As its name suggests, a smart phone is a clever box of tricks. A camera, music player, sat nav, phone and so much more besides, few people can bear to be parted from their phone – especially drivers.
They can help drivers find their way from A to B, allow them to call home to let the family know they’ll be later for dinner or stream a pod cast or music to make long journeys pass faster.
But since 2003, it has been illegal to handle a phone while driving. And in March, tougher penalties were introduced for drivers caught in the act, with a £200 on-the-spot fine and six penalty points.
The move was aimed at addressing a rise in the number of fatal road accidents in some parts of the UK.
But it is legal for drivers to use the convenient features on their mobile phone, such as sat nav apps, if they fit a phone holder to their car and enable hands-free operation. Here’s how to stay safe and on the right side of the law.
What is the law on drivers using mobile phones?
Going off to college can be a great adventure. Our tips will help ensure your car doesn’t spoil it
I’m sure there are some exceptions to every rule, but I’ve never yet met a student who’s rolling in money. And running a car that keeps on conking out can be like having a hole in your pocket. The key with cars is prevention rather than cure. Keeping on top of regular maintenance will prevent all manner of mechanical mishaps.
But more than that, a regular maintenance routine will actually help save you money. Tyres that are properly inflated don’t wear out as quickly and mean your motor won’t use as much fuel. And having the oil and filters changed when the maker suggests will guarantee your car performs as economically as possible. Read on to see my top car care tips.
Does driver distraction play a part in your motoring life? Are you a habitual nose-picker during the morning rush hour? Do you put on lipstick or brush your hair in traffic? Maybe you air-drum to your favourite tune on the radio? Or perhaps you reach for the electric shaver and smarten up on the way to a meeting?
Of course, as a responsible law-abiding driver, you’re shaking your head in disbelief: none of these descriptions rings true for you. However, according to a new survey, there are plenty of other drivers who do engage in deadly in-car habits.
Who’s not been paying attention?
In order to handle a car legally on public roads in the UK, new drivers have to pass a 40-minute driving test. But to ensure the test better prepares drivers for modern motoring, the biggest shake up in 20 years is happening in December 2017.
The driving test will still last the same amount of time and still be marked the same way. It will still cost £62 on weekdays, £75 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. But from Monday December 4, the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will face the most far-reaching changes since the addition of the theory test in 1996. Here are the four new features budding drivers will encounter.
Increased independent driving
Drivers could be forgiven for thinking almost every other car, van, lorry or motorbike has a dash cam fitted to it. The pocket-size portable video devices have boomed in popularity, with an estimated four million dashboard-mounted cameras now on Britain’s roads.
And that number is only set to rise. When 29 leading vehicle insurers were questioned about dash cams, all said they would consider accepting dash cam footage in the event of a claim. Some companies go so far as to offer discounts to drivers for using a dash cam.
However, one of the UK’s leading road safety organisations has spoken out over concerns that footage from dash cams might take traffic police off the roads. And privacy campaigners have slammed the phenomenon of ‘vehicle voyeurs’. These are drivers who publicly share footage of other road users without their consent. Find out how objections are increasing to this widespread and relatively new gadget.
The annual MOT is vital to ensure cars are roadworthy
When is your car’s MOT test due? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re not alone. A new poll has revealed that a quarter of drivers (27 per cent) don’t have a clue when their current MOT runs out.
Although the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) automatically sends drivers reminders about when their road tax is due, there is no such service for MOTs. Instead the government has an MOT check website. However, nearly half (47 per cent) are unaware of it according to the survey by Carbuyer.co.uk.
It’s easy to check when your MOT test is due
When did you last look at your driving licence? And if you have looked at it recently, did you know that you have to update it every 10 years or risk a hefty fine?
You won’t be alone if you haven’t. According to a new survey, 4 per cent of the UK’s 37.5 million driving licence holders have the wrong address on their licences. That means there are 1.5m drivers whose licences have incorrect information on them. Another 2.2m driving licences have expired completely. If the Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) could track them all down – unlikely as it doesn’t have a valid address for nearly half of them! – and impose the maximum fine, the government would be £3.7bn better off.
What’s the penalty?
Up until a couple of seconds ago, he’d set his heart on the black Golf…
Buying cars is full of pitfalls with the vast majority of people expecting it to be hard work. And as they get further down the road, nearly two thirds of buyers give up through the sheer mental exhaustion of the process.
A major study, conducted by used car sales website Auto Trader spoke to buyers during the car buying process to identify the pain points we all face.
How we buy cars
As long as you’ve got your car key, contactless payments will be possible (Picture © DS Automobiles)
They’re parts of everyday motoring that we’ve taken for granted for years. But very soon we could look at our car key and steering wheel in a completely different light. French car company DS Automobiles has come up with a key that doubles as a payment card. And Jaguar Land Rover is working on a steering wheel that could revolutionise the way we own cars.
How do you pay with a car key?
Vauxhall has been running its scrappage scheme since May (Picture © Vauxhall)
For drivers who might be considering swapping their old car for a new model, there are now multiple scrappage schemes to help. But, unlike last time when we had government-organised scrappage, these are car maker-inspired schemes. We explain what scrappage is, which manufacturers are currently doing it and look into these latest incentives.
What is scrappage?