A REPORT ON whiplash claims following a House of Commons transport committee inquiry has been welcomed by AA Insurance
1,500 people now claim for whiplash injury every day following a motor collision.
The inquiry – which was concerned with the cost of motor insurance and ways of reducing the number of whiplash claims – came in the wake of figures which show that since 2006 there has been a 60 PER CENT rise in the number of personal injury claims made – while the number of reported collisions on Britain’s roads has fallen by 20 per cent over the same period
An AA spokesman said they were pleased that MPs recognised the “delicate balance” which must be struck between genuine claimants and those who are, in effect, trying to earn a ‘quick buck’ by exaggerating an injury after a road collision – or indeed have not been injured at all. ”
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: “In the continuing debate about whiplash injury claims I have always emphasised the need to ensure that those who have a legitimate claim should not be put off from seeking the compensation for their injury that they deserve.” Mr Douglas also noted the MPs surprise that making a whiplash injury claim has been ‘too easy’.
The AA spokesman explained that the burden of proof falls on the defending insurance company, and because all but serious whiplash injury can’t easily be diagnosed the insurance company can end up paying both the costs of a court defence as well as compensation and legal fees.
“There is no doubt that fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash injury claims have inflated premiums and have tarnished the reputation of the legal and insurance professions” he added.
“We are already seeing some benefits of LASPO (The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act) measures whereby the number of personal injury claim firms has fallen dramatically.
“In response to this car insurance premiums have in turn fallen over recent months, which trend underlines the industry’s commitment to passing on cost savings to customers.
“Although the transport committee is cautious about increasing the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 – which is being considered by the Ministry of Justice – we believe this will prove to be a significant disincentive to those without a legitimate injury ‘chancing their luck’ at winning a settlement.
“We also welcome the committee’s agreement that more robust measures should be put in place to confirm the medical likelihood that an injury has taken place.”
The AA have offered the following advice about preventing whiplash:
- Adjust your head restraint properly
For best protection the head restraint should be:
- Touching the back of your head, or as close as possible to it.
- At least as high as the top of your ears, and ideally as high as the top of your head.
- You should check regularly that the head restraints in your car are adjusted properly.
SUMMER PETROL SALES DOWN ALMOST EIGHT PER CENT
Petrol sales in the UK fell by almost eight per cent to winter levels in July – a month when consumers were celebrating summer with a 1.1pc surge in overall retail shopping sales, AA analysis of new HM Revenue and Customs figures reveals.
AA president Edmund King said:.“It’s staggering that when brilliant weather sent consumers into the shops and gave the UK’s retail sector a strong boost, the complete opposite happened at the pumps.
“Not only are petrol sales shadowing the record lows of this winter, but are lower than last July which included a week of Olympics football, opening ceremony and initial events. “You might have assumed that drivers cut back to splurge on the barbecue food, outdoor items, clothing and alcohol that lifted shop spending. “But all those items would normally go hand-in-hand with increased driving to go to friends, parties and days out.
“The fact is that, in June, when petrol prices stabilised at more than 5p a litre cheaper than in the spring, fuel sales soared to levels last seen in November 2011. “A spike of up to 5p a litre in July, with many AA members asking us why pump prices went up 3p in a matter of days, triggered the opposite response.
“It seems that, as each penny increase registers on fuel forecourt price boards, drivers automatically cut back – even if they’re in the mood to spend elsewhere. “Psychologists may have a field day with this – a Pavlovian reaction at the pump, perhaps?”
(Fuel price data supplied by Experian Catalist Wholesale price data provided by fuelpricesonline.com)
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DRIVERS RISK FIXED PENALTY NOTICES FOR CARELESS DRIVING
Almost a third of drivers are at risk of getting one of the new fixed penalty notices for careless driving, which came into force on Friday August 16th, warns the AA.
AA-Populus research has shown that nearly a third (29 per cent) of drivers admit to being middle lane hogs, just one of the habits that can be tackled under the new notices.
Edmund King, director of the AA charitable trust, said: “We are pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers – tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs.
“It is worrying that three-quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones behind the wheel on some or most journeys.
“This epidemic of hand held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and our members have demanded action. “An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine** will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use. “AA members broadly support an increase in the level of the fixed penalty.
AA Driving School’s top tips for motorway driving:
Keep left unless overtaking – return to the left-hand lane after overtaking, not forgetting to indicate, and check your blind spot
Follow the two-second rule – give yourself enough time and space to react
Adjust for the conditions – slow down and follow the four-second rule if the road is slippery or visibility is poor.
Control your speed
Indicate in good time before changing lanes
Check your mirrors often – your situation will change quickly on the motorway
Take extra care around trucks and other large vehicles – they have bigger blind spots and slower reaction times
Anticipate what’s coming next by sweeping the road ahead visually – look 2 seconds ahead, 4 seconds ahead, and 12 seconds ahead, and check your mirrors.
Only use the hard shoulder for emergencies
Take regular breaks – about every two hours, to stop yourself becoming tired behind the wheel
Some typical examples of careless driving are:
overtaking on the inside;
driving inappropriately close to another vehicle;
inadvertently driving through a red light;
emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle;
tuning a car radio; when the driver was avoidably distracted by this action;
selecting and lighting a cigarette or similar when the driver was avoidably distracted by that use.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “If the police target the worst and most persistent offenders this could be good news for road safety. “If, however, it just becomes another numbers game with thousands of careless driving tickets issued then the impact will be limited. “The IAM believes that driver retraining courses have a much bigger potential to actually improve poor driving than simply issuing a standard fine and should always be offered as the first stage of prosecution.”
**New penalty levels from 16 August: £30 FPN becomes £50, £60 FPN becomes £100
* Populus interviewed 19,949 adults aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 11-18 July2013.. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council
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ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING POINTS FAIL TO SPARK INTEREST
Three quarters of London’s 800 electric charging points for private vehicles were not used at all during 2012 according to new figures released by the Mayor of London in response to questions asked by Stephen Knight AM, Liberal Democrat London Assembly environment spokesperson.
A Lib Dem statement said the information released by the Mayor of London shows that in the last three months of 2012 only 198 of the then existing 800 electric charging points were used at all. “Even where the charging points were used, their average use was frequently just one to four minutes per day. “This suggests they had in practice only been used once or twice over this three month period.
“Only 37 of the 198 charging points had been used for two hours or more each day on average. “Due to the long time to charge an electric vehicle the figures suggest that only a few dozen of the charging points are even regularly charging a single electric vehicle each day.”
The Mayor’s ’Source London’ electric vehicle charging scheme has recently been expanded, with the scheme now having 1300 charging points across the capital, the statement added.
Stephen Knight said: “It is quite clear that Source London is failing to have much impact. “A growing network of charging points, which are aimed primarily at private electric cars, clearly has long term merit, but the Mayor’s number one priority must be to switch London’s 20,000 diesel taxis and 8,500 diesel buses to electric power.
“It is these diesel vehicles which clock up the most miles and make the greatest contribution to air pollution, especially in central London.
“The Mayor should concentrate on what he can actually deliver. “Taxis and London buses are either run or licensed by Transport for London and the Mayor is in charge of the running of Transport for London. “If the Mayor is serious about reducing air pollution in London he should concentrate public resources on what he can actually influence.”
(Source: GLA press release)