Driving Tips and Advice – Updated Weekly – Currently Week 41 of 2019 (Linked Articles)


Driving Tips and Advice - Table of Contents

Don’t Be Fuel’ish (Released 16th October 2019)

It is possible to save fuel when driving, the following tips may help:

  • Try to keep your driving smooth. Gentle acceleration and using the highest safe gear will use less fuel. Ease off the accelerator early for traffic lights if they are red why hurry up to wait?
  • If possible, try to avoid driving during heavy traffic. Stopping and starting in traffic needs the use of the first gear and a lot of fuel is used to get the vehicle moving again
  • Keep your tyres well maintained by checking the condition, pressures and tread depth. When it comes to choosing new tyres, it’s worth having a look at ones which are designed for extra economy
  • Get rid of unnecessary weight. Cars work just like the human body, it needs more energy to move around more weight and so does your car. Take heavy items out of the car if you don’t need to carry them. A roof rack or roof box will increase drag and you will use more fuel to overcome this, so remove it if it is not being used
  • Nowadays, you don’t need to manually warm up a modern car, so once your windows are clear, (a bit of elbow grease will sort them out), you are able to set off to your destination without having to wait around
  • During this Winter season, as your engine is trying to warm up it uses more fuel for the first four miles or so. Your engine stays cold when you drive less than two miles and your car will produce 60% more pollution than a warm engine avoid these short journeys where possible
  • Turn off the air-conditioning as it uses extra fuel. When the rear window is cleared turn off the rear screen heater the more electricity your car has to produce, the more fuel it will use
  • Keep your speed low as you can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25%. Try pressing more lightly on the accelerator, often you can maintain the same speed with less pressure on the pedal

Fuel is expensive but a few small changes in the way we prepare our vehicles and plan our journeys can make a big difference in our fuel consumption. Remember that safety and fuel saving can be complementary if we drive effectively.


Watch Out for the Deer (Released 9th October 2019)

Recently we published some tips about ‘safely passing horses on the road but what other animals may you encounter on your journey?

Observation and anticipation are key to all sound decisions you make whilst driving, and how to avoid animals is no different.

  • Collisions with deer are statistically higher during the Autumn months due to this being their mating season. According to Govuk, deer are at higher risk between sunset to midnight, also the hours before and after sunrise. October through to December is considered a high-risk period.
  • If you see deer, (or other wild animal), warning signs, be sure to slow down and be on high alert as it is likely they will cross the road in this area.
  • Deer are herd animals, so if you see one, it’s likely there are more; stay vigilant, if one steps out in front of your car, more may follow.
  • Be prepared to stop and try to warn following drivers with early brake lights or hazards.
  • Try not to swerve to avoid hitting deer, you may drive into a ditch or oncoming traffic.
  • You will most likely brake hard to avoid colliding with an animal, be aware that the traffic behind may not be as alert as you.

What to do if you’ve hit a deer or see an injured animal on the roadside:

  • Drive to a safe place and pull over
  • Call the police to alert them of the animal and be precise about where it’s located
  • Do not approach the animal, it may cause itself further injury or another accident

A collision with any animal is unpleasant and we should make every effort to avoid this. A collision with something as large as a deer can be catastrophic; it will likely cause injury to vehicle occupants and itself and it will definitely cause damage to your vehicle even if it’s as small as a Muntjac. Slow down a little and remember we are sharing the wildlife’s habitat and not the other way around.


Keeping Your Vehicle Above the Water (Released 24th September 2019)

With heavy rain forecast IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving standards, Richard Gladman, has put together advice to help you drive safely in the rain.

Heavy rain:

  • Heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you should be two seconds when driving on a dry road, and at least four seconds in the wet. It is even longer on icy surfaces. IAM RoadSmart recommends up to 10 times the braking distance when driving on ice.
  • Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windscreen, make any necessary adjustments and remove anything from the main area before you start your journey.
  • A good rule of thumb is that if you need windscreen wipers, then you need your headlights. Automatic light settings will not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on.

Aquaplaning:

  • If the water is standing in puddles on the road surface, your car is at risk of aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. This is caused by the tread not being able to displace the amount of water present. To recover from aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

Floods:

  • First, ask yourself, can you take another route? If not, then you need to identify how deep the flood is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If you are familiar with the road, you can judge the flood in relation to the kerb.
  • If heavy rain was not the cause of the flood, then what was? And what impact on the road does it have? For example, if it is a burst water main, the standing water may look like a normal flood but the road surface beneath the water may be completely broken up. If you are unsure how the flood has formed, then avoid it altogether.
  • Are there other vehicles similar to yours that are safely driving through? From this, make a judgement call as to whether it is safe to travel through or not.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of your car being swept off the road.
  • If you have taken everything into consideration and decide to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start. This will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working properly.
  • If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. Often modern saloon cars have the air intake in the wheel arch, which may be below the water level. If your engine should take in water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop.
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally- even when causing splashed when driving through puddles at the side of the road – you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.

With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber, (wipers and tyres), in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.


Is Your Vehicle Ready for the Road (Released 18th September 2019)

If you have friends or family who drive or ride, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

P – Petrol
Always make sure you fuel up before a long journey. You’ll need enough to get to your destination or the nearest petrol station. 

O – Oil
When did you last do an oil check? Most new cars have the technology to let you know when your oil needs topping up. But for those with an older vehicle, make sure you’re checking the level regularly. Your handbook will give you the preferred method for your car.

W – Water
Have you checked your vehicle fluid levels? For drivers, your car will alert you if you’re running low on coolant, but ideally, you shouldn’t let it get this low. Check water levels and buy coolant for your car and top it up whenever necessary. For riders, levels need to be checked if you have a water-cooled engine, ensuring the bike is vertical when you make the check. If you find that you’re low on water, remember never to use tap water, you’ll need a mix of water and antifreeze.

D – Damage
Take a look around your vehicle, checking your tyres and bodywork to ensure there is no visible damage and once you’re in your vehicle, make sure you have no warning lights pop up on the dashboard before you set off.

E – Electrics
Whichever vehicle you’re driving check all the lights, preferably with a helper to operate the switches or walk around whilst you do. Failing that, use the reflection of the lights in a window or a nearby car, also check your horn and windscreen washers, remembering to be considerate of others when you do waking up the neighbours or leaving puddles on the garage floor may not be popular.

R – Rubber
When did you last check your tyres? Take a look at tyre tread depth and overall condition before every journey to ensure they are road legal. Remember to check tyre pressure as well. The legal limit on a car is minimum 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three-quarters of the tyre. Tyre pressures should be tested when the tyres are cold, as the reading will be higher when they’re hot.

Y – You
Are you fit to drive? Have you been under the weather? Ask yourself if you’re fit to be in control of your vehicle. Medication and tiredness will affect your driving, and your concentration may not be 100% if you’re ill or stressed. Check that you’re fit to drive and take a break before you set off if necessary. 

Ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top condition will help you enjoy your journey. Keep your service schedule up to date and don’t put off any replacements. Tyres should be kept in good condition, as performance will start to drop off before the legal limits of wear are reached. Don’t forget the maintenance of your vehicle, so you have one less thing to worry about before you start a journey, is an important part of the ‘you’ in driving and riding.”


Driving to University (Released 4th September 2019)

Are you starting university this September or returning after the Summer break? Maybe your parents are driving you there instead of you taking your car. Whether it’s your first year or the last, travelling to university can be an emotional roller-coaster. One moment you’re excited at the thought of seeing friends and getting your independence back, then you’re full of nerves and finding it hard to part with those at home. So, worrying about your motorway journey is the last thing you need.

  • Before you set off on your journey, make sure your car is packed efficiently, but also that your vision out of the rear window is not impaired by an overflowing duvet cover or suitcase!
  • Make sure you’ve checked with your accommodation about parking at your halls of residence, you may need a permit for your vehicle.
  • Become familiar with the layout of a motorway, is there a verge or hard shoulder (used for emergencies only)? Are there three or more lanes?
  • Be observant. Look out for signs of merging traffic or warnings about approaching junctions. If you can see vehicles approaching the motorway, is there space for you to move into lane two to accommodate their needs?
  • As you approach the motorway, evaluate the traffic so you give yourself time and space to smoothly merge in with the traffic already on the motorway
  • What’s your following distance? Remember, on a dry road surface, the distance should be at least two seconds and at least four seconds on a wet road surface. This applies for every drive you make, not just on motorways
  • Be mindful that there are no ‘slow’, ‘middle’ or ‘fast’ lanes. Lane one is the travelling lane, all others are overtaking lanes. You should return to lane one when it is safe to do so
  • Remember to check blind spots as well as your mirrors when changing lanes, as some vehicles may not be visible through your mirrors
  • Take into consideration that at 70 mph, you travel at 31 metres every second, (100 feet per second). This means your following gap disappears very quickly if the traffic in front brakes, look well ahead and respond to changing information early
  • Use of your lights. Flashing your headlights is permitted only to let another user know of your presence. It’s also important to use your dipped headlights when driving on a wet motorway with surface spray. You can also use your hazard warning lights to make other road users behind you aware of an impending problem ahead of you
  • Be considerate. Drive at the appropriate speed and position, and be courteous and considerate towards others and acknowledge those who extend those same courtesies to you
  • Keep your knowledge up-to-date and keep your vehicle in good order. To help you boost your driving knowledge of motorway driving, IAM RoadSmart is offering you a free Motorway Driving e-learning module which can be accessed here. Remember to use the discount code BACK2UNI to redeem this offer!

Motorways are statistically the safest roads in the UK but we still need to concentrate, a moments distraction can see us travel a considerable distance. A well-planned drive will allow acceleration sense to be used to match the speed of the traffic, brake lights shown inappropriately will cause the traffic to slow and may cause issues, if you are using cruise control cancel it using the button and not by tapping the brake, use your brake lights to communicate to the traffic behind. Concentrating can be tiring so remember to take a break at least every two hours.”


The School Run (Released 29th August 2019)

The Summer holidays are nearly over so order and normality will resume along with the dreaded school run which starts again for another term.

  • Make sure everyone is in the right seat. If you use child or booster seats, make sure they are fit for purpose and correctly secured. Check out Good Egg for some top tips: http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/
  • Pack for success. Dependent on the age of your little ones, pack some healthy treats to distract them and keep them engaged, even on a short journey
  • Leave enough time. Setting off for school can be a frustrating and rushed experience. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to get ready in the morning, as a half-eaten breakfast and badly combed hair can put both you and your child in the wrong frame of mind for the start of the day
  • It’s not a race. In many areas with local schools the motto is ‘20’s plenty.’ Remember that this is limit, not a target. Always help out the school crossing patrol, and you’ll probably receive a friendly wave and smile for your assistance
  • Start them while they’re young. Teach your children about road safety so they know how to behave around moving traffic. Setting a good example while in the driving seat will stay with them in preparation for when they learn to drive. Parking in a safe place and walking the last few metres will not just help with congestion; it will also allow you to teach them the right way to cross a road, looking right and left (then right again for us Green Cross code users). Teaching children to use the road sensibly will save lives

Traffic always picks up again after the school holidays so your journey will take longer and potentially be more stressful.  Make sure the car is fuelled up and fit and ready for stop-start traffic so you have one less thing to worry about. Be vigilant around schools as there’s likely to be children getting out of cars or walking to school.


The Bank Holiday Getaway – Tips to make it Easier (Released 21st August 2019)

If you’re planning a Bank Holiday getaway then be sure to read our tips on how you can make your journey a safe and stress-free one.

  • Take some time to check your vehicle inside and out before you set off. Check the tyre pressure and fluid levels are right and make sure your car ancillaries are working properly
  • Secure your luggage in your boot so it’s out of the way and doesn’t obstruct your view
  • Give yourself plenty of time for the journey and check the news for any traffic updates and roadworks nearby, use our local Emergency Service Twitter feed on this web-site’s home page.
  • If you’re travelling during the early hours of the day or late in the evening make sure you take some rest beforehand and eat something light so you don’t feel sluggish before you leave
  • If you plan on using a sat-nav don’t forget to programme in the destination before you leave and check it. Leave plenty of time for the journey so you don’t find yourself pushed for time.
  • Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of a motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours

With so much planning involved in a holiday, many of us forget about the first bit, how we get to our destination. If your journey is a long one, take some time to plan where and when you will be taking a break just so you can get a little rest and have some water to stay hydrated. Enjoy the journey and more importantly, enjoy the getaway.


Don’t Get the Wet Weather Blues (Released 14th August 2019)

We’re having a typical English Summer, sun for a couple of weeks and then downpours for days on end.

Heavy rain

  • Driving in heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow; Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and another car on a dry road surface should be at least two seconds, and at least four seconds when driving in the rain
  • Ensure your windscreen wipers are working correctly, and that the windscreen is clean, using your wipers when you have a dirty windscreen will just smear and make your visibility even worse
  • Turn your headlights on. Many of us now have automated headlights, but often they will not come on in adverse weather conditions; ensure they are on so you’re visible to other road users. A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers on, then you need your headlights on too

Aquaplaning

Is your car aquaplaning? Here are some signs that you could be:

  • Your engine may become louder if the driving wheels have lost grip
  • It will feel as though you’ve dropped down in the gears causing revs to increase
  • The steering may become lighter and unresponsive

If you experience any of this, try not to panic. Follow these tips:

  • Ease off the accelerator or cancel the cruise control
  • Hold the steering wheel straight and firm
  • Do not hit your brakes hard

When your car gains traction you can slowly begin to use the brake and slow down. If it’s been raining and you’re about to drive, there are things that you can do to help prevent your car from aquaplaning. Standing water as shallow as 2.5mm can cause an aquaplaning effect at speed so be sure to follow the steps below:

  • Check your tyres – they can have a massive impact on how your car will handle in the wet
  • Reduce your speed; problems occur when the tyres can no longer clear the standing water as they rotate. Going slower will allow time for the tread to do its job
  • Be alert for flood warnings on the road and if you can see any water in the distance, be sure to slow down and prepare to go around it
  • Avoid using cruise control in extreme conditions

Floods

  • If there are floods you need to consider other routes to keep you safe. If the water is standing more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. You can judge the depth in relation to the kerb
  • If there are similar vehicles driving safely through, then you can make a judgement call on whether it’s safe to do so yourself.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it. There is a real danger of your car being swept away

If you have decided to drive through a flood take the following precautions:

  • Go slowly and take it easy
  • Press lightly on the clutch and add gentle pressure to the accelerator to increase engine revs but do so without speed. Do this in a similar way to how you do hill starts, this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you’re in an automatic, accelerate lightly but control the speed with your brakes
  • If you have any doubt, turn back. Often modern saloon cars have an air intake in the wheel arch and could be below water level if going through a flood. If your engine takes in any water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally you can still receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention. If done deliberately it could be a public order offence, a court appearance, or a fine

With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber, (wipers and tyres), in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent extreme weather, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.


New Measures to Protect Cyclists (Released by WAM 13th August 2019)

Measures to help protect cyclists, including encouraging people to adopt the “Dutch reach”, are to be included in the new Highway Code. The method of opening a car door using the hand furthest from the handle forces drivers to turn and look behind them for passing cyclists. The code will also give updated guidance on how to avoid the dangers of close overtaking of cyclists.

Cycling UK said the move was a major step for cycle safety. In 2017, 101 cyclists died in road traffic collisions.

The announcement was welcomed by Jeff Boulton, whose own son Sam died after being hit by the door of a taxi whilst he was cycling in Leicester in 2016. He was knocked off his bike, and fell into the path of a moving van. His father said he was relieved the government was updating its guidance.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, which has campaigned for changes to the Highway Code, said he was delighted by the announcement. “Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike,” he said.

Rule 163 of the Highway Code now states that when passing cyclists, drivers should give “as much room as you would when overtaking a car with a minimum of 1.5m”

Cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman said that while Britain had “some of the safest roads in the world” there was still more to be done to protect cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. “Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning, but this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads,” he said.

Highways England has also announced a £3m contract with Sustrans to improve the National Cycle Network.


2019 The Year That Advanced Mobile Location Became International (Released by WAM 6th August 2019)

On 11th February 2019 the Europe celebrated “112 Day” in honour of the single European emergency phone number. The 112 system uses Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to receive location information from mobile phones.

Every year about 300,000 people who call the emergency services cannot describe their location because they may not know where they are, because they are too young to say or they are too injured to communicate. In these situations, knowing the exact location of the caller can help emergency services react quickly and save lives.

Anyone in Europe can dial 112 in any EU country if they need to contact emergency services. Today’s mobile and smart devices are able to provide emergency services with accurate caller location via an SMS or data channel using GNSS or Wi-fi capabilities.

A project designated Help 112 looked into how GNSS can improve caller location using the AML solution was tested in the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Italy and parts of Austria. The United Kingdom and Estonia deployed the AML handset-based caller location solution and can locate a person to within 100 meters. Currently, AML handset-based caller location for emergency services is available only on Android phones.

The system has already saved lives. On 10th January 2019 an emergency call was received by the Klaipeda Public Safety Answering Point in Lithuania. The caller was an eight year old boy who reported he had found his father unconscious or dead, probably struck by lightning. He told the operator that he didn’t know his address or the telephone number of any of his relatives. Although the boy was unaware of his location, cell-ID location information received by the emergency services provided a location radius of 10 miles. Fortunately, around one minute after the call was received, the operator received the location via Android Emergency Location (Advanced Mobile Location), providing them with a location radius of 6 meters.

The police and ambulance services were dispatched, and emergency responders provided acute medical care to the man who had suffered an epileptic seizure.

Satellite navigation is crucial in determining the precise location of the 112 caller and saving lives; Galileo, Europe’s own satellite navigation system, will be able to locate the caller with much greater accuracy.


Caravanning Tips (Released 30th July 2019)

With a Bank Holiday on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience, by ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience. With the South West of England being a popular place to visit, it is not surprising that the South West has some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018, there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the region, with 460 of those occurring in the Summer months of May to September last year. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.

  • We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure:
  • That you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage
  • The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller un-braked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors, these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law
  • Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up
  • A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and that your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways unless a lower overall limit is applies
  • Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high, this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency
  • Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However, it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of, overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast

Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar but doesn’t need to be intimidating; by getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe. In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing, they will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.


Travelling with your Pet does not have to be a Heated Experience (Released 23rd July 2019)

With temperatures exceeding the 30°C mark today and set to go even higher through the week please ensure your dog doesn’t suffer in such hot conditions.

Everyone knows dogs can die if left in a car on a hot day, but it’s not just being left in a car that can cause them to overheat. When travelling with your pet make sure they are secure and either in their own cage or tethered to a secure cargo point or seat-belt clip.Do not secure the dog by their collar as they could injure themselves in the event of an emergency braking situation; you should use a good fitting harness or a crash tested dog seat-belt.

Having your pet secure, and a collar on the dog with a lead handy means that you can get control of your dog before releasing them, reducing the chance of them jumping out of the car or trying to leap out immediately the door is opened.

Air conditioning is useful in hot weather but remember it does not always reach the area where your dog might be travelling, so they might be uncomfortably warm while you are at the right temperature. Consider getting sun shades for the side windows where your dog is and give them access to a travel water bottle or bowl. You can also get a cool mat for them to sit on and/or a cooling jacket to help keep their body temperature down.

Think about what time you travel and where you stop to let your dog have a leg stretch as the road surface might be too hot for their paws. A quick test would be to put the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.Try to stop somewhere where the dog has access to a grassy area and walk them gently, try not to let them run around in the heat of the day as this can also make them poorly from heatstroke.

Normally we would advise you leave your dog in the car if you break down, but in this hot weather you need to consider their well-being and the fact that it only takes a few minutes for the dog to become very distressed and start suffering from heatstroke.

Every year dogs suffer and die when their owners make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car, even when it is for “just a minute” while they run an errand. Parked cars can be death traps for dogs in warm weather: when the temperature outside is 25°C, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 37°C in just minutes. On a 32°C day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 42°C in less than 10 minutes.

If you see a dog locked in a hot car and are worried about its well-being, call the police on 999 and explain the situation stating exactly where the car is and as many details as possible.


Toughening-up Seat-belt Laws Would Save Lives (Released 19th July 2019)

IAM RoadSmart has welcomed a possible toughening up of the laws on the use of seat belts in cars, saying it’s the most obvious and direct way of saving lives in road crashes.

On 19th July 2019 the Department of Transport announced this as one of seventy-four measures to tackle road safety in the UK. Currently, those not wearing seat belts are given a £100 on-the-spot fine but now the government is considering issuing penalty points for this offence.

In 2017, 27% of car deaths involved people who were not wearing a seat belt, an increase of 7% on the previous year and a marked increase on the years before. IAM RoadSmart has consistently lobbied for these laws to be made tougher, while also noting that the fear of being caught must be greater to encourage car occupants to belt-up. An investigation by IAM RoadSmart in February 2018 found that more than a third of police forces were using their mobile safety camera vans to prosecute drivers not wearing seat belts or using a handheld mobile phone.The charity made a Freedom of Information request to forty-four police forces and found that sixteen of those that responded routinely used their safety cameras to identify other motoring offences. The sixteen forces recorded more than 8,000 un-belted drivers between them.


Top Driving Test Faults (Released 17th July 2019)

The following detail was released by DVSA one year after the introduction of the new test standards; failing to look properly at junctions and not using mirrors effectively are the top reasons people failed following changes made to the driving test in 2017.

L plate on a driving school car

DVSA is encouraging learner drivers to spend more time practising their driving skills and techniques in these areas, using a variety of different roads, such as country roads and dual carriageways. DVSA also wants learners to spend more time practising driving in different road conditions, such as driving in rain and driving in the dark.

Top 10 reasons for failing the driving test 4th December 2017 and 3rd December 2018

  1. Junctions – observation.
  2. Mirrors – change direction.
  3. Control – steering.
  4. Junctions – turning right.
  5. Move off – safely.
  6. Response to signs – traffic lights.
  7. Move off – control.
  8. Positioning – normal driving.
  9. Response to signs – road markings.
  10. Reverse park – control.

Insufficient observation at junctions and not using mirrors effectively when changing direction accounted for 368,047 test failures. Driving test faults reflect the factors that cause accidents 39% of all accidents in Great Britain in 2017 were a result of a driver failing to look properly

It’s vital that learners can drive safely and have the skills to drive on all types of roads before taking their test. The driving test helps get drivers ready for a lifetime of safe driving and makes our roads safer for all. Failing to look properly at junctions is the most common serious or dangerous test fault and the largest cause of accidents in Britain. Good observation, including proper use of mirrors, is a crucial skill that drivers must learn.


You Should Carry These Items in your Car (Released 17th July 2019)

Eight items that you should always carry in your car:

Phone and charger

Turn your phone to silent and place it in the glove box to avoid temptation to use it whilst driving. Ensure you remember a charger for any emergencies when you do need to use it.

First Aid Kit

You never know when you might need a first aid kit. You may need yourself or you may be able to help another road user if you’re the first on scene at an accident. So, keep one in the boot of your car just in case.

Empty Fuel Can

Carry an empty fuel can with you. DO NOT carry a full or partially full one as this can be a fire hazard if it’s recently had fuel in. Flammable vapour may still be present.

Warm Clothing and a Blanket

We recommend keeping a blanket and some warm clothes in your car. The last thing you want is to be cold whilst broken down on the side of the road. Ensure you wear a high visibility jacket whilst manoeuvring around your vehicle so other road users can see you.

Food and Drink

Don’t forget to bring some snacks and water to keep your energy levels up, always carry a bottle of water when driving.

Jump Leads

Your car battery can go flat at any time and can be a worry when your car won’t start. Make sure you keep a set of jump leads in your car so you can start your engine with help from another vehicle.

Shoes

Now, this may sound silly but keep a pair of comfortable/sensible shoes in your car. You never know when you’re going to breakdown, and where for that matter. You may need to assess your car in the typical English weather.

Warning Triangle

An item that is regularly overlooked is the reflective warning triangle. In accordance to the Highway Code rule 274 you should “Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres, (147 feet), behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways.”

A journey can be a pleasant experience with the right planning, but it can turn into a nightmare if circumstances change and you do not have the right tools for the job with you. Getting stranded either in suddenly changing weather conditions, breakdowns or road closures will be made more bearable if you can let people know where you are, and survive in relative comfort and safety until you can get safely where you’re going.


The Hopkirk’s ‘Keep it in the Family’ as another Member becomes an IAM RoadSmart Advanced Driver (Released 11th July 2019)

Another member of race and rally legend Paddy Hopkirk’s family has passed their ADT, with his daughter Katie Adlington becoming the latest to reach the level.

Paddy Hopkirk, now 86, is a legend in race and rally circles, having won the Monte Carlo and Acropolis Rallies at the wheel of a Mini, as well as a second place in the fearsome 1968 London-Sydney Marathon, only losing the win when he and his co-driver Alec Poole stopped to rescue a competitor from their burning car.

Since becoming Mature Driver Ambassador for IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, he has taken the Mature Driver Review and the Advanced Driving Test (27 years after taking it for the first time). Paddy’s son, Patrick, 47, also took and passed the ADT last October, and not content with that, in May both Paddy and Patrick trained to reach Masters level, the highest civilian level of driving possible, in this both of them achieved their Masters Pass with Distinction.

Now Paddy’s daughter Katie has become the latest member of the Hopkirk family to become an advanced driver. The picture shows Katie receiving her Advanced Driving Certificate from Chris Miller, chairman of Basingstoke Advanced Driving Group. Katie received her assessments from Chris Stone. Katie said: “After my dad and brother took and passed their ADT’s, I could hardly not do it myself! I enjoyed the learning process, and could see how it would make my driving more enjoyable as well as safer.”


Summer Driving (Released 10th July 2019)

Do you have plans to go away this Summer? Our Head of Driving and Riding Standards, Richard Gladman, has put together some tips to keep you safe on the road.

  • Plan your journey ahead of time to ensure you know when and where to take breaks. Before you leave, make sure you check for any traffic updated that may cause you delay or to re-route; use our Twitter feed to see if there are any problems locally. (Home page of our website).
  • Check your car before you leave. This should include, tyre pressures, tread depth and condition, and fluids. Top up your screen wash and oil, (if needed), and check for any underlying problems before you set out on your journey. A good starting point is to do your POWDERY checks
  • Stay hydrated. Keep bottles of water in your car in case of any emergencies. We recommend having plenty of water as it is essential to stay hydrated to maintain concentration
  • Driving in the heat can cause fatigue and concentration starts to slip after two hours of driving. Make sure you take frequent breaks at service stations to stretch your legs
  • Create an emergency kit which should include drinks, snacks, a charger for your mobile phone, and a road map for any last-minute detours can be useful. If you’re travelling with children, remember to bring some entertainment to make the journey less stressful

Preparation is key to an enjoyable trip. A well maintained car and a fully fit and prepared body can make the difference between a pleasant drive in the country and a nightmare journey to be endured. Whilst the trip may be about the destination, it is much better if the journey is enjoyable too.


IAM RoadSmart Calls for Driver Retests and an End to Lifetime Licences (Released 27th June 2019)

IAM RoadSmart believes that many businesses are missing out on opportunities to improve road safety for their drivers, by relying on technology alone to solve the problem for them. Whilst legislation around the need for driver risk management is very clear and already in place, application has proven difficult. This has resulted in a lack of clarity around the minimum standards required to be compliant.

Many companies “check that their drivers have the appropriate licences and feel that their responsibility ends there. In some cases, they may employ technology to monitor driver behaviour, but typically this is used more as a way of maximising operational efficiency as opposed to improving safety.”

Some businesses may argue that with 90-95% of collisions caused by human error they are absolved from any responsibility for poor driving, pushing the blame down to the driver as an individual.

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart Business Development Director, added: “Perhaps we should require people to retake their test after a certain number of years? There is a growing belief that we should. I cannot think of another single task as difficult, complex, important or as dangerous as driving on business, where quite literally, you can perform well for just an hour of your life, during the driving test, and that’s all that’s required for the next sixty years or more. Given the rapid changes in technology, legislation and congestion this just does not seem logical. It is well known that the standard driving test is designed to check whether a driver’s skill meets a minimum standard, but this does not necessarily prepare drivers for real-world scenarios. The effectiveness of any training given to pass a driving test will vary depending on the age, profession and experience of the student. Furthermore, for most drivers, the driving test is the very last time their abilities are ever formally assessed.”

The IAM RoadSmart report also explores the immense cost to businesses in terms of inefficient driving which can lead to vehicle damage, poor fuel consumption, lost productivity, uninsured liabilities and medical expenses as well as impacting on road safety concluding that there is no doubt that the biggest influencer in fuel consumption is the driver’s right foot. Using an example of a driver doing 20,000 business miles per annum in a diesel vehicle, a 5mpg improvement in fuel consumption is worth around £330 a year.

The report also considers the dangers of relying purely on technology, as in many cases the driving issues identified are not followed up with an appropriate and proactive driver training intervention. Technology is often relied upon to provide a solution to poor driving. In itself however, it rarely influences driver behaviour or attitudes. While technology can tell you ‘how’ it cannot determine the ‘why,’ and it is this piece of the jigsaw that many businesses leave unanswered.

Tony said in the report: “There is still nothing to replace the direct educational feedback delivered by a professionally qualified trainer who is actually experiencing what is going on around them. They help change the way you think by linking their advice to a real and live example; many companies cite cost as the reason to not pursue a driver education programme for its employees. Companies will spend £400 a month on leasing a car and they’ll factor in road tax, insurance, maintenance and fuel. Building the business case and securing the budget for driver training can involve a very long sign-off process. This seems odd when the cost of implementing a comprehensive risk management programme can be as little as just £5 per month, per driver.”

The report concluded that the benefits to improving the performance of those who drive on business can deliver massive cost savings for a very small level of investment, concluding that for the price of a large coffee per driver per month it is possible to put a comprehensive, fully auditable and compliant driver risk management programme in place and deliver substantial savings.


Is Hay Fever Getting You Down (Released 26th June 2019)

A runny nose, headache and constant sneezing, these are just a few of the symptoms hay-fever sufferers deal with during the Summer. These symptoms can affect motorists in a number of ways.

Here’s some advice about what you can do to better cope with hay-fever before taking to the road.

  • Ensure your car is clean and dust free and that you operate the air conditioning or ventilation to your advantage, making use of air re-circulation where possible. It’s also important that you change your pollen filter regularly
  • For anyone who hasn’t been diagnosed with hay-fever and is feeling under the weather, avoid driving or riding and arrange to see your GP as soon as possible. What you might think is just a slight cold can become a major distraction, so get it checked before it gets worse
  • While over-the-counter medicines will help with a runny nose and sneezing symptoms, they can also blur vision and make you feel drowsy, check with your GP to decide what the best course of action is
  • Your GP may advise you to take anti-histamines to control the symptoms, but make sure you take the non-drowsy ones. If you’re unsure, read the leaflet or speak to your pharmacy for more advice
  • If you need to get somewhere but don’t feel well enough to drive or ride then see if someone you know can take you and bring you home again. Whatever you do, don’t take yourself, you may just end up sneezing and, whilst sneezing travelling as far as 50 foot with your eyes closed and without having full control of your vehicle

Remember that if you are stopped by the police after taking a hay-fever remedy and driving whilst impaired, you could find yourself falling foul of drug driving regulations. Be sure to check the medication thoroughly and see if it is suitable for you, but most importantly, concentrate on your route to recovery so you can get back onto the road sooner rather than later.


Eight Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Injury Whilst Driving (From GEM Motoring Assist Magazine Released 25th June 2019)

Eyes Wide Shut

Drowsy driving can creep up on us, often without our realising. We might be yawning, fidgeting, missing junctions or close-following. This often leads to wandering across lanes and poor speed management.

One of the most common consequences is actually nothing going wrong and we do manage to navigate our way to our destination, but this leads to an acceptance that it was OK so we will allow the same situation to develop again however, things can go wrong and one in three collisions can be directly attributed to driver tiredness.

Recognise the early signs and take action. Drive for no more than two hours or one hundred miles whichever comes first and then stop for a break. Once you have somewhere safe to park, get some fresh air, drink a coffee and perhaps have a light snack.

You Can’t Crash in Space

Slow speed crashes, or being hit from behind on a high speed road have one thing in common; someone ran out of space to stop in time. There are many reasons for insufficient; “I always leave that much”; “I hadn’t realised I was that close”; “I was distracted” or “I was trying to get the car in front to go quicker”.

When there are no consequences, the action is justified and often repeated. If the action led to a close call then there may be a cry of “Oh dear” or similar but “hey we stopped”! Too often though the driver will run out of time, space or talent and end up hitting something.

For slow speed reversing and manoeuvring assume nothing; check it is clear by walking all around the vehicle and continually check everywhere. Turn the radio off and open the window a little which can help you hear another engine or children playing. If you are in a queue, make sure you can see the tyres on the road of the car in front whilst for normal driving always maintain a two second gap, double that in wet weather and in ice and snow allow up to twenty seconds gap.

Bad Weather Driving

Heavy rain can make driving difficult and can put us at risk of aquaplaning so be particularly careful during or shortly after bouts of heavy rain.

There is a tendency to panic in heavy rain and this makes us steer hard and rapidly in random directions or hit the brakes, neither of these things will help!

To deal with aquaplaning  ease off on the accelerator and as the speed of the vehicle reduces the tyres will start to regain their grip. Keep a firm but gentle grip on the steering wheel and ascertain which way the tyres are pointing; continue to look at where you want to end up a this will assist in getting your vehicle to the point you want it to be.

Is the Car Roadworthy

If you don’t look after your car then you’re lining yourself up for trouble; neglect always compromises your safety and the safety of those around you as well as increasing the risk of breakdown.

As well as the nuisance value of breaking down there is also the danger of using a vehicle unfit for purpose.

Carry out simple weekly checks on your vehicle and before any long journey check: Fuel, Lights; Oil; Water; Electrics and Rubber(tyres).

You Won’t Arrive Earlier

We have all at some point exceeded the speed limit, but why? For some it was a simple mistake, for others it is a habit resulting from their running late or simply an arrogant disregard for the limits and a belief that bad things only happen to other people.

Driving faster is tiring, we need to concentrate much more and our ability to stop time is substantially reduced. Trying to get through traffic often results in a kangaroo style of driving with rapid acceleration and rapid harsh braking. Driving fast also costs us dearly, in most cars driving at 80 mph instead of 70 mph can use between 10 and 20% more fuel.

Stay relaxed, there is little we can do to get through heavy traffic and remember that travelling at 35 mph instead of 30 mph for one mile will save you only 17 seconds! Plan your journey better and try to avoid any trouble spots; if you are going to be late then find a safe spot and make a call and let whomsoever you are meeting know so reducing the pressure on you.

Know The Limits

Driving faster puts us all at greater risk of having a collision; if we are using excessive speed for the road conditions.

Assuming that you don’t have a collision a speeding ticket is three penalty points and a £100 fine; any new driver with a licence of less than two years old would need to take their test again if they collect six points during that time. Any more than twelve points and you lose your licence! Additional to these “complications” insurance companies have access to your driving details and will penalise with higher premiums if you are considered a risk.

Know the limits! Always be alert and look ahead. Know how to read the road signs and if in doubt reduce your speed to the lowest denominator for that type of road. A 30 mph speed limit is identified by street lights and no other signs, a national speed limit has no street lights and no other signs along the road. Check out the Highway Code and be aware at all times.

Lighting the Way

We may think that we are visible without the need to turn on our lights but statistics show that black, grey and silver cars are more likely to be involved in a collision because they blend into the background. Another risk is failing to understand daytime running lights and which lights are actually on, (generally your rear lights are off when daytime lights are selected).

If we are not able to see far enough ahead then we brake late as we are looking down at the tarmac and not in the distance because without lights we are not able to see anything in the distance.

Consider the conditions and use lights on your vehicle appropriately. Ensure that your vehicle can be seen and that you can see. Use fog lights only when visibility is less than 100 meters but remember to turn them off when conditions improve; only use hazard lights to warn other road users of a hazard and nothing lese.

The Most Important Element

In all of the points mentioned above the single most important element is the driver. Without our full concentration we are inevitably increasing the risk not only to ourselves but to other road users.

Anger leads us to take risks; tiredness leads to loss of concentration; distraction leads to loss of control and feeling unwell can slow our reactions.

Think about how you feel before you drive, the journey is just as important as the destination; take pride in your driving, accept that no one is perfect and that there is usually an opportunity to learn something from every journey.


Don’t Let Your Commute Leave You Feeling Defeated (Released 12th June 2019)

The following tips may help you feel less jaded about your daily commute.

  • Check your route. The majority of people travel to work at the same time so it’s always a good idea to plan your journey. Take a look at the route you’re taking to see if there are any incidents or roadworks that can cause delay. If there are, can you take another way to work?
  • Keep an eye on the road. Driving on a busy road can be intense; one minute you’re driving smoothly and the next you’re having to stop and start. It’s crucial that you’re always on the ball and stay alert throughout your journey
  • Watch out for other road users. This links to keeping your eye on the road. Make sure you regularly check your mirrors for any motorcycles or cyclists that are passing or filtering. Busy roads can also mean your vision is limited so be sure to look out for any pedestrians crossing the road
  • Check your car on a weekly basis. Commuting to work on a daily basis can take its toll on your car. That’s why you need to give it the care it needs. Make sure you check your oil and fluid levels as well as lights, tyre pressure and condition every week
  • What’s the weather going to be like? Checking the weather beforehand can give you an idea of when to leave. Not only this, it can prepare you for your journey so you don’t feel anxious about getting to work on time

Our daily commute can become the time we pay the least attention to our driving, don’t let yourself become complacent. Plan it as if it was a new adventure each day and try to keep your concentration levels up. If you can vary the route it may keep you interested and the change of scenery may be enjoyable. If you can stagger your start time you may be able to avoid the worst of the traffic.”


Keeping Your Car Above Water (Released 10th June 2019)

With heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast for the rest of the week, IAM RoadSmart has put together some crucial advice to help you drive safely in the rain.

Heavy Rain

  • Heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you should be two seconds when driving on a dry road, and at least four seconds in the wet. It is even longer on icy surfaces. IAM RoadSmart recommend up to 10 times the braking distance when driving on ice.
  • Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windscreen, make any necessary adjustments and remove any dirt or smears from the main area of the screen before you start your journey.
  • A good rule of thumb is that if you need windscreen wipers, then you need your headlights. Automatic light settings will not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on.

Aquaplaning

  • If water is standing in puddles on the road surface, your car is at risk of aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. This is caused by the tread not being able to displace the amount of water present. To recover form aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

Floods

  • First ask yourself, can you take another route? If not, then you need to identify how deep the flood is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If you are familiar with the road, you can judge the flood in relation to the kerb.
  • If heavy rain was not the cause of the flood, then what was? And what impact on the road does it have? For example, if it is a burst water main, the standing water may look like a normal flood but the road surface beneath the water may be completely broken up. If you are unsure how the flood has formed, then avoid it altogether.
  • Are there other vehicles similar to yours that are safely driving through? From this, make a judgement call as to whether it is safe to travel through or not.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of your car being swept off the road.
  • If you have taken everything into consideration and decide to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start. This will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working properly.
  • If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. Often modern saloon cars have the air intake in the wheel arch, which may be below the water level. If your engine should take in water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop.
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.

Richard Gladman, Head of Driver and Rider Standards, said: “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”


Don’t Let a Puncture Leave You Feeling Tired (Released 5th June 2019)

Sometimes the roads we drive on can be unpredictable which can lead to a puncture; this could mean cancelling our plans and waiting in a safe place for the breakdown recovery team, but we could soon be on our way if we were able to change the tyre ourselves. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides some useful advice on how to change a tyre.

  • If it is possible, pull off the road to a safe area. If you have to stop on a road, place your warning triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle, but not on a motorway. Activate your hazard warning lights to warn other traffic. Raising the bonnet or hatchback will help other traffic realise you have an issue. If you have a passenger, get then to act as spotter and warn you of approaching traffic.
  • A level hard standing will be best as soft ground will not allow the jack to be used correctly. If the ground is not suitable you may need assistance from a professional.
  • Locate the jack and wheel brace, it may help if you do this during your weekly vehicle checks so you know where it is and how to release it. This is also a good time to locate the jacking points and find out how the jack works. Often the kit will have a wheel chock; use this on the other axle of the vehicle to assist keep it still.
  • Loosen the wheel nuts slightly before you start jacking the car up, the vehicle will be unstable after you raise it and you will not be able to get as much leverage. Remember one of the nuts is likely to have a lock function and will require the unique key.
  • When jacking the vehicle you will need it to be raised high enough to fit the new tyre (this will be higher than required to remove the old). Wear gloves when handling the old tyre, if it has punctured it is likely to have sharp steel protruding from it
  • Tighten the wheel nuts until the wheel sits squarely on the hub and then lower the jack. Further tighten the wheel nuts with the vehicle stable. You will need to get the wheel nuts checked for tightness by a professional (when you repair or replace the punctured tyre). If fitting a space saver spare, remember the restrictions that imposes i.e. no more than 50mph, (80kph), and should be used to get you to a place of repair – not as a substitute for the correct tyre
  • Avoid changing your wheels on the hard shoulder of a motorway. If you have a puncture on a motorway, use the emergency phones to contact the motorway control room and they will send assistance to protect the area if required. Or arrange for your breakdown recovery organisation to assist you

Punctures are much rarer these days but the risk associated with conducting a tyre change has increased with the volume of traffic. Safety has to be your main concern but if you cannot get to a safe area to make the change; get the vehicle off the road and call for assistance. A vehicle recovery service will have access to professional equipment which will allow a much speedier repair to be conducted. If you are in any doubt, call for help.


Is Heavy-metal music the Driver’s Enemy? IAM RoadSmart and Auto Express Research say It is! (Released 29th May 2019)

Metal merchants beware! Research by Auto Express Magazine and road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has found that heavy-metal music could cause motorists to lose their cool behind the wheel and become almost as extreme as their guitar god heroes and the calming tones of classical music might not be much better, encouraging too much relaxation and slowing drivers’ progress however pop music could be just the ticket, creating the perfect atmosphere for smooth and controlled driving.

In a study to discover the effects of different types of music on driving style and safety, Auto Express and IAM RoadSmart used the high-tech racing rig at simulator experts Base Performance Simulators near Banbury, where drivers from the world’s top racing series go to hone their skills. The findings from the research are published in Auto Express today (The issue of 29th May 2019).

During the test, consumer reporter Tristan Shale-Hester was tasked with undertaking two simulated precision laps of the Grand Prix track Red Bull Ring in Austria while listening to songs at full volume from four different genres of music, thrash metal, hip-pop, classical and pop. The two-lap test involved fast acceleration, a series of technically challenging corners and a speed-limited zone, completed by a controlled stop on the finish line at the end of the second lap. After setting a control lap time with no music of four minutes 34 seconds, Tristan tried the same test again while listening to the fast and noisy song ‘(sic)’ by heavy-metal band Slipknot. Tristan was a staggering 14 seconds slower and his throttle movements were far more jagged while listening to the metal compared to the control lap, and admitted listening to Slipknot made it harder to concentrate on the circuit layout.

Tristan made his next attempt listening to classical music, with the dulcet tones of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on his headphones. But while Tristan’s driving was better with Bach than with Slipknot, he was 12 seconds slower than his control lap, dropping his speed to just 35mph in a 50mph zone without noticing.

Then came ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift. Tristan’s time when listening to the bouncy pop classic was only two seconds slower than his control time, and IAM RoadSmart expert Tim Shallcross said that it was on this test that Tristan’s laps were “smoothest in terms of speed consistency.”

Finally came the complex hip-hop song ‘Humble’ by Kendric Lamar; although driving to this helped Tristan to a time just one second slower than the control lap, it caused him to overshoot the finish line by four car lengths, a potentially dangerous 70 foot!

Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief of Auto Express said: “Much of the focus around distracted driving is on using a handheld mobile behind the wheel, and rightly so. But Auto Express’s joint research with IAM RoadSmart shows that as well as making a conscious decision to put their phone away when driving, motorists should also think carefully about what music they listen to. While heavy metal was clearly linked to Tristan’s worst lap, classical music fans may be interested to learn that some pieces appear to promote too deep a state of relaxation to be listened to when behind the wheel.”

Tim, IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy, added: “What is clear is that the ferocious thrash metal really reduced the ability of the driver to get around the track smoothly. That, and high-energy dance music, are designed to be felt as well as heard, and to be listened to at volume. It’s clear neither help when it comes to making exacting driving manoeuvres. Volume is the major factor for concentration and has a big effect. I would certainly advise drivers to dial down the noise when making a manoeuvre and save the thrash metal for later in the day, or night!”


Driving a New Car ((Released 29th May 2019)

Buying a new car is an exciting experience, but there are a few things to bear in mind as you drive your pride and joy away from the showroom.

  • Allow the brakes to bed in. Start driving gently and avoid harsh accelerating and heavy braking. It’s good to remember that the tyres will last longer if they’re treated gently for the first few hundred miles.
  • Check the coolant levels and oil frequently. The oil consumption may be relatively high for the first 5,000 miles as the engine parts gradually loosen up, but it should then settle down.
  • If possible, avoid long runs at constant engine speed for the first 1,000 miles or so; varying the engine speed helps the parts to start working together over the full speed range
  • Fuel consumption will also gradually improve as the moving parts wear in, so don’t be too disappointed if your first tankful doesn’t take you as far as you hoped. It is quite normal for mpg to increase gradually over several thousand miles

Buying a new car is exciting, but it is also a substantial investment. Treating it with a little restraint to begin with will help all the parts to perform at their best for longer and more reliably. This will also help you get the feel of the car before you fully exploit the performance.


The Bank Holiday Getaway – Be Prepared (Released 24th May 2019)

If you’re planning a Bank Holiday getaway, here are a few helpful hints from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman to help you prepare for your trip.

  • Take some time to check your vehicle inside and out before you set off. Check the tyre pressure and fluid levels are right and make sure your car ancillaries are working properly
  • Secure your luggage is in your boot so it’s out of the way and doesn’t obstruct your view
  • Give yourself plenty of time for the journey and check the news for any traffic updates and roadworks nearby
  • If you’re travelling during the early hours of the day or late in the evening make sure you take some rest beforehand and eat something light so you don’t feel sluggish whilst driving
  • If you plan on using a sat-nav don’t forget to programme in the destination before you leave and check it. Leave plenty of time for the journey so you don’t find yourself pushed for time
  • Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of a motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours

With so much planning involved in a holiday, many of us forget about the first bit, how we get to our destination. If your journey is a long one, take some time to plan where and when you will be taking a break, just so you can get a little rest and have some water to stay hydrated.


Driving to Festivals (Released 22nd May 2019)

The festival season is here which means a lot of us will be climbing over dusty boxes and making our way through the shed like it’s some kind of assault course to get to our camping gear. Now all you’ve got to do is pack for the weekend and plan your drive there and back; the following are well worth considering prior to any journey:

Choose A Designated Driver

If this is you, make sure you set the rules from the beginning. Are you going to allow your friends to drink alcohol in your vehicle? Bear in mind that their behaviour could attract the authorities to you. Would a car smelling of alcohol be the best thing for you? Could you get peer pressured to having “just one drink” with friends? We recommend for the driver and passenger to not drink any alcohol in the vehicle – not even one. Why not wait until you’re at the festival so you can party together?

Planning Your Trip

Do you know where you’re going? Have you taken into account the likelihood of traffic? Looking at the route of your journey and the time it takes beforehand gives you a chance to determine how many breaks you need and where you can stop off. Stretching your legs and getting a bit of fresh air at least every two hours can help you stay awake and focussed on the road.

Have You Pre-booked Parking At Your Destination

The last thing you want to do is to get to your destination and stress over finding a parking space. Pre-booking your parking spot will save you this hassle. If you’re parking in a field, make sure you check the weather, the last thing you want is to go back to a water-logged field with your wheels stuck in the mud!

Leave Your Car Alone

You’ve been at the festival for a few hours and the party has started. It’s getting a bit chilly but you’ve left your jacket in your car. Do you go and get it? No, not if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Even if you’re not in the driver’s seat but still accessing your vehicle, you could be charged for accessing your vehicle when over the prescribed limit. Instead of having to try and explain to a traffic officer that you weren’t planning to drive, it’s best to avoid going back to your car at all until the alcohol has left your system.

Packing Up The Morning After

Are you fit to drive? Have you had enough sleep? Do you have enough energy and has the alcohol from the night before left your system? Find out more about checking if you’re okay to drive here. Don’t forget to throw away your rubbish and take your tent home with you. And make sure you set some ground rules, like the fact that you’re in charge of the playlist! “Whilst the focus of the weekend may be the festival and the opportunity to let hair down with friends, a carefully planned journey there, proper preparation and caution for the journey back will only add to the enjoyment of the weekend.”


Caravanning Tips From IAM RoadSmart (Released 15th May 2019)

With another Bank Holiday on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience, by ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience.

With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that the South West has some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the Summer months of May to September last year; a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first Summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the Winter.

  • We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage
  • The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law
  • Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up
  • A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is applies
  • Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high; his is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency
  • Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast

Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says: “Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating. By getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe. In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”


No Age Barrier to Being a Better Driver (Released 13th May 2019)

Race and rally legend Paddy Hopkirk and his son Patrick achieved the highest civilian driving standard in the UK recently, when they both passed IAM RoadSmart’s Masters with Distinction qualification. Paddy, 86, and Patrick, 47, were assessed on 8th May by Richard Gladman and Stuart Haythorn, who ensure that all driving standards are of the highest level for IAM RoadSmart.

Paddy needs no introduction in the world of motor sport. Although he is famous for winning the 1964 Monte Carlo and 1967 Acropolis Rallies, he also raced at the fearsome Le Mans 24 Hours as well as many other circuits around the world. Paddy was also greatly admired for giving up a sure win in the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon to rescue, with his co-driver Alec Poole, a fellow competitor from his burning car.

For the past three years Paddy has worked as a volunteer for IAM RoadSmart as its Mature Driver Ambassador, travelling the UK talking about road safety and how older people can drive safely and with confidence on today’s roads. Paddy and Patrick now join a select team of just 500 advanced drivers who have reached Masters standard with Distinction. There are around 1,000 Masters holders in total in the UK.

IAM RoadSmart Masters programme helps drivers take their talent to the next level; building on the individual’s skills as an existing advanced road user, the Masters programme will help them enhance and develop their ability even further in the following areas:

  • Cornering principles
  • Assessing, planning and executing safe overtaking manoeuvres
  • Recognising opportunities to make safe progress, within the speed limits
  • Improving observation, anticipation and awareness consistent with vehicle speed
  • Applying sound judgement of speed and distance

Paddy has already taken IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced Driving Course twice, (27 years apart), and the Mature Driver Review. He said: “It doesn’t matter if you are a rally winner or a daily commuter, everyone can be a better driver. I really want to keep developing my driving skills because the roads are always changing, it is very important to be aware of what is around you, and to make sure that all road users are protected from the risk of injury as much as is possible.I enjoyed taking the Masters as did Patrick, and am delighted to have reached Distinction. It is proof that there is no age barrier to being better and safer behind the wheel. I especially learnt that the habitual use of mirrors is very important; it’s the best way of getting the information you need to be a better driver.”

Mike Quinton, Chief Executive Officer of IAM RoadSmart, said: “We are proud of Paddy who has worked tirelessly on our behalf. Taking the advanced test and the Masters is not for the elite; it is something everyone can try – and everyone will benefit from. It could even save a life one day.”


Too Tired to Drive? (Released 7th May 2019)

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards, shares some tips on how to avoid the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel.

  • Extreme tiredness can lead to micro-sleeps; this is a short episode of drowsiness or sleep that could last a fraction of a second or up to thirty seconds. A car driving at 70 mph will travel 31 meters per second, giving plenty of time to cause a serious crash during such a micro sleep.
  • The effects of losing one or two hours of sleep a night on a regular basis can lead to chronic sleepiness over time. So ensure you are well rested and feeling fit and healthy before you set off on any journey.
  • Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of a motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours and it’s essential to take a break before the drowsiness sets in.
  • If necessary, plan an overnight stop. If you feel too fatigued to carry on driving, then book yourself into a hotel at the next service station and sleep it off. Wake up fresh with a good breakfast, and carry on your journey. It’s good to note that a caffeine high may be a quick fix, but it is not a long term solution and certainly no substitute for proper sleep.
  • You’re bound to be tired after a full day at work, so avoid setting out on a long drive after you have finished for the day. It’s best to start your journey earlier on, and when you’re more alert.
  • If possible, avoid driving between the two peak times for sleepiness. These are between 3am and 5am and also between 2pm and 4pm.
  • If you have taken prescribed medication, then seek advice from your GP as to whether you should be driving or not. If bought over the counter, then read the instructions on the pack or speak to a pharmacist.

Even the fittest of us need regular sleep to perform at our highest standards. Driving requires full concentration at all times and if you are tired, your ability to concentrate is reduced. Our internal body clock (circadian rhythm) is usually set to deal with our normal lifestyle, extra care needs to be taken when driving during a time we would normally be at rest. Stop, rehydrate and rest if you need to.


Eight Essentials to Keep in Your Car (Released 2nd May 2019)

Make sure you’re all set this coming Bank Holiday weekend; Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving and Riding Standards, provides the eight essentials that you should always keep in your vehicle.

  • It’s always best to keep an ice-scraper and can of de-icer in your vehicle as the British weather is so unpredictable, and can be sunny one day and frosty the next.
  • Carry an empty fuel can with you. Don’t carry a full or partially full one as this is a fire hazard and if it has recently had fuel in it, flammable vapour may still be present.
  • A first aid kit, keep one in the boot of your car so it’s always handy for either yourself, or another road user if you’re first on scene at an accident.
  • If you’ve broken down on the side of the road, the last thing you want is to be cold and unable to see your way around the dark. That’s why we advise drivers to always keep a torch and set of batteries in their vehicle, along with warm clothes, a blanket and a high visibility jacket. And don’t forget food and drink to stop your energy levels from dropping – bottled water is a must.
  • The battery on your car can go flat at any time, whether you’re popping to your local fish and chip shop or picking your vehicle up from the airport car park. Make sure you keep a set of jump leads in your car so you can start your engine with help from another driver’s vehicle.
  • Keep a spare pair of sturdy shoes with a good grip in your car. You’ll need these to turn the wheel brace when changing a tyre, or to push your car if you’ve broken down, or even just to change shoes if there’s a sudden weather change.
  • A reflective warning triangle. This gives you extra security for a number of reasons such as breaking down in the dark. Put it out in accordance with the rule from the Highway Code 274 which advises to “Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways.”
  • A lot of us use our Sat Nav to travel to unfamiliar places, but what if your battery dies and you can’t find the charger? Or what if it takes you the wrong way? The best thing to do is to refer back to your trusty road alas, so don’t forget to purchase an up-to-date copy every year and keep it in your car. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at your road map before you set off to get an idea of the direction you need to travel in. Find yourself a place to aim for or motorway signs to look out for.
  • Last but not least your mobile phone. Switch it to silent and place it in the glove box to avoid any temptation to touch it, but it will be there ready to use when and if you need it.

A journey can be a pleasant experience with the right planning. But it can turn into a nightmare if circumstances change and you do not have the right tools for the job with you. Getting stranded either in suddenly changing weather conditions, breakdowns or road closures will be made more bearable if you can let people know where you are, and survive in relative comfort and safety until you can get safely where you’re going.


Over 11,000 Drivers Hold Licences Despite Having 12 or More Penalty Points (Released 29th April 2019)

IAM RoadSmart has expressed its frustration that six years after calling for action, more than 11,000 drivers a year are still being legally allowed on the roads with 12 or more points on their licences.The issue was brought back into the spotlight this month when Justin Madders, MP of Ellesmere Port and Neston, asked Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling how many holders of UK licences with 12 points or more have been allowed to continue driving. The DVLA replied that as of 9 April 2019, the number of people with 12 penalty points or more who have an entitlement to drive is 11,105. Although six years ago there were 12,470 drivers with more than 12 points on their licences on the roads legally, IAM RoadSmart is still highly concerned that these numbers still run into five figures.

Despite proposing several ways to fix the issue of such an unacceptably high number of drivers holding licences legally after committing multiple driving offences, little obvious action appears to have been taken in the past six years.

Six years ago, IAM RoadSmart discussed a series of measures to tackle the issue with the DVLA:

  • Where ‘exceptional hardship’ has been used as an excuse for not losing a licence, that the reason for this plea is recorded. Then the driver cannot use the same excuse twice
  • The DVLA was due to introduce a new computer system which would allow courts to see past offences and reasons given
  • The courts with the poorest records of not banning drivers who have over 12 points should be named and shamed
  • Better training for magistrates and better sharing of information with DVLA.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, said that while there is now better sharing of information between courts and the DVLA, many decisions on whether drivers should be banned are made by the courts without enough information from the DVLA, a process that needs to change urgently. “The DVLA told us they would sort this issue out years ago, and judging by the current numbers, it simply has not happened effectively enough. Licences need to be removed and drivers who have committed repeat offences encouraged to take remedial courses to bring home the impact of their behaviour and promote safer, more responsible driving behaviour in future. IAM RoadSmart calls on the DVLA to quickly extract all such cases manually and ask courts why there has been a non-disqualification on 12 or more points, so appropriate action can be taken to get irresponsible and dangerous drivers off our roads. Quite simply these are drivers who should be banned. Allowing them to continue to drive in all but exceptional circumstances not only undermines public trust in the well understood ‘four strikes and you’re out’ totting up method of driving punishments, it also put these motorists and other road users across the UK at greater

Additional information from Hansard:

“Some of these drivers will have already served a disqualification which expired before the penalty points attributed to the offence(s). Some will be drivers who had cited ‘exceptional hardship’ to the court after they had reached 12 penalty points under the ‘totting-up’ provisions. In these circumstances the disqualification may either be avoided or significantly reduced.”


Usage Based Motor Insurance (Sunday Express Newspaper 21st April 2019)

Motor insurance is changing gear, as a new breed of insurers aim to give drivers personalized cover based on their driving habits and when they use their car. This has been driven by “telematics” or “black box” policies which help young drivers to cut their premiums by showing that they are responsible on the road.

Insurers such as Admiral’s Littlebox, Carrot, Coverbox, Insurethebox and Marmalade offer telematics, while mobile phone apps such as Aviva Drive and Direct Line’s DrivePlus can also monitor how you drive. They measure your speed, braking, cornering and mileage when you drive and reward safer behaviour with lower premiums at renewal.

The overall concept is expanding into other areas such as “pay per mile” cover for low mileage drivers; the question here is; could this type of innovation cut your premiums? Telematics offers the biggest saving for newly qualified drivers who face first typical year premiumsof nearly £2,000. (GoCompare Data).

Telematics has saved thousands of lives with the number of 17 to 19 year olds dying in road collisions down a third over the last six years according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Global Telematics Director Graham Gordon said eight out of ten young drivers now opt for telematics with the sharp decline in casualties showing how effective that choice is. Gordon said that older drivers typically use their cars less often, drive at quieter, safer times and take fewer risks whilst driving; telematics could therefore be ideal for them.

Seven out of ten over sixty-fives have no worries about using the technology to calculate premiums and say telematics could prove their inncoence in a speeding case or a collision. Telematics can also help with sto;len vehicle recovery or instantly alert your insurer if you have a crash; invaluable if you are travelling alone or are in a remote area. Telematics can also help the elderly driver work out when it is finally the right time to stop driving as reaction speeds deteriorate.

James Blackham, Chief Executive of pay-per-mile insurers “By Miles” said telematics should not just be for the young driver; it can make insurance fairer and more flexible for all. Blackham said that a long standing problem with car insurance is that you are paying for somethign that you may only use for a few hours a week. By Miles charges from £150 per annum for fully comprehensive for parking then from 3p/mile whilst you drive. Someone driving 4,000 miles a year could be paying as little as £270 a year  depending on their driving history and make and model of car.

Victoria Newman, spokeswoman at Admiral Insurance said eight out of ten Littlebox customers see their premiums fall at renewal but said that only 1% of their customers were over sixty-five. One thing holding back older drivers is that they are already known to be safer and are already paying lower premiums so have less incentive to try telematics.

(The above article was by Harvey Jones and appeared in the Sunday Express on 21.4.2019)


Easter Break Tips from IAM RoadSmart (Released 17th April 2019)

If you’re planning a Bank Holiday getaway then be sure to read our tips on how you can make your journey a safe and stress-free one, because a little preparation goes a long way.

  • Take some time to check your vehicle inside and out before you set off. Check the tyre pressure and fluid levels are right and make sure your car ancillaries are working properly
  • Secure your luggage in your boot so it’s out of the way and doesn’t obstruct your view
  • Give yourself plenty of time for the journey and check the news for any traffic updates and roadworks nearby. Use the WAM website for local traffic updates. (These are continuous feeds from all the regional emergency services)
  • If you’re travelling during the early hours or late in the evening make sure you take some rest beforehand and eat something light so you don’t feel sluggish before you leave
  • If you plan on using a sat-nav don’t forget to programme in the destination before you leave and check it. Leave plenty of time for the journey so you don’t find yourself pushed for time.
  • Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of a motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours

If your journey is a long one, take some time to plan where and when you will be taking a break, just so you can get a little rest and have some water to stay hydrated. Enjoy the journey and more importantly, enjoy the getaway.


Dealing with Vulnerable Road Users (Released 10th April 2019)

As we make the same commute every day to work and back, we can get used to seeing pedestrians on the streets, motorcyclists on the road and even a few cyclists appearing now that the season is officially changing and the weather is improving. This can sometimes mean we get a little too used to the things around us and may unintentionally stop paying attention to our surroundings.

  • Check to see the type of pedestrians around you. Do you see an elderly person crossing the road? They may be walking slowly so ensure they feel safe by reducing your speed. Children can be easily distracted and are unpredictable too, especially when crossing the road, so do all you can to help them out. Drive with care and be vigilant as a few extra seconds added to your day may make all the difference.
  • A cycling club will often cycle as a group rather than in single file. This makes it safer for all of us; a simple overtake on a short group is often easier and safer to achieve than thirty overtakes on separate cyclists. Before you overtake them, make sure you have given them enough room as they could adjust their road positioning unexpectedly for a pothole or drain. A few seconds delay is better than a lifetime of regret. It’s always good to remember that a young, fit individual on a bike is likely to be more stable than an older person doing their shopping run.
  • Take note that there are two types of mobility scooters. Class 2 Mobility Scooters are only allowed on pavements and have a top speed of 4mph. Class 3 Mobility Scooters should be registered and are driven on the road with a top speed of 8mph. Bear in mind that this group of road users may have restricted movement, vision or hearing so give them plenty of space and time.
  • Have you thought about taking a more scenic route now that the days are getting lighter for longer? You may come across a horse and its rider walking along the side of the road. To avoid scaring the horse, turn the radio down and keep the engine revs low. Slow down and take your time when passing a horse. Keep your car well away from them and proceed with caution.
  • Who has heard of SMIDSY (“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”)? This is a regular acronym in a motorcyclist’s dictionary and often our strategy when looking for a culprit! The science behind this is called Saccadic Masking. The simple explanation is that people don’t see clearly when their head or eyes are moving, and they don’t pick up objects travelling towards them very well. So make sure you have a good look, not just a quick glance. A good tip is that if you’re specifically looking for motorcyclists or cyclists, then you are more likely to see them.

Richard said: “The importance of sharing the road space and understanding the needs of other road users cannot be stressed enough. If we are aware of vulnerable road users, we can make provisions to keep us all safe. Remember to treat others how you would like to be treated.”


Better Drivers Can Reduce Road Deaths and Injuries in the UK (Released 9th April 2019)

In his new role as Chairman of IAM RoadSmart, the largest independent Road Safety Organisation in the UK, Managing Director of Ford of Britain, Andy Barratt, has pledged to focus on driver behaviour in the road safety debate. (Andy has taken on the prestigious role of IAM RoadSmart Chairman from Ken Kier OBE, who steps down this month having been in the role for three years).

In his new position, which started on 1 April 2019, he launched a revamped IAM RoadSmart Manifesto. The Manifesto highlights the seven areas where IAM RoadSmart believe they can make the most impact in reducing the number of people killed and injured on UK roads. With an emphasis on the potential that improved driver and rider behaviour could have on the safety of our roads, the Manifesto acknowledges the importance of driving to both the economy and business, it is seen as a core skill for business and a health and safety responsibility for all organisations in the public and private sector.

The new Manifesto will form the basis of a submission from IAM RoadSmart to the House of Commons Transport Committee Inquiry into Road Safety.

Speaking of his appointment, Andy said: “To be appointed Chairman of IAM RoadSmart is an honour. I wholeheartedly support IAM RoadSmart’s Manifesto pledge that post-test training is vital for safer roads. I’m delighted to be taking a leading role for a charity whose principal purpose is to make better drivers and riders.  In my roles at Ford, developing safe vehicles is the number one priority. In taking the Chair of IAM RoadSmart, my focus will be to ensure that human factors are high on the road safety agenda in order to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on roads in the UK. As a cyclist, driver and pedestrian I’ve been pleased to lead Ford’s ‘Share the Road’ initiatives, encouraging cooperation and understanding between road users. As a motor industry representative chairing IAM RoadSmart, I believe that we can continue to find common ground, cooperation and practical ways forward to make sure that real change happens, with vehicle makers, politicians, the media, and with all road users.”

IAM RoadSmart’s Manifesto focuses on the importance of boosting the confidence of drivers and making it an enjoyable activity, while keeping everyone safe at the same time.  Embracing all stages of a driving and riding career from immediate post-test into older age, the Manifesto underlines the importance of periodic refresher courses. It also includes extending driver rehabilitation after a conviction for a wider variety of motoring convictions, it also highlights the changing world of new technology as the switch to autonomous and connected vehicles continues to gather pace.

Mike Quinton, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am delighted that we have attracted someone of the calibre, standing and seniority in the UK automotive industry as Andy to the role of Chairman. I am confident his knowledge and contacts will be invaluable in driving us forward and I look forward to drawing on his skills and leadership experience.”


Dealing with Low Sun Whilst Driving (Released 3rd April 2019)

Now that Spring is here, the sun is rising earlier and flowers are blooming; however, being dazzled by the sun can be a major distraction and is often a factor in Summer collisions.

Even though we have many tools that aid in protecting us from the glare, we often forget to use them.

  • Keep your windscreen clean both inside and out; a dirty screen will magnify the glare and create a distraction
  • Check your windscreen for chips or cracks, replace worn wiper blades and make sure your washer bottle is kept well topped up with good quality screen-wash to help remove those Summer bugs and keep windscreens smear free. (A periodic clean of the outside of the windscreen with white vinegar will help keep it free of traffic residue)
  • Keep a cloth or chamois to wipe away the dirt that builds up on the inside; do not be tempted to do this cleaning whilst on the move
  • Use your sun visor. It may sound obvious but a surprising number of people forget that the facility is fitted to their vehicle
  • Invest in polarised sunglasses and remember to take a rest. Your eyes will strain quickly if you are squinting. Read our sunglasses tips for more information
  • If you are dazzled by the sun, slow down and leave extra space between yourself and the driver ahead
  • Remember that when the sun is low behind you, you might be able to see clearly but oncoming drivers might not

It’s easy to get distracted when the sun is out and the world seems a better place. By keeping the screen clean and your view shaded where possible, you will give yourself the best chance of staying safe. If you are wearing sunglasses, bear in mind that the protection they offer will be magnified by any tinted windows and remember to keep them clean and be ready to take them off in tunnels or shaded areas. (Those of us who wear prescription spectacles should have a pair of current prescription sunglasses always to hand,the clip-on lenses are not recommended as they often create distortion when used with other lenses.


A Spanner in the Works – A Blog of Interest from Tim Shallcross (Released 3rd April 2019)

I was visiting a classic car show recently and chanced across The Motor Repair Manual, a book for the home mechanic dating from the 1930s.

The term DIY wasn’t invented back then, but the sub title A Practical Handbook for Owner Drivers And Amateur Mechanics makes the intended readership clear. The first section deals with the tools and equipment the home mechanic should expect to have in his workshop … the 1930s home mechanic is, of course, a chap.

Apart from the spanners, drills and hammers you’d expect, advice is given on choosing a good lathe (of course you need one – how else would you obtain a washer?) along with guidance on the furnace you need for annealing, tempering and case hardening metals – essential skills for making bushes and bearing scrapers or flanging pipes.

Handbook coverAll this reminded me how much car owners were expected to do to keep their cars on the road; it was intriguing to see the classics at the show, and to recall how many British manufacturers encouraged the driver to be his own mechanic by providing a pretty comprehensive tool kit with the car.

This was not just wheel changing essentials such as a jack and wheel brace. Screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, a big hammer (always a mechanic’s friend) and of course, the inevitable grease gun, were all tucked away for use by the owner.

Concealing the tool kit led to some innovative designs as well; a 1933 Singer, more or less contemporary with the book, shows an impressive array of tools mounted on a tray under the bonnet, while other car makers installed trays or secret drawers. The practice of supplying a tool kit continued after the war.
Triumphs came with a tool roll in the boot, as did MG cars. The Sunbeam Talbot had a panel covering the inside of the boot lid which let down to reveal jack, stirrup pump, wheel-brace, starting handle and grease gun. Rover continued to supply a comprehensive set of spanners, screwdrivers and pliers, along with body touch-up paint, in a special drawer right up to the last of the 3.5 litre saloons in 1973.

My own fascination with the mechanical bits of cars started in the era of proper car toolkits, feeler gauges, tappet spanners and the smell of Swarfega! Grease guns were mandatory since all cars had various points on the chassis and suspension which must regularly be lubricated. The points were called grease nipples, much to the sniggering aTriumph Bonnet Upmusement of adolescents passing their father the spanners on a weekend afternoon.

More upmarket owners weren’t expected to get their hands dirty of course, chassis lubrication on Rolls Royce and Bentley cars was by means of a pedal operated pump which the owner (or maybe chauffeur) had to press every so often. This was also featured on some MG’s. The MGY even had the Smiths Jackall built in hydraulic jack system, operated from the driving seat and advertised as making it simple for the owner to adjust the brakes, as well as for wheel changes. My interest with mechanical details evolved into a job and many years ago I was an AA Patrolman, working on the cars which now grace the aisles of the show.

Triumphs were always a favourite of mine; not because of their looks, performance or handling, but because with the forward opening bonnet raised, you had a very handy seat on the front wheel while working on the engine. Today, even the wheel-changing kit is vanishing as car makers wean us off our desire for a spare wheel.

All my current Mercedes has is an electric tyre pump and a can of sealant; although BMW and Mercedes-Benz did carry on with tool kits long after the British, still supplying some models with a decent array of spanners to get the owner out of trouble until well into this century. Is this progress? Well, yes, modern cars need far less attention than those of my youth; no nipples to grease, no tappets to adjust, no contact breakers to clean.

A service is now an oil and filter change and a visual inspection of everything else. Most things under the bonnet are electronic and run by computers, the remaining mechanical bits last for tens of thousands of miles, rust is rare and reliability is more or less taken for granted.They go the equivalent of half way around the world before any servicing is needed and if we take a few minutes to check the levels regularly, they can soldier on to astronomical mileages.

Tool kit? It’s in the shed with the lathe and the furnace!


New Laws on Car and HGV Safety Systems a Potential Licence and Life Saver (Released 27th March 2019)

IAM RoadSmart has welcomed moves to make Autonomous Emergency Braking, (AEB), standard on all new cars within three years, calling it an undoubted life-saver.

A provisional European Union agreement on the legislation was reached on Monday 25th March 2019. The rules include requirements for AEB which can detect and react to pedestrians and cyclists in front of the vehicle, as well as the installation of overriding Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA). Additionally new lorries will be expected to have better levels of direct vision to give drivers a better chance of seeing vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, said: “It should be remembered that excessive speeding is a factor in 14% of fatal collisions whereas human error is present in 64%. Speed limiters have a role to play but on their own cannot eliminate all collisions. Advanced Drivers don’t need to be reminded electronically what the speed limit is, but for others it could be a real life-saver, and help people to not lose their driving licences. ISA as proposed for all new cars after 2022 will be able to be overridden so it is not the ‘Big Brother’ solution that some sources suggest.


Are Your Wheels Too Tyred To Drive? (Released 27th March 2019)

It’s important to regularly check your tyres to see if they’re fit and healthy to get you from A to B safely. That’s why IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving and Riding Standards, Richard Gladman, has put together some top tyre tips to help you stay safe on the road.

  • Check your tyres regularly. We recommend weekly vehicle checks which include inspecting tyre pressure, tread depth and the overall tyre condition
  • On a car ensure that your tyre’s tread depth is at least 1.6mm
  • Use the 20p Test by checking your tyre tread with a 20p coin as shown below, placing it into the main groove of your tyre. The outer band of the 20p coin should be obscured when it is inserted.
  • Always ensure that your tyres have the correct pressure. You can find this information in the vehicle manufacturers’ handbook, on the inside of the fuel filler cap or driver’s door sill, and you can get this information when purchasing tyres.


Driving with Technology (Released 27th February 2019)

Mobile communications and GPS systems used as sat-navs are becoming very common in cars. Whether you are connecting your Bluetooth to blast tunes or looking for the nearest Waitrose, these have become a fundamental part of the daily drive for many of us.

  • Whilst a sat-nav aids in getting you from A to B try to not become reliant on it. It is important to pay attention to road signs and the road ahead, in case there’s a diversion sign that the device may not have picked up.
  • Get to know your sat-nav before you set off and always programme it when stationary. Many people trust their sat-navs not to get them lost but you also need to know about roadworks, diversions and places to stop. Keep an old fashioned map to ensure that you limit the chances of going completely off track
  • Create your playlist before you start your journey. Taking your eyes of the wheel to look or adjust your music can often prove to be hazardous. It only takes a few seconds distraction to cause an accident. Remember to also keep your music down in some circumstances; your hearing can keep you safe, so be prepared to turn the music off
  • Don’t make or take calls when driving and never text or engage with social media on your smartphone. Through extensive research it has been shown that making calls, even hands-free, affects concentration and slows reactions when driving
  • Some vehicles have the ability to create a Wi-fi zone allowing internet access. This should be used as a luxury for passengers whilst ensuring they do not distract you as the driver. For instance a computer screen reflecting in the dark is a dangerous distraction

The latest driver assistance systems can be the perfect back-up to cover our occasional human failings but are no substitutes for concentration. The driver must always remain connected to what is going on around them.  Multi-tasking is a myth and all too often that glance away can become a complete switch-off to an emerging risk.  No text, tweet, check in or status update is worth crashing for.