With approximately 2,173 miles of motorway network spanning the UK, it’s vital for motorists to understand the requirements for travelling these roads safely. If you’re looking to learn how best to utilise the system in a safe and legal manner, look no further – the Trust My Garage blog is here to help.
What are the motorway basics?
Motorways and dual carriageways allow traffic to travel faster and in greater safety than on ordinary roads, but it’s very important for motorists to know the rules that apply on them.
To enter, drivers use a slip road system, enabling them to filter into the existing flow of traffic already using the road, accelerating to match the traffic flow. You must give priority to traffic already on the carriageway, and not force your way into the traffic stream as this could cause other drivers to perform evasive manoeuvres, leading to an accident.
Slip roads also allow you to leave a motorway or dual carriageway, but you’ll need to be in the left-hand lane so that you can drive onto the slip road when you reach it. Move into the left-hand lane in good time to make sure you don’t have to cut in front of other vehicles or miss your exit. Motorway junctions typically have information signs at 1 mile prior to a junction and another at half a mile, to provide drivers travelling at high motorway speeds sufficient time to move to the left.
At no point – unless directed by the police, Highways England traffic officers or DVSA officers – should you stop on the motorway. If you have to slow right down or stop because there’s serious congestion ahead, you can use your hazard warning lights briefly to alert drivers behind you. Remember to turn them off when the driver behind you has slowed down.
The default speed limit on the UK’s motorway network is 70mph. However, some motorways operate as “smart motorways” or “managed motorways”, where variable speed limits and lane closures are displayed on signs on gantries above the road at regular intervals.
There are two kinds of motorway speed sign:
- If the speed limit is in a red ring, that’s a mandatory speed limit.
- If the speed limit is surrounded by flashing amber lights, it’s an advisory speed limit based on traffic and weather conditions.
To learn more about how smart motorways work, check out our blog post Driving on smart motorways – what are they and how do you use them?
What do I need to know when driving on the motorway?
Drivers should utilise the left lane wherever possible when using the motorway, and only venture to the central and right-hand lanes to overtake slower traffic before returning to the left lane after the manoeuvre is completed safely. You should never use the left-hand lane to pass a slower vehicle –known as “undertaking” – unless all lanes of traffic are moving slowly, but the left lane is moving slightly faster. Drivers should also use their indicators as normal to alert other motorists of their intention and allow them to act accordingly.
Rule 264 of the Highway Code states:
- You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.
- If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.
- Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking.
If you’re driving at night or in low-light conditions, the reflective studs in the road, commonly known as “cat’s eyes”, can also help you to determine the position of your vehicle on the road. Here’s what each coloured stud means:
- Red – Hard shoulder division
- Amber – Central reservation division
- White – Mid-lane division
- Green – Slip road division
Average speed cameras – what are they?
Average speed cameras have been installed over 250 miles on British roads, in areas around the country. They work by tracking the speed of your car between two points – so slowing down to go past the camera and then speeding up afterwards will not fool it!
The cameras will record your number plate when you pass the first camera, then again at the second, and perform a quick calculation based on the current time to work out how long it took you to travel between the two points. If the time it took you to travel is quicker than could be done at the speed limit, you’ll get a fine and penalty points on your licence.
The cameras can also operate across multiple lanes of traffic, so changing lanes won’t help you – only driving at or under the posted speed limit will.
The best method to avoid a speeding ticket is, of course, not to speed.
How can I make sure my vehicle is safe and roadworthy?
Prior to setting out on any journey, particularly longer trips, you should always check your vehicle for any visible issues or potential problems. Drivers should check:
- Engine oil, coolant and screen wash are within their respective required levels
- Tyre pressures and treads – Tyres should meet the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre with no bulges, bubbles, cuts or tears, or you risk a £2500 fine and three penalty points per tyre – or worse! Tyre pressures should match the BAR/PSI indicated in your vehicle’s Owners’ Manual.
- Fuel level – Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note of any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary.
It’s also recommended that you check your lights and wipers to make sure they too are in working order and good condition.
If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to get it ready for the road. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct.
Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.
What happens if I break down on the motorway?
In the event of your vehicle developing a problem the Highway Code says to leave the motorway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you can’t do so, you should pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your vehicle’s wheels turned to the left.
If possible, try to stop near an emergency telephone (situated at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder).
Once you have safely pulled over, switched off the engine and removed the key from the vehicle, exit it as soon as possible. You should leave the vehicle by the passenger side door so that you’re not at risk of oncoming traffic. Make sure all passengers do the same, and that they keep well away from the carriageway.
Put the hazard lights on, and, if it’s dark, put your side lights on too. If it’s foggy, put the fog lights on if you can do so with the vehicle switched off. Generally, if you can’t see for more than 100 metres, the visibility is poor and that’s when your fog lights should be used.
The Highway Code advises that any pets travelling with you be left in the vehicle – unless you consider it to be an emergency situation. If that’s the case, take them out of the vehicle but make sure they are kept under control at all times.
You should then call for breakdown help. If you have breakdown cover and an available mobile phone, contact your provider, then try to stay calm and wait for help and support to arrive.
If you don’t have access to a mobile phone – or the battery has drained – then you need to use an emergency telephone. These are located at one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder and are easy to identify because they’re in bright orange boxes.
If you’ve broken down, you’ll need to walk to an emergency phone. Face the oncoming traffic and follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The emergency telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police.
While on the phone, give as many details as you can – including your location – and inform the Highways Agency or police if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, travelling alone, older, or with small children.
Your breakdown support will be able to assess if the vehicle requires towing away or if it can be repaired and can re-join the flow of traffic. If you can once again enter the road, be patient and wait for a safe gap in the traffic. If possible, use the hard shoulder to build up speed so you’re entering the carriageway with some momentum rather than slowly, with as little traffic as possible.
Don’t forget, weather in the UK can be unpredictable. If you’re planning a long journey, it is always a good idea to keep warm, weatherproof clothing in your vehicle as motorways offer little shelter from the elements. For an additional safety measure, you may also want to keep high-visibility clothing in your vehicle – wearing a hi-vis vest helps alert other drivers to your presence and could help prevent a potentially fatal accident.
Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) have been the talk of the motor industry of late – but what does ADAS actually do and how does it affect motorists? Trust My Garage has the answers!
What is ADAS?
Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), are electronic systems that aid a vehicle driver while driving – so they’re designed to help minimize human error, often the cause of road accidents, and therefore increase safety on the roads.
They’re one of the fastest-growing areas in automotive electronics – and future iterations are likely to include wireless vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity to help further increase safety measures. However, at the moment this is still far off in the future.
What does it do?
ADAS safety features are designed to mitigate the likelihood of a collision and reduce the effects in the event of an unavoidable collision by offering technologies that alert drivers to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safety measures and taking over control of the vehicle.
Features of ADAS vary from vehicle to vehicle, but can include:
- Automated lighting & wipers
- Adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance
- Pedestrian Crash Avoidance Mitigation (PCAM)
- Incorporated sat nav/traffic warnings
- Alerting of a driver to other cars or dangers
- Lane departure warning system
- Automatic lane centring
- Blind spot display
- Smartphone connection for navigation
- Road sign recognition
- Stability control systems
- Park distance control
- High beam assist
Why do motorists want ADAS?
In short, ADAS is beneficial because it helps improve road safety. As previously mentioned, they’re designed to aid drivers and implement safeguarding procedures as errors happen – helping to keep road users safe.
The evidence of ADAS’s effectiveness is clear enough that many functions have become mandatory on new cars sold in various regions around the world. Currently, the EU has announced 19 vehicle safety measures that it would like to see on all new cars.
Euro NCAP (The European New Car Assessment Programme) is the UK and Europe’s car safety assessment program – establishing a 5-star rating system occupant safety in the case of a vehicle collision. Euro NCAP has embraced ADAS, and it continues to adapt its assessment procedures to address the growing number of systems and technologies.
This support of road user protection over the past few years has led to widespread consumer awareness of the benefits of safer cars. It’s also expected that Euro NCAP and its testing and rating system will play a similar role in encouraging ADAS to be adopted across the motor industry.
How could ADAS affect day-to-day driving?
ADAS technology has already begun to enhance driving for many motorists as manufacturers have begun to create and adapt their own systems. There are a number of ways in which it could affect motorists day-today, such as:
- Reduced the amount of damage to vehicles due to anti-collision features
- Lower repair costs due to less damage
- Less severe accidents, reducing the amount of time a vehicle spends off the road
- Improved road safety
- Potential insurance discounts for vehicles fitted with ADAS
- Fewer claims, helping to improve insurance premiums
Do motorists need to take additional care of ADAS-equipped vehicles?
In the future, ADAS checks may be incorporated into a ‘Periodical Technical Inspection’, proposed in the EU as a replacement for the MOT – however, this would still be far in the future, or possibly not happen at all.
The current iteration of ADAS can be maintained with calibration; a service that ensures the sensors and other equipment on a vehicle are working correctly individually and in co-ordination with one another. A typical ADAS calibration processes and thus the time required to undertake will vary from vehicle to vehicle. Calibration is required when the following occurs:
- Front windscreen is replaced
- A bumper is repaired or replaced
- A front-end collision occurs
- Steering geometry is adjusted
- Suspension components replaced
A calibration is preformed to correct misalignment, so that your vehicle’s ADAS system is working as intended. If a calibration is missed, an ADAS component may not function as it should and could cause a potential risk to you and others on the road.
How can I see if a garage provides ADAS services?
Garages across the UK now offer ADAS calibration services as part of their menu – but if you’re looking for a garage that goes the extra mile, you can use Trust My Garage’s “Find a Garage” map to locate you’re nearest Trust My Garage-approved member, so why not try it out below?
If you’re unsure whether a garage offers ADAS calibration, each TMG member has their own profile page where you can read about their services on offer – and easily find contact information if you’d rather call or visit the garage yourself! You can even request a price estimate if you know what work you need.
As well as being part of the IGA, the largest and most prominent representative body in the Independent garage sector, every Trust My Garage member operates to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct – meaning you and your motor get the quality service you deserve every time you visit a TMG-approved garage.
Potholes are no joke when it comes to motoring in the UK, but if your vehicle is damaged due to an issue with the road surface what can you do? Trust My Garage has some handy tips for dealing with the ruin of the roads – check them out here!
If in doubt, get out
If you believe your vehicle has been damaged in any way, find a safe place to pull over and inspect the vehicle. You may want to take photos if there are any obvious areas of damage on the vehicle – and only if it is completely safe, take a photo of the pothole in question.
Vehicle problem? Solved!
If you feel there is a problem with your vehicle as a result of a pothole you can take it to your local Trust My Garage member for diagnosis, and if necessary, repair. To find your nearest member you can use our Find a Garage map, which lets you see every TMG-approved member in your area.
All Trust My Garage members operate to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Code of Conduct, meaning you and your vehicle will get the best possible service from a business dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service. If you want to claim against any costs incurred, make sure to keep all invoices and receipts to send off copies when requested.
See it, say it
If there’s a pothole problem you’re concerned about, report it to the relevant authorities. Depending on where the road is changes which organisation you need to inform – here’s what you need to know:
Motorways or major A-roads
- England: Highways England – although if you hit a pothole in London, inform Transport For London (TFL)
- Wales: Trunk Road Agents
- Scotland: Transport Scotland
If the pothole is on a smaller road, it is the responsibility of the local council, so report it to them.
The .Gov website provides information on which organisation to use based on the location of the pothole in England, and you can contact your local council via their website or telephone number to report an issue.
Making a claim
If a pothole has damaged your vehicle you can make a claim to attempt to recoup the costs of any damage incurred. Most councils and highway agencies will send you a form when you report the pothole, so fill in as much detail as possible and return this along with copies of any receipts, invoices and photographs taken.
Some authorities may also ask for a copy of a valid MOT certificate for the vehicle, so be sure to have a copy of this included with your paperwork.
However: making a claim isn’t a guarantee of reimbursement. The Highways Act 1980 allows road authorities to decline claims provided they took reasonable steps to make sure the road is maintained, and potholes dealt with quickly. If your claim is thrown out you may have to utilise your insurance policy, but this could affect your no-claims bonus.
Another option is to try to prove that the body responsible for the road did not do a good enough job of road repairs. One way of doing this is to ask the road authority for details of repairs to the road that damaged your car, or do so through the Freedom of Information Act.
The latter can take 20 working days, but if you can prove that the road has been neglected it is hard for your claim to be turned down.
Keeping up with your maintenance
Whether you’ve suffered pothole damage or not it’s important to keep your vehicle in in tip-top shape. Whether you need a check-up, service, MOT or repair, you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member and the CTSI-approved Code of Conduct our members operate to means that you’ll get the best possible service.
Across the UK this week, thousands of children are heading back to school – but when it comes to the school run, how can you ensure you’re being a safe motorist? Trust My Garage has put together some top tips for keeping yourself and others secure in the car and around other road users! Read on for more.
- Be extra observant
As a driver, if you’re near a school you’ll need to keep a watchful eye for children walking and cycling, as they might be distracted and excited.
- Choose a safe place to drop your child off
It can be tough to park near to the school, but you can aim for somewhere you won’t cause congestion and danger to those walking or cycling to school. If there are zig-zag markings on the ground outside the school, motorists are banned from parking, waiting or stopping there during school hours.
- Reduce your speed
This can be a hugely important to safety where you see lots of children – especially near to schools. If you are driving at 30mph and a child runs out your stopping distance will be at least 23 metres, so keep your speeds low and your eyes peeled for hazards! Some school areas also operate a variable 20mph limit during drop-off and collection times, which is highlighted with a flashing amber light and sign indicating the lower speed limit is being enforced.
- Plan for additional traffic on the roads
The school year comes with a substantial increase in morning and evening traffic, so drivers should allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes for their morning commute – it’s better to be early than to rush and speed when travelling to and from work.
- Look out for the lollipop!
When you see a Lollipop helper start to cross the road (usually with a brightly coloured vest and sign) come to a complete stop to allow children to cross safely. Proceed with caution once the helper has returned to the path and has lowered their sign.
- Dont use your mobile phone whilst driving
Making or receiving a call, even using a ‘hands free’ phone, can distract your attention from driving and could lead to an accident – and using a device while driving is illegal and will result in a 6-point penalty and £200 fine. If you need to make a call, pull over in a safe space, turn off your engine and remove the key from the ignition. In 2017, 14% of drivers still said it was acceptable to take a call while driving (source) but it can lead to serious injury to drivers and pedestrians.
- Be aware of buses
Buses near schools are frequent and often filled with children of all ages going to and from school. If you’re driving anywhere near a bus be on the lookout for children stepping out unexpectedly, as well as the vehicle itself moving into and out of the road at bus stops.
If you’re looking to get your vehicle checked out ready for your school run and commute you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member! All TMG garages operate to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct, meaning you and your motor are set to get the best possible service.
Got any other ideas on staying safe in the car? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments!
Why are there more cyclists using the roads?
The numbers of people choosing to cycle for fun, fitness or to get to work has increased by more than a quarter in twenty years and an incredible 3.2 billion miles are cycled on our roads every year. (Think!) Add this to the ever-increasing amount of cars on UK roads and all of a sudden, there isn’t much space to share.
Although cycling-related deaths are at an all-time-low since 2010, there were still 3,337 cyclists killed on the road in 2015 (source), and figures released by the Department for Transport last year suggested cyclists are 17 times more likely to be killed on the road than those travelling in vehicles. While charities such as THINK! are helping to raise awareness and remind motorists about the safest ways to travel, there is still a lot that can be done to ensure that drivers and cyclists can use our roads in harmony.
THINK!’s basic tips for drivers about cyclist safety
We are Cycling states that cycling is essentially a safe activity, causing little risk either to cyclists themselves or to other road users. Moreover, there is good evidence that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’, with cycling becoming safer as cycle use increases. However, fear of road traffic is a major deterrent, despite the health, environmental and other benefits of cycling.
They also say that cycle safety in the UK lags behind many of our continental neighbours, because of poorly designed roads and junctions, traffic volumes and speeds, irresponsible driving, and a legal system that fails to respond adequately to road danger. National and local government should therefore aim for more as well as safer cycling. These two aims can and should go hand-in-hand.
What can I do to stay safe as a driver?
Sustrans are a charity that is trying to encourage the UK to use more sustainable methods of transport, in order to help ease congestion and other problems on the roads. Their top tips for drivers are:
To make roads as safe as they can be, motorists need to be aware of cyclists too.
- When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up;
- Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking;
- At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists;
- In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery.
Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road. (source)
What can I do to stay safe as a cyclist?
When cycling, there are also rules listed in the Highway Code that road users must obey, just like motorists. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also created a handy PDF that outlines some of the easy things that cyclists and motorists can do in order to work better together on the roads. Some of their best tips are:
- Sometimes motorists can find it difficult to predict what a cyclist is going to do, so try and clearly signal any movements that could be seen as unusual to a driver.
- When driving large vehicles, motorists can find it very difficult to see cyclists on their nearside, even with all their extra mirrors, so maintain a safe distance.
- Failing to look properly is also a common mistake made by cyclists, and contributes to 42% of cyclist collisions at junctions.
- NEVER be tempted to ride down the inside of any vehicle (especially a bus or lorry) that is waiting at a junction. Hold back and stay behind where the driver can see you in their mirrors. Be patient and don’t squeeze down the inside by the gutter.
- If a vehicle overtakes you close to a left turn junction, keep a safe gap behind the vehicle in case the driver cuts in front of you to turn left.
- When overtaking a parked car, remember to leave enough room in case a door opens (‘leave a door and a bit more’) and be ready for someone to open a door as you pass.
- In normal conditions, ride in the ‘secondary position’, approximately 1/3 into the carriageway – avoiding debris and grid covers in the gutter. If you need to improve your visibility in poor conditions you can ride in the ‘primary position’, in the middle of the road. However, try not to hold drivers up unnecessarily.
- When riding together never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
- The Highway Code says: At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.
Remember: BE SAFE BE SEEN.
What’s being done to improve road safety?
It isn’t only the public that are noticing the importance of safety for both drivers and cyclists. In June 2016 the government proposed implementing a fine of £5,000 for motorists that drove carelessly or too close around cyclists.
The idea was discussed after similar rules were created in Australia and Europe to help keep cyclists safe from dangerous driving. At the time, the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill stated: “As with other changes of this type introduced overseas, we remain interested in the change and are keeping it under review.”
While it’s true that nobody wants to get into an accident, they still happen. If your car hasn’t been running as smoothly as you like why not book it into your local Trust My Garage approved independent garage and get it back to tip-top condition?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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)
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s Road Safety Week!
People may already be incessantly piping on about Christmas but there’s an even more important event taking place beforehand, and that’s Road Safety Week.
Road Safety Week (RSW), an established week in the UK calendar, is designed to ensure both drivers and pedestrians stay as safe as possible.
Set up by Brake in 1997, the week has been organised by the charity ever since. This year it runs from the 18th to the 24th, just as the dark nights have started to draw in.
We are offering advice to motorists on how to stay safe on the roads – not just during Road Safety Week, but all year round.
In 2011, 3,267 people were killed or seriously injured in crashed where speed was a factor. You need to be aware of the speed limit of the area you’re driving in but remember that the limit is the absolute maximum, not a number to aim for. It also doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drive at or near the speed limit in all conditions, such as when it’s raining, icy or snowy.
Don’t drive while intoxicated through drink or drugs
There were 230 deaths in 2011 as a result of drink driving, a total that amounts to 12% of all road casualties. The way alcohol affects you depends on a number of factors including body weight, stress, metabolism etc. so it’s safer to simply not drink and drive at all.
Driving when under the influence of drugs is also incredibly dangerous to the driver, passengers and pedestrians. Reaction times can be reduced whilst fatigue will kick in once the drug starts to wear off. Remember it’s not just illegal drugs that have an effect on the human body. Prescription medication can also affect your driving ability, so always check with your GP whether it is safe to continue driving when you are taking prescribed drugs.
Get Strapped In
Seatbelts offer protection should you crash, so it’s vital you strap up as soon as you get in the car. Not wearing a seatbelt can be fatal, even at low speeds. Always check that your passengers are belted up too, and that young children or infants have the correct child safety seats and that they are strapped in correctly.
Don’t be distracted by mobile phones and other devices
You can become easily distracted when using your mobile phone, whether it is to text someone or if you’re having a conversation with them. Your concentration and focus need to be firmly on the road. With reaction times for drivers using a mobile phone 50% slower than normal drivers, it’s not surprising that you’re four more times likely to crash if using a phone. It is illegal to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, and the general advice is not to use a phone at all in the car because if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised even if it is hands-free.
Get plenty of sleep
Twenty per cent of accidents on trunk roads and motorways are sleep-related so before you set off on a long journey make sure you get plenty of rest. If you feel yourself starting to become tired then pull over into a safe location and take a quick nap, or get out of the car for a while and take some fresh air to help wake you up. Drinking a cup of coffee will also help you to be more alert.
How I can make sure my vehicle is safe?
Whilst you can carry out a number of checks yourself, including the oil and battery levels, the importance of getting your vehicle serviced cannot be stressed enough.
When your vehicle is being driven there are thousands of parts being used, being exposed to heat and wear and tear.
A simple service at a local Trust My Garage (TMG) member can make sure your vehicle is fit for driving.
What can your company do to help?
There’s so much more your company can do to promote the message of road safety.
Put posters up in reception areas and on noticeboards to get the message across to employees, parents, customers or passers-by.
Fun-filled fundraising! Hold a coffee morning, collection or bake sale to raise vital funds for Brake. You can also host a road safety quiz in your workplace based on the Highway Code, asking for donations from participants in aid of Brake in the process.
Follow Brake on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates. The twitter hashtag is #RSW13. You can also promote RSW on your website, social media and newsletter.
Promote text giving at your event or through your communications. People can donate to Brake by texting ROAD13 and the amount (e.g. ‘ROAD13 £5’) to 70070.
If you’re running an event or fundraiser then invite local media. It’s a really effective way to promote the cause and spread life-saving messages.
For even more information head to http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk
Where is my local Trust My Garage member?
To locate your nearest Trust My Garage member and take advantage of quality service at an affordable price, simply log on to http://www.trustmygarage.co.uk and type in your postcode to see a list of Trust My Garage members in your local area. Members of Trust My Garage are true professionals – local independent businesses which are part of the community. Trust My Garage is the truly independent scheme for independent garages.
It is claimed that there are more than four million people aged 70 and over who hold a full, valid UK driving licence. And the oldest licenced driver is a 107-year-old woman.
Statistics show that drivers aged over 55 are the least likely to be involved in an accident – but the chances of being seriously injured if involved in one increases from the age of 65.
At Trust My Garage, we aim to keep all drivers safe on the road, especially if they are more vulnerable due to aged-related health deterioration.
Obviously, if you have a medical condition or disability that affects your fitness to drive then you must inform the DVLA straight away.
But, if you are still fit and safe to drive, we want to ensure that your car doesn’t let you down.
So, what can you do to help keep you safe on the road?
1) Check your eyesight. In order to drive safely, you must be able to see properly. This may seem like common sense, but sometimes you may not realise that your eyesight has worsened over time, and if you can’t read a car number plate from 20 metres – with or without corrected vision – then you should consult your optician straight away.
2) Don’t feel pressurised by other road users. It’s easy to feel intimidated by a driver following too closely behind you, but don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable with doing, and never above the speed limit. If you need to slow down a bit to give yourself that extra bit of time to react when coming up to a junction or other hazard, then you do that. Don’t become a reckless or dangerous driver because of feeling pressured to go that extra bit faster.
3) Visit your doctor to resolve any niggling health complaints. So, if your neck is giving you discomfort and you may have difficulty in turning your head, visit your doctor who may be able to show you some exercises to ease it a little bit.
4) Buy accessories and adaptations for your car to make it easier to drive. If you are worried about forgetting directions, then a Satnav will make your navigation considerably easier and can save you from unnecessary worry. If you do suffer with a stiff neck, then you can attach stick-on blind-spot mirrors to your door mirrors, so you know what’s coming up beside you. And, you can use coloured stickers to mark different speeds on your speedometer, so you can clearly see how fast you’re travelling.
There are plenty of tips we can give you on keeping safe on the roads, but nothing beats ensuring your car is properly maintained.
It goes without saying that years ago cars were designed much simpler than they are now. The days are mostly gone where you could tinker about under the bonnet and replace the oil or old spark plugs.
Now, many modern cars’ mechanics are computer controlled and diagnostics and repairs can only be carried out by a trained mechanic using the latest tools and equipment.
So, we want you to know that you can place your faith in Trust My Garage. We have around 2,000 garages signed up to our scheme across the country, all of which are committed to providing the highest quality services and repairs.
And not only will we be able to give your car the thorough inspection it deserves to keep you safe when travelling, all of our garages also adhere to our Customer Charter.
We will only charge you for work completed and parts supplied and fitted – we don’t include any hidden costs, or hike up the prices.
And we use up-to-date technical information, techniques and tooling; always following your vehicle’s service schedule.
This means that you will go home satisfied that we have treated you and your vehicle with respect.
So, if you feel that your car could do with having a good looking over – if only to give you peace of mind when travelling – then just type your postcode into our garage finder to locate your nearest member.