A CHARITY has launched a new website to help drives stay safe on the Christmas commute home.
The Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) has created drivingadvice.org.uk to warn drivers of traffic updates, weather forecasts and safety tips.
Chief examiner and Britain’s top driver Peter Roger will offer weekly advice in a bid to improve standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling.
Peter Rodger said: “Long journeys can be tiring and stressful, especially when everybody else seems to be making the same trip.
“Planning your route, regular rest stops, and making sure your passengers are entertained will make the journey much safer and more comfortable for all.
“Make sure your car is prepared for the journey too.
“The last thing you want is a breakdown, so ensure your tyres are the correct pressure and have sufficient tread, that you have enough fuel, or at least know where to stop to fill up, and that all your lights are working.”
Christmas tips for getting home safely
• Prepare your vehicle before a long journey - check tyre pressure, top up your washer fluid and make sure all your lights are working.
• Plan your journey by checking the weather conditions both for where you’re travelling from, and your destination. Check updates on the radio during your journey, and take a map so you can re-route if you need to.
• Share the driving on long journeys and make sure you take regular breaks.
• Pack enough food, books and games to keep the kids occupied and let someone at home know when you plan to arrive.
• Watch out for other road users and give them plenty of room.
• In case the worst happens, ensure that you have plenty of fuel.
• Pack an emergency kit of spare clothes, a shovel, water and food, ice scraper, reflective jacket and fully charged mobile phone with your breakdown provider’s details programmed in.
Tags: christmas | driving | IAM | commuters | charity | traffic | tips | weather
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Rainstorms are flooding the streets again and news footage shows cars, lorries and motorbikes ploughing through ludicrously deep water at crazy speeds and getting stuck.
Lives are lost and millions of pounds worth of unnecessary damage is done to cars, trucks, bikes and property because very few of us know when it’s safe to drive through floodwater.
Mike Frisby is Chief Examiner for Diamond Advanced Motorists and Diamond Advanced Motorcyclists. "Driving through floods isn’t particularly difficult," he says. "But you do need to apply common sense and be aware of what you’re letting yourself in for. Charging through deep floods at an incredible speed is a bad move. It’s dangerous to the driver, to other road users, to pedestrians and to property. And if water gets forced or sucked into the engine it will result in huge repair bills.”
Here are Mike’s top tips for driving safely through floods:
1. You really do need to know how deep the water is. Six inches (15cm) of rapidly moving floodwater can knock a person down. And many vehicles will float in two feet (60cm) of water or less. So always stop before you get to the flood and assess how deep the water is. Look for clues.
2. If it’s deeper than the bottom of your doors, think about turning round. The water may not look very deep, but an increase in depth of an inch or so may be enough to tip the balance and make the vehicle buoyant enough to float away.
3. If there are already a lot of abandoned vehicles up to their axles in water, take the hint. There’s a good chance you won’t make it either.
4. Even trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles, well known for the feeling of superiority and sense of security they give, can be swept away by moving water.
5. Even relatively low levels of water will damage some vehicles. If water is sucked into the engine air intake, which is often located at the front of the engine bay and can be especially low in some cars, it will cause serious damage. Catalytic converters, which work at high temperatures and are easily damaged by water (the cold water makes them crack) are also expensive to replace. Electrical components, and especially engine fuel systems and management systems, are particularly vulnerable to being splashed by even small amounts of water.
6. If you decide to take the risk and drive through a flood, provided it is completely safe to do so you should drive on the highest part of the road. If it is not possible to drive in the middle of the road, stay as far away as possible from the kerb, where the water is at its deepest.
7. Drive slowly and steadily; the bow wave you create at the front of the vehicle should be as small as possible.
8. Do not drive through a flood if there is another vehicle travelling from the opposite direction.
9. Drive through in first gear and keep the engine revs high. If necessary, slip the clutch slightly to increase engine speed. In a vehicle with an automatic gearbox, select the lowest gear and keep a steady pace. Do not back off the accelerator. Water in the exhaust can stall the engine.
10. Test your brakes as soon as you can after driving through any water. Make sure there’s no-one behind you, then press gently on the brake pedal to check that they work. If they don’t work properly, they can be dried by applying gentle pressure as you drive along. Left-foot braking is an acquired art, though, so be very cautious if you try this.
11. Driving at speed through low-level water can cause aquaplaning – the water prevents your tyres from gripping the road, and you lose control of the steering. If this happens, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
12. If you drive too fast through low water and soak pedestrians and cyclists, the police could prosecute you for driving without reasonable consideration to other road users. This can result in a fine of £2,500 and between three and nine penalty points on your licence.
And Mike’s final piece of advice is this: “If you can avoid going out, do so. If you have to travel, consider taking sensible clothing and preparing for the worst, including food, drink, blankets and mobile phone. Sometimes driving skill alone simply isn’t enough to get you home safely.”
Tags: floods | stuck | water | diamond | driving | tips | brakes | aquaplaning
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Motorway journeys can be made safer and less stressful if drivers follow a few simple tips. At this time of year, journeys on motorways and other high-speed roads are often undertaken in challenging weather conditions. And while motorways are statistically the safest roads in the country, things can go wrong. And when they do, it usually involves more vehicles and serious injuries.
- The secret to a successful trip is to plan your journey, which doesn’t just mean entering a postcode into a sat nav. Plan your route at least a day before you travel, making sure you have an alternative route in case of heavy traffic.
- Look at the weather forecast and leave a realistic time for your journey. Plan a stop every 2-3 hours to rest and stretch your legs. Research has found that 15-20% of motorway incidents are caused by fatigue.
- Check your vehicle is up for the trip. A few basic maintenance checks – such as the lights, tyres and oil and water levels – could help you avoid getting stranded (or worse).
- If you’re used to travelling on motorways, be aware that many drivers around you may not be as experienced. And if your everyday driving is usually confined to short urban trips, perhaps now is the time to seek some advice or refresher training.
- When joining a motorway, use the entry slip road to adjust your speed to that of traffic already on the main carriageway. Some entry slips become the left-hand lane of the main carriageway, while others have an entry point. It is essential that you understand the road signs before you set out. The Highway Code will give you all the information you need.
- Once you have joined the main carriageway, take a few minutes to get used to the speed of the traffic before overtaking other vehicles. Always look as far ahead as the eye can see, to help you identify potential hazards. On most motorways you can see at least half-a-mile ahead. Planning this far ahead will help you to adjust your speed and plan your lane-changing safely.
- Exercise correct lane discipline. The left-hand lane (lane 1) is for normal driving, unless you wish to overtake slower-moving traffic or road signs tell you otherwise. All the other lanes are used for overtaking.
- Use your mirrors to keep up with what is happening behind you and before giving a signal. Allow the indicator to flash at least a couple of times before changing lanes. It is essential to warn other drivers in good time of your intentions and for you to know what is happening all around you. A quick sideways glance into your blind spot will help you to see any vehicles that might not be visible up in your mirrors.
- When overtaking, move out move briskly past the slower vehicles and only return to the left once you can see the vehicle you have overtaken in your rear-view mirror, to prevent cutting in. Avoid driving in other drivers’ blind spots, particularly those of larger vehicles.
- Tailgating is one of the most common causes of crashes on motorways. Allow at least a two- to three-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Not only is this safer, it affords you a better view of the road ahead. The emergency telephone marker posts are positioned 100 metres apart along the left-hand edge of the hard shoulder, which equates to three seconds at 70mph.
- When approaching a junction on the carriageway that you do not intend to take, watch out for drivers who may wish to exit but have left it late to change lanes and who may be about to overtake you. Once you have passed the exit road, be aware that traffic will be joining the main carriageway a little further on. You may need to alter your speed or change lanes in good time to allow them a safe path.
- Plan to leave the motorway in good time. The first exit sign is usually one mile from the exit slip road (on busier roads, some are two miles). The sign is then repeated at the half-mile stage and again just before the exit. Ideally you should be in the left hand lane around the half-mile sign. Remember, at 60mph it will only take you one minute to travel from the first exit sign to the exit slip road. Try to maintain your speed until you are in the exit slip road to avoid baulking following traffic.
- Finally, when leaving the motorway, keep an eye on your speed. Having travelled at high speed for some time, 50mph will feel like 30mph. Always look for changes of speed limits as you leave: they are often on the approach to a junction and can be easily missed if your attention is taken up with the directional signs.
Tags: safety | motorway | tips | driving | advice | speed | accidents
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