Being a passenger: how to help the driver stay safe at the wheel

Passenger

Passengers can be a hindrance or a help to drivers

You’re the passenger in a car. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride while your driver whisks you to your destination. That might be true if you’re the Queen. But for mere mortals, being a passenger – particularly in the front seat – is a responsible role.

Passengers can be responsible for distracting the driver, with disastrous consequences. But it need not be like that. Read on to see how you can actively engage in getting from A to B as swiftly and safely as possible – without being behind the wheel.

Think of yourself as the co-driver

Continue reading

How to set Do Not Disturb While Driving mode for Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones

How to set Do Not Disturb While Driving mode for Apple iOS and Google Android smartphone

Mobile phones have come a long way since the first call was made using one in the 1970s. Then, the Motorola handset used weighed more than a kilogram and could only make calls for 30 minutes before the battery needed charging for… 10 hours.

Today’s smartphone is packed with features, making it a computer, camera, music and media player, games console, diary and so much more besides. Many sync with a car and give the driver control through a touchscreen or voice commands. However, such features can be a dangerous distraction.

That’s why it’s important every driver knows how to enable the ‘Do Not Disturb When Driving’ mode. Earlier this month, Apple announced a bespoke safety feature for iPhones, to tackle the growing problem of driver distraction. And Google Android phones also offer a do not disturb setting. Here’s how to set them up and stay safe behind the wheel.

Continue reading

Expert advice: all about air-conditioning and how to keep cool this summer

air-conditioning

You’ll quickly know if the air-con is working or not in hot weather

Air-conditioning in our cars is something we’re beginning to take for granted. But for many drivers the hot summer sun is going to expose a problem they didn’t know they had: their air-con isn’t up to the job.

The reason for this, and something not every car owner realises, is that air-conditioning needs regular servicing. And it’s not usually attended to when a car has its regular service.

Why does air-conditioning need servicing?

Continue reading

What does a speed awareness course cover and will it save money?

Speed awareness course

If you’re caught exceeding the speed limit by a little, you may have the option of a speed awareness course

Drivers who get caught speeding can be offered the chance to take a speed awareness course rather than having their licence endorsed with three points and taking a fine. The classes, known as the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC), are part of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).

Speed awareness courses first started running in 2006. But they were only operated at a local level and nationally there was little consistency behind them. The national scheme addressed this and has been in action since 2008. Last year, 1.19 million drivers in the UK attended one of these courses. With the increase in the number of drivers being caught speeding, that’s up by 165 per cent since 2010. Read on to find out more about the NSAC.

What is a speed awareness course?

Continue reading

Why are car repair costs increasing and what can we do to prevent it?

Why car repair costs are accelerating like a supercar

Experts are warning that the very equipment that’s meant to protect drivers is hitting them where it hurts: in the wallet. Increasingly advanced safety technology is sending car repair costs soaring.

Experts at Thatcham Research, the not-for-profit agency that works with car makers and the insurance industry, claim car repair bills have increased by 32 per cent over the last three years. The average repair bill is now £1678, says Thatcham. But what can car owners do about these increasing costs?

What’s causing car repair costs to rise?

Continue reading

Car buying online: your next motor could come from an internet dealer

car buying online

Peugeot already has an online car buying platform

The way we purchase our motors is changing with car buying online becoming increasingly popular. There’s no shock in that. What is perhaps surprising is that the move to buying over the internet is taking such a long time. New figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) show that figures for web car sales are currently miniscule. But within the decade a fifth of all new cars will be bought online. Here’s all you need to know about the online sales boom.

Surely you can buy cars online now

Continue reading

How to check that off-site airport valet parking is safe, secure and insured

How to check that off-site airport valet parking is safe, secure and insured

For many drivers, the easiest way to travel to the airport for a holiday is to take the car. It’s often cheaper than taking a taxi. And with family and luggage to carry, it can be less stressful than the train or coach.

Thanks to the boom in valet parking, driving lets you pull up conveniently outside departures. You can then unload and hand over the car for safe keeping at an on- or off-site location.

But with the summer holidays fast approaching, how do you tell if an airport valet parking operator is safe, secure and properly insured? Here’s what to look for.

Continue reading

Driving licence points: how long do they stay valid for?

Driving licence

The number of drivers banned from the road for dangerous driving rocketed last year. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures show that 5179 drivers lost their licence for driving dangerously in 2016. The figure was up by nearly a third (29 per cent) compared with the year before.

The stats show that young adults between the ages of 26 and 35 are the most likely to be disqualified. The Highway Code states: “In the case of serious offences, such as dangerous driving and drink-driving, the court must order disqualification.” The ban is for 12 months. Drivers can also be slapped with an endorsement on their licence of between three and 11 points. But how long will those points stay there after their ban is over? Here’s all you need to know.

How long are points valid?

Continue reading

Hire car hell? 10 ways to avoid it this summer

Car hire

Ensure your holiday hire car is all smiles by following our top tips

Hire car problems are one of the biggest bothers for holiday makers going abroad. But it should be one of the easiest parts of the trip. After all, it’s not as if it’s a new industry. And the modern automobile is a fairly bullet-proof piece of kit.

However, with a lack of transparency over pricing, exorbitant insurance to cover excesses, punitive charges for fuel, and occasional blatant overcharging, some hire car companies can make a holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Things are improving slowly. The industry has been ordered to clean up its act by the Competition and Markets Authority and its European counterparts. But although the key five players – Avis-Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt – have all made changes, there is plenty drivers can do to protect themselves. Here are 10 ways you can save money and ensure you have a trouble-free holiday – at least when it comes to the hire car. Continue reading

Could traffic lights with artificial intelligence end road congestion?

Could traffic lights and artificial intelligence mean the end of congestion 2

 

That familiar feeling of waiting for traffic lights to wake up and turn green could be a thing of the past thanks to new intelligent signals.

Currently the majority of lights on Britain’s roads are programmed to change at timed intervals. And with the number of signals growing from 23,000 in 1994 to 33,000 in 2014, it’s estimated traffic lights add two minutes to every car journey made. Incredibly, that’s calculated to cost the nation’s economy £16bn a year, or one per cent of GDP.

So what can be done about traffic lights and hold-ups? Experts say the answer is a new generation of intelligent traffic light.

Aren’t some traffic lights ‘smart’ already?

Continue reading