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:
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.
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.
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.
If you don’t have a breakdown kit in your car, now’s the time to put one together. In ours, you’ll find:
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
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
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.
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?
These are all in clear containers and liquids should be between the indicated levels.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?