Should you choose automatic or manual driving lessons?

Should you choose automatic or manual driving lessons
So, you’ve made the decision to start learning to drive and you’re eagerly looking to book your first lesson. But before you can get behind the wheel, there’s an important decision to make; are you going to opt for automatic or manual lessons?
At one time the majority of cars on Britain’s roads were fitted with manual gearboxes but as technology has improved, the demand for automatics has grown.
So much so that of all the new cars made in 2017, 40% of them were automatics. So, is now the time to be opting for automatic lessons?

Or does a manual license have more benefits? We’ve weighed up the most important things to consider so you can decide which is the best option for you.

Which is the easiest?

Once you start learning to drive, you’ll want to pass and get out on your own as quickly as possible. Having an automatic gear box means that you don’t need to learn how to change gear or spend time fine-tuning your clutch control.

And with more time to focus on your manoeuvres and no chance of stalling, you may pass your test quicker than you would in a manual.

But be careful!

With an automatic license you’ll be prohibited from driving a manual unless you retake your test. And there may be times, such as when hiring or needing a courtesy car, that this can cause delays or other problems.

A manual license will allow you to drive both types of car which may give you fewer headaches in the long run.

Which is the cheapest?

Automatic driving lessons are usually a little more expensive than manual lessons but you may not need as many. This often makes the overall cost quite similar.

But you may feel the difference when buying your first car. Automatic cars use more advanced technology than most manuals and this is often reflected in the price tag even if it’s a second hand purchase.

A higher price also means costlier insurance as well as more expensive repair costs so make sure you do your sums properly before making your choice.

Which is best for your location?

If you’ll be mostly driving somewhere where there is a lot of heavy traffic, the constant gear changing can leave you stressed and tired. Therefore, an automatic car may make your morning commute a much pleasanter experience.

However, if you live near quieter roads you might just love the feeling of control during those country drives.

So, which should you choose?

This really does depend on you. For most people, choosing manual lessons is the most sensible option as you’ll have the scope to drive both manuals and automatics in the future.

There are still far more manual cars on the road than automatics so you’re giving yourself more flexibility and choice.

But if you are anticipating finding learning a bit of struggle and are ready to commit to an automatic life then this may be the best choice for you.

Source: Telegraph UK.

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Driving Instructor

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Driving Instructor

Learning to drive can be a daunting experience, but your driving instructor is there to provide as much help and information as possible. It’s your right to ask questions of your instructor, and you should in order to ensure you have all the details you need to both feel confident about your driving and to make swift progress through your lessons.

So, here are the top ten questions you should ask your driving instructor, as well as a brief explanation of why.

What is covered in the first lesson?

Your first lesson is your initial foray into driving, ask your instructor to give you a brief overview of what they will do with you. This may include making sure you’re familiar with the vehicle, its controls, as well as a short route on some roads that are familiar to you.

What is the average number of lessons it takes to pass?

There is no guarantee about how long it will take you to pass, but knowing the rough figure of how many lessons it takes your instructor to get a student a passing grade will allow you to plan your budget and time accordingly. It will give you a general baseline to work with.

Does your vehicle have dual controls?

Dual controls are a second brake and clutch pedal situated in the passenger foot-well, that allow your instructor to stop the vehicle at any moment. This can help give you a confidence boost, knowing your instructor has always got a way to stop while you’re still learning the vehicle.

Can you accommodate my special requirements?

If you have any particular medical conditions or specific considerations you need to have taken into account in the way you learn, make sure you ask in advance. Make it clear to your instructor exactly what you need from them, and see if they will be able to accommodate those needs.

Will I have every lesson in the same car?

Independent driving instructors often have just one car, but driving schools may have a fleet of vehicles instructors use. You will get used to driving a particular vehicle over the course of your lessons, and using the same one will prevent you having to get used to a new car each time on top of your learning.

Driving Lesson Gift Vouchers
Driving Lesson Gift Vouchers

Am I going to learn with a Sat Nav?

It’s now a part of the driving test, as of time of writing, that you drive for 20 minutes unaccompanied using the guidance of a Sat Nav. Your examiner will program a route and you will be expected to follow it. Ask your instructor if they will help you train for this skill as a part of your lessons.

Can you provide a mock test?

A mock test can allow you to get used to the form of the driving test, taking specific advice without the safety net of being able to retry if you get it wrong. This will also give your instructor the ability to highlight key areas where you need to focus on improvement, to give you the best chance of passing.

What are your lesson rates?

Be sure you’re familiar with the lesson rates, so you can budget accordingly. Many instructors offer bulk discounts if you purchase a certain amount of lessons at once. Ask your driving instructor what they can do for you to make learning to drive as affordable as possible – whether it be bulk buy or loyalty discounts.

Are you DVSA approved?

An essential question – the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) is the Government body that assesses the suitability of driving instructors, as well as MOT testers. You must make sure you only get in a vehicle with an instructor that has proper and current DVSA accreditation that they can produce on demand.

Will I have the same instructor for each lesson?

Just like the car, you will get used to your instructor more and more as you learn. If you have to meet someone new every time, there’s a risk you might not “gel” in the way that’s required for you to comfortably learn. Make sure you can book the same instructor to provide each of your driving lessons.

Remembering to take the initiative

Driving is arguably an essential skill for many people, so it’s important you learn it with the right person for you. You are under absolutely no requirement to take your lessons with an instructor or a driving school that is not happy to answer your questions and put your mind at ease.

Ask these questions while you’re researching the best local driving instructor for you. If they cannot communicate in a timely and professional manner before your lessons, they will not be able to during them either. Be as discerning as you can, and only book your driving lessons with an Essex driving school or instructor that makes you feel comfortable.

Drivers are being warned to avoid rural roads to help with the coronavirus

to avoid rural roads to help with the coronavirus

Drivers are being warned to avoid rural roads to help with the coronavirus

Drivers can do there bit and help the NHS

Brake, the road safety charity, has warned drivers to steer clear of rural roads to help with the fight against the Coronavirus. By decreasing traffic levels on these roads, that cause the most fatalities and serious injury, will keep people away from the hospitals and ease the burden on the NHS.

To tackle this deadly and invisible disease Britons have been urged by our prime minister Boris Johnson to stay at home when possible. Brake has warned drivers that if you do need to leave your house for essential work or food shopping then you should plan your route and try to avoid the rural roads if possible.

Casualty statistics 2018 – Rural roads

The annual report from Brake in 2018 for road deaths showed that 58% of these deaths occurred on rural roads compared to urban roads. There was 1030 fatalities on the rural roads, that is an average of 21 people per week. Data from the government reported that you are 3 more times going to be killed or 33% will suffer a serious injury on the rural roads compared to the urban roads.

Road users behaviour

The main cause for crashes on the rural roads is drivers driving too fast. Almost 7 out of 10 drivers drive over the speed limit on rural roads, they think this is acceptable. Driving too fast or above the speed limit is more than likely going to cause head on collisions, collisions at junctions or vehicles veering off the road.

The department for transport reported in 2018 that there was over 10% of vehicles that exceeded the 60 mph national speed limit on the single carriageway. The stopping distance for 60 mph is 240 feet (73m) that equates to 5 bus lengths. These road users were labelled irresponsible and dangerous from Brake the road safety charity.

Safety tips for leaving your house if essential

If you need to leave your house and drive on the rural roads then here are some clues and tips you should be looking out for.
Look out for sign posts, most common will be signs for sharp bends, T junctions, crossroads and speed limits.
Flashing headlights from oncoming vehicles on the bends at night, animals potentially running out, cars emerging from crossroads or T junctions, checking mirrors for any motorbikes that may want to overtake, looking ahead for tractors or cyclists.

Try to stay at home and keep safe

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake had this to say “We must all come together in this national crisis and keep everyone safe. Unless absolutely essential, then we would urge everyone to avoid and stop driving on the perilous rural roads. This is only going to put your self at risk of being killed or seriously injured on the road, this will will not help the NHS what so ever and put an added burden to them. Our advice to everyone is stay at home, keep you and your family safe. If essential and you must leave your home then make sure you stay within the speed limit and keep an eye at all times for unexpected hazards at all times.”

10 Quick Tips About Driving Lessons

Book the right lesson times.

Try to book your lessons at a time when you know you will feel at your most alert and awake. This means you will be at your most receptive to learning. If you’re an early-bird, book a morning lesson. If you’re not a morning person, then try to book a lesson for later in the day. Try to book your test for a time that suits you in this way too.  

Find the right instructor.

It’s important to have an instructor that you can work with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them and the right instructor greatly increases your chances of passing your driving test. If you don’t find an instructor suits you, don’t be afraid to switch to another until you find one that you do get along with and will adapt your style of learning to help you. 

Start preparing for your theory test early.

It might seem early, but as soon as you book lessons, start studying for your theory test. There’s a lot to learn, and the knowledge will also help you to understand your practical driving more too and make safer decisions. You can take mock tests online to help you prepare effectively and to feel much more confident when you’re driving for real. It’s never too early to start preparing for your theory test. 

Check a map of the test area.

You won’t be able to find any maps of exact routes, but you can predict the roads you’re likely to be asked to drive on. Your instructor will take you out in the likely test area, and you can safely bet you will be asked to navigate challenges like roundabouts, junctions, and crossroads. Look for these features on a map to see where you might be asked to drive during your test. 

Check your medication.

If you take any medications, such as antihistamines for hayfever, double-check the potential side effects. Some medications can cause drowsiness, which is obviously not safe for driving. Check the advice on the package about driving, or ask your doctor for advice if you aren’t sure if you will be safe. They may be able to suggest an alternative medication option that is safe to take before you drive. 

Be realistic with your learning goals.

Learning to drive takes time and dedication. You aren’t going to pick it up all in one go. Try to break your learning time up into smaller, bite-size chunks. Focus on learning new skills in every lesson, instead of trying to learn everything all at once. You’ll build your driving knowledge in a safe and solid way that will help you in the rest of your driving life. 

Learn for life, not the test.

New drivers tend to only focus on their driving test and not worry about driving after the test. Driving lessons are not just to learn to pass your test, they are meant to teach you to drive safely for the rest of your life. Concentrate on learning to drive in a way that will be safe forever, and the skills to pass your test will come naturally along with that. 

Wear the right clothes.

It’s important to be comfortable while driving, especially as lessons can be stressful. Wear clothing that isn’t too restrictive and allow for easy movement. Don’t wear anything hot or heavy. Footwear makes a lot of difference too. Avoid high heels, thick soles, or heavy footwear. Choose flat, thin-soled shoes so you can feel the car respond to what you’re doing. The right shoes really help with better, safer driving. 

Try to stay calm.

Nerves are a common cause of bad driving lessons and failed driving tests. Try to stay as calm as you can when you drive. To stay calm, make sure you get enough sleep the night before driving, stay properly hydrated, and try to practice calming methods like deep breathing exercises. Staying calm means you will be better able to concentrate and make much safer driving decisions, with fewer silly mistakes.  

Stay positive.

People learn more effectively when they are happy. Try to stay positive about your driving experience, as this can really help you to learn more effectively. Make changes to your patterns of thinking so you can focus on positive things rather than negative ones. Focus on the parts of driving that you love, whether that’s the freedom of driving or the satisfaction of mastering a new skill. Don’t get hung up on mistakes. Even experienced drivers make mistakes, and the point of your lessons is to learn how to safely respond to them. 

How To Overtake Safely

How To Overtake Safely

One of the most overwhelming pieces of the learning to drive puzzle is learning how to overtake safely in your driving lessons.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, when your driving instructor asks you to pass a slower-moving vehicle, it’s a nerve-wracking time! The slower driver in front of you could be anything from another learner driver on their driving lessons, to a heavy lorry that’s taking its time going uphill due to the weight of the vehicle.

When someone is chugging along ahead of you, your driving instructor will give you the guidance you need to pull out and pass the car ahead.

via GIPHY

The problem? Well, most drivers aren’t great at overtaking safely. There’s not enough thought put into overtaking the slower vehicles on the road. Many of them out there have either forgotten what they learned during their driving lessons, or they are careless – both are dangerous situations! So, how should you overtake?

And how do you overtake safely? There are specific processes you should follow if you want to make sure that you are safe on the road. Let’s take a look:

  • Do You Need To Overtake The Car?

Before you overtake on the road – whether you are in your driving lessons or not – you need to decide whether you really need to overtake the car in the first place.

If you have somewhere to be and the road is safe to overtake, proceed with caution. If you don’t need to leave the road any time soon, stay behind the car and continue safely.

  • Plan Ahead

You’ll learn during your driving lessons to plan ahead when you overtake. The best overtaking maneuvers are those that have enough space for you to go faster, cross the lane and pass the car, then cross back and return to average speed.

It would help if you had a good stretch of road ahead to get it right. Without clear space and adequate road conditions, you could end up in a dangerous place – not ideal! Avoid overtaking on a hill where possible, and look ahead of the car in front of you before you start moving.

It would help if you made sure that there is enough room for you to go in front of the car ahead. Unless the conditions are 100% ideal, do not attempt to overtake – and definitely do not overtake more than one car at a tie.

  • Get Ready

When you decide the time is right to overtake, drop back to allow space to speed up. Then, watch your rearview mirrors to ensure that cars behind you can see you dropping back. Indicate (mirror, signal, maneuver, remember?) that you are about to overtake and don’t leave until you’ve done these things.

  • The Move

Now that you’ve checked that the road is safe and you’ve pulled back from the car in front, turning on your indicator, it’s time to go. Keep an eye on the road as you move, and if you spot a car in front or someone behind trying to overtake you, bail out and get back to the right side of the road.

The key is safety, which means that you need to be decisive. The less time you spend on the opposite side of the road, the safer you will be. Build your speed and steer smoothly to the other side of the road. You want to be faster than the car ahead.

  • Don’t Slow Down Yet!

After you have overtaken the slower car in front, keep accelerating until you have more space and can safely move in front.

  • Moving Back To The Right Lane

You should wait to pull back into the correct lane until you can see the whole of the car behind you in the rearview mirror. There’s no use being just one car length ahead – if you have to hit the brakes for whatever reason, you’ll be the culprit of a pile-up.

Give yourself and the other car plenty of space and don’t take your foot off the accelerator until you are back in the right lane. It’s then that you can ease back to the correct speed.

It Pays To Be Polite

As important as it is for the driving instructors to teach you how to overtake, you also need to know how to be passed by cars behind you. You should always remain vigilant that a vehicle behind will want to pull in front of you.

Being a consistent driver on the road will help the cars behind to assess whether they can pull in front of you, so if you see someone getting ready to overtake, maintain your speed and help them with the maneuver.

Going too fast to keep them behind you could make things dangerous, and going too slow will interrupt them if they need to bail out!

 

It’s essential to remain as safe as possible on the road – for your own driving as well as everyone else.

 

Should Learner Driver Be Taught ‘How To Avoid Potholes’ In Their Driving Test?

How To Avoid Potholes

When it comes to taking driving lessons, participants are taught how to spot the dangers on the road. They are taught how to look for the things that could become a distraction and assess them quickly.

Driving instructors make a point of teaching their students how to pass their hazard perception tests, so it makes sense that the question has arisen as to whether learners should be taught how to avoid potholes during their driving tests. 

What Is A Pothole?

A pothole is a deep crack in the surface of the road where the movement of vehicles has broken the surface over time. Potholes are dangerous for drivers to sail over because if the car bumps too hard over one, it can cause the vehicle to spin off and cause an accident. Poor road surfaces have been suggested to be included in the hazard perception test due to this damage. 

Some drivers have no idea how to handle the car or themselves when they encounter a pothole. Learning how to avoid potholes in the first place may be one of the best driving lessons that driving instructors could give their students before their driving test.

Considering that one in five roads across England and Wales are in poor condition, knowing how to avoid them keeps learner drivers more vigilant about what’s ahead of them on the road.

What To Do If You Spot A Pothole

When you are being taken on one of your driving lessons by your driving instructor, you need to learn how to be careful of potholes. If you spot one, you must slow down if it’s necessary and watch the rearview mirror. Stay within your lane if you see a pothole in the street and avoid swerving away from the pothole if it’s going to cause big swerves.

Did you know that a survey that researched driving instructors found that they have broken down during lessons due to potholes and the damage caused by them?

It makes sense that introducing learners to potholes, the dangers, and how to avoid them is on the list of things to learn in driving lessons.

via GIPHY

What Damage Can Potholes Cause?

The damage that potholes cause often affect wheels and suspension the most. The way the car dips dramatically at speed has an impact on the insurance, the confidence of the driver, and it affects how much money you have to spend on the car afterwards.

Lessons have been abandoned in the past because of breakdowns as a result of potholes, and this has an impact on both the confidence of the learner and the livelihood of the driver. Potholes are a severe issue for cars, and if drivers are supposed to pass tests based on real-world situations, then potholes should make an appearance.

It’s the most common hazard that is encountered during driving lessons, so much so, drivers country-wide are urged to photograph any potholes that become a problem. There are some common issues that potholes can cause, and these include:

  • Flat Tyres. Tyres can burst on impact with a pothole as the sidewall of the tyre is the weakest part. When this is hit, the tyre pops and can cause the car to skid from the road. 
  • Suspension. We mentioned suspension damage already, and the impact on the tyre above can cause the suspension to reach its maximum travel, which makes it bottom out. There is also the chance that you may bend the components of the car.
  • Tyre Dent Damage. Wheel damage is yet another way that potholes can wreck a car. The wheels can bend and crack, causing issues during the drive. 
  • Steering Wheel Alignment. A pothole can shift the alignment of the wheels. When this happens, the steering is also affected, and the tyres end up with increased wear.
  • Swerve. A learner driver who tries to avoid a pothole at the last minute by swerving can cause untold damage by swerving into other road users. 

What Do Driving Instructors Think?

Driving instructors are taught to teach others how to be safe while on the road. Not just for themselves, but for other road users and pedestrians, too.

The government is keeping tests under review, intending to improve the conditions of the road to avoid potholes in the first place. The other issue out there is that there are some driving schools that don’t believe that learning about potholes as a hazard is a good idea.

They argue that yes, potholes cause damage to vehicles, and yes, they are a hazard on the road. However, a hazard perception test cannot simulate real-life situations.

There’s a certain level of common sense required on the road, and some driving schools believe that this isn’t something that can be taught.

It’s a topic that will depend on the driving school as to whether it’s essential, but as potholes are such a hot topic across the board, it’s probably a good idea for the rules to change. Driving instructors should – of course – be teaching their students about potholes and their dangers, while they are taking them out for lessons. Teaching learners to observe and respond to hazards in the road safely often includes looking out for potholes.

It’s an important observation to make, and learners who are driving at the correct speed while aware of their surroundings will learn this quickly. When they do, pothole impacts should be minimal, and tests shouldn’t need to be abandoned because of their presence on the road.

The best possible advice that a learner driver can receive before their tests are how to avoid potholes and remain safe. Steering around a pothole is fine, as long as other road users and pedestrians are not at risk. Ideally, the government is going to fix the roads and the potholes that make them unsafe.

Until then, drivers must learn how to react and anticipate potholes while they are in their driving lessons. This way, they are safer individuals on the road for everyone.

 

10 Awkward Driving Lesson Moments

Awkward Driving Lesson Moments

When you are learning to drive, you are bound to make some mistakes. Everybody does it, and most of the time, it’s fine. But every driving instructor has plenty of stories about serious blunders that some of their students have made.

The dynamic between a driving instructor and a student can be a little strange at first as well because you are in such a confined environment with somebody that you barely know. That means that there is a lot of potential for awkward moments during driving lessons.

These are the 10 most awkward driving lesson moments you will have to deal with.

Small Talk 

It’s always awkward trying to hold a conversation with somebody that you don’t really know that well, but you usually have a quick escape route if you bump into them in the street. But when you are having a driving lesson, you are stuck in the car together with no way out.

After a few lessons, things will get easier once you get to know them a bit but it’s going to be awkward to begin with. Driving instructors are used to this so it’s likely that they’ll have a stock of questions that they ask to move things along a bit. 

Getting The Wrong Name 

This one can happen on either side, but it’s less likely that you’ll forget the driving instructors name because it’s usually written on the side of the car. The instructor, on the other hand, gives a lot of driving lessons each day and it’s likely that some of their students have similar names, which means they might get yours wrong. It’s always a little awkward to correct somebody for the first time, but it’ll be way more awkward if you let it slide and they continue calling you the wrong name for months before eventually seeing your real name on some paperwork. 

Picking Your Nose 

Most of us don’t like to admit it, but when nobody is around, we sometimes like to have a little scratch around in our nose. We’re not like little kids with a finger buried up there, but we’d still rather that nobody else saw us. The problem is, when you are concentrating on the road, you might forget that somebody else is sitting right next to you and decide to have a dig around. 

Forgetting Your Lesson 

Picture the scene, you’re all tucked up in bed enjoying a relaxing Saturday morning and suddenly, the doorbell goes. So, you get up and drag yourself to the door in your pajamas, only to find your driving instructor on the other side. You’re embarrassed because they’ve seen you in your pajamas and they’re frustrated that you’re late. Next time, just set a reminder on your phone. 

Not Knowing Left And Right 

When you’re driving and your instructor starts giving you directions, it’s always a bit awkward if you don’t know left and right. The first few times, they might put it down to nerves, but eventually, you’ll just have to admit it and ask for help. 

Driving Past Your Ex 

Bumping into an ex is always awkward, but it’s so much worse if you drive past them on a driving lesson. They’re watching you, hoping that you’ll stall the car so they can laugh at you. Your driving instructor will probably notice that something is up, which makes it all the more awkward when they ask if you know each other. The best thing to do is just focus on the road and try to ignore them. 

Driving Past Your Friends

Driving past your ex is bad, but driving past your friends can be even worse. They’ll all be trying to distract you and you want to make sure that you look cool in front of them, which is never going to happen. Again, the best thing to do is try to ignore them.  

Repeatedly Stalling

Everybody stalls from time to time, that’s normal. But things get awkward when you’re sitting at a junction with a long line of traffic building up behind you and you keep stalling over and over. Eventually, your driving instructor will have to take over so they can get the flow of traffic moving and you’ll be left feeling embarrassed. 

Needing The Toilet

Rule number one, always go to the toilet before your lesson. It’s always an awkward situation when you have to ask your driving instructor if you can stop the lesson and find somewhere to go to the toilet halfway through. It’s even more awkward if they’re the one that needs to go. 

Failing Your Test 

It always feels awkward when you have to tell your instructor that you have failed your test and you need more driving lessons. But you’ve got to remember that driving instructors have a lot of students, and a lot of them fail, so there’s no need to worry about it really. 

You’re going to experience some of these awkward moments at some point during your driving lessons, so prepare yourself. 

 

What to expect on your first driving lesson

What to expect on your first driving lesson

Your first driving lesson is a big milestone and you’re probably pretty excited about it, but it’s also very nerve wracking. Taking control of a car is a big deal, and it’s a lot of responsibility to take on. In the lead up to your first lesson, you will invent so many hypothetical scenarios in your own head, most of them bad. What happens if I crash the car? What if I accidentally run somebody over? What if I can’t even get it started in the first place? It’s so easy to think of the worst case scenario and get worried about your first driving lesson, but the reason that you have driving instructors is so you are safe and you don’t make any of these dangerous mistakes. 

If you are concerned about your first driving lesson, it helps if you know what to expect and how to prepare yourself properly. That way, you are not in for any surprises and you will be less worried about what might happen. Here’s what you can expect from your first driving lesson. 

Preparing Yourself 

Before you start the first lesson, there are a few important things you should do to prepare. First off, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before. You need to be alert when driving, so being tired will make things difficult for you. Secondly, make sure that you are not drinking the night before your first lesson. Even if it is just a few drinks, this can still affect your cognitive ability and your reaction times in the morning. Finally, eat a good breakfast before you have your lesson because you will find it harder to concentrate if you are hungry. 

There are also a few things that you should bring with you on your driving lessons. You will need your provisional driving license, some comfy shoes that have good grip, and glasses if you wear them. Don’t forget to bring cash or a cheque to pay for your lesson as well. Driving instructors won’t work for free, but if you do happen to forget, they’ll probably let you off until next time. 

Getting Picked Up

You need to arrange the pick up with the driving instructor before the lesson because some instructors will wait in the car while others will come to the door. When they do pick you up, you won’t have to get in the driver’s seat right away, so you can just relax. You’ll get in the passenger side and they will drive you to a safe location. 

The Cockpit Drill

Most driving instructors will take you to a specific place that they know is quiet, before switching seats with you so you are in the driver’s seat. Before they let you loose on the controls, they will take you through the cockpit drill. This is the set of checks that you need to do every time you get into the car. 

You can remember these checks using the acronym, DSSSM: 

  • Doors – Are the doors securely closed? 
  • Seat – Is the seat in a comfortable position? 
  • Steering – Is the steering position correct? 
  • Seatbelts – Does everybody in the car have their seatbelt on?
  • Mirrors – Are all of the mirrors adjusted correctly? 

It’s a good idea to try to memorize this before you have your first driving lesson so you already know what you’re doing, but all driving instructors will take you through it step by step anyway. 

Learning The Basics 

Once all of your checks are completed, your driving instructor will start taking you through the basics. They will run through the clutch, accelerator, and brakes, and show you how to use the handbrake and change gears. If there is anything that you are unsure about here, it’s perfectly fine to ask if they can run through it again. It’s important that you know what you are doing before you set off because, even if you are only going 20mph, it’s still going to be scary if you don’t feel in control of the vehicle. It’s a good idea to make your first driving lesson 2 hours long, so you have enough time to get to know the controls and get some driving in. 

Hitting The Road 

Now that you know how all of the basic controls in the car work, it’s time to put it into practice and hit the road. This is the most exciting, but also the most nerve wracking part of the lesson. But don’t worry, your instructor will be there every step of the way. 

In your first driving lesson, you will learn a few key procedures that your driving instructor will explain before you set off. These will include: 

  • Starting the engine. 
  • Clutch control. More specifically, finding the biting point. 
  • Checking your mirrors and your blind spot. 
  • Using indicators to signal. 
  • Changing gear. 
  • Bringing the car to a safe stop. 
  • Curb side parking. 

These are the basics of operating a car and, hopefully, you should feel confident enough to move onto the road and try some real driving by the end of your first lesson. Keep in mind that your driving instructor will have their own set of controls for the car, so you don’t need to worry if you feel overwhelmed and they need to take over. 

After Your First Driving Lesson 

When the lesson is over, your driving instructor will drop you back at home. At this point, they will have a discussion with you about how the lesson went, and tell you some of the things that you can improve on next time. Make sure that you listen carefully and take note of everything because you may be able to study up on some of these things at home between lessons. 

Before you leave, it’s time to book your next lesson. Ideally, you should minimize time between lessons and try to have 2 or 3 a week if your schedule allows it. 

 

Congratulations, you’ve successfully made it through your very first driving lesson and you are well on the way to passing your test. 

6 Top Tips for Driving in Rain

When you live in the UK, it’s inevitable that you’re going to, at some point, come across heavy rain or drizzle that can massively hinder your driving conditions on the road.

Rain can be a nuisance and you may find that it means you reach for your car keys more often than other times, getting from A to B in your car is most definitely favourable over walking in bad weather.

However, driving in the rain can pose a few threats and you must be prepared, especially as a new driver, to implement all the skills you have learned whilst taking lessons with your driving instructor.

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So here are six things to help you whilst you’re driving in the rain.

  1. Check your car over before travelling – the most important thing to do when driving in rain, is that your car is prepared for the rain. Watery roads can mean slipping and ultimately crashing, so it’s important to check your tyres. Keep an eye on your tyre treads, they need to be at the right level and at a good enough level to ensure you don’t skid when braking in the rain, especially if you are motorway driving. The legal tyre depth is 1.6mm but it is important to have at least 3mm for good safety.
  2. Know your car’s limits – when you are driving in bad conditions, it can take you longer to stop and stopping distances are extended. It may take 12 metres when braking at 20mph on a normal dry day, but if the rain is torrential, this will take double time, so remember to keep at least 200m in between you and the car in front to ensure you are not going to run into the back of the car in front if you have to brake unexpectedly. Your driving instructor will run through this with you if the situation comes ip, but it’s also good to ask too! Most likely he or she will explain the two second rule!
  3. Watch out for the puddles! You have probably seen it on television, a car speeds past a huge puddle of water and soaks the pedestrian walking by. This is not just dangerous for the pedestrian but also to the driver, especially if you are driving at 30mph and over. Hitting standing water at a high speed can cause you to drift and lose control very quickly so look out for these on the road and if possible, only if the road is clear and it’s legal to do so, drive around and avoid them.
  4. Turn on your lights – using your headlights in bad weather is very important. Usually poor weather conditions limit what we can see. Rain especially stops us from seeing cars in front and our judgement of how far away they are. Keeping your lights on low will warn drivers that you are coming. Driving slowly will also be a necessity, take extra time, which will mean adding time onto your journey, so prepare and make sure you can time manage.
  5.  Use and maintain your windscreen wipers. It goes without saying that you will need to keep your windscreen wipers on slow or fast but keeping them clean after every journey in the rain could help save your life. Often after rainfall or sleet, crud and debris can clog up the wipers and dirty your windscreen. This can ultimately obscure your view. Keep an eye on your washer levels and keep your windscreen clean. If you are ever pulled over by the police and you have grit on your screen, you may be in store for a hefty fine of upto £5000 and nine points on your license – it is definitely not worth taking the risk!
  6. Ventilate your car. When the weather is rainy, you will find condensation builds up very easily in your car. This can lead to being unable to see at all through your windows. Make sure you have your ventilation switched on before you start driving so you’re not scrambling to clear the windows as you drive. If you forget to turn you ventilation on it may be safer to pull over somewhere to clear your windows manually and turn the system on.

So there you have it, six tips to make sure you’re safe and road- ready over the next few winter months. A lot of it relies on common sense and remembering what your driving instructor taught you in those first initial months. So be vigilant, be aware, and safe driving! 

Stay Safe On The Roads This Winter

Stay Safe On The Roads This Winter

During the harsh winter months, driving conditions can become increasingly more difficult and can massively increase the risk of dangers on the road, that could lead to accidents, insurance claims and even losing your license.

For new or learner drivers, this can be a daunting task to tackle the roads during torrential rain, icy conditions or poor visuals from fog and low cloud; the clinging cold can make fog linger which means you’ll really need to be extra vigilant.

This is important, not just for new drivers, but for experienced drivers also, the roads can be dangerous places to be when you’re not implementing all the safety tools during your time on the road. So let’s take a little look at how you can become safer for both yourself and the people around you on the roads. 

If you’re learning to drive in bad weather conditions, your driving instructor will be sat next to you guiding you through every step of the way and it’s important to ask your driving instructor the best ways to maintain safety on the road during these difficult times, especially if you’re learning to drive through summer when the conditions are much easier. If you’re brand new to the roads, you may be wanting to make journeys alone but feel concerned to drive without the assistance of anyone. 

 

bad weather conditions

Light Up! 

During bad weather conditions, the one thing that is easily hindered is your vision to see other cars, people and objects around you. If you’re facing thick fog, you may not be able to see that clearly with just your headlights.

Make sure you are using your front and rear fog lights and remember that even if it is during the day, you must still use your lights for visibility, even daylight can be minimised during winter but as soon as the conditions begin to clear or improve, turn your fog lights off immediately and lower your lights so you do not dazzle oncoming drivers.

Of course, staying extra vigilant will help, keeping your radio low or off for extra concentration will help.

 

via GIPHY

Check Your Car 

When the weather is poor, your car can suffer and manually checking your car will help avoid any breakdowns or mishaps when you’re out and about.

If you are driving and your car overheats or the tread on your tyres is not at least 3mm, then this could risk skidding in rain. Check your radiator, your tyres, your anti-freeze levels, windscreen washers.

Be sure to have other things at the ready, such as an ice-scraper, de-icer, warm clothing in case your car breaks down and you have to sit inside it to wait for help.

A torch is also preferable and a small first aid kit, just in case you are caught out. Checking your car regularly will greatly decrease your chance of a mishap. 

 

Don’t Drive Wildly

You may want to start speeding up to get to your destination quicker and out of the bad weather but this is never a wise idea and poses more threats than anything else.

You need to avoid any harsh manoeuvres, any harsh braking (make sure you’re driving slower than usual, although not too slowly) and reversing, or parking must be done slower and with more care to ensure you do not slide and see exactly where you’re going.

Drive behind other cars with at least a four-second gap which will allow you to have enough time to brake in case the car in front of you has to brake sharply.

Also if you are driving a little slower, this will allow you to look out for road signs on motorways or any hazards up ahead.

If you are stuck in snow or icy roads, put your car into a high gear and gently move the car back and forth without revving the car, to help you out of the situation; although if this doesn’t help, calmly stop the car and call for assistance and make sure you are visible by keeping your lights on. 

 

Stay Alert When Driving

Stay Alert! 

During the winter months, we may see a rise in strong winds that can feel very daunting when you’re driving on motorways. Strong winds may feel as if you’re fighting a force against the car, so it’s important to drive slower to avoid drifting across and stay well clear of any motorbikes, bicycles, and high sided vehicles as they are likely to also suffer and may stray towards you in strong winds.

Give them space, or if the situation is not dangerous, overtake them. If you are driving near crosses bridges or open roads, you will find the wind feels stronger around these areas; slow down and stay vigilant.

Keep both hands firmly on the wheel and focus on the road; stay safe, think clearly.