Tales from the underbelly of the car insurance world
Driving Everyone Nuts
This is my opportunity to ramble on about the more obscure aspects of motoring, car insurance and all the other things that my friends are now bored of hearing including social media and new motoring innovations and the latest technology.
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Does social media have a place on the roads?
Many of my 'friends' post updates while driving
On average, I log onto my various social media accounts about five or six times every day. Usually, I check for new feeds, comment on posts, put up amusing videos, share blogs or just communicate with my contacts.
However, as I scroll through recent posts, I am often surprised at how many of my connections post updates while driving. While I understand the need to keep people informed, texting or updating from behind the wheel could potentially be very dangerous.
Sadly, according to the RAC, 24% of motorists between the ages of 17 and 24 access their email or use social networking while driving.
To examine the effects of Facebook on young motorists, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) carried out a study into the dangers of using social media when driving.
The research found that when sending or receiving messages a driver's reaction time slows by approximately 38%. Motorists often missed key events, are unable to maintain a central lane position and fail to respond quickly to other road users.
Dr Nick Reed, a TRL senior researcher, found those who use their smartphones for social media spend up to 60% of their time looking at their handsets instead of paying adequate attention to the road.
He said, "That 60% is enough to miss someone braking or swerving in front of you, debris in the road and other hazards" You may get away with it for a while but if you do it consistently, you will have an accident.
"Smartphones are incredibly useful and convenient tools when used appropriately and responsibly. Their use for social networking when driving is neither"
If a motorist decides to use social media behind the wheel, the consequences could be dramatic. According to government figures, between 2006 and 2010, mobile phone use behind the wheel caused 1,690 injuries - and 110 fatalities.
However, an IAM report called "Don't Poke Me I'm Driving" suggests smartphone use could be responsible for hundreds of unexplained traffic accidents every year.
As well as potentially proving fatal, those who update their accounts while driving could also see their car insurance premium increase if they cause or influence the outcome of a vehicle collision.
After looking at the data, you may think car manufacturers and companies should be taking appropriate steps to prevent motorists from using social media behind the wheel. Yet, some organisations actually seem to be doing the opposite:
Customers who use General Motor's OnStar technology can currently contact breakdown assistance, locate their car in the event of theft and use GPS to find their way home. However, owners may soon be able to update their social media accounts and listen to their text messages while driving.
Mercedes-Benz and Facebook are also planning to introduce a system which will allow consumers to update their statuses from behind the wheel. In addition, Ford is working on a concept vehicle designed to socially connect to the owner's friends and update them when necessary.
Although I am certain these companies will take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their customers, the Highway Code clearly states people must not "drive without due care and attention".
Personally, I fail to see how any motorist can stay focused on the road when they have access to all these technologies.
If a driver feels the need to find out what their friends are up to, they should wait until they are stopped in a safe location - otherwise they may cause a traffic accident and be unable to claim cheap car insurance as a result.
In other news, a Danish inventor has released a device which allows motorists to brew coffee from behind the wheel.
Users just plug the gadget into the cigarette lighter, fill it with water, add a pod of coffee and wait two minutes for their hot drink.
However, the manufacturers of the Handpresso Auto Mobile stress the product must not be used while driving and coffee should only be consumed when the vehicle is parked safely.
Once upon a time eating, drinking and using a phone behind the wheel were considered distractions from driving. However, many people may now regard motoring as a distraction from other pastimes.
Why I think flying cars are a bad idea
The Terrafugia Transition
The other day I was watching Back to the Future part II (set in 2015) and Blade Runner (set in 2019). Both of those movies featured flying cars and yet, it is 2012 and I have never yet seen an airborne driver.
However; a flying car, called the Terrafugia Transition, has recently been declared road legal - and could be available to US motorists as early as next year.
While I do not think there is anything wrong with the idea of airborne cars, there are several reasons why I will not be buying one.
First, there is a space issue. In Back to the Future, Marty jumps into Doc's Delorean and advises him to reverse stating: "We do not have enough road to get up to 88." Doc replies with: "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
Sadly, to pilot the Transition, drivers will need a lot of room. To take off or land the vehicle, owners will require at least 2,500ftof runway. Having access to this sort of space could be a problem - and many budding aeronauts may be unable to fly without driving it to an airport first.
Statistically, flying is one of the safest forms of transportation. According to LiveScience; there were 44 fatal air crashes in the United States during 2007. In contrast, 44,000 Americans died the same year in traffic accidents.
Aircraft fatalities are rare because of various reasons, such as high-tech safety features, advanced pilot training and pre-flight checks.
However, despite these advances in aeronautical safety, The New York Times states around 40% of people have a phobia or a degree of anxiety associated with aircraft.
If we all have airborne cars, many drivers or passengers could potentially have a mild fear of flying - which may seriously interfere with the operation of a vehicle.
Generally, most drivers are careful, considerate and safe. However, Research by the AA shows, in 2011, 51% of UK motorists knew a family member who drove too fast - while 35% said a relative shaved, ate, applied make up or used a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
Can you imagine flying next to someone who is shaving or using their handset at 1,400ft? If unsafe motorists continue their bad habits in the air, the consequences could potentially be devastating.
Commercial airline pilots are only allowed to fly aircraft after extensive training and experience. Fortunately, drivers of the Transition will also have to undergo similar tuition.
As the vehicle is classified as a Light Sport Aircraft, motorists will need, at the very least, a Sport Pilot licence in order to fly. To obtain this qualification, applicants will need to spend a minimum of 20 hours in the air and pass a practical test. A valid driver's licence will also be needed for use on the roads.
Hopefully, this extra training will help to eliminate bad habits and make the skies safer. However, even before an accident, owners will still have trouble insuring their vehicle.
Flying cars are expensive and the Transition is no exception, retailing at approximately US$279,000 (Â£173,000). However, finding cheap car insurance may also prove very challenging.
According to MSN Money, if a driver wants to insure a Transition, he or she may have to pay around US$60,000 (Â£37,000) annually – almost 76 times the average American car insurance policy.
Injuries, property damage and repair are all likely to be more expensive if a motorist crash lands his or her flying car. Owners would also have to take their vehicle to a specialist aircraft mechanic and have it re-classified as flight-worthy before using it again.
After a traffic or aircraft accident, a policy-holder may also see their car insurance premium increase.
Furthermore, what happens when a flying car breaks down? NASA states if a person steps off a 1000ft tall roof and curls into a ball, he or she will have less than 7.9 seconds until they come into contact with the ground.
If a flying car experiences an accident or equipment failure, owners should have a suitable safety plan. If there is not a 2,500ft long field in the area, drivers will have to decide where to crash-land.
I am certain companies like Terrafugia have taken all reasonably practical steps to ensure the safety of their consumers. However, breaking down still seems like a terrifying prospect to me.
While I will not be purchasing the Transition or any other flying car soon, do not let my viewpoint put you off. Around 100 people have already put down a deposit for the vehicle and it will probably be available as early as 2013.
The company is also expecting to sell about 35 of these cars annually, so the skies will not get crowded straight away.
In the distant future, when flying cars have proved themselves, I may reconsider my stance. Until then, I will restrict my driving to the roads.
Rubbernecking prevention is not easy to prevent car accidents
Accidents causing accidents
As I drove around my local area this weekend I was struck, not literally thank goodness, by the detritus of recent car accidents.
In two separate, and very dangerous, locations there languished the remains of what looked like two very nasty car crashes. One was just off a roundabout and the other close to the edge of the road on a busy dual carriageway.
As I drove past, I found it very hard not to be distracted by these two hunks of wrecked automobile and realised in both cases, as I looked momentarily at the wrecks, that if my luck had been different at those moments, my lack of focus on the roads could have caused another incident.
So, my question is why are these car carcases left by the sides of the road – why aren't they moved as quickly as possible so as not to pose a risk to other road users? These sights are shocking and it is very difficult not to take a second glance to really take in the extent of the damage and to ponder upon the other driver's misfortune.
However, there lies the problem, because as you wonder what happened and whether everyone involved is alright, your chances of suffering a similar fate sky rocket, because you are, for a few brief moments, a distracted driver, and we all know what distraction does – it causes accidents.
When I was growing up the term "rubbernecking" was very much a term du jour and we were told that rubbernecking, or looking at an accident as you drive past, was the cause of road delays and subsequent accidents, and we should avoid doing it all costs.
So for many years now, if I become caught in a traffic queue and can see that there has been a vehicle accident ahead, I feel duty bound to keep my eyes on the road and to make a concerted effort not to look. But when an abandoned car has its front end crunched beyond recognition or wrapped around a sign post (as the two cars I saw on my travels appeared to be) leaps into your line of sight it's hard not to want to take another look.
So, surely there is some way we can deal with such incidents.
In 2009, trials of 75m long "incident screens" were reported as being successful by the Highways Agency. Two pilot schemes were carried out along the M25 and M1, where the screens were used at accident hot spots to prevent motorists who were driving by seeing the aftermath of a car crash and a spokesperson said at the time it was hoped that the specially designed screens would be used at incidents where clear-up operations were going to take more than two hours.
However, I have seen little evidence of such screens on the nation's roads and all Highways agency references to the screens have been archived. So I'm guessing the plans to roll out the screens nationwide never materialised.
Granted, the physical demands of screening off an accident are manifold – the screens were cumbersome and not easy to erect or transport to accident scenes, and they were susceptible to wind, which made them just another hazard as they blew down. Plus, spokespeople from various motoring agencies and organisations brought up the point that the erection and dismantling of the screens themselves might cause a significant rubbernecking opportunity, so the screens were a self-defeating solution to the problem.
Still, I feel sure that there must be some way to remove, or at least disguise, the shock-inducing factors of abandoned and damaged cars. Perhaps the police could carry special car covers to be fitted over crashed vehicles and secured at the scene – so the vehicle becomes an innocuous blob on the side of the road rather than a spectacle which begs the questions "How did it happen? How many were hurt? Was it a drunk-driver?" Etc, etc. And this would in turn prevent those moments of distracted driving from causing yet more accidents.
It's another one of those questions, isn't it – cost over functionality and usefulness – but I'm sure I can't be alone in finding crashed vehicles disturbing.
So, as I drive home tonight, I will be interested to see if the offending cars have been removed. I hope they have, because I'm sure my mind will wander as I happen upon them and I really don't want to be another rubbernecking statistic or, for that matter, a car accident casualty who wishes I'd kept my eyes on the road.
Other fuel sources may reduce the cost of motoring
Strange ways to power a vehicle
With fuel prices and car insurance premiums increasing, drivers may consider new ways to reduce the cost of motoring.
Last year, British motorists bought record numbers of diesel cars in an effort to save money. Although many drivers believe these vehicles are cheaper to run than petrol variants, Glass's Guide state buying a second-hand diesel car is only cost-effective if a motorist drives at least 10,000 miles per year.
There are other ways to power a car; such as hydrogen or electricity. However, there are also several bizarre and unusual types of fuel which could help a motorist get to their destination.
The first method can be found in just about every pub in Britain – ethanol.
Ethanol has been used by Germany and France since 1894 to power internal combustion engines. In 1925, Brazil's production of ethanol was 70 times greater than petrol. In countries with large territories, this substance is a popular source of fuel because of its renewable properties.
For example, ethanol can be produced using sugar beets and molasses. For every tonne of sugar cane a farmer can make around 72.5 litres of ethanol. Other crops, such as sweet sorghum and corn, can also be used to create alcohol.
Although drivers may prefer petrol, the Swedish government uses ethanol in their public transport system.
In 2006, Swedish customs seized nearly 200,000 gallons of smuggled alcohol. Almost all of it was converted into alternative fuels and used to power buses, trucks and even a train.
The authorities state they used to pour confiscated alcohol down the drain, but now, anyone caught smuggling liquor into the country will help to power the public transport system and also reduce Sweden's greenhouse emissions.
However, providing a motorist owns a diesel vehicle, inventive drivers can convert their machine to run on chip fat and grease.
In 2008, one London chemistry teacher managed to drive all the way to Greece using only cooking oil as fuel.
Instead of stopping at petrol stations, he pulled into restaurants and asked owners for their cooking grease.
After obtaining these waste products, he used an in-car centrifuge to separate water along with food elements to leave clean, pure fuel.
Using this biofuel, the teacher travelled over 2,000 miles on approximately 45 gallons of cooking oil. He claimed his car travelled around 40 miles to the gallon and saved about Â£300 in petrol costs.
Even better, if a motorist wishes to convert their car to run on cooking grease, drivers who produce less than 2,500 litres of biofuel a year will not have to pay excise duty.
When thinking of alternative fuels, paint does not seem like a very reliable option. However, in 2005, scientists managed to invent a plastic material which turned solar power into electrical energy.
The substance could be sprayed onto objects and used as a portable battery. The National Geographic reported a hydrogen-powered car painted with this material could, in theory, continually use the stored energy to recharge its battery.
In 2011, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation also developed their own spray-on energy cells to harness the power of the sun. Although not as effective as traditional solar panels, the company aimed to improve the device's efficiency to 15% by 2015.
If you thought turning grease into fuel was an unappealing prospect, you may want to stop reading now.
In 2009, Japan's production of adult nappies increased dramatically, with producers manufacturing around five billion units. Faced with an alarming amount of human waste, Japanese company Super Faiths created a recycling machine which shreds, dries and sterilises nappies and turns them into fuel pellets.
Afterwards, the capsules can be used in biomass boilers to provide heating or other forms of power.
Turning dirty nappies into vehicle fuel is not entirely farfetched. Using a process called thermal cracking, the waste can be heated and broken down into carbon elements. The end product is very similar to diesel.
However, if someone does produce a car which runs on recycled nappies, I suggest staying downwind of the vehicle's exhaust.
Although these strange methods may allow a motorist to reduce the cost of motoring, I would recommend trying other methods first; such as purchasing cheaper car insurance, sharing a vehicle or driving economically.
Does changing to faster lanes get you places quicker? - The effect lane changing has on traffic jams and journey length
This week I saw an episode of an 'accessible' science programme which was particularly interesting for me, and probably anyone else who has to brave the rush hour traffic on their way into work and back home again.
The programme's presenters were testing a variety of different theories out to see if they were in fact true, or just a popular myth.
One of the theories they decided to put to the test is that by changing lanes to join traffic which is moving faster than in other lanes, you will reach your destination quicker than just moving steadily along in one lane.
To test this, two of the presenters set off in identical cars down one piece of dual carriageway.
One of them was allowed to change lane as often as he wanted, but he had to stick to the speed limit and carry out all manoeuvres safely. The other presenter had to remain in one lane, also doing no more than the speed limit for that road, and wasn't allowed to move into another lane even if he was being beeped at.
Now, this is where it got interesting.
Whereas the driver who was allowed to change lanes became quite stressed in the hour or so he spent travelling along to the designated meeting point, and arrived there first (proving the theory to be correct), the other only arrived a little more than four minutes after him after having had a comparatively stress-free journey.
I'll admit it was a surprise to me that changing lanes to move along faster saves such little time.
Furthermore, one of the show's guests explained that if motorists keep changing lanes to try and keep moving, they are likely to be making the traffic jam worse or creating one in the first place.
This happens because, as a driver changes lane, motorists behind may have to brake and as a result slow down causing every other car behind in a huge chain to also brake and slow. This chain reaction can mean cars which were moving smoothly become bunched up, and drivers find themselves in a jam.
On the other hand, remaining in one lane will allow road users to slowly get themselves moving again without interruption, lengthening the gaps between each car until the jam is thinned out and disappears.
Of course, to make the research more trustworthy they should really have undertaken the test more than once to make sure that it wasn't just particular traffic conditions that evening which led to the result they got.
However, I have a feeling that more tests would have proven that, more often than not, remaining in one lane is more beneficial health-wise and traffic-wise.
I know that I'd much rather arrive somewhere four minutes later than I expected without being stressed and without having caused more traffic problems, than four minutes faster and with a higher blood pressure.
Traffic jams aren't all caused by impatient motorists changing lanes too often and slowing everyone else down but if drivers relaxed a little more and just waited in their lane for things to get moving, I have a feeling that traffic jams would disperse faster and there would be fewer of them.
Moreover, I imagine that fewer traffic jams would mean calmer, happier motorists and fewer road accidents. Consequently, fewer accidents would mean that the price of car insurance would reduce. Because car insurance would be more affordable, drivers would be calmer and happier, and that would mean that there would be fewer accidents, and, well, you see where I'm going?
Personally, I don't really get what the rush is about anyway. I enjoy sitting in my car with the radio or CD player on and having a bit of 'me' time before and after work. I think it's a good way to pep up my mood and prepare for the day ahead, and then wind down and reward myself after a day's hard graft.
It also gives me time to look at the nice countryside I usually fly past without having time to admire. It's quite nice having time to connect with nature a little before going to sit in an office all day.
Anyway, whether you're a lane changer or a lane follower, make sure you drive safely and considerately and you should save yourself a lot of potential stress and probably a lot of money on fuel, vehicle repairs, and car cover too.
How to lower your risk of an accident using food - What to eat and drink before a lengthy car trip
There are often new articles available on which foods and drinks are healthy and which are bad for people's health.
Furthermore, articles about what young people should be eating and drinking in order to perform best during school and exams regularly crop up in the media towards the end of each academic year.
However, not much time is given up towards considering which foods and drinks are best to consume prior to a long car journey.
The Highway Code states that a motorist should have a minimum 15 minute break every two hours of time spent behind the wheel. It's important for road users to follow this advice so that they find concentrating on the road as easy as possible, but with statistics showing that young drivers are particularly at risk of suffering a road traffic accident, the more help they get to stay safe the better.
Perhaps the most obvious choice of drink before a long drive is something caffeinated, such as coffee. Caffeine can make a person more alert and reduce fatigue, which is ideal when someone wants to have a better focus on the road around them.
Having said this, caffeine drinkers should be careful not to drink too much because this can cause jitteriness and caffeine dependency.
How much is too much? The European Food Commission and the Food Standards Agency states that moderate consumption of caffeine for adults is 300mg a day – that's two to three cups of coffee depending on the strength of the brew.
As well as caffeine, glucose may help a driver stay focused when behind the wheel of their vehicle during a long journey. Glucose is the type of sugar which is created when a person's body breaks down starch. So, drinking a glass of orange juice, or eating a tangerine, for example, can enhance memory and improve a person's thinking process.
However, yet again, people should consume glucose in moderation, since too much can apparently lead to impaired memory and thought process.
The importance of having breakfast is touted by many as essential and having breakfast does indeed kick-start the brain in the morning. However, there are certain types of breakfast that are better than others.
Whole grain foods, dairy products and fruit are all great foods to start a day off with. These types of foods enhance short-term memory and boost attention span. You may have guessed though – just as with everything else – there are potentially negative effects. Research shows that a high-calorie breakfast can hinder concentration, so a full-English style fried breakfast might not be such a good idea before a lengthy car journey.
Another great food to have prior to a long road trip is fish. The omega three fatty acids contained in certain fish, such as tuna, mackerel and herring, are essential for brain function, and everyone is likely to agree that good brain function is useful when it comes to staying safe on the highways.
If eaten regularly, that is to say for many weeks or months before the long car trip (as part of a balanced diet), avocado can increase blood flow around the body and therefore boost brain cell activity.
For anyone fed up with reading about fruit and other healthy foods, chocolate can also greatly improve brain function. The only thing is that it has to be dark chocolate, which isn't everyone's favourite. Dark chocolate contains natural stimulants which can help increase focus and concentration.
If you are overwhelmed by the number of foods which could help you have an easier car journey, we've come up with a potential menu which incorporates all of these elements. Depending on when you're leaving you might not have time for all of these ideas, but any one of them is better than none at all.
So, it's the day of your long car journey. You could begin the day with a cup of coffee and some whole grain cereal topped with chunks of fruit. For lunch on the go you could have a salmon and avocado salad or pasta. And for a quick snack (or dessert) a driver could have a piece of fruit, or a few blocks of dark chocolate.
Armed with the best possible food and drink, road users can make any long drive easier on themselves – by keeping focused and well hydrated, following the rules of the road, and taking regular breaks every two hours or more, if necessary, a young driver's risk of being involved in a crash should be greatly reduced.
Remember, you should never eat or drink anything you are allergic to, even when on the quest for the highest level of concentration before a long trip and don't do it while behind the wheel because it could distract you. The general rule when it comes to food is 'everything in moderation', and a well-balanced diet will see you right in most day-to-day activities.
Clarkson and team are over 'til the fat lady sings
Clarkson speaks foul of Cowell
Jeremy Clarkson, he of the tall-framed, curly-headed, Top Gear-presenting fame, has been at it again with more outspokenness – this time he has had a Twitter-rant about TV scheduling.
The motoring pundit said the "rumour in internet land" that there will be no more episodes of Top Gear on our screens in 2012, is, "apart from an Xmas special", absolutely true.
He suggested that Sunday night TV screens in autumn will be filled with "fat people singing" – a reference, so it has been taken, to the planned reappearance of X Factor on ITV.
He added that "Top Gear is a medium-sized van. Cowell is a juggernaut" and that Top Gear would bow to the pressure exerted by the X Factor show, returning when the "singing competition" had finished.
Although revered by many for his irreverence and general motoring bluster, Jeremy Clarkson (JC) has been known, and this may come as a shock to some of you, to have caused more than a few eyebrows to be raised with his, sometimes, controversial comments about all manner of things from young drivers to Mexicans, lorry drivers to Welsh speakers.
Yes, JC's gaffes, though I am sure he would cite them as pertinent social comment, have got him into quite a bit of trouble over the years, but, as the old adage goes, it seems there is no such thing as bad publicity, because the old dog of motoring journalism will just not roll over!
Clarkson, the self-styled motoring media lout, has variously offended the national governments of Malaysia (following critical comments about the Perodua Kelisa in 2007), Romania (having said that the Top Gear crew were filming in "Borat country" in 2009), Mexico (having added fuel to Richard Hammond's 2011 comments about Mexicans, suggesting the Mexican ambassador was too lazy to complain), and India (following the 2011 Top Gear Christmas special).
Clarkson has often angered campaign groups – in 2006 the BBC received complaints, which were later upheld, that Clarkson used the rhyming slang phrase "ginger beer" ("queer") in an offensive manner after agreeing with an audience member's comment that the Daihatsu Copen was a bit "gay". Plus, in 2010, gay rights campaigners complained about edited JC comments made on Top Gear which had been Tweeted by show guest Alastair Campbell. Although they did not get shown on TV, the comment that Clarkson "demanded not to get bummed" caused controversy.
In 2009, while in Australia, JC called then Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot". The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) condemned the comments. Mr Brown had lost the sight in one eye as a result of a school sporting accident and the chief executive of RNIB said, "Mr Clarkson's description of Prime Minister Brown is offensive. Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable."
Road safety campaigners are often at odds with JC and the Top Gear team, whose major emphasis is often on speed and high-performance cars and Clarkson often makes it known through various media that he enjoys driving at high speeds and deplores speed restriction techniques such as speed cameras and traffic calming schemes.
In 2008, the show was set upon by the BBC Trust when James May and JC enjoyed a gin and tonic together as Clarkson drove across ice fields on their way to the North Pole. The trust stated that the scene "was not editorially justified". James may infamously told the editorial standards committee to "sod off".
The most recent outrage occurred in February 2012. Changing Faces, a UK charity supporting people with facial disfigurements, lodged complaints to the BBC and Ofcom after Clarkson likened an unspecified Japanese car/camper van to a person suffering facial disfigurement. He also made reference to the "elephant man" character, Joseph Merrick – as played by John Hurt in the 1980 film. The organisations received more than 55 and 41 complaints respectively, but Ofcom announced just two months later that it had cleared Clarkson and that it would not take the complaints any further.
An Ofcom spokesperson said, "Ofcom recognises that the comments were potentially offensive to individuals living with facial disfigurement. However, on balance, we believe that they would not have exceeded the likely expectation of the audience, and any potential offence was justified by the context. We have informed the BBC of the issues raised by the complainants so they can be taken into consideration for future programmes."
So, it appears that people who tune into Top Gear or read JC's various motoring-related articles should expect to be somewhat offended and not surprised at the outlandishness of some of his comments.
Well, I guess we don't tune in to Top Gear for its political correctness or connection to the reality which is everyday motoring – last time I checked there were no Ferraris in my work's car park and we don't get a lot of Bugatti Veyrons trying to park along my local high street.
But...one thing is for sure. When the fat people have stopped singing, we will be tuning in to Top Gear – we always do!
The Cutting Edge of Insurance - Car insurance and Black Box Technology
I'm aiming to list some of the companies I've come across in my work that are going that little bit further in providing good service and innovative insurance products.
- Whiplash Compensation Claims
Find out all you need to know about whiplash accidents, whiplash injury and making a claim for compensation with Thompsons Solicitors Scotland
- Coverbox - Black Box Car Insurance
Drive like a girl have just launched their website. They are using black-box in-car technology to track the number of miles driven and also how hard the driver is braking and accelerating. The object is to give better drivers cheaper car insurance
Smoking behind the wheel - a BLF study
Study into second-hand smoke in cars
Are you a women's car insurance holder and a smoker? You might want to go easy on the cigarettes while behind the wheel from now on if you have children or drive friends or other family members about.
The British Lung Foundation has conducted a study on 7,500 secondary school pupils in England and found that six percent of them were exposed to smoke in their parents' car every day, or many times during the week, and eight percent were exposed to smoke in the family car once or twice a week.
If these percentages are expanded to the whole of England, more than 430,000 children from the age of 11 to 15 are exposed to second-hand smoke at least once a week in their parent's cars.
Worryingly, there are no statistics available relating to children under the age of 11, when they might rely on their parents to transport them from place to place more than they do when they reach secondary school age.
This research has been undertaken as the House of Lords plans to debate a potential regulation which would make it illegal for people to smoke in cars with child passengers.
The director of the British Lung Foundation states, "Adults are protected from second-hand smoke in public places and in work vehicles. This amendment is fundamental to child protection and must be passed in the Lords if we are to help shape a healthy future for this generation of children."
However, despite the clear health benefits this legislation will have if it is implemented, there are some who are against it, and they raise several good points.
The director of Forest – an organisation which supports the rights of smokers in the UK – argues that the survey shows that "only a very small number of adults still smoke in cars with children present. It's inconsiderate and most adults recognise that."
Also, he believed that the potential regulation would be "disproportionate to the problem", "very difficult to enforce", and would also be "a huge waste of police resources".
He might be right – we'll just have to see what the House of Lords thinks.
Still, whatever the outcome, if you're a smoker and like lighting up behind the wheel, just remember that, even without children in your car, the very act of lighting and smoking a cigarette while driving is dangerous. It will mean that you are distracted from the road and won't have full control of the vehicle.
So – to avoid being involved in an accident, suffering injuries, and possibly seeing the cost of your car insurance for women or men increase, only smoke in your car when you're parked up somewhere safe.
Photo Â© Centophobia via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence
Please leave a comment if you happen to pass by this way, I could do with all the encouragement I can get.