Driving safety

Quiz: 12 tasty motoring teasers from 2018

Quiz 2018

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.

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Expert advice: How you can beat the Christmas food coma this year

Food coma

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

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Seeing the light: alarming cost of replacement car headlamp bulbs

car headlamp bulbs

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?

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Expert comment: Why the Slow down, move over campaign makes sense

Slow down, move over

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

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Fears assisted driving systems make people think cars self-drive

Assisted driving systems

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?

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Does it mean air-con or stop-start? Car owners confused by tech symbols

In-car technology

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?

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New drivers face more limits with Graduated Driver Licensing

Graduated Driver Licensing

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?

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Expert advice: check your car’s tool kit

Tool kit

Even a basic tool kit can prevent you being stranded roadside. A working mobile phone is an important part of it (Picture: iStock/South_agency)

This might sound very old school but I think carrying a basic tool kit can be one of the most sensible things a driver does. I’m not suggesting here that you go out and buy a full socket set. And I’m not advocating dismantling a conked out car at the roadside. But a simple tool kit might make the difference between a car being repaired roadside and it being recovered to a garage.

Of course, all cars come with a rudimentary tool kit. But buying and checking a used car can be stressful enough. We often don’t have time to find out what tools it does and doesn’t have. Frequently handy tools get lost during a car’s life time and you only find out they’re not there when you need them. Here’s what I suggest you have in your tool kit.

Jack and wheel brace

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Child car seat laws are causing confusion, parents reveal

2018 child car seat laws are cause for confusion, say parents

Do you drive with children in your car? Are you fully aware of the laws around using the appropriate child seat? If your knowledge is a little sketchy, the good and bad news is you’re not alone. Almost nine in 10 parents admit that they are baffled by new booster seat rules and regulations.

Introduced last February, the updated rules were meant to provide clarity for mums, dads and carers when it came to securing a child safely in a car. Yet safety experts say that far from helping clarify the use of child seats, the rules have caused confusion.

Worryingly, almost one in five drivers with children under the age of 12 admit they rarely or never sit them in a car seat. So what are the guidelines that drivers should be following?

What the survey found

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Expert advice: how to drive through thick mud without getting stuck

One of the problems contestants for Mud & Motors are going to have is – as the event’s name suggests ‑ driving through mud. Manoeuvring any vehicle other than a tank over a slippery surface is easier said than done.

As a regional operations manager, I have some experience of driving in mud. And I’ll be working with the contestants on Mud & Motors to help them out. Here are my tips for driving in mud.

Rather than just a field with greasy grass, when I say mud I’m thinking more along the lines of muddy tracks here. It’ll have been driven on before, possibly by heavy vehicles such as tractors. Their weight and the tread of their tyres will have broken down the composition of the soil and turned it into mud. There will be puddles, ruts and thick, gloopy mud. Lots of it. Here’s how you get through it.

Your car driving through mud

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