Motoring

Clocks going back: Tips for driving at dusk and after dark this autumn

Clocks going back driving at dusk

One minute the sun’s out, the next it’s nearly dark. The joys of driving in autumn and winter

There’s one good thing about the clocks going back: that extra hour in bed. But payback for most of us is that it also signals months of spending more time at the wheel when it’s either dusk or dark. Allied to colder, damper weather making conditions difficult it’s one of the most difficult times of year to be driving.

A study of seasonal patterns over eight years concluded that there were 10 per cent more collisions killing or injuring a pedestrian in the four weeks after the clocks go back compared to the four weeks before they change.

To help keep drivers safe, we’ve asked driver training experts IAM Roadsmart for added tips on driving in poor light conditions. The Institute of Advanced Motorists’ head of driving standards, Richard Gladman, said: “Per mile driven the risk of a crash is actually higher at night despite the quieter roads. Getting used to driving at night can take time so take it easy until the old skills come back and you can start to enjoy the new challenges.”

Look out!

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Expert tips: how to stay safe driving in the rain

Expert tips: how to stay safe when driving in the rain

It’s been a great summer with long, warm days that have been as appreciated by drivers as they have by those putting up a deckchair or firing up the barbeque. However, the autumn weather is bringing rain to Britain, which makes for more difficult driving conditions.

Despite modern cars brimming with electronic systems that can help prevent an accident, all experts agree that it’s important drivers adjust their driving style to allow for the challenges that wet roads present man and machine. We asked Daffyd Williams, a professional driving instructor and driving team manager at Mercedes-Benz World, for his expert tips on staying safe when driving in the rain.

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Quiz: Can you name all of these car badges?

Car badges

Are you a secret car spotter? When traffic grinds to a halt, do your eyes and mind wander to identifying all the makes and models of car on the road around you? If you recognise the description, then you may be able to name all of these car company logos.

The designs are all found on the front, or back, of current models that are sold in showrooms across Britain. Some may be familiar, others appear remarkably similar, and a few should have you racking your brain.

We’ve deliberately left out some of the better known names, such as Ford or Ferrari, because, well, that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

Let’s get started on a spot of badge spotting…

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Quiz: Test how well you know the Highway Code

The cover of the first edition of the Highway Code, introduced in 1931

It’s one of the few books that never leaves the bestseller list, but ever since the Highway Code was first published, in 1931, few readers would admit to finding it a gripping page-turner.

However, the Highway Code has contributed to saving thousands of lives over the years. When launched, there were just 2.3 million cars on Britain’s roads, yet more than 7000 people were killed in road accidents each year. Today, there are more than 27 million cars on UK roads, but there are fewer than 2000 fatalities.

The driving standards book originally had just 24 pages of guidelines, with a single paragraph on how pedestrians should cross a road. Today, a whole chapter is dedicated to educating both pedestrians and drivers on safely reaching the other side of the road.

It also goes on to cover areas of digital technology, such as smartphones, which increasingly fight for a driver’s attention when they’re at the wheel.

To see how well you know the latest rules and regulations of the road, take this snapshot quiz and test your knowledge of the Highway Code. Continue reading

In-car games: I-Spy beats iphones. Old favourites are best for long drives

In-car games

Keeping kids smiling when you’re on a long trip can be a challenge

Old-style in-car games such as I-Spy are the most popular ways to occupy kids on road trips. They beat smartphones and tablets, which astonishingly, are among the least popular choices to keep young passengers happy on car journeys.

New research by YouGov for garage rating organisation Motor Codes tallied with a recent study by Green Flag which found that travelling together is an opportunity to spend quality time with the family. The increasingly popular driving holiday is seen as a time for families to ditch technology in favour of entertainment that encourages creativity, learning and laughs for the whole family.

Looking out of the window and playing age-old observational in-car games such as I-Spy were cited by more than 60 per cent of drivers as the best way to keep youngsters entertained. This was the particular favourite of 18 to 24 year olds and over 55s.

Great in-car games to play with kids

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Driving holidays on the up: great places to stop on British road trips

Driving holidays

Exploring is the main reason more than half of us love driving holidays

Forget sweltering in a steamy sun-baked airport departure lounge, the driving holiday is the new way to take a summer break for many British travellers. It coincides with the increase in popularity of the ‘staycation’ that will see a dramatic 250 per cent increase in the number of people holidaying in the UK compared to five years ago.

New research from Green Flag reveals that this summer 56 per cent of people will be driving to their holiday destination. And 13.2 million of us have already been on a driving holiday this year. If you’re one of the millions planning a road trip this summer, we’ve compiled the following list to help you break your journey.

Six great places to stop during a driving holiday

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Driving abroad: Why you need breakdown cover

Breakdown cover can save wasting holiday time (Picture © TyreSafe)

Breakdown cover can save wasting holiday time (Picture © TyreSafe)

Having your vehicle break down is never something you expect and when it does happen it’s frequently at the most inconvenient time. Green Flag’s Sam Jackson explains how having breakdown cover can transform what would have been a difficult experience into a minor adjustment to your trip, even if you’re in foreign climes.  Continue reading

Blue Monday: Tips to ensure at least your motoring will be happy

Blue Monday

Blue Monday could be bad enough without breaking down. Follow our tips for trouble free motoring

We’ve had black ice, now it’s Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year. And of any day, this is probably the one that you don’t want made worse by car trouble. So here are 10 dos and don’ts to ensure you – and your car ‑ enjoy trouble free motoring.

DO:

Be kind to your battery

Turning an engine over is a tiring business for a battery. Cold weather thickens the engine oil and makes cranking the engine even harder, requiring more battery charge. To help your battery on its way, turn everything such as the lights, wipers and sound system off while you start the car. Dip the clutch too. It makes it easier for the battery to turn the engine, your battery will last longer, and it’s less likely to leave you stranded.

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Black ice: How to keep control on the hazard you can’t see

Black ice

Black ice looks like the road surface has been freshly painted. From a car it’s frequently invisible until it’s too late

The current freezing but largely dry weather conditions pose a unique threat to motorists: black ice, a hazard that is all the more dangerous because it’s impossible to see. The first you know about black ice is usually when you lose control of the car. However, there are some steps you can take to be prepared. Peter Rodger from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said: “We all need to respect that the weather changes and make adjustments to deal with it. Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about last year, any problems it caused you, and what you need to do to overcome them if they recur.” Here are our expert tips for coping with the threat of black ice.

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The six most crazy cars from 2015

Crazy cars

Of all the crazy cars from 2015, the Honda Project 2&4 is one of the maddest (Picture © Honda)

There’s nothing car makers like better than to experiment. They do this with models called concept cars and in 2015, there was a raft of these launched at motor shows around the world to catch the eye, set off camera phones and fill social media feeds. Here is our pick of the six craziest concept cars of the year.

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