Motoring

All about Blue Badges and disabled bay parking

blue badges
Drivers with Blue Badges can park in privileged positions (iStock/Richard Johnson)

Blue Badges help disabled people park closer to their destination. The idea is that on the street and in special parking bays close to libraries, doctors’ surgeries or other amenities, there is parking for cars that show their driver or passenger is disabled or somehow incapacitated.

How can you get a Blue Badge?

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25 years ago, Green Flag was brand new. Here’s what else was going on

25 years ago
Cars have got better but roads have got worse in the last 25 years (Picture iStock/oversnap)

Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago? What car you were driving, how much you spent on fuel and how congested the roads were?

Even if you don’t, you may recall signing up for cover from a new breakdown company. It was called Green Flag and caused a splash by sponsoring the England football team.

Twenty-five years later and Green Flag is still offering the same great service. Motoring, however, has changed significantly. It might not be quite beyond all recognition but things are certainly very different.

The cost of cars

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Expert advice: what the ECU does and why it’s so vital for our car

ecu
All this is computer controlled. The ECU is normally positioned at the top and back of the engine bay (Picture iStock/jaym-z)

Modern cars are more like computers on wheels and central to that is the ECU. If the engine is the heart of the car, the Electronic Control Unit or ECU is its brain. Your car may develop a fault that you think is mechanical but actually the real culprit could be the electronics, caused by a malfunctioning ECU or one of its sensors.

The ECU is now such a crucial and integral part of our cars that I think it’s worth understanding exactly what it does.

What’s in a name?

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Car sickness and how to cope with it on long journeys

car sickness
Car sickness can turn a dream holiday into a nightmare (Picture iStock/imgorthand)

It’s coming up for holiday time but if there’s one thing that can spoil a long journey for all concerned, it’s car sickness. No one’s quite sure why some people feel it and others don’t. But that won’t be much consolation to whoever the victim is; whoever has to keep pulling over for the sufferer to redecorate the roadside; or other passengers who have their holiday delayed. Here we look at what car sickness is and what you can do about it.

What is car sickness

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Quiz: How much do you know about driving abroad

quiz driving abroad
A driving holiday abroad can be great. But there are some strange rules and regulations (Picture iStock/georgeclerk)

Over the summer holidays, thousands of drivers will be either taking their motors abroad or driving a hire car while on holiday. But how well do you know the rules of the road when it comes to driving in Europe? Our cunning quiz poses 10 travel teasers that will help you warm up to driving abroad. And if you get any wrong, try again. Knowing the right answer might save you a few quid!

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Car tyre fragments could damage our health, experts say

tyre particles
Tyres give off particles of different sizes. Even the smoke contains tiny fragments of plastic (Picture iStock/Toa55)

We’re frequently told that cars are bad for the planet. That’s why we’re being pushed towards driving electric cars. But exhaust emissions aren’t the only nasties to come from our cars. Every time we drive, tiny bits of rubber fly off our tyres and into the atmosphere. In some cases, these particles are so small they’re considered to be microplastics. Read on to see if they really pose a threat.

How do tyres release fragments?

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Do you play fuel station roulette? All about when the low fuel light is on

Low fuel light
50 miles left, 5 miles or completely empty? Fuel gauges vary (Picture iStock/Akchamczuk)

We’ve all driven around with the low fuel light on. Some people even play fuel station roulette on a regular basis, driving as far as they dare with the orange light on and their car running on the dregs of its fuel. But do you really know how many miles of range your car has when the low fuel light comes on?

What is your car’s fuel light range?

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Driving on Britain’s motorways in 2019: how to stay safe

motorways
The M6 is one of the first motorways to have a ‘live’ hard shoulder with moving traffic (Picture iStock/Vision4ry-L4ngu4ge)

Our 2000 miles of motorway are changing to accommodate the predicted 60 per cent increase in traffic expected by 2040. And that’s posing drivers with a different challenge when it comes to staying safe.

‘Smart’ motorways don’t have a traditional hard shoulder. In 2017, official figures show there were 16 crashes involving stationary vehicles on our 400 miles of smart motorway. There were 29 crashes on the hard shoulder across the rest of England’s motorways.

The stats also show that there’s been an increase in crashes on unlit sections of motorway. Here we look at what drivers should do for improved road safety.

What is a smart motorway?

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Law changes wanted to crack down on drivers not wearing seat belts

Around a quarter of people killed in car crashes aren’t wearing seatbelts (Picture iStock/Skynesher)

Chances are, every time you get into a car you put your seat belt on. More than nine out of 10 of us do. But the small number of drivers who incredibly don’t buckle up in case they crease their clothes are dramatically increasing their chances of dying in a car crash.

The risks of not belting yourself into a car are revealed in a new report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) in association with Direct Line. The panel of MPs wants the government to increase the penalties for not wearing safety belts.

The most high-profile victim not properly restrained in a car was Diana, Princess of Wales. But she died in 1997 and road safety campaigners believe drivers need to be reminded of the dangers of driving without seat belts.

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