Tag Archives: accidents

How to make a safe car choice

stop-the-crashWe asked Thatcham Research, the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre, to tell us about their work because we wanted Club members to understand their safety-related choices when buying a new car. Which they kindly did for us, as follows.

We all know we’re driving around in more protective cars than we were 10 years ago but there is still room for improvement in this critical area.

With a better understanding of how new cars are tested and the best safety options to consider, this knowledge will undoubtedly help motorists make a safer new car choice in future.

How does the EU test car safety?

Across the EU, independent organisations subject modern cars to rigorous safety testing which results in the award of a safety rating by Euro NCAP (the European New Car Assessment Programme).

All cars have to be tested in impartial conditions and Thatcham in Berkshire is the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre to carry out this important work.

Euro NCAP testing doesn’t just provide new car buyers with an overview of safety standards; it also sets future safety targets for vehicle manufacturers to aim for, ensuring that vehicle safety standards are continually improving for all even if they are only led by a few to begin with.

How are Thatcham tests conducted?

An extensive range of crash tests are conducted in a controlled environment including a track. These tests include frontal and side impact plus whiplash scenarios. Adult drivers and passengers are not the only consideration during testing; the impact on child occupants and pedestrians is also measured and influences the complex Euro NCAP rating.

Physical testing changes rapidly as modern vehicles evolve. For example, one of Thatcham Research’s most crucial roles is testing the new leading-edge technology that is designed to reduce the chances of an accident in the first place.

A good example here is the technology called ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) which plays an increasingly crucial role in the overall vehicle assessment. As vehicle safety standards rise, all manufacturers strive to keep up with the safety leaders here and to maintain their much coveted 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

To give you an idea of today’s Euro NCAP 5 star stated rating requirements, vehicles are expected to offer “Overall good performance in crash protection AND be well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.”

What is crash avoidance technology?

One of the most important safety features to consider when buying a new car is the fitting of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as an ADAS. In its most basic form, AEB monitors traffic ahead using sensors fitted to the vehicle and applies the brakes when the driver is distracted or unable to, reducing the chances of a front to rear accident by an impressive 38%.

With one in four accidents being a front to rear impact, the potential benefit of AEB is evident.

Despite the safety benefits and the relatively low cost to manufacturers of AEB, this Advanced Driver Assistance System is not as commonplace as you might expect. In fact, whilst 48% of new cars in the UK can be fitted with AEB, it is only included in 21% of them (2016 figures).

So, if you didn’t know about AEB or didn’t ask for this feature at the time of order, your new car will likely be delivered without the one safety feature most likely to keep you and your family accident free in this area.

Not only does AEB contribute towards a valuable 5 star safety rating today, it can also help reduce insurance costs. Choose a car with AEB fitted and you should expect a drop of around 3-5 insurance groups which is the equivalent to saving some 10% in motor premiums.

So it’s well worth choosing a car that either has AEB as standard or asking your dealership if this is an “option” you can have fitted pre-delivery.

Which cars have AEB options?

To find out if your current vehicle is AEB equipped, or to arm yourself with the information you need to ensure your next new car is as safe as it can be, you can check safety specifications, using Thatcham’s handy AEB checker.

You may also like to see how we conduct crash tests at Thatcham Research, where you can see exactly what a crash test dummy goes through.

FOXY says: The Volvo XC90 includes AEB and leads the market with an award winning package of active and passive safety measures. This makes the Volvo XC90 Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever. Of particular note, Volvo Cars and the XC90 are all available at affinity discounts to Club members in 2017. Terms apply and Club members must have joined the Club a minimum of three months before becoming eligible for this offer.

Let’s have summer time all year round

summer timeOur clocks go forward an hour in the Spring and an hour back in the Autumn. I remember this with simple ‘spring forward’ and ‘fall backward’ activity images in my mind, consoling myself when the evenings draw in with that extra hour in bed on a cosy Sunday morning in October.

Whichever way you see it, the better the daylight, the more visibility for drivers and the safer our roads.

So the fact that our clocks move forward by an hour from GMT to GMT+1 (aka British Summer Time) during summer months surely cheers us all up.

But why move back to GMT in the winter when we need daylight more? When we could stay at BST? Bearing in mind that the majority of EU countries use GMT+1 as well which would make more sense for travellers or those of us working in tandem with Europe?

So when the road safety charity Brake suggests that winter time should be GMT+1 we’ll gladly add our motoring voice to theirs.

But Brake then suggests that British Summer Time (when the living is easy and nights are well lit until c10pm) should become GMT+2 aka BST+ 1 which I find harder to agree with. In short, I can’t understand why we’d want to move our clocks forward another hour during the summer over and above BST as is?

After all, if farmers want to farm early they get up earlier. Round here they all have lights on their hay-bearing tractors in case they need to work VERY late at night.

When they have to, all children get up for school in the daylight during British summer months and if it can get dark at 10pm as is, how will we ever get them to bed before 11pm to get the sleep they need and some quiet time without them?

Yes there are more traffic accidents when roads are busiest, including school and commuting times but how would an extra hour’s late light in summer evenings help here? Maybe I’m missing something but I can see no reasons during the summer for moving the clocks further forward because light is not an issue as is.

I’d just like it to be summer time all year round! And if anyone tells me they need later school hours in the morning, can I suggest they tweak school hours to suit them best and not expect the rest of us to be involved?


Tyre Safety Facts

Do you know the tyre safety facts?

Or are you one of the four motorists surveyed recently that were found to have an illegal tyre on their car?

If your tyres are illegal due to DRIVER neglect (unintentional neglect is more often the case), these are the possible consequences. They are ALL serious.

1 You could cause an accident, injuring others in the process.

2 Your insurance cover could be invalid.

3 You can face a fine of up to £2,500 per illegal tyre.

4 You risk three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

There are no excuses here. The driver is responsible. Even if she did think her husband, partner or Dad had checked her tyres for her.

And the first consequence would be VERY hard to live with when you discovered your tyres weren’t as safe as they could be.

So here’s what to do…

Check Your Tyre Tread Levels

tyre-depth-chartIn law your tyres should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre.

FOXY advice: Just because 1.6mm is the law doesn’t mean it’s good enough, especially in the wet. For example, when your tyre tread is 3mm, your tyre is 78% worn. When your tyre tread is 2mm your tyre is approximately 94% worn. Look at the chart above, please think about this and where in doubt, ask the professionals…

To check if your tyres are legal, just take the 20p test.

If after inserting in treads around tyre, you can see any of the 20p coin rim your tyre needs checking now.

1/ Park the car with the front wheels turned so you can easily see the tread.

2/ Take a 20p coin and insert it into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a qualified tyre specialist.

Check your air pressure levels

Are your car tyres pressured correctly (for the car and passenger load)? Check with your car’s owners’ manual or the sticker in the fuel flap or the inside edge of the drivers door.

Here’s how to DIY.

FOXY advice: Too much pressure is as bad as too little as it affects the handling of your car and therefore your ability to control it when you need to most. Do this monthly, as a weekend chore. If you don’t, you could be using more fuel than necessary as well as increasing wear and tear. A local FOXY Lady Approved garage and/or tyre centre (see links below) will show you how to do this of course.

Check the condition of your tyres

Drivers are advised to look out for signs of irregular wear or damage such as cuts, lumps or bulges.

If you don’t, you risk driving with a defective tyre which could let you down at speed and deflate quickly. And instead of paying for a puncture repair, you’ll need an expensive new tyre or set of tyres – they should be the same on each axle.

FOXY advice: Get into the habit of always walking around your car before you get in it, just checking the look of your tyres. Try not to ‘kerb’ them when parking as this causes wear and a significant knock could damage alloys and the tyre fitting too. If a tyre looks suspect in any way, either check it yourself then, or get it checked at a good FOXY Lady Approved garage or tyre centre without delay (see below for links).

FOXY Tyre Safety Month Campaign

Approved-icon-tyreservicesIn an attempt to raise awareness levels among women drivers, FOXY Lady Drivers Club is adding its support to the TyreSafe campaign by encouraging ALL women drivers to get their car tyres checked by FOXY Lady Approved Tyre Professionals during October.

Dubbed Tyre Safety Month because October is usually the wettest one of the year, FOXY will be working with its network of FOXY Lady Approved garages and tyre centres to reward women who are driving cars with LEGAL tyres.

After having them checked, and been given the OK, they will receive a free online gift membership of the Club, worth £24 were they to buy this via the website.

You can check to see which tyre centres are listed on our female friendly Tyre Services Register.

You can see which garages are part of the FOXY Lady Approved ‘service and repair’ network.

You can check to see which garages and car dealerships are organising Tyre Safety events for women.

Radical moves needed to save young motoring lives

haveaheartThis is happening all over the UK. Under 21s are being killed in cars they have been given a licence to drive but still don’t know how to handle.

Over the last couple of weeks, my local paper has reported that three youngsters under 20 have been killed on Horsham roads.

All needlessly – what a waste.

Just imagine the grief for families across the country. Just imagine the guilt for some in imagining they may have funded their child’s driving too soon, not realising the risks.

Youth versus mobility

I mention this because I know the statistics and this affected my actions recently.

After taking his theory test and a course of lessons, my 20 year old son decided he couldn’t afford to buy a car and insure it… as well as move to a flat in Brighton. So he postponed taking his test.

Looking back, I could surely have found some funds to contribute to his motoring plans but I didn’t. Quite the opposite actually, I heaved a huge but inward sigh of relief because I know the accident statistics relating to young drivers.

Even so, I realise that he and other non driving young adults could just as well be travelling in a young friend’s car and be killed as a result of their driving inexperience…

Can telematics make a difference?

mam_daughterTelematics ie having a black insurance-related box fitted in a car to measure/reward a drivers ability is probably making a difference to these statistics. Perhaps it has saved lives already if the young lady I met at a recent networking evening was typical.

‘I’m not going to be hurried by a car threatening me to speed up from behind’ she explained. ‘I know how my black box wants me to drive and I want to save money on my insurance premium… so I’m not going to hurry up, whatever.’

I suspect she was going to be a good ie safe driver whatever, whereas sadly a black box isn’t always going to stop young drivers from flooring the accelerator pedal when the testosterone kicks in.

FOXY legislation I’d like to see…

The fact is that nothing teaches young drivers how to drive safely better than experience itself when it comes to their understanding the dynamics of speeding and the affect of this on their car’s engine. And just for the record, this is why I don’t advocate raising the driving age from 17 here.

But age aside, if I were in charge, I would introduce FOXY legislation tomorrow and make it compulsory that, during the first two years after passing their test, all novice drivers…

1 …commit in writing to not drink and drive.

2 …have a black box fitted to their car.

3 …who drive badly afterwards are referred by their insurance company to the DSA who then decide whether to insist on the equivalent of PassPlus lessons or withhold their licence for 12 months before taking a second driving test (all at the driver’s expense).

4 …display a highly visible N plate on any car they drive. I’d add a phone line where motorists report dangerous N plate drivers they see; resulting in a similar formula as 2…

5 …have a speed limiter fitted, restricting their car to a maximum of 50 mph at all times.

6 …are forbidden to carry passengers other than older (hopefully responsible) adults/parents.

As I see it, we can EITHER do nothing and count young deaths OR we can do something radical in an attempt to save lives.

I’d prefer to do something, and at least I can make sure that Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (including Road Safety) Stephen Hammond MP reads this blog via his Twitter address @SHammondMP.

But I’d like to know what you think. Are you with me or am I wrong in your eyes? By all means tell me what you think via my Twitter address @FOXYtweets. Or by emailing me on info@foxyladydrivers.com.

Just don’t tell me these FOXY measures would infringe young drivers’ human rights etc etc. That attitude makes me SO cross because it sounds as if grief-stricken parents don’t have human rights as well – to see their children thrive and live longer happy lives.


Risky rural motorists are mainly male

stmartinsWe’ve all seen it happen. You’re driving along a rural road, following a slower driver at the head of the queue perhaps, and here comes the daft driver in your rear mirror as he (yes it’s usually a he) weaves in and out of cars behind you, then yours and onwards; even on seemingly blind bends whilst he presumably gets a macho high from the risks he runs.

And then you see the car in the distance on the next dual carriageway, having reduced his journey by a few mindless minutes… What was all that about eh?

A recent survey carried out by road safety charity Brake and car insurer Direct Line found that a quarter of male drivers risk catastrophic head-on crashes by overtaking blind in this way, whilst nearly half (44%) admit speeding at 60mph+ on rural roads. Apparently men are much more likely to take these deadly risks than women, and more than twice as likely to have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident.

To be precise their research found that during the past year…
– Almost one in four men (24%) and one in six women (18%) admitted overtaking when they couldn’t be certain nothing was coming.
– One in five men (20%) and one in 10 women (9%) have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident while driving.
– More than half of all drivers (54%) have witnessed an overtaking near-miss or incident by another driver, with one in five (19%) experiencing a vehicle approaching on their side of the road.
– Over half of women (52%) have been afraid when travelling as a passenger when their driver has overtaken another vehicle.
– More than four in 10 men (44%) have broken a 60mph limit on a rural road, compared to one in four women (24%); men are twice as likely to do this monthly or more.

In 2011 six in 10 UK road deaths were on rural roads. Out of every four killed, three are male.
Brake is pressing for government and local authority action to lower speed limits on rural roads to 50mph or lower and implement measures to deter speeding and overtaking, especially on crash black-spots and road that pass through rural communities.

Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Some people kid themselves they can get away with excessive speeds and dangerous manoeuvres, because they know the road. Yet driving on rural roads is highly unpredictable, and the consequences of risk-taking often horrendous. Our advice is avoid overtaking unless essential, stay well within limits, and slow right down for bends, brows, in bad conditions and in communities.”

Simon Henrick, spokesperson at Direct Line Car Insurance, said: “More than three people die on rural roads in the UK each and every day and many of these deaths could be prevented. Our own data suggests that young drivers and their passengers are even more likely to die on this type of road. Drivers should remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to deciding to overtake another vehicle, as it could be a life saver.”

foxy_lady.mugI’d like to echo Ellen’s sentiments to “Hang back, slow down and chill out.”

The irony of all this is that the Gender Directive means that women are to pay more for their car insurance to go towards these accidents.

Which women are much less likely to cause than men.

How unfair is that?