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Tips for driving on different terrain

Having a car means you can travel far and wide, over terrain both familiar and unknown. However, when you’re out on the roads it’s important to remember that different conditions will often require extra special care in order to avoid accidents and negotiate hazards successfully.

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The AAA calls for improved infrastructure funding

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) is calling for a greater focus on infrastructure funding across the country, in the hope that it will support better roads in every state and territory.

“The current approach to road funding is clearly broken with crippling congestion in the cities and inadequate and unsafe highways in many rural areas,” AAA Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said in a March 25 statement.

“Reform of current approaches to funding for our roads and transport infrastructure is a national priority.”

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NSW road funding maintenance at historic highs

Though it’s compulsory to obtain a CTP green slip for your vehicle, fewer NSW drivers may end up claiming under the scheme with road maintenance funding at an all-time high in 2013 to 2014.

NSW Government, Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay announced that funding for road maintenance and minor improvements to roads and bridges within NSW, including council-owned infrastructure, has hit record levels.

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New agreement may benefit road users

Have you ever found yourself pleased with a bargain offer of eight, 16 or even 40 cents per litre off your next fuel bill from your supermarket docket?

According to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), inflated supermarket docket offers are not actually as beneficial as you may think. In fact, in a media release, the AAA asserted that supermarket docket offers decrease competition in the fuel market and could actually end up costing consumers more in the long run.

Chief Executive of the AAA, Andrew McKellar, stated “the supermarkets have not been providing shopper docket offers as a form of charity but rather as a mechanism to distort the marketplace”.

Thus, an agreement labelled by the AAA and accepted by major supermarkets to stop providing these offers is “a step in the right direction”, and will increase competition in the fuel market.

Mr McKellar indicates that reduced competition due to supermarket docket offers could ultimately mean the consumer spends more elsewhere.

Customers are offered discounts in return for spending a certain amount on their groceries, with higher fuel vouchers offered for a more costly supermarket spend.

In addition, these fuel discounts can make it difficult for those in the petrol industry, as such offers could decrease competition between competitors until Australians are utilising only the select few fuel retailers that are involved in the shopper docket scheme.

However, Mr McKellar believes that motorists realise reduced competition could end up costing them more money in the end.

“Motorists are smarter than the supermarkets think”, he said.

This is backed up by a survey conducted by the AAA indicating that only 42 per cent of motorists who used supermarket dockets actually believed they were saving money.

Motorists looking to save money in the long run could be better off getting a green slip comparison than using such dockets. Getting 40 cents per litre of your fuel bill doesn’t compare to getting caught in a tricky situation without ctp insurance to cover you!

Three checks you should do every season

Prevention is the best measure when it comes to road safety. This is why it’s essential to check your car every season to ensure it’s in effective working condition – don’t wait until you take it to the mechanic!

Here are three checks you should do every season:

Check oil levels

Your vehicle’s oil level is essential to the efficient running of your engine. According to the National Roads and Motorist’s Association (NRMA), if you regularly use your car for trips shorter than 20 km, contaminants such as water vapour and gases can end up in the oil and cause it to lose its protective qualities.

Cars traveling more than 20 km per drive may be able to break down these contaminants due to heat. However, it’s still worth checking (and changing, if necessary) your oil. Automotive lubricant company Castrol Australia suggests changing your oil every six months or every 5,000 km. Check your car’s manual or handbook for guidelines and any specifications you need to know about.

Check your tyres

Tyre checks should be done on a regular basis, but it’s a great idea to do a thorough, overall check at the start of each season. Look for overall tyre quality with no uneven wear, check your tyre pressure, and consider booking in for a wheel alignment and wheel balance. It’s also a good idea to get your tyres rotated at the start of each season. Bridgestone Tyres recommends a rotation every 5,000 to 8,000 km of driving.

Renew your registration

Letting your registration run out can mean your vehicle also has no ctp insurance – not to mention it’s illegal! Take note of your vehicle’s registration expiry date and renew your registration before it expires.

To do this, you’ll first need a ctp green slip. Compare green slip prices and pick the best deal for you, get a vehicle safety check and then renew over the phone, by post or in person at a motor registry.

How many motorbikes were bought in Australia in 2013?

In 2013, 113,289 new motorbikes would have needed to do a CTP green slip comparison for their bike, as this was the total number of new motorcycles bought in Australia last year.

According to data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), this total is a slight decrease from motorbike sales in 2012, with 115,837 motorbikes purchased in 2012 – a decline of 2.2 per cent.

However, it seems that road bikes and scooters are still a popular mode of transport for Australians. Meanwhile, a significant number of off-road vehicles were purchased for leisure or sport purposes.

Road bikes remain the most popular mode of transport, totalling 39 per cent of sales in 2013. Closely following road bikes was the purchase of off-road motorcycles, which represented 34 per cent of total sales.

Of the remaining sales, 19 per cent was attributed to ATVs and 8 per cent to scooters.

FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber, said that Honda was the most popular brand of bike sold in 2013, with this manufacturer accounting for 22 per cent of the market.

In total, 25,432 motorbikes, ATVs and scooters sold in 2013 were made by Honda. The brand’s closest rival was Yamaha, which accounted for 18 per cent of total sales and 20,087 sales. Third most popular brand was Kawasaki, with 10 per cent of sales.

However, Yamaha was the most popular make for buyers of off-road motorcycles, accounting for 29 per cent of these sales. Honda accounted for 26 per cent.

If you’re considering buying a motorcycle to get around on or just to have some fun on the weekend, make sure you do a green slip comparison, it is one way you can save some money!

What is ABS and why should your car have it?

When searching for a new car, safety is often at the top of the list for Australians. Driving can be dangerous, so making sure your car is packed full of safety features is one of the best lines of defence in case of an accident.

One of the car safety features available in newer models is anti-brake locking systems (ABS). You may have heard the term thrown around by car dealers or seen it advertising new cars – but what actually is this safety feature, and is it important?

Put simply, anti-lock braking systems help to keep the driver in control of the car when applying the brakes suddenly.

Occasionally, hard braking can cause the car to spin, skid or lose traction on the road, leaving the driver with little control and potentially causing an extremely dangerous situation.

To counteract this possibility, ABS allow the driver to slow down quickly without skidding, while still allowing steering capabilities.

So how does ABS actually work?

ABS works by preventing the wheels of the car from ‘locking’ upon heavy braking.

Cars with ABS installed have wheel sensors which continually send information to the electronic control unit within the car, which allows it to detect “impending lockup of the wheels”, states the Royal Automotive Club of Queensland (RACQ).

If trouble strikes, the system will send signals to the hydraulic modulator and automatically apply and release the brakes. This can occur up to 15 times per second, and does not take into account how hard the driver is braking. This systematic braking approach prevents wheel lock up and allows the driver to continue steering the vehicle.

The system will continue to work until brake pressure is released, or the conditions causing the wheel locking are over.

Although the best way to prevent wheel locking is to avoid heavy braking, changing conditions on the road means this isn’t always possible. Thus, ABS is a great safety feature to look for when buying a new car.

Keep in mind that this system is no substitute for safe driving, and accidents can still happen – so make sure your rego, ctp insurance and other insurances are all up to date.

New app to help with speeding around school zones

There are certain responsibilities that come with owning and driving a car on the Australian roads. From obtaining a ctp green slip and registering your vehicle to ensuring you stick to the speed limit, owning a car is something that can’t be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, some drivers flout these responsibilities without thought for the consequences. Plenty of Australians will have nudged over the speed limit in their driving years, but speeding is a known risk factor for crashes that could seriously injure those involved.

This risk is increased when speeding around areas where children congregate, such as schools and playgrounds. Children are often unaware of the danger that a speeding car poses and can find it difficult to judge distance – making them more likely to dart out when it’s too late.

To combat the risks surrounding speeding near schools, the New South Wales Government has released a Speed Adviser app for iPhones that warns users when they are entering a school zone.

According to Roads Minister Duncan Gay, the app will warn road users that they are entering a school zone, and includes information on every school in NSW.

“It is heartbreaking to hear of child fatalities or injuries around schools and we need motorists to understand that school zone speed limits are there to save lives,” Minister Gay said.

There is no need to interact with the mobile phone while driving to make the app work, and drivers can set it up before they leave for their destination.

In addition to alerting motorists of upcoming school zones, the app will remind them of changing speed limits and warn them if they creep over the limit while on the roads.

However, Minister Gay cautions that the app is no replacement for speed signs, vigilance or awareness of road conditions. Of course, the best way to avoid a speeding fine (or worse) as a consequence, is not to speed at all – but the app is a great way to remind forgetful drivers.

Currently, the Speed Adviser app is only available for iPhones but should be available in an Android version by early this year.

Australia’s Best Cars of 2013

Looking for a new vehicle can be a difficult decision with the extensive amount of cars on the market, which is why determining which models sit apart from the rest can help you make the best choice. What were the best cars of 2013?

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has recently announced the winners of 2013’s Best Car Awards. Focusing on 15 categories, the awards assess cars according to safety criteria, affordability, and overall quality.

Chief executive of the AAA, Andrew McKellar, stated “the winning vehicles are the best of the best in their categories and perform consistently high in all assessment areas”.

This confirms that the awards look for functionality and safety features over appearance or luxury. In fact, cars must have a five star ANCAP rating or be eligible to gain one in order to be a winner in any category.

Among the winners are the Holden Commodore SV6, which won ‘Best Large Car under $60,000’, and the Volkswagon Golf GTI, which won ‘Best Sports Car under $50,000’.

Those looking for a nifty small vehicle to manoeuvre tight parking spaces could consider the cars that took out the ‘Best Small Car’ categories of ‘under $35,000’ and ‘over $35,000’. These were the Hyundai i30 Active and Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TSFI COD, respectively.

The rising popularity of 4×4 Dual Cab Utes contributed to its inclusion as a category in the Best Car Awards for 2013, and was won by the Ford Ranger XL 3.2.

The only category not included in the awards in 2013 was the ‘Best People Mover’, as no cars were able to fit all the requirements needed to crown a winner.

Perhaps the ultimate winner of the awards is the car that receives the prestigious ‘judge’s choice’ award. This year, it went to the Mazda6 Touring, which also won the ‘Best Medium Car under $50,000’.

AAA’s Best Car Awards are a perfect way to discover a couple of models that could suit your requirements. Plenty of these outstanding vehicles would make fabulous additions to the garage – just don’t forget to invest in ctp insurance if you do decide to buy one!