Around a third of the 300 car fires a day are caused by poor maintenance or design flaws
Car fires are not as rare as you might think. The Fire Service says that around 300 cars a day go up in flames. Recently there have been high-profile blazes involving the Vauxhall Zafira MPV because of a design flaw. And figures from the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which oversees manufacturer recalls of faulty vehicles, reveal that the number of cars recalled for risk of fire increased dramatically in 2015-16.
Big-name manufacturers Honda, Chrysler, Bentley, Volkswagen, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Ferrari, and Porsche all joined Vauxhall in issuing recalls for vehicles that are at risk of catching fire because of design or build flaws.
Although the chance of a car catching fire is tiny, what do you do if it does? We asked the Fire Service for its advice.
What causes car fires?
If the verge is frosty it’s quite likely the road will be icy too
Icy roads probably aren’t something we think about much. Yet for many of us driving on ice is a regular occurrence during the coldest months of the year. If you have to scrape the ice off your car in the morning, or even perhaps when you leave work in the late afternoon, there may be ice on the road. We explain how to figure out whether the road is likely to be icy and how to drive if it is.
How to spot icy roads
It might not just be bent metal at the scene of a road crash
Either having or witnessing a road crash is most people’s worst nightmare. But as bystanders there is plenty we can do if we’re involved in, or come across, a road crash. According to the Red Cross, around half the deaths from road accidents occur before the emergency services arrive. But the vast majority of those fatalities could be prevented if first aid is administered in that time.
Carry a first aid kit
Road safety experts urge drivers to carry a first aid kit. And although these can be vital in an emergency, they’re also pretty handy to have in the car, just in case of the unexpected. After all, you never know when your child is going to fall over and scrape their knee or you’re going cut your finger changing a wheel. Continue reading
Many drivers say they find dealing with garages baffling and intimidating
Drivers with a complaint about a garage or car dealer can now go to the new Motor Ombudsman. This is the first time the motor industry has had a dedicated ombudsman. It means drivers who think they’ve been short changed by a motor trader can get impartial advice. And in extreme cases, they will have an unbiased middle man to help negotiate a reasonable outcome to a dispute.
The Motor Ombudsman will deal with complaints over new and used cars. It covers sales, servicing, repair, and warranty problems. It has a code of practice regulated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and it’s been set up because the number of drivers complaining about their treatment at the hands of the motor trade is still unacceptably high.
Why do drivers need a middle man?
If TV is your thing, and you know which private detective drove a Ferrari 308 GTS, or can tell a Ford Cortina from a Consul, then try tackling our tricky TV car trivia quiz on cars that have made their mark on the small screen.
Perhaps those hours spent staring at the box can earn you more than just kudos when it comes to pub trivia. If you can answer all these questions correctly, then why not challenge friends and family to have a go, and see how closely they were paying attention to the same TV shows?
So, without further ado, settle into a comfy armchair and cast your mind back to some of the best-loved TV shows, as we take you on a road trip down television’s memory lane.
This may be what driving is like – one day (Picture © Volvo)
Autonomous cars are just around the corner. Or are they? It’s the tech everyone’s talking about, yet the reality is we know very little about it. And what we do know is confusingly bound up in reams of legislation. So, let’s try to find answers to 10 of the most obvious questions.
What are autonomous cars?
These are cars that use electronics to control the driving process. But there’s a difference between an autonomous or self-driving car and a driverless car. A self-driving car needs a driver at its helm. A driverless car doesn’t. While a driverless car must be self-driving, a self-driving car isn’t always driverless.
Will autonomous cars stop driving for fun?
Drivers in the Philippines capital Manila have the longest commute
Where’s the best place to be a driver? With our potholed roads and frequently congested city streets, you probably don’t think it’s the UK. In fact, you may not be surprised if the UK was towards the bottom of any road ranking. The good news is, we’re not. There are some places in the world where the traffic is so congested you wonder how anyone ever gets anywhere.
There’s more good news for hard-pressed UK drivers. We have one of the best records in the world for road safety. That’s compared to some roads in the world where safety is so shocking it borders on scandalous. However, it’s not quite time to get out the bunting and begin baking the celebration cup cakes. The UK has a long way to go before it can match the best for drivers on a daily basis.
The best countries for safety
First the good news. One area where the UK is world class is in road safety. According to the International Traffic Data Safety and Analysis Group which analyses information from 32 countries around the world we’re in third place with 2.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Only Sweden on 2.8 and Iceland on 1.2 were better.
The best place for drivers
They have been hailed as miniature life savers but independent tests have shown that tyre pressure warning devices, known as Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), may not work at all.
The systems are designed to alert drivers when a tyre is losing air pressure. In independent testing, a Volkswagen Golf, one of the UK’s best-selling cars, and a Fiat 500L family car were put through a series of trials on the road to assess how well the TPMS worked. The Golf’s system failed to detect an under-inflated tyre in 14 of the 16 scenarios; the 500L’s didn’t even manage to alert its driver once.
The tests were carried out by Transport & Environment, a group that campaigns to improve the sustainability of cars and transport policy across Europe. It accuses car makers of trying to cut corners and cut costs, after the TPMS technology became a legal requirement on every new car sold from 2014.
What is a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System?
Whatever you do, don’t call it Top Gear. On Friday 18 November, petrolheads around the world will be tempted to take a cheeky sick day, as they get their first chance to watch Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in action together on The Grand Tour.
The three troublemakers have been doing their best to avoid controversy since the BBC decided not to renew Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, last March.
But now they’re back and the carnage can recommence, with an all-new car show that will continue to play on the relationship between the ‘three middle aged blokes’ as much as it will celebrate some of the most incredible things on four wheels.
The first episode will be made available through Amazon Prime on 18 November. The Grand Tour has agreed a deal with Amazon for three series over three years, with 12 episodes in each. Here’s what to expect…
A new Driving Emotion Test has been designed by psychologists to enable drivers to find out how likely they are to get wound up in their car. Using technology that monitored people’s facial reactions, where their eyes were looking, and their heart rate, 1000 drivers were tested. The researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London fed the data into a computer using specially created software.
The result gave each participant an individual score and the results revealed that women drivers tend to get angrier than men. If you dispute this, you can have a go using a version of the Driving Emotion Test on a special website set up by car company Hyundai which commissioned the research.
What did the Driving Emotion Test find?
The tests included drivers being undertaken, honked at, shouted at and having to deal with back-seat drivers or people who failed to indicate. The results showed that women were 12 per cent more likely to react angrily than men. Men, meanwhile, are more comfortable opening up if they’re in a car. Just fewer than a third of men (29 per cent) said they find it easier to have a conversation in a car. And 14 per cent even claim that they drive better if they’re having a chat.
Why do women drivers get cross?