Breakdowns are an inconvenience and can’t be completely eliminated. But it is possible to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown with some basic checks, and you don’t need to be a mechanic to do them.
Get into the habit of checking these items once per week, and always before making a long journey.
Fuel Lights Oil Water Electrics Rubber
Fuel: have you got enough petrol or diesel (or battery) for your journey? Do you know where you can fill up along the journey? Have you remembered you bank card to pay for it? Have you got human-fuel (commonly know as food!) too?
Lights: switch on your headlights and hazard warning lights, and walk around your car. Check all lights are working. Have you got spare bulbs? Do you keep a torch in your car?
Oil: when the engine is cold, and with your engine switched off, use the dipstick to check your oil level.
Water: with the engine switched off, check the coolant reservoir (usually a green or orange liquid) is at the correct level. Have you got drinking water for yourself too?
Electrics: check out any warning lights on the dashboard, especially RED lights. Is your phone charged?
Rubber (tyres): check your tyres aren’t obviously deflated. Check the tread depth once a week, and make sure the side walls are free from cuts and bulges.
These adverts for no-win-no-fee legal services annoy me. I, along with most other instructors, firmly believe that in 99.9% of incidents, both drivers are to blame. The blame may not necessarily be shared equally, but in the majority of cases, there is always something that could have been done to avoid something going wrong, or at least lessen the severity.
When choosing a dash-cam, remember that the most common incident that is “not your fault” is being hit from the behind. Protect yourself with this Nextbase camera that has both front and rear cameras.
As you approach a junction, has the driver in the side road made eye-contact with you? If not then slow down in case they pull out in front of you.
On the mini-roundabout, is the oncoming vehicle approaching so fast that you think they may steal your priority? Let them go first!
On the dual carriageway, can you see the lorry driver in his door mirror? If not then the lorry driver can’t see you.
Getting you to think “What if…”
At Inclusive Driving, we help you pre-empt these situations by the use of case studies. By asking yourself “What if…?” then you may avoid an accident, even if it wasn’t going to be your fault.
But I wasn’t to blame
Even if you weren’t to blame for a collision, it’s not good taking the moral high-ground from a hospital bed! And that’s how insurance companies might view it too: even for a non-fault claim, expect your insurance price to go up next year.
Statistically, new and young drivers are far more likely to be involved in an incident (note, we don’t call it an accident) that could cause death or serious injury. Once you’ve passed your test, you lose the safety net of having another, more experienced driver with you. And even if you are accompanied, where are the dual controls? Responsibility is now 100% on you.
Remember, you are also responsible for the safety of your passengers, but make them aware that you are in charge. If they misbehave or distract you: warn them that they’ll be walking home.
The Honest Truth
The Honest Truth is a charity aimed at educating and supporting new drivers, and they advocate “My Car My Rules” for a zero-tolerance agreement with your passengers. Their “ten truths” can be studied free of charge on their website. If you have any questions: ask your driving instructor…even if you’ve passed!
Pass Plus is a series of six further lessons which can be taken after you have passed your driving test. The whole course is a minimum of six hours, covering situations that you may not have experienced as a learner, and it puts you in a better position to stay safe.
The Pass Plus course syllabus is as follows:
Out of town (rural/country lanes)
Bad weather (can be done as a theory module)
City centre (rush hour)
There is a set syllabus to follow but there is no test at the end, and the assessment is carried out by your driving instructor who you already know and trust. You even a certificate in the post when you complete the training.
After passing the driving test, some people choose to display P-Plates. They are optional. The theory is that they will encourage other drivers to be more tolerant of your mistakes. But a more robust way of thinking is that you shouldn’t be making mistakes! By taking the additional training of Pass Plus, and by staying alert and being predictable in your driving, other drivers will know what you are doing.
If you want to buy P-Plates, we suggest the same brand as the L-Plates we recommend: Le Yogi.
New Driver Act
Since 1997, new drivers have been placed on an automatic two-year probationary period from the day they pass their driving test. You can read the full act here (it’s very long and wordy) but here’s a summary:
If you reach or exceed six penalty points on your licence within two years of passing your driving test, your licence will be revoked.
To get your licence back, you will need to pass both the theory and practical tests again.
As an example, “minor” speeding offences (I use the term “minor” very reluctantly) carry 3 points. Get caught speeding twice and it’s goodbye to your licence. And it’s almost certainly hello to very expensive insurance when you get your licence back.
If you already have points on your provisional licence then they stay on your full licence. Let’s say you have 3 points on your provisional licence. When you pass your test, your full licence will still have 3 points. Get caught speeding just once, and you’ve reached the six-point maximum.
The government is considering new plans which could see drivers facing automatic fines of £130 for minor motoring offences. The plans could give more power to local councils to help improve roads for cyclists and pedestrians, with the money raise
There are two sides to this story. One is about using SatNav (including on your driving test). The other is driving alone.
Satellite navigation is great, although you need to use it carefully. Whatever model you buy (in many modern cars, you can even dock your phone and use Google Maps or Apple Maps), it needs to be kept up to date. And you must always check for yourself that it isn’t asking you to do something illegal, for example, asking you to turn in to a no-entry road or do a U-turn when road-signs prohibit it.
By far the easiest way to use satnav is as a visual aid, and to ignore the actual words it is saying out loud. Quite simply, anything the satnav says should just be a cue to look at the screen. This is quite safe: it’s easier than looking at a road-sign.
Usually, satnavs will use icons on the screen to give you advance notice of instructions. For example, it might show a roundabout symbol with an arrow pointing to the right. Even without a verbal instruction, you’ll therefore know to set yourself up in the correct lane for a right-turn.
The SatNav currently used on driving tests is the TomTom Start 52. Buy yours using the link below if you want to practice in your own car.
You won’t be asked to programme it yourself; it’s only there for you to follow the directions. And don’t forget that one in five driving tests will still use the old-fashioned follow the roadsigns to… method.
If you’ve passed your driving test: congratulations! Welcome to real independent driving.
Your driving test and lessons will have taught you all the skills you need. But here’s a reminder of some of the key safety-points you may have forgotten (or may feel embarrassed to use now you’re a “real driver”)
Plan ahead. Don’t do anything at the last minute. If you find yourself in the wrong lane at a big junction, don’t try and change lanes: just go wherever that lane takes you and find somewere safe to turn around later on. SatNav will detect you’ve one wrong and will help you get back on track.
Tell somebody where you are going. Agree a timescale for “checking in” and remember to park up before sending a text message.
Remember your personal safety. Keep your doors locked, and leave yourself an escape route when you pull up behind another vehicle.
If you have passengers who don’t drive, and don’t understand the stress you may be feeling, agree some rules about behaviour, and agree that you will pull in for a rest every two hours. Never be scared to ask you passengers to be quiet for a moment while you navigate a tricky roundabout or need to concentrate while joining a motorway.
This week we have news on theory tests, and we’ve been busy recording more video footage for our series of Virtual Lessons. There’s also advice on keeping safe when travelling during Covid-19.
With the lower numbers of cars on the road, there has been a noticeable improvement in air quality, and there is some hope for the electric future with news of a nationwide grant towards greener travel.
I hope you’ve had a good week.
Theory test booking is open
The official website for booking a theory test is now open and you can book a theory test from 1st June 2020. If you were contemplating booking it, or you had your theory test cancelled, now is the time to rebook it.
If you need access to Driving Test Success to restart your practice or refresh your knowledge, please get in touch.
New virtual lesson available
Traffic lights and trucks: a new entry in our Virtual Lessons series. Filmed around the Wolverhampton test area, this lesson focuses on traffic lights (especially right turns and filter arrows) and also looks at planning to overtake, and fuel-efficient driving. From £1.99 for a 50-minute video lesson. It’s available to stream straight away once you’ve completed the checkout, and you can watch it as many times as you like.
Virtual lessons are an excellent way to learn during the lockdown. If you find videos a good way to learn, then this is for you. To learn more about Virtual Lessons, click here.
Most authorities are encouraging people to walk, cycle or drive if they have to travel. Public transport is still available but is operating on a limited service. You should only use it as a last resort.
Where can you get a driving lesson for less than a fiver?
During the forced lockdown, while some people have been resting on their laurels, we’ve been busy developing a few online tools. As well as our Instructor Training portal, we’ve developed virtual lessons.
Using multiple in-car cameras, and microphones, we’ve created a lesson that you can watch online.
Naturally, this can’t replace actual experience in the car, using the controls, feeling the pedals, listening to the engine noise. And we can’t recreate the fear of, say, rolling backwards on a hill. But we can give you tips on how to react to a roll-back, and how to avoid it in the first place.
Our virtual lessons are priced at just £1.99 for a 30-minute lesson that you can watch again and again on your phone, laptop, smart TV, or tablet. We think that’s a bargain; especially as you have lifetime access to any videos you purchase.
These video lessons are created exclusively for this Virtual Lessons series, and we do not plan to release them to the general public.
As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback, and if there is a topic you struggle with, let us know and we’ll add it to the list!
Bounce-Back Offers for loyal customers are now live.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on small businesses. In order to give Inclusive Driving a financial boost, and secure future business from customers who have been loyal and patient, we have developed three special offers.
We also appreciate that these are likely to be tough financial times for you too, so these offers are designed to be mutually beneficial.
Credit cards accepted
We accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards so you can take advantage of these offers in a way affordable to you.
As with other businesses such as cafes, supermarkets, and leisure centres, we will have to follow very strict precautions to be “Covid-Secure”. We will be limiting the number of lessons available each day to allow time for the necessary cleaning and decontamination measures to be carried out safely and effectively. We are therefore inviting you, as an existing customer, to secure these limited lesson spaces in advance before we advertise for new customers.
To encourage you to book in advance, we are offering some fabulous discounts and freebies: fancy a free motorway lesson? We anticipate being allowed to commence driving lessons on the 4th July but no matter when the Government allow us to restart, your prepayment will secure you a space in the diary. In the unlikely event that we cannot fit you in you will be given a full refund.
Mix and match from the following offers:
10% discount on a block booking of 10 hours
Free car hire for your driving test
Free motorway lesson
See individual products for details and terms.
For students who were test ready but had their test cancelled, you are not being left out: we have a special bounce-back refresheroffer for you.
Each individual offer is limited to one per customer but you are welcome to mix and match and purchase any two or all three.
Mega Offer – Strictly time-limited
Take an additional 5% off your purchase: enter the code BOUNCEBACK5 at the checkout. This additional offer expires at 23.59 on 21st May 2020
Government advice is currently suggesting that driving instructors might be able to return to work on the 4th of July. Naturally, this is subject to change at any time, however, we are using this as a target date and making preparations to recommence lessons in the safest way possible.
How we will keep safe
As a business, there will, of course, be strict measures in place to be “Covid-Secure”, as per government guidelines. We will also need to make changes to our working style to ensure we can operate viably. This document sets out these changes, what we will do, and what you will be expected to do before, during, and after your lesson.
Your instructor will wear a face covering. Students will be required to provide their own clean face covering and wear it during the lesson. Exceptions may be made for learners with hearing impairments who need to lipread.
Students who wear glasses may find that wearing a face-covering causes their glasses to steam up. This can be minimised by using washing-up liquid to keep the lenses clean.
Students must wash their hands immediately before a lesson, and will be required to use a hand sanitiser provided by the instructor before touching any control surfaces. If you have any allergies that may affect you in this respect, please let your instructor know.
The instructor will clean the car controls at the end of your lesson, before driving away. As an additional step, disinfectant wipes will be provided at the start of the lesson for the student to clean the controls (any controls touched by hand e.g. handbrake, gear stick, steering wheel, indicator stalk) to their satisfaction. The instructor will dispose of these wipes.
You will not be expected to wear gloves as we feel this reduces the ability to use controls safely. Your instructor may wear gloves if students are in the early stages where the instructor may need to intervene and use the controls e.g. gear stick, steering wheel.
It is recommended that car windows be open when driving, however, this can make it difficult for students to hear the instructor and vice-versa. We will, instead, keep the front windows closed, keep the rear windows open, and use the heating/cooling system to keep adequate ventilation through the car, directing from front to rear.
Bounce Back Lessons
Sadly, this period of lockdown has caused many driving instructors to hang up their keys, and find other means of employment. Inclusive Driving is exceedingly proud of our achievements in the last 12 months, and we are determined to survive. Trainee instructors, who have only a six-month licence, have also been affected, and driving schools who previously used large numbers of trainees are finding themselves in difficulty.
With fewer instructors in the area, demand for lessons is expected to be high and we will of course need to ensure our diaries are full. However, we have relied heavily on loyal customers such as you, and we will not take advantage of you by being greedy and pushing up our prices.
In fact, we intend to make a sensible business decision to protect ourselves and at the same time reward you for your patience and loyalty.
Keep a lookout for an announcement coming soon from Inclusive Driving about our “Bounce Back Lessons” offers. These time-limited offers will allow you to secure a place in the diary, and benefit from a choice of special offers.
Train as a Driving Instructor
As driving is an essential skill for almost every job, we expect the Driving School industry to ride the storm and flourish sooner than many other industries. At inclusive driving, we are qualified to train instructors. During the period of lockdown, we haven’t sat still: we have developed our own training course and are ready to release it.
In three parts, the first is a theory unit, which you could easily study during lockdown!
If you or a member of your family has experience in special needs and has held a driving licence for at least three years, then you or they could become an Inclusive Driving Instructor!
Please get in touch by email to email@example.com if you would like further details.