Blog

F is for free checklist

Announcing our FREE download to help you stay legal during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Hello, and thanks for being an Inclusive Driving customer, and I hope you are staying safe and well during this unusual and difficult time.

The UK government announced a six-month extension to MOTs that are due to expire soon ( https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020 )

But remember that you must keep your vehicle legal and roadworthy.

Remember that your local garage may have mechanics off sick, and may not be able to repair your vehicle as quickly as you need.

Similarly, breakdown/recovery services may not be able to rescue you as quickly as normal.

To help you stay legal and, just as importantly, to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown, we have produced a free vehicle checklist.

Download now for free  

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Reduce the likelihood of a breakdown, and stay legal

Please feel free to share this with your family, friends, and colleagues.

We wish you all the best over the coming weeks and look forward to being able to start lessons again very soon.

Best wishes,

Richard Bates

M is for MOT

I want to keep you all up to date while we are unable to carry on with lessons. The Chancellor unveiled a support package for self-employed workers; which captures the majority of driving instructors. unfortunately, it is on offer only to those who have completed a 2019 tax return. Those who have been self-employed for less than 12 months will not receive the support. My thoughts are with them and their families.

The government have extended MOTs for six months but it is still vital that you keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy. To this end, yesterday I compiled a downloadable booklet on keeping your car roadworthy and reducing the likelihood of a breakdown during this difficult time.

I am selling this download for a bargain price of £2.49 via my website. Originally, I was hoping to make a few quid while I was not able to teach but in light of the plight of some of my local instructor friends, I have decided that 100% of the profit from this booklet will be channelled into the pockets of some instructors less fortunate than myself.

Please, please, support and share the link to the product below.

Thank you, and I’ll see you when this all blows over.

H is for Hibernation (Coronavirus-3)

Image result for shutdown button

The difficult decision has been made to suspend business for an unspecified period.
We are seeing the situation worsen on a daily basis, and we are all having to change our decisions as the situation changes. I feel it is now the right thing to close my business temporarily.

It is impractical impossible to follow social distancing guidelines in a car and to continue lessons would put you, your family, me, and my family at risk.

Remember you still have access to Driving Test Success (if it has expired, ask me to renew it for free). Even if you have passed your theory test, there is still a practical section (you will find the practical videos on the left-hand menu) with useful videos on all aspects of driving.

You can also access Driver Active free (the owner has very generously removed the need to pay for it) while we are in these uncertain times.

Look after yourself and your family.

Best wishes,
Richard Bates

C is for Coronavirus(2)

News on driving tests

Yesterday evening, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced that driving tests were being suspended for a period of up to three months. It could be less: it could be reviewed and could end up being longer. Nobody knows!

If your test was booked for you by Inclusive Driving then we will receive individual notifications for each candidate, and we will let you know as soon as we receive it.

At present, tests are not being rebooked by the DVSA. A replacement date will be sent through at some point and, again, we will let you know as soon as we receive it. Please note that new dates will be subject to instructor availability (but we will do our best for you).

At present, lessons are still unaffected, and the advice given in yesterday’s post still stands.

Richard Bates
Approved Driving Instructor

C is for Coronavirus

An update on our plans during this difficult time.

As of today (20th March 2020), lessons are still going ahead. However, nobody knows for certain what government plans will be enforced in the coming weeks and months. Until I am told to stop lessons, it is business as usual.

Please note, however, that if you become ill yourself, or you are required to self-isolate due to a household member showing symptoms of the virus, please cancel your lesson. The cancellation policy is very lenient at the moment, and if you are genuinely forced to isolate then there will be no charge for a short-notice cancellation.

In terms of the wider picture, Theory tests have been suspended for four weeks. Those of you who I’ve been nagging to book your theory, so as not to delay your ability to book a practical test, should keep practicing and take your theory test as soon as possible when test centres reopen.

Practical tests were suspended for the two days of the 19th and 20th March only. At present, there is no blanket ban on practical tests. Examiners are, of course, facing illness and may be forced to isolate just like the rest of the country if their household becomes unwell. This will mean that there may be short-notice cancellations of driving tests.

On a personal level, it is becoming more and more likely that as an ex-nurse, I may be called upon to rejoin the nursing profession on a temporary basis under emergency legislation given to the Nursing & Midwifery Council. Although it will be optional, I feel it is my duty as a responsible citizen to help out with front-line nursing care if the need arises. I trust you will all support me in this if and when this happens. I will, of course, resume driving lessons once “it all blows over”.

But until I get the letter on my doormat, it’s driving lessons as normal, unless you inform me otherwise.

Best wishes, stay safe and sensible and look after each other.

Richard Bates
Approved Driving Instructor
Inclusive Driving.

S is for Sitting in on tests

When you take your practical driving test, you will be asked if you would like your instructor to sit in the back of the car during your assessment. It’s entirely your choice but Inclusive Driving recently attended a presentation by the DVSA (the organisation that conducts the test) and they actively encourage allowing your instructor to observe your test.

Driving test examiner sitting in a car with a learner

The key points from the presentation were that it benefits the learner and the instructor. This helps you improve your driving whether you pass or fail. It also helps the instructor to improve, thereby benefiting future learners.

  • Disappointingly low number of ADIs accompanying tests
  • ADIs accompanying tests will conduct more realistic mock tests.
  • They will see how an examiner gives directions and instructions.
  • Seeing assessment first hand, as opposed to fault marking, will improve their own level of recording faults
  • ADIs will see how pupils are performing under pressure and give better feedback/development even on successful tests
  • Consistent areas of weakness will be highlighted more readily to allow self-reflection and better personal development to improve instruction in those subject areas
  • ADIs should sell the benefit of being on the test to reluctant pupils. Further development needs are likely in most cases

While it is always the learner’s choice, I also encourage “sitting in”, and for the majority of tests, I do so. So when the examiner says, “would you like your instructor to accompany you on test”, there’s a good reason to say, “YES”.

There are a few strict rules that have to be followed during an observed test; to ensure that I don’t influence your driving in any way that might be seen as cheating:

Who can observe driving tests

You can observe a driving test if you’re 16 or over, but you can’t take any part in the test.

There are different rules for filming or recording a driving test.

Before the test starts

Turn your phone off or make sure it’s switched to silent.

‘Tell me’ vehicle safety question

You can help the candidate to lift the bonnet if they’re struggling, but don’t interfere unnecessarily.

Where you sit

It’s usually least intrusive to sit behind the candidate, However, the best position is wherever it’s the most comfortable, providing you can sit upright with the seatbelt correctly fitted.

During the test

When the test has started, you can:

  • take notes to help the candidate
  • change position to improve the candidate’s visibility during the reverse exercises

Don’t:

  • answer your phone
  • prompt the candidate by coughing or nudging the back of their seat
  • nod enthusiastically or make excessive eye contact with the candidate – it can be seen as a pre-arranged code

The test won’t be stopped if you naturally look left, right and behind you – but try not to put the candidate off.

At the end of the test

Listen carefully to the feedback so that you can give the candidate more detailed feedback later.

Speak to the test centre manager or follow the complaints procedure if you’ve genuine concerns about how the test was conducted.

Colourful Theory

You may have read Kieran’s Story on his studies towards passing his theory test. In his article, he mentions using the Theory Test Colouring Book: an excellent resource if you struggle with traditional methods such as books and websites.

The theory test colouring book is similar in style to the anatomy and physiology colouring books used by university students such as doctors and dentists

Learners have found it useful for varying reasons:

  • Being black and white from the outset, it’s not “in your face”. As you colour the pages yourself, you can choose colours that suit you, or choose not to colour it at all.
  • Having words on one side and pictures on the other, helps learners who need a tidy, organised format.
  • If a keyword on a practice theory test is confusing, the index usually leads to a picture explanation of the topic
  • Colouring is fun and relaxing; possibly the best state of mind to have when studying!

If you want to buy your own copy, it retails for £14 and can be bought directly from the publisher: click the image below.

K is for Kieran

I suffer with ADHD and autism. This affects my concentration and actions.  I have problems remembering things too, even the simplest of things can seem much harder for me.  My anxiety makes it hard for me to communicate what I am feeling, and what I am trying to say.

Kieran used the
Theory Test Colouring Book
to help his studies

When I wanted to learn to drive, I was worried I would have problems with remembering basic skills, especially the Highway Code and that people would not be able to understand my needs.

I found Richard’s website online stating he taught people like me and other special needs etc. We decided to give driving a go, thinking if it was too hard then I could just stop the lessons.

Richard came to visit me at home and talk to my mum and dad about my needs etc so that he could understand my issues and how they affect me on a day to day basis.

Richard was very kind and understanding and I felt at ease with him straight away and this made me more relaxed during my lessons.

Richard was understanding, he would explain things in a way I could understand if I did something wrong whilst driving. I had two hours of lessons every week and we went through all the topics required and if I needed longer to understand it properly then Richard would calmly go over it again with me until I felt confident.

I was concerned about learning the Highway Code and being able to complete my Theory Test as I have problems remembering things. Richard showed me an online site where I can answer questions like those on the actual test. When I started doing this, I was getting low scores and I was worried that I could not do this. I bought the Theory Test Colouring Book and studied that alongside the online site that Richard recommended.

I kept studying the website every day and I started getting better and my scores were getting slowly higher each time I did the test questions. I struggled at first with the hazard perception tests but after using the guides every single day, my results for these tests got better and better.

When Richard said it was time to book in for my Theory Test, I started to become nervous, as I do struggle with reading and writing and the understanding of things. My mum contacted the Test centre and they were so helpful and kind. They understood everything perfectly and they offered my mum some ways that would help me out.

They offered a reader who would read the questions and answers out to you. They offered a private room so that you don’t get put off by other people in the same room doing their tests too. They also offered extra time so that you didn’t have to panic trying to complete everything. Also, they would offer someone who would explain the question to you if you didn’t understand the question itself. Sometimes I am not sure what a word means. They would say the sentence so that you would understand the question, without telling you the answers.

Due to my own personal problems, I accepted the reader, the private room and the extra time. If I didn’t pass the first time, then I was going to ask for the extra help from the person who would explain the questions to me.

My mum booked in my test date and the lady explained everything to her, what I needed to bring etc.

When I arrived at the centre, I was met at the Reception by a man who was very nice to me and kind. He made me feel relaxed as he was funny and softly spoken.  He took my details and explained what I needed to do with my coat etc. I emptied all my pockets and they checked I had no phones, mics etc on me. The man was friendly and made me feel less panicky. I waited in the waiting room and then I was called into a room where another staff member rechecked my pockets and up my sleeves again.

The man who met me on Reception called me into another room which had one computer set up. He opened the programme and told me what to do i.e. using the mouse to choose my answers. He then started to read the questions out, and I clicked on the ones I thought were correct.  After completing this part of the test, he then opened the hazard perception test and after telling me what to do he left me on my own to complete the test.

When I had completed that I was met by the same man again who handed me my test results.  I was so happy that I had passed the first time.

The extra time, reader and private room really helped me to do my tests more confidently. I had plenty of time to think about the answers without worrying that I was taking too slow to have the questions read to me and then for me to think about the answers.

I highly recommend Richard, he will teach you all that you need to know to pass your driving test. He remained calm and supportive with me. I was nervous to start to learn to drive, but he was completely patient with me throughout and made it all an enjoyable experience.

To buy your own copy of the Theory Test Colouring Book, click here

Bay Parking: how many attempts do I get?

Your driving instructor may have told you that if you attempt the bay park but don’t get the car in the bay first time, you can shunt forwards & backwards to correct it. For this, you may be awarded a driving (‘minor’) fault.

But how many shunts are allowed? One or two? Three? Unlimited?

According to the Driving Examiner guidelines, there is no set number of shunts that is acceptable.

Here are some real experiences of some other instructors…

They only give them a few tries to get it right
Usually, 3-4 is the average

LF

I had a student this week who completed the reverse after 3 adjustments. At the debrief the DE said if she hadn’t got the car in then, she would have been failed

PM

There’s no limit […] if it was woefully bad so as to demonstrate little/no control they can just get candidate to drive on without opportunity for correction.

KB

on a test one of my learners took a 2nd shunt and passed. He asked the examiner who said one more and you would have failed.

AC

I’ve had someone pass with 5 attempts, as long as you are making progress they will let you continue. If you keep going back and forwards without changing […]they will call an end to it

SC

As you can see, there seems to be a lot of variation in what has been acceptable on real driving tests.

My opinion, which is backed up by a very well respected instructor (who also trains people to become instructors in the first place) is that we need to look at what is happening on each shunt.

If the first attempt is way off the mark because of a complete loss of control, lack of observation or lack of understanding on how the steering should be applied then no amount of shunting is likely to work.
Similarly, if the candidate is shunting back and forth but not actually achieving anything (e.g. just ending up back in the same place each time) then the examiner is likely to award a serious fault and fail the candidate.

However, if each shunt is taken with good observation, the end result is getting closer each time, and the candidate is demonstrating that they understand, then the examiner is likely to be more lenient.

There is no limit… it’s all about making reasonable progress and improvement
If the attempts being made are doing nothing but confirming a lack of knowledge, understanding or ability then the examiner won’t be allowing that to be demonstrated again and again.
If, clearly, the pupil ‘gets it’ and is making sufficient efforts to rescue themselves in the right way, they will be given adequate chances to do so

LW

My top tips for a successful bay park:

  • Move the car slowly and steadily, giving you time to observe, think, and adjust.
  • Make a plan before you move.
  • Every time you finish moving forwards or backwards, ensure the front wheels are straight.
  • Keep looking in different places: this gives you a general sense of position, and will make you more accurate than staring in just one mirror.

N is for News (23rd Jan 2020)

Queen Elizabeth II seatbelt: The surprising reason the Queen doesn’t use a seatbelt

Queen Elizabeth II seatbelt: The surprising reason the Queen doesn't use a seatbelt
What is the surprising reason the Queen doesn’t use a seatbelt?

Drinking then driving to get kids ‘shameful’

Drinking then driving to get kids 'shameful'
Police note trend of lunch drinking before driving to pick up kids

People we share the roads with…

People we share the roads with...
a trainee driving instructor in a Citroen Cactus was hit head-on’ when Mohammed reversed into him.

Electric car range revealed to be lower than manufacturers claim in blow to EV industry

Electric car range revealed to be lower than manufacturers claim in blow to EV industry
We know that ‘range anxiety’ is a big concern for people thinking about switching from petrol to electric

Speed awareness course – a client’s perspective

Speed awareness coure - a client's perspective
the session was not as painful as we were all expecting and that humour was allowed