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Ten driving facts you may not know

1. Information overload

When you drive along at 30 mph you will take in an average of 1320 pieces of information every minute. So leave that mobile phone call or text until you get there.

2. Don’t hold your breath

As of this year (2012), it is a legal requirement to carry a breathalyzer when driving in France. In fact, most motoring organizations recommend carrying two to be on the safe side. If you don’t you’ll face an on the spot fine, so be warned.

3. Above the law

Although 4×4 drivers may sit head and shoulders above the rest, that’s not why they speed more often. It’s more to do with perception. Research has shown that the higher you sit, the slower you think you are going. So make sure you keep an eye on the speedo to make sure you are travelling as fast or slow as you think you are.

4. Safe utility vehicles

Despite their high seating position, statistics show that SUVs are actually more than twice as safe to drive as ordinary cars. Figures in the USA show that there are 70 fatalities per million cars on the road, yet only 31 deaths per million SUVs.

5. The price of speed

Travelling at 80mph uses 11% more fuel than travelling at 70mph, yet saves you just five and a half minutes on a 50 mile trip. Even travelling at 75mph uses 6% more fuel, yet saves just three minutes. At almost £5 per gallon, those small percentages soon add up to much bigger fuel bills.

6. Compulsory kit

You are not obliged to carry any equipment in your car in the UK, but in Europe the rules vary widely. In many northern European countries, snow chains are compulsory, while in Bulgaria, you must carry a fire extinguisher. And don’t forget your first aid kit if you’re travelling through Austria, Croatia, Hungary or the Czech Republic.

7. UK leads road safety

The UK is one of the safest places to drive, according to accident statistics. There are only 7 fatalities per year for every 100,000 motor vehicles in the UK, compared to 15 in the US. In South Africa, this rises to 208.

8. Don’t check hot tyres

Friction with the road warms the air in your tyres, creating a false reading when checking tyre pressure. So always make sure you check your tyres ‘cold’ before you set off, rather than en route.

9. Speed Camera Detection on your Sat Nav

Another change in French law this year is the banning of Sat Nav systems that identify the location of speed cameras. You must either turn off your Sat Nav or disable this function or you will face an on the spot fine if you are caught. This change also applies in Ireland, Germany and Switzerland.

10. Dancing on ice

Your instincts may tell you exactly the opposite, but if you find yourself skidding on ice, the best thing to do is to turn into the skid. Trying to turn the car out of the skid will just make it worse.

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