Driving on smart motorways: What are they and how do you use them?

There has been a takeover: The Internet of Things has arrived. We now live our lives operating with smart phones, smart televisions, smart watches, and even the smart doorbell. Now comes the hour of smart travel and even the smart motorway. But what exactly is a smart motorway, and how do they work?

smart-motorways

A ‘smart’ section of the M25 motorway

Smart motorways are the latest innovation in traffic flow technology – they’re made to help motorists get around as efficiently as possible. Congestion on the motorway and major road network in England costs an estimated £2 billion every year, with 25 per cent of this resulting from incidents (Highways England), so it has become imperative that there needs to be measures to help drivers fight these issues.

These problems, luckily, have not gone unnoticed. Since 2006, Highways England have been working on integrating smart motorways into the existing UK road system as an alternative method helping to relieve traffic problems.

There are four different types of smart motorway that now traverse the English landscape. Highways England – who are responsible for the smart motorway programme in England – construct, maintain and operate them. They are:

  • Controlled motorway: Variable speed limits without hard-shoulder running.
  • Dynamic hard shoulder: Variable speed limits with part-time hard shoulder running.
  • All lane running: Variable speed limits with the hard shoulder converted to a permanent running lane.
  • Through junction running: All lane running through junctions.

(source)

By creating and using these differing types of smart motorway it has become possible to determine the effects that traffic flow experiences when controlled differently, compared to normal, not smart-controlled UK roads.

So, with all the additional technology installed, what benefits do motorists see from smart motorways?

Well, one of the benefits is the moveable lanes. Often, when traffic flow is noticeably heavier than it should be, it is possible for remote lane adjustments to be made – such as opening the hard shoulder – in order to help ease the congestion and get motorists back on track with their travels. With the addition of benefits such as an extra lane for traffic flow, it becomes much easier for drivers to travel along otherwise slow or even standing motorways at busy times.

In regard to accidents, as well as helping to greatly reduce the number of incidents, smart motorways are also good at helping people travel safely even when there may be an obstruction in the road because of the option of move, open and close lanes for drivers to work around the problem.

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Congestion could be a thing of the past with smart motorways

The advantages of having smart motorways have been analysed since their inception, as it is important to prove that the changes really make a difference to drivers. Since the opening of the M42 as a managed motorway (as it was originally named) in 2006, analysis of its smart data has found that:

  • journey reliability improved by 22 per cent
  • personal injury accidents reduced by more than half
  • where accidents did occur, severity was much lower overall with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured

(Highways England)

So it is clearly evident that smart motorways are helping to cut congestion and travel times for motorway users. But how safe are they for users?

Highways England have said they are “committed to safety in every aspect of [their] work. All lane running smart motorway design is based on robust analysis by experienced professionals using tested methodologies.” (source) They also say that their analysis “demonstrates that our safety objectives were likely to be achieved with road user safety no worse than before all lane running is implemented,” citing the results of the M25 smart sections as evidence.

Smart motorways also include the extra safety of emergency refuge areas, which are designed to provide a relatively safe area following a breakdown or problem for drivers on smart motorways. Their frequency is such that “if you are driving at 60mph you will reach a place you can stop in an emergency every 75 seconds on average.” (source) Each of these areas has a telephone that can connect you to a control centre in order to pinpoint your position and get you the assistance you require.

If you’re still unsure about smart motorways, here are some quick tips to help you with driving on them.

On a smart motorway:

  • never drive in a lane closed by a red “X”
  • keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
  • a solid white line indicates the hard shoulder – don’t drive in it unless directed.
  • a broken white line indicates a normal running lane
  • if your vehicle experiences difficulties, eg warning light, exit the smart motorway immediately if possible
  • use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder
  • put your hazard lights on if you break down

If you need some more help, this gov.uk page offers additional help and guidance, such as this video:

There are, however, some bodies that have stepped forward to voice concerns about smart motorways and their impact on both motorists and the environment.  An AA survey of more than 20,000 motorists found that “79 per cent think the loss of hard shoulders has made motorways less safe,” (source) and Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “Using the hard shoulder as a running lane may make it more difficult for drivers to find somewhere safe to stop if they break down, as the emergency refuges are only spaced at intervals along the motorway.” (source)

Alongside concerns for motorists, there are also issues being raised regarding the environmental impact of smart motorways. Tony Bosworth, from Friends of the Earth (FoE), disagreed there were environmental benefits: “It’s effectively motorway widening on the cheap. We believe it’s simply going to encourage more drivers and cause an increase in carbon dioxide.” (source)

 

Remember, if you do break down or suffer from car troubles when driving on a smart motorway, a Trust My Garage member is never far away and can provide you with quality, trustworthy help. For a map of your nearest members click here.

It looks like the future of the smart motorway is set for them to become the ubiquitous format for major road construction and control across the UK. Despite this, it seems as though the jury is still out on the pros and cons of smart motorways. Only time will tell.

The Car Repair Plan: Shielding you from unexpected costs

Have you ever wanted to have a little bit of money put aside in a pot, just in case something goes wrong? A ‘rainy day fund’, if you will? Most people now probably have some sort of savings fund in case of an emergency to help them out with unplanned costs and problems.

Well, have you thought about doing the same for your car? As a driver, you need to be able to budget for the costs of regular maintenance and perhaps even a little extra for those unexpected costs.

With one in seven UK motorists putting off essential repairs due to financial issues, it might be time to start thinking about looking out for your money and your motor.

Provided by the Independent Garage Association, The Car Repair Plan is the answer. It allows you to shield yourself from unexpected repair costs by providing a free, easy and flexible way to budget for car servicing and repairs. You can even set up a family fund, so more than one person can put in money, and you can use it on more than one vehicle. With the Car Repair Plan, a little bit of saving goes a long way!

rmicrp-long

Trusty, the Car Repair Plan mascot

So, what does the Car Repair Plan do?

The plan allows you to save as much or as little as you want on a regular basis to ensure that you always have the funds available to pay for the service and repair of your car – and other vehicles in your family.

 

Where can I use it?

You can use your Car Repair Plan fund at any participating Trust My Garage member. You can choose to use all or some of your account balance when settling the bill. The process is simple and straightforward, and there are no extra costs or hidden charges. If you want to find your nearest participating garage, take a look at the handy map on the Trust My Garage website.

crpmap

The Trust My Garage map of participating Car Repair Plan garages 

 

How will it help me?

You can choose to use all or some of your account balance when settling a repair or service bill. The process is simple and straightforward, so you won’t have to worry about paying out more to get yourself back on the road.

 

What about making payments into the account?

You add a set amount into your account every month. You can alter the payment or take a break at any time, or when you feel you have built up enough of a fund. The scheme is entirely flexible.

 

How can I check my fund’s balance?

You can view your balance online at any time. Just log in to the website.  It’s as easy as that to access!

 

 

If you’d like to find out any more information about Car Repair Plan or sign up for the scheme, click this link to head over to the website.

What do you think about the Car Repair Plan? Leave us some thoughts in the comments!

 

 

Staying safe: Technology in the car

The Law

              The UK’s laws against using a handheld device in the car are very clear; you shouldn’t. However, in an increasingly digital age, where technological developments are being made by the day, how can you keep connected to your vital bits of battery and circuit board without breaking any laws?

 

              So far, hands-free has been the way to go when in the car. Without needing to remove your hands from the wheel or gear-stick, you physically can’t grab your phone to respond to a call or text, or search for some information. This way, your eyes remain on the road and your hands keep a firm grip on your vehicle.

 

mobile-in-car

 

The Technology

              Many phones are now made with voice recognition technology as a standard. Through this, as long as your phone is within earshot, you can verbally issue commands to your lovely robot assistant (Siri, Google, Cortana, Alexa etc. depending on your preference). Hopefully, your phone will hear and comprehend your orders from its nesting spot on the passenger seat or in that little gap in the centre console, and do as it’s told. It’s true that this sort of technology has come a very long way, especially in the last 5 years or so, but often it still leaves plenty of room for development in the form of responses, functionality and even basic understanding of commands.

 

               With the passing of time and computer advancements, cars themselves have adapted to the functions and technology of the mobile phone, from the bulky Carphone of the 80’s through to the sleek, Bluetooth powered, integrated units you see as an option in almost all cars of the last 5 years. The addition of monitors into vehicles for things such as satellite navigation, media playback and hands free calling has meant that there is more technology than ever at work to both help and entertain us while we’re driving. The operation of these technologies, though, is often done using buttons or dials on the centre console and steering wheel or touchscreens, so how safe are they really when we’re driving?

 

sat-nav

 

The Problems

               That isn’t the only issue with hands free, either. Think, for example, of taking a hands free call. When driving, any contact can get hold of you while you’re technically operating heavy machinery and concentrating on hundreds of other drivers doing just the same. Add into this existing concentration a new point of interest jostling for brain power – someone contacting you and you answering, comprehending, forming a response and responding – and next thing you know you’re doing two jobs, each requiring a lot of concentration, happening at the same time. Suddenly the idea of having to share driving with other tasks seems far more detrimental than it has appeared previously.

 

               Evidence for arguments against hands free equipment in cars has had a much stronger presence of late. Dr Graham Hole, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex, said the research laid bare the “popular misconception that using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone.” He also added: “Other studies have suggested that phone conversations in a car are more off-putting than listening to the radio or talking to a passenger.” It is seemingly becoming more apparent that there is little difference between using a handheld device such as a mobile phone in the car and using hands free technology.

 

phone-in-car-night

 

The Solutions

                Following on from this new research and its findings, there have been calls from many figures of note to put hands free equipment in the same bracket as handheld devices. Kevin Clinton, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said he was not surprised by the study’s findings and also called for a law banning the use of hands-free phones in cars. He said: “Sadly, people continue to lose their lives because of drivers who are using a mobile phone. This can so easily be avoided by all drivers switching off their phones while driving, and only checking messages once they have stopped in a safe place.”

 

                This view has been supported by national charities as well. Alice Bailey, from road safety charity Brake, says “We need one clear law. All phones, hand-held and hands-free, need to be banned in cars – the only safe phone is one that is switched off. How important is any phone conversation that lives are lost?”

 

                It seems that even with the technological advancements that have been made to keeping drivers safe there is still a long way to go to truly ensuring that there aren’t any distractions or concentration problems for anyone getting behind the wheel.

 

 

Have a look at this infographic for some interesting facts about hands free driving:

driving distractions infographic 2.png

 

              What do you think about hands free driving? Have you had any good or bad experiences with the technology? Can you think of any other options or alternatives? Let us know in the comments!

 

[quotation source]

11 Motoring Offences You Didn’t Know Were Illegal

In the news lately, there has been a great deal of coverage surrounding mobile phone use at the wheel. Although illegal, many motorists are still opting to use their hand-held devices whilst driving, despite the damaging implications this could have. It has now been proposed that the punishment for being caught with a mobile whilst in the driver’s seat is set to rise, with offenders receiving tougher penalties and larger fines. Although many still have a seemingly brazen attitude towards this illegal act, despite the implications it can have, there are some more common habits that many motorists are guilty of that could also potentially land you in a great deal of trouble too.

Remember, in the eyes of the law, ignorance is no defence, so it’s best to clue yourself up on these motoring illegalities, before you find yourself in trouble.

  1. Driving whilst on prescription drugs

medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

It probably goes without saying that driving under the influence of drugs and hallucinogens are completely unlawful. But, we bet you didn’t know that your over-the-counter prescription drugs could lead you onto the wrong side of the law too. Some household medications come with cautionary notes suggesting that the drug could cause the user to feel drowsy and thus affect their ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. In this case, getting behind the wheel is strongly advised against and ignoring such caution could lead to a one year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison, and a criminal record. Always remember to read the advisory leaflet that comes alongside your medication, to keep you from having a run in with the law.

  1. Using phone whilst supervising learner driver

driving-instructor

Now, we know that the law dictates against drivers using handheld devices behind the wheel, but did you know this rule also applies to driving instructors too? Anyone supervising a learner driver is considered to be in primary control of the vehicle and thus is required to give the roads their full attention. Being caught on a phone in these circumstances could lead to fines of up to £300, and up to 6 points on the supervisor’s licence. Subsequently, any driving related convictions and charges could further lead to loss of work for offenders who instruct for a living. Quite like the laws regarding drivers using their mobiles, this law does come with one exception; this illegality is only considered acceptable if the driver/instructor needs to call 999 and is not able to pull over in safe place.

  1. Using your horn

car-horn

When you find yourself driving behind a slow motorist, it may be tempting to sound your horn by way of prompting the driver to speed up. Not only is this considered aggressive driving – it is also punishable. Actually, the rules regarding horn use are considerably refined.

Whilst in a moving vehicle, the horn should only be sounded if you need to warn other road users of your presence, such as on a blind bend. The horn should not be sounded whilst the car is stationary on the roads, or when driving in a built up area between 11.30pm and 7.00am except for extenuating circumstances, such as another road user posing a danger. Doing so could lead to a fixed penalty notice and a fine.

In more severe cases, the council may choose to take action, and charge a horn offender under the noise pollution law. If this is the case, hefty fines may be issued with up to £5000 being fined on domestic land, or up to £20,000 on commercial premises. Given this, it’s probably better to resist the temptation!

  1. Having a dirty number plate

number plate.jpg

We know how it can get in winter. Over the summer months, you spend hours on end, preening and presenting your motor so that it gleams in the summer sun. When it comes to winter, however, the misery and chill can make this process a little more tedious. Nobody likes having to stand out in the cold and rain; so sometimes, the car washing, waxing and cleaning process can occur very few and far between. However, such understandable neglect could see you being penalised if it affects the visibility of your number plate.

According to legislation, your number plate must be readable at all times and not covered in dirt. Failing this, you could end up with up to a £1000 fine. It is also a requirement that the number plate is fixed to the vehicle; is of the correct size, colour, font and spacing; and follows the British standard including the trademark of the plate supplier.

  1. Driving too slowly

speed

With all the extensive laws regarding driving currently in place, it may be tempting to err on the edge of caution and drive a little more guardedly. However, where your intentions may be good, in this scenario, such excessive consideration could actually land you in a spot of bother. Not only is driving too slowly likely to wind up fellow road users, which could subsequently encourage potentially dangerous aggressive driving on their behalf, it could also land you with three to nine points on your licence and a potential disqualification. Why? Because holding up traffic can be considered to be driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. So, if you find yourself with a queue building up behind you, and you’re not yet at the speed limit, it may be worth speeding up a little, to avoid such punishment.

  1. Driving with fog lights on

fog.jpg

Of course, this only refers to situations when it is not foggy. Sometimes, you may see other road users with their fog lights on during clear conditions – it seems it may have become a bit of a cool trend to keep them on. However, the Highway Code dictates that this is in fact not allowed. Headlights and fog lights may only be used when visibility is seriously reduced, and you generally can’t see for more than 100 meters. Should you regain a clear vision field, it is important you turn your lights off immediately. Failing to do so could dazzle other road users which could lead to further problems or fatalities, which certainly isn’t cool.

  1. Driving the wrong way on a one-way street

no entry.png

It can sometimes be a really easy mistake to make, driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Sometimes, the no-entry sign just isn’t clear enough and you find yourself driving in the opposite direction to parked up vehicles. You may think that this simple mistake is forgivable; that you could just do a quick turn-in-the-road and you’ll be fine; but actually, should you be caught by an officer, you could face a penalty or charge for driving without due care or attention. Be sure to stay extra attentive to road markings and signs to dodge such penalisation.

  1. Not clearing snow off the car roof

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In the height of winter, when snow is all around, the last thing you want to do is stand out in the cold for longer than necessary. When it comes to setting out on a journey, you may be tempted to try and get away with just giving a section of your windscreen a quick scrape to remove any ice and condensation from your direct eyeshot. However, such a botched job could lead you into trouble with the police.

Not only are you required to completely clear all of your windows of snow and ice, but it is also imperative you remove any snow from your roof and bonnet too. Snow on the roof could slip forward onto your windscreen and obstruct your vision of the road, which could be incredibly dangerous. Not only this, but the falling snow could also cause problems for other road users too.

Anything that can fall from your car is considered a hazard which could lead to a £60 fine and three penalty points – in more serious cases, you can be charged with offences of careless or inconsiderate driving. So, it’s probably worth spending a few more minutes scraping in the morning, and investing in a good de-icer and scraper

  1. Driving with hazard lights on

hazard

Based on the rules dictated in the Highway Code, hazard lights should only be switched on:

  1. To warn others that your stationary vehicle may temporarily obstruct traffic
  2. Whilst on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead

In both cases, it is recommended that motorists switch off the hazard lights once they have been observed by other motorists.

However, it is becoming increasingly common for road users to opt for hazard lights in other circumstances too. In many cases, motorists are using their hazard lights whilst parked in a place they shouldn’t be, under the assumption that the hazard lights will subsidise their illegal parking. Of course, this is not the case, and will be penalised. Not only that, though; aside from the aforementioned circumstances, driving with hazard lights on can cause confusion amongst other drivers and pedestrians, which could lead to potential hazards and conflicts, and thus is worthy of a penalty.

Avoid the risk of your motor becoming a hazard to other road users by keeping up to date with your car services and MOTs. Remember, there are over 2,100 Trust My Garage members around the country, all qualified and willing to conduct these necessary checks. Be sure to find your nearest trusted garage on the Trust My Garage website.

  1. Leaving the engine running while the car is left unattended

key in car.jpg

During the wintery weather, it may be tempting to leave your car running to warm up before you head out on your morning commute to work. However, unless you’re doing so on a private driveway or garage, this is actually a punishable offence. It is recommended that motorists do not leave their vehicles unattended with the engine on, as such actions could lead to theft or damage; both of which could further lead to subsequent danger or injury.

  1. Sleeping in a car whilst drunk

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After a heavy night out, you can sometimes find yourself waking up in a variety of unexpected places. If, for some reason, you find yourself locked out of your own home, it may be tempting to have a kip in your car instead. It may seem like a perfectly reasonable solution; it’s warm and cushioned, and can keep you safe like a protective bubble. But, it could also see you being penalised.

If you fall asleep in a car whilst under the influence of alcohol, you can face punishments not too dissimilar than those linked to drink driving. Although you may be curled up in the back seat with the engine off, you are still considered in control of a vehicle. Even if you have no intention of driving the vehicle whilst under the influence, simply being inside it whilst drunk could land you in trouble.

In many cases, penalisation for these cases are at the discretion of any officer present. If they consider you to be out of control of your vehicle, or posing a potential danger or hazard to other road users, they are well within their rights to issue fines, penalties and points. For the safety of yourself and other motorists, it is important to take extra consideration whilst driving, and we recommend staying extra attentive! Which of these habits didn’t you know about?

So, should you bring your car to uni?

heading fr uni.jpg

So, you’re flying the nest and heading for uni? For most, it’s been a hard slog getting to this point – staying up all night to revise for your exams, skipping social plans to perfect your coursework – and now you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re leaving home.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to leaving your parents behind: what will your new roomies be like? What will you eat every day? How do you stop your laundry from changing colour?

But there’s one consideration that you should probably give some greater thought into: should you bring your car with you?

It seems like the perfect idea, allowing you to have even more freedom now that you’re adjusting to independent life. Bringing your car along to your new city means you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get from A to B, especially if you find yourself living some distance from your university campus. It’ll also allow you greater opportunity to explore your new surroundings, and perhaps find some cool spots that aren’t on any bus route.

What’s more, uni digs can be a little bit cramped sometimes, and you will struggle to find space to store all of your belongings. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably brought everything you own with you, knowing full well you absolutely don’t need most of it! So, maybe having your car around could provide an extra little bit of storage – keeping your spare jackets and shoes in your boot could free up a lot essential dorm space.

Not only that, for some courses, having your car with you is almost essential to carry out your work. For example, you may need to visit patients or film on location, so your car will be handy for any extra specialist equipment you may have in tow.

Of course, there’s always the all-important fact that having your car with you will make it so much easier for you to run your dirty laundry home to your mum, because carrying bags full of dirty underwear, and dirty-pint-ridden t-shirts on a train probably isn’t the most ideal situation.

Sound good? Well, there’s slightly more to it than that.

As well as coming to terms with the fact that you almost certainly will end up becoming a personal taxi service for the rest of your flatmates, there are some other important considerations you really ought to think about:

Will you actually need it?

This is the biggest question you should ask yourself. Cars require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep, not to mention all the costs that are associated with keeping it on the roads, so, it is important to ask yourself if the extra hassle is really worth it.

Generally, most students opt to live in university halls during their first year. Typically, this accommodation is located either directly on, or extremely close to the campus. What’s more, most university’s benefit from being within a stone throw away from the life and heart of your new city, so considering everything you could possibly need will be within spitting distance of your shoebox bedroom, will you actually get the chance to give your motor a spin?

Perhaps consider all of the places you will need to get to, and have a look at the public transport links. You may find that everything you could possibly need is available an arms-width away.

Where can you park it?

It’s all well and good deciding that you need your motor with you, so you don’t have to lug bags and bags of groceries around town after a supermarket trip, but have you considered where you’ll keep your car?

Owing to their commonly centralised locations, many universities have extremely few parking facilities on campus, and the same applies for halls of residence. In most cases, parking facilities are only available for members of staff, meaning that you will probably be pushed to park your motor a few streets away. This leaves you in a difficult predicament regarding safety – can you actually trust it’ll be safe parked up on a street a mile away from where you’re living? And will you feel safe getting to your car, during the night, when you fancy a late drive to Maccies?

Why not take a day trip to your new city, before you move in, to scope out the area? Be sure to find out your hall of residence’s parking procedure (you may have to pay if they have an on-site car park), and take a wander around to find the nearest on-road parking.

Can you afford to run it?

Many Freshers light up at the prospect of their bank accounts being lined with a student loan. For most of you, this sum of money is more than your bank account has ever seen, so naturally, you’ll be inclined to splurge.

However, many forget that this ‘free’ money isn’t an excuse to buy all the latest gear that you otherwise couldn’t have afforded – it is, in fact, supposed to facilitate the extra expenses needed to live! We know, that doesn’t sound exciting, but many new students underestimate the actual cost of living.

It was recently announced that the government would be scrapping the maintenance grant, which provided an extra bit of income for students from poorer backgrounds. This means that students will now have to rely solely on their maintenance loan to fund their housing, utilities, food and books, as well as the extra bit of dollar needed to fund the nights out that you absolutely won’t want to miss.

Annoyingly, all of these add up – adulting can be cruel on the bank account-  and actually, many will find that the loan just won’t be able to cover all of your outgoings.

So, how will you manage to keep your car taxed, insured, MOT’d, serviced and fuelled too? Will your weekend job cover it, as well as leaving you with enough to keep your allocated cupboard and fridge shelf full(ish)?

It sounds tedious, but it’d be wise to devise some sort of list of all your expected outgoings, and compare this to your income. This way you can weigh up how far out of pocket your car could leave you.

Insurance

The bane of most motorists lives, but possibly more so for younger people, is insurance. It’s no secret that the younger generations can be hit with the highest of insurance premiums, and sometimes these figures can leave you wondering whether it’s worth being road-independent at all.

Now, different cities and areas around the country have increasing or decreasing effects on insurance premiums, mostly based on their affluence. As a general rule of thumb, ‘nicer’ more suburban areas tend to encourage ‘nicer’ lower premiums. City centres and less affluent areas tend to encourage pretty eye-watering figures. So, it’s definitely worth considering how your new address will affect your insurance costs. Could you afford to pay an increased premium? Be sure to get a quote before you make your decisionuni.png

Will it be safe?

Now, we’re not trying to scare you here, but it is not unknown for student areas to be targeted for burglaries. It’s an unusual case, as most students agree that they do not keep many valuables in their university home – but it does happen, and it is worth considering.

Since you may not be able to park your car where you can keep an eye on it, you do want to be able to rest easily (albeit in a bed that won’t be as comfy as your one back home), knowing that it will be safe. For this reason, it is worth checking your alarm system is intact and investing in some sort of immobiliser or steering lock.

It probably goes without saying that, should you be forced to park some distance from your front door, avoid leaving anything valuable inside your vehicle.

What happens when something does go wrong?

We bet many of you leave it to your parents to sort out your car upkeep. Many young people like to enjoy the leisure of driving a car, without having to worry about the nuisance maintenance it needs. So, what will you do when you’re too far away from the nest for your mum and dad to sort your MOT or service?

 Yotmgu head to Trust My Garage!

Trust My Garage is a garage approval scheme that gives you the peace of mind that your car will be in safe hands. All Trust My Garage members abide by a strict code of conduct, meaning that your service will always be second to none.

Luckily, finding your nearest one is easy. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk or download the Trust My Garage app in the App store or Google Play store. From here, you can simply type in your postcode, and you’ll be directed to a selection of your nearest trusted garages.

It’s as simple as that.

We have over 2,600 members across the country, meaning that you’ll never be too far away from a Trust My Garage member.

But how will you afford to pay for your garage services?crp TRUSTY

We’ve already established that your outgoings at university will wind up being much more than you expect. So, you’re probably getting sweaty palmed at the idea of having to fork out more money in the case of an unexpected car service or repair.

But, you need not worry!

Our Car Repair Plan scheme allows you to deposit a small amount of money into an online account every month. This fund can be built up to ‘shield yourself from unexpected car repair costs’ as some Trust My Garage members around the country will allow you to pay for their services using this plan. When searching for a garage via the Trust My Garage website, you are able to refine the search filter to only show those who accept the Car Repair Plan.

Although it may be tempting, when you fancy a greasy kebab at 5am after a heavy night, you cannot withdraw any savings from your Car Repair Plan account, meaning that all the money that you do save up, can be used to pay off those annoying, but completely necessary, car services.

It gets better! The Car Repair Plan allows you to add more than one car to your account. This means you don’t personally have to be an account holder in order to take advantage of this scheme – your parents can be.

Mum and dad can deposit their chosen amount into their account every month, and, if they’ve added your car onto their account, you can use their fund to cover your car repair needs. We recommend asking their permission first though!

How does that sound? Find out more about Trust My Garage and the Car Repair Plan here.

So what will your decision be, will you be taking your motor along to uni with you? Comment below, and let us know what you decide to do! And Good Luck with your new adventure!

 

 

Driving with Children – Part Two

You may have read Part One of our Driving with Children article, but here are some more essential bits of information you should consider before heading off on your travels.

CHECK UP ON LAWS

DWK- LAW

Last year, the law changed regarding the suitable car seats for children of different ages and sizes. The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle to use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm tall or 12 years old. After this, they must use an adult seat belt.

For those of you who are planning on driving to and around another country, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of the local laws regarding motoring.

Did you know, in Italy you’re not allowed to drive in flip flops? Or that in France, you are required to keep at least one high-vis jacket available to hand in your car (not in the boot!) at all times, in case of an emergency?

Make sure you’re clued up on all the relevant legislations in order to keep you compliant with the law – you won’t want to scare the youngsters by being reprimanded by the police.

Driving with children is also the perfect opportunity to enforce road safety to help them to understand the importance of being extra careful on the roads.

 

DRIVE WITH ANOTHER ADULT OR OLDER CHILD

DWK - PASSENGER

With RoSpa reporting that children and babies can distract driving, it may be beneficial to carry an extra responsible passenger, where possible, to tend to them while you’re driving.

On the motorway, in particular, pulling over is scarcely an option, unless there is an absolute emergency. This makes it difficult for you to check in on your backseat passengers, should they require your attention.

Having an extra pair of hands, and eyes, with you on your journey will take a great deal of stress off your shoulders, knowing that you won’t have to worry too much about the mischief they’re getting up to. This allows you to stay more attentive to the roads ahead.

 

COMFY CLOTHES AND SPARES

DWK - CLOTHES

Buttons and stiff materials can be really uncomfortable at the best of time, but while stuck in the back of a car for hours on end, the discomfort can become unbearable – especially for children.

Ensure that kids are kitted out in loose, elasticated clothing to avoid digging and chafing.

It is also worth packing a spare pair of clothing for the journey. Wet wipes can clear up most stains, but when it comes to clothes stains, they may not suffice. Wearing wet, stained or sticky clothes will only make the children more irritable, which is best overcome by being prepared.

This also applies to nappies for babies. Be sure to dress your babe in a fresh nappy before the journey, and check and change at regular intervals.

 

SICK BAGS

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Travel sickness is a burden that no one should have to bear. Where adults are much abler to tolerate such ordeals, children may not be so resilient.

It won’t always be possible to pull over, and doing so will cause frequent delays in the journey, which could lead to more restlessness.

Carrying sick bags in the car with you will save your interiors from becoming stained, and will also allow you to cut down the amount of times you have to pull over. Zip top bags are best, as these will prevent further spillages, and help to control any unwanted odours.

Wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and black bags will help to clean up the area further while you’re on the move. This is also where having a spare change of clothes to hand is useful!

Of course, prevention is far better than cure. Mints, Dramamine and peppermint oils can all help to avoid car sickness.

Eating too much before a journey can also make children sick, especially if they don’t save enough to time for digestion. Avoid feeding children heavy foods before setting off, and allow adequate time between eating and setting off.

 

CHILD LOCK

DWK - CHILD LOCK

Bored children tend to fidget and play with things they shouldn’t – including door handles! Make sure you take precautions to ensure your children do not risk harm. Should your car have 5 doors, ensure the back seats are child-locked to ensure your little ones don’t try venturing astray.

 

CAR CHECKS

DWK - CAR SERVICE

Most importantly, in order to keep your children safe on the journey, you need to be confident that the vehicle you are driving is completely up to the job. Breaking down on a motorway with children is not only inconvenient but potentially dangerous too.

Top up vehicle fluids, ensure your tyres are inflated and make sure your car is roadworthy before carrying your children across, or out of, the country.

Your local Trust My Garage member will be able to prepare your car for your summer travels. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk to find your nearest trusted garage.

 

Have fun and stay safe!

Driving with children – Part One

The summer holidays are finally here!

For most, this means an extra 10 minutes in bed, reassured by the fact that there will be far fewer cars on the road during the morning commute to work.

For others, however, it means six weeks of quality time with the munchkins.

The summer break is the perfect way to escape the mundane routine of school runs and smelly PE kits, with many opting for some sort of summer getaway.

Jetting abroad can be costly and hectic, so more and more Brits are opting for UK breaks in sites such as Devon, Cornwall, and the Lake District. For the more venturous, willing to drive the engine further afield, ferrying into mainland Europe is also a favoured alternative to flying.

Of course, both of these options means long road trips are in store, which, for parents, can equate to a long, sore headache.

With RoSPA reporting that 21.5% of drivers are distracted by babies or children while on the road, here’s how to keep sane during your lengthy journeys with the kids.

 

TRAVEL AT NIGHT

DWK - NIGHT DRIVING

Simply put, the best way to keep the children from whining and throwing tantrums during your journey is by making sure they’re asleep the whole way. Most children have a set routine during term time which means that, despite having no school to wake up for, they’ll be used to drifting off at a certain time. This is the perfect opportunity to set out on your travels as, not only will their state of slumber allow for a more peaceful journey for you, but during the evenings, the roads are far more likely to be quiet.

If this is not an option, then there are always ways to encourage your nippers to kip outside of their usual bedtime. How about tiring them out before the journey? Taking a long walk, keeping them up late the night before, and getting them to dance to their favourite songs are all ways to burn the energy they’d otherwise use to occupy their boredom during your travels. Lavender will also aid this. Stocking up on lavender oils and scents, and dropping a few squirts onto their seat will have them relaxed and soothed in no time.

 

KEEP THEM OCCUPIED

DWK - TOYS

It’s no secret that children tend to get very bored very quickly. On a long car ride, it won’t take long before they’re fidgeting and fussing out of restlessness. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities to keep your children occupied, even during the longest of journeys. What’s more, you can get involved in the fun too! Here are some of our favourite options:

  • Bringing along their favourite toys
  • Arming them with activity packs, colouring books and word-searches
  • Playing verbal games as a family, including I-spy, How many lorries and I went to the market…
  • Map spotting: Get them to track where about you are on a map, this way you won’t have to hear the shriek of ‘Are we there yet!?’
  • Carrying their favourite books and perhaps encouraging them to role play their favourite characters

 

REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOUR

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Every child likes prizes. In fact, everybody likes prizes. The great thing with children is that the rewards need not be extravagant giveaways. Sweets and treats are great ways to encourage good behaviour. In moderation, though, to avoid a catalyst to hyperactivity.

The key thing is to let your children know the behaviour that is expected of them during the trip. Try writing out a checklist of fun car rules, showing the type of behaviour mummy and daddy expect on the journey. These don’t have to be strict or formal – in fact, children will be far more likely to abide by rules if they’re presented in a fun and humorous way, especially knowing they could receive a treat for being good boys and girls.

 

TAKE BREAKS

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Taking breaks is essential during a long journey. Not only will it allow you to take in some of the great views along the way – but it’ll also stop the fidgeting and complaints of a numb bum.

Children tend to get hungrier easier, and will put all their efforts into making it known! Breaks are the perfect opportunity to make sure they’re fed and hydrated as eating in the car is best avoided; not only could this end up being really messy, but potentially hazardous too! Should the car jolt or brake suddenly, children could end up choking on food; while strapped up in seat belts, it is much more difficult to come to their aid. Instead, it is safer, and much more fun to take a picnic stop.

Service stations can be relatively expensive, so why not get the kids involved by setting up some picnic nibbles beforehand?

 

TABLETS

DWK - IPAD

 

Thanks to tablets and portable DVD players, children can now carry their favourite films and programmes with them wherever they go. Most systems also allow users to download and install games, apps and audiobooks too, which should just about keep the little ones occupied for hours.

This option does require some preparation beforehand though. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a system with internet data, most tablets will require some sort of internet connection. To avoid disappointment, pre-download any apps and games at home before setting off on your journey. Also be sure to check the tablet is fully charged before leaving, to avoid batteries running out too soon into your journey.

 

PLAYLIST

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Nursery rhymes and cheesy pop may not be the ideal playlist for mums and dads, but the children will certainly enjoy them. Who can really complain when a singalong to The wheels on the bus is saving you from the shrieks and screams of restlessness?

Get all the family in on the action, and make it a real musical treat. Children love to be involved, and seeing mummy and daddy enjoying a bit of a warble will provide them with great amusement.

 

CARRY WET WIPES AND TISSUES

DWK TISSUES AND WIPES

 

Children can be messy. While on the roads, it won’t be possible to tidy up after them, even when you do get the twitch to do so.

Keeping wet wipes and tissues at hand will provide a quick fix for sticky hands and spills as the kids should be able to tidy up themselves. This will help to protect your interiors from permanent stains of spills and leaks.

 

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY

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Car journeys can be stressful in any case, but not knowing where you’re going can be even more traumatic. On a long trip, getting lost will only make both you and the children irritable. Although most car owners have shunned the road map, and put all their trust into the Sat Nav, it is important to familiarise yourself with the route beforehand – just in case!

Sometimes Sat Navs can be a little bit untrustworthy, especially where new roads are concerned. Doing your research beforehand can prepare you for any diversions or changes to your trip.

It may also be beneficial to carry a road map in your glove compartment to prepare you for any electronic or technical issues with your navigation device.

Don’t make your journey any longer than it needs to be.

There are plenty more hints and tips for driving with children, click for Part Two of our article!

Get your motor’s body summer ready

summer body

Over the past few months, Britain has faced a juxtaposition of weathers. The UK has seen some extreme rains and flooding, but dotted between the downpours has been cameo appearances of blue skies, blazing sunshine and highs of 24 degrees. While some choose to work up buckets of sweat in the gym, pining for the perfect summer figure; many forget that there’s another body that ought to be prepared for the summer, should it make an appearance.

Just like you, your car needs extra care to make sure that they don’t go into overdrive during the summer season. Where we accept it’s entirely unnecessary to slather your car in SPF40, there are some quick and easy ways of making sure your motor doesn’t burn out this summer. Not quite sure how? Luckily, Trust My Garage has put together your guide to keeping fit during summer driving:

Stay cool

During spells of heat, keeping cool is vital. Too much heat can have detrimental and damaging effects on your body which can restrict you from really enjoying the sunshine. To name a few, heat stroke and dehydration are both common problems during this time of year. These issues are not too dissimilar to one risk your car is open to this summer: overheating.

If you have a long journey planned, make sure your car’s cooling system is working efficiently, and your coolant level is optimum. Where keeping windows open is also a suitable alternative, as well as burning more petrol due to the extra drag, open windows can open you up to a world of greater evils in the form of bugs and pollen.

Save yourself some pennies and sneezes by having your air conditioning system checked at your local Trust My Garage member.

Keep Hydrated

Like you, your car can face extra pressures if it isn’t kept hydrated. During summer, cars face a higher risk of overheating which can cause damage to your engine. Due to the extra work your car faces, trying to keep you cool through cooling systems, there is always the potential risk that your motor can go into overdrive and overwork itself so much that irreversible, and expensive, damage is caused.

As a precaution, make a habit of keeping fluid levels checked and topped up regularly. Low coolant level is one of the most common causes of overheating. Coolant, more commonly known as antifreeze, is needed to keep your motor’s engine working within normal temperatures. Keeping coolant checked and topped up will help minimise your chances of overheating. However, this process can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with it – even when working properly, the coolant circulating in your engine will be scalding hot as the system is pressurised. If in doubt, seek assistance from your local Trust My Garage member.

Don’t forget the oil level either. Although the primary function of the oil is to lubricate the moving parts, this helps to keep the engine cool as reduced friction means lower temperatures.

In order to be extra safe, if you feel your car is showing signs of overheating (smoke pouring out of the bonnet, the temperature gauge sitting above the normal limit, an unusual smell coming from your engine), give it a break to cool itself down. Your nearest Trust My Garage member can help you spot more signs of overheating, and suggest extra ways to avoid it.

Keep on track

The sun can bring out the Beyoncé in every driver. Blue skies are the perfect backdrop for a gutsy singalong to tunes and rhythms of summer. While this can make a long journey much more enjoyable, it’s important to make sure that the road gets your full attention. While channelling your inner diva, it is essential to stay focussed on the roads in order to avoid accidents.

According to the Department of Transport, road accidents are more commonplace during the summer months, with young people being the involved the most. Have a read of our Summer Driving Distractions blog post to help keep you safe on the road this summer.

Accessorise

Where this may not be a fashion blog, it is still recommended that accessorising well can prepare you well for summer cruising. Kitting yourself out with a good pair of glasses can be beneficial when the glaring sun restricts your vision. During long stretches of road, a bright sun can hinder your ability to see in the distance. This means it becomes increasingly harder to prepare for any obstacles further along in your path. Where glasses won’t absorb all of the sunlight, they’ll certainly improve your vision. Stay prepared by keeping a pair to hand.

Check your equipment

If a long route is on the itinerary, checking the state of your tyres is essential. Your local garage will be able to advise you of the acceptable tread, pressure and condition of your tyre, to help you avoid them becoming a hazard to drive on. As a general rule, you should check your tyre pressures at least once a month as driving on poorly inflated tyres can poorly affect your grip, and increase your braking distance, which could lead to fatalities.

tyre check

In more fatal incidences, too much pressure on a worn out tyre could lead you in more serious trouble, causing your tyres to fail completely. Excessive contact with the road surface increases friction, which produces heat; this heat can lead to tread separation, blow outs and, as a result, a terrible accident.

It is important to remember that overinflated tyres can also be just as damaging.

Make sure your journey isn’t a blowout by keeping your tyres in a good state, avoiding damaged road surfaces, and keeping your tyre pressure to the correct level.

Take breaks

Warm weather can be draining, with many suffering from lethargy after just a few hours in the sun. With long drives, feeling awake and attentive is the key to avoiding dangerous situations. If you feel your eyes becoming a little too heavy, be sure to take a break from your journey to refresh and revitalise.

Where you may believe you can power through the drowsiness, staying awake doesn’t necessary keep you attentive. Whilst drowsy, your mind is far more focussed on the need for rest, that any sense of hazard perception is drastically minimalised. Utilise service stations to give you a break from the road; it could prove a life saver.

There are plenty more ways to keep you and your motor healthy this summer. Fortunately, there is a wealth of Trust My Garage approved specialists all around the country with a whole range of knowledge to keep you from burning out in the heat. Visit your local member for more help and advice on how to get your body summer ready.

Don’t Be A Distracted Driver This Summer

phone

 

According to a recent report by Yahoo!, young drivers have admitted to being guilty of driving when distracted. 23% of young drivers said they’d nearly had an accident through carelessness behind the wheel, and 18% suggested that driving distractions have led them to driving through a red light.

In the UK, it is illegal to use a mobile phone at the wheel; this includes instances where a car is stationery but has the motor running. Drivers who are caught using a hand-held device behind the wheel risk being issued an automatic fixed penalty notice, 3 penalty points on their licence, and a £100 fine. At the moment, there is also talks of increasing the fine for those caught with a phone behind the wheel to £450. However, reports show that 42% of young people still use their hand-held devises at the wheel. Although a staggering result, surprisingly it didn’t top the charts as the most distracting thing drivers get up to while driving-  eating and drinking did! According to Yahoo!’s reports, 47% of young drivers agreed that their driving had been poorly affected through them eating and drinking at the wheel.

So what are the effects of being a distracted driver? Safecar have reported that distracted driving can lead to more than just a bump. Other consequences include poor lane discipline, inability to make quick decision, reduced situational awareness, inability to execute emergency manoeuvres and an inability to recognise and obey traffic signals and signs; all of which can be potentially dangerous to other motorists and pedestrians.

 

With RoSpa claiming drivers partake in at least one distracting activity per journey, here is a list of potential distractions you may face while driving this summer:

 

Loud music

car speaker

Summer always comes with a soundtrack of anthems that make you want to sing and dance. When the sun’s out, drivers often get tempted to crank up the volume and belt their hearts out to the roads ahead. However fun this may be, it can increase a driver’s risk of collision. Studies show that overuse of one sensory organ can result in the others underperforming. When it comes to loud music and driving, the overworking of the sound organs can lead to a decreased sense for spotting a hazard and, as a result, a delayed stopping time. As well as this, loud music will cover other sounds from your surroundings, including sirens from emergency vehicles and potentially any concerning noises your car makes. Stay safe by keeping your volume low enough to be aware of other sounds in your environment.

 

Glaring sun

sun

An unwelcomed distraction, sometimes the sun can be hard to avoid. On occasion, it may be possible to take an alternative route, with a clearer vision field, but this isn’t always an available option. It’s beneficial to utilise sun visors and perhaps invest in a pair of sunglasses. Decreasing your speed and using extra caution is recommended while driving in the sun, especially on routes prone to greater hazards, such as pedestrian and school zones. Where this won’t completely avoid the distraction of sun, it can minimise any potential dangers.

 

Bugs in the car

insects

It’s no secret that the warm weather brings out all of God’s creatures. Unfortunately, insects aren’t so polite, so find no qualms in trespassing in motorist’s cars. Where some proportion of drivers are happy to accommodate these bugs by ignoring them, for most, instinct dictates an attack of some sort. Swatting, spraying, brushing and flinching can all lead to jerking or drifting while driving, which can lead a driver into greater danger. Whilst bug-phobes are using up all their efforts to flick the creatures away, they’re not giving the roads their full attention, leading to delayed reactions. Avoid bug-mishaps by opting for the air con, instead of opening your windows.

 

Moving objects (taking kids/pets on a drive)

kids in car

Driving or not, it is only human to become distracted by things that just won’t sit still.
Parents and pet owners may know this all too well, and when it comes to driving with fidgets, they could be decreasing the driver’s attentiveness. Where it is wholly inappropriate to keep children and pets tied up, there are some ways to keep their movements to a minimal. Keeping children and pets fed and hydrated and making sure they have activities to keep them occupied are both ways to keep them from distracting drivers.

 

Friends and talking

friends

No summer road trip is complete without a good crowd of friends to enjoy the time with. In some cases, the drive is the perfect opportunity to have a laugh and a good old catch up. However, being caught up in all the laughs and jokes can distract drivers from the important task of keeping their friends safe along the journey. Social Media is now, for the most part, disallowing any part of an individual’s life from being undocumented. In a group, it is almost unheard of to not share adventures with the rest of the world via platforms such as Twitter and, most commonly, Snapchat. However, performing for the world, while behind the wheel is risky business, and not worth the potential destruction it may cause. Keep you and your friends safe during a road trip by sitting out on the mischief throughout the journey, and keeping your full attention on the roads.

 

Day dreaming and Scenic views

scenic

When driving down long stretches of road on a summery day, it’s easy to get lost in thoughts of bliss. While zooming through scenic routes, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the set of a glamourous film. But having your heads in the clouds, can lead to your reactions becoming delayed, should you face a hazard. Reports state that daydreaming cannot be eliminated completely; only decreased. The problem with daydreaming behind the wheel is that you can feel completely in control of your surroundings, when in reality you are barely conscious to it. Decrease the chances of a wandering mind by keeping your eyes active. Glaring at the same stretch of road can make you lose focus; however, changing your gaze every few seconds will disallow your mind to roam too far off. Staying self-aware is key to avoid daydreaming distractions, and could be a life saver.

 

Following from Yahoo!’s report, here’s the complete list of driving distractions that young people admitted to committing:

  • Mobile phones – 42%
  • Food and drink – 48%
  • Looking at something outside of car – 44%
  • Changing CD/radio station – 1/3
  • Music streaming apps – 27%
  • Applying make-up or skin care products – 13%
  • Styling hair – 12%

Other distractions noted by RoSPA included:  driving when drowsy, listening to an audiobook, lack of familiarity with a vehicle, reading, and smoking; all of which can be easily avoided. Before setting off on a journey of any length, it is important to make sure you and your car are both fit for purpose. This will not only allow for a more enjoyable journey, but also a safe one. Remember, you are risking more than your own life when driving inattentively; you are also responsible for the safety of other road users and pedestrians. Stay safe by steering clear of any tempting distractions, and taking extra precautions when experiencing the unavoidable ones.

Drive safe during summer downpours

Flood

Britain has experienced flooding during recent weeks

Driving in wet weather

Over the past few weeks, Britain has experienced heavy out-of-season showers. In some cities, these downfalls have proven too much for drainage systems, as flooding has been seen throughout the country. Although 20 June marked the official first day of summer, weather reports suggest that it may not be time to pack away the umbrellas and wellies just yet. When it comes to driving, too, extra precautions ought to be taken.

As most will remember from the theory driving test, rain can severely impair driving conditions. Aside from the splutters and splats of raindrops obscuring windscreens, stopping distances and visibility are also affected. Lack of care, when driving in the rain, can lead to lack of control, collision, and, in extreme cases, fatalities – so keeping safe during downfalls is essential. Acting as further solution, it has been suggested that drivers ought to avoid driving during extreme weather conditions, if possible.

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving Standards, said: “Only travel in extreme adverse weather conditions if it is really necessary.”

For most, avoiding the weather can be impractical, but there are easy ways to ensure greater safety when driving during the current weather conditions.

Here’s a list of things to consider during your summer downpour driving:

Car checks

The last thing you want, when caught up in a spell of heavy rains, is to have your vision restricted due to damaged or dirty windscreen wipers. With the current unforgiving conditions, it is important to make sure that your senses, as well as your motor, are fully functional. During extreme downfall, it can become near impossible to see more than the stampede of raindrops on your windscreen, which makes it increasingly difficult to spot a potential hazard. What’s more, excess water decreases the amount of grip your tyres have on the road, which could lead to slipping and sliding, should your breaks be pressed too abruptly. Avoid potential casualties by ensuring your lights, windscreen wipers and tyre pressures are all present and correct, and be sure to stay attentive. Contact your local Trust My Garage to carry out all your essential car checks.

Route plan

Planning is key when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions. Where it is best to avoid travelling altogether, if this is unavoidable, forward-thinking is important. Gladman said: “Before setting off, check for any weather alerts, traffic updates or planned road closures that may affect your journey.” It is beneficial to clue yourself up on any roads in your area that are prone to flooding; this will allow you to avoid potentially dangerous routes. What’s more, it is best to allow more time to reach your destination, as the current weather can lead to longer routes, more diversions and lengthier traffic queues. These circumstances could lead to stress behind the wheel which can poorly affect your driving. Stay safe by planning your journey in advance, and leaving out earlier than usual.

 Road surfaces

It’s no secret that some road surfaces around the country are a little worse for wear; what’s more, heavy rains often lead to them becoming even more damaged. As well as leading to a slightly bumpier journey, damaged road surfaces can also be detrimental to your tyres, causing excessive wear and tear. In clear weathers, it is far easier to avoid potholes or chips in the road; however, during the rain, puddles make them increasingly difficult to spot. A tip for spotting potentially impaired surfaces is to look out for any loose chunks of tarmac, as these are signs of damaged road surfaces.

Visibility

With heavy rains deterring vision, it is important for motorists to stay visible. Switching on your dipped headlights will allow other drivers to see you easily – without overwhelming them with the glare of your full beams. When driving an unfamiliar car, it is important to make sure you are aware of how buttons and switches work before setting off on your journey. In extreme weather conditions, familiarise yourself with the light switches and settings before revving off.

Speed

It is a fact that stopping distance increases during wet weather. Due to the excess water on the roads, your tyres grip is far less efficient, so slips and skids can be unavoidable. During extreme weathers, it is essential to consider your speed, as the physics of driving in the rain dictates that the higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance. Stay safe by sticking to the speed limit and keeping a safe space between you and the car ahead.

Reduced speed will also provide a smoother ride when driving through large puddles. When driving through excess waters, or at high speeds on wet roads, your car faces the risk of building up a layer of water between the vehicle’s wheels and the road which cannot be cleared by the tread on the tyres. If this becomes too much for the car to handle, your vehicle could lose traction which prevents the car from responding to your controls, and gaining a mind of its own. This is called aquaplaning, and gives you the feeling that your car is on water-skis. You may also notice the car becoming much quieter, as the noise of tyres on tarmac will disappear.

In this event, although instinct may dictate it, it’s best to avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking as these can lead to skidding. Should this happen, allow the vehicle to follow the path that it wants to and ease your foot off the accelerator until you can feel friction and traction coming back to your wheels. At this point, it is safe for you to gently nudge your steering wheel and use your brakes lightly (if your car has ABS, at this point, you can brake normally). More preventatively, keeping a steady pace will allow for a more streamlined approach to the water, decreasing your chances of aquaplaning, or spraying other road users.

Aquaplaning is much more likely if your tyres are worn, so be sure to check your tread depth regularly.

Emergencies

In extreme circumstances, torrential rain can interfere with the electrics of your vehicle, leading to a breakdown. Plan ahead for any emergencies by keeping your mobile phone charged, so you can call for recovery. It is also recommended that you are familiar with your local garage for any repairs that may be needed. Be sure to download the Trust My Garage app or head to the website to locate your nearest trusted garage. While you wait for your recovery service, ensure your bonnet is closed to avoid further complications.

 

Most importantly, during the extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay warm and dry – ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink.

 

For more information on how to keep you and your car safe during the summer flooding, seek advice from your local Trust My Garage member.