Author Archives: Tim Jury

UK’s Best Road Trip Destinations

With summer approaching, many of us are already planning our holidays. However, if you are looking for something that is considerably cheaper than a two week holiday abroad, why not venture out of your comfort zone and take a road-trip around the UK? You will be surprised as to how many stunning landscapes you can discover whilst driving around the roads of our own fair countryside.

While it is good to explore the roads of our own land, being careful on the roads is also a vital aspect of careful planning for any road trip. Here are but a few of the best (and safest) road trip destinations in the UK:

The Lake District

Considered one of UK’s most idyllic destinations, The Lake District is situated in the North West of England. You will no doubt marvel at the stunning scenery such as Scafell Pike, which is the highest mountain in England. Plus, as the Lake District is a National Park, it contains clearly mapped out roads that are safe to travel on. So you can visit Ambleside, Keswick and Windermere safely.

Northern Ireland

The country roads of Northern Ireland are simply made for exploring due to their exquisite beauty. Northern Ireland is known for its road safety standards, and they ensure that all roads are as safe as they possibly can be, leaving you able to enjoy your journey without any hassle at all.

For example, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you can explore the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, which represent the King’s Road in the television series. This avenue of beech trees was planted in the 18th century, and looks magnificent today. If Game of Thrones isn’t your thing, then Ballymoney isn’t your only option, and the drive between Newtonabbey and Cushendall provides great views of the sea.

 

Cumbria

The A686 between Penrith and Haydon Bridge is widely regarded as being among Britain’s best driving roads – and for good reason. It is known to be especially scenic during the summer months and is situated close to Northumberland’s National Park, offering those who are lucky enough to be travelling along it a spectacular backdrop and plenty of opportunity to break from their journey and take in the truly inspiring views.

These aren’t the only available UK road trips, but hopefully they will whet your appetite. This type of miniature holiday is perfect for those who like their trips to be cost-effective. With the sun shining as you’re gazing out of the window whilst driving along winding roads, this is sure to be a holiday of not only self-discovery, but also one of great enjoyment.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Wet Weather Travel

Despite the summer months drawing ever closer, we don’t seem quite able to say goodbye to the adverse weather conditions quite yet, and as such, ensuring your vehicle is prepared for the possibility of wet weather is crucial. As a result, whether you are simply making the daily commute to and from work, or are instead embarking on a lengthier journey than usual, it is essential to stay vigilant whilst on the road at all times.

Although it is often the preferred outcome of many to stay off the road entirely during such weather, this isn’t always possible or practical, and instead, other solutions must be sought to make the necessary journey safe. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind to reduce the outcome of an accident during particularly wet weather.

Take It Slow

Allow yourself more time than usual to travel, as it takes time to fully adjust to wet weather, and you may have to drive more slowly than usual in particularly wet areas. It is crucial that you do not drive through conditions such as flooding and severe hail, as these are more likely to cause an accident, or cause damage to your vehicle.

Accept Turning Back

Unless your journey is absolutely necessary, understand that there may be the possibility that you will have to forfeit your journey for another time if you feel the conditions might be too dangerous. If there are high winds, heavy thunderstorms and even lightening, traveling is a definite no-go, as it can lead to deadly driving conditions.

Prepare Your Vehicle

It may seem obvious, but giving your vehicle a regular check-up will help you judge whether if it is up for managing particularly wet weather. More specifically, checking tyres, window wipers and lights are key essentials to making sure your car is up to the standard required to handle such weather while driving.

Listen To Updates

Keeping up to date with current road works via radio and weather conditions is good way of judging whether or not your journey is going to cause issues. However, if you do happen to be already on the road then it is a good way of gauging which roads will be safer for your car to take.

While these are only a few tips on keeping safe on the road during wet weather, they should enable you to experience a journey that is free from anything too treacherous. So next time you are going on the road during such conditions, take these into consideration.

How to Make the Road Trip with Kids Fun

Being with your entire family in such a small space for an extended period of time can be really fun – but it can also be stressful. If you’re planning a road trip in the car with your kids over Easter or the summer holidays, then you need to be prepared to keep your children entertained, comfortable and happy.

Before You Go

Remember to think carefully about what your children will wear to travel in – it needs to be really comfortable.

Pack the back strategically – put the stuff that you might need on your journey within easy reach. A spare change of clothes for accidents or getting cold or wet, and sunscreen should be easily accessible.

Pack essentials:

-          First aid kit

-          Torch

-          Wet wipes

-          Tissues

-          Bottles of water

-          Plastic bag for rubbish

-          Blankets for sleeping children

If you’re taking food and plan on eating it in the car, don’t eat anything that’s likely to make a lot of mess!

Some people plan their trip around their kids sleeping habits, leaving really early so they sleep during the day, or travelling at their kids’ bedtime. This works if you yourself aren’t too tired to drive – as the driver it is your responsibility to keep you and your family safe.

Entertainment

Give your children a travel bag so they can take their own toys. You can keep them entertained by buying them a new toy, which they have to wait until you’re in the car and on the way to play with – this usually keeps them entertained while you’re driving.

Play games on the way to keep their minds engaged. Audio books and their favourite music are a great way to keep them quiet too!

Colouring books and crayons are good if your children aren’t prone to car sickness.

A map can help stop the “are we nearly there yet?” questions from older children – draw a line for your journey and keep them looking out for signs and landmarks.

In The Car

Don’t feed them sweets – instead choose healthy snacks to prevent hyperactivity! However, bring them something that they like as a bargaining tool.

Planning stops into your trip is essential, even if you’re only travelling for four or five hours. For small children as well as older ones, bathroom breaks and a chance to stretch their legs will save your sanity as well as theirs. If you have young children, stop every two or three hours.

Petrol vs. Diesel: Which Should You Choose?

If you’re buying a new car, then you may be stuck with the decision between petrol and diesel. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and the one that you choose will depend on your circumstances and the type of driving that you’re doing.

The Advantages of Diesel

Diesel engines are being developed to be just as good in terms of performances, smoothness and noise levels – they are definitely quieter than they used to be. They are also able to produce high torque at low speeds, which means that they are good for overtaking and towing. Diesel engines will give you more miles per gallon, on average up to 15-20% more than petrol equivalents.

Diesel has lower CO2 emission levels, which means that they have lower road tax bands than petrol.

The Advantages of Petrol

Petrol is quieter, though there isn’t enough of a difference between them for this to warrant a real reason to plump for petrol instead of diesel. Cars with petrol engines are cheaper to buy, and petrol itself is cheaper at the pump too. Petrol vehicles are closing the gap in terms of efficiency and environmental impact too.

If you’re looking for a speedy car, then petrol may be the choice for you – petrol engines tend to weigh less than diesel.

How to Make the Decision

When making the decision, there are four factors that you need to take into consideration:

-          Mileage per year

-          Vehicle fuel economy (MPG)

-          Fuel cost per gallon

-          Road tax

Calculate these things with regards to potential petrol and diesel cars and you should be able to see which is better for you, and crucially which is more affordable, as a driver.

More often than not, if you intend to on driving a lot, then it is usually work paying more and going for diesel, but if you don’t drive that much, then paying less for the car itself will work better for you.

 Tip: Vehicle purchase price and resell value

If you’re looking to save money, then this is one of the best ways to do it. Buy a used car for a really good purchase price, then sell it a year later for a similar price, and you’ll eliminate a loss. You’ll need to buy competitively and sell it for its market value, which seems like a lot of work but it could save you thousands.

Helpful Advice for City Driving

For many, driving in the city can be quite a daunting experience. This is understandable though when you consider the amount of traffic you often need to contend with. As well as the actual traffic, there are typically more pedestrians around you, and if you’re new to the area, you’ll be unfamiliar with roadways and designated routes. Take London for instance, this busy city is a prime example of an intimidating drive, with statistics suggesting that over a billion commuter journeys are made every day.

A simple solution to this would be to avoid driving altogether, but this really isn’t a practical option. What you’ll be pleased to know is that there are steps and approaches you can take to make city driving a less stressful time. Here are a few examples:

Careful Pre-planning

Before you set off on your journey, there are some pre-planning checks you can carry out to help make your trip more straightforward.

-          Research your intended route online, so you know which way to go.

-          Check the traffic reports for any road closures, this way you know where to avoid.

-          If possible, choose a time to travel that avoids rush hour.

Getting Protection

Along with the above, it’s also worth having some breakdown cover in place. If your car does stop working in the middle of busy traffic, the last thing you want is to be stranded there with no support. Other drivers won’t take kindly to this either, so give yourself added peace of mind by having this protection arranged before you set off on a journey.

Take Your Time and Be Patient

With your pre-planning and cover sorted, next comes the actual driving. One of the best courses of action is to always pay full attention to what you’re doing and take your time. Unfortunately, there will be individuals who will drive aggressively and become impatient; do your best to ignore them and focus on your own driving.

It’s almost worth treating it like your driving test, so always check your mirrors properly and drive in accordance with the speed limits and conditions. Should you accidently find yourself in the wrong lane, try to keep calm. Then, if it’s safe to do so, signal and manoeuvre into the correct one in a careful and steady manner.

So, be sure to take on board some of this advice and soon your city driving worries can be a thing of the past.

Are Solar Cars The Future for the World’s Roads?

According to research from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the pollutants which come from vehicle exhausts and power plants across the globe are having a damaging effect on the environment and the health of the general public.

For many of us such information is nothing new, but this doesn’t escape the fact that these harmful global pollution levels are a real issue. On top of this, cars and other vehicles are something countries around the world rely on and simply cannot do without. This does seem like a vicious circle, but steps have been taken to help in the fight against pollution. There have been breakthroughs in more fuel-efficient engines and hybrid technology, but we’ve yet to see a completely clean source of transport in the mainstream markets.

This could be about to change however, with a recent announcement from Hanergy Holding Group Ltd. This Chinese firm is already an established powerhouse in the clean energy sector, specialising in creating and manufacturing sustainable energy. According to a recent report by China Daily, it has been revealed that in October this year (2015), they will present ‘three to five different cars’ powered purely by solar energy.

Developing Eco-Technology

Using a special ‘thin-film solar battery, measuring 6 square meters’ on the cars, it has been reported their cars can be powered for ’80 to 100 kilometres’ after a charging period of only four hours. Forbes.com also revealed how the firm is about to partner with the American firm Tesla Motors; Tesla being another specialist firm in the development of electric cars. This partnership is being seen as a possible indication of Hanergy’s desire to provide their eco-friendly solar cars for the US markets.

Other Existing Projects

Such vehicles are not completely unheard of. Previous endeavours into this technology include a 3-D printed solar car from a group of students at a University in Singapore and a Nigerian student who turned an old VW Beetle into a solar-powered off-road vehicle. Although, it must be said, these examples are very much in the prototype stages.

The hope is to have these solar vehicles widely available within the next few years. Naturally, as with many new technologies, there are bound to be teething problems and drivers will want to consider cover for potential breakdowns as well as regular safety checks.

European Driving – A Selection of Incredible Roads

Now we have moved into 2015, many of you may be planning your holidays for the coming months. Should you be considering travelling to a European destination by car, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a great way to add a little extra enjoyment to your drive.

Rather than having to put up with looking at the empty fields that can often run alongside Europe’s main routes, with careful planning there’s a number of superb roads you can include in your journey. These can offer you both incredible scenery and a more exciting drive, here are some examples you might want to consider:

Route 500, Black Forest, Germany

Boasting some breath-taking views of the Rhine Valley, as well as the rolling tree-tops of the Black Forest, this road in southern Germany can bring something special to your trip. The roads twist and traverse their way across many miles of Germanic countryside and can provide a gateway into neighbouring Switzerland.

Stelvio Pass, Italy

With the Italian Alps as your backdrop, you can certainly count on there being a rather picturesque view. The road surface is so smooth it’s almost like somebody has carved a perfect ribbon of silk into the mountainside ready for you to drive on. What’s even better is with its 48 hairpin bends you’ll get plenty of chance to take in the scenery as you leisurely drive down this impressive route.

The Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway

If you intend on driving up to Scandinavia, if you can add this particular road into your travels you’re in for a treat. This relatively short section of one of Norway’s cross county roads connects several small islands together over the Norwegian Sea. One of the most iconic features is the Storseisundet Bridge which majestically arcs over the water as you cross the isles.

Back Roads of Provence, France

While not strictly a set ‘route’, the beauty of these roads in the South of France is that you can stumble on something amazing by accident. With a number of relatively quiet options on offer, you could find yourself stopping by in a lovely little French village, or even paying a visit to one of the many fabulous vineyards of this region.

These are just a few of the many incredible roads Europe has to offer, so be sure to take the time to add them into your journey. Equally, the last thing you want is to let anything spoil such a trip, so be sure you have the proper breakdown cover for your vehicle before you set off.

Car Makers Unveil New Vehicle Technologies at 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas sees some of the biggest names in technology showcasing their new and upcoming designs. From Smartphones, to robotics and even clothing, the innovative tech on display is often a tantalising insight into what we could see in shops in the coming months.

Several of the biggest names in car manufacture have also been involved in this event. Established brands including Ford, Mercedes and Audi have been exhibiting some of the new technologies that could be within their cars this year. Some manufacturers used this as an opportunity to demonstrate the latest developments with their driverless vehicles.

Luxury Autonomous Driving

Mercedes revealed their latest prototype, the electrically powered, ‘F 015 Luxury in Motion’ saloon car, which as the name suggests, is attempting to provide its passengers with a mixture of comfort and autonomous driving. The vehicle’s interior sees four individual armchair-like seats within the cabin, which can be rotated to face one another or be set out in a more typical front-facing style. Further to this, there is a central communications hub complete with six screens where passengers can connect their smart-devices and control parts of the vehicle.

The rather space-age aspects were the biggest spectacle with this car, but in terms of the actual tech involved with the self-driving features, Mercedes didn’t offer audiences any new or updated information.

‘Ford Smart Mobility’ Initiative

During a keynote speech at the Ford exhibition, Ford CEO Mark Fields told audience members of the ‘Ford Smart Mobility’ initiative.  The intention behind this being to gain an understanding of what the world’s future driving needs could involve based on existing trends. Fields said:

‘We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute…The experiments we’re undertaking today will lead to an all-new model of transportation and mobility within the next 10 years and beyond.’

An update to the on-board computer systems in their vehicles was also presented. The new ‘SYNC3’ will replace the old ‘SYNC2’ system with improvements being made to the user-interface, the speech recognition feature and its smartphone connectivity.

While much of these technologies are quite impressive to behold, it is still important to remember that no vehicle is going to be 100% reliable. If and when these cars are released, a sensible option is to still invest in things like breakdown cover, despite the apparent luxury and easy driving on offer.

The Advantages of Going Directly to a Breakdown Cover Provider over Price Comparison Sites

Any safe and responsible driver will understand the importance of having breakdown cover. Whether you are driving in the UK or planning to drive abroad in Europe, the cost of getting yourself covered not only provides you with protection, but also peace of mind when driving. So where is the best place to find this cover?

It’s a slight misconception that price comparison websites are the best way to find breakdown cover. Yes, many people use them and they are many in number, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting the best deal. If you are in the market for breakdown cover then there is the option of going directly to a provider, rather than going through price comparison sites. What follows are some of the advantages of this:

Dedicated Expertise

First and foremost, with this approach you are communicating directly with a company that specialises in breakdown cover. More importantly, they should be dedicated to providing you with all of the information you need to be fully informed about your policy, rather than a simple series of filters that you may get from price comparison sites that don’t always offer you full detail. A reliable policy provider will tell you what exactly your cover involves, as well as explaining how important it is and why you need this protection.

Up-front and Honest

Recent investigations from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have revealed that some price comparison sites were failing to provide the full amount of information to consumers. Important aspects such as the costs of the excess on some policies were not made clear, while at the same time, a number of these sites provide sponsored policies rather than the most cost-effective. If you choose to go direct you won’t have any of these issues and companies will be honest and up-front about what your expenses are, giving you a comprehensive breakdown of the price and your cover – which is hugely important if you were to breakdown abroad.

Data Protection

With price comparison sites you can be asked to enter personal details which can be stored on their database and remain there, even if you do not find a deal. By going direct, you have the advantage and peace of mind in knowing exactly who you are giving your personal information to.

So, if you are looking for breakdown cover, don’t get suckered into the price comparison pitfalls, do a little more research and go direct for the best deals and savings.

The UK’s Best Winter Driving Routes

During the winter months you often hear news stories about how treacherous driving can be. To an extent this is understandable as it is very important to drive safely and with appropriate Breakdown Cover in the colder and more unpredictable weather. Unfortunately, what often gets ignored is that there are some stunning winter drives out there in the UK.

The UK has some incredible scenery that is often made even more striking by frosts and fresh snow fall, the beauty is, to experience them, all you need to do is buckle up and set off on your travels. If this sounds like something right up your street but you need some ideas, what follows are some of the UK’s best winter driving routes.

Snowdonia

This area is perhaps more famous for its walks than its driving routes, but the few roads in this particular part of Wales can offer you some magnificent views. The rolling mountainsides showcase a range of greens, browns and whites as the landscapes merge with the snowy weather. As well as this, the snaking routes will take you through some quiet but welcoming Welsh villages on the way. Best of all, you also get a great view of Britain’s highest peak, Mount Snowdon.

The Scottish Highlands

For those in the far north of the UK, the Scottish Highlands are another place that only has a small number of roads, but can still offer incredible scenery. One particular stretch referred to as the Bealach Na Bà otherwise known as the ‘Pass of the Cattle’, takes you across the Scottish hillsides to the Applecross peninsula in the west. The road itself is very narrow but along the way you’ll see a backdrop of seemingly endless beauty, as the highlands unveil themselves to you wearing a blanket of snow.

Lincolnshire Wolds

The roads in this part of the country are more commonly known for being some of the straightest and supposedly dullest in the UK. However, a 14 mile route between Horncastle and Louth couldn’t be further from this. You get the initial benefit of a relatively quiet route, but what really makes this special is the Wolds themselves which feature amazing natural beauty and winter wildlife.

Yorkshire Moors

The vast size of the Yorkshire moors means they have a number of different routes you could take. One road from the small town of Pickering up to Whitby cuts right through the centre of the moors meaning you get the best views of the Moors National Park. Furthermore, the higher altitude and lack of pollution mean that you could catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if driving at night.