Britain is a comparatively small island with a lot of cars. There are roughly the same number of cars registered for the road as there are in France – around 37 million – despite Britain having less than half the space of its continental neighbour.
Unsurprisingly, it makes for crowded roads. Traffic is a growing problem, with populated areas and main roads grinding to a halt, earning the UK the dubious title of having the most congested roads in Europe.
More drivers than ever are turning to their smartphone to help navigate our congested roads. Apps that guide users from A to B, responding to live traffic conditions along the way, are replacing traditional portable sat nav units. Because of this, John Lewis recently announced it would no longer sell sat navs at its stores – labelling them “left behind” in its annual retail report.
To help steer drivers in the right direction when choosing a smartphone navigation app, we look at five highly rated examples.
Free navigation apps for drivers
Whether you know someone that drives for a living, potters about with cars at the weekend or is a young, enthusiastic petrolhead hooked on repeats of Top Gear and video games, Christmas is the time to treat them to a gift that will get their motor revving.
Our suggestions range from practical presents to neat gadgets. So get in the festive spirit and let these ideas serve as a short cut to inspiration for treating that special someone. Wrapping paper not included!
Crooks can bypass car security systems as long as their equipment can pick up the signal from keyless fobs
Thieves are increasingly targeting cars with keyless ignitions. Just as drivers can get into their cars without touching the key, so crooks can steal the car without having the key on them. And a new technique called relay attack is being used increasingly.
Vehicle recovery company Tracker says 66 per cent of the cars it recovered last year were stolen by relay. And Tracker claims that 96 per cent of drivers whose cars have keyless ignition could be vulnerable to this form of theft.
Andy Barrs, head of police liaison for Tracker said: “The new relay attack technique has gained significant ground in the US and Germany. But it’s also beginning to take hold in the UK, so vehicle owners need to protect themselves and their assets.” Here are some simple steps drivers can take to prevent themselves becoming victims.
How ‘relay’ theft works
Drivers who kill others by focusing on their mobile phones rather than the road could face life in prison. In a move designed to make the roads a safer place the government is changing the law. Its aim is to ‘clamp down on dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads’.
The government has also acted to plug a gap in the law. It has introduced a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. This will be punishable by up to three years prison. Here we look into what the changes mean for drivers.
Why has the law changed?
For many drivers, the cost of keeping their vehicle properly maintained and road legal can be a real worry. And studies show drivers dread taking their car into garages thanks to overuse of technical jargon and the fear of being ripped off.
A lot of drivers find just remembering the MOT is a trial: a quarter (27 per cent) don’t know when their annual test is due, never mind how much possible repairs might cost them. But what if you had a qualified technician on your side? And what if they oversaw any work that needed doing to your car and could get preferential rates as well? Green Flag Smart Service provides exactly that, and it’s available for all Green Flag customers at no extra cost as an added benefit of your breakdown cover.
What is Green Flag Smart Service?
Every driver thinks they know a safe road and one that’s dangerous. Personal experiences and anecdotes from friends and family can create an impression that some roads are more risky than others. Now there is a more reliable measure of the safety of the routes we routinely travel.
For the first time, drivers and communities can accurately find out which roads in Britain are safe. The Road Crash Index allows anyone to view the number of accidents on specific roads. They can then see whether there has been any increase or decrease over time.
Free and available to all drivers, the Road Crash Index has been compiled as part of a wider initiative to improve road safety standards across Europe’s main roads. Read on to find out how to use it.
Would you be in favour of a cut in the speed limit? One expert believes that a 5 per cent reduction in maximum speeds – as little as 1mph in some cases ‑ would lead to a 30 per cent drop in fatal traffic crashes.
And what about traffic enforcement cameras and 20mph zones? When both became a part of everyday motoring life, they were greeted with dismay by many drivers. But evidence produced at the Speed Summit, held by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), shows they’re now becoming more accepted.
Speed is an emotive issue among drivers. The Department for Transport has just revealed numbers caught speeding is higher than any other year in the past decade. Nearly 6000 drivers were caught exceeding the speed limit every day in England and Wales. But inappropriate or excessive speed are two contributory factors most often recorded by police at the scene of crashes. Here are some of the latest facts behind speed and speeding.
Would cutting the speed limit save lives?
There are no end of motoring myths. Most drivers will know at least a handful: sometimes they’re true, but often they’re stories that need to be shown the red light.
From the speed limit on a dual carriageway, to sounding a car’s horn in the small hours of the morning, driving in flip-flops to using an egg to repair an engine’s radiator, they can seem as confusing as the Spaghetti Junction.
To help sort the facts from fiction, we’ve pulled together 10 tricky questions for a motoring myths quiz. Which is driving delusion and which is as factual as the Highway Code?
Electric car drivers are the big winners from the 2017 Budget
Electric car drivers are the winners; diesel drivers the big losers in the Autumn Budget 2017. However, things aren’t as bad as expected for diesel car owners with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond rowing back from an anticipated increase in fuel duty. Here’s how drivers will be hit by the announcements made in the Autumn Budget 2017.
If there were no emissions standards, pollution would still be this bad
Whether you’re looking to buy a new car or you’re working out where you can use your existing model, it won’t be long before you have to know its emissions standard.
This will tell you whether you have to pay the Toxicity Charge before driving into central London. It is also useful for knowing whether you can take advantage of one of the many car maker scrappage schemes around. And it’ll even help you convince the doubting Thomas next door that your new diesel could well be cleaner than their old petrol.
Read on to find out more about emissions standards and how you tell what your car’s is.
What are emissions standards?