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A new driving test?

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.


Improving the driving test.

Take responsibility for your own safety...don't sit in if you feel unsafe!!

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 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

Purple Driving




Some common misconceptions about the UK driving test

During my time as an approved driving instructor, I have listened to a few misconceptions about the UK practical driving test, and what you MUST or MUST NOT do whilst carrying out the test. I thought it would be useful to explore these further in the hope that my observations will allay your fears and increase your confidence. So, on no particular order...


"If I touch the kerb I will fail."


The most common time for touching the kerb during a driving test would be either when a candidate was carrying out a manoeuvre, or being asked to pull up at the side of the road.


It does not constitute an immediate fail. It will depend on the severity of the impact, how you deal with it, and whether it has an impact on other road users. For example, if you were to touch the kerb whilst doing the left reverse, and then moved the car away from the kerb, and it didn't involve or affect any other road user, you may just incur a driver fault.


If however, you were to hit or mount the kerb, this would indicate a loss of control on your part, and could incur a serious fault.



"I'll fail if I stall the car."


This is a very popular misconception. It is not strictly true. Let's look at a couple of examples.


The examiner has asked you to move off and you forget the car is still in 3rd gear. It stalls. You notice and put it into 1st gear, and manage to move off satisfactorily. In doing so, you haven't affected any other road user at all. No fault incurred.


You're approaching a roundabout and the car is in 3rd gear. You come to a complete stop, then see a suitable gap, but forget that the car is still in 3rd gear and it stalls. There is a vehicle behind you. Because you made him stop you will incur a serious fault as the driver only just managed to stop hitting you.


Can you see the difference? It's not always what you do, it's whether what you do adversely affects other road users.



"If I go the wrong way I'll fail my test."


Again this is not necessarily true. It might be extremely inconvenient, but the UK driving test is not a test of your memory. Let's explore this further.


Imagine you have been directed to turn left at a roundabout, but you for some peculiar reason, decide to follow the road ahead. If you go ahead by using the correct lane and correctly signal left off, then you will not incur a fault.


If, however, you were in the same situation but didn't signal left off, this would result in a fail as it could be potentially misleading to other drivers.



"If I stall I need to apply handbrake and put car into neutral."


Absolutely not true. In fact, it can very much go against you if you decide to do this in some situations.


Suppose you were moving off after a manoeuvre, and for some reason stalled the car. The road is completely level. There would be no need to apply the handbrake or select neutral.


Maybe you're about to enter a roundabout, but have mistakenly put the car into 3rd gear, and the car stalls. The last thing you'd want to do in this situation is to apply the handbrake and select neutral. Why? Because it would waste time, and would hold other traffic up unnecessarily. The best course of action in this situation would be to simply select 1st gear, keep the clutch depressed, and then restart the engine and get going!


If you were about to move away uphill and the car stalls, then it will be necessary to apply the keep you from rolling backwards, which could be dangerous if you were in a queue!


Can you see the difference now?



"I must get the manoeuvres perfect first time."


It's important to realise that the examiner is not expecting a perfect drive from you on your driving test. This applies to the manoeuvres too. So, if you can see you are about to touch the kerb on the left reverse, the best thing to do is to pull forward, get your gap back, and have another go. At the very most, you will be awarded a driver fault (minor fault).



"I must use the pull push steering technique."


Another very common misconception. I really have no idea where this one comes from! As long as you remain in control of the steering wheel and vehicle at all times the examiners will have no reason to award you a serious driver fault. Pull push steering is NOT a requirement for the driving test.


However, I certainly wouldn't advocate palming of the steering wheel as I think it's important to create a good first impression.



"I must always signal to move off."


Simply not true. The Highway Code states that you should signal if it would benefit another road user. Let's explore this further.


Imagine you're asked to pull up on the left. There are no other road users approaching you, and none no one would benefit from you signalling left. This includes pedestrians.

I need to ask you a question...

"He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever." – Chinese Proverb



This might be a Chinese proverb, but it's meaning is still valid today, and especially so when learning to drive, in my opinion.


A few years ago, I had a conversation with a pupil's grandfather. He rang to find out when I would be able to take his grandson on as student. During the conversation, he disclosed to me that his grandson (let's call him David), had already had a driving lesson with another local driving instructor, but that it hadn't gone well. In fact, it had gone SO badly that David couldn't face returning for another driving lesson!


Somewhat curious, it wasn't long before David's grandfather was explaining the reason why. At some point during his first lesson with this instructor, David had been told,


"Make sure you listen carefully, because I won't be repeating anything."


And that was enough to make David feel very uncomfortable, especially as David had been diagnosed with dyslexia at school. He felt he simply couldn't ask a question for fear of being labelled stupid. It also put him under a lot of pressure, which in turn made him very scared, made his brain freeze, and he struggled to function at all.


To be honest, I was very shocked and saddened to hear this. Learning to drive is a hugely complicated task for some students, and as a driving instructor, I feel we need to be able to create a comfortable learning environment.


For me, this means me being extremely patient, and encouraging students to ask as many questions as they need to, in order for them to understand what you're trying to get them to understand.


So, when you're deciding who to learn to drive with, make sure you feel you could ask as many questions as you need!




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.

Purple Driving - Manual Driver Training in & around Bognor Regis & Chichester, West Sussex