Category: Connectivity

Volvo XC90 Excellence

Of late, the term ‘Swede Speed’ has been used more than Oral B in a nunnery but let’s not forget what the polar-neck brigade are best at…Swede tweed.

Ever since conception in 1915 as a ball bearing manufacturer, Volvo has become a by word for left of field design and superb quality. In 1927, the first Volvo rolled out of the factory in Gothenburg and straight into a wall of bricks. Not really, but if you were to ask anyone what Volvo is known for, they’d say safety, comfort and Swedish design. Safe and suave, then, are the reasons we like Volvos and while the general consensus is that Volvo’s are for yummy mummies, anyone who can look past that perception will know that it’s difficult to find a more rounded motor car. If you’re not getting my ball bearing puns by now then that’s your own fault.

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The Volvo XC90 when launched in 2002 was an instant success because it blended all the things people like about Volvos with seating for 7 and a shocking GM 4-speed gearbox. And despite the aforementioned gearbox being very woeful, the original XC90 is still in production today in China because it’s that good! It’s also very old, though, which is why the rest of the world grew bored of the XC90 with sales dwindling for a few years before the new XC90 rolled in. And boy did the XC90 roll all over its competitors, sweeping up countless awards internationally, one of which was South Africa’s prestigious Wesbank Car of The Year 2016. Well-priced, impressive looks and great standard spec are all things that we at TheMotorist love about the XC90 and following its local success, Volvo Car South Africa think it’s time for the Range Rover to roll over…

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The Volvo XC90 Excellence is now available in South Africa and you’ll be pleased to know that they have been inundated with an order. Yes, just one. Volvo promises one of the most luxurious models in the brand’s 89 year history and they’re probably right. It’s kitted out with everything bar a toaster and a swimming pool and is offered exclusively with the T8 Twin Engine powertrain. Snazzy kit includes ‘distinctive cup holders’ which feature heating and cooling, individual and fully adjustable, heated, cooled and massaging rear seats with footrests and little tables in the backs of the front seats. Special champagne flutes are also thrown in and are fashioned from the same Orrefors glass as the gear knob – something which I’ve always wanted in a car.

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Power comes from a 235 kW, 400 Nm supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine and is fed to the front wheels through an 8-speed transmission. The rear wheels are connected to a 65 kW, 240 Nm electric motor which allows for all-wheel drive should you feel the need to go off-roading in your lounge. Total output is an impressive 300 kW and 640 Nm which will be sure to propel you and your gear knob flutes with grace and pace to 100km/h in a brisk 5.9 seconds! All this while returning a claimed fuel consumption of 2.5l/100km.

As with any Volvo, a vast array of safety features comes as standard. ABS, EBD, BAS and HAS are some of the three-lettered delights thrown in for nothing and it’ll even drive itself up to 130km/h. The City Safety autonomous emergency braking system also caters for large animals and all isn’t lost should they be riding a bicycle in front of your moving Volvo. The XC90 is so safe, in fact, that it received a 97% score in its Euro NCAP crash test for adult occupants and 87% for child occupants – best in its class.

The features on this XC90 pretty much matches the spec of a Range Rover L Supercharged SVAutobiography, yours for a cool R3.6 Million.

So what does all of this Swedishness cost, you ask?

Oh, R1.5 Million.

 

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Peugeot 308 GT-LINE Automatic Review

The more time you spend with a vehicle, the more you get to know it and learn about it.  In issue 04 of TheMotorist, I tested the Peugeot 308 GT-Line, the manual variant. I recently got behind the wheel of the Automatic variant, which features the same three cylinder- 1200cc turbo motor. After my bad experience in the Peugeot 208 Auto I was slightly worried that the same faults with that vehicle would follow on into the 308. The 208 Auto was not a great box at all, the issues with that vehicle arise when pulling off, but mainly also when coming to a stop in traffic or at a junction.

More than 90% percent of the time I experienced a juddering feeling, much like when the engine speed is too low for a certain gear. Imagine slowing to a stop while in 3rd gear, that was feeling. It bothered me so much that at certain times I even went for the none existent clutch pedal, giving my wife minor whiplash as I proceeded to hit the brake pedal with left foot force. You may say this is driver error, but after driving manual vehicles for the few weeks before driving the 208, your instinct is to head for the clutch pedal when a car feels like its going to stall.  From then on I had to constantly remind myself that this an automatic vehicle, just with a gearbox fit for a kids fisher price trike.

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Fortunately, the 308 Auto does not suffer from this problem; it provides a comfortable drive, smooth gear changes and decent all-around performance. This, though, is expected of course as the Peugeot 308 is a much more expensive vehicle. Many features are the same, the tachometer travels in the wrong direction, A/C controls are still digital, and you can’t connect Bluetooth devices unless the vehicle is stopped. They don’t tell you that, though. So you end up fiddling through the menus trying to figure out how to connect your mobile device. Still, with no luck, you pull out the manual, picture the scene. Now you are flicking through a paper book as big as a Harry Potter novel while trying to negotiate a complex digital screen. Added to the fact that you are travelling at speed on your way to work, sleepy-eyed, just wanting your Bluetooth connection to work so you can be a “safer driver” and call your wife. That might be an exaggeration, but the point I’m making is that little things like this don’t need to be over complicated, especially in today’s world of connectivity.

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All in all though, the 308 is a great car. Personally, I don’t like the Ruby red color as I feel it does show off the GT-Line body kit as well as the Nacre White, but that is all down to personal preference. Not only is the exterior styled well, but the interior is also a great place to be, nice lines and a very sporty feel, most of all it doesn’t feel cheap. One of my favorite features on the 308 GT-Line is the seats, they look sporty and hold the driver and passenger well but on top of that, they are extremely comfortable. A massaging function is also included, it’s a kind of gizmo that gets used a few times and then forgotten about, but it something to tell your friends about right?

The other issue that nags me about this vehicle is the lack of space in the glove box, they are obviously not designed to fit your overnight bag, but in the 308 the design is very strange and leaves little room for small items.

The 308 GT-Line starts at R357 900, if you don’t feel like the fancy spec you can opt for the Active line. It is not only the spec that is different on this vehicle, there is also a reduction in power from 96kw to a mere 81kw. The final option in the 308 range is the GT – featuring a 1600cc 151kw Motor, the only transmission option here being a 6-speed manual.

Peugeot 308 GT-Line
1.2 3 Cylinder PureTech Turbo
96 kw/230Nm
4.8l/100km
Starting from R357,900

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Why the Toyota Hilux TRD prototype would be a major seller in South Africa

The bakkie market in South Africa has undoubtedly got a very loyal fan base. Month in and month out there are thousands of pick-ups sold in the country, with the two biggest competing brands being Ford and Toyota. Ford has risen to the top recently because not only is their offering very capable, the Ranger also looks very good. It’s the closest South Africans can get to a hardcore looking truck without paying the premium of importing something like a Dodge Ram. In fact I personally know people who have bought the Ford Ranger purely based on its looks. Most of them have probably not even used low range on their cars but as long as they look the part, their happy. Some have even taken their Fords to another level by adding the infamous Raptor kit, making it even more menacing in appearance.

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The ruggedness of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack is something the Toyota Hilux is missing. The Hilux is a pretty car but note the use of the word pretty, something that shouldn’t be said of a bakkie. What the Hilux needed in South Africa was the look of the Hilux TRD prototype that was revealed two years ago in Bangkok. This Hilux is what our market needs because it looks fantastic. Flared wheel arches, a larger and more aggressive bumper and tasteful bits in black make for an aesthetically pleasing look. To add to that, there is black side skirting on the car and red stickers on the bonnet and on the side of the vehicle. The reason why this car would do well in the country is because the traditional bakkie buyer is not the only person interested in this type of vehicle nowadays.

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The traditional buyer is one that is looking for quality and reliability, something Toyota has gotten right over the years. Generally, these buyers will use their cars on various terrains and the cars will be used to their full capacity. The newer bakkie buyer though is generally more lifestyle based, so the car needs to work well for a weekend getaway whilst doing a good job as a normal daily drive. As a result, aesthetic appeal has become of significant importance for many buyers hence the success of the Ford Ranger. If the Toyota Hilux TRD were to come into production and was sold in South Africa, it would be a great answer to the Ford. The merger of the reliable nameplate coupled with some amazing looks would make for a very appealing product. The question then is will Toyota make this rugged machine? If so our Toyota lovers would be very pleased. Especially since the range already sells a boat load every month.

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Kia Sportage 2.4 SX

In life, there tend to be good things and bad things. A Thai massage is a good thing. 2007 Britney was not a good thing. It goes even further, though, because stemming from this, you get poor imitations of both the good and the bad. Your decrepit great  aunt mangling her arthritic hands into your back is a poor imitation of a Thai massage and, arguably, Miley’s switch from Albany best of both to the short haired wench straddling wrecking ball she is today is a poor imitation of 2007 Ms Spears.

Years ago, before any of us at TheMotorist roamed the earth, cars were pretty straight forward. You could either have a comfy one, a sporty one or an American one (which was none of those things, just plastic) and that was that. Fast forward to modern times where shoes are called ‘Yeezy’s” and Rihanna feels that an assortment of burps constitute lyrics, and we are just spoilt for choice! Almost every major economy produces a vehicle, and you needn’t choose between comfy and sporty because there are these new things they make called crossovers, the purpose of which is to just be as many things as possible, apart from American, while still getting you from A to B with an odd school-run in between. Think of it like this – Air Maxes look like sporting shoes, but were never intended for anything more sporting than a brisk amble and in the same vain, a crossover looks like a 4X4 but can only really negotiate Sandton City and Saxonwold speed-humps.

Up until recently, KIA’s attempt at the Crossover, the Sportage, was a bit of a Miley. It didn’t look as nice as the Japanese or European offerings and had the sexual appeal of your arthritic great  aunt, and while you could get them with a V6 once upon a time, Air-Maxes doth not a sexy geriatric make…

Enter Peter Schreyer – not familiar? His HB pencil can be thanked for a few Volkswagens and Audis, including the original TT and since his arrival at KIA in 2007, they have been making some snazzy looking cars. Couple this with an engineering department who has finally woken up and we arrive at the new KIA Sportage, and it’s lovely.

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Some say it looks a bit like a Porsche Cayenne but there’s nothing wrong with that and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer crossover to sit in. A comfortable but not wallowy ride coupled to an assortment of engines, ranging from asthmatic to pokey and staid to state-of –the –art, there’s a Sportage for everyone. The model we had on the test was the 2.4 SX AWD AT offering a wholesome 135kW and 237Nm of torque. Standard spec is impressive with rear PDC, Bluetooth connectivity, and auto-headlights making notable appearances. Our well-specced SX model came with nice-to-haves, too, such as power-folding side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof large enough to tan under.

Without sounding ridiculous, though, the action of the gear selector imparted a premium feel, something which many of the Sportage’s competitors could learn from and its ride was neither crashy nor nauseatingly soft. The same can be said for the rest of the vehicle which, bar its plastic door handles, is very rapidly approaching the realm of the premium brands.

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To be concise – for the second time in a row now, the KIA Sportage is no longer an imitation of a good thing, but rather an actual good thing and the new one just cements this sentiment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the German three see some serious competition from the Korean two within the next five years.
Ooh, controversy.

Pricing:

2.0 Ignite – R369 995
2.0CRDi EX – R487 995
2.4GDI SX AWD – R557 995
2.0CRDi SX AWD – R567 995
1.6T GT-Line AWD – R599 995
Warranty: 5-years/unlimited km
Service plan: 5-years/ 90 000 km

A Mercedes-Benz Bakkie – Would you buy one?

Over recent years we have seen the Pickup or Bakkie market change, instead of the classic workhorse, Bakkies are used more for commercial and private sectors, simultaneously. Not only have they adapted into vehicles that look and feel great, they also have plenty of space for passengers, especially the double cab models.

Mercedes have cottoned onto this and released the first concept images of their new  X – Class. Mercedes say they will change the segment of mid-size pickups by releasing the world’s first premium Bakkie, fair enough. There are two model variants, the first being entitled “stylish explorer.” As you can see from the designs, this is a more upmarket urban vehicle which maybe gets used for a cross-border family trip once in a while. The interior is true Mercedes style with leathers, woods, and shiny metal. Although being a Bakkie, I can’t imagine this vehicle will be lugging around too much construction/building materials during its life. I feel its more aimed at the owner or big boss of a construction company or architectural firm, maybe once in a while a spanner and screwdriver might slip into the back.

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The second is the X Class “powerful adventurer.” This vehicle, as the name suggests have been aimed at those kinds of people who like to go out, explore and conquer many terrains and lands. This model is my kind of vehicle; it features massive ground clearance, big, chunky off-road tires measuring 35 inches high, by 11 inches wide, the wild offroad styling is finished off by an electric front winch. The interior is still luxurious but has more rugged, out there kind of feel. The Powerful Adventurer is the kind of vehicle which would be loaded up with surfboards and driven over the border into Namibia when the Skeleton Bay surf is firing. Both variants will contain the classic Mercedes tech such as online connected drive systems, lots of sensors, fancy suspension systems and the like. Regarding engines, Mercedes have said top-of-the-line models will be powered by a V6 Diesel, coupled with a very technical four-wheel drive system.

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Mercedes are aiming the X Class at five markets with one of them being the successful adventurer/extreme sports person.( They will need to be successful to afford one of these) Another target market is active families with an “affinity” to premium products( See above, once is a while cross-border holiday). The X class is also aimed at trend-conscious individualists, business owners and landowners in South Africa.

These vehicles are targeting for a late 2017 launch, the question for me is price, the X class is a much more premium vehicle than the R600k Wildtrack, so how much more is it going to cost? Unfortunately for most, I feel this vehicle is going to be out of their league.

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G30 BMW 5 Series leaked.

In days of yore when the likes of Leykor and British Leyland were wreaking havoc on your garage floor, a leaking vehicle wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Thankfully, for the most part, the only leaking we need to worry about these days is that of images before a car’s actual unveiling. BMW’s next generation ‘G30’ 5 Series has just been leaked a day before it’s official unveiling and apparently the Chinese are to blame. What is very evident is that BMW’s designers have gone the tracing paper rout à la Mercedes-Benz with the new Fiver which is now more in line with the design language of the brutish yet elegant 7 Series. BMW’s new ‘CLAR’ cluster architecture underpins the G30 shedding roughly 100kg’s off F10’s kerb-weight thanks to carbon-fibre and aluminium being such lighties.

Engine-wise one can expect the usual slew of BMW TwinPower power plants with force-fed 2.0-litre fours and 3.0-litre sixes in both petrol and diesel guise being the big-sellers. For those who enjoy a ginger-shot in the morning and think that leaves are a meal there will also be a hybrid version, likely making use of the 2.0-litre unit found in the X5 xDrive40e and your wall-socket. What we’re actually excited for, though, are the V8 motors. Both the 550i and M5 should make use of updated variations of the N63 motor, with the M5’s S63 reportedly churning out over 450kW through, for the first time on an M5, an optional xDrive system. If you’re a heathen, tick that box.One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.

 

One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.

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VW Polo Beats – Great sound for your travels

The VW Polo is probably one of the most popular cars on South Africa roads, especially with the young generation.  It’s a small hatch, its German – which makes it extremely reliable and its reasonably priced.

A problem that I find with these little hatchbacks is that the audio quality is never great. The majority of people that drive these cars are young adults, many young adults love music, especially when cruising around and on road trips. Whether it’s hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Dubstep, Classical ( everyone has room for a little bit of classical), there is nothing worse when you pump up the volume and with that increase comes distortion, crackle, and hiss. You wanted to listen to your favourite tracks on your way to work. Instead, it sounds more like firework show on New Year’s Eve, not great.

VW have fixed this issue by teaming up with Beats Audio. You know, those bright pink, red, yellow, orange, black, and white colored earphones you see the hip kids and “cool Dad’s” wearing. Beats Audio knows their stuff when it comes to sound and in conjunction with VW, has introduced the Polo Beats – a VW Polo with seven speaker – 300 Watt sound system.

Here is the not so good part, The Polo Beats differs from other Polo’s with different 16” wheels, red door mirrors, dark red tail lights, beats side film and a beats badge on the b-pillar.  After looking at the images, it doesn’t look as bad as first thought. The interior also has changed with  Beats sports seats and a few other bits such as a leather steering wheel and coloured seatbelts. In fairness, it looks pretty good.  Personally, this should have also been available as an option extra rather than a sperate model; I’m sure the whole Beats branding might put a few people off.

It will, however, be an optional extra in the new VW UP released later this year. We may see it as an optional extra in future Polo models. Not everyone wants red wing mirrors.

 

The Polo Beats comes in at R260,700

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2016 Renault Megane

After 20 years, the fourth generation of Megane has arrived in South Africa. The 2016 Megane looks aggressive, I like it.

Four models will be released, the first of these is the Dynamique model featuring a 1.6 litre 84 kW engine with a 5-speed manual box, no option for auto here. Moving up in the range we have two GT-LINE models, both powered by a 97kw 1.2 Litre turbocharged engine. The difference being the choice of a 7-speed dual clutch automatic box or a classic 6-speed manual.

Headlining the Megane act is the GT model producing a meaty 151kw from its 1.6 litre turbocharged engine.  The GT comes with some features exclusive to its model such as the MULTI-SENSE handling feature and full LED headlight technology. Other items include leather seats,18” alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake to take away all the fun and paddle shifts.

High-end technologies on this vehicle include 4CONTROL chassis which is the only vehicle in its segment to feature this. 4CONTROL works by turning the rear wheels slightly when cornering, this small movement has a big effect on road holding and performance. I’m sure this is going to be a fun car to drive.

Another great feature is MULTI-SENSE, this enables individual users to modify many aspects of the vehicle from driving dynamics such as accelerator mapping, gearbox mapping and steering response just to name a few. The classic pre-sets like Comfort, Eco and sport are also available.

The new Megane looks fantastic and has some exciting and personal driver based features. We will soon have our hands on one and will be able to bring you an in-depth review.

 

Pricing is as follows :

Renault Megane Dynamique – R 279 900

Renault Megane GT-LINE :

– Manual: R 339 900

– Auto: R 354 900

Renault Megane GT – R 449 900

 

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Grown up yet young at heart: Audi’s new Q7 driven.

Slimmer, smarter and better.

Getting older is a funny and weird thing. You start to notice changes in not only how you view the world but also, how you use it. Not only do I not drink beer any more (let’s be completely honest, it doesn’t taste nice and most of us drink it to fit in) but my choice in cars has swayed a bit too. Not only do I look at performance and how the car makes me feel, but I find myself looking at the boot space of a car and asking my wife strange questions like, “do you think a pram will fit in the boot?” and “does it come standard with ISOFIX” I mean ISOFIX, really!?

This was worsened when we had the new Audi Q7 on test. To be honest, when our editor said, “you need to drive this car!” I was a little taken back by just looking at it. The previous Q7 had left me feeling underwhelmed and it was just too big. Sure it could do what the other SUV’s could, but in my opinion it wasn’t as refined as its competitors, and it felt dated too.

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So off I went, leaving my BMW 435i in the basement and into the boxier new Q7. Man, was I surprised. What immediately struck me were the proportions of the car. Yes it’s big, but the car seems to have shrunk from its predecessor. Visually, it’s sleek and understated, it also has those lovely day time running lights due to the optional Matrix headlights that seem to have been taken straight out of the movie Tron. I walked around the new Q7 and felt like Joey from the sitcom Friends as I asked the car “How you doin?” (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young.)

The surprises kept on coming as I got more acquainted with the car. The premium interior trim, long dashboard, ease of controls and most importantly, Audi’s biggest party trick the Virtual Cockpit all impressed me. Despite all of this I was still sceptical because I still remember how the old girl drove, surely it’s still a tank that’s an absolute mess to park? Wrong again Richard.

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This latest model, with its 3.0 TDI producing 185kW and 600Nm, made me think of the “as smooth as a hot knife through butter” cliché. It glides and gets up to speed very quickly. After a few hours, I didn’t miss my 225kW daily drive at all. There are some back roads on my adventurous route home and I decided this was going to be a good challenge for the new Q7. I dove in aggressively to the first of many sharp corners and the steering feedback as well as the suspension setup surely hides the cars’ weight and it proceeded to devour the bends in a way a 4×4 shouldn’t. It seemed to look back at me and say, “is that all you’ve got?” All of this is due to the lower centre of gravity on the new Q7 compared to the previous car, as well as a weight reduction of 325 kilograms.

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Another test was the “wife test”, since most wife’s have the biggest influence in car choices. So I picked up my wife and found an excuse for us to go out for dinner and I pleasantly found out that I wasn’t the only one to be bitten by the Q7 bug. The feature that she liked the most? The fact that the car does not feel big inside and is therefore not intimidating to drive or to be a passenger in. What didn’t she like? The fact that new Q7 didn’t look as exciting as other SUV’s on the road, something we agreed to disagree on. So the car had so far passed some key tests.

To say I was impressed by the new Q7 is an understatement. My current favourite SUV was the not so new Range Rover Sport TDV6, but this new Q7 I found was more exciting and dynamic. I’m glad that the ugly duckling now has a chance of becoming the “prom queen”, but we can’t give it the crown until we drive the new Volvo XC90, a car that is the current SA Car of the Year. That being said, the new Q7 is better at everything than the car it replaces and yes it can fit a pram in the boot and it does have ISOFIX. The good thing is that despite it making me indulge in my mature desires even more, it still made me feel young. Which is a lot to say for a car intended for families. Starting at R907 000, it’s competitively priced in its segment too.

Connect, Stow and Drive.

Is a Tweet, Text or Instagram post worth it?

Cell phones are a part of our lives, they are like a vital organ that we can’t do without. When we work, socialize, gym, go to bed and wake up, our phones are with us. There are also with us when we drive unfortunately. Using a phone whilst driving has been illegal for as long as we can remember, but it doesn’t stop the vast majority of us from texting, Whatsapping, calling or emailing while operating a vehicle. We have all been guilty of this offence at some point.

The chances of a person being caught using a cell phone while driving is very slim and similarly, we may think the chances of a serious accident are also pretty slim. What we may not realize is that 1 out of every 4 accidents are caused because of mobile phone usage. Take note of the true story below:

A delivery worker was driving on a busy highway called the A500 ,which is located in the Midlands area of the UK. While he was travelling in the outside lane at a speed of 60 mph (around 120 kph), the driver failed to notice the traffic ahead slowing down and stopping. Why? He was using his mobile phone. The Outcome? Sadly the delivery van ploughed full speed into a BMW 5 Series that was stopped in the traffic. This then started a “domino effect” and caused the BMW to hit the car in front and the forces killed the driver. The driver was not the only one affected, though, his wife of twenty-four years lost her husband and their two children lost their father.

The driver of the van didn’t wake up that day thinking he would ruin not only his own life but also the life of four other people. All this happened from a simple “mistake”. The van driver was not an evil person, he did not mean to kill anyone but he broke the law, and he had to face the consequences. A split second can change lives on the road and by using your mobile phone whilst driving, you are putting not only yourself but others in danger too.

If you have a Bluetooth system, which is very common in new vehicles today, then please set it up before you start to drive and stow your phone in a place out of sight. This will ensure that you’re not tempted to use it. Emails and messages can wait until you finish your journey and if it’s very urgent, you have the hands free system available to communicate. On long distance journeys, you can make regular stops at a fuel station if you feel the need to check your phone.

Why take the chance of ruining multiples lives for a message, a tweet or an Instagram post? You could be that driver that we spoke about in that story. Nobody wants an outcome like that weighing on their mind for the rest of their life. So please, connect it, stow it and drive safe Motorists

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