Category Archives: Driving Advice

Title: How to be a friendly driver

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Summary: Sometimes driving can be the most stressful thing you do all day, but it doesn't have to be. Read on for ways to stay focused and relaxed on the road!

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Meta Description: How to stay friendly and relaxed on the road!

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Driving in windy weather (14)

Assume they’re having a worse day than you
You may have spilt your coffee down your new shirt this morning, or maybe you left those really important papers on your kitchen side. Maybe you even forgot that tomorrow is your anniversary and you still have nothing for your significant other. Whatever might have happened and however stressed you may feel, take a moment to think about what other people might be going through. She may be in a rush to get to the hospital. He may be slightly distracted coming back from a funeral. This doesn’t mean that your problems aren’t real but don’t take them out on strangers around you.

 

Respect the personal space of those around you
It might not be their own rear end but getting a bit too close to the car in front of you is, nevertheless, unnecessary and unpleasant for its occupants. It’s putting yourself and them in danger and accomplishes nothing. Most likely the’ll stay exactly the same speed or potentially even slow down. If a car is tailing you, never feel pressure to speed up! If anything, you need to bring your speed down to give you, and them, more time to react if you were to break suddenly.

 

Do to others as you would want done to you
A wave of thanks takes nothing but can put the recipient in a better mood for the rest of their journey. Even if they were only following the rules of the road by letting you through, there are far too many people who ignore said rules! Make it worth their while with an acknowledgement of gratitude and they’re likely to pay it forward – make the roads a happier place one wave at a time.

 

Accept that we all make mistakes sometimes
The first thing you need to accept is we all occasionally end up in the wrong lane on a roundabout or misjudge the speed of an oncoming car when pulling out of a junction. Moments like these aren’t done on purpose to spite you so don’t get defensive. Stay calm, react to their movements safely and carry on with your day. Aggressively beeping at someone who’s in the wrong accomplishes nothing but distracts them from their own driving. If you’re worried, beep once to remind them of your presence, but there’s no need to deafen them.

 

If you are worried about someone’s driving, you can always take note of their number plate, and any possible details about the individual, and anonymously ring the DVLA on 0844 453 0118 (reports with the police will be passed onto the DVLA).

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: How to stay calm before your driving test

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Summary: You may be nervous when it comes to taking your practical driving test but taking some simple steps can help alleviate any anxiety!

Meta Title: How to stay calm before your driving test

Meta Description: 10 ways to keep your nerves in check before you take your driving test!

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Driving in windy weather (13)

 

Your driving test feels like a big deal when the time comes to it and there is often a lot of pressure on passing first time. While it doesn’t really matter how many times it takes you to pass, there is nothing stopping you from passing first time with a little preparation!

Below we have listed our top 10 tips for reducing stress and staying calm before and during your test; have a read through, take a deep breath and know that you’ve got this!

You don’t have to be perfect
This is the most important point to remember – even if you make a mistake on the test, there is a high likelihood that it’s only a minor error and you can have up to 15 minors! Forget about it and move on; don’t let worrying about your last mistake distract you into making another one.

Keep it a secret
It’s hard enough dealing with your own emotions without adding worrying about other peoples to the pile. Tell people you need to tell or want to tell but keeping it quiet takes some of the pressure off! If things don’t go quite to plan then people never need to know.

Arrive 15 minutes early
Plan your trip to the test centre in good time, you don’t want to be rushing to the test centre as it will make you even more stressed before you start. At the same time, if you arrive too early there’s nothing to do but overthink things which you want to avoid.

Ask your instructor for a mock test
The driving test seems daunting but in actual fact there are only a limited number of things that you’ll be asked to do and all can be practised beforehand. Get your instructor to take you on a practice run in the area that you’ll actually be taking your test in. Take note of any special speed limit zones and try out your manoeuvres along the roads that may come up in the real thing.

Take time to prepare yourself on the day
Make sure you’ve had a good sleep the night before (although if the stress is keeping you awake, don’t then panic further!) and have some proper food in your system. Food might be the last thing on your mind but having a good meal the night before and a decent breakfast will give you more energy on the day. Stick to healthy foods that you might eat most days, your body will be used to these and you won’t be worried about upsetting your stomach.

Have a think about what to wear
This might sound silly but wearing something you feel good in will give you a little boost of confidence which can help during your test. Aim for something smart but comfortable, as wearing something that isn’t your everyday outfit will help you stay a bit more alert but make sure it won’t get in the way of your driving. If you want to wear certain shoes to your test be sure to have worn them to some lessons beforehand to know how they feel.

Go to the loo at the test centre
Not only is it something to keep you busy at the test centre and will stop you overthinking but it also is one less thing to worry about during the test!

Plan the time of your test to suit you
If you’re the kind of person who will be stressing about the test all morning if it’s later in the day then book one of the earlier slots. On the other hand, if you normally only drag yourself out of bed at midday then book one in the afternoon when you know you’ll be more alert. Follow your normal routine where possible to make sure you feel as in control as possible.

Get into good habits
Make sure you get used to checking your mirrors and seat position when you get into a car each time. This is one of the first things the examiner will mark you for so make sure you know where you need everything to be. Get your instructor to take you along new routes with new challenges even if they’re not in the test area; practice staying calm behind the wheel and know how to deal with any mistakes safely.

Don’t overthink it
If your test is in the afternoon, don’t let yourself just sit around thinking about it for the whole day. Keep yourself busy, try to follow your normal routine if it will calm you or meet up with a friend to keep yourself distracted and positive, even watching some YouTube videos of your favourite channel can work! If you’ve have a good day up to your test, you’ll feel better about it when the time does come.

Good Luck!

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: The Lowdown on the Best and Worst Motorway Service Stations in the UK

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Summary: The results are in from Transport Focus and we can now reveal the best and worst motorway service stations in the UK! Rather handy if you are planning a road trip!

Meta Title: The Lowdown on the Best and Worst Motorway Service Stations

Meta Description: A commentary on the best and worst service stations as reported by Transport Focus

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Driving in windy weather (5)

Whether taking a short trip or heading out on the road for a longer stint, business or leisure, many of us will have had the experience of a motorway service station.

However, gone are the days of Wimpy and Little Chef! Now you can expect super modern service stations, boasting the likes of M&S, Costa, Nandos and Waitrose. Nice!

In fact 53% of people surveyed felt that introducing well known brands made service stations better, with only 2% thinking it made them worse.

Satisfaction levels overall were very high, with 92% of visitors satisfied, of which 62% were very satisfied. With that being said, the main improvement was value for money.

In terms of accessibility, 90% of visitors with a disability were satisfied with their experience and 70% felt they were well catered for, which was a decrease from 82% the previous year.

In terms of reasons for visiting the motorway service area (MSA), the main reasons were to use the toilet, get food and drink and take a break from driving. One in four drivers arrived feeling stressed, tired and/or frustrated yet significantly, one in 20 visitors reported feeling stressed, tired and/or frustrated when leaving the MSA. Taking breaks is so important!

In fact, visiting an MSA saw 84% of visitors leaving in a positive mood compared to 59% on arrival. Amazing what a nice cuppa and stretching your legs can do!

So let’s get to what we are all here for…the best…

Norton Canes (M6 Toll) – 100%
Stafford Soutbound (M6) – 99%
Wetherby (A1(M)) – 99%
Hilton Park Southbound (M6) – 99%
Corley Southbound (M6) – 99%

And the worst!

Thurrock* (M25) – 68%
Toddington Southbound* (M1) – 72%
Southwaite Northbound (M6) – 80%
Newport Pagnell South (M1) – 81%
Bridgwater (M5) – 81%

(*It is worth noting that these stations were undergoing refurbishment at the time the survey was carried out!)

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: Summer Staycation and Driving Around the UK

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Summary: More and more people are embracing the 'staycation' so we decided to put together a little blog around things to consider when you are driving around the UK! Happy holidays!

Meta Title: Summer Staycation - Driving Around the UK

Meta Description: A quick guide to driving around the UK this summer!

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Driving in windy weather (2)

Summer is here and for many of us, the British Isles is the destination of choice this year. Marvellous! We’ve pulled together a few points to remember before you try and squeeze the other half, the kids, the dog and a load of stuff you probably don’t need into the car.

Make sure your documents are up to date!
It might seem silly but you don’t want to get caught out with invalid insurance or an expired license so check your MOT, insurance, tax and license are all in date!

Double check the basics
Oil, air in the tyres, tread, water and so on. These are the things that seem small but could cause a headache if they aren’t all good to go. If you are planning a longer journey, it may be worth investing in a service.

Book a service here

 

Navigation
If you are using a nifty navigation system or app, make sure it’s fixed into a sturdy cradle that won’t fall off the windscreen as you are coming up to your turn off! Alternatively pick a co-pilot, but make sure they are actually good at following directions!

Little Ones!
If you have children and you decide to take them on holiday with you, make sure you stock up on things to keep them occupied, and have lots of snacks and drinks! And be prepared that you will need to stop just after you’ve left even though you asked at least 10 times if anyone needed the toilet before you set off.

Adults
Particularly the one behind the wheel, make sure you take plenty of breaks on long journeys to avoid fatigue and stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather! If you are the co-pilot, make sure to keep an eye on your driver and insist on stopping if they look tired.

Plan your route
Whether you like to have a full itinerary laminated and ready to go, or you like to be a bit more spontaneous, it’s always a good idea to plan your route to your next destination at the very least.

Weather
Whether the weather is hot or cold (and it could change rapidly in the UK!), temperature can affect your vehicle. In hotter months, check the car’s fluids, tyre pressure and battery. Make sure your interior cooling system is working properly and invest in some sun shades for the kids in the back!

Read our blog on common air-con mistakes here

 

Pets
Taking your furry family member on holiday can be fun but you need to make sure that your pet is fed and watered, and be prepared to make comfort stops to avoid any accidents!

Read our blog on rescuing dogs in hot cars here

 

Entertainment
Good music is going to be the soundtrack to your holiday so get a catalogue of tunes that has something for everyone to enjoy!

We may have put a super catchy summer playlist together that you can have a listen to here

 

Have fun!
The UK has some of the most beautiful places to visit, come rain or shine so take lots of photos and relax!

If you are thinking about upgrading your car before your road trip, take a look at our range of new and used cars! Treat yourself!

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: DVLA urges UK drivers to test their eyes and here is how

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Summary: In light of staggering figures from the DVLA that suggest 50% of UK drivers aren't aware of minimum standards for eyesight while driving, here is all you need to know!

Meta Title: DVLA highlights driver's legal requirement to test their eyes

Meta Description: DVLA highlights driver's legal requirement to test their eyes

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Driving in windy weather (4)

 

According to BBC News, the DVLA carried out a survey which highlighted that only half of the drivers asked knew about the eye test and did it regularly to maintain legal driving standards.

So what do you need to do to make sure you are meeting the legal requirements?

You must be able to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away.

If you can’t, you must visit an opticians for an eye test.  If you need glasses, you must wear them, or contact lenses, every time you drive to ensure safe driving.

For more information or a more in depth run down of the requirements, visit the DVLA website

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: Top 6 Most Amazing Roads

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Summary: If you’re itching to get back to the heart of driving, and take a trip that’s truly exhilarating, we've put together a list of some of the best roads in the world. However, we’re not expecting you to walk them, so we've accompanied each road with a car that completes the journey.

Meta Title: Top 6 Most Amazing Roads | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Get inspired with our top 6 most amazing roads in the world, and the cars to drive to complete the journey.

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Trollstigen

As well as getting you from A to B, now and again driving should be an exhilarating experience.

However, it’s not just the car that’s responsible for this experience, but the place you’re driving it. It’s all well and good owning a Ferrari, but if you only ever use it to crawl along on the school run, then it’s probably easy to feel like you’re missing out on something.

If you’re itching to get back to the heart of driving, and take a trip that’s truly exhilarating, we’ve put together a list of some of the best roads in the world. However, we’re not expecting you to walk them, so we’ve accompanied each road with a car that completes the journey.

If you’re up for an adventure, here’s some of the world’s most amazing roads, and what to drive on them.

  1. Trollstigen, Norway

Trollstigen, which translates as Trolls’ Path, is one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world in terms of its backdrop and scenery. It’s also one of the most adrenaline-inducing roads on the planet, thanks to its seemingly endless number of tight hairpin turns and loads of enormous and smooth straights.

To make this a truly Scandinavian adventure, we could only choose the Volvo XC90. Bold, yet with a calm and collected Nordic understatement, the XC90 is perfect for taking on the Troll’s Path.

  1. The Stelvio Pass, Italy

Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio Pass in Italy gives Trollstigen a run for its money, with an equally rugged backdrop, but surprisingly well maintained tarmac road. At a whopping 15-miles long with an average speed of 28mph, it’ll take you a good 45 minutes to get to the end, or even longer if you slow down and admire the ridiculously beautiful views.

With its large city car reputation, the Fiat Panda might seem an odd fit for the Stelvio Pass. However, with its use by the Italian Army and Forest Services as a climbing car, the Panda is a slightly unusual but ultimately obvious choice.

  1. Highway 1, California

Highway 1

If heights aren’t your thing, drive the Highway 1 in California. This roads runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S state of California and you will take in some stunning ocean views along the way. Running for approximately 656 miles, the first section was opened in the 1930s and various sections have been added since then. In fact, this road wasn’t even called Highway 1 until 1964.

We can’t think of a better way to take in the sights and sounds of the U.S.A than the Ford Mustang. Ostentatious, brash, but surprisingly welcoming, the Mustang is the embodiment of the American dream in automotive form.

  1. The North Pennines, England

North Pennines

This drive from Hexham to Penrith is frequently voted one of the “Greatest Drives in Britain”, and it’s not hard to see why. Much of the route takes place in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, meaning there are plenty of steep climbs, slow descents, and of course, stark but breathtaking views.

For this drive, it’d seem rude to not recommend the Nissan Juke. After all, this capable crossover is manufactured in relatively local Sunderland, just under 50 miles to the east of our start point in Hexham. However, regional pride isn’t the only reason we’ve picked the Juke; big (but not bulky) looks, excellent handling, and all round dependability make it the perfect car for taking on the rugged and changeable North Pennine terrain.

  1. Tianmen Mountain Road, China

Tianmen

If the Guoliang Tunnel looks a thrill, check out the beautiful (and just a little frightening) Tianmen Road in Hunan, China. This road runs through and up the Tianmen Mountain National Park. The highest gradient on this road is 37-degrees, so be sure to select a low gear, and with a whopping 99 bends, be sure to take your driving A-game along too.

With an improved suspension and lighter build to previous models, the Jeep Wrangler is the right match to take on such a driving feat. Not only that, it looks to part too, which in such breathtaking surroundings is perhaps equally as important as performance.

  1. Furka Pass, Switzerland

Furka Pass

This Swiss road is high in the Alps, and like Trollstigen in Norway and The Stelvio Pass in Italy, it offers up some of the most stunning views imaginable. So stunning, in fact, that this road was host to the chase scene in Goldfinger. As a result, millions of Bond mad tourists hitch a ride up this road every year.

Of course, the James Bond connection means there could be only one car to take – the Ford Fiesta. Wait a minute, hear us out. In the film, henchman Oddjob is seen driving a Ford Popular, a name which in its early days the Ford Fiesta was occasionally called, alongside the Escort.

Whilst we’re not a tour operator, we can help you get hold of all the cars we’ve mentioned in this article. Luckily, they’re just as great driving on slightly less thrilling roads of Britain as they are in exotic locations. Whether you’re looking to feel like you’re cruising down a U.S highway, or just want to imagine you’re a bond henchman, Bristol Street Motors have everything you need.

Author: Tom

Title: Top Apps for Drivers

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Summary: These days, your phone is way more than just a phone. It can help you to avoid traffic, get you to your destination on time and find you the cheapest fuel prices. It can even find you a parking space. We've done the hard work for you and come up with a list of the top apps for drivers in 2015

Meta Title: Top Apps for Drivers | Best Driving Apps | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Take a look at our run through of the 9 most helpful, simple to use, and overall best apps for drivers right now.

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These days, your phone is way more than just a phone. It can help you to avoid traffic, get you to your destination on time and find you the cheapest fuel prices. It can even find you a parking space.

Of course, you might already know this.

But do you know of the best apps to achieve these feats? Didn’t think so. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and come up with a list of the top apps for drivers in 2015.

  1. Waze (iPhone, Android)

Waze

If you hate traffic (who doesn’t!?) then you’ll love Waze. Waze is a community-based traffic alert and navigation app. It offers real-time traffic data and road information to help motorists save time and ease congestion, and you can add your very own experiences to help other motorists out. Waze combines this class-leading traffic information system with a visually appealing turn-by-turn navigation feature that’s perfect for daily drivers.

  1. CoPilot Premium Europe HD (iPhone, Android)

If you don’t want to fork out for a dedicated sat-nav, then CoPilot Premium Europe HD is the next best thing. CoPilot is a satellite navigation app that works both online and offline – just download maps when you’re connected to Wi-Fi and you don’t have to worry about losing your mobile signal on the move. The app costs £25.99, and for an additional £7.99 you can get traffic alert features. This is a great app that’s highly recommended.

  1. WhatGas Petrol Prices (iPhone, Android)

It’s often a lottery as to who’ll have the cheapest fuel prices on any given day. The Esso down the road might be 2p a litre cheaper than the Shell up the road on Monday, but vice versa on Tuesday. WhatGas Petrol Prices solves this problem by detailing the cheapest fuel prices according to your GPS location. It’s a community-based app that works well (read: no fakery) and it’s free to download and use, and you could save a lot of money on fuel.

  1. JustPark (iPhone, Android)

Going somewhere you’re not familiar with? Download JustPark and avoid the frustration of driving round endlessly to find a parking space. Unlike some similar apps, JustPark isn’t London only – it supports most cities and towns in the UK – and you can choose from over 150,000 spaces in real-time. Some locations will even allow you to pre-book your parking space through the app, a lifesaver if you’re short of time (or just patience). Even better, the app is free to download too.

  1. Appy Parking (iPhone, Android)

Appy Park

Appy Parking is an alternative to JustPark. It’s on-par with the latter in terms of features, but it doesn’t support locations outside of London (at the moment). But if you live in London, this app may be better. It lets you see every Controlled Parking Zone in London and clearly displays available parking spaces, along with any time limits and prices. It also lets you see all available Green Zones and Red Zones. As such, it’s perhaps one of the ideal apps for drivers living in London.

  1. The Highway Code UK (iPhone, Android)

With The Highway Code UK app, you can read and listen to the latest version of the Highway Code. It’s an easy to use app with accurate information and it’s a great way to review your own driving style and the driving style of others. However, it’s perhaps one of the best apps for learner drivers, giving a quick an easy learning resource that can be read on the go (but not behind the wheel!). The app is free but you have to pay £0.99 to access all content. But this is still cheaper than the official Highway Code app (£3.99). Just remember to update the app regularly so you have up to date information.

  1. GloveBox (iPhone, Android)

GloveBox

GloveBox helps you to track your car’s fuel economy and expenses, so you can see exactly how much it’s costing you to run and maintain your car. It boasts support for multiple users per car and partial and full-tank entries, and you can view fuel units in litres, US gallons and imperial gallons – making it ideal for any country. All statistics are stored in the cloud on a GloveBox account, so if you lose your phone you don’t lose your data.

  1. Find My Car (iPhone, Android)

Ever forgotten where you’ve parked your car? If so, we recommend you download the Find My Car app. With this app, you can store the GPS location of your car when you park up and when the time comes to return to your car, you simply open the app and view your position and your car’s position on the map at street level. This makes finding your car a breeze and you’ll have no excuses for losing your car ever again!

  1. MileTracker (iPhone)

If you lease your car, if it is on a PCP, or if you drive a lot for work, then knowing your mileage is handy. If you lease, going over a mileage allowance can mean you’ll incur an extra cost, which is where MileTracker comes in use. This app – which is available only on iPhone at the moment – is an extremely easy to use mileage calculator, also keeping track of fuel and expenses. It uses GPS to log your movement, and as far as we can tell is pretty accurate.

So there we have it, 9 apps for drivers that can make day to day travelling easier. However, what use is a driving app if you’ve got nothing to use it in? If you’re itching to test one of these apps in a new motor, take a look at the new and used cars for sale at Bristol Street Motors.

Author: Tom

Title: Top Tips for New Drivers

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Summary: So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

Meta Title: Top Tips For New Drivers

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors top tips for new drivers, if you want any additional advice or want to buy your first car contact the team today.

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New Driver

So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

However, as the old cliché goes, you only really start to learn how to drive once you’ve passed your test. For new or young drivers, passing your driving test is only the first step. Whether you’ve already got a car sorted, or are scanning the market for a car that’s right for you, there are some important points to consider. To help you drive safely, save time, and hopefully save money, Bristol Street Motors have put together what we think are some of the top tips for new drivers.

  1. Order your new driving license

This one might seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many new drivers forget to order their full license. Not ordering your new license can be costly. If you don’t apply for your new license within 2 years of passing your test, you’ll have to take both your theory and driving test again, meaning you’ll have to fork out valuable money and time. It’s easy to apply for your new license; all you need to do is send off your pass certificate alongside your provisional one to the DVLA, and they’ll send you your new license in no time.

  1. Get more training

Once you’ve passed your test, it can be easy to convince yourself you’re the next Lewis Hamilton. However, it’s likely that your actual real world skills pale in comparison to more experienced drivers. Although it might seem like it at the time, driving lessons don’t completely represent the everyday driving experience.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to enrol on a Pass Plus course. These courses give you a wider experience of real world driving situations, and only take about 6 hours on average to complete. They’re also ideal for new drivers; if you complete a Pass Plus course within 12 months of passing your driving test, it can serve to lower your car insurance costs by up to 35%. Insurance for new drivers can often be astronomical, so any way to lower these costs is a benefit.

  1. Get insurance savvy

The average car insurance premium for drivers between the ages of 17-22 is a staggering £1096 a year. If you want to avoid paying out your teeth for insurance, it’s worth informing yourself of some of the insurance saving tips out there. For a start, you should get quotes from a wide range of insurance providers. Whilst it might be quicker to do this on comparison sites, it’s worthwhile contacting providers yourself, to see if they can offer you any deals not listed online. Also, some of the larger car insurance companies aren’t taken account for on these sites, so if you only search this way you’re likely to miss out on some potentially good deals.

  1. Minimise your risk factor

Shopping around isn’t the only way to ensure you get a good deal on car insurance. New and younger drivers pay more money as they’re perceived as riskier than more experienced road farers. However, there are certain procedures you can take to show insurance companies you’ve made an effort to minimise your risk of accident. Something as simple as fitting an alarm or immobiliser can work to lower your insurance costs, and any costs you pay for installation will be reclaimed from the money you’ll save.

Another way to lower your premium is to add someone known as a low risk as the car’s second driver. This person should ideally have no points, no history of claims, and be over 25; a parent or guardian is generally a good bet.

Although it may sound obvious, one of the best ways to show insurance companies you’re low risk is to drive carefully. This means no speeding, no accidents, and no points. The New Drivers Act stipulates that anyone earning 6 points within their first 24 months of driving will lose their license; bear in mind that new drivers get 6 points for using a mobile while driving.

  1. Get a real feel for driving

Once you’re finally insured and behind the wheel, one of the most important steps to take is to let yourself get familiar with the car you’re driving. It’s normal for driving a new car to feel unnatural for a while, especially considering most learner drivers will have only ever driven in one or two specific cars.

Before setting off in your car, familiarise yourself with the interior; notice where the pedals sit under the dashboard, adjust your seat to a comfortable position, and make sure your mirrors are set up properly. For the first few times you drive, you should try driving alone. It might be tempting to bring friends or family with you, but riding solo lessens the chance of distraction and allows you to properly get a fear of the car you’re in control of. Again, it might be tempting to go on long, aimless drives, but don’t over face yourself; try going short distances in familiar places for the first few weeks.

It’s tempting to get on the road as soon as possible once you’ve passed your test, but it’s important that new drivers remember these tips; they could help you drive safer, more confidently, and even save you a few pennies.

Author: Tom

Title: Guide to Driving in America

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Summary: As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

Meta Title: Guide to Driving in America

Meta Description: Looking to go on a U.S road trip? Take a look at Bristol Street's guide to driving in America.

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Driving in America

As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

It’s not just the size of the place that’s different, and if you’re new to driving in the U.S.A, it’s a good idea to brush up on a few pointers and expectations before you hit the highways. As it turns out, driving in America is a little more complex than simply remembering to stick to the right (or wrong) side of the road.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Simply read Bristol Street’s guide to driving in America, and you’ll be driving like a true Yankee in no time.

Before you go…

Remember to get all your legal documents in order. Dull, we know, but in the unlikely event you’re involved in an accident or trouble, having the right documentation could mark the difference between continuing your holiday in peace and shelling out hundreds of dollars on unexpected legal fees.

Not forgetting to take the essentials is easy, and shouldn’t take too long to sort out. So long as you have the below with you, you’ll be sorted.

Valid non-provisional driving license

Counterpart license

International Driving Permit – a legal requirement in some states, and heavily recommended countrywide.

Vehicle registration documentation (Vc5)

Up to date travel insurance and proof documents

Visa (if you’ll be staying for more than 90 days)

Oh, and it might sound obvious, but don’t forget to rent a car, and check the regulations; most states require drivers of rental vehicles to be over 25. If you’re planning a one way road trip, many US car rental providers will be able to accommodate for this, but make sure this is the case before you end up having to drive hundreds of miles back on yourself after a call from an angry agency.

U.S.A Driving Laws

Whilst from the outside the U.S may look like one huge nation, in reality it’s perhaps more apt to look at it like a collection of 50 different countries with their own culture, identity, and laws. Each U.S state has its own specific laws and rules, and if you’re travelling from state to state it’s important to remember this.

The individual driving regulations are too numerous to list here, and the best way to get an insight is to ask about any specific laws when you pick your vehicle up, and check road guidebooks to make sure you’re not unwittingly committing any offences.

However, there are a number of rules that are pretty much universal throughout the country:

Drive on the right – this might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many British drivers forget and end up careering head on into oncoming traffic.

At lights, only set off on the green light – whilst accelerating on amber might be tolerated in the UK, doing this stateside isn’t.

Don’t undertake – this is illegal, and will result in anger from native drivers, as well as a fine from traffic police if you get caught out.

Unless signs say otherwise, the speed limit is 65 across all states. In built up areas, this lowers to 30.

Never overtake a school bus if it has rear lights flashing – this is illegal.

Unless otherwise specified, right turns are permitted at red lights.

When coming to a crossroad or junction, right of way is given to the driver who arrived first.

Also, not technically a driving law, but its general etiquette that drivers pay for petrol before filling up. This is a common cause of confusion for UK motorists, who often get into trouble for filling up and then paying afterwards. However, the process is simple; just hand over an amount of money, fill up, then collect any change afterwards.

Driving Conditions

Generally, the condition of most major roads will be better than what you’re used to in the UK. Most states are performing continual improvements to roads and highways, meaning that potholes and uneven surfaces are relatively rare.

Whilst this might improve your overall driving experience, the prevalence of roadwork brings up another perhaps not so good point – traffic. Traffic is a common problem in most U.S cities, with lengthy jams and congestion being an everyday occurrence. Getting stuck in a gridlock is bound to happen at some point if you’ll mainly be driving in busy cities, but with a little planning to avoid rush hours and roadwork you should be able to avoid the worst.

Weather

The U.S.A is huge, and if you’re planning to travel through a lot of it you’ll encounter an equally huge variation in environment and weather conditions. The green and pleasant (grey and wet) U.K this ain’t, and depending on where you are and the distances you’re covering, in a few days driving you could be passing through dusty plains, the searing heat of the desert, and even snow-capped mountains.

As such, if you’re planning to travel interstate you’ll need to make sure the vehicle you’re in is equipped for a variety of terrains and weather conditions. In snowy or wintery conditions, make sure that your tyres are the right tread depth, and make sure to carry a replacement and some additional supplies in case the worst happens. To be doubly safe, you could always fit your tyre with chains; this isn’t a legal requirement, but chains will prove useful if you’re expecting icy conditions.

When driving through dusty environments, the common advice is to turn your headlights up bright, and slow the speed of your vehicle. If conditions are too bad to see, follow the “pull aside, stay alive” rule and slowly pull aside to the side of the road until visibility levels get better.

With our guide, driving in America should be easy as pie. If you’d like any more information, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street Motors, and we’ll let you know where to find the best information on U.S.A driving.

Author: Tom

Title: How to Drive Economically

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Summary: With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to. However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year.

Meta Title: How to Drive Economically

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors guide on how to drive economically, if you require any additional advice please don’t hesitate to contact the team.

Article:

Driving on a UK motorway

With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to.

However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year. If you’re looking to cut your petrol and diesel costs, our guide on driving economically should set you on your way to fuel efficiency. Not only could you save money, but in our increasingly eco-friendly world, you might also be helping the planet too.

Keep your car well maintained

It can sometimes be easy to become complacent about the state of our cars so long as they’re not causing us any real inconveniences, but let’s face it – that black smoke coming out of your exhaust isn’t “normal”. Regular maintenance is essential, and an easy starting point is to just check your tyre pressure. If your tyres are underinflated, they’ll create more resistance on the road, meaning you’ll use more fuel even when driving normally.

Another easy, day to day bit of maintenance you should do is to check your oil. If you’re using the wrong type, this can affect your cars performance, and again use up more fuel.

Get serviced

Performing a little everyday DIY to make sure your car is running well is recommended, but unless you’re a qualified mechanic, there’s probably a few things you’ll be unable to notice about your car’s performance and fuel consumption. Whilst you might like to boast about your skills to your mates, there’s only so much you can do, so put down that wrench and get into your nearest garage. Regular servicing won’t only ensure your car’s engine is running efficiently, but can also help spot other problems it’d be hard to notice yourself, such as dirty air filters.

Slim down

Driving with excess weight is one of the easiest ways to end up paying more for fuel. We’re not suggesting a crash diet – just limiting what you carry with you on a day to day basis. Whilst it’s fine to carry emergency essentials like spare tyres, if you’re a bit of a car hoarder, it might be time to have a bit of a clear out; do you really need to carry that set of golf clubs with you everywhere?

If you have a roof rack or roof box on top of your vehicle, you’ll only be increasing wind resistance, making your car work harder and using up more fuel. Removing inessential roof racks and luggage can streamline your car, making it more aerodynamic and thus more economic.

For all you boy racers out there, it might be time to ditch those spoilers. It’s often thought that spoiler improve the aerodynamics of a car, but in reality they do the opposite, increasing traction and therefore fuel usage.

Plan your journey

Before setting off, double check that you’re certain of your route and destination. Those wrong turns and endless minutes searching for parking spaces can all add up to cost you money. While in theory a sat nav should be the answer, anybody who’s spent any time shouting at the tiny voice trapped in the box will be able to tell you otherwise.

If you’re really uncertain of your route and destination, go old-school and check a road map. If anything it’s worth it for the warm, smug feeling you’ll get after reaching your destination and ignoring the worried commands of Mr or Mrs Nav.

Alter your driving style

We’re not going to tell you how to drive, and this doesn’t mean calling up your old driving instructor for a reunion. However, there are a few tricks you can incorporate in order to cut down on fuel consumption.

If you’re able to, keep rolling. Frequent stopping and starting is a major source of fuel usage, so try keep moving without braking as much as you can.

Don’t slam on the brakes, and make slowing down as smooth as possible. Make sure your timing is right, and release the accelerator in time to avoid having to change gear.

Keep to speed limits. It’s fairly obvious, but the faster you drive, the more fuel you’ll use.

If you’re not driving, turn of the engine. If you’re waiting static and not in traffic, there’s no reason for your engine to be running, and you’re simply wasting fuel.

Turn off inessential electrics

Both air conditioning and heating systems are big drains on fuel, and you should only use them if really needed. When turning on heating, never blast the heat out full whack. If you put the seat on a lower setting, your car will just take a little longer to warm up, but will still be toasty. While opening windows in summer is a bigger drain on fuel consumption than air conditioning, this doesn’t mean this can be turned up to the highest setting. Again, set the air conditioning on a low or medium setting, and in time your car will feel cool and comfortable.

Whether you’re looking to save the planet or just a few pennies, we hope our guide to driving economically has given you a few valuable tips. If you’d like specific advice for the car you own, simply get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Author: Tom