Author Archives: Allie

driving manners

Driving manners – staying polite while on the road

According to a recent study, British drivers think that around a third of motorists on the road could do with upgrading their driving manners.

From lack of indicating to not even getting a simple thank you when you’ve let someone out; it’s the small things that make all the difference when you’re trying to negotiate Britain’s oversubscribed roads.

driving manners

Yes the roads might be busy, and chaos rules over most rush hour drives, but staying polite could save you from a stressful, congested commute, give your blood pressure a break and see you smiling instead of frowning while on the move.

At CDG, we’ve compiled the top ten irks that the British public feel make for bad driving manners…

Not saying thank you!

It sounds so simple, but a little thank you goes a long way. Not only does it make the person you are thanking smile, but also makes you feel good about yourself. So next time someone lets you out, or waits for you while you negotiate parked cars, give them a little wave and a smile!

Indicator? What’s that?

Not indicating is not only dangerous; it’s also really frustrating for other road users. That blinking orange light is there for a reason; to let other drivers know your intentions. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck at a roundabout as no one is indicating, so don’t be that person, use your indicators!

Speeding through town

driving manners

As annoying as they might be, especially if you’re running late and have a clear road in front of you; speed limits have been assigned to roads with safety in mind, so suck it up and keep to the limit. Likewise, if you find yourself driving at 40 mph in the fast lane of a motorway, it might be time to reassess things; driving unreasonably slowly can also be dangerous for other road users.

Mobile phone + driving = disaster

Not only is using your phone while behind the wheel illegal (and expensive should you be caught), it’s also ridiculous. Why so many drivers think that their call is so important it’s worth a potential crash escapes us. If you need to make an urgent call, find a safe spot to pull over before dialling those digits, otherwise put the mobile down and wait to make the call.

Not knowing when to back off

According to UK motorists, tailgating is the most annoying habit of other drivers. This is particularly frustrating when you’re in a convoy of traffic on the motorway and no one is going anywhere in a hurry; sitting on the bumper of my car is not going to get the tailgater to their destination any quicker, so back off!

Cruising in the wrong lane

If you look to your left while driving on the motorway and someone is undertaking you, chances are you’re in the wrong lane, so pull over. Middle lane hogging is very bad driving manners and can cause queues of traffic behind you; police now have the power to issue an on the spot fine for this kind of bad lane etiquette, so if you’re not overtaking anything, get into the left hand lane.

Getting irate

driving manners

There’s nothing like a bit of road rage to set you up for the day; why is it polite and cool-headed people turn into homicidal maniacs when they step behind the wheel of a car? Driving on Britain’s busy roads can bring out the worst in you, but when you feel the red rage rise, try counting to ten or playing some soothing tunes. Getting stressed and angry doesn’t do anyone any favours so don’t let your frustration overrun you!

Not letting anyone in

Everyone is in a hurry, all the time. Our lives are so busy and full of tasks that sometimes simple manners go by the wayside. If you’ve ever tried to change lanes when the roads are busy you’ll know how unflinching people can be in the scrooginess, so next time you’re in a queue that someone needs to join, or crawling along the motorway and a junction comes up; let your fellow driver in.

Dumping and driving

litter

Dropping litter out of your car window is another grievance of UK drivers. The earth is not a bin; keep your litter to yourself until you can stash it safely in the trash.

And finally, never saying sorry!

It takes nothing to say sorry, and people find it very hard to stay angry if you flash a quick apology after making a mistake on the roads.

children's car safety

Children’s car safety – keep your kids safe while on the go

There’s nothing like packing up the car and heading off for a day of adventure with the family; drives to the coast, weekends in Wales or trips further afield to Europe all offer chances for much needed family fun.

children's car safety

Fun days with the family; it’s probably best that the kids don’t drive though…

Making sure your little ones are safe while travelling is any parents priority, so at CDG we’ve compiled a handy guide to children’s car safety- giving you essential information about car seats along with a couple of other helpful gadgets to keep your kids safe while in the car.

children's car safety

The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.

Choosing the right car seat is really important – not only are you required by law to make sure that your child is fully restrained at all times when travelling in a car, but keeping your little one safe is no doubt your highest priority.

Some important points to consider:

-Whatever the look of the car seat, buying a second hand one is always a gamble. It’s impossible to tell just by looking at it if it has been involved in an accident or has integral wear and tear; often second hand seats don’t come with full instructions making them difficult to install correctly.

-Check your car manual and the website of your chosen car sear to make sure the seat is compatible with your car, as not all are.

-Choose one that’s easy to fit, and make sure you get some practise. Most accidents happen on short journeys so if your seat is hard to fit you may end up not bothering for a short hop which could prove disastrous.

-Try before you buy; make sure you get full instructions before you hand over cash, and that you can return the seat should there be any problems. Although it may be tempting to buy online, nothing beats being shown in person how to use a seat, so make sure you know what you are doing before you hit the buy button.

-Never use a car seat when an air bag has been fitted.

-A child can legally travel in the front of the car but it’s always safest for them to travel in the back if possible.

-If anyone else plans to drive your child around, make sure they know how to install the car seat properly.

Check out our handy table for information on car seat sizes and weights:

Type of Child Restraint Weight Range Age Range
Rear facing baby seat Group 0
0 – 10kg (22 lbs)
Birth to 6-9 months
Group 0+
0 – 13kg (29 lbs)
Birth to 12-15 months
Combination seat – Rear and Forward-facing Group 0+ and 1
0-18 kg (40 lbs)
Birth to 4 years
Group 0+, 1 & 2
Birth to 25 kg (55 lbs)
Birth to 6 years
Forward-facing child seat Group 1
9-18 kg (20 – 40 lbs)
9 months to 4 years
Group 1, 2 and 3
9 – 36 kg (20 – 79 lbs)
1 to 11 years

We’ve rounded up some of the best options for each group:

Group 0+

children's car safety

Maxi Cosi Pebble £165

Group 0+ – 1

children's car safety

Mothercare Madrid Combination Car Seat £79.99

Group 1

children's car safety

Britax King II LS £170.00

Bigger kids

Keeping your child in a group 1 seat for as long as they comfortably fit will offer them greater protection, but once your baby is all grown up and their eye line is above the back of the car seat, they can progress to the next stage; more often than not a booster seat.

children's car safety

Mothercare Commuter Booster Seat £14.99

Once your child hits 12, or 135cm; whichever comes first, they can legally use an adult seat belt. If your child has reached the magic marker of 135cm but the adult seat belt lies on their tummy and neck instead of the hips, chest and shoulder, they will be better off remaining in a booster seat that is designed for their weight, until the seat belt fits properly.

For more advice check out Mothercare’s guide to buying the right car seat

Kid’s car accessories

Sun shade

Keep your precious cargo cool and out of the sun by fixing a sun shade to the window on the side they are travelling.

children's car safety

Britax Sunshade £4.99

Isofix base

Most modern cars (check in your handbook) offer use of the isofix system to install a car seat. This comprises of a fixed base that locks into your car, and you simply click the car seat in to go, and un-click when you want to remove it, taking all the stress out of getting your kids in and out of the car.

children's car safety

Maxi-Cosi EasyFix Car Seat Base £99.99

Child view mirror

When your child is rear facing during their early years, it can be disconcerting not to be able to see them and make sure they are ok. A quick fix for this is a child view mirror which you attach to a rear headrest so you can see the little one at all times!

children's car safety

Easy Rear View Mirror £9.99

Soft toys

Hard toys could cause injury in the event of an accident or some sharp braking, so make sure your kids have something soft to play with if they need a distraction.

children's car safety

Lamaze Captain Calamari £7.00

what side of the road

Left or right? Which side of the road do countries drive on…

Unfortunately not every country drives on the left, how nice would that be?

what side of the road

Driving abroad can be fraught with danger; unknown roads, a whole set of strange rules and regulations not to mention navigating with foreign road signs, so learning to drive on the right side can mean added stress.

Left sided countries are in the minority; 74 total territories drive on the left, compared with 167 that cruise on the right. In fact 90% of the total distance of the roads around the world see traffic wearing them down from the right, and most of these right handers are continental landmasses, with islands mainly choosing to stick to the left.

what side of the road

Doing your research before going abroad can save you a big headache, so at CDG we’ve done the hard work and come up with a definitive list of which side of the road countries drive on, to give you a heads up!

Countries that drive on the left:


A

Anguilla

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia


B

Bahamas

Bangladesh

Barbados

Bermuda

Bhutan

Botswana

Brunei


C

Cayman Islands

Christmas Island (Australia)

Cocos Islands (Australia)

Cook Islands

Cyprus


D

Dominica


E

East Timor


F

Falkland Islands

Fiji


G

Grenada

Guernsey

Guyana


H

Hong Kong


I

India

Indonesia

Ireland

Ise of Man


J

Jamaica

Japan

Jersey


K

Kenya

Kiribati


L

Lesotho


M

Macau

Malawi

Malaysia

Maldives

Malta

Mauritius

Montserrat

Mozambique


N

Namibia

Naura

Nepal

New Zealand

Niue

Norfolk Island (Australia)


P

Pakistan

Papua New Guinea

Pitcairn Islands


S

Saint Helena

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Samoa

Seychelles

Singapore

Solomon Islands

South Africa

Sri Lanka

Suriname

Swaziland


T

Tanzania

Thailand

Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Turks and Caicos Islands

Tuvalu


U

Uganda

United Kingdom


V

Virgin Islands


Z

Zambia

Zimbabwe


Countries that drive on the right:


A

Afghanistan

Albania

Algeria

American Samoa

Andorra

Angola

Argentina

Armenia

Aruba

Austria

Azerbaijan


B

Bahrain

Belarus

Belgium

Belize

Benin

Bolivia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brazil

British Indian Ocean Territory

Bulgaria

Burkina Faso

Burundi


C

Cambodia

Cameroon

Canada

Cape Verde

Central African Republic

Chad

Chile

China

Colombia

Comoros

Congo

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cuba

Czech Republic


D

Denmark

Djibouti

Dominican Republic


E

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Estonia

Ethiopia


F

Faroe Islands

Finland

France

French Guiana

French Polynesia


G

Gabon

The Gambia

Gaza Strip

Georgia

Germany

Ghana

Gibraltar

Greece

Greenland

Guadeloupe

Guam

Guatemala

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau


H

Haiti

Honduras

Hungary


I

Iceland

Iran

Iraq

Israel

Italy

Ivory Coast


J

Jordan


K

Kazakhstan

Korea (North)

Korea (South)

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan


L

Laos

Latvia

Lebanon

Liberia

Libya

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg


M

Macedonia

Madagascar

Mali

Marshall Islands

Martinique

Mauritania

Mayotte

Mexico

Micronesia

Midway Islands

Moldova

Monaco

Mongolia

Montenegro

Morocco

Myanmar (Burma)


N

Netherlands

Netherlands Antilles (Curacao, St Maarten, St Eustatius, Saba)

New Caledonia

Nicaragua

Niger

Nigeria

Northern Mariana Islands

Norway


O

Oman


P

Palau

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Puerto Rico


Q

Qatar


R

Reunion

Romania

Russia

Rwanda


S

Saint Barthelemy

Saint Martin

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

San Marino

Sao Tomee Principe

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Serbia

Sierra Leone

Slovakia

Somalia

South Sudan

Spain

Sudan

Svalbard

Sweden

Switzerland

Syria


T

Taiwan

Tajikistan

Togo

Tokelau

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkmenistan


U

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

United States

Uruguay

Uzbekistan


V

Vanuatu

Venezuela

Vietnam


W

Wake Island

Wallis and Futuna Islands

West Bank

Western Sahara


Y

Yemen


Z

Zaire


keys

Car finance jargon explained!

Getting a car on finance can be a minefield of jargon and confusing terms; at CDG we’ve taken the stress out of buying a car and compiled a glossary of terms so that you can see the wood for the trees…

car finance jargon explained

Don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve got the facts…

Confused about something we’ve not listed? Let us know in the comments box and we’ll add it to our list!


Agreement

This is the contract between the lender (the finance company) and the borrower (you). It sets out the schedule of payments for the loan along with the interest, fees and charges and your responsibilities and rights. The agreement is legally binding so don’t sign it unless you agree to be bound by all the terms and conditions, and make sure you have checked that all the figures are the same as the ones quoted to you.


Amount of credit

This is the amount you are borrowing, not to be confused with the Total Amount Payable, which is the amount you have to pay back and includes interest and fees.


APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

Required by the government; the APR allows you to compare different finance offers to understand the total cost of borrowing. The APR is an overall figure which shows the annual cost of borrowing the money, including all the interest and scheduled fees payable as part of the agreement.


Arrears

This means ‘behind’; car finance repayments are usually taken in arrears, i.e. the month after you have acquired the car. If you find your account ‘in arrears’ it means that you have missed payments and will need to make extra payments to get you back on track with your agreement.


Charge

Although charge and fee often mean the same thing, in some contracts a charge is a specific type of fee actioned by your agreement; for example failing to make a payment on time could see you being charged.


Contract

See agreement.


Contract hire

With contract hire, you do not own the car, it remains the property of the finance company and at the end of your agreement the car goes back to them. This is a long-term rental agreement or lease and it’s not too dissimilar from renting a car for a day or week. This type of loan is popular with businesses; prices quotes may not include VAT so check before signing.


Credit rating / credit score

This is an assessment of your suitability to borrow money; banks and finance companies use credit agencies to assess your credit score and approve or deny a credit request depending on the result.


Deposit

This is an up-front or initial payment towards the cost of the vehicle.


Depreciation

Cars depreciate in value depending on VAT, wear and tear, mileage and the age of the car, the depreciation is the amount of money your car loses.


Early settlement

Selling your car or paying off your finance before the end of the agreement is called early settlement. This saves you money overall as you pay less interest, although there may be a fee to pay for doing this.


Equity

The difference between what your car is worth and what you still owe – equity means your car is worth more than what you owe. Negative equity means that you owe more than the car is worth, so you will need to pay off the shortfall should you wish to sell or part-exchange the car.


Fair wear and tear

If the car is going back to the finance company it is fair for them to expect the car to be in good condition. Cars suffer general wear and tear when driven, so a certain level of wear and tear is expected, but if there is further damage this will need to be paid for. Be prepared to argue your case as it is difficult to define what is acceptable wear and tear.


Fee

Nearly all finance agreements include fees, these are paid as a lump sum at the start of the loan and/or at the end. Penalty fees may also apply, if you exceed your mileage allowance, fail to keep up repayments or want to settle the agreement early.


FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority is an independent body responsible for regulating all consumer credit agreements in the UK.


Gap insurance

GAP insurance covers you for the difference between the car insurance pay out and either the finance settlement or the original invoice price of the car should your car be written off or stolen. The estimated value of the car might be less than what you paid for it, and this tops up the difference.


GFV (Guaranteed Future Value)

If you take out a PCP (see below) the finance company guarantees a minimum value for the vehicle at the end of the agreement, based on the length of the contract and the total mileage to be covered, as long as the car is in good condition and has a full service history. If these conditions can’t be met then the company is not obliged to pay you the GFV.


Guarantor

If you don’t meet the finance company’s lending requirements, or have a poor credit score, the company can ask for a guarantor; this is a third party who signs a legally binding contract committing them to make the payments should you be unable to.


HP (Hire Purchase)

Hire purchase is a straightforward finance agreement where the interest rate is fixed for the full term, and the payments are spread equally until the Total Amount Payable is repaid. As the finance is secured against the car, you don’t take ownership of the car until you have fully repaid the loan.


Instalment

A scheduled, regular monthly payment.


Interest

The money payable on top of the amount borrowed. This is usually spread over the entire term of the loan; part of every monthly payment will be interest.


Interest rate / flat rate

This is the percentage that you pay the finance company on top of the amount you are borrowing and is different from APR which also includes fees.


Invoice price

The price of the car, including VAT but not including on-road costs such as road tax and delivery charges.


Lease

See Contract Hire.


Maintenance

Lease agreements can offer you the chance to include your servicing costs in the finance; this may not save you any money but will allow you to spread the cost of your maintenance over the term of the loan.


Mileage allowance

If you choose an agreement that sees the finance company taking back the car at the end of the term, will be calculated based on the end value of the car, one of the factors being mileage. At the start of the agreement you nominate the annual mileage you expect to cover to calculate the total mileage allowance.  If you exceed this mileage allowance, you will be charged a fee.


Negative equity

Negative equity means that you owe more on the finance agreement than the car is worth, so you will need to pay off the shortfall should you wish to sell or part-exchange the car.


On-road price

The total cost of the vehicle, including on-road costs like road tax, number plates and any delivery costs.


Option to purchase fee

The balance that is outstanding at the end of the agreement, you have to pay this to settle the agreement and own the car outright.


Overpayment / additional payment

Some finance plans allow you to make extra payments on top of your regular monthly payments, reducing your Total Amount Payable and either shorten the term of the loan or reduce your monthly payment amounts. Some companies charge for this so make sure you check before going ahead.


PPI (Payment Protection Insurance)

This is an insurance product that covers your monthly payments should you find yourself unable to make them; make sure it is suitable for you before taking it out.


PCH (Personal Contract Hire)

As with Contract Hire, but designed for individuals rather than companies.


PCP (Personal Contract Purchase)

PCP’s are the most popular way to finance your car in the UK. Similar to a Hire Purchase, but the PCP only requires you to repay the depreciation of the vehicle, not the full cost. At the end of the agreement you can either pay what remains, sell the car (provided you have paid the option to purchase fee) or give the car back to the finance company.


Pre-contract /pre-credit contract information

A summary of the main points of a finance agreement; make sure you have a thorough read of this.


Quote

The dealer must give you a complete breakdown on an official written quotation from the finance company, all car finance offers must be available in writing, and provide all relevant information clearly in a format regulated by the FCA. The quote should specify how long it is valid for, this is usually 14 days.


Residual value

The value of a used car at a particular point in its life, taking into account its age, mileage and condition. Finance companies need to be able to predict the value of a car at the end of the agreement, for whatever term and mileage your contract states.


Secured / unsecured loan

A secured loan means that the car remains the property of the finance company throughout the agreement, until the loan is settled in full. If you stop making payments it could result in your car being repossessed.

An unsecured loan means that you own the car upfront so the finance company cannot seize your car but they can affect your credit rating and force you into bankruptcy.


Settlement

A payment to cover all outstanding money owed and end the agreement.


Term

The repayment period, usually expressed in months on a finance agreement.


Total amount payable

The total cost of the vehicle, including your deposit, the amount of credit, interest and all scheduled fees.


VT (Voluntary Termination)

Sometimes referred to as halves; once you have repaid half of the Total Amount Payable on an HP or a PCP, you are entitled to return the car without any further payments. You must have had a perfect payment history and the car must be in good condition


personalised number plates

Personalised number plates

Personalised number plates are 25 years old; since 1989 you have been able to make the ultimate driving statement by getting your hands on a personalised registration.

If you’ve always been tempted to make the trade to personalised plates, CDG gives you the licence plate low down; from how and where to buy, to the most expensive plates to be sold at auction; we’ve got all the essential info to guide you through the world of personalised number plates…

Why personalise?

150 auctions and online sales have generated £1.8bn for the Treasury since the first auction held at Christies, way back in 1989. That first auction saw ‘1 A’ go for £160,000, ‘MUS 1C’ make £65,000 and ‘JUL 1E’ fetch £34,000 and personalised registrations took off from there…

For many people, the chance to personalise your car registration is an opportunity to make a statement about yourself; long favoured by celebrities and the rich and famous, it is a way of setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack.

But a personalised plate is not just a status symbol, they can also be a serious investment. Plates can fetch huge prices in private auctions and some sought after numbers only increase in value.

The most expensive plates sold through DVLA auctions to date are:

1 25 O £518,000 November 2014
2 1 D £352,000 March 2009
3 51 NGH £254,000 January 2006
4 1 RH £247,000 November 2008
5 K1 NGS £231,000 December 1993
6 1 O £210,000 January 2009
7 1 A £200,000 December 1989
8 1 OO £197,000 January 2006
9 2 O £142,000 March 2009
10 250 L £130,320 November 2014
11 6 B £130,000 September 2008
12 1 HRH £113,000 January 2009

Sold in the United Arab Emirates, the world’s most expensive plate was ‘1’ which went for a staggering £7.25 million back in 2008.

How can I get one?

The DVLA registration site is your first port of call if you’re looking for a personalised plate. You can buy registrations online at any time, and with over 39 million to choose from you can take your time to find the right one for you. Simply enter the initials, date of birth or phrase that you’re looking for and results in all the different formats will be displayed.

personalised number plates

The different types available are:

  • Current – AB51 ABC (2001 – present)
  • Prefix – A123 ABC (1983 – 2001)
  • Suffix – ABC 123A (1963 – 1983)
  • Dateless – 1234 AB, or 1 AB (Pre-1963)

The most desirable plates tend to be the dateless as they hide a vehicles age. These can be any combination of up to four numbers and three letters, or the other way around and are only sold at auction.

If the plate has an age identifier, like 60 for 2010, or N for 1995, then it can only be used on a car of the same age or newer – you can age your car as much as you like, but you can’t make it appear newer than it is by purchasing a number plate.

For a fee you can transfer a registration to another car, or retain it if you choose to remove it from a car; but once a car is scrapped the registration can’t be ‘brought back to life’!

Auction action

personalised number plates

A DVLA auction                                                                                                                                                                                        Image credit

Some particularly desirable plates are held back to be sold at auction. The DVLA holds six auctions a year, and up for grabs at each one are around 1,500 handpicked, sought-after combinations. The registrations will have reserve prices which you can check out ahead of the day by heading here.

The first auction of 2015 is at Nottingham Belfry Hotel on Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and Friday 27th of February, you can get a full list of the registrations for sale at this auction by clicking here.

If you’re heading to a DVLA auction then make sure you:

Set a budget; it’s very easy to get carried away in the frenzy of a bidding war when at auction, but once the gavel sounds, a contract is formed between you and the DVLA making you liable for whatever you have bid; so don’t stray too far over your budget or be swayed to overspend on the day.

Check out the fees attached; the actual bid price isn’t all that you will have to pay. Head to the DVLA Auction site for full details of costs and fees.

Keep your options open; setting your heart on one particular set of numbers could see you being sorely disappointed if you are outbid on the day. We recommend  going in with a few options to maximise your chances of coming away with a smile on your face.

Famous faces

Over the years personalised plates have proved popular with many celebrities looking to make a statement, here are some of our favourites:

AMS 1 Lord Alan Sugar

KP11HOT Katie Price

BOX 111G Amir Khan

JU5T WED The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day

WE11 JEL Essex girl Amy Childs

A 7  Her Majesty the Queen

FAB 1 Chris Evans

D4RT P Phil Taylor

Christmas traffic delays

Christmas traffic delays

Are you one of the four million Brits taking to the road this Christmas? Then you’ll need to be prepared for delays as the holiday getaway clogs motorways and A-roads causing nightmare journeys during the festive season.

Christmas traffic delays

Stay one step ahead of the queues with CDG’s guide to the worst hit traffic areas and the time delays that could set you back if you’re planning a big journey. Plan for the Christmas traffic delays and you could save yourself extra stress and still make it home in time for Christmas.

Figures from Abta estimate that the four million people will be travelling between now and January 3rd, so delays are likely on major roads during this period.

If you’re heading for festive family fun then check out the delays to journeys as predicted by traffic information company Inrix; they’ve mapped out the worst road offenders for clogging Christmas congestion and estimated the extra time you will need to add to your journey.

Inrix is forecasting that Tuesday, December 23rd and Saturday, December 27th will be the busiest days on UK roads. As usual, most traffic works on major routes will be suspended, but some will be left in place for safety reasons.

Christmas traffic delays

Check out this graphic to find driving delays from now until January 3.

Christmas traffic delays

Graphic source: Inrix
driving home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas

Christmas is about spending time with your beloved family; but unfortunately for some, that means a hefty drive on hazardous roads, at one of the busiest traffic times of the year.

driving home for Christmas

On average, Brits travel over 200 miles during the Christmas period; so if you’re making a pilgrimage to see your family, make sure that you are fully prepared before setting off, with CDG’s guide to all you need to know before driving home for Christmas…

Plan your route

Take a look at your journey before setting off, making note of traffic hot spots and potential grid lock areas; keeping an eye on your route while travelling could also save you from getting stuck in a jam, allowing you to alter your route. Allow for poor weather conditions; make sure you know what the weather plans to do…

driving home for Christmas

Don’t forget to pack a map for when technology fails you

If you can, try not to travel at peak hours; while we don’t recommend driving through the night, setting off a little later or a little earlier could mean the difference between a stressful drive and a hassle free journey.

Take a break

Make sure you stop and rest every few hours; driving on busy roads can be draining, a quick pit stop might be all that is needed to revive tired eyes.

Share the drive

If you’re planning on covering a lot of miles, get yourself a driving buddy. Sharing the load with another driver will make for a safer, less stressful journey, and you will arrive at your destination feeling a lot less tired and a whole lot more festive!

Distraction techniques

driving home for christmas

Keep little ones happy with an iPad

Travelling with little ones? Pack plenty of treats and entertainment to occupy their minds. Audio books, games and toys are a great way of keeping the kids at bay and saving you from their bored cries of despair!

If you’re lucky enough to own a tablet, load it with DVDs and cartoons and the passengers in the back seat will remain as quiet as a mouse.

Allow yourself time

driving home for Christmas

Roads reach breaking point at this time of year, with all the extra traffic out and about and the weather not playing ball, so remain calm if you do get caught in a jam.

Allowing yourself plenty of extra time for your journey will help keep your stress levels low, as running late on top of a stressful journey is enough to tip even the calmest soul over the edge…

Take charge

Don’t forget to give your phone, tablet and sat nav a good charge before leaving the house, as running out of juice will always happen at the worst possible time. Invest in a car charger for your devices and you will never find yourself stranded without power again!

Pack a bag

Make sure you have plenty of blankets, lots of drinking water and a torch should the worst happen and your car gives up the ghost. Breakdown cover is also a must; breaking down on unknown roads in the pitch black can be a truly terrifying experience without anyone to come and rescue you, AA, RAC and Green Flag all offer comprehensive breakdown cover.

To make sure you’re fully prepared invest in an emergency breakdown kit from Halfords. This handy kit is only £29.99 and features a hazard warning triangle, a tow rope, foot pump and hi-grip gloves, along with a torch complete with batteries.

 

Car checks:

Before any long journey you should carry out the following checks, but these are even more important during the wild and wet months of winter.

driving home for Christmas

-Take a look at your tyres, make sure they are in good condition and have plenty of tread, and don’t forget to check the spare too. Remember to adjust the tyre pressure for your loaded up car.

-Check the oil levels in your car

-A scraper and some de-icer can get you out of many a scrape, so make sure you have some onboard.

-Top up your screenwash with anti-freeze

-Check the wiper blades for condition and replace any ripped or torn blades

-Don’t forget your lights; make sure these are working properly and clean off any grime before setting off.

gadgets for mobile workers

Top gadgets for mobile workers

Mobile working is becoming increasingly common and with technology advancing at quite a pace, working on the move has never been easier.

If you are one of the thousands of Brits whose office is their car, you might find you are in need of a little gadgetry assistance when it comes to keeping things running smoothly.

gadgets for mobile workers

Stay ahead of meetings on the move with our top gadgets for mobile workers!

Crawley Down Group have compiled a few of the top gadgets for mobile workers, to help make your life easier if you like to work on the run!

Plantronics Blackwire 435 USB Headset

gadgets for mobile workers

This corded USB headset is perfect for video-conferencing while on the go, thanks to its noise cancelling microphone that minimises background distractions; the audio quality is outstanding. You can opt for stereo sound using either headphones, or convert to mono with just one, and the whole things comes safely stored in a handy and protective travel case.

Price: £57.00

Samsung Ultra Slim Mouse

gadgets for mobile workers

 

If you can’t stand the built in touch pad on your laptop but hate lugging around a bulky mouse, the slick Samsung Ultra Slim Mouse might be just what you need. With full click-ability and scrolling action, all from one central button, the unique and sleek design keeps the mouse neat and tidy at only 8mm thick.

Price: £13.79

 

Slimline In-Car Bluetooth Handsfree Kit

gadgets for mobile workers

Never miss an important call again with this high-performance Bluetooth kit. Connect to two mobiles at the same time and enjoy crystal clear sound thanks to the advanced noise and echo cancellation technology. The super slim design makes for easy storage, and with features like voice calling with compatible phones, this is a great value option.

Price: £22.99

TaoTronics TT-DS001 Mobile Scanner

gadgets for mobile workers

 

You’ll never need an office again with this handy device; powered by batteries and crazily compact, you can quickly and easily convert black & white and colour documents and images into digital files.  Save scanned documents directly to micro SD memory card with 900, 600 or 300 resolution, and even download straight to your laptop using the included USB cable.

Price: £39.99

Logitech K750 Solar Wireless Keyboard

gadgets for mobile workers

Don’t struggle to type on your tiny laptop keyboard; make catching up on emails, drafting documents and surfing the web a breeze with this slim line wireless keyboard. The best part is that it’s solar powered, so there’s no need to worry about bulky cables or losing power at important moments.

Price: £49.99

Powergen Dual USB Car Charger

gadgets for mobile workers

 

Don’t drive anywhere without this dual USB charger; forget about running out of juice on your mobile or tablet, just connect using your existing cable and you’re good to go. Charging will automatically stop once completed, and its sophisticated circuitry design ensures your phone won’t overheat . Charge two devices at once, and thanks to the handy LED light, you’ll know that the charger is properly connected.

Price: £5.79

The North Face Surge II charged backpack

gadgets for mobile workers

 

Never lose power no matter where you find yourself with this high spec 32 litre rucksack that comes complete with an integrated lithium charger. Simply charge the bag and then benefit from two full charges while you’re out and about. With built in laptop and tablet pockets, the backpack is water resistant and has a handy LED that lets you know when the power is running low.

Price: £180.00

winter car care

Winter car care – get your car ready for the big freeze

The leaves are falling, the skies are blackening; there’s no use denying it any longer, winter is well on its way.

winter car care

Winter; beautiful but hazardous for driving

With the colder weather comes the joy of icy roads, frosty mornings and bucket loads of rain; all of which can play havoc with your cars health, and conditions out on the open road.

Autumn is a great time to take a close look at your car and make sure its winter ready. Have a read of our handy winter car care check list so that you can keep your car in tip-top condition over the long cold winter…

winter car care

Winter can be tough on cars…

CDG’s top winter car care tips:

Check the oil level

Make sure that the level of oil in the engine is healthy; if the oil runs low it can cause untold damage to your engine so get that dipstick out.

Check the tread on your tyres

winter car care

Tyre tread is all-important when driving on wintry roads

Low tyre tread means less grip on slippery roads, it’s also illegal, so make sure you have a look at all the tyres on your car, including the spare. Inspect the tread, but also take a look at the condition of them. If you see cracks and tears then a new set of wheels is in order.

…and don’t forget the tyre pressure

To optimise your driving for wintry conditions make sure that the tyres are at the correct pressure, and once again, don’t forget to take a look at your spare

Get the leaves out of your scuttle! 

The scuttle is the recess between your windscreen and bonnet; if leaves clog this up they can rot and filter through to the engine causing lasting damage, so make sure you give this a regular clean and get the leafy offenders out of there.

Give your car a thorough clean

Nothing gets your car gleaming in time for winter like a good scrub, pay close attention to headlights and rear lights as dirt can easily render these ineffective if it builds up. Make sure that you apply a good coat of wax, this will help protect your paintwork from the perils of winter, like salt ridden roads and rotting leaves.

Check your lighting

Take a look at all light inside and outside the car; check your brake lights, side lights and head lights to make sure they are functioning correctly, replacing any bulbs that have gone. Interior lights are also important as the nights draw in so check to make sure these are functioning too.

Fill your windscreen wash

Muddy and dirt ridden roads can leave you squinting through your windscreen; make sure you top up the screen wash to save your sight. Use screen wash with anti-freeze to help you out on those frosty mornings.

Keep de-icer and a scraper to hand

winter car care

Pop them in the glove box or a side pocket and you will be so thankful when you rock up to your car one frosty morning to find it covered in ice.

Inspect your windscreen wipers for damage

Replace torn or faulty looking blades as these can make driving hazardous if you are caught in a sudden downpour.

Get together an emergency car kit

Being stuck in a snow drift or down an icy road could be hellish if you don’t pack a few essentials. Make sure you have drinking water, jump cables, a high visibility jacket, a torch, a blanket and a well-stocked first aid kit to hand.

For the ultimate in winter ready, why not book your car into Crawley Down Group for a free winter safety check!

We will check your vehicle’s:

  • Tread depth
  • Tyre pressures
  • Tyre wear
  • Brake condition
  • Heating system
  • Anti-freeze level

Click here for more information.