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Learner drivers will be allowed to take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor in a car with dual controls from 2018.

Allowing learner drivers to have lessons on motorways will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.

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

How the change will work

The change will apply to England, Scotland and Wales. Learner drivers will need to be

Accompanied by an approved Driving Instructor

Driving a vehicle 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 to have a motorway lesson.Trainee driving instructors won’t be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.

Motorway driving will not be included in the driving test changes coming into force on 4 December 2017.

The change will only apply to learner drivers of cars – learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed to have motorway lessons.

When the change will happen

The exact date in 2018 will be confirmed nearer the time.

The change will be well-publicised so driving instructors and learner drivers are prepared for the change, and other road users know what to expect. The Highway Code rules on motorways will also be updated.

Driving instructor vehicles and training

Driving instructors will be allowed to decide whether or not to keep their driving school roof-top box on during motorway lessons, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

However, the car will still need to display L plates on the front and rear if the rooftop box is removed.

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Winter-Driving-Snow

Driving In Snow

Before you set out

  • Check tyres for adequate tread. Poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice. If you live in an area where snow is common it might be worth changing to winter tyres with deeper tread
  • Use a good quality screenwash that protects down to at least -35 to prevent the water from freezing. If you don’t, your windscreen wipers could be rendered useless in extreme conditions
  • Allow more time in the morning to clear car windows and mirrors of snow before setting off
  • Use lukewarm water or de-icer to defrost the outside of your vehicle. You should never use hot or boiling water
  • Make sure any auto wiper control is switched off before turning the ignition on as this could blow the wiper control fuse if they are frozen to the screen
  • Be prepared for every eventuality by ensuring that your car is equipped with the following: demisting pad, torch (wind-up so you don’t run out of battery), spare screenwash, de-icer, ice scraper, blanket, shovel, phone charger, map and a square of carpet that you can use to put under your drive wheels should you get stuck in the snow.
  • Remove snow from the top of your car. Otherwise breaking sharply could cause snow to fall onto the windscreen and hamper your vision or another driver’s
  • Do you need to use snow socks?

The following tips should always be followed when driving in the snow

  • When driving in snow its important to accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. You may need to move off in second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip
  • You may need to leave as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap between you and the car in front
  • If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it – for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
  • If the road has not been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheeltracks or other vehicles as compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow
  • Controls such as the brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should be operated smoothly and slowly
  • Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow
  • Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer

De-icing your vehicle

We recommend allowing about 10 minutes to clear your windscreen thoroughly using a scraper and de-icer if necessary. Don’t forget about the other windows and your mirrors as well … they’re just as vital for safe visibility and are often ignored, limiting your vision, especially at junctions.

Don’t be tempted to pull away until the windscreen is fully clear – it can be dangerous and the Highway Code states it is illegal to drive with poor visibility.

Plan ahead to save time in the mornings, either by putting an windsreen cover on the night before or getting up a little earlier so you have plenty of time to de-ice your vehicle.

Never pour hot or boiling water on your windscreen, otherwise you run the risk of cracking the glass and an expensive repair bill. If you don’t have any de-icer, you could use lukewarm water.

It’s also a good idea to carry a lock de-icer with you to clear your lock. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying de-icer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.

Finally, ensure all your vehicle lights, front and rear, are free from frost and/or snow – a thick film of frost on the lens can affect the intensity of the lights, making it difficult for other road users to see you or your signals.

If you use the vehicle’s heater /screen demister, don’t leave your car unattended while you wait for it to defrost as you run the risk of having your vehicle stolen.

RAC Driving in the snow.

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Plans for instructors to take ‘competent’ trainees on UK’s fastest roads in dual-controlled cars backed by road safety groups

HA0523 - Motorbike on the network. This set of images illustrates bikers driving on motorways and A roads in a safe manner.

Learner drivers will be allowed to practise on motorways for the first time under government plans to improve road safety.

Under current rules, drivers are permitted on motorways only after they have passed their test, though there is no mandatory training for the 70mph roads.

The transport minister, Andrew Jones, announced the plans on Friday, which would allow approved instructors to take “competent” trainees on motorways in dual-controlled cars.

The RAC director, Steve Gooding, and Neil Greig, policy director at the IAM RoadSmart charity, backed the proposal.

Gooding said: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast-moving, often heavy, flow of traffic.

“Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads, so we welcome this move, which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely.”

Greig said it was a “sensible and measured solution”, adding: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, often fatal, error how to use our fastest and most important roads.”

Under the proposals, motorcyclists would take a theory test as part of the compulsory basic training (CBT) course, which allows bikes and mopeds to be ridden unaccompanied. CBT certificates would be revoked if the motorist gets six penalty points.

Jones said: “These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skillset which will improve safety levels on our roads.”

Reports had said the government was considering making learner drivers complete 120 hours of training before taking their tests, but the Department for Transport said there were no current plans for such a measure.

A spokeswoman said: “We have commissioned a £2m research programme that will look at ways we can reduce the number of accidents involving new and inexperienced drivers, and this will look at a range of measures.”

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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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In a recent survey it has been revealed that 52% of children prefer to be driven by Dad rather than Mum, despite Dad’s taking more risks.

The study by Ingenie, a young driver insurance brand, shows the incredible amount of parents’ driving behaviour that their kids are absorbing from a very young age. The kind of in-car bad habits that the study focused on revealed that a quarter of dads regularly portrayed unsafe driving.

26% of dads showed a habit of accelerating too quickly and 22% speeding when driving, compared with a considerably lower percentage of mums (11% and 22% respectively). Despite this over half (52%) of children preferred being driven by Dad than Mum (39%).

The research consisted of children aged between 10 and 16 years old, as they declared that they frequently witnessed their parents committing similar transgressions with dad proving to be the biggest culprit. Almost half (43%) of dads get angry behind the wheel, which proved to be a huge difference to a fifth (18%) of the mums that adopted the same trait.

Children also revealed that 57% of Dads shout at others whilst driving compared to 44% of Mums, and Dad is 13% more likely to swear in the car than Mum.

With this in mind, it’s surprising to see that over a third (34%) of children would rather have their dad teach them to drive than their mum (25%). These findings could reflect on the children not seeing these bad driving habits is a serious matter and misunderstand that they are actions that are not accepted.

Richard King, Ingenie CEO, said: “The results that we are teaching children bad driving habits long before they start lessons and subsequently pass their test. Parents need to understand the importance of setting a good example behind the wheel and be aware of the amount of information that children absorb. How we drive as parents ultimately influences how safely our children will drive in the future.”

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Many myths and rumors have built up around the practical driving test which simply aren’t true. It’s easy to believe them and this can affect your confidence when it comes to taking your test.

So here, we dispel the myths and puts the facts right about what REALLY happens when you come to take your test.

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“If you stall during your test, you will fail.”

Not entirely true! By the time you’re ready to take the practical driving test, shaky clutch control should be a distant memory but the test seems to do funny things to candidates! Stalling repeatedly in traffic or stalling when entering major junction, affecting other road users, will fail the test. If you stall, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and start over again. Some candidates have even passed tests after stalling twice! Nerves can ruin a test for even the best of drivers so it’s important to not dwell on mistakes as some aren’t as bad as you may think!

“If you get take a wrong turn, the examiner will fail you.”

The driving test is designed to allow the Examiner to assess your driving ability during the course of a 30-35 minute route, taking in various road and traffic conditions. If you are asked to turn right at a junction but turn left in error, you will not incur a driving fault as long as you correctly turn left.  Even on the recently added ‘independent driving’ element of the test, you are not penalised for getting lost during the drive, so If you are not sure where you should be going, ask for help and you will get it! What the Examiner doesn’t want you to do is drive erratically or dangerously because of poor planning and anticipation e.g. not seeing your intended junction until too late, turning across traffic when not safe to do so and causing the flow of traffic to slow unnecessarily. Whatever you do on the test, do it safely and you’ll have a good chance of being successful.

“Driving Examiners are trying to fail candidates.”

The Examiner has less to do if you pass!  When you pass your test, the Examiner issues your test certificate and heads back to his office for quick cuppa before the next test. However, if you have failed your test they return to their office to write a report, detailing the reasons for the fail. Another urban legend I sometimes hear from students is that Examiners have to fail a certain amount of tests each month. While it is true that Examiners are expected to have pass rates that fall within 10% of the local average, there is nothing to suggest that the test results are compromised because of this; in fact in my experience the only person who really affects final decision is the candidate taking the test!

“My mum/dad say they only took a few lessons and passed a few weeks after turning 17.”

This statement may be true, but at a rough estimate most candidate’s parents will have taken their test 20 to 30 years ago in very different times. The volume of traffic on the roads has greatly increased since then, as have the number of complex junctions and road systems in busy urban areas. The DVSA have changed the test on a regular basis over past 30 years to reflect the more challenging situations that drivers face on modern roads, including the recently introduced independent driving element of the test and a greater skill level in hazard awareness and anticipation, needed to deal with today’s busy roads. The DVSA suggest that an average of 45 hours of tuition along with around 20 hours of private practice is required in order to reach the test standard.

“You should check your mirrors every 7 seconds.”

While checking your mirrors every 7 seconds may suit some traffic conditions, it is more important to check your mirrors when appropriate.  If you’re worrying about checking every 7 seconds, you won’t be focused on what’s happening on the road. The test assesses the candidate’s use of mirrors when signalling, before changing speed and before changing direction, all of which demonstrate good awareness and planning. The examiners can easily see when you are looking in your mirrors so you don’t have to make it too obvious. It only needs to be a glance and should not distract you from the road ahead!

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£100 fine and 3 licence points for driving with snow on car roof

 

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Driving with snow on your car roof could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

And if you find it hard to believe, check rule 229 of the Highway Code

Rule 229 states before you set off

 You MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows

 You MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible

 Make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly

 Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users

Check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted

Police say motorists could be prosecuted for careless or inconsiderate driving if they are involved in an accident and it is deemed that snow on the roof was a factor.

Motorists could face a £100 fine and three points on their license if snow on the roof of their car contributes to an accident. This could apply if snow falls forward onto a driver’s windscreen, obscuring the view, or backwards causing a hazard for motorists traveling behind them.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: ‘Many people are not aware of the hazard that snow on their cars can cause. Falling snow can be dangerous for all road users.’

Rule 229 of the Highway Code states, in a section entitled ‘driving in adverse weather conditions’, that snow should be removed from your car.

The full rule says: ‘Before you set off you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows. You MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible, make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly.

‘Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users. Check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.’

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Cell_phone_use_while_driving

Young Drivers are more likely to use their mobile phones while driving than older motorists, a survey suggests.

The poll for driving safety charity Brake found 49% of 17-24 year olds had been in work calls while on the road, compared with 17% for all age groups.

About 35% of young people said they had spoken to family, and 21% with friends – compared with 23% and 15% overall.

Brake asked about hand-held and hands-free calls. They are both a distraction “risking devastating crashes”, it said.

“It is a sobering thought that a significant number of these life-threatening distractions come from drivers’ own friends and family,” said Julie Townsend from the charity.

The survey questioned 1,000 drivers from across the UK on whether they had spoken on the phone while driving, hand-held or hands-free, in the last 12 months. If so, they were asked who they were talking to.

Using a hand-held phone while driving was made illegal in 2003. Using a hands-free kit is allowed but a driver can still be stopped if police believe they are being distracted.

Brake says that making calls hands-free is still a cause of distraction and are campaigning for it be banned.

The charity is advising drivers to put their phones on silent while driving, with their phone away from them. The safest way to make a call is to stop, they say.

According to an observational study by the Department for Transport last October, motorists who use phones are more likely to be texting or using social media than making calls.

Brake has also warned about the dangers of being tired while driving, saying that it is wise to break for at least 15 minutes every two hours.

When asked how often they driven for more than two hours without a break in the last 12 months, 8% said weekly or more, 16% once a month and 29% once a year.

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Apple has patented a system that would lock drivers out of their smartphones while on the move, in a bid to cut down on accidents caused by texting and other distracting features

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Apple has patented a system that would provide a “lock-out mechanism” to stop drivers texting or using other distracting functions of their smartphones while on the move.

The patent describes how a device could determine if it was moving by looking at data from GPS, phone towers or even images from the camera. Visual clues would enable the device to calculate if its owner was driving the car or merely a passenger, imposing limits in the former case but not the latter.

Algorithms would look for a steering wheel in close proximity to the camera, or search for the number of faces – only one visible person would indicate that the user must be the one driving. It could also differentiate between the interior of a car and a train carriage or seat on a bus, where safety features would be unnecessary.

The application even suggests that the accelorometer could be used to detect when an unscrupulous driver was tilting the phone so as to not reveal the steering wheel and evade the safety feature. Sensing the speed of travel would also prevent the limits from kicking-in if the user was just walking.

Apple says in the patent application, filed in 2008 but only published and granted this week, that texting while driving has become a “major concern” of the police, and cites a 2006 study which found that 80pc of crashes were caused by distractions such as applying makeup, eating and text messaging.

The patent also claims that it is “doubtful” that police can stop people texting while driving because it can be done on the lap and is harder to spot.

Other studies have shown that sending text messages while driving was as dangerous as being a quarter over the legal drink-drive limit. The road safety charity Brake says that texting increases the chance of a commercial driver crashing by 23 times, and slows reaction times by 35 per cent.

The first part of Apple’s suggestion would use the phone’s own hardware to determine if it was travelling above a certain speed, and then lock the owner out of certain functions such as text messaging. It further develops the idea by suggesting that the car itself, or perhaps just the key, could be modified to send a signal to the phone to shut down certain features.

The application says that such a feature could be “a significant selling point in the eyes of concerned parents, and it could lead to legislation that would require all handheld computing devices to disable texting while driving.”

There are several Android apps which aim to perform a similar function, but Apple’s tight controls on what apps can and cannot access on the iPhone’s hardware have largely prevented similar software from launching on the iOS platform.

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.