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!
– 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.
– By ANewDriver via RSA
Driving during Cold Weather – Taking a number of simple precautions can ensure safety on Irish roads during winter. Don’t get caught out if severe weather hits, make the necessary checks on your vehicle now.
There are a number of simple precautions the RSA advises for driving over the winter months:
1.Check your tyres…they are your only contact with the road.
Tyres should be at least the minimum legal thread depth of 1.6mm but need to be changed before they get this worn. Tyres need to be to the correct tyre pressure to give the motorist the best chance in extreme conditions.
2.Use your lights.
As we come into the winter months, motorists are advised to use dipped head lights during the day so you are easily seen. Headlights and taillights should be in working order.
3. Understand your brakes.
Check your car manual and find out if your vehicle has safety assist technology such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Anti – Lock Braking System (ABS). Learn how these technologies can assist your driving in harsh weather conditions.
It takes longer to stop a car during the winter weather so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the car in front.
5. Make sure you can clearly see.
All too often motorists do not de-fog or de-ice windows and mirrors which can compromise visibility. This winter ensure windows and mirrors are clear, and carry a de-icer and screen scraper. Do not use boiling water as this can crack the windscreen.
6.Beware of “Black Ice”.
Black Ice is one of winter’s biggest hazards as it is difficult to see. Watch out for sheltered/ shaded areas on roads, under trees and near high walls.
During these winter months it is advised that motorists carry a number of essentials in the boot of their car:
- High visibility vest
- Spare fuel
- Appropriate footwear in case you need to leave your vehicle e.g. boots
- A hazard warning triangle
- Spare wheel – (Check that your spare wheel is in good condition and is fully inflated. Some cars may have an inflation repair kit instead of a spare wheel. Make sure that you know how to use it.)
- Tow Rope
- A shovel
- De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks)
- Spare bulbs
- First aid kit
- A fire extinguisher
- A working torch
- A car blanket, additional clothing & some food and water
8. In the event of a breakdown.
Drivers need to ensure their vehicle is well in off the road so as not to obstruct other vehicles. The driver should also put on their hazard warning lights. If the vehicle breaks down on the motorway pull in as far as you can, alerting traffic behind you with hazard lights. The driver should leave their vehicle, get behind the barrier (on the embankment) and call the Gardaí, on their mobile phone or roadside telephone.
9. Keep up to date.
Listen to local weather and traffic reports. Pay heed to the weather warnings alerting drivers of unsafe and dangerous driving conditions.
10. Check out the RSA’s publication ‘Severe Weather Advice for Road Users’ for more detailed advice on what to do if severe weather strikes.