Road safety

Expert advice: Dos and don’ts for stopping on motorway hard shoulders

Motorway hard shoulder

Don’t try to fix it yourself. Read our five dos and five don’ts for stopping on a motorway hard shoulder

A motorway hard shoulder is a dangerous place to spend time. Recent figures released by the Highways Agency revealed that between 2011 and 2016 there were 403 collisions on Britain’s motorway hard shoulders. Over that five-year period there were hundreds of injuries and, sadly, 38 deaths.

All our technicians receive comprehensive training on what to do and how to behave on the hard shoulder. While it’s their job to spend time at the side of motorways, it’s also something every driver could have to face at some point in their car-owning career. For that reason, I’ve compiled five dos and fives don’ts for the motorway hard shoulder.

DO take care entering the hard shoulder

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Cold weather: what you should and shouldn’t do for safe motoring

cold weather

Winter has bitten for the first time in 2017 and more prolonged cold weather spells are forecast. For car owners it’s a challenging time of year. Freezing weather doesn’t just make driving treacherous. It also exposes weaknesses in our cars. Here we look at 10 things you can do to make driving better and safer.

DO

Make sure you’ve got an ice scraper

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Calls for regular driver eye tests as poor vision sidelines thousands

Eye tests

More drivers than ever are being banned for poor vision after roadside eye tests

Have you ever had your eyesight tested? If the answer’s no, you’re not alone. New research by optician Vision Express has revealed one in six drivers has never had an eye test. And more than three quarters (78 per cent) screened at a special event were overdue an eye exam.

It comes as new figures show the number of drivers failing roadside eye tests has rocketed over the past decade. It’s prompted calls for drivers to have their eyesight checked every two years. Some even want eye tests to be made compulsory for drivers.

How many drivers have failed eye tests?

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Balancing act: how to load a car roof rack safely

Balancing act: how to load a car roof rack safely

When drivers run out of space in their car, an increasingly popular practical solution is to fit a roof rack and storage box. These allow for a holiday’s worth of luggage to be carried without resorting to packing out the passenger seats. But failing to load road-mounted luggage correctly might lead to more than scattered clothes in the road. It could cause an accident.

According to IAM Roadsmart, a leading UK road safety charity, each year thousands of accidents are caused by debris falling from vehicles. Even if there aren’t any casualties caused by such an event, the charity points to the practical problem of delays. It claims that each incident leads to a 20-minute traffic jam on average.

To help keep drivers safe, the IAM’s driving experts share some simple tips for loading a roof rack safely.

Why use a roof rack or roof box?

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Eating, drinking, smoking: most common driver distractions

Driver distraction

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?

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New driving test: what young drivers can expect

New driving test

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

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Caught on camera: should every driver have a dash cam in their car?

Caught on camera should every driver have a dash cam in their car

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.

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Scrappage: all you need to know about car maker incentive schemes

scrappage

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?

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Life savers: safety features drivers should pick for their next car

Life savers: optional safety features drivers should choose for their next car

Car firms can now fit even the most modest motors with an astonishing array of safety equipment. It’s kit that’s designed to assist drivers and prevent crashes happening. But according to a study by What Car?, four times as many drivers prioritise connectivity, fancy audio units, navigation systems and alloy wheels over advanced systems that can help keep them, their passengers and other road users safe.

Many road safety experts believe this is because drivers don’t fully understand what the systems do, and how they can help. Here we investigate some of the most significant safety systems available on used and new cars.

Automatic braking systems

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Bright idea: how to change or upgrade car headlight bulbs

Headlights

Whether driving at night or motoring in the rain, fog or snow, one of a car’s most important safety features is its lights. The headlights in particular are a vital component for keeping drivers secure on the road. They dictate the view of the road ahead and surrounding environment, and help other road users see the approaching vehicle.

But as cars age, so do their bulbs. And nobody can have failed to notice that lighting technology has raced on over the past decade. The latest cars have ultra-bright LED lights. These can often make traditional halogen bulbs seem no more effective than a candle in a lantern.

If you’ve found yourself cursing your car’s lighting performance, or felt a pang of envy as you’ve shielded your eyes from other cars’ dazzling headlights, there is, ahem, light at the end of the tunnel.

Upgrading a car’s headlights is one of the simplest maintenance jobs drivers can tackle. It’s also highly affordable. And when you consider the safety benefits of changing a car’s bulbs for brighter items, it’s little wonder that sales of aftermarket bulbs are booming. Here’s how to do it.

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