Category Archive: Driving Instructors

Revealed: Top 10 Faults Made in the New Driving Test

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The revised driving test is proving tough for learners – here are the top driving faults made in the new test’s first year that could result in an instant fail.

Introduced in 2017, the new driving test saw a host of changes and introductions. From the use of sat nav and an extended independent driving section to the new and controversial pulling-up-on-the-right manoeuvre, the changes have transformed the driving test forever.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has now revealed where the new test is tripping up learners by unveiling the top 10 driving faults made during the first year of the test being used. These are:

1. Junctions (observations)
2. Mirrors (change direction)
3. Control (steering)
4. Junctions (turning right)
5. Move off (safely)
6. Response to signs (traffic lights)
7. Move off (control)
8. Positioning (normal driving)
9. Response to signs (road markings)
10. Reverse park (control).

Fault Lines
The DVSA has revealed that not using mirrors effectively and not observing correctly at junctions accounted for a whopping 368,047 test failures in the first year of the test. Remember, such faults can be classed as serious/dangerous (major) and triggers an instant fail – for more details, check out our A to Z of passing the test here.

More worryingly, the top 10 faults echo the real world reasons for accidents with the DVSA stating that ‘39% of all accidents in Great Britain in 2017 were a result of a driver failing to look properly’.

Failing to look properly at junctions is the most common serious or dangerous test fault and the largest cause of accidents in Britain. Good observation, including proper use of mirrors, is a crucial skill that drivers must learn.”
– Mark Winn, Chief Driving Examiner, DVSA.

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Image © Aaron Van Dike

The A-Z of Learning to Drive & Passing Your Test

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What’s an ADI? What does a green badge mean? Do you fail if you make a minor fault? What’s the pass mark for the theory test? We’ve got the answers to all these questions – and everything else.

A

ADI
It’s an Approved Driving Instructor who the DVSA (see below) says is qualified to teach you – and of course charge you for the privilege.

B

Bay Parking
During the practical driving test, you may be asked to park in a bay – either by reversing in and driving out/driving in and reversing out of it.

Block Bookings
If you book and pay for a bunch of driving lessons upfront, you could land yourself a discount. Best to do an individual lesson with the instructor though before block booking – you need to make sure you work well together. See ‘Vetting’.

C

Code of Practice
The list of standards drawn up by the DVSA that your ADI must stick to when managing their business and most importantly, you – check out the full code here.

Complaint
If your ADI is not sticking to the above list, make a complaint directly to the DVSA – a complaint can be made here.

‘CRB’ Checked
Concerned your instructor might have a dodgy background? Don’t worry as all qualified instructors must have passed a Criminal Records Bureau check before being allowed to teach.

D

Driving Examiner
They’re the ones who monitor and assess your driving during the practical test; don’t be scared of them – they don’t bite. Promise.

via GIPHY

Dual Controls
Some instructors offer cars with pedals on the passenger side too, meaning the ADI can intervene quickly if you’re about to drive into the back of a lorry.

DVSA
That’s the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to you, responsible for the driving test as well as a host of other safety-related roles and much more besides.

Driving Test Report
Pass or fail, at the end of the test, you will receive a feedback form from your examiner, detailing what you did right – and what you did wrong. Here’s what they look like.

E

Emergency Stop
During the test, you may be asked to stop your car quickly and safely when the examiner signals for you to do so. Top tips here.

F

Fail
You’ll fail your theory test if you don’t get 43 or more out of 50 in the multiple choice section or 44 or more out of 75 in the hazard perception test. In the practical test, 15 minor faults or a major fault will land you with a fail.

Flag
Can’t think of the answer to one of the questions during the multiple choice section of the theory test? Then mark it with a flag and come back to it later.

G

Green Badge
Check your instructor’s windscreen for their green badge – it means they’re fully qualified.

Grade
Remember to ask your instructor what their grade is – an ADI will either be Grade A (high standard of instruction) or Grade B (satisfactory standard of instruction).

H

Hazard Perception Test
The second part of the two-parter theory test, you’ll need to watch 14 video clips and click when you spot an emerging hazard – head here to learn how to click your way to theory test success.

Highway Code
The official rules of the UK’s roads covering lane use and road signs (and everything in between). In other words, it’s essential and thankfully, all Theory Test Pro users have full access to the online version.

I

Independent Driving
During the practical test, you will be asked to drive under your own steam for about 20 minutes, following directions from a sat nav or traffic signs to a specific location.

Intensive Driving Course
Cram your learning into a series of days, not weeks – check out our list of pros and cons here.

J

Jargon
What’s DSSSM? POM? Or SCALP?! They’re essential driving routines that you need to learn to help pass your test. Check out our guide for more details.

K

Kerb
Hit one hard enough (or even mount it) during your test and you could be looking at a major fault – an instant fail.

L

Licence
Before you can begin learning to drive, you’ll need a green provisional licence (apply for one here). Pass both your theory and practical driving tests and you can apply for a full licence here.

L-Plates
Put these on the front and back of you car whenever you are behind the wheel.

M

Major Fault
During the practical test, expect an instant fail if you perform a major fault (serious/dangerous); this is where the examiner deems that you have done something dangerous or posed a danger to yourself and other road users/property.

Minor Fault
This is a driving fault that is not deemed dangerous (unless you keep making the same mistake and it might be upgraded to a serious fault). You can notch up to 15 minor faults before you will be failed.

Manoeuvre
During your practical test, you will be asked to perform one of three manoeuvres to test your car control and observation skills simultaneously; these are pulling up on the right, parking in a bay or parallel parking.

Multiple Choice Questions
There are 50 of them in the first half of your theory test and you need to get at least 43 right to pass.

Motorways
Since 2018, learners have been allowed to head out on to motorways to practise – as long as you’re with an ADI who has a dual-controlled car.

N

‘Numpties’
Occasionally during a driving lesson, you may come across drivers who get angry at learner drivers because they’re impatient *******s. If this does happen, try to stay focused on driving. If you prefer, ask your instructor if you can pull over to let said numpty past.

via GIPHY

O

Onwards (& Upwards)
Failed your test? Don’t give up – get up, brush yourself down and go talk to your instructor about what went wrong.

P

P-Plates
They’re like L-plates but green, white (and voluntary); slap them on your car once you’ve passed and they let other road users know that you’re still a newb – and to cut you some slack. Downside? See ‘Numpties’.

Parallel Parking
Reverse and park up behind a parked vehicle. Simple in theory, tricky in practise.

Pass Plus
Take this six hour-plus voluntary course to hone your skills in key areas such as night driving, all-weather motoring and motorway mastering. Pass it and you could enjoy a discount on your insurance. More details here.

Pull Up
A controversial new manoeuvre introduced into the test in 2017, which sees you pulling up on the right and reversing backwards.

Q

Quiz
Use apps like Theory Test Pro to practise your theory test including both the multiple choice questions and the Hazard Perception Test. Click here for more details.

R

Refresher Course
Had a long break between lessons? Then take one of these to get yourself back up to speed.

Reverse Around a Corner
Like the three-point turn (see below), this manoeuvre is no longer part of the driving test but it’s still essential for everyday driving so make sure your instructor trains you how to do it.

S

Sat Nav
Now part of the practical driving test so best to get familiar with one before the test.

This is the very sat nav used in the test!

Show Me, Tell Me Questions
Expect to be asked a ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of the practical test – you will be expected to explain how you would carry out a safety task. During the test, you will then be asked a ‘show me’ question, where you must show how you would carry out a safety task. Click here for a list of the questions and answers.

Stall
If you happen to stall the car during the test, you won’t automatically fail the test so take a deep breath, check your mirrors and move off again. Keep stalling though and even manage to create a dangerous situation because of it and the examiner will fail you.

Supervising driver
If you’re being taught by a family member or friend, they need to have held a full licence for three years, be over the age of 21 and not be distracted while supervising. For instance, they must not use a mobile, sleep or be drunk or they could be done.

T

Test Centre
It’s where the theory test is held plus where your practical driving test will start and finish.

Theory Test
You’re going to need to pass this before you are allowed to book your practical test. The theory test is made up of two sections – first, 50 multiple choice questions  and second, the hazard perception test.

Theory Test Pro
Double your chances of theory test success with the UK’s leading theory test learning aid. Click here for more details.

Turn in the Road
Known by learners as the ‘dreaded three-point turn’, any right-minded instructor will insist that you learn how to turn your car in the road properly even if the manoeuvre isn’t part of the practical test anymore.

U

‘Useless’
Sometimes we think we’re not good enough to pass. Ignore those doubts – instead build up your confidence by taking a ‘one lesson at a time’ approach. Your instructor will let you know when you are ready for your test.

V

Vetting
Make sure you vet your driving instructor properly; are they an ADI? What is their reputation online? Could a friend refer one? Remember, you’re about to spend a ton of money on them so do your research. More info here.

W

Wing Mirrors
Check they’re positioned correctly before driving off in your test plus make sure you keep using them when driving or when asked to carry out a manoeuvre.

Wallet
A provisional licence costs £34 if you apply online (£43 if you do it by post), the theory test costs £23 and the practical test costs £62 (weekdays).

X

‘Xtra’ Time
If you feel that you need more time to hone your driving skills, then tell your instructor and they can advise you on your progress and next steps. Remember, there is no rush to book your test.

Y

You
Be nice to yourself and treat yourself with respect. Learning to drive and taking the test is a big – but surmountable – challenge, so don’t beat yourself up or give yourself a hard time. Put the work in and it will pay off.

Z

Zzzzz
Make sure you get to bed early the night before the test so you’re wide awake for it! If you’re super stressed then read our top advice for dealing with test nerves here.

Double Your Chances

… of theory test success with Theory Test Pro. Sign up here for free.

 

Main image © Paul Inkles

Sleep Image © Planet ChopStick

The Quiz That’s Baffling Drivers: Just Who Has Right of Way?

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This quiz set by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads in Australia has left drivers confused about which car has priority – how about you?

The quiz depicts an orange car waiting at a ‘Give Way’ sign in a slip road, indicating that it intends to turn left. In the meantime, the red car is is turning right and will head down the same road that the orange car wants to pull out on to.

The key to figuring out the right answer are the traffic lights; many drivers believe that the red light near the red car means that it should not being moving at all and that the orange car should have priority. Alas, they are not being observant enough.

Pay attention
That red light is actually for cars heading west/east, meaning that the north/south-facing red car is in fact not jumping a red light. Instead, cast an eye down to the green light – that’s the one that the red car is observing, allowing the car to turn out into the road if all is clear.

Not that the lights issue has helped as one driver wrote on the road authority’s Facebook page: “The lights are a little bit confusing. The orange does have to give way – but if the light is red on the red car and they’re over the solid line, it looks like they’re trying to run the red light and orange still has to give way regardless of the fact that there’s a green light at their intersection.”

Down under up here
Like in the UK, Aussie drivers who are stopped at Give Way sign must wait for other traffic to pass before safely pulling out.

As Department of Transport and Main Roads explains: “The orange car must give way to the red car. The red car is turning right at the intersection, and has to give way to all oncoming traffic, except a vehicle turning left using a slip lane.”

Driving well is not just about going when you have a green traffic light, it is also about making sure it is safe to go and allowing for any indiscretion made by other road users. To share the roads successfully, we need to work together and pay attention to each other, allowing for mistakes and realising that just because you think you are in the right does not mean that someone else has interpreted the situation in the same way as you.”
– Rebecca Ashton, IAM RoadSmart Head of Driver Behaviour, to the Sun newspaper.

Aussies got form
It’s worth pointing out that Australian authorities and driving associations have a track record for confounding drivers with their quizzes. They regularly post online conundrums that have gone viral as people argue over who is right and wrong – can you crack the following finest Aussie driving quizzes?

In what order do these cars have priority?

Full answer here. Picture via RACQ.

Who should give way?


Full answer here. Picture via Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland).

Who should give way when merging into this single lane?


Full answer here. Picture via WA Transport.

Know the Rules of the Road

Learn your highway code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

New Videos to Improve Learner Awareness of Motorcyclists

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The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has introduced several new videos highlighting how learner drivers must increase their awareness of motorcyclists when out on Britain’s roads.

The series of new computer-generated videos depict several scenarios showing the dangers drivers pose to motorcyclists if they are not paying attention when behind the wheel.

They have been created by the DVSA in partnership with safety campaigner Ria Brisland whose 19-year-old son, Nick, was killed in a collision with a car in 2015 while riding his motorbike.

Since then, Ria has campaigned tirelessly for motorcycle awareness to be made part of learner driver education. While the videos won’t be included in the actual theory test, they will be available as part of the DVSA’s official learning materials and education products.

The sample video shown here depicts a real ‘blink or miss it’ moment that underlines just how easy it is to not see a motorcyclists in typical road and weather conditions:

Too many motorcyclist deaths
As well as being motivated by Ria’s campaign, the DVSA is also aware that the current situation for motorcyclists and their safety is unacceptable. While motorcyclists only make up 1% of all road traffic, they accounted for 19% of all deaths on our roads in 2017.

Critically, 2,656 motorbikes were involved in accidents because either they or a car driver weren’t looking properly.

Getting everyone to be aware of their fellow road users at all times is essential if we are to prevent collisions and the devastating consequences they can have on families.
These new clips are thought-provoking and will make a difference to the way people look for bikers. They may prove the difference between life and death.”
– Ria Brisland, safety campaigner & motorcyclist

Motorcyclist Nick Brisland was killed in a collision with a car in 2015.

Six top tips for increasing motorcyclist awareness

The DVSA offers clear advice on how to become more aware of vulnerable road users including motorcyclists:

Always look
When at a junction, ensure you double check before you pull out. Is there a motorcyclist behind that oncoming car who could be about to overtake? Wait if you’re not sure – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Go slow
When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic to ensure you’re good to go.

Scan blindspots
Whether changing lanes or going round a roundabout, always double check your blindspot; motorcyclists can easily be obscured by glaring sunlight or the pillar of your car.

Keep your distance
Never get too close to a motorcyclist when behind them as this can unsettle riders who lack experience plus increase the chances of an accident because of a reduced stopping distance especially in the wet.

Check around you
Always check around you if you’re planning to turn left or right as motorcyclists can over- or undertake you – and if you aren’t fully aware of your surroundings, it could lead to an accident.

Be aware
Before pulling out and driving off, be sure to check for riders who may be about to come past. When parked up, check the road is clear before opening your door out on to the road. To be extra safe, we recommend you learn how to do the ‘Dutch Reach’ – read all about it here.

Know the Rules of the Road

Learn your highway code inside and out by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

Noise-Detecting Cameras to Catch & Fine Loud ‘Boy Racer’ Cars

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New technology is being introduced to catch out drivers who love to rev their engines and fit loud aftermarket exhausts.

Beware motorists and motorcyclists as a new kind of camera is set to be trialled in the UK that detects drivers who cause unnecessary noise pollution.

The types of drivers most likely to be targeted are ‘boy racers’ who rev their engines; drivers whose engines or exhausts are damaged; and motorcyclists who remove the silencers from their rides to increase the noise their bikes make.

Hoping to curb excessive vehicle noise in quiet residential areas, the new detectors are being fitted to existing Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras; if excessive noise is detected, it will take a snap of the offending car with a fine automatically dispatched to the vehicle owner.

And perhaps it’s about time such measures were taken as official government guidance already states, “once a vehicle is in service, exhausts and silencers must by law be maintained in good working order and not altered to increase noise.”

The government is all set to trial the technology later this year at several different sites and if they prove successful, you can expect the technology to be rolled out across the country.

While the noise cameras might sound like the stuff of science fiction, the tech is already in use across several countries including Australia, Canada, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

What is the law?

While the legal noise limit is 74 decibels in Europe, anything over 90 decibels is when police will brand the noise level as a ‘nuisance’.

Specific laws surrounding excessive vehicle noise pollution include:

• The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 where drivers can be given on the spot fines by the police if they have custom exhausts or engines that produce too much noise.

• Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 where police can stop your car – and even seize it – if you are causing annoyance, alarm or distress to the public.

• For instance, if police believe your car stereo is being played too loudly, they will ask you turn down the volume; if you refuse, they are able to seize your car.

• If you are listening to loud music on the move, there is far less chance of being stopped because you’re not resting in one spot.

• However, if police believe you are being distracted by your music while driving, they can do you for careless driving, fine you £100 and slap three points on your licence.

Noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts. This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets. New technology will help us lead the way in making our towns and cities quieter, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting new cameras could work.”
– Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Know Your Laws

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Revealed: New Road Laws & Crackdowns for Summer

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Make sure you enjoy the summer months by staying on the right side of the new laws being rolled out nationwide as well as a host of targeted clampdowns.

Learning to drive in the summer is an ideal time to master your skills thanks to long evenings and (fingers crossed) good weather. But it could all be spoiled by a lack of knowledge about the new rules, regulations and crackdowns being introduced.

Respect the ‘X’

More and more of you are taking advantage of the law introduced in 2018 that allows learners to head out on to a motorway with their instructor.

According to the AA though, 1 in 20 drivers are ignoring the red ‘X’s that appear in the overheard gantries on so-called ‘smart motorways’. The ‘X’ means that the lane below it is closed so you must move into another immediately when it is safe to do so.

Because some motorists are choosing to ignore the ‘X’, the authorities are introducing a new penalty from June 10. It will see the gantry cameras snapping a picture of the offending driver’s car before automatically sending out a £100 fine and adding three points to your licence.

• Read our in-depth guide to smart motorway driving here.

Don’t Be a Litter Lout

Not a new law but an update to an existing one that targets those who think throwing litter out their car is acceptable.

In the past, councils had to prove who lobbed the litter out of a car’s window before fining them. This has now been changed – if anyone in the car chucks their leftover burger wrappers out, the driver will automatically be held responsible and fined £150.

The aim is to create a bigger deterrent that stops folk from clogging up roadsides with garbage; not only is littering bad for environment but it costs money to clean up while also endangering the lives of workers who have to do the clean up.

Avoid Drink Driving

It’s summer so police are carrying out their annual crackdown on drink-driving – and who can blame them?

After all, the number of people killed in road accidents where the driver has been over the limit has shot up by 45% in just two years.

To combat these rising figures, police data shows that in June last year, the number of roadside breath tests rose by 50% compared to the rest of the year (save for December).

Worryingly, the roadside tests revealed that nearly 1 in 10 drivers were over the limit, putting their own lives and those of other road users at risk. The penalties for being caught drink driving are severe – from bans and large fines through to imprisonment.

If you must have a drink before heading out on to the road – we strongly advise against it – then make sure you know the official limits. And remember, nearly a fifth of those arrested for drink driving were caught on the morning after a boozy night.

• Know your limits by checking out the government’s official guide to drink driving limits here.

The police always focus on June as, statistically, it’s a drink drive hotspot. With warmer weather, sporting events and barbeques, June is a month when motorists are more likely to unintentionally drink drive the morning after socialising – posing a risk to themselves and other road users.”
– Hunter Abbott, Managing Director, breathalyser firm AlcoSense Laboratories.


Tailgating Targeted

A clampdown on tailgating is currently underway on the M6 with police targeting drivers who follow too closely behind motorists.

The reason is simple – research shows that 1 in 8 road casualties are caused by drivers tailgating. Those caught in the operation will face a £100 fine and three points on their licence.

To avoid getting too close to the car in front, leave a two-second gap between you and the car in front. In wet conditions, double that to four seconds.

Know Your Laws

Learn all the rules of the road by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Smart motorways image © Highways England
Drink driving limit posters © Road Respect
Breathalyser © West Midlands Police

6 Top Tips for Acing Your Theory Test

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Use Theory Test Pro’s quickfire tips to ensure you are ready to pass the theory test with flying colours.

Taking the theory test can be daunting prospect for even the most confident of learners but by using our top tips, you can make sure you are fully prepared and ready for the big day:

What to Do Before Your Theory Test

1. Nail the multiple choice questions
To prepare for the multiple choice question section of the test, first invest in the three books it is based on – The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and Driving: The Essential Skills; these are available from booksellers or your local library.

Combine your studying with Theory Test Pro (also available at your local library), which allows you to take mock theory tests on both your mobile and on the web.

2. Prep for hazard perception
The hazard perception test can also be practised using Theory Test Pro, which offers mock tests featuring official revision clips.

Remember, while the clips featured in the actual hazard perception test are banned from use in third party software and apps, all the revision clips featured in Theory Test Pro are provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Critically, it means the clips give you a very clear idea of what to expect during the real test, making them ideal for building knowledge and confidence.

• For insider tips on how to pass the hazard perception test, read our full guide here, which features a series of test-beating tactics from driving instructors.

What to Do During Your Theory Test

3. Get the basics right
Make sure you don’t turn up to the test already stressed about issues that could have been dealt with beforehand. For example, remember you need to be at the test centre 30 minutes before the test starts plus have your provisional licence with you to show test centre staff.

4. Take your time
The multiple choice section offers you plenty of time – 57 minutes to be exact – to answer its 50 questions. You can also practise with trial questions for 15 minutes before the start of the official test. If you’re nervous, it’s a great way to settle your nerves and focus your mind.

Remember, once the test is underway, you can mark questions/answers you are unsure about and go back to them at any point during the test – so there’s no need to panic if you initially draw a blank.

Finally, you can take a three-minute break between the first half of the test and the hazard perception test so do use that time if you feel you need to take a moment.

• For a full breakdown of what to expect on the big day, check out our in-depth guide here.

What to Do After Your Theory Test

5. Stay strong
If you fail, it can leave you feeling confused about where you went wrong. Such confusion isn’t helped by the the driving centre, which will only offer you a printout stating whether you passed or not. It won’t tell you where you actually went wrong. It means you can’t go away and brush up on any weak areas revealed by the test.

To deal with such blind spots, it’s best talk to your instructor about what you and they feel might be your weaknesses.

Also, if offered by your driving school, Theory Test Pro allows your instructor to monitor all your mock theory test results; this enables them to identify and address any knowledge gaps quickly before they become an issue that could affect your test results.

6. Be honest with yourself
However you choose to approach the theory test, remember it is estimated that you should do at least 20 hours of revision before attempting the test.

So ask yourself: “Have I put enough hours in? Or am I just hoping to wing it?”. If the latter, it means you’re not ready and are setting yourself up for a fail.

Double your chances

… of theory test success with Theory Test Pro. Sign up here for free.

Theory Test Pass Rates Are Plummeting – Here’s Why

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New research reveals that the pass rate for the theory test has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade – so what’s gone wrong?

The figures are startling – only 47% of learners have passed their theory test in the last 12 months. Compare this to 2007-2008 where the pass rate was 65% and it represents a fall of a quarter in just over 10 years.

The fall
The reason for such a crash in pass rates is simple – the theory test, introduced in 1996, has become a lot tougher in the past decade. For instance:

• In 2007, the test saw the introduction of 50 multiple choice questions that required answering instead of the previous 35.

• In 2009, the case study element of the test was brought in, asking you to answer five questions about the portrayed scenario.

• In 2012, the theory test questions and answers were stopped from being posted online or featured in practice papers; previously, this allowed you to memorise all the answers before taking the test.

• In 2013, the entire theory test question bank was refreshed.

• In 2014, voiceovers and interpreters were no longer allowed to be used in the theory or practical driving tests.

Perfect storm
Combined, it means that you are now facing the toughest test on record. Because the difficulty has been cranked up over the past 10 years, it has subsequently lead to the lowering of pass rates.

This increase in difficulty – while essential for producing the next generation of safer, better drivers (i.e. you!) – hasn’t been wholeheartedly embraced by some.

For instance, the AA’s Edmund King told The Times newspaper that, “some of the questions are actually quite obscure. The test is obviously very necessary but perhaps part of it could be a bit more mainstream and relevant to the reality of driving.”

Tough learning
Examples of some of the more challenging theory test questions that have flummoxed test takers include:

1. Following a car collision, someone has suffered a burn. The burn needs to be cooled. Given that one of the below is correct, what’s the shortest time it should be cooled for?

a) 5 minutes
b) 10 minutes
c) 15 minutes
d) 20 minutes.

2. You intend to turn left from a main road into a minor road. What should you do as you approach it?

a) Keep just left of the middle of the road
b) Keep well to the left of the road
c) Keep in the middle of the road
d) Swing out to the right just before turning.

3. Given that one of the below is correct, what colour are the reflective studs between a motorway and its slip road?

a) Amber
b) White
c) Green
d) Red.

• Answers below.

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Answers: 1 (b); 2 (b); 3 (c)

Meet the Instructor: David White

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David White became a driving instructor because of a broken heart and has gone on to help nurture a successful driving school much loved by its students.

Operating in and around Scarborough in North Yorkshire, David White runs the family business Scarborough Driver Training, which specialises in lessons for older drivers and those with disabilities. Here David talks about growing his family-run driving school, why learners need to do more than simply listen, and how Theory Test Pro helps his students from all walks of life.

Tell me about your background and why you made the move into instructing?

Fifteen years ago, I was working at Ladbrokes in Swindon and living with my girlfriend. We split up and it meant I had to move back to my parents who were based in Scarborough but unfortunately, I couldn’t take my job with me!

My parents have been involved in driver training and testing since the 1970s, and my dad had his own driving school business at the time. He ended up training me and I joined the family business once qualified.

How have you both continued to grow the business over the past 15 years?

Initially, it was thanks to shrewd car buying by my dad, John! Back in 2003, he bought one of the new Minis that had just come out. As soon as people saw it, they would phone up and say they wanted to have a go in one! Because of this, he quickly built up a large customer base and when I joined, I bought a Mini too and the people kept on coming!

Fast forward to today and I’m running the business with my dad who handles admin and the occasional lesson. We also have another ADI, Mike, working with us plus I am training up two PDIs.

What kind of ADI are you?

Back in my twenties when I started out, I was on the same wavelength as my young students. It meant I could be relaxed and chat to them at their level. These days, I’m more open to different points of view, which is essential to my client-centred learning approach that puts the client’s needs front and centre, instead of me just telling them what to do.

If you know someone who passed their test awhile back, go ahead and ask them why they do a particular thing behind wheel. Nine times out of ten, they will answer because their driving instructor told them to do it like that. People just did what they were told to pass the test back then.

With client-centred learning (CCL), it’s about understanding the reason for, say, looking over your shoulder before changing lanes. CCL is not about just telling people what to do – but helping them understand why they should do it from their point of view.”
– ADI David White on why modern learning is about more than simply ‘remembering’.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

It’s when a student passes and they’ve got that huge smile on their face! I also love meeting new people every day and helping them become better, safer drivers. Finally, I teach a lot of people who either have a physical disability or a mental health issue.

For instance, they may have serious anxiety problems about driving and they are petrified to even get in a car. I help them overcome their fears and learn to drive and pass their test. That’s really fulfilling.

What’s your least favourite part?

Being self employed! Having to do accounts and taxes, and not being paid when you have to take time out. For instance, when my son was born, he was pretty ill and we had to travel to hospital a lot in the beginning.

It meant that I couldn’t work and there wasn’t always money coming in. I do sometimes wish that all instructors were employed by the government so it could take care of the admin for us plus offer holiday and sick pay!

What advice would you give to students to get the very best from their lessons?

Ask questions! At the beginning, students tend to just listen, listen, listen. Yes, they will communicate with you when you ask them to but generally, they only begin to ask questions as they get nearer the test. In fact, they bombard you with them!

Remember, learners, we instructors love to answer questions – so ask them from the very beginning of your learning journey, not at the very end! There’s no such thing as a stupid question either so don’t be afraid to ask anything.

You have appeared on television – how did that happen?

I’m a member of the Driving Instructors Association and it put out an email asking if any of us worked with older learners and I said I did. I ended up appearing on the BBC’s The One Show; the funny thing was me and a student spent 4-5 hours being filmed but they only ended up using 30 seconds of the footage!

The student – a woman with only one leg who used an automatic – has become a bit of celebrity though with people recognising her on the street. She’s also done interviews in the local newspaper and on radio, which is really great.

In the meantime, I am now consulting on a new ITV show, which will follow students as they come to the end of their learning journey and are about to do the test. The producers have even managed to get permission to film the driving test itself so it will be fascinating to see how the show turns out.

Finally, as a user of Theory Test Pro, how do you find the system helps your students?

It’s really useful to see how much students are actually studying because you can monitor their activity through the app. It’s always funny when you ask a young student if they have been practising and they say: “Yes!”. Then you check their progress on the app and they clearly haven’t been! It means you can give them a gentle nudge about committing to learning.

It’s been really successful with students who struggle with the theory test as well. For instance, there was one lad with disabilities who had failed his theory test multiple times. It was actually because of him that I signed up to Theory Test Pro. I was immediately able to see where he was going wrong and he passed the theory test on his next try.

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What In-Car Tech You Can and Can’t Use in the Driving Test

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Modern cars come with a mass of technology designed to keep you safe on the road – but which  can and can’t you use in your driving test?

Car technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Rewind 5-10 years and parking sensors, lane assist and more were all seen as pricey options that had to be specced on a stock car for an additional – and usually substantial – fee.

Fast forward to today and even basic specced cars now come packed with safety technology as standard, designed to make driving easier and safer for you. However, if the car is managing some of the trickier aspects of driving such as aiding you park, can it be used during your test?

Sat nav
As you will likely know, the use of sat navs in the driving test was introduced in 2017. During the independent driving section, the majority of learners will be asked to follow a sat nav’s directions for 20 minutes.

But there is a caveat: you can not use your own sat nav whether it’s on your phone or a standalone/built-in sat nav. Instead, the driving examiner will bring and set up their own unit for you to use during the test – currently, it’s the TomTom Start 52.

Parking sensors
While reversing into a parking space during the test can be a worry for many learners, the reassuring presence of parking sensors can help take the edge off any nerves.

While it may seem strange to allow them in the test, parking sensors that emit a beeping noise were approved for use by the DVSA at the same time as sat navs – but there is an exception. If your car is fitted with parking cameras, you will not be allowed to use them during the test.

Some argue that having just aural sensors makes the manoeuvre too easy. However, the examiners will still expect you to demonstrate spatial awareness and the ability to position your car and steering wheel correctly, plus maintain a slow, steady speed while manoeuvring.

Electronic handbrakes
Before 2010, cars featuring an electronic handbrake were banned from the test but the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) relaxed its policy as more and more cars came fitted with them as standard.

However, you are still expected to demonstrate that you are able to use an e-handbrake correctly – for instance, when moving off or pulling up.

Hill start technology
Electronic handbrakes can also be used during the hill start section of your test. They help hugely when stopped on an incline, making any hill start extremely easy by removing the need to demonstrate basic handbrake and clutch control entirely.

Instead, the e-handbrake ‘holds’ the car in position, waiting for you to gently release the clutch while pressing down on the accelerator to move away easily and smoothly; there’s no need to find that pesky biting point quickly. As well as making hill starts a cinch, the stench of burnt clutch could soon become a thing of the past too.

Other technology
There has been much controversy about the myriad of other technologies that are designed to keep the driver safe such as Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring technology.

The problem? First, experts argue that such tech is not teaching drivers how to keep themselves safe; instead they are relying on the car to take a greater role in hazard avoidance. It is argued that this approach is in turn driving down motoring standards.

Second, the DVSA has been accused of not keeping up with modern car technology and its impact on driving. It has also been accused of failing to take into account how technology can give learners who have access to it a useful edge in the driving test compared to those who don’t, putting the latter at a disadvantage.

A car for all?
To address this issue, there have been calls for test centres to provide a standard car that all learners must use during their test to ensure balance and fairness. However, this could actually prove to be unfair on all learners as it can be difficult for many of us to drive an unfamiliar car smoothly at first.

It also risks hugely increasing the price of the driving test as the cost of the DVSA buying, maintaining, fuelling and storing a fleet of cars on a rolling basis would be prohibitive.

Our view
While authorities and critics debate what the best approach is, Theory Test Pro believes that the core answer is actually simple. During your test, you must show core competence in all areas with or without using technology – it’s what driving examiners are assessing you on.

For example, if a driving examiner sees you are relying on Blind Spot Monitoring technology instead of checking manually over your shoulder before you pull out or change lane, you can expect to be penalised – and rightly so.

Our recommendation then is to turn off safety technology such as Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and speed limiters (where possible) during your lessons or when out practising. Remember, you are not having lessons to simply prepare yourself for the test – you are being trained to become a safe and confident driver for life.

Rely On Your Knowledge

… not technology – learn the rules of the road by signing up to Theory Test Pro here for free.

 

Parking sensors © Basotxerri

Hill Start © Richard Webb

Blind spot © Ellery

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