Environmental policy update

In accordance with our Environmental Policy, we have previously offered a financial incentive to customers who chose two-hour lessons instead of a one-hour lesson. This has had the desired effect of discouraging one-hour lessons and reducing unnecessary mileage between customers and also allowed us to offset the additional mileage in accredited carbon-reduction schemes.

This policy has been so successful that we have decided to stop offering one-hour lessons to new customers. We will continue to offer a financial incentive to customers who use public transport to attend lessons locally, rather than the instructor driving longer distances to the customer’s home, thus further reducing unnecessary car-mileage and the resulting carbon emissions.

H is for Health

Sometimes called Fitness to Drive, health is an important factor in driving. In the long-term, any pre-existing or new medical condition which may affect your ability to drive safely must be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

This is generally a conversation you should have with your doctor or specialist. A complete list of notifiable conditions is available on the gov.uk website

In the shorter term, minor illness or tiredness can affect your ability to drive safely, and it is up to you, as a responsible person, to decide for yourself if you are fit to drive or not.

Perhaps you have a headache? Could you delay your journey for an hour while you take some over-the-counter pain killers? If you have a cold and cannot give driving your full attention, could you work from home or lift-share?

Do you even need to drive? Would walking or public transport be a safer option for everybody?

If you are on any medication, read the information leaflet, or ask your doctor or pharmacist how it might affect your driving. Many medications state do not operate machinery…remember a car is a machine too!

And we cannot end a discussion on fitness to drive without mentioning recreational drugs, including alcohol. Recreational drugs are subject to a strict liability law, which essentially means zero tolerance. Alcohol has a more forgiving limit but any amount of alcohol in your system will have a detrimental effect on your driving.

N is for News (17th August 2019)

Brake pushes for learner driver penalty points disqualification

Brake pushes for learner driver penalty points disqualification

Brake is pushing for a reduction in the number of penalty points a learner can have before being disqualified. READ MORE

Crash Not Accident

Crash: Not Accident

Roadpeace campaign to raise awareness that a car crash is rarely an accident. READ MORE

Theme unveiled for UK Road Safety Week 2019

UK Road Safety Week 2019, which takes place between 18-24 November, will encourage road users to ‘step up’ and play a part in the creation of a safe and healthy future. READ MORE

pace note screenshots on iphone

Developing a smartphone app to help learner drivers

We developed the PaceNotes app to provide learners with a tool that encourages them to spend more time learning to drive. READ MORE

HUNDREDS of driving convictions could be overturned after a motorist who filmed a crash on his mobile phone was cleared at the High Court today thanks to a legal loophole. READ MORE

There are more than 100,000 drivers in Britain over 90 – we reveal the postcodes with the highest numbers of elderly motorists READ MORE

 The bus has now been towed away

A Bus driver has been charged after the roof of his double-decker was ripped off by a railway bridge in West Lothian.


Image result for yellow night glasses

Yellow lens glasses don’t improve drivers’ night vision

Touted to improve nighttime eyesight, yellow lens glasses don’t help drivers see better and may, in fact, worsen vision, a new study suggests. READ MORE

drivers using phones traffic safe

Research also shows a fifth of us admit to texting while driving.

Around 2.7 million drivers could have been involved in a collision or veered off the road because they were using their mobile phones while driving. READ MORE

D is for dual carriageway

What is a dual carriageway? Does it have more than one lane in each direction? How many? Is it fast? How fast?

It doesn’t matter what your answers were to those questions; they have nothing to do with dual carriageways. The defining factor for a dual carriageway is that the opposite directions are separated by some kind of physical barrier. The barrier could be concrete bollards, metal crash barriers, a raised kerb, or just a simple strip of grass. The number of lanes in each direction can vary from one, two, three, in fact any number. And it doesn’t need to be the same number in each direction.

So if you see another driver tootling along at 70mph on a national speed limit road with a barrier between then opposite directions, then they are not breaking the law, even if there is only one lane in each direction.

C is for clutch

The clutch pedal is the scary one. If not treated gently, it can take you by surprise and also cause damage to your car.

The clutch pedal decides if the engine is connected to the wheels. When the clutch pedal is all the way up, the engine is fully-connected to the wheels. With the clutch pedal pressed all the way to the floor, it disconnects the engine from the wheels.

Between the fully-up and fully-down position is the biting point, where the engine is just beginning to get connected with the wheels. This point is essential for getting the car moving smoothly, and you will need to practice finding it.

How does it work?

To see an animation of how a clutch works see this video from Simon Raisbeck

To see a real clutch, have a look at this video from Eric the Car Guy

To see how it interacts with the gear box see this video from Learn Engineering

When is the clutch used?

The clutch is used for a few things when driving, and it can be thought of as a standby button.

  • When moving off from stationary, the clutch is raised slowly to bring the car out of “standby”.
  • When changing between different gears, the clutch is used to temporarily take the power away from the wheels while the gears reposition themselves.
  • When coming to a complete stop, the clutch is pressed down to put the car into “standby”

Safe And Fuel Efficient

Whats the optimum speed for maximum fuel efficiency? Put the calculator away. Don’t bother with those fancy torque/power graphs. Just follow a few basic rules of thumb.

Keep a constant speed

Newton was correct: maintaining a constant speed uses less fuel than constantly changing your speed. A constant 65mph is better than fluctuating between 63mph and 67mph. Cruise control (or the speed limiter function) can help you achieve this.

Going slower than the lorries means you have to slow down and then speed up again to re-establish your braking distance every time one overtakes and pulls back in front of you. Lorries are legally required to have a physical speed limiter device restricting then to 58mph. If you do 60mph, you are more likely to be able to keep a constant speed by ensuring the big wagons stay behind you.

On a three lane motorway, plan ahead so that you don’t find yourself having to slow down behind a lorry in lane 2 while waiting for a safe overtaking gap in lane 3. Maybe in these circumstances a steady 65mph may be better until the wagon-congestion had passed, when you could slow down again to the magic 60mph.

Time is money

A 100 mile journey at 60mph takes only 1 hour and 40 minutes. At 70mph the same journey is only 15 minutes quicker but uses significantly more fuel. Some figures from my own car:

I regularly make a journey from the Midlands to North Wales; a round trip of 240 miles on the M6, M56 and A55. Apart from a short section around the England/Wales border, the speed limit is 70mph all the way. If I maintain maximum speed, the journey uses about 20 litres of fuel: at 2018 prices that’s about £25.

The same journey at 60mph uses about 12 litres: a saving of about £10. The time difference is only 20 minutes each way.

In summary

To reduce your fuel bill, and enjoy the thrill of lowering your car emissions, aim for a speed which is low but where you can keep it constant. On a road shared with lorries, 60 is a good balance. Oh, and just leave 15 minutes earlier.

Blue badge holders only

A controversial one, but bear with me: I am not condoning the misuse of disabled parking bays.

It is common to see private car parks such as supermarkets, shopping centres, cinemas etc providing accessible parking bays with signage stating “BLUE BADGE HOLDERS ONLY”. My wife is disabled but does not have (and does not wish to have) a blue badge. But I still park in disabled bays when she is with me. I feel it is morally acceptable, and the law is on my side.

The blue badge scheme was established to provide disabled drivers and passengers with certain exemptions and/or priveliges on council owned roads.

If you have a blue badge yourself, take a few minutes to re-read the booklet that came with it (you did read it didn’t you?) In there you will find the following phrase a blue badge is intended for on-street parking only. So supermarkets can impose whatever arbitrary rules they like about blue badges: they have no meaning and I can ignore it. Unfortunately, with many private car parks being “managed” by greedy external agencies who threaten me that I may be fined for parking in a disabled bay without following their meaningless rules, the myth self-propagates.

Private car parks have a legal duty to provide accessible spaces as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010. It is this act, and the protected characteristics within it which determine a person’s entitlement to use a disabled parking space: not a blue badge. By telling a disabled person they cannot use a reasonable adjustment unless they agree to be labelled with a blue badge, the car park owners are themselves in breach of the equality act, and are on very unstable ground.

Just as there is an increase in awareness that not every disability is visible, remember that not every disabled person wants to be labelled with a blue badge.

Driving with anxiety

What is the best way forward when somebody says they want to learn to drive but are extremely nervous? Some people would say “you need to find out why”. But what if you don’t know the reason behind your anxiety? I can still help…

Firstly, I don’t need to know what makes you anxious: I can find that out for myself as we go along. It is more important for me to ask the following question: How will I know when you are anxious? Will you tell me? Will you go quiet? Maybe your body language will change? If it helps we can agree on a system of traffic lights Red Amber Green to make it easier to know how you are feeling.

Red means “I’m not coping with this situation a nd I need help to get out of it immediately”.

Amber means “This situation makes me feel slightly anxious but it doesn’t stop me from functioning.”

Green means “I’m feeling entirely comfortable and not feeling anxious”. Green is nice but if you are feeling totally green and stress free then are you actually learning anything?

My job is to keep the lesson in the amber zone for as much as possible. If we agree, I will take you to the red zone; just a small step outside of your comfort zone, to see how it feels. And then back to amber.

Secondly, we need to agree that making mistakes is ok; in fact I encourage it, and I won’t shout at you. If I see you are about to make a mistake but it will be safe, then I’ll let it happen. Then we can talk about why it happened. If it won’t be safe to let the mistake happen then I will tell you what to do or, if necessary, step in and take control.

The only rule in the car is that you work with me to analyse these mistakes and find a way to stop it happening next time.

I create a calm environment in the car and, by teaching you defensive driving, I help you keep the outside world calm too. If you want to bring music, just pop it on a memory stick. If you want me to tell you jokes, I can do that too! I even have teddy bears in the car (James and Pooh), and they have been known to help with certain topics.

And that’s it … I struggle to understand why all driving instructors don’t teach the same way.

Driving with dyslexia

What difficulties may be faced if you are dyslexic and want to learn to drive? How can you overcome those difficulties?

Difficulties you may face

  • Identifying road signs and deciding how to act on them
  • Understanding the language used in the Highway Code
  • Understanding the questions in the theory test
  • Planning for the road ahead
  • Planning for other road users
  • Coordinating what you see with what your hands and feet do

How can I help?

  • Provide support and practice for your theory
  • Implement various techniques to help your planning and awareness
  • Find ways to minimise and then eliminate mistakes
  • Make use of diagrams unique to our school
  • Provide a calm, distraction free learning environment
  • Use your existing skills and find similarities to driving skills

I can also use multisensory learning and the Japanese shisa kanko system. Shisa kanko means “point and say”, and the method has played a big part in keeping Japan’s 200mph bullet trains completely accident free (watch video).

If you were worried about learning to drive because of dyslexia, get in touch and see how I can help.