000 drivers put the wrong fuel in their car each year – that's one every three and a half minutes.

And the scale of the problem has been getting bigger, especially during the past five years with a growth in diesel car sales – modern diesels are so quiet it's easy to forget you're driving one, particularly if it's a second family car, or a hire car.

Read the full story »

Ever misfuelled? Tell us in the AA Zone »

Fuel Assist – AA Members save up to 27% »

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Car review : Tesla Roadster Sport

Tesla Roadster Sport There's no question that car technology is evolving. Petrol-electric hybrids are now commonplace, while cars offering 'range extender' technology – battery power supported by an onboard engine generator – are starting to make progress. The pure electric car has, in contrast, been around much longer. The barrier to widespread acceptance has, predictably, been performance and miles per charge.

Tesla hopes its technology can overcome what has been dubbed 'range anxiety'. Although its Roadster relies on conventional lithium ion batteries, the power pack is liquid cooled to enhance performance reliability. The result is a claimed range of around 200 miles – more if driven gently.

Also, the car's powerful and efficient electric motor boasts a 284 horsepower equivalent output. Crucially, with a torque value of 295 lb/ft from zero revs, the Roadster's ability to out-accelerate all but a few supercars is what Tesla hopes will attract the early adopters.


Crammed full of technology, boasting rakish looks and able to out-perform most supercars, the Roadster ticks all the right boxes. But the enjoyable and surprisingly practical experience comes at a price – the car costs a whisker under six figures. A favourable tax status and low cost charging options go some way to redressing the balance. It bodes well for the future.

Our ratings

Overall rating 9
Value for money 6
Costs 8
Space and practicality 5
Controls and display 8
Comfort 7
Car security 7
Car safety 6

Read the full report »

Read more than 1,200 other car reviews online »

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Motoring tip of the month

Summer is the time for surface dressing as highways authorities improve local roads by laying tar covered with loose chippings. But while the work is necessary and effective to preserve roads and improve skid resistance it is the curse of motorists, with bills for cracked headlamp glasses and windscreens, and damaged paintwork. Reduce the risk of damage to bodywork by being aware of road re-surfacing work, driving within speed limits and not driving too close to other vehicles.

More seasonal motoring advice »

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Branson voted transport minister

The Houses of ParliamentAlthough Philip Hammond has been unveiled as the new Transport Secretary, rail and air tycoon Richard Branson was voted the best non-political figure for the job in an AA/Populus poll. The largest motoring panel in Europe was asked to choose which non-political figure should become transport minister, from a range of 15 celebrities and business people. More than 21,000 AA members responded. Runner up was Jeremy Clarkson with AA President Edmund King just one point behind, in third place.

  • 1st - Sir Richard Branson (26%)
  • 2nd - Jeremy Clarkson (24%)
  • 3rd - Edmund King (23%)
  • 4th - Sir Alan Sugar (12%)
  • 5th - Joanna Lumley (6%)

Those with fewer than 6%:
Jenson Button, Vicki Butler Henderson, Sally 'traffic' Boazman, Adrian Chiles, Chris Evans, Jamie Oliver, Chris Hollins

Those with 0% support:
Cheryl Cole, Katie Price, Cristiano Ronaldo

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Transport Secretary Philip Hammond

The new transport secretary is Philip Hammond, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge since 1997. He has been Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury since July 2007.

Hammond needs to stay longer in his post than his 13 predecessors, who only averaged 20 months each, according to the AA.

The AA has suggested a 'fixed term' transport secretary to go with the new 'fixed term' parliament.

Read the full story »

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Populus survey results

Last month, several thousand AA/Populus panel members were surveyed on the hot topics affecting motorists right now. The top level results are as follows:

Motoring Costs

  • Nearly three quarters of respondents say that it is now much more expensive to own and run a car than it was three years ago (74%)
  • 22% say it is a little more expensive
  • Once the cost of fuel is removed from the equation, far fewer (32%) think that it is much more expensive to own and run a car

Fuel price

  • 43% of respondents think the government is most responsible for the recent rise in fuel prices to record levels
  • A fifth thinks the accountability lies with the oil companies (20%)

The state of the roads

  • 78% of respondents think that repairs to winter road damage have been 'somewhat' or 'very badly' carried out
  • Only 5% say that repairs have been carried out 'well'
  • Most respondents (84%) are slightly (52%) or very (32%) worried about the current condition of some roads and how they may affect the safety of all road users

Have your say – join the AA/Populus panel »

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  We need your views on motoring, join the AA/Populus Panel  

President's log

AA President Edmund King The number one transport issue that AA members want the new government to address is the cost of fuel.

Petrol prices in the UK continue to rise to new record highs hitting rural drivers hardest, AA research has found. Almost three out of every four drivers in the South West, Wales and Northern Ireland are cutting back on car use, on non-fuel expenditure, or both, due to the high cost of fuel.

Average UK petrol prices are now over 120p a litre, up almost 5p since last month. This has added £2.22 to the cost of filling a typical 50-litre fuel tank, and raised the monthly petrol cost for a family with two cars by £9.43. The same family, who at the beginning of the year was spending £233.32 a month on fuel, now has to find £255.93.

In Yorkshire and Humberside, the cheapest area in the UK for petrol and diesel, the percentage of drivers cutting back on car use, other family expenditure, or both, has shot up by 10% to 69%.

However, it is in rural areas that drivers are most struggling to cope with the higher pump prices, with 72% of the sample in Wales cutting back and 70% in the south west. Northern Ireland, with the highest regional prices at 121.2p for petrol and 122.4p for diesel, has the biggest proportion cutting back at 73%.

After 10 days of falling wholesale costs, Asda started a pump price war by dropping its cost of petrol by 2p and diesel by 1p. Other retailers responded quickly but the current UK average petrol price is still above the record high of July 2008. Members can rest assured that the AA will continue to track fuel prices and keep up the pressure so that reductions in the global price are passed onto motorists.

In the absence of any government action there are things that drivers can do to reduce the impact of high fuel costs.

Is your journey really necessary? Do you always need to use the car? Could you order those goods online? Could you car share? Could you combine two journeys?

Shop around – AA fuel reports show that there are massive differences in price between supermarkets and service areas, and rural and urban areas, even between different brands or grades of fuel. Keep a mental note of prices and fill up at the cheapest.

Change your driving style – you can save 15-20% of fuel costs by driving in a slower, smoother manner. Don't drive flat out to the queue ahead, slow down gradually and, if safe, avoid stopping. Check your tyre pressures and remove roof racks or heavy goods out of the boot if unused. There are many more tips online.

I do practice what I preach. Despite driving a fairly large diesel estate car (to facilitate kids and their football team-mates) by changing driving style my fuel consumption has improved by at least 15%. So you can save money, reduce the environmental impact of your car and reduce the risk of accidents, just by giving your driving a style makeover. Try it.

Cut your costs – our fuel saving tips »

Follow the AA President on Twitter »

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Meet the AA

The AA will be at several major events in 2010 and we'd love to see you.

Visit the AA stand and see some of our beautifully preserved historic vehicles.

Members who show their yellow Membership cards can also enjoy a complimentary cup of tea. Members will be able to enter a competition to win one of three fantastic prizes. First prize is a Virgin Balloon Flight for two people, worth £598. Second prize is gourmet meat to the value of £250 from Donald Russell. And third prize is a case of Virgin Wines worth more than £100.

Find out where we'll be »

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Get on your bike

It's National Family Week from 31 May to 6 June, and National Bike Week from 19 to 27 June. What better way to celebrate both than with a family cycle ride?

We've hand-picked six family bike rides for you to try.
There are details of countless more free bike rides – and walks – on Simply select the location, duration and level of difficulty you require and you're away.

There are also cycle guides, bike locks, gadgets, and more, in the AA Shop.

Those with a passion for pedal power might enjoy taking part in the World Naked Bike Rides in London or Brighton, in June.

AA advice – safe walking and cycling »

National Cycle Network »

National Family Week
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Exclusive extract

25 cycle rides in The Yorkshire Dales & The NortheastIf you fancy more of a challenge, why not tackle this AA Cycle Ride, reproduced exclusively for Hotspots subscribers.

This challenging, hilly route takes you along the leafy lanes of Goosnargh, Lancashire, to the top of wooded and wildlife-rich Beacon Fell. It takes at least three hours to complete and takes in a pub as well as the Beacon Fell Country Park visitor centre. The route is taken from the AA's 25 Cycle Rides in the Yorkshire Dales and the Northeast box-set.

Download PDFClick here to open the cycle ride
Adobe Acrobat is required to open this PDF file.

© AA Media Limited. © Crown copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Licence number 100021153

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How's your father?

Don't forget that Sunday 20 June is Father's Day. Why not treat your old man to a golfing break, or take him day-tripping? You'll find plenty of inspiration online.

You could take a hike, go on a bike ride, grab a pint at a pub, book a round of golf, or search for an event or attraction to visit in your area.

Father's Day gift ideas »

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It's all Wight

The Isle of Wight has been a popular holiday destination for mainland Brits since Victorian times and offers something for everyone, from wild outdoor pursuits to lazy days on golden beaches.

Adrenaline junkies can get out on the water for paragliding and windsurfing; or climb trees and trek with llamas on dry land. Take your pick of the golf courses dotted around the island, or discover why Cowes is a world-famous sailing port that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

There's a series of great events there this summer – the perfect excuse for a jaunt across the water.

Isle of Wight fun »

More travel inspiration »

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  What's on this month
18-31 May Queer Up North
25-29 May Chelsea Flower Show
26-28 May Gateshead International Jazz Festival
27-30 May Southport Jazz Festival
27 May to 6 June Hay Festival
28-31 May Spring Sounds International Music Festival
28 May to 13 June Bath Fringe Festival
29 May Blackford Highland Games
29-30 May Birmingham Gay Pride
30-31 May Evolution Festival
30-31 May Southend Festival of the Air
31 May Dot to Dot Festival
31 May Surrey County Show
31 May to 5 June Pennine Spring Music Festival
2-5 June Royal Bath & West Show
3-6 June Bramham International Horse Trials
3-6 June Celtic Manor Wales Open
4-13 June Oxford Pride
6 June Preston Mela
8-19 June Hampton Court Palace Festival
10-12 June Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival
10-12 June Royal Cornwall Show
11-13 June Isle of Wight Festival
11-26 June Grassington Festival
11-26 June Spitalfields Festival
12 June Trooping the Colour
13 June World Naked Bike Ride in Brighton
18-20 June Three Counties Show
18-20 June Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival
18-20 June British Moto GP
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