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Seat Belt and Head Restraint: Why do we have them?

Seat Belt and Head Restraint: Why do we have them?

The purpose of the headrest is to stop your head rotating backwards. In order to set the headrest to you, you want the pointy bit at the back of your head to match up with the middle of your head restraint. The pointy bit is more correctly known as the occipital bone.

Your seatbelt is part of your vehicle’s passive safety system and in modern vehicles, you’ll find a 3 point lap and diagonal system which are specifically designed to contain you within your seat in the event of a collision. In an accident, anyone or thing that is not restrained will be thrown forward at the speed the vehicle was doing at the time of the collision.

If you hit a stationary vehicle at 30 mph anything or anyone not restrained will hit what is in front of them at 30 mph, a terrifying thought! For the driver, this will be the steering column and for passengers in the back, this will be the people in the front. Seat belts are designed to bear upon the bony parts of your body. This means the lap part should be across your pelvis and the diagonal across the chest and shoulder.

When using a seat belt, make sure to give it a tug (every time) to ensure the reels are working. Examine by a feel and a glance for cuts, tears and frays and always check the tongue is secure.

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DRIVING HACKS: BREAKING DOWN

Breaking Down a Break Down

Have you ever had a breakdown and just weren’t sure what to do? Or maybe you’re worried about breaking down and have no idea how to deal with it. We’ve got you covered.

 

Get Prepped

If you don’t have a breakdown kit in your car, now’s the time to put one together. In ours, you’ll find:

  • A warning triangle
  • Some warm clothes and a plastic mac
  • Spare bulbs and fuses
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Hi-Vis jacket
  • Emergency numbers
  • Bottled water and snack bar(s)

Lots of Banks offer breakdown cover with particular accounts, check yours to see if you’re covered. If not make sure you have breakdown cover. It will make your life so much easier!

 

In the Moment 

  • If you can, move your car to a safe space. Make sure you’re over to the left as far as possible and try and get those wheels pointing left too.
  • Get those hazards on. Let other drivers know that you’re not going anywhere. If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on.
  • Sounds obvious but please stay away from moving traffic! It’s usually safer to get out of the car but leave animals in the vehicle. Be sure to exit the vehicle by the door furthest from the traffic.  If you break down on the motorway try and move up the bank or at the very least stand behind the barriers!
  • Make sure you’re wearing the reflective/Hi-Vis jacket you have in your breakdown kit.
  • DON’T put your warning triangle out if you’ve broken down on the motorway. It’s not safe! If you’ve broken down on a normal road, place your triangle approximately 45 meters behind your vehicle.
  • If you’re on a motorway and you don’t have a mobile, run out of battery or have no signal. Walk (carefully) towards to an emergency phone. You can follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The phones are free and connect directly to the police. If you have broken down on a normal road and have no phone, walk (carefully) towards a local petrol station, shop etc. and ask to make a phone call. This is when your list of emergency numbers comes in very handy.
  • If you are in any way vulnerable i.e. you have a disability, feel in danger from another person or can’t get to a hard shoulder, let the operator know.

 

ALWAYS act with caution and never put yourself or anyone else in danger. Do NOT try and carry out repairs on a motorway, even small ones. ALWAYS call for help. If you are in serious danger call the appropriate Emergency Services IMMEDIATELY.

The Highways Agency National Switchboard: 0300 123 5000

Emergency Services: 999

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AI CONFERENCE

AI Conference at The University of Portsmouth

Thursday 13th June 2019 was the launch of the Intelligent Transport Cluster by The University of Portsmouth. One of our instructors, Liam had the good fortune to attend along with 144 other delegates and had the opportunity to listen to a wide range of speakers covering all aspects of transport.

Various points, by various people, were made concerning AI and transport. Such as:

  • We are at a turning point with how the technology will migrate to the ordinary user
  • The opinion of this is to crawl, walk…then run
  • Technology needs to be smart, efficient and sustainable
  • The future will be different from how we imagine it will be

Transport is fundamental to us as people and efficient transport means an efficient economy.

However, technology and transport merging could have a number of problems:

Legal problems are bound to arise, regulation and insurance will most definitely be affected but it seems as though we cannot predict the diverse problems we might incur. Particularly if we’re talking about self-driving cars. Liam is of the opinion that technology may lag behind its capabilities due to courts and legislation.

As an example, an insurance company will at some point be facing a large claim and will want someone else to pay it. Think of the Selby rail crash 2001 caused by a Range Rover. The insurer sued the DoT for part of the £22 million pound settlement.

If the driver is ever expected to take over the vehicle in the event of the unexpected and they are doing nothing on these journeys. How are they going to keep up a level of attention to do so? Will insurance companies offer cover on vehicles where the driver is regularly unable to maintain full attention?

On trains, there is a device called the dead man’s handle. It requires the driver to always be holding it and therefore awake. Telsa have a device that requires you to hold the steering wheel however, other companies sell devices that allow you to circumvent this so you can have a nice sleep.

Stakeholders

Which will be inertia and focus. There are already systems in place so why change? Any change will require an investment that goes far beyond the mere physicality of a thing. There will be new routines and behaviours to be learnt. New pecking orders and turf to be established. There will have to be some clearly defined benefits from change.

Will the focus be in the right place? As an example, with traffic flow, would some paint in the road be a better solution than a smart system for monitoring it? Would a dedicated bicycle lane solve a lot of the congestion and air pollution problems?

Ultimately we will have electric vehicles and they will be part of Intelligent Transport Systems. But where should the focus be? How will we solve the problems of now and the future? These questions will get answered by how the budget is set. Put your money where your wheels are.

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DRIVING HACKS: GET TO KNOW YOUR DASHBOARD

Do you know what all the lights on your dashboard mean?

We’re not saying you have to have a mechanic’s level of knowledge when it comes to your car but understanding the basics can really help. The lights on your dashboard tell you what the cars doing and they’ll also alert you if something isn’t quite right so knowing what each one means will help keep your car in tip-top shape.

Red A red light on your dashboard means danger, stop as soon as you can and get professional help.

Yellow A yellow or amber light means you have a problem. The problem will need sorting but does not mean immediate danger.

The difference between the two colours? Yellow means you can drive home and get it fixed. Red means you need to stop straight away (safely) and get it fixed.

 

RED

Brake System / Brake Fluid Warning Light

Your brakes are one of the most important safety features on your car for you and everyone around you. If this light illuminates red on your dashboard, firstly make sure that your handbrake is fully released (off), if it continues to flicker or stay on pull over and call your mechanic ASAP.

Oil Warning Light

If your oil light flashes red it can mean that the oil temperature is too high, the level is low or the pressure is low. Oil is what lubricates your engine and helps it work in harmony. If this light flashes, you should pull over as it’s safe to do so and call your mechanic straight away. If you ignore the light, it can be a costly and dangerous mistake.

Battery Warning Light

If your battery warning light turns red whilst driving it will more than likely mean a problem with the charging system rather than the battery itself. The danger of this is that your vehicle could run out of charge meaning your lights will go off and your engine could suddenly stop dead.

Power Steering / PAS Warning Light

If your power steering fails you’ll find that steering becomes very heavy which can become very dangerous. So if your PAS lights up red and your steering becomes heavy you need to pull over as soon as you safely can and get professional help.

Airbag Warning Light

If this light comes on red, it means there’s an issue with your airbags. It can also mean that your seat belts are not working. If your car has a faulty airbag it could mean that it won’t go off in the event of an accident, leaving you and your passengers vulnerable.

ECU / Engine Warning Light

If your engine light appears yellow/amber you’ll probably be experiencing some other symptoms such as lack of power because your car has gone into ‘safe mode’. Sometimes it can be a small issue but sometimes it can be a more serious mechanical issue. Either way, you need to get your engine looked at by a professional as soon as possible.

Coolant Warning Light

Without coolant, your car could get so hot it could fuse itself together. Madness! If this light illuminates yellow/amber it could mean that your coolant levels are low so have a look under the bonnet and see. If your engine temperature is high and your coolant light is on, it could mean that your engine is overheating. This could be either a minor or a major problem so it’s best to get it looked at straight away.

ABS / Anti-Lock Brake System

8

The anti-lock brake system is an anti-skid brake system designed to keep you safe. If your light illuminates yellow/amber then it means there can be a fault in any part of the ABS and the system will be disabled until it’s fixed. If the ABS and the Brake System warning lights both come on at the same time, you need to pull over (safely) and call for help.

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Driverless Cars: Legality and Insurance

Driverless cars are frequently referred to as CAV, meaning Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and it is recognised that there are a number of stages. The stages start at zero, where the driver performs all the driving tasks and it moves through the different stages until we reach level 5 where all tasks are performed by the car. This is a process of moving from control to autonomy.

 

0 1 2 3 4 5
Driver Feet off Hands Off Eyes off Mind off Passenger
All tasks Limited tasks Enhanced tasks Shared tasks Specific tasks All tasks

 

As we move through the stages we are moving towards autonomy. Level 2 is already starting to happen but it’s progression to level 3 and beyond that begins to raise questions.  

 

These questions might be legal challenges. Where will the liability lay in the event of an accident? There is talk of ethical bots having to make these decisions but they will be decided in a courtroom.

 

Decisions about driverless cars must go through the courts where these will affect how driverless cars are regulated and insured. But there’ll be a discrepancy in the timeline as technology will move a lot faster than the law. 

 

When driving we are expected to obey the law. In addition, there is advice we are expected to follow. This advice might not be the law itself, but it could be used in a court of law.  To drive in a busy urban environment without at some point breaking a rule in the highway code will be very difficult.

 

The reality is, at some point, we all might do something that is not strictly within the rules. A solid white line must not in law be crossed. But if a large vehicle in front was holding up the traffic by waiting to turn right and there is a bus lane to the left. Who amongst us (having first checked it was safe) would not quickly nip through in order to maintain traffic flow? 

 

This along with making way for an emergency vehicle and to avoid an accident are mitigating circumstances. But whether you should go over the line and how long for comes down to opinion. Opinions differ. No doubt over a period of time algorithms will answer that problem. But remember, we won’t suddenly all go over to autonomous vehicles. We will be in a mixed fleet with different levels of autonomy and human drivers still having control of their vehicle or the driver wishes it. 

 

What about insurance? All the way up to level 4 there will have to be some kind of driver insurance. In addition to this, when the car is in an autonomy mode presumably the manufacturer of the car will have to have general insurance to cover product liability. It’s possible that other suppliers of hardware and software will also need this cover. 

 

When it comes to insurance and the driver, why would an insurance company give cover to a driver who, in order to speed his journey up has assumed control of their vehicle to either break the law or disregard some safety advice? 

 

The process of moving from control to autonomy may seem simple when broken up into stages but we have a long journey before these cars are on our roads. 

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DRIVING HACKS: GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

When we learn to drive…we learn to drive. We don’t necessarily learn about our car and how to keep it in tip-top shape. At driving-pro we try to arm our students with as much knowledge as possible but we understand it can be hard to remember everything, that’s why we’ve written it all down for you! Our series of Driving Hacks blog posts aims to help turn you from a good driver to a great driver. 

 

Did you know that most car controls are standard all over the world? If you know how to operate the hand brake, lights, washer wipers and how to demist the windows, you’re most probably set. Although we always advise having a play around before driving in a new car…just in case and don’t forget to read your handbook! It’s the best way to get to know your car. 

 

If you regularly drive different cars make sure you do a proper cockpit drill. This will mean checking to make sure everything is working properly. This is a particularly good idea if you’re renting a car on your holidays. Also, make sure you know which side the fuel goes in. This can save some trouble at a filling station. And make sure you know what fuel to put in! If the cars you drive vary between diesel and petrol put a sticker in the filling cap. Green for petrol and black for diesel. This will be the same colour as the fuel hose. If you’re hiring a car and you’re not sure what fuel to put in, ask! 

 

When you’re carrying out any checks, make sure you do them safely. No scarfs or ties that can get caught and no smoking and no mobiles near the engine. Petrol fumes can go bang. Mobiles can give a spark that can lit petrol fumes. That’s why you’re not allowed to do either in a petrol station. 

 

Whilst doing your safety checks under the bonnet, looking out for loose pipes, wires, battery corrosion and oil spots. In fact, anything that is out of place, get it looked at straight away. 

 

And last but not least, keep your car tidy on the inside and clean and shiny outside. Tidy on the inside will mean nothing gets trapped under the pedals. Clean and shiny on the outside will reflect light from other cars and will help to make you safer. See and be seen. 

 

Is there something you want to know more about? Send us a message on Facebook and we’ll see what we can do! 

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CAR DOORS: MORE THAN JUST A DOOR

The doors on your car provide for the entry and exit as well as security of the vehicle. Their shape and method of opening are all part of the overall styling of the vehicle. They are also a part of the passive safety of the vehicle, in a number of ways. For example; load-carrying pockets, the structural integrity of the vehicle in the event of a collision and they may also contain airbags.

Did you know that doors are fitted with door brakes called stays? These are to smooth the shutting of the door. Particularly when the camber adds to the shutting force. Care must be taken with the opening of doors as they can be hit by other road users. This can also include pedestrians on the pavement. You are obliged to ensure you open your door safely. This applies to any door on your vehicle whether opened from the inside or out.

Did you know that there are a number of types of door openings?

Conventional Doors

The door itself is hinged, on the leading edge. This means that if you drive off, the door will tend to close on its own. When a saloon car only has 2 doors, those doors will be bigger than a saloon car which has 4 doors. The reason for this is the door space needs to be bigger to allow access to the rear of the vehicle.

Coach doors

These are hinged on the trailing edge so open the opposite way to normal doors. For this reason, they are sometimes known as suicide doors. The reason for this is that they open if the vehicle is moving as the airflow will force the door open! Scary! This not only creates a hazard for oncoming vehicles, but an unsecured occupant may also find themselves in the road. These types of car doors are often fitted to vehicles where the driver is opening the door for the passenger such as taxis or chauffeur-driven cars.

Sliding Doors

These types of doors are used on larger vehicles such as vans or people carriers. A conventional door on a large vehicle would require a bigger space into which to open. So they are space-saving.

Other Doors

Think the doors on the Bat Mobile. These tend to be used on concept vehicles rather than mainstream ones. Gullwing, canopy, butterfly and scissor doors, amongst others. Because all these doors open upward if the vehicle has rolled it makes getting out very difficult. Also when parked there must be sufficient clearance above for the doors to open. So they may be cool, but they’re not necessarily practical or safe!

So…what kind of doors does your car have?

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