Category Archive: Learner Drivers

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

Calls for Driving Lessons to Be Recorded After Instructor Misconduct Claims Triple

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Research by the Sunday Telegraph has revealed that sexual harassment claims by learner drivers against their instructors have tripled over the past four years.

Some of the conduct reported in the past includes sexualised language, unnecessary physical contact and the inappropriate texting of messages or images. 

Because of these worrying findings, some are calling for lessons to to be video recorded to protect both students and ADIs along with a range of other measures.

Such calls have been made after 247 complaints about sexual harassment were received by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) between April 2018 and March 2019.

It represents a significant increase over the past few years – for instance, between 2015 and 2016, 75 reports were made; between 2016 and 2017, 109 were made; and between 2017-2018, 150 were made.

Taking action
The complaints led to the DVSA taking action against 42 instructors in 2018 with 10 banned from teaching, 23 instructors issued with warnings due to insufficient evidence, and 130 cases still under investigation.

Some say though that the DVSA isn’t going far enough and wish to see several measures introduced that will help reverse the trend. For instance:

Recording lessons
Conservative MP Richard Graham states that instructor cars should be fitted with in-car cameras so all lessons are recorded. He believes that “it would provide proof if anything inappropriate occurred, as well as protect those instructors who have done nothing wrong from false accusations.”

Banning relationships
The MP also echoed an existing call for all instructors to be classified like teachers; it would mean that any sexual relationship with a student would become a criminal offence. As it stands, the DVSA has already made it clear that any kind of intimate relations is unprofessional.

“While it’s not unlawful to have a consensual sexual relationship with someone over the age of consent,” wrote the DVSA’s Registrar Jacqui Turland in a blog post , “I see this as exploiting the position of trust the instructor is in – particularly if the pupil is vulnerable… I won’t hesitate to remove any instructor I consider to be a risk to learners.”

Safeguard training
CEO of the Driving Instructors Association (DIA), Carly Brookfield, believes that safeguarding training and knowledge should be introduced into the industry as well. She is calling for such education to be made part of the the approved driving instructor qualification process and instructor CPD.

I passionately believe that instructors can actually – with appropriate training and guidance – play a powerful role in spotting, reporting and helping to stop safeguarding issues occurring – rather than us just focusing on the tiny minority as perpetrators.

Trainers get to know pupils well over the course of learning to drive, and our members have shared with us that they have had pupils disclose that they being bullied or abused in some manner by third parties (such as partners and family members) and they want to know how they can help such students without compromising their professionalism.”
– Carly Brookfield, CEO, Driving Instructors Association.

In proportion
While the news of an increase in complaints is deeply concerning, it is worth highlighting that there are 40,000 driving instructors operating across England, Wales and Scotland, and those accused of serious misconduct make up only a fraction of Britain’s instructors.

As DIA’s Carly Brookfield points out, “the overwhelming majority of trainers conduct themselves in a safe and responsible manner (246 complaints equates to only 0.6% of trainers on the register).

“However, considering the latest stats,” she continues, “we cannot pretend as an industry that there are zero issues with instructor conduct. The rising number of complaints of this nature is a concern and it’s crucial we look at why we’re seeing this increase, and work on how we tackle these issues.”

Knowledge is power
Learners may be unaware of what an instructor is and isn’t allowed to do during their lesson – crucially, when a line may have been crossed. According to the DVSA’s code of conduct, an instructor should:

• Avoid inappropriate physical contact

• Avoid the use of inappropriate language

• Not initiate inappropriate discussions about their own personal relationships and take care to avoid becoming involved in your personal affairs or discussions about your personal relationships, unless safeguarding concerns are raised

• Avoid circumstances and situations which are or could be perceived to be of an inappropriate nature.

DVSA takes the safety of learner drivers extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate any complaints, involving the police when necessary. We do not tolerate any abuse. Driving instructors found to be threatening the safety of learners will be removed from the Approved Driving Instructor register and stopped from teaching. To help tackle the problem we have encouraged learner drivers to report any incidents.”
– DVSA official response to the Sunday Telegraph report.

Help or hindrance?
ADIs, how do you feel about the recommendations being made to help deal with the sexual harassment issue – are you already implementing them on a voluntary basis such as videoing your lessons or do you feel such solutions are not practical? Let us know in the comments below.

Supporting Standards

Theory Test Pro is designed to help instructors deliver the best possible service to their students. Sign up for free here.

 

Main image © Shutterstock

Obscure Driving Laws: Which Are You Breaking?

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New research reveals that millions of British drivers are unwittingly breaking the law every day – but aren’t aware they are, in the process risking fines of up to £5,000 and their licences being shredded.

According to research carried out by Confused.com, too many drivers in the UK are confused about or simply don’t know their driving laws. To make sure you’re not one of them, here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest offenders threatening licences (and bank accounts) across the country.

Splashing pedestrians
Confused.com’s research shows that nearly six million Brit motorists have been done for splashing a pedestrian deliberately or accidentally when driving through a puddle – but incredibly, over eight million motorists don’t know that it is a driving offence.

The law states that driving without reasonable consideration could land you with a fine of up to £5,000 if you decide to go to court. According to section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, “if a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.”

The Crown Prosecution Service states that this includes “driving through a puddle, causing pedestrians to be splashed”.

Our advice? If you do splash a pedestrian and are stopped by the police, accept the fine of £100 and the three points on your licence – and don’t go to court.

Flashing your lights
Careful when and how you flash your lights – while the Highway Code states that you can flash your lights to let other drivers know that you are there, flashing your lights to warn other drivers about, say, a speed trap is illegal.

According to Rule 110 of the Highway Code, “do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users”. Also, it has been successful shown that flashing a warning about speed cameras specifically is in effect ‘obstructing an officer in the course of their duties’ and could see you face a maximum fine of £1,000.

Alas, the survey reveals that eight millions drivers aren’t aware of this and eight million have been caught flashing their lights illegally.

Charging for a ride
You may think that it’s okay to give someone a lift and have them contribute financially towards the cost of the trip but in theory, it’s illegal; you could be done for operating an unlicensed taxi and end up with a fine of up to £2,500.

The survey reveals that nine million drivers don’t know this law and over 760,000 motorists have been fined for taking cash from passengers.

Other unknown laws
The law states that we must wear a seat belt when driving but six million of us don’t know that you must restrain any pet as well; after all, an unrestrained dog on the backseat can become a lethal projectile in a crash, causing both injuries to itself and potentially the occupants of the car.

If you don’t buckle up your critter, you could face a fine of up to £5,000 for careless driving as six million drivers have discovered to their cost.

Finally, you should also consider keeping your car clean – specifically your number plate. A failure to keep it legible can see you fined £1,000, a fact that two million UK drivers didn’t know according to research – and two million have fallen foul of.

Calculate the Cost
To give you a clearer idea of the real world costs of not knowing your driving laws, Confused.com has launched a driving fines calculator. It lists both common and obscure motoring laws, revealing how much you could end being fined if you flout them. Click here to use the calculator.

Know Your Laws

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

 

Police image © West Midlands Police

Solve the Super Tough Quiz Question That’s Confounding Drivers

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It’s time to see just how good your highway code knowledge is – which car has right of way in the image below?

Created by the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ), Aussie drivers have been pulling their hair out over who has the right of way in this picture of a four-way intersection – and in what order the red, blue, yellow and black cars should proceed.

While the challenging quiz image may have been designed for Australia, the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has said that British drivers could also come across such a brainteaser in their daily travels. Why? Aussies drive on the lefthand side like we do plus their driving laws are similar to ours. So who do you think should go first, second, third and fourth?

Who should go first, second, third and fourth? Image © RACQ

Aussie Rules

According to the RACQ, the right answer is black, blue, yellow and then red. The reasons are:

• As the black vehicle is on a one-way street and doesn’t have to contend with any sign or road markings, it goes first.

• The other cars are at Stop/Give Way Signs and all wish to turn.

• The blue car goes next as it’s not turning with the red expected to give way to its right (as per Aussie road laws), allowing the yellow car to go third.

• Once done, the red car can then turn out and be on its way.

• But for UK drivers, it’s not that ‘simple’…

The junction in Bethania, Queensland that the RACQ picture is based on. Anyone ever considered installing traffic lights? Image © Google Earth

Brit Rules

According to IAM RoadSmart, British drivers don’t always have to give way to the right, meaning it believes the ‘most’ correct answer is actually black, blue, red and yellow:

• The black car still goes first but…

• … under certain circumstances, the red car could move into the junction once the blue car has driven through.

• Also, if the red car is on a major road, it would typically have priority over the yellow car.

Although many junctions effectively create one, we don’t have a general give way to the right rule in the UK and I suspect that there will be regional differences in how we manage this situation.

Which car goes second would generally be a matter of ‘negotiation’ between the drivers, with a tendency for it to be the blue car, because it has a straight path and is not turning across the path of another vehicle – an unwritten but largely accepted ‘rule’.

What happens next is where I think geography will alter the answer. In London, and possibly some other larger cities, the red car will be able enter the junction while the blue car moves through it, turning right immediately across its rear.”

– Peter Rodger, IAM RoadSmart Head of Driving Advice, speaking to The Sun newspaper.

Yes, it makes all our heads hurt a little – but do you agree with IAM RoadSmart? Or do you have another take on the conundrum and giving way to the right? Let us know in the comments.

Be Prepared

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Speed Limits: Everything You Need to Know

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A new survey has revealed that nearly three quarters of car drivers have no idea what the right speed limit is for driving on single carriageway roads.

According to the survey of 1,000 drivers by HPI, only 28% of drivers know the correct speed limit – 60mph; alas, 43% of drivers think the correct speed limit is 70mph while 29% believe it is 50mph.

There is some good news though. While nearly three quarters of UK motorists don’t know the speed limit, the majority of Theory Test Pro users do.

Smarter by miles
In our Facebook poll, out of the 670 votes cast, 84% of you knew 60mph is the correct speed limit for a single carriageway road. That’s well over three quarters of you, the opposite to the average UK driver – so give yourselves a pat on the back.

There is a problem however – it means that 16% of you didn’t know, instead believing the speed limit to be 70mph. Such a knowledge gap could see you unwittingly breaking the law and being done for speeding. This would mean three points on your licence, a £100 fine and a probable hike in cost to your already expensive insurance premiums too.

To make sure that you know your speed limits inside and out, here’s a quick guide to what the speed limits are for car drivers. We’re hoping the next time we run the speed limit poll, we’ll have 100% of you knowing the right limit.

Know the law
For built-up areas, the speed limit is 30mph. For single carriageways, most of you clearly know that the limit is 60mph while dual carriageways and motorways are 70mph.

Variable speed limits are also popping up on ‘smart’ motorways all over Britain – check out our blog post here for full details – and display the speed limit on electronic signs on the motorway’s overhead gantries.

While the top speed remains 70mph, the speed limit can be reduced ‘on the fly’ to aid in traffic flow during congestion, roadworks or if there has been an incident.

Fixed & national
Bear in mind there are two types of speed limit – fixed speed limits and national speed limits. Fixed speed limits are typically identified by a number within a red circle – these will contain either 20, 30, 40 or 50mph. Such limits are usually displayed when entering a speed limited area; think when driving into an urban area for example.

National speed limits are shown as a circular white sign with a single dark stripe running diagonally through it.

Oh, and don’t forget the lesser-spotted minimum speed limit – while rare, these can be found in high risk locations such as tunnels and are circular blue signs with the minimum speed displayed in it. You’ll know when the minimum speed limit ends as the same sign will be displayed but with a red line through it.

Know Your Limits

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

 

Variable speed limit © David Dixon

Minimum speed limit © UK Government

New Hazard Perception Clips: Everything You Need to Know

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First introduced to the hazard perception test in 2015, computer-generated clips (CGI) have been a hit with learners. Here’s why – and how to practise them.

As a learner, you’ll already know that fourteen one-minute clips are used during the theory test’s hazard perception segment. In each, you are asked to spot potential and developing hazards.

For the first 13 years of the test, these clips were video-based, learners often complaining that the footage wasn’t of sufficient enough quality to help spot hazards in the first place.

It led to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) creating the CGI clips, which are more modern and defined, and they have been met with praise from learners, instructors and examiners alike.

The new CGI clips are clearer, more modern and of a higher quality compared to the videos previously used in the hazard perception test.

How the hazard perception test has evolved

Since their introduction, the agency has gone on to introduce more clips. For instance, from November last year, the agency added clips that depict driving in snow, wind, rain and other adverse weather conditions, plus dusk and dawn driving.

According to the DVSA, the reason for such a diverse set of conditions is to prepare you more for the real-world driving conditions you will experience once you’ve qualified.

It’s a wise move as Department of Transport figures reveal that there were 16,406 accidents in rain, sleet, snow or fog on our roads in 2017 alone – with 205 fatal incidents; the DVSA say the test has reduced post-test at-fault collisions involving new drivers by over 11%.

What the future holds for the theory test

While the adverse driving condition clips have been welcomed, some are still critical that there aren’t enough clips depicting other hazards that drivers can expect to encounter on the road such as potholes or pedestrians who are distracted by their mobile phones.

The DVSA though has said that it will continue to update the clips and plans to introduce situations depicting children and cyclists.

How to ace your theory test

To help you prepare for the hazard perception test, Theory Test Pro offers:

• a library of 62 practice hazard perception clips, 20 of which are the new CGI clips licensed from the DVSA

• four different hazard practice exams that are given in the same format as the official hazard test, running 14 clips one after the other before giving your score at the end

• a tutorial video that explains how the hazard clips are scored and the number of hazards in each clip.

It’s important to remember that the clips featured in all training apps (including Theory Test Pro’s) are practice versions; the DVSA keeps the ones it actually uses in the official test secret.

This ensures you can’t ‘learn’ the clips before the test and pass them with flying colours because you have been able to practise the same clips repeatedly.

Below are several of our test clips to give you a clear idea of what you can expect when practising – and the kind of clips you might view during the test itself. For more information about the theory test and how to pass it, head to our blog post, ‘How to Click Your Way to a Pass‘.

Normal Driving Conditions

 

Adverse Driving Conditions

Know Your Code

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

1 in 6 Motorists STILL Using Mobile Phone While Driving

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Despite tough new penalties introduced two years ago, many drivers are still using their phones while at the wheel – with serious consequences for their licences and lives.

A new survey from Swinton Insurance reveals that 16% of motorists admit their mobile phones remain a huge distraction for them while driving. Of this group:

• Half said that they used their phone while driving to access their mobile’s sat nav apps

• A third said they answered calls or texts while another third said they accessed music apps

• Just under a quarter stated that they used their mobile while driving because they were too impatient to leave it until their journey was over.

Bye bye licence
These figures are startling especially when you consider the new law introduced in 2017, which saw the penalties for using a phone at the wheel made far tougher.

If caught on your mobile, you now face £200 fine (instead of the previous £100) and six penalty points on your licence (instead of three). For newly qualified drivers then, it could see you stripped of your licence – and having to take the test again.

Our latest research shows that despite legal and safety concerns, the pull for motorists to be active on mobile devices is still overwhelming. [While] the majority of drivers claim to be using their phones less since the legislative changes came in to effect two years ago, most still aren’t aware of the fixed penalty notice charge and aren’t deterred by it.”
– Mike McGrail, Swinton Insurance.

Flipside
There is some good news however – both the Swinton Insurance survey and official government figures reveal that the new law has had a positive impact on some drivers. According to Swinton, over half of respondents stated that they used their phones less while driving than they did in 2017.

Also, 59% stated that the six penalty point risk was acting as a deterrent while others confessed that the fear of having an accident was the biggest deterrent for avoiding mobile use while behind the wheel.

Government figures also reveal a slight decrease in offending rates – “1.1% of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on weekdays in Great Britain,” states the ‘Seatbelt and Mobile Phone Use Surveys: Great Britain, 2017’ report. This is compared to 1.6% back in 2014.

Remember the code!
Introduced in March, 2017, anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving will now get six points and a £200 fine. The same rules apply when you are in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. The only time you can use your mobile in the driver’s seat is if:

• you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop

• are safely parked at the side of the road with the handbrake on and the engine off.

Know Your Code

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New In-Car Technology Could Make Speed Cameras Extinct

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Motorists could soon find themselves unable to break the speed limit because of in-car technology designed to stop those of us with a heavy right foot.

The days of going over the speed limit – and Britain’s proliferation of speed cameras – could be numbered after a plan was approved for mandatory speed limiting technology to be introduced into all new vehicles by 2022.

The technology called Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) uses traffic sign recognition cameras plus GPS data to identify the speed limit on the road you’re traveling on – and automatically stops you from going over it.

While you’ll still be able to go over the limit by pushing hard on the accelerator, if you continue to break the limit for several seconds, the system will display a visual warning on the dashboard and sound an alarm incessantly until you drop back below the speed limit.

Saving lives
Experts claim that the limiters will reduce collision rates by 30% and could save up to 25,000 lives within 15 years. The limiter is part of proposals from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) – which have already been approved by MEPs – that detail safety technologies that the organisation wants to see in all vehicles in three years time.

These include data loggers that would automatically record information about the vehicle’s speed, how often safety systems have been activated, and logging “before, during and after” a collision. Lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking will also be made mandatory in all new cars by 2022.

This is a landmark day for road safety. We now urge the final negotiations to take place as soon as possible, so we can make this step-change for road safety a reality.”
– Josh Harris, Director of Campaigns, road safety charity Brake

In or out
Some who feel speed limiting is a step too far have been quick to point out that such EU regulations could not be applied to Britain after Brexit. But Britain leaving the EU is not likely to make any difference.

First, car makers are unlikely to produce specific car set-ups just for the UK market and second, the UK’s type approval centre, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), has already stated that Britain will mirror the EU’s rules once the country has ‘Brexited’.

Speed camera extinction
While the ETSC says drivers should be able to override the system in this first wave of speed limiting, experts believe that, as the technology becomes more accepted by drivers, the tech could become more stringent.

It means in the future, speed cameras could become a thing of the past as vehicles self-regulate their speeds automatically. There are currently 15 different types of speed cameras used across the country – from GATSOs and Truvelos to HADECS – and all could be culled.

Another perceived benefit could be the freeing up of Britain’s police from speed camera duties, instead enabling them to focus on other dangerous driving habits such as tailgating – or dealing with the massive spike in car theft across the country. Time will tell.

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Speed Limiter © Ford

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