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Hordes of motorists already caught out by new law on using phone while driving
A taxi driver holding a mobile phone whilst driving on the A34 near Didcot in Oxfordshire (Picture: PA)

Motorists have already been caught flouting new laws on phone usage behind the wheel – on the very day they came into force.

Scores of drivers using phones have been handed penalties and fines doubled to six points and £200 as road patrols on the first day of the law change get under way.

By noon on Wednesday, police said they had stopped 31 drivers on their mobiles in Dorset.

One of these was a driver of a 7.5 tonne lorry using his phone while travelling around a roundabout in the Bournemouth area, the force said.

Another driver who was stopped by police in Norfolk was responding to a message about her lost puppy being found.

A van driver holding a mobile phone whilst driving on the M20 near Ashford, Kent (Picture: PA)Motorists on the A3 through Guildford using their phones on the day that the points for the offence has increased to 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine. Guildford (Picture: SWNS)

The force tweeted that it had stopped 11 drivers on their phones in the space of just 90 minutes.

More than 20 motoring offences were detected by officers from Kent’s Roads Policing Unit this morning.

Of those stopped, 12 drivers were using their phones, four for not being in proper control of their vehicle and another four for driving at excess speed.

A driver who appeared to be talking to a parrot – yes, a parrot – perched on the steering wheel was also stopped after his van was spotted swerving between lanes on the M20, the force said.

An officer pulls a car over as part of a drive to inform motorists of the risk of using a phone whilst driving in London (Picture: Getty)Hordes of drivers have already been caught (Picture: SWNS)

One driver had his vehicle seized for using a mobile phone while driving, not using a seat belt and driving without insurance.

Thames Valley Police said 11 people were stopped for using phones, including two new drivers, in its first patrol of the day. Another five people were stopped for not wearing seat belts.

A journalist believed to be on his way to cover the launch of new penalties was also stopped for using his mobile while driving.

Other police forces are expected to release figures after a week-long national crackdown.

Around 3,600 motorists were handed penalties in a similar initiative last month.

A van driver holding a mobile phone whilst driving on the M20 near Ashford, Kent (Picture: PA)

Changes to laws on driving

The new driving penalties include:

New drivers can have their licence revoked if they get six penalty points in their first two years on the road, which could now be the result of sending a single text message.

More experienced motorists can lose their licence if they receive 12 points in a three-year period.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said increasing fixed penalties will be a ‘strong deterrent’ for motorists.

Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2015 where a motorist using a mobile was a contributory factor, latest figures show.

According to the Transport Research Laboratory, reaction times are twice as long for drivers who are texting compared with those who have been drinking.

And an RAC survey found that one in four (26%) motorists admits checking texts, emails and social media while driving.

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‘Insurance cost doubled’: Call for swifter implementation of report

DEPUTY Niall Collins has welcomed the recent publication of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance but has called for swifter implementation of some of its key recommendations. “If implemented without delay I believe the report can halt the trend of rapidly rising motor insurance premiums. While the Government cannot directly control motor insurance premiums, we have always argued it can influence the factors […](image)

REPORT: Ireland’s used car industry booming
DoneDeal, Ireland’s most visited website for buying and selling cars, has released new data on the performance of its Motor Section in 2016, giving an insight into Ireland’s rapidly growing used car industry and the nation’s favourite cars.

The data showed that the value of goods advertised on DoneDeal’s Motor Section in 2016 was a staggering €5.4 billion, which equates to €14.8 million in the value of goods advertised on the site each day. A record number of ads were also placed on the Motor Section of the website in 2016, as almost one million (991,734) ads were advertised, representing an increase of 9.3% on 2015 figures.

Ireland’s favourite car brands and colours were also revealed, as the data found that the Volkswagen Golf was the top selling car on DoneDeal in 2016, followed by Ford Focus, VW Passat, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. In total, 663,336 cars were advertised on DoneDeal in 2016, highlighting the massive growth of used car sales in Ireland. Black cars were confirmed as the nation’s favourite car colour, with black as the top selling car colour on DoneDeal, followed by blue, grey, red and white cars.

DoneDeal also experienced growth in car dealerships advertising on its Motor Section, as the number of ads placed by car dealers increased by 21% in 2016, with the number of car dealers subscribing to DoneDeal also up 17%.

Cathal Cremen, Commercial Manager of DoneDeal’s Motor Section, commented on the data results; “2016 proved to be another exceptional year for DoneDeal in terms of traffic growth and adverts placed on the site.  Once again our Motor Section proved to be the most popular section of the site with 663,336 cars alone advertised on DoneDeal in 2016.

“A significant feature of DoneDeal’s success in 2016 was the increase in the number of car dealerships now subscribing to DoneDeal.  This is very much a reflection of the commitment and investment that DoneDeal has been making to ensure we deliver a quality service for our clients. We look forward to continuing to grow the Motor Section in 2017 and remaining the most visited website for buying and selling cars in Ireland” he said.

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Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Review


What’s it all about?

As part of Mercedes-AMG’s compact car offering, the CLA 45 is the company’s stove-hot, ultra-fast, small-sized steroidal sedan. It’s the most potent CLA-Class vehicle you can buy today, pinning you into its lush bucket seats at full noise, with a streetwise look via its sporty body kit and big 19-inch alloy wheels.

The CLA-Class was updated ( in August 2016 with equipment upgrades, a subtle new look and a power boost for the AMG CLA 45. The AMG’s wild 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine adding 15kW and 25Nm for a total of 280kW and 475Nm – making it the world’s most potent 2.0-litre production car engine.

With an all-wheel drive setup with enough snatch and grab to accelerate to 100km/h in 4.2sec, but claims to offer fuel consumption of just 7.4L/100km, the stylish sedan can switched between brutal and banal at the touch of a button.

Regular readers will know I’m not the best at achieving low fuel economy figures but my week-long drive resulted in 12.8L/100km, which isn’t bad considering how easily you can point and shoot this machine.


How much will it cost?
Pegged at $92,215, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 is $2715 more than the 2016 model and is quite a stretch from the entry-level CLA’s $52,500. You get a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and plenty of fruit with the car, including semi-automated driving functions (acceleration, braking, steering) via adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistants.

Some of the other standard features include the AMG Driver’s Package and Performance Seats (feels sporty), AMG Performance Exhaust (sounds sporty), AMG high-performance braking system (stops sportily), plus a Harmon Kardon Logic 7 surround sound audio system with top-shelf infotainment and sat nav.

It’s a beautiful car to sit in and makes you feel like a prince (or princess) with a stylish and utterly opulent fit out. I love the touch-points too. The AMG gear-shifter and steering wheel are luscious, while crimson seat belts and scarlet highlights throughout add a little razzle-dazzle.

There are a few downsides to the cabin. Cheap plastic temperature dials are a hangover from the A-Class’s $30,000 budget car origins, and manual adjustment of the steering wheel is disappointing. The lack of a 360-degree parking camera ain’t great either… with shiny wheels like these, a reverse camera isn’t enough!


Why should I buy it?

In my view it’s not the best value-for-money performance car you can get for nearly $100,000, but it’s exceedingly fast, it’s surprisingly loud (though there are “quiet” modes) and hugely entertaining across a range of scenarios. The way it snarls and barks when you’re giving it heaps is awfully immersive and turns heads quicker than zombie flash mob.

It blitzes the traffic light duels and straight-line sprints with intensity, its seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox visceral control of engine speeds. It rips up winding coastal roads too, attacking apexes with gusto and rocketing from point-to-point with startling pace.

There is a touch of understeer at the limit and it can be a bit firm on crumbly roads but overall it’s a cracker to drive. The cabin is Tuetonic sportiness at its best and the exterior is stylish too, all of which conspire to make this a satisfying vehicle to look at, touch and drive.


When is it available in Australia?
The car is already on sale locally and for buyers who prefer a wagon there’s the long sausage version too, only it’s a called a Shooting Brake ( A high-tech German car with a quintessentially 19th-century moniker? No doubt the British aristocracy will be chuffed!

Despite having a more flexible load space the wagon is same price, $92,215. So unless you have to have the swoopy-coupy look (which is pretty slick) the wagon is the judicious choice.

Mercedes-Benz is working on the next-generation 2.0-litre banzai motor ( for the next A, CLA, and GLA-Class vehicles that will reach 300kW, but these vehicles are unlikely to emerge until 2018 before going on sale around 2019.


Who will it appeal to?
Well people like me I reckon. Active lifestyle, enjoy the beach, going to bars, pretty hip and happening really. In all seriousness, there’s broad-spectrum demographic appeal here, from young executives and IT professionals through to mature aged rev heads.

Given the almost six figure price tag buyers are likely to be either successful business people and/or criminals who want something small enough to get around town but with enough mumbo to eat up open road miles too.

Realistically it can accommodate four adult passengers, but there’s seating for five. It’s got a certain level of pragmatism and although rear-seat head and leg-room is tight for taller sorts, the boot is surprisingly deep for a car of this size.

Not that I’m suggesting putting bodies in the boot… But they would fit. Anyway, the AMG has a very useful 470 litres is just 10 shy of the bigger BMW 3 Series’ 480-litre boot.


Where does it fit?
If I was standing in a car dealership showroom having a squiz at this car, I’d call it a small sedan with big muscles. According to VFACTS, the group that records Australian new car sales, it’s a “medium-sized car above $60,000”.

Considering you can buy a regular CLA-Class car for under $60,000 and that it’s 22cm shorter than the best-selling medium car in Australia, the Toyota Camry, I think my definition is far more apt.

Then again, Benz calls this car a coupe, which is just as confusing, considering it has four doors and is clearly not a coupe. Nevertheless, it’s an absolutely bottle rocket with lashings of luxury for good measure.

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Motorists now face €80 fine and penalty points for driving too close to cyclists
(image)1Cyclist Phil Skelton (left) Government chief whip Regina Doherty and TD Ciarán Cannon (right) promote their 1.5 metre bill

Motorists are to face fines and penalty points for driving too close to cyclists under a radical new law sought by Fine Gael.

The move comes after 20 cyclists have died on Irish roads in the past two years.

Under the planned law, drivers will face €80 fines and three penalty points slapped on their licences if they are caught encroaching on cyclists’ road space. Fines of up to €1,500, and five penalty points, would be imposed if an incident ends up in court and results in a conviction.

The minimum passing distance would be set at 1.5 metres on roads with speed limits of more than 50kmh.

A distance of one metre would apply on streets and roads with lower speed limits. The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017, is being published today by Fine Gael TDs Ciarán Cannon and Regina Doherty, the Government chief whip.

They are seeking the support of Transport Minister Shane Ross and the transport spokespersons of other political parties for the law they want to see passed before the Dáil’s summer recess.

Earlier this month, Mr Ross told an Oireachtas committee he was aware Ms Doherty was working on a bill in relation to cyclists and the legislation would be considered once it’s brought forward. Mr Ross said his officials were also working on a measure to create a special offence of “dangerously overtaking cyclists”, adding: “I believe that they need protection.”

The campaign for a minimum distance law ‘Stayin’ Alive at 1.5′ was set up by Wexford cyclist Phil Skelton, who felt compelled to take action when two local cyclists were killed following incidents with motorists.

He contacted Mr Cannon, who’s a keen cyclist. The Galway East TD said “a worrying amount of drivers seem to have a ‘no contact, no harm’ attitude.”

He pointed to the number of deaths of cyclists in recent years and said: “It is no longer acceptable to expose our cyclists to huge risks on our roads… this law sets out to significantly reduce those risks.”

Ms Doherty said the number of cyclists was increasing.

“We all need to share the roads and to do that they must be made safer. The only way to do this is to introduce a minimum passing distance law,” she said.

Such laws have been passed in France, Belgium, Portugal, Canada and Australia as well as half of the US states.

Mr Cannon said a number of mechanisms have been used in other jurisdictions to enforce similar laws. He said footage from cyclists’ own bike-mounted cameras had been used in Australian courts, while special equipment had been deployed by US police forces. The device measures the lateral space around the cyclist and is used by police officers on bikes to catch motorists breaching minimum distance laws.

Mr Cannon said he did not want to “drive a wedge” between cyclists and motorists, but that he was seeking the law to raise awareness of the issue and change the behaviour of drivers who did not consider cyclists while overtaking.

He gave the examples of the smoking ban and plastic bag tax as measures that previously changed public behaviour.

“This is about effecting a cultural change in Ireland so that every driver is aware of the vulnerability of cyclists, young and old, and drive accordingly,” he said.

Ms Doherty said: “Once a safe passing distance is legislated for, we need to significantly raise awareness of this law by amending the Rules of the Road and funding new public awareness campaigns.”

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