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Learner drivers can take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor from 4 June 2018.

From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.

This will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.

At the moment, you can only have motorway lessons after you’ve passed your driving test. Some newly-qualified drivers take lessons through the voluntary Pass Plus scheme.

How the change will work

Learner drivers will need to be:

Accompanied by an approved driving instructor

Driving a car fitted with dual controls

Any motorways lessons will be voluntary.  It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them

The change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways.

Trainee driving instructors won’t be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.

Motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change.

Until the law changes, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.

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One in two learner drivers (54%) have been out on the road with their parents despite many mums and dads showing a lack of knowledge of basic driving best practice, with one in five admitting that they are not sure whether they would pass a driving test if they had to take it again.

 The research, commissioned by Admiral-sponsored Young Driver campaign, followed driving instructors working for the scheme where they claimed that their most dreaded phrase from the young drivers was “but my dad says…”

When questioned, 76% of parents believed that they were up-to-date with the latest rules and could provide their children with adequate instruction. However, when quizzed on particular facts it showed that many were off target when shooting for the right answer.

Young Driver offers driving tuition to 10-17 year olds across Britain, and surveyed more than 1,000 people to get these results.

Here are a few of the ‘outdated advice’ as mentioned by Admiral:

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre – more than a third of parents have forgotten this basic rule, despite it being the cornerstone of good driving. While one in two forget to teach their children about the importance of checking dangerous blind spots.

Steering – Four out of five parents (82%) wouldn’t teach the push-pull technique favoured by instructors.

Gear changes – 38% would insist the learner moved up and down the gears sequentially (1-2-3-4-5-6). However, block gear changing is now considered acceptable in many situations.

Hand position – despite many of us being taught that hands should be kept on the steering wheel at the 10 to two position, that advice has been revised over recent years. It is now recommended that hands are in the quarter to three position, to maintain control and to prevent a serious injury should an airbag deploy. Some 46% of parents admitted to insisting their youngsters use the original ten and two placement they’d been taught in the pre-airbag era.

Manoeuvres – One in five would be adamant that a turn in the road was a fail unless it was completed in three manoeuvres. In fact, the modern test allows for up to five turns, hence, it no longer being called a ‘three point turn”.

Assisted technology – One in four would insist young drivers didn’t use parking sensors or cruise control to help with their driving, but these are perfectly acceptable in a test situation when used appropriately.

The research also discovered that dads are twice as likely as mums to take their child out for practice, with the majority offering additional experience lessons alongside ones with their driving instructor.

Kim Stanton, of Young Driver, said: “Our instructors have long despaired of the phrase ‘my dad says’ just because it normally means a parent is contradicting what the professionals are trying to teach the learner!

“Because we teach under 17′s, usually the youngsters haven’t yet had any experience of being taught by a parent, but children are like sponges – they constantly want to absorb information, and once they’ve had a lesson with Young Driver, they often question their parents on driving techniques.

“But of course, the instructors are the experts, and know what the current best practice is, so we’d hope parents would swot up a bit before giving any dud advice! It might actually help their own driving skills too.”

www.thedrivingskool.com

Driving and Drugs

THOUSANDS of drivers who take prescription medication to control pain and seizures or to manage anxiety could fall foul of the new drug-driving law, legal experts have warned.

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It may come as no surprise that under new regulations which came into force last month drivers face prosecution if they have taken illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.

But the new rules also include eight common legally prescribed drugs such as oxazepam and diazepam which are used to relieve anxiety and temazepam which is prescribed for insomnia.

To defend themselves against possible prosecution drivers need to ensure that they have evidence that they are taking prescription drugs legally, advises Just Motor Law specialist Matt Reynolds.

“This law potentially poses a huge issue to those driving while taking properly prescribed medication,” he warns.

“Everybody metabolises and excretes drugs at a different rate, meaning some people may be more likely to have residual levels of drugs in their system than others, despite taking the same dose.

“However the good news is that those who face prosecution because of the levels of prescription drugs in their system may be able to raise a medical defence if they are taking the medicine in accordance with the advice of their doctor and the patient information leaflets provided by the manufacturer.

“I recommend patients visit their doctor in order to obtain a letter confirming their legitimate use of the drug they have been prescribed and to carefully read the advice leaflets that accompany their medication.

“It is in no way a guarantee that they will avoid prosecution but it’s a practical and beneficial first step to a medical defence.”

Although only recently introduced, the new law is already stirring up controversy.

Greater Manchester Police announced it would delay implementing the new rules until it had examined the legal implications of the changes.

But Daily Express GP Dr Rosemary Leonard says: “If you are taking your medication according to your doctor’s advice you are unlikely to run into any trouble.

“However if you are stopped because your driving is giving cause for concern and you are found to have prescription drugs affecting your driving, then you could be prosecuted.”

The penalties for drug-driving are on a par with those for drink-driving.

Those who are found guilty will face a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison.

How many driving lessons on average do you need to take before you can pass? What’s the average number of lessons people take before they take their driving test?

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Chances are, these are questions you’ve been asking yourself and others.

We’re here to tell you the answer is ‘does not matter’.

That’s right. It does not matter what the average number of lessons is, because you are not an average person. You are unique with unique skills and unique needs.

You probably have noticed when asking around for the number of average lessons you’ll get all sorts of ridiculous numbers. We’ve even heard people claiming they only needed 10 lessons to pass their driving test!

Let’s pretend for a second that they’re telling the truth (they’re not). They passed after 10 lessons (they didn’t). So what?

What has somebody else’s ability (or imagination) got to do with you?

Even still, we have a problem with the question. In fact, any decent driving instructor should whince if you ask them how many lessons you need before you can pass your test.

The reason is simple. Do you want to simply pass your test, or do you want to be a safe and confident driver?

Every year hundreds of new drivers die on the road. Imagine how much smaller the figure would be if all of those drivers had the desire to become safe drivers, rather than to just scrape a pass for their driving test with the minimum amount of lessons?

Think about it for a second. Do you want to sacrifice your life (and other people’s) for the sake of shaving off a few hours and saving £100?

There is a myth out there that driving instructors want to stretch out the number of lessons as much as possible. That if they could they’d make you have to take 100 lessons before you could take your test.

This is just untrue.

Every driving instructor has a responsibility to you. They would rather be accused of stretching out lessons than be the one who rushed through 20 lessons for a young person to pass their test only to die in a car crash months later.

That is why we’re not going to tell you what the average number of lessons it takes to pass. We don’t want to add to the idea that the point of driving lessons is to learn the bare minimum in the minimal amount of time to squeeze through a pass.

It will take you as long as it will and as many lessons as it will to be a safe and confident driver.

Remember, your safety is worth far more than any amount of money you think you’ll be saving by rushing things.

www.thedrivingskool.com

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Learner drivers may be asked to use satnav and three-point turn could be scrapped in favour of more common manoeuvres

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The three-point turn could be dropped from driving tests after the government signalled the biggest shakeup in 20 years.

Learners may be asked to use a satellite navigation system as part of a revised practical exam and the three-point-turn – more recently known as the “turn in the road” – could be scrapped altogether.

About 1,000 learner drivers across the UK will be invited to a trial of new practical exam measures designed to “better reflect real-life driving”.

The test has existed in its current form for about two decades, although “independent driving” – where motorists are asked to find their way to a destination – has formed part of the practical exam in recent years.

A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesman said: “We are carrying out initial research to explore how the driving test could better reflect real-life driving. Any future changes to the test would be subject to full public consultation.”

The trial will consider extending the independent driving section from 10 to 20 minutes of the total 40-minute length, and asking candidates to follow directions on a satnav, as an alternative to using road signs.

It will also consider replacing the “reverse around a corner” and “turn in the road” manoeuvres with more realistic everyday moves, such as reversing out of a parking bay, or pulling up on the left or right before rejoining the flow of traffic, the DVSA said.

Learners may also be asked one of the two safety questions while on the move rather than at the start of the test. This could involve operating the rear windscreen heater while driving.

The Driving Instructors Association (DIA), the largest industry body for driver and rider trainers, has welcomed plans to review the driving test.

Carly Brookfield, DIA chief executive, said: “DIA has been heavily involved in the scoping of this project and is enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents to evolve the L-test to a level where it more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road based risk and driving in real life, on real roads.

“The DIA and its members will play a key role in the project as it is critical customers of the test, such as driving instructors and candidates, have their input in making the test more fit for purpose and more reflective of modern driving.”

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  • Always carry a survival pack in the car, including food, water and a blanket. This should include extra warm clothes.
  • Ensure your phone battery is fully charged and you have an in-car charger.
  • Put a shovel in your boot – in case you need to dig yourself out of trouble.
  • Consider fitting winter tyres, but even if you don’t, have your summer tyres checked. Winter driving means that tyres should have no less than 3mm remaining tread.
  • Have your battery checked. Batteries have to work extra hard in the cold and are more likely to fail.
  • Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up with the correct concentration of screen wash. Windscreens get particularly dirty in the winter months and screen wash will help prevent the liquid from freezing.
  • Have your coolant checked – the antifreeze needs to protect your engine against the lowest of temperatures.
  • Have your air-con system serviced. It’s not just for summer – an effective air-con system will demist windscreens much more quickly, helping visibility.
  • Adjust your driving style to the conditions – be sensible in the rain, snow and ice.
  • Above all, in bad conditions consider whether your journey is really necessary.

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For a while, some insurance companies have been encouraging teenagers to get a little black box in their cars. But how do they work, and will everyone soon have one?

For many young people, getting their first wheels is a rite of passage, a path to independence, the precursor to flying the nest.

But with one in five young drivers having an accident within their first 12 months of being on the road, insurance premiums are high. Many look to ways to reduce their costs.

It has led to the rise of what is known as the little black box, which motorists are installing in their cars to prove they are a good driver, in the hope they see insurance costs drop.

The British Insurers Brokers’ Association (Biba) says sales of motor insurance policies which use “black box” technology, called telematics, have increased fivefold over the past two years.

It says it can knock 25% to 30% off policies, saving some young drivers up to £1,000.

Critics say they cost too much and civil liberty campaigners have expressed concern about the potential for invasion of privacy, or data incriminating drivers.

So how does telematics technology work, and what do these black boxes record?

Typically the boxes are placed inside a dashboard and are able to monitor things such as speed, acceleration and braking, and the times of the day that the cars are on the roads.

The safer the driver, the better the score and the lower the insurance premium.

But prices can go up as well as down. If the analysed information shows examples of poor driving, such as fast cornering or doing wheelies, the black box will also pick that up.

Nick Moger, one of the founders of Young Marmalade, which offers a young driver insurance scheme with telematics technology, says his company uses a green-orange-red system to monitor driving, emailing drivers to alert them when they have picked up bad driving.

“The very first time, they get an email to say they are driving erratically, if they ignore that then they get another email to say you are on probation for 30 days and if they continue to drive badly we increase the premium by £250,” he says.

Manufacturers are convinced highlighting poor driving patterns can improve driving behaviour and reduce the number of accidents.

“It has been proved in Italy – where they are probably the leaders in Europe in accident rates – their rate has dropped by 16% by having black boxes,” says Moger.

More than 600,000 cars in Italy are believed to have the devices, many more than in the UK. But Biba expects 500,000 UK cars to have them by July 2014.

Nicole Darbyshire, a 20-year-old nursery nurse from Bolton, has already signed up to the system.

After passing her driving test in April, she says the cost of a car and its associated insurance was “a big worry” before she discovered that telematics could help reduce bills.

“For the first month, I was really aware of the box, and if I accidentally sped, I’d brake really quickly. Now I tend to forget it’s there.

“I can log onto my account online and see how I am driving. It shows when I’ve over-accelerated – it has pictures of the street which is a bit strange. So far I’ve been 97% green, so that’s good. I’ve got more relaxed about checking now as I know it will email me if I do anything wrong,” she says.

But not everyone is so relaxed about signing up to this sort of surveillance.

Taylor Brown, 21, says he thinks his insurance company already has enough information. “Why should I then tell them what I’m getting up to – Big Brother Britain and that, but you know, it is up to me where I go.”

Joe Johns, 18, doesn’t like the idea either. “It would be like being on a driving test 24/7. You’d always have someone monitoring you about how you’re driving, your foothold, your braking. I just wouldn’t fancy it.”

Firms such as Coverbox, iKube, Co-operative Insurance, Swinton and the AA now offer insurance schemes with telematics for young drivers.

The AA, which stores a small electronic box under the bonnet transmitting data via satellite to the company, says savings of up to £850 can be achieved when compared with standard inexperienced driver policies.

And the boxes aren’t the only devices that incorporate artificial intelligence as an aid to monitor and control a young driver’s behaviour.

Insurance firm Aviva has launched a new pay-how-you-drive smartphone app which could offer drivers savings on their car insurance premiums, based on how they drive.

Motoring journalist Paul Horrell says the devices are part of a wider trend that is seeing insurers and manufacturers try to incentivise or coerce young drivers into being more careful.

He cites a Ford product in the US called MyKey, which allows a master key to set various limits – such as maximum speed or audio – on the vehicle.

Volvo’s Alcoguard monitors alcohol levels. It will not start until a driver has blown into a unit, which transmits the results via radio signal to the car’s electronic control system. If a blood-alcohol limit of 0.2g/l is exceeded, the engine will not start.

And DriveCam, which was developed to help organisations with fleets of drivers, like haulage companies, monitor their drivers’ performances, uses a system which relies on two cameras – one pointing at the road, and one monitoring the driver – to record instances of bad driving such as texting or tailgating.

So might everyone soon have a little black box, or something similar, in their car?

Horrell says it is often parents that are particularly attracted to devices such as little black boxes. But he thinks it is unlikely that everyone will subscribe to such surveillance.

We are definitely going to have more behaviour-based motor insurance in the future”

“If people are willing to submit to this kind of observation, they are probably the kind of people who are willing to behave more responsibly.”

Graeme Trudgill, head of corporate affairs at Biba, says although he expects to see a significant increase in the number of little black boxes in the young driver market over the next couple of years, it would not be economical for all insurance companies, and all age groups, to go down this route.

In many ways the future depends on technology, he says, as it depends on what happens with smartphone apps such as Aviva’s, which are cheaper than having a box fitted. And in the next couple of years, vehicle manufacturers are also going to be required to install emergency call buttons, which will transmit GPS signals and have the potential to use telematics.

“What is clear is that we are definitely going to have more behaviour-based motor insurance in the future – and young drivers are going to still be the primary market,” he says.

Adeola Ajayi, from the Association of British Insurers, says riskier or more dangerous drivers are likely to be the ones who are the most resistant.

She thinks there will be a spike in the number of young female drivers opting for a black box after 21 December, when an EU ruling which bans insurers from taking gender into account when setting premiums comes into effect.

“Female drivers, who are statistically safer, have benefited from cheaper insurance in the past, so these might prove popular with them.

“Others are simply keen to do whatever they can to get a premium that reflects their exact risk, and this is a way of getting more insight and rewarding customers,” she says.

www.thedrivingskool.com

Driving lessons, the test itself, buying and insuring a car all add to the expense, but there are ways to limit the damage

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Passing your driving test has long been seen as a rite of passage, but the rising cost of running a car is driving more and more young people off the roads. The Department for Transport’s recent National Travel Survey shows a sharp drop over the past 18 years in the number of young people holding a full driving licence. While in 1995, some 43% of 17- to 20-year-olds held a full driving licence, that has plunged to just 31%. The fall is sharpest among young men, where it has dropped from 51% to 30%, while the percentage of young women with a full driving licence has slipped from 36% to 31%. Over the same period the proportion of 21- to 29-year-olds with full driving licences has also fallen.

The main reason fewer young people are driving is cost, says Stephen Glaister, director at the RAC Foundation. “Younger people were hit disproportionately hard by the downturn. Even though employment is now rising, incomes are stagnant, and many are only in part-time work, and find running a car too expensive.”

Spiralling student debt and rising housing costs leave little money for driving lessons, at around £25 an hour, and the test itself. With the practical test costing up to £75, and the theory test adding another £31, the cost of buying a car is the least of the problems facing young drivers. In 1995 a five-year-old Ford Fiesta, a typical first car, cost £3,250, against £5,510 today, according to figures from motoring guide Glass’s. That is a rise of nearly 70%, almost exactly in line with the increase in average earnings over the period, says Andrew Jackson, head of analytics at Glass’s. “In real terms, the Fiesta isn’t any more expensive than it was in 1995, even though the materials, technology and manufacturing quality are incomparably better.”

Other motoring costs have accelerated sharply, according to the RAC Foundation’s UK Cost of Motoring Index. While the cost of living has risen 76% since 1995, as measured by the retail price index, the cost of maintaining a car has risen 140%, while petrol and oil costs have increased 145%. Meanwhile the cost of tax and insurance has soared by 170% since 1995, well over twice the rate of inflation. The average 17-year-old now pays a hefty £1,997 a year for motor insurance, according to figures from Towers Watson and comparison site Confused.com.

Here are some ways to make getting behind the wheel more affordable.

• Buy a small car

As a general rule, the less powerful your car is the less it is likely to cost to insure, says Lee Griffin, car insurance expert at GoCompare.com. “Young or inexperienced drivers should therefore look at cars with smaller engines as opposed to performance vehicles. But this isn’t the only factor they take into account. They will also look at its value, engine size, power-to-weight ratio, and availability of parts. These factors determine which insurance group the car will be in, and how much it will cost to insure.”

• Shop around

One in three car insurers wouldn’t cover a 17-year-old driver at all, while 10% wouldn’t cover anybody under 25, according to GoCompare.com. “All insurers rate drivers differently, and while some target older, more experienced drivers, others will price competitively for younger drivers, so shop around to make sure you’re getting the right cover at the best possible price.”

An online search for an 18-year-old motorist covering an eight-year-old Ford Fiesta Freedom with a 1.3 litre engine, with 10,000 annual mileage and a £250 excess, showed the cheapest premium at £2,917 a year from Carrot Car Insurance, a telematics-based insurer that targets younger drivers. Next was Hastings Essential, which quoted £4,129 a year. Insure Pink, 1st Central and Go Girl offered quotes ranging from £4,634 to £5,000 a year. Some insurers charged up to £9,000, while many didn’t quote at all.

• Get better qualified

You may be able to get a slightly lower premium if you have taken advanced driving courses such as Pass Plus or the advanced driving test from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). If that 18-year-old had Pass Plus, for example, Hastings Direct would cover them for £2,240, but the next best quote was from Insure Pink at £4,147.

• Secure your vehicle

Fitting your car with an approved alarm, immobiliser and tracking device can make life harder for thieves, reducing the chance that you will make a claim for theft. “It helps if you can park off-road overnight, preferably in a locked garage or at least on a driveway, as your insurer may reduce your premiums accordingly,” says Kevin Pratt, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket.com.

• Add an older driver to your policy

Adding an older, “safer” driver, such as a parent or relative, will cut the cost of your insurance policy, Pratt says. “You must list the person who drives the car most as the main driver, otherwise you may be accused of ‘fronting’. This is treated as insurance fraud and will lead to a minimum £300 fine plus six points on your licence. It will almost certainly cost more to get insurance in the future, if you can get it at all.”

• Try telematics (Blackbox)

Telematics technology can also help young motorists drive down their premiums. This involves fitting a gadget in your car that measures your speed, cornering, acceleration and braking, as well as your location and the time of day you drive. If the black box judges you to be a safe driver, your insurer should reward you with a lower premium. If you’re taking risks, however, your premium could increase.

A 17-year-old student living in Cardiff driving a two-year-old Ford Fiesta, with no claims or convictions, annual 7,000 mileage and a £250 excess, would typically pay £2,124 a year for standard insurance, but this would fall to £1,783 with Telematics, according to figures from Confused.com. That’s a saving of £341, or 16%. A 20-year-old with three-years’ no-claims bonus would typically see their premium fall from £780 to £601.

• Drive safely

If you’re a young driver with points on your licence or a recent insurance claim to your name, you’re in double trouble, says Pratt. “Driving with care is the name of the game. Points on a licence can easily add 10% to your insurance costs, so avoid speeding and other convictions.” Young drivers should avoid making insurance claims, so they can steadily build up a no-claims discount – this can knock up to 75% off the cost of cover after five years.

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It’s often imagined that young drivers have too much confidence and rush to complete their driver training in their eagerness to get on the roads.

However, a recent survey, taken from a sample of 2,000 drivers between the ages of 18 and 30, paints a different picture, with 62% of young drivers in favour of a minimum learning period.

Statistics show that many young drivers feel unequipped to drive safely and competently after passing their test, and many will go out of their way to avoid driving situations where they lack confidence.

Young Driver Survey Data

The report gives a unique insight into the opinions of Britain’s young drivers and shows that many of them feel totally unprepared for driving after passing their test. Yet young drivers themselves are rarely consulted about their driving experiences.

Although the driving test has been improved to better reflect real-life conditions on the roads, almost half of newly qualified drivers (48%) felt unprepared for motorway driving and around one in three (29%) were nervous about night-time driving and driving alone after passing their test.

Situations that young drivers admitting avoiding included motorway driving, driving in city centres and turning right at busy junctions.

In the survey, published in August 2013, one in four drivers who had had an accident believed that it might have been avoided if they had spent longer learning to drive. Despite this, amongst the young people consulted in the survey, one in five took less than three months to pass their driving test and 50% took less than six months to pass.

Written by: Janet Fisher

Dagenham

 

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