How that puddle can land you in deep water

Carelessly splash another road-user and you could end up splashing the cash in the form of a fine, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

A work colleague was bemoaning being drenched when a passing car plunged through a deep puddle.

While it is most inconsiderate, and potentially dangerous as it could lead to the car aquaplaning at speed, it got me thinking about whether it is actually an offence.

Many motorists are not aware that splashing pedestrians is illegal. The Highway Code does not directly mention splashing but rule 227 – about driving in wet weather – says ‘take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders’. As well as running the risk of soaking road-users and pedestrians, you could lose control or strike a hidden hazard, like a deep pothole, by driving through puddles.

If you drive too fast through low water and soak pedestrians and cyclists, the police could prosecute you if they see such an incident, especially if there has been no effort made to slow down or avoid the water if it is safe to do so.

Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act, which relates to careless and inconsiderate driving, makes it an offence that carries a maximum fine of £5,000 as well as between three and nine penalty points and possible disqualification.

The law states ‘If a person drives a mechanically-propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence’.

The Crown Prosecution Service specifically includes ‘driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed’ in its description of this act.

Police advise motorists to try to avoid driving through large puddles where possible but only if it is safe to do so. If they have to drive through a deep puddle, slow down and gently apply the brakes afterwards, when safe to do so, to dry them out.

So now you are aware of the law please also be aware of other road-users and pedestrians in wet weather to keep everyone safe and dry.


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Jaguar XJ220 had me purring with pleasure


Jaguar’s 213mph XJ220 was stunning supercar in its day – motoring editor Andy Russell just wishes he had the money to buy one coming up at auction!

When Jaguar launched its XJ220 supercar in 1992 it was one of the most stunning cars I had ever seen. With the £50,000 non-returnable deposit out of my reach, let alone the original £400,000 asking price I had to content myself with a model.

Only 281 were produced by JaguarSport, a joint venture between Jaguar and Tom Walkinshaw, between 1992 and 1994, so I was interested to learn a special 1994 XJ220 will be offered in Silverstone Auctions’ sale at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show on Saturday, at Birmingham NEC.

Chassis no 220693 was exported to Brunei by special order of the royal family. Part of its world-renowned car collection until 2002, it covered just 1,412 miles before returning to the UK and becoming the property of a flamboyant champagne dealer before moving on to the current owner. The car, JAZ 220, has still covered less than 6,000 miles.

With 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 213mph the XJ220 was the world’s fastest road car, albeit for a short time.

Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said: “Having been overlooked, these cars are beginning to catch the attention of collectors across the globe and we predict that values will continue to climb over the coming years.”

Just as well given that it is estimated to sell for £200,000 to £220,000 – a lot less than the new price.


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Pay attention or you’ll be bus-ted and paying a fine

It so easy to drive on auto pilot but it could prove costly as motoring editor Andy Russell explains.

This bus lane is in force between 7.30am and 9.30am Monday to Friday and hundreds of motorists have been caught through ignorance or taking a shortcut.


It’s strange how sometimes you can pass something day after day and never notice it.

For years I did a 25-mile round trip to work on a long, straight, boring road which had only a couple of junctions and, with little scope for overtaking, you often ended up following the same car mile after mile.

But, while you should do your utmost to stay alert at the wheel, it got to the stage where if, after arriving at work, someone asked me what car I had followed along that road I was lucky if I could remember anything more than the colour of it, let alone the make or model!

That was the point at which I started to seek alternative routes to work, even if they were further and took longer, just to add some variety. Hence the reason that so many people say that the chances are, if you have an accident, it will be on a road you know well because it is so easy to switch to auto pilot.

But it can also be costly.

A couple of friends of mine have been caught out in clampdowns at what has become something of a notorious morning rush-hour shortcut. I heard that 180 motorists were caught one morning alone.

Between 7.30am and 9.30am, Monday to Friday, a short section of the road becomes only a bus lane but hundreds of motorists have been caught flouting the law and, yes, many of them were fully aware what they were doing was wrong.

There’s no excuse for it, the no entry sign displayed between these hours is perfectly clear and there are other bus lane warning signs leading up to that short stretch of road but they don’t alway register.

One friend was caught having travelled that piece of road dozens of times – just never on a weekday between 7.30am and 9.30am while another usually walks to work so thought nothing about driving along it at the same time of the day.

Whether deliberate or accidental, the result is the same – a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence.

You’ll certainly notice that.








































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Don’t panic – just keep calm in an emergency


Be alert to emergency vehicles but keep calm and make way safely, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

It can be daunting when an emergency vehicle – blue lights flashing and sirens blaring – comes into view even when, if it is a police car, you know you have done nothing wrong!

It’s more a case of doing the right things to let the emergency vehicle through safely.

The other day I saw a car indicate to pull to the left so an ambulance approaching from behind could get through only for a following car to pull out to pass, forcing the ambulance to slow unnecessarily. Rule 219 of the Highway Code states: ‘You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs.’

Here are some tips on how to stay safe and allow an emergency vehicle to pass with the least delay.

Be alert – you often hear them before seeing them. Check mirrors.

  • Try to locate the vehicle and consider the route it may take and take appropriate action to let it pass without breaking rules of the road.
  • Trained emergency vehicle drivers have exemptions to the law but you must not go through red lights or speed to allow them to pass.
  • Don’t panic or brake suddenly.
  • If possible, indicate and pull over to the side of the road, checking for pedestrians and cyclists. Don’t pull over on or near a hill, bend or narrow section of the road.
  • Don’t mount the kerb unless you absolutely have to and only if you won’t put pedestrians at risk.
  • If you are approaching a roundabout allow the emergency vehicle to leave it before you enter the roundabout yourself.
  • If about to come out from a side road, stay there until an emergency vehicle has passed, even if you can only hear it at this point.
  • On a dual-carriageway or motorway, signal to move to a nearside lane but don’t cut in front of other vehicles.
  •  If the road has a solid white line nearest you, keep a safe speed and do not exceed the limit. If you can safely pull off, signal and do so. If not, wait until the white lines end, then signal to stop, slow down or pull over.
  • After the emergency vehicle has passed, check there are no more coming before you continue.



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Ford’s belting new safety measure case of deja vu

From airbags to inflating seatbelts – Archant Anglia motoring editor Andy Russell says the Ford Mondeo is driving up safety.

Dr Srini Sundararajan, technical leader on the development of Ford’s inflatable seat belt system which is available in the new Mondeo.

Twenty-one years ago I was at the launch of the Ford Mondeo – its new world car that was leagues ahead of the Sierra it replaced and what rival car-makers were offering. The design got away from the ‘jelly-mould’ cars of the Eighties, the quality and look of the cabin heralded a new era for Ford interiors and it was a joy to drive. But the most memorable thing for me was it was the first car I drove with an airbag for in 1993, the Mondeo was the first car on sale with a driver’s airbag as standard.

Ford was so proud of the fact that it gave a static demonstration of an airbag going off – thankfully the only real-world airbag firing I have seen and I hope it stays that way. There was a bang, a flash of white fabric and a cloud of talcum powder – used to stop the airbag sticking to itself while packed into its housing. Ford was quick to stress it was not smoke and perfectly safe.

It started a revolution and now we take it for granted that airbags are part of a car’s safety package and not only expect front airbags but also side and curtain airbags. And more cars are now being fitted with an airbag to protect the driver’s knees in the event of a collision.

Now Ford is launching the fourth-generation Mondeo and there was a sense of deja vu at the media driving event to learn that the new car sees the European debut of its inflatable rear seatbelt which is designed to reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries. In an accident, the belt rapidly expands to disperse crash forces across a body area five times greater than a conventional seatbelt.

It’s a significant safety development to combine an airbag and a seatbelt but it’s a shame that it’s a £175 option on all models but inAmerica, where they were launched, 40% of buyers chose the option.

The inflatable belts operate like conventional ones and are safe and compatible with infant and child seats and, being padded and softer, are comfortable. When crash sensors detect an accident, compressed gas is forced out of a cylinder below the rear seat, through the buckle and into the belt which is fully deployed in less than 40 milliseconds for extra support.

Unlike airbags, which generate heat when deploying, Ford’s inflatable rear seatbelt expands using cold compressed gas.

Ford sees the Mondeo as a showroom halo model for its latest technology and this is another example of Ford leading the way in making driving and our lives safer.

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Forgive, forget and just learn from driver error

We all make mistakes and losing our patience with other drivers who do just makes things worse, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Losing patience with another driver is often a worse than the incident that led to it.

There are very few drivers, if any, who never make mistake behind the wheel. No matter how good a driver you are there is always going to be the human element that can lead to misjudgement from time to time.

Hopefully, they are nothing serious and no harm is done and we learn from them. I still recall my driving instructor’s parting advice to me when I had passed my test at 17 which was that no matter how long or how much you drive you never stop learning.

But what does annoy me is the people who don’t make allowances for other people’s error and their reaction is not only way out of proportion compared to the incident itself but they then proceed to behave in such a way as to cause genuine danger to other road-users.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting some good friends for the weekend who live just off the M3, south ofLondon. It had been a pretty uneventful journey down there and I was even thinking how sensible people were driving given that it was the end of the working week and people were on their way home.

And then it happened.

I was in the nearside lane when a Vauxhall Corsa had missed the exit off a large roundabout – it can be quite difficult work out which exit you are at when there are several – and made a late turn into the outer lane. I do not know whether they indicated but the driver of the Audi TT, who was also taking the same exit obviously had to brake sharpish and proceeded to blast the hooter at the Corsa driver… or maybe it was just a warning that was ignored.

Either way, no one crashed, went off the road or was hurt and the Corsa driver waved in apology.

End of story. Afraid not.

The Audi driver then chased after the Corsa, which had moved into the nearside lane, and pulled level before roaring ahead again, cutting in front of it and turning left at the next roundabout. The message was clear… but which driver was the biggest idiot.

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Monsters of motorsport a magnificent spectacle

Five-tonne lorries racing at up to 100mph proves hugely entertaining, exciting motorsport, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

I’ll never look at a lorry the same way again when I’m crawling along behind one having seen the monsters of motorsport in action.

As a motorsport fan I jumped at the chance to see the Snetterton round of the British Truck Racing Championship – a new experience for me – with Orwell Truck & Van.

Once you’ve seen the cut and thrust of these huge haulers hurtling round the track you’ll never think of lorries as slow again. With power more than doubled to a thumping 1,000bhp and able to hit 100mph from rest in less than five seconds this racing is fast, furious and, at times, almost frightening.

Under their skin these racing trucks bear little resemblance to the lorries we see on the road but, despite shedding a couple of tonnes, they still weigh in at well over five. That’s a lot of metal to stop so little wonder they have water-cooled disc brakes although banning anti-lock braking, traction control and automatic gearboxes makes for some twitchy moments and puts more emphasis on driver skills.

With top speed limited to 100mph, seeing three trucks abreast, bowling down the straight before the drivers hurl them into corners, often with the back end drifting out or snaking, is hugely entertaining.

Having marshalled motorcycle racing at Snetterton in my youth, it was also my first glimpse of the three-mile 300 circuit with raised grass banks giving spectators great views of large parts of the circuit.

Add the smell of hot oil, roar of finely-tuned engines and thrills and spills of driver and machine pushed to the limit and I’m hooked again.







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Cruise to control life in fast lane

Cruise control is a valuable safety aid to check your speed, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

If I asked you to name some car safety features I’ll bet things like airbags, ABS and driver aids such as stability control will be well up your list.

The modern car is loaded with safety features, both active and passive – the former help keep a car under control and prevent an accident, the latter help protect driver and passengers from injury if an accident happens – but I always consider air-conditioning and cruise control as much safety equipment as comfort and convenience features.

Air-conditioning really does help you keep your cool – both in terms of temperature and temper – when driving conditions get heated while cruise control means you can travel at a steady set pace.

It’s so easy to find yourself being swept along on busy motorways and dual-carriageways and you’re concentrating so much of what’s happening ahead and the traffic around you that your speed creeps up and over the limit… and before you know it you pass a speed camera.

In last week’s column I told how I had gone from dreading driving an automatic car to relishing it and it’s a similar experience with cruise control.The first time I used cruise control it felt more of a case of not feeling in control but now I could not envisage not using it on long journeys. Switch cruise control on, set your desired speed and let it maintain that speed… on the flat, uphill or downhill. It’s not autopilot but when you brake the cruise control cuts out until you want to return to the set speed.

The latest active cruise control systems maintain the chosen speed when safe to do so but use radar sensors to keep a set distance from vehicles in the lane ahead. If the vehicle in front slows, active cruise control automatically slows your vehicle to maintain that distance. When the lane ahead clears the system automatically accelerates your vehicle back to the chosen speed.

Using cruise control also makes you realise how inconsistent some drivers’ speed awareness is. For as you travel along at a constant speed on a multi-lane highway you cruise past a vehicle, only for it to then pass you at great speed before you overtake it again when it has slowed down.

On the subject of cruise control there is much debate about whether it should be used in wet conditions. There is some concern that if the drive wheels start to spin in wet or icy conditions, the electronics would increase engine revs to try to get the car back to the chosen speed, making the wheelspin worse which could result in losing control.

I don’t want to find out but always play safe and switch it off in the wet so I have control.

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