Archive 25th July 2013

Your Car and Extremely Hot Temperatures

We felt it prudent to go “off track” with our blog this week. Normally, you will find us writing about learning to drive and everything that goes with it. However, this past week or so, the UK has experienced a heat-wave. Something that appeared to take everyone by surprise, especially given the winter we’ve just experienced.

As usual, there are has been various reports in the news stating how people are suffering as a result. In some cases, people were even sent home from work! However, what we intend to deal with today is the safety and comfort of your car when the UK does get extremely warm temperatures.

General Car Maintenance


Your tyres will warm up far quicker when the weather is hot (for obvious reasons). This is why it’s imperative you check the air pressure is correct. In fact, this should be part of your routine car maintenance but, it’s especially important in hot weather. The reason is that rubber swells and that’s what your tyres are essentially made of. Air also swells in the heat.

Put the two together and you have a recipe for disaster. In the very worst case scenario, you may suffer a blowout while you’re on the motorway, and the consequences can be disastrous. If you’re not sure how to check your tyre pressure, consult the handbook that comes with your vehicle. If you’re still unsure, ask someone who is likely to know.


Yes, it is a good idea to keep a small bottle or two in the car so you can remain hydrated if you get caught in a traffic jam. But, you should also remember that your car gets thirsty too. Make sure the water levels are where they should be or you could end-up on the side of the road with an overheated radiator. You should also make sure you have plenty of screen-wash to keep those pesky insect remains at bay.

Keeping Yourself Comfortable

Lots of cars these days have air-conditioning. At the very least, they give you the option to turn the air that comes out of the vents to cold. Once you’re aware a hot spell of weather is on the way, make sure your air-conditioning is working, especially if you’re going on a long journey. As mentioned, make sure you keep plenty of drinking water in the car as well. Heat exhaustion can catch you unawares, and whilst accidents caused by this are very rare, you don’t want to take the chance.

If you have leather seats, these will need to be shielded from the sun. Not only will this help to keep the upholstery in tip-top condition, it will save you from a burnt behind when you get into the car. You may also want to consider keeping a towel to sit on (leather can get pretty sweaty).


These are just a few very basic points to consider when you’re out driving in extremely warm temperatures. Just bear in mind your car needs to stay cool just as much as you do!

Finding the Right Driving Instructor

There is loads of information to be found on the internet giving you advice about how to go about learning to drive. Many articles will start by telling you that if you’re in your teens, this is probably one of the most stressful things you can do (apart from taking your exams), and this is true. However, the process can be made a whole lot easier if you find the right instructor to help you.

Friends and Relatives

Money is tight for a lot of people right now, and turning to a friend or relative to help you learn to drive might seem like a great way to save the cost of using a properly qualified instructor. However, this might raise your stress levels as well as have the person sat next to you reaching for the blood pressure pills!

You see, driving instructors don’t just go through training so they can learn how to teach you to drive according to current Government regulations, they also learn how to keep their cool. The chances are you won’t have your own car, which means using the car that belongs to the friend or relative that’s agreed to help you.

Whilst their intentions may be well meant, their first thought will be to protect their precious vehicle, and the slightest mistake made by you could result in a lot of waving of arms and general panic. For this reason, it’s a good idea to save up so you can use an instructor.

What to Look For

When you first start your search there are a couple of things to look out for:

  • Make sure you use a properly registered company. It’s OK to go with a privately owned firm, but you should make some additional checks.
  • Ensure the person who is going to teach you has the proper credentials. This means they should be an Approved Driving Instructor and hold the ADI badge. This qualification is issued by the Driving Standards Agency, so make sure you check this out – it’s VITALLY important.
  • Make sure the car you will be learning to drive in is legal and properly insured to protect you should anything go wrong while you’re on the road.

You and Your Driving Instructor

It’s not just about making sure you find a reputable instructor to help you learn to drive so you pass your test with flying colours; it’s also about knowing you can feel comfortable with the person sat next to you in the car.

It won’t hurt to take a lesson or two from a couple of different instructors. You need to make sure you can get on with them. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t take in what’s being relayed to you, and your chances of making dangerous mistakes could be heightened.

Bear in mind how professional your instructor is. Do they smoke when you’re in the vehicle? Are they clear and concise with their instructions? Above all, are they calm and reassuring when you do make a mistake, (in the beginning you will do this).

Taking some (if not all) of the advice above will send you on the first step to gaining your very own full driving licence.

Distracted Driving and the Dangers

Let me start by telling you about an experience I once had when I was driving home from work. It was dark, the roads were wet and I was travelling on a standard road which wasn’t busy. There was a car in front of me which was travelling at the speed limit (like me). What happened next appeared to take place in slow motion.

There was a van parked in the road ahead of us and, as I watched I thought “this driver is going straight up the back of that van unless he slows down now”. To my horror, he crashed straight into the back of the van. Of course, I immediately stopped and rushed over. The driver seemed a little shocked, but otherwise OK. I asked if he needed any help and he said he would be fine.

One main thought sprang to mind after this little incident which could have been a lot worse if we had been in busy traffic or, he was travelling far quicker than 30mph. What was this person doing that caused them to miss a transit van parked right in front of him So much so; he ended up hitting the back of it.

There were two conclusions:

  • He had been drinking alcohol and his reactions were not what they should be.
  • He took his eyes off the road.

The first point is something the police would obviously have to work out, the second however, is what we call distracted driving and it can be very dangerous indeed.

Reasons Why You Might Be Distracted

If you’re travelling alone, the following can easily happen:

  • You decide to change the CD your currently playing in the car. This involves not only taking your eyes off the road, but your hands off the wheel (even if it is only one).
  • You’re head is turned by an attractive person or something happening on the street.
  • You decide to answer your mobile phone without using the hands-free kit. In actual fact, answering your mobile when driving can be considered a distraction anyway.
  • You go looking for a map because you’re lost.
  • Possibly one of the worst distractions is Sat-Nav systems that have a visual display. These are (in my opinion) a constant distraction. You may not realise it, but you will be able to see the map at all times out of the corner of your eye, and it’s very tempting to look at it.

If you’re travelling with passengers:

  • Talking to someone for the most part is OK, and we all do it. However, you can be tempted to look at them.
  • If you have kids in the back of the car it’s tempting to look in your rear-view mirror when you talk to them (also a distraction).

What Can Happen

The majority of accidents on the road (fatal or not), are caused by distracted driving. It takes a split second for something to go wrong. Imagine that you’ve just looked down at your mobile, look up again and a cyclist is in the path of your car or, worse a child!

Keeping in mind how distractions can cause accidents is something you should think about every-time you take to the roads. It could save your life!

Advanced Driving Tips for New Drivers

So, you’ve passed your driving test, the party has been enjoyed by all and the hangovers are a thing of the past (if you’re over 18 of course)! In the cold light of day, you suddenly realise that you can get into a car without a qualified instructor next to you. Yes! You’re on your own!

Many say that learning to drive and taking the test at the end can be one of the most stressful things a young adult can do. However, your journey has only just begun. You will now be armed with enough knowledge of the roads so you’re deemed safe to handle a car as set out by the rules according to the UK Government.

I remember when I passed my test and a colleague at work (who was a good deal older than me) commented that now was when I actually learn to drive. He wasn’t far wrong. You see, it doesn’t matter if you passed your test first time with flying colours or, it took you a few times to get it right. Those first time jitters will still surface.

For that reason we’ve decided to give you a few tips on what to look out for that you may not have picked up while you were learning:

The Basics

When you were still learning, you will have had to go through a theory test and, this will have involved recognising certain hazards that can appear on the road. Unfortunately, this cannot prepare you for every eventuality and neither can this article but, there are few hazards below to watch out for that you might come across:

  • People parked in stupid places that obscure your vision for oncoming traffic – in this instance SLOW DOWN, stop if you have to. What you will learn are that other road users are more than happy to help. If someone is coming the other way, they might stop with a gap large enough for you to pass through.
  • Lines of parked cars along a road can be a potential hazard. Again, speed is the main thing to watch out for here. Children especially don’t always have good road sense so; keep your eyes peeled for anyone jumping out in front of you.
  • Cyclists are something-else you should think about and that’s why you have both rear view and side mirrors. USE THEM; they could save someone’s life (as well as yours). Cyclists are not always easy to spot so make sure you’re fully aware of what’s around you before you use a junction or roundabout.

How to Handle Other Road Users

It’s a sad but true fact that we all pick up bad habits once we grow more confident about our driving skills. This is why you should always treat everyone-else on the road as if they were new at the whole “driving game”. All sorts of things can happen. People may stall their car at traffic lights which could cause a small prang if you’re too close. People don’t always indicate when they’re about to turn off so, again keeping your distance is the safest thing to do.

This is just a small portion of the things you should look out for – keep your eyes peeled for more information on advanced driving tips.