Motoring

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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Expert advice: what to do if you have a crash

Crash

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

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Hot weather motoring myths. What you can and can’t do to beat the heat

Hot weather

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

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Quiz: Are you a fuel economy winner or loser? Take this quiz to find out

Quiz: Are you a fuel economy winner or loser? Take this quiz to find out

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.

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New plans to prevent potholes and save us from roadwork stress

Prevent potholes

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?

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Here’s how to upgrade satnav mapping with costs

Got an old sat nav unit? Here's how you can upgrade the maps and what it costs

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?

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Quiz: how much do you know about cold weather driving?

Cold weather driving

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.

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New road technology that could be coming to you in the near future

Road technology

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?

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Black ice: avoid a white-knuckle ride with this expert’s driving tips

Black ice: avoid a white-knuckle ride with this expert’s driving tips

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?

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