Shaun McElhinney

Congratulations to Motorbike Renewals Team Leader Shaun McElhinney for winning the CIS brand ambassador award

Shaun, pictured above with Stephen Neeson from Motorbikes New Business, has been specialising in Motorbike Insurance for 9 years and is currently working towards the completion of his ILM Leadership Level 5 course. Shaun joined Cornmarket Belfast in 2007 and has been selected as brand ambassador for his excellent customer service skills, his leadership skills and his enthusiasm. Shaun always displays a positive attitude to work and an excellent team spirit.

Congratulations to Shaun for actively promoting the 3 elements of the CIS Brand; Service, Integrity and Value.

“I am pleased to receive this award, and I appreciate the recognition Cornmarket Insurance has provided in giving me this award.”

Keep your house warm

Winter is coming…

From August 21st, GB Energy Supply increased gas and electricity prices by 7% and experts are saying that the Big Six suppliers (British Gas, EON, EDF, npower, Scottish Power and SSE), who supply 98% of Britain’s households with their energy, could be increasing bills as early as autumn.
We’ve researched a list of our top tips to save money whilst keeping warm in the home this winter:

Technology in the home

The Nest thermostat shows you just how much energy you use every day and allows you to adjust your home heating and your hot water tank while away from your house, using your phone. Its Auto-Away feature automatically turns itself down when nobody’s at home.

Thermal Curtains

According to GRENUM, there are two key requirements to preventing heat loss/gain through a window covering: the material needs to be an insulator, and there must be no gaps around the edges as this will result in the air between the window and curtain escaping and setting up a convection current. An insulated curtain is usually comprised of three layers: face fabric, liner (bumph) and rubber-backed curtain lining.


A good money-saving tip to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators, according to Sophie Neuburg, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, is tinfoil. Aluminium foil behind the radiator can reflect heat back into the room, rather than losing it through the wall.

Double Glazed Windows

Double-glazed windows can prove incredibly energy-efficient. Alongside lower carbon footprint and lower energy bills, double-glazed windows also reduce condensation and act as great insulation against external noises.
Double-glazed windows consist of two sheets of glass with a small gap in between which is used to create an insulating barrier, keeping heat in.

Honeycomb Blinds

Alongside offering privacy and light control, honeycomb blinds offer insulation from the cold winter winds. These types of shades have large channels which trap the air at the window. The R-value of a double-glazed window (the measurement of resistance of the shade to heat transfer) can double by just adding these cellular shades to a window.

Cover bare floorboards

Varnished wooden floors look great in a well decorated room, but according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF) can result in as much as 10% heat loss if they’re not insulated. Blankets and rugs can be used to cover floors and keep feet warm as an added bonus.

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young girl learning at school

Schools are back! Our top tips for creating a positive learning environment for the new school year ahead.

September has arrived, and whether you’re ready or not you’re back to school as you know it. To help and get your head in the game we are revisiting some top tips on creating a positive learning environment for the new school year ahead.

Learn from previous experiences

If you are to ask anyone to recall a story about a teacher from their school days, 9/10 times someone will recall a bad experience. Remember the time that your teacher made you feel less intelligent than you deserved? Build students confidence in their creativity and intelligence by rewarding good behaviour more than enforcing punishments for mistakes.

Encourage open networking

Team activities in the classroom are excellent opportunities to engage students with different personalities and cultures than their own social circles. Assign introverts with extroverts, and give shy personalities a chance to develop confidence. Find ways to channel an introvert’s idea through a more confident extrovert when during presentations in order to encourage confidence.

Keep lectures short

Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada to study brain activity, and results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 (due to the backlash from technological advancements), to 8 seconds in 2015. Considering a fish has an average attention span of 9 seconds, it can be said that people now have an attention span of a goldfish. Keep students engaged with activities and open questions. Try not to let yourself go off on a whim, despite how much information your brain has managed to retain on the topic.

Learn from other teachers

Make a conscious effort to discuss with other teachers about their classroom experiences. Find out what works for them, and how they deal with stress and unsettling behaviour.

Make information relative

Use relatable examples when story telling. Compare main characters to people whom the audience already know, or can compare with. This will help students feel more involved, and therefore remember information easier when it comes to exam time.

Listen to your students

It is important to remember that not everyone’s brain works the same way. Whenever the opportunity arises and classroom discussions give insight into students’ lives, community and culture then learn as much as you can about your students. Try and always assume the best in all of your students and try not to pick favourites. A classroom where each student trusts the teacher can prove to be an excellent learning environment, so from the start, identify yourself and tell your students who you are and why you are there.

Cornmarket Teacher Scheme recognises teachers as responsible people, and therefore responsible drivers. The scheme offers improved teacher packages on Car, Home, Travel, Gap and Motorcycle insurance. Register your renewal date and telephone/email and we’ll get in touch with you for a quote when you’re due.

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Remember that you and your students are only human. You can plan, map, and research all summer, but once those kids get in the room anything can happen.  You don’t have to have everything together on day one.” – Amy Hirzel

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man looking at phone while driving

The mobile phone game Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are warning against the dangers of using your phone while driving. The augmented-reality game challenges users to catch Pokémon on an abstract map on their smartphones. This has led to people running through parks, shopping malls, car parks and everywhere in-between.

The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 and is centred on fictional creatures called “Pokémon”, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport. The internet and the virtual world can be a great place to learn and explore and although games such as this can be fun, it is also important to be aware of the risks involved.

The list of most dangerous driving distractions currently includes talking on the phone, using social media, driving whilst drowsy and eating or drinking. No doubt Pokémon Go will be added to the list before long.

According to IAM Roadsmart, 8% of drivers admitted to driving while using a video calling application and the IAM welcomed the banning of mobile phones as smartphone use whilst driving reduces reaction times by up the 35%.

“Using a phone causes physical, visual, mental and auditory distractions, leading to significantly slower reaction times. Recent IAM research has found it can be more distracting than driving with alcohol or cannabis in your system.”

The game launched only a matter of weeks ago and already a number of road accidents have made media headlines. Just last week the body camera of a Police officer filmed the moment a Pokemon Go player crashed into a patrol car.

It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike while using a hand-held mobile phone or a similar device. Hands-free phones can also be a distraction and you’ll risk prosecution for not having proper control of your vehicle when using one.

Inspector Rosemary Leech, from the PSNI warned that,

“The offence of using your mobile phone to perform an ‘interactive communication function’ whilst driving will leave the driver liable to a £60 fine and 3 penalty points. PSNI will be actively seeking out Pokémon participants, so don’t be caught out by going hunting whilst behind the wheel of your car.”

How you could be breaking the law:

If, while driving, you pick up or use any type of phone that must be held you will be breaking the law.
This means you should not use your mobile phone:
• when you are stopped at traffic lights
• when you are queuing in traffic
• to make or receive calls
• to send or receive picture and text messages
• to access the internet


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Brand ambassador Cornmarket July, Rory Griffin

A lot has been going on in Cornmarket UK this month to be celebrated, not least Rory Griffin, being crowned as the CIS Brand Ambassador!

Rory, an Insurance Advisor specialising in Home Insurance, has been working with CIS UK for almost 4 years. He was selected as the Brand Ambassador for being a great representative for the Cornmarket brand, and for embodying the Company ethos of integrity, value, and service. These values are at the core of our business and strengthen the unique customer focus that we uphold as a team.

His colleagues commended Rory for his helpfulness, positive attitude and professionalism, and for demonstrating a good team spirit throughout the month. It’s not just his colleagues who endorsed him; Rory’s excellent service level was also praised directly by customers in the month of July with one of our IAM Surety clients recommending him as an ‘asset’ to the business.

Congratulations to Rory for actively promoting the 3 elements of the CIS Brand;


Rory demonstrated commitment to quality and advice, acted as a role model and demonstrated professionalism.


He was nominated for his helpful, positive attitude and honesty, team spirit, and involvement in CSR and company activities.


Rory was consistently dependable, reliable and efficient, and conscientious.

“It’s great to be recognised for good performance especially when a large part of the award was due to customer service. It’s such a key part of our business and something all the staff at Cornmarket take care to excel at.”

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Travelling abroad by car, france driving rules
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

After months of hard work, what is more rewarding than a break away? They say travel broadens the mind and road tripping, in particular, is a great way to see the scenery and take in the atmosphere of a new country. If you plan on renting a car or taking your car abroad we have some helpful tips to keep you safe.


Thorough planning is of utmost importance, unless you really are looking to quite literally lose yourself. Research the country, familiarise yourself with the road and have a look at the weather forecast. Plan the route and assess the challenges you might encounter. Firstly, are you confident in your ability to drive on the other side of the road? Are there tolls? Where are the petrol stations?

We strongly advise you to service your vehicle before leaving the UK. Make sure that you check your oil and water. Check the cost of fuel in advance and incorporate the expense into your overall budget.

When driving abroad, it is essential that you hold a valid licence. If you are from the United Kingdom then your driver’s licence is valid in the EU and European Economic Area countries and Switzerland. If driving outside of the EU or EEA you may need an International Driving Permit which you can get at your local Post Office. This costs just £5.50.

Before you set off on your well-deserved break check for any delays or potential delays. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers updates on any cross channel delays.

Seat Belt Laws

In the UK it is illegal to drive without a fastened seat belt. Since 2006 wearing a seat belt is mandatory in the EU. If you are driving in a country that does not legally require seat belts, we urge you to wear one anyway – it is the most fundamental way to enhance safety in a vehicle.

Speed Limits

If you are driving on a variety of roads check out the speed limits before you go. Contrary to popular belief not all autobahns are unlimited and even on roads which are, driving at higher speeds comes with its own risks.

In Europe the speed limit in built-up areas averages at 50km/h. Outside built-up areas, including dual carriage ways, speed limits vary but they tend to be between 80 – 100km/h in Europe. Motorways average at 120km/h but some countries such as Denmark advocate lower speeds.

Drink Driving

Laws do vary from country to country.

In France for example, the law demands that cars have NF approved breathalysers. This law is strongly enforced.

French law states that if you have three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per litre. For experienced drivers and motorcyclists the limit is 0.5 grams per litre.

However in Germany there is a zero tolerance policy to drink driving. You many not drink and drive at all. The German authorities are strict in their treatment of drivers who breach this law.

Accidents and Precautions

Accidents do happen. Always remember, if possible, to remain calm and contact your insurance provider. Each country has their own protocol for dealing with accidents. From October 2008 all drivers in France, including drivers of cars registered outside of France, must have one warning triangle and one reflective jacket in their vehicle. Penalties are spot fines of €90 – €135.

French motorways are privately managed, you are not allowed to request your own assistance company to attend to you if you break down. If you break down you should use the orange emergency telephones which are situated every 2km along main roads and motorways to call the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area. Alternatively, if no orange telephone is available motorists should call the emergency services by dialling 112.

Before you set off on your holiday, we recommend you check in with your insurance company to ensure your policy covers you for travelling abroad.

GPS & Maps

Bring a GPS to help navigate the roads. We would also suggest an old fashioned map for back up. Satellite signals are not always reliable but maps are. Buy one before you go and chart your trip. If travelling with children this could be a great way of teaching them independence and geography.

It is worth noting that the use or possession of devices to detect police radar is illegal in all European countries. As are using Sat Nav devices with speed camera location warnings in France. Penalties can include a fine, driving ban or even prison.


Whether travelling in the summer or winter take heed of the weather conditions in the country you are travelling to. Rain, hail or shine, be prepared. In France, they have a different speed limit for wet weather conditions.

If you are uncertain of any driving and motoring laws, we advise you to check the relevant country’s local embassy for further information.



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Car headlight
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Technological advancements are constantly and dramatically changing how we live our lives. Moore’s Law states that the processing power of computers doubles every two years. Since that law was established in 1970, technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of our lives. Mobile devices are an extension of our very existence. How we communicate, behave and travel is now governed by smart technologies. There is no denying the profound impact this has had on our everyday lives. But what do these new technologies mean for driving and cars? In our latest blog, we delve into the best new technologies that can improve your driving experience and safety.


The hybrid, through propulsion technology, reduces the car’s carbon emissions. This benefits the consumer as they are lower in cost to run and kinder to the planet.

Although the hybrid car has been on the market for a number of years it has yet to crack the wider consumer market despite generous tax incentives. The clunky design of early models may have impeded sales to those more inclined towards exuding status and enjoying luxury.  However, recent years have seen a great increase in the selection of hybrids and electric cars that range from the pragmatic to the sublime and everything in between.

We can look forward to sleeker designs and better performances with the likes of Bentley’s Bentayga and BMW’s i8 Spyder hitting the market. Efficient and stylish – what more could one ask for?

Talking Cars

We don’t mean Kit or Lightning McQueen here! Interactive cars are in development and will offer the driver a way of communicating safely with other motorists. BMW and Mercedes are in the trial stages of implementing these technologies into their ranges. These super advanced cars will utilise NFC chips and SIM cards to communicate with each other and their surroundings resulting in an operating system that can recognise obstructions and dangers that the human eye can’t see. While it might sound tempting to have a car that takes anxiety out of driving, there is an argument that it could make us more complacent as drivers.  What any such advancements will mean for the rules of the road is anyone’s guess –   no doubt, a cause for intense discussion in the coming decades.

Smart Lights

A car that senses danger and darkness. No, it’s not the Batmobile but Audi’s latest foray into the smart car sector. Gone are the days of the humble bulb. This technology utilises lasers to adapt to the light or darkness as needed in any given scenario. The main advantage for drivers is that they will adjust the ‘beam’ automatically when approaching oncoming traffic. Similarly other manufacturers have developed swivel lights that rotate and move in the socket allowing for greater precision when directing light beams. You might say the future is looking well and truly bright. (Sorry)


Any regular readers will know how vehemently opposed we are to the use of smart phones while driving. It is dangerous and illegal.  Apple and Google have found a way to infiltrate one of the few app free spaces – the car. Android and iOS systems will be available for Volvo, Ford, VW and Vauxhall in 2016. Reviews have suggested that Apple is the leader in its usability but it is still early days for how these apps will impact driving and the driving experience.

Gesture Control

Dials and knobs are out and hand gestures are in. Welcome the infrared camera. It will live on the rear view mirror and pick up certain hand movements connected to a series of functions. BMW has introduced this feature in their 7 Series. Their aim is to declutter the car and offer an easier and more ergonomic cabin in which to drive. The expectation is for dashboards to increasingly become touch screen, virtual and gesture based – likely impacting the aesthetic design of, and behaviour in, cars.

Driverless Cars

Google have been pioneering driverless cars for a couple of years now, with many of the major global car brands like Ford, Mercedes and Toyota indicating that this is the logical conclusion for the transport industry. No doubt next on the list is time travel. Enter DeLorean!






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Car manouvres that people get wrong
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Even though you might have been driving for years, it doesn’t mean your skills are perfect. If you had to go back and sit your test right now, would you pass? Bad habits are easy to develop, you might take the odd short cut here and there when under pressure but guess what? Bad habits make for worse drivers. And even the most diligent drivers among us need a refresher from time to time.
We wanted to look at the most common driving manoeuvres and call on you all to consider what bad habits you have picked up and consider how to correct them. Maybe you’re a perfect driver but know someone who needs a refresher on the basics? Let us highlight the 5 basic driving manoeuvres that everybody gets wrong.

1. Reversing around a corner

This is something that we all practised for the test, but in reality the manoeuvre is conducted with less precision and more frantic turning of the wheel. The main points of failure that occur when reversing around a corner are ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy or even both.

Be sure that mirrors are positioned correctly, and be sure to check these again before you begin to manoeuvre. Align the handles of the doors with the kerb. Small turns of the wheel while looking in the mirrors is key. Remember to take your time as there is no rush. Do not be afraid to stop, take stock and readjust your position.

2. Roundabouts

Roundabouts are there to help the flow of traffic yet so many people seem to get confused. Many people become uncertain about which turn to make, when to signal and how to react to the merging onto the roundabout.

When approaching a roundabout give way to drivers on the right. Make sure you are in the correct lane. Signal clearly if you want to change lane. When approaching the exit you wish to take, indicate and make the turn.

3. Amber Lights

Many motorists see an amber light and speed up, when in reality they need to prepare to stop. The driver is obliged to stop unless the light is green. The driver can then proceed if it is safe to do so. When the amber light is lit up, the car must stop unless it has crossed the stop line. Time after time we have all seen people try and take a chance. And think ahead. If a light has been green for a long time, be prepared to stop.

4. Parallel Parking

This type of parking has been the butt of many jokes. Parallel parking can be a test of patience and how well you can manoeuvre your car. There is a knack to it that not everyone masters. It seems obvious but firstly make sure the parking spot will fit your car. Align your car with the car in front. Take your time and turn the wheel. Check your blind spot and the back of the car. Begin to to reverse. As you reverse, begin turning into the spot.

Stop reversing when the back of the car is in the exact middle of the space. Then stop and turn your wheel back to the centre position. Reverse slowly until your car clears the front. Then stop again. Lock the wheel to the left. Reverse and keep the wheel locked to the left. Once your car is parked parallel to the kerb, turn the wheels forward.

5. Coasting

Coasting happens when the clutch is pressed to the floor while the car is moving and it is one of the most common bad habits drivers can have. Coasting damages the clutch and reduces car control. If you are aware that you coast while you drive, this is a good start as you have identified the issue. Now be vigilant when you are coasting. Many people find it happens when they are taking corners or turning. One good tip is to make sure you are driving at the appropriate speed and in the right gear. It is advised that you accelerate from 5 mph to 10 mph and remain in second gear until you have completed the corner or turn.


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truck driver behind the steering wheel
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog as been approved by the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

There is no doubt that driving whilst tired is extremely dangerous. However, the fast pace of modern life means we often overlook feelings of tiredness when we get behind the wheel. Whether it is the daily commute, ferrying the kids to activities or driving for a living, many of us take a risk when we put the demands of life before our wellbeing. But the risk could be fatal, so here are some facts that will make you think twice about driving when tired.

  1. It is estimated that 20% of all road accidents in the UK are caused by sleep related incidents.
  2. In addition 40% of sleep related accidents are said to involve commercial vehicles.
  3.  Peak times for accidents are after lunch (2pm to 4pm) and in early hours of the morning (2am -6am).
  4.  Tiredness-related collisions are three times more likely to be fatal or result in a serious injury because of the high impact speed and lack of avoiding action.
  5.  One in 10 motorists have fallen asleep at the wheel. That can often involve microsleeps. You might not even be aware but when exhausted you can slip into a microsleep while driving. Mircosleeps are a temporary episode of sleep that may last for a fraction of a second. It may occur as a result of sleep deprivation and can happen when driving.
  6. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. Also if you are in a crashand failed to make your condition known to DVLA, you may be prosecuted.
  7. Statistically male drivers are said to be more likely to crash due to tiredness than their female counterparts. It is reported that 85% of sleep-related crashes involve male drivers. So guys, get more sleep!
  8. In comparison, if you are under 30, you are at a higher risk of sleep related accidents than older drivers. The under 30’s are more likely to crash early in morning after little or no sleep.
  9. Stress and alertness go hand in hand. Stress can lead to tiredness due to irregular or disturbed sleep. If you are guilty of driving when you’re tired, check your stress levels. Perhaps your sleep and sleep habits could use some help.
  10. If your drive for living you are at a risk from falling asleep at the wheel and fatigue related accidents. Four out of 10 tiredness related accidents are caused by or involve, commercial vehicles.
  11. Research suggests that after two hours of driving continuously you will become less able to concentrate and will have slower reaction times. The longer you drive, the less alert you are and the worse your performance driving is.
  12. If you are in an accident and the cause is driver fatigue or tiredness, the driver can be charged with manslaughter and receive a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.
  13. Warning signs of driver fatigue include: yawning, heavy eyes, drooping or bobbing head, muscles relaxing, microsleeps and difficulty concentrating.
  14. The best way to overcome tiredness is sleep. If you are driving and feel fatigued, pull into a safe area, get some air and a short sleep if you can. It is possible to overcome fatigue with a short rest. Hydration is also hugely important to cognitive function and wellbeing.
  15. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure they are well rested and fit to drive but if you are a passenger and the driver exhibits the signs of being fatigued, urge them to take a rest and stop the car at a safe location.


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how to reverse your car safely
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog as been approved by the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Driving, like any skill, improves with experience and practice and reversing is one skill that many drivers can find challenging. We have all found ourselves in a tight spot and grappled with the pressure of how to get out of it. The carpark where the only remaining space is crammed between two badly parked cars. Trying to find a space when you’re running late to pick the kids up. It can be a stressful few moments as you assess the right place to manoeuvre. Whether you’re a learner or an experienced driver, these handy tips can help you improve your reversing skills.


A car’s mirrors are a driver’s best friend, so remember to use them. When you are reversing do not forget to check each mirror during the manoeuvre. Look out for pedestrians, cyclists, other road users and street furniture, such as lamposts. Reversing around a corner can be particularly tricky, but utilizing the mirrors  can guarantee a perfect manoeuvre. Align the left door handles with the curb in your wing mirror. If you keep them aligned you will sail around the corner like a pro.

Blind Spot

Get to know your blind spot and do not forget to check it. The blind spot is the part of the road you cannot see easily with the mirrors. You have to actively turn and check your blind spot. If you experience difficulty seeing the road clearly get someone to guide you.

Other drivers

People are unpredictable and when reversing continue to look back and forth between the front and the back of the car. All of your attention can be consumed by the focus you put on moving the car, but be aware of other drivers. If possible reverse into driveways and drive out of them – this is far safer than backing into traffic.


Parking can be a nightmare and full of potential pitfalls. It can be hard to tell the size of a space and often with demand for parking spaces in busy areas we end up trying to fit into spaces that are not the right size for our car. As with driveways, we advise you to reverse into the space and drive out of it. Make sure there is enough space for passengers to get in and out of the car comfortably. In addition make sure other drivers have space to park in the surrounding spaces. Use the parking space lines to guide you into the space – it seems basic but how many times have you encountered a poorly parked car?


We use technology for everything – so why not use it to help yourself reverse and park. Intelligent parking systems come in-built in many new cars. Built in sensors at the front and rear of the car detect obstacle and emit warnings. More advanced versions also offer steering angles to assist the driver when reversing or parking. Dashboard cameras can also assist you in reversing and parking. Just don’t get too distracted by the gadgets and keep an eye on what you are actually doing… driving.




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