Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Warsop 'rihgt' turn road marking spelt wrongly . . .


Warsop 'rihgt' turn road marking spelt wrongly

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The spelling mistake was spotted on Friday afternoon

Contractors were left red-faced after incorrectly painting the word "rihgt" on a road off a supermarket car park.

The spelling error was spotted close to the High Street in Warsop, Nottinghamshire on Friday afternoon.

Eric Hill quickly photographed the sign, which should have read "right", prior to the error being painted over.

A spokesman for the Co-op said the contractors were made aware of their mistake and would amend the spelling "as quickly as possible".

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The car seat that detects HEART ATTACKS: Ford plans to monitor drivers' pulses to prevent accidents . . .


The car seat that detects HEART ATTACKS: Ford plans to monitor drivers' pulses to prevent accidents

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  • Ford's European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany is working on a car seat that can detect heart attacks
  • The device uses six embedded sensors to monitor heart activity
  • It can then work out through clothing if someone is having a heart attack
  • The system will then notify the necessary authorities in an emergency 
  • There's no firm roll-out date yet but it should be available by 2020
Ford is preparing to roll out a car seat that can check a driver's heart activity.

The seat uses six embedded sensors to detect electrical impulses and can detect if someone is having a heart attack through clothing.

If higher than usual heart activity is detected, the necessary authorities can be contacted to provide assistance to the driver.

Ford's European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany is working on a car seat that can detect heart attacks (shown). The device uses six embedded sensors to monitor heart activity. It can then work out through clothing if someone is having a heart attack

The project is being undertaken by Ford's European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany and Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University.

The sensors sit on the back of the seat with the electrodes designed to detect the electronic signature of the heart through clothing.

The Ford heart rate monitoring seat performs much like a traditional ECG, except the sensors are placed on the surface of the car seat instead of being directly attached to the driver.

These special sensors are capable of reading the heart’s electrical impulses through clothing and are able to use the driver's natural contact with the seat to maintain a reading in most cases. 

The Ford heart rate monitoring seat performs much like a traditional ECG, except the sensors are placed on the surface of the car seat instead of being directly attached to the driver.

These special sensors are capable of reading the heart's electrical impulses through clothing and are able to use the driver's natural contact with the seat to maintain a reading in most cases.

Ford's engineers are apparently working on making sure all materials, body shapes and sizes can be catered to by the electrodes.

Research has shown that drivers suffering from cardiovascular disease are 23 per cent more likely to be involved in a road accident, rising to 52 per cent for drivers suffering from angina - chest pains caused by the heart.

Fords car seat may in some cases detect increased heart activity before the driver notices they are having a heart attack, so the system would display a message to the driver telling them to pull over.

Response teams could also be informed of the heart condition of the driver before, during and after an incident.

Existing Ford systems such as Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Active City Stop, Driver Alert and Speed Limiter could potentially be activated when the Ford heart rate monitoring seat senses an attack is imminent, mitigating the consequences of a driver losing control because of a heart-related episode. 

Ford has invented a Heart Rate Monitoring Seat Package

The sensors sit on the back of the seat with the electrodes designed to detect the electronic signature of the heart through clothing. The system will notify the necessary authorities in an emergency. There's no firm roll-out date yet but it should be available by 2020, a Ford spokesperson tells MailOnline

Research has shown that drivers suffering from cardiovascular disease are 23 per cent more likely to be involved in a road accident, rising to 52 per cent for drivers suffering from angina - chest pains caused by the heart. Fords car seat may in some cases detect increased heart activity before the driver notices

Ford says the product is intended to help the growing aging population, reports the Financial Times.

According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double to 88.5 million by 2050, outnumbering children under five for the first time.

'With increasing life expectancy meaning higher numbers of people and therefore drivers at risk of heart diseases, the ability to monitor hearts at the wheel would offer massive benefits in terms of health and road safety, both for the user and the wider public,' said RWTH Aachen University Professor Steffen Leonhardt in a statement.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

The Preventive Maintenance You Need to Do On Your Car (and When) . . .


The Preventive Maintenance You Need to Do On Your Car (and When)

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Regular preventive maintenance is probably the single thing you can do as a car owner to keep your ride happy and save money on repairs in the future. However, not everyone agrees on what preventive maintenance is, what you should do, and when you should do it. Let's clear that up, and give you some tips that'll apply to any vehicle.

Anyone who's ever worked on cars or spent a ton of money getting their car repaired will tell you: Don't ignore preventive maintenance. The basics, like changing your oil, checking your tire pressure, and getting scheduled inspections and work done are like getting regular checkups at the doctor. They keep you healthy and give you - and the experts - a chance to catch anything serious before it becomes a major problem. With your car, that can save you thousands.
First, Read Your Owner's Manual

Pay attention to your owner's manual. Regardless of the vehicle you drive, your regular maintenance schedule is inside it, and you'll never fall for old car myths like, "You should change your oil every 3,000 miles," (unless of course, your manual says you should, and odds are it doesn't). You will, however, discover how often your manufacturer really does suggest you change your oil (it can vary widely by vehicle), your filters, any drive or timing belts in your vehicle, and more. You'll even find out whether you're putting the right gas in your vehicle or whether you're using the right kind of oil in the first place.

Seriously - you wouldn't fire up a complicated piece of technology or a massive new home appliance without checking the manual to make sure you know what you're doing. Most car lovers already know how important this is, but it's still important even for people don't consider themselves interested in how their car works. If you're using the wrong oil, for example, or filling a car that calls for higher octane fuel with the lowest octane stuff you can buy, you may run the risk of voiding your warranty, and worse, causing damage that'll cost more to fix than you'd save by using the cheap stuff.

Preventive Maintenance Every Vehicle Needs

If you drive, there's probably little you hate more than getting your car repaired. 
  • Do your own inspection. It's basic, but give your car a once-over periodically so you catch anything that looks out of the ordinary. Make sure all your lights are working. Check the air pressure in your tires every month or so (and buy a cheap tire air pressure gauge and keep it in the glove compartment). Doing so is good for your tires, gets you better mileage, and saves you money in gas if you discover that the pressure is off. Listen for any strange sounds, inside and out. Make sure your tires have enough tread. You can use a penny to do it, or look out for the wear indicators on the tire treads. If anything's out of the ordinary, don't ignore it.
  • Learn to check your fluids. Even if you don't ever learn how to change your antifreeze, power steering, coolant, or even your wiper fluid (although seriously, don't let someone charge you to change wiper fluid), you should learn how to check those fluid levels. In some cases, you can see the tank level directly, but most have gauges or dipsticks you can pull out to check current levels against a notch that indicates optimal levels. Even if your owner's manual doesn't have much to say about checking your transmission fluid or antifreeze, don't be afraid to open the hood and see if you can find it. If you're running low, add more (if you can) or get it changed. Most importantly, never ignore a leak. 
  • Inspect and get your timing and serpentine belts replaced when necessary. Many people will tell you to get your timing belt replaced every 60,000 miles or so, and your serpentine belt replaced every 40,000 miles, give or take. Again, your owner's manual will offer real numbers for your type of vehicle. If you can't find the manual, look around online. You'll probably find the actual recommendation for your car. Use it as a guideline, and ask your mechanic to inspect the belts when it gets time to replace them mileage-wise. If they're still in good shape, don't bother, but if they're worn out, get them replaced before they fail. If you wait and those belts do fail, you'll break down, and the damaged belt can damage other accessories, making the repair even more expensive.
  • Check your oil and get it changed regularly. Whether your car has a dipstick to check the oil's color and oil level or the dipstick has been replaced with an electronic gauge, you should know how to check it. Knowing the difference between clean oil and muddy, murky oil will save you a ton on unnecessary changes and gives you a way to tell if something's wrong with your engine (e.g. the oil looks terrible but you just had it changed). It's hard to make a universal recommendation for how frequently you should change your oil, but the answer is - as we mentioned - in your owner's manual. Don't just blindly follow the 3,000 mile myth though - for most vehicles it can be as high as 10,000 miles, depending on the oil your vehicle calls for (something else that's in the manual).
  • Check your battery and clean the contacts (if necessary). Most batteries these days don't require much in the way of maintenance, but you should know where it is and check it to make sure it's not leaking and there's no mineral or other buildup on the contacts. If there is, clean it off with a battery cleaning brush. It will set you back a couple of bucks at any auto parts or department store. Buy one and keep it in the trunk. While you're at it, consider buying a cheap battery tester or jump starter. You'll never need to call someone or wait for AA (or a friendly passer-by) to give you a jump.
  • Replace your windshield wipers when the view gets streak-y. It may seem silly, but I've known several people who just ignored their wipers until they got them replaced as part of a bigger job. Wipers are cheap and easy to replace yourself. Don't wait until you can barely see through your windshield. Your visibility is important, and you wouldn't wait until you saw an optometrist to clean your glasses, would you? While you're at it, give your windshield a good cleaning inside and out—if it's hard to see, the problem may be inside, not out.
  • Replace your cabin air filter. Replacing a cabin air filter is probably one of the easiest things you can do to keep your car comfortable. Most vehicles make the cabin air filter easily accessible, and replacing it is as easy as opening a box. You can get a fitting filter at any auto parts store. It may not be critical to your car's operation, but it's easy, it makes the ride more pleasant, and it's a repair you'll never have to pay someone else to do.
  • Replace your engine air filter. Getting to the engine air filter may be a little trickier depending on the vehicle you have, but replacing it regularly is important. Your owner's manual will give you a mileage estimate for how frequently you should replace your engine air filter, but if you can get to it, check it. If it's dirty, replace it. If you drive a ton, especially in stop-and-go traffic or have a long commute, your engine air filter may get dirtier faster than someone who drives open roads or only drives around on the weekends. If you need help or your owner's manual doesn't lay out exactly how to do it (although it should), this guide from Jalopnik can help.
  • Get your tires rotated and balanced, and your alignment checked. Your manual will tell you how often to do this, and it's important to do to make sure your tires wear evenly and your car drives smoothly. You can make your tires - which are expensive to replace all at once, by the way, take it from someone who's done it several times - last much longer by getting them rotated and balanced. Your alignment is just as important. If you're fighting your car to keep it straight, that's a bad situation that's easily corrected.
  • Change your spark plugs. If your spark plugs are worn out or covered in buildup, your engine isn't working efficiently. That can cost you money in fuel for one, but it can also lead to a breakdown. It may sound daunting, but in some cases checking and replacing them isn't that difficult. If you don't feel like doing it yourself (or it's a big and complicated job for your vehicle), follow your manual's recommendation and get them changed regularly - for most standard copper spark plugs and vehicles, that's around 30,000 miles (but again, it varies - some iridium plugs can last up to 100,000 miles).
These are just a few things that every vehicle needs, and almost all of them are things you can do yourself. We can't stress enough the importance of checking your owner's manual for anything we may have overlooked here, or anything specific to your vehicle. If you don't have your manual, you can find it pretty easily online.

Check with your manufacturer first - they may even have a PDF copy on their website. If not,Edmunds has a list of online manuals here organized by manufacturer (US only). Our friends at Jalopnik turned us on to Just Give Me The Damn Manual, which is a real windfall. If you still can't find it, you can probably order a copy from Helm, Inc, or pick up a Haynes Manual which, although they're aimed at the DIY enthusiast, will tell you everything you need to know. Remember, preventive maintenance can save you a ton. It's not just something mechanics and car people tell you to do to spend money.

Use Technology to Track Your Maintenance

Keeping tabs on the work you have done to your car can be a pain. I like to keep my receipts in the glove compartment so I can look through them when I'm in the car if I need to, but that's no real filing system - you could do just as well scanning your maintenance receipts and putting them into Dropbox or Evernote, or whatever other note-taking tool you prefer.

If you're looking for a more portable option though, one that lets you see what you've had done recently so no one tries to upsell you on work you don't need, here are a few apps to try:
  • Road Trip (iOS) is probably one of the most robust mileage and maintenance tracking apps for iOS available. Tracking fill-ups and mileage is super-fast, as is adding maintenance history, expenses, and reminders for future work. The app has a tire log to track summer and winter wear on your tires, and supports other vehicles like boats and motorcycles. You can track as many vehicles as you like, too. The lite version gives you a taste, but the full version will set you back $5 for the iPhone or the iPad (it's not a universal app, so you'll have to buy it twice for both platforms.)
  • Car Maintenance Reminder (Android) is a free app that will keep track of your fuel efficiency, cost, and mileage, but also gives you a place to track all of the maintenance and repairs you have done to your vehicle. You can add notes, costs, and of course, get notifications and reminders when you should get some work done. The free version tracks one vehicle. If you have more than one, the $3 pro version is for you.
  • AutoCare (iOS/Android): AutoCare has been around for a while, and does a pretty good job of tracking your vehicle's maintenance history, mileage, repair history, service expensives, and more. You can even use it to remind you when it's time to get something specific done so you won't forget. Plus, it supports multiple vehicles. It'll set you back $4 for iOS users, and $2 for Android users.
  • Car Minder Plus (iOS) is another good, simple app for tracking your mileage and your vehicle maintenance. You get presets for things like oil filters, air filters, belt inspections, and oil changes, and you can enter in your own maintenance work and expenses to the log to keep track of what you've had done. From there, enter in your service intervals, and the app uses simple red/yellow/green indicators to tell you when it's time to get that work done. The app will cost you $3.
  • aCar (Android) is free, and one of the most popular Android apps for tracking vehicle maintenance and mileage. Tracking fill-ups and mileage is quick, entering in your maintenance history and expenses is easy, and you can even enter specific notes or information about parts you prefer or that your vehicle requires. The app notifies you based on time and/or mileage when you should have work done, and supports custom notifications. aCar Pro adds in multiple languages, home screen widgets for quick access to data and logging, and connections to other popular car apps and websites, all for $6.

Don't Ignore Issues, Consult a Professional When You Need To

We've talked about a lot of work here that's important to get done, and much of it is work that you can do yourself, but some things really are left to a professional. Jalopnik cites this list of repairs better left to the experts.

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Five Fluids You Should Check to Keep Your Car Running Smoothly . . .


Five Fluids You Should Check to Keep Your Car Running Smoothly

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Cars need a ton of maintenance to keep running smoothly. The easiest thing anyone can do is check the fluids to ensure your car stays healthy. With that in mind, here are the five fluids you should check on a regular basis.

A large chunk of your car's maintenance is preventative and regardless of your skill level pretty much anyone who can lift a hood can check the fluids. Doing so on a regular basis keeps your car running well and your repair costs down. Knowing the basics also empowers you so that when you're getting any maintenance on your car you're not swindled into flushing and replacing a bunch of fluids that don't need it. 

All you need to know is where to look and what to look for. We're often told to "check your fluids often," but let's take a look at what "often" actually means. Keep in mind that every car's a little different, but the below dates should apply pretty universally. 

Engine Oil

Chances are, the first thing you ever learned about on your first car was how to check your oil. You have to do this in every car and pretty much every car has the same basic process to check it.

In most cars, you just need to pop up your hood, find the oil dipstick, pull it out, and wipe it down. Repeat that again and you'll have your oil level. If it's in the safe level, continue on your merry way. If it's not, you need to add more. Depending on the age of the car, you may or may not need to add oil pretty often. If your car burns through a lot of oil, it's worth going to a mechanic.

How often to check it: It was once recommended that you check your oil every time you fill up with gas, but with most modern cars you're safe checking it once a month.

How often to replace it: This depends on the car, manufacturer, and year. The "3,000 miles or every six months" saying doesn't really apply any more. Instead, check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations for changing your engine oil.

Transmission Fluid

Your transmission fluid is what keeps the gears on your car moving smoothly. You can check your transmission fluid the same way as your engine oil, except the car should be running when you do it. Unlike your engine oil, transmission fluid is part of a closed system, so it should never be low. If it is, take it into a mechanic. Instead of volume, you're looking at the quality of the fluid. The fluid should be red and not smell burned. If the fluid is brown or smells burnt, it's time to replace it.

How often to check it: Monthly.

How often to replace it: This varies from car to car and depends on transmission type, but it's typically between every 50,000-100,000 miles.


As the name implies, coolant, aka antifreeze, keeps your car running cool. If you ever run low on coolant, your car's probably going to overheat. The coolant is inside you radiator and you can typically check it by simply removing the radiator cap when the car is cool (never check it when it's hot or your car is running) and looking inside. Once you remove the cap you should see a line the coolant should come up to. If it's low, you can add more, but make sure you add the same type of coolant currently in the car.

How often to check it: At least twice yearly: once before summer and again before winter But it's easy enough to glance at whenever you pop open your hood.
How often to replace it: Every 2-3 years.

Brake Fluid

Just like your transmission, your brake fluid is part of a closed system so you shouldn't ever be low on it. That said, it's still worth checking to make sure it's clean. Brake fluid keeps your brakes working properly, so if they ever feel a little off, checking your brake fluid is usually the first step. You can do this by checking the brake fluid reservoir on the driver side of your car. You can usually check the level just by looking at the outside of the container. The fluid should be a golden color. If it's brown, it's time to replace it.

How often to check it: When you change your oil.
How often to replace it: Every 2 years.

Power Steering Fluid

Your power steering fluid helps keeps your steering smooth and easy. When the power steering fluid starts to get low, you might feel a "creaking" in the steering wheel or hear some weird sounds. To check it, all you need to do is pop the hood and find the reservoir. Usually you can check it visually by looking at the reservoir. Power steering fluid doesn't usually drop too much, so if it's low, it's worth taking your car into a mechanic or looking for a leak.

How often to check it: Once a month.
How often to replace it: Between 50,000 miles and never. Typically speaking, most car manuals recommend keeping the power steering fluid levels topped off, but you'll rarely need to flush and replace it. Double check your owner's manual to make sure you can ignore yours.

So, set up those calendar reminders and make those notes. If you're checking your car's fluids regularly it'll last a heck of a lot longer.

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Is your company ready for Winter? . . .


Is your company ready for Winter?

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Despite the increased likelihood of difficult driving conditions in winter there’s no easing off on the pressure to deliver. In fact with Christmas approaching the pressure for many freight companies can be greater than ever.

So keeping the main roads open during severe weather is vital for many businesses and everyone on the road can help achieve that.

The Highways Agency, which manages the motorways and major A roads in England, will be working hard to keep its network clear – with more than 500 salt spreaders and snow ploughs on standby. That doesn't guarantee HGVs won’t get stuck. And if one vehicle gets stuck, so does everyone else behind!

Posters and information packs

The Highways Agency has produced an information pack for you to distribute to your drivers. This will take only a few minutes to print off. It’s been written with the help of freight and coach companies and who are distributing it within their fleets.

As well as the information sheets, there are posters you can display in depots: one aimed at drivers and one for fleet managers.

Download poster for fleet managers

One of the key messages is ‘keeping an eye on the weather forecast at least several days ahead’. Companies have shown that they can reduce the impact on their business by adapting schedules in response to the forecast – not just waiting for the bad weather to hit.

For drivers, there are reminders not to cut corners in the cold, advice on preparing their vehicle and driving in all types of weather.

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Top 10 Signs You Should Pull Over Immediately . . .


Top 10 Signs You Should Pull Over Immediately

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Cars are so reliable these days; it's easy to forget that you can still have an emergency.

Here's our Top 10 list of the things that should cause you to pull your car over immediately.

(We know, this was supposed to be only 10 reasons to pull over immediately, but we thought of a few more. So sue us!)

12. Losing Something 'Essential'

We're sure this has happened to you. You're driving along and you reach into your glove box to grab your Sleepy LaBeef CD. As you're fumbling to open the CD case with one hand, the CD pops out and falls on the floor, under your legs. What do you do? Too many people bend down while they're driving and try to find Sleepy's greatest hits. Don't do it. Remember that at 65 mph every second your head spends down between your knees your car moves almost 100 feet without a driver! Besides, if your head is down there when you crash it could end up firmly implanted somewhere embarrassing. One might even argue that it already is in that dark place if you engage in this risky behavior.

So if you drop something — a CD, your keys, your phone, a french fry — either let it sit there until you get to your destination or pull over before you fish it out.

11. Cabin Chaos

Sometimes things get exciting inside a car. The kids, who normally slap and pinch each other suddenly pull out kitchen knives. Or your Labrador sees a cute little poodle crossing the street and jumps into your lap to get a closer look. Or your mother-in-law announces that she's just filled her Depends. Don't try to solve problems like these and drive at the same time. You can't. It's tempting to try to reach the kids in the backseat and separate them or toss the dog into the backseat or help your mother-in-law ... nevermind. It's much wiser to pull over and get things back under control. Then get back on the road.

10. Medical Emergency

If you think that you may be experiencing a medical problem, pull over right away. We've heard too many stories about people who have all the signs of a stroke or heart attack, yet they decide to try to "make it home" before calling for help. This is a recipe for killing yourself and other people on the road. If you have any reason to believe you're getting seriously ill, pull over and call for help. That's what 911 is for.

Even less deadly medical problems can make us lousy drivers. So consider pulling over and resting if you have something in your eye, a migraine headache or intense heartburn. Pull over if you can't sit still because you need to use the bathroom (or the bushes next to the road) or if you drop cigar ash between your legs. Anything that causes you to worry more about some part of your body than what's happening on the road in front of you is a good reason to pull over and stop driving until the problem is solved.

9. Lack of Visibility

We tend to forget that when we're driving we're piloting a 3,000-pound projectile. And when you're going 65 mph, you're covering 96 feet in one second. It'll take you 316 feet to come to a complete stop under ideal conditions. For that reason, it's good to be able to see!

Your visibility can suddenly become impaired for all kinds of reasons: a sudden downpour, thick fog, broken windshield wipers, a big splash of mud and an empty windshield washer reservoir, a flying projectile that cracks your windshield or a hood latch that breaks and sends the hood flying up while you're driving. And this doesn't even count the most common source of poor visibility — failure to clean off the windshield when it's snowy or icy. Bottom line: If you can't see well for any reason, pull over right away and either fix the problem or wait until the weather changes before getting back on the road.

8. Any Loud or Sudden Noise

Unless you're driving Tommy's MG, your car is not supposed to make any loud, sudden or unidentifiable noises. A loud or sudden noise can be benign. It could be a plastic milk jug that you ran over. On the other hand, it could also mean that your engine just launched a spark plug into low-Earth orbit.

Unless it's a milk jug, it indicates that something has just changed. It's changed from one piece to several pieces or changed from attached to unattached. Either way, it's best to pull over and try to figure it out.

7. Temperature Light or Oil Light

There are very few things that can wreck a car in less than two minutes. There's a direct hit by a meteor or a Caterpillar D9. Fortunately, both are very uncommon. But there are two common things that can ruin cars — severe overheating and loss of oil pressure. Your dashboard has idiot lights for both of these conditions. They're talking to you, pal.

If either of those lights comes on, don't try to make it home before investigating. Driving with no oil pressure can wreck a car's internal parts in minutes. Or less. Severe overheating can blow your head gasket or warp or crack your cylinder head or block just as quickly. 

A customer of ours had the oil light come on and drove home before calling us. We asked her, "Why did you try to get home?" She said she felt safer at home. That's understandable, we said, but that feeling of safety just cost you $7,000! If you see the oil light or hot light, unless it's unsafe to do so, pull over and call for help.

6. Sudden Change in Handling

If something changes in your car's handling and you can feel it in your steering wheel, chances are it is serious. It could be a sudden, extreme change like a tire blowing out or a wheel about to fall off. Or you might notice that the steering wheel is suddenly wobbling or tugging in one direction. These are all potentially serious problems that require pulling over.

Not every change in handling is dire. A small wobble could be something relatively minor like a lost wheel weight or a bad tire. It could be as simple as a change in road surface. Here's the catch: If you try to make an on-the-fly diagnosis, you risk driving over a guard rail and onto a nearby putting green. Or much worse. There are a lot of crucial pieces in the front end of the car. Because they're attached to the front wheels you can often feel a change in the steering wheel. Pay attention to it.

5. Steam/Water Vapor

Steam is usually an indication that coolant, which is under pressure, is escaping from your car's cooling system. If it's leaking slowly and hitting an exhaust pipe or something else that's hot, it may not be an emergency. But if it's leaking quickly, you can overheat the engine and do serious damage to your engine and your wallet. If your engine is overheating, you can sometimes save yourself thousands of dollars by pulling over before permanent damage is done.

Don't twist off the radiator cap right away to have a look-see. If your car is overheating, or even if it's not, the coolant is under very high pressure and can burn your face until it looks as bad as my brother's. So if you're not mechanically inclined, pull over, turn off your engine and find a good, local garage that can lend a hand.

4. Smell

We each know what our car smells like: Mostly, it smells like us, which is why it offends other people. Or it may smell like some combination of new-car smell, wet dog, old juice boxes and maybe grandma. If you notice a new smell — especially if you know it didn't come from you — it's best to pull over and investigate it. It could be relatively benign such as when you drive over a plastic grocery bag and it sticks to your hot catalytic converter or a meatball sub that slid under the passenger seat. But it could be something more serious like wire insulation burning or a gas leak. So if you notice a smell that's unusual and you can't identify it, it's best to pull over and make sure it's nothing getting ready to cause a disaster.

Your two primary concerns are gasoline, which you should never smell in the passenger compartment once you're moving, and something that's smoldering and could catch fire. Smoldering electrical wires are the most common source of fire. Once you pull over, you should investigate the smell carefully. And if you're at all concerned, call for help.

3. Smoke

There are lots of reasons why smoke might be issuing forth from your vehicle. But almost all of them are bad. Some are not emergencies such as when engine oil is dripping onto a hot exhaust pipe since a small amount of oil can produce a lot of smoke. But other times where there's smoke, there's fire. Or there soon will be. If you see smoke, it's best to pull over and check it out.

2. Flames

If you see flames spouting from anywhere in your car, pull over immediately. Not only is your car beginning to turn into automotive flambé before your eyes, but there's a risk to your life, as well. Even if the flames aren't burning you, per se, the fumes may be doing you in. So unless you're a trained firefighter, the best thing to do is look out for your own safety. Pull over, lace up your Pro Keds, get a safe distance away from your car and call 911. Then, and only then, do we advise pulling out your long, pronged fork and roasting marshmallows.

1. Blue Lights

Remember what happens if you don't pull over when you see blue lights.

One final note: What does it mean to "pull over immediately"? It means pull over as quickly as it's safe to do so. Don't swerve across five lanes of traffic. Check around you. Check the side of the road to see if there's a place to pull off. And then pull over.

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Raised cycle lane kerb 'causes crashes' in Brighton . . .


Raised cycle lane kerb 'causes crashes' in Brighton

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The raised curb on the gyratory has caused some cyclists to come off their bikes

Cyclists have raised concerns over a new cycle lane in Brighton after a number of riders crashed into a newly raised kerb.

The lane at the Vogue Gyratory on Lewes Road was built as part of a £600,000 investment project.

However, there have been reports of three accidents on Friday with two riders being taken to hospital.

Brighton and Hove City Council said warning signs had been installed and that feedback had been generally good.

A spokeswoman said: "Cycle representatives were involved in the new design of the new junction, and we will involve them in any future review.

"Most cyclists using the new facilities have had no problems and the feedback we've had has been generally good."

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£6bn pledged in potholes battle . . .


£6bn pledged in potholes battle

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Local councils are to get a near-£6 billion fund to fight potholes over the next six years.

Awarded by the Government, the fund will help English local authorities tackle potholes and improve local roads between 2015 and 2021.

A succession of severe winters and the devastating floods earlier this year have left councils playing catch-up with road maintenance.

Repairs will take place between 2015 and 2021

Announcing the funding today, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the money would be enough to fix around 18 million potholes.

Of the total package, just over £4.7 billion will be shared between 115 English councils, while councils will be able to bid for a further £575 million in total available for the repair and maintenance of local highway infrastructure such as junctions, bridges and street lighting.

Mr McLoughlin also announced that £578 million had been set aside for an incentive fund scheme which will start in 2016 to reward councils who demonstrate they are delivering value for money in carrying out cost-effective improvements.

Mr McLoughlin said: "Roads play a significant part in everyday life. Poorly-maintained local roads, blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as people travel to see family and friends.

"It is vital we have good quality roads. This Government has already taken strong action by spending £1 billion more on local roads maintenance than was spent in the previous parliament."

He went on: "This £6 billion funding will put an end to short-term fixes and will mean we have committed £10 billion between 2010 and 2021.

"This huge investment is part of our long-term economic plan to ensure we have a transport network fit for the 21st century."

Meanwhile, drivers will have to contend with disruption from next month due to work starting on improvement schemes on the link road between the southbound M6 at junction 8 and the M5 north of Birmingham and at the M6/A38(M) Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction).

The schemes will involve concrete repairs and associated drainage work and will mean lane closures, some full carriageway and sliproad closures, and temporary speed limits.

The junction 8 work is due to start on January 5 and be completed by the end of May 2015. The Gravelly Hill work is due to begin on January 11 and be finished by the end of July 2015.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said funding for potholes was welcome but there were doubts whether this was "new money".

He went on: "We also question whether this really goes far enough. Recent estimates by the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggest a one-off investment of £12 billion is needed in England to deal with the backlog in road maintenance, the majority of which is associated with those roads for which local authorities are responsible.

"The Government deserves credit for their bold actions to develop and fund an investment strategy for the strategic road network. But unless equally bold actions are taken on local roads, we risk a two-tier network with strategic roads capable of supporting economic growth but with a crumbling local road infrastructure."

Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said: "You can't believe a single word ministers say. Local roads are in a desperate state under David Cameron. Over 2,220 miles more of our local roads now need maintenance work compared to 2010.

"Hard-pressed motorists and businesses are justifiably sick and tired of having their vehicles damaged because of Britain's pothole crises. This Tory Government is all talk. Motorists have had enough of their failure and broken promises."

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman said: "We have long called for greater funding for roads maintenance so these allocations, originally announced in the June 2013 Spending Review, to improve the network are a positive step. However, there is still a very long way to go to bring the nation's roads up to scratch.

"Previous LGA analysis of the £6 billion funding over five years found it equated to an extra £300 million a year on top of the £700 million councils were expecting, but was still £800 million short of what was needed to repair the poor quality of roads in one year alone. So while helpful, this new money does not bridge the overall funding gap which is increasing year on year."

The spokesman went on: " It would be more useful if the whole £6 billion was given to councils to get on with the important job of fixing roads, rather than £1 billion of it being tied up in Whitehall bureaucracy.

"Recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments have created a national backlog of road repairs that would take £12 billion and a decade for councils to fix.

"The Government can tackle this ever-growing national repair bill by injecting an extra £1 billion a year into roads maintenance, funded by investing 2p a litre from existing fuel duty. The vast majority of people agree that a small amount of the billions they pay the Treasury each year at the pumps in fuel duty should be reinvested in local areas to bring our decaying roads up to scratch."

Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock said: "This additional funding....will provide a welcome boost if it survives a post-general election spending review.

"However given the one time road maintenance `catch-up' cost has been estimated at £12 billion this year, a significant gap will remain in local authority revenue budgets."

He went on: "Additional funds should be complemented by a focussed, joint central and local government programme for the repair work.

"Given the pressure on local authorities, this would ensure the funds are protected, spent in a cost efficient way and ultimately result in improved road conditions for UK in the long term."

AA president Edmund King said: "The state of the roads is the number one concern for our members. It is also a safety concern for those on two wheels, as well as on four.

"The fund is welcome but it is a bit like that present of a pair of socks for Christmas - it is something you should have anyway and is not a treat nor luxury. Drivers already pay way over the odds in motoring taxes compared with what is spent on the roads so at least deserve decent road surfaces."

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Know When You Shouldn't Drive Your Car . . .


Know When You Shouldn't Drive Your Car

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I've got one kid who drives and one who's about to and I noticed something important about driver's ed classes (and other kids' parents, to be honest). They never teach when you shouldn't drive your car. 

Sometimes, it's obvious. If smoke is billowing out from under your hood or you actually see flames, it's time to pull over. But sometimes, it's not so obvious. There's steam coming out from under the hood. Should I pull over or can I make it home? My tire's really low. Should I stop driving or will it be okay until I can get to a service station?

I feel like every kid who's learning to drive should learn a few basic things in addition to the actual driving. Things like a fundamental understanding of how a car works, how to inspect your car before you drive it, how to check fluid levels, when you should not drive your car, and how to perform some basic maintenance on your own. 

The first skill to learn is how to give your car a quick inspection every time you drive. Here are some things you should check for:
  • Peek under the car and see if there are any obvious leaks. A spot or two of oil may not be cause for major concern - just something you should get checked out soon. But if you spot any big leaks, you need to find out what they are before driving.
  • Check for low or damaged tires. Keep an air pressure gauge in your car to make this even easier. If you're just a few pounds light, you can make it somewhere to top off. If you're very low, you need to figure out what's going on.
  • Check your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. This is easier if you have somebody else with you, but you can still do it on your own. Working lights make your car much safer and, as a bonus, less likely to get pulled over. 
  • Get to know the gauges and indicators on your dash so you can see if something's off.
  • And if you're heading out on a long trip, take the time to check your fluids and make sure your spare tire is in good shape and that your jack is where it should be.

If you're already out on the road when something happens, you should know when you need to pull over right away. The short answer is when in doubt, stop the car. But, here are some specific reasons to pull over and make an assessment:
  • If you see smoke or flames or smell anything burning. This should be an obvious one, but you might be surprised. Sometimes, a little smoke or slight burning smell might be nothing to worry much about - maybe a little oil spilling out onto a hot exhaust pipe. But usually, smoke can mean serious damage to the car and a threat to your safety. Pull over and check it out.
  • If you see steam. Steam usually means that coolant is leaking from your system. A little bit of steam may just be a slow leak, in which case you could drive somewhere to get it checked out. But if it's leaking a lot, you run the risk of overheating your engine and that's damage can happen quickly and cost a lot in repairs. So, again, pull over and check it out. Just do it safely. 
  • If the car suddenly handles differently. If you sense a sudden change in how your car handles, the problem could range from a blown tire to a loose wheel to a power steering fluid leak. No matter what the problem, you need to get safely to the side of the road and check it out. It also pays to learn how to handle driving emergencies like this ahead of time. 
  • If your temperature or oil light comes on. Driving with no oil pressure or an overheating engine can cause serious (and expensive) damage to a car in just minutes. If you see these lights come on, or if you see your temperature gauge creep into the danger zone, don't wait. Pull over and check it out. 
  • If you lack visibility. This is another one that should be obvious, but for some reason people tend to just soldier on. If you can't see, stop driving. Whether it's a sudden rainstorm, deep fog, or a crack in your windshield that just got worse, pull over and wait it out or call for help.
  • If there are major distractions. If you drop something that you can't let just sit on the floor for a while, your kids are causing more than their usual share of chaos, or a bee or bird flies into your window (it happens), pull over and get that stuff sorted out before you keep driving.

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

‘Don’t jerk and drive’ campaign withdrawn


‘Don’t jerk and drive’ campaign withdrawn

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Nobody likes a jerker (Picture: North Dakota Highway Safety)

Jerking while you drive is never a good idea.

No, not like that – though you wouldn’t be the first to make that error.

A safe driving campaign warning drivers of the dangers of over-correcting or ‘jerking’ their steering wheels in icy conditions has been pulled after people were offended by the double-entendre.

Trevor Jones, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety, told the Argus Leader that although the allusion to masturbation was deliberately inserted to get people’s attention, it was now ‘distracting’ from the advert’s message.

‘I decided to pull the ad,’ he said.

‘This is an important safety message and I don’t want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road.’

In the advert for the campaign, the narrator says: ‘Resist the urge to jerk the steering wheel.

‘Nobody likes a jerker.’

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DVLA raises funds for Wales Air Ambulance . . .


DVLA raises funds for Wales Air Ambulance

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DVLA staff and partners raise over £21,000 for their 2014 Charity of Choice.

As 2014 comes to a close, we’re proud to announce that through the support and generosity of DVLA staff and our partners, we’ve raised £21,389 for our Charity of Choice 2014 - The Wales Air Ambulance (WAA).

The money was raised through a variety of activities and events during the year.

DVLA’s Chief Executive Oliver Morley, said:
It’s through the exceptional efforts of everyone here at DVLA that we’ve exceeded our original target of £13,000.

On hearing the news, Mark Stevens, WAA fundraising manager, said:
All of us here at Wales Air Ambulance were delighted to be chosen as DVLA’s Charity of Choice for 2014. This has really made a difference and we will use the funds to buy a scanning machine for our helicopter based in Swansea. It has been a fun and memorable time with DVLA over the year and from everyone at WAA, we would like to thank all the staff at DVLA who supported us.

Oliver added:
It’s important that we continue to focus on charities that really mean something to staff and we will be announcing our Charity of Choice for 2015 shortly.

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These Cropped Roads Signs Leave Out The Real Dangers . . .


These Cropped Roads Signs Leave Out The Real Dangers

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