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Seat Belt and Head Restraint: Why do we have them?

Seat Belt and Head Restraint: Why do we have them?

The purpose of the headrest is to stop your head rotating backwards. In order to set the headrest to you, you want the pointy bit at the back of your head to match up with the middle of your head restraint. The pointy bit is more correctly known as the occipital bone.

Your seatbelt is part of your vehicle’s passive safety system and in modern vehicles, you’ll find a 3 point lap and diagonal system which are specifically designed to contain you within your seat in the event of a collision. In an accident, anyone or thing that is not restrained will be thrown forward at the speed the vehicle was doing at the time of the collision.

If you hit a stationary vehicle at 30 mph anything or anyone not restrained will hit what is in front of them at 30 mph, a terrifying thought! For the driver, this will be the steering column and for passengers in the back, this will be the people in the front. Seat belts are designed to bear upon the bony parts of your body. This means the lap part should be across your pelvis and the diagonal across the chest and shoulder.

When using a seat belt, make sure to give it a tug (every time) to ensure the reels are working. Examine by a feel and a glance for cuts, tears and frays and always check the tongue is secure.

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Driving hacks

It’s easy to forget but carrying out weekly checks on your car isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take long but it does save you time and money in the long run as well as reducing the risks of accidents. But what kind of checks should you be carrying out on a weekly basis?

Open up the bonnet and check your levels.

Carry out a visual check on:

  • Washer wiper fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid

These are all in clear containers and liquids should be between the indicated levels.

Physical check:

  • Oil

If you don’t know how to do it, it’s really easy! You’ll need to take the stick out, wipe it, put it back in, take it back out again and check the levels against the markers.


Next up is lights! Turn on the ignition, but not the engine.

Lights inside the car:

  • Lights on the dashboard
  • Interior courtesy lights

Exterior lights:

  • Indicators
  • Sidelights
  • Brake lights
  • Headlights: main and dipped
  • Fog lights
  • Reversing lights

Want to check them in less than 5 minutes? Put the car into reverse gear and hit the hazards, sidelights and dipped beam. Then headlights and fog lights! And remember you can always ask someone to help or check the reflections!


And last but not least. Check your tyres!

You’ll need a tyre gauge for this but you can get reliable and cheap gauges from places like Wilkinsons and Halfords. This takes a little longer than the other checks but it’s well worth it. You can be fined up to £2,500 per wheel if your tyres are under-inflated and don’t meet the minimum tread requirement!

Tyre pressure checks:

  • Make sure your tyres are ‘cold’ (they’ve had time to rest after a journey)
  • Get your gauge ready
  • Check your manual for the correct tyre pressure for your car
  • Insert the gauge into the valve system and check the reading
  • If your reading is higher or lower adjust accordingly (you can get air from most petrol stations!)

Tyre tread checks:

  • Some gauges come with a tread checker but if not, get your 20p coin out
  • Check your manual for tread but remember that the legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm (across the central 3 quarters of the tyre)
  • Check all the tyres
  • Using a 20p coin: If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit
  • If your readings do not meet the minimum requirement…change your tyres immediately!

All of the checks are important but if your tyres are below the legal requirement you can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre, you can get 3 penalty points per tyre and you’re more likely to have an accident because you have less control of the car!

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How to beat driving test stress.

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.

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Welcome to the last instalment of The Story of the Driving Test. This week we’ll be discussing what changes were made from the early 2000s to today.

In 2002 a hazard perception element was introduced into the theory test; this uses video clips to test candidates awareness of hazards on the road. The ‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ vehicle safety questions that we always go on about were added to the beginning of the driving test on 1 September 2003.

It was only since 6th April 2010, that driving test candidates have been encouraged to take their instructor with them on their test. Then on 4th October 2010, independent driving became part of the practical driving test, this is when candidates have to drive for 10 mins making their own decisions.

On 7th April 2014, driving test candidates were stopped from being able to use foreign language voiceovers and interpreters on their theory and practical driving tests. The change was made to cut out the risk of fraud, to make sure that all drivers can read road signs and fully understand the rules of the road.

Some of the biggest changes to the driving test were introduced recently on 4th December 2017. These included following directions from a sat nav and testing different manoeuvres. We said goodbye to the corner reverse and the turn in the road. In came, driving into a bay and pulling up on the right. Fast moving country roads were also included in the test in response to the accident rate on those roads by new drivers. The Show Me Tell Me questions and how they are conducted changed, these questions are now asked on the move. All in all, it’s a lot more like real life although some driving instructors predict that these changes will mean the end of western civilisation as we know it.

The latest change on 4th June 2018 was for learner drivers and not the driving test. The change in law meant that learner drivers were allowed to take motorway driving lessons for the first time, although they have to be with an ADI and driving a car with dual controls. The welcome change in law was made to help to make sure more drivers knew how to use motorways safely and confidently. Driving-pro instructor (Liam Greaney) lays claim to being the first instructor with a learner on the motorway. He even made it into the local news!

All in all, since the driving test was introduced it has responded to the needs of society, as have the roads and the law. As roads become more congested the test becomes harder to pass but at the end of the day, the driving test is a test of competence and to evaluate if you will be safe on the roads. Yes, it’s frustrating to fail a driving test but it’d be devastating if you were to cause an accident because you weren’t ready to drive.

What do you think about how driving and the driving test has evolved? Do you think it’s evolved enough? Do you think there should be more changes made? Let us know over on Facebook!

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Car wheels: Part 1

Car Wheels

The wheels on your car must be strong enough to resist the many forces acting upon it but light enough to allow it to be steered. The rolling motion of the wheel reduces friction and when two are used in conjunction with an axle, it allows for heavy loads to be carried safely. A load is at its most stable when it is within the area bounded by the wheels.

In your car, passengers sit within the area that is bounded by the wheels as this provides the greatest comfort and protection.

Wheel Construction and Size

Your wheel is made up of a hub at the centre of the wheel which is where the axle connects joining 2 wheels. A set of bearings allow the wheels to rotate around the axle. The hub is then connected to the rim by either wires or spokes.

Your wheel can be dished which means that the hub and wires or spokes are set in a bit from the rim, in order to protect them from damage. The rim is the outside edge of the wheel that holds the tyre.

The width of a tyre should never be greater than the width of the wheel. A tyre that is wider than the wheel will distort when cornering. A tyre that is much narrower than the wheel will not flex properly, resulting in excessive vibration and a very uncomfortable ride.

A wheel larger than the standard size for your vehicle will mean the vehicle is going faster than the speedometer shows. Put simply, this is because your speedometer is measuring how many times the wheels are turning. If the wheels are bigger than the standard, they will be travelling further and therefore faster for a given number of turns.

Space-saver Wheels

Most vehicles carry a spare wheel but, in order to create more space in the vehicle, a much thinner spare wheel is often used. Spare wheels are for emergencies only and are sometimes known as 40/40 wheels. This is a reference to the fact they should not be driven faster than 40 mph over a distance not greater than 40 miles. If your vehicle has a space-saver wheel you must consult The Manufacturer’s Handbook for the correct use of it.

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