Follow our tips below and this need not be you (Picture iStock/sonsam)
Standing outside on freezing cold mornings scraping ice off your car has to be down there with visits to the dentist and paying tax. All are necessary for very good reasons but that doesn’t make them enjoyable.
I can’t help you with your teeth or tax, but I can give you some pointers to make it easier to get your car ready for the road in the mornings.
Air-con’s your friend
Is your car’s stop-start system on the blink at the moment? If it isn’t working as you think it should, there might be a very good reason for it. Stop-start is designed to save you fuel and cut a car’s exhaust emissions by reducing the amount of time your engine sits idling without going anywhere. And it’s on nine out of every 10 new cars sold. But if it stops stopping, is it a problem? And should you take your car to the garage?
It might be due to the cold weather
An estimated 24 million drivers are expected to hit the road after eating their Christmas dinner on December 25th. Nothing unusual about that. What worries me is they could experience side effects from over eating that affect their driving in a similar way to drinking.
I’m a qualified nutritionist and have spent years studying the effect of food on the human body. One thing it’s taught me is that if you eat a large amount of the sort of food that makes up the average Christmas dinner, you’ll have sluggish reactions and maybe even fall asleep at the wheel.
Green Flag research found that more than a third of drivers (37 per cent) claim they can’t control dozing off after eating a festive feast. That doesn’t surprise me. But nod off at the wheel for just three seconds on a motorway and you’ll cover the length of about four football pitches. The dangers are obvious. Read on to find out how you can beat the Christmas food coma.
Why Xmas dinner makes us dozy
The Highway Code and its extensive list of road signs and markings is one of the fundamentals of motoring. But how well do you know it?
If you take our quiz and you’re a bit rusty, don’t worry: you’re not alone. A recent survey found that half of drivers don’t know what a roundabout sign is when it’s shown to them. And two thirds don’t know how far behind the car in front they should be travelling.
The survey was conducted by driver training organisation IAM Roadsmart. It is calling for road safety to be part of the National Curriculum so that it’s drilled into drivers from an early age. Take our quiz to see how you get on.
Do you need to call the police if you don’t damage anything other than your car in a crash? Read on to find out (Picture iStock/WhiteMay)
Having a crash can be one of the most stressful parts of driving. At this time of year with the sun low in the sky leading to tricky light conditions, and cold damp weather making the road surface treacherous, we always see accident rates increase.
But if you know what to do in the immediate aftermath of a crash, it can take the pain away. Below I answer important questions such as whether you must call the police and when you need to give insurance details.
Nearly all of us carry a mobile phone, which is handy for taking pictures of any damage. And I’d always advise drivers to carry a pen and paper in the car too. It’s useful for taking other drivers’ details and making notes of what happened while they’re still fresh in your mind.
But most importantly, drivers should stay safe at the roadside. Having a crash frequently puts us in a dangerous situation, as highlighted by our current ‘Slow down, move over’ campaign. Read my tips here about what to do if you’re stranded at the roadside.
Stop but stay safe
The Highway Code has been a fixture of motoring life for most of us. But how well do you know the rules of the road? Chances are you’re probably pretty good on experiences that confront us every day. What about those occasional situations though? Things that we perhaps haven’t had to deal with for a few years. Try our brain-stretching quiz. It might even help to make you a safer driver. Continue reading
Legal or not? Find out whether it’s against the law to drive in flip flops (Picture iStock/JordanSimeonov)
Whether it’s hot or cold, extremes in temperature pose problems for drivers. And when the weather’s doing something we’re not used to, we need to know how to react. Here we bust seven popular hot weather motoring myths.
Myth 1: it’s illegal to drive in flip flops
Don’t reach a dead-end. Updating maps on a sat nav is straightforward
Portable sat nav units may no longer be the big-selling gadgets they were back in the noughties. But millions of drivers still rely on them to get from A to B in Britain and further afield.
Since the rise of the smartphone, more motorists now choose to use free apps, such as maps from Apple, Bing or Google, or pay for dedicated navigation apps.
Whichever drivers use, it can be annoying, time wasting and even dangerous if mapping is out of date and sends you down closed or unsuitable roads. Happily, it is possible to update the maps of dedicated navigation units. Here’s how to do it and what you can expect to pay.
Do you need to update your maps?
The ‘Beast from the East’. Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Snowzilla. Call it what you will, the Siberian winter weather that has blasted across Europe is playing havoc with Britain’s roads and wider transport network.
On Tuesday, parts of of the UK awoke to find that up to six inches of snow had fallen. And blizzard-like conditions meant gritters and snow ploughs were having little effect. Quite simply, the snow was settling faster than they could clear it.
In Kent, multiple lanes of the M20 and M2 motorways had to be closed. The result saw thousands of drivers stranded on the gateways to east London and the M25.
Many train operators had to cancel services. Heathrow and Gatwick airports also cancelled flights. And thousands of school children were pleased to find they were being treated to a ‘snow day’.
Is there more snow on the way?
While much of the focus for the way motoring is changing is on our cars, road technology will play an increasingly important part in our lives. Cars might be getting ever cleverer but the roads are beginning to catch up.
The safety-conscious Scandinavians are at the forefront of advances and here we explore two common sense bits of road technology. Bluetooth traffic monitoring may already be on a road near you, depending on where you live in the UK. And intelligent streets lights with a low power resting mode that become brighter when cars approach could be coming sooner than you think.
Why monitor Bluetooth?