– By ANewDriver
The first snowfall of 2018 for many has led to a good deal of slipping and sliding on our roads. So it’s time to scrape the ice off that hardy annual, the winter driving tips. Driving In The Snow: what you need to know.
The gift of a lift: The RSA and An Garda Síochána’s annual Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign focus on drinking and driving this year. Alcohol is a contributory factor in 38% of fatal crashes in the lead up to Christmas, according to the analysis of Garda investigation files for fatal crashes in the months of November and December: Alcohol factors in 2 in 5 fatal crashes in the lead up to Christmas.
The Minister for Transport in Ireland, Shane Ross, said: “The ultimate aim of our appeal this year is to warn the public about the impact alcohol has on road safety. The statistics revealed today by the RSA and Gardai clearly indicate that alcohol remains the primary contributory factor in fatal crashes and is responsible for far too many deaths and injuries on Irish roads. Given the more difficult driving conditions typical of this time of year, November and December are already particularly dangerous months for driving. However, the statistics show that road safety is diminished further in these months due to the consumption of alcohol and speeding. I appeal to all those socialising during the Christmas and New Year period to do so responsibly and never, ever, drink and drive“.
- Another analysis of preliminary Garda data from 2008-2016, reveals that a total of 292 road users were killed in the months of November and December. The average number of fatalities each month for this nine-year period was 16 in November and 16 in December. The new RSA analysis also shows that:
- Dublin, Cork and Galway had the highest number of RTC fatalities in November and December and accounted for almost a third (32%) of the total number of fatalities that occurred during this time period.
- The most prevalent times of day were between 4pm-8pm (33%) and 12pm-4pm (23%), followed by 12am-6am (22%).
- RTC fatalities were more prevalent on Sundays (21%). The most dangerous time of day on Sundays was midnight-6am.
- Drivers represent almost half (46%) of all road users killed in Nov/Dec;
- Pedestrians represent over a quarter (26%) of fatalities, while passengers account for almost one fifth (18%).
Ms Liz O Donnell, Chairperson, Road Safety Authority, said: “Any amount of alcohol impairs driving. In fact, just one drink can affect your driving. That is not a theory this is scientific fact. So, if you are heading to an office party or socialising over the Christmas and New Year period, make sure you plan how you are going to get home safely. Leave the keys at home and book a taxi, hackney, use public transport or designate a driver. Do not leave it to chance because once you have that first drink, you will not be able to make the right choices. This advice also applies if you are intending to walk home after socialising too. Crash data shows that alcohol could be a factor in almost half [46%] of pedestrian deaths. Too many people have lost their lives in the past by walking home drunk on roads with poor visibility. Please don’t take the chance.”
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána, said: “An Garda Síochána is launching its six-week Christmas and New year road safety campaign. This will include a focus on Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints around the country to deter people from drinking and driving. The Gardaí will not just be targeting drink drivers at night or in the early hours of the morning during the Christmas period, but also during morning rush hour as many drivers could still be over the legal limit if they have been drinking the night before. There has been a 12% increase in drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence up to end of October 2017. While it is disappointing to see so many refusing to heed our advice, this clearly shows that our members are out there enforcing drink driving laws. The consequences of drink driving for you and others could be very serious and range from losing your licence to living with the guilt of being responsible for someone’s death or severe injury. Please don’t take the risk this Christmas – don’t drink and drive.”
Pedestrian & Cyclist Safety
To promote pedestrian and cyclist safety over the festive period the RSA has teamed up with the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) to distribute 50,000 high visibility jackets to almost 4,000 publicans for distribution free of charge to their patrons to ensure they get home safely over the Christmas and New Year period.
The RSA and An Garda Síochána’s are supporting Coca Cola’s 13th annual Designated Driver campaign which is encouraging the nation to give the ‘Gift of a Lift’ this Christmas to help keep our roads safe. The campaign running across Ireland and Northern Ireland have been offering free soft drinks, water or juice to designated drivers from the 28th November.
To date this year, 143 people have been killed on Irish roads, a decrease of 26 when compared to the same period last year.
If you wish to learn more about road safety, read our blog about Driving Tips For New Drivers.
– By ANewDriver
Warming up your car during the winter? Is warming up your car in the cold useful or does it harm the engine? Learn more about it.
Warming Your Car During The Winter is the common wisdom is that when you are gearing up to take your car out in the cold and possibly snow, you should step outside, start up your engine, and let it idle to warm up. But contrary to popular belief, this does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it may decrease it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.
When your engine is cold, petrol is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporised fuel for combustion. Modern engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. The engine continues to run rich in this way until it heats up to about 4 or 5 degrees Celsius.
Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to 4/5 degrees so it switches back to a normal fuel to air ratio. Even though warm air generated by the radiator will flow into the cabin after a few minutes, idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine. The best thing to do is start the car, take a minute to knock the ice off your windows, and get going. Have a good cloth or window wiper sponge (available in all garages or motor factors) for inside use to quickly remove the inside mist/fog that builds up on your windscreen, to avoid dangerous visibility.
Of course, hopping into your car and gunning it straightaway will put unnecessary strain on your engine. It takes 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to warm up, so take it nice and easy for the first part of your drive.
The long-held notion that you should let your car idle in the cold is only true for vehicles carburettor engines. Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads, in the 70’s and 80’s. Carburetors mix gasoline and air to make vaporised fuel to run an engine, but they don’t have sensors that tweak the amount of gasoline when it’s cold out. As a result, you have to let older cars warm up before driving or they will stall out. But it’s been about 30 years since carbureted engines were common in cars.
Autumn is here with its amazing colours! But before you hit the road and enjoy the stunning orange, red and yellow scenery, there are some autumn driving safety tips you need to keep in mind.
While you may think that winter is the most dangerous season for driving, autumn driving also has many hazards. Fall driving can be unpredictable as the weather is constantly changing and the days are getting shorter.
So here are some important tips to keep in mind when driving this fall season:
- Sunlight – As the season changes, so does the position of the sun and the glare generated. Glare can be dangerous when driving as it decreases visibility. It is important to ensure your eyes are protected and your visibility is clear. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses that will give you a clear view of the road.
- Weather Conditions – It is important for drivers to pay attention to road conditions during the fall transition. Fall has mixed weather. Rain can cause flooding on roadways and hydroplaning can be a concern with the excessive water on the road. If you encounter a road with excess water, ensure you slow down as speed can result in a loss of traction. In the event of severe rain, you may want to pull off the road safely and wait until the rain stops or at least slows down. Another concern is black ice – a transparent ice lawyer on top of the road that may look like a little puddle of water or may not even be easily visible at all.
- Be alert – As the days get shorter, drivers are faced with driving to work in the dark and driving home in the dark. Autumn is when we ‘fall back’ with our clocks, so the end of daylight saving time means earlier sunsets and reduced visibility on the roads, increasing unfamiliar driving conditions. Even on regular routes, drivers should exercise caution and adjust their driving, making allowances for seeing pedestrians, cyclists and all other roadway users.
- Watch Out for the Leaves – There are 2 types of hazards to consider when thinking about autumn leaves: the first one is related to the fact that people love to stop their cars to admire the stunning colours and views and the second one is linked to the hazard that leaves represent for drivers on the road. When pulling your can over, ensure to do it in a safe manner that does not interfere with other drivers on the road. And if you are cruising, watch out for the leaves: when they become wet, they become slippery and can result in dangerous driving conditions.
- Check your Vehicle before Driving – Take good care of your car, and it should take good care of you! With a change in the temperature, tires will contract and expand, reducing their pressure. Maintaining tire pressure and ensuring tires are well maintained is key to driving safely in the fall. Before you head out on your autumn driving trip, be sure to take your car in for a basic inspection of its fluids, tire pressure, windshield wipers, brakes, engine, and other critical parts.
It is important for drivers, regardless of their experience, to ensure they are prepared for the road conditions. If you need a refresher course or want to develop better autumn and winter driving skills, contact ANewDriver today!
Learn more about the use of satnav and other changes in UK’s Driving Test.
The Use of satnav and other changes, including more focus on everyday manoeuvres, independent driving and navigating busy areas, have been introduced to driving tests. So far, the new changes have been implemented in the UK only, so no sign of changes on Irish driving tests – yet.
Learner drivers will have to show they can safely use a satnav during their tests as part of an overhaul of the exam, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced. Learner drivers have now to spend about 20 minutes being guided by the dashboard device as examiners gauge whether they are competent to be given full licences.
The DVSA said the changes had been prompted by research that showed more than half of UK’s drivers now used a satnav. Making it part of the examination would mean drivers were better prepared for life on the road. This is the first major change to driving tests since 1996 when written theory papers were introduced.
A spokesperson for the DVSA said: “Using a satnav goes some way to addressing concerns that inexperienced drivers are easily distracted, which is one of the main causes of crashes. We’re moving with technology and the technology that new drivers will be using.”
The DVSA trialled the new tests with 4,500 learner drivers at 32 test centres across the UK earlier this year.
Candidates will also be tested on driving into a bay in a public car park and reversing out again or pulling up on a roadside, reversing a short distance, then rejoining traffic. These manoeuvres will replace the three-point turn or reversing around the corner. The length of independent driving will be doubled to 20 minutes.
What do you think about these changes? You can also read more about changes in the Theory Test in Ireland here.
ANewDriver’s Top Tips for saving on your car insurance
When it comes to insuring your car, it seems that every year the cost increases and it is becoming more and more difficult to negotiate with insurance companies for a better price. At renewal time, the more you know and understand about your policy and how your quote is calculated, the more likely you are to get a better quote.
The obvious things are no claims discounts and having no or few penalty points, which works in your favour. Having 6 or more penalty points reduces the amount of companies who are prepared to quote you and take the risk in the first place. An example of this is: most major insurance companies (Allianz, Aviva, AIG, Axa, RSA and Zurich etc.) will decline to quote you if you have 6 or more penalty points, leaving your options to go with underwriting agencies, which are private owned businesses and believe that they can target certain niches and do it better and more profitable than the large Insurance Companies.
Usually, 3 or 4 weeks before your renewal date and existing policies expire is the best time to start talking to insurance companies, as insurers are more likely to compete on price, given that drivers would have more time to shop around.
Only ask for what you need for an optimum quote. Things such as breakdown cover, windscreen cover, theft from the car, driving abroad, personal accident cover, courtesy car and more are extras and each one adds to the premium. Some of these could already be covered by other things such as travel insurance, AA membership, home insurance or even your bank account in some cases.
Make sure to check that you’re not double paying for anything and just check if you really need those extras.
If you’re a first-time driver it’s worth looking at value type products which tend to remove features such as the no claims bonus discount. As a first-time driver you won’t have a no claims bonus to protect, so why pay for it.
The next question is to compare Third Party cover against Comprehensive cover. Third party is obviously cheaper, but ask the question to your insurance company and make a decision on what you need with what they say in mind.
Also, check on how much excess is on your policy. This is how much you pay yourself to make a claim. The lower the excess, the higher the car insurance so work out what you can afford to pay in case of an accident and set your excess to that.
Try to pay up front as many insurers charge interest on your payments if you spread out the cost over the year. If you try to spread even as the cost out, it will actually cost you more in the long run. You could be looking at an additional 3% on top of your policy.
Having a full Irish driving licence is one of the factors in a car insurance quote. Even if you have a full licence from Europe, it is better for your pocket, in the long run, to do the driver’s test in Ireland and get a full Irish licence.
– By ANewDriver
What you need to know about the Changes to the Driver Theory Test for 2017
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) announced last October 2016 some changes to the Driver Theory Test. Questions on drinking and driving will be added to the Driver Theory Test for the Motorcycle, Car and Works Vehicles Driver Theory Test. This is in direct response to a report issued by the RSA earlier this year which showed that drink-driving is still a significant road safety issue, particularly among some young people.
The main Driver Theory Test Question Bank will have 17 new questions on alcohol and driving. Two of these questions will be presented in the tests. The overall format of the test will not change. Learning material on the new questions is available at www.theorytest.ie .
The RSA Pre-Crash Report on Alcohol showed that between 2008 and 2012, alcohol was a factor in 38% of fatal collisions, claiming the lives of 286 people. 43% of drivers killed who had consumed alcohol were between 16 and 24 years old and 57% of motorcyclists killed who had consumed alcohol were between 25 and 34 years old.
Candidates are advised to use the current versions of the supporting learning materials – The Official Driver Theory Test, Book and CD, 5th or 6th Edition – in addition to the PDF with information on the new section related to drink-driving. The PDF is available on www.theorytest.ie and www.rsa.ie. Those wishing to book a Driver Theory Test are reminded that the official booking website is www.theorytest.ie .See the list of additional questions here .
Reasons to Learn How to Drive – For some people, having their own transport is essential. But here are some reasons why it’s worth learning how to drive, even if you don’t want or need to own a car.
Driving is like learning to ride a bike: it’s a skill you never forget!
And if you don’t buy a car straight away, or you take a break from driving, then a lesson or two will refresh your mind when you want to drive again.
What other transport takes you from door to door, long distances and protects you from the weather?
If you learn to drive, you have the freedom to travel where and when you want. When you go on holidays you may want to hire a car. Or perhaps you want to take some day trips with visitors or family.
You don’t even have to own a car: hiring one is more practical and economical if you only need one occasionally.
Many jobs require a driver’s licence, so having one will open up more employment possibilities to you. It’s always worth getting the licence, even if your current job doesn’t require it, as you may want or need to change jobs in the future.
It also gives you the ability to drive to work, in case your work place is not close to public transports.
However, for those who live in more rural areas, a car is often essential, as getting to work, going shopping or visiting family would be impossible without one.
Handy ID to have
A driver’s licence is an easily portable form of ID. Not everyone has a passport, and for many purposes a photographic ID is required.
It isn’t worth going to the expense of learning to drive just for this reason, but it’s a useful bonus.