Lorry driver ‘spills the beans’ on motorway

Motorways are infamous for congestion, traffic jams and delays. However, travel on the M11 near Epping was recently brought to a standstill – by baked beans.

A lorry driver had been trying to avoid a crashed car when his vehicle jack-knifed, spilling his delivery over the road.

As a result, motorists experienced long delays while the Highways Agency cleared the carriageway of baked beans.

Juliet Kinsman was near the lorry with her four-year-old daughter, named Kitty, when the accident occurred. She said they were very lucky not to have been right behind it.

She added, “There were tins and actual little beans everywhere, across all carriageways – only in Britain – and we all had to drive past on the hard shoulder.

“Amazing how you never know what is around the corner in life. I just was so grateful for the timing and that there wasn't much traffic on the road…amusingly I couldn't resist making Kitty fish fingers and beans for supper."

Although the driver of the crashed vehicle received minor injuries, the lorry driver was fortunately unharmed by the incident.  

Photo © peppered via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

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A sat-nav for the elderly

“Turn left in 300 yards,” my sat-nav tells me. 

Three hundred yards! I don’t know how far that is! I was never very good in maths classes, and now I’m expected to work out how quickly I will reach this 300 yard point while travelling at 40mph in an area I’m unfamiliar with?

It’s not happening.

Thankfully, researchers at Newcastle University are developing a new sat-nav which could help me and many others out no end.

Meant for elderly drivers, this sat-nav will tell the motorist to turn at a certain landmark, like a church or a restaurant, instead of flinging distances at them. 

Furthermore, for those motorists who have become worried by other traffic in their old age, the gadget will apparently even work out a route which has no right turns across traffic.

Professor Phil Blythe, the lead researcher, states, “What we are doing is to look at ways of keeping people driving safely for longer, which in turn boosts independence and keeps us socially connected.

“There are a range of solutions that could help and the navigation system is one of the more obvious solutions.

“It would be much simpler than a sat-nav and will try to provide information in ways the older generation can absorb and process.

“It identifies the safest route – such as avoiding right turns and dual carriageways – and uses pictures as turning cues, such as a postbox or public house.”

I’m loving the sound of this GPS system. I have a feeling it won’t be just elderly drivers choosing this new gadget over the less helpful sat-navs. 

Photo © me’nthedogs via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Scooter safety deemed a serious issue

Motorised scooters have long been one of the most popular forms of transport among the elderly and people with mobility issues. Unfortunately media stories regarding the dangers posed by these slow-moving vehicles are all too common.

In 2010 an Essex resident sustained serious injuries after accidentally driving his scooter into a pothole and being jolted forward into the road. The following year a scooter user accidentally drove into an unsuspecting elderly shopper, who is yet to fully recover from her injuries.

 It has been suggested that such accidents will keep happening until the scooter users are legally required to register for some form of on-road training. The Labour MP for Plymouth Davenport has also called for regular in-depth safety checks.

She said, “With an increasing ageing population, some action has to be taken to ensure that standards are maintained in terms of the safety of these vehicles and that some basic training is undertaken by all users.”

Any changes in the law are likely to be readily accepted by individuals who might have had to rely heavily upon friends and family if it hadn't been for their scooters. If the car world is anything to go by then training could even come with the incentive of a reduction in scooter insurance premiums.  

Photo © Lighthelper :) back at work for now. :) via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Water, water everywhere, but none in the south of England

As the hosepipe ban slowly extends its dusty hand over more of the UK, water companies are doing their best to make people stop washing their cars too religiously.

For example, Thames water has had lots of “Proud to be Dirty” bumper stickers printed, and states that “People should wear dirty cars like a badge of honour. You should be proud to have the dirtiest paintwork in Britain.”

The company adds, “It’s green to be brown.”

However, although we should all be doing our bit to get through the hosepipe ban without making the crisis worse, it’s important to keep car windows, mirrors, lights and registration plates clean.

No matter how filthy the rest of your car gets, it shouldn’t pose a risk to your safety on the road.

To be honest though, there’s no need to drive around with a grimy car anyway. Whatever happened to the good old bucket and sponge method? Or, if you don’t even want to use a bucket of water, why not wait for an April shower and use that?

Photo © Amy the Nurse via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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New Volkswagen Up comes with a slim size treat

If there's one major advantage of city vehicles it has to be the access that they allow to narrow, winding streets. Indeed, the ability to explore routes outside the range of big 4X4's and saloons is one of the greatest lures for purchasers of cars such as the Volkswagen Up!

To celebrate the miniature appeal of their highly popular urban cruiser the German manufacturers have teamed up with the critically acclaimed photographer Harry Cory Wright to produce a book featuring the UK's thinnest roads.

It is hoped that the Volkswagen drivers will take the book with them on journeys around some of the most picturesque towns and cities, rather than resigning it to the coffee table. Just to make this intention clear they have provided GPS coordinates along with each of the fabulous shots.

The Volkswagen Fleet Communications Manager said, “This book illustrates the beautiful scenery surrounding some of the smallest roads of Britain and is a perfect companion for the Up! driver; whether venturing in cities, towns or out in the open countryside air.”

Full details of the featured roads have yet to be disclosed. However, we're betting that Stone Street in Merseyside won't be included. Measuring at only three feet wide it is barely large enough for some model cars to be driven down.

Photo © ell brown via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Austin restored to its former glory

A number of previously popular vehicles have been consigned to the dustbin of time. Take a walk around a local scrap-yard and you're bound to see the parts of once grand cars such as the Sierra Cosworth or Rolls Royce. However, there are some motoring enthusiasts who are unwilling to stand by while their favourite cars deteriorate.

One such vehicle fanatic couldn't quite believe his eyes upon opening the garage of a recently deceased next-door neighbour to find a rusting and sad looking Austin 'Heavy'. As a long-term family friend he saw fit to enquire about the purchase and restoration of this 1930s vehicle.

Keen to see the classic car go to a good home the neighbour’s family readily accepted the offer and the vehicle's restoration is now complete. With a new lick of paint, exhaust system and tyres, the vehicle is ready to begin impressing the local people once more.

The new owner said, “It’s surprising how many gadgets there are, such as a picnic table on the back seat – it’s quite sophisticated really.

“When we took it to the petrol station we told the attendant that it was the first time it had been filled up in 53 years.”

As avid car lovers we are particularly intrigued to hear of similar noteworthy stories. So if you've taken the time to restore a battered and beaten rally car or a rusty Morris Minor then why not tell us about it? You never know, the story might even be good enough to feature in one of our regular blogs.

Photo © Jon’s pics via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Drivers may require a pilot’s licence

Flying vehicles have previously been considered a distant and somewhat impractical dream of the science-fiction fan. Movie-goers have been treated to the view of a soaring Model T touring car in the Son of Flubber and an airborne AMC Matador in the James Bond hit, The Man with the Golden Gun.

These magical film moments may have acted as the inspiration for the manufacturers of the Terrafugia Transition, a car which flies in the face of traditional opinion. In developing a car with collapsible wings and 'glass cockpit' they have realised many people's visions.

Detailing the New York Exhibition of the Terrafugia a company spokesperson said, “Everyone has a dream of a flying car. People in Times Square didn’t know one actually existed. This is the first time they were seeing one.”

Unfortunately the sceptics have already begun to point out the drawbacks of the flying vehicle. They claim that the cost of insuring such a vehicle would be prohibitive. Apparently there would also be a number of restrictions in terms of where such machines were allowed to fly.

One can only imagine the difficulties of navigating high-rise buildings and structures in the American environment. Terrafugia users would also have to keep a look out for birds and potentially even low flying aeroplanes.

Nevertheless it seems that “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

Photo © bucket072 via photobucket

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Satnav malfunction causes frustration

In today's technologically focused world the slightest electronic glitch can have great consequences. This much was made clear by the general hysteria which followed the millennium bug warnings and in the public's reaction to a recent sat nav error.

The so called 'leap year' virus affected TomTom systems in various countries, including the UK, Australia, Denmark and Switzerland. Many drivers were left scratching their heads after seeing the grey screen of doom and a message which told of a GPS signal detection failure.

One motorist said, “I assumed it [the sat nav] had broken but when I went to check TomTom's website I saw there were similar complaints about a range of models on its discussion boards. I feel this should have been made public earlier to alert customers to the problem.”

The general outpouring of customer discontentment reflects the level of impact which the bug had. It is thought that it left many people in limbo, not knowing the way to their chosen destinations.

Perhaps motorists should see such events as a clear signal of their over-reliance on in-car devices. Such problems would certainly have never arisen in the days when people spent time consulting maps and planning their road-trips in advance.

Photo © Iain Farrell via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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DJ creates perfect tune for the road

It is hard to deny the musicality of a gently revved Rolls Royce engine or rock and roll style screeching of the Ferrari exhaust. However, it is questionable whether many of us would have the vision to use such noises in the creation of a full length tune.

To see beyond the normal realms of R&B and pop takes somebody with imagination and willingness to experiment. Such traits accurately define Mark Marrington, a lecturer at Leeds University and the brains behind dance track, Cars.

Unlike Gary Numan's 1970s track of the same name, this new release is comprised entirely of vehicular noises. Listeners are treated to an intriguing blend of car horns, screaming brakes and vehicle alarms during the groovy little number.

The technologically-minded academic said, “Making this piece in fact seems to have broadened my ability to hear and process sound. I simply don't find these sounds annoying any more.

“In fact I'm more likely to consider the piped music we hear everywhere blaring from radios, supermarket speakers etc to be the real noise.”

It is fairly unlikely that the piece will find a place in the affections of the British public, as it sounds quite similar to most popular music. Still, Mr Marrington can look forward to acquiring plenty of fans via Youtube.

Photo © photosteve101 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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