Winter Driving Tips For Learner Drivers

Winter Driving Tips For Learner Drivers

Getting behind the wheel to learn to drive is nerve-racking enough without the added anxiety of winter weather.

The good news is, your driving instructor will ensure their car is in a good condition to be driven in freezing weather. Government advice when it’s icy or snowy is not to go out unless you have to, but you can’t do that when you’re learning to drive. You’re eager to get your licence and your independence.

There’s no need to put your plans on hold when we have some handy winter driving tips for learner drivers.

Wear comfortable, dry shoes

If you’ve been out and about outdoors in winter, your shoes will likely be soaked through. Ensure your shoes are dry when your instructor picks you up so that you have better control over the pedals.

You should be wearing comfortable, flat shoes no matter what time of year you’re driving, but it’s even more important when ice could be on the roads. You need to have as much free movement of your feet as possible, without the risk of missing the brakes or having your feet slip right off the pedals.

Go slower and use highest possible gears

Your instructor will expect you to go slower than usual during those frozen, winter months. It gives you more time to react, which is crucial when black ice could be lurking around any corner. Driving in the highest possible gear also helps you gain more control in the winter.

Ask your instructor to help with this, they’ll let you know when you could be using a higher gear.

Increase gaps

You’ll know from your theory test that stopping distances increase 10 times in snow and icy conditions.

You should take care to leave more room than usual between you and the car in front.

Apply brakes gently

To decrease the change of slipping, try not to brake suddenly or harshly. Gently applying the brakes gives you more control over the vehicle.

With varied weather conditions in the UK, you can start your lesson in cold but manageable weather but by the time it comes to the end, you’re driving through a slurry of thick snow.

Being prepared for whatever winter weather can throw at you will ensure you’re safe when you’re on your driving lessons.

Having a knowledgeable and expert driving instructor, who can teach you the safest methods for winter driving, is the best way you can be safe when learning to drive – and when you pass your test. Get in touch with Alfie’s Driving School today to arrange your safe winter lessons with a skilled instructor.

What Is A Fast Pass Driving Course?

Fast Pass

There are lots of reasons why you might want to learn to drive and pass your test as quickly as possible.

For example, you might be job hunting or even have a job offer where having a driving license is essential, so you need to pass your driving test in a hurry so you don’t miss out on the work opportunity.

Or maybe you have had a major life event such as a divorce or moving to a new area and being able to drive will make a huge difference to you.

Or you might have had lessons in the past, but have found that just having an hour or two each week isn’t the best way for you to learn and you would prefer a more intensive approach to learning to drive.

An intensive fast pass driving course can be a fantastic way to get you on the road safely and quickly.

Most people have at least 40 lessons before they take their test so you might find an intensive course will save you money in the long run as it generally works out cheaper than having weekly lessons over a longer period of time.

Many people find it easier to learn to drive through a concentrated, intensive course rather have to pick up where they left off each week.

You will need to clear your diary when you book an intensive course as they are usually taken over five or ten days with several hours of one-to-one driver training with a qualified instructor in a vehicle every day, often with a driving test booked at the end of the course (subject to DSA availability).

This means because you can’t take your practical driving test until you have passed your theory test, it makes sense to get this part done first, plus the knowledge you will gain by studying and passing your theory test will also help you in your driving lessons and support you to drive safely.

Intensive driving courses are suitable for new drivers who want to get ahead quickly and drivers who have already had lessons and want to brush up on their skills and prepare for their test.

An intensive driving course can be tough – after all, learning to drive is hard work and will take lots of effort from you, but remember it’s only for a few weeks and once you have passed your test it will all be worthwhile.

Reverse Bay Parking For Beginners

Reverse Bay Parking For Beginners

Reverse bay parking should be an essential component of any learner driver’s education, as it is a useful skill for every road user to have. The easiest way to perform the manoeuvre is to enter the bay from an angle of 90 degrees, though some drivers favour coming in from a diagonal.

But why do we do it? Surely it’s easier to drive directly into the bay on a straight line? Probably, but the problem comes later, when you have to reverse back out, without damaging your own car, or those parking in the adjacent bays. This holds particularly true if the back seat is filled with passengers, or if your view out of the rear window is otherwise impaired.

Here’s how to do it…

Slow down

Reversing into a bay is not a race, so feel free to take it easy. Keep your car’s speed to the level of a sedate walking pace. Not only will it make any adjustments easier, it means you will be able to spot pedestrians crossing the path of your vehicle, whether behind or in front.

Pick the right parking space

Choose whichever parking bay you would like to reverse into. Make sure that there is adequate space for you and your passengers to open your car doors. Pull to a stop around two car lengths beyond the vacant bay, and put the car into reverse gear.

Observation

The cornerstone of any driving manoeuvre, take time out to have a good look in all directions, including your mirrors, and ensure that you are safe to begin your parking.

The correct turning position

Start reversing slowly, backing up until the initial white line in that marks the parking bay is lined up with the edge of your rear seat. Be sure to check your position regularly, by utilising the window on the passenger side door.

Steer

You should have the steering wheel turned to a full lock to the right (in reversing into a right-hand bay) or the left (if reversing into a left-hand bay). Keep the lock on as you start reversing your vehicle smoothly and slowly into your chosen parking bay.

Straighten up

As your car starts to become straight, you’ll want to bring it parallel to the parking bay’s white lines. As you reverse, start straightening your steering appropriately, until you end up centred in the parking bay.

Reverse bay parking is a key manoeuvre on your driving test. If you’re a learner driver in the Essex area, contact Alfie’s Driving School and we will set you on the right road to success.

5 Tips For Passing Your Test In Brentwood

Tips For Passing Your Test In Brentwood

Driving can seem like a daunting task when you are inexperienced. You are bombarded with information about blind spots, emergency stops and parallel parking, and you begin to wonder how anyone can drive comfortably. But driving is not as daunting as it first seems and is actually an exciting and rewarding experience.

Below are five driving tips that can help you to pass your test and tackle the country roads in Brentwood:

1. Practice makes perfect

Practice does not have to end when the lesson is over; instead, practice driving on the roads with a friend or relative who is allowed to supervise you when you’re driving.

Warley Hill has a small roundabout, perfect for practising your turns without fear or intimidation.

If you are not comfortable practising on the road, try an empty car park, where you can perfect that tricky three-point turn and impress your instructor during your next lesson.

2. Take your theory test as soon as possible

Think of your theory test as the backbone of your driving lessons. It will teach you many things, including the Highway Code and the meaning of traffic signs.

This is something that can get confusing, especially on Brentwood’s country roads, where the signs might be more obscure. Getting this done as soon as possible will make lessons much easier and also give you more confidence on the road.

3. Move at your own pace

Do not feel pressured to take your test too soon. If you do not feel comfortable in your skill level, there is nothing wrong with taking a few more lessons to run over anything you are unsure of; after all, confidence is key when you are learning to drive.

4. Ask questions

It is important to remember that you are still learning.

Your driving instructor in Brentwood will expect you to make mistakes and ask questions when you are unsure. Make the most out of your lesson and ask anything, no matter how trivial it may seem to you; the instructor has probably been asked the same thing by students in the past.

5. Try to enjoy the lesson

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to enjoy driving in Brentwood; it is a small town with a variety of driving routes to practice on in order to become a skilled and safe driver. It won’t be long until you can get rid of those ‘L’ plates, so enjoy the journey.

If you’re looking for more tips on driving in Brentwood or want to find a reliable, friendly driving instructor in the area, get in touch with Alfie’s Driving School today.

Why Is The Hazard Perception Test Important?

Hazard Perception Test Important

Anyone who has set their sights on earning their driving licence will first have to pass a theory test.

This exam – which must be passed before a learner can attempt their practical test – consists of two parts. The first section features 50 multiple choice questions on topics such as road signs and speed limits. The second – perhaps more dreaded section – is the hazard perception.

While this half of the theory test can be difficult to pass, it’s certainly important when it comes to preparing learner drivers for life behind the wheel.

Here are a few of the reasons why the hazard perception test is so valuable in assessing prospective road users’ ability to drive safely.

It tests awareness of hazards

It takes more than mastering the clutch and knowing when to indicate to become a safe road user. Instead – whether you’re driving through a rural village or a built-up city – there’s always an element of needing to detect hazards.

The hazard perception clearly outlines what these can be using visual aids of bikes, cars and pedestrians. These threats are exactly the type of thing that people will encounter when they achieve their driving licence.

It tests reactions

Those sitting the hazard perception test are required to watch 14 clips where there is at least one developing hazard.

To pass, learners need to be able to identify these hazards – and quickly! The section of the exam isn’t just about seeing if individuals can detect when there could be a possible issue, but also how fast they can spot it happening.

Again, this helps heighten people’s awareness before they’re put in a situation where an accident could occur while driving.

It can’t be blagged

The multiple choice section of the theory test is often deemed easy to ‘blag’.

This means that people can achieve the pass mark of 43 out of 50 just by using educated guesses or relying on sheer luck. Unfortunately, this can mean that people are one step closer to being qualified road users without a firm understanding of how to be a safe driver.

On the other hand, the hazard perception element is harder to guess and ensures that drivers must have a decent knowledge of emerging hazards before they can pass. In turn, this reduces the risk of accidents for everyone who holds their licence.

Good luck!

The first step to passing the hazard perception test is realising that it serves an important purpose in preparing people for life on the road. Once you’ve passed it and you’re clued up about potential hazards, you can start looking towards sitting your practical driving test and earning your licence.

4 Tips For Driving In Essex

4 Tips For Driving In Essex

Whether you’re learning to drive in Essex or have just passed your test in this fantastic county, read on for four top tips for driving in Essex:

London drivers

One important thing to remember in Essex is that the driving style of other drivers can differ hugely, depending on where you are.

Where Essex borders London in the towns of Loughton, Brentwood and Grays, you’ll find that folk drive in ways that are typical of ‘London drivers’. This means that other drivers may be less patient, snappier, more likely to cut you up.

Driving close to London takes a bit of experience, but remember all drivers must stick to the rules of the road wherever they are.

Driving within the London/Essex borders just takes a little confidence if you haven’t done it before.

Rural driving

On the other extreme, driving through the sleepy Suffolk/Essex borders is a different kettle of fish and if you learnt nearer London you may even find this frustrating.

Remember that drivers here too are simply following the rules of the road and that nothing is so important that you need to take risks or dangerously overtake other cars or tractors in order to get to your destination quicker.

The A12

Arguably Essex’s arterial road, the A12 starts in East London and travels all the way through Essex including around Chelmsford and Colchester and leads to Ipswich in Suffolk and beyond.

New drivers travelling the A12 for the first time should avoid rush hour if possible, when the road becomes heavily congested. You should also take extra care when travelling through the A12 accident hotspots. Familiarise yourself with the country roads that come off the A12 and how they can link up with other roads.

This can really help you out should you end up in heavy traffic and want to leave the A12.

Boy racers

Essex may be famous for ‘boy racers’, a term used to describe mostly young men who buy flashy cars and are thought to race around urban areas late at night.

To be fair, the boy racers of the 80s and 90s have largely disappeared and anyway, those who have spent a lot of money on their car are not going to want it to be damaged, so as intimidating as these kinds of drivers appear – don’t worry, they want to stay safe on the roads too.

Just remember that driving in Essex is essentially like driving anywhere in the country, even though Essex is more heavily populated than much of the UK.

Essentially no-one wants to crash their car or break the law and provided you are respectful of other drivers, on the whole they will be respectful of you.

Driving Lesson Routes In Brentwood, Essex

Driving Lesson Routes In Brentwood

Brentwood is home to lots of quiet residential roads and other routes which are perfect for when you are learning to drive.

In between your driving lessons you might want to practice on any number of these routes.

 

Quiet Residential Roads And Small Roundabouts

When you first start learning to drive you will want to stick to quiet roads so that you feel more comfortable and can build your confidence.

Warley Hill has some small roundabouts where you can practice your turns and indicating without being intimidated.

Turning onto Pastoral Way you can go straight ahead for some distance, navigating mini roundabouts.

Further down on Pastoral Way you come to Osborne Heights – here you can either head onto Osbourne Heights and practice turns, or turn left to carry on down Pastoral Way.

If you keep going on Vaughan Williams Way you can practice a right turn on the quiet Crescent Road. At the end of Crescent Road, having practiced your right turn, turn back onto Warley Hill.

If you wanted to, you could repeat this route to get used to left and right turns, and going round roundabouts. While you might be tempted not to signal on the little roundabouts, make sure you do. This will get you used to the process for when you move onto larger roundabouts later.

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Four Path Intersection

Going straight over an intersection can feel intimidating at first because of the need to look not just left and right, but also ahead, to make sure oncoming traffic won’t turn into your path.

If you turn onto Primrose Hill from Kings Rd you will come to Crown Street. Turn left and then go left again onto Regency Ct. From here turn around, and return the way you came. You can cross over Crown Street onto South Street, over a relatively easy four path intersection.

Because the other side of Crown Street is access only, traffic is unlikely to be crossing in your path, meaning the junction is likely to be quieter. Of course, you should still stay alert, but this is a good way to practice.

At the end of South Street there is a car park you can turn around in. Once you’ve turned around you can practice going back over the intersection in the other direction.

 

 

Add In Your Manoeuvres

As a bonus, you can practice your manoeuvres either end. You’ll be practising turning as part of the above routes, but there are also built in opportunities for you to practice your turns in the road, for example.

On the four path intersection route above you will need to do this to return the way you came. Here you could also practice bay parking in the car park. Depending on the time of day, you might also be able to practice your emergency stop in the car park.

On the first route set out above there are plenty of places where you could practice reverse parking too.

Driving Lesson Routes In Dagenham

Driving Lesson Routes In Dagenham

Dagenham has lots of routes and residential areas, which is great if you’re looking to head out in the car for practice in between your driving lessons. We’ve picked a few routes below to help you get started.

Quiet housing areas and four path intersections

Downing Road and nearby Arnold Road, Rowdowns Road and Coombes Road are all quiet residential roads where you can practice driving and build your confidence. Because of the way the roads connect, you can practice by doing a series of loops, incorporating right and left turns.

The intersection between Arnold Road and Rowdowns Road is a great place to practice navigating a four way intersection, where you’ll need to check the intended route of oncoming traffic, as well as traffic approaching from your right and left.

One thing to bear in mind on this route is the proximity to the Thomas Arnold primary school. Because of this, we’d suggest you only practice on this route outside of school hours, for the safety of the children as well as your own peace of mind.

Once you feel comfortable on this smaller four way intersection, you can drive up Heathway, where you’ll have the chance to practice on larger intersections.

Braving roundabouts and junctions

There aren’t many small roundabouts in Dagenham, so before you move onto large roundabouts we’d suggest you head out of the area to practice on mini-roundabouts, or get comfortable with your instructor. Once you have done so, there is a nice loop for you to practice on larger roundabouts and junctions.

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On Ballards Road, head north with Old Dagenham Park on your left. At the roundabout, take the final exit onto Rainham Road South. This will turn into Dagenham Road. Go straight over the next roundabout and you’ll come to a four way junction. Turn right onto Cherry Tree Lane here, then turn right again when you get to New Road, where you’ll practice driving on a dual carriage way before turning back onto Ballards Road at the McDonalds junction. Repeat as you like!

Add in your manoeuvres

Near to Ballards Road and Old Dagenham Park, there are lots of residential roads where you can practice turns, turning around a corner, U turns and reverse parking. You could add this onto the loop above. Nearby Dagenham Park Leisure Centre has a car park where you can practice bay parking or, after hours, use the space to practice manoeuvres, including emergency stops.

When you’re ready to give driving the go ahead, get in touch with Alfie’s Driving School. Our reliable, friendly instructors can help you gain confidence and succeed while driving.

Driving Lesson Routes In Barking

Driving Lesson Routes In Barking

Learning to drive in Essex can be intimidating, and if you’re based in or near Barking you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d struggle to find places to practice between your driving lessons. To help you out, we’ve picked out a few places that are ideally suited to learner drivers and the types of driving and manoeuvres you’ll need to practice.

Quiet residential roads

Head right off the roundabout that divides St Pauls Road and onto Gascoigne Road. From here, you can explore the network of residential streets, where there are opportunities to practice right and left turns, as well as your manoeuvres. Quiet housing areas are perfect for practicing turns, reverse parking and, on some of the streets, reversing around a corner.

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Master your manoeuvres

After hours, head to any of the superstores near Barking Abbey Grounds and Abbey Road. Here, you can practice bay parking, as well as turning, reverse parking and emergency stops. If you’re only just starting out, ask your supervising driver to drive you here when the car park is empty and just practice controlling the car.

Master roundabouts

Once you’re comfortable driving on the roads and executing turns, its a good idea to practice roundabouts. Head up Abbey Road, with Barking Abbey Grounds on your right. You’ll come to a roundabout where you can practice checking your mirrors, making sure you’re in the correct lane, and indicating. Take the last exit here onto the Northern Relief Road.

At the next roundabout, take the second exit to continue ahead, with Barking Park on your left. At the junction, take a right onto Upney Lane and continue, passing Barking Hospital on your right. At the junction, turn right onto Ripple Road. After you pass Ripple Primary School on your right, you’ll come to a small roundabout. Take the second exit to continue on Ripple Road.

At the next junction, bear left and follow St Pauls Rd round. Keep following it until you get to the large roundabout. Here, go straight over. Now you’re back at the start with Barking Abbey Grounds on your right, and you can repeat the route as many times as you like.

Because you’ll pass a few schools on this route, you should avoid peak times when kids might be going into or coming out of school. This is for their safety, as well as your peace of mind. Avoid rush hours, too, as you will find traffic will make it slower to complete the route, meaning you’ll get less time to practice.

For experienced, trust-worthy driving instructors in the Barking area, get in touch with Alfie’s Driving School today and see how we can help you.

How To Reverse Around A Corner First Time

How To Reverse Around A Corner First Time

As someone that’s learning to drive, there are a number of manoeuvres that can be incredibly difficult to grasp, from clutch control to three-point turns. However, there’s one that’s arguably harder than most: reversing around a corner.

So, we’ve put together some handy tips to ensure you can master the manoeuvre, first time, every time.

1. Make sure you look around you for any potential hazards – remember to look for traffic, road conditions and pedestrians.

2. Always drive past the corner you’re looking to reverse around and pull into the kerb, leaving a gap of about half a metre at a point around two and a half car lengths beyond the junction you’re about to reverse around.

3. Make sure you always look again, check the rear window and your mirrors one last time before you make your manoeuvre.

4. Without using your indicators, put the car into reverse and move the car slowly backwards.

5. Keep an eye on the kerb, looking through your rear window as you continue to reverse. You’ll eventually lose sight of the kerb momentarily, before it reappears in your rear-side window, and when it does, turn your steering wheel to the left. If the corner is sharp, remember to turn the wheel fully to the left. If it’s a wide corner, judge how much to the left you turn the steering wheel by keeping an eye on the bend of the road.

6. Make sure you look again; the front of your car will begin to swing out into the road as you reverse, so you should be constantly checking all around you for any hazards.

7. Once you’re round the corner, straighten your vehicle up – your car should be parallel to the kerb out of your rear window. You’ll need to be careful to ensure your car is lined up so that it’s close to the kerb, but not touching it.

8. Finally, once you’re in position, make it safe by putting on the handbrake and putting the car in neutral.

Once you’ve mastered this manoeuvre once, you’ll develop all the confidence you need to get it right every single time. If you’re looking to book some more driving lessons to brush up on reversing around a corner, contact us at Alfie’s Driving School.