Police Launch Undercover HGV To Tackle Bad Driving
Written by Lucy
An unmarked HGV is the latest weapon launched by police in the battle against drivers breaking the law on motorways.
The huge undercover police lorry, white with blue flashing lights, gives the police a better vantage point to see motorists texting and using mobile phones at the wheel.
It has so far been a success in catching dangerous drivers as part of a road policing operation 'Operation Allied Wolf', across Devon and Cornwall. The huge HGV lorry, which has been spotted patrolling the A38 near Plymouth, Devon, has even caught a fellow lorry driver cooking a meal on a hob in his cab.
Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, said: “The overall aim of Operation Allied Wolf is road casualty reduction, at the same time helping to minimise crime and traffic related incidents.".
We are yet to receive any reports of sightings of the new unmarked police lorries in Hampshire but if you happen to see one, please let us know - but please don't take a photo of it on your phone whilst driving!
RAC Warns Motorists Not To Start 2017 On A Flat Note
Written by Editor
Millions of cars left unused over Christmas increases chances of a flat battery.
At the start of 2016, battery-related breakdowns accounted for a third of all breakdowns.
Motorists are being urged to get their new year off to a strong start, rather than a non-start, by making sure they give every car they rely on a good run before the January return to work on Tuesday 3 January.
On the first working day of 2016, 4 January, the RAC had its busiest day of the year, attending nearly 10,000 breakdowns – a 40% increase on a typical day – with a third of these attributed to flat batteries. While a patrol might be able to jump-start a vehicle to get a driver on their way again, victims of a flat battery will nonetheless suffer the frustration of starting the new year being late for work.
Yet many of these breakdowns could be avoided if motorists remember to use their cars before returning to work. Just a 30 minute drive might well be enough to top up a flat, but otherwise healthy battery – sharply reducing the chances of an unwelcome breakdown at home.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Traditionally, the first day back at work after the Christmas and new year break is one of our busiest for breakdowns. With millions of multi-car families in the UK, the long festive break often means at least one vehicle is not driven. Each of these unused cars represents a breakdown waiting to happen.
“Not running a car for a long period dramatically increases the chances of a flat battery so motorists risk starting January on a very flat note. Our advice to motorists is to give every car in the household a good run before the new working week. That way they can be much more confident of getting the new year off to a good start, rather than off to a non-start – and lessen the chances of having to ring the boss and explain why they are going to be late for the first working day of 2017.
“In 2016, we attended more than 3,000 stricken motorists who had suffered battery problems. The weather couldn’t be blamed for most these breakdowns as it was remarkably mild. If it were to be much cooler going into New Year 2017, it would make the problem worse with colder weather putting more stress on a car’s battery.”
The RAC’s tips for avoiding the battery blues this New Year:
Drive every vehicle in your household before Tuesday 3 January, especially if you’re going to rely on that car for your return to work. Don’t just turn it over – go on a drive
Cherish every volt – turn off everything electrical in your car once you’ve switched the engine off, and disconnect all equipment to give the battery its best chance of starting
If you’ve had battery problems at all through 2016, think about getting it tested and, if needed, replaced before the new year
Protect your car from the elements – cooler, damper conditions through winter put more strain on a battery so use the garage if you have one
Driving In Snow And Ice Advice
Written by Lucy
If the thought of driving in icy or snowy conditions leaves you frozen with fear, you’re not alone. Unlike our continental neighbours, many of us are not used to icy roads and heavy snowfalls. But by taking a few steps, you can prepare both yourself and your vehicle for the most challenging of winter driving.
Before you set off, clear any ice and snow that has formed on your car. Don’t be lazy and just make a little porthole on the driver’s side of the windscreen! Give yourself enough time to remove all the ice and snow from your car. Ideally, you should use an ice-scraper and a de-icer.
To reduce the condensation on cold windows use the air-conditioning (if you have it) instead of heated air to demist your windows more quickly and effectively.
Keep all your windows clean and smear-free during the winter months. The glare from low winter sun can be blinding at the best of times but is much worse on dirty windscreens. Another way to protect yourself from the sun’s glare while you’re at the wheel is by having a pair of anti-glare sunglasses on you – make sure they’re not the really dark ones you take skiing, as they might not be suitable for driving.
Don’t forget to put together a winter driving survival kit if you’re going on a long journey, or somewhere that’s more remote: ice-scraper, de-icer for windows, a mobile phone, a flask of hot drink or soup, some chocolate or other high-energy snacks, blankets and warm clothing. Save some room in the boot for other emergency essentials, such as a duvet, warning triangle, torch, jump leads, towrope, first-aid kit and, and if very heavy snow is expected, a spade in case you need to dig your car out.
Once you’re on the road, watch your speed and only drive as fast as the conditions allow. Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow, which means that at 50mph it will take you 530 metres or 130 cars to come to a halt.
After heavy snowfalls keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to have been gritted. To prevent skidding, try to limit gear changes by driving slowly in the highest gear possible (without making the engine labour). If you have an automatic, take it out of Drive and go into 2. This will limit gear changes and make you less reliant on the brakes.
The drop in visibility at night time means that you have to be even more cautious after dusk. As well as all the usual hazards of winter driving, you have the added problems associated with driving after dark. It’s harder to judge speed and distance, so objects can seem to appear out of nowhere. What’s more, you’re probably less alert as your body thinks it’s time to sleep. The best action is to slow right down, use your fog lamps if visibility drops below 100 metres. If you wear glasses, an anti-glare coating will help reduce headlight glare.
What do I do if I skid?
A car skids when one or more tyres lose their grip with the road’s surface. Things like heavy acceleration or braking abruptly in snowy or icy conditions can cause this. If your wheels lock and you go into a skid, ease off the accelerator or take your foot off the brake pedal (depending on which has caused the skid) and gently steer into the direction of the skid until your tyres grip the road again. Don’t overcorrect as you’ll end up sliding the other way. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so drive slowly, manoeuvre gently, decelerate more and brake less. The key is to allow more time for your journeys, and accept that you may arrive at your destination later than planned.
Plans To Let Learner Drivers Have Motorway Driving Lessons Revealed
Written by Editor
Learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways before passing their driving test under new plans set out today (30 December 2016) by Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
At the moment, you can only have driving lessons on motorways after you’ve passed your driving test. Some newly-qualified drivers take lessons through the voluntary Pass Plus scheme.
Voluntary motorway lessons with a qualified instructor
Under the new plans, learner drivers would need to be:
accompanied by an approved driving instructor
driving a car fitted with dual controls
Any motorways lessons would be voluntary. It would be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to have a motorway lesson.
Any change to the law would be well-publicised before coming into effect. Until then, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
Driving instructor training and vehicles
The Department for Transport is also asking for views on whether:
the current driving instructor training and testing system gives instructors the skills they need to provide motorway lessons to learner drivers
specially-adapted vehicles must be fitted with dual controls if they’re used for motorway lessons
L plate roofboxes on cars must be removed before a motorway lesson
Allowing learner drivers to have lessons on motorways will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.
The changes will allow learner drivers to:
get broader driving experience before taking their driving test
get training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
practice driving at higher speeds
put their theoretical knowledge into practice
Right skills and understanding
The proposed changes will help to contribute towards the government’s commitment to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads, and ensure safer journeys.
Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, said:
We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer.
These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.
RAC Foundation Director, Steve Gooding, said:
The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast moving, often heavy, flow of traffic.
Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads, so we welcome this move which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely.
Polecats And A Wallaby Amongst Animals Killed On UK Major Roads In 2015
Written by Editor
Polecats, a wallaby, a pig and a cow were amongst the 2,143 animals killed on motorways and major roads in England last year.
Highways England reports show that the dead animals were all found during 2015 on the 4,300 miles of motorways and major trunk routes that form the Strategic Road Network.
The data shows road death tolls for 19 different animals and suggests that deer were the moset commonly killed animals, involved in around one in four cases. The ten most frequently killed animals included cats, dogs, otters and swans.The most surprising, animal making an appearance is a wallaby. No location is recorded for the wallaby death, however, there have been several sightings of wild wallabies in Devon, the Peak District and Norfold in recent years.
The figures have been released in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity RAC Foundation, said: "When it comes to hazard perception, drivers might not give much thought to animals straying into their path, but these figures show why they should.
"Many of the animals hit will be family pets, and both Highways England and animal owners need to do their best to keep them off our roads - which have never been busier."
The Deer Initiative charity estimates that up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur on Britain's roads each year, injuring as many as 700 drivers and passengers.
Wildlife expert Dr Jochen Langbein said: "There's obviously a significant problem."
He explained that a range of potential measures can be deployed to protect deer - including enhanced fencing, better signage to warn drivers and building animal overpasses and underpasses.
But he warned: "There's not a simple solution."
Department for Transport figures show that eight people were killed on Britain's roads last year in accidents where the presence of an "animal or object in carriageway" was a contributory factor.
A further 179 people were seriously injured, with a total of 1,363 casualties.
The most common region for animal-related crashes was south-east England with 211, followed by the South West (133) and the east of England (126).
A Highways England spokesman said: "The safety of road users and road workers is our top priority, which is why keeping roads as clear as possible is essential.
"The number of incidents involving animals on our roads is extremely low.
"We have tried and tested plans to deal with animals which come into difficulty while being transported. When building and improving roads, we also include measures to prevent wild animals getting on to our roads."
She added that the organisation is working with a number of charities to provide further training for traffic officers handling and recovering animals.
The animals found dead on motorways and major roads in England last year:
Frosty Fines For Warming Cars
Written by Lucy
As temperatures plummet many of us are waking to find our cars frosted over, and many of us are starting the engine up to let the car warm up whilst we return to the warmth of our homes until the car is ready. But did you know that this could cost you a fine?
Drivers could face a £30 fine from an offence under the Road Traffic Act known as 'Quitting', whereby a person leaves their vehicles' engine running whilst not actually in the vehicle. The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code which states: 'You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road'.
Not only is the threat of a fine something to think about but also the potential for an opportunist thief to make a getaway in your car. Thieves look out for unattended cars being defrosted with the engine left running.
Tips for a clear winter view
While you use a scraper and de-icer on the outside of your car, starting the engine, switching on heated rear screen and mirrors and allowing air-conditioned air to circulate to gently warm the glass is the most effective way to clear frosted glass.
Stay with the car all the times
Do not drive off until all of the glass is clear
Remember not to leave wipers in 'auto' when frost is expected - if wipers are frozen to the glass the wiper motor could be damaged.
Don’t try to force frozen wipers off the glass
Never use just-boiled water to clear glass – it could crack the glass, freezes quickly and could ice your wipers to the glass
Clear all snow off the car, a soft brush is effective – making sure the front grille is clear (otherwise there is risk of the engine overheating).
Make sure lights are clean and working
Air conditioning isn't only for summer - it will help to dry the air and keep cold glass mist free.
Don’t use your hands to wipe misted-up windows – you'll leave greasy smears and a diamond ring could scratch the glass. Use a lint-free absorbent cloth if necessary