M TORING NEWS n
ON THE ROAD The Fiat 500 is very simple to drive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not engaging. It’s zippy in town and the engine that brings its fun personality to the fore is the two-cylinder turbo 875cc TwinAir unit, rumbling away under the bonnet with a characterful thrum when you rev it. The steering is light across the Fiat 500 range, while the handling is nimble and fun. In its natural urban environment the 500 is great, especially with that punchy TwinAir engine that develops enough power to carve in and out of busy traffic.
RUNNING COSTS Given its tiny dimensions, it should come as no surprise that the Fiat 500 is easy on the wallet in terms of fuel economy and insurance groupings. Every model in the Fiat 500 range is cheap to run, with the most economical versions being the 85bhp 0.9cc petrol TwinAir and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel.
Spain´s traffic authorities have confirmed that fines for driving in flip-flops are justified. Traffic experts ‘recommend’ not wearing flip-flops to drive because they do not protect the foot, can become wedged into the pedals or slip off, leading to a split-second’s lack of control which could cause an accident.
Extreme heat can cause similar effects to driving drunk, according to the European Automobile Commission.
Although is not specifically mentioned in Spain´s traffic regulations, if a police officer considers that the driver’s footwear is ‘not suitable for controlling the car’ adequately and ‘could’ pose a danger, a fine of up to €200 can be issued. Motorists cannot be fined ‘for driving in flip-flops’, but they can be fined for ‘footwear not conducive to proper control of the vehicle’.
The EAC recommends that the ideal temperature for driving is between 19 and 24 degrees Celsius, and recommends that drivers stay hydrated and keep comfortable and cool. It also pointed out that many drivers are unaware of the fact that braking distances can triple in extreme heat. The advice is welcome on Lanzarote, where driving in heat is normal. Nevertheless, few drivers on the island will ever undertake the long drives on which the effects of overheating usually occur.
40 % of Spaniards admit to having committed at least one kind of offence at the wheel. A survey by Wazypark revealed that 70% admitted to not always obeying the legal speed limit (which implies that 30% do not regard this as an offence) and 33% say they have used mobile phones while at the wheel. 3% of Spaniards own up to having taken selfies while driving. Among other offences admitted to are failing to stop at a “stop” sign, which is the case in 32% of drivers, turning in places where they shouldn’t (26%), driving while over the alcohol limit (7%) and driving while under the influence of drugs (0.6%).
The Gazette | September 2015 | 119