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S is for Stopping Distance

  • Thinking distance
  • Braking distance
  • Overall stopping distance

Let’s say you are driving past a school at 30 mph. A child runs out in to the road 10 metres ahead. How fast will you be travelling when you hit the child? You’ll need some extra information to work out an accurate answer, but have a guess…

Here comes another snippet of information: the overall stopping distance at 30 mph is 23 metres. Do you want to change your answer?

And another snippet of information: the thinking distance at 30 mph is about 9 metres (remember the child you are about to hit is only 10 metres away). Have another think about your answer.

Using official Highway Code figures for braking distance and Department of Transport figures for reaction time (thinking distance) you will still be travelling at about 27 mph when you hit the child. At 40 mph you won’t even have time to reach the brake pedal before hitting the child.

At 20 mph you will hit the child at about 7 mph. Not acceptable, but the child will probably walk away with bruises. Driving near a school or playground? Twenty is Plenty

Thinking distance + braking distance = stopping distance
(Figures assume ideal conditions)

P is for Physics

How much energy does a car have a 20 mph? 30 mph? 70 mph? Watch out, here comes a maths lesson…

Ek = mv2
Energy = mass X speed X speed

The faster you drive, the more kinetic energy your car has. When you crash into something (or someone), the more kinetic energy you have, the more damage you will do: this damage ranges from low speed bumps and bruises, through medium speed broken bones, to high speed serious life-changing injury and death.

Let’s keep the maths simple by ignoring the fact that we should convert miles per hour to metres per second. And let’s also ignore that energy is measured in Joules: we will call them “killing units”. Finally, we will estimate the weight of a car at 1000kg (a Fiat 500 is much less: a Nissan Qashqai is much more)

The formula to work out killing energy is weight X speed X speed (yes speed is there twice).

At 20 mph we have 1000 X 20 X 20 = 400,000KU

What happens if we double the speed to 40mph? Heres a clue: it doesnt double to 80,000KU. Get your calculator out and plug the numbers in…

At 40 mph we have 1000 X 40 X 40 = 1,600,000KU

Double the speed equals four times the killing power. Tempted to drive at 80 mph? Go on, do the maths (6,400,000KU)

This huge disparity between speed and energy gives rise to the statistic of “hit a child at 30 mph and theres an 80% chance they will live, hit a child at 40 mph and theres an 80% they will die.”

And at 20 mph the likely outcome is minor injuries.

B is for Brakes

Brakes are for… slowing down, or stopping! Don’t forget that there are other ways we can slow our vehicle down, such as simply taking our foot off the gas, changing gears, and using engine braking. We’ll cover this in more detail in another blog post.

Different cars can have different types of brakes – disc brakes or drum brakes.

What’s the difference?

Taken from Kwik Fit website as they can explain it better than me!

A disc brake system consists of a brake disc, a brake calliper and brake pads. When the brake pedal is applied, pressurised hydraulic fluid squeezes the brake pad friction material against the surface of the rotating brake disc. The result of this contact produces friction which enables the vehicle to slow down or stop.

A drum brake system consists of brake shoes and a brake drum. When the brake pedal is applied the two curved brake shoes, which have a friction material lining, are forced against the inner surface of a rotating brake drum. The result of this contact produces friction which enables the vehicle to slow down or stop.

Which is better?

Disc brakes

  • Better stopping power
  • You can apply quicker for a shorter stopping distance
  • Better at managing heat from the friction of braking on the disc
  • Performs better in wet conditions
  • Less hardware and easier to service
  • Self cleaning
  • More durable
  • Less pulling
  • Self adjusts as the friction material wears out

Drum brakes

  • Retains heat which can reduce the braking force/power
  • Easier to use your handbrake with
  • More complex system but cheaper to replace
  • Requires cleaning
  • More prone to pulling
  • Self adjusts as the friction material wears out

The more pressure you put on the foot brake, the more the vehicle will slow down. Slowing down under control isn’t just a matter of slamming the foot brake on as hard as you can. As with the other foot pedals, using the foot brake needs practise. Press the foot brake with the ball of your foot. Use just enough pressure to slow the wheels of the car down, without allowing them to lock.

(Driving, The Essential Skills)

Progressive Braking

Progressive braking is a safe driving technique that

  • Allows other drivers time to react
  • Prevents skidding
  • Saves wear and tear on brakes, tyres and suspension
  • Uses less fuel than harsh braking
  • Is more comfortable for your passengers

To brake progressively

  • Feel: Put light pressure on the brake at first
  • Firm: Gradually increase the pressure as required to stop the vehicle
  • Feather: When the vehicle has almost stopped, ease off the pressure so that the vehicle stops smoothly. There should be little or no pressure as the vehicle actually stops.

Dual circuit braking

Modern cars are equipped with dual circuit braking systems. These systems ensure that, in the rare event of a braking system failure, there remains some braking available when the brake pedal is pressed. Under these conditions, it may be necessary to push the brake pedal harder than normal.

Stopping in an emergency

  • Always keep both hands on the steering wheel. You need as much control as possible
  • Avoid braking so hard that you lock any of the wheels. A skid may cause a serious loss of control
  • Don’t press down on the clutch pedal until just before you stop. This helps with your braking and stability
  • Don’t use the parking brake while the vehicle is moving. Most parking brakes work on the back wheels only. Extra braking on the back wheels can cause skidding
  • Don’t give a signal – you need both hands to control your steering (and your brake lights will come on at the rear to signal to people behind that you are braking)
  • Don’t make a special point of looking in the mirror – if you’ve been using your mirrors regularly you should know what’s behind
  • Stop as quickly and as safely as possible, keeping your vehicle under full control
  • Look all around again before moving off

Anti Lock Braking Systems (ABS)

If ABS is fitted, it will activate automatically if you need to press the brakes firmly or stop in an emergency. It prevents the wheels from locking, so that you can continue to steer the vehicle while braking. ABS is only a driver aid, it doesn’t help the vehicle stop more quickly, nor does it remove the need for good driving practises such as anticipating events and assessing the road conditions.

Parking brake (also known as the hand brake)

The parking brake holds the vehicle still when it has stopped. In most cars, the parking brake operates on the rear wheels only. The parking brake shouldn’t be used to stop a moving vehicle – there is real danger of the rear wheels locking and causing the vehicle to skid. The only time you may have to use the parking brake to stop a moving vehicle is in an emergency where the foot brake has failed – but this is very unlikely with dual circuit braking systems.

Remember that when you park your vehicle, always leave it in gear and make sure that the parking brake is fully on. You MUST use your parking brake if parked and leaving your car – rule 239 of the Highway Code. You may also use it if sat in a stationary queue of traffic, if you’re on a gradient to help stop you rolling back, or if you’re sat at a junction/roundabout for some time. Whether you use your parking brake at a junction or a roundabout could depend on your confidence and skill, how busy the roundabout is, who’s behind you, whether you’re on a gradient, etc. You may want to speak to your driving instructor in more detail about when to use your handbrake.

Five good rules for braking

  • Anticipate. Think and look well ahead
  • Know your own limitations and those of your vehicle
  • Take note of the state of the road and it’s surface
  • Give yourself plenty of time and distance to brake progressively
  • Avoid the risk of skidding, rather than trying to control it

Braking shifts the weight of the vehicle forward. This can make steering more difficult. Whenever you brake, you should consider

  • The safety and peace of mind of everyone concerned, including your passengers
  • The wear and tear on your brakes, tyres, and suspension
  • The vehicles behind you, whose brakes might not be as powerful as yours

How do I maintain my brakes?

If your brakes feel spongy or slack, you notice your vehicle pulling to one side as you brake, or your brakes are starting to squeak – these could be signs that your brakes are getting worn. You should get your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. Most garages charge very little, or sometimes nothing, for checking your brakes. Your mechanic can advise how low your brakes are worn, and whether you need new brake pads. If your brakes become incredibly worn, they could start scoring the brake discs as you brake – this can then be very costly to replace the brake discs, instead of just the brake pads. It’s always better to get it checked sooner rather than later!

Also check your parking brake regularly and make sure that there’s no excess ‘travel’ of the parking brake lever (meaning, make sure it doesn’t lift further than it does normally), and ensure that the parking brake secures the car properly and prevents the car from moving.

Also check your brake fluid reservoir under your bonnet. If you’re not sure, ask your mechanic to help you check this. We will cover this in more detail in another blog.

We hope this helps!

C is for Carbon Neutral

Inclusive Driving is the only Carbon Neutral driving school in the West Midlands (1). And if others follow suit (we hope they do) then we will still have been the first, and will be proud to have started it!

Based on our fuel use in the car, and our fuel use in the office over the financial year 2018-2019, we have calculated our carbon footprint and offset it with an accredited scheme. We will do the same every year.

With both local and global offsetting projects, we not only achieved carbon-neutral status: we achieved climate-positive status, meaning that we offset more than we produced.

We have also produced our Environmental Statement, showing our commitment to teaching eco-safe driving, and reducing our environmental impact.

Inclusive Driving Environmental Statement

By the very nature of driving instruction, it is impractical to reduce car use. We minimise our environmental impact in the following ways:

  • Longer lessons reduce the number of miles travelled between customers. We encourage customers to choose two-hour lessons and offer a 22% discount on the hourly rate for lessons of two hours duration or more.
  • Customers who live more than 7.5 miles from our base are encouraged to use public transport to a local train station or tram stop, and we offer a financial incentive for this.
  • We use B7 diesel/biodiesel blend, containing 7% biodiesel from renewable sources.
  • We teach in a car with a Euro 6 emissions rating: currently the most stringent standard.
  • We choose not to use a roof sign, reducing drag and reducing fuel use.
  • We offset all of the carbon dioxide produced from diesel during lessons and during personal journeys through certified carbon schemes both locally and globally.
  • We exceed net zero emissions by offsetting a further 25% over our actual emissions.
  • We include “eco-safe” driving in our syllabus to reduce our own fuel use and pass on the skills for learners to continue eco-safe driving after they pass their test.
  • We include essential car maintenance in our syllabus to ensure learners continue to run their own vehicles with minimum environmental impact.
  • Our office utilities suppliers produce electricity from renewable sources.

Proud to be a carbon-neutral driving school

Note to learners: prepare to he nagged even more about going easy on the gas and changing gears early!
1. Correct as of August 2019, based on search engine results. Email for verification

A is for Angled Start

What is an angled start?

An angled start is moving off from behind an object – usually a car.

Why do we have to do them?

The examiners on your driving test will require you to do an angled start – this is to ensure that you can move off safely from behind a parked vehicle or obstacle, ensuring that you are checking your mirrors and blind spots appropriately, signalling appropriately, and moving off smoothly whilst being in control of your vehicle. It will happen in every day life – which is why we teach you these important skills.

What other ‘starts’ are there?

Other ‘starts’ that your examiner will be looking for are normal starts – which is moving off from the side of the road, and moving off on a gradient. The examiner is again checking that you can move off smoothly from the side of the road, whilst being safe, in control, and aware of what’s going on around you. The same with moving off on a gradient – checking that you’re able to move off safely whilst in control on a hill/slope.

What is the examiner looking for?

This is the official examiners guidance – The examiner should observe whether the candidate first sees to the front, then to the rear, that the way is clear for pulling out, gives the appropriate signal if necessary, and moves away smoothly and safely. Wherever possible, ability to move off on a reasonably steep uphill gradient should be tested. A candidate starting on a gradient should be capable of paying attention to other traffic as well as moving their vehicle away without rollback and/ or excessive engine revolutions. If stopping on a hill is not possible an additional ‘normal’ stop need not be sought. However, the test must always include moving off at an angle from behind a stationary vehicle.

How do I move off safely?

The Driving Essential Skills book – our ‘bible’ for driving – says the following (I have simplified it a little to make it easier to read):

– Press the clutch pedal fully down and hold it there

– Select 1st gear

– Press the accelerator slightly and hold it steady

– Slowly and smoothly bring the clutch pedal up, until you hear the engine noise change slightly. This is the biting point.

– Hold the clutch steady in this position

– Make your final safety checks, use your mirrors and look over your right shoulder to check your blind spot

– Decide if a signal is necessary. The timing of your signal is crucial. Avoid waiting for too long with the clutch at bite point

– If it’s safe to move off, be ready to release the parking brake (also known as the hand brake)

– Look around again if necessary and keep an eye on your mirrors

– When you’re sure it’s safe and convenient to move off, release the parking brake, and let the clutch pedal come up a little more

– The vehicle will begin to move

– Gradually press your accelerator for more speed, and let the clutch come up smoothly, then take your foot off the clutch pedal

On your driving lessons, your driving instructor will help you perfect this important skill!

Where can you NOT stop/park?

Let’s be honest… if you start moving off, you’ll have to stop again at some point!

So where is it not safe to stop/park?

Double yellow lines

Single yellow lines – look at the waiting restrictions

Double white lines – including broken white lines

Blocking driveways – (occasionally an examiner may say you can block a driveway temporarily whilst you pull up, as you will not be there for long and you aren’t actually parking)

Blocking dropped kerbs – wheelchair access etc.

On pavements

Bus stops / Bus lanes / opposite bus stops

Opposite other cars/road works/obstructions

Anywhere that would cause an obstruction

Cycle lanes

Bends/corners

Brow of a hill

Junctions – within 10 metres

Pedestrian crossings, including on the zig zag lines

School ‘keep clear’ zig zag lines

Keep clear boxes

Anywhere that would prevent emergency vehicle access

Taxi ranks – as indicated by signs

Clearways / Red routes

Spaces reserved for specific people – disabled, doctors, residents etc.

We hope this helps!

C is for Colour Academy

Are you a visual learner? Do you dislike books with lots of words? Does this mean you might struggle to learn your theory?


Have a look at this book from Colour Academy.
Use this link to get a 5% discount


Studying the highway code is monotonous, unengaging and unlikely to beat the cute dogs of the internet for your attention.

But there’s good news! This innovative new book makes learning the theory of driving engaging and fun. The process of colouring in helps you understand and memorise faster – making it easier for you to pass your test first time! You’ll also be a safer driver for life.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!

L is for L-Plates

L-Plates are a legal requirement if you are driving a car as a provisional licence holder. There are many cheap ones on Amazon but beware: some of them don’t meet the legal specifications of size and colour. If you want to buy a set of L-Plates that are legal and exceedingly good quality, then click here.

There are times when L-plates might also be used, even when the driver isn’t a learner: If someone is training to be a driving instructor then during role-play sessions, L-plates must also be used. Additionally, if you passed in an automatic car and then learn to drive a manual car, you’ll need L-plates again (but don’t worry: you don’t have to redo your theory test).

L-Plates

  • Magnetic and very strong: guaranteed not to blow off at high speed.
  • Legal size and colour.
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The best L-plates: durable and legal.

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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.

H is for HGV

Keep yourself safe around large vehicles, such as lorries, and help the lorry driver at the same time. (This article was written by Richard Gladman from “IAM RoadSmart”)

Often one of the missing links when teaching people to become drivers is to get them to understand about the larger vehicles which use the road. The important messages will get conveyed to learners providing the opportunity arises and but ideally the skills need to be learned in practical terms. 

Image of a heavy goods vehicle

The driver of a large vehicle will tell you, they sometimes need a bit of extra space to move down the road. Visibility can be restricted, and no number of mirrors will allow all the blind spots to be monitored all of the time. On a roundabout they will often need more than one lane so let them have it; when turning to the left they will almost certainly move out to the right first to create their turning circle so hang back when you see them indicating their intention to turn left; a few seconds delay will be worth it if you prevent a crash. Driving in front of, or even behind, a large lorry can be daunting. 

When you’re driving along the motorway, you’ll notice many
lorries with foreign number plates. Bear in mind that the driver will be
sitting on the left-hand side rather than the right, so you may be difficult to
see and the driver may be acclimatising his lane position in the UK. Take extra
care when passing and allow more space if you can.

We have all heard the saying “if you can see their
mirrors, then they can see you.” But an HGV can have up to five mirrors,
and the driver is limited to looking at one at a time so they may not see you.
Hold back and you will eventually be visible in their mirrors.

Identify when there is a likelihood of the HGV changing
lanes. Is there a slip road coming up which will be joining traffic and may
force a lane change? Or if there is an HGV in lane two, are they likely to
change back into lane one? Be accommodating by hanging back and allowing them
to pull into the lane they are looking to move into.

At one point in time, we’ve all experienced heavy spray from
an HGV in front of us. You can control this by extending the distance between
yourself and the lorry. The Highway Code suggests at least four seconds in the rain
but if needed, make it more. Not only will it prevent your wipers working
overtime, it will also improve your vision beyond the HGV.

An articulated lorry will track sideways in a right-hand
bend on the motorway and on a roundabout, so avoid being beside it. A good rule
of thumb is to be safely in front of or safely behind, but never beside an HGV
when entering a roundabout.

If you see a queue of traffic in front of you and have an
HGV behind you, introduce your brake lights early to pre-warn the driver behind
and slow down gradually. This will let the HGV driver extend their braking
distance and stop in plenty of time. On a motorway or dual carriageway, hazard
lights can be used to show drivers behind you of any issues further in front.
(Highway Code rule 116)

Despite being legally limited to 60mph, an HGV can only physically go a maximum of 56mph on the motorway. So, if you do see a HGV in the right hand lane, give them a helping hand by slowing down and letting them into the left lane. Allow them to pass more easily if you can.

T is for traffic lights

The first set of permanently-installed traffic lights were in St Peter’s Square, in my home town of Wolverhampton.
Learn all about traffic lights by downloading the Secret Guide to Traffic lights (see below)
For a free video, click here.

The secret guide to traffic lights (workbook)

£2.95£4.95

  • 20+ page workbook with optional certificate on completion
  • Simple and complex traffic light junctions
  • What to do if traffic lights are broken
  • Legal quotes
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  • Complete the workbook and send it by post or email to receive an optional certificate of completion

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Assessment

Workbook only, Marked by an instructor

Certificate

No certificate, Email (self-print), Print & Post