Law-breaking clampers sent to jail

The stereotype of the disrespectful, power-abusing traffic warden is well known to members of the British motoring public. However, the illegal behaviour of a group of Worcestershire wheel clampers would have been enough to place most drivers into a state of temporary shock.

Apparently, the crooks deliberately targeted and acted aggressively towards vehicle owners who they deemed to be vulnerable. Both elderly and female drivers were hit with extortionate parking fines of up to £335.

A driver from Malvern said, “I felt that if the clampers had held a gun to my head and taken the money I couldn't have felt any worse. I felt angry, traumatised and emotional. I felt I had been robbed.”

There was some solace for the victims of the car park crime, as each of the clampers was sent to jail for between 12 and 32 months. The relief that the prosecution must have felt upon the issuing of these sentences can only be imagined.

The judge said, “What of course is wholly wrong is the use of enforcement measures to provide a service to help traders and others suffering from illegally parked cars, but to use the company as a vehicle to obtain money dishonestly from the public by blatant use of authority and power.”

Those people who are interested in the laws of motoring will now be waiting to see what happens in the case of potentially fraudulent whiplash claims, which have been the focus of media attention recently.

Photo © ecastro via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Swedish motorist survives snowy ordeal

The drivers who have competed for the Camel Trophy in Brazil and battled to become Le Mans 24 hour racing champions have all exhibited great powers of endurance. However, none of these inspirational figures have pushed their minds or bodies to quite the same limits as the Swedish driver who was recently discovered in the snowy wilderness of Umea.

The fact that the Swede is still alive after spending two months buried beneath the snow is wholly remarkable. The feat was made even more astonishing as he only had limited supplies, his car, and basic sleeping bag to keep the cold at bay.

This case is of such a unique nature that it has been the cause of much conjecture in the Swedish medical community.

The Chief Medical Officer of Noorland University said that the temperature in snowed-in cars tends to be similar to igloos.

He states, “Igloos usually have a temperature of a couple of degrees below 0C and if you have good clothes you would survive in those temperatures and be able to preserve your body temperature.”

A well known doctor responded by saying, “A bit like a bear that hibernates. Humans can do that. He probably had a body temperature of around 31C which the body adjusted to.”

The motorist who was rescued by local snowmobile riders may not have given much thought to the reasons for his survival. Indeed, his primary concerns were probably finding hot food and a warm bed to spend the night. Here at duck2water we hope that he had car insurance to cover the damage sustained by his vehicle.

Photo © cogdogblog via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Scottish police officers spend £250,000 repairing their cars

Most people have been involved in minor car accidents at some point in their lives, with only the very fortunate not suffering prangs or dents to their vehicles.

Sadly, it seems that Scottish Police forces are no exception.

Journalists at Deadlinenews.co.uk have recently revealed that since 2009, officers have spent nearly £250,000 repairing damage to their own vehicles – with 764 reported accidents happening in their own car parks.

According to a freedom of information enquiry, officers have also crashed their vehicles into fuel pumps, other police cars, gateposts and skips.

Some instances of damage were caused by staff forgetting to apply their handbrake and other officers blamed their mistakes on their feet slipping from the clutch.

Les Grey, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said that officers who crash their cars will be held responsible.

“This is unacceptable and many of the accidents are due to carelessness,” he said.

“It’s not just a case of officers shrugging their shoulders and getting on with their day, they will be held accountable and have to fill in reams of paperwork to explain themselves.”

Last year, it was also revealed that the force had wasted nearly £80,000 of taxpayer’s money by putting the wrong kind of fuel in their vehicles, leading to 350 police cars being taken off the road.

Photo © connor395 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Antifreeze fish

Has your car ever run out of antifreeze at the wrong moment, resulting in you having to rummage around in the garage or your boot to top it up while grumbling about how cold it is outside?

Well, one group of fish will never have to worry about this problem.

Yes, we know that no fish will ever have this problem because none of them – to our knowledge – are drivers, but that’s not what we meant.

These particular fish, the notothenioids, live in sub-zero waters in the Antarctic and have developed what is being called ‘natural antifreeze’ in their bodies which makes them able to survive the devastatingly cold temperatures they swim in.

There are more than 120 of these ‘antifreeze’ fish species and they have managed to live for millions of years and through the ice age that killed many other fish that hadn’t adapted well enough to the cold.

Worryingly though, these marine animals have adapted themselves so well to the cold that if climate change increases the temperatures of their water too much, they’re unlikely to survive.

So, the next time you top up the antifreeze in your car, think of these strange Antarctic fish and drive in an economical way to help reduce your carbon footprint. The notothenioids would thank you if they could.

Photo © NOAA Photo Library via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Red or yellow or pink or green, purple or orange or blue?

Recently a worldwide survey undertaken by a website called Kaggle, which collects “real-world data”, has found that the colour of the car you buy might be less irrelevant than previously thought.

Some people might make fun of drivers who don’t know what model of car they want to buy but know they won’t settle for any other paint job than blue, but the research has proven that potentially these colour-motivated motorists have the right idea.

Reportedly, when purchasing second-hand cars, the colour vehicles most likely to have suffered dodgy repairs or to have been clocked are the yellow ones.

But don’t feel safe buying an outlandishly coloured vehicle yet! When it comes to rarer colours, the riskiest purchases are apparently gold or purple cars.

Your safest bet is orange, according to the data, but stay well clear of any cars which have been modified with extras like fancy suspension and alloys, whatever colour the vehicle may be.

Good luck with any second-hand purchases you make – and remember to perform an HPI check before you hand your money over!

Photo © mlpdesign via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Taxi to my crime den, please

Obviously we don’t condone any criminal activities at all – in fact we’re quite against any unlawful behaviour.

However, I think you’d agree that if you are going to commit a crime – burgling for example – then you should think about how you’re going to get away afterwards without being caught.

Two ridiculous thieves in Suffolk didn’t think about this very hard before stealing things from a log cabin in Haverhill which was positioned next to the owner’s home and being used as a recording studio.

One of the men, worried that he was going to be late for a dentist appointment – no joke – had asked his mate to help him with the robbery.

After taking some audio and recording equipment worth around £7465, the pair ordered a taxi and used their real names and gave the ringleader’s real home address!

The taxi driver thought their behaviour and what they wanted transported was suspicious, so he called the police. Around a similar time the owner of the log cabin reported the burglary, and a little later the neighbours of the burglars alerted police to suspicious goods being unloaded.

Needless to say both thieves pleaded guilty to their crimes – they had so much proof of their criminal activities stacked up against them there wouldn’t have been any point pleading innocent.

Honest citizens and police: One.
Bungling burglars: Zero.

Photo © Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Theory test troubles

If at first you don’t succeed then try, try, and try again.

A motorist from Leicester has clearly taken these words to heart after failing 92 attempts at the DSA driving theory test.

It is unknown when the driver began taking and failing the tests. However, reports have revealed that the unsuccessful attempts have cost £2,852 thus far.

This story has raised such a great amount of interest that it was recently featured on the popular motoring show, Top Gear. The presenters couldn't resist the temptation to have a laugh at the expense of the unfortunate East Midlands motorist.

James Hammond said, “I don't want to be rude, but the man must be an idiot.”

An experienced driving instructor echoed this sentiment by saying, “It's an incredible number of times to fail a test. I've never heard of anything like it.”

Sympathy may be felt by the Wigston motorist who recently failed their theory test for the 21st consecutive time, or the Norfolk lady who acquired her full driving license after 27 years of failed attempts.

The one consoling factor for all of these unlucky drivers is that they may be able to obtain cheaper car insurance than would have been possible if they'd passed first time as a young driver.

Photo © Nima Badiey via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Personalised registration plates to go on sale

Going, going, gone! To the proudest fish and chip shop owner in England goes a sought after personalised registration plate, bearing the letters CH11 PPY.

Bids starting at £400 for the YOU 1OST “fun plate”. Any takers? Perhaps the boy racer in the front row?

These are the kinds of questions that may be posed during the DVLA Personalised Registrations sale, at the Stratford Manor Hotel on February 1st.

It is expected that a large number of motorists will be in attendance, some with the hope of securing a pair of HI5 MUM and HI5 DAD plates.

A spokesperson for the DVLA said, “We always manage to come up with an incredible array of personalised registrations to suit all tastes and with reserves starting from as little as £250 this auction is no exception.”

This may seem like a great extravagance, until you hear the Chelsea Chairman Roman Abramovich paid £285, 000 for his VIP plate. He obviously wanted to remind the world of his particularly high status.

Here at duck2water we have been wondering how much would be willing to bid for the IN5 URED plate…

Photo © Ed Callow [torquespeak] via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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