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Topic 11 - Safety in your vehicle

This multiple choice section will teach pupils how to be safe whilst driving and how to maintain your vehicle to a safe standard

What is safety in your vehicle?

The eleventh topic from the multiple-choice section of the theory test is safety and your vehicle. While most of the topics we’ve previously covered have focused on the rules of the road, road safety and your overall attitude towards driving, this one looks at how you need to maintain your vehicle and why it’s your responsibility to do so. It also covers other safety considerations that you need to think about every time you get behind the wheel.

Key Terms:

Engine braking

The process of slowing the car down by releasing the accelerator and by shifting down through gears, rather than using the footbrake.

Battery fluid

Battery fluid, a mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled water (called electrolyte), creates the electricity that makes a modern battery work so efficiently.

Engine oil

Engine Oil cleans the engine and reduce friction/wear on moving parts.

Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic brake and hydraulic clutch applications in vehicles. If there is no fluid, the brakes will not operate and remain in the off position.

Brake fade

Term used to describe the loss or reduction of the braking power of the vehicle due to overheating on the brake pads.

ABS

ABS is an abbreviation for advanced braking system this is a system put into cars to prevent them from skidding. The system works by preventing the wheels from locking

Shock absorbers

You should check tread on your car and trailer tyres when they are cold. They must be at least 1.6 mm deep across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference.

You should check tread on your car and trailer tyres when they are cold. They must be at least 1.6 mm deep across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference. NEVER drive with tyres that have cuts or defects in the side site walls, as this is illegal. You should always remember to check your spare tyre too. You should always ensure that your shock absorbers are in good working order.


 In order to do this, you should get out of the car and make sure there are no passengers inside before pushing down hard over each wheel or ‘bouncing’ the car. If the shock absorbers are working correctly then there should be no more than one rebound when you release the car.

If you turn your steering wheel while the car is stationary (otherwise known as ‘dry steering’) it can cause unnecessary wear and tear to the steering mechanism and tyres.

Faults

A qualified mechanic should check your car on a regular basis, particularly the brakes and the steering to make sure that there are no faults. In between checks, however, you should be regularly checking your car. Having a good basic knowledge of how your car works and its warning signs can help prevent any minor issues from becoming major ones.

A qualified mechanic should check your car on a regular basis, particularly the brakes and the steering to make sure that there are no faults. In between checks, however, you should be regularly checking your car. Having a good basic knowledge of how your car works and its warning signs can help prevent any minor issues from becoming major ones. One of the ways that your car may tell you about a fault is through warning lights on your dashboard. You should never ignore these warnings and if you are unsure of their meanings, you should check your vehicle handbook.

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light is one that you should be particularly aware of.  If it fails to go off when the car is travelling at 5–10 mph, you should have the ABS checked by a qualified mechanic. Your brakes are perhaps the most important safety feature on your car so you need to look after them and be aware of ‘brake fade.’ This is when the brakes becoming less effective due to overheating. In the event of this happening you should use a lower gear, this will help you control the vehicle’s speed. This issue should rectify itself once the car cools down but you should always visit a garage if your steering vibrates as this may mean your wheels need rebalancing.

Keeping your car in good condition

You can maintain the fuel economy of your car by having it regularly serviced. If you are servicing your own vehicle you need to ensure that you are safely and correctly disposing of your old engine oil and batteries. They should be taken to a local-authority site or a garage. NEVER pour oil down the drain.

Seat Belts

As a driver you also have the responsibility to make sure your passengers, as long as they’re not exempt, wear a seatbelt and that children under 14 or wear a suitable restraint. Children over 1.35 metres (approx 4ft 5 ins) in height, or aged 12 or 13 years, MUST wear a seat belt unless exempt. If a child is under 3 then they MUST use a suitable child seat. It is advisable to place a child in the rear of the vehicle, however, if they need to be in the front it must NEVER be in a seat protected by an active airbag. You MUST have the airbag deactivated before allowing a child in the seat.

Following this checklist when you first get into a car will help ensure your safety:

Lights

At times you will have to travel conditions of poor visibility, such as in fog or heavy rain. In this case, you should use dipped headlight to allow other road users to see you clearly. If the speed limit is more than 30 mph and you need to leave your car at night on a two-way road, you should switch on your parking lights and park in the direction of the traffic. This will ensure that other road users can see your vehicle.

You should use your hazard warning lights in order to warn road users that there is a hazard ahead, for example, if you’ve broken down or there’s queuing traffic on a dual carriageway or motorway ahead. You should never use them as an excuse to park illegally, even if it’s only for a brief time.

Security

The best ways you can protect your car from being broken into or stolen are by:

Parking safely

Parking in an inconvenient spot could reduce visibility for other road users and risk their safety, therefore it’s important to avoid parking in areas that could obscure visibility, such as:

Eco safe driving

Here are some top tips for ensuring that your driving is ecosafe:

Driving safely

In order to keep your car performing to the best of its abilities you should avoid:

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