Motoring

Law changes wanted to crack down on drivers not wearing seat belts

Around a quarter of people killed in car crashes aren’t wearing seatbelts (Picture iStock/Skynesher)

Chances are, every time you get into a car you put your seat belt on. More than nine out of 10 of us do. But the small number of drivers who incredibly don’t buckle up in case they crease their clothes are dramatically increasing their chances of dying in a car crash.

The risks of not belting yourself into a car are revealed in a new report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) in association with Direct Line. The panel of MPs wants the government to increase the penalties for not wearing safety belts.

The most high-profile victim not properly restrained in a car was Diana, Princess of Wales. But she died in 1997 and road safety campaigners believe drivers need to be reminded of the dangers of driving without seat belts.

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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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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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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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Expert advice: try my car cold weather hacks on freezing mornings

cold weather hacks

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

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Expert advice: why your stop-start might not be working in cold weather

Stop-start

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

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Expert advice: How you can beat the Christmas food coma this year

Food coma

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

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Quiz: How well do you know your road markings?

Road sign quiz

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.

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