Putting the wrong type of fuel into a car is easy to do. Known as misfuelling, it tends to happen when drivers are in a hurry or distracted. You’re not in your usual motor, maybe it’s your partner’s, a colleague’s, or a hire or courtesy vehicle. Your mind might be on other things and out of habit you lift the petrol pump from its holder and start filling your diesel vehicle. Hopefully you’ll realise your mistake before you drive away…
The good new is, it’s virtually impossible to put diesel in a petrol-engined car. The neck of the petrol filler is tighter than a diesel pump nozzle. The bad news is the wide neck of a diesel fuel filler easily takes a petrol pump nozzle. The even worse news is that putting petrol into a diesel does far more harm than the other way around. Read on to find out all about misfuelling and how to prevent it.
Why is misfuelling so harmful?
Black ice is the most dangerous natural hazard drivers face on the road. Speak to anyone that’s encountered it and they will tell you it sends a shiver down their spine just thinking about it.
Many parts of Britain are currently experiencing harsh winter weather. However, with some sensible precautions, driving on black ice doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle ride.
We asked Paul Ripley to explain how drivers can safely tackle the often-invisible danger. One of Britain’s most respected advanced driving instructors, Ripley has coached police forces, vehicle engineers and thousands of drivers looking to improve their skills behind the wheel. Little wonder he has earned the nickname ‘God’s chauffeur’. These are his tips for driving on black ice.
What is black ice?
Cold weather isn’t just tough on drivers, it can play havoc with cars too. The heavy hail and snow showers that are hitting parts of the UK in mid-January 2018 are already causing chaos. Green Flag is warning that an astonishing 12 breakdowns every minute will take place this week.
Head of news for Green Flag Simon Henrick said: “After a variable but relatively mild winter period over Christmas, the changing weather conditions may take some drivers by surprise this week.
“By thoroughly checking their cars before leaving home, approaching the roads with caution and keeping plenty of distance between themselves and the vehicle in front, drivers will decrease the risk of encountering a problem while on the roads.” Read on to see how you can stay safe in the snow.
Health and safety
Thousands of car owners could be driving with medical conditions that make it illegal for them to be in charge of a car. The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) lists almost 200 complaints that sufferers should inform it about before taking to the road. These range from the obvious such as epilepsy and blackouts to slightly less evident such as snoring, eating disorders and depression.
One in four drivers is said to suffer from a notifiable condition. However, research suggests 10 per cent of those don’t report their ailment. Anyone who drives with one of the highlighted conditions without informing the DVLA could face a fine of up to £1000. They also risk having any insurance claims refused. Here are the more common, less obvious complaints drivers should be aware of.
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?
There are no end of motoring myths. Most drivers will know at least a handful: sometimes they’re true, but often they’re stories that need to be shown the red light.
From the speed limit on a dual carriageway, to sounding a car’s horn in the small hours of the morning, driving in flip-flops to using an egg to repair an engine’s radiator, they can seem as confusing as the Spaghetti Junction.
To help sort the facts from fiction, we’ve pulled together 10 tricky questions for a motoring myths quiz. Which is driving delusion and which is as factual as the Highway Code?
When drivers run out of space in their car, an increasingly popular practical solution is to fit a roof rack and storage box. These allow for a holiday’s worth of luggage to be carried without resorting to packing out the passenger seats. But failing to load road-mounted luggage correctly might lead to more than scattered clothes in the road. It could cause an accident.
According to IAM Roadsmart, a leading UK road safety charity, each year thousands of accidents are caused by debris falling from vehicles. Even if there aren’t any casualties caused by such an event, the charity points to the practical problem of delays. It claims that each incident leads to a 20-minute traffic jam on average.
To help keep drivers safe, the IAM’s driving experts share some simple tips for loading a roof rack safely.
Why use a roof rack or roof box?
Hyper milers: Paul Clifton (left) and Ian McKean with their diesel Ford Fiesta (Picture © Ford)
Failing to achieve the fuel economy that their car is claimed to return is one of the most common grumbles among drivers.
So what would you say if simple driving tips could improve your car’s economy? And in some cases it might even climb by a staggering 60 per cent compared with the manufacturer’s figures.
Most of us would raise an eyebrow and wonder if it’s really possible. But these aren’t the claims of sharp-suited sales execs; they’re perfectly practical tips from normal drivers that anyone can put into practice.
In order to handle a car legally on public roads in the UK, new drivers have to pass a 40-minute driving test. But to ensure the test better prepares drivers for modern motoring, the biggest shake up in 20 years is happening in December 2017.
The driving test will still last the same amount of time and still be marked the same way. It will still cost £62 on weekdays, £75 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. But from Monday December 4, the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will face the most far-reaching changes since the addition of the theory test in 1996. Here are the four new features budding drivers will encounter.
Increased independent driving
If there’s one thing on the road that all drivers are happy to make room for, it’s an emergency vehicle. But many of Britain’s motorists are unaware that by clearing the road for the blue flashing lights and wailing siren of an ambulance, fire engine or police car, they could be breaking the law.
From bus lane penalties to yellow box junction fines, there are plenty of mistakes that drivers may make when being passed by an emergency vehicle. The Highway Code (rule 219) says: “Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs.”
To help keep everyone on the right side of the law, we’ve flagged up the five most common mishaps.
Five fails when letting an emergency vehicle pass
Is road rage on the rise in Britain? Increasing numbers of incidents in the headlines suggest it might be. Often, these can be attributed to the boom in sales of dashboard and helmet cameras as video clips of confrontations are shared across social media and news outlets. But surveys have suggested that despite the UK’s roads getting safer in terms of accident rates, more people claim to have been a victim of road rage.
For the vast majority of drivers it can be a harrowing experience. Nerves are left frayed and a good day can be spoiled because another driver or road user’s temper has got the better of them.
The good news is, there are steps everyone can take to guard against road rage from others. Read on to help yourself stay safe and calm behind the wheel.
It’s been a great summer with long, warm days that have been as appreciated by drivers as they have by those putting up a deckchair or firing up the barbeque. However, the autumn weather is bringing rain to Britain, which makes for more difficult driving conditions.
Despite modern cars brimming with electronic systems that can help prevent an accident, all experts agree that it’s important drivers adjust their driving style to allow for the challenges that wet roads present man and machine. We asked Daffyd Williams, a professional driving instructor and driving team manager at Mercedes-Benz World, for his expert tips on staying safe when driving in the rain.
It’s one of the few books that never leaves the bestseller list, but ever since the Highway Code was first published, in 1931, few readers would admit to finding it a gripping page-turner.
However, the Highway Code has contributed to saving thousands of lives over the years. When launched, there were just 2.3 million cars on Britain’s roads, yet more than 7000 people were killed in road accidents each year. Today, there are more than 27 million cars on UK roads, but there are fewer than 2000 fatalities.
The driving standards book originally had just 24 pages of guidelines, with a single paragraph on how pedestrians should cross a road. Today, a whole chapter is dedicated to educating both pedestrians and drivers on safely reaching the other side of the road.
It also goes on to cover areas of digital technology, such as smartphones, which increasingly fight for a driver’s attention when they’re at the wheel.
To see how well you know the latest rules and regulations of the road, take this snapshot quiz and test your knowledge of the Highway Code. Continue reading
Aquaplaning is the most common hazard drivers face in winter (Picture © Porsche)
When we’re on the road, the firefly twinkle of Christmas lights and warm glow of a roaring fire is just something to look forward to when we get home. The rest of the time it’s mostly cold, damp and dark – in other words, the most difficult driving conditions of the year.
Sprinkle a fresh and fluffy layer of snow on the roads, add a touch of black ice for good measure, and it gets downright treacherous. While it’s a good idea to invest in tuition at an advanced driving course, not everyone has the time or money to spare. So these invaluable tips from Peter Rodger, a former chief examiner at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, should benefit all drivers this winter.
Once upon a time, air-conditioning in cars was the ultimate luxury, available only on the most expensive motors. Now it’s a standard feature in the most affordable cars on our roads: the small Dacia Sandero, Skoda Citigo and Vauxhall Viva city cars offer it. But drivers often think that it will be more economical and save on fuel if they don’t use it over winter, when the air rarely needs cooling. So the question is this: to chill or not to chill in winter?
Should you switch a car’s air-conditioning off in winter?
Air-conditioning expert Sam Sihra from Alpinair, in West London, has been servicing cars’ air-conditioning systems since 1972. In his view, switching off a car’s air-conditioning system for weeks on end when the weather is cold, and perhaps only running it occasionally, is a mistake.
Why should drivers use air-con in winter weather?
Air-conditioning is the best way to dehumidify, or dry, damp air. With it running, the inside of a car’s windows won’t mist up; switch it off and it could seem as though you’re driving in dense fog. Equally, using the air-conditioning is a great way of de-misting the car if it steams up when you first get in it on a cold day. Continue reading
As the summer holidays get into full swing and millions of motorists take to the road, drivers who are sitting comfortably in their car are luckier than they may have imagined. Four out of five people suffer from back pain, according to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), and of those surveyed this January, 40 per cent say that sitting down aggravates back or neck pain. It’s enough to send a shiver down a driver’s spine.
Tackling the problem of sitting comfortably when driving and avoiding back pain doesn’t require action as drastic as buying a new car. That could be a very costly mistake, as it’s rare for a car to leave drivers feeling uncomfortable after a brief test drive; often it takes hours on end at the wheel before the telltale signs of back or neck pain begin.
Instead, there are plenty of practical steps to follow that should help most people get comfortable at the wheel. We asked Rishi Loatey, a practising chiropractor and member of the BCA, to share his advice for drivers and help banish Britain’s bad backs. Continue reading
As winter sets in, drivers face a host of hazards from the harsh weather. From dark mornings to icy roads, and smearing windscreens to sudden heavy snowfall, the winter brings added challenges that are just waiting to catch out drivers.
To help ensure everyone gets to their destination safely, Green Flag turned to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) which promotes better driving, and asked Peter Rodger, its head of driving advice, to share his top 10 tips for driving safely in winter weather. Continue reading