Top safety tips to help drivers negotiate rural roads

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto Blog

Country road

Three-in-10 motorists are so worried about narrow country lanes they deliberately avoid them, according to new research from one of the UK’s biggest car insurers, Ageas, and the RAC.

What’s more, many drivers are prepared to take a detour of 16 miles or 25 minutes to avoid them.

As millions of Brits jump into their cars and head off on staycations in the countryside this summer, the figures highlight just how unnerved many drivers – especially those who live in towns and cities – are by Britain’s rural roads, which account for more than half of all those in the country.

More than half of drivers (58%) say they find using narrow country roads stressful, a figure that rises to 76% for drivers who live in urban areas.

The two biggest causes of stress, according to the research, are the difficulty of squeezing past other vehicles in tight spaces (62%) and the fear of colliding with another vehicle head on (61%).

The RAC has these three simple tips to help drivers negotiate rural roads safely and more stress-free this summer…

Check your route carefully – if using a sat-nav, scrutinise the suggested route before setting out and see whether it’s actually easier and more comfortable to stick to main roads as far as possible instead. And be aware of sat-navs recommending diversions down narrow lanes for the sake of making up just a few minutes – it’s time that’s easily lost if you meet oncoming traffic. Don’t be afraid to take the long way round – perhaps an extra 16 miles or 25 minutes is well worth it

Get in some practice – if you’re not used to negotiating narrow roads, then have some practice driving on some close to home before the pressure of a family holiday

Take your time – while many country roads might have speed limits of 60mph, that doesn’t mean it’s the right speed to drive at – in fact, in many cases it’s incredibly unsafe to do so. Read the road carefully and consider what forward visibility you have. If it’s narrow and winding, reduce your speed accordingly

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EVs are nearly 50% cheaper to run than petrol cars

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Electric vehicles are nearly £1,000 cheaper to run than petrol cars over a year, according to new research from comparethemarket.com.

The figures show the average cost to run an EV for 12 months is £1,091 compared with £2,062 for a conventional car – a difference of £971.

The running costs for petrol cars are substantially higher as drivers of these vehicles pay an average of £640 for car insurance and £1,212 for the fuel each year.

Owners of petrol vehicles also typically need to spend at least £155 per year on road tax, while EVs are exempt.

Average running costs for 12 months

Vehicle Type Insurance Fuel MOT Road Tax Total
Electric £583 £454 £55 £0 £1,091
Petrol £640 £1,212 £55 £155 £2,062
Difference -£57 -£759 £0 -£155 -£971

The annual cost of driving an electric car has fallen by £77 in the most recent six months (May 21 – Dec 20), compared with the previous six months (Jun 20 – Nov 20).

This decline is due to a £54 drop in the cost of insurance for electric vehicles and a £23 dip in energy costs.

Electric car drivers can further reduce their running costs if they switch to the cheapest premium available. This typically costs £489, which means motorists could save £93 by shopping around for a better deal.

Electric car charging bay

Despite the substantially cheaper running costs, the up-front price of electric vehicles is a sticking point for many drivers considering making the switch from petrol.

A second-hand electric car is typically worth £22,813, based on the average value of electric vehicles from insurance renewal data.

This suggests it would take more than 20 years for the lower running costs to cover the purchase of an electric vehicle. However, motorists may be able to cover some of the purchase price by trading in their existing vehicle.

“The popularity of electric cars continues to accelerate as these vehicles now make up around one in ten new car sales,” said Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance, comparethemarket.com.

“Motorists who’ve made the switch will be glad to see our figures show electric vehicles cost roughly half as much to run as their petrol alternatives.

“These drivers benefit from substantial savings in fuel bills, insurance and tax – as well as doing their part for the environment.

“Electric car owners could save even more on running costs if they shop around for the cheapest deal when their insurance premium comes up for renewal.

“These drivers may also want to think about switching to a new Electric Vehicle Tariff for their home energy. EV Tariffs are designed to help motorists cut their energy bills by making it cheaper to charge electric cars overnight.”

Top 25 things drivers dread most

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto Blog

Travelling in the snow, reversing around a corner and overtaking cyclists are among the most uncomfortable scenarios for motorists, new research has revealed.

A study of 2,000 drivers by flexible car insurance firm Cuvva found one in 10 dislikes or hates driving and nearly a quarter (24%) feel less confident now than they before the pandemic as a result of driving less over the last 18 months, with 16% going as far as to say they have ‘forgotten’ how to drive.

Top 25 things drivers feel most uncomfortable doing

  1. Driving in snowy conditions
  2. Driving in a new town or city
  3. Roads where there are lots of lanes and you need to be in the right one
  4. Driving in the dark
  5. Driving in wet and rainy conditions
  6. Lorries
  7. Overtaking cyclists
  8. Areas where there is lots of traffic
  9. Motorways
  10. Parallel parking
  11. Reverse parking
  12. Areas where there are lots of children (e.g. near schools)
  13. Country roads
  14. Roundabouts generally
  15. Areas where there are lots of pedestrians
  16. Changing lanes
  17. Buses
  18. Turning into a road on the right, and having to cross the traffic
  19. Reversing around a corner
  20. Learner drivers
  21. Giving someone else a lift
  22. Having to turn right at a roundabout
  23. Mini roundabouts
  24. Dual carriageways
  25. Having to do a three-point turn

The study also found 29 per cent of drivers try to avoid travelling outside of their local area to stay away from unfamiliar roads.

And a quarter are reluctant to give other people lifts – even if they are going to the same destination – due to their nerves.

Nearly one in five would take a longer route to avoid busy areas (18%) while 16% would go further than needed to stay away from motorways.

Others would plan their journey to avoid having to parallel park (12%), dual carriageways (7%) and roundabouts (7%).

Almost a fifth of drivers are also nervous about the prospect of long-distance journeys as the nation prepares for a summer of staycations, with 21% even planning their break around the length of the drive.

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Vehicle thefts down during the pandemic

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

The total number of stolen vehicles in the UK dropped by nearly 15% in 2020 while many of us were at home and able to watch over our cars due to the pandemic, according to new research.

Insurer comparethemarket.com analysed data from 26 police forces, revealing that 61,743 vehicles were stolen over the last two years – 28,454 in 2020, compared to 33,289 in 2019.

Overall, the West Midlands fell victim to the most crimes in the past two years. However, it’s Birmingham West that ranks top for the total number of offences, despite thefts in 2020 decreasing by nearly 21% compared to 2019.

While theft rates in Liverpool, Sheffield and Birmingham East also decreased last year, Doncaster saw thefts increase by 8%.

Top 10 vehicle theft hotspots

Rank Location 2019 thefts 2020 thefts Total
1 Birmingham West 1,730 1,375 3,105
2 Liverpool 1,276 1,062 2,338
3 Sheffield 1,199 1,123 2,322
4 Birmingham East 1,050 991 2,041
5 Doncaster 739 796 1,535
6 Sandwell 726 748 1,474
7 Brighton and Hove 672 590 1,262
8 Rotherham 557 615 1,172
9 Luton Borough 679 486 1,165
10 Coventry 506 608 1,114

Range Rover and Land Rover topped the league table for the most stolen and recovered vehicles across the UK.

Read the full breakdown of the Top 20 theft hotspots and tips on keeping your vehicle safe…

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When is it the right time to invest in a gap insurance policy?

If you already have a comprehensive car insurance policy, gap insurance may seem like a bit of a waste of money. Don’t discount it too quickly though as it can protect the value of your car if you have an accident or it is stolen – but when is the right time to invest?

What exactly is gap insurance?

Guaranteed asset protection, or gap for short, covers the different between the amount you get paid out from your insurer if your car is written off and what you paid when you bought it. It may be offered to you by the dealership when you purchase your car, but often it’s best to look at specialist providers like ALA for the best quote and cover.

When should you seriously consider gap insurance?

If you’ve purchased your car on finance or used a personal loan from the bank and your car is written off, your car insurance pay-out may not cover the outstanding loan. This is due to a number of factors such as the finance or loan has a high interest rate, the money borrowed is spread over a long period of time such as five years, or you have a balloon payment at the end of the term.

If this happens you could end up with no car and still owe money to your finance company without any spare pennies for a new vehicle. A bit of a pickle if you need to get to and from work every day.

Before you buy your car, look into how quickly it could lose value once you drive it off the forecourt. Some of the fastest depreciating cars can lose up to 60% of their value after only a year with others over 70% after three years. Don’t get caught out with the outstanding monies to cover the loss in value if your car gets written off.

If you have a used car you can still get gap insurance, however it’s less useful as used vehicles depreciate in value at a much slower rate. Check whether it’s worth investing in gap insurance when you buy your used car, you may find that because of its lower value, you may be able to cover the costs.

Speak to a specialist about which works best for you

Whether you decide to go with return to invoice, return to value, vehicle replacement or finance gap insurance, you’ll have a bit more peace of mind and may end up in a better financial situation should you car get written off or stolen.