Tuesday, 21 October 2014

New name....

Back in March 2014 the Mid-Kent and East Kent groups merged to become one.  A successful merger where both groups were able to keep up the standards we all aim for, to deliver Advanced Motoring courses to the standard of the IAM. This week it's been announced that Mid-Kent Groupd of Advanced Motorists will change its name to Kent Group of Advanced Motorists. We will still be able to meet the standard expected and since we cover the whole of Kent, it certainly makes sense. Our Chairman Linda Davies released a statement on our new site.

With this news our Website and Social Media Co-Ordinator Graham Aylard has been busy creating a new look website, containing all the information and inspiration to attract new members and those wanting to improve their driving. Not to leave anyone out, our current members and observers will also find our new website useful too, with information about our events throughout the year. 

The new website can be found at: 


Our blog will also move. This will contain motoring related news, and advice and tips of the motoring nature. We'll also be posting congratulations messages when associates pass their Advanced Motoring test. 

Our new blog can be found at 


Our Facebook and Twitter pages has also undergone the change and we'll be posting all sorts of motoring related information, driving tips and road related safety advice. Twitter will be updated regularly several times a week. 

This is the last post here on this blog.  Please take a look at our new look website and new look blog (links above) and feel free to post your comments here or if you wish email the Website and Social Media Co-ordinator Graham Aylard.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Don't cry on the hard shoulder!!

Nobody wants to be left stranded on the hard shoulder, but if you don't take care of your car there's every possibility you will be. Here are the latest IAM tips to guide you through looking after your car, because basic maintenance goes a long way.

Charged battery

A flat battery is one of the most common reasons for a breakdown, so make sure your car battery is properly secured with a clamp in the battery tray, because a loose battery can damage the delicate lead plates. To ensure the battery is charged up, the fan belt needs to be tight. So if you hear a screeching noise after you start the engine you will need to tighten the belt or possibly replace it.

Drivers commuting short distances who use their lights and heater can drain out the battery power. However a longer drive will recharge it fully and give the car a good workout. Ensure the top of your battery is kept clean and dry to stop charge leaking away. Do bear in mind that the car battery will wear out, so be prepared to replace it if it goes flat or is more than five years old.

Coolant level

Water for the radiator must be mixed with the right type of anti-freeze all year round to stop corrosion inside the engine – a common cause of blown head gaskets. Make sure you check the level weekly when the engine is cold. If you find you are topping up far too often, this may be a sign of a leak that needs to be fixed by a mechanic.


The first sub-zero day of autumn brings a flurry of frozen engines, caused by too little anti-freeze.  Check you have enough frost protection by removing the filler cap. Siphon a little coolant into a small container and put it in your freezer overnight.  If it freezes, you need more antifreeze.

Oil checks

When you check your oil, it's important to be on a level ground. It's not unusual for modern engines to use a little oil – some are designed that way – but a sudden increase in oil consumption is a sign that there's a problem.  It's also important to use the correct oil for topping up, so make sure the oil you use meets the requirements listed in the owner's handbook.  Blown turbo chargers and broken timing chains are possible results of using the wrong oil.

Brake fluid

Modern cars will have a warning light to alert you of a low fluid level, but it's still worth taking a look at the reservoir while you're checking the other things under the bonnet.  The level will drop slightly as the brakes wear down, but it should not fall so low that it needs topping up. When new brakes are fitted, the fluid will return to the full level.  If the level has dropped below the minimum, the warning light should come on; get the brakes checked because there may be a fluid leak.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

More than 60 drivers caught snapping accident on phones

Man stabbed after confronting group

Rubbernecking is nothing new. A build-up of traffic often occurs on the opposite side of an accident purely because humans find it extremely difficult not to indulge their dark side and cop a good look at the carnage.

But police have decided to draw the line on motorists who insist on photographing the scene of an accident with their mobile phones.

An accident that saw an overturned lorry spill its load over the A34 at Sutton Scotney, Hampshire, last week resulted in a staggering 60 drivers receiving a letter asking if they were driving at the time a photograph of the scene was snapped.

Police officers recorded the number plates of the offending vehicles and plan to punish those reckless enough to reach for their mobiles and take a picture.

If the drivers were found to be using a mobile phone at the wheel, they could be fined £100 and given three penalty points, or offered a driver awareness course, police revealed.

An unnamed passenger who admitted to taking a photo of the scene told the BBC: "If you're hanging out the window with your camera phone then you're asking for it.

"There were not any police around when I went past. If people were stationary, what harm are they doing?"

But the law clearly states that drivers are only allowed to use their mobile phones in the car when they need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency when it's unsafe or impractical to stop, or when the vehicle is safely parked.

Nick Lloyd, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, commended the police for taking such positive action against offending drivers but said, "it's very disappointing they have to do this in the first place, that 60 drivers have been seen taking a photograph,"

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Congratulations - well done!!

Congratulations to Craig Fearn with Observer Alan Billington

and also to Ken Schneider with Observer Mark Ashman

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Use of Fog Lights

Do you know the Highway Code guidance around the use of fog lights?

If, upon seeing the first signs of mist in the air, you reach for the button on the dashboard then you may want to dust off your copy of the Highway Code.  According to Rule 226 you "must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100m (328 ft). You may also use front and rear fog lights."  There is no hard and fast rule that states when it is misty/foggy, you should use fog lights - this is left to the driver and is a subjective decision.
These two images, taken at the same location clearly shows the reduced visibility the fog has. Although not thick fog, you can clearly see the cream building ahead in the right hand picture, but not in the left. 

However, having assessed the conditions and decided that fog lights are necessary, there are some definite things which you should do.  Firstly, increase the gap between yourself and the car in front.  Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive - after all, given that visibility has been reduced doesn't it make sense to close in other cars so that you can see them - by increasing the gap between you and the car in front you are giving yourself a safety cushion.  You do not know how observant the other driver is and, if they do not see something and have to react at the last minute, you want time to bring your vehicle to a stop safely whilst also managing the car following you so a multiple pile up is avoided.

Secondly, be aware that driving long distances with limited visibility can be tiring.  You will therefore need to plan more breaks than you might have initially anticipated and allow time for your eyes to recover from the strain you're placing on them.

Remember the Sheppey Crossing incident
last year? 130 vehicle pileup happened
in the fog. But was it solely the fault of
the weather?
Thirdly, do not assume that just because you can see no lights that there is nothing there.  Whilst you have been conscientious and used your fog lights (or dipped headlights if visibility is impaired but not less than 100m), not all road users are as good as you are!  As an ex-driving instructor of mine used to say "treat everyone else as a fool and you'll seldom be disappointed".  Therefore, before proceeding at any junction or hazard, take time to double-check and consider winding down your window to listen for engine noise.  Sound can often carry better in fog and this will give you some early indications that you're not alone!

Finally, once the fog has cleared, remember to turn off your fog lights.

Some top tips:

  • When in traffic consider turning off rear fog lights.  They are designed to improve your visibility to other road users and continual exposure at close range may dazzle the driver behind and mask your brake lights (thereby potentially causing a rear end shunt).
  • Do not keep turning them on and off when going through patchy fog - make a decision and stick to it.  Flickering lights will be more of a distraction to following cars than the potential dazzle.
  • Only use fog lights if visibility is below the recommended 100m and, when they are used, slow down as well.

Post written by Neil Lakeland, Observer with the Mid-Kent Group of Advanced Motorists.

If you wish to know more about Advanced Motoring or wish to join us and become an Advanced Motorist, please vista out website for all the details.