£3.1 billion for nothing

It really pays to compare car insurance – according to a recent survey by one specialist, drivers could save a collective £3.1 billion a year simply by going online, comparing quotes and looking for the best deal.

This is hardly likely to be news to the discerning quote seeker. However, it will be to the 20 percent of motorists who, astonishingly, just decide to renew with their existing provider without bothering to shop around.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is that it actually only takes a few minutes to make a quick survey of the quotes available on the market.

And it seems that when it comes to comparing car insurance, it is not always the oldest who are the wisest – the same survey revealed that younger drivers were the group most likely to make comparisons of the motor insurance market, while drivers over 55 were the least likely, perhaps because they’re less internet savvy.

But don’t let age be an excuse! Here at duck2water we’re proud to say that we’ve recently got our grandparents using iPads (other tablets are available). In fact the money you save by comparing the market could be enough to buy a whole new iPad, outright.

Image © DaveBleasdale via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Beating the breathaliser

We at duck2water are not a fan of Alcopal, the new pill which “allows” drivers to drink as many as five pints of full strength beer and still remain under the drink driving limit.

“The product is for blokes like me who do go down to the pub and have more than just one pint,” said the product’s seller.

"You could lose your licence, your job and your home all for the sake of being 1% over the limit.”

It’s a real worry. This pill sends out all the wrong messages. Although it might reduce the body’s ability to absorb alcohol and therefore help drinkers “beat the breathalyser”, the fact remains that it will not improve the performance or ability of drink drivers.

Furthermore, using this pill to get behind the wheel while drunk will not be looked on kindly by anyone’s car insurance company. Also, it’s illegal.

As a spokesperson from West Midlands Police says, “If you’re driving while over the limit, we will catch you.”

I don’t think we’re alone in hoping that this pill is soon taken off the UK market.

Image © West Midlands Police via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Wheel Clamp Man – hero or menace?

A man from Perth in Western Australia has turned superhero and begun removing motorists’ wheel clamps.

Apparently taking inspiration from Britain’s Angle-grinder Man (active around ten years ago), Wheel Clamp Man dons a green leotard, long rainbow socks, a fake mustache, and red eye mask, and takes to the streets to aid those in need.

After removing a clamp he asks drivers for a small donation, which he then reportedly gives to the homeless. 

This all sounds very amusing and kindhearted, but the problem is that what he’s doing is illegal.  The police state that he is causing criminal damage, and would very much like the public to help track him down.

Wheel clamps are put in place for a reason – and anyone unauthorised to remove them shouldn’t try.  If they feel they’ve been clamped unfairly, which does happen sometimes, they should follow the appeal process available to them.

I’m not sure how much longer Wheel Clamp Man will be coming to the rescue of road users, but hopefully soon he will see that he’s saving road users’ money the wrong way.

Perhaps he should stop cutting off clamps to prevent motorists from having to pay a fine, and instead get a job with a telematics car insurance company.

Photo © ecastro via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Hair-raising highway ordeal

Driving can sometimes be a frightening business, but one woman driver in the United States recently had a particularly terrifying behind-the-wheel experience.

While driving along the highway, her car suddenly accelerated and could not be slowed down.

Over the course of 58 miles, she consistently reached speeds of 120 mph.

Initially police thought that they had a speeding car in their hand and tried to get the driver to pull over – and although they were right about the speeding, they were wrong about having a criminal driver on their hands.

Understandably alarmed that she could not get her KIA 4WD to stop or slow down, the woman called her husband and the emergency services in the hope they would be able to help.

First she was told that she should put her car into neutral, but that didn’t help, so police then cleared the highway while clearly preparing for the worst.

Finally, she was told to lift her stuck accelerator pedal while simultaneously braking. Relief all around: it worked.

What an astonishing and hair-raising ordeal! Certainly a far cry from the more humdrum motoring dilemma of looking for the cheapest car insurance quote!  

Photo © The Tire Zoo via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Our speeding nation is slowing down

I have some news which should brighten every safe and considerate motorist’s day.

According to the RAC Foundation, working alongside the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety – quite a mouthful – the number of people speeding on the UK’s roads is decreasing!

In 1998, around 69% of drivers were breaking 30mph speed limits, however, in 2010 this figure dropped to 46%.

Likewise, the amount of road users choosing to travel at over 70mph on motorways has reduced from 57% in 2003 to 49% in 2010.

Apparently, says the director of the RAC Foundation, part of the reason for this reduction in speeding motorists, is the high cost of fuel during an economic downturn.

However, I hope the main reason is that people are finally starting to realise that by speeding they are putting their life and the lives of others in danger.

I suppose we’ll just have to see what happens if fuel prices get lower and people start feeling better off. Will speeding figures increase again? Only time will tell.  

Photo © Pug50 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Poor diet and car analogies

Having a balanced diet is vital to living a long and healthy life. Well, that’s what everyone keeps saying – but is it true?

After all, William Staub – the American mechanical engineer who developed the first commercial treadmill, and who died at the respectable age of 96 last month from natural causes – didn’t have the broadest of diets.

Apparently he lived on tomatoes, toast – without butter or other spreads, and tea. Occasionally he would have some salad or cheese, but, other than that, he didn’t exactly eat a wide range of items from the ‘food pyramid’.

Other cases of people eating seemingly unhealthy diets but not encountering any real health problems exist, such as the woman who lives on cheese and chips or the individual who survives solely on one flavour of Monster Munch (how boring).

Yet I feel that, just as a car will eventually show signs of wear and tear if a driver continues to brake harshly and accelerate too quickly, these people are bound to feel the effects of their poor diet.

The body is an amazing thing, but where are they getting all the vitamins and other nutrients they need to keep functioning?

William Staub may have had a relatively plain diet, but it was quite a healthy one. Living on only Monster Munch though – I don’t think it can be done.

What makes original flavour Monster Munch? Vegetable oil, potato puree powder (hmm...tasty), corn starch, wheat flour, potato starch (oh, potato again), sugar, salt, sweet whey powder, cheese powder (can’t get enough of that yummy cheese powder), paprika powder, yeast, flavour enhancer (real food doesn’t need this), monosodium glutamate, and paprika extract.

I have no problem with people having this stuff as a snack. Live on it though – or any other extremely restricted diet – and, like a vehicle without coolant, you are heading for breakdown in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, but I think your GP or doctor will basically say what I just said (minus the car analogies).  

Photo © teacher_caroline_acsp via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Ignoring sun-soaked pedestrians

In the summer it’s only to be expected that people will stop wearing their scarfs, trousers and long-sleeved tops, and start enjoying the sunshine.

However, for some drivers this is causing a bit of a problem, because they get distracted by pedestrians when they should be paying attention to the road ahead.

Apparently, according to some research undertaken by a provider of car insurance, 60% of men and 12% of women have been distracted while behind the wheel due to an attractive pedestrian.

Furthermore, an astonishing 21% are even distracted by billboards which have good-looking models on them.

Distracted driving can lead to traffic accidents, so it’s important that drivers avoid staring at pedestrians and re-direct their attentions to the highway.

One moment of inattention could result in a motorist running a red light, colliding with a vehicle, or even clipping a cyclist.

So – everyone just take a cold shower and remain focused on driving safely!  

Photo © GrrLash via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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