Monday, 27 January 2014

Five Simple Checks That Keep You Street Legal On The Road

The Police do not require a reason to stop a motorist who is driving. This can also apply to anyone who is attempting to drive away. Even if you are not driving and in charge of a motor vehicle that is on the public highway, an officer has the right to ask for a routine check. If they choose, the Police can then ask you to provide your name, date of birth, insurance documents and driver’s licence details. Failure to comply with any of these requests can constitute an offence. You can see elsewhere on what to do if the Police subsequently ask you to come into the station for an interview. However, it is better to avoid this in the first place by undertaking simple checks that will satisfy the officer you are street legal in the first place.

Test Your Car’s Brakes

It is a legal requirement that your braking system performs as it is intended to, which means that there can be variations, depending on your manufacturer’s specifications. Your
brakes need to be tested as part of your MoT, but they must be in good working order between these regulatory tests, too. Take the time to test your brakes on a quiet stretch of road – checking your rear view mirror before doing so. When stationary, apply the foot brake and have a friend check that your brake lights come on properly. Get a professional to overlook your system if your brakes feel spongy or the lights don’t work correctly.

Measure Your Tyre Tread Wear

All tyres wear out over time. They are designed to, but different tyre compounds wear at differing rates. By law, any tyre fitted must be compatible with the others on your car. Your tyres must not show any bulges and they must not have any tears. Tread depth must be over the legal minimum which is 1.6 mm for cars. This must be maintained throughout a continuous band in the centre portion of the tyre around its entire circumference. You don't have to carry a spare but, when fitted to the vehicle after a puncture, then it must then comply with the law. Have your tyres checked by a specialist, like, if you are in doubt or you can also buy a new set of tyres from them.

Test Your Handbrake

Most mechanics recommend that a handbrake is tested once a month. Do this by pulling away slowly and gently applying it. The car should slow. If your car starts to roll when parked on hills or the handbrake has to be applied at an angle of more than 70 percent, then you should visit a garage to get the problem corrected. Failure to do this may mean you roll backwards on hill starts, which could lead to your harming pedestrians and other road users. Without a properly applied handbrake, you may expose yourself to a charge of leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position.

Check Your Head Restraint

If your car is able to go in excess of 100 kph – and all modern cars can - then you must have a head restraint for the driver’s and passenger’s seats. It is worth adjusting them so that they will cushion your head in the event of an impact from behind. However, the law does not require the head restraints fitted are adjustable. Bear in mind, however, that slip-on style head restraints are not deemed to be lawful.

Check Your Luggage Is Stowed Properly

Store your luggage securely in the boot with the heaviest items at the bottom. Unless the weight of the luggage you are carrying exceeds 3.5 tonnes then there is no legal requirement you need to worry about to transport it. If you go over this limit, however, you need a goods licence. When it comes to roof racks and to strapping items to the top of your vehicle, then the law promotes reasonable use. If, however, your load blocks your vision or there is a chance that it could work free and fall off, then you can expect the Police to intervene.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Caution - Not All Client Testimonials Are To Be Trusted!

We at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors take great pride in our bank of online client testimonials. We have collected over 100 testimonials since the firm started to request them back in 2005. All of the people providing testimony to our services as expert motoring lawyers are real clients of the firm (even when names have been withheld.) It may be surprising to see that last sentence. Of course they should be real but we know from first-hand experience that some law firms are less than truthful in their marketing materials.

Stolen Testimonials

Back in 2008, we were made aware of a firm that used details of our clients’ cases without permission from the clients and they also sought to pass them off as their own clients rather than clients of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors! We successfully pursued the firm  and we and our clients succeeded in recovering a donation to charity and damages respectively.

Fake Testimonials

Now in 2014 we have been made aware of another firm using the powerful tool of client testimonials in an unscrupulous manner! The image used on the personal injury law firm’s website came as a bit of a surprise when it was sent to me by a colleague! I had morphed into a Mrs Barnsbrooks who sued her employer for an accident at work. Not really, my image had been lifted off the internet by a law firm and they held me out as one of their clients!

It was a shame really as when they received a letter from my lawyers, they tried to justify the clear case of “passing off” as an honest mistake and tried to argue that the damage was not significant as they were actually a brand new firm and had not yet commenced trading! Begs the question how they were able to have testimonials in the first place and claim to have been a leading law firm?

Again, not motivated by personal gain, I sought to have my image removed from the offending firm’s website and they have agreed to make a charitable donation. This time to a charity that is close to our hearts set up in memory of our Operations Manager’s brother who died in 2013 following a long history of mental illness:

Geoffrey Miller Solicitors’ Interactive Testimonials

I have known for several years that testimonials are one of the best ways to successfully market a business. However, I have also known that the consumer (quite rightly it would seem) can be a cynical “so and so!” 

This is why in 2010 I devised a unique interactive testimonial scheme where not only can the prospective client read about our (real) client’s experience of us from their written description published online, but they can also make direct contact with the referee to verify what they have said and ask any questions they want about us. We are not involved in the process and don’t even know when a prospective client makes use of the “Ref Me” scheme. I wanted to create a tool that was the next best thing to asking a trusted friend for a recommendation because when a client comes recommended, their suspicion and fear is massively reduced. 

We are in the business of selling solutions and providing relief to clients who often sorely need this. The last thing they want is to be duped by the lawyer who uses fake or stolen testimonials to capture their clients!
Hopefully, our  “Ref Me” scheme reassures clients that we are what we say we are, and, even more importantly, what our client Julie says we are – the best motoring solicitors in this country!