If there’s one thing that has drivers grumbling more than anything, it’s their car’s fuel economy. How many miles a car travels on a gallon of petrol or diesel – or in some cases, with a little bit of electric power in the mix – directly drains money from the bank. The more thirsty a car is, the more expensive it is to run.
A common complaint is that it is difficult to achieve a car’s advertised fuel economy. But wth a bit of practice and a change in driving habits, it’s surprising how much of an improvement can be made to a car’s mpg (miles per gallon) in a short space of time.
To see if you have a sound grasp of those driving techniques, or to simply learn more about making a car travel further on a tank of fuel, take this quiz and discover whether you’re a fuel economy winner or loser.
This could be a less frequent sight if new plans for lane charging get the nod (Picture iStock/Northlightsimages)
Plans are being drawn up to reduce roadworks and slash the number of potholes. The government wants to charge utility firms for the amount of time they occupy roads. In addition, there are proposals to swap roadworks for pavement works. The idea is to reduce the frequency that roads are dug up and cut potholes.
It is estimated that there are 2.5m road openings per year by gas, water and cable companies. The disruption to drivers by companies digging the road up costs the UK economy £4billion a year. And a new report reveals council roadworks overran by 132,000 days between April and July 2017. Read on to find out how the roadworks dilemma might be solved.
Why will digging up the pavement help?
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Whichever drivers use, it can be annoying, time wasting and even dangerous if mapping is out of date and sends you down closed or unsuitable roads.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 UK’s climate can feel like a moving target sometimes. But one thing is guaranteed: cold weather driving is something we all have to do at some point in the year.
Whether that’s going to work first thing in the morning and scraping the ice off the car or negotiating slippery bends, it can be enough to send a shiver down your spine. And for some of us, winter weather means driving in snow, which throws up a whole new set of challenges.
But although it’s something you probably do regularly with little thought, how much do you actually know about it? Take our cunning quiz to find out.
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?
Black ice is the most dangerous natural hazard drivers face on the road. Speak to anyone that’s encountered it and they will tell you it sends a shiver down their spine just thinking about it.
Many parts of Britain are currently experiencing harsh winter weather. However, with some sensible precautions, driving on black ice doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle ride.
We asked Paul Ripley to explain how drivers can safely tackle the often-invisible danger. One of Britain’s most respected advanced driving instructors, Ripley has coached police forces, vehicle engineers and thousands of drivers looking to improve their skills behind the wheel. Little wonder he has earned the nickname ‘God’s chauffeur’. These are his tips for driving on black ice.
What is black ice?
Cold weather isn’t just tough on drivers, it can play havoc with cars too. The heavy hail and snow showers that are hitting parts of the UK in mid-January 2018 are already causing chaos. Green Flag is warning that an astonishing 12 breakdowns every minute will take place this week.
Head of news for Green Flag Simon Henrick said: “After a variable but relatively mild winter period over Christmas, the changing weather conditions may take some drivers by surprise this week.
“By thoroughly checking their cars before leaving home, approaching the roads with caution and keeping plenty of distance between themselves and the vehicle in front, drivers will decrease the risk of encountering a problem while on the roads.” Read on to see how you can stay safe in the snow.
Health and safety
In 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to make using a phone when driving as unacceptable as drink-driving. Last April, tougher penalties were introduced to deter phone use at the wheel.
But since then, more than 200 drivers a day have been prosecuted for using their phone while driving. That means they’ve been slapped with six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Some drivers complain they find the law confusing around the areas of making calls while driving and using a phone as a sat nav device. Many reason this confusion comes from being told it’s okay to use a phone while driving when it’s in hands-free mode.
This is what motorists need to know to stay on the right side of the law. As importantly, it will help keep them and other road users safe.
The law: hands-free phone use
Are car headlights getting brighter? Ask around, and you’ll find it’s a common grumble among anyone that drives, especially those that frequently take to the road first thing in the morning or at night.
They’ll tell you that on an unlit road, especially one with crests or undulations, oncoming traffic can leave them feeling as if they can’t see.
During the winter months, the problem is exacerbated. Fewer daylight hours mean cars spend more time with their lights on. And the latest technology on modern cars has introduced superior lighting power to even the average family car.
While that’s great for any driver of a car with powerful lights, it’s not so safe for drivers of oncoming vehicles. They can find themselves blinded by the brilliant light from the latest systems.
Is there anything dazzled drivers can do? And will headlights continue to get brighter?
If a car starts, then refuses to start again almost immediately afterwards, it could be flooded with fuel
How do you start your car in the morning? Many of us have the same routine. And for some drivers, that could be the cause of a potentially inconvenient breakdown.
I love cars but my job as vehicle and customer data insight manager is all about figures and statistics. It involves analysing numbers and seeing how people – our customers ‑ use their vehicles on a daily basis. The results can be fascinating. Read on to see how the way you start your motor could leave you stranded at the roadside.
The mystery breakdown