The life-saving New Year’s resolution every driver should make

Home / Auto News / The life-saving New Year’s resolution every driver should make

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Motorway traffic

January is the perfect time to make safety your number one priority on road journeys, says GEM Motoring Assist.

The breakdown and road safety organisation is encouraging everyone – drivers, riders and pedestrians – to think about how they can reduce risks when they’re travelling.

“This is the time most of us give some thought to the changes we might make,” explains GEM road safety adviser James Luckhurst.

“So why not include a road safety New Year’s resolution and seek to make better, wiser choices about how we use the roads in 2024?

“By doing do, we are immediately improving safety and reducing the risk of harm, both to ourselves and to everyone else around us on journeys.

“This would help reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in avoidable collisions on our roads each year.”

In 2022 there were 1,766 deaths and 28,941 serious injuries in the UK – a 10% increase on 2021.

Four road safety suggestions for drivers:

  1. Before you go
    Plan and check your route before you set out. This will ensure you don’t get lost, or end up rushing and making risky decisions.
  2. Choose your speeds wisely
    The speeds you use are entirely your own choice. No one can tell you to exceed the speed limit. So, always choose speeds that are legal and appropriate for the conditions.
  3. Pay attention
    Give the road your full attention. Don’t be distracted by passengers, mobile phones or private thoughts. And don’t drive tired.
  4. Think – stay calm
    Make a pledge that you won’t react to the actions of other drivers. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t waste time and increase risk by trying to rebuke another road user. Focus on holding back and staying safe.

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Top tips for avoiding mobile phone temptation while driving

Home / Auto News / Top tips for avoiding mobile phone temptation while driving

Gareth Herincx

4 days ago
Auto News

Woman driver on phone - GEM Motoring Assist

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is an offence punishable by a £200 fine with six penalty points, so it’s simply not worth the risk.

Here’s some sensible advice from road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist on how to avoid mobile phone temptation.

It’s also worth remembering that hands-free use may be legal, but drivers still risk being distracted when dialling, talking, texting or browsing their phones during journeys.

Government figures for 2021 (the latest available) show that 1% of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving.

The worst group of offenders were van drivers (1.9%) compared with car drivers (0.8%), while males aged 17 to 29 were the most likely to be observed using a mobile phone.

Stay safe with these simple tips

  • You’re allowed to use a mobile phone when you are safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on.
  • Please do not pick up your phone in any other driving situation, including when you’re stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic.
  • The only exception to this is if it’s an emergency and it would be unsafe or impractical to stop, in which case you may call 999.
  • Don’t assume that using a hands-free kit means you have dealt with the risk. You are still allowing yourself to be distracted from the task of safe driving, and you could still be prosecuted for not being in control (an offence that carries a £100 fine and three penalty points).
  • Take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or to check voice messages and emails. Work together with friends, family, colleagues and work contacts to remove the expectation that we should all be available, all the time.
  • Plan journeys to build in breaks from driving, where you can call, text or email or interact with social media in a safe environment.

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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How to let an ambulance through safely

BLA animation ambulance smart motorway emergency corridor

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has launched a set of tips for drivers to help keep them safe when making way for emergency vehicles.

The ‘Blue Light Aware’ tips are available as short animations and cover locations and situations where confusion can occur. These could be traffic light junctions, roundabouts, motorways without hard shoulders and stretches of road with solid white lines where overtaking is not allowed.

The advice, approved by the emergency services, outlines what to do and what not to do when helping an emergency vehicle.

“Every driver wants to help and do the right thing, but the approach of a blue light vehicle can take them by surprise,” said GEM chief executive Neil Worth said. “We hope that our tips will minimise confusion and reduce risk.”

At traffic lights
An ambulance won’t want you to go through a red traffic light. So don’t break the law or take any risks by moving past the light. If you’re first in the queue at a red light, stay where you are, and leave the ambulance to find its way around you.

Roundabouts and junctions
If you’re approaching a roundabout or a junction and you see an ambulance, look at its position, as this will let you know where it wants you to go. If you’re already AT the junction, be patient and wait for it to come past. There may be more than one emergency vehicle approaching the junction, so check before moving off.

Solid white lines
On a road with a solid white line system, an ambulance will probably switch off its siren as it follows you. This is because overtaking is not allowed. So keep going – at the speed limit if it’s safe – until you’re clear of the solid white lines. When the siren goes on again, that’s your cue to let the ambulance go past.

Motorways and dual carriageways
On motorways and dual carriageways, move to the left to allow an ambulance to pass in the outside lane if it’s clear. In slow and stationary traffic, emergency vehicles usually use the motorway hard shoulder, so you should only go onto the hard shoulder if you have an emergency of your own.

If there’s no hard shoulder, make way for emergency vehicles by creating an ‘emergency corridor’ (as shown in the picture). When you’ve let an emergency vehicle through, stay where you are, as other vehicles are likely to be coming through.

Smart motorways
On a smart motorway, one or more lanes may be closed because of an incident ahead – you’ll know because of red X signs above the carriageway. Emergency vehicles will use these lanes if they can. Keep out of these red X lanes. If no lanes appear to be closed, be prepared to help create the emergency corridor.

Simple safety tips for the winter weather

Home / Auto News / Simple safety tips for the winter weather

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Peugeot-208-driving-n-the-snow

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging motorists to take extra care, as more wintry weather hits the UK.

Road journeys are more difficult and treacherous when there is ice on roads, foggy conditions or a fall of snow, so GEM is encouraging drivers to plan ahead and be ready to postpone journeys if necessary.

For those who will need to travel, here are some simple safety tips to reduce the chance of risk, delay and difficulty – and to avoid putting additional strain on the emergency services and breakdown providers who are likely to be at full stretch in winter weather.

  • Don’t drive if you don’t really need to. The easiest way to avoid trouble from winter conditions is to postpone your journey.
  • If you do have to travel, ensure your car is properly equipped for the likely conditions. That’s because if you do experience a breakdown, you will most likely have to wait longer until help arrives. So get a winter check-up completed on your car – or at the very least ensure the battery is in the best possible shape.
  • Listen for weather updates, and plan your travel accordingly.
  • Ensure your windscreen and all other windows are completely clear of snow and ice before you set out. Give your lights and number plate a good wipe, too.
  • Prepare a set of essential items to take with you, including shovel, fully charged mobile phone, torch, ice scraper, food, water, jump leads, first aid kit, warm clothes and a supply of sand or gravel to assist with grip if your wheels are spinning.
  • In winter conditions, keep your speeds down, leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front, give room to snowploughs and gritter trucks, and be ready for sudden, rapid deteriorations in conditions.
  • Remember that driving in conditions like this is hard work. You are likely to become tired much more quickly than in less challenging conditions. So ensure you build in breaks on your journeys.

“It makes sense to have a plan in place that means you can postpone a journey, or switch to public transport. Agree to reschedule a meeting or a visit if it’s not vital,” said GEM chief executive Neil Worth.

“In that way, you’re avoiding a lot of potential trouble for yourself, and ensuring you won’t be putting additional strain on emergency and recovery crews, who are sure to be at full stretch in the coming days.”

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Don’t drink-drive this Christmas

Gareth Herincx

1 week ago
Auto News

Don't drink and drive - GEM Motoring Assist

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to make safety their priority this Christmas and not to take any risks by drinking alcohol.

The advice comes as figures show the number of breath tests conducted by police officers continues to decline. In 2021, the total number of tests was 224,162, seven per cent lower than in 2020, and just 31.5 per cent of the tests conducted in 2009.

However, 40,861 tests were positive or refused – the highest proportion since 2003.

An average of 220 people are killed in the UK through drink-driving each year, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2010.

“We urge everyone to respect the law and to understand the significant risk of choosing to flout it,” said GEM chief executive Neil Worth.

“Drink-drive deaths have not reduced for a decade now, and we believe there is a need for lower limits and a stronger safety message.

“Anyone who believes it’s acceptable to drive after drinking alcohol is creating an unnecessary risk – for themselves, their families and for anyone who happens to be sharing the road with them.”

The legal limit in England and Wales is 35 micrograms (µg) of alcohol per 100ml of breath. In Scotland, the limit changed in December 2014 and is now 22µg. This is equivalent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 in England and Wales and 0.5 in Scotland.

The penalty for a first drink-driving offence is a minimum 12-month ban, a fine of up to £2,500, and even a prison sentence of up to six months. Refusal to provide a specimen carries the same penalty.

Neil Worth added: “If you’re going out for a few drinks, then make arrangements to get home. A £20 taxi fare is definitely worth every penny for your peace of mind. And if you prefer to drive, then stay on soft drinks. Don’t ever take a risk with drink-driving.”

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