Winter is here, make sure you are safe while driving.

There are many reasons why accidents occur, and most can be avoided. Below are some points which may keep YOU from having an accident.

  • Leaves falling  on the roads at this time of year can make stopping your car very dangerous.
  • You should always keep an eye on the outside temperature (most cars have a readout on the dashboard). If the temperature shows + 3c then the road might very well be icy.
  • Temperatures can change very rapidly while driving from one place to another and consequently the road conditions can change to a dangerous state in a matter of  minutes.
  • Keep your distance from the car ahead of you. In winter conditions many more  accidents occur  by cars slamming in to the vehicle in front while trying to stop.
  • Dark and wet conditions make us want to hurry home, but slow down and get home safely.

Prepare your car  for the winter conditions.

  • Your car tyres should have a reasonable depth of tread. The legal tyre tread limit is 1.6mm, (in Ireland). It would be more preferable to have at least 3 to 4 mm when heading in to the winter period as the better the tread on your tyre the better your car will stop when braking.
  • Tyres should have  tread evenly over each tyre otherwise they are not legal, and will not allow you stop your car safely.
  • Make sure the wheel alignment/tracking is checked regularly  as this will ensure even tyre ware and longer life.
  • Have your brakes checked to ensure the car’s braking system is braking evenly between all  the wheels.
  • Check all your lights are correctly working as you may be doing a lot more  night time driving. Keep them clean to be seen!

Don’t be caught napping during those cold dark winter days – be prepared!

  • Check that your battery is good enough to give you that extra power needed to start your car during those cold days ahead.
  • Have all the engine hoses and belts checked for cracking and leaks as the frosty conditions can cause serious damage to your engine if the coolant leaks out and your engine overheats.
  • Ensure the engine coolant  is at the correct level. If your car has a cooling system which uses antifreeze, make sure the correct amount is in the system.
  • Check and replace wiper rubbers if necessary. You need a clean windscreen and good visibility during the these dark days to stay safe.
  • Put some antifreeze solution into your windscreen washer reservoir and always keep it topped up. You use it a lot more due to the mucky roads in winter.
  • Try and keep your fuel tank as full as possible at all times, you never know when you might be stuck in bad weather and might not be able to get fuel when needed.

Winter driving is less fun and more dangerous than summer driving, so be prepared with your car and take a little more time to get there safely.

 

Should people repairing cars be properly licensed by the Government? 

In Britain the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is calling on Government to license the automotive retail sector, as it releases new consumer research that shows an underlying ignorance about the qualifications required for anyone to work on a motor vehicle.

  • 71% of Motorists surveyed believed that anyone working on a car commercially, should be licensed.
  • 80% of today’s consumers choose a garage because of it’s convenient location without ever questioning the professional abilities of those who work there.
  • Only 10% of consumers actively check whether car mechanics are properly qualified to carry out the work on their car before putting it into the garage.
  • There is no Government licencing Authority which recognizes professional qualifications held by Qualified Mechanics.
  • Anyone can work as a Mechanic in the Motor industry without any qualification.
  • The industry is totally unregulated by the Government when it comes to Mechanic’s qualifications.

IMI says ‘UK consumers are completely unaware of how vulnerable they are. They believe the Government is taking care of their safety and their rights, but they have a level of trust in their service provider, which may be entirely groundless’.

This is a serious cause for concern as data from Brake, the road safety charity, reported that over 3,000 crashes in Britain were caused by vehicle defects as a result of inadequate maintenance in 2011.

All vehicles are very complex machines and need a high level of skill and training to properly carry out maintenance in a safe and efficient manner.

The IMI have said “The template for licensing already exists, with IMI Accreditation and our Professional Register, which is  already in place, so there is no excuse for the Government to delay’.

IMI suggest that ‘148,000 mechanic’s  skills and current competence cannot be verified’. It is vital that this issue is addressed as quickly as possible.” (source IMI report)

With 90% of the trade in favour of licensing, the IMI is seeking meetings with the leaders of all the main political parties ahead of the General Election in order to push forward the case for licensing.

The above statistics were drawn from research conducted through Vital Research & Statistics to 2,000 adults with a driving license – September 2014 and by BMG Research** to 600 adults in July 2014.