Category Archives: Travel

Car Safety Checklist for Holiday Trips

When preparing for long road trips, it is always wise to make a complete checklist before you start, as you can never know when your car will break down.

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A good tip is to store an emergency vehicle kit fully equipped at all times in your car. A few must-haves include:

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Reflective triangle
  3. A jack
  4. Flashlight with extra batteries
  5. Jumpstart kit
  6. Tyre inflator kit
  7. Extra fuel

Always get your car thoroughly checked and be ready for any emergencies. Remember, when in doubt, just follow the car manual.

Growth of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in India

The growth of the electric vehicle industry in India directly depends on the availability or shortage of charging stations in the country. As part of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) India programme, the government has approved a plan to establish 2,636 charging stations throughout the country to further encourage the use of EVs and produce high adoption by 2030 in India.

According to this report, of the 2,636 stations:

  1. Rapid charging stations = 1,633
  2. Maharashtra = 317
  3. Andhra Pradesh = 266
  4. Tamil Nadu = 256
  5. Uttar Pradesh = 207
  6. Rajasthan = 205
  7. Delhi and Chandigarh = around 70

It is expected that at least one charging station will be available in most of the selected cities in a grid of 4 km x 4 km. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. (EESL), an energy service provider owned by the Indian government is all set to collaborate with engineering group Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) to build electric-vehicle charging stations throughout India.

Various community charging stations and businesses are taking on the initiative of increasing the accessibility of these stations. Tata Power established the first set of Electric Vehicle charging stations in Mumbai and are now present in Delhi and Hyderabad.

PluginIndia wants to popularize the concept of community charging stations with the idea for businesses/resorts/vacation homes etc, that are at a distance of 40-70 km around cities, to setup normal 15 Amp charge points or Smart EVSE for electric cars and next-generation electric bikes. Having successfully set up 257 Community Charging Stations across India, they have developed a mobile app by the community for the community, complete with Google Maps integration.

RE:CHARGE INDIA App Features

  1. Find electric vehicle charge points near your location
  2. Browse electric vehicle charge points on a Map
  3. Search for charge points
  4. View electric vehicle charge points details
  5. Get driving directions from your location to an electric vehicle charge point
  6. Call phone number directly from the app
  7. Report an electric vehicle charge point
  8. Add a new electric vehicle charge point

Get the App:
Android – Recharge India – EV Charging points map

App Store – RE:CHARGE

All of these efforts have one goal – that easier access would encourage more use; and the faster that EVs become a trend, the better for the environment.

FASTag: What is it?

In an attempt to reduce traffic at toll plazas, the Government of India has mandated electronic payments at all toll plazas across India. To this effect, the government has introduced FASTag.

What is FASTag?
Operated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), FASTag is a simple to use, electronic toll collection system and reloadable tag, which enables automatic deduction of toll charges. It is a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly, letting you pass through the toll plaza without stopping for a cash transaction. It is linked to your prepaid account of choice, from which the toll amount is deducted. The FASTag is affixed on the windscreen of your vehicle after the tag account is active, allowing you to drive through toll plazas without the need to stop for a cash payment.

What are the benefits of using FASTag?

Easy payment – It removes the necessity to carry cash for payments.

Saves time – The instant payment saves you from waiting in those long toll booth queues; as well as saving you the hassle of waiting for your change and knowing how much you need to pay.

Cashback – Payments made through FASTag offer a cashback of up to 2.5% on all tolls for the year 2019-20.

Online Recharge – FASTag can be recharged conveniently through multiple online options: Credit Card/Debit Card/NEFT/RTGS/Net banking and Point of Sale (POS) locations, with the most recent feature update adding a Google Pay UPI option as well.

Ease of Tracking – You get regular SMS alerts to your registered mobile number each time any transactions are done using the tag, for low balance, etc. Periodic statement of account may also be taken from the online portal website.

Online Portal – To view transaction statements, wallet balance, raise queries, recharge, etc.

The FASTag App:
To accelerate the transition to the electronic payment mode, the road ministry, National Highway Authority of India and Indian Highways Company have launched a My FASTag app. The app allows users to buy FASTtags online, find point-of-purchase locations offline, recharge their tags, and make payments. The app also provides access to a list of operational FASTtag toll plazas across the country, 24×7 highway toll-free hotline and banks’ helpline numbers.

How much does it cost?
FASTag has a one-time fee of ₹200. The refundable security deposit depends on the vehicle type. With a reissuance fee of ₹100.

Specific lanes:
The toll booth lanes will be divided by those paying cash and those with a FASTag pass. The FASTag will work only in the lanes assigned for it. Take note that if any vehicles without a valid FASTag enter the FASTag lane, they will be charged double the applicable toll amount in cash.

FASTag is currently operational at 180 toll plazas across national and state highways with more toll plazas being brought under the program in the future.

Learn more about FASTag here

Safety Tips When Driving in the Hills

Travelling to the hills and driving there can be just as thrilling as it can be dangerous. There can be blind curves and hairpin bends and the driver needs to know how to navigate these. There are some necessary cautions and hill driving etiquette that need to be followed at all times.

Here are some tips to follow while driving in hilly regions:

Go Slow:
Do not exceed the approved speed limit while driving to any Hill Station. Watch out for the road signs that instruct you on the ideal speed for the location you are in. Speeding is dangerous on mountain roads and not the place you’d want to test out how fast your car can go. Gravity will work against you whether you are driving up or downhill. Slow down on all curves and descend at the same speed that you used while going up, and drive below the speed limit on curves.

Overtaking:
Overtaking is a risk even on the plains but tenfold on mountain roads. If you must overtake, always check traffic signs for bends, if the road is wide enough, and watch the vehicle in front of you for any signs of change in speed or swerving. When going uphill remember the traffic against you is moving faster coming downhill. Be smart in your judgement before you attempt it.

Know the types of roads:
Before you start your trip, do research on the type of road you will be driving on. Whether it is a typical narrow hilly drive or a well laid dual carriageway. Roads could vary from a good 4 or 6 or even 8 lane expressway to an off-beaten, bumpy path, it is always safer to be mentally prepared for different kinds of roads that are in the area you are travelling to.

Know your driving skills:
You should know just how much your car can take. Does it have the power to climb those steep roads? Will it carry a full load? You should also know how to handle your car to get the best out of it on those uphill pulls. The steeper the road, the more you will have to use lower gears to climb them, as well as lower gears together with accurate braking techniques while descending. Be vigilant about your tyres, your braking and your steering, especially on wet/damp roads.

No matter how much you want to, it’s never a good idea to try out those Fast and Furious drifting manoeuvres you’ve seen in the films. As adventurous as you feel, safety is still the priority.