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Safe Winter Driving Tips

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December 6  |  Motoring, News, Safety  |   Chris Smith

Driving in Fog

  • Automatic headlights won’t necessarily come on if it is bright as well as foggy as they rely on sensors to measure the light level
  • Use dipped headlights, full beams will reflect the light back at you off the fog
  • Keep a good distance from the vehicle in front, try to leave a 3 second gap
  • Tailing another vehicles rear lights is dangerous
  • Before slowing down, check your mirrors, vehicles may be closer than you think.
  • Be aware of other vehicles not using headlight, they can be hard to spot

If you’re using fog lights, remember to turn them off if the weather clears so you don’t obscure your brake lights or dazzle oncoming traffic

Using Antifreeze

  • No one wants a broken engine, let alone in the winter, and with anti-freeze only setting you back a couple of quid, no car should be without it!
  • Remember you’ll need a 50/50 split of water and antifreeze during the winter which will protect your engine to as low as -34C.
  • Make sure you check what kind of anti-freeze your car uses as some types need changing every couple of years.
  • Remember if your car overheats, chances are you have a frozen radiator. It’s best to stop as soon as it’s safe to do so, to reduce the risk of any serious damage.

Batteries and Electrics

With a limited lifespan of around 5 years and a more connected car than ever, the winter season can be a real strain on your car battery.

  • When starting the engine, be sure to have lights, wipers and heaters turned off until the engine is running
  • Use the ignition in 5 second bursts
  • Leave 30 seconds between attempts
  • Wait until the engine is on before connecting phones, satnav’s and other power hungry accessories.

Tyre Maintenance

  • Be sure to check your tread when the weather changes, the AA recommends at least 3mm.
  • Winter tyres and all season tyres are made from a special rubber making driving in the wet and cold conditions, easier and safer
  • Snow chains can damage roads if the snow isn’t deep enough so make sure to check this before attaching them
  • Less air in tyres does not give better grip and is unsafe, make sure your tyre pressures are correct.

Ice and Snow

  • Slow and steady is the key to driving on ice and snow, stopping distances can be 10 time longer on icy roads.
  • In dry conditions, when travelling at 20mph the overall stopping distance is 40 feet, so this can be up to 400 feet on ice – that’s longer than a football pitch!
  • To avoid wheel spin, try pulling off in 2nd gear
  • Wear dry shoes for driving whenever possible, as a back-up keep an old towel in the car to dry the bottom of your shoes so you don’t slip off the pedals.
  • Driving uphill – always leave as much room as possible so you don’t have to stop half way, try to keep a constant speed and avoid changing gear
  • Driving downhill – slow down as you approach the hill, again leave as much room as possible, as well as the lowest gear possible and on your way down try to avoid braking

Vision

  • Snow on the roof can melt onto your windscreen and block your view – be sure to clear it before setting off
  • Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition
  • Get the correct screenwash with antifreeze additives to ensure this doesn’t freeze, visibility can deteriorate quickly from drying salt in grit
  • Air-con will work better than fans to clear your screen faster, it also reduces condensation.
  • Clear ALL of your windscreen from snow, frost and ice so you can clearly see, not doing so can result in fines
  • The sun being low in the sky can cause white outs due to a dirty interior windscreen, make sure you clean both sides

Visibility

  • To avoid fines keep your number plates clean and visible
  • Don’t forget to remove snow from headlamps
  • Clean lenses and make sure all lights are working correctly
  • When the roads are wet and muddy you may need to clear your lights after each journey
  • If you’re using fog lights, remember to turn them off if the weather clears so you don’t obscure your brake lights or dazzle oncoming traffic

Before Setting Off

  • Try to leave the house earlier than usual as it takes a good 5-10 minutes to de-ice the car and the screen to clear.
  • Give yourself more time for travelling during the winter, traffic will be moving slower and there can be unexpected delays
  • Aim to keep over a quarter tank of petrol in case of detours or delays
  • Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer and don’t forget your mirrors

 

Parking bays widened for bigger cars, says NCP

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November 21  |  Insurance, Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith

National Car Parks (NCP) has said car parking spaces are being made bigger to accommodate the increase in size of family cars and the popularity of 4×4’s

Bays have already been widened in London, Manchester and Bournemouth and they have been quoted to say it plans to widen spaces “wherever possible”

In a report by the BBC the firm told The Times “We are moving towards making the bays wider as we recognise that vehicles are growing in size, especially SUVs.”

It is estimated that there had been a 35% rise in parking accidents since 2014, and the number of crashes and scratches while parking was costing UK insurers £1.4bn annually.

Around 30% of motor accidents are now due to parking and upwards of 600,000 parking collisions are registered each year.

NCP said there was an “extremely fine balance” between the demand for wider spaces and the need for the most number of parking spots as possible.

Due to the age of many car parks designed for vehicles from the 60’s and 70’s, the new larger family cars, SUV’s and 4×4’s are struggling to fit.

 

UK highest price for diesel in EU league table

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July 28  |  Fleet, Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith

The UK remains the only country in the EU where the rate of duty charged on diesel is the same as for petrol.

In all other member states the rate of duty is lower on diesel than petrol.

Following the referendum on EU membership, prices in other EU countries are roughly 6% higher.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Talk of fuel prices going through the roof in the wake of a Brexit vote have proved to be fanciful with UK pump prices at essentially the same level they were before the vote.

“What might surprise drivers is that even allowing for the slump in the value of sterling they might still be better off buying diesel on the continent.

“The key message is that pump prices are determined by a whole host of factors. The exchange rate is one of them. The price of oil is another. But taxation is perhaps the most important of all.

“Before tax the UK actually has only the 22nd most expensive petrol in the 28 member states of the EU. With tax we jump to 8th in the league table. For diesel the UK is 23rd before tax, but we soar to the top of the list once tax is added.”

 

Friday is the most dangerous day to be a young driver, claims Co-operative Insurance.

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March 29  |  Company, Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith

Based on the Co-operatives Young Driver Insurance data, March is the month that they are most likely to claim on their motor insurance, not only that, but 17-25 year olds appear to favour Fridays

According to the new data, October is the second most likely month, with November being the third most likely month for a young driver to claim.

Order of months with most young driver claims

1 – March
2 – October
3 – November
4 – January
5 – May
6 – September
7 – June
8 – December
9 – July
10 – April
11 – February
12 – August

Claims reported range from road traffic collisions to damage claims.

According to the Co-operatives new data, it appears driving over the weekend is safest time for young drivers, with the least likely claims to come on a Saturday and Sunday:

Co-operatives information also implies that young drivers in vehicles between 8 and 11 years old are also more likely to claim than others.

 

Almost three quarters of drivers take life-threatening risks on icy roads

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February 2  |  Company, Insurance, Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith
  • Seven in ten (71%) drivers surveyed have dangerously poor knowledge when it comes to winter stopping distances
  • Two thirds (66%) of drivers believe others do not leave enough space to stop safely
  • More than half of drivers questioned (54%) think other drivers travel too fast in poor weather conditions

A new study carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line is highlighting the risks too many drivers are taking in bad weather. The survey released on the 8th January 2016, reveals 71% of drivers questioned do not know how much longer it will take their vehicle to stop in icy conditions. This means they could be putting other road users, and themselves, at risk by underestimating the distance.

11% of drivers think the stopping distance is twice as long in icy weather, a third think it’s four times as long and 27% think it should be five times as long. Just 23% of drivers know that the actual figure is up to 10 times as long, with 6% being even more cautious and believing it is up to 20 times as long.

That means, that on a fine day, if you are travelling at 30 mph and need to brake immediately it will take you 23 meters to stop, in icy conditions it could take up to 230 meters – that’s the length of two-full sized football pitches and, of course, the faster you are travelling, the further that distance could be.

Britain marks 50 years of seatbelt safety

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February 2  |  Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith

The 1966 legislation made it compulsory for all new cars to have seatbelt fittings. This simple change has revolutionised the way that drivers and passengers look after their own safety when driving.

In a crash you are twice as likely to die if you don’t wear a seatbelt and the government’s THINK! campaign has played a crucial role in reminding people of the importance of this safety measure. For the past 10 years the number of people wearing seatbelts has consistently been above 90%, with a high of 98% of car drivers recorder wearing a seatbelt in 2014.

Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.

Over a quarter of UK drivers not keen on black box insurance

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April 22  |  Insurance, Motoring, News  |   Chris Smith

According to research of over 1,146 consumers conducted by uSwitch.com, 26 percent of respondents said that they would not consider telematics insurance because of privacy concerns.

Of these, 62 percent felt that black box insurance was too ‘Big Brother’, and 37 percent said that they didn’t want to be monitored while driving. While just under half of those surveyed (45 percent) would consider installing a black box, over half (58 percent) incorrectly believed that telematics data is shared between insurers, and over a third (35 percent) thought telematics data could be used when applying for insurance.

On average, consumers would consider a telematics policy if net savings were at least £98 a year, with the 18-34 year olds requiring £173, and over 65 year olds wanting £72 of savings to be tempted by a black box.

Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com said “Concerns around personal data are a major barrier to telematics adoption – in particular, how the data will be used and by whom.”

“It’s vital that the Government and the insurance industry addresses these concerns if the technology is going to take off.”

New minimum age driving test to be considered by government

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October 18  |  Company, Insurance, Motoring, News  |   Bill

Teenagers could have to wait a year longer than currently before they are allowed to take their driving test.

The government is considering issuing only 12-month probationary licences at the age of 18 in a bid to cut accidents involving young motorists.

New drivers would also face a curfew between 22:00 and 05:00 unless a passenger aged over 30 was in the car.

It recommends a one-year “learner stage” beginning at 17, during which drivers would have to total at least 100 hours of daytime and 20 hours of night-time practice under supervision.

Learners can then take their test at 18 and, if they pass, will get a probationary licence and have to display a green “P” plate.

During this stage, drivers will face the curfew and all those under 30 will be banned from carrying any passengers also under 30.

After the 12-month probationary period, drivers will automatically graduate to a full licence and unrestricted driving.

Statistics show that more than a fifth of deaths on British roads in 2011 involved drivers aged 17-24.

Passenger Distraction – Accident Link

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June 4  |  Insurance, Motoring, News  |   Bill

Recent research conducted by a leading UK Insurer suggested that 40% of drivers have admitted that having a passenger in their vehicle is the main cause of them becoming distracted when driving. 

Amazingly, 17% of drivers surveyed have said that due to the actions of their passengers, they have either suffered a road traffic accident or experienced a near miss.

The distraction for the driver usually comes from the back seat passengers. A commonly reported accident was where the driver was chatting to the rear seat passenger whilst looking in their rear view mirror, resulting in the driver colliding into the car in front.

In the battle of the sexes, men have confessed to being twice as likely as women to get distracted by a passenger, and admit to having suffered a bump whilst being distracted by their passenger.

Seat Belt Reminder

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September 20  |  Motoring, News  |   Paul

It is estimated that 33% of fatal road accidents in the UK involve drivers and passengers that were not wearing their seat belt. It has been a legal requirement in the UK since 1983 to wear a belt, and for good reason. Without wearing a seat belt, you are endangering the lives of not only yourself but others around you, and leaving everyone exposed to the risk of serious injury.

In the event of a Road Traffic Accident, it is the person who is not wearing a belt that will suffer the most injury and usually end up causing severe injury to fellow occupants of the vehicle. The wearing of a seat belt is the most basic form of road safety equipment fitted in any vehicle. Vehicles today come with a whole host of safety features, however the tried and trusted seatbelt should always be used on any journey, no matter how small.

If you have suffered a non fault accident in the last three years, or were a passenger in any vehicle regardless of fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

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