Hotspots – November 2009

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AA Logo - For the road ahead

  Welcome to the November edition of Hotspots

As the seasons change, so do the hazards on the road. And as we move into late Autumn and the clocks go back, motorists need to be aware of low sun, deer, driving in the dark, and even snow chains.

We also bring you news about road rage, road safety, motorways, and a new workplace parking levy.

Find out what's on this month, read about award-winning chefs and hotels, and enjoy an exclusive extract about the Tower of London.

There are also lots of inspirational ideas for things to do this Halloween and half term, details of fireworks displays, and a chance to win a pack of new AA books. Plus this is your last chance to showcase your culinary skills and win a holiday to France with the AA Home Cooking Competition.

I do hope you find 'Hotspots' interesting and informative. Please get in touch if you have any feedback or suggestions. Email me at [email protected]

Hotspots Editor
Traffic news

Autocar/AA Drive Better Campaign
Bad manners are the route to road rage


Remember your Ps and Qs when you get behind the wheel

Boy racers, drivers who don't thank you when you let them out, and drivers who show off, are the top three types of drivers that AA members most dislike, according to an online AA/Populus poll of 14,743 AA members for the Autocar/AA 'Drive Better' campaign.

The campaign thinks that some good old-fashioned manners could bring back the smile to drivers' faces and remove the threat of road rage.

Top 10 dislikes

The top 10 types of driver that other drivers most dislike are:

  1. Boy racers – 42%
  2. Drivers who don't say thanks – 41%
  3. Drivers who show off – 33%
  4. Those who listen to loud music, windows open – 23%
  5. White van man – 21%
  6. Sunday drivers – 20%
  7. School run mums – 16% (19% males,12% females)
  8. Taxi/Mini cab drivers – 14%
  9. Foreign lorry drivers – 12%
  10. Drivers with caravans – 9%

Read the full story

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Dazzling danger for drivers
Accidents due to low sun increase

October is the peak month for accidents caused by low sun dazzling drivers, so the AA is encouraging motorists to give the windscreen a thorough clean to help maintain clear vision.

More than three times as many drivers are involved in collisions after being dazzled by low sun in October than September, and twice as many as in November, according to claims data from AA Insurance.

An AA member narrowly avoided becoming a statistic recently, when her car was hit at the roadside by a driver blinded by the sun. In 2008, 34 people were killed after being dazzled by the sun and it's a contributory factor in 2 per cent of all road accidents – a bigger problem than being dazzled by approaching headlamps.

Read the full story »

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Drivetime in the dark
Be prepared for the clocks going back


October, November and December are among the worst months for road accidents. Fog, rain and ice play their parts but all the indications are that it is the darker evenings that really cause the problems.


With British Summer Time due to end early in the morning of 25 October, the majority are going to have to go home from work in the dark on Monday 26th. So one chore to do before then is to check that all the lights work – make sure you aren't going to swell the number of one-eyed monsters on the road.

This is something to be done well in advance, not the day before, as it is quite possible that you may not be able to replace the bulb yourself and may have to call for professional help. Many police forces will be running enforcement campaigns on vehicle lighting around the end of October.

Read the full story »

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Deer collisions

Deer signThe AA has warned drivers to be alert to a serious hazard that peaks during October and could cost unwary drivers more than £1,400 each: deer strikes.

October sees a peak in deer collision claims as the autumn 'rut' takes place, when some species of deer are on the move to their breeding areas.

According to AA Insurance, the average claim payout for a deer strike is £1,403. Last year there were at least 42,500 reported deer strikes – costing insurers more than £59 million. Some estimates suggest there are as many as 74,000 strikes annually, many unreported.

The most likely time for deer encounters is around dawn and dusk. And, with evenings drawing in, the movement of deer is increasingly likely to coincide with rush-hour traffic.

Read the full story »

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Snow chains

Snow chains are compulsory in European ski resorts at certain times, dictated by road signs or local road conditions. If you are driving to a winter resort, make sure you plan ahead and leave plenty of time to look into the local requirements as chains cannot be fitted to all cars.

Everything you need to know about snow chains »

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Money maker

We've just launched classified adverts in our online forum, providing the perfect place to buy or sell almost anything… from carburettors and claw-hammers to Christmas cards and cookery books.

AA Zone Classifieds are for private personal use only, and some items are unsuitable for inclusion.

Check out what's for sale or place an advert »

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Car review
Peugeot 3008

Peugeot 3008Joining the ever-swelling ranks of crossover vehicles is the Peugeot 3008, a model that the French manufacturer has designed to combine the vehicle dynamics of a regular hatchback model with the ride height and rugged looks of an SUV and the practicality of an MPV. Using smart new transmission technology and a practical body it holds adventurous families in its sights.

The 3008 is a chunky five-seater with a practical interior featuring a split rear tail gate and boot floor that can be adjusted to sit at three levels. Masses of interior storage and the option of a full-length glass roof boost the family appeal.

Two petrol engines are available; both 1.6 litres with either 120bhp or turbocharged 150bhp outputs. The more powerful of the two units boasts a six-speed rather than a five-speed gearbox. The three diesel units offer 110bhp, 150bhp or 163bhp. The most powerful employs a six-speed automatic gearbox, the least powerful uses either a six-speed manual or six-speed electronically controlled manual, while the 150bhp unit is available with a six-speed manual only.

Our ratings
Overall rating 7
Value for money 8
Costs 8
Space and practicality 8
Controls and display 8
Comfort 8
Car security 7
Car safety 8

Read the full review »

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Eco Driving Tip of the Month

Don't get lost – plan unfamiliar journeys to reduce the chance of getting lost – try the AA Route Planner or consider a 'Sat Nav' unit if you regularly drive unfamiliar routes. Check the traffic news before you go too.

More eco-driving advice »

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Workplace Parking Levies

Drivers could be taxed for parking at their place of work

Nottingham City Council has now confirmed its Department for Transport approved plans to introduce a levy of £253 p.a. per workplace parking space in 2012 – this will rise to around £350 p.a. by 2015. Penalties for 'exceeding' the number of declared parking spaces, enforced by random checks, will be heavy.

The purpose of workplace parking levies and congestion charges is to develop a revenue stream from measures that 'manage' (reduce) traffic demand and encourage modal shift. Under the Transport Act, provisions the revenue must be used for investment in local transport.

Read the full story »

Have your say about workplace parking levies in the AA Zone »

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Pay-by-phone parking

Driver on mobileIn many places the number of on-street parking machines or meters has been dramatically reduced and drivers are advised by signs to call a number, register and pay for their use of a space.

In some places pay-by-phone is the only option (e.g. Westminster) but in many others, cash payment options exist or scratch cards are available from local shops. The signs give clear guidance about what to do.

The main benefit, especially in expensive places, is that you needn't have the right money. Arrangements can also be made to text you to remind you that your parking time is up. Once registered it is an easy process.

But there are downsides too. Find out what these are, as well as what other motorists and the AA think about the scheme.

Read the full story »

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AA calls for action on motorways

Motorways and main roads closed more than 1,700 times already this year

Political parties should address congestion and road closures if they want to win the support of 32 million drivers, according to the AA President addressing a Conservative Party transport fringe meeting with Shadow Transport Secretary, Teresa Villiers MP.

Edmund King, AA President, argues that there should be greater efforts to fight congestion as it harms commerce, climate change and costs. He also points to an ongoing AA study that shows that motorways and main roads were closed due to accidents and incidents at least 1,700 times in the first eight months of this year. This equates to over 5,000 hours or 208 days of closures.

Top 10 motorways closed (Jan-Aug 2009)

  • M25 (closed for 206 hours)
  • M1 (189 hours)
  • M6 (179 hours)
  • M5 (153 hours)
  • M40 (124 hours)
  • A1(M) (74 hours)
  • M4 (73 hours)
  • M62 (53 hours)
  • M2 (48 hours)
  • M11 (41 hours)

Read the full story »

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President's log

AA President Edmund King

Some of the AA's latest campaign victories:

Car Scrappage

The AA was the first organisation to campaign for the car scrappage scheme last year. To date the scheme has been a success, but the original £300 million allocation from Government was due to run out well before the February 2010 end date.

The Government has now agreed to extend the scrappage scheme to cover approximately 100,000 more cars and vans. We at the AA are pleased with this decision as all the evidence suggests that extending the scheme will benefit the environment, road safety, businesses and less-well-off motorists.

The scheme has already transformed at least 250,000 older cars and vans into vehicles with 15 per cent better CO2 emissions, while keeping the network of car manufacturers, parts suppliers and dealer networks up and running during a recession.

The scheme has also generated VAT revenue for the Government to make the scheme nearly self-financing and wipe out most of the impact on the taxpayer – VAT on a £7,000 car is £913, which with the £55 new car tax covers the £1,000 Government grant for each vehicle.

Hospital parking

We also welcome plans to scrap hospital car parking charges for inpatients in England, as this is something we called for early last year. Parking charges are often a tax on the sick, and most hospitals in Scotland and Wales already offer free parking.

However, the Government also needs to address the needs of outpatients, as the costs soon add up for cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy on a day-patient basis. We also feel that clamping should be outlawed in hospital car parks as patients often do not know how long they will have to wait for treatment. Also, due to the risk of infection, many sufferers are unable to use public transport. All long-term sufferers should get parking concessions.

Let us know what you think in the AA Zone »

Edmund King
AA President

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AA Road Safety Manifesto

The AA is pulling together a road safety manifesto based on responses to surveys among the 75,000 strong AA/Populus panel, covering big issues affecting you including:

  • Speed cameras
  • Regulation
  • Enforcement
  • Engineering – of roads and cars
  • Education

Make your voice heard.

Read more »

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Join the AA/Populus Panel

Decline in deaths not the full story

The AA is delighted to see the decline in reported road death figures, and Britain's return to joint top of the international road safety league table. However, injuries have been under-reported.

"The suggestion that the real number of people injured on the road could be over three times the number recorded, shows the enormity of the road safety problem, even at a time when deaths are reducing significantly" says AA President Edmund King.

Read the full story »

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The crème de la crème

Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc

Tom Aikens and Natasha Kaplinsky
Tom Aikens and Natasha Kaplinsky

The AA recognised and celebrated the very best of the British hospitality industry recently, at a glittering awards ceremony in London.

Raymond Blanc picked up the AA Lifetime Achievement Award, and Marcus Wareing collected the AA Chefs' Chef of the Year award. The AA Hotel Group of the Year was named as von Essen hotels, and the AA Small Hotel Group of the Year was Exclusive Hotels.

The event, attended by industry leading chefs, hoteliers and restaurateurs, was hosted by Five News anchor Natasha Kaplinsky, with entertainment from Britain's Got Talent winners 'Diversity'. Chris Galvin, Eric Chavot and Gary Rhodes created the menu.

Details of more award-winning hotels will follow in future editions of Hotspots.

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Cooking at GalvinLast chance to win a holiday

The AA Home Cooking Competition closes on 30 October 2009, so there's still time to submit your own inspired recipe using the ingredients selected by top chefs Chris Galvin and André Garrett.

Whoever creates our winning dish will enjoy:

  • A break in France – as a guest of Pommery Champagne
  • An opportunity to cook alongside top chef Chris Galvin
  • An AA Rosette award plate

Full details »

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Win our new lifestyle guides

To celebrate this year's AA Hospitality Awards, we're giving away four fantastic new lifestyle guides:

Guide books The AA B&B Guide 2010
The AA Hotel Guide 2010
The AA Pub Guide 2010
The AA Restaurant Guide 2010

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic pack of four new books, simply email your name, address and daytime phone number to: [email protected], with 'competition' in the subject line (competition terms & conditions).

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Happy Halloween
Halloween events to scare your socks off

Children in Halloween costumes

There's plenty going on around the UK for grown-ups and children alike this Halloween. Grab a costume and take your pick from our round-up of the most ghoulish and gruesome events:

Read the full feature »

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FireworksSparks in the dark

Fun fireworks extravaganzas are set to take place all over the British Isles in early November. Search our free online events database to find one near you. Simply type a keyword into the 'name' box – for example, 'firework', 'sparks' or 'bonfire'.

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The terrifying Tower

London - a city revealedJust in time for Halloween, here's an exclusive AA extract for Hotspots subscribers about the terrifying Tower of London.

The extract is taken from our visual tribute to the capital 'London: A City Revealed'.

Download PDFClick here to open the extract from 'London: A City Revealed'
Adobe Acrobat is required to open this PDF file.

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What's on this month

25 October Trafalgar Day Parade - The Sea Cadet Corps »
26-31 October Norwich Beer Festival »
28-31 October The London Guitar Festival in the Fall »
29 Oct-1 Nov Antiques for Everyone »
30 Oct-1 Nov BBC Good Food Show Scotland »
30 Oct-1 Nov British Ski & Board Show »
30 Oct-1 Nov London to Brighton Veteran Car Run »
3 November Regent Street Christmas Lights »
4-8 November Spirit of Christmas Fair »
4-29 November The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain »
6-8 November Southport Weekender »
7 November Festival of Remembrance »
11 November Remembrance Day »
12 November Manchester Christmas Lights »
13-15 November Classic Car Show »
13-15 November London BBC Good Food Show »
13-21 November Bath Film Festival »
13-22 November London Jazz Festival »
14-23 November Mid Wales Beer Festival »
20-22 November Erotica »

London to Brighton Erotica
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Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited is an insurance intermediary which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), registration number 310562. You can check this on the FSA's register by visiting the FSA's website or by contacting the FSA on 0300 500 5000. Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited. Registered office: Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Registered in England and Wales, number: 2414212. For further information please visit

No purchase necessary. It is a condition of the competition that the entrant agrees to be bound by these rules and in particular that decisions of the AA and the judges on any matters whatsoever arising out of or connected with the competition are final. All entrants agree to take part in any publicity related to this prize draw and to the disclosure of their name and county. The closing date for entries is 6 November. The winner will be notified by 12 November by email. Prize is as stated and there is no cash alternative to the prize offered. Prize is non-transferable. The promoter is the Automobile Association, Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Only one entry per person. For name and county of the winner, please send a self-addressed envelope to AA Publishing, Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. The winner will be the first name picked at random from the entries after the closing date. The winner agrees to take part in any publicity related to this prize draw and to the disclosure of their name and county. In the unfortunate event of the prizes offered not being available, a prize of similar value will be substituted at the discretion of the AA. The AA's decision is final in all matters concerning the competition. Full Terms and Conditions available on request.