Today is the shortest day of the year, which means we will have the least amount of natural daylight, which poses a challenge for drivers who are leaving for work and coming home from work in darkness. Every morning in Dublin, there are several near misses on our roads and often reports on the radio of early morning crashes on the M50. We are encouraging new drivers to be extra careful in the darker days and below, we have some tips on what you can do to be more prepared.
Familiar routes can pose totally different challenges in the dark and you really do need to be extra careful when driving, even if you think you know the road well. Even during the day, darker conditions bring poor visibility and higher risk of collisions, simply because it can be harder to spot hazards.
Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for normal headlights) creating less time to react to something in the road, especially when driving at higher speeds.
What should you do to combat darkness?
- Aim your headlights correctly, and make sure they’re clean
- Dim your dashboard
- Look away from oncoming lights
- If you wear glasses, make sure they’re anti-reflective
- Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks
- Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time
How can you make it home safely during rush hour?
- Don’t be an impatient driver; slow down
- Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
- Even though the route may be familiar, don’t go on autopilot; stay alert
- In unfamiliar areas, consult a map before you go and memorize your route
- Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting
The National Sleep Foundation offers this advice to combat fatigue:
- Get seven or more hours of sleep a night
- Don’t drive if you’ve been awake for 16 hours or more
- Stop every two hours to rest
- Pull over and take a nap if you’re drowsy
- Travel during times you are normally awake
While we do only one quarter of our driving at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night. It doesn’t matter whether the road is familiar or not, driving at night is always more dangerous.
Stay Alert, Stay Alive.
It is important to understand the good practices of driving in school zones and special limits zone.
As the final preparations for a new school term begin, in homes and schools around the country, the RSA Road Safety Authority is calling on drivers, parents, guardians and teachers, to make sure road safety is top of the ‘back to school’ checklist. The RSA is reminding parents to ensure their child is visible when walking or cycling on the roads, or when waiting for the school bus.
According to Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority Ireland, parents and guardians have the responsibility to ensure the youngest and most vulnerable road-users are safe when travelling to and from school. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ensure they wear high visibility material when walking, cycling or getting the bus to school. This will help other road-users to see them and to slow down when they are nearby.
Drivers in School Areas
Motorists should also be on the look-out for children making their journey to school and to modify their behaviour accordingly. Drivers should know and respect at all times the speed limit around special areas and schools. It is important for drivers to keep in mind that they must watch out for all children in special areas in public, as children often do not have the skills to cross roads safely.
Here are some Back to School Tips from the RSA:
- Understand the driving limit in the area you are driving, and always watch out for children and families crossing on special areas and nearby;
- Research shows that children under 12 should be accompanied if walking or cycling to school as they don’t have the necessary skills or experience to manage traffic or cross the roads safely. So make sure your child is accompanied by a responsible adult until they’re old enough to go on their own;
- If your child travels to school by bus or car, make sure they use the correct restraint at all times, for example, a child car seat, booster cushion or safety belt;
- Show them the correct way to get on and off the bus, in particular, where they should stand to safely wait for its arrival and before crossing the road;
- If your child walks or cycles to school, make sure they are wearing the proper safety and high visibility gear – a helmet and high vis if they cycle, and a high vis vest or armband if they walk. Make sure their bicycle has working lights, both front and rear, and a bell;
- For older children who may walk or cycle to school, it is important that they learn how to share the road safely with other road users, for example, how to use hand signals to indicate a manoeuvre and always obey the Rules of the Road;
- Teach your child the ‘Safe Cross Code’ and make it a part of their ‘going to school’ routine.
Remember, the best person to teach your child how to use the roads safely is you. So set a good example and always demonstrate safe road use when using the roads.
Having a clean windscreen is very important for safe driving. Trying to see ahead is difficult when you have a combination of sunlight and a screen covered in dirt: smeared bug guts and general greasy road grime can decrease your visibility resulting in unsafe driving. The current dry weather in Ireland certainly does not help with keeping your windscreens clear and clean.
So, what can you do to help make vision through your windscreen better at this time of year? First of all, resist the temptation to wash your car constantly as we must save water due to the dry weather. Second, you can follow these simple steps to cleaning windscreens, so you can drive safely with a clear view of the road ahead:
Clean the inside of the windscreen first – Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the windscreen interior and remove dust particle build-up, which can impact your vision of the road.
Spray a cleaning product – Spray the interior of the glass with a windscreen cleaning product. You can find it in any local auto store or supermarket.
Clean again – Use the clean side of the microfiber cloth, or a new cloth entirely, to wipe the windscreen around the edges. Once the edges have been cleaned, spray the area again and proceed to wipe the remainder of the windscreen. To make it shine and streak free, take a clean cloth and wipe over all the internal windscreen glass.
Clean the outside – For the external glass, give the windscreen a quick wipe over and spray the windscreen with the windscreen cleaning product. Use a pint of water – not more than that to avoid water waste – and rinse down the windscreen from top to bottom with clean water to completely remove all dirt and build up.
Dry well inside and outside – use a lint-free cloth to dry the windscreen completely. Adding a small amount of white vinegar on the clean cloth ensures a streak-free shine.
Enjoy a clean windscreen and safe driving!
Driving during the summer in hot weather conditions can pose significant challenges and risks to the health and safety of drivers and passengers, so it is important to keep in mind these safety tips for summer car traveling.
Safety Tips for Summer Car Traveling
Plenty of fluids
Plenty of fluids is one of the most import safety tips for summer car traveling. Fluids are important for you and for your car as well. Cars and drivers must top up on fluids before taking any trips. For drivers, driving while you are hot will cause you to become dehydrated more quickly. Make sure you take on fluids regularly because dehydration reduces your ability to think and react, and therefore increases the risk you’ll have an accident.
For the cars, the engines get extremely hot in warm weather. Ensure your coolant is always topped up and turn off your engine during traffic. Windscreens also get very dirty in dry weather and marks can amplify sun glare. Plenty of windscreen washer fluid or water will help you maintain a clear view of the sun.
Starting with a cool car is another important safety tip for summer car traveling. Give yourself the best chance of a relaxing drive in the sun by not getting into an already baking hot car. Parking in the shade, opening your doors and windows or running your air-con for a few minutes before setting off will cool your car down, so that you can avoid getting worked up by the heat before a journey. Keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness and possible sunstrokes. Sunstroke is when your body overheats, and it can be particularly problematic for motorcyclists in heavy protective gear if riding in slow traffic where the wind chill doesn’t provide any cooling effect.
Be mindful of summer allergies
Allergies can be very problematic when driving. The last place you want to be constantly sneezing is behind the wheel of a car while driving. Another problem can be if you are taking anti-histamines tablets, as their known to give side effects such as blurred vision and drowsiness, which would evidently impair a person’s ability to drive. Always keep the following in mind:
- Only take medication which doesn’t cause drowsiness
- Consider getting someone else to drive if you are having a particularly bad hayfever day
- Consider cabin pollen filters for your make of vehicle
- Keep tissues close to hand
- Slow down and drop back if you’re about to sneeze
- Wear sunglasses to block out bright sunlight
- Close windows and air vents to reduce pollen grains getting into the vehicle
- Vacuum car mats and carpets regularly during summer, to get rid of dust
Tyre blowouts are a common occurrence in hot weather. According to the AA, tyres with existing damage that are under inflated will become even more aggravated at higher temperatures, which increases the likelihood of blowouts and punctures. Keep your tyre pressure at the optimum level for summer driving.
You can also read more about driving distractions and safety here.
ANewDriver wishes you a season ahead: Drive safe and enjoy summerwith these safety tips for summer car traveling!
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.
– 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!
– By ANewDriver
How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind – It is important to understand how to drive safely in windy conditions. Driving in conditions that involve strong or heavy wind can significantly increase your risk and potential for dangerous situations on the road. It may not seem like the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but safety professionals know that driving in any type of severe weather is risky.
Severe weather demands undivided attention. It is important to reduce any possible distractions, such as turning the radio down or turning off a phone. Keep your attention fully on the road. Also, consider that sometimes the best driving decision you can make is to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.
A Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas of concern also include highway overpasses and tunnels that can act as funnels for the wind.
In case you must drive in windy conditions, here are some tips on how to stay safe and reduce accident risks.
- Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather. Always avoid it if possible.
- Be aware of large vehicles on the road such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.
- Take your time. Try to stay at a constant speed and not to turn the vehicle suddenly.
- Be aware of water, oil and others spillages that may have occurred on the road due to the heavy wind.
- Take ‘driving on wet roads’ precautions if the wind is accompanied by rain. Also be mindful of leaves and other objects (please read AUTUMN HAZARDS for more details here).
The infographic below also shows personal safety tips to keep in mind when weather conditions involve strong winds.
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.