Road safety

Expert advice: How you can beat the Christmas food coma this year

Food coma

An estimated 24 million drivers are expected to hit the road after eating their Christmas dinner on December 25th. Nothing unusual about that. What worries me is they could experience side effects from over eating that affect their driving in a similar way to drinking.

I’m a qualified nutritionist and have spent years studying the effect of food on the human body. One thing it’s taught me is that if you eat a large amount of the sort of food that makes up the average Christmas dinner, you’ll have sluggish reactions and maybe even fall asleep at the wheel.

Green Flag research found that more than a third of drivers (37 per cent) claim they can’t control dozing off after eating a festive feast. That doesn’t surprise me. But nod off at the wheel for just three seconds on a motorway and you’ll cover the length of about four football pitches. The dangers are obvious. Read on to find out how you can beat the Christmas food coma.

Why Xmas dinner makes us dozy

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Tailgating drivers cause one in eight crashes

Tailgating

Driving too close to the car in front increases the chances of crashing, the Highways Agency says (Picture iStock)

Are you guilty of tailgating or driving too close to the car in front? If you are, government agency Highways England warns it could only be a matter of time before you crash. It claims that one in eight accidents on motorways and A-roads is due to tailgating. It adds that about 100 people a year die because of vehicles following too closely.

This makes tailgating the third most likely cause of crashes in the UK. It comes behind failing to look properly and not judging another vehicle’s speed accurately. It’s such a problem that Highways England has launched a campaign to draw attention to it (below). Read on to find out why tailgating is so dangerous.

Why do road users drive too closely?

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Quiz: How well do you know your road markings?

Road sign quiz

The Highway Code and its extensive list of road signs and markings is one of the fundamentals of motoring. But how well do you know it?

If you take our quiz and you’re a bit rusty, don’t worry: you’re not alone. A recent survey found that half of drivers don’t know what a roundabout sign is when it’s shown to them. And two thirds don’t know how far behind the car in front they should be travelling.

The survey was conducted by driver training organisation IAM Roadsmart. It is calling for road safety to be part of the National Curriculum so that it’s drilled into drivers from an early age. Take our quiz to see how you get on.

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Expert comment: Why the Slow down, move over campaign makes sense

Slow down, move over

The roadside can be a dangerous place. If you see something like this ahead, slow down and give it plenty of space (Picture iStock)

If you’ve ever had to get out of your car at the roadside, you’ll know what a hostile place it can be. It’s no exaggeration to say that for some people it can be deadly. To raise awareness about this, we at Green Flag have come together with the AA and RAC to support the ‘Slow down, move over’ campaign.

We’re asking drivers to pay more attention to what’s going on at the side of the road. We all know how easy it can be to have our attention diverted when driving. Whether it’s by something interesting on the radio or pondering a problem at work, we don’t always think about what’s going on outside our own little bubble.

Slow down, move over campaign in detail

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Expert advice: how to know when your brake pads need replacing

Brake pads

Emergency stops can be frightening enough without having dodgy brakes too (Picture iStock/RapidEye)

Braking and brake pads are vitally important when it comes to road safety. We’re frequently so consumed with how fast cars can go or the economy they return that we forget how important stopping is. And anyone who’s had any kind of brake failure will testify to what a terrifying experience it can be.

But some recent research revealed that the confusing way garages measure brake pads isn’t helping. It could mean drivers are leaving it too long to have their pads changed. Or they might even be changing them too soon, without getting the full amount of wear out of them.

How is brake pad wear measured?

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Part-worn tyres: 9 in 10 chance of buying a dodgy one

Part-worn tyres

Tyres might be on the scrap heap but they can still be sold legally in the UK (Picture iStock/Birdofprey)

If your car needs new tyres you might be shocked at how much replacement rubber can cost. But while often cheaper than new, buying second-hand tyres can have serious safety implications. New research has found that nine out of 10 retailers selling used or part-worn tyres are trading in illegal rubber.

Charity TyreSafe and Trading Standards have spent the past five years investigating part-worn tyres on sale in the UK. They discovered that just 13 of the 152 dealers they visited were selling roadworthy tyres. TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: “As far as we’re aware there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record.”

What exactly are part-worn tyres?

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New drivers face more limits with Graduated Driver Licensing

Graduated Driver Licensing

Getting the keys to the open road is an exciting moment. But changes are afoot (Picture iStock/Londoneye)

New drivers could face a strict probationary period after they’ve passed their test. Plans drawn up by the government will restrict what newly qualified drivers can do when they hit the road. The government wants to slash the disproportionately high number of accidents involving the 17-24 age group.

A Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesperson explained: “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) will establish a revised training and testing regime for car drivers and motorcyclists. It will introduce some post-test restrictions for drivers/riders to reduce the over-representation of new – mainly young – drivers/riders in fatal and serious road collisions.” Read on to find out more.

Are the changes definitely going ahead?

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Most drivers don’t know about 2018 MOT changes, Green Flag finds

MOT changes

The MOT test changes this weekend but you can be forgiven if you didn’t know. New research conducted by Green Flag reveals that six out of 10 drivers (58 per cent) haven’t realised the MOT changes are happening.

More worryingly perhaps, nine out of 10 drivers (89 per cent) are unaware that driving a car with an invalid MOT might result in a £2500 fine. And a quarter (25 per cent) don’t realise that driving a faulty vehicle results in a penalty. Read on to find out more about the changes and how drivers might be able to save themselves money.

What are the MOT changes?

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Child car seat laws are causing confusion, parents reveal

2018 child car seat laws are cause for confusion, say parents

Do you drive with children in your car? Are you fully aware of the laws around using the appropriate child seat? If your knowledge is a little sketchy, the good and bad news is you’re not alone. Almost nine in 10 parents admit that they are baffled by new booster seat rules and regulations.

Introduced last February, the updated rules were meant to provide clarity for mums, dads and carers when it came to securing a child safely in a car. Yet safety experts say that far from helping clarify the use of child seats, the rules have caused confusion.

Worryingly, almost one in five drivers with children under the age of 12 admit they rarely or never sit them in a car seat. So what are the guidelines that drivers should be following?

What the survey found

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Pothole update: report claims roads are falling apart faster than ever

Pothole update

Tyre swallowing potholes are a fact of motoring life (Picture istock/Tacojim)

When did you last see a pothole? If you’ve been on the road the chances are it was pretty recently. And an annual report into the state of the nation’s roads backs that up, concluding that Britain’s road are deteriorating faster than ever.

The study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has now been carried out for 23 years. Called the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, it canvasses opinion from local authorities the length and breadth of England and Wales. And its results are a concern for all drivers.

The AIA’s chairman Rick Green revealed: “It’s unfathomable to think that you could drive almost around the world on the length of local authority roads that could fail if they are not fixed in the next 12 months – but that is the reality.” Read on to find out more.

How bad are the UK’s roads?

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