We’re still quite a way from being able to read a book while the car reliably drives itself, experts say (Picture iStock/metamotorworks)
Safety experts have warned drivers that car makers could be lulling them into a false sense of security. One of the country’s foremost car safety experts believes motor manufacturers are overusing the word ‘autonomous’. As a consequence, drivers are getting the wrong idea about their cars’ capabilities.
Thatcham Research, an independent automotive safety specialist, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) want car firms to be clearer about what the assisted driving systems on their cars can actually do.
What is the problem?
Be on the wrong end of one of these you could end up on a speed awareness course (Picture iStock/south_agency)
Are you an experienced driver who thinks they’re unlikely to be caught speeding? Or have you already been nicked exceeding the speed limit and don’t know whether to choose a speed awareness course? The most exhaustive study yet on the courses offered to drivers caught speeding reveals the answers.
The report commissioned by the government looks at the increasingly popular National Speed Awareness Courses (NSAC). It assesses who is offered the courses, who accepts, and what impact the courses have on their driving. Read on to find out if you fit the profile for drivers who take speed awareness courses.
What are speed awareness courses?
Confused? You might well be by car tech symbols (Picture iStock/FYMStudio)
The best labels should explain instantly what something is or does. Yet with a lot of in-car technology, drivers don’t know what the dashboard symbols mean. And in some cases they think the buttons operate a different function altogether.
That was the outcome of research conducted by online car seller Buyacar.co.uk. It asked 1000 drivers to identify six common dashboard symbols. Much of this kit now features as standard, even on mid-range family cars such as the Ford Focus. And some of it is important for road safety. Yet many of the symbols chosen by car makers aren’t descriptive enough for drivers, leaving them flummoxed. Do you know what the following six symbols signify?
All sorts of nasties can come out of your car’s air-con (Picture iStock/Humonia)
Do you know what’s living in your car’s air-con? You may never have considered it but a car’s air-conditioning system is a haven for bacteria. Scientists have even discovered that some of the bugs can be dangerous, leading to meningitis, urinary tract infections and sceptic arthritis.
Our expert has already written this useful guide on why you can’t expect air-conditioning to work effectively if it’s not regularly serviced. But new research has found out exactly what inhabits our air-con. In America, where air-con has been common in more vehicles for longer, they even have a name for the effect that exposure to these bacteria can have: Sick Car Syndrome.
What is the most common bug in our air-con?
Cars that drive themselves may seem like a long way down the road. But the government is already preparing for the journey into the future. It is encouraging ideas for new infrastructure such as the smart pavement that take advantage of the so-called smart car.
One innovation that has caught the attention of experts is a new type of road. This employs embedded LED lighting technology to indicate a change of use.
Called FlexKerb, it is to be trialled in London. By using colour coding it can adapt according to traffic demands at different times of day.
Its creators say it could change from a cycle lane to a parking and charging bay for driverless vehicles depending on real-time traffic conditions and local infrastructure needs.
If there’s one thing that has drivers grumbling more than anything, it’s their car’s fuel economy. How many miles a car travels on a gallon of petrol or diesel – or in some cases, with a little bit of electric power in the mix – directly drains money from the bank. The more thirsty a car is, the more expensive it is to run.
A common complaint is that it is difficult to achieve a car’s advertised fuel economy. But wth a bit of practice and a change in driving habits, it’s surprising how much of an improvement can be made to a car’s mpg (miles per gallon) in a short space of time.
To see if you have a sound grasp of those driving techniques, or to simply learn more about making a car travel further on a tank of fuel, take this quiz and discover whether you’re a fuel economy winner or loser.
Getting the keys to the open road is an exciting moment. But changes are afoot (Picture iStock/Londoneye)
New drivers could face a strict probationary period after they’ve passed their test. Plans drawn up by the government will restrict what newly qualified drivers can do when they hit the road. The government wants to slash the disproportionately high number of accidents involving the 17-24 age group.
A Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesperson explained: “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) will establish a revised training and testing regime for car drivers and motorcyclists. It will introduce some post-test restrictions for drivers/riders to reduce the over-representation of new – mainly young – drivers/riders in fatal and serious road collisions.” Read on to find out more.
Are the changes definitely going ahead?
This is a familiar sight to many of us. What we do next depends on how big it is (Picture iStock/Flubydust)
Having a windscreen repair or replacement will factor in most our motoring lives at some point. Road debris flung up by vehicles in front or falling from bridges above can result in windscreen damage. Whether it’s a miniscule chip or a more substantial crack, the question for most of us is does our screen need repairing or replacing?
How you react to a damaged windscreen depends on the type of damage the screen has sustained. Some can be repaired but in other cases the screen must most definitely be replaced. Read on to find out what you might need.
To repair or replace?
The MOT test changes this weekend but you can be forgiven if you didn’t know. New research conducted by Green Flag reveals that six out of 10 drivers (58 per cent) haven’t realised the MOT changes are happening.
More worryingly perhaps, nine out of 10 drivers (89 per cent) are unaware that driving a car with an invalid MOT might result in a £2500 fine. And a quarter (25 per cent) don’t realise that driving a faulty vehicle results in a penalty. Read on to find out more about the changes and how drivers might be able to save themselves money.
What are the MOT changes?
In the same week, a major recall and important alert have been launched by manufacturers of some of Britain’s best-selling cars. BMW has initiated a UK-wide recall of 312,000 cars after admitting certain models have suffered an electrical short-circuit. And Volkswagen and Seat are having to repair around 30,000 models due to a potentially dangerous seatbelt defect.
BMW is setting out to rectify an electrical fault that could leave drivers stranded with no headlights, brake lights, indicators or hazard lights. It made primetime TV after featuring on BBC One’s Watchdog show.
Meanwhile, independent safety tests revealed that the latest generation VW Polo, Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona, could unfasten one of the rear seatbelts without warning.
It is important that owners of the affected vehicles take action and follow the manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure their vehicle remains safe to drive. Here’s how to find out if the recall and alert involve your car.