The other day one of my pupils rather sheepishly asked me if it was OK if her dad came along on her next lesson as he wanted to see how she was doing. When I said yes of course she looked a little surprised. I explained that It's an unusual request but one that I was happy to accommodate especially when the pupil is having private practice between lessons. It's very common for a parent to (wrongly) assume that learning to drive is still the same as it was when they took their test back in the 1970's or 80's and teach their offspring the same way, including all the bad habits that they may have picked up through the years. Apart from the current driving test being longer, a lot more involved and certainly harder than the 'old' test, we as instructors are also looking to teach our pupils more than just vehicle control but also to instil the wider aspects of safe driving such as attitude to other road users within our lessons. In seeing and experiencing a lesson first hand it enables the parent to work 'with' and not against the instructor by offering their kids confusing or conflicting advice. There is also the added benefit that parents who sit in on a professional lesson can judge for themselves the quality of the tuition being provided which is important when you consider the investment of time, effort and of course, money. Next lesson dad did indeed come along and both he and my pupil enjoyed the experience with dad saying he would try to carry on the same level of tuition when he took his daughter out practising. Result!
Over the last couple of years I have been exploring the world of in-car dash cams as a way of recording the spurious 'goings on' in front of my car while out teaching. I originally settled on the 'Mobius' action cam for about a year as this gave good results at an affordable price. However, the 'Mobius' suffered from something which is common to all dash cams, reflection of the cars interior in the windscreen glass which quite often would spoil the recorded picture. In an effort to improve things I have recently been testing the 'Next Base' range which includes the 402G awarded the 2015 'Which Magazine' Best Buy, a great camera but one which still suffered from the pesky windscreen reflection problem. I then tried the next model in the range, the 512G which comes with a 'anti glare' polarising filter over the lens, a worlds first for a dash cam. This small addition makes a world of difference to the recorded picture quality and I now have one installed in my tuition vehicle. The video AND audio from these little camera's is simply amazing and means that I can constantly monitor and record the road ahead and should I have an accident the video would provide proof of liability to my insurance company. Some insurance companies now offer a reduction in premiums if a dash cam is fitted in your car.
As with most things in life, there are cheaper options BUT if you want a fantastic quality picture and sound from your dash cam I would highly recommend the Next Base 512G which is readily available from Halfords, Amazon and other good retailers.
In the 'olden days' when everything was in black and white, the only place a driving instructor could advertise was in the local paper or the yellow pages, both of which are all but extinct these days. Luckily after over 25 years of teaching I'm in a position to not need to advertise any more, but it doesn't do any harm to get your name 'out there', so I have occasionally offered a few 'half price vouchers' via my friends at Yorkshire Coast Radio. My latest batch of 5 vouchers went on sale at 8am this morning (Thursday) and had sold out by lunchtime which is great news and shows that there is a demand for such things. The vouchers get 5 new learners on the road at a reduced price but just as importantly get me some extra exposure on-line, on air and also some great free advertising on the Yorkshire Coast Radio website as we head into what is traditionally a quiet time of year. It's a very different world to the one I started in back in 1988 with a 8x1 classified advert in the Top Trader each week, but you have to move with the times. Looking forward to welcoming my 5 new students and the journey to making them into safe drivers.
It's always nice to report when things go down in price and that's just what the DVSA has done with the car theory test. The cost has been reduced from £25 to £23 with effect from 1st October. If you are planning to book a theory test do make sure you book directly with the DVSA and not through one of the many 'agency' sites that charge a fee for the service. A direct booking can be made at www.gov.uk/book-theory-test where you choose your test centre, date and time of your test and pay on-line.
From Monday 8th June 2015 the driving licence counterpart (paper part) is being abolished and will no longer be valid. Licence holders both full and provisional are being advised to destroy the counterpart by shredding it. This abolition is part of the governments 'Red Tape Challenge' initiative to remove unnecessary burden. In simple terms this means that all the information that WAS held on the counterpart can now be accessed easily on-line at www.gov.uk instead. To view your driving record and licence entitlement just point your mouse to: https://www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk/driving-record/licence-number? and enter your details. Simples!
So here we are, officially into Spring 2015 with the bad weather and the first quarter of the year out of the way. The clocks have gone forward and the days are getting ever longer, so is now a good time to start driving lessons?
The simple answer is YES! Maybe you are just turning 17 or maybe a little older and have been promising yourself a course of lessons for some time, but have never quite got round to it. Whatever the reasons, Spring is the best time to take that first step to getting on the road and taking your test. The weather is warm but not too hot and the roads are still quiet ahead of the visiting holiday makers in the school Summer holidays. For most people, starting lessons in Spring means they will be ready for their test by the Summer and will be able to pass and maybe get a car in time for the colder weather of Autumn and Winter.
So if you are thinking about learning then 'spring' (sorry) into action and get your first lesson booked as soon as you can. Check out the 'Offers' page for a great beginner deal.
The current 40 minute car driving test, although much tougher than its original 20 minute predecessor, is considered out dated by many road industry and safety experts and a review is being carried out as to how to bring it up to date and more in line with modern road demands and challenges. Changes being considered include removing the current 'turn in the road' (3 point turn) and reverse around a corner into a side road. These being replaced with driving independently for a longer period than the current 10 minutes and also being able to demonstrate the ability to follow directions given from a pre-programmed 'sat-nav' to a car park where the candidate would be required to drive 'into' a space and then reverse back out, are all being trialled to establish their viability. The current 'Show and Tell' questions may also be asked while the candidate is driving instead of static, so as to replicate real life situations such as turning on the heated rear window or the headlights etc. All of these are now seen as 'real world' requirements for a new driver and the DVSA wants to make the roads a safer place by making sure test candidates are prepared for such things. The logistics of implementing these changes are still being assessed and considered but one thing is for sure, we as approved driving instructors must be (and will be) at the forefront of such changes and able to safely teach these 'real world' skills to our customers.
Just another reason why choosing the 'right' instructor and not the 'cheapest' is essential when choosing your, or your children's driver trainer.
The clips used for the hazard perception test are to be upgraded to computer generated imagery (CGI) this year which will mean the old 'film' clips being replaced with clearer and more up to date scenes for candidates taking their theory test.
The use of CGI will also allow for a wider range of hazards, for example situations involving vulnerable road users such as children or cyclists and a wider range of driving conditions such as night time or bad weather.
To find out more about the new clips and how they will be used, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hazard-perception-clips-get-a-modern-makeover
Update... The new CGI clips will come into effect from Monday 12th January 2015.
So, I've just done my final test of 2014 and it ended the year, as it began, with a great first time pass for Robson 'Dex' Harrison, who joins the dozens of other learners I've helped to become drivers this year. It's been a difficult year with many people finding money tight but still managing to take proper training to get their licence's and get on the road safely. The new car has proved a massive hit with all that have driven it and I think it has helped my business to grow as well. I'm looking forward to 2015 and hope the snow stays away, as it did last year, so that I can keep teaching through to spring and I'm also looking forward to meeting lots of new and interesting people to help them with their driving.
Can I wish all my customers both old and current (and anybody else reading this) a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy and Safe 2015.
Learner drivers booking their theory or car practical driving tests are being warned about the extra cost involved if you use a bugus or copycat website. If you type the names of some popular government services into search engines, some of your search results might be ads for sites that offer a service you could get for free (or for much less) on GOV.UK, the government’s own website.
Driving test bookings:
Some of these copycat websites offer to book theory and practical driving tests, and look like they might be official, but they actually charge a premium for their services.
Some websites charge:
These are the musings of Kevin Jewison ADI owner of this driving school and website.