by Clare | Oct 24, 2019 | General
Over the last 12 months the retailer that has undergone the most dramatic change is undoubtedly Shell. In that time-frame it has found a new purpose beyond oil, that is greener and delivers far more value than buying fuel alone. We examine the recent journey that Shell has undertaken which provides a revealing insight into the direction that petrol retailers are likely to take as they see future challenges to their core business model of selling fossil fuels.
At the heart of the change is their new loyalty programme Shell Go +, which launched with a fanfare in March this year with a 10% saving on hot drinks, the Jamie Oliver food range, car wash and lubricants. The real selling point of this reward programme is the simplicity and clarity of Shell Go +. It is a primarily digital scheme which makes it really attractive to many users, testified by the fact that in such a short space of time over 1 million drivers in the UK are now members of Shell Go +.
Each time you visit and spend more than £2 in the shop or £10 on fuel you earn a visit and on the 10th occasion there is a fuel discount. You can also earn a £3 discount off Shell V-Power fuel when you have bought 300 Litres; which for the average vehicle equates to 4-5 fill ups..
But it is what it’s now offering since then that has really grabbed our attention. It started with the acquisition of household energy supplier First Utility, re-branded as Shell Energy. Shell Energy’s household customers earn a 3% discount on fuels at Shell stations as a Shell Go + member, but there is more. All the electricity sold is 100% renewable, its also based on fixed tariffs that are clear and simple to understand, plus some tariffs come with the award winning Nest smart thermostat allowing you to adjust your heating via smartphone app anywhere in the world and get better control over energy use.
Shell Energy also provides fast and reliable broadband to British homes and energy customers enjoy extra discounts on full fibre broadband that makes it highly price competitive when compared to BT or Virgin Media.
From October 17, 2019 Shell customers in the United Kingdom with a Shell Go+ account can choose to ‘drive carbon neutral’ through the use of carbon offsetting.
This is possible at no extra cost to customers: any fuel purchase made through the Shell Go+ rewards scheme will automatically be offset by Shell on behalf of the customer using nature-based solutions. So what does this mean? Well, when you drive an internal combustion engine car, your vehicle produces carbon emissions. For Shell Go+ customers, Shell will buy a carbon credit to offset, or compensate, for these emissions. One credit represents the avoidance or removal of 1 tonne of carbon from the atmosphere and these credits are sold to Shell by carefully chosen nature-based projects – such as forest developments or grassland preservation projects – that capture and store carbon from the atmosphere.
Its only when you see the role Shell Go+ , Shell Energy and NewMotion do at once does it become clear what way Shell is going and its an extremely bold, but admirable undertaking. The approach is powered by rewards for those who participate in moving towards a sustainable energy future, not by imposing penalties for using carbon emitting products. There is something to be said for using the carrot rather than stick approach, it was this that helped Norway to convert almost 50% of all driver into EV vehicles within 10 years.
Shell Energy Collective Deal
Using the power of the Energy Club, PetrolPrices has negotiated an exclusive deal with major supplier Shell Energy. This duel fuel energy tariff is lower in cost per month than what you would pay if you bought it from Shell Energy direct.
Here are details of the winning tariff and how to get it is go via the Energy Club HERE. At the top of the search results page you will see the Shell Energy deal and APPLY button.
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by Clare | Feb 22, 2018 | General
In recent years the development of autonomous vehicles has scared many people, the thought of a car that drives itself around with no human contact instils fear.
According to the government, the autonomous car industry is worth £900bn worldwide, but the legalities and issues surrounding fault are significant steps to overcome. Many car companies are tapping into this vast potential and creating autonomous vehicles, with companies like Jaguar Land Rover announcing they will be sending out autonomous cars by the end of this year.
The hope is that self-driving cars will help to lower congestion, decrease the number of accidents, and improve traffic flow as they will be able to spot risks and barriers and communicate with other vehicles. They will be able to control steering, braking and their speed, and be able to make safe decisions based on their perception of the road conditions, but are drivers confident about sharing the roads with them?
© Copyright smoothgrover22 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Worrying the country
In a recent Facebook poll that PetrolPrices ran, where we asked people “Are you worried about self-driving cars being allowed on the roads?”, 70% of respondents said that they were indeed worried, with some referencing the issue around who would get prosecuted in the event of an accident. On the other hand, one person said they would not ride in one but would be happy sharing the road as the non-autonomous driver can see and note their surroundings.
A survey by WhatCar? also revealed that 45% of drivers found the thought of self-driving cars unappealing. On the other hand, a separate study by SMNT found that 49% of 17-24-year-olds would use an autonomous vehicle, with a considerable 71% saying that connected and autonomous vehicles would improve their life. These statistics show that younger drivers who have grown up with technology are more trusting of it, whereas the majority of older drivers have not grown up surrounded by smart devices.
The government is not helping with these fears as they want to allow driverless cars for consumer use on the road by 2020. However, they have said for all autonomous vehicle testing a competent driver must be present to step in if it is needed.
These autonomous vehicles will start to be tested on public roads after nearly three years of testing on private land as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs to be able to learn to mimic human actions as best as they can. This is called machine learning, and by recognising different triggers while driving, they can apply human-like actions to their decision-making process. The hope is that the closer to human driving the autonomous vehicles can get, the general public will feel more comfortable being on the same roads as them.
Most human drivers fear AI as they worry it will prompt more accidents than drivers cause. In fact, 34% of drivers said this would be their biggest concern with autonomous vehicles. In response to this, car manufacturers have stated that human error causes 90% of crashes, and artificial intelligence will not be distracted by a mobile phone or nod off behind the wheel.
The current situation
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi have a project called HumanDrive, which uses machine learning to help create a safe autonomous vehicle, have said they will release a vehicle for testing late next year. On its drive across the UK, HumanDrive will take control of the steering, braking, speed, road position and decision-making, as well as the perception of conditions and features required to pilot the car fully. Before this, the car will have been intensely tested on private roads and tracks in a variety of conditions to promote complete safety.
Most traditional car retailers are facing competition from companies like Tesla and Google, who are pioneering the way forward and changing the perception of what autonomous vehicles can do over in America.
In the future of AI, machine learning and autonomy, no one can predict what will happen next. All we can do at the moment is wait and arm ourselves with the knowledge to be able to adapt to the rise of autonomous vehicles.
What do you think about self-driving vehicles? Are you excited to see them on public roads? Let us know in the comments below
by Clare | Feb 21, 2018 | General
Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled drivers and passengers, allowing them the ease of parking and helping them to feel settled in society. However, because these badges enable people to park for free in pay and display bays in certain areas, plus for up to 3 hours on yellow lines if it safe and not an obstruction, makes them a huge target for thieves.
Recent statistics have shown that blue badge theft in England has quadrupled in 4 years with nearly 3000 stolen in 2016-17 compared to 650 in 2013. The numbers from 2013 were still 14% higher than 2012, showing a steady increase over time. The Department for Transport has attributed 98% of these thefts to people wanting to be able to park for free and in priority spots.
The biggest number of burglaries happened in London, with 196 stolen in Islington, equating to 26 in every thousand blue badges taken. Theft rate is higher in the congestion zone as blue badge holders can apply for exemption from the congestion charge, as it is harder for them to walk around London.
English councils can take legal action against those who are misusing a blue badge, either via theft or by borrowing it from a friend or family member.Last year 1,131 motorists were taken through this process. In fact, the Department for Transport reports showed that 2016 saw an 84% surge in prosecutions for misuse of a blue badge.
New plans to be introduced
Around 2.4 million people hold a blue badge in England, and they allow people to visit the shops and to see friends without having to worry about their mobility causing issues once they reach their destination. There are plans to offer these to another million drivers with hidden disabilities such as autism and dementia. These plans could help individuals to feel more comfortable in situations that they might otherwise find upsetting.
Hopefully, it will help them to feel less anxious about putting their safety at risk should they not be able to park in a predictable and convenient place. This would be the most significant change to blue badge rules since they were introduced in 1970, and calls have been made for clear and consistent guidelines to be put in place, to stop fraud and theft. At present, many authorities are only happy to give people blue badges if they have issues with their mobility, but this new rule would give them the freedom to base their decision on other factors too.
What do you think?
At PetrolPrices.com we carried out a Facebook poll on whether people think that blue badge holders should be allowed to park for free in hospitals. 33% of people said that they should, with the other 67% of people disagreeing. However, some comments suggested that people thought that no one should have to pay if they were legitimately visiting the hospital. This raised the issue that people will park in free hospital car parks near to town centres to go shopping, meaning that patients find it harder to park.
However, the Scottish government scrapped hospital parking charges in 2008 for patients and NHS staff, and this saved people more than £25 million over seven years which relieved many individuals of the financial burden that extra costs at a difficult time can cause. This is in contrast to the record £174 million that the NHS made from charging patients in England during 2016-17, with more than half of trusts charging disabled people to park.
It is important that people are aware that borrowing blue badges from friends of relatives counts as misuse and that they could be prosecuted. As they are such high value due to the cost of parking and driving today, it may be that we continue to see the number being stolen continue to rise.
What do you think of the new plans for blue badges? Do you think that the number of thefts will continue to rise? Let us know in the comments?
by Clare | Feb 14, 2018 | General
Alongside speeding, driver distraction is the leading cause of fatal accidents on Britain’s roads, and it seems that we are all distracted from the road every time we drive. A recent study by Peugeot has shown what we have always expected, which is that on average drivers take their eyes off the road up to 7% per journey.
The level of distraction equates to drivers are not looking at the road for 2 miles every 30 miles they drive, which also explains why many accidents do occur.
Peugeot researched to prove that their i-Cockpit technology reduces driver distraction. The i-Cockpit solution places functions such as the speedometer onto the front of the windscreen, so drivers do not need to look down to see the speed they are travelling at.
In Peugeot’s research, drivers carried out 25 identical 6-mile journeys in two SUVs, including different speeds and road types, while wearing glasses which featured six small cameras that could record where the individual was looking every 0.05 seconds, by tracking the eye movements and processing the results. One SUV had i-Cockpit, and the other one did not and had a standard speedometer.
The results of the study showed that drivers using the new i-Cockpit system took their eyes off the road 5% of the time and drivers with a regular speedometer took their eyes off the road 7% of the time. The test proved that checking a primary function such as the speed of the vehicle does contribute towards driver distraction.
Distracted while driving
A similar study carried out in 2017 by Direct Line used eye-tracking technology and found that drivers take their eyes off the road every 9 seconds. As well as that, a fifth of those asked admitted that they had had an accident because they were distracted while driving.
It also showed that 11 million drivers in the UK have crashed at some point in their driving career. Of those who had had an accident, the biggest reason drivers admitted was the cause of the crash was due to speeding and unsafe driving, but the second most significant reason was due to distraction inside the vehicle.
Being distracted when driving is a leading cause of fatal accidents, by staying alert and focused on the road it actively reduces the number of deadly crashes. It is hoped that research conducted over these studies will help to inform drivers better that they are being distracted on every journey they make, but there are several ways to reduce distractions.
How to reduce distractions
There are many things you can do to ensure you are distracted less while driving without needing to buy a Peugeot i-Cockpit vehicle. Make sure your phone is either off or on do not disturb mode. Some modern phones even have a ‘driving’ mode that will send an automated text response to anyone who calls or messages you to let them know that you are driving. Android and Apple are looking at imposing a driving mode where the phone automatically stops working once inside a moving car, but there is an option for passengers to unlock the phone’s functions too.
If you are driving with younger children, make sure they understand that you cannot distract the driver and help them to know why. With small children, it may be easier to make more extended journeys with someone else in the car who can talk to them and keep them entertained for more extended periods of time. When using a navigation system, keep it hung in the right place that causes the least distraction in the right corner of the windscreen, so you are not looking away from the road ahead for too long. If you are lost, rather than trying to adjust the sat nav while driving, pull over when safe and check then.
Music is another issue, and changing CD’s or tracks can lead to minor accidents and driving into the back of someone. Have everything set up before you leave, or ask the passenger to help. Use shuffle mode or autoplay and then don’t touch it again until you stop.
If you are feeling tired while driving, especially on a long motorway, it is better to be late than to be dead, so pull over and have a rest, eat a banana or drink a coffee and continue when you feel awake. While driving it is more often than not the unexpected that will catch you out, whether it is the person glued to a phone screen or an animal running out, so being aware of the unexpected can save lives.
Do you agree with the research and how often do you find yourself looking away from the road? What do you think should change to reduce driver distraction in cars? Is the Government strict enough about preventing mobile phone use in cars? Let us know in the comments below
by Clare | Feb 14, 2018 | General
New changes to the driving test are being rolled out across test centres all over the UK. These measures are seen to make the test more up to date with common driving habits, such as being able to operate a satellite navigation and driving with one.
The Government are now looking to introduce further measures on top of existing regulations to reduce the amount of accidents by learner drivers. Because of these changes, are we going to see fewer novice drivers on UK roads than ever before?
Questions about novice drivers
A recent question at Prime Minister’s Questions queried the possibility of a graduated license system being brought in here in the UK. This came after new figures show that 25% of new drivers are involved in an accident in their first two years of driving. The report also showed that some 400 novice drivers are killed, or seriously injured, on the roads each year.
In response, the PM admitted that it highlighted an important issue and that the government would be considering it. Currently, there are regulations where if a driver gets six points on their license, within two years of passing their test, then they are banned from driving, versus 12 points for experienced drivers. However, the UK does not place restrictions on novice drivers in any way and is the only western country not to do this.
Graduated licenses proposed
The concept of graduated licenses is not a new one with previous research showing it could save up to 4,471 casualties a year and some £224 million in costs. Research conducted by the Department of Transport proposed a training regime could include 100 hours of supervised daytime driving and 20 hours of night-time driving before sitting any practical and theory tests.
Following this, the novice driver would be ‘on probation’ for 12 months. It would mean using a ‘P’ plate compulsorily and you would not be allowed to drive between 10 pm, and 5 am unless supervised by someone over the age of 30. It would also include a ban on carrying passengers that are under the age of 30, and even having lower or zero alcohol limits for novice drivers.
Restrictions around the world
Many other countries already use similar schemes. In New Zealand, restrictions are even tighter, and there is a three-stage system that drivers must go through. There’s a learner license, a novice license (where you must score 32 out of 35 on a theory test) and then supervised L plates.
Then the learner driver must learn for six months before sitting a 45-minute restricted driving test. Once passed, they can drive between 5 am and 10 pm or outside these times if supervised. They are not permitted to get behind the wheel with a trace of alcohol in their system until they are 20. Finally, there’s a 30-minute practical test, once you have held a restricted license for 3-18 months and taken the advanced drivers course.
Other examples of restrictions in New Zealand include lower speed limits, the engine size of the car they car drive and the power output of the vehicle.
A RAC spokesperson, Pete Williams, said the group ‘welcomed’ the plans to look at the novice driver system having requested it themselves in past years. Studies also show that novice drivers themselves feel ill-equipped for life as a solo driver with 35% of them saying the driving test does not cover the skills to cope with everyday driving.
Many people do not learn to drive due to the rising cost of running your own vehicle– these additional restrictions may lower insurance premiums. The hope would be that the graduated license system could see insurance premiums drop, for that restricted period allowing novice drivers to build their no claim bonus before they are ‘fully qualified’ drivers.
Are fewer drivers a growing trend?
However, the fact is, with more restrictions in place to drive and the growth of self-driving cars, are fewer people even going to bother to learn to drive in future anyway? Public transport in the cities is improving, ride sharing is growing fast and delivery services mean almost anything can be delivered to your door. The urge to drive your own car could fade away the same as the urge to ride a horse. Moreover, although it could lead to less congested, quieter roads in the short term, it may be replaced by more autonomous vehicles so no real difference anyway.
© Copyright Phil Champion and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
What do you think of this proposed new system, is it long overdue? What would you suggest as a change to the law that strikes more of a balance between new and existing drivers to reduce accidents and congestion? Let us know in the comments below
by Clare | Feb 8, 2018 | General
Everything to do with the roads seems to be getting the ‘smart’ treatment of late – smart motorways, smart cars. Now cats eyes are the latest part of the road network to get the smart treatment with the introduction of smart cat’s eyes, which are being tested in collision hotspots to try and cut down on the number of accidents.
Intelligent cat’s eyes
The new intelligent cat’s eyes will light up in response to changing traffic lights and make major roundabouts look more like airport runways. It is the first time they are being considered for use in this way and are aimed at improving road safety, according to Highways England.
Some 170 of them are being used on Switch Island in Merseyside where the M57, M58 and three A roads all come together, as part of a £3 million project to improve the area. These new ‘road studs’ will be used to help 90,000 motorists manage the confusion of roundabouts. Cables will be laid beneath the road surface to connect the studs to the traffic lights via an automatic controller unit.
Cats eyes in action
When the traffic light turns green, the LED lights will be used to separate the lanes for the flow of traffic. This helps stop drivers crossing the white lines as they manage their way around the multiple exit roundabout.
The provider of the system, Clearview Intelligence, says that the studs are visible around 1,000 metres away and have already proven to reduce accidents in locations around the country where they are being used. In fact, collisions at some of the junctions have been reduced by up to 50%, the company said.
The system is already in use in Hindhead Tunnel, in Surrey, to help guide drivers through the tunnel. The A2-A20 junction in Kent along with the A41 in the Wirral and the Sheriffhall roundabout in Edinburgh have also been fitted with them, to help improve safety. Highways England are aiming for improved journeys and better safety for drivers with the new systems.
The idea of creating runway style roads is part of the government’s program of congestion relief which is due to start this month and has £220 million in funding. It is expected to take around 12 months to complete, in the Merseyside site, and vastly improve the situation – with 49 accidents in the last two years, it averages one every fortnight.
New traffic lights will also be installed to work with the smart road studs, set at a higher location so HGV and bus drivers can see them easier.
Cats eyes or road studs?
You may also notice another change taking place – cats eyes have undergone a rebranding and are now being called road studs. The reason for this is twofold, both quite amusing for drivers. Firstly, tourists are confused by the term and don’t understand warning signs such as ‘warning cat’s eyes removed’ when driving around the UK.
The other reason is that children were worried as they thought they were real cat’s eyes being embedded in the roads – hands up if you remember thinking that when you were a kid?
Most of us probably did because cats eyes have been around that long. The first ones were made back in 1933 by a man called Percy Shaw. He was driving along a West Yorkshire road and saw his lights reflected in the eyes of a cat walking alongside the road. He instantly realised their potential for road safety and came up with the device we are all familiar with. Cats eyes have been noted as one of the top 10 most iconic designs that the UK has ever created!
So, cat’s eyes are being renamed as road studs and smart road studs to help tourists feel more at ease on UK roads, and to stop children having sleepless nights over the mistreated cats! However, for most of us, they will remain cat’s eyes, no matter how smart they become.
What do you think about the new cats eyes? Do you think they will help?