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Dealing with Stress shake

You may or may not be surprised at the number of people who report suffering from stress and anxiety whilst driving but there are ways to deal with it. Last week we talked about chewing gum but maybe you’re not a gum kinda person so why not try, shaking?

No, we don’t mean trembling with fear or drinking a shake (although who knows, a milkshake could help?!) What we’re talking about is the act of loosening the body. We are all familiar with how our bodies become tense and we stiffen up when we’re under stress. So, how can shaking help?

What the act of shaking should do is loosen our muscles, ligaments and joints. If we are loose we are relaxed. The process of doing this will increase oxygen to the brain which in turn, will promote alertness and memory. An NHS therapist we taught used to tell us that the therapists where she worked often came back into the staff room shaking. She implied this was as a stress relief strategy, rather than anything they had learnt from the client during therapy.

The way we have used this is sometimes we get the pupil when pulled over just to shake the stress off in the car. If you were ever at one of the local test centres and saw some idiot with his pupil doing star jumps that was most probably one of us.

One of our pupils was a teacher and knew about these types of stress-busting techniques so we went for it. Another pupil of ours when stopped at the traffic lights would bounce her legs up and down. The dance she called it. For both of them, it worked.

So next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious when driving, pull over and have a shake.


 

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Dealing with Stress

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of guiding a professional NHS therapist through her driving test. What I got from her, that I would like to share with you is a series of stress-busting strategies that I use for myself and my pupils.

 

The first group of these strategies are physical. Stress shows itself in our bodies so if we can get our bodies to relax this will help to reduce stress.

 

The first of these is chewing gum. It goes along the lines of if you are chewing gum your brain thinks that your body is eating. It’s safe to eat, we do it every day, therefore your body can relax a bit more. If you look at some of the most highly stressed people in the world, premiership football managers. You will quite often see them chewing gum.

 

If you were to google the benefits of chewing gum you will be pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of benefits. The act of chewing can increase oxygen to the brain, which increases alertness and memory.  A 2008 study led by Australian researcher Andrew Scholey, a professor of behavioural and brain sciences at Swinburne University in Melbourne, showed that chewing gum reduced the stress hormone Cortisol in participants. They reported feeling less stressed and more alert.

 

As a driving instructor, I always have some gum in my training vehicle and within easy reach of my pupil. I always tell my pupils it’s there for them and to help themselves. I make a point of the fact they do not need to ask and I offer if I think they could do with reminding of it. So, if you ever feel stressed when you’re driving, reach for the gum!


 

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Welcome to the last instalment of How Our Roads Came To Be.

Roundabouts replace crossroads and required the car entering to give way to the traffic on the roundabout which was fine when the traffic was relatively light. But consider that, nowadays at a normal roundabout you will have four roads feeding traffic into a small space. It’s understandable how they can go into gridlock.

Our most effective solution is traffic lights. The meaning of the lights is universally recognised. You can be colour blind and still know which light is which as they each have their own position. The interesting light is the one in the middle, the yellow one. As we approach and the light goes yellow do we stop or go. This is called the dilemma zone and where mirrors pay off.

Lights can be programmed to allow for the peaks and troughs of traffic flow. They can be linked and respond to traffic conditions so the flow cascades down the road. Emergency service vehicles can be given priority by transmitting a signal to the lights allowing them through.

All in all, they connect us as drivers because we need to use them in the same way this gives us a shared experience and commonality. They are how we cooperate with each other for the greater good.

Without our smooth roads, speed limits, road signs, markings on the road and traffic lights our roads today would be a very different and a lot more dangerous. All these things are not there to slow us down, they’re there to keep us safe and to keep things running smoothly.

 

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Last week it was speed and this week its traffic.

As cars began getting faster and the traffic more intense, crossing the road safely became a bigger problem. The initial crossings were a parallel set of studs with two Belisha Beacons. As these were being ignored both by people and car drivers, a number of improvements were made. The Belishas started flashing and coloured stripes were introduced, leaving us with the black and white crossings we know today as Zebra Crossings.

If the number of people wanting to cross is so many that it holds the traffic up for to long or the traffic is moving to fast to make stepping onto a crossing safe. We put in a set of lights. At traffic light controlled junctions we can put in a pedestrian crossing phase. With the use of textured paving and buttons to press they become blind friendly.

As the roads became more congested it became necessary to control who had priority. For example, a busy road will always require a minor road off it, in order to give way.

Those of us who are a bit older will remember a policeman wearing white gloves, controlling the traffic. They were a good solution when the traffic only had certain peaks. The downside is, that if they were controlling traffic they were not available for other duties. However, nowadays this fine instrument of law enforcement has totally been replaced by roundabouts and or traffic lights and just like our good friend the Bobby they will keep going until something breaks or is worn out. But without human costs.

Stay tuned next week for the final instalment of How Our Roads Came to be.

 

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This week it’s about speed limits, why we have them and how they help.

 

As the roads improved and vehicles got better things became faster and the need for speed limits became apparent. These limits are based around stopping distances and in the case of hitting a person, their chances of surviving the impact. Interestingly the 70 mph stopping distance is not too dissimilar to the length of most sporting pitches and the 30 mph stopping distance is just over the length between cricket wickets.  

 

A problem with speed is, the faster the speed the greater the likelihood of death if you hit a pedestrian. At 40 mph studies showed that the chance of death is over 80%. At 20 mph it drops down to 5%. The reason it jumps from 5% at 20 mph to over 80% at 40 mph is down to the laws of physics. As the impact speed doubles, the energy imparted to a collision quadruples. Blame Sir Isaac Newton for that one.

This brings us back to 30 mph, and it is all to do with people surviving their mistakes. Children do run out into the road, old people maybe can’t cross the road as quickly as others and people who have been drinking are less aware. At some point in our lives, we all make a mistake. Without a speed limit, these mistakes could be a death sentence.

The greater the difference between the speeds of the different road users, the more likely a collision and the worse the impact. So if a bike is doing 10 mph and is rear-ended by a car doing 30 mph. The difference is just 20 mph. Not nice but hopefully survivable. But if hit doing 30 mph was 40 mph the difference could well be life or death.

 

So don’t forget to check your speed and come back next week for more on our roads and how they came to be.

 

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How our roads came to be

This week we’re talking about street lamps, road signs and road markings!

 

On the road, which is now made up of a carriageway for vehicles and a footway for people, we need to add some street furniture. This is road signs, street lights and boxes of various sorts. Post boxes, phone boxes etc.

 

Street lights, of course, make things safer as they help us see and there is a trend now to set them back away from the road in order to light the pavement for pedestrians. Where there are lots of people you’ll find more street lamps so you can see others and they can see you.

 

As more and more of us started using vehicles it became apparent that there needed to be rules, so we added road signs and road markings to the mix. Obviously, we needed to see these signs and road markings which is why it was important to understand what the eye sees. Yep, it’s not just a sign, it’s a science. First, the eye sees movement, like the flash of your indicators. Then it sees colour, such as red for danger and lastly the eye sees the shape.

 

With road signs and markings it is important that we all recognise and understand them. For example, in the UK our “L” plate has a standard format and all road signs and markings must conform to The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (commonly abbreviated to TSRGD). Our road signs also look much like the European ones. There is even a Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, what’s the point in having to learn a whole new set of rules each time your car crosses a border? The purpose of all this is a common understanding that binds us together for mutual safety.

 

We also started to write on the road. ‘Stop’ meant a hazard ahead. The sandy coloured road surface meant better grip and the red and green you still see on the road has no legal meaning but it does emphasise the white paint that does.

 

We’re not done yet, there’s more to come next week!

 

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How our roads came to be

Are you ready to find out even more about how our roads came to be? Just continue reading below!

 

John McAdam was the first ‘modern’ road builder and gave his name to the Macadam surface in the 1800s. His brilliant innovation was realising that roads did not need massive stone foundations. By ensuring that the top stone surface was made with stones smaller than the tyre width he innovated a smoother running surface, but there was still a dust problem.  Eventually, someone took the top surface and mixed it with tar and leaving us with a tarmacadam road, that’s tarmac to you and me.

 

Thanks to the introduction of tarmacadam roads we had a road on which our vehicles could perform their different functions. But as we moved into towns and cities we needed to something to separate people from the road. For this, we used the raised pavement. Pavements have been around since Roman times but began to play a necessary role as our towns and cities became busier with vehicles.  To protect the edge a solid granite kerb was added. In fact, if you look at a kerb you will most likely see black tyre marks upon it, visible proof of the job the kerb does in defending the pavement!

 

Stay tuned for more on how our roads came to be.  

 

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How our roads came to be


We’ve talked about how we and our bodies shaped driving but what about how we came to have the modern roads we drive on today?

Before the development of modern communications, roads were what connected us as people. As such, they were driven by economic, political and military forces. People needed to get produce to market. The government wanted to tax and enforce its power on those it controlled and from the government's point of view, the more people it controlled, the more tax is raised and the more powerful the government became.

The first roads were tracks and people themselves carried the loads. We then started to domesticate animals, for food, company and to help grow crops. It was inevitable that we would then start to use animals to help carry loads. The development of further transport was limited by the environment, would an Inca peasant working on his mountainside terrace need and be able to use a cart?

As we discovered mechanical advantage, animals began pulling our carts and we wanted better tracks to get us from A-B. The compacted dirt road pretty soon turned to mud in the rain and dramatically increased its resistance to a turning wheel. The wheel itself, if too narrow would sink down into the road and in the dry, dust became a problem.

The solution to the sinking wheel was to be a harder stone road. Big stones at the bottom becoming smaller at the top. The ride would not be smooth but you and the load were getting to your destination. Rainwater was still a problem but this was solved by John Metcalf. He did this by giving the road a camber and good drainage.

Next week we’ll dive deeper into how and why the roads we know today came to be.

 

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bodies DP 5

Inside your eye, you see with a series of receptors called rods and cones. There are about 20 million rods per eye which measure movement and contrast. They are responsible for your peripheral vision and have a limited response to colour which we will look at in a minute.

There are about 6-7 million cones which measure colour and because of their faster response to the brain give more detail. Due to this sensitivity, the eye is in continual motion building up a picture of what is happening. This is what we want our learners to do.

These colours to which the cones respond are red 64%, green 32% and blue 2% which are the primary colours. This gives us red for danger, green for safety and blue for authority. Yellow is made up of red and green. From this, we now have the colours of the traffic lights and road signs. The rods in our eyes have no response to red light. This means at night when our eyes have adapted to the dark, a red warning light is not going to wash away the rest of our vision. Because there is some response to blue from the rods we become very aware of blue lights from the emergency services.

Eyes are sometimes described as windows to the soul. A professional eye examination can also be a window to good health. These checks are capable of detecting a range of conditions such as high blood pressure. They should be done at least every two years. Remember your eyes and vision are key for driving so have a think, when were yours last checked?

 

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how we shaped 1

Have you ever thought about why cars are designed the way they are and driving is how it is?



Last week we talked about speed limits, seeing people in time and avoiding them. But what about us, the driver, how are we kept safe if it all goes badly wrong?

Besides the interior of the car being made softer to minimise damage to ourselves. We wear seatbelts. These belts are designed to work with your bones. Specifically, the diagonal should go across your collarbone and the horizontal across your hip. The important thing is your bones are solid and will, along with a properly fitted seatbelt, protect your internal organs.  

Over the years cars have grown head restraints. Your head is a large lump of bone with a pointy bit at the back. This will rotate backwards unless contained by the head restraint. Not adjusted properly it could become a very real pain in the neck.

How you hold the wheel will have a very real effect. If you’ve adjusted your seat properly your arms will be slightly bent. They will be your shock absorbers. Having two hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 will prevent you twisting violently if you have to stop very suddenly and unexpectedly.

In part 1 we talked about the eye. The eye itself sits in a socket which defines your field of vision. You can measure your own field of vision by extending your arms and sticking your thumbs out. Move your arms out to the side holding your head still. Stop at the point your thumbs start to disappear and this should give you a range of 180 degrees plus.

Having 2 eyes gives us a depth of vision. However, you can still drive an ordinary car with only one eye. Put your left hand over your left eye, extend your arm and thumb to the point where it disappears on the right. Now track its movement as you move right to left. Your view of your thumb to the left is now only limited by your nose.

So in an ordinary car even with only one eye, you will be aware of the width of your vehicle. You cannot drive larger, wider vehicles unless you have some vision in your defective eye. This again is so you are aware of the width of this much wider vehicle.

Stay tuned for more on how our bodies shaped driving.

 

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how we shaped

Have you ever thought about why cars are designed the way they are and driving is how it is? Well, we’ve got some more answers for you.

 

As our vehicles moved on from the humble horse and cart to faster mechanically propelled ones and in much greater volumes, we started to introduce a series of rules. These rules have to work for us as driver and people. So why are most maximum speed limits worldwide nearly always 70 mph (113 kph) or thereabouts?

Besides the physics of it that says the faster you go the more room you need to stop safely, what does 70 mph limit give us? The 100-meter stopping distance is about as far as you can still see a person's face. This means we can react to another person and we would also know that they have seen us. Hopefully, they would be getting out of our way now or we would have a chance to stop without killing them.

This ability to see a person’s face at 100 meters gives us street lamps just under 100 meters apart. At night time if you are walking, you want to be able to have some idea of the people walking around you.

The 30 mph speed limit is in place so that in the unlikely event that your car hits a person they have just over 50% chance of survival. If you drop the speed down to 20 mph that becomes 95%. This illustrates how our bodies react to speeds and impacts from cars.

 

Stay tuned for more on how our bodies shaped driving.

 

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horse and boat DP

Have you ever thought about why cars are designed the way they are? Well, we’ve got some more answers for you.

Did you know? The reason we drive on the left is that we are right side dominant. Something like 90% of the population is right-handed. We traditionally keep left as this allows our stronger right arm to defend us.

This right-sided dominance gives us Port and Starboard. Boats were loaded by men lifting with their strong right arms into the left-hand side of the vessel. This left-hand side became the port side. The vessel was steered to the jetty by a paddle or a steer board on the right-hand side using the stronger right arm giving us the starboard side. You still see people in small boats steering using an oar on the right-hand side.

So the next question is why do most of the world drive on the right-hand side if we are dominant to the right and should naturally drive or keep to the left. The answer to this is two-fold and is shaped by politics and economics.

The political answer is thought to lie with Napoleon. As he conquered Europe he decreed that his armies should pass in peace. This meant they moved over to the left and instead of passing with their sword arms being able to be offered to an enemy. They showed the weaker left arm to the people coming towards them.

The next part of the answer is economic. As factories, cities and the roads grew so the economy improved and we wanted to carry bigger loads from A-B. With an old horse and cart, you could sit up top pretty much in the middle. And if anything was in front or coming toward you with your dominant right eye you could judge very accurately how much room you had and so kept to the left.

But in the USA they started to carry bigger loads requiring two pairs of horses or oxen to pull them. As there was nowhere to sit on the wagon the driver would have sat on the rear nearside animal. This is so that his right wipe hand had access to those animals to control them. When you are sat at a height and at the front it doesn’t make any difference which side of the road you are on. But if you are low and with a couple of horses in front of you to accurately judge passing you would have moved over to the right.

Stay tuned to find out more about how we shaped the way we drive.

 

Stay tuned for more on how our bodies shaped driving.

 

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Have you ever thought about why cars are designed the way they are? Well, we’ve got some answers for you.

We are all a bit different from each other and the modern car will allow for that. What the car designers are looking for is a geometric balance. This will allow as many people as possible to be able to use their vehicles. How we are and the shape of our bodies not only shapes the car but how we drive.

 

The first thing manufacturers will start with is the eye datum line, which is where you look. From the driver's seat, we need a good view of the road ahead as well as the instrument panel. Having established that we can see enough to maintain safety and legality we now need free and easy access to the controls. This should be done in such a way to minimise tiredness. We now move into the territory of the cockpit drill. As driving instructors, we are aware of the effect bad position will have on our pupils and their ability to drive safely. and the first thing we want from our pupils is to be able to adjust your car properly. It is not enough to make the car just for the average person. Manufacturers want as many people as possible to be able to drive it.

 

Stay tuned for more on how our bodies shaped driving.

 

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want to learn

What questions should you be asking? What answers should you get? Can I do it?

Commitment is key. You will need to put aside time, money and be prepared to make the effort.

1.What about the money.

Who is paying?

Are you being given a block of lessons as a present? Can you afford to carry on after that?

 

The secret driving instructor:

Lots of people start when someone else has paid but not everyone can keep it up. Also, keep in mind that someone that stops and starts, spends more money over a longer period of time.

 

2.What about the time?

First off it will take time. Just because your friend passed in 15 lessons doesn’t mean you will. Everyone is different. When it comes to learning to drive, there are no guarantees and you should trust that your instructor has your best interests and safety in mind when they advise on when to take your driving test.

 

The secret driving instructor:

Not everyone realises how long it takes nowadays. The DVLA suggest a pupil is ready to take their test after 47 tuition hours and 22 hours of private practice. That's 70 hours behind a wheel and that’s the average!

 

Secondly what time do you have to do it?  It’s good to have a regular time but as you progress it’s valuable to be flexible and practice at different times of the day to get experience.

 

The secret driving instructor:

A regular time for a regular pupil makes it easy for both of us. No excuse for forgetting which can happen but be aware that your driving instructor will charge if you're not there. It’s their living after all.


3.What about effort?

The desire to learn is essential as well as the ability to work for it. This means you need to be on time for your lessons. Be ready for them. Listen to what your instructor tells you and act upon it. Think about driving between your lessons if you can. Keep a diary and write about your lesson afterwards (it’s called a reflective log), and don’t forget to ask questions.

 

 

 

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the law

Are you thinking about learning to drive? There are a few things you need to consider before you get on the road.

An overview: 

  • In the UK you have to be 17 years old to learn how to drive
  • You must have a provisional driving license
  • You must have insurance when learning to drive with friends and family
  • You must display L Plates when you’re learning
  • You must be accompanied when driving on a provisional license

 

The Licence:

The first thing you are going to need is a provisional driving licence. You can apply for this before you are 17 so it is possible to have a driving lesson on your 17th birthday. You can either go to The Post Office or get it online from GOV.UK.

So you know: If you are driving on an overseas licence you have one year from your time of entry into the UK.

 

The Secret Driving Instructor:

Because of the various checks that go into a driving licence, it becomes a very valid identity document. In addition, there is an online checking service where people can check your license is legitimate. As a driving instructor, I am normally too lazy to use this. But give me the slightest hint something is not right and I will be checking.

 

Insurance:

Go with a professional instructor and your insurance worries are over.

If you are using a family or friends car you must check. The person sat next to you must be over 21 and have had a licence for 3 years. Some companies say that the supervising driver must be over 25. Not having the right supervisor can get you fined £1,000 and 6 penalty points.

The average motor insurance claim is around the £3,000 mark. Some claims are an awful lot higher. Having no insurance or invalid insurance could mean an unlimited fine and 8 points on your licence.

You must tell your insurance company everything. If you don’t and things go wrong, you’ll be in trouble.

 

The Secret Driving Instructor:

Being sat next to me is the safest you’re going to as a driver for a long time. This is reflected in my insurance which is fully comprehensive with hire and reward and I pay under £500 a year.


Car:

If you are a learner you must display ‘L’ plates on the front and back of my car. They should be placed on the driver's side of the car to make them more easily seen by the other drivers.

Buy them, don’t make them as they must be a certain size and shape so everyone can recognise them. They should be removed when not being used. Professional driving instructors are allowed to keep them on.  

You can buy ‘L’ plates from places such as big supermarkets and petrol stations.

The Secret Driving Instructor:

My car is covered in ‘L’ plates, forward, behind, both sides and on top. No one has the excuse of not knowing mine is a learner car. I am very careful about what I do.


Instructor:

Anyone can teach you to drive, but only a professional driving instructor can take money from you for doing that. The school of mum and dad can be great for practising outside of lessons, just make sure you have the correct insurance, your ‘L’ plates and your provisional license.

 

The Secret Driving Instructor:

Like a lot of my instructor friends, it’s frustrating when we hear of non-professionals charging students. We worked hard to get where we are and we make sure that everything is safe: proper insurance and duel controls. We train to instruct and if we are any good, keep training. The government also carries out regular checks to make sure you, as a learner are safe.

 

 

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4 considerations 1

What is a hazard? A hazard is anything that might make you change speed or direction and sometimes both.

 

When dealing with any hazard whilst learning you should use a routine such as Mirror, Signal, Maneuver or MSM.

  1. Check your mirrors (all of them)
  2. Signal (use your indicators)
  3. Maneuver

 

Remember: In reality, sometimes the only signal given by some people is speed and position.

 

Maneuver, this is doing what you need to do and where the below 4 considerations come in.

 

1.Safety:

This is the most important factor. Remember it’s not just your safety but the safety of the people around you. So think about the 3 Zones of Safety.

 

2.Legality:

If it’s illegal, it’s dangerous. Are you aware of the signs and lines around you? Do you know what they mean? Do you have reasonable knowledge of The Highway Code?

 

3.Practicality:

It must be practicable or why bother? How many times have you seen someone trying to get into a parking space that’s to small?

 

4.Convenience:

Other drivers and people need to be considered, you don’t own the road. Doing a three point turn on a busy road might be quicker for you, but what about everyone else?

 

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Cars, Obstructions, People and Signs: What should you be doing before your journey.

 As you’re learning to drive you’ll pick up handy hints like this. Just don’t forget them when you pass your driving test!

 

1.Cars

 Your car:

  • Follow your ABCs; Always Be Checking, start from the bottom and work upwards

 

Other cars:

  • Check, is it busy or quiet?
  • Where are the cars coming from?
  • How much room do I have to pull out?

 

2.Obstructions

 Physical:

  • What's in my way as I drive off?

 

Visual:

  • What can I see?
  • What can’t I see?

 

3.People

 Who’s about and where are they?

  • Are they old, are they young?
  • What are they doing?
  • Are they aware of me?
  • How will they affect me?

 

4.Signs

  • Where are the road signs?
  • What are the road signs telling me?
  • How will they affect me?
  • How will they affect others around me?

 

Why is it important to think about these things when driving? Because as many times as you make a journey, it will never be the same as it was yesterday. Animals, cars, people, changes in road signs, other cars… it’s SO important to be aware that things around you are constantly changing and YOU as a driver need to adapt to them.

 

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Safety is the most important thing when it comes to driving. Your safety, your car’s safety and everyone else on the roads safety, but how do you know if it’s safe to drive?

 

1.Safety of self 

Are you:  

  • Fit to drive
  • In a condition to drive
  • Prepared for your driving task that day
  • Prepared for driving generally
  • Able to practice the Drivers ABC Always Be Checking

 

2.Safety of you and your vehicle 

Can you: 

  • Be responsible for the vehicle, contents and occupants
  • Understand and use vehicle safety features
  • Practice the Drivers ABC Always Be Checking

 

3.Safety of other road users 

Do you: 

  • Practice the 7 Principles of Professional Driving
  • Practice the Drivers ABC Always Be Checking
  • Allow for the mistakes of others: one day it will could be you making the mistake

 

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Welcome to Part 4 of the Show Me, Tell Me questions.

Remember, your practical driving test isn’t just about the physical act of driving. Before you even get in the car you’ll be asked some questions which we call Tell Me questions which you can see below. You’ll be asked one Tell Me question before you start driving and one Show Me questions when you’re driving the car.

Knowing the answers to all these questions isn’t just important to pass your test but it’s important for your everyday driving.

We’ve broken down the questions for you, so read on to prepare yourself for the official Show Me questions and answers.

Quick tips -

  1. The show me questions cover your windows, lights and horn
  2. You need to be able to see out of your windows and know what to do if you can’t.
  3. Your dipped headlights are about being seen and putting your lights on when driving.
  4. The horn as you remember from your theory test, is to let people know you are there if they have not seen you.
  5. These questions are asked on the move.

 

Remember: The examiner will choose a quiet bit of road to ask you the Show Me question. If a problem arises, deal with it then proceed to do what the examiner wants. Remember above all, they want you to be safe.

Top tip: Practice! Learn the controls when you are parked somewhere. Then find somewhere quiet and practice when moving.

SHOW ME
 

  1. Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
  1. Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?

 

How to: The controls for this are normally on a stick by the steering wheel. Pull towards you for front and push away for rear.

Top tip: Make sure your windscreen wash container is actually filled up.
The Secret Driving Instructor:
Buy a large bottle of ready mixed screen wash and make sure you keep topped up.

 

3) Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?

 4) Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?

Know how: Make sure you can use the blowers properly. They will make your journeys much more comfortable and remember, the driver’s comfort is the most important thing.

The Secret Driving Instructor:
If you have your mum in the car remember it’s her comfort that is most important.

Top tip: If you have an older car with a heated rear window make sure you turn it off when not needed as you are draining the battery.

5) Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

Remember: Opening and shutting your side window will help with your all important comfort in the car. You can’t beat a bit of fresh air!

6) Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?

Top tip: Use your dipped headlights when you can’t see as well as you should be able to. Remember more often than not, your dipped headlights are so other people can see you.

7) Examiner: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?

Be a driving pro: If you think someone hasn’t seen you, but they need to know you are there, that’s what the horn is for. Normally a light toot will do. A big long blast is not helpful in normal use.
The Secret Driving Instructor:
Remember, no one’s driving has ever been improved by being beeped at. When I’m out with a learner and another driver beeps at us, it always makes the situation worse. So it really should just be a warning.

For driving lessons in Gosport, Portsmouth , Southsea and the surrounding area with patient professional Instructors, Contact us on 02393 75 25 25 or use our  online contact form.

 

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Welcome to Part 3 of the Show Me, Tell Me questions. 


Remember, your practical driving test isn’t just about the physical act of driving. Before you even get in the car you’ll be asked some questions which we call Tell Me questions. You’ll be asked one Tell Me question before you start driving and one Show Me questions when you’re driving the car.


Knowing the answers to all these questions isn’t just important to pass your test but it’s important for your everyday driving.


We’ve broken down the questions for you, so read on to prepare yourself for the official Tell Me questions and answers.


Quick tips -


  • The internal checks are about your brakes, the bigger lights, your head restraint and the steering

  • Keep the inside of your car nice and clean, especially when going on your test

  • Make sure you keep your footwells clear. A can or other rubbish rolling under your brake could be a life altering experience.  

  • Keep your dash clear of rubbish too. It all reflects onto the windscreen and wil obscure your view



The Secret Driving Instructor:

Make a good first impression, you will be judged on how the inside of your car looks.

 




 

Brakes

1) Examiner: Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey?

Pupil: You test them by squeezing down hard on them before moving off, if they feel feel spongy or slack then there is a problem with them.



2) Examiner: Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system?

Pupil: The warning light on the dashboard will illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.


Tip: You are looking for this light to go out after a few seconds after you turn the ignition on. If it stays on you have a problem with your ABS.

ABS = Anti-lock Braking System and is to stop your wheels from locking up. It’s to stop your wheels from locking under braking, allowing the chance of steering.

FYI: Make sure you can identify the brake warning light. Be aware that if you have not released the handbrake properly the red warning light will stay on. So you might have a serious brake problem but not be aware because the handbrake is not fully off. Check out SMTM Part 2 to learn how to check all your lights efficiently.


 

 

 

 

 

Steering


  1. Examiner: How would you check your power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey?

Pupil: You put a gentle amount of pressure on the steering wheel, keeping this pressure maintained as the engine is started. It should result in a slight, but noticeable movement as the power-assisted steering begins to operate.



Top Tip: You could also turn the steering wheel just after moving off and this will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is working.


The Car Seat


Top tip: Besides checking the head restraint check the seat belt by giving it a sharp tug. It should lock up. When the buckle goes in give that a tug too.



The Secret Driving Instructor:

I always get my pupils to check their seatbelt. Once, one lad checked his belt on his work’s van he was being driven around in and discovered that his belt was not working.



  1. Examiner: Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

Pupil: The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of it, is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.


 

 

 

 

Lights


Remember: See and be seen. The big lights are there so you can see and be seen in adverse weather conditions.


  1. Examiner: Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Pupil: You operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on and explain use.


Top Tip: Driving examiners like to hear that you will use them when you can’t see 100 meters ahead. In a town this normally means you can only see one lamp post at a time as lamp posts are normally less than a 100 meters apart.


2) Examiner: Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.

Pupil: You operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), and check with main beam warning light.


Top Tip 1: The main beam warning light is the blue one on the dash.



Top Tip 2: The main beam, lights up more of the road by shining straight ahead. This will dazzle any cars in front of you coming towards you or in front. They will probably flash their lights at you to let you know. This is sometimes accompanied by hand signals not found in the Highway Code.


 

 

For driving lessons in Gosport, Portsmouth , Southsea and the surrounding area with patient professional Instructors, Contact us on 02393 75 25 25 or use our  online contact form.

 

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Welcome to Part 2 of the Show Me, Tell Me questions.

Remember, your practical driving test isn’t just about the physical act of driving. Before you even get in the car you’ll be asked some questions which we call Tell Me questions. You’ll be asked one Tell Me question before you start driving and one Show Me questions when you’re in the car.

Knowing the answers to all these questions isn’t just important to pass your test but it’s important for your everyday driving.

We’ve broken down the questions for you, so read on to prepare yourself for the official Tell Me questions and answers.

Quick tips -

  1. The external checks are about your lights and tyres
  2. When checking, start from the bottom and work up
  3. If there are puddles under the car that shouldn’t be there, you might have a leak
  4. Make sure your tyres are not flat, a quick look will tell you if you have a slow puncture
  5. Be careful if you’re anywhere near builders or building sites, the possibility that you’ll drive over a nail or screw is high!
  6. Remember to make sure your wing mirrors are out before driving off
  7. Make sure your windows are clean and clear, out and in
  8. Check that the roof of your car is clear. You don’t want whatever’s up there to come off when you’re driving and stop you from seeing

 

Remember: Every car is different so get to know yours. If you’re unsure, that’s what your car handbook is for!

Lights
 

  1. Examiner: Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working.

Pupil: Explain to your examiner that you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary) and then you’d walk around the vehicle checking that they were working.

Top tip: If your indicator lights are flashing too quickly on the dashboard, your bulb has probably gone. Check and replace if needed.




Turn signals working
 

2)  Examiner: Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working.
Pupil: Explain you’d operate the necessary switches (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk around vehicle checking that they were working.

 3) Examiner: How would you check your brake light is working?
Pupil: Explain that you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or by asking someone to help.

Top tip: On your driving test, ask your examiner to stand behind the car to help you check.

Be safe: Your brake lights should be checked routinely, if it doesn’t work how does the car behind you know you are stopping?

Save Time: When practicing and checking your lights you can do them all at the same time. Turn on your ignition so the dashboard lights up (do NOT turn the engine on) this how you can check all your warning lights are working. Then stick the car into reverse, put your hazards on, lights on full beam and turn the fog lights on. With that, a quick walk round the car shows you all lights are working.

 

The secret driving instructor:
Always carry a spare set of bulbs. And know how to change them. It has got me out of trouble before. Remember the lights are so people can see them.

Tyres

Remember: Your tyres are more important than you might realise. If you look after them, they’ll look after you.

  1. Examiner: Where would you find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how should you you check the pressure in your tyres?

Pupil: You can find the information in the manufacturer's guide and you’d check the pressure by using a reliable pressure gauge when tyres are cold.

 

 

 

HANDBOOK

 

2) Examiner: How would you check the tyres to ensure they have sufficient tread depth and that they are road worthy?
Pupil: You are looking for 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre as well as, around the entire outer circumference of the tyre. You’d also check to make sure there are no cuts or bulges.

KIT

 

GAUGETYRE
 

 

Be a driving pro: The more tread you have, the better. You can stop more efficiently and be much safer on the roads.
Top tip: All tyres have wear bars in the groves which will help you see when you’re near the limit.


The secret driving instructor:
The 1.6 mm limit was set years ago and since then, cars have become bigger and faster. The brakes have improved too but if you’re tyres aren’t right then these things don’t matter. Make sure you have good tread. Enough tread to cover the edge of a 20 Pence piece. 

 

 

For driving lessons in Gosport, Portsmouth , Southsea and the surrounding area with patient professional Instructors, Contact us on 02393 75 25 25 or use our  online contact form.

 

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How         to choose a driving instructor?

Finding the right driving instructor can be hard. You have to spend a lot of time with this person, you have to be able to talk to them and take direction from them. So we’ve put together a few things to consider whilst looking for your perfect instructor.

1) Ask a friend! Your friends know you and they’ll know if you’ll get on with their instructor or an instructor they know.

2) The bus test. If your instructor sat next to you on the bus would you move or would you stay sat next to them? If you’d move, they’re probably not the instructor for you.

 

3) Reviews. In today’s world of information overload, reviews are a great way of getting answers to your questions from real people. If a driving instructor has lots of reviews, they’re probably doing something right!  

4)  Professionalism is important. You are paying your instructor for a professional service, so as much as you need to get along with your instructor, they need to be professional too. Professionalism can be shown in lots of different ways. For example, at driving-pro, our instructors like to dress professionally. They also make sure their cars are clean both inside and out.

 

5) Answering the phone. If you phone an instructor directly and they don’t answer first thing, that’s a good thing! They’re probably out driving and respecting the fact they’re working. Just leave a message and they’ll get back to you!

The Secret Driving Instructor - As an instructor, I prefer to speak to people over the phone. Old school, I know. Talking on the phone gives instructors a better idea of what you’re looking for and what you need without a long back and forth. It means we can give a better and more bespoke service.  

6) Code of Conduct. Has your chosen instructor signed a Code of Conduct? Ask this question! You should also find out if your instructor has terms and conditions, you’ll then both be on the same page!

7) Do you feel comfortable with your instructor? If you don’t, we suggest finding a new instructor. There’s nothing wrong with that! At driving-pro all of our students know that if they ever have an issue or they’d like to speak to someone who is not their instructor, they are able to. We want our students to be comfortable.

The Secret Driving Instructor - There have been times in my career when I’ve had to pass on students to another instructor or suggest we terminate lessons because I haven’t got on with the pupil! Feeling comfortable works both ways.

8) Don’t get hung up on pass rates. It’s easy to, we know. You will pass your test. You will pass your test in your own time, and it mainly comes down to your commitment, the amount of miles spent on the road and your confidence.

9) Instructor grade. There are two grades, A and B. The grade is supplied by the government. At driving-pro although we take grades into account most important for us is professionalism, people skills, ability and teaching methods.

10) Price. Learning to drive is an investment. Of course cheap lessons or deals such as ten hours for £99 or the first five for £55 are attractive but ask yourself why these lessons are so cheap. A good and in demand driving instructor will charge appropriately for their service which ultimately could end up costing you less.

The Secret Driving Instructor - Having spent many years in the industry I’ve learnt that there are many reasons how and why there a schools and instructors that charge so cheaply for lessons, and these reasons aren’t good.

If you want to find out more about any of driving-pro’s instructors, you can give us a call on 02393 75 25 25 or check out their profiles on the website!  

 

Next week we’ll be looking at more Tell Me questions (yes, there’s more) but you’ll be a Tell Me Pro in no time!

 

 

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Your practical driving test isn’t just about the physical act of driving. Before you even get in the car you’ll be asked some questions which we call Tell Me questions. You’ll be asked one Tell Me question before you start driving and one Show Me questions when you’re in the car.

Knowing the answers to all these questions isn’t just important to pass your test but it’s important for your everyday driving.

We’ve broken down the questions for you, so read on to prepare yourself for the official Tell Me questions and answers.

ENGINE:

Be a driving pro -

Make sure you know how to open the bonnet of the car and close it safely

  • Make sure ties, hair, necklaces etc. do NOT get caught in the engine!
  • If it’s in a clear plastic container, it’s meant to be checked visually
  • Different parts of the engine are coloured to draw attention to them so familiarise yourself with your car and it’s colours (remember each car is different!)
  • Oil and brakes have a red warning lights on the dashboard inside the car and engine coolant has a temperature gauge
  • Red means danger! (Pull over as soon as you can safely)
  • Make sure the engine is off before opening the bonnet.


TOP TIP: Every car is different, in these pictures we have used a Vauxhall Corsa as this is a very popular first car. However, ALWAYS check your handbook to see where things are and how to maintain them properly and if you’re not sure...pop to your friendly local garage and they’ll be happy to help you out!


1.Examiner: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.

Pupil: On a flat and level surface, having let the oil settle, you identify the dipstick/oil level indicator and check the oil level against the minimum and maximum markers by removing the dipstick, wiping it clean putting it back in and pulling it back out again.

Impress your examiner: Know exactly where to put the oil and what kind of oil you need.


Be safe:
Remember there is an oil warning light on your dashboard and if it goes red, pull over (as soon as you can safely)!

 

 

2) Examiner: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

Pupil: You identify the correct reservoir and check that the level is between the minimum and maximum.

 

Top Tip: Your handbrake is linked to the warning light on your dashboard. You need to make sure your handbrake is completely off when you’re driving as, if it’s not, the car can still move but the warning light can mask any danger if your handbrake is partially on.

 

 

3)   Examiner: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that your engine has sufficient engine coolant.

 

Pupil: You would identify the correct reservoir, check the level against the markings or the radiator filler cap and describe how you would fill to the correct level.

Top tip: If the coolant level is low, add the correct coolant to the reservoir (not the radiator itself). You can use diluted coolant by itself, or a 50/50 mixture of concentrated coolant and distilled water. When the coolant rises to the cold fill line, replace the cap and tighten it until you feel it click. But always check your handbook oh and if you take the top off when it’s still hot and under pressure, you’ll be covered in boiling hot engine coolant, so be careful!

 

 



Be safe:
Remember, your engine coolant is connected to a temperature gauge on your dashboard!

 

 

 

Next week we’ll be looking at more Tell Me questions (yes, there’s more) but you’ll be a Tell Me Pro in no time!

 

For driving lessons in Gosport, Portsmouth , Southsea and the surrounding area with patient professional Instructors, Contact us on 02393 75 25 25 or use our  online contact form.

 

Book Your First Lesson With Driving Pro


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Most experienced drivers as well as learners have feeling of panic when confronted with an emergency vehicle, during lessons this is something your instructor will explain. To help it is worth visiting the official video “Blue Light Aware” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btRHvQEIkcU) but always remember you not expected to break the law in order to get out of the way

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you ready for your test? Do you practice safe driving? How can you make sure your first time is really good?

As a front seat passenger if you have found yourself going for the imaginary footbrake, it was not a very nice feeling. It meant the driver was going to fast.

On a driving test the examiner will be that front seat passenger and will be mentally driving the car with you. He will look and see what you are doing and compare it to what you should be doing, but making allowance for the fact you are a learner.

The advice from the test people (The DVSA) is you must be driving consistently well, with confidence and without assistance. So what does this mean?

The aim should be to go to the driving test where you are unlucky to fail rather than lucky to pass.

The DVSA say you have to be a 'level 5'. This means you drive without prompting or assistance.

So what are the levels?
1. Introduced.
2. Done under instruction.
3. Done when prompted.
4. Seldom prompted.
5. No prompting at all.

Besides driving without prompting another way of viewing if you are a level 5 and ready for your test is. If you have you reached something called unconscious competence. This means you do not think about how to do something, you just do it.

Writing can be a good example of unconscious competence. You do not think about how to write, but rather what you are writing about. The parallel with driving is you do not think about how to control the car but what you want to do with the car.

So are there other levels of competence? And if so what are these other levels and what do they mean.

1. Unconscious Incompetence:
You do not even know what it is let alone how to do it.
You have no idea what driving is.

2. Conscious Incompetence:
You know what it is but you certainty can not do it.
You know what driving is but you can not drive.

3. Conscious Competence:
You are thinking about doing it properly.
You are now learning to drive, but still thinking about how to do it.

4. Unconscious Competence:

You do not think about it any more you just do it.

In driving terms you are not thinking about how to drive but rather where you are going to drive.

What all this is saying is that if you have internalised the practice of safe driving you are ready for your test.

For most people the driving test is a fairly unique experience. One of the things that makes it unique, is being marked as you actually do the test. If you remember when you were doing your exams at school, when the teacher looked over you shoulder you went tense.

This is a natural reaction to being marked as you perform. This pressure can lead to a loss of performance leaving both parties disappointed and frustrated. One knowing that they can do better and the other believing that it did not live up to what was promised.

Now there are some exams that are marked as you perform. Music, medical and martial art grading are some that come to mind. So unless you are a musical martial artist who is medically trained you are going to be up against it. So the real question is how do you know you are ready to take your Driving Test? This we will look at in the next post.

Problems with speed.

A problem with speed is the faster the speed the greater the likelihood of death if you hit a pedestrian. The source of this idea is two studies: one UK and the other Australian.

The UK study found that the chance of death from being hit by a car at 30 mph was 45%. And the Australian study reports that the chance of death from being hit at 30 mph was 37%.

At 40 mph both studies showed that the chance of death was over 80%.
And at 20 mph it dropped to 5% in both studies.

The reason it jumps from 5% at 20 mph to over 80% at 40 mph is down to the laws of physics. As the impact speed doubles the energy imparted to a collision quadruples. Blame Sir Isaac Newton for that one.

A more interesting question is why the difference between the UK and Australia. A 45% chance of death in the UK, compared to 37% chance in Australia.

The Australians might believe that this is because they are tougher, where as the English could retort that this is because drunks sustain less damage. A more likely explanation is that with wider roads and pavements Australian children are less likely to be run over.

All this brings us back to why 30 mph, and it is all to do with people surviving their mistakes. Children do run out into the road, old people wander out and drunks stumble out.

At some point in our lives we all make mistakes. Without a speed limit these mistakes could be a death sentence.

Aside from the actual passing of The Driving Test what other ways can we look at it.

From Societies point of view?

Passing your driving test is a rights of passage from which you receive your freedom. In this case that of the open road. Even The Queen has learnt to drive and has a Driving Licence. The fact she doesn't need to drive, as she has 8 chauffeurs from the Royal Household to call on is neither here nor there. She has still learnt and learning to driving is one of the things that binds us together as a people. A common experience that is shared by all.

From Governments point of view?

The DVSA who are the people who run the The Driving Tests and they want you to be consistently safe with a bit of confidence in your driving. As we are all equal in the eyes of the law, all driving tests are as far as possible are similar. Obviously we can't all do the same test route with the same examiner but all tests will be to the same standard over similar routes. Back to that common experience shared by all.

The Examiners point of view?

These are the people who conduct The Driving Test. What might they be thinking? Their job is to see that you are consistently safe with a bit of confidence in your driving. But how? Questions I think a examiner might ask themselves of a pupil are: would I want them driving my car or would I want them driving near my car? But above all is the pupil safe.

From The Pupils point of view?

The Driving Test is easy, it the examiner that makes it difficult. It is a pressure test. The presence of the examiner is the pressure. The way to cope with the pressure is by being consistently safe with a bit of confidence in your driving. If you would be happy for your instructor to come out on your test, you are probably able to cope with the pressure of the test.

From The Instructors point of view?

The bitter sweet moment when your pupil passes. You have grown to know and love them, and then they leave you! The knot in your instructors stomach becomes a feeling of joy when they pass. If your instructor has come out on test with you , the longer the test has gone on, the more nervous they are in case The Pupil cocks it up at the last moment. But so long as you drive consistently safe with a bit of confidence in your driving you should pass.

What follow below are some tips for reducing your stress levels on your driving test.

Before the test.

1. Make sure you are ready.

This means you can drive without prompting from your instructor and that you feel you will be able to cope on your own. This is the most important tip.

A driving test date can be changed 3 working days before the test up to 6 times.

2. Know what to expect on the day.

Check out GOV.UK The car practical driving test.

3. Have a realistic mock test with your instructor.

The patient friendly driving instructor can be very different from a formal examiner.

4. Don't tell everyone.

The less people that know, the less the pressure on you.

5. Make sure you have your licence and theory test pass letter ready before the test.

No last minute panics looking for your documents.

6. Make sure you are physically fit.

Being ill, rundown, tired or hung over from the night before are not good for ordinary driving, could be illegal. And not were you want to be for a driving test.

7. Make sure you are mentally fit.

Closely tied in with your physical fitness, you need to make sure you are in the right frame of mind.

8. Get a good nights sleep.

To be rested in body and mind will give you a better chance.

Once again remember a driving test date can be changed 3 working days before the test. This can be done a total of up to 6 times. To take a test that you are not ready for is a waste of time, money and effort. Make sure you are there to pass.

On the day of the test.

1. Be up in good time and washed and brushed ready.

Be rested and in comfortable clothes with your driving shoes.

2. Be fed and watered in good time.

If it is good enough for horses it is good enough for you. It is important to be properly hydrated, so take a small bottle of water with you.

3. Make sure you have your licence and theory test pass letter with you.

Have this ready the night before and keep in a safe place.

At the test centre.

1. Make sure you are there in good time.

Rushing is not good for your stress levels.

2. Chew gum.

It is well documented that this is an effective way of reducing stress. Watch the athletes before a race.

3. Shake off stress.

Loosening up helps. As with chewing gum look at athletes before a competition. People shake after a stressful experience. You too can shake off stress just like an athlete.

4. Breath deeply.

In through your nose and down to your stomach, hold, then breath out through your mouth longer than you breathed in empting your stomach.

On your test.

1. Do your normal drive.

You have been trained to drive safely. Do what you have been trained to do.

2. Safe not perfect.

Remember that nobody is perfect, but you can be safe.

3. Don't get annoyed.

Forgive yourself if it is not perfect. Lots of people will tell you they made a mistake on test, thought they had failed, drove normally after that and went on to pass.

4. Think about what you should be doing.

Always go with the positive. Use the system MSPSL. If you do not know what MSPSL is you are not ready.

5. Use your own coping strategies.

These are personal to you and could be anything.

Externally focused on the examiner.

You might imagine them naked or sat on the toilet. You could see them in your minds eye wearing a nappy with a big dummy in their mouth.

Internally focusing on yourself.

You could pretend you have already passed and you are taking your dad home. Possibly you could imagine you are the one examining the examiner.

The list is endless, you choose what is best or works for you.

At the end of the day the biggest tip is to make sure you are ready to pass. This means you can drive safely with a little bit of confidence without any prompting from your instructor.