Do you keep to your New Year’s resolutions? Or do you forget them as soon as you’ve made them? No matter how quickly you give up going to the gym three times a week, I hope you’ll stick to the five resolutions here. Not only might they save you a heap of money before the year’s out; they could also prevent you having to sit at the roadside in a conked-out car.
Some recent research found that millions of drivers don’t even perform the most rudimentary maintenance to prepare their motor for winter. Here’s a handful of checks that will keep your car motoring long after memories of New Year’s parties have faded.
New Year’s resolution 1: check the oil
How well do you remember 2018? Our fun quiz looks at some of the news from the year just gone. Laws to do with car tax, the MOT test and learner drivers all changed. And there was plenty of eyebrow-raising research too.
How much attention were you paying? Take our test to find out. And don’t worry if you get any of them wrong: our questions have been designed to help you become a better, safer driver. Here we pose 12 teasers – one from every month of the year – to see how much you remember.
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
Buy an unreliable car and this could be you (Picture iStock/Webeye)
If you’re considering buying a new car, it’s always handy to know the most unreliable models around. Thanks to data from car guarantee firm Warranty Wise, we can now see which cars are most likely to conk out, which year are the most prone to problems, what the trouble is likely to be, and even how much the average cost of some repairs is.
Warranty Wise admits that the problems it specifies aren’t guaranteed to occur on these models. But the data is from genuine warranty claims so provides a good pointer to the kind of trouble that is more likely to afflict some cars than others. Read on to discover 2018’s 10 least reliable used cars and which specific models to be wary of.
10 most unreliable cars
Driving too close to the car in front increases the chances of crashing, the Highways Agency says (Picture iStock)
Are you guilty of tailgating or driving too close to the car in front? If you are, government agency Highways England warns it could only be a matter of time before you crash. It claims that one in eight accidents on motorways and A-roads is due to tailgating. It adds that about 100 people a year die because of vehicles following too closely.
This makes tailgating the third most likely cause of crashes in the UK. It comes behind failing to look properly and not judging another vehicle’s speed accurately. It’s such a problem that Highways England has launched a campaign to draw attention to it (below). Read on to find out why tailgating is so dangerous.
Why do road users drive too closely?
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.
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
LEDs are the future of car lighting but they can come with a hefty price tag (Picture © DS Automobiles)
Drivers of some of our most popular small cars could have to pay as much as £846 for replacement headlamp bulbs. New research reveals that the cost of mending broken headlights is escalating because increasing numbers of cars are relying on LED technology.
The study by What Car? shows that owners of the Volkswagen Polo, the country’s sixth best-selling car, will spend £18 on a new halogen bulb. Meanwhile, it’ll cost drivers of the upmarket GTI version £846 because it has LED headlamp units. Owners of the Suzuki Swift SZ3 or SZT models will pay just £4 for a replacement bulb. However, drivers of the more upmarket SZ5 version will fork out £684 to replace the xenon unit. Read on to find out how much you might have to pay for a new headlamp bulb.
What kind of lights does your car have?
The roadside can be a dangerous place. If you see something like this ahead, slow down and give it plenty of space (Picture iStock)
If you’ve ever had to get out of your car at the roadside, you’ll know what a hostile place it can be. It’s no exaggeration to say that for some people it can be deadly. To raise awareness about this, we at Green Flag have come together with the AA and RAC to support the ‘Slow down, move over’ campaign.
We’re asking drivers to pay more attention to what’s going on at the side of the road. We all know how easy it can be to have our attention diverted when driving. Whether it’s by something interesting on the radio or pondering a problem at work, we don’t always think about what’s going on outside our own little bubble.
Slow down, move over campaign in detail
Speed bumps are used by councils to slow traffic in residential areas (Picture © iStock/AndrewMaltzoff)
Has your car been damaged by speed bumps? According to a new study, one in five drivers has suffered broken car components after hitting one of the traffic calming lumps in the road.
Measures to slow drivers down ‑ and particularly speed humps ‑ have been contentious among car owners since the bumps were launched in 1983. Now there are 29,000 of them in the UK and research by comparison website Confused.com claims 22 per cent of car owners have had their motors damaged going over humps. Of those, half suffered tyre trouble; a third said driving over humps had resulted in suspension problems. But what can you do about it? Read on to find out.
Are there any laws around speed humps?