Category Archive: Learner Drivers

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Road Incident With an Animal

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New research reveals that there is a good chance you will hit an animal at some point during your driving life – here’s what to do if the worst should happen.

It’s a sad fact that animals are regularly injured or killed by motorists. According to research by GoCompare Car Insurance, over half of all drivers (51%) have either nearly or have hit an animal.

The animals most likely to be victims are: birds (27%), cats (23%), game birds (20%), deer (18%), dog (17%), rabbits (17%), squirrels (16%) and foxes (16%).

Where, why & when

Most accidents involving an animal occur on country roads (68%) with 24% happening on a town or city road.

The most cited reasons for hitting an animal are because it ran out into the road (66%), the motorist was driving at night (22%), or the driver was speeding or distracted (8%).

No clue

Worryingly, 68% of drivers state that they would have no idea what to do if they hit a larger animal – such as a deer or badger – with 39% of motorists saying they would simply carry on driving and not stop.

But there are procedures you should follow and in certain cases, if you don’t, you could be breaking the law.

For instance, you must report hitting the following animals to the police: Dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and donkeys/mules.

If you hit and injure an animal that is not on that list, you should still consider contacting the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals emergency service on 0300 1234 999 who will advise you on how to proceed.

Alternatively, if you accidentally kill an animal, you should report it to your council here as the animal’s remains could pose a potential hazard to other road users.

Top tips

Here’s our seven-step guide to ensuring you, your passengers and Britain’s animals remain as protected as possible:

1. In regions with a high population of animals, expect to see warning signs that mean drivers should take extra care when driving through the area.

We want everyone to reach their destination safely – so my top tip is if you see an animal warning signs slow down, remain vigilant and keep your distance.”
– Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety, Highways England.

2. If you see an animal on the road ahead, slow down – however, do remember to check your rear view mirror before applying brakes if there is time.

3. While you are allowed to perform an emergency stop to avoid hitting an animal, you should consider the vehicle behind you. After all, slamming on the anchors could see a car hitting you from behind if they are travelling too close, creating a far more serious incident.

4. Never swerve on to the other side of the road as you risk hitting oncoming traffic or losing control of your car if the road conditions are poor and/or you are traveling at speed.

5. If an impact is inevitable, try and slow down as much as possible. If you are about to hit a large animal, it is advised that you slip down in your seat as much as possible; large animals such as deer can be propelled through the windscreen and cause serious injury to you or your passengers.

6. Do remember that injured animals such as a deer can be dangerous so do not hurry out of your car to check on them. Even checking on a small animal could lead to it panicking as you approach, potentially injuring it further – or causing injury to you if it tries to bite and scratch you.

7. Remember that other drivers may not be aware of what has happened and could represent a threat if they are not paying attention. It is best to report the incident and let the experts advise you on how to proceed.

8. If in doubt, always refer to the Highway Code. For instance:

When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine or accelerating rapidly once you have passed them. Look out for animals being led, driven or ridden on the road and take extra care. Keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads. If a road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have left the road. Watch out for animals on unfenced roads.
– Rule 214, The Highway Code.

Know Your Code

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Deer sign © Stanley Howe

Serial Theory Test Cheater Jailed for Over 2 Years

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A theory test fraudster has been locked up for two years and four months after being found guilty of taking theory tests for cheating learners – but he represents the tip of an iceberg as research shows the number of people cheating in the theory test is on the rise.

During his ‘run’, Coventry man Swallaxadin Abdul Bashir, 42, took payment to impersonate his ‘customers’ and take the test for them. His offences were carried out at 12 different test centres across Britain between October 2018 and August 2019.

Thanks to eagle-eyed test centre staff though, Bashir was reported to the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency’s fraud investigation team after they became suspicious he was impersonating candidates.

Hunting fraudsters
Test centres began turning Bashir away and since being caught, the DVSA has stated any test passed by Bashir has now been revoked. Critically, the agency is now hunting down the learners who paid for Bashir’s services.

It’s a task that shouldn’t prove too difficult as the candidates’ names will be logged at the test centre and there is every chance their details and enquiries about Bashir’s ‘service’ will be found on the fraudster’s seized mobile phone.

Repeat offender
Incredibly, this is not the first time Bashir has been done for trying to cheat the theory test system. He was previously jailed for 18 months in August 2017 and for two years in July 2016 for the same fraudulent actions. Oh, and he received a six-month suspended sentence in February 2014 for committing similar offences.

You might think that catching Bashir should have been a simple task this time round but as the DVSA highlights, the crook travelled all over England and Wales, visiting different test centres to pull off his deception.

The DVSA’s priority is protecting everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. Theory tests are a vital way of assessing if people have the right driving knowledge and attitude to drive safely. Working with other agencies, we make every effort to prosecute theory test fraudsters and this significant prison sentence shows the impact of this work.”
– DVSA’s Head of Counter Fraud & Investigation, Andy Rice, on why the theory test is so vital to road safety.

Tip of the iceberg

Unfortunately, Bashir’s actions are part of a growing problem, which sees learners trying to cheat their way through the theory test.  For instance, 1,522 people were investigated for cheating in their theory test in 2018/19 (compared to just 454 in 2013/2014) either by making calls with hidden Bluetooth earphones to get help from someone outside the test centre or by hiring someone to do the test for them.

It is worth bearing in mind that in the past, the DVSA had to ask independent investigators and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring cases to court. However, after bringing prosecutions in-house, the number of cases has now shot up as the DVSA aggressively goes after cheaters itself, which can only be good news.

Don’t be a cheater
The theory test is designed to be tough but with the right practise and guidance, there is no reason why anyone can’t pass. Remember to use services such as Theory Test Pro to help study the rules of the road and, if you find yourself struggling, talk to your driving instructor who can offer practical advice on your weak areas.

Also take mock theory tests to give yourself a clear idea of how the test is structured and learn what to expect on the big day itself from arrival through to the test itself. For some expert pointers, check out Theory Test Pro’s definitive guide here. Good luck!

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Main image © DVSA

How to Click Your Way to Theory Test Success in 2020

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The theory test demands commitment and practise to pass – but how are driving instructors teaching their pupils to deal with its many challenges?

Evaluating and understanding the Hazard Perception Test and how it works is something of a dark art for ADIs and pupils alike. In theory, the process is straightforward according to the DVSA’s own guidelines:

To get a high score you need to respond to the developing hazard as soon as you see it starting.”

In execution however, judging precisely where the hazards are and when they should be clicked on can prove to be something of a mystery.

Cheat Detection System Too Sensitive?

The plot thickens further thanks to the test’s cheat detection system, which is summed up by the DVSA as follows:

If you click continuously or in a pattern during a clip a message will appear at the end. It will tell you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.”

This advice can leave pupils scratching their heads as they’re failed because the system has deemed that they have clicked too many times and are simply trying to ‘game’ the test. The problem according to ADIs is that the detection system is too sensitive.

“According to my pupils, people are often getting disqualified from videos because the system thinks they are cheating, particularly in the busy town scenarios,” explains Debbie Brewer of Debs Driving School. “The town scenes have so many potential hazards that it is too easy to get disqualified. It is not that pupils are clicking too much, more that because there are so many hazards, the number of clicks they end up performing causes the system to believe that students have been clicking in a pattern, so the system is flawed.”

photo

The Theory Test Pro hazard perception option is excellent practice for my pupils, and the feedback from them has been very positive.”

Timing & Practise Produce Hazard Perception Passes

To combat this potential issue, practise is of course essential. It’s why Theory Test Pro offers mock HPT clips plus the ability for students to playback said clip, revealing the marked hazard in relation to where the pupil clicked.

Also imperative is identifying the potential hazard in the first instance. Debbie and other ADIs including Stuart Rigby of The Driving Academy use a unique approach to keeping click rates manageable and accurate: “I find some pupils can notice the hazard a little too early,” explains Stuart. “It’s why I introduced the two-second rule – the student clicks when they first see a hazard, waits two seconds and then clicks again. This approach stops people from scoring zero if they click a little too early.”

Another issue with the Hazard Perception Test can be the students themselves. Extensive practise is critical to passing and building confidence but getting students to realise how difficult the HPT is in the first place can be an uphill struggle, as Stuart explains: “I often find that pupils skip the HPT during learning, dismissing it because they believe it’s simply all about common sense. Even when reviewing some pupils’ progress within Theory Test Pro, I see little attention being paid to the HPT.”

photo

Half the problem is the struggle that pupils have working with the HPT system itself.”

Learners, Spot Road Hazards while Driving

To encourage them to participate, Stuart ensures that the issue of hazard perception is brought up during actual lessons by asking pupils to highlight potential hazards while driving. Using a dash cam is also an invaluable educational tool – it means that he and the student can review hazards at the end of each lesson so they become part of the learning process.

Debbie believes another key method for inspiring pupils to engage with the HPT is to book the theory test, “ so they have a deadline to work to, which encourages them to use Theory Test Pro. It enables me to see their progress too and give positive comments to encourage their learning – and for them to ask questions.”

Ironically though, it’s generally the young people who shine the most when they do actually apply themselves; more so than other age groups: “I think the DVSA Hazard Perception Test is delivered well, but is more like a computer game than real life,” explains Debbie, “and because of this, I find the young inexperienced learners perform better with it.”

We suspect that this trend will only increase once the DVSA makes the move to full computer-generated clips for the Hazard Perception Test. The introduction of CGI could also help deal with the current issues surrounding the HPT as well, offering clip designers an exacting, easily-controlled process for creating clips where the fog of confusion is finally removed. Time will tell.

Take a Hazard Perception Test Now


Test your hazard perception skills by signing up to Theory Test Pro for free here.

74% of Motorists Prepared to Risk Life Driving Through Flood Water

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With more wet weather expected to touchdown over the Xmas period, the Environment Agency and the AA have revealed how most drivers are prepared to gamble their lives by driving through floods.

According to the research, drivers are not taking the risk of flood water seriously with three quarters of motorists willing to drive through flood water, even though it is the leading cause of death during a flood.

All it takes is 30cm of flood water to make a car float and be potentially swept away, and only 10cm of water to kill a car’s engine. Remember, a single eggcup’s worth of water entering through an engine’s intake at the lower front end of a car is enough to leave a motorist stranded and in need of potential rescue.

To ‘research’ whether they can make it through flood water, 1 in 4 drivers said they try and gauge the water’s depth by whether they can see the kerb. This is not an ideal indicator as road cambers can vary massively plus there may be obstacles hidden under the water that could damage the underside of your car. The survey also reveals 12% of us hang back to see if someone else is prepared to take the plunge (quite literally) before heading in ourselves.

Some good news
Young drivers aged between 18-24 years old are normally the focus of much criticism, i.e. driving too fast; not observing properly, etc. but on this occasion, it’s you who are the responsible ones compared to older drivers. The research shows that you are more likely to turn back when confronted with flood water and find another route compared to those over 45.

Don’t chance it if the road ahead is flooded – flood water can be deceptively deep and can hide other hazards in the road which can leave you stranded. Trying to drive through flood water puts you and your passengers at risk, but it can also cause damage to your car.”
– Ben Sheridan, AA Patrol of the Year.

What to do on a flooded road

If the road is completely flooded, the official advice is to turn round and find another way to your destination. If you’re unable to do so, then cancel your journey because it’s better to be alive by the end of your drive, and not another potential fatality.

If the road is partially flooded (typically at the side of the road), it may be possible to continue. To ensure you remain safe:

• Drive down the middle of the road slowly (only if safe to do so).

• Drive in a low gear and keep your speed slow and constant.

• Driving too fast risks ‘aquaplaning’; this is where your tyres lose contact with the road.

• Once out of the flood water, come to slow stop for a moment to let any water drain away if it is safe to do so.

• As you head off, gently test your brakes 2-3 times to evaporate any residue water that could affect braking efficiency.

• Remember that if you spray a pedestrian with water, you can be fined and end up with points on your licence.

Do you live in a flood ‘hotspot’?
The AA has compiled a list of the top ten places for breakdowns caused by flood water compiled between 2014 and 2018:

10. Hawkswood Lane, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire – 27
9. Riverside / The Embankment, Twickenham, London – 28
8. Tanners Lane, Winterbourne Earls, Salisbury, Wiltshire – 28
7. Green Road, Birmingham, Worcestershire – 30
6. Buttsbury, Ingatestone, Essex – 32
5. Riverside, Eynsford, Dartford, Kent – 35
4. Furnace Grange Road, Trescott, Wolverhampton – 37
3. Houndsfield Lane, Hollywood, Birmingham, Worcestershire – 49
2. Rufford Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire – 71
1. Watery Gate Lane (no, really), Leicester, Leicestershire – 88

Know Your Code

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Flood water © Kenneth Allen

Here’s How the Driving Test Got Tougher in the 2010s

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From motorway and independent driving to sat navs and even bans, the changes made to the tests over the past decade have been massive – here’s a look back at the biggest.

As we come to the end of 2010s, Theory Test Pro reviews the seismic – and often tough – changes made to both the practical driving test and theory test. It’s worth remembering that these changes were introduced not to make your life more difficult but to ensure you are a better, safer driver once you have qualified:

2010

Riding shotgun
Instead of leaving instructors at the test centre, learners are encouraged to take their ADI with them on their practical driving test. This is an important recommendation for two reasons: One, having your instructor there can help calm nerves (though they are not allowed to speak) and two, if you do fail, your ADI can see exactly why and be able to offer advice and reassurance straight afterwards.

Being independent
Independent driving is introduced into the practical driving test, designed to show examiners that you are able to drive safely in any conditions without the need for constant instruction. Critically, it helps prepare you for the first time you will drive by yourself.

2014

Reducing fraud
The use of foreign language voiceovers and interpreters is banned from theory and practical tests after they are shown to increase the risk of fraud.

For instance, since 2009 up to the introduction of the ban, 861 people had their theory test passes revoked after their translators were discovered to have coached the learner during the theory and practical tests. It is also claimed the move will improve safety and ensure “all drivers can read and comprehend the road rules”.

Dropping prices
The cost of the theory test is cut by 25% – from £31 to £25. The following year sees the price drop by a further £2. By 2024, the DVSA believes the cuts will have saved learner drivers nearly £100 million.

2015

Enhancing tests (Part 1)
No one’s a fan of the video clips used in the Hazard Perception Test; they are low quality and grainy, making it tough to spot hazards. To combat this issue, the DVSA introduces its first wave of computer graphic-generated clips that offer far better definition and clarity. Here’s a comparison:

Shredding licences
Paper licences are shown the shredder with photocards taking centre stage, the DVSA now holding licensing information digitally. This means that learners without a paper licence must obtain and share a copy of their driving record with their instructors. This can be done either electronically by email or by printing off a copy.

2017

Modernising tests
The practical driving test introduces a raft of new features. These include:

  • The independent driving section of the test extended from 10 to 20 minutes without the examiner giving turn-to-turn guidance, the learner expected to follow traffic signs instead.
  • The introduction of a sat nav to make the test more ‘modern’ with learners expected to follow its instructions to a destination selected by the examiner.
  • The arrival of three possible reversing manoeuvres for the test, including the highly controversial ‘pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two-car lengths and rejoining the traffic’ manoeuvre.
  • The introduction of two vehicle safety questions before and during the test. For example, before you start, one ‘Tell Me’ question focusing on how you would carry out a particular safety task and during the test, one ‘Show Me’ question focusing on a particular safety task.

2018

Enhancing tests (Part 2)
More computer-generated clips are introduced, now featuring different weather and driving conditions.

Learning on motorways
Learners are let out on to motorways in June. While having a lesson on a motorway is strictly voluntary, it must be conducted by an instructor whose car is fitted with dual controls and critically, believes you are ready to face three lanes of gridlocked traffic, sorry, fast-moving vehicles.

For Better, For Worse: The Parts That Didn’t Change

Alas, the pass marks remain the same for each test. In the practical driving test, you can commit no more than 15 driving faults and you can have no serious or dangerous faults.

In the theory test, you need to answer a minimum of 43 out of 50 multiple choice questions correctly. In the Hazard Perception Test, you will need to score a minimum of 44 out of 75. Don’t expect those figures to change in your favour over the next ten years.

Know Your Code

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Lesson image © Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

Revealed: Most New Drivers Would Fail Driving Test

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A new study reveals that over three quarters of new drivers have made dangerous or serious mistakes during their first year of driving.

From being distracted to road rage, new qualified drivers are making the kind of mistakes that would see them fail their driving test.

Bizarrely, despite so many fessing up to making such major mistakes, 57% still describe themselves as ‘good drivers’.

The biggest offences revealed by the survey – that polled 1,000 drivers under the age 25 – are:

Distracted by in-car media (35%)
Driving nervously (33%)
Not using mirrors (20%)
Speeding (20%)
Road rage (17%)

Pity the parents

The study also reveals that over three-quarter of parents (81%) are affected by their offspring’s driving, saying that they are left worried and stressed whenever their child is driving on their own.

And it’s not as if they haven’t already been stressed out by the whole process with two thirds (63%) of parents more worried about their child passing their driving test than getting the exam result they wanted.

via GIPHY

Location matters

Produced by navigation technology provider Garmin as part of road safety charity Brake’s Road Safety Week, the study also reveals the UK regions where new drivers make the most number of mistakes:

5. Greater London: second worst for not wearing seatbelts
4. Yorkshire and the Humber: the biggest road ragers
3. East Midlands: worst for ignoring mirrors/failing to scan the road
2. Wales: most easily distracted
1. North West: worst for nervous driving.

How to make new drivers safer

Garmin believes that using dash cams is an important part of any solution targeting the mistakes made by new driver: “Our study has revealed a shared concern between parents and young drivers which shows just how dangerous our roads can be… [Our dash cams are] able to offer an added layer of support and protection which can be tailored to all levels of driver.”

The charity Brake is calling for a more holistic approach: “The inexperience and over-confidence of young drivers makes them a high road safety risk,” says Brake’s Joshua Harris.

“That’s why the increased use of dash cams, and policy measures like the introduction of a more robust, graduated driving licence, can help improve safety for all.”

Know Your Code

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

 

Scared driver image © Aaron Van Dike

Dashcam image © Garmin

Revealed: New Driving Laws for 2020 & Beyond

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The new year is set to usher in new laws, regulations and bans with many more coming down the road in the years ahead.

We’re steaming towards 2020 and that always means one thing for drivers – time to brush up on the new laws you’ll need to contend with over the coming months to keep your license safe:

Mobile phone use

Hold on, you might say, hasn’t using a mobile behind the wheel already been banned?

Yes, you will get fined £200 and be issued with six points if you are caught using your mobile. But it’s not quite that simple.

Because of a loophole in the law, you can only be ‘officially’ done if you are caught sending a text or making a call, i.e. trying to communicate. Other activities such as taking pictures or scrolling through a playlist are not technically ‘banned’.

By the summer 2020, this loophole will be closed though, meaning any of us caught faffing with our phones while on the move will be fined and penalised.

This can only be good news as research shows a motorist looking at their phone for two seconds while driving at 30mph is effectively ‘blinding’ themselves to the road ahead for 100 feet.

In other words, put your mobile in the glove box while driving – and leave it there until you reach your destination or are parked up safely at the side of the road.

Expected arrival: Spring 2020.

Parking fines

Here’s one that’s not aimed at us – but at the private car park operators who are regularly accused of fleecing us.

The government has asked the British Standards Institution to pull together a compulsory code of practice that includes a 10-minute grace period once your parking ticket has run out in a private car park. This will make the private sector inline with councils, which introduced the grace periods back in 2015.

For too long rogue parking firms have operated in an unregulated industry, handing out unjust fines, putting drivers through baffling appeals processes and issuing tickets to motorists who were only seconds late back to their cars.”
– Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Expected arrival: To be confirmed.

City Diesel Ban

The tide has turned against the diesel engine with many car makers set to phase them out due to pollution concerns and mounting public criticism – and now cities are getting in on the act too.

Bristol is set to become the first city to ban diesel cars altogether in a bid to improve air quality. The plan will see a clean air zone established in the city centre, which private diesel vehicles will be banned from entering between 7am and 3pm. Any driver caught flouting the ban will be handed a fine.

While the proposed ban requires consultation with local residents and businesses plus government approval, don’t be surprised if it succeeds – and for other British cities to follow suit.

Expected arrival : March, 2020.

Drink Drivers

The EU has announced that convicted drink drivers will need to use a breathalyser fitted in their cars before being able to start their engines.

The legislation is expected to come into force from 2022 onwards for all new models – while existing models sold after 2024 will need to have the tech added before selling.

While the UK is currently set to leave the EU, the breathalyser law being passed by the European Council is still expected to be adopted by Britain – as the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) has stated Britain will mirror EU driving laws after Brexit.

Expected arrival: 2022.

Parking on pavements

Pulling up and parking on a pavement is a bad habit – and potentially dangerous for parents with pushchairs and vulnerable pedestrians such as the elderly and wheel-chair users.

While parking on the pavement has been banned in London since 1974, the ban will now be rolled out across the country with Scotland already announcing the practise will be outlawed from 2021.

Expected arrival: From 2021.

Speed limiters

Those with heavy right foots can expect to see their speeding curtailed by automated systems being introduced into new cars.

According to the EU’s revised General Safety Regulations, ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ will be featured in all new cars from 2022. This sees the car using a forward-facing camera and GPS to monitor ongoing speed limits and will reduce fuel flow to the engine if you’re breaking the limit.

This slows the car down until it is driving within the speed limit again. If you still need to accelerate, the system will allow for it – but your car will display a visual warning while sounding an alarm until you take your foot off the gas pedal.

Again, like in-built breathalysers, there is every chance that this technology will make it over to our shores even if we have left the EU.

Expected arrival: 2022.

Know Your Laws

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Police cars © West Midlands Police

Parking ticket © Alex Borland

Parking on pavement © I See Modern Britain (image cropped)

Speed camera © Max Pixel

“Stupid” Learner Arrested for Taking Driving Test in Stolen Car

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The driving test is tough enough without turning up to your big day in a motor you’ve just ‘borrowed without permission’.

For one man in Birmingham, his big day turned into a self-inflicted disaster. First, he took a white Mistubishi Outlander ‘without the owner’s consent’.

The learner then drove it unsupervised to his local test centre, ‘failing’ to ‘remember’ you must be accompanied by someone over the age of 21 who has a full driving licence whenever you are behind the wheel.

The learner then took his test – which he failed. For the tenth time.

To round off his truly miserable morning, the learner was then arrested for car theft.

Going viral

Adding justified insult to injury, the learner then became the subject of online mockery when West Midlands Police posted about his arrest:

“Welcome to the world of stupid,” it snipes. “Male turns up at the driving test centre for his driving test. Having driven himself there unsupervised. Then fails his test for the 10th time. Male arrested by D unit Newtown for TWOC [taking without the owner’s consent] offence.”

‘World of pain’ may be more suitable though as if he is found guilty, the not-so-smart learner could end up being locked up for six months plus be subject to an unlimited fine.

History repeats itself

Only two days later and another learner driver turns up for his driving test at the very same centre, both unsupervised and uninsured.

He went on to fail his test for the ninth time (after unsuccessfully arguing with the examiner that he really, really should have been passed). At least the learner didn’t turn up in a stolen car – but the BMW he arrived in was seized by the police.

Pity the police

While you may not feel sorry for the two learner drivers – and why would you? – you might want to take a moment to consider the tough lot in life the West Midlands Police has.

Not only is it responsible for trying to police one of the UK’s car crime capitals, it has to put up with absurd behaviour from drivers on a daily basis.

From a motorist being done for drug driving after overtaking three cars illegally outside a police station to the plonker who drove to his probation meeting in a nicked car, no wonder the police are getting so frustrated that they are resorting to calling some drivers ‘stupid’ publicly.

• Get ready for your big day properly by reading our full guide on what you will need when you turn up for your practical driving test.

Be Smart

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Get Involved with Children in Need’s Big Learner Relay 2019

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Now in its sixth year, the Big Learner Relay continues to grow from strength to strength, raising over £400,00 for Children in Need (CIN) to date.

Supported by Theory Test Pro, the Big Learner Relay sees driving instructors and their pupils carry a CIN-branded top box from one driving lesson to the next across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This year’s event covers a whopping 3,000 miles over 17 days with a 190 lessons.

While the relay has already visited Jersey and will touch down in Northern Ireland on the 29th October, it kicks off aproper on the 1st November with the epic relay visiting a mass of locations from Land’s End and Bristol through to Inverness and Swansea with driving instructors assigned for each of the 190 legs.

This year’s event ends on Children in Need night on November 15th with a trip to the moon! Well, the National Space Centre in Leicester, marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing as well as celebrating the end of the Big Learner Relay with a slap-up three-course dinner.

Driven by diversity

The brainchild of ADI Louise Walsh, the Big Learner Relay has been hugely successful since it started back in 2014, bringing together a diverse range of instructors (and their pupils) from across the country including:

• independent schools
• franchises (both national and local)
• instructor trainers
• instructors teaching in diesel, petrol and electric cars
• instructors who specialise in teaching people with disabilities.

How you can get involved

While the route itself has now been finalised and lead instructors for each leg of the relay assigned (other than a handful of locations – check them out here and sign up!), instructors and their pupils can still get involved. For example:

• View the Big Learner Relay official route, which features the assembly points for each of the 190 legs with dates and times. You can head along with your pupils and join the relay for that leg of the route – or as many as you like! Because of traffic and weather, do check for time updates on the official page or Facebook.

• Plaster your car with Big Relay spots! You can buy packs of spots from here (each includes two official Pudsey logos, the official mascot of CIN) and get a spot sponsored to raise money for the charity. Instructors have managed to get spots sponsored by all manner of folk – from friends and family through to football teams and MPs.

• Can’t make the relay itself? Don’t worry, you can still fundraise by holding your own event. Instructors up and down the country have come up with some brilliant fundraising ideas including fancy dress lessons, sponsored lessons and PJs for Pudsey. Whatever event you create, don’t forget to let the Big Learner Relay know about it via its official Facebook page here – and do let your local press know too to help spread the word.

• If you don’t have time to organise your own event, fret not as you can make direct donations quickly and simply here.

Proud supporter of the BLR

Theory Test Pro wishes everyone taking part in this year’s event a fantastic trip!

All-New Driving Examiner App: Why It’s Good News for Learners

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The days of the driving test marking sheet, the dreaded ‘DL25’, being paper-based are numbered as it is replaced by a tablet-based app – here’s why it will help learners too.

While the all-new app is designed to make the marking process easier for driving examiners and reduce back office paperwork, there are also several advantages for students before, during and after the test too:

Before the practical driving test

• On the old DL25 sheet, you have to sign insurance and residency declarations in a very small box (and this can be pain for learners whose nerves mean slightly shaky hands!).

• With the new app, both the signature box and the text that details what you’re signing are much bigger. You can also re-sign if you’re not happy with your signature.

During the practical driving test

• This is not a new feature per say but more of a clarification about what the examiner is actually doing when marking you during the test.

• Remember, the examiner making a note doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve just been ‘faulted’.

• Instead they could be simply marking that a manoeuvre has been carried out – so relax. It actually means you’re one manoeuvre closer to finishing your test!

After the practical driving test

• This is where the major changes have been made. First, a digital test summary report is sent immediately after your test debrief to the email address you designated at the test booking stage.

• This can then be forwarded to your instructor and any accompanying drivers.

• If it was your instructor who booked the test, you can change the email address to your own before the test starts and forward the report on to your instructor yourself via email, WhatsApp, etc.

• Faults are now also listed in order of severity with the dangerous or severe mistakes now placed above driving faults, all within a layout that is much easier to understand.

• While the paper-based DL25 lists fault definitions on the back, research shows that hardly any of you ever actually look at them.

• To help, the digital version features links to gov.co.uk so can you see what the faults mean with definitions now rewritten so they’re easier to understand.

• If you have failed (or just want to improve your skills as an independent driver after passing your test), the digital report allows you to start analysing what went wrong with your instructor straight away.

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