Posted on

8 Great Reasons to Love Your Car (#8 Is an Eye-Opener)

Love your car. Don’t treat it like a red-headed stepchild. It’s a valuable asset that makes your life a lot better. The next time you feel bad about your ride, read this list for a positive reminder. 

1. Your car protects you.

Your car is a set of body armor on wheels. Could you imagine flying through the air at 70 MPH without the protective shell of your auto interior? You would be as dead as a bug on your windshield.

2. Your car feels like home.

There is something comforting about familiarity. As you spend more time with your car, it should start to feel like a second home. It’s nice to plop down in your driver’s seat after a hard day of work.

3. Your car is a work of art.

Cars are complicated machines. They are built by teams. Imagine how many people must have been involved in the creation of your vehicle. Designers, painters, welders, and assembly line workers to name a few.

4. Your car never talks back.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Your car does talk sometimes. If something is wrong, it might express itself through a smelly odor, strange noise, or check engine light. But hey, at least it doesn’t argue about what to eat for dinner.

5. Your car takes you places.

I know a guy whose car engine died last winter. It took forever for the replacement part to arrive. He was stuck in his apartment for a month! Could you imagine? Talk about cabin fever. There’s nothing like getting stranded to make you appreciate your car.

6. Your car saves you trouble.

If you didn’t have a car, you would be completely dependent on public transportation. That’s not so bad in big cities, but it would be terrible in areas where things are spread out. You’d have to a) walk, b) ride a bike, c) beg for rides, or d) take a cab everywhere (that would get expensive fast!).

7. Your car provides freedom.

Need a break? Get someone to cover your shift and take a mini-vacation. Need to escape? Hop in your car, roll down the windows, and take a scenic drive. Hate your city? Sorry to hear it, but no one is forcing you to stay there. Relocate! None of this would be possible without your car. Feel thankful yet?

8. Your car requires care and attention.

Your car is like a dog or cat. Pets can’t take care of themselves. If they get sick, you need to take them to the vet. Cars are the same way. If your engine starts sputtering, you need to take it to a mechanic. The problem won’t go away if you ignore it. Act fast. The longer you wait, the more expensive the auto repair will be.

Love your car. Go outside and give it a big hug. Seriously! Your vehicle makes your life more wonderful. How else would you go to work, travel the world, and take the kids to practice? The next time one of your friends complains about their clunker, please share this blog to make them feel better. They will appreciate the thought.  Thanks! 

Posted on

10 Things we love about cars

There’s no end, any more than there’s an end to roads or speed or the joy of movement. But 10 reasons seems like a good start.

1. Sunday Cruise

Not every drive has to be a serious exercise in proper form and the perfect cornering line. Sometimes, when the weather’s good and the traffic’s barely there, it’s a balm to hang your elbow out the window, lean back, and just amble around with nowhere to be and nothing to do. Like jazz, it’s a uniquely American thing. And like jazz, sometimes pointlessness is the point.

2. Sounds

The rolling wallop of Can-Am cars in Turn Five at Road America, clobbering you in the chest so hard you momentarily forget to breathe. The mind-melting shriek of a modern F1 car. The labored, clattery drone of a 24 Hours of LeMons field. The lean pops of a Weber carburetor as it spits back through open throats. The high-rpm whir of just about any V12’s starter motor. The heavy clunk of a Hurst shifter in a Sixties Camaro; the alchemic clack of the lever in an old Ferrari; the violent whunk of the sequential ‘box in a 911 GT3 Cup. The groan of old English leather. The creak of old German leather. Porsche 911 doors (tick-thump) versus Shelby Cobra doors (tuk) versus big Cadillac doors (God’s medicine cabinet). The full-throttle, rise-of-the-machines brup of a twin-clutch Volkswagen GTI upshift. The keening future-whisper of a Tesla at full throttle. And all you have to do is listen.

3. Family Bonding

When I was in high school, my best friend’s father was a professional pilot, a guy who lived and breathed flying. He wanted his son to love it the way he did, so he pushed from day one. By the time my friend was ready to fly solo, he was so unnerved that he got lost and flew a state away. The FAA came down on him hard, and he never flew again. His dad was crushed.I was lucky. My father was always in his shop, but there was never any pressure. He just did things—tearing apart an MG, tinkering with an old Alfa—not inviting me in, but always making it obvious I was welcome. As I got older, I realized our connection was rare, but I tried to not think about it, lest I screw it up. As far as I can tell, he did the same. Most of the real things I learned about my father—his wants, his dreams, how he behaved when no one was looking—I picked up by accident, at a track or under a car. Like any relationship worth having, you can’t plan it. But if you’re lucky enough to find it, don’t let go. —SAM SMITH

4. Oddballs

Anti-automotive-establishment cars have to exist, because they help define normal. They come in many forms: one-offs, experiments, the car that came before The Car. They’re the product of engineers and designers acting differently, either for the sake of difference or simply as a byproduct of nonstandard thinking. Sometimes they’re the first to try an idea; others, the last to give one up. And just because it’s cool and actually works—the rubber drive belts of a DAF! the hydropneumatic Citroëns!—doesn’t mean it’s going to stick around. The Isettas and Isuzu Vehicrosses and a thousand others long gone? It’s great that they existed, even if they were terrible. To oddballs, to innovation, and to each his own.

5. Smells

Of course, that undefinable new-car smell. The deep redolence of leather. The tropical mellowness of paste wax. The sharp whiff of gasoline and the deeper undertone of oil. The chemical bite of tire smoke. The winey reek of used F1 tires. The mineral tang of hot brakes. The caustic, dangerous, and physical impact of nitromethane exhaust. The mustiness of tired wiring. The cloying bitterness of a worn engine. That old-car smell.

6. Finding Good Roads

Grab a good atlas or ask the locals. Follow the water or other folks in interesting cars. Or just get out there and take a few random turns. Discovery is one of the best reasons to leave your driveway, and the reward is greater than a few miles of entertaining curves and a new destination. It’s the sheer joy of hearing yourself say “I never knew this was here.”

7. Engines We Love

4-Cylinder: Honda K-Series EASILY SURPASSED 100 HORSEPOWER PER LITER. VIRTUALLY UNKILLABLE. 5-Cylinder: Audi Turbo BLATTY ODDBALL. OVER 700 HP IN RACE TRIM. 6-Cylinder: BMW Straight Six SILKY. REV-HAPPY. DREAMY. 8-Cylinder: Chevy Small Block V-8 AMAZINGLY SIMPLE YET HIGHLY EFFECTIVE

8. Racing Drivers

Andretti (A), because one man can win it all. Gurney, because one man can do it all. Moss (B), because you don’t have to be the champion to be known as the best. Jackie Stewart, because you can’t enjoy your victories if you’re not here. Michael Schumacher, because sometimes, the most advanced racing technology is a human being. Tony Stewart (C), because even today, there are men who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. And Senna (D), because he was Senna.

9. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

It’s reduced crashes in this country by 35 percent. It automatically modulates the brakes and throttle to help you stay in control. But there’s another upside: With ESC, engineers are free to make cars handle safely and well. Before it, most vehicles were designed to understeer, or plow their front tires, when you went too fast. Oversteer, or the (dangerous, beautiful) rear-end drift, was avoided at all costs. Now, in the form of the ESC “off” button, there’s opt-in fun. Machines like the four-wheel drive Audi R8 can make dry pavement feel snow-covered yet stay sane when you’re running out for milk.

10. Junkers

At its optimistic best, the 2001 Toyota Echo was a bare-bones clown car best suited to college girls and the blind. The one I had in New York City—bought from a friend’s mother for a dollar—had devolved to a beat-up, semicomatose pile of sagging plastic. It was perfect. A complete junker asks nothing of you, and you’re happy to give it. It has bumpers meant for bumping, crank windows, a broken radio. It teaches a Zen-like acceptance of inevitable misfortune and reinforces the importance of letting go. Dents from street parking? Beauty is an illusion. Stuck window? Rain never killed anyone. Car on fire? Fix it and move along. If cars mean freedom, junkers mean freedom from care. That defeated-looking Echo soldiered through all five boroughs, spirited my dog and me out of the city on weekends, and even made it across the country when I moved to Los Angeles. When I sold it there, for a dollar, to a friend, I asked the new owner—an otherwise successful man—what he planned to use it for. “Well, you know, just getting here and there,” he said. “I don’t want a car I need to think about too much.” —Josh Condon

Posted on

10 Fuel Saving Tips To Get You Through the Month

1. Treat Your Car to Some TLC

A well-tuned engine can improve fuel economy, so follow your car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing making sure to check your tyre pressure regularly. (every two weeks should do it). The lower the tyre pressure, the more fuel your car will use.

2. Make fewer trips

Try to avoid lots of little short journeys and combine all your errands into one big trip to give your engine the chance to heat up. Driving a car with a cold engine that has been parked for a few hours uses much more fuel for the first five miles or so.

3. Turn ‘er off

Idling in rush hour traffic gets you nowhere, although you’ll soon see your duel gauge move down. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue, or waiting for someone. Every time that you stop and start in traffic, your car needs first gear and a huge amount of fuel to get moving again.

4. Don’t drive in the rush hour

Sometimes stop start isn’t an option, so the best solution is to avoid rush hours if you can and you’ll really notice the improvement in fuel consumption.

5. Shift that extra weight

Just like a person, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight. Would you wear a heavy rucksack if you didn’t need to…? Don’t cart around those golf clubs until you’re ready to use them.

6. Not a fan

Air-conditioning is sure fire way to use up a lot of fuel. It may be tempting to leave on all year round to stop the windows misting but try it keep it off when it’s not hot.

7. Stick to the speed limit

Not only are you breaking the law by speeding, but you’re also using much more fuel, so arriving early is merely a false economy.

8. Put your windows up

When driving on the motorway, opening your windows or sunroof can heavily impact the aerodynamics and your fuel economy. As a rule, anything that makes wind noise as your car goes along is making your car more expensive to run.

9. Easy Does It

Accelerating smoothly and driving at a constant speed in the highest gear is ideal to lower your engine speed and your fuel bill.

10. Drive Smart

Slow down early at traffic lights rather than a harsh stop and always leave a sensible distance between your car and the car in front to give you ample time to brake evenly.

Posted on

Everything you need to know about the Dakar Rally

Find out how to cover long distances off road at high speed and live to tell the tale with our A-to-Z guide to the toughest rally raid event of them all.

Rally raid, also known as marathon or cross-country rallying, is a multiple-day challenge for motorsports athletes on two or four wheels. It’s the perfect blend of racing and adventure, consistency and improvisation, athleticism and driving skill.The Dakar Rally is the sport’s ultimate event – and it’s where even the elite members of the world’s top teams are stretched to the limit. Check out our A-to-Z guide that details everything you need to know about the annual event.

A is for Africa

Africa will always be the spiritual home of cross-country rallying, even if the prestigious Dakar Rally has been held in South America since 2009. There are still several smaller races that take place on the continent, such as the Rally of Morocco and the Africa Eco Race, which retraces the original route. But that will have to do: for political and economic reasons, it looks unlikely that the Dakar will return to Africa.

Drivers rest and crew repair vehicles in the Dakar Rally bivouac.
The Dakar Rally bivouac© FLAVIEN DUHAMEL/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

B is for bivouac

Drivers, co-drivers, mechanics, engineers, strategists, journalists, photographers, doctors, cooks, timekeepers and everyone else in the retinue sleep, live and interact in a tent city. It’s set up every evening and then disappears again in the morning – kitchens, toilets, showers, medical unit, media centre and all.

C is for Coma

Spanish driver Marc Coma has five Dakar bike wins to his name and, for a whole decade, was only seriously challenged by French racer Cyril Despres. Coma retired from the sport two years ago and since then he’s been in charge of planning the route through South America. He knows how to combine sport and spectacle with security.

D is for Dakar

Senegal’s capital city was the original destination of the rally adventure, which was launched in Paris in December 1978. Until the whole thing decamped to South America in 2009 for security reasons, the Dakar failed to include the city on just two occasions.

E is for elements

Rally raid drivers have two forces of nature to contend with in addition to negotiating the sand and gravel. Torrential rainfall can turn a route into a mud bath in minutes. On mountain passes more than 4,000m above sea level, the altitude means a driver’s lungs need to work as hard as the engines.

F is for finish line

Unlike in the WRC, in rally raid only the drivers who make it to the finish score points. So the competitors do everything within their power to somehow drag themselves to the end, even if they’ve had serious accidents. What would usually take seconds can stretch to minutes – and often hours.

G is for GPS points

The finish line isn’t your only goal. On every stage, there are a number of specific points that drivers must locate and pass within a certain minimum distance – usually a few metres. Otherwise they face point penalties or disqualification.

H is for hydration

Drivers take on up to five litres of liquid during the special stages alone: the physical exertion, sun and – more than anything else – altitude in South America can create huge problems for the body. Rally raid is an extreme sport, whatever you may be driving.

I is for Iritrack

All vehicles are fitted with a tracking system that uses iridium technology to ensure no driver gets lost. It can accurately pinpoint a vehicle’s position, even in areas with no mobile reception. Iritrack also serves as an emergency detector that can record speed at any point and send it back to the Dakar headquarters in Paris in real time.

Jutta Kleinschmidt, the only woman to have won the Dakar Rally, sitting behind the wheel of her car.
Jutta Kleinschmidt© GETTY IMAGES

J is for Jutta

German driver Jutta Kleinschmidt is still the only woman to have won the Dakar Rally. Her victory came in 2001, for Mitsubishi. Kleinschmidt’s fiercest rival at the time was her then-boyfriend, Jean-Louis Schlesser.

K is for KTM

The motorbike manufacturer’s 16 victories in the Dakar Rally make them the most successful team in the history of the race, and they haven’t been beaten since 2001. Russian truck maker KAMAZ are up to 14 wins and Japanese team Mitsubishi have 12 titles.

It might look like these cars have gone off-course, but it’s actually a photograph of a classic Dakar Rally overtaking manoeuvre.
How to overtake in the Dakar Rally© PICTUREDESK.COM

L is for liaison

Between the special stages of the rally are liaison stages, which take drivers through regular traffic for sometimes hundreds of kilometres a day. For these routes, there’s a strict speed limit that’s monitored via GPS and every breach is penalised with a large fine.

KTM rider Sam Sunderland on his way to winning the Dakar Rally in 2016.
Sam Sunderland© MARCIN KIN/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

M is for multi-disciplined

The four disciplines of the Dakar Rally are cars, trucks, motorbikes and UTV, which stands for utility terrain vehicle (more on those later). But you’ll only find true offroad vehicles rather than modified on-road vehicles in this event due to the extremely tough nature of the terrain. To date, only three drivers have succeeded in winning the Dakar both in a car and on a bike: Stéphane Peterhansel, Hubert Auriol and Nani Roma. Peugeot factory driver Cyril Despres, a five-time winner on his bike, has what it takes to become number four on the list.

GET TO KNOW

N is for needing help

If a competitor suffers a serious crash, their fellow drivers are obliged to come to their aid. Once the emergency beacon has been deployed, the first responders leap into action and the driver – now out of the competition – is rescued, usually by helicopter. Those who provide first aid are credited for their lost time.

O is for orientation

Alongside “How fast can I go?”, “Where am I going?” is the decisive factor when it comes to rally raid success. The drivers have three things to help them: their roadbook, GPS and a good old-fashioned compass.

Stéphane Peterhansel has 13 wins, so he’s well and truly earned his 'Mr Dakar' nickname.
Stéphane Peterhansel© DUHAMEL FLAVAN/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

P is for Peterhansel

They call him ‘Mr Dakar’: Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel has won the race six times on a bike and seven in a car. The reigning title-holder will be the hot favourite again for 2018. His toughest opponents are Peugeot team-mates Carlos SainzSébastien Loeb and Cyril Despres.

Q is for quads

These four-wheeled mini-vehicles, also known as ATVs, have been in the Dakar starting line-up since 2009. Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli holds the record for the most wins, with three.

R is for roadbook

This is a scroll of paper or a book showing all the turn-offs, danger points etc along the route. Swotting up with the roadbook the night before a race is important. Experienced drivers use fluorescent markers to keep track of their route at a glance if they come under pressure.

Cyril Despres competing in The Silk Way Rally, a Moscow-to-Asia annual event that has a varying route. The 2017 edition ended in the Chinese city of Xi’an via Kazakhstan; in 2016 it was Beijing.
The Silk Way Rally© BENJAMIN CREMEL/DPPI/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

S is for Silk Way Rally

This two-week event is viewed as the mini-Dakar. The last two car races were won by Cyril Despres in a Peugeot. In the truck category, KAMAZ are unbeaten since 2012. Bikes don’t participate in this competition.

A Dakar Rally truck in action
Trucks© MARCEL MARAGNI/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

T is for Tatarstan

The dominant vehicles on the rally raid scene come from the city of Naberezhnye Chelny in Tatarstan, a three-hour flight from Moscow. The drivers on the KAMAZ Trucks team are regular staff at the vehicle plant and work as mechanics or engineers when they’re not winning races.

U is for UTV

The UTV (utility terrain vehicle) is the cheapest route into the world of rally raid for amateurs, who make up around 80 percent of Dakar entries. Standard buggies with barely 100hp and rear-wheel drive won’t set you back much more than €27,000 (US$24,000). The 2017 winners of the UTV category were Brazil’s Leandro Torres and Lourival Roldan.

V is for Volkswagen

The dark-blue Race Touareg was the first vehicle to demonstrate that you could dominate rally raid with a diesel engine; in 2010 and 2011, VW scored a 1-2-3 finish in the Dakar – and then retired from the sport.

W is for World Cup

The World Cup covers 11 events of differing lengths and on different terrains. The current overall champion is Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Toyota.

Mud is just one of many rally raid hazards – this car got stuck in the stuff
Stuck in the mud© GETTY IMAGES

X is for X-Raid

The German team that goes by the name of X-Raid was founded in 2002 and made its Dakar Rally debut in 2003 with a BMW X5 CC. These days their drivers use vMINI All4 Racing vehicles, but they’re best known for scoring big in four consecutive editions of the Dakar from 2012, with Stéphane Peterhansel, Nani Roma and Nasser Al-Attiyah all driving X-Raid to victory.

Y is for youngsters

Events in Europe and Dubai are ideal for up-and-coming young motorsports stars. Morocco, Qatar and Kazakhstan are good for those wanting to take the next step up.

Z is for Zaniroli

Patrick Zaniroli is a one-time Race Director of the Dakar Rally and won the event in the car class back in 1985 for the Mitsubishi team. He was responsible for mapping the route across the treacherous terrain of North Africa and he went on to set up the Trans Africa, a vintage car rally that follows the old Paris to Dakar route.

L is for liaison

Between the special stages of the rally are liaison stages, which take drivers through regular traffic for sometimes hundreds of kilometres a day. For these routes, there’s a strict speed limit that’s monitored via GPS and every breach is penalised with a large fine.

Posted on

YOU MAY NOT REFUSE A BREATHALYZER OR BLOOD TEST

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in South Africa. “A traffic officer, appointed as a peace officer in terms of section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (GKR. 159 Government Gazette 6295 2 February 1979, as amended) has for purposes of the CPA the same powers as a police officer.  He may therefore request a doctor or registered nurse to draw blood,” according to Arrive Alive, a national road safety campaign run by the South African police and traffic officials.

The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.05g/100ml but the legal breath-alcohol limit is 0.24mg/1000ml of  breath. During clinical trials, all participants (regardless of gender) exceeded the limit after two beers. Some people can even exceed the limit after a single drink, depending on the drink and body type. With this in mind, it is never worth it to get behind the wheel of your car after even one drink. A single drink will still affect your reaction time and driving ability. If you’re planning a night out, it’s much safer to arrange a designated sober driver, or take a taxi.

Posted on

How to Present Your Firearm at a Roadblock (and not get shot)

If you have a firearm in your vehicle, you need to ensure that you present it in a non-confrontational, peaceful manner. Here are some tips to help you handle the situation calmly:

  • Make sure that you carry your firearm licence and competency certificate with you at all times.
  • You will need to verbally confirm your ID number and, if you can remember it, your gun’s serial number.
  • You will need to tell the officer exactly where you keep the gun in the car.
  • If the officer requests to see the firearm, allow them to open and inspect your car.
  • If you carry the gun on your person, ask for permission to reach for it.
  • Answer all questions calmly.
  • Do not point the gun at anyone, or make any jerky or erratic movements. Do everything slowly, with utmost confidence and respect.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, discharge the weapon.

Posted on

Formal “Blue Light” Protocol for motorists developed by JPSA and RTMC

Not many South Africans would feel comfortable pulling over to the side of the road at night at the request of a car flashing blue lights. At the same time we know that ignoring the instructions of a police officer is an offence. Where does that leave you, driving home alone at night with blue lights flashing in your rear mirror? What do you do to stay on the right side of the law and protect yourself against criminals? Here is your answer. The Road Traffic Management Corporation and Justice Project South Africa have developed a protocol to be followed by any person who feels uncomfortable stopping for vehicles with flashing blue lights’.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation and Justice Project South Africa: Blue light protocol
Motorists are advised to study this advisory carefully and to commit the procedures to memory.  If you follow the instructions to a tee there should be no reason for you to become endangered by either legitimate or bogus police.

If you are followed by a vehicle, marked or not, with blue flashing lights and it indicates for you to pull over, particularly at night, you would be wise not to do so if you feel uneasy or unsure that they are genuine police.  Instead, it may be wise for you to indicate that you wish to proceed to a police station or public place before stopping. 

However you must bear in mind that not stopping for genuine police can immediately escalate the situation and may endanger you further if you do not take extreme care to abide by ALL OF the rules laid down here.

When indicating to the occupant/s of the vehicle following you that you wish to have them follow you to a place of safety do the following:

1. Stay calm

2. Slow right down and turn your hazard lights on and then:

  • Extend your right arm out of the window with an tightly outspread hand extended into the air with your forearm at 90 degrees to your shoulder
  • Gesture for them to follow you by moving your forearm forward and back to the upright, and repeat this action several times
  • Drive at NO MORE THAN 40km/h and proceed DIRECTLY to the CLOSEST police station or public place with CCTV cameras in operation, like a service station forecourt
  • DO NOT drive to your own, or a friend of yours’ home, as this may endanger you and your loved ones if those following you are not genuine police

3.Go to a police station

  • If you have a cell phone with you, call 10111 and tell them that you are being followed and are proceeding to the closest police station or public place
  • If you are not sure where the closest police station is you can ask the 10111 operator
  • If possible provide the registration number of the vehicle that is following you so it may be established if it is a legitimate police vehicle or not
  • If you go to a police station, when you get there and if there are no police personnel in sight outside, hoot for as long as it takes for someone to come out
  • Remain in your vehicle with the engine running, in gear and your windows wound up until such time as police from the station come out to you
  • Cooperate fully with police personnel from that police station and the officers from the vehicle that followed you and explain immediately that you felt intimidated and therefore proceeded directly to the police station

4.Go to a service station

  • If you go to a service station, drive onto the forecourt (centre of the service station) where the pumps or the convenience shop are so you will be in full view of the cameras
  • Cooperate fully with the officers from the vehicle that followed you and explain immediately that you felt intimidated and therefore proceeded directly to the service station
  • No matter what, if you are shouted at, do not respond by shouting back.  Also be careful not to respond to any potentially violent acts by resisting in any way or becoming violent yourself.  Remain calm and respectful and explain that the reason you did not stop immediately was because you were not comfortable that they were genuine police.

Media enquiries may be directed to:
Gilberto Martins – Acting CEO of the RTMC – 083 387 4436 – gilbertom@rtmc.co.za
Howard Dembovsky – Chairperson of JPSA

There is a massive difference between evading, or fleeing from police and having them follow you to a place of safety.

Both members of the public and genuine police should feel comfortable with this protocol, since it offers protection from attack in an isolated place by moving the stop to a public place where witnesses and assistance should be around.

WARNING: If you follow ALL of these steps precisely and the people pursuing you start shooting at you do everything that you can to evade them and get away without endangering yourself and others.  Phone police immediately. 

Disclaimer: This protocol is released as is in the public interest and neither JPSA nor the RTMC can accept any liability whatsoever for any deviation from it by any person.

Posted on

Your guide to stopping at roadblocks

A police force tainted by unscrupulous cops makes stopping at roadblocks nerve wracking and sometimes even dangerous. Knowing how to handle the situation can go a long way towards protecting yourself and your family. Howard Dembrovsky, the national chairperson of the Justice Project South Africa, advises the following:

Only stop if it’s safe for you
If a roadblock has been set up late at night or in a secluded spot with no other vehicles present, it is advisable for any motorist, but especially females, to use the Blue Light Protocol, says Dembrovsky.

The Blue Light Protocol has been proposed by the Justice Project to protect motorists from harassment by police officers. It involves slowing down, putting on your hazards, indicating that the police should follow you, and then driving slowly to the nearest police station or petrol station with CCTV cameras in operation. You can read about the protocol tommorow.

However, Dembrovsky caution that you shouldn’t use the protocol once you have already stopped and engaged with the police, as this could be seen as resisting arrest.

Understand if it’s an official roadblock
There are two different types of roadblocks. The first are informal roadblocks set up at random by the police. The second are K78 roadblocks, which are approved by the provisional commissioner and possibly policed by the traffic police, the South African Police Service and even South African Revenue Services officials.

In a K78 roadblock, the police are entitled to search your vehicle and can even go to a full body search if they have reason to suspect that you are hiding something. You can ask to see the authorisation proving that the roadblock is legitimate, but this does escalate the situation immediately, and our experience has shown that the situation can get nasty fast.

Simply put, it is better to comply than to resist whether it is an unofficial or official roadblock.

Dealing with outstanding traffic fines 
According to Dembrovsky, there is no provision in South African law that allows for the police to set up roadblocks and demand that you pay your outstanding fines. There is only a provision for a warrant to be issued for your arrest if you do not appear in court for a criminal summons, which can also be extended to the non-payment of traffic fines, but police at a roadblock would not have these warrants on their person.

Regardless, the South African police persist in establishing illegal roadblocks that use license plate recognition to check whether you have any outstanding fines. While the process itself may be illegal, if the fine is legitimate, the best way to deal with this situation is simply to pay what’s owed.

Accept a breathalyzer test
If a testing point for drunk driving has been set up, Dembrovsky says that you aren’t legally obliged to agree to a breathalyzer, but that you should. This is because if you don’t comply, the police have grounds to arrest you and perform a blood test.

In South Africa, the legal limit for breath alcohol is 0.24mg per 1 000ml or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. The police will sometimes exchange one limit for another to persuade you that you are over the limit after you’ve been breathalysed, says Dembrovsky.

For this reason, he advises all South Africans who intend to drive to avoid alcohol altogether. In this way, there can be no dispute about whether or not you are over the limit, he says.

Gather evidence if need be

Should you find yourself in a situation where your rights are being violated, take down as much evidence as you can. For instance, the officer’s badge number or the vehicle number that is on the side of their patrol car. In South Africa you have the right to film (or record) the officers that you believe are acting unlawfully – this is a good way to gather evidence.

Posted on

Why caravans sway?

The Double Pendulum Principle

A double pendulum is one pendulum suspended below another.

When either pendulum swings beyond a minor angle specific to each’s length and mass, both pendulums quite suddenly interact in a manner called chaotic motion. Not quite as the name implies, chaotic motion can be predicted, but only by knowing the exact triggering circumstances at virtually atomic level and via hugely complex mathematical equations. Let us just say for now that the behaviour of a double pendulum is random-like, but not random.

A tow vehicle and trailer, when subject to external forces, behave like a horizontal double pendulum. By being on the ground, due to the force of gravity on the rig’s tyres’ footprints, their friction on the road surface dampens the action. The effect is not as intense as the vertical pendulum, but the principle is the same: yawing (swaying) or pitching of either the tow vehicle or the trailer determines the movement of the other. The effect of these mutual interactions is unpredictable, excepting that the consequences for both tow vehicle and trailer is jack-knifing, and usually a roll-over.

The double pendulum effect when towing is always due to the combined interaction of many factors. The major ones include the relative weights of the tow vehicle versus the caravan, the distance of the tow hitch from the vehicle’s rear axle, and the tow ball mass: all in association with external influences such as gusting side winds, overtaking too fast, a change in camber, veering off the side of the road or steering overcompensation. Excess speed is always a major factor.

The energy needed for chaotic action to occur here is the kinetic energy of the moving rig at a speed unique to that rig, its manner of loading (and particularly the tow ball mass). A rig does not have an accident if it exceeds that critical speed, but if disturbing forces are strong enough to trigger that chaotic pendulum interaction, that rig almost always develops a non-controllable escalating snaking terminated by jack-knifing and usually rollover.

In millions of the tightest controlled simulations of double pendulum chaotic action, never once has their interaction followed the same sequence: each event is unique!

Posted on

How to Get Your Car Ready For Your Next Road Trip – General Maintenance

Cars have numerous components that need maintenance to stay in good working order, so make sure to check these parts before you hit the road.

Brake pads: Brake pads provide the friction needed to slow and stop your car. They wear away with use, becoming too thin to work effectively. Usually it’s obvious when this happens due to irritating screeching or squealing noise they make. Replacing the brake pads should fix the noise and, more importantly, make your road trip safer. Depending on what your brake pads are made of and how they’re used, they can last anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 km.

Air filters: With dust, debris, and bugs everywhere, the road is a dirty place. Cars use air filters to prevent gunk from entering the engine or interior. Eventually air filters reach capacity and can become clogged, potentially impacting engine performance and fuel economy, and definitely affecting interior air quality. Air filters should be replaced about every 20,000 km, but fortunately, they’re usually inexpensive and easy to change.

Light bulbs: Having a burnt out light is an easy ways to get pulled over on a drive. To check, turn on your car, switch on the headlights, make sure it’s in Park, and take a walk around to see if any are burnt out. Repeat the process for the left and right turn signals. With the gear lever in still in Park, use a brick to hold the brake pedal so you can check the condition of your taillights.