GARY'S BLOG


Welcome to my Blog, where I'm aiming to highlight driving tuition and motoring news and issues which I believe will be of interest and use to learner, novice and experienced drivers alike. I hope you find the Blog interesting and informative!



GOVERNMENT ALLOW LEARNER DRIVERS TO TAKE MOTORWAY LESSONS FROM 4th JUNE 2018

Learner drivers will be allowed to take motorway driving lessons with a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) in a car with dual controls and L plates front and rear from 4th June 2018. Trainee driving instructors won't be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorways. In the meantime it is still illegal for learner drivers to drive on a motorway.

Motorways lessons will be voluntary and it will be for the DVSA ADI to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to have a motorway lesson. Motorway driving won't be included in the practical driving test although questions on motorway driving already feature in the theory test and will continue to do so.

The changes will allow learner drivers to get broader driving experience before taking their driving test, get training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly, practice driving at higher speeds and put their theoretical knowledge into practice.


ANT McPARTLIN FINED 86,000 FOR DRINK DRIVING

The courts are able to hand down a lengthy driving ban, fines and even jail terms for drink driving offences. The exact punishment each driver is handed depends solely on the decision of the magistrate in court and this depends on what your breath test result was and if you have previous driving convictions. Magistrates will then place you in one of the salary-based sentencing "bands" laid out in the court guidelines, as follows:

A: 50% of relevant weekly income (between 25 – 75% of relevant weekly income) B: 100% of relevant weekly income (75 – 125% of relevant weekly income)
C: 150% of relevant weekly income (125 – 175% of relevant weekly income)
D: 250% of relevant weekly income (200 – 300% of relevant weekly income)
E: 400% of relevant weekly income (300 – 500% of relevant weekly income)
F: 600% of relevant weekly income (500 – 700% of relevant weekly income)

Fines are normally based on A to C and depend on how serious your offence is (e.g. crashing into others, being heavily over the limit or other mitigating factors can ramp up the severity). When you commit an offence that is worthy of prison, bands D-F are also an option.




GRADUATED LICENCES LIKELY

Smartdriving reports (14/02/18) that Theresa May has confirmed during Prime Minister's Question Time, in response to a question from Labour MP Jenny Chapman, that the Department for Transport will look into the proposal of a graduated licence scheme for newly qualified drivers. Graduated driving licences have already been introduced in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the USA.

Restrictions placed on drivers usually include banning them from driving between certain night-time hours (e.g. Midnight-6am unless driving to and from work or an educational establishment), limiting the number of passengers they can carry, requiring their cars to display a special new driver plate for the first 24 months and sometimes even a second test. It's not yet clear what restrictions could be put on new drivers in the UK but some road safety organisations believe a night-time curfew would help.

At present newly qualified British drivers only have a lower limit of six penalty points to be disqualified from driving in the first 24 months.

The potential changes to licensing are being called for because young drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes than other drivers with one in four being involved in a crash in their first two years behind the wheel and 400 young people die in road accidents every year. In fact, road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK, claiming the lives of more under-25s than knife crime or drugs. And the number of people dying on our roads is rising - just under 1800 people were killed and more than 24,000 people were seriously injured on our roads in 2016.

I strongly support graduated licencing even if it only results in restrictions on new drivers driving between certain night-time hours since, as regularly evidenced in local newspapers across the country and elsewhere in my blog, the vast majority of fatal or life changing crashes involving new drivers occur in the early hours of the morning.


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FIXED PENALTIES FOR CARELESS OR INCONSIDERATE DRIVING INTRODUCED & EXISTING FIXED PENALTIES INCREASE.

Drivers who cause death by dangerous driving (e.g. speeding, racing, using a mobile phone, etc.) could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter, with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life.

Offenders who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs will also face life sentences.

A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, punishable by imprisonment is being introduced to fill a gap in the law and reflect the seriousness of some of the injuries suffered by victims in this category of case.

The move comes after an overwhelming response to a government consultation which revealed substantial backing for the plans from a wide range of people including victims, bereaved families and road safety experts.

The government confirmed the introduction of these much tougher penalties in October 2017 as part of wider action across government to clamp down on dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads.


AVOIDING SKID MARKS

As I write this particular blog it's tyre safety month! As my pupils will know, I'm very particular about tyres. The reason is that they are the only thing between you, a ton of metal and the road. The contact area of each tyre with the road is only about the size of a CD case! Along with brakes and suspension, tyres are something that you NEVER want to skimp on. Saving maybe around 20 per tyre won't be so appealing if your car won't stop under control and in time.

If you're driving a performance car, you really should fit a premium performance tyre (e.g. Michelin, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Continental, etc); would an Olympic athlete compete in a pair of supermarket own brand trainers? When driving an "ordinary" car, no matter how old it may be, I would NEVER fit used tyres since you don't know their history. I, along with many tyre specialists, would recommend you AVOID what are usually referred to as "budget tyres" and go for what are usually referred to as "mid-range tyres" (eg Firestone, Avon, Uniroyal, Toyo, Yokohama, etc).

There are other important considerations when it comes to tyres.

More than half the tyres on Britain's cars are being driven under-inflated which increases the chances of being involved in a tyre-related incident on the roads. Not only does the vehicle become more difficult to control, the amount of tyre in contact with the road can be halved which means it takes longer to stop, especially in the wet. Driving with under-inflated tyres can also be costly since they can wear 10% more quickly if it's 10% below the manufacturer's recommended settings and the extra effort needed to turn the wheels means the vehicle uses more fuel.

Cars usually have two tyre pressure settings depending on whether it's fully loaded or has a light load. Most vehicles have these displayed either in the fuel filler cap, door shut but they will certainly be in the owner's handbook. Tyre pressures can be checked using a tyre pressure gauge which are often found at petrol stations and usually cost around 50p to use; some in supermarket petrol stations are free. Don't forget to also check the spare tyre, if the vehicle is fitted with one, on a regular basis.

Additionally, check the tyre tread depth is above the minimum limit of 1.6mm and there are no deep cuts, bulges or punctures as the result of nails, screws, etc embedded in the tyre. Tyre fitting centres (e.g. Kwik Fit, ATS, National Tyre Service, etc) will check the tread depth or whether there is a puncture (e.g. if there is a slow puncture) free of charge. It may be possible to replace a punctured tyre at a cost of 10-20. Tyres have Tread Wear Indicator (TWI) bars evenly spaced around the tyre in the grooves, which become level with the tread surface to indicate that they are due to be replaced. Another quick method to check the tyre tread depth is to place a 20p coin into the grooves at three separate locations and if the outer band of the coin is visible at any of these, it's time to get the tyre checked and if need be replaced at a tyre fitting centre (see image alongside).



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GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES PRACTICAL DRIVING TEST CHANGES

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed that the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will change from Monday 4 December 2017. The You Tube video below includes a DVSA video showing the changes. The 4 driving test changes are:

1. Independent driving part of the test will increase from 10 to 20 minutes - roughly half of the test.

2. Following directions from a sat nav during the independent driving part of the test. The examiner will provide the sat nav and set up the route, so it doesn’t matter what make or model of sat nav you practice with. You’ll still be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it. One in 5 driving tests won’t use a sat nav when you’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.

3. The ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres will no longer be tested. You’ll be asked to do one reversing manoeuvre chosen by the examiner from parallel park at the side of the road, park in a bay either driving in and reversing out or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do) or pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic.

4. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving. You’ll be asked a ‘tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a task) at the start of your test and before you start driving together with a ‘show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a task) while you’re driving (e.g. showing how you'd wash and clean the windscreen using the car controls).

I think driving front first into a bay and reversing out again after is a worthwhile additional manoevre but totally disagree with at least the removal of the turn in the road and reverse around a corner, unless the latter is replaced with another manoeuvre which tests the pupil's ability to safely control the manoeuvring of a vehicle within a confined space. I, for one, have always taught my learners to drive front first into a bay and reverse out after and will continue to teach at least the turn in the road since it is both a useful manoevre and a useful introduction to reverse manoeuvering the car in a confined space (I've never had a learner question why it's taught).

The pull in on the right and reverse a couple of car lengths back is, in my opinion, an ill-advised manoeuvre, especially since it is not in accordance with the Highway Code which states "If you have to stop on the roadside do not park facing against the traffic flow", and I believe the inclusion of this has more to do with EU legislation requiring a reversing manoeuvre. But what about Brexit?! Why DVSA couldn't add the forward and reverse bay park manoeuvre and replace the reverse round a corner with a U-turn in the road, which is a far more realistic manoeuvre to pulling in on the right of the road and reversing back a couple of car lengths, once the UK has left the EU.

I think asking the "show me" question during the drive is a good idea but am not convinced that the use of a sat nav offers much in the way of reducing car crashes involving new drivers including those caused by dealing with distractions. To be honest, I'd have thought driving with the radio on (Radio 2, Heart FM or a local BBC station would be realistic options and the test could require that the cadidate tunes in to one of these stations from the station it's already tuned to either manually or using a preset button) whilst following signs or directions would be both more realistic and more of a distraction.




TIPS FOR USING A SAT NAV IN YOUR OWN CAR

Positioning the sat nav - The seat position should be finalised before positioning the sat nav. Make sure that the sat nav position won't affect the view of the road and your ability to drive safely. The safest place is low down on the windscreen and to the far right. If it isn't possible to fit the device on the right it may be acceptable in the centre of the windscreen, but it needs to be positioned as low down as possible. Never fit a sat nav high up on the windscreen since it will seriously restrict the driver's view, power cords may affect the driver's vision and it could interfere with the rear view mirror and sun visors. Sat navs should never be positioned where they could cause injury to a driver or passenger in a crash, including potential head strike zones on the windscreen or where an air-bag may contact them.

Using the sat nav - Sat navs should never be programmed on the move! Not only would this be a major distraction but also reaching out to touch the screen puts the driver in an unstable seating position. The distraction would make an emergency more likely and the seating position would limit the driver's ability to respond quickly and safely.

Programming the sat nav - Sat navs are easy to programme by post code but sometimes you'll only have a town name. If so, double you're heading for Buxton in Derbyshire, not Buxton in Norfolk (or vice-versa). The sat nav doesn't know that you are driving a motor-home or towing a caravan. Quite a few truck drivers have encountered problems using sat navs designed for cars but car driver could have issues when, for example, hiring vans or motor-homes.

Voice commands are important - Don't turn down the volume and rely on visual maps as this can be particularly dangerous in complex situations and especially when visiting new places. Choose a voice that is easy to hear.

On the move - A sat nav is only an aid. There have been many stories of drivers ending up in rivers and all sorts of other situations due to blindly following sat nav directions literally. Look for and use road signs and markings, especially as there could be diversions that are not shown on the sat nav. Use the sat-nav in the same way that you use mirrors – quick glances. Night display should be set to activate automatically.

Map updates - Keep the sat nav updated so routes and speed limits are current. Don't rely on sat nav speed limits alone since they don't always have the correct speed limit; especially where temporary limits apply.

Thieves - When you leave the car take the sat nav off the screen and hide it away. Damage done by thieves getting into the car would far outweigh the value of the sat nav.

Have a map when going to new places - Have a map to use in conjunction with the sat nav as sat navs aren't great for the "big picture".

Sat navs for a relaxing journey - Journey times - Displayed sat nav journey times for a given destination that's up to a couple of hours away will rarely vary by more than five to ten minutes. In the event of a major hold up a sat nav with up-to-date maps and traffic info will save hours of misery and any sat nav will keep you informed about when you can expect to arrive. If you're going to be late, pull in at a safe place to phone ahead.

Using smartphone sat nav - Invest in a holder or cradle so that you are not handling the phone when you drive.


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RURAL ROADS ARE THE MOST FATAL

Country roads are the deadliest in the UK according to government figures.

In total, 1,040 people were killed on country roads in 2014, with a third (348) of fatalities occurring on a bend. In comparison, there were 616 deaths on urban roads and 96 on motorways.

The problem was most acute among young drivers, with a third confessing to braking too late before a bend and more than 1-in-10 admitting to "taking the racing line" by crossing into the opposite side of the road to take a turn faster. Young drivers were also the most likely age group to overtake on a bend without a clear road ahead.

Road safety minister Andrew Jones said: "We want the public to anticipate potential hazards on the road when driving in the countryside, to watch their speed and take care when approaching a bend".

I always advise pupils that they need to attain the correct speed and gear before entering a bend by slowing down once their uninterrupted view of the road ahead shortens and achieving and maintaining a constant view and thereby a safe speed through the bend. They can also use this technique to apply the gas to attain a safe and suitable speed as their view of then road ahead increases on exiting the bend.


NEW THEORY TEST CENTRE OPENS IN FROME!

DVSA have opened a permanent Theory Test Centre in Frome at 2 Baywell House, Tucker Close, Frome, BA11 5LS.


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DEER ALERT!

It is not uncommon to see deer around my area and I've had two or three run out in front of me over the years. At least one of these was in the middle of the day. Fortunately I keep my speed down between dusk and dawn in areas where I know there are deer (especially around Bowood) so I haven't hit any. I have, however, been the first person on the scene at a collision involving several young drivers and a deer. The deer was killed and at least two cars were written off. Some of the young passengers were in serious shock and they were lucky nobody was injured. I have also driven past a couple of accidents involving deer where the emergency services, including an ambulance to attend to a motorbike rider who'd collided with a deer, were on the scene.

Periods of greatest risk are autumn and spring at dawn and dusk, especially in wooded areas. Every year, people are killed or injured in road collisions with wild deer around England. There have been over 2,000 recorded deer-vehicle collisions since January 2009 on the motorway and A-road network alone. It is estimated that there are up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year in the UK. Most deer are killed, but thousands are left to die of injuries.

A key to reducing the number and severity of deer-vehicle collisions is for drivers to be 'deer aware'. This means you should slow down and watch out when you see deer close to the road.

The Highways Agency advice to drivers is:

a. when you see deer warning signs, check your speed and stay alert
b. green reflections could well be a deer's eyes reflecting in your lights
b. if your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer, as they may 'freeze'
c. more deer may follow the first one you see
d. be prepared to stop, but try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer; hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse
e. if you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights
f. do not approach an injured deer; it could be dangerous

You should treat a collision with a deer as an emergency, especially if someone is injured or if vehicles or deer in the road are a safety risk. Ring 999 for the police or ambulance service immediately.

To report any injured deer to the RSPCA please ring the 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.



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WINTER DRIVING

When the weather changes, your driving has to change as well - the biggest change when snow and ice comes is slow down.

It's not only your speed needs to slow down - aim to accelerate more gently, change gear as smoothly as you can and no sudden steering movements.

Also be prepared to slow down your pace of living - allow longer for your journey, or when the weather is really bad, make a positive decision to stay at home and catch up with some of that stuff you've been meaning to do for ages!

Make sure that you get the strength of your anti-freeze checked before the onset of winter, avoid using unnecessary electrically operated items such as in car entertainment to avoid flattening the battery (you do need to use the demisters, air con to help demisting, heated rear windows, wipers and lights!), regularly check your lights are working and ensure they're clean, ensure at least 2mm tyre tread (ideally 3mm) to retain grip on slippery roads, use the correct washer fluid additive mix and ensure the washer reservoir is kept topped up as you'll use more in the winter.

Ensure you take with you a fully charged mobile phone and in car charger, a shovel in the boot and a "winter kit" in the car consisting of the following:
A couple of blankets or good sleeping bag;
A spare, warm coat;
A pair of good outdoor boots and warm socks;
A hat (a wooly/thermal hat is best);
Warm mittens or gloves;
Chocolate bars;
Dried fruit and nuts (avoid salted nuts);
At least one bottle of water;
Kitchen roll;
Torch and batteries;
A fluorescent vest or jacket;
Medication - if you are on regular medication ensure you have a supply.

Before you set off ensure you clear snow from all parts of your car including windows, lights, roof and ideally the bonnet and boot too. Driving with an obscured windscreen could lead to three points and a £60 fine and snow on the roof could fall forward and cover the windscreen under braking or fly off into a car or, even worse, cyclist behind.

Keep moving...

Start off in second gear and then use as higher gear as you can, this will help to stop your wheels spinning.

Only use low gears to hold the car back going downhill - avoid braking as much as possible.

Leave much bigger gaps - everyone needs more space to stop. Triple or quadruple the space you would normally leave between yourself and vehicles ahead - this way you will avoid their accidents.

Use your headlights to help other drivers see you.

Signs and markings will be hidden in snow. You may know the roads and be aware of who has priority, but does the other driver?

Sat-nav decices will probably default to the shortest route which could include B roads or country lanes; in the winter the chances are that these road will not be gritted. When undertaking journeys in the snow set your sat-nav to stick to main roads and/or check the route against an old-fashioned paper map.

When stopping your anti-lock brakes might activate - you will feel a pulsing through the pedal and possibly a rattling noise from the front, this is normal, keep your foot on the brakes.

If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the brake pedal to keep your wheels rotating as you slow down. If you feel the car skid, release the brakes.

Ice forms quickest and lingers longest in shaded areas, on bridges, overpasses and on quiet roads. Take extra care in these situations and anywhere where water runs across the road. The first sign may be an eerie silence coupled with overly light steering.

If you skid on snow/ice...

Immediately release the brakes or accelerator until the wheels start to grip again.

Look directly at where you want to go as the hands follow the eyes (not at a tree, wall, etc!).

Put the clutch down so the wheels go the same speed as the ground underneath and not the same speed as the engine, which could cause the wheels to spin and enhance the skid (I know that sounds counter intuitive but it's an abnormal situation).

Steer smoothly the direction you want the front of the car to go (which is the same as steer into the skid). To detect when the tyres have regained grip you could gently wobble the steering wheel between straight and the way you want the car to go and when you feel the car begin to shake a little you've regained grip so steer smoothly the way you want the car to go.

Gently apply the brake (if no ABS fitted brake gently, release brake slightly and reapply - known as cadence braking and effectively manual ABS) if front wheels skidding or accelerator if rear wheels skidding

If you have four-wheel drive remember that it might help you to keep moving, but it won't prevent you skidding and it won't help you to stop quicker.

If you get stuck...

Clear as much snow as you can away from the wheels. Use grit, sand, cat litter, sacks or old carpet under the wheels to help the tyres get grip.

Don't rev your engine and spin your wheels - this will dig you in deeper, use second gear and gentle use of the gas pedal to rock the car back and forward until it grips.

If you become absolutely stuck ensure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow, clear snow from the roof and (if you have one) tie a fluorescent jacket or vest to the aerial so you can be seen from the air, stay in your vehicle, only run the engine and heating for 20 minutes in each hour and use your phone to let people know where you are and that you are OK every hour or two. Only leave the vehicle if you can see a building close by.

SLOW DOWN
LEAVE BIGGER GAPS
BRAKE GENTLY
USE HEADLIGHTS


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DON'T POT YOUR CAR INTO THE HOLE!

The hard winters over recent years have caused a noticeable increase in the numbers and severity of potholes on the UK's roads. This is primarily as the result of water, which has seeped into cracks in the tarmac caused by the road flexing under traffic plus the tarmac expanding and contracting in the sun, freezing then expanding and blowing a hole in the road surface. Whilst it cost local authorities £32 million paying out compensation claims due to damage caused to vehicles by potholes and £133 million in temporary pothole repairs during 2012, it is estimated that it would cost £10.5 billion to undertake permanent pothole repairs involving digging up entire road sections and relaying them. It's, therefore, likely that potholes will continue to be a hazardous feature of UK roads.

The best ways of avoiding potholes causing damage to your car are to plan ahead, spot potholes in good time using the addage "every pothole hides a mineshaft", drive slowly (say 20MPH) to avoid damage to your car (rather than swerve suddenly) and be aware of traffic all around you to avoid swerving out in front of another vehicle at the last moment.

If you do hit a pothole at speed, stop as soon as it's safe and check for damage such as buckled wheel rims and ensure the car does not appear lower on one side which would suggest suspension damage. When you drive off be aware of any abnormal feel to the steering which could suggest steering or suspension damage; it's probably worth getting the tracking checked and if necessary adjusted at a tyre specialist (average cost free for a tracking check and £25-£30 if adjustment required) otherwise your tyres will wear quickly and quite possibly cost you more to rectify, with a pair of average tyres working out at around £110!

You may be able to claim against the Highways Agency (trunk roads and motorways) or local authority for any damage caused to your car as the direct result of hitting a specific pothole at a specific time. Note the date and time the damage was caused, the exact location of the pothole, where safe take a photograph giving an indication as to the depth of the pothole, take a photograph of the damage caused to your car and where possible include any evidence that a garage or mechanic can provide together with an invoice or preferably (if the repair can wait so the relevant authority can inspect it if they wish) a quote for the necessary work. Do be aware, however, that they are unlikely to pay out where a pothole is less than 25mm deep, you may have to be persistent since the relevant authorities often reject initial claims (citing the Highways Act 1980 as a legal defence) and courts do understand that it's not reasonable to expect every pothole to be repaired immediately during periods of severe weather. Justified claims are, however, paid.

In the event of significant damage and the relevant authority continues to reject your claim, the next step is to submit a Freedom of Information request via their website asking for information as how often the road in question is maintained and comparing this with the "Well Maintained Roads" national code of practice for road maintenance (available as a free download via www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org). In the event that the relevant authority is complying with the code of practice it's unlikely that your claim will be paid and you may need to consult your car insurance if you have comprehensive cover, although you'll have to pay the excess.


NO HOT DOGS IN CARS!

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging pet owners to ensure their animals are safe and comfortable on car journeys this summer.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth warns that it's both dangerous and illegal to leave an animal in a hot vehicle. “If the dog becomes ill or dies, the owner is likely to face a charge of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006,” he warns. “This offence can bring a prison sentence of up to six months in custody and/or a fine of up to 20,000.”

GEM has compiled a short checklist designed to ensure dogs stay safe and comfortable on car journeys:

a. Leave your dog at home on warm days.
b. On trips with your pet, bring plenty of fresh drinking water, and a bowl. Ensure your dog is able to stay cool on a journey.
c. Don't let your dog travel unrestrained loose, Instead, use a proper travel basket or crate to create a safer space. Dog seatbelts and travel harnesses are also available.
d. If you suggest the dog might be too hot, then you will need to stop somewhere safe and give him a good drink of water. Animals are unable to sweat in the way that humans can. Dogs cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws, so if you have left your dog in the car on a hot day, it only takes a few minutes for him to succumb to the symptoms of heatstroke.
e. If you suspect your dog is developing heatstroke on a journey, stop somewhere safe and take him into the shade or to somewhere cool. However, if signs of heat exhaustion become apparent (for example excessive thirst, heavy panting, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness), you should go straight to a veterinary surgeon.
f. If you see a pet in a vehicle on a hot day, take immediate action. For example, if you're in a supermarket, roadside service area or garden centre car park, note the car make, model, colour and registration number, then go inside and ask for an announcement to be made. If this doesn't bring the owner out, or you're in a location where finding the owner is impossible, then dial 999 and ask for the police.



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TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR USING MOBILE PHONE WHILST DRIVING

The government has announced motorists caught using handheld mobile phones while driving will automatically receive six points on their licence instead of the current three and on-the-spot fines will be doubled from £100 to £200.

Newly qualified drivers, who have a ceiling of six points for the first two years after they pass their test, could immediately lose their licence if they are caught.

The new rules will come into force on 1st March 2017 in England, Scotland and Wales, and could see fines of up to £1,000 with a six-month driving ban for drivers who are caught twice for the offence.


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SLOW DRIVER? PULL IN EVERY THIRD OPPORTUNITY!

I often get asked about the rules for slow moving vehicles, such as tractors, to pull over and allow traffic queued up behind them to pass. The following story from "Smartdriving Magazine" sheds some light on this and other related issues.

A tractor driver has been fined £485 for allowing a massive queue to build up behind him. Crawling along at 25 miles per hour, 20-year-old farm worker Jake Fear, of Highbridge, Somerset, eventually caused a tail-back of 50 vehicles as he drove along the A39 near Glastonbury, Somerset last November.

His tractor, pulling a trailer, was finally pulled over by police, who spotted the half-mile-long queue. He was charged with driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. Fear passed at least three points where he could have pulled over to allow traffic to pass, but didn't bother to do so - despite the fact that slow drivers are expected to do this at every third opportunity.

"The trailer contained beet which was piled high and due to the manner of driving the officer stopped Fear and asked why he hadn't pulled over," said prosecutor Christine Hart.

"He replied that he had only noticed the lorry behind him and he did not see the half a mile of traffic and argued that there had not been any places to pull over."

Magistrates fined him £190 for the offence - as well as £190 for driving on a bald tyre - and ordered him to pay costs of £85 and a £20 victim surcharge. He also had three points added to his licence.

Fear was prosecuted under a new set of driving laws introduced in 2013. They allow police to act over inconsiderate or selfish behaviour, such as tailgating, hogging the middle lane of the motorway or deliberately splashing pedestrians by driving through puddles. Other potential offences include wheel-spinning and handbrake turns, barging into a queue of traffic and 'undertaking' by passing another car on the inside. The first person to actually be prosecuted under the new laws was a West Yorkshire driver, who was fined almost £1,000 and given five penalty points last summer for hogging the middle lane of the motorway.


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DRIVING WITHOUT REASONABLE CONSIDERATION

A retired firefighter was fined in early 2012 after stopping an ambulance on a 999 call from overtaking his car in Colchester, Essex. The man was driving at about 45 mph when the ambulance tried to get past him with blue lights flashing and sirens. The man admitted that the right thing to do would have been to go on to the grass verge and admitted driving without reasonable consideration. He was fined £250, with £80 costs and five points were added to his driving licence.

Driving without reasonable consideration, also referred to as driving without due care, can be applied to various behaviour including delaying emergency vehicles and splashing pedestrians.


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FIXED PENALTIES FOR CARELESS OR INCONSIDERATE DRIVING INTRODUCED & EXISTING FIXED PENALTIES INCREASE.

DfT advises that changes giving the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless or inconsiderate driving came into effect on 16th August 2013.

Careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline (e.g. middle & outside lane "hogging" on motorways) will face on-the-spot penalties of £100 and 3 points on their driving licence. Up until now police have had to persue such offenders through the courts and these changes will give police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes.

According to a survey carried out by Populas on behalf of the AA, 29 per cent of drivers - about 12 million - are at risk of falling foul of the new legislation. They admit to hogging the middle lane of the motorway on a regular basis and roughly 40 per cent of younger drivers fall into this category, admitting they stay in the middle lane in free flowing traffic because they incorrectly believe it to be the 'cruising lane'.

This legislation also covers those caught doing handbrake turns, wheel spins, forcing their way into an orderly queue of traffic, ignoring a 'lane closed' sign and getting into the wrong lane at a roundabout.'

In cases where there is no victim, offenders will be offered the opportunity to take a 'driver awareness course', costing them around £100. If they take this option they will avoid points on their licence and an increase in the cost of their car insurance premiums.

Additionally, existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences - including using a mobile phone while driving; not wearing a seatbelt; speeding; neglect of traffic directions such as jumping a red light; using a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate - rise from £60 to £100, bringing them into line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties. The fixed penalty for careless driving is now £100 with 3 points on the driver's licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

As the result of these changes a non-endorsable (where the driver does not receive points on their licence such as neglect of traffic regulations such as failing to give way; negligent use of motor vehicle such as not being in full control, vehicle registration and excise licence offences swuch as failing to display a tax disc; vehicle in defective condition such as dirty and obstructed windows; lighting offences such as misuse of head lamps; noise offences such as sounding the horn at night) £30 fixed penalty notice has risen to £50; an endorsable (where points are given) £60 and non-endorsable fixed penalty notice has risen to £100 (see previous paragraph); an endorsable and non-endorsable £120 fixed penalty notice has risen to £200; an endorsable and non-endorsable £200 fixed penalty notice has risen to £300, including driving with no insurance.

As mentioned above, the police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement and drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.

Fixed penalties for most of these motoring offences have not increased since 2000, making them lower than other penalties of a similar severity.

The AA (along with me!) has welcomed the new rules but have warned there were not enough traffic officers on the roads to enforce the new measures. An AA spokesperson said 'There needs to be more traffic officers to actually enforce these things, and we've seen a big decline in traffic police.'


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DOCTORS MUST INFORM DVLA OVER FITNESS TO DRIVE

ADI News reports that Doctors must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) if a patient continues to drive against medical advice when they are not fit to do so and poses a risk of serious harm to the public, even if they don't have the patient's consent to do so, according to strengthened guidelines issued as part of a wider consultation on confidentiality by the General Medical Council (GMC). The guidelines also emphasise that when they diagnose a patient's condition or provide treatment, doctors should keep the patient's ability to drive safely at the forefront of their minds.

The consultation on confidentiality is due to run until mid-February 2016 with the final guidance being published in late 2016.


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SMOKING IN CARS CARRYING CHILDREN ILLEGAL

From 1st October 2015 it will be an offence to smoke or to fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under the age of 18 in the vehicle. The regulations do not apply to a driver on their own in a vehicle. People failing to comply could face a £50 fixed penalty notice.


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DRIVERS GET 10 MINUTE PARKING LEEWAY

The Driving Instructors' Association reports the government has announced drivers will get a 10 minute grace period from civil enforcement officers (aka "traffic wardens") when they will avoid getting fines where their vehicle is parked in a free or paid bay.



VEHICLE TAX RATES CHANGE ON 1st APRIL 2017

For vehicles first registered on or after 1 April 2017, the amount you pay for the first 12 months is based on CO2 emissions as follows:

0 0
1-50 10
51-75 25
76-90 100
91-100 120
101-110 140
111-130 160
131-150 200
151-170 500
171-190 800
191-225 1,200
226-255 1,700
Over 255 2,000

You can’t make a 6-month payment for the first year.

The amount you pay each year after that for a petrol or diesel car is 140.

The first time you tax a vehicle on or after 1 April 2017 with a list price (the published price before any discounts) of more than 40,000, you’ll pay the rate based on CO2 emissions. After the first 12 months you’ll pay an additional rate of 310 a year for the next 5 years. After 5 years, you’ll pay the standard annual rate.



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CHEAPEST CARS FOR YOUNG DRIVERS TO INSURE

In May 2016 The Telgraph reported:

"Vauxhall's flagship car, the Corsa, is the most popular vehicle among younger drivers but they would save £400 if they picked a rival hatchback.

By opting for the Peugeot 107 as their first car instead, a driver aged between 17 and 25 would pay £900 for fully comprehensive insurance, compared with £1,305 for the Corsa.

The small engine of the Peugeot is the biggest factor in bringing premiums down compared with other, more powerful models. It's also a cheaper option to buy. A brand new three-door 107 sells for around £6,000 whereas the 2015 Vauxhall Corsa starts at £9,000.

But research shows that the Peugeot is less favoured among younger drivers, according to insurance quotes searched via comparison service Comparethemarket, which includes information about a person's age and car model.

Among those cars that are perhaps less fashionable, but cheaper to insure, are the Fiat 500, Citroën C1, Kia Picanto and Toyota Aygo. All of these cars can be covered for £706 or less.

But none of these cars are favoured by motorists in their teens and early 20s.

According to the data, under-25s would prefer a Ford Fiesta (£915 to insure), Renault Clio (£980 to insure), Volkswagen Golf (£1,104) and the Vauxhall Astra (£883).

Under-25s typically spend half of their car's value on insurance, and the cost of getting a younger driver on the road has by increased 18pc in the past year, to £2,232 on average for 17-year-old."

It's worth being aware that there are more and more insurance companies offering specialist young driver insurance policies. These policies offer significant savings on young driver insurance costs by using smart black box technology that monitors their driving habits and charges accordingly. Such policies are offered by reputable insurance companies and we have information on our Links page.

Many new drivers ask me why insurance premiums are often several times more than the value of their first car. The issue is not the value of their car but the potential damage that can be done with it. I read in an article in ADI News (July 2011) that, during 2011, AA Insurance had dealt with two crashes caused by 18 year old male drivers which had each resulted in claims of over £5 Million (one due to the driver's girlfriend being confined to a wheelchair for life following the car crashing into a tree at speed and the second where one of the driver's friends who was in the car and the driver of the oncoming car were killed as the result of the young driver misjudging an overtaking manoeuvre).

In my opinion, unless they introduce legislation limiting the power of cars new drivers can drive, times of day they can drive, etc, the Government can do all but nothing to achieve a significant reduction in insurance premiums for new drivers. Statistics demonstrate that new drivers have the most crashes between the hours of 2300 and 0600 and as the result of driving too fast and/or aggressively. If technology can now monitor these factors and allow insurance companies to identify new drivers who represent a lower risk and offer them lower premiums, I strongly believe this is to be welcomed.

Another way to reduce insurance premiums is to always check out insurance premiums for any car that you are considering buying. An insurance expert from major insurance broker, Adrian Flux, said in Auto Express magazine "Many first time buyers assume they should buy a cheap car in a low insurance group. But it's not that simple. We find that very cheap vehicles aren't looked after by their owners, so claims are common, and we build up our own profile for each model. This explains why two cars with the same insurance rating can attract different premiums". Auto Express advise "If you can afford it, try to spend at least £2,000 on your first motor; it's likely to require less maintenance than a £500 banger, and your insurer will assume you won't abuse it. It's also a good idea to opt for something mainstream, such as a Ford or Vauxhall, rather than niche models".

Auto Express magazine along with Adrian Flux and reputabled finance website This is Money along with motoring specialists Parkers.co.uk recommend the following as being cheap cars to insure (I've included the dates they were first introduced since used versions would be even more affordable):

VW Fox 1.2 Urban (2005 - preceded by VW Lupo introduced in 1998 which was all but the same as the Seat Arosa).

Fiat Panda 1.1 Active (2003 - Plenty available on the used car market).

Chevrolet Spark 1.0 (2010 - preceeded by Daewoo/Chevrolet Matiz which was introduced in 1998 and is in fairly plentiful supply on the used car market).

Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 (1983 - Comparatively expensive new but Vauxhall Corsa's are widely and comparatively cheaply available on the used car market).

Nissan Pixo 1.0 (2009 - All but the same as the Suzuki Alto which has been available in the UK since the early to mid 1980s with engines as small as 650cc. Earlier models are far from common on the used car market).

Citroen C1 / Peugeot 107 / Toyota Aygo (2005 - Can also deliver up to 60MPG!).

Toyota Yaris (1999 - Owing to it's reliability, especially Japanese built ones, it can be dearer on the used market than other similar cars but it does offer some of the lowest insurance costs around).

Ford Focus (1998 - If you need space in your first car. Widely and comparatively cheaply available on the used car market).

Peugeot 106 1.0 (1991 - I personally am not keen on these as they are of a very lightweight construction and have all but no safety features to the extent that a Traffic Policeman I met at a motoring event had an extremely low opinion of them from his first hand experience at road traffic crashes; it was a crashed and severely damaged Peugeot 106 that was at the centre of the Police display. The similar Citroen Saxo doesn't make the list as it is quite expensive to insure as it's a known "Boy/Girl Racer" modification favourite and this along with the lightweight construction and lack of safety kit has resulted in this model having a high insurance claim risk and, therefore, higher insurance premiums. In my personal opinion the Citroen Saxo and earlier model Peugeot 106s should be avoided as I believe the risks associated with them outweigh the attractiveness of their availablility on the used market at comparatively cheap purchase prices).

In their article, detailed above, The Telegraph also recommend:

Kia Picanto (2004)

Fiat 500 (2007 - Well the original was introduced in 1957! Fine for front seat passengers but not much room for passengers in the back seat.)


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More Cut n Shut than Open n Shut
BUYING A USED CAR?

DVLA's Buyer Beware campaign is offering buyers of used vehicles useful guidance on which questions to ask about the seller, the registration certificate (V5C) and the identity of the vehicle to help them avoid being caught out by criminals selling stolen vehicles.

Some things to consider are as follows:

Be careful of mobile phone numbers as owners are hard to trace;

Watch out for adverts giving a landline number and times to call as criminals often use public phone boxes;

Check the market value of the vehicle and if it's offered much cheaper, ask yourself why;

Ask the seller for the registration number, make and model of the vehicle;

Ask the seller for the expiry date of the tax disc and the MOT test number;

Check whether the vehicle has outstanding finance or has been stolen or written off (e.g. HPI Check, etc.);

Arrange to view the vehicle in daylight at the seller's home and not in a public car park (consider your personal safety too);

Ask if the seller is the registered keeper, so you can view at the registered keeper's address (shown on the V5C);

Check the vehicle identification number (VIN) and engine number against the registration certificate (V5C);

For further information on why these checks are important go to www.gov.uk.

The ultimate message is - if in doubt, trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Does your insurance company know?
DOES YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY KNOW?

Another way of reducing car insurance costs along with saving money, which you'll never recover when you come to sell your car and could in fact have a negative effect on your car's resale value, is not to modify your car. For example, adding alloy wheels costing £1000 to a car valued between £3-5000 can increase your premium by 15%, an air filter can add 2.5% to the premium and an aftermarket exhaust system (or component part thereof) can add 7.5% to your premium. So, if your car was valued at, say, £4000 and the insurance premium was £2,000 the addition of after market alloy wheels could add up to £300 to the premium!

If you're thinking that you can get away without telling your insurance company, think again. If you don't declare modifications to your insurance company, your insurance could be invalid.

When my stationary driving tuition car was hit in the rear by another vehicle whilst in a traffic queue (i.e. absolutely and utterly not my or the pupil's fault) the first thing the insurance Loss Adjuster (professionals who investigate insurance claims by interviewing the claimant and witnesses, consulting police and hospital records, and inspecting property damage to determine the extent of the company's liability) did when they came to assess the damage and cost of repairs was to check that my tyres had legal tread depth. They did, of course, but if they hadn't the insurer might have rejected my claim as the result of my vehicle not being roadworthy.

Do you think an insurance loss adjuster would spot aftermarket alloy wheels, exhaust systems, body kits, tinted windows, etc and highlight them to the insurance company in the event that they had not been declared? If you're not sure, have a look at the orange modified Peugeot 206 alongside the title of this article!

As a result of the level of claims being made, especially personal injury claims, insurance companies are increasingly invalidating insurance policies and rejecting claims (which can also result in you being charged for driving without insurance) whenever they believe that they are able.


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INSURANCE PREMIUM SAVING APP

Intelligent Marmalade have released a FREE smart phone app which allows drivers of all ages to review their driving at the end of each journey.

Not only can drivers share their scores with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter but the app encourages them to improve their driving. By trying to beat scores, not only will they be driving more safely but also seeing how telemetric systems can help save money on insurance premiums.


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THEORY TEST TOP 10 FAILS

Theory Test Pro have published the top 10 theory test questions that people get wrong. Click here to try them for yourself and make sure you study ALL the 950+ theory test revision bank questions, don't just do mock tests, to ensure you are prepared to pass the DVSA Theory Test!

Shamrock Driving School provide all their pupils with FREE access to Theory Test Pro which contains EVERYTHING you need to pass the DVSA Theory Test first time!

FREE THEORY TEST APP!

Shamrock Driving School provides you with FREE access to a complete Theory and Hazard Perception app! Simply click on the banner below!


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MORE FLEXIBLE LATE NOTICE TEST CANCELLATION POLICY!

From 1 April 2014, DVSA will introduce a more flexible approach to the way it handles tests cancelled by candidates at short notice.

Prior to this date tert candidates automatically lost their fee if they cancelled or changed their test without giving DVSA 3 clear working days notice.

From 1 April 2014, test candidates can ask for a rebooking at short notice with no charge if they can't take their test because of:

a medically certified illness
a bereavement
school exams

DVSA are continuing to offer a refund or new test date to serving members of the armed forces who are called for duty.




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Trainee Badge on the Left
BEWARE DRIVING LESSON "SCAM"

AOL reports "Driving School Scams" in it's Top Ten Scams of 2011 along with Land Banking (the sale of worthless plots of land), Money Mules (persuading people to receive fraudulent payments and then to pass the funds on), HMRC Phishing Scam (e-mails purporting to be from HMRC offering tax rebates with a link to a phoney HMRC website where the recipient is asked to provide their credit card details), "Crash for Cash" Scams (fraudsters fake accidents by making unnecessary emergency stops forcing motorists to crash into them and then make bogus insurance claims) and Thermal camera fraud (thermal cameras that track ATM pin numbers from keypads). These are all very serious scams!

AOL state "Learner drivers have been taken for ride by being unknowingly taught by trainee instructors. An investigation by the AA found up to 27,000 extra driving tests have been failed in the last year because one in 10 learner drivers are unwittingly taught by an instructor they do not know is learning on the job".

The way to spot if your driving instructor is a trainee is to check the badge driving instructors must display in their windscreen. If it is a pink triangular badge they are a trainee and if it is a green octagonal badge they are a fully qualified Driving Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor and have passed three rogorous DSA exams, CRB checks and periodic testing by a senior DSA examiner (see picture). If they don't have either badge displayed asked to see their badge since they could be a bogus instructor.

Gary Fossey of Shamrock Driving School is a fully qualified Driving Agency Approved Driving Instructor with over 9 years experience in the profession and guarantees you top quality professional driving tuition!



CRASHED THE CAR? BLAME IT ON DAD!

The Daily Express reported:

"Learner drivers are making millions of dangerous moves on Britain?s roads ? due to poor tuition by their parents.

Qualified instructors say hard-up learners are turning to their mums and dads for lessons to save cash ? with disastrous results.

New figures from the Government?s Driving Standards Agency reveal over a million serious or dangerous faults during 1.5 million official tests last year.

As a result 147 students or examiners ended up in hospital with serious injuries."

Some parents are good at teaching their offspring to learn to drive from scratch with input from a professional driving instructor leading up to their driving test. HOWEVER, more often than not this approach results in arguements and the teaching of bad habits! I've had several pupils over the years where Mum or Dad have started trying to teach them to drive and the resultant stress has got too much for one (or more!) of the involved parties.

My opinion and advice is that private practice is a good thing once the learner driver is in control of the vehicle and able to drive consistently safely. Private practice should be undertaken in association with and not instead of professional driving lessons. It is always better, easier and it can be more cost effective to ensure that a learner driver doesn't effectively learn bad habits from the outset. The experience with an experienced driver, it doesn't necessarily have to be a parent, in the car is invaluable in increasing the learner driver's knowledge, experience, confidence and makes them calmer, more focussed on driving and what's going on around them and as a direct result safer when they start to drive on their own after passing their driving test. Additionally, private practice gets the new driver used to driving different cars.

WOULD YOU RATHER SAVE A FEW HUNDRED POUNDS OR YOUR CHILD'S AND OTHERS' LIVES?


CAR LEAVES ROAD AND ENDS UP IN FIELD IN BLACKLANDS, CALNE

On 7th January 2017 at 19:09hrs PCSO Cook located a vehicle in a field in Blacklands near to the small grain picnic site while conducting rural patrols in the area.

The driver was located with the vehicle and advised he had skidded off the road due to the foggy conditions. Thankfully he was not injured as a result of the collision.

Please try and drive to the conditions of the road while we experience adverse weather including fog, snow and ice.


2230 5th Dec 14 Westbury Trading Estate
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3 Dead 18-20 Year Olds
WHY SHOULDN'T I DRIVE BETWEEN 10pm & 4am?

2014 Department for Transport statistics indicate that, between 2008 and 2012, almost 20% of fatal or serious crashes involving at least one young driver occurred between 10pm and 4am.

It's as simple as that.


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THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL!

Click here to see yet another news story involving a totally brainless and incompetent "boy racer" killing and maiming innocent people on the public roads!

I fully understand some people have a need for speed and, quite sincerely, have no problem with them fulfilling this need in the right place BUT NOT ON THE PUBLIC ROADS WHERE OTHER ROAD USERS DON'T WISH TO BECOME POTENTIAL FATALITIES AS A RESULT!

A maximum of a 40 minute drive from all the areas I cover is Castle Combe Circuit, who offer track days in a controlled environment which I would and previously have encouraged drivers who wish to fulfill a need for speed to attend. OK, they cost around £170 per day plus around £25 per additional driver but take along some mates (the cost reduces to around £61.25 per person with 4 mates in the one car, which isn't far off what many spend on a good night out!) and the cost pales into insignificance when taking into account the consequences of using the public roads as a race circuit.


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OVERCOMING VEHOPHOBIA

I read an interesting article regarding overcoming Vehophobia, the fear of driving, which is one of the top 10 most common phobias.

If this affects you or someone you know, the advice given in the article is:

1. Do a few refresher lessons with a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor but not too many otherwise you may become dependent upon them. I have experience of helping people with this issue and think 2-6 hours should be sufficient for many clients. Talk through your main areas of concern and establish why you fear driving with your instructor before the lessons and away from the car.
2. The client has to do the work themself and go out driving somewhere (give yourself an aim as opposed to simply driving around) at least weekly otherwise old avoidance behaviours will return.
3. Keep a journal recording your level of fear out of 10 before going out in the car and again afterwards to see how it changes. Give yourself credit for what you've done well.
4. Do the same routes over and over again until you're bored since you can't be bored and frightened at the same time.
5. Be prepared! For example, consider using a SatNav to help you to concentrate on the road and not overly worry about your route and look at your route on Google Earth to work out potential difficulties.
6. Don't see everything as a hazard otherwise you may become overwhelmed. Prioritise hazards.
7. Be assertive about making decisions. For example, it doesn't matter whether you let another vehicle out of a junction but the important thing is to make a choice.


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HOW TO DEAL WITH EMERGENCY VEHICLES & LEVEL CROSSINGS

Click on the Links to learn how to deal with emergency "Blue Light" vehicles and use Level Crossings safely (i.e. where a road crosses a railway line).


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THESE SHOES ARE MADE FOR DRIVING...

Wearing correct footwear is a must when driving. When you think about the physical process required in making a vehicle go, turn or stop etc., all the actions are performed by our hands or feet. It might look really good to be wearing flashy shoes, but it doesn't look too good to be wrapped around a lamppost because your foot missed the brake pedal or wasn't able to exert the right pressure to enable you to slow down or stop.

Flip-flops and sandals are normally considered the most dangerous of all inappropriate footwear. However, sturdy robust shoes/boots such as walking and wellington boots can also be dangerous. Shoes that don't fit securely may fall off when driving and can get in the way of the foot controls.

There is no specific law dealing with the issue of driving in high heels, other types of footwear or barefoot. HOWEVER, the issue of inappropriate footwear could be considered to be driving without due care and attention should you become involved in an accident. Should it become apparent the defendant was wearing unsuitable footwear and this may have played a part in the manner of their driving, it is likely to become far more difficult to defend the allegation.

With regards to driving barefoot this can be unsafe and not driving safely is illegal. For example, feet can sweat which reduces the traction, wearing socks or stockings is not ideal on account of the pressure needed and driving with wet feet might well be put yourself or your passengers and other road users at risk by not being able to drive the car safely. Using the clutch or brake can require heavy pressure by the ball of the foot on a relatively small pedal where the sole of a shoe distributes the pressure more evenly. Repeated use of the clutch could end up being painful, causing cramp or other spasms in the foot which could result in the driver losing control of a car and a potential prosecution of driving without due care and attention. Exerting pressure, especially in the form of an emergency stop, may lead to a reduction in control of the vehicle. Stepping on gravel or a pebble stuck to the footwell carpet or pedals could make a driver pull his feet back when braking.

In October 2015, an assistant head teacher wearing Ugg boots caused a head-on collision when one of her boots became trapped under the brake pedal resulting in her being unable to slow down her VW Golf. She took evasive action to avoid hitting cars in front but veered into the path of an oncoming Mercedes driven by a 33 year-old man in Manchester. She also caused a police car to swerve out of her way just moments before hitting the Mercedes. She was banned from driving for four months and fined £350.

According to research by insurance price comparison website Confused.com, 40% of women drive in high heels, 39% wear flip-flops and 24% go barefoot. 27% of male drivers admitted to driving in flip-flops while 22% go barefoot.

A poll by the AA in 2010 found that 27% of respondents had encountered difficulties while driving because of the shoes they were wearing, with 5% claiming that their footwear has actually led to them driving dangerously losing control or having an accident.

A flat shoe that will not easily slip of the pedals is best, secure and not too wide. Shoes that allow the driver to feel the pedals through the sole of the shoe whilst still being able to apply sufficient pressure without discomfort is best for the task of driving. Also, bear in mind that if an insurance company decides that inappropriate footwear was a contributing factor in an accident, it may lessen the compensation amount in the event of a claim.

There are some basic guidelines you should follow when selecting footwear to drive in. Ideally, your shoe should, like the one in the picture alongside this post:
+ have a sole not thicker than 5mm.
+ not be too thin or soft.
+ provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping of the pedals.
+ not be too heavy.
+ not restrict or limit ankle movement.
+ be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.
+ have a certain degree of finesse to manipulate the foot controls otherwise you could strike the brake and accelerator pedals together.

Slippery soles make it easier for your foot to slip of the pedals so, before driving, make sure to dry the soles of your shoes. As an aside, ensure that the pedal rubbers are not excessively worn. Replace as appropriate but certainly before you can see the metal pedal.

I would urge drivers who often wear unsuitable shoes for driving keep a sensible pair of shoes for driving in the car; my Mother always did and Mum knows best!


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CAR MAINTENANCE BASICS

Theory Test Pro have produced an informative infographic (click here) which offers a quick but comprehensive overview of the key issues from pre-drive checks and tyre pressures to car care and travel essentials which will help ensure your car is always road-fit and ready for the rigours of modern motoring.


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GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES YOUNG DRIVER GREEN PAPER

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced in December 2013 that this green paper would be postponed "indefinitely"...I say shame on the DFT!

On March 25th 2013, the government officially announced that it will publish a green paper on young drivers intended to improve training and lower insurance premiums. A green paper is a tentative consultation document of policy proposals for debate and discussion without any commitment to action and is the first step in changing the law.

The green paper was instigated following proposals put forward by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in response to calls for lower insurance premiums for young new drivers and it is anticipated that insurance premiums could fall by up to £400 following any resultant legislation.


The outline proposals are:

A minimum learning period before candidates are permitted to sit their test;

Lessons on motorways, and perhaps during adverse weather conditions or during darkness to encourage greater practice prior to taking a test;

Increasing the probationary period from two to three years for a new driver's licence to be revoked if they receive six or more penalty points;

Making the practical test more rigorous to better prepare learners to drive unsupervised;

Incentives for young drivers to take up additional training after passing their test.

The government says it is also considering the possibility of imposing temporary restrictions on newly qualified drivers such as nightime curfews and limitations on the number of passengers they can carry.


I support any proposals which save lives and road users from injury, especially where they make the indepependence, freedom and opportunities that being able drive and own a car offers young adults more affordable and accessible for them.

I do agree with the ABI in that any restrictions should only apply to new drivers under 25 years of age.

With regards to their proposals concerning curfews, the ABI do state there would need to be allowance made for new young drivers who need to be able to drive during the curfew period for work, medical and educational purposes, which makes sense.

The ABI proposal report mentions that the new young driver should only be allowed one passenger if they are a close family member, which would in my opinion not only muddy the waters but is also totally without any basis since a relation can be as much of a distraction as anyone else.

The ABI also propose a second driving test at the end of the restriction period, to ensure that drivers have the required competencies to drive. I'd have thought that an enhanced and mandatory mandatory pass plus type course would be more appropriate, developed and maybe assessed in association with the likes of IAM or RoSPA (I can't see the DSA coping with demand and waiting lists at a couple of my local DTCs are already in the region of 10 weeks) with maybe an ultimate retest by the DSA if the new driver doesn't meet the requirement after, say, 2 assessments by an IAM/RoSPA examiner.

In my opinion and whilst it may sound a good idea in principle, the 12 Month Learning Period seems to be very flawed. This proposal would quite possibly have a negative effect on driving standards and prove counterproductive as the result of encouraging even more of a "cramming" mentality together with an attitude amongst many learner drivers that the legislation is simply saying that they can take their test when they are a certain age. The ABI propose an associated ban on intensive driving courses, which I and many other driver trainers would support in principle since they don't provide sufficient driving experience and can result in underprepared pupils simply being taught to pass the test and not necessarily to drive safely. The problems with banning intensive courses are defining them (the ABI proposal report says they're typically over 2 weeks but a 3-6 week intensive course could also defeat the objective of the 12 month learning period) and being able to prevent them from being provided especially as the result of the likelihood that more learner drivers will actively be looking to take such courses leading up to the date when they are able to take their test.

The outline proposals make no mention of the ABI's proposal for a lower alcohol limit for new young drivers, which I'm sure pretty much everyone would agree with and many would also support a zero tolerance policy for new young drivers and quite possibly all drivers.

I have to say I'm surprised that the ABI didn't propose restrictions on the power of cars that new young drivers are allowed to drive in their proposals and I hope that any resulting legislation will include such restrictions. I'd have thought a limit somewhere between 75-100BHP, taking into account advances in small car engine technology, would be sufficient.


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CHANGES TO DRIVING LICENCE RULES
Driving licence rules will be changing from 19 January 2013. There will be many new rules for motorcycles, cars towing trailers, buses and lorries. Find out more about these changes and how they could affect you as an existing or new driver here.


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COMPULSORY BREATH TEST KIT IN FRANCE

If you're planning to take a car to France from 1st July 2012 it will be compulsory to take an "NF" marked (i.e. the French Standards Agency "kitemark") breathalyser kit with 2 disposable breathalysers, in addition to other compulsory equipment, otherwise you risk an 11 Euro fine. A single-use breathalyser kit such as available via Alcosense at £5.99 will suffice. Information on driving in different countries.

HARROWING & REAL DASH CAM CRASH FOOTAGE

Although from Russia this is a real and somewhat harrowing collection of real horrific crash footage taken from dash cams fitted in vehicles.

If ever there was proof that speed kills and a convincing way of getting the message across to BE AWARE WHAT'S HAPPENING AROUND YOU, ANTICIPATE, DRIVE AT A SPEED SUITED TO THE CONDITIONS & DON'T DRIVE FAST then this IS it.

This isn't gory (I'm very squeamish and could watch it OK) but it is very harrowing and there will have been fatalities and severe or life changing injuries resulting from at least some of these crashes.

PLEASE BE AWARE, BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO WATCH, IT MAY BE UPSETTING FOR SOME PEOPLE.

HAZARD AWARENESS TEST

Try this Observation, Anticipation and Hazard Awareness Test


If you're not anticipating that something may be there and you're not looking for it...You won't see it! Expect the unexpected!

INDIAN DRIVING TEST

Worrying stuff!


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DRIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!

Smartdriving reports that thanks to a Japan-based web developer, you can now simulate a real journey anywhere in the world.

Based on the satellite images pulled together by Google Maps, 2D Driving Simulator allows you to drive anywhere you want from the comfort of a bird's eye view.

By using your keyboard keys you can cruise around your hometown, revisit a beloved place you haven't been in years or explore a part of the world you always wanted to see.

ROAD RAGE IRELAND STYLE

If you can't beat them, join them! Absolutely wonderful story.

According to The Irish Independent newspaper, a Dublin taxi driver found himself stuck behind a city centre street party but rather than seeing red, exiting the vehicle and spitting bile at the hapless revellers, he decided to join in.

Wayne Karney, the taxi driver in question, was caught on camera bopping along to Get Lucky by Daft Punk when a female in a purple dress walks around to the car door, pulls Karney out of his seat and encourages him to 'get down'.

Mr Karney then continues to spin, kick and shake his way through the song, much to the delight of the crowd, one of whom just happened to capture the whole thing on camera.

Amazingly, the woman in question was Andrea Pappin, the spokeswoman for the Republic of Ireland's presidency of the EU, while the taxi driver is also an actor who trained with Colin Farrell and starred in My Left Foot as Daniel Day-Lewis' brother.

Wayne Karney told the paper he was looking for fares when he drove into the path of the party. "I just happened to drive up that street and this girl started dancing - I couldn't get by," the taxi driver said.

"There were a lot of people there and there was dance music on. This girl was dancing in front of the car. It was very off-the-cuff, it wasn't planned or anything. Everyone was having a laugh."

“Any bit of craic that is there to be had, I'm willing to have it. It's a bit of craic.”

Watch the video below that has amassed more than 2 million view on YouTube.


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TRACTOR DRIVING IRELAND STYLE

This is a true story from the ADINJC about a farmer who was being tested some years ago in a rural town in Ireland One of the questions asked was, where would you find a single continuous white line. The farmer paused, scratched his head and replied "Well Sur, the only place I ever seen a white line was inside in a football field".

The examiner then briefed the farmer on the practical aspects of the test and the farmer got on his tractor and switched on the engine. Just as he was moving off, a young lad of about twelve (his son) jumped up on the back of the tractor. The examiner, clip board in hand ran after the tractor shouting "Stop, stop". The farmer stopped the tractor and the examiner said that he was not allowed to carry a passenger on test and anyway the vehicle didn't have suitable seating accommodation for a passenger. . "But Sur" the farmer said "If I don't have the young lad with me, how will I know what's coming from behind?".

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