Tag Archives | safety

Seat belt sense

Back in the day, public information films constantly told us to ‘clunk-click every trip’ and ‘belt up’ every time we got in a car. Things have moved on since 1970 and we now have inertia-reel seat belts, seat belt pre-tension mechanisms, even seat belt butlers and in-car technology to prompt you when you drive off without wearing one. Buckling-up is one of the safest moves you can do behind the wheel and should be second nature. Not wearing a seat belt is one of the ‘fatal four’ road safety risks, yet it’s the one that gets least attention. The best advice is to take note of the recent data which shows nearly a third of people fatally injured on UK roads were not wearing a seat belt. The fine for not wearing one stands at £100, rising to £500 if the case goes to court. At present, you don’t receive penalty points on your licence for this offence, but this may well change.

No excuses

As the driver, you are responsible for the safety of the vehicle you are driving. Whether you are learning to drive with an instructor, friends or parents, the rule is the same and there are no exceptions for learners. Regardless of who a vehicle belongs to, if there is a problem the person behind the wheel is fully or jointly responsible in the eyes of the law and liable to penalties. For example, if you are driving an unroadworthy car that belongs to someone else, it’s no defence to blame them if you are stopped by the police. You have to make your own mind up about what is acceptable, and face the consequences if you take risks.

Think like a lorry driver

You may have noticed the regularity with which lorry drivers flash each other. This practice is for courtesy and safety: when one lorry overtakes another, the driver being passed flashes the faster truck to let them know there’s enough room for them to pull back into their original lane – something that’s hard to determine from the cab of an articulated truck. While it’s fair to say that if car drivers were to adopt this habit, the M25 would resemble a strobe-lit disco, showing other motorists a little extra consideration will only make your journey easier.

Right of way?

There are going to be times when you come to a junction or other situations where it may be difficult to figure out who has the right of way as there may be no road signs or markings. When this happens do not assume you have priority as other drivers may assume they too have the right to go. It is best to be courteous and let them have the right of way. It may take a few extra seconds to wait, but you will still get where you are going, and you will get there safely.

Parking on hills

If you park on a hill you should always park close to the kerb and apply the handbrake firmly. For added safety, there are two important points to remember. If you are facing uphill, make sure you select a forward gear and turn your steering wheel away from the kerb. If you’re facing downhill, make sure you have selected reverse gear and turn your steering wheel towards the kerb.

Animals and antifreeze

While antifreeze is very important for your car’s health, it’s not so great for ours. Handle the stuff with care and keep it out of reach of children and pets. Most antifreeze contains a substance called monoethylene glycol which is very harmful when swallowed. That’s why you must take care when adding it to your engine, and ensure you don’t leave spills or open bottles lying around.

Vets often see a rise in antifreeze poisoning cases in pets around autumn when drivers begin preparing their cars for winter. Antifreeze can have a sweet taste that is attractive to dogs and cats. It’s good to know Halfords’ antifreeze, for example, contains a bittering agent (an additive with a very unpleasant taste) as an added precaution against accidental swallowing by animals.