Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Do motorists neglect tyre safety to save money?

Recent figures released by the AA show that last year, out of 3.4 million call-outs attended by the recovery service, the second most common reason was torn or punctured tyres.

In 2011, more than 363,000 call-outs were made, up 8% on the previous year. It is worried that the stark rise in figures is due to motorists trying to save every penny while juggling the spiralling costs of keeping a car on the road.

However, drivers could well be risking their safety every time they get behind the wheel.

Worn tyres can pose serious safety risks as stopping distances can often double on bald tyres in bad road conditions. The risk of a blowout is also much higher, especially if white cords are showing through the sidewalls or tread.

Checking your tyre safety once a fortnight should be part of an owner's on-going car care
A key element of this should be ensuring all tyres meet the legal limit for tread depth which is 1.6mm. Remember that it is the responsibility of the motorist and it's illegal to use tyres below the minimum 1.6mm tread depth. You can also be fined up to £2,500 per tyre.

Research found that in 2010, there were nearly 10,500 convictions for defective tyres in England and Wales, up 1,000 from the previous year.

Friday, 17 February 2012

First aid at a road traffic accident

Picture the scene: You're driving along a country road in icy conditions when the car in front of you slides into a ditch and the driver is injured. Would you know what to do?

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Here are some of the basics as advised by the British Red Cross...

Stay safe and keep calm
Park your own vehicle safely and turn the engine off if you are driving.
Dial 999
Or get somebody else to do it while you attend to the casualty and stay on the line as you will need to tell the operator where you are, what has happened (describe the accident), how many people are injured and whether they are breathing or bleeding

Approach and check airway
If it is safe to do so you should approach the injured person and check for a response by talking to or gently tapping them. Do not move them.

If there is no response you should check whether they are breathing. This can be done by looking and feeling for breaths, tilting the head back slightly with your fingers under the chin, listening for breath and seeing if you can feel it on your cheek.

If the person is not breathing you can attempt hands only CPR, pressing the chest at quick regular intervals to the beat of Stayin' Alive (about two compressions a second).

If the victim has suffered flesh wounds in the accident, you may need to staunch the flow of blood.
Raise the wound if possible, then use a dressing or clean piece of cloth to press on the wound.
If you think the person has gone into shock, which can happen with severe bleeding, try to loosen their clothes and keep them warm. If they are out of the car you could lie them down and raise their legs until help arrives.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Give your friends a chance to win £10,000


The more people who feed back on their cars, the more models we can report on and the more people we can help buy the right car in the future.

Simply forward this email and ask them to complete the survey which will take between 10-15 minutes to complete.  They don't need to be a member of Which? and they could be in with a chance of winning £10,000!

We really appreciate your help forwarding this survey - thank you.

Best wishes
The Which? Cars Team

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

What to do after a car accident: IAM Advice

It's something that every motorist dreads. The thought of soaring premiums and a hefty excess are enough to give even the most hardened a chill, but would you know what to do if you had an accident?

As part of the IAM's helpful guide to motoring, Chief Examiner and former Traffic Officer Peter Rodger has penned some tips to ensure you do the right thing after an accident:
  1. If you have the option, stop where it is safe.
  2. Turn the engine off and put your hazard lights on (if appropriate).
  3. Keep yourself safe and check others are too.
  4. If you need the emergency services, call 999.
  5. Stay calm. You must swap some details with the other driver(s). Unless that isn't possible due to injury or because they drive off. If you don't, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
  6. Give your name, address, and registration number and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle. You should get these details from the other driver(s).
  7. If someone is injured, ensure you exchange insurance details.
  8. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as you can.
  9. Get any witness contact details and take photos of the scene and vehicle damage.
  10. Note carefully how many people are in the other vehicle.
Peter said: "The reality is nobody wants to think about having a car accident. It's important to be prepared in case you are involved in one. Knowing what you must do and taking simple precautions can make things easier afterwards."

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

IAM tips for avoiding whiplash injuries

We all know that where there's blame, there's a claim. But while a mild whiplash injury might be a shortcut to a personal injury payout bonanza, in the long term it's probably better to look after your neck than to have a nice holiday paid for.

So, here are some tips from the good people at the Institute of Advanced Motorists on how to avoid any driving-related neck issues, part of its Drive & Survive series.

"The rise in whiplash compensation claims is driving up car insurance," said the IAM's driving expert Simon Elstow. "Avoid injury and a hit to your insurance premium by following our advice"

So here's the advice:

Keep a good distance in front of you so that you can slow down gently when you need to.

Except in an emergency, always look in the mirror before braking. Knowing what the car behind is doing is the best way to avoid getting hit from behind.

Make sure you have a properly adjusted head restraint. The top of the head restraint should be level with the top of your head for maximum safety.

Anticipate the traffic ahead and drive to avoid stopping as often – slowing down earlier gives the driver behind more time to react.

Try and signal early for junctions to give time for the traffic behind you to react.

Keep your foot lightly on the foot brake as traffic approaches from behind to show brake lights as a warning, until you are sure it is stopping.

For more advice on safe and efficient driving, head to IAM's Drive & Survive website, at

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday 5th February

Due to the adverse weather conditions today's 4th run session of the current course has been postponed and will now take place on February 19th 9.30am at Grove Green.
Look forward to seeing you all then meanwhile keep safe and warm
Best wishes
Linda Davies
Group Chairman

Friday, 3 February 2012

Tips from the experts: driving in the dark

Driving in the dark
The winter is shuffling off slowly but it's important to remember that it's still pretty dark on the commute to work and the sky's a dark, inky blue hue on the way home. Driving conditions are pretty different in the dark, much like (pun intended) the difference between night and day.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists is a brilliant source of advice for methods of coping with adverse conditions, whether it's ice, snow or wind, the IAM is there to help those who feel they need it.

Darkness can stump many drivers. You can't see as well as you think you can (especially in twilight) and road users like cyclists can spring from anywhere if they're unlit. It's not fun, especially if you're not expecting it.

So, the IAM has come up with this handy list of tips for your delectation:

• To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean.

• Use main beam, but when other drivers are approaching make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic.

• Make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear.

• If you're feeling tired, caffeine alone is not a fix. Take a break and have a 20 minute nap.

• If an approaching car forgets to dip its lights, look beyond the lights, but to their left to avoid being dazzled as much.

• Look at how the traffic ahead behaves for clues to possible problems you can't see yet.

• If it's gloomy in the morning, don't forget to put your lights on.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger commented: "The risk of fatal accidents increases in the dark as visibility is reduced. Have regular eye examinations to ensure you are wearing glasses or contact lenses if you need to."

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Annual MOT tests to remain

Annual MOT
A while ago the government was considering changing the way we maintained our cars. The bods in Westminster pondered that it would be a great idea to relax MOT test regularity.

Initial plans saw one of three schedules considered... Option one saw the first test after four years, then annual tests. Option two meant no test until the car was four years old, another two years after that, then annual testing. The final, third, option considered was an MOT after four years, then every other year for the following six years with annual testing afterwards.

Thankfully these odd and confusing ideas have been dropped in favour of the system already in place. It's worked for fifty-odd years and no one's had any major objection thus far – especially the 19,000 MOT test station owners in the UK.

The testing schedule will continue thus: After initial registration the car is given three years' grace without an MOT, then it will need testing annually.

On top of maintaining the current system, the government will aim to incorporate three other things:

1. Mechanics and test centres will be encouraged to take up industry codes of practise, such as the OFT-approved schemes.

2. MOT certificates will be changed to include the last three years' mileage, as well as the mileage on the day of the test to help motorists spot 'clocked' cars.

3. 'Mystery shoppers' will be sent in to MOT centres to ensure they're at the top of their game.

All the decisions made have been praised from all corners of the automotive industry.

It was worrying that the government saw fit to 'fix' a 50 year old process that ain't broke. Perhaps they could look at the 70mph speed limit before they fiddle with mechanical safety?