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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Unlucky number 13

Do you get worried when a black cat crosses your path? Are you horrified if you break a mirror? Are you dreading March the 1st 2013, when all new registrations will contain the unluckiest of numbers?

 If you are, then you might be pleased to know that the DVLA are going to allow people to keep using the 62-plate which will be available from the beginning of next month.

However, it will be treated like a personalised registration plate, so you’ll have to fork out at least £250 for it.

Nevertheless, although I don’t believe that the number 13 has any properties which will directly cause bad luck – like failing to get a good car insurance quote – I do think that superstitious motorists could experience some misfortune if they have a number 13 registration plate.

It’s all to do with psychology. If someone believes that they have an unlucky car, they’re probably going to be a little on edge when behind the wheel. As a result, this might actually cause them to be involved in a crash – just because they were driving in a nervous manner.

Still, for some, having the number 13 in their registration will be a blessing. Many people actually believe the number to be lucky instead of cursed, so I expect that they’ll be looking forward to building up their no-claims bonus and passing all their MOT’s with full marks.  

Photo © kirstyhall via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Driving as a hobby

According to a survey undertaken by a car insurance company and Populus, out of more than 20,000 respondents, 55% of motorists have been on an aimless drive.

It might sound like an odd thing to do, but, just like any other hobby, such as fishing or painting, it’s all about having some time to enjoy an activity without other distractions.

Similarly to how fishing as a career or painting as a trade are perhaps not as enjoyable as having these activities as past-times, driving to get somewhere is sometimes not as fun as just driving to drive.

However, there should be a limit as to how often someone gets behind the wheel on a road to nowhere. Ten per cent of people reportedly go on a purposeless drive every week!

Think of how much fuel and money they’re wasting! I know I certainly can’t afford to be driving from point A to point A once a week.

Still, it would be nice to get away from my usual routes every now and then and just explore. There are a lot of streets I never have to go down to get to the shops or to work, and I’ve often wondered where they lead…  

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

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A competitive outlet

The Olympics have had me shouting at the TV! I’m feeling so competitive at the moment, I find that I’m making mini competitions out of everything, because I’ve no sporting outlet for my frustrations.

Yesterday I walked extra quickly up a set of steps in a shopping centre, just to beat some complete stranger who’d started climbing them at the same time as me. I know – sad, right?

Well, I won’t be doing that sort of thing anymore, because now I’ve found the perfect competition.

Mercedes-Benz is looking for the best young motorist in the UK! Perfect!

It does cost to enter, but the prize is a year’s membership as a Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy VIP – which involves brushing shoudlers with celebrities and test-driving the newest models of Mercedes vehicles.

It’s the competition I’ve been waiting for, and I’m not going to let it slip by just because I need to hand over a little currency.

Even if I don’t win anything, I know I’ll enjoy the challenges presented to me.

I’m raring to go! Anything to stop me competing against people who don’t know I’ve challenged them to a race in the first place!

Photo © MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Cheaper car insurance and a healthier car and body

Following on from a recent post which explained how inactivity can be as deadly as smoking, we at Duck2Water have been alarmed to learn that medical students are not being taught about the benefits of exercise.

This, clearly, is a ludicrous situation. As we all know, prevention will always be preferable to cure and if doctors know little about fitness and exercise, what hope can we have for the health of the nation.

Why, it would be like a mechanic not knowing about the benefits of regularly topping up oil or ensuring safe tyre tread, or indeed like a car insurance company not knowing about the cost benefits of having a no-claims bonus, or buying a reliable and modest motor.

But health and fitness, matters of life and death, are surely more important than either of the above analogies.

Yet, according to research carried out in 31 of the United Kingdom’s medical schools the instruction and learning on the benefits of exercise was found to be "sparse or non-existent".

One way of course that you can help protect your car’s engine from wear and tear, reduce the cost of your car insurance and get some exercise is to cut out short journeys in and around town by walking or cycling instead. There! We didn’t need to go medical school to learn that nugget!  

Photo © London Attractions Guide via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Amazing bravery under pressure

Duck2Water’s Bravery Award this week goes to the 12-year-old girl who managed to steer a car to safety when, as passenger in her grandfather’s vehicle, he died suddenly while driving along the motorway.

Although he had let his granddaughter know that he was feeling below par, it still came as a total surprise to the girl when her granddad’s head hit the driver window and he lost consciousness, all with his foot still placed firmly on the accelerator.

Tragically, the 63-year-old had died of a heart attack. "He said he was scared, closed his eyes, and put his head on the glass. That’s when I knew he was dead," said the brave girl.

"I didn’t know what to do. I took off my seat belt and slid over to put my foot on the brake. I was looking around and thought, should I go into the corn field, should I keep going?'" she added.

Amazingly, she managed to make the car come to a standstill after driving it into a field and into some trees – all without suffering injury.

Just like her mother said, this young woman driver is a real hero. She lost her grandfather and saved her own life and, potentially, those of other road users all within the space of a few minutes. Amazing! We at Duck2Water car insurance salute her!  

Photo © Horia Varlan via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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