Telephone Helen - 07821 943689

Welcome to Purple Driving - let Helen help you find the best route to your new driving licence!

My Blog


Horse riders - what's the best way of dealing with them?


Even as an experienced driver, horse riders are something that I just don't come across on a regular basis, so it's hardly surprising that, as novice learner drivers, you may never actually experience horses being ridden on the road during your training. And, although you may have read up about how to deal with them for your theory test, things can quickly get out of hand in real life. I thought it would be useful to just remind you of the "best advice" for dealing with horse riders.


Interesting facts about horses


Some of you may not realise that horses are known as "flight" animals. This means that if they get scared, they are totally unpredictable and may panic and bolt. When a horse is in this mode, not even an experienced rider would be able to control it. This can have catastrophic consequences for the horse, rider, pedestrians, other vehicles and you, the driver.


The Highway Code, Rule 215


Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider. Look out for horse riders' and horse drivers' signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard.


If you meet a horse on the road while driving


Slow right down and be ready to stop.

Give them a wide berth – at least a car's width – and pass slowly.

Avoid any actions likely to spook the horse(s) – splashing them with puddles, sounding your horn or revving your engine for example.

Watch out for signals from the rider to slow down or stop.

Don't expect all riders to raise their hand in thanks when you drive considerately – if it's not possible to take a hand off their reins and maintain control most will smile or nod their thanks instead.

Accelerate gently once you have passed the horse.


Additionally, drivers should be aware that:


Rider and horse may both be inexperienced and nervous in traffic.

Unlike a cyclist or motorcyclist who will pull across to the centre of the road well before turning right, a horse and rider intending to turn right will stay on the left until they reach the turn.

Horse riders will generally try to avoid difficult junctions such as roundabouts. If they do use them expect riders to keep left and signal right across exits to show that they're not leaving. Slow down and allow them plenty of room.





YouTube video -


British Horse Society and THINK!’s co-produced video showing how to pass horses safely.

Intensive driving courses - would I suit one?


That's a very good question; let me help you come to a decision!


Firstly, let’s explore the term "intensive driving courses" a bit further, because there's more to them than you might imagine. The most common intensive driving courses advertised by a lot of driving schools usually come in the form of either 18 hours driver training over 3 days or 30 hours over 5 days, or a variation thereof.


At Purple Driving, I also offer an intensive training day, consisting of 5 hours driver training in one day. I also offer a semi intensive driving course. This works really well as it gives you the chance to build up your skills to a certain level and then decide if you're fit to pass the driving test, or whether you need to postpone it.


This equates to 5 - 6 hours of practical driving per day. This can be quite grueling but, it can also be very rewarding, especially if you get the result you want! So you need to ask yourself; would you actually be physically able and mentally prepared to do this, or would it just be too much learning for your brain to take in?


It's very important that you have a good understanding of your learning style if you are to make effective use of your time on an intensive driving course; they don't suit everybody. It's also vital that you choose the right driving instructor for you as you will be spending a lot of time together in a confined pressurised situation. Could you thrive in this kind of environment?


Points to consider before committing to an intensive driving course.


  • Does it suit my learning style?
  • Have I got the time to commit fully to the training days?
  • Am I willing to pay a non-refundable deposit?
  • Does the instructor offer a guarantee?
  • Do they insist on an assessment drive?
  • Have I passed the theory and hazard perception test?

It's important to be realistic when considering an intensive driving course. If you get offered an assessment drive, take them up on it as it will give you both a chance to see exactly where you're driving is at. Listen to the feedback offered, and follow the advice given. The instructor will be in a good position to give you an unbiased view of whether an intensive driving course will suit you or not. I am always very honest with students, and will tell you whether I think you'd benefit and be successful from the course...or not. Personally, I can't see the point of continuing with something if it's not going to work. 


Another point to consider before doing any intensive driver training is the theory and hazard perception test. You will need to have passed this before doing the course because you will not be able to book your practical driving test without it. Once you've passed it, it's valid for 2 years.


Okay, so you've given it a lot of thought, and have passed your theory test, how do you go about booking an intensive driving course with me? Simply follow these steps!


  • Ring me to arrange an assessment drive. I can usually tell within an hour whether you'd be suited to an intensive driving course.
  • Following this assessment drive, I will discuss the best way forward. This means we will decide on the best course for your individual needs. It could be a 3 day, 5 day, or a semi-intensive course. We will also discuss when you want to take your driving test.
  • You will then need to book and pay for your driving a day and time to suit us both.
  • We will then book in the required amount of training hours, and discuss contingency plans. This means that you will need to pass a mock test to ensure that your skill levels are suitable to take and pass the practical driving test. If you don't pass, then we will arrange to reschedule your driving test, allowing for further training to be fitted in. This way you don't waste an attempt or your money!


I hope that this short blog has given you an insight to what an intensive driving course involves. If you think you'd be suited, and would like me to help you achieve your freedom by getting a full UK driving licence, then please call me for a chat. I look forward to hearing from you!

Helen Adams ADI

Purple Driving

Videoing my driving lesson - why should I?

Videoing my driving lesson - why should I?

As far as I am aware, I am the only driving instructor in and around Bognor and Chichester that offers you the ability to have your driving lessons recorded. So, why do I do it? Well, I strongly believe that students can learn more by watching their driving lesson back, compared to those who don't.


I currently use a GoPro mounted on a headrest camera mount as shown in the photos. It is small and discreet, and because it's mounted on the headrest, it's very easy to forget it's there, so it doesn't distract you.


There are a couple of reasons I say this. Firstly, based on my own personal experience of when I was training to become a driving instructor, I found it gave me an opportunity to review certain points of the footage many times over, which is just not possible in real time. I like to analyse certain aspects of what happened, and it's great that you can just rewind and replay the footage as many times as you need in order to really understand what happened and why you did what you did.

The other reason I believe it's a good idea to have your driving lesson videoed is because I get a lot of comments posted on my videos by other learner drivers who say that they've passed their driving test and that watching the videos really helped them to do so.


Another reason to have your driving lessons recorded is so that your parents or partner can watch the footage and see exactly where you're at. This can be extremely useful, especially if they are actively helping you by sitting next to you whilst you get in some private practice in your own car.

Have I convinced you yet? Go on, give it a go!

Vehicle Safety Check Questions

What happens if I get the both the Vehicle Safety Check Questions wrong at the beginning of my driving test?!


A few years ago, one of my students was not confident about being able to answer the questions correctly. Unfortunately, on the day of her driving test, her nerves really kicked in and she was simply unable to answer the questions correctly. Sadly, she went off on her practical driving test with very negative thoughts in her mind, which, she disclosed to me later, really had an adverse effect on the outcome…she failed! On the drive home, we explored this further, and she said she was really convinced that the examiner must think she was, in her words, "a rubbish driver"!


So, my advice to you is to try and avoid feeling this by making sure you really do know and understand all of the possible 19 questions you could get asked at the beginning of your driving test. I wrote a blog about them and included a photo of under the bonnet, and all of the questions and answers are available for you to practice for as long as you need. If there are any questions that you are not sure about, then ask me or your instructor to go through them until you do understand.


One of the problems is, that the examiners will not always tell you if you've answered correctly or not! It is worth remembering that if you get one question wrong, then you will incur no driver faults. If you get BOTH incorrect, then you will get one driver fault. In my opinion, it is better to keep practicing them until you DO know them off by heart, because that one driver fault might be the one you need!!


That's all for now, safe driving!

Helen Adams ADI

Mistake or Learning Opportunity?

The word mistake is such a negative word. Annoyingly even the current driving test is based on fault finding. Let's not go there right now, that's a whole new subject!


In my humble opinion, making mistakes on your driving lessons can be an excellent way to learn. Now, before you all come back at me and tell me how dangerous it can be to make mistakes whilst you're driving, please don't think I'm advocating that's it's good to make mistakes. I'm just saying that the important thing about mistakes is how you deal with them.

I prefer to call them "learning opportunities". And if you're anything like me, when you make a mistake, it annoys you intensely yes? However, the good thing is that when something annoys (or you could read irritates), it affects you directly and with much more impact because you FEEL it.

For example, imagine me sitting next to you at the beginning of your driving lesson, and explaining the importance of reducing your speed on approach to junctions or roundabouts, and how potentially dangerous it can be to do this. This would have far less impact on you than if you ACTUALLY did drive too fast, lost control because your brain panicked, which meant that I had to dual brake you to maintain safety...

So, my advice when you're on your driving lessons is,

  • Be kind to yourself
  • Don't expect perfection
  • Expect to make "mistakes"
  • See your mistakes as "learning experiences". 
  • Be honest. Keep asking yourself why it happened until you know why it happened and then come up with a solution or a fix...and then apply it! 

That's all for now, see you next time!

Helen Adams ADI
Purple Driving

Defensive driving - some tips from me to get you started...


Click here to view video

I've had a request on YouTube to talk about defensive driving. Thank you to that know who you are! I've put together a short video on how you can get started driving defensively. The following list are just some of the things that will help you stay safe on the roads for many years to come, in no particular order!

  • Don't be competetive...think safety first. 
  • Pay attention at all times to what's going on all around you...think "safety bubble", Google it!
  • Always think about an escape never know when you might need it.
  • Think "eco-safe" driving...practice deceleration skills, and not using your brake when in slow moving queues, unless you need to of course.
  • Stop wasting energy getting cross about other driver's actions...use your energy to concentrate on what you're doing.
  • Don't get too close to the car in front...and think about how close the driver behind you might have to take evasive action.
  • Always expect the unexpected...other drivers may not always do what you expect them to do.

The following link will take you to some more defensive driving tips...enjoy!

Talk soon, take care out there!

Helen Adams ADI.

Normal road position...and some tips on how to develop it...


My thoughts on normal road position...and what you can do to help you be in the best road position. This is just a short video to help any of you that are currently learning to drive and finding it difficult to be in the correct road position.

Over the years, I have helped hundreds of learner drivers to achieve their goal of passing the driving test and gaining that all important freedom. Some students don't ever seem to have an issue with their road postion, and some do. One of the most common issues I've observed is that students like to either be really close to the broken separation white lines (that separate the two sides of the road), or be really close to the kerb.

Just click on the link below to view video...

Normal road position...some tips..

One important factor to consider is for you to remember that you may not "get" it right away. These things take time and practice, so I'd always advise that in the first few hours of your training, that you aren't too hard on yourself, be kind to yourself, allow yourself to make a few mistakes. The other tip I would give you, is to be honest with your driving instructor or accompanying driver. Tell them what your fears are, brcause they will probably come up with some useful information that will help you. However, they can't help you if you don't verbalise your anxietites.

Talk soon, take care out there!

Helen Adams ADI.

My YouTube Channel - Purple Driving

Mini roundabouts


At some point in your driver training you will come across mini roundabouts. A lot of my students have struggled with these. The aim of this blog post is to inform you of the rules and regulations pertaining to mini roundabouts and to introduce you to some tips on how best to deal with them as a driver.



Mini roundabouts differ from other roundabouts because they have a small white painted circle in the centre that replaces the central island. The Highway Code has specific advice about these paint blobs, stating, that, "It is important to remember that all vehicles must pass round the central markings, unless they are too large to do so." This is important advice because the painted circle and other road markings are designed to direct the traffic flow. When negotiating mini roundabouts during your driving test, it won't always be possible to not drive over the painted circle. All you can do is make the best effort to go around it. Please be very aware that some drivers ignore these road markings totally!


This double mini roundabout is located at the Pink Pub in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

Usually mini roundabouts come in two different layouts...three exits or four exits. I advise my learner drivers to treat them just the same as they would for normal roundabouts. Having said that, there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of when dealing with them...

One noticeable difference is that it can be difficult to signal left off mini roundabouts because you are so busy steering, so, be careful of other road users who may not have time to signal left off, and take extra care! If you find you are unable to do so, don't worry, you won't be marked down for not signalling off a mini roundabout on your driving test.


These two can be found in Chichester, West Sussex.

Another question that arises occasionally is, do I need to give way to the person opposite at the 12 o'clock position? You need to assess this carefully (ask yourself if they will have started turning before me?), and, if you have any doubt, then it's best to just let them enter the roundabout before you. If in doubt, don't pull out!

I have been asked if a signal is required if following the road ahead at a mini roundabout. It depends on the layout. If I was approaching one that didn't have a right exit (so you could only go left or ahead), then I would signal left because it would help the oncoming traffic. If it ahead and right exits, I wouldn't signal at all. Some have been taught to signal right when going ahead, but I think this could be misleading as some drivers may think your'e doing a U turn.

Occasionally, you may come across a double mini roundabout. You should treat each roundabout separately and apply the same rules as already discussed. I do hope you dont have to deal with this beastie on your driving test!


Whatever kind of mini roundabouits you have in your area, try not to be too afraid of them, apply the same rules as you would for normal roundabouts, and take your time when dealing with them. Happy driving!

Helen Adams ADI

The Highway Code gives very useful information about how drivers should negotiate roundabouts and advises that you should apply these rules to mini roundabouts. See this link,

Highway Code roundabout tips


Show me tell me questions

Car "show me, tell me" vehicle safety questions.


Show me questions


I will have mentioned these at some point during your driver training with me. Previously I have asked students to Google these questions, but I thought it would be useful to write about them in a blog. Let's assume you know nothing about them...


Before you take your driving test, the examiner will ask you 2 vehicle safety questions. You may also know these as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. One of the questions will usually involve you opening the bonnet of your vehicle, and the other will usually take place once you've got into your car...unless it's raining in which case both questions will be asked inside the car!


Your examiner will ask you one ‘show me’ question, where you’ll have to show them how you’d carry out a vehicle safety check, followed by one ‘tell me’ question, where you’ll have to explain to the examiner how you’d carry out the check.


If you get one question incorrect, no driver fault will be marked. If you get them both wrong, you will get one driver fault. That's why, in my opinion, its worth revising them all! It's important that you take some time to really understand the question and answer in your own words, rather than just repeat the answer parrot fashion.


1- Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working.

A- There's two ways to check these. The best way is to turn the ignition on (under no circumstances must you switch the engine on), and then apply the indicators. An alternative way is to turn the hazard warning lights on. You would then explain you'd need to walk round the car to check that all the bulbs are functioning.


2- Show me how you would check the brake lights are working on this car.

A- There are two ways to do this. The first is to turn the ignition on (under no circumstances must you switch the engine on), apply the brakes and check the bulbs are working by seeing them in a reflective surface. The second way is to ask a friend to stand behind your car whilst you apply the brakes.



3- Show me, or explain how you would check that the power assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

A- Power steering is powered by the engine. That's why the steering wheel is difficult to move when the engine is off. It's simple to check. Place your thumb on the steering wheel and apply gentle downwards pressure (the wheel will hardly move), before you turn the engine on. As soon as you turn the engine on the wheel will move quickly downwards.


4- Show me how you would check the parking brake (handbrake) for excessive wear; make sure you keep safe control of the vehicle.

A- Apply the footbrake to secure the car. Apply the parking brake. It should secure itself and not be at the end of its working travel. In other words, it should stay on and not stay in too high a position.


5- Show me how you would check that the horn is working.

A- Press the horn!


6- Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washer and wipers.

A- Turn ignition on and demonstrate that you can operate them.


7- Show me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use it/them.

A- Turn the ignition on and then turn the fog light on. Explain how you would know it's on by pointing out the red light on the instrument panel, and when and why you would use it to demonstrate that you understand the law. Please see extracts from Highway Code below for explanation.



You MUST NOT use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced (see Rule 226) as they dazzle other road users and can obscure your brake lights. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves. Law RVLR regs 25 & 27 Accessed online at,



You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (see Rule 236). Law RVLR regs 25 & 27 Accessed online at,


8- Show me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know the main beam is on.

A- Turn on the ignition, turn on the headlights and then demonstrate how you would put main beam on. Point out the blue switch on the instrument panel when main beam is on.


9- Show me how you would set the demister controls to clear all the windows effectively.

A- Set relevant controls including fan, temperature air direction / source and heated screen to clear windscreen and windows. You do not need to start the engine; the examiner just wants to know that you know how to do it!


10- Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil.

A- Its important that your driving instructor shows you how to open the bonnet and explains where the dipstick is and how you know if your car has sufficient oil. The examiner will ask you not to touch anything in the engine bay. So you will only be expected to point out where the dipstick is located. You'll have to explain how you know the oil is at the correct level and how you use the dipstick to check it. It's also important that you do this before driving so that the oil is cold. Your instructor will be able to explain this to you.



11- Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine coolant level and tell me how you would check that the engine has the correct level.

A- Show the examiner where the high/low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to correct level.


12- Open the bonnet, identify where the brake fluid reservoir is and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

A- Show the examiner where the high/low level markings are located on the brake fluid reservoir.



Tell me questions


1- Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

A- Tell the examiner that the brakes shouldn't feel spongy or slack, and when you use them, the car shouldn't pull to one side. You should check this just after moving off.


2- Identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell me how you would check the windscreen washer level.

A- I find it a bit strange that this is a "tell me" question, as it is more difficult to tell the examiner where it is than it is to show them! However, you would just explain that you'd need to open the bonnet to fill it up and that there aren't any minimum or maximum marks, so it's just a visual check to see where the level is. That's why the windscreen washer fluid is bright green!


3- Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.

A- You'll find this information either in the handbook or some cars have a sticker on the doorsill. Tyres should be checked before driving so that they are cold otherwise you wouldn't get a reliable reading, using a pressure gauge. Remember the spare tyre and be sure to replace the dust caps.


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

A- Tell the examiner that the top of your ear should appear in the centre of the head restraint.


5- Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

A- Explain that the minimum tyre depth is 1.6mm across the centre 3/4 of the tread, and that you would check it with a tyre depth gauge. There should be no cuts or bulges visible either on the tread or the wall (side), of the tyre.


6- Tell me how you would check that the headlights and taillights are working.

A- Tell the examiner that you would need to switch the ignition on, turn the headlights to the on position, and that you'd then need to walk around the car to check that all the bulbs are on.


7- Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.

A- Explain that an amber warning light would come on on the instrument panel.

I hope you find this might save you searching the internet for them! It is important that you have at least a basic knowledge of the functioning of your vehicle, so it's useful to learn this, not just for the driving test!

Helen Adams ADI

What's the best way for my son or daughter to pass their driving test?



Pictured above, one very happy Hannah, who now has a full driving licence!


I am asked my opinion on this on a very regular basis, so I thought a blog post would be of benefit to you. Please note that these are my own personal observations and recommendations, and are intended to be taken only as such. You must work out and decide the best way forward for you and your child.

One of the first things to do is to get your son or daughter to apply for a provisional driving licence.


When can I apply for my provisional driving licence?


The following information was copied from the GOV.UK website at, You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months old.

You can start driving when you’re:

17 - if you want to drive a car

16 - if you want to ride a moped or light quad bike

Your licence will say when you can start driving different vehicles.

You can drive a car when you are 16 if you get, or have applied for, the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Use the following link to apply for your provisional driving licence.


When can I start my driving lessons?


Your son or daughter can start their driving lessons as soon as they are in possession of their provisional driving licence. However (funny how there's always a "however" isn't it?!), I would strongly advise you to encourage your child to pass their theory test first!

Yes, you read that correctly! In my experience, my students aren't at all keen on studying for or taking the theory test at all! Therefore, if I had a child who was desperate to get driving, I would definitely "make" them pass this before taking any driving lessons!



Theory test - what you need to know.


One way to practice for your hazard perception and theory test at this "Safe Driving for Life" website as recommended by the DVSA.

You may also find the following links helpful.


This is a link to info on the DVSA app,

Official DVSA complete-theory-test-kit-iphone-app-app

DVSA complete digital learning pack

The DVSA Learning zone, DVSA Learning zone

This link is to a DVD that I would recommend, 2014/dp/1843265931/ref=sr_1_1?s=software&ie=UTF8&qid=1410862559&sr=1-1&keywords=focus+hazard+perception

In addition, this is to a book that I would also recommend. It has all the Theory questions in the back, and does go into a lot more detail about what I will be introducing on your driving lessons.

Learn to drive

The Official DVSA Guide to Driving 2015 - The Essential Skills Driving - The essential skills

The link below will take you to The Highway Code for an online version. This and Know your traffic signs are essential reading if you wish to become a safe and responsible driver.

Online Highway Code

Know your traffic signs, for a free download.

Know your traffic signs - free download!

Best/cheapest car insurance, Car insurance for young drivers

Please, please don't take your theory test unless you are confident that you will pass it. Most of the revision material that I have mentioned will let you take mock tests, and these are a brilliant way of finding out where your knowledge may be lacking.


How do I book my theory test?


The best place to book your theory test is via the following link, which will take you to the official Government website. At the time of writing, it costs £32. If you live in West Sussex, the nearest Theory Test Centres are based in Worthing and Portsmouth. See below for link.

Theory test centres - Find your nearest Theory test centre.

Book theory test -


Choosing a driving instructor


Personally, choosing the right driving instructor for your child is an important decision if you want to make their learning as efficient and enjoyable as possible. I don't think learning to drive needs to be stressful or difficult; you just need to find the best driving instructor...and the best one is the one that has the ability to unlock their student's full potential. Here are some important things that I think you should consider before you choose your driving instructor.

  • How did you hear about them? Personal recommendation is best if you're looking for professional services. If I were looking for a decent painter, I'd ask my friends and work colleagues. The same applies to driving instructors.
  • How soon can they start? This may seem an obvious question, but I think it's a good indicator of how good the instructor is. Those who can start the same week you call them might be convenient, but those who have a waiting list generally have a list because students are prepared to wait for them; and if they're prepared to wait for them there must be a reason.
  • What do others think about them? If you can't get any personal recommendations, have a look at their website review or testimonial page. Make sure there is a photo of the student included in the review. Even more important are the Google reviews, as students have to make an effort to leave a review on Google.
  • Have a conversation with them. You can tell a lot from a conversation. Are they actually listening to you, or are they too busy selling themselves? Make sure to make a list of things you want to discuss before you ring.


Private practice


Is it a good thing? You'll get conflicting views on this! I am a strong fan of students having private practice, as I believe it forces them to take responsibility for their own actions very early on in the learning process. Without a doubt, you will get something from it, and all my students have found it worked out cheaper in the end, as they didn't need as many driving lessons.




Another crucial point that is often overlooked is, how well are you progressing with your driving instructor? Can you measure that progress? Do you feel as though you're driving is improving? How are you measuring your progress? Have you done a mock test? This is a good way to find out exactly where you're at. Have you discussed your progress with your instructor? Have you been given advice as to when you'll be ready for your driving test?


Frequency of driving lessons


Does your son or daughter know how they learn best? I'm not only referring to their individual learning style (see diagram), but the frequency of lessons. Would they prefer to have one lesson per week...or more than that? Some students have said that they forget things after seven days, and that they learnt so much better when they did two or even three sessions per week because they didn't forget what they'd learnt on their last lesson.




In conclusion


Learning to drive can be fraught with difficulties but it doesn't need to be. Do some research. And, remember, if after all your hard work something still isn't working as it should and your child isn't enjoying their driving lessons and making progress, don't be afraid to make some changes.

Helen Adams ADI - Please remember, I am always happy to help if I can!

Purple Driving, an independent driving school run by Helen Adams ADI, a Grade A driving instructor, providing you with quality driving lessons in Bognor Regis & Chichester, West Sussex.