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Motoring myths – busted!

Too many of us take our driving for granted, especially once we have been on the road for a while. So naturally there is no shortage of myths flying around –on all aspects of driving, vehicle maintenance and road safety. Some are plain silly, others are downright dangerous. We thought it was about time we took a few of them to task.

MYTH 1: You can drive at 10% over the speed limit

This is one of the most enduring and pervasive myths, but it’s just not true. The speed you see on road signs is the maximum permitted speed in perfect conditions – it’s not a target. Therefore, if you exceed it, you are in breach of the law and police are perfectly entitled to charge you with speeding. Don’t take the risk.

MYTH 2: Winding down the window and listening to loud music helps with driving fatigue

Everyone now knows that driving when tired is dangerous, with even the slightest lapse at the wheel potentially proving fatal. Winding down the window to let the cold air in, or blasting some Metallica, may perk you up for a very short time, but they may also prove distracting, and they certainly won’t give you the sustained alertness that you need to be able to drive safely.

There are some strategies that do work, though. First and foremost, there’s really no substitute for stopping and resting. Plan ahead, allow more time for your journey and stop in a safe place for a 20 minute nap and a coffee. That’s right, caffeine does work – and if you have company then why not share the driving? That way you get to sleep on the move.

MYTH 3: You can save money by buying used tyres

When money is tight, it might be tempting to try saving a bit of cash by buying second-hand tyres. But in reality, it’s a false economy – depending on price, you may have to buy and fit three sets of part-worn tyres in order to get the same lifespan as one new set. Not only that, it could be downright dangerous. Why? They might not do their jobs properly, especially in slippery conditions. You could be driving along with your safety resting on four little time bombs.

MYTH 4: There’s no point in servicing your car regularly

Regular checks are essential for the maintenance of a healthy motor. By skimping on servicing, you run the risk of missing minor defects which could become big, expensive problems resulting in all sorts of pain. We’re talking extra maintenance payouts, costly replacement parts and even having to replace your car sooner than you had budgeted for. Then there’s fuel. A poorly serviced car can use 10-20% more.

MYTH 5: You can never drive too slowly

Speed kills – this we know. But while most of the focus is quite rightly on the dangers of high speed, inappropriately low speed can also cause problems. For example, have you ever encountered a vehicle crawling along on a motorway? In that context, a car can become a hazard and the driver could be charged for dangerous driving. The golden rule here is to drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions, to stay aware of what’s around you, and to give way to faster vehicles if they wish to pass.

MYTH 6: Driving after one or two drinks isn’t drink-driving

Science says otherwise. According to research, drivers are six times more at risk of having a collision at the old legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08), compared to a blood alcohol level of zero. The legal limit is now 0.05, but even at 0.04, drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a collision.

And why is that? Well, when you have a drink the alcohol hits your brain within minutes. Your brain activity slows and starts to close down, quickly impairing your driving skills. As a result, you start to focus more on steering and less on other dangers on the road. In conclusion, the only safe advice is to never, ever drink and drive.

MYTH 7: Beeping your horn is for telling people they’ve done something wrong

As much as you may be tempted to use your horn to take out your frustrations on fellow drivers, its purpose is to let other drivers know you’re there – for example when approaching a blind bridge or corner – or to warn people of a hazard ahead. Remember too that using your horn does not automatically give you right of way. And be careful about where and when you use it.


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