Quiz: Think you’re a safe driver? Tackle these 10 common hazards

What is the Highway Code advice for a school crossing patrol?

Roads can be a dangerous environment. Drivers need to have their wits about them and their eyes out on stalks even on the briefest trip. From passing parked cars to negotiating zebra crossings, each obstacle represents a hazard that needs to be approached with a certain mindset and technique to ensure drivers, passengers and fellow road users stay safe at all times.

On longer journeys, there are more hazards and greater speeds, which can call for fast decision making. So it pays to brush up on the rules of the road, whether that’s by sitting down with a mug of tea and revisiting the Highway Code, or seeking more general advice and practical tips from expert organisations, such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) or Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

To help drivers stay on their toes, we’ve compiled 10 common hazards that are encountered on the road, and challenge all to see how well they tackle them.  Continue reading

Proposed MOT changes: drivers reject idea to change first test

MOT changes

The annual MOT enables technicians to perform vital road safety checks

Drivers have come out against a government proposal for MOT changes. Ministers are considering switching a car’s first MOT from three-years old to four. But experts say this could mean up to 500,000 more dangerous cars on the road. And in a survey for industry body the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), three quarters of car owners (76 per cent) snubbed the idea of delaying a car’s first MOT.

Why is government proposing MOT changes?

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Video revolution should help drivers get fairer deal from garages

video

New tech is designed to let mechanics show you what needs fixing without you being there

A virtual revolution is taking place in the UK’s garages with video becoming a workshop must have. Garages film what needs repairing. They can then show this to customers and seek approval before doing the work. The idea is to give car owners more control over repairs and reassure them that they’re not being ripped off. Here’s how it works.

Why video technology is needed

For most drivers, the dodgy reputation garages have is a worry. Recent research by online garage booking service BookMyGarage found that three quarters (74 per cent) of drivers felt hidden costs or paying too much for extra work were the biggest concerns when taking their car to a garage for its regular service. Drivers fear that unscrupulous operators can use superior mechanical knowledge to bamboozle them into repairs that don’t need doing. Continue reading

Expert advice: car window tinting. All you need to know

Car window tinting

He might think he looks cool but in the UK, heavily tinted front windows could get you in trouble with the police and your insurer

Tinted windows or privacy glass are becoming an increasingly popular option for new car buyers. But if you decide to have the windows of your existing car tinted, you have to be really careful. The law is strict about car window tinting. And rightly so because excessively shaded glass can reduce a driver’s ability to see in the dark. It can also prevent drivers confirming through eye contact that they’ve seen other road users and pedestrians.

Although the tint of car windows isn’t part of the MOT test, you could still end up breaking the law and invalidating your insurance. Here’s what you need to be aware of.

Which windows does it apply to?

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In 200 yards, turn left to pass your driving test: learner drivers must safely use sat navs

The driving test is entering the digital age, after the government announced changes that are designed to reflect the widespread use of satellite navigation systems in cars.

Learner drivers will be expected to safely follow directions from a sat nav system or they will fail their driving test. And they will spend twice the amount of time – now 20 minutes – driving independently, without guidance from the examiner.

The changes are part of a package of revisions that will come into force from 4 December. The objective is to provide a more realistic assessment of driving on today’s roads. Continue reading

Will a scrappage scheme be introduced for diesel car drivers?

Will a scrappage scheme be introduced for diesel car drivers?

As London brings forward the introduction date of its new Ultra Low Emission Zone and the government prepares to unveil “toxin taxes” on diesel cars driving into cities across England, rumours persist of a diesel scrappage scheme for motorists.

Up to 35 cities across England could introduce charges aimed at reducing pollution from diesel-powered vehicles, following the lead set by London. The move is an attempt to address chronic air pollution in parts of the UK, which is said to contribute to the deaths of up to 40,000 people a year.

Now politicians, industry representatives and driver groups are calling for a UK scrappage scheme, to help drivers replace the oldest and most polluting diesel cars.

The last scrappage scheme, in 2009, helped breathe life back into a flagging car industry, by giving £2000 in return for any car over 10-years old that was part-exchanged for a new vehicle. Could a similar incentive help replace the oldest diesel-powered cars?

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Voice control: what it is and why it’s the future in our cars

Voice control

Voice control is fitted to a lot of new cars but the system is still fairly primitive

Any driver with voice control in their car will know that it can be a bit hit and miss. Ask it to dial mum at home and you’re just as likely to end up with directions to Mundham in Norfolk. But that could all be about to change. Car companies believe voice control has enormous potential and are increasingly turning to tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon to help make it work in our cars. Here we look at voice control, what it is and how it’s going to change.

What is voice control?

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Polished with pride: the best way to spring clean a car

Polished with pride: the best way to spring clean a car

The birds are singing, the bees and buzzing and the bulbs are flowering: Spring is in the air. And that can only mean one thing; many of Britain’s drivers are looking at their car and hanging their heads in shame, unable to remember the last time they cleaned their motor.

If that sounds familiar, set aside a couple of hours one weekend, roll up your sleeves and treat your car to a thorough spring clean. Pick a sunny day and you might even put some colour in your cheeks.

You don’t have to be a professional car valeter, or detailer, to return a car to the showroom-sparkle finish it once enjoyed. Here are some simple tips to take the strain out of a spring clean.

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New speeding fines won’t work without more police say drivers

Speeding fines

More than four times as many speeders are caught on camera than by officers

A fifth of drivers (21 per cent) think new speeding fines will have little effect. Three quarters (73 per cent) of those believe the lack of police enforcement means drivers will ignore the new fines, even though they could be hit harder in the pocket if they are caught. And 74 per cent of drivers want the speed limit on UK motorways to be increased to 80mph.

Research into the attitudes of British drivers to speeding by Green Flag revealed that new speeding guidelines, which come into effect on April 24, 2017, are unlikely to yield the desired results. The government made the changes after some local authorities in the UK reported a significant increase in drivers caught speeding compared to the previous year.

New fines will see drivers hit with a penalty that could cost them up to 175 per cent of their relevant weekly wage. According to Government figures the average weekly wage is £507. It means a driver who exceeds 101mph could be banned for 56 days and receive a £887.25 fine. Green Flag’s Simon Henrick said: “Even though this new fine structure could leave some out of pocket, drivers seem to think speeding is such a serious offence that it deserves more rigorous enforcement by the authorities.”

More speeders caught by camera

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Mobile phone dangers: even hands-free can be hazardous for drivers

Mobile phone dangers

Using a hand-held phone at the wheel is dangerous but it’s not great using hands-free either

Mobile phone dangers at the wheel aren’t just limited to drivers who hold handsets. Research shows that even drivers who talk using hands-free kits can be less safe.

Highlighting how dangerous using a mobile phone while at the wheel can be, the penalty for using a handset was increased at the beginning of March 2017. The fine was doubled to £200 and six penalty points for drivers caught phoning or texting. It means anyone caught twice for the offence could lose their licence.

However, research shows that simply the act of talking on a phone while driving can lead to greater distraction and taking longer to react to hazards.

Why is talking on the phone while driving dangerous?

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