Drivers Spend 44 Hours A Year Looking For A Parking Space

Drivers Spend 44 Hours

UK drivers spend 44 hours each year looking for a parking space – rising to 67 hours if you’re a Londoner!

That’s according to new research carried out by traffic information supplier Inrix.

The recent study, based on survey responses from over 18,000 UK drivers and the analysis of parking data, shows that we all understand the frustration of trying to find a space in the bustling centre of town or the popular shopping centre car park, but we might not realise that this wasted time is also wasting us money.

It is estimated that fuel, time lost, overpayment and fines costs each person an average of £733 a year (£1,104 in London!). This equates to a staggering £30 billion a year lost across the nation.

Drivers Spend 44 Hours A Year Looking For A Parking SpaceSome of our busiest cities are the worst offenders, with Bristol, Leeds and Belfast having notorious annual search times, peaking at 56 hours.

Businesses also lose out on paying customers, as around 40% of those surveyed said they often don’t go to the shops at all to avoid the struggle of searching for a space. Local high streets are losing people to out-of-town retail parks and outlets that have more parking, less hassle and are often free.

Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix, stated, “To lessen the significant burden parking has on our economy and lives, smart parking solutions are available for drivers, parking operators and cities to help reduce search times, congestion and pollution as well as negate overpaying and fines altogether.”

He further states, “Parking pain will only get worse until technology is fully embraced.” This suggests our town centre car parks need to keep up with the changing technological times to keep customers coming, or the high streets that have been slowly dying will continue to suffer further.

At Alfie’s Driving School, we’re doing our bit to help cut average parking times by helping new, learner drivers to become more confident on the roads. To find out more, get in touch with us today.

20mph Speed Ignored By Eight In Ten Drivers

The 20mph Speed Limit

It’s a well-known fact that a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle at 30mph had a higher chance of being critically injured as opposed to an accident happening at 20mph.

The reality is probably worse than we’d like to think – that extra 10mph increases the likelihood of the accident being fatal by 5 times (https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/drivers/20-mph-zone-factsheet.pdf).

It would seem, however, that simply by stating the speed limit is now 20mph doesn’t go far enough.

The areas where the limit is self-policing, where speed humps or bollards ensure that the speed limit cannot be exceeded, are fine.

However, drivers on roads where the highway is clear from such obstacles are struggling to understand why they need to adhere to this speed limit. Test sites fitted with car counters across the road have discovered that 81% of drivers don’t adhere to speed rules in these areas.

ROSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, are pushing for more 20mph zones to be introduced in cities, towns and villages across the UK, but does that go far enough? It would appear that the best way to get drivers to slow down in these areas is by adding the traffic calming measures so that they have to slow down. Additionally, many of the 20mph roads are policed by local communities (such as the “20’s Plenty” campaign), which doesn’t appear to be deterrent enough for drivers.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “Research shows that 20mph zones in the right areas can save lives and we have made it easier for councils to introduce them. It is for councils to set speed limits in their area and police to decide how best to enforce them.”

What is key, however, is that whatever the speed limit, it is set for a reason and it should therefore be adhered to. It doesn’t matter whether it’s enforced by the police or the community; the limit is there for safety’s sake and should not be broken.

Some modern cars will now display the speed limit on the dashboard and alert the driver if the limit is exceeded. This can only be a good thing in the drive to reduce the number of accidents in these areas.

Are There Any More Driving Test Changes In The Pipeline?

New changes

In the UK, around 1.6 million people sit the practical car test every year, with a pass rate of 43% and a pass rate of 52% on the theory test. Recently, the DVSA has announced some changes and there are rumours of further changes in the pipeline. This is the biggest shake-up in 20 years of driving test history, so to keep you updated, here is everything you need to know about the “new” UK driving test.

New changes

There are four main changes in the driving test which come into force on December 4th, 2017.

1. There will be an increase in the “independent driving” section of the practical test. This will increase from 10 to 20 minutes.

2. Replacing manoeuvres such as ‘turn in the road’ with ones that are considered more ‘real life’, such as driving in to and reversing out of a parking space.

3. Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me/tell me’ part of the test) whilst the candidate is driving. For example, asking a candidate to wash the windscreen using controls or asking a candidate to use the rear heated screen.

4. Candidates will be required to follow directions using a Satellite navigation system as an alternative to hearing physical directions and following road signs. The DVSA says that about half of all motorists now have sat navs, so they should play a role in the practical exam in the future.

The DVSA has stated it’s important to ensure the driving test is relevant for the 21st century: “Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century, for example, the introduction of sat navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”

Future changes?

Some experts have proposed the possibility of bringing in a standardised driving test car. This is due to increased fears over the driving test becoming too easy to pass with high-tech vehicles.

It’s argued that features such as blind spot monitoring, speed limit detection and collision warning, are all available on many learner cars and can, therefore, be used during a test to an unfair advantage.

However, despite what is considered a “novel” idea, the introduction of a standardised exam car could on the flip-side also make it potentially more difficult to pass.

This is because you are giving learners an unknown vehicle on their test day – a vehicle they haven’t built confidence in. Another hold up is the funding required from the government to back the scheme, which would ultimately increase the cost of the test overall.

Whatever happens, it’s important you choose an instructor who enters their pupils for a test when they are confident and equipped with the necessary skills and attitude to be a good driver. Check out Alfie’s Driving School to see how we could help you!

Why The Satnav Is To Be Included In The Practical Driving Test

SatNav

New regulations are set to come into place in December 2017 that will shake up the UK practical driving test.

It’s one of the biggest recent changes to the current examination. Students will now be tested on their ability to use a satellite navigation system practically, safely and efficiently on the road, in what the RAC Foundation has described as the most “realistic assessment” yet.

Reflecting changing times

The UK practical driving test is currently administered by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency, the body that also approves instructors. As technology evolves, so too does the way drivers navigate Britain’s roads, and the DVSA has an obligation to periodically update tests in order for them to accurately measure the skills needed in order to safely operate a motor vehicle.

One in two drivers now use SatNav technology when travelling, and with many smartphones now shipping with GPS capabilities as standard, the number of users is only likely to increase.

However, with a number of accidents having been caused by drivers failing to concentrate on the road while following SatNav instructions, it makes sense for the DVSA to introduce a test of learner drivers’ abilities to competently use SatNav as an alternative to following road signs before allowing them to remove the ‘L’ plates.

What other changes are being made to the driving test in 2017?

On top of having their SatNav skills scrutinised, those taking their practical driving test on or after 4th December 2017 will be required to answer questions about vehicle safety whilst driving, as well as being expected to drive independently for 20 minutes – double the current required amount.

A ‘show me’ question about a technical aspect of the vehicle – such as how to operate a rear windscreen heater – will now take place during driving, as opposed to the beginning of the examination. This will allow drivers to display their understanding of modern dashboard technology as well as an ability to multitask safely.

Why is the practical driving test changing?

After lengthy consultation with government ministers, motoring associations and the general public, the DVSA concluded that at least 71% of drivers were in favour of implementing more practical, up-to-date directives into practical driving examinations. They were also in favour of removing or amending “archaic” practices, like reversing around a corner, in order to create a test which more accurately represents travelling on the UK’s roads in 2017.

The 2017 Driving Test Is Set To Change, Here’s Why

The 2017 Driving Test

The first driving test took place in the UK in 1935. As cars, roads and motoring technology have evolved so too has the driving test.

The next big change is happening this year, on the 4th of December.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standard’s agency chief executive Gareth Llewellyn, talking to the media when the changes were announced in April, these are essential to ensure that the driving test matches the latest vehicle technology. Also, the risks that drivers face on the roads are bound to change over time, and the test has to reflect that.

These aren’t just a few tweaks. According to the RAC these are the biggest changes to have been made to the driving test since 1996, when the written theory part of the exam was introduced.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards AgencyThe idea, according to the DVSA, is that these amendments will help save young drivers’ lives by giving them a more realistic experience of what driving on today’s roads is really like.

The most significant change that new drivers will face is to the test’s independent driving segment.

Currently this lasts for 10 minutes. As of December, this portion of the test will be extended to 20 minutes. However the actual length of the driving test won’t change, it will still be around 40 minutes.

Also, while driving in this part of the test the examiner will be asking four out of every five candidates to follow a sat-nav’s directions. Those who are the remaining one in five will follow traffic signs.

Also, examiners will ask one of the two compulsory vehicle safety questions whilst candidates are driving.

These could be things like turning on the heater for the rear window. It will also be a not-so-hard goodbye to two manoeuvres that have been the bane of novice drivers for decades.

No longer will they be required to turn in the road (before our roads became so clogged with parked cars, this was called the three-point turn), nor will they have to reverse around a corner.

Candidates will however have to demonstrate one of the following three manoeuvres. Either a parallel park, or a park in a bay (either drive in, then reverse out or vice versa). The third manoeuvre is slightly more complicated given the volume of traffic on many British roads these days.

Candidates will be asked to pull up on the road’s right-hand side, then reverse for the length of two cars, and finally re-join the flow of traffic.

Although these changes to the test might seem daunting at first to the new learner driver, speak to us here at Alfie’s Driving School today and we will talk you through it.

Roundabout: When Should I Start Indicating To Show I Am Taking An Exit?

Roundabout

Roundabouts aren’t just tricky for learner drivers, many seasoned drivers with years under their belt can find these sections of road the hardest to manage. Thankfully, there are a number of rules to keep you and your fellow drivers safe.

A roundabout keeps traffic flowing only if everyone on the roundabout keeps to these rules. Among these are rules on how to signal on a roundabout.

These signalling rules are covered in Section 186 of the Highway Code, but read on for our easy to understand guide which answers the question: when should I start indicating on a roundabout to show I am taking an exit?

 

When turning left on a roundabout, you should already be positioned in the left-hand lane as you approach. You should signal left before you enter the roundabout and keep signalling left as you go around. Only cancel the signal once you have completely exited.

Going straight over

When going straight over a roundabout, you should position your car in the left-hand lane (unless road markings tell you otherwise – sometimes they may inform you that the left-hand lane is for turning left only).

You do not need to signal before entering the roundabout (unless signalling to get into the correct lane) and should only start signalling as you pass the last exit before yours. This is to inform drivers waiting to join the roundabout that you will be continuing past them; helping to avoid a crash.

As soon as you have passed all other exits, signal left to let everyone know that you’ll be exiting at the next turn-off. Only cancel the signal once you have left the roundabout.

When Should I Start Indicating To Show I Am Taking An Exit
When Should I Start Indicating To Show I Am Taking An Exit

Turning right

When turning right on a roundabout, ensure that you are in the right-hand lane on approach, and signal right before you enter the roundabout.

Continue to signal as you enter the roundabout, but make sure to cancel the signal as you change lane to approach your exit. Signal left after you pass the last exit before yours. Cancel the signal upon departing the roundabout.

Taking an intermediate exit

Some roundabouts are very large and have many exits. If not taking the first left, going straight over or turning right, you should follow these rules.

Firstly, position your vehicle in the correct lane on approach to the roundabout.

If you are taking an exit beyond straight over, you will likely need to be in the right-hand lane and should signal right too; but, as always, use the road markings to be absolutely correct. Road markings will also let you know if you should alter your position while going around the roundabout.

As soon as your exit is next in sight, ensure you are in the left-hand lane and signal immediately. Once again, only cancel the signal after you have left fully.

We hope this guide to signalling on roundabouts helps. If you’re ever in doubt, make sure to read Section 186 of your Highway Code. While you’re there, take a look at Sections 185 to 190 for all other rules on negotiating roundabouts.

The Difference Between Automatic And Manual Driving Licences

Automatic And Manual Driving

Owners of a full driving license can drive any type of car or small van, with a manual or automatic transmission on the road. Owners of an automatic licence can only drive automatic vehicles, and it would be an offence for them to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a manual gearbox.

 

Advantages of an automatic

The advantages of taking an automatic driving course, and gaining an automatic license, are that these types of cars are easier to learn to drive. This is more the case for people who are learning to drive later on in life, or have struggled with learning with a manual car or have repeatedly failed their manual test in the past.

 

Benefits of an automatic for all types of drivers

Younger drivers are encouraged to learn with a manual car, for greater flexibility when it comes to choosing their first car. That is unless they need to pass the test quickly, or really struggle to cope with the demand of learning to drive a manual car. In which case it is considered easier and faster to pass with an automatic, a rule that can apply to anyone. While individual circumstances will vary, learning in an automatic should also save you money as it can reduce the number of lessons required to pass the test.

Automatic cars are also the better learning option for those with disabilities, leg or joint problems and other issues that might see them struggle to drive a manual vehicle. For many people, they simply feel more comfortable driving in an automatic, which is a key part of the driving experience, so there is that to be considered as well.

Learning in an automatic helps take the focus off constantly controlling the pedals and adjusting the gear stick, and allows the learner driver to focus on what is going on ahead of them on the road, and give them greater situational awareness. With both hands on the wheel and feet firmly in position on the brake and accelerator, it is easier to manage the car and learn the practical rules of the road that will help a driver pass the test.

The main negative with an automatic car comes after passing the test. They are generally slightly less fuel efficient than a manual car, which can add up over time. Also, if something goes wrong, maintenance costs can also be higher than with a manual car. However, the majority of Americans and many other countries’ drivers learn and thrive driving automatics. The obsession with a manual car is something of a European thing, with no particular reason for it.

Driving a semi-automatic car

Finally, there are a growing number of semi-automatic cars on the market. These see the driver select a gear using paddles behind the steering wheel, but there is no clutch pedal. For DVLA purposes, these vehicles are considered automatics when it comes to the driving test and for licensing purposes.

Whatever your driving lesson needs, get in touch for the right advice on how you should learn to drive.

How To Prepare For Your Practical Driving Test

How To Prepare For Your Practical Driving Test

You can be a confident driver, you may feel like king of the road, but none of that matters if you let yourself fall victim to your driving test’s biggest obstacle: nerves.

You can teach yourself everything there is to know about driving, you can know a car inside out, but there isn’t much to stop you from getting nervous when the big day rolls around.

Thankfully, with this helpful guide, you might be able to tackle those nerves head on and focus on mastering your practical driving test.

1. Don’t rush

If you don’t feel ready to take your test, then don’t do it. There can be this misguided preconception that you need to complete your test within a certain timeframe, or that you’re wasting your money after a certain number of lessons, but this is not true. The only person who decides who is ready for you to take your test, is you. It’s better to wait until you are completely confident in your ability to pass than it is to rush into it and risk failing.

2. Familiarise yourself

In the weeks leading up to your test, perhaps divert your lessons towards the neighbouring roads of the test centre. Get a feel for the route that you could potentially be taking on your test.

Speaking of which, the test centre itself can be quite a foreboding place, so get acquainted with it. Ask your driving instructor if it’s possible to perhaps drive up there, so as to avoid your first visit being the day of the test itself. You could even practise bay parking outside, if you have the time and the space.

3. Talk to others

It is perfectly natural to feel nervous and you know what? You’re not alone. Ask anyone with a licence – your parents, maybe, or even your driving instructor – as it is highly unlikely that they were calm when it came to taking their test. Knowing that other people feel the same way that you do can make the whole ordeal seem a lot more approachable.

4. Say hi to the examiner

Trading in a calm and forgiving instructor for a terrifying examiner judging your every inch of movement isn’t exactly going to help ease those nerves. You may think their personal goal in life is to watch you suffer, with their red pen hovering mere millimetres above your test sheet, ready to fail you at a moment’s notice.

On the contrary, they want you to succeed, they want you to be able to drive out of the centre a fully qualified and safe driver. Talk to them before you set off, you might surprise yourself to find they are a human being like yourself.

It’s more relaxing to drive with someone you can acquaint yourself with, than with someone you are simply scared to breathe in front of.

Why Bay Parking Is Taking Over

Why Bay Parking Is Taking Over

Wherever you visit in Essex, you will experience the dread of trying to find a parking space. Lakeside Shopping Centre welcomes half a million visitors each week, with parking spaces for 13,000 vehicles. Even with the large number of car parks available, it can still seem impossible to reverse into a space. Combined with busy environments, the competition to safely find a space can be off-putting to learner drivers.

Why do I need to learn how to park in a bay?

Good bay parking skills are vital. Often, being able to reverse into a parking space is the only way to park at certain locations. Many people try to park as close as possible to their destination and can be ruthless once they’ve found a coveted spot.

It may be tempting to simply drive straight into a parking space, however this can cause complications when leaving. When reversing out of a parking space, your view of oncoming traffic and other obstructions is greatly affected. If you’re driving at night, or have passengers in the back seat, you may not be able to exit the space safely.

Learning to reverse into a parking space may seem daunting, however it’s a skill that will both save time and increase your safety once you’ve passed.

How is a bay park assessed?

When sitting your driving test, your examiner will look at the following aspects of your manoeuvre:

– Accuracy
– Control
– Observation
It’s vital that you master all three elements to ensure a pass. Make sure that you are parked between the lines, with enough room for cars on either side. This may seem impossible, but it’s not necessary to reverse in first time. You are allowed to make adjustments on the angle of your car, pausing where necessary.

Keep the car at a steady pace, using the clutch rather than the accelerator and the brake to move. Don’t make any sharp movements with the steering wheel, as you’ll risk crashing into other cars. Bay parking zones are often located near busy destinations, so keeping a close eye on your surroundings is key. Use your mirrors carefully, looking out for other cars and pedestrians.

Once you’ve successfully mastered bay parking, you’ll be able to visit and successfully park in a huge number of places. If you need help perfecting the manoeuvre, get in touch with Alfie’s Driving School to book a lesson from only £20.

How To Ensure Your Car Doesn’t Stall During Your Driving Test

How To Ensure Your Car Doesnt Stall During Your Driving Test

Learning how to prevent the car from stalling is something that’s crucial if you’re to master the art of smooth driving. One of the main reasons that learners stall while learning to drive is a lack of clutch control.

Here are some helpful tips to get you on the right road to mastering that tricky clutch!

How to master clutch control

Good clutch control enables you to manoeuvre your car at very slow speeds. This makes things like parking and reversing much easier.

It’s something you’ll practice during your driving lessons, but you can also work on the technique at home, provided you’re accompanied by an appropriate co-driver.

Begin by finding somewhere safe, quiet and flat where you can practice.

Put on your seat belt, switch on the engine, and release the handbrake.

Push the clutch pedal right down to the floor and put the car into first gear.

Now gently press the accelerator so that you can hear the engine’s revs increasing slightly.

Check your mirrors, and if you can see that it’s safe to move, lift the clutch very slowly.

As the clutch plates touch, the car will slowly move forwards.

This is known as the ‘biting point’ of the clutch, and it varies from vehicle to vehicle.

If you’re taking your driving test in an unfamiliar car, make sure you have adequate time before the test to get to know where the biting point of the clutch is.

Once you’re confident and adept at finding the biting point, you can move on to learning how to slip the clutch.

This is an important skill you’ll need for manoeuvres such as reversing and when executing three-point-turns.

Begin by finding the biting point, and then move the car forward very, very slowly.

Control the speed of your car by depressing (slipping) the clutch pedal very slightly. This will have the effect of slowing the vehicle down. Conversely, raising the pedal again will cause the car to speed up.

In conclusion

Clutch control is a vital part of being able to drive safely and efficiently and avoiding the dreaded driving test stall! For more guidance on learning to master the clutch, book a course of lessons with Alfie’s Driving School.