Maria McCarthy

I'm a journalist and broadcaster covering motoring and general lifestyle topics

How to avoid a parking fine

According to the British Parking Association, 39% of motorists feel that finding somewhere to park is a stressful experience. Which isn't surprising as it not only involves finding a space and understanding basic parking laws but also being aware of how they can sometimes be unclear legally or vary in different parts of the UK. And that's before you even get started on trying to decipher bewildering signs or dealing with broken meters! But it's important to keep on top of parking rules not leas

Journalist Spotlight: Maria McCarthy

An interview with Maria McCarthy, a freelance motoring journalist, broadcaster and author of ‘The Girls’ Guide to Losing your L Plates’ and ‘The Girls’ Car Handbook’. Maria discusses her top tips for PRs, how she juggles her varied workload, and why she enjoys radio broadcasting so much, as well as revealing her favourite things about being a motoring writer. As a freelance motoring journalist and motoring commentator, you contribute to a variety of publications. How do you juggle your various

How to buy the safest car

Although we all say we want to stay safe on the road, when it comes to actually buying a car, it isn't a priority for many motorists. Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, the motor insurers' automotive research centre, says, 'Surveys show that cost, brand and colour are important considerations for car buyers – whilst safety features are about seventh on their list. We want to educate motorists about the importance of investing in safer vehicles and show them that it's possi

How to overcome anxiety about driving

A survey by Lloyds Bank Car Insurance revealed that 70% of motorists sometimes feel fearful behind the wheel. Key triggers for stress include driving abroad (36%), travelling on unfamiliar roads (28%) and night driving (21%). Joanne Mallon, the author of How to Overcome Fear of Driving says, 'I think driving anxiety is the great unspoken fear of our times. People who experience it feel embarrassed, isolated and convinced that everyone else is a more confident driver than they are. But the fact

School crossings: Let's not lose our lollipop people

Lollipop people, or school crossing patrols (SCPs) as they are now known, have been around for many years. The first one was Mrs Hunt, who was appointed by Bath City Council in 1937 and worked outside Kingsmead School. The concept gained ground in the late 1940s and 'lolliop people' became a friendly and familiar sight across the UK. There have been sartorial changes over the years. Initially patrols wore white coats and peaked hats and carried red torch signals which were later exchanged for b

Why you should be driving a car with AEB

Would you buy a car that wasn't fitted with seatbelts? Of course you wouldn't. But strange as it seems now, there was a time when such a vital piece of safety equipment was seen as an 'optional extra'. In the UK the legal requirement for front seat belts to be fitted in all new cars didn't come in until 1967 and wearing them wasn't compulsory until 1983. It is estimated that over 2,000 lives a year are saved because of car occupants wearing seatbelts. Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcha

How to tackle tailgating

Tailgaters: everyone hates them but they are difficult to avoid. A survey by insurance comparison website Confused.com revealed that 73% of drivers are tailgated every month, and 18% have had an accident or a near miss on account of being tailgated. 'Most tailgaters are aggressive drivers who actively want to intimidate the motorist in front of them,' says Steve Horton, director of communications for Road Safety GB . 'But there are also 'passive tailgaters' who just aren't concentrating properl

Why eye tests for motorists should be compulsory

At the beginning of your driving test, as you no doubt remember, you'll have been asked to read a car numberplate at 20 metres. For the vast majority of us it will have felt like a relatively easy hurdle to clear before embarking on more nerve-racking challenges, such as parallel parking. After that, there are no follow up-checks required for the rest of your driving life. Although it's an offence to drive if your eyesight doesn't reach the legal standard and after 70 motorists are required to

Can I drive the morning after drinking?

Although most motorists are aware of the dangers of drink-driving many don't realise that they could still be under the influence even after a night's sleep. But according to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) about 12% of drivers involved in road accidents during 'the morning after' period (6am to midday) either fail or refuse to take breath tests. There's been a lack of any major media campaigns on the issue and it's one that mainly gets highlighted when a public figure is caught

How you can avoid keyless car theft

Many of us will remember the bad old days when car theft was a common phenomenon. It peaked in the early 1990s and a report from the Office of National Statistics reveals that in 1993, vehicle-owning households had a 1 in 5 chance of being victims of vehicle-related theft - whilst in March 2017 it was 1 in 25. Before the early 1990s thieves would usually steal a car by hot-wiring it, but the time when that was possible has long gone. Vehicle security measures have improved hugely, making cars m

7 ways to keep your car clean

Is your car gleaming and well cared for? Or does the interior look like a cross between a teenager’s bedroom and a dustbin on wheels? These tips will help you have a cleaner and more organised automobile: 1. Clear the clutter From children’s toys and travel sweets to ice scrapers and emergency triangles, there’s so much we ferry around in our cars. A back seat organiser with a variety of pockets can totally transform your car interior, while a boot organiser can do the same in the back. Hal

6 things you need in case of a car accident

Winter driving can bring plenty of challenges. Research by Co-op Motor Insurance shows that there's a 6% rise in accidents during the autumn and winter months. Don't be caught out. Here's our advice on how to always to be prepared for the worst... Pack your boot with the following - hi-viz jacke t and emergency warning triangle torch , sensible footwear, blankets, water, emergency snacks, spade Never travel without a fully-charged mobile phone with ICE (in case of emergency) and your breakdown

Women and drink-driving

When you think of a drink-driver you may picture an aggressive boy racer, a middle-aged businessman who's had one too many when entertaining clients, or maybe just a regular guy who let himself be talked into another pint by his mates and ended up getting pulled over and losing his licence. Chances are, you didn't think of a woman. To a certain extent, that's in line with the facts – men are responsible for the majority of drink-driving convictions. However, the female share has nearly dou

Remember these old road safety films?

Whether it's drink-driving, hand-held mobile phone use or annoying and dangerous behaviours such as tailgating, there's no doubt that when it comes to some motorists’ driving behaviour there's plenty of room for improvement. But what's the best way to bring about change – is it increased levels of road traffic police and harsher penalties? Or could education and raising greater awareness through TV advertising be effective as well? Public information films shown on TV had their heyday during t

Hospital parking charges

Paying for parking can be a hassle. But it's especially difficult and stressful when it's hospital parking. "When my mum had a stroke my siblings and I raced to St Peter's Hospital in Woking, where she was being cared for," says Rae Martin, 54 from Herne Bay. "During the four weeks until she passed away one of us was with her all the time and we must have paid out hundreds of pounds in parking charges – that can't be right." Parking fines on private land – do you have to pay up? Most hospitals

Historical re-enactment

Historical re-enactment is a hobby which involves recreating aspects of history at events open to the public. The two main types are military battles and Living History displays where re-enactors in costume demonstrate crafts of the time. Some events share both elements and there are also 'multi-period' ones where Viking re-enactors will be rubbing shoulders with Civil War Roundheads or WW2 fighter pilots. It's a thriving scene with over 18,000 re-enactors, and dozens of events throughout the UK. People of all ages and walks of life become re-enactors – but what draws them to it and what does it involve?

Mystery Shopping: how to become a mystery shopper

Sometimes known as secret shopping, mystery shopping agencies are hired by companies to assess the service their customers are receiving. For example, a sandwich chain might want to arrange for mystery shoppers to visit its branches and observe various issues  ranging from how well-stocked the fridges are to how long it takes for them to be served or whether there's enough loo roll in the toilets. The feedback helps the company improve the service it provides. Although most mystery shoppers be
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