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Driving in Australia

What Important Equipment Should I Keep in my Car?

Summer can be a prolific time for maintenance related breakdowns, what with the extreme temperatures around the country. Although we pray we’ll never find ourselves in a situation where we require roadside assistance, it’s wise to make sure that you are prepared for anything that could go wrong. Today we’ll cover some of the most important equipment you should keep in your car.

 

Dash cam: An increasingly common sight in vehicles across the board, dash cams are an invaluable item to record events on the road. In the event you find yourself in an accident, dash cam footage will prove crucial evidence as part of your insurance claim.

GPS: Although many cars these days will feature a built-in GPS, if yours doesn’t, then it is wise to invest in a standalone one to make your life a whole lot easier

First aid kit: Keep an up-to-date first aid kit in your car at all times. That might not be enough, however, as it also pays to be trained in administering first aid

Fire extinguisher: If you encounter a fire, even though your first actions should be to call emergency services, you may also want to have a fire extinguisher at hand as a precaution

Safety triangle: If you break down, safety triangles should be set up behind your vehicle to serve as a caution to other motorists, which also goes some way towards protecting yourself as well

Tyre kit: Flat tyres and punctures can be a major frustration, however, this is actually an easy job to tackle yourself. All you need is a spare tyre, and a tyre kit, which includes a car jack, wheel brace, tyre sealant and inflation pump.

Charging cables: Given everyone now depends on their mobile phone, you will want to ensure that you have charging cables at hand so that you don’t find your battery suddenly run flat

Spare tools: It is beneficial to have a basic took kit at hand, as well as water and coolant, spare petrol tank and pump, duct tape, jumper cables and more

Comfort items: Some of the most useful items you should keep are actually comfort items, including a blanket, umbrella, raincoat, sunglasses and the like. These are not only useful from one day to another, but in the event of a breakdown.

Peace On Earth – And The Roads, Specifically

Temperatures are soaring as we prepare for the Christmas and New Year holiday season. A lot of us are looking at the cliched images of snow and holly berries, and listening to so-called Christmas music that should really be called “winter music” with a certain level of cynicism and irony. Driving home for Christmas – whether it’s interstate or across town – can be a bit stressful as we get all hot and bothered. There’s a lot to do and a heap of places to go, and we’ve got to haul the kids around with us now that the schools are out for summer.

Before we blow a gasket (metaphorically and emotionally – not inside your car engine), maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and remember the reason for the season. Time for a bit of peace on the roads and goodwill towards our fellow motorists (and our passengers and ourselves). One way that you can do this is being a little bit kinder to everybody – and your car as well.

Be kind to your car, yourself and your passengers by making sure that you’ve topped up all the fluids that you’re supposed to (water, oil, etc.). If you can, book your car in for a service if it’s time or if you’ve noticed things getting a bit wonky. There are few things worse than having the car die on you during the holiday season when you’re miles from your planned destination and the mechanic’s garage is closed (been there, done that – at least it happened in a sizeable town and we found a nice place to stay the night and discovered a neat little café). However, bear in mind that your mechanic is probably worked off his or her feet at the moment because everybody’s trying to get their vehicle ready and the mechanic wants to go on holiday too. Book early and don’t leave it until the last minute!

Be kind to your passengers, especially if they’re children. It’s not realistic to expect kids to sit for hours on end doing nothing, especially when it’s hot. Make sure that your air con is working properly so people don’t get too hot during the journey. Staying well hydrated also helps prevent headaches, and cold water goes down a treat. Freeze a drink bottle overnight before your trip and it will slowly melt as the day goes by, staying deliciously cold. Keeping hydrated has the inevitable results, so make sure that you make frequent stops for the loo.  Stick to water – it’s healthier, doesn’t make the seats sticky if they’re spilt and doesn’t leave you with sugar-amped kids getting fractious in the car seats.

If you’re going on a longer trip with children, then it can be a good idea to have a few special treats and toys that can be produced for the first time at the start of the trip. Make sure that you have a playlist (or CD or…) for everybody so the adults don’t go mad listening to twitty children’s tunes and the children don’t get bored with your Bruce Springsteen. As long periods in the car make for great bonding time, I don’t recommend kitting kids up with headphones and electronic devices; take the time to interact while you’ve got it. Don’t forget a few old-fashioned car games!

No matter what age of passenger you’ve got with you or even if you’re travelling alone, make sure you stop frequently to stretch your legs and get a bit of fresh air. This helps you stay alert, which is kinder to everybody else on the road, as you’ll be a better driver for it. It’s also kinder to your back and your overall health – go for a little walk as well as using the loo and/or filling up with fuel.  Allow time for this and take your time. Enjoy the trip rather than merely focussing on getting to your destination.

While on the topic of health, it’ a good idea to pre-plan travel snacks and food. The sort of thing you pick up in most places tends to be stuffed with all the things you’re not supposed to eat (trans fat, sugar, additives). You can generate a lot of plastic waste as well, and spend a truckload while you’re at it. The good news is that fruit is in season, so it’s healthy and cheap. Maybe make a few sandwiches or take the doings for them in the esky.

Remember to be kind to your fellow motorists. Everybody is in a hurry, everybody is hot and everybody is a bit stressed with all the things they need to do. This means that you don’t need to always rush and cut in. Let people into the stream of traffic at intersections and on the way out of the car park. If we all did this, the roads would really be a more peaceful place. I’ve written on being a polite driver elsewhere – bear these tips in mind and don’t be that rude driver everybody hates.

Last but definitely not least, although it’s the season when we all indulge a little bit more, the rules about not drinking and driving still apply. Don’t ruin someone’s holiday by causing accidents, injuries or deaths. It’s just not worth the risk and if you’ve already spent a bit on pressies and food, then you don’t want to add a fine from the cops into it as well. There are loads of nice non-alcoholic cocktails and drinks out there, and it’s a lot more socially acceptable not to drink alcohol at parties.  Given the season, a Virgin Mary (like a Bloody Mary but minus the hard stuff) is rather appropriate… Appoint a sober driver or plan to stay overnight if you want a tipple.

Whatever you’re doing over this Christmas, wherever and however you’re celebrating, we hope that you have a great one and that you stay safe on the roads. See you in 2020!

The Commodore To Be No More.

December 10th, 2019, will be the day that Australia was told of the passing of an icon. This is the complete PR release from Holden.

Holden is today announcing a modified portfolio dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said the focus of the portfolio was consistent with customer preferences, with the Acadia, Trailblazer, Equinox and Trax rounding out a comprehensive SUV portfolio; and the Colorado tackling rivals in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.

“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments. So far this year SUVs and Utes have increased to 76 percent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing,” he said.

The company has elected to retire the ZB Commodore and the BK Astra in 2020.

At its peak, the large car segment in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. This year it is projected to come in at about 8,700 units.

“The SUV segment is approaching half a million units, and LCVs over 200,000 units. That’s where the action is and that’s where we are going to play,” Mr Aquilina said.

The new Holden boss also paid tribute to the Commodore nameplate and its place in the Australian automotive industry over time.

“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he said.

“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.”

Sales and deliveries of Commodore and Astra will continue through 2020, albeit with diminishing model availability as part of an orderly runout.

Existing Commodore and Astra customers can be assured that Holden will continue to back warranty and roadside assistance commitments, with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future.

In addition, all MY19 ZB Commodores and MY19 BK Astras ordered or delivered from today onwards will be subject to Holden’s market leading seven-year free scheduled servicing offer.

All arrangements for accessing warranty, servicing and spare parts for Holden’s entire model line-up via the Holden’s national dealer network remain the same.

Holden will be launching the MY20 Equinox in the first quarter of 2020 followed by a significant MY21 upgrade to the highly regarded Colorado to launch in Spring. Holden will also lodge production orders to GM’s Bowling Green factory for the highly anticipated mid-engine right-hand-drive Corvette next year.

These sentences have sparked furious debate between supporters and detractors, with one common theme being “why didn’t they call the Commodore something else” after local manufacturing ceased in 2017. Then there are comments about a lack of relevant marketing for the ZB, indifferent dealership service, lack of support for just-out-of-warranty issues, balanced against “it’s not a real Commodore” due to the lack of V8, ute and wagon, and the shift to front wheel drive. Toss in a mix of “football, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars” as Australian made before the inexorable slide to very little of the VF actually being manufactured in Australia, and the anger and frustration levels of people becomes ever more evident.

What will remain is also divisive. The ZB Commodore was a bloody good car. But it was also never given a real chance at survival for a number of reasons. Ignorance and bias are two, and more’s the pity as it’s fair to presume detractors that decried its front wheel drive layout would not have taken the time to test drive it, and find out it actually drove like a Commodore.

Holden Commodore. Born 1978. Died painfully in 2020.

AC and Keeping Cool in the Car this Summer

Crikey, we’re having a hot summer, for sure.  The heat outside can be unbearable some days.  Thanks to Willis Carrier, a 25-year-old engineer from New York, who in 1902 invented the first modern air-conditioning system we now have an invention developed further into what we now have for cooling our buildings and automobiles.  Willis’s system sent air through water-cooled coils, and was designed to control humidity in the printing plant where he worked.  People in Iran, Australia, Egypt and the Middle East know all about the benefits of having water held around dwellings so that any breeze passing over the water will be cooled thus providing a very pleasant space for people on the downwind side of the water source.  This cooled space is delightful on a very hot day.

The concept of pushing hot air over cool water and cooled refrigerant has also been developed in cars, and thus we have what is known as the air-conditioning unit, used in many of the cars that we drive.  More fancy cars use a climate control system which can automatically adjust the system to keep the cabin at a pre-set temperature.

It makes sense to keep your vehicle’s air-conditioning unit in good shape, so make it a habit to get it checked over every couple of years prior to summer kicking in – particularly when you sense that the air-conditioning system is running a little below par.  In Australia, where it is common for the temperatures to soar well into the high 30’s, and beyond, having a car with a properly functioning air-conditioning system is a must.  It becomes a safety issue, really!

The main reasons your air-con won’t be working are: a blocked condenser, the compressor no longer works properly, there is no more gas in the air-conditioning system, there could be a refrigerant leak, a relay problem or any other electrical issue.  Automotive air conditioning professionals can diagnose why your car’s A/C system isn’t working and fix or replace the required components.  Using the system more frequently helps it to keep ticking over for longer.

It’s also good to travel with plenty of water handy for hydration, and there are also some other simple and practical ways that will help you to stay cool in your car this summer.  Did you know that tinting your car’s windows makes travelling on hot sunny days more comfortable?  Window film cuts UV by 98% to protect your car and its occupants.

Sunshades are also very effective at keeping the sun and heat out of your car.  They can be placed on the front and/or rear inside windows and keep the direct sunlight out of your car.  Sunshades that attach to your side windows are also available from car accessory stores, nationwide.

Buying a car with reasonable engine performance and torque also ensures that the air-conditioning will run freely without taking too much away from the car’s overall performance and responsiveness.  Every time you activate the air-conditioning it draws power from the engine.

The performance impact may only be small, but it is there – and over time it adds up.  There are quite a few smaller, compact cars on the roads these days, and it’s worthwhile knowing that the effect of AC on engine performance is greater in these smaller vehicles than in those with larger engines – V6’s, diesels and V8s, for example.

Just so you know…

What to do After an Accident

A traffic accident might be every driver’s worst nightmare, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean you can always avoid it. Even if through no fault of your own, many drivers will find themselves in a bingle of some sort across their driving years.

Given how unexpected such an event can be, often we’re not entirely prepared for how to respond. For some, panic and anxiety starts to set in after a car accident. Emotions will be running high, which means that sometimes we are not always thinking in a rational and coherent manner.

Here’s what you need to do after an accident on the road.

 

 

Remain calm and preserve safety

Assuming that you are uninjured, the first thing is to focus on the here and now. While it is easy for the mind to begin wondering and thinking about potential difficulties that might lie ahead, it is important that you manage to retain a sense of calmness and avoid fear or panic kicking in.

You will need to activate your hazard lights in order to bring awareness to other road users. If the car is obstructing traffic, and there is no immediate danger, move it off to the side so that it does not endanger yourself and other motorists. If there is an immediate danger, you should call emergency services straight away and take primary care. Once you’ve moved the car, remove the keys from the ignition.

As you prepare to exit the car, double check for any injuries that could have been masked by adrenaline rushing through your body. If you are uninjured, you should check on the wellbeing of the other parties involved. If injuries are present, dial 000 for emergency services. The police must be called if injuries are present, a party fails to exchange details, or there is a likelihood that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. More often than not, most drivers will still call the police to make a record of the accident, assuming it is more than just a fender bender.

 

Exchange details with the other party

Once you have your evidence, you must exchange details with the other party. Gather as much information as you can, with a particular emphasis on the other party’s full name, address, phone number, plus vehicle registration and details. It is also beneficial to pick up other information regarding the specific make, model and colour of the vehicle they were driving, and if possible, their licence number and insurance details. These however, are not necessarily obligatory to hand over.

You should also provide the relevant information to the other party. If a driver does not provide you with their name, address, vehicle registration plus information to identify their vehicle, you may report the accident to police.

 

Don’t admit fault

While you might be inclined to apologise for contributing to an accident, that is as far as you should go in discussing the events. Even if you know that the accident was your fault, never admit this to the other driver. It will be left to the professionals investigating the accident to conclusively determine whose fault it was, and any admission could compromise that investigation and your insurance coverage.

 

 

Collect evidence

An important part of your insurance claim will rely on the evidence you present to the insurer. As such, you will want to take several photos of the accident scene, including damage to both vehicles. The scene should extend to the nearby surrounds like any hazards or road conditions that may have contributed to the accident.

If you have a dash cam recording, it is important you save and retain this footage. You will also want to make notes of any other observations relating to the crash scene and even the other party. Speak to any witnesses in the vicinity and ask for their details if you anticipate their version of events will be required.

 

Contact your insurer

First, you’ll want to check what condition your car is in. If it has been involved in a major accident, it is likely that it will be unroadworthy and require towing. Police at the scene would confirm this. If it is a minor accident, you may be able to drive home or to your insurer’s assessment centre.

Contact your insurance company and provide a full account on the accident. They will help you walk through all the necessary steps to lodge your claim, and if required, can offer assistance with towing the vehicle. Leave it with them to investigate and at all times make sure that you cooperate honestly with regards to any details.

 

For All Mobile Phone Users

At last a serious move has been taken to nab the drivers using mobile phones illegally while driving.  New South Wales, Australia is the first place in the world to introduce mobile phone detection cameras, and these will be mounted without any warning signs saying that they are operating in the area.  The technology was invented by a University of Melbourne engineering graduate, Alexander Jannink, after a cyclist friend of his was killed in late 2013 by a driver suspected of being on a mobile phone.

During a three-month trial of the new camera at two locations in Sydney, 100,000 drivers were detected using a mobile phone illegally.  These motoring offences valued more than $34 million in fines.  Those caught in the trial were found to be browsing Facebook, text messaging and one driver was also caught allowing his passenger to steer the wheel.  Distracted drivers are very much a factor in motoring accidents, and placing the high-tech mounted cameras on our roads is a wonderful way to combat the habitual mobile phone actions of those who just can’t seem to leave their phone alone when behind the wheel.

It’s unsettling to notice drivers coming in the opposite direction with their eyes downward while on their phones.  The new cameras have been developed with sophisticated software that automatically detects if a driver is handling a phone.  The filtered images are then checked by a human eye before the weighty fine is issued.

I totally get what the NSW minister for roads and transport, Andrew Constance, recently remarked while on radio: “We want to create the same environment that we have around [random breath testing] because quite frankly using a mobile phone is equivalent to driving drunk behind the wheel.”  Other Australian states are to follow the NSW lead.

The law states that fully licenced drivers are not allowed to use any physical function of the phone while driving.  Making or receiving a call, playing audio, or using navigation maps can be done while the vehicle is parked and the engine not running.  Voice controlled smartphone mirroring apps such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto, which uses the vehicle’s infotainment technology makes things a little safer.

The reality is that nobody wants to share the road with a driver who isn’t paying attention.  When we’re driving, our focus should be on the road and getting everybody in the car to the destination safely.

Here are the mobile phone fines currently enforced in Australia:

NSW mobile phone fines: $344 and five demerit points, $457 and five demerit points in school zones, points doubled during double demerit periods.

Queensland mobile phone fines: $1000 and four demerit points from 1 February 2020, currently $400 and three points. Repeat offenders receive double demerit points if caught again within 12 months from the previous offence.

Victoria mobile phone fines: $496 and four demerit points.

Australian Capital Territory mobile phone fines: $480 three demerit points for handheld phone use, $589 and four demerit points for driver using mobile device for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing internet.

South Australia mobile phone fines: $554 and three demerit points.

Western Australia mobile phone fines: $400 and three demerit points.

Northern Territory mobile phone fines: $500 and three demerit points.

Tasmania mobile phone fine: $336 and three demerit points.

What the New Mandatory Data Sharing Law Means for Motorists

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently took aim at car manufacturers. This time it wasn’t in relation to any specific mechanical controversies like the Dieselgate saga. Instead, it was about the after-purchase period concerning maintenance and repairs, where a lack of data sharing with independent mechanics has been said to ‘hurt’ everyday motorists. 

 

How did we get here?

Before we try to make sense of it all, let’s take a step back to a few years ago. In 2014, auto-makers agreed to a voluntary system where data sharing would be placed in the hands of manufacturers. Provisions were put in place that were designed to help independent mechanics access computer codes and calibration data among other information.

However, the voluntary nature of this program meant there were no formal obligations or requirements to comply with the intended aim of the program. More recently, in 2018, the Federal Government paved the way for a more structured approach to data sharing. Despite the matter being earmarked as part of ‘priority’ sector reform, it was largely overlooked amid more pressing issues until late last month when the Australian Government announced a mandatory data sharing law.

 

Why did it take so long?

For most of this discussion period, car manufacturers have continually expressed concerns about the idea of being compelled to comply with data sharing requirements. As such, you can imagine they were firmly opposed to any measure that would force them to provide your local independent mechanic with technical information about their vehicles.

Representatives regularly cited safety reasons for their reluctance to share data with independent mechanics. One of the key concerns was providing independent mechanics with access to complex information that may prompt them to undertake repairs beyond the scope of their training, or where they may otherwise be without the appropriate tools.

 

What impact might the new law have?

Independent mechanics have pointed to the increased sophistication in today’s cars to reinforce the need to access vehicle data. Jobs that were once a simple and easy fix in years gone by, have become increasingly complex if you believe the words of many independent mechanics.

In the eyes of the ACCC, this means motorists have been getting a raw deal on their servicing and repair costs. They estimate that drivers have been paying as much as $1 billion per year more than necessary on account of independent mechanics not having access to data that would make their jobs easier.

Meanwhile, in backing the call for greater data sharing, the Australian Automotive Aftermarkets Association (AAAA) noted that the US and European markets have established programs in place to facilitate data sharing. In the US alone, these measures are estimated to save motorists US$26 billion per year. It appears the government has the notion of consumer savings in its sights, which could help drivers save a pretty penny. However, will it prove wise to dismiss manufacturers concerns?

Should Dash Cams Become Compulsory?

We’ve previously documented the rise of dash cams, which are now a common sight on our roads. After all, technology plays an ever increasing role in addressing the day-to-day aspects of our lives, so it was only natural this would transition to our commuting habits as well. Who can look past the various online communities that have sprung up around the country with a hotbed of dash cam footage for every curious observer to take in?

Now however, it would seem the fanfare for dash cams has extended further, with many drivers calling for the equipment to become compulsory. Whereas these items were once considered a luxury, their affordability has now made them an accessible option for the majority of motorists.

 

 

What do motorists have to say?

In a recent survey by Smiths Lawyers, nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents are calling for dash cams to be a permanent fixture. To clarify, these motorists are advocating for the cameras to be recording at all times. Perhaps more pertinently, around 40% of drivers are in favour of dash cams being fitted to all vehicles, while a slightly smaller portion (34%) feel that the equipment should become a compulsory fitted device in all new vehicles sold across Australia.

You’re probably thinking that many of these respondents are those who already own a dash cam, instead trying to justify the measure to other motorists. Surprisingly however, just 26% of those surveyed own a dash cam, far less than the number calling for their roll-out. Leading the way in this area are Queensland drivers (30%), slightly ahead of those from NSW (26%) and Victoria (22%).

In what is perhaps the most interesting observation to come from the study, there were some particularly stark differences in opinion among different age groups. While elderly drivers aged over 65 were prominent advocates of compulsory dash cams – with 40% of respondents in favour – and nearly half of respondents aged 18-24 also backing the technology, it was one other group that took an unlikely stand. Among 25-34 year olds, 38% of respondents were against the notion of dash cams becoming mandatory.

 

 

Where we are at in terms of mandating dash cams

With drivers seemingly in support of mandating dash cams, are we actually likely to see the move go ahead? The utilisation of dash cams have made incident investigation a more effortless process for insurance purposes, helping drivers prove their claims and reducing burden on the courts. Arguably, there has even been an increase in driver awareness and education as a result of dash cams. But while there may be merit on an individual level, the notion of a mass roll-out has other considerations.

The primary obstacle is that government and manufacturers have not signalled any indication to mandate the technology in new cars. On the one hand, depending on how the data were to be stored, an integrated solution could give rise to privacy concerns. But beyond that, it’s an added cost that would be hard to pass through via higher car prices. Not only is it easy for drivers to access external dash cams, but the cost to auto-makers would still be high enough to eat into their margins when apportioned over a high volume of cars. For theses reasons, don’t expect a change in legislation any time soon.

How To Be A Polite Driver

You’ll hear a lot of people complaining about the rudeness of other drivers – the hoon who cut you off, the moron who nearly opened the car door right into you as you drove past, etc. etc. I could rant for ages about examples of plain old rudeness on the roads. So could you, I dare say. However, instead of simply having a grizzle about the level of rudeness on the roads, let’s flip the script. If more and more of us concentrated on being polite drivers with good on-road manners, then the happier we’ll all be.

Yes, I’m going to sound like your mother in this post and I’m going to remind you about good manners. However, I’m allowed to, as I might be old enough to be your mother (if you’re under 25). As for the rest of us, we could all do with a reminder, couldn’t we?

Courtesy To Other Drivers

  • Don’t be in such a rush to be first or ahead of everybody else. It’s barely going to save you a second on your commute, so why bother taking a risk as well as being annoying to others? This means that you don’t push in and cut people off.
  • Stay alert at the lights. Nobody likes being behind that person who checks their phone at a red light (which is, incidentally, illegal) who fails to see the light change to green for a couple of seconds. Stay alert, leave that phone alone and be ready to move.
  • Let people in. If the traffic’s busy and you’ve come to a standstill, and you see someone waiting at the exit from the supermarket, let them in before you take off. This is done by a simple wave of the hand and a smile. It’s also a very human thing to do, as this sort of courtesy is something that an autonomous car can’t do.
  • Wave and smile if someone does something nice like letting you in. This is how you say thank you in an urban driving setting.
  • On the open road, if you can’t go at the full road speed for some reason, pull over onto the shoulder of the road to let people go past.
  • Thank slower drivers who pull over to let you past by tooting the horn cheerfully and waving.
  • Dip your lights in plenty of time rather than playing Headlight Chicken at night. This is good for safety as well as courtesy, as having two dazzled drivers for the sake of pride is stupid and dangerous.
  • If you have been going at just below the speed limit most of the time, don’t suddenly speed up to full speed or more when you get to the parts of the road that have passing lanes provided, forcing those who want to go faster to really put their foot down to possibly a dangerous degree.
  • Stay in your lane, even when the traffic is slow, rather than hopping from one to another. If you wouldn’t do it in the supermarket or in the queue for the loo during half-time at the rugby, don’t do it on the road.
  • Even if you have a fantastic sound system, you don’t need to let the world know about it by turning it up to full blast and winding the windows down. Not everybody shares your taste in music. The only exception is if you’re a contractor and you have your vehicle parked off the road where you’re working, and you want to listen while you work.
  • On rural roads where the traffic is sparse, wave, nod or raise a finger (no, not THAT finger) to salute oncoming drivers.
  • Use your indicators. Enough said.

Courtesy To Other Road Users

  • Check for cyclists before opening your car doors.
  • Wait until pedestrians are completely off the crossing before you move off (this is the law as well as good manners).
  • Give cyclists plenty of room, especially if they’re coping with a hill or a stiff headwind or even a blisteringly hot day. Refrain from honking your horn at them if the road is narrow and they’re doing all they can – just wait until you have enough space to pass.
  • Stop for animals on the roads, from ducklings to kangaroos.
  • Be sensitive around horses, as they are wired instinctively to run away from things that make loud roaring noises at them. This means that you don’t rev your engine, honk your horn or shout at them.
  • Stay out of the bike lane. It is there to keep cyclists from holding motorized traffic up, not as an extra turning lane or passing lane.

Courtesy To Passengers

  • Open the door for whoever’s in the front passenger seat. Traditionally, the guy is the driver and the lady is the passenger, but these days, the rule should be that whoever has the keys should unlock and open for the person without, regardless of how many X chromosomes each one has.
  • Wait until everybody has made their seatbelt click before moving off.
  • Your car might be able to corner hard, but your passengers do not have the steering wheel to hold onto. Don’t throw your passengers around; save the rally driver behaviour for when you are alone or actually in a rally.
  • Ensure that the music volume and temperature are comfortable for everybody (dual zone climate control is a wonderful invention).
  • Refrain from making snarky or belittling comments about other road users. Double that if your passengers are children. This rule also applies to those other road users known as cops.

Other Situations Where Courtesy Is Important

  • If you are ticketed, accept it as a fair cop, no matter what the reason is. Don’t rage at the cop or the parking warden, who is simply doing his/her job and might hate being assigned to this duty as much as you hate being ticketed. Take it on the chin and take that ticket. Refrain from throwing an adult tantrum about it at your passengers once the uniformed figure has gone – it’s not their fault. It’s your fault, so suck it up, buttercup.
  • Revving your engine loudly so that all the world can hear it is bad manners. Small exceptions can be made if you have a beautifully tuned V8 or V12 (or any other exhaust system that’s been tweaked to produce that deep, throaty growl). This motoring music often draws a smile from fellow motoring enthusiasts. Even so, don’t overdo it, especially late at night.
  • Avoid back seat driving. You may give directions if requested to or call the driver to attention if he/she hasn’t noticed that the truck ahead has slammed on the brakes or if the light has changed. However, nobody needs a full-time driving instructor once they’re off their learner’s licence and even P-platers don’t need nonstop instructions.
  • If you’ve got a very nice sports car (or a well-kept old classic) that attracts attention, don’t get disgruntled about people taking selfies with it, snapping pictures of it or asking questions about it. Bask in the adulation – this is part of the pleasure of owning something rare and beautiful.

 

Are New Cars Becoming Too Easy to Steal?

As more new vehicles come to the market boasting the latest and greatest technology, manufacturers are looking to simplify the driving experience. This means getting you up and running with easier access to your car. So, what’s one of the prominent solutions?

Well, this has translated into keyless entry and push-button ignition becoming commonplace across the latest models. That’s not to say it was ever difficult to use a key, but clearly the boffins behind this technology thought that was getting all too cumbersome. So with the traditional and trusted key now looking lonely on the outer, is everything actually all fine and well?

 

The risk associated with keyless entry

Not everything may be as it seems. In some corners there is a growing chorus of industry experts suggesting that today’s new cars are becoming too easy to steal. How, you might ask, as you look quizzically down at your keyless entry remote. Well, that very device is among the design aspects that some have reasonable grounds to be concerned.

This new generation of remotes transmit wireless signals that are automatically picked up within a proximity of the vehicle. As these transmitters work in much the same way as any other device that emits a code over a certain frequency, they are not necessarily immune from interference. And while it may not sound the easiest workaround, the risk remains, a device configured to pick up and read these frequencies has the ability to mimic the remote and replicate those very codes to the same effect.

How realistic is the problem?

Sure, you can lock your car, but a keyless entry remote will continually transmit a code in anticipation that you will return to your car at some point and access the vehicle without retrieving the remote. Some manufacturers have embedded additional safety features, such as PIN-activated ignition, a motion-activated fob that is immobilised when no longer moving, or a remote that broadcasts across a wider range of frequencies.

Now if you’re thinking all this sounds highly preposterous and a convoluted way to steal a car, you may want to pause on those thoughts. Check out this field test from What Car, or this one from Which. In what is likely to be surprising news to many drivers out there, some of the market’s most premium vehicles are susceptible to being ‘stolen’ in under 30 seconds.

For now manufacturers are continuing to work on refining and improving the technology, but it’s important to understand, the latest tech does not necessarily mean the greatest tech. In the meantime, you may want to consider requesting your dealer disables that keyless entry remote, or you take to buying a Faraday Bag to shield the remote from emitting electromagnetic signals. Sometimes keeping it simple truly is better.