Hopefully, we won’t get to this level of me first, as seen in the picture.
Anyway, when it comes to driving it seems we don’t like queuing. We see drivers on a daily basis trying to get that elusive one car ahead by swopping lanes, pushing in at the front of the queue and even trying not to allow anyone else in the queue.
There is an easy way of stopping people pushing in when we are queuing, especially when two lanes are going into one. Really simple, just let them in, how can they possibly push in if you are allowing them, it simply puts you in charge. It is just like holding the door open for someone; it is a choice to let them go first, so why not make this choice on the road?
But there are people out there who don’t want others to have the advantage on them and they will see someone getting in front of them as taking the advantage, not just someone who is just making a journey.
In the situation of two lanes going into one, some drivers will block two lanes to stop other people getting past them, therefore effectively blocking the carriageway. Now this is where it can go wrong. It is actually an offence to block the public highway so they can in fact be prosecuted for this.
On the other hand, how many of us have got into the wrong lane or noticed that the lane we are in is closing shortly? And we will have to swap lanes; we can then find that other drivers won’t let us in because they are assuming we have done it on purpose.
There are also the people who are driving somewhere on a personal or medical emergency and are desperate to get somewhere quickly, but we conveniently forget about these people and just assume they are pushing in on purpose as well or that they are just horrible people.
Now let’s do something positive and look for a solution. Hold on the solution is already in the Highway Code, it is Rule 134. We call this zip-merging; where everyone queues in both lanes and at the point of where one lane closes then each driver takes a turn, for example each driver will allow one car in front hence the term zip-merging.
Let’s look at the difference in the two ways: One way is to all get in a queue as soon as we are warned one of the lanes is closing. This can cause the queue stretch for miles from the point of closure, so far back it could affect junctions or roundabouts , so everyone is queuing in one lane at least one mile back or at the very least at the first sign stating the lane is going to close. Now there will be drivers who are a further mile back that won’t even know the lane is closing as they have not seen the sign, so will continue until they realise they have to get over, who is going to let them in?
So now the queue could be more than two miles long that will mean there are two miles of empty road in the other lane of wasted space. This traffic jam could, in effect, block junctions and roundabouts, causing increase congestion on the surrounding roads.
If we all zip merge this would free all this wasted space up, we would end up with two queues of one mile each, using the road space effectively with each driver taking turns to move in at the point the lanes merge into one. This means that both queues would continue to move and the traffic would clear more quickly, and the surrounding roads would be less affected. However this can still be spoilt by the lane hopper. They see some sort of advantage if moving from lane to lane as they may perceive one lane is moving faster than the other, realistically they might even get two cars ahead instead of the usual one.
So please remember try to zip-merge and let people in if they want to, it puts you in charge, use the road space wisely.
However, as any new driver will tell you, the first Car is an exciting prize – but also an expensive one!
Such an investment needs to be cared for and looked after. Take care of your car – and it will take care of you! (And also your passengers!)
One aspect of cleaning a car, that is often missed, is that by cleaning the bodywork, the lights, the windscreens and the tyres – there is opportunity to check for any problems, faults and imperfections that may impact upon the safety of the vehicle or that simply need fixing.
If the windows are clean and smear free (inside and out) then it is obvious that the driver will be able to see all other road users, and be better placed avoid incidents and accidents. But driving with dirty windows can cause eye strain, which can go on to cause fatigue. Cleaning the inside of the car, not only will it be a better place to be, but by removing clutter the car will be safer should the driver need to brake or take avoiding action. Any lose items in the car can be thrown forward in the event of a collision, which can cause greater injury.
By cleaning the bodywork, any damage can be noticed, keeping the lights clean is a legal requirement, and this will ensure you can see clearly in the dark and as equally important that you can be seen by others.
Finally, when cleaning the face of the tyres always check for any cuts or imperfections as these can be fixed before something goes wrong, this could literally be a life saver.
When washing the car always removed loose dirt and dust with plain water first, ideally with a hose, this will ensure you don’t rub the dirt into the paint work and cause surface scratches. Then use a soft brush or sponge which is designed for washing car paintwork.
It is best to start at the top on the car and work down, do the glass first and the wheels last. Before cleaning the wheels rinse the car off first, as by the time you have done the wheels the rest of the car could be drying with streaks. To avoid streaks when drying use a special cloth such as a chamois leather to wipe off residual water.
So clean your car often, especially during periods of bad weather when the roads may be covered in salt, mud and debris it will most certainly preserve the value of your investment
More and more “20 Zones” and 20mph speed limits are appearing all over our towns and city centres. The reason for this is obvious, but it is important to remember that this puts additional demands upon the driver.
As school timetables have changed, the times when children will be travelling to and from school can be more varied. It is also important to remember that children may be travelling to other locations such as swimming pools and other venues. Therefore it is vital to respect the speed limit, and to be particularly observant.
The primary reason for the limits is the fact that many young children do not have any concept of the dangers of cars and road vehicles. Therefore, the responsibility for their safety falls completely upon the driver to proceed with extreme caution.
Think about this, we cannot stop children running into the road, even if we put pedestrian barriers in they simply jump over them.
There are two types of 20’s the 20 zone, these always have traffic calming measures such as speed humps, additional bollards and refuges – all aimed at reducing the speed of traffic. Most important, as well as reducing the speed of your vehicle, the slower you go the more information you will be able to see and assimilate.
A 20 speed limit with not have traffic calming, but it will have 20 repeater signs on the lampposts or on posts at the side of the road.
The reason for 20mph zones and speed limits is simply because you are less likely to kill someone instantly in a 20. You will have more time to react and hopefully stop in time, if you do not the risk of death is still around 1% compared to 7% in at 30mph, 18% at 35mph and 31% at 40mph.
As a driver the legal and moral responsibility is yours, and having the right attitude and social responsibility is essential.
It may well be the local council who set the speed limit but it is your responsibility to drive at an appropriate speed within the speed limit.
And finally remember – the speed LIMIT is 20mph, this requires the driver to control the vehicle within 20 miles per hour. At the point of writing this article a number of police forces across the North West are enforcing 20mph speed limits. So keep an eye on that speedometer.
As summer gets into full swing, and the barbecues start to come out, it can be tempting to take the car. If you plan on drinking alcohol while you are enjoying the sunshine, then it is critical that you understand the drink driving dangers. The best advice is DON’T Drink and Drive.
I once asked a driver, fully qualified one, who had been driving for 30+ years, what they had just got from the training session they had just been on. They said: “This looking forward thing is a good one”. I am sure they meant looking in the far distance is a good thing, well I hope that’s what they meant anyway.
The sun can sometimes be directly in your face, what would you do? Always take the time to learn how the sun visors in your car actually work, in many cases, these visors will be lowered “on the move” in response to a change of direction or maybe the appearance of the sun from behind a cloud. It sounds very simple, but practice lowering the visor, it will make the process easier. You may have to turn the visor so that it is placed over the side window for the occasions where the sun begins to dazzle through your side window.
Remember, if you know you are going to turn into the sun, for example when turning left or right, lower your visor before you turn so that you do not get blinded in the first place.
Always give consideration to other road users. The sun may not be shining into your face but in situations where the sun is shining from directly behind your vehicle it will be shining into the face of oncoming traffic. If the sun is behind you think about how visible your brake lights are, so always start slowing down early, thus giving following traffic a chance to see your brake lights.
It is also always worth having a set of sunglasses in the car. Even if the sunlight is not directly shining into the driver’s eyes, a pair of sunglasses can reduce the need to squint, and certainly enable the driver to concentrate on the road conditions around.
One last thing to remember is how you feel when driving on a nice sunny day, with your music on, your ideal partner or best friend at your side. This could pose you drive a little bit faster and cause you to feel invincible.
Take stock of your emotions and stay safe.
If you are suspected of committing any minor driving offences under the Road Traffic Act, you will be served with a statutory Notice of Intended Prosecution, or NIP. This must be responded to promptly to avoid committing the offence of failing to provide requested information. More serious offences, which will be dealt with at court, will result in you being issued with a summons and if you do not turn up at your trial, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.