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Fears about “crash for cash” fraudsters have helped to prompt a surge in the proportion of motorists owning a dashcam, a survey of AA members suggests.

A fifth (20%) of drivers own a dashcam – and 51% expressed an interest in having one, a poll of over 21,000 members, found. Five years ago, just 1% of members had a dashcam, the AA said.

The main reason for having a dashcam, given by 60% of those who own one, was to help establish liability in the event of a crash. A quarter (25%) of dashcam owners said their greatest concern is to protect themselves against cash for crash fraudsters, who stage accidents in order to make insurance claims.

Young drivers aged 17 to 24 are most likely to have a dashcam, with over-65s being the next most likely age group, the research found.

Men were more likely than women to say they have a dashcam.

One in 20 (5%) of dashcam owners got one to reduce their insurance premiums, 3% wanted to record possible thefts or collisions while parked, 2% bought one to record bad behaviour by other drivers which they could highlight online, and 1% have a dashcam “because I like gadgets”.

The AA said that as well as helping insurers, dashcams can also be a useful tool for the police. Janet Connor, the AA’s director of insurance said: “Data is king in the event of a collision and dashcam footage provides proper, reliable evidence that can establish fault.”

She said: “While we are all familiar with dashcam footage loaded on to social media, only 2% of AA members said that this was their motivation. Overwhelmingly, drivers say their key reason for using one is to provide evidence in the event of a collision, thus protecting their insurance.

Several insurance fraudsters have been brought to book thanks to camera evidence.

 

 

 

 

Our tips for tackling driving test nerves will make sure you keep your cool on the day.

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Your instructor will often recommend a mock test before the real thing. Make sure you’ve attempted at least one of these – preferably several – and that you can pass them before you even apply for the real thing.The night before your test, make sure you have all the documents you need for your test ready. These include your driving licence, theory test certificate and confirmation email/letter of the appointment.

Familiarise yourself with the test centre

It’s a good idea to visit the driving test centre before the test itself, especially if you haven’t already been there during your lessons. This will help you get used to the location and understand what goes on inside the centre. It’s best to get there early on the day, as rushing will just add to your nerves.

Eat and drink well

Have a banana for breakfast. Bananas are well known among instructors as the driving test superfood, as they’re full of B vitamins and contain tryptophan – a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ – which will help calm your nerves keep your mood upbeat.Nerves can reduce your appetite but it’s important to at least eat something so you have enough energy for the day and can concentrate. Don’t drink energy drinks or too much coffee before a test, as caffeine can heighten your nerves.

The waiting game

Sitting in the waiting room before your test is often the time when people feel the most anxious so it’s a good idea to bring a distraction such as a book or a game on your phone.Breathing exercises are an effective calming technique so focus as you inhale and exhale – this will have a soothing effect and stop your heart from racing. Laughing is also a great remedy for nerves and helps to boost your mood, so why not watch or read something that really makes you giggle? Remember that this is the worst bit – most people find their nerves ease once they’re on the road.

In the car

The examiner is human and they’re not there to fail you – they want you to pass – so don’t be afraid to talk to them as it may put you at ease. There’s nothing wrong with asking the examiner a question or to repeat an instruction if you didn’t hear it, either.Open the window to let in some fresh air if you’re feeling hot and flustered – this can also help to keep you alert. Watch your speed too – when people sometimes speed up when they’re nervous, so just imagine you’re on a normal lesson, breathe and focus.

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Grant Ferguson has become one of the first people to pass a new-style UK driving test, that includes following directions on a sat-nav.

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The revised test has been on trial in 20 locations across the UK since April.

Mr Ferguson, who’s 17, took his test at the Bishopbriggs driving centre in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

Among other more standard manoeuvres, he had to follow a route on a sat-nav for 20 minutes.

The changes are designed to “better reflect real driving”, explained a spokesman for the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

“Any future changes to the test would be subject to full public consultation,” he added.

Other changes being tested include:

  • replacing reversing round a corner with reversing out of a parking space
  • pulling up on the right before rejoining the flow of traffic
  • requiring candidates to show how they would operate the rear-heated screen or other vehicle safety features while driving

The DVSA hopes to complete 1,000 of the new tests, which will continue until early 2016.

So far, around 20 people have taken the new test.

Driving instructor Drew Nicol, who taught Mr Ferguson, thinks the update is a good idea.

“Lots of people have criticised the idea of using sat-navs but people are going to use them when they drive so it makes sense that we teach them to use them properly,” he told the BBC.

“I teach learners to listen to it rather than look at it or glance at it only when it is safe to do so.”

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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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