Car ownership

Driving on Britain’s motorways in 2019: how to stay safe

motorways
The M6 is one of the first motorways to have a ‘live’ hard shoulder with moving traffic (Picture iStock/Vision4ry-L4ngu4ge)

Our 2000 miles of motorway are changing to accommodate the predicted 60 per cent increase in traffic expected by 2040. And that’s posing drivers with a different challenge when it comes to staying safe.

‘Smart’ motorways don’t have a traditional hard shoulder. In 2017, official figures show there were 16 crashes involving stationary vehicles on our 400 miles of smart motorway. There were 29 crashes on the hard shoulder across the rest of England’s motorways.

The stats also show that there’s been an increase in crashes on unlit sections of motorway. Here we look at what drivers should do for improved road safety.

What is a smart motorway?

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Expert advice: is cheap supermarket fuel bad for my car’s engine?

cheap supermarket fuel
All major supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons now sell fuel, frequently much cheaper than the big fuel brands (Picture iStock/jax10289)

We get a lot of queries from car owners about fuel quality. But the one that keeps on coming back is whether cheap supermarket fuel is as good as big-brand petrol and diesel. It’s an important question because there can be a significant difference in what it costs to fill up at a supermarket compared with at a fuel brand’s station.

We all want to save money where we can. Whether that’s with petrol or diesel that costs less, or apparently more expensive fuel that’s cheaper because it improves economy. But most importantly, we don’t want to do our cars any damage, so how good is supermarket fuel?

Cheap and cheerful?

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Punctured tyre? We look at the best solutions

Punctured tyre
This doesn’t have to be you if you’ve had a puncture (Picture iStock/Bobex-73)

Had a punctured tyre recently? If so, how did you deal with it? Chances are you didn’t change the wheel at the roadside. Not because you couldn’t be bothered but because spare wheels are considered old tech by most car makers now.

More than 90 per cent of new cars are sold without a spare wheel as standard. Drivers can often specify one as an optional extra (they cost between about £100 and £300 depending on the car), so it’s worth checking whether that box has been ticked by a previous owner if buying a used car.

If it hasn’t, what are your choices and are they any good? We investigate three puncture solutions.

What is a run-flat tyre?

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Expert advice: cheap car checks to do before the Easter getaway this year

cheap car checks
You really don’t want your bank holiday to end up like this (Picture iStock/Jimdoberman)

This Easter bank holiday weekend thousands of drivers will take to the road for breaks with or to see family. At Green Flag we’ll be super busy attending breakdowns, many of which drivers can avoid by performing some simple checks before setting off.

I’ve compiled this list of routine maintenance because according to research by Select Car Leasing, fewer than a third of car owners (31 per cent) check their tyre pressures at least once a month. And in the 18-24 age group, more than a quarter (27 per cent) don’t know how to check their tyres. Read these simple car checks for safer – and cheaper – motoring this Easter.

Check your tyres

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‘Secret’ car tax increases hit drivers

car tax increases

Fed up with paying too much to go motoring? Here’s some bad news: amid all the furore of Brexit, the government has sneakily pushed through car tax increases. Revealed in the November budget, but not spoken about in the chancellor’s statement, the increases are in line with inflation.

The result is the cost of motoring will increase further from the beginning of April 2019. Read on to find out how much you’ll have to pay from now on.

How old is your car?

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Pothole update: decline in roads stemmed but not by enough report finds

Think of a pothole that you either hit or narrowly avoided. You probably won’t find it hard to recall because the state of our roads continues to worsen, despite increased government money aimed at tackling our crumbling carriageways.

But while local authorities do their best to patch up the nation’s roads, the annual independent report into their sorry state makes for depressing reading. Here’s what the 2019 ALARM survey found.

How many potholes are there nationwide?

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Quiz: How well do you know recent Highway Code changes?

highway code changes

The Highway Code will never rank as a right riveting read. So it’s possibly no surprise that a third say they haven’t read the rules of the road since passing their driving test. And according to Halfords Autocentres’ research one in five haven’t read it for at least 10 years.

But while the Highway Code is hardly a page turner, it is vital drivers keep up to date with it. Our road environment, not to mention the technology aboard our cars, is changing at an astonishing rate. And the Highway Code is updated on a rolling basis to reflect this. Between 2015 and 2018, the rules of the road have been updated 48 times. Take our quiz to find out how up to date you are.

10 recent Highway Code changes

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Expert advice: What to do with a chipped windscreen

chipped windscreen
As soon as cracks like these start spreading you can’t repair them. But that isn’t always the case… (Picture iStock/LivingImages)

You might have noticed many of our roads are in a pretty shocking state. And a degrading road surface doesn’t just mean potholes, it also results in debris on the road surface. These small stones can be thrown up and hit the screen of following vehicles. On a 30mph road, that small stone will probably have an impact speed with the glass at the equivalent of 40-50 mph. It’s hardly surprising then that there’s a decent chance it’ll take a chunk out of whatever it hits.

If debris hits the windscreen and damages it, there are plenty of reasons to get it fixed. After all, if a windscreen is chipped in certain areas it’s an instant MOT failure. Here’s what I think you should do, why, when and how.

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The reasons why you should give your car a wash this spring

Spring car wash

Spring has sprung, the bulbs are coming up and the birds are getting frisky. But chances are, your motor is looking far from perky, wearing the cloak of winter in the mucky form of an all-encompassing film of dirt. With warm weather (hopefully) just around the corner, now’s the time to get out and give your car a good clean. There are plenty of good reasons to. Here we list nine of them.

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Brexit: what you need to know about driving in the EU if there’s ‘no deal’

If you’re bored with the B word, we’ve got some bad news: Brexit really is the gift that keeps on giving. And whether you support it or not, it could well change how we all drive abroad. Sadly, that doesn’t mean life is going to get any easier or involve less admin.

Whether you’re taking a car abroad or planning to drive a hire car once you get to a foreign country it’s likely you’ll have to apply for some paperwork. Read on to find out what you’ll need – if we leave the European Union/European Economic Area (EEA) without a deal.

What sort of driving licence do you need?

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