Motoring

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

Look familiar? It’s unlikely to get better any time soon (Picture © Geoff Smith/Alamy)

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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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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