GET TO KNOW YOUR CAR: THE GLASS

The glass in our cars serves a number of purposes to further the safety and comfort of the occupants. The most obvious is the taking and giving of information. Windows allow us to take in information such as signals from other road users. And they allow those other road users to observe us and make deductions about our intentions.

Over time the windows of an ordinary passenger vehicle have become bigger to allow the taking and giving of information. Sometimes we forget the importance of our windows and don’t keep them as clean as we should.

The window is also part of the structural integrity of the vehicle. Without the glass in the window, it would be almost impossible to drive your vehicle at speed. The process of driving would become very uncomfortable due to dust, insects and wind.

Along with the pillars and roof, the glass provides protection to the car’s occupants should the vehicle end up on the roof. The overall size and shape of the glass is an important aspect of the styling of a vehicle.

Throughout time, the glass used for windscreens has changed from ordinary to toughened, to safety laminate. This change was mainly to protect the occupants of the passenger compartment from harm.

For example, if a stone was to be spun from the back wheel of the vehicle in front on to your vehicle windscreen, its speed of impact will be that of your vehicle plus that of the stone. On a modern vehicle a windscreen should stay intact.

But did you know? Your side and rear windscreens are specifically made of toughened glass so that they shatter. This is so you are not trapped in your vehicle in the event of a bad crash.

Have you ever noticed that there is often a dot-matrix around the area behind the rearview mirror? This is there to soften the light when you look up to check your mirrors. The dot-matrix also extends around the edges of the windscreen to soften light which might otherwise be glare.

Then we have tinted windows. Tints are used for many reasons. Styling, privacy and heat reduction being the main ones. In sunny climates, tinting will protect the interior from damage. The main problem with tinted glass is the suppression of giving and receiving information and it’s not just about being able to see what the other driver is doing.

It’s about being able to gain information by looking through a vehicle’s glass. For example, when emerging from a junction with vehicles parked close to the mouth of that junction. We try to look through those vehicles.

Applied tints are sometimes sold on the fact that it is difficult for someone to break the window to which the tint has been applied. But think of it this way, it would also make it difficult for emergency services to break the window to rescue you. An applied tint could also invalidate your vehicles insurance as this could be viewed as a modification. You would need to check with your insurance company first, as after an accident the assessor will not be doing any favours. We’ve outlined some of the rules and penalties when it comes to tinted glass, just in case you were thinking about it!

The UK rules for tinted glass are:

  • Vehicles first used on 1 April 1985 or later, the front windscreen must let at least 75% of light through and the front side windows must let at least 70% of light through.

  • Vehicles first used before 1 April 1985, the front windscreen and front side windows must both let at least 70% of light through.

Penalties for having wrongly tinted windows:

  • a ‘prohibition notice’ stopping you using your vehicle on the road until you have the extra tint removed
  • a penalty notice or court summons

So before you go and tint those windows, make sure you know the rules, understand the penalties and have cleared it with your insurance company!

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DRIVING HACKS: OIL

Engine oil is a substance comprising of base oils which are enhanced with antiwear additive plus detergents, dispersants and, for multi-grade oils viscosity index improvers. Engine oil is used for the lubrication of internal combustion engines and proper oil care is essential.

First and foremost, make sure you know which light on the dashboard is your oil warning light. Any red warning light coming on your dashboard means you should stop (safely) as soon as you can and get help. If you’re not sure what to do, refer to your handbook or check out our handy guide on what to do when your warning lights come on.

If your oil warning light does turn red, it doesn’t just mean your oil is low. It means there is no pressure in the engine because oil is leaking out. In this instance, stop (safely) and call a pro!

Even if your warning light hasn’t come on, you should still check your oil levels frequently. When doing so, do it on a flat surface and make sure to give it a few minutes to drain and settle in the engine. Once the oil has settled you;

  1. Identify the dipstick/oil level indicator
  2. Pull the oil level indicator out
  3. Wipe it clean
  4. Put it back in
  5. Remove the indicator again
  6. Check the level against the minimum and maximum markers

Simple! And it doesn’t take long to do. So next time you have a spare few minutes, check your oil.

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Driverless Cars: The Driver

What about driving in a driverless car? If you remember, last month we spoke about the different stages of CAVs. All the way up to stage 4 someone is expected to be able to drive the vehicle. The situations in which someone is expected to take over and drive aren’t necessarily easy ones. At the moment engineers are thinking about situations such as extremes of weather.

Driving is a skill and for us to be good at a skill, we must practice. If our cars are driverless, how and where will we get that practice? When the vehicle is in a controlled mode with a human driver, how will that affect the autonomous vehicles around us? And what will happen when lots of inexperienced drivers suddenly having to take control of their vehicle in an extreme weather situation?

How will insurance companies view this possibility? Will the driver have to maintain their licence by continuous driver training? Will your vehicle be aware of your driving capabilities and insurance status? Will control only be handed over in a very structured way? What will be the default options be? Should the vehicle pull over and park safely until the situation has been resolved?

At stage 4, would not journeys become very tedious but we may still have to take control? Drivers are already starting to sleep and let the vehicle do the job. For example, Telsa has already had drivers crash while asleep and have pointed out that the driver was at fault, not the car.

Insurance companies routinely only cover certain types of risk. Risks that have been carefully monitored and evaluated over time. What would happen if that risk was one of the driver’s inattention due to extreme tedium? Would companies refuse to cover if the driver was not actively involved in the drive? Because the vehicles will be routinely safer will it matter anyway?

Will people be able to assume control of their car to take advantage of other cars that will be programmed to give way? You are on a piece of road that goes from 2 lanes into one lane. Most people keep left, but a few push past as far as they can. Will autonomous vehicles allow for you to override then overtake?

Will your car report you to the police if you break a driving law when you are in control? Will your car have a duty of care towards you or others on the road? Could it be able to measure the air in the car and decide you are not fit to take control because there is alcohol on your breath from last night? What about if there was too much C02 and you were tired?

As we learn more about Autonomous vehicles, it seems as though there are more questions than answers. There are so many possibilities that we can’t even fathom and each time the subject is discussed, new questions pop up! What do you think? How do you feel about CAVs?

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CAR DOORS: MORE THAN JUST A DOOR

The doors on your car provide for the entry and exit as well as security of the vehicle. Their shape and method of opening are all part of the overall styling of the vehicle. They are also a part of the passive safety of the vehicle, in a number of ways. For example; load-carrying pockets, the structural integrity of the vehicle in the event of a collision and they may also contain airbags.

Did you know that doors are fitted with door brakes called stays? These are to smooth the shutting of the door. Particularly when the camber adds to the shutting force. Care must be taken with the opening of doors as they can be hit by other road users. This can also include pedestrians on the pavement. You are obliged to ensure you open your door safely. This applies to any door on your vehicle whether opened from the inside or out.

Did you know that there are a number of types of door openings?

Conventional Doors

The door itself is hinged, on the leading edge. This means that if you drive off, the door will tend to close on its own. When a saloon car only has 2 doors, those doors will be bigger than a saloon car which has 4 doors. The reason for this is the door space needs to be bigger to allow access to the rear of the vehicle.

Coach doors

These are hinged on the trailing edge so open the opposite way to normal doors. For this reason, they are sometimes known as suicide doors. The reason for this is that they open if the vehicle is moving as the airflow will force the door open! Scary! This not only creates a hazard for oncoming vehicles, but an unsecured occupant may also find themselves in the road. These types of car doors are often fitted to vehicles where the driver is opening the door for the passenger such as taxis or chauffeur-driven cars.

Sliding Doors

These types of doors are used on larger vehicles such as vans or people carriers. A conventional door on a large vehicle would require a bigger space into which to open. So they are space-saving.

Other Doors

Think the doors on the Bat Mobile. These tend to be used on concept vehicles rather than mainstream ones. Gullwing, canopy, butterfly and scissor doors, amongst others. Because all these doors open upward if the vehicle has rolled it makes getting out very difficult. Also when parked there must be sufficient clearance above for the doors to open. So they may be cool, but they’re not necessarily practical or safe!

So…what kind of doors does your car have?

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DRIVING HACKS: GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

When we learn to drive…we learn to drive. We don’t necessarily learn about our car and how to keep it in tip-top shape. At driving-pro we try to arm our students with as much knowledge as possible but we understand it can be hard to remember everything, that’s why we’ve written it all down for you! Our series of Driving Hacks blog posts aims to help turn you from a good driver to a great driver. 

 

Did you know that most car controls are standard all over the world? If you know how to operate the hand brake, lights, washer wipers and how to demist the windows, you’re most probably set. Although we always advise having a play around before driving in a new car…just in case and don’t forget to read your handbook! It’s the best way to get to know your car. 

 

If you regularly drive different cars make sure you do a proper cockpit drill. This will mean checking to make sure everything is working properly. This is a particularly good idea if you’re renting a car on your holidays. Also, make sure you know which side the fuel goes in. This can save some trouble at a filling station. And make sure you know what fuel to put in! If the cars you drive vary between diesel and petrol put a sticker in the filling cap. Green for petrol and black for diesel. This will be the same colour as the fuel hose. If you’re hiring a car and you’re not sure what fuel to put in, ask! 

 

When you’re carrying out any checks, make sure you do them safely. No scarfs or ties that can get caught and no smoking and no mobiles near the engine. Petrol fumes can go bang. Mobiles can give a spark that can lit petrol fumes. That’s why you’re not allowed to do either in a petrol station. 

 

Whilst doing your safety checks under the bonnet, looking out for loose pipes, wires, battery corrosion and oil spots. In fact, anything that is out of place, get it looked at straight away. 

 

And last but not least, keep your car tidy on the inside and clean and shiny outside. Tidy on the inside will mean nothing gets trapped under the pedals. Clean and shiny on the outside will reflect light from other cars and will help to make you safer. See and be seen. 

 

Is there something you want to know more about? Send us a message on Facebook and we’ll see what we can do! 

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Driverless Cars: Legality and Insurance

Driverless cars are frequently referred to as CAV, meaning Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and it is recognised that there are a number of stages. The stages start at zero, where the driver performs all the driving tasks and it moves through the different stages until we reach level 5 where all tasks are performed by the car. This is a process of moving from control to autonomy.

 

0 1 2 3 4 5
Driver Feet off Hands Off Eyes off Mind off Passenger
All tasks Limited tasks Enhanced tasks Shared tasks Specific tasks All tasks

 

As we move through the stages we are moving towards autonomy. Level 2 is already starting to happen but it’s progression to level 3 and beyond that begins to raise questions.  

 

These questions might be legal challenges. Where will the liability lay in the event of an accident? There is talk of ethical bots having to make these decisions but they will be decided in a courtroom.

 

Decisions about driverless cars must go through the courts where these will affect how driverless cars are regulated and insured. But there’ll be a discrepancy in the timeline as technology will move a lot faster than the law. 

 

When driving we are expected to obey the law. In addition, there is advice we are expected to follow. This advice might not be the law itself, but it could be used in a court of law.  To drive in a busy urban environment without at some point breaking a rule in the highway code will be very difficult.

 

The reality is, at some point, we all might do something that is not strictly within the rules. A solid white line must not in law be crossed. But if a large vehicle in front was holding up the traffic by waiting to turn right and there is a bus lane to the left. Who amongst us (having first checked it was safe) would not quickly nip through in order to maintain traffic flow? 

 

This along with making way for an emergency vehicle and to avoid an accident are mitigating circumstances. But whether you should go over the line and how long for comes down to opinion. Opinions differ. No doubt over a period of time algorithms will answer that problem. But remember, we won’t suddenly all go over to autonomous vehicles. We will be in a mixed fleet with different levels of autonomy and human drivers still having control of their vehicle or the driver wishes it. 

 

What about insurance? All the way up to level 4 there will have to be some kind of driver insurance. In addition to this, when the car is in an autonomy mode presumably the manufacturer of the car will have to have general insurance to cover product liability. It’s possible that other suppliers of hardware and software will also need this cover. 

 

When it comes to insurance and the driver, why would an insurance company give cover to a driver who, in order to speed his journey up has assumed control of their vehicle to either break the law or disregard some safety advice? 

 

The process of moving from control to autonomy may seem simple when broken up into stages but we have a long journey before these cars are on our roads. 

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DRIVING HACKS: GET TO KNOW YOUR DASHBOARD

Do you know what all the lights on your dashboard mean?

We’re not saying you have to have a mechanic’s level of knowledge when it comes to your car but understanding the basics can really help. The lights on your dashboard tell you what the cars doing and they’ll also alert you if something isn’t quite right so knowing what each one means will help keep your car in tip-top shape.

Red A red light on your dashboard means danger, stop as soon as you can and get professional help.

Yellow A yellow or amber light means you have a problem. The problem will need sorting but does not mean immediate danger.

The difference between the two colours? Yellow means you can drive home and get it fixed. Red means you need to stop straight away (safely) and get it fixed.

 

RED

Brake System / Brake Fluid Warning Light

Your brakes are one of the most important safety features on your car for you and everyone around you. If this light illuminates red on your dashboard, firstly make sure that your handbrake is fully released (off), if it continues to flicker or stay on pull over and call your mechanic ASAP.

Oil Warning Light

If your oil light flashes red it can mean that the oil temperature is too high, the level is low or the pressure is low. Oil is what lubricates your engine and helps it work in harmony. If this light flashes, you should pull over as it’s safe to do so and call your mechanic straight away. If you ignore the light, it can be a costly and dangerous mistake.

Battery Warning Light

If your battery warning light turns red whilst driving it will more than likely mean a problem with the charging system rather than the battery itself. The danger of this is that your vehicle could run out of charge meaning your lights will go off and your engine could suddenly stop dead.

Power Steering / PAS Warning Light

If your power steering fails you’ll find that steering becomes very heavy which can become very dangerous. So if your PAS lights up red and your steering becomes heavy you need to pull over as soon as you safely can and get professional help.

Airbag Warning Light

If this light comes on red, it means there’s an issue with your airbags. It can also mean that your seat belts are not working. If your car has a faulty airbag it could mean that it won’t go off in the event of an accident, leaving you and your passengers vulnerable.

ECU / Engine Warning Light

If your engine light appears yellow/amber you’ll probably be experiencing some other symptoms such as lack of power because your car has gone into ‘safe mode’. Sometimes it can be a small issue but sometimes it can be a more serious mechanical issue. Either way, you need to get your engine looked at by a professional as soon as possible.

Coolant Warning Light

Without coolant, your car could get so hot it could fuse itself together. Madness! If this light illuminates yellow/amber it could mean that your coolant levels are low so have a look under the bonnet and see. If your engine temperature is high and your coolant light is on, it could mean that your engine is overheating. This could be either a minor or a major problem so it’s best to get it looked at straight away.

ABS / Anti-Lock Brake System

8

The anti-lock brake system is an anti-skid brake system designed to keep you safe. If your light illuminates yellow/amber then it means there can be a fault in any part of the ABS and the system will be disabled until it’s fixed. If the ABS and the Brake System warning lights both come on at the same time, you need to pull over (safely) and call for help.

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AI CONFERENCE:Future of driving

AI Conference at The University of Portsmouth

Thursday 13th June 2019 was the launch of the Intelligent Transport Cluster by The University of Portsmouth. One of our instructors, Liam had the good fortune to attend along with 144 other delegates and had the opportunity to listen to a wide range of speakers covering all aspects of transport.

Various points, by various people, were made concerning AI and transport. Such as:

  • We are at a turning point with how the technology will migrate to the ordinary user
  • The opinion of this is to crawl, walk…then run
  • Technology needs to be smart, efficient and sustainable
  • The future will be different from how we imagine it will be

Transport is fundamental to us as people and efficient transport means an efficient economy.

However, technology and transport merging could have a number of problems:

Legal problems are bound to arise, regulation and insurance will most definitely be affected but it seems as though we cannot predict the diverse problems we might incur. Particularly if we’re talking about self-driving cars. Liam is of the opinion that technology may lag behind its capabilities due to courts and legislation.

As an example, an insurance company will at some point be facing a large claim and will want someone else to pay it. Think of the Selby rail crash 2001 caused by a Range Rover. The insurer sued the DoT for part of the £22 million pound settlement.

If the driver is ever expected to take over the vehicle in the event of the unexpected and they are doing nothing on these journeys. How are they going to keep up a level of attention to do so? Will insurance companies offer cover on vehicles where the driver is regularly unable to maintain full attention?

On trains, there is a device called the dead man’s handle. It requires the driver to always be holding it and therefore awake. Telsa have a device that requires you to hold the steering wheel however, other companies sell devices that allow you to circumvent this so you can have a nice sleep.

Stakeholders

Which will be inertia and focus. There are already systems in place so why change? Any change will require an investment that goes far beyond the mere physicality of a thing. There will be new routines and behaviours to be learnt. New pecking orders and turf to be established. There will have to be some clearly defined benefits from change.

Will the focus be in the right place? As an example, with traffic flow, would some paint in the road be a better solution than a smart system for monitoring it? Would a dedicated bicycle lane solve a lot of the congestion and air pollution problems?

Ultimately we will have electric vehicles and they will be part of Intelligent Transport Systems. But where should the focus be? How will we solve the problems of now and the future? These questions will get answered by how the budget is set. Put your money where your wheels are.

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DRIVING HACKS: BREAKING DOWN

Breaking Down a Break Down

Have you ever had a breakdown and just weren’t sure what to do? Or maybe you’re worried about breaking down and have no idea how to deal with it. We’ve got you covered.

 

Get Prepped

If you don’t have a breakdown kit in your car, now’s the time to put one together. In ours, you’ll find:

  • A warning triangle
  • Some warm clothes and a plastic mac
  • Spare bulbs and fuses
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Hi-Vis jacket
  • Emergency numbers
  • Bottled water and snack bar(s)

Lots of Banks offer breakdown cover with particular accounts, check yours to see if you’re covered. If not make sure you have breakdown cover. It will make your life so much easier!

 

In the Moment 

  • If you can, move your car to a safe space. Make sure you’re over to the left as far as possible and try and get those wheels pointing left too.
  • Get those hazards on. Let other drivers know that you’re not going anywhere. If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on.
  • Sounds obvious but please stay away from moving traffic! It’s usually safer to get out of the car but leave animals in the vehicle. Be sure to exit the vehicle by the door furthest from the traffic.  If you break down on the motorway try and move up the bank or at the very least stand behind the barriers!
  • Make sure you’re wearing the reflective/Hi-Vis jacket you have in your breakdown kit.
  • DON’T put your warning triangle out if you’ve broken down on the motorway. It’s not safe! If you’ve broken down on a normal road, place your triangle approximately 45 meters behind your vehicle.
  • If you’re on a motorway and you don’t have a mobile, run out of battery or have no signal. Walk (carefully) towards to an emergency phone. You can follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The phones are free and connect directly to the police. If you have broken down on a normal road and have no phone, walk (carefully) towards a local petrol station, shop etc. and ask to make a phone call. This is when your list of emergency numbers comes in very handy.
  • If you are in any way vulnerable i.e. you have a disability, feel in danger from another person or can’t get to a hard shoulder, let the operator know.

 

ALWAYS act with caution and never put yourself or anyone else in danger. Do NOT try and carry out repairs on a motorway, even small ones. ALWAYS call for help. If you are in serious danger call the appropriate Emergency Services IMMEDIATELY.

The Highways Agency National Switchboard: 0300 123 5000

Emergency Services: 999

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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:Levels, lights and tyres

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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THE STORY OF THE DRIVING TEST: 2000 – Now

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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Passing Your Driving Test: How to Choose a Mechanic

You’ve passed your driving test. You’ve bought a car. You’ve got your insurance covered and paid your road tax but there’s something else to organise. A mechanic. We cannot stress enough, how much easier your life will be if you find a mechanic before you have any major car troubles or your MOT is suddenly due.

But how do you choose a mechanic? Here are a few things to consider during your search:

  1. Ask your friends and family. Chances are that the people around you will happily give you their recommendations and some of them would have been going to the same mechanic for a number of years.
  2. Ask your driving instructor. Their job is to be on the roads every day…in a car…that works. You can’t really go wrong asking a professional driver who their mechanic is, they’ll probably be able to give you a few recommendations of mechanics in your local area.
  3. Know what you need. Understand your car. Some garages don’t have the capacity to deal with electronic or hybrid cars and some don’t have the capacity to deal with old or vintage cars. It doesn’t make a mechanic bad, it just means that they don’t have the tools or expertise to deal with your particular vehicle.
  4. Do your own research. You’ve got your recommendations so now it’s time to do your own research. Look online, check out reviews, go to the garages and ask some questions, find out what services they provide. Do they do MOT’s, are they able to look after hybrids? Take your car with you and find out if they have experience with your particular make and model. Car troubles can be stressful (and expensive) so make sure that you can not only get on with your mechanic but that you trust them too.
  5. Don’t assume. Don’t assume that the garage down the road or that one your mum told you about has the capacity to see you and your car straight away. Most of the time, good mechanics are constantly busy. This is also why you shouldn’t wait until you have major car troubles before finding the right mechanic for you and your car.

Finding a mechanic doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be stressful. It will take a bit of time and a bit of research but your car will thank you for it in the future. If you’ve got no one to ask or maybe your new to an area, use websites such as The AA Garage Guide or Approved Garages Near Me.  

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Learning to Drive: Becoming a Taxi Driver

Did you know that to become a taxi or Uber driver, you have to pass an assessment? In Portsmouth and the surrounding areas, taxi tests are conducted by The Blue Lamp Trust. They tend to call it an assessment rather than a test and just like learner drivers, the examiner wants to know that you will be a safe driver.

The assessment consists of a driving licence check and eyesight test followed by a 45-minute driving assessment across a variety of road types. In practice, this means a driver can be anywhere in a 20-minute radius of where they start the test. By failing the eyesight test, or not having the licence to show the examiner before they start, the practising taxi driver can fail their test before they even get into their car!

The less the examiner notices about their driving the better. When you get into any car and the driver is a good one you will feel safe and relaxed and this is how you should feel when you get into a cab with a professional driver. Safe and relaxed is how the examiner wants to feel because that’s how you should feel.

At the beginning of the test, the examiner will say that they want you to be smooth, safe and legal. Sound familiar? If you can do those three things you should be alright. Just like the driving test, the examiner can only mark what they see on the day.

Just like learner drivers, it’s important to have some training before taking the Blue Lamp Taxi Test. You wouldn’t take your driving test without driving lessons, so why take the Blue Lamp Taxi Test without lessons? At driving-pro, we offer training to people looking to take the Blue Lamp Taxi Test.

Our aim is to have as many safe drivers on the road as possible! And just like us, you can be sure the local council is concerned about the safety of drivers, their passengers and the people around them.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the types of training we offer, get in touch via the form below!

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Learning to Drive: How to Choose a Driving Instructor

Finding the right driving instructor for you can be hard. You have to spend a lot of time with your driving instructor, you have to be able to talk to them and take direction from them. So we’ve put together a handy list of 10 things to consider whilst you’re looking for your perfect driving instructor.

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

2) The bus test. If your driving 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 your potential driving instructor has lots of (good) reviews, they’re probably doing something right! Check places like Yell.com or Facebook.

4) Professionalism. 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 and keep their cars are clean inside and out. There’s nothing worse than getting in a dirty car!

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

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

7) Do you feel comfortable with your driving 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 isn’t their instructor, they are able to. It’s important to us that our pupils are happy and comfortable.

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 number 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 but never be afraid to ask for credentials.

10) Price. Learning to drive is an investment. Of course, cheap lessons or special 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.

If you want to find out more about any of driving-pro’s instructors, you can give us a call on 02392 75 25 25 or check out their profiles!

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BEING A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: Gav ADI

Last week we spoke to Danny, PDI this week it’s all about Gav, ADI.

Gav’s entire career has revolved around cars and vehicles. He worked in the motor trade for years and has 12 years experience in driving artic lorries! Once you’ve manoeuvered one of those down a single track lane, every other driving task seems easy!

Why did you become a driving instructor?

Over the last three years, I’d been teaching friends to drive. I really enjoyed it and I was good at it too. I decided to get in touch with driving-pro to find out how I could become a Driving Instructor.

After lots of swotting up, help from driving-pro and of course practice, I passed my exams and qualified as a driving instructor.

And here at driving-pro, we couldn’t be more delighted to have Gav aboard. He’s already proving to be a brilliant driving instructor with some fantastic passes already under his belt.

If you want to learn more about Gav, click here and if you want to find out more about driving lessons, fill in the form below!

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BEING A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: Danny Farr PDI

We asked new member of the driving-pro family Danny, what it’s like to be a driving instructor and why he decided to do it. Danny joined driving-pro in February and is currently doing his training with us too, at the moment Danny is PDI and is working towards becoming an ADI.

A PDI is a Potential Driving Instructor and an ADI is an Approved Driving Instructor. In order to become an ADI you have to pass 3 exams (after LOTS of training and practice), a PDI is someone who has passed 2/3 of those exams. If you’re being taught by a PDI it means that they are on their way to taking that all important 3rd exam which will gain them ADI status. We have no doubt that Danny will pass his part 3 and we can’t wait to welcome another fully fledged ADI to driving-pro.

What’s it like being a Driving Instructor?

Being a driving instructor is great. You have to be calm and make each pupil feel at ease (even after a near miss)! I always try and get to know all my pupils personally so we can chat like friends which really relaxes them, when they are relaxed they drive a lot better. One thing I tell my pupils is not to panic under any circumstance, if you panic, that’s when mistakes happen. Staying calm and not panicking as an instructor in an awkward situation really teaches them this is the best thing to do. Even though you may feel panicked inside, never show it on the surface or it will rub off on your pupil.

Why did you decide to become a Driving Instructor?

I’m a people person and you meet some fantastic and interesting people being a driving instructor, people with some really interesting stories to tell. I always learn something new with each pupil (I like learning new stuff)! It is so satisfying seeing a pupil start off not even knowing how to turn a car on blossoming into a great driver. I often remind them of what they were like on their first lesson to what they are like now which makes them feel really proud of their achievements.

Are you interested in finding out more about becoming a Driving Instructor? Find out more here or get in touch here!

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The Story of the Driving Test: 1970-1999

By 1970 all driving instructors now had to be officially registered and from May 1975 candidates no longer had to demonstrate arm signals in the driving test.

From 1st May 1990, examiners started to give feedback, they gave candidates a brief explanation of faults committed during the test, plus advice on areas for improvement. From October 1990, under the new legislation, anyone accompanying a learner driver had to be at least 21 and must have held a driving licence for a minimum of 3 years which is still true to this day.

In April of 1991 reverse parking became part of the driving test, this was as a result of more and more traffic on the road and people passing their driving test but not being able to park!

On 1st July 1996, the (separate) theory test was introduced. It replaced questions asked about The Highway Code during the driving test. A lot of people tried to beat the deadline meaning the driving instruction industry boomed and then, of course, slumped.

Photographic ID was required for both practical and theory tests from 1st March 1997. From 1st June 1997, if a new driver gained 6 or more penalty points during the first 2 years of driving, they lost their licence and must retake both the theory and practical driving test before being allowed back on the roads.

On 29th September 1997, waiting times between tests were reintroduced for unsuccessful candidates. For car drivers, there was a minimum wait of 10 days between tests.

In February 1999, the newly revised Highway Code was published, with current advice and up-to-date legislation for all road users.

On 5th May 1999, the Bay Park is introduced. Glen Robbins of driving-pro lays claim to being the first test pass on that day in the South of England, if not the whole of the UK.

As you can see, as the roads got busier the rules had to evolve more quickly. Imagine today not having to learn how to park your car or not having to take your theory test. Yes, it might be easier but do you think you’d be a safe driver?

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