Once upon a time this would have been a humble family runabout…
We all like to give things our personal touch and modifying cars is no different. But while it might please you to make parts of your car bigger, brighter, faster and louder, it could land you in hot water.
For a start, the law takes a dim view of cars that aren’t considered roadworthy. And insurers may even refuse to pay out if you modify a car without telling them. Here we look at what you can and can’t do to your car. And whatever you decide, make sure you do it with safety in mind and that you inform your insurer.
The UK’s climate can feel like a moving target sometimes. But one thing is guaranteed: cold weather driving is something we all have to do at some point in the year.
Whether that’s going to work first thing in the morning and scraping the ice off the car or negotiating slippery bends, it can be enough to send a shiver down your spine. And for some of us, winter weather means driving in snow, which throws up a whole new set of challenges.
But although it’s something you probably do regularly with little thought, how much do you actually know about it? Take our cunning quiz to find out.
While much of the focus for the way motoring is changing is on our cars, road technology will play an increasingly important part in our lives. Cars might be getting ever cleverer but the roads are beginning to catch up.
The safety-conscious Scandinavians are at the forefront of advances and here we explore two common sense bits of road technology. Bluetooth traffic monitoring may already be on a road near you, depending on where you live in the UK. And intelligent streets lights with a low power resting mode that become brighter when cars approach could be coming sooner than you think.
Why monitor Bluetooth?
Let’s face it, driving can frequently be a tiring business. Little wonder that experts believe fatigue is a contributory factor to one-in-five accidents. The issue has become so serious that Highways England recently announced it will design roads with panoramic views and stimulating sculptures.
As part of its £15bn Road Investment Strategy, the organisation that runs Britain’s major highways wants to ensure roads help alleviate the monotony of a long journey. See what the experts have to say. And read on for tips to tackle tiredness when driving.
How roads can combat fatigue
The government is investigating fining more drivers who ignore lane closures on smart motorways. Highways England, which manages the motorway network, is currently trialling cameras designed to automatically snap cars driving in lanes marked with a red cross.
Drivers caught illegally using the closed lanes could then be hit with a £100 fine. And police chiefs are now looking at retraining for offenders – the equivalent of a speed awareness course – to ensure drivers don’t break the law again. These changes could be brought in as quickly as March 2018. Read on to find out more.
How do smart motorways work?
In 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to make using a phone when driving as unacceptable as drink-driving. Last April, tougher penalties were introduced to deter phone use at the wheel.
But since then, more than 200 drivers a day have been prosecuted for using their phone while driving. That means they’ve been slapped with six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Some drivers complain they find the law confusing around the areas of making calls while driving and using a phone as a sat nav device. Many reason this confusion comes from being told it’s okay to use a phone while driving when it’s in hands-free mode.
This is what motorists need to know to stay on the right side of the law. As importantly, it will help keep them and other road users safe.
The law: hands-free phone use
Are car headlights getting brighter? Ask around, and you’ll find it’s a common grumble among anyone that drives, especially those that frequently take to the road first thing in the morning or at night.
They’ll tell you that on an unlit road, especially one with crests or undulations, oncoming traffic can leave them feeling as if they can’t see.
During the winter months, the problem is exacerbated. Fewer daylight hours mean cars spend more time with their lights on. And the latest technology on modern cars has introduced superior lighting power to even the average family car.
While that’s great for any driver of a car with powerful lights, it’s not so safe for drivers of oncoming vehicles. They can find themselves blinded by the brilliant light from the latest systems.
Is there anything dazzled drivers can do? And will headlights continue to get brighter?
Drivers who kill others by focusing on their mobile phones rather than the road could face life in prison. In a move designed to make the roads a safer place the government is changing the law. Its aim is to ‘clamp down on dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads’.
The government has also acted to plug a gap in the law. It has introduced a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. This will be punishable by up to three years prison. Here we look into what the changes mean for drivers.
Why has the law changed?
Every driver thinks they know a safe road and one that’s dangerous. Personal experiences and anecdotes from friends and family can create an impression that some roads are more risky than others. Now there is a more reliable measure of the safety of the routes we routinely travel.
For the first time, drivers and communities can accurately find out which roads in Britain are safe. The Road Crash Index allows anyone to view the number of accidents on specific roads. They can then see whether there has been any increase or decrease over time.
Free and available to all drivers, the Road Crash Index has been compiled as part of a wider initiative to improve road safety standards across Europe’s main roads. Read on to find out how to use it.
Would you be in favour of a cut in the speed limit? One expert believes that a 5 per cent reduction in maximum speeds – as little as 1mph in some cases ‑ would lead to a 30 per cent drop in fatal traffic crashes.
And what about traffic enforcement cameras and 20mph zones? When both became a part of everyday motoring life, they were greeted with dismay by many drivers. But evidence produced at the Speed Summit, held by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), shows they’re now becoming more accepted.
Speed is an emotive issue among drivers. The Department for Transport has just revealed numbers caught speeding is higher than any other year in the past decade. Nearly 6000 drivers were caught exceeding the speed limit every day in England and Wales. But inappropriate or excessive speed are two contributory factors most often recorded by police at the scene of crashes. Here are some of the latest facts behind speed and speeding.
Would cutting the speed limit save lives?