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Prepare for take-off: flying cars edge closer to the skies (and roads!)

Prepare for take-off: flying cars edge closer to the skies

At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, there was a glimmer of hope for anyone who thinks flying cars represent the future of personal transport. A company called AeroMobil, based in Slovakia, displayed its latest vision of a winged wonder. The good news is, thanks to advances in technology, it stands a healthy chance of reaching the runway.

Then there’s the news that this week, Dubai completed a test flight of the world’s first pilotless flying taxi, developed by Volocopter. Meanwhile Uber, the technology company that has disrupted the taxi industry, has signed deals with five companies that are developing air taxis and momentum is building.

The AeroMobil might be eye-wateringly expensive, but the market is surprisingly competitive and some big names from worldwide industry are joining the race, meaning costs are likely to fall. Here we look at how the flying car is spreading its wings, with four of the most promising models from around the world.

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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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HGVs: How car drivers can stay safe around lorries on the road

 

It makes for shocking viewing: an HGV swipes a tiny Nissan Micra in its blind spot then pushes it along the road. In another film, an articulated truck crunches onto a Toyota Yaris and drags it round the corner. They’re graphic proof that car drivers need to be aware that sitting in the blind spot of a large lorry can be very dangerous.

Put yourself in the cab of an HGV for a moment. Lumbering, unwieldy, and as athletic as a pile of logs, vision towards the rear is restricted and the thing you’re driving can weigh as much as 40 tonnes and might be nearly 19m long. In addition, it folds right behind your head. And anyone who’s ever towed anything in a car will know the problems that can present. So how can we as car drivers do our bit to help? We asked Laurie Moore from HGV driver instruction company Tockwith Training.

What’s the most common mistake car drivers make?

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Video revolution should help drivers get fairer deal from garages

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New tech is designed to let mechanics show you what needs fixing without you being there

A virtual revolution is taking place in the UK’s garages with video becoming a workshop must have. Garages film what needs repairing. They can then show this to customers and seek approval before doing the work. The idea is to give car owners more control over repairs and reassure them that they’re not being ripped off. Here’s how it works.

Why video technology is needed

For most drivers, the dodgy reputation garages have is a worry. Recent research by online garage booking service BookMyGarage found that three quarters (74 per cent) of drivers felt hidden costs or paying too much for extra work were the biggest concerns when taking their car to a garage for its regular service. Drivers fear that unscrupulous operators can use superior mechanical knowledge to bamboozle them into repairs that don’t need doing. Continue reading

How to transport fireworks safely by car

Transport fireworks safely by car

It’s that time of year when children are getting excited and mums are warning dads not to get carried away buying industrial quantities of fireworks that resemble a bunker buster. But while plenty of guidance is given to help everyone have a safe fireworks display at home or in public, little thought is given on how to transport fireworks safely by car.

Fireworks are extremely dangerous. The Government’s last recorded figures on injuries caused by fireworks, from 2005, showed that 990 people were hurt during a four week period around November 5.

However, there are some sensible tips and several essential steps that drivers should take to ensure that carrying fireworks in a car doesn’t result in a serious accident.

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Incredible towing records from pulling a train to hauling the Space Shuttle

Pulling power: from towing a train to pulling the Space Shuttle, these are the world’s most impressive towing records

Pulling a caravan this summer? If so, you may like to see these towing records, proving that the average SUV is a lot more capable than you might think. The first film shows what looks like a perfectly ordinary Land Rover Discovery Sport, the popular seven-seat SUV. But when it drives up onto railtracks and lowers two pairs of small steel wheels from its chassis, what happens next is most definitely not an everyday occurrence. Continue reading

Video: who are BBC Top Gear’s new presenters?

Top Gear's new presenters

Reid, Schmitz, LeBlanc, Evans, Harris, Jordan and the Stig: the new faces of BBC’s Top Gear

“Morning from the new Top Gear team. All present and correct and smelling of eau de petrol.” And on that bombshell… Chris Evans revealed the complete line up of Top Gear’s new presenters. For the BBC’s motoring flagship there are six smiling new faces beaming out at the world, and one Stig – fresh from a reprogramming and having an uprated processor installed.

The sudden influx of known and unknown presenting talent was always going to cause a stir. Gary Lineker recently joked that he was the only person who wasn’t a member of the Top Gear team. And Tiff Needell took his Twitter followers on a trip down memory lane, with a front cover of the Radio Times from 1993 – the last time there were a similar number of presenters fronting Top Gear. Continue reading

Video: Car makers rev up their adverts for the 2016 Super Bowl 50

Serena Williams 2016 Super Bowl Mini advert

This Sunday, NFL’s Super Bowl 50 kicks off and touches down on televisions, laptops and smartphones in hundreds of million of homes around the world. American football’s game of the year gets underway at 23.30 (GMT) on Sunday, with Brits able to watch it on BBC2. And because it pulls in huge audiences, there’s an equally huge amount of advertising surrounding it – especially from car companies. So even if you don’t like American football, the ad breaks are well worth a watch.

Last year, more than 114 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl on TV – in North America alone. And judging by some of the statistics flying around the 50th Super Bowl, that means more than a billion chicken wings will be devoured, a whole lot of Bud’ will be guzzled and one or two over-eager fans will regret trying to impersonate the cheerleaders of the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.

All the stops are pulled out by advertising creatives for Super Bowl, even more so for this year’s Super Bowl 50. But we won’t get to see the ads on the BBC. So here they are…

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Drink driving videos from Think! tell drivers not to give in to peer pressure

Think! drink drive video 2015

It’s a scenario familiar to many drivers: the phone rings and it’s your wife asking to be collected from the train station. But you’ve drunk more than one glass of wine with dinner and you’re not really sure whether it’s a good idea to get behind the wheel.

It isn’t. At least, that’s the message from Think!, the road safety campaigning arm of the Department for Transport (DfT). Its seasonal Christmas driver safety adverts remind drivers that they mustn’t give in to peer pressure to drink and drive.It also tells drinkers that they shouldn’t pressure drivers into joining them for ‘just one more’ before they hit the road. It comes in response to DfT figures that show the number of casualties in the UK caused by drink drivers increased in 2014 compared to the previous year.
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How to sit comfortably and avoid back pain when driving

 

Back pain: guide to sitting comfortably when driving, with advice from the British Chiropractic Association

As the summer holidays get into full swing and millions of motorists take to the road, drivers who are sitting comfortably in their car are luckier than they may have imagined. Four out of five people suffer from back pain, according to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), and of those surveyed this January, 40 per cent say that sitting down aggravates back or neck pain. It’s enough to send a shiver down a driver’s spine.

Tackling the problem of sitting comfortably when driving and avoiding back pain doesn’t require action as drastic as buying a new car. That could be a very costly mistake, as it’s rare for a car to leave drivers feeling uncomfortable after a brief test drive; often it takes hours on end at the wheel before the telltale signs of back or neck pain begin.

Instead, there are plenty of practical steps to follow that should help most people get comfortable at the wheel. We asked Rishi Loatey, a practising chiropractor and member of the BCA, to share his advice for drivers and help banish Britain’s bad backs.  Continue reading