The Pros and Cons of Tailgating

This week, Highways England stated an awareness campaign highlighting the issue of tailgating. More information can be found by following this link.

Just remember the two second rule – always keep at least two seconds between you and the car in front. Increase this to four seconds in adverse weather conditions.

So, the pros of tailgating are: none.

Whereas the cons of tailgating include: reduced forward visibility leading to less time to react to hazards; inducing anxiety in the driver of the car in front.

10 tips for driving back to university

Whether you’re starting your first year at university or heading back for the final time, travelling there can be an emotional rollercoaster.
One moment you’re excited at the thought of seeing friends and getting your independence back, then you’re full of nerves and finding it hard to part with those at home. So worrying about your motorway journey is the last thing you need. That’s why the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart have put together a set of tips for newbie drivers.
Read the advice below provided by the charity’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman:
1 – Become familiar with the layout of a motorway – is there a verge or hard shoulder (used for emergencies only)? Are there three or more lanes?
2 – Be observant. Look out for signs of merging traffic or warnings about approaching junctions. If you can see vehicles approaching the motorway, is there space for you to move into lane two to accommodate their needs?
3 – As you approach the motorway, evaluate the traffic so you give yourself time and space to smoothly merge in with the traffic already on the motorway
4 -What’s your following distance? Remember, on a dry road surface, the distance to the vehicle in front should be at least two seconds, and at least four seconds on a wet road surface. This applies for every drive you make, not just on motorways.
5 – Be mindful that there are no ‘slow’, ‘middle’ or ‘fast’ lanes. Lane one (on the left) is the travelling lane, all others are overtaking lanes. You should return to lane one when it is safe to do so.
6 – Remember to check blind spots as well as your mirrors when changing lanes, as some vehicles may not be visible through your mirrors.
7 – Take into consideration that at 70pmh you travel at 31 metres every second. This means your following gap disappears very quickly if the traffic in front brakes; look well ahead and respond to changing information early
8 – Use your lights. Flashing your headlights is permitted only to let another user know of your presence. It’s also important to use your dipped headlights when driving on a wet motorway with surface spray. You can also use your hazard warning lights on motorways to make other road users behind you aware of an impending problem ahead of you.
9 – Be considerate. Drive at the appropriate speed and position, and be courteous and considerate towards others and acknowledge those who extend those same courtesies to you.
10 – Keep your knowledge up-to-date and keep your vehicle in good order. To help you boost your driving knowledge of motorway driving, IAM RoadSmart is offering you a free Motorway Driving e-learning module which can be accessed here. Remember to use the discount code BACK2UNI to redeem this offer!

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards says: “Motorways are statistically the safest roads in the UK but we still need to concentrate; a moment of distraction can see us travel a considerable distance.   A well-planned drive will allow acceleration sense to be used to match the speed of the traffic, brake lights shown inappropriately will cause the traffic to slow and may cause issues – if you are using cruise control, cancel it using the button and not by tapping the brake; use your brake lights to communicate to the traffic behind. Concentrating can be tiring so remember to take a break at least every two hours.”

Pothole mania: half of IAM RoadSmart members have experienced damage due to potholes, says new survey

A survey conducted by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has found that its members are increasingly disillusioned with the state of the roads in the UK and feel the Government is not doing nearly enough to tackle the problem.
The survey of more than 7,000 IAM RoadSmart members found that the majority think that our roads have become much worse in recent years, that there are many more potholes than ever before, and that they have to swerve to avoid potholes on every journey.
Some 47% – over 3,400 respondents – say they have experienced damage to their car, commercial vehicle, motorbike or bicycle or personal injury as a result of hitting a pothole.
Around 90% have spotted a deterioration of some level in the roads they use with just over 50% rating the state of their roads as ‘much worse’ in the past three years and 38% rating them ‘worse.’
Some 81% – close to 6,000 people – say they have noticed ‘many more’ potholes in the past three years, and adding in the 13% who have seen ‘a few more’ that gives a total of 94% who report more potholes.
Over 56% say they have to take avoiding action on every journey to dodge potholes, while 27% say they have to steer around a pothole every day.
While a third of IAM RoadSmart members are willing to consider new funding ideas to help improve our roads, half were against a 2p increase in fuel duty and most of those were strongly opposed.
Mike Quinton, Chief Executive Officer of IAM RoadSmart, said: “IAM RoadSmart is deeply concerned at the safety implications of drivers having to swerve to avoid potholes as well as the high level of damage and injuries revealed by our survey.
“We are looking to the authorities to work together to produce a long term and sustainable plan to reduce the backlog of road maintenance before yet another damaging winter sets things back even further.
The figures from our survey are compelling and it is increasingly clear that those who use the roads on a daily basis are pretty much united on this one – enough time has now passed for a long term plan to be in place and for work to have started. As our survey has shown, this is now the motoring public’s number one priority.”

Seven caravan and towing tips to get you ready for your summer holiday

With summer here and more people taking to caravanning than ever before, IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience. By ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels which might otherwise result, especially if you lack towing experience.

With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that this area has some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the summer months of May to September last year – a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer roadworthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.

We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage

The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law

Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle low to the floor, with lighter items higher up

A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit applies.

Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high – this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency

Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast.

Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says:
“In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”