Black ice is the most dangerous natural hazard drivers face on the road. Speak to anyone that’s encountered it and they will tell you it sends a shiver down their spine just thinking about it.
Many parts of Britain are currently experiencing harsh winter weather. However, with some sensible precautions, driving on black ice doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle ride.
We asked Paul Ripley to explain how drivers can safely tackle the often-invisible danger. One of Britain’s most respected advanced driving instructors, Ripley has coached police forces, vehicle engineers and thousands of drivers looking to improve their skills behind the wheel. Little wonder he has earned the nickname ‘God’s chauffeur’. These are his tips for driving on black ice.
What is black ice?
The government is investigating fining more drivers who ignore lane closures on smart motorways. Highways England, which manages the motorway network, is currently trialling cameras designed to automatically snap cars driving in lanes marked with a red cross.
Drivers caught illegally using the closed lanes could then be hit with a £100 fine. And police chiefs are now looking at retraining for offenders – the equivalent of a speed awareness course – to ensure drivers don’t break the law again. These changes could be brought in as quickly as March 2018. Read on to find out more.
How do smart motorways work?
Cold weather isn’t just tough on drivers, it can play havoc with cars too. The heavy hail and snow showers that are hitting parts of the UK in mid-January 2018 are already causing chaos. Green Flag is warning that an astonishing 12 breakdowns every minute will take place this week.
Head of news for Green Flag Simon Henrick said: “After a variable but relatively mild winter period over Christmas, the changing weather conditions may take some drivers by surprise this week.
“By thoroughly checking their cars before leaving home, approaching the roads with caution and keeping plenty of distance between themselves and the vehicle in front, drivers will decrease the risk of encountering a problem while on the roads.” Read on to see how you can stay safe in the snow.
Health and safety
In 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to make using a phone when driving as unacceptable as drink-driving. Last April, tougher penalties were introduced to deter phone use at the wheel.
But since then, more than 200 drivers a day have been prosecuted for using their phone while driving. That means they’ve been slapped with six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Some drivers complain they find the law confusing around the areas of making calls while driving and using a phone as a sat nav device. Many reason this confusion comes from being told it’s okay to use a phone while driving when it’s in hands-free mode.
This is what motorists need to know to stay on the right side of the law. As importantly, it will help keep them and other road users safe.
The law: hands-free phone use
When is a flat battery not a flat battery? When it’s a problem with glow plugs. OK, that’s a bit simplistic but frequently people breakdown with what they think is a battery problem, only for it to turn out to be the glow plugs that are at fault.
The reason is that diesel engines use these heaters to help them start. In warmer weather they’re not as necessary. However, when the weather gets cold, glow plugs are vital. That’s why in November 2017, the number of call outs Green Flag attended for glow plug problems rose by 112 per cent. Read on to find out what the problem is and how you can diagnose it.
What are glow plugs?
In the Hollywood blockbuster X-Men franchise, Patrick Stewart plays Professor Charles Xavier, who can read minds to help defeat the bad guys. Now one car maker claims to have developed real mind-reading technology that could help drivers to avoid accidents.
Nissan says it has developed brain-reading technology that not only works but could be fitted to cars within the next five to 10 years. It revealed the innovation at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
It means people may one day be able to ‘drive’ their car using little more than their thoughts. Pull on your thinking cap and find out all about ‘brain-to-vehicle’ technology.
What does Nissan know that we don’t?
Thousands of car owners could be driving with medical conditions that make it illegal for them to be in charge of a car. The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) lists almost 200 complaints that sufferers should inform it about before taking to the road. These range from the obvious such as epilepsy and blackouts to slightly less evident such as snoring, eating disorders and depression.
One in four drivers is said to suffer from a notifiable condition. However, research suggests 10 per cent of those don’t report their ailment. Anyone who drives with one of the highlighted conditions without informing the DVLA could face a fine of up to £1000. They also risk having any insurance claims refused. Here are the more common, less obvious complaints drivers should be aware of.
If your car has ever needed a replacement exhaust you’ll know just how expensive this essential mechanical component can be. As it’s such a pricey part, it pays to know what to look for and it’s important to shop around. That might seem daunting, but the potential price savings alone should convince you research is time well spent.
The exhaust is an essential part of your car. It keeps the engine healthy and ensures the emissions being pumped out do as little harm as possible to the surrounding environment. But over time, the effects of high temperatures, water and grime, the occasional bash from a speed hump and general wear and tear from continuous movement mean it can end up needing replacing.
Here’s the exhaustive low down on repairing or replacing a car’s exhaust.
Signs you need a replacement exhaust
Drivers are vowing to do a lot less of this in 2018
The majority of us make New Year’s resolutions. For many these might involve joining a gym, quitting smoking, drinking less, eating more healthily or stopping swearing. But for some of us, resolving to change and be better human beings might include something to do with motoring.
Some new research conducted by pre-17-year old driving school Young Driver found that older motorists still think they’ve got plenty to learn. Although one in five (18 per cent) confidently claimed to be perfect drivers, plenty of others felt they had work to do. Read on to find out what the most popular New Year’s resolutions for drivers are.
Performing regular car checks
The sun might be setting on another year of motoring, but how much of it do you remember? In many respects it was quite a momentous 12 months. There have been changes to the MOT, driving test, road tax and mobile phone fines. Car makers have launched their own scrappage scheme. And accident-prone TV presenter Richard Hammond had – you guessed it – another headline-grabbing crash. But how much of the detail do you remember?
Take the Green Flag quiz 2017