Skoda Octavia taxi with illegal part worn tyres

Taxi with illegal part-worn tyres approved by councils

Skoda Octavia taxi with illegal part worn tyres

Four councils in the North West of England have been exposed for issuing licenses for a taxi fitted with unsafe tyres.

Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral and Sefton council-approved test centres passed the vehicle, despite the risk. The car in question was fitted with illegal unmarked and unsafe part-worn tyres.

The case has been branded a ‘scandal’ by the National Tyres Distribution Association (NTDA).

John Stone, owner of Stone Tyres in St Helens, fitted a Skoda Octavia with four illegal tyres. Three were part-worn tyres dating from 1999, 2001 and 2003. The fourth was an illegal part-worn winter tyre imported from Germany in 2010. None of the tyres were labelled ‘PART-WORN’ as they should be by law. The letters must be permanently and legibly applied in letters at least 4mm high.

Despite this, each test centre passed the Octavia as safe for use. John Stone says this “raises serious questions” over taxi passenger safety in the North West and the across the UK.

‘It is a disgrace’

How to buy the right tyres for your car

“Part-worn tyres are not safe, yet some councils are awarding licenses to vehicles running on illegal and potentially unsafe tyres – it is a disgrace and the licensing of vehicles running illegal part worn tyres needs to be stopped now,” said Stone.

“Full credit to St Helens council as when I approached them with my findings they took the issue with great seriousness and decided there and then that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen again. I’m pleased to say that on the back of this campaign St Helens [council] has already agreed to ban the use of part-worn tyres on all licensed vehicles. They should be applauded for such a pragmatic and positive response, which ensures the safety of the public.” 

Although it is not illegal to sell and fit part-worn tyres, their use is governed by the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994. It is an offence for anyone to sell a part-worn tyre that does not meet the following requirements:

  • The structural integrity must not be compromised.
  • It should be free of large cuts, any bulges or lumps both internally and externally.
  • No plies or cords should be exposed.
  • Tyres must have passed an inflation test prior to sale.
  • The original grooves must still be clearly visible in their entirety and must be to a depth of at least 2mm across the full breadth of the tread, around its entire circumference.
  • Part worn tyres which have not been re-treaded must clearly show the relevant ‘E’ mark alongside which ‘PART-WORN’ must be permanently and legibly applied in letters at least 4mm high.
  • These words cannot be hot branded or cut into the tyre.

The NTDA, which represents the UK’s national and independent tyre distributors, is calling for an outright ban on part-worn tyres due to safety concerns.

‘Beyond belief’

MOT advisories on tyres and brakes

Stefan Hay, NTDA chief executive said: “As we have advised the Department for Transport on a number of occasions part-worn tyres should not be fitted to vehicles, full stop. John has exposed a serious flaw in taxi licensing testing procedures in not one, but four, areas in the North West and we are extremely concerned that the practice is nationwide.

”The combined age of those four different makes of tyre was 67 years old, they had illegal repairs, different speed ratings and no part-worn mark. This really is beyond belief! John is to be applauded for the incredible work he has done to expose this shocking situation, but it is appalling that it has taken his personal efforts to uncover such apathy towards passenger safety.

“Inspections carried out over several years into the sale of part-worn tyres have shown serious safety breaches, including dangerous and unsafe repairs, exposed cords, bead damage and evidence of run-flat damage. We call on these councils to review their procedures without delay.”

Why sleep is the best cure for drowsy driving

Why sleep is the best prevention for drowsy driving

It might sound like stating the obvious, but sleep is the only effective way to prevent drowsy driving. Yet many of us take sleep for granted.

One American organisation claims that “global sleep problems might be causing more damage than terrorism.” It goes on to say that sleep deprivation “is similar to alcohol intoxication”. Although the statistics are focused on North America, they make for interesting reading.

But what about the other so-called cures for drowsy driving?

Lowering the car windows isn’t an effective means of staying awake behind the wheel, and yet 66 percent of UK drivers believe the myth is true.

That’s according to a survey conducted by the sleep and meditation app, Calm. It spoke to 4,337 British, American and French adults to explore the top 10 sleep myths. Opening the car windows topped the poll, but experts have warned that it doesn’t work.

Take a nap

drowsy driving prevention

The National Sleep Foundation says that turning up the radio, opening the window or setting the air-con to ‘chill’ don’t work and could be putting drivers at risk. “They are ineffective and can be dangerous to anyone who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy, as well as their passengers and others on the road.

“If you’re feeling tired while driving, pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15-45 minutes.”

But that might not be enough. “Even a 20-minute power nap in a safe area will, at best, give you another 30 minutes of safe driving,” warns the American Sleep Association.

Coffee is a short-term fix

Coffee is a short-term fix for drowsy driving

Drinking coffee is a short-term fix, but it needs around 30 minutes before taking effect.

“A good night’s sleep before your trip” is the best single prevention for drowsy driving, says the National Sleep Foundation.

Up to 25 percent of fatal accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel, with a worrying 13 percent of UK drivers admitting to falling asleep while driving.

“Some sleep myths are fairly harmless, while others are seriously dangerous,” said Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm.

Top 10 sleep myths and how many believe them

Rank Sleep myth % believing (UK)
1. Lowering the car windows will help you stay awake when driving 66
2. You should never wake a sleepwalker 48
3. During sleep, your brain finally rests 48
4. You swallow a few spiders every year while you sleep 32
5. You only dream during very deep sleep 31
6. If you’re struggling to sleep, it’s best to stay in bed 28
7. You can catch up on missed sleep by sleeping in at weekends 20
8.. Alcohol before bed helps you sleep better 17
9. Snoring is always harmless 25
10. Eating cheese before bed increases the risk of nightmares 22

Storm Ciara: How to drive safely in strong winds

How to drive safely in strong winds

Storm Ciara is set to bring strong and damaging winds this weekend. The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning which covers the entire UK and is in force from 6pm Saturday.

Winds will reach 50-60mph across inland areas, with gusts of up to 80mph expected in exposed locations.

Neil Armstrong of the Met Office said: “An extremely strong jet stream flowing from North America will be steering a succession of low-pressure systems towards the UK at least into the middle of next week. The relative predictability of this pattern has provided an early warning and has given us the certainty to be able to name this storm four days ahead.” 

No-one likes driving in a nasty storm. Heavy winds and rain are enough to encourage you to stay indoors. So what precautions can you take to make things a little easier when driving in Storm Ciara?

Of course, it makes sense to stay at home or to delay your journey if a storm is forecast. GEM Motoring Assist says alternatives should be considered by everyone, when conditions warrant it.

Driving in a storm

“We want all road users to be aware of how risk increases when weather conditions become more challenging,” said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth.

“So, if your journey is not necessary, then consider delaying it, or using public transport if available.”

Stay safe in strong winds

Driving in a storm

So you’re on the road, and it’s getting rough. What can you do to be as safe as possible when driving in these conditions?

  • Slow down: the faster you drive, the more difficult it becomes to maintain control in crosswinds. Take particular care if you’re driving a high-sided vehicle or towing a trailer or caravan
  • Hold tight: keep both hands on the wheel and be prepared for sudden gusts.
  • Give cyclists and motorcyclists extra room when overtaking.
  • Be prepared for stronger winds and sudden gusts when driving in exposed areas or over bridges.
  • Keep your distance, especially from high-sided vehicles and caravans.
  • Avoid towing a trailer, caravan or horsebox if possible.
  • Avoid using a roof box, as these can increase the car’s susceptibility to crosswinds.
  • Look out for debris in the road, especially after blind bends. Also look out for low-hanging branches, especially at night when they might not be picked up by your headlights.
  • Park away from trees, telephone lines, power lines and buildings.
  • Expect delays, speed restrictions and bridge closures. You might need to change your route, so leave extra time for your journey.
  • Listen to the weather forecast for updates. Remember, it’s often better to delay your journey if possible.
  • Keep an eye on traffic updates, either via local radio, social media or your sat-nav system.
  • With wind comes rain, quite often, so make sure your wipers, lights and tyres are up to the job.

‘Be prepared’ for windy conditions

VW damaged by tree after strong winds

“Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include bridges, exposed stretches of road and cuttings where roads pass through hilly areas. These locations can act as funnels for wind.

“Expect strong gusts, keep an eye on any large trucks or vehicles towing trailers near you, as their drivers may have difficulty staying in their lane. Be particularly careful around pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who may all be affected by strong winds.

Driving in a storm

“Heavy rain makes driving hazardous. So please slow down and turn your lights on to ensure you can see more clearly, and so that other vehicles can see you. Do not rely on automatic headlights.

“Give other vehicles more space, and double the distance between you and the vehicle in front, so you have more time to react and stop safely if you need to.”

Click here for the latest UK weather warnings issued by the Met Office.

How to drive safely through flood water

How to drive safely through flood water

Three quarters of drivers (74 percent) would risk driving through flood water. That’s despite it being the leading cause of death in flooded areas. Indeed, 32 percent of flood-related deaths are in vehicles.

New research reveals that many drivers are oblivious to the risks associated with driving through flood water. With heavy rain expected over the Christmas period, this could spell trouble for many motorists.

Just 30cm of moving water is enough to float a car, but only one in four drivers (24 percent) would find an alternative route to avoid a flooded road. 

In November, three people were rescued from the roof of a car in Devon after fast-flowing water reached the windows of their vehicle. Meanwhile, a woman in Doncaster had to be rescued from a submerged car.

The survey carried out by the AA in partnership with the Environment Agency found that Leicester is the top place for flood-related breakdowns in the UK.

Watery Gate Lane played host to 88 flood-related callouts between 2014 and 2018. It tops the list of the top 10 places for breakdowns due to flood water.

Location Callouts
Watery Gate Lane, Leicester 88
Rufford Lane, Newark 71
Houndsfield Lane, Birmingham 49
Furnace Grange Road, Wolverhampton 37
Riverside, Dartford 35
Buttsbury, Essex 32
Green Road, Birmingham 30
Tanners Lane, Salisbury 28
Riverside/The Embankment, Twickenham 28
Hawkswood Lane, Gerrards Cross 27

‘Never drive through flood water’

Never drive through flood water

Caroline Douglass, director of incident management and resilience at the Environment Agency, said: “It is concerning that so many drivers are willing to risk their own life and the lives of others by driving through flood water.

“Our message is clear: surface water flooding it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car. Never drive through flood water. Turn around and find another route.”

The AA’s Ben Sheridan added, “Don’t chance it if the road ahead is flooded – flood water can be deceptively deep and can hide other hazards in the road which can leave you stranded.

“Trying to drive through flood water puts you and your passengers at risk, but it can also cause damage to your car. It only takes an egg-cupful of water to wreck your engine and on many cars, the engine’s air intake is low down at the front.”

How to drive through SHALLOW flood water

Flood water in Worcestershire

The message is pretty clear: you should avoid driving through a flood. However, if you decide that the flood is shallow enough to drive through, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has the following advice:

  • Allow oncoming traffic to pass before driving through the flood water.
  • Drive along the highest part of the road (usually the centre), but look out for approaching drivers who may be doing the same thing.
  • Go slowly and keep to a steady speed.
  • Use first gear and keep revs high by slipping the clutch (keep it partly engaged).
  • Once you’ve made it through, test your brakes before resuming normal driving.

NEVER attempt to drive through fast-moving water such as a flooded bridge or a ford. Conditions can change rapidly, so you may be swept away. Equally, you don’t know if the flood water is hiding debris or a broken road.

MG in flood water

If your engine cuts out after driving through flood water, don’t attempt to restart it. Instead, call your breakdown provider and wait for help.

The AA lists these facts about flood water. They are worth considering before you attempt to drive through a flood.

  • Most drowning deaths happen within three metres of a safe point
  • Two-thirds of people who die in flood-related incidents are good swimmers
  • Just 15cm of fast-flowing water can knock you off your feet
  • If the speed of the water doubles, the force it exerts on you and your car goes up four times
  • Flood water can carry diseases

Listen to local traffic and weather reports, and use social media to receive an early warning of roads blocked by flood water. It’s better to plan ahead than it is to react to sudden changes in conditions.

Speed limits, roads and the law: what you need to know

Speed limits and the law

‘You must not drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road and your type of vehicle.’ The government’s stance is pretty clear, and yet millions of motorists break the speed limit every day.

According to Department for Transport statistics, 46 percent of cars exceeded the speed limit on motorways in 2018, compared to 52 percent on 30mph and 10 percent on 60mph roads.

In the same year, the RAC Report on Motoring explored the reasons given for breaking the speed limit. Users were asked to select up to three reasons.

The top reason was ‘I drive according to the speed of other road users’. A case of following the crowd.

Interestingly, on roads with a 20mph restriction, 31 percent of motorists felt the speed limit was inappropriate.

Research shows that around 1,000 people are caught speeding every day, which is why Moneybarn has suggested laying out the law. By sticking to the following limits, you’ll avoid a run-in with the police or a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

National speed limits

Vehicle Built-up areas (mph) Single carriageways (mph) Dual carriageways (mph) Motorways (mph)
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles 30 60 70 70
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles when towing caravans or trailers 30 50 60 60
Motorhomes or motor caravans (not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight) 30 60 70 70
Motorhomes or motor caravans (more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight) 30 50 60 70
Buses, coaches and minibuses (not more than 12 metres overall length) 30 50 60 70
Buses, coaches and minibuses (more than 12 metres overall length) 30 50 60 60
Goods vehicles (not more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) 30 50 60 70 (or 60 if articulated or towing a trailer)
Goods vehicles (more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) in England and Wales 30 50 60 60
Goods vehicles (more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) in Scotland 30 40 50 60

Locally set speed limits

Local councils can set their own speed limits in certain areas. These will be clearly signed.

Examples include:

  • A 20mph zone near a school, in a built-up area, or in a pedestrianised zone
  • A 50mph limit on a road with a high record of accidents, or with sharp corners, roundabouts and hidden dips

20mph speed limit sign

Vehicle-specific speed limits

There are specific rules for vans, car-derived vans, dual-purpose vehicles and motorhomes.

Most vans have a lower speed limit than cars and must follow the limits for good vehicles of the same weight. Vehicles under two tonnes (loaded) may qualify as a car-derived van or dual-purpose vehicle. These vehicles have the same speed limits as cars.

Motorhomes and motor caravans are classed as goods vehicles if they carry products for exhibition and sale, are used as a workshop, or are used for storage.

Speeding penalties

30mph sign

The minimum penalty for breaking the speed limit is a £100 fine and three penalty points. Accumulating 12 or more points within a period of three years could lead to a disqualification.

Caught by a speed camera

Within 14 days, drivers will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and a Section 172 notice. The Section 172 must be returned within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car.

In return, drivers will be sent a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a letter telling them to go to court.

Stopped by the police

Drivers will face one of three outcomes: a verbal warning, an FPN, or an order to go to court.

Getting a Fixed Penalty Notice

Drivers who receive an FPN can plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading guilty results in a £100 fine and three points on the driving licence, or the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course.

First-time offenders can avoid penalty points by taking a speed awareness course. Research suggests these courses are a more effective deterrent for speeders than fines or points.

Drivers who plead not guilty will be summoned to court. The risk of doing so is an increased fine and more penalty points.

Safety camera partnership van

The size of the fine depends on what the speed limit was and by how much it was exceeded. It’s usually a percentage of the driver’s weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (or £2,500 if driving on a motorway).

Drivers could also be disqualified from driving or have their licence suspended.

Courts operate on a ‘band’ system based on the severity of the offence. The system can be viewed here, but the following table provides a summary of the likely points and disqualification period.

Speed limit (mph) Recorded speed (mph) Recorded speed (mph) Recorded speed (mph)
20 41 and above 31-40 21-30
30 51 and above 41-50 31-40
40 66 and above 56-65 41-55
50 76 and above 66-75 51-65
60 91 and above 81-90 61-80
70 101 and above 91-100 71-90
Sentencing range Band C fine Band B fine Band A fine
Points/disqualification Disqualify 7 – 56 days OR 6 points Disqualify 7 – 28
days OR 4 – 6 points
3 points

Statutory aggravating factors include:

  • Previous convictions, having regard to a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction
  • Offence committed while on bail

Other aggravating factors:

  • Offence committed on licence or post-sentence supervision
  • Poor road or weather conditions
  • Driving LGV, HGV, PSV, etc
  • Towing a caravan or trailer
  • Carrying passengers or a heavy load
  • Driving for hire or reward
  • Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving over and above speed limit
  • Location, e.g. near school
  • High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity

More information

Is that ‘new car smell’ killing you softly?

The dangers of the new car smell

Many of us love the smell of a new car’s interior. But have you ever stopped to consider what that smell actually is?

More importantly, does the ‘new car smell’ pose a risk to your health?

Worryingly, the answer to that question is ‘yes’, according to the emissions and efficiency specialists at Emissions Analytics.

The British firm argues that a car’s interior has the capacity to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) over the life of the vehicle. The ‘new car smell‘ has ‘typically been ignored, partly because it has been difficulty to measure’, it says.

Until now. Thanks to recent advances in technology, it’s now possible to measure the effects of VOCs in a car’s interior over the lifetime of the vehicle. There are dozens of VOCs to consider, including:

  • Residual compounds from the manufacturing process and material treatment of different interior compounds and textiles
  • Adhesives and carrier solvents that will de-gas – as much as 2kg of adhesives can be found in a modern car
  • Degradation of cabin materials as a result of oxidation, ultraviolet light and heat

Acetaldehyde is a particular problem. Exposure can cause ‘flush reactions’, such as itchiness, blotchiness and a flushed complexion. Asian people possess less functional acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme, which is responsible for breaking it down.

What’s in that ‘new car smell’?

New car smell

This is why cars sold in China, Japan and Korea are the subject of strict VOC regulations. Consider the substances outlined in the following table and you might not look at your car’s interior the same way again. The majority are regulated in Asian countries.

Analyte  Symptoms
Formaldehyde Respiratory irritant and a contributory factor in asthma and cancer
Acetaldehyde Flush reaction (as outlined above)
Acrolein Highly toxic and severely irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory tract, and skin
Benzene Known carcinogen
Ethylbenzene Can cause throat irritation and dizziness
Xylene Causes headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and nausea
Styrene Causes headaches
Toluene Commonly known as nail polish remover – can cause headaches and nausea
Tetradecane Irritating to the eyes, mucous membrane and upper respiratory tract

In partnership with Anatune, Emissions Analytics tested a nearly-new Hyundai i10. The car was tested every 15 minutes for 60 seconds over five hours on an early summer’s day.

There were two principle outcomes: a steady accumulations of ten VOCs as temperatures rose, and the unexpected dynamic of emissions during the final 15 minutes.

In particular, methanol and acetone rose from very low base points to more significant levels. While methanol is a common solvent and not directly regulated, it is toxic and could be an irritant.

Of even greater concern is the concentration of acetaldehyde, which rose to more than 10 TIMES the regulated limit in China and Japan.

‘Market failure’

Testing new car interior

Emissions Analytics is calling for more research: ‘From a vehicle testing perspective, the ability to detect and speciate different analytes in real time opens up the possibility for more extensive research of exposure and the potential for regulation to reduce detrimental health exposures.

‘It could also assist driver education in respect of ‘VOC build-up’ when a vehicle is parked in hot weather.’ 

The company is calling for regulations to reflect where there is ‘market failure’, and for greater consumer awareness. Whether or not you like the ‘new car smell’, it looks like we’re set to learn more about its effects on our health.

98 percent wouldn’t report a family member for drink-driving

reporting family member drink-driving

Most people wouldn’t report a family member for drink-driving. That’s according to a survey of nearly 30,000 British drivers.

Just two percent of motorists would call the police if the driver was a family member, meaning a shocking 98 percent would turn a blind eye. Conversely, 49 percent of those surveyed said they would call the police if the driver was a complete stranger.

The AA members who took part in the study said they’d prefer to hide the keys, call a taxi or offer a lift to the person considering driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Male drivers aged 17-24 are over-represented in drink-drive accidents. They’re also less likely to perceive drink-driving as risky or unacceptable.

Last month, the government launched a campaign aimed at encouraging young people to stop their friends from getting behind the wheel when drunk.

‘Socially unacceptable’

Drink driving accidents highest since 2010

Road safety minister Jesse Norman said: “Driving even while below the legal limit is becoming increasingly socially unacceptable, with more and more people choosing to turn down drinking any alcohol when they plan to drive. But even so, there are still some drivers who are willing to take the risk.

“Friends, colleagues and family members can positively influence those around them. So we are calling on them to stop potential drink drivers from getting behind the wheel and risking tragedy this Christmas.”

The legal limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg per 100ml, but there are calls to lower this to 50mg. This would bring the rest of the country in line with Scotland, where the limit has been lower for five years.

Drivers are encouraged to use the non-emergency 101 number to report dangerous driving to the police. However, stopping a drink-driver at source is a more effective approach, so hiding the keys is a recommended course of action.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “If you spot dangerous driving, it’s important that you report it – even if you think it’s an act that you shouldn’t get involved in, such as your boss driving home drunk from your company Christmas party.

“It’s a simple process and should only take a few minutes. Plus, you’ll be helping to keep the roads safe for everyone in the long-term.”

The penalties for being caught drink-driving are severe. Causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink carries up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine and a minimum two-year disqualification.

Tesla Model X a ‘stand-out performer’ in Euro NCAP safety tests

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

Euro NCAP has published its penultimate results of the year – and this one’s a biggie. The Tesla Model X, Porsche Taycan, and new Ford Kuga have faced Euro NCAP’s crash testing. 

Some good news for Tesla – the Model X has been described as ‘stand-out performer’. It’s safety assist score was a heady 94 percent, the same score that the Model 3 got earlier this year. The big Tesla also got 98 percent for adult occupant protection. That makes it a contender for Best in Class for 2019. 

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

It’s not the only strong-performing EV in this round, though. It’s joined by the Taycan, Porsche’s newly-minted thorn in the side for Tesla’s high-end EV monopoly. It scored five stars, too, though it’s individual percentages aren’t as impressive as the Tesla. It got 85 percent and 73 percent in adult occupant and safety assist respectively.

“The devil’s in the detail when you compare the Euro NCAP assessments of the Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan. Both are safe cars, but the Tesla Model X is the stand-out,” said Matthew Avery, director of research, Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP board member.

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

In the realms of more conventional cars, Skoda’s new Octavia, the new Renault Captur, Ford’s new Kuga, the facelift Audi Q7 and the new Subaru Forester all scored five stars. Peugeot’s 2008 just misses out on an unconditional five stars, given that safety packs need to be equipped.

The addition of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) helps keep some older cars up to date. The Ford Mondeo earns five stars as a result, while Volkswagen’s Sharan and its sister car, the Seat Alhambra, both hold a steady four-star score. Worryingly, however, the Sharan was penalised for its door detaching in a side pole test. This poses a risk of occupants being ejected in an accident.

The Jeep Renegade got a bad rap, too, still only having AEB as an option. It’s the only sub four-star score of 2019. Last year, the Wrangler got a pitiful one-star rating – one of the lowest ever seen.

NCAP results Tesla Model X and Porsche Taycan

“Well done to Tesla and the other five stars performers for not only bringing best in class performance in testing but also making safety systems accessible and standard across the European market,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s secretary general.

“It is also good to see manufacturers – Ford and Volkswagen in this case – standardising AEB and keeping safety up-to-date even for older cars, to the benefit of their customers. It’s a pity that not everyone follows this example, and by prioritising looks over substance Jeep ended up at the bottom of the list of this year’s rated cars. The good news is that consumers have more choice than ever to find a safer alternative.”

Drivers should stop listening to Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud dangerous to drivers

Drivers should avoid listening to Girls Aloud or the Spice Girls if they want to stay safe this Christmas.

A recent study in America found that songs with more than 120 beats per minute (BPM) resulted in faster and more erratic driving. To stay safe, drivers should listen to music that mimics the human heartbeat.

Ideally, songs with 60 to 100 BPM.

Which is bad news for drivers with Girls Aloud and the Spice Girls on their playlist.

A finance company has analysed the UK Christmas number ones since 1952 to identify and safest and most dangerous songs to listen to while driving.

Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud is deemed to be the most dangerous. The 2002 hit single has a BPM of 164 and an energy score of 0.85.

Spice Girls dangerous to drivers

But there’s bad news for fans of the Spice Girls, too.

Two of the songs in the top ten most dangerous Christmas number ones are credited to Sporty, Baby, Scary, Posh and Ginger: 2 Become 1 and Goodbye.

Tim Schwarz, head of marketing at Moneybarn, said: “Christmas is one of the busiest driving times of the year and wintry weather can make roads more dangerous.

“We all love feeling festive when ‘driving home for Christmas’, but make sure your song choices aren’t distracting you from the road”

The top 10 most dangerous Christmas number ones

1. Girls Aloud Sound of the Underground
2. LadBaby We Built This City
3. Pet Shop Boys Always on my Mind
4. The Beatles Day Tripper
5. Slade Merry Xmas Everybody
6. Winifred Atwell Let’s Have Another Party
7. Spice Girls 2 Become 1
8. Band Aid 20 Do They Know it’s Christmas?
9. Spice Girls Goodbye
10. Benny Hill Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)

You’ll need to break into your parents’ playlist if want to make it home for Christmas in one piece. Five of the top ten safest tunes were released in the 1950s.

That said, looking through the list, your biggest challenge might be trying to stay awake behind the wheel.

Shayne Ward is dangerous to drivers

The top 10 safest Christmas number ones

1. Frankie Lane Answer Me
2. Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You
3. Al Martino Here in my Heart
4. Dickie Valentine Christmas Alphabet
5. Harry Belafonte Mary’s Boy Child
6. Alexandra Burke Hallelujah
7. Johnnie Ray Just Walking in the Rain
8. Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir A Bridge Over You
9. Wings Mull of Kintyre
10. Shayne Ward That’s my Goal

Motorists warned about effects of cold and flu tablets

Motorists warned about the effects of cold and flu tablets

Motorists are being warned about the dangerous effects some medications can have on driving.

Even cold and flu treatments can cause drowsiness, reducing a driver’s ability to concentrate on driving. Not only is this dangerous, but drivers could be charged with a criminal offence.

It’s illegal in England, Scotland and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.

Over-the-counter medication is covered by the same drug-driving laws as illegal substances such as cocaine and cannabis, so drivers are advised to study the list of prescription medicines affected by the legislation (see below).

The police can stop drivers and demand a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they suspect drugs have been taken. If they deem a motorist to be unfit to drive, they’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.

‘Read the label’

Read the label

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “You may not be aware that your driving can be compromised by medicinal drugs. Therefore you could be breaking the law without realising.

“A conviction for drug driving carries a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. You will have a criminal record that means you may have trouble getting a job or travelling overseas. Even once you are able to get your licence back, it will be endorsed for 11 years.

“So we cannot stress enough the importance of reading labels and seeking advice from healthcare professionals before driving. If you find that a specific remedy is likely to make you drowsy and impair your driving, then you must not drive after taking it. If you need to drive, make sure you ask a healthcare professional for a medicine that will not cause drowsy side-effects.”

Prescription medicines affected by the law

Jaguar Land Rover sneeze

Motorists should consult a doctor about whether they should drive if they’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

  • Amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

Drivers are permitted to drive after taking these drugs IF:

  • They’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional.
  • They are not making a driver unfit to drive – even if they’re above the specified limits.

GEM has produced a fact sheet on the dangerous effects some medicines can bring. This can be downloaded here.