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Just walking along with my dog minding my own business, when I couldn’t help but notice a dad cycling along two abreast, with what I presumed was his son on his inside. The father was talking to his son, and as they started to draw level to me, I clearly overheard what he said about the give way lines. It went something along the lines of this,
“So, see those lines? When they’re double like that it means the vehicles emerging from them have to stop.”
I wanted to shout out to the son...NO, THEY DON’T MEAN STOP...THEY MEAN GIVE WAY!
To be honest, I was quite shocked that the father didn’t know that broken white lines mean GIVE WAY, regardless of whether there’s a single or double set. See diagram below.
Follow this link about road markings from the Highway Code
Please do check that you're giving your children up to date reliable knowledge of the rules of the road, and if in doubt, check the Highway Code.
Helen Adams ADI-Purple Driving
The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), is a government organisation responsible for testing learner drivers; their examiners will assess your driving skills on the day of your driving test. Late last year, they started sending out text messages to learner drivers, either encouraging them or asking them to consider whether they feel confident and ready to take their test. These texts are planned to continue until February 2019.
The texts are designed to inform, rather than replace, the discussions that students of Purple Driving will have before your test to check we’re both happy with your progress and ability.
Why are the DVSA carrying out this research?
The DVSA are working with The Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) to carry out research into learner drivers and how they can:
- make sure candidates are better prepared to take their test
- encourage learner drivers not to take their test before they’re ready
- help keep new drivers safer once they've passed
Before they trialled the messages, BIT and DVSA undertook a period of fieldwork to consider the target group and touchpoints of users. ADIs, learners and test centre staff were interviewed and considered as potential trial participants. A final decision was made to use text messages. We designed the messages to try and complement learner drivers’ efforts to adopt safe driving behaviours. The DVSA hope that any learning they gain from this research will help them to develop future communications.
How did the DVSA get my mobile telephone number?
Anyone over the age of 17 in Great Britain is automatically opted-in to be part of research to improve road safety when they book their driving test. The messages are sent between 14 and 1 days before their test.
What the text messages may look like
You may receive 1 of 10 of the trial text messages, and only one of these messages will ask you for extra information. This message will be sent from a number ending 284. If you receive a text message asking how many hours you’ve driven for, it’s up to you to decide whether you respond or not, but any responses you do make will help the DVSA inform future communications to learner drivers. Other messages may ask you, the student, to consider things like whether you feel you have had enough practice in different weather conditions or tips on how to relax before taking your driving test. These will all come from the ‘Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’.
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the text messages you may receive from the DVSA, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the first instance, and I will do all I can to help you. The image below is an example of what a legitimate text from the DVSA may look like.
Data protection rules
You may be wondering how the text messages comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. As a government organisation, the DVSA can carry out research where it supports our public task. Making sure candidates understand and are prepared for their test meets that requirement. They’ve published their privacy notice on GOV.UK, which explains how they process candidate’s personal data. The data collected through this research will be stored for a maximum of 2 years.
Do you have to receive these texts?
No, you don’t, you can opt out of the research by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If an individual has already received the text that they need to respond to, they can reply "STOP" to not receive anything else.
Purple Driving, owned and run by Helen Adams ADI - Helping you stay safe on the roads as always!
Bob Hannigan is the Head of National Standards and Accreditation at DVSA. Part of his role is to look into how the DVSA can help make sure learners are ready to take their driving test, and to ultimately better prepare them for a lifetime of safe driving.
Good news for all learner drivers in England, Scotland and Wales…you will be able to take motorway training with your driving instructor from 4 June this year!
There has been a lot of discussion over the years about allowing learner drivers to practice driving on motorways, and now the DVSA have finally enabled this to become a reality. However, one very important point to be aware of is that this only applies to paid tuition from DVSA Approved Driving Instructors in a car fitted with dual controls. Please note that if you're currently being taught to drive by a trainee driving instructor, then you will need to find a fully trained instructor, as trainee driving instructors are NOT allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.
I'm really scared at the thought of driving on a motorway!
Don't worry, your instructor will only take you on a motorway when he or she thinks you're ready for the challenge. This will usually only be once you've got your driving test booked, and you've proved yourself competent on dual carriageways.
Any motorways lessons will be voluntary. The change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways. At the moment, motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change. One of the reasons for this is because not all learner drivers have access to a motorway.
What will my motorway training involve?
Once you've got your driving test booked,,and, if you want to, my aim is to help you achieve the following skills;
- The importance of checking your mirrors
- How to safely check your blind spot at high speed
- How to scan the motorway to maintain your safety
- How to change lanes safely
- How to overtake safely
- The importance of sticking to the speed limit
- How to use cruise control
- How to operate the sat nav, radio and CD system whilst driving at high speeds
- The importance of keeping a safe gap
- Understanding the “safety bubble”…an advanced driving technique
- What to do in the event of an accident ahead
- What to do if you breakdown
- How to exit the motorway safely
Advice for driving near learner drivers on the motorway
Driver's under motorway tuition can be easily identified by their vehicles sporting either L plates or a driving school roof sign or both.
Please take a moment to remember your time as a learner driver and be patient with learner drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events. As with any vehicle on the motorway, keep a safe distance from a learner driver in front of you. Increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog.
The Highway Code will shortly be updated to cover learner drivers using motorways. Here's a link to the current rules…
How to drive safely and legally on England’s smart motorways.
If you are having professional driving lessons, your driving instructor will explain exactly what will happen on the day of your driving test. This blog is for those of you who are self - training, and would like know what to expect on your big day.
Your driving test will last for approximately 35 - 40 minutes. You would be wise to arrive at the driving test centre between 5 - 10 minutes before your allotted test time. It is important not to get there before this as you may block the returning test candidates from using the car park. If in doubt, you can always park up outside the test centre and wait until you see the previous candidates leave before you reverse into a bay of your choice.
Once you've parked up, I always advice to lock your car. Make sure you have your driving licence to hand. Most test centres have toilet facilities and drinking water available, so feel free to use them. Choose a seat, and wait your time.
The examiners will enter the room wearing hi-vis vests; this is to keep them safe whilst in the car park. They will call out your name. At this time they will ask you to read and sign your test form, and want to check your driving licence. They will then ask if you'd like your accompanying driver to sit in on your driving test. If you decline, they will then ask you if you'd like them to be present at the debrief.
At this time, the examiner will ask you to exit the building. They will then want to check your eyesight, so will direct you to a suitable car. Once you've done this, they will ask you to lead the way to your car. They may ask you to open the bonnet and ask you a “show me tell me” question. They will then ask you to get into your vehicle and make yourself comfortable. They will then walk around the car to inspect it and make sure they are happy it's road legal and that they are happy to go out in it.
Once the examiner gets into your car, they will fasten their seatbelt, and adjust their mirror. They will then set up the sat nav and explain in more detail how the test will be run.
And that's it…it's now over to you!
Keep reading for more useful advice!
Helen Adams ADI
We've all seen them, but have you ever wondered what causes pot holes? They develop when snow and ice melt. The water seeps beneath the road through cracks by the wear and tear of traffic. When the temperature drops below freezing again, the ice expands, and causes cavities to appear. The holes get bigger because of the damage caused by numerous vehicles driving over the hole.
Check your vehicle for damage
Check to see if there is any physical or cosmetic damage. The other thing to watch out for, which may not be immediately apparent, are non immediate signs of damage such as vibrations, the car pulling to one side or the steering wheel not being aligned properly.
Make notes and take pictures
Take pictures and measurements of any damage, the pothole and make notes about what damage has occurred. Including something with a sense of scale in a picture could also help.
Report the pothole
Report the pothole to the local county, city or borough council so that they can arrange repairs.
When getting your car repaired, get multiple quotes and keep all of them along with invoices and receipts.
Making a claim
Make a claim to the responsible council with all your evidence as this will help support your claim.
One thing drivers making a claim should be aware of, however, is that under section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, councils have a defence against claims.
In section 58 it details that if a council failed to maintain or repair a pothole they were aware of or hasn’t followed maintenance guidelines then a driver may be able to claim compensation.
Motorists can also make a claim against their car insurance, however, this may impact premium costs and no claims bonuses.
So, as you can see, potholes can cause an awful lot of damage. The best advice is to avoid driving over them if at all possible. If you have no choice but to drive over them, then you should go as slowly as possible…around 15-20mph.
Watch this space for more driving advice!
Helen Adams ADI
I'm sure that by now, most of you will be aware of the impending changes to the driving test. Apart from a couple of new manoeuvres, and dropping two manoeuvres (the left reverse and turn in the road), and a 20 minute sat nav component, you will be asked a question DURING your driving test.
I think this is an excellent idea, as you need to be able to do this confidently. I always used to make sure my students are familiar with the controls in my car, but, with these questions being asked on the move, you will need to ensure that you can do them with ease. I have created a video which shows me demonstrating the different questions, which i hope you will find useful. Check it out by clicking New "On the Move" questions
Any questions...just ask! You may find more useful videos in my YouTube Channel
Helen Adams ADI
Improving the driving test - what are the differences?
Last year, the government asked the DVSA to trial changes to the driving test because it wanted new drivers to be prepared for driving on their own and not just to pass the driving test.
Let's look at what the current test involves. It lasts between 35 - 40 minutes long. It involves,
- ‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of the test - so 2 questions in total.
- 10 minutes independent driving using traffic signs or verbal directions. The examiner will explain that the independent driving section is to begin, and will either give you a series of directions, or show you one or more diagrams. It is not a test of memory, and it is okay if you need to ask the examiner for clarification or a reminder if you forget the directions given.
- One of the following manoeuvres - turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)
- One in three candidates will be asked to perform the emergency stop.
The new test plans to involve the following,
- ‘Tell me’ question at the beginning of the test and a ‘show me’ question on the move
- 20 minutes independent driving using a satnav or traffic signs
- One of the following manoeuvres - drive in to and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse, and rejoin the traffic or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)
Two new manoeuvres will, for the purpose of the trial, replace the current ‘turn in the road’ and ‘left reverse’ manoeuvres. I will still be teaching these, though as I think the skills needed to do them is important...slow car control and proper observation.
Let's look at these differences in more detail.
Independent driving and using sat navs
This is a variation on what is done on the driving test at the moment. The independent section will be increased in length from 10 to 20 minutes long. It is hoped that using a sat nav goes someway to addressing concerns that inexperienced drivers are easily distracted, which is one of the main causes of crashes.
The examiner will attach a satnav to the windscreen which will be pre-programmed with the independent route. The sat nav will provide visual and verbal directions. If the candidate takes the wrong route, the sat nav will recalculate and redirect them back onto the programmed route. The examiner may also interrupt and give advice to candidate get back onto the correct route. If you do go wrong, there's no need to worry, just deal with it, and you shouldn't get marked with a fault.
What if there are problems with the sat nav?
Please don't worry about this. The driving examiner will step in to take control if the satnav fails or freezes. They can then go back to giving directions in the same way as they do now.
It's important to remember that the examiner is there to help you if required. For example, it may be that there are two junctions are close together on route. The satnav should be able to deal with this, but, if there is any doubt, the examiner will give bridging directions so that you can plan your drive properly.
Speed reading on the sat nav
The candidate should only use the speedometer reading fitted to the vehicle because the sat nav might give a slightly different reading. The examiner will only use the car speedometer reading.
Sat navs will make the driving test better!
The important thing for you to bear in mind here is that the use of the sat nav will, in my opinion, be easier for you because you won't have to remember a set of directions. You will also have had adequate training in the use of a satnav during your training with me, including how to programme, how to deal with it re-routing, and how to over-rule it if required, so you will be confident and have the necessary skills to deal with this not only on your driving test, but when you own one yourself.
‘Show me’ safety question on the move
A ‘tell me’ safety question will still be asked at the start of the test before the candidate moves off, which is no different to the current driving test.
The difference will be that the examiner will ask you a ‘show me’ safety question whilst you are driving. The examiner will ask you to use a control when they think it's safe for you to do so. The important thing for you to remember is to only operate the control when YOU think it's safe and doesn't put you in danger. So, you wouldn't want to be fiddling with the de-mister switch whilst you were on a roundabout or merging onto a dual carriageway, or other similar moves that require your full attention.
There are 5 questions at the moment that have been confirmed, and these are:
- When it is safe to do so can you show me how you operate the rear windscreen wiper (or clean the back window)
- When it is safe to do so can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen.
- When it is safe to do so can you show me how you would switch on your side lights.
- When it is safe to do so can you show me how you would set the rear demister.
- When it is safe to do so can you show me how you would demist the front windscreen.
I'm sure you'll agree with me that it's a good idea to get practice at using these controls whilst driving, because it's exactly what you'll need to do when you're out driving by yourself. I'll make sure that we go through the 'show me' questions, AND get you to practice them on the move during your driving lessons with me. That way, it won't present you with any problems on your driving test.
It is generally believed that slow speed manoeuvres such as the turn in the road or left reverse, don’t lead to serious road traffic collisions because they are usually carried out in non-busy roads. The DVSA hope that by removing manoeuvres that need us to use backstreets, they can design test routes that are more open and take in faster and rural driving. They want to use roads that represent real-life driving conditions.
Pull up on the right
Apparently, this manoeuvre is done more commonly that turn-in-road and left-reverse in real life. It tests the skills that people will need, particularly for those who go on to be professional drivers, eg delivery drivers. The exercise is perfectly legal. It’s challenging and is the kind of manoeuvre a driver may do at some point after passing their driving test.
The examiner will be asking candidates to pull up on the opposite side of the road, and then reverse for a couple of car lengths before moving off.
At the moment, this isn't something that I get my students to practice. However, rest assured, we WILL be practicing it so that you are very familiar with it, and are able to choose your own safe place to do so, so that it won't present any problems for you on test.
Forward parking in a bay
You will be asked to drive forward into a parking bay, and then reverse back out of it. This will probably be a bay with cars parked on either side. Driving forward into a parking bay and then reversing out is the sort of thing most drivers do on a regular basis. It’s a perfectly legal exercise to do, and you will definitely want to be able to do so once you've passed your driving test.
It is hoped that the DVSA will be able to use public car parks to do this, eg hotels, pubs and other types of locations. I already include this in my current driving lessons so you will already be confident in carrying out this manoeuvre.
The following link is useful viewing as it also contains videos on the manoeuvres.
There's been a lot in the news recently about tougher penalties for drivers if they are caught using their mobile phones whilst driving. See links in References.
As a newly qualified driver, this means you would lose your driving licence and would have to re take both the theory and practical driving tests again.
What I'd like to talk to you about in this blog is something slightly different...driver attitude.
Have you ever felt unsafe, and I mean almost to the point of being terrified, when you were a passenger in a friend's car? If so, did you do anything about it?
Just the other day, at the end of a driving lesson, one of my students told me of the experience she had as a back seat passenger. The driver was fairly newly qualified, having passed his test just over a month previously, at his third attempt. He offered to give her and a friend a lift to college, involving a five mile drive to Chichester.
Being a learner driver herself, my student took a keen interest in her newly qualified friend's driving, hoping to pick up some tips.
"How did you feel about his driving?" I asked. I wasn't prepared for her reply.
"It was horrible! He made me feel really unsafe. At one roundabout he took a gap that I wouldn't have...and he made the car slow down and the driver hooted his horn at him!"
"Oh, ok, did you say anything to him?" I asked. Again, I wasn't expecting her response.
"No, I didn't. I didn't want to upset him, or my mates to think I was being "uncool"!"
On reflection, I'd have to say I wasn't that surprised she'd not said anything. I'm known for being confident and quite forthright...whereas I'd describe her as exactly the opposite!
I shared an experience I'd had last year, when I was with a friend, who was driving, and he was actually driving like a complete idiot! High revving, too much speed, very late braking, cornering on two wheels...you get the picture?!
I asked him if he always made a habit of driving like this. His response was to screech to a halt, perform an unsafe U turn, and deliver me back to my place...all without saying a word!!
My student asked me if I would do the same thing again, to which I replied yes! I asked her what she would do, if ever she found herself in a similar situation...that of feeling unsafe as a passenger in a friend's car.
"I'd ask him to stop the car so I could get out!"
To say I was relieved was an understatement! I'd ask you guys to do the same thing, if ever you were in a similar situation. Sometimes, it's cooler to swim against the grain and live, than it is to die or be injured and be cool! My father always told me that,
"It's better to be 20 minutes late in this world, than 20 years earlier in the next!"
Helen Adams ADI