Once upon a time this would have been a humble family runabout…
We all like to give things our personal touch and modifying cars is no different. But while it might please you to make parts of your car bigger, brighter, faster and louder, it could land you in hot water.
For a start, the law takes a dim view of cars that aren’t considered roadworthy. And insurers may even refuse to pay out if you modify a car without telling them. Here we look at what you can and can’t do to your car. And whatever you decide, make sure you do it with safety in mind and that you inform your insurer.
The UK’s climate can feel like a moving target sometimes. But one thing is guaranteed: cold weather driving is something we all have to do at some point in the year.
Whether that’s going to work first thing in the morning and scraping the ice off the car or negotiating slippery bends, it can be enough to send a shiver down your spine. And for some of us, winter weather means driving in snow, which throws up a whole new set of challenges.
But although it’s something you probably do regularly with little thought, how much do you actually know about it? Take our cunning quiz to find out.
Changes to the MOT will come into force this May, making it more difficult for dirty diesel cars to pass air quality tests. A three-tier rating for the severity of faults on all cars will also be introduced.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) claims the revisions to the MOT will make it tougher for anyone trying to cheat emissions tests and help keep vehicles in a dangerous condition off the road.
However, at the same time hundreds of thousands of cars more than 40-years old will no longer be required to take the annual road worthiness inspection. Here’s what motorists need to know about the changes.
Dirty diesels face stricter smoke test
While much of the focus for the way motoring is changing is on our cars, road technology will play an increasingly important part in our lives. Cars might be getting ever cleverer but the roads are beginning to catch up.
The safety-conscious Scandinavians are at the forefront of advances and here we explore two common sense bits of road technology. Bluetooth traffic monitoring may already be on a road near you, depending on where you live in the UK. And intelligent streets lights with a low power resting mode that become brighter when cars approach could be coming sooner than you think.
Why monitor Bluetooth?
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
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.
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
Drivers who kill others by focusing on their mobile phones rather than the road could face life in prison. In a move designed to make the roads a safer place the government is changing the law. Its aim is to ‘clamp down on dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads’.
The government has also acted to plug a gap in the law. It has introduced a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. This will be punishable by up to three years prison. Here we look into what the changes mean for drivers.
Why has the law changed?
Would you be in favour of a cut in the speed limit? One expert believes that a 5 per cent reduction in maximum speeds – as little as 1mph in some cases ‑ would lead to a 30 per cent drop in fatal traffic crashes.
And what about traffic enforcement cameras and 20mph zones? When both became a part of everyday motoring life, they were greeted with dismay by many drivers. But evidence produced at the Speed Summit, held by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), shows they’re now becoming more accepted.
Speed is an emotive issue among drivers. The Department for Transport has just revealed numbers caught speeding is higher than any other year in the past decade. Nearly 6000 drivers were caught exceeding the speed limit every day in England and Wales. But inappropriate or excessive speed are two contributory factors most often recorded by police at the scene of crashes. Here are some of the latest facts behind speed and speeding.
Would cutting the speed limit save lives?