Category Archives: Driving

Change Is In The Air for Learner Drivers

L Plate

L Plate

I posted a while ago about the practical driving test getting an update the first major update to the practical test in 20 years. It were thought these changes would be here by now, but the official date is scheduled for 4th December 2017. I still maintain some of these changes are pointless, adding a “manoeuvre into a parking bay” is crazy, they already have the “Bay Park Manoeuvre”, is it that much harder to drive in forward ?

The Sat Nav update is good, many people spend far too long looking at the Sat Nav, this may teach people (myself included) to use it effectively within a routine. You have time to check your interior mirrors, right mirror, speedo, left mirror and look a head while driving safely, adding another glance at the Sat Nav in your routine shouldn’t be too hard.

Just to emphasis it, I was at the side of a police car and the driver were rolling down a hill with traffic and didn’t look up once. He was busy looking at the Sat Nav or police computer or radio, if highly trained drivers can be distracted, this can only be a good thing.

Motorway Update

Motorway Speed Light Lines

Motorway Speed Light Lines

I was kind of hoping by the time the rules came to fruition that the motorway lessons would be mandatory. On another forum, someone said “They may not be ready to drive on the motorway.”, I commented “They shouldn’t be allowed to pass their test then.”, and I was banned from the forum. Surely this day and age motorway lessons are essential, the whole game of driving changes when your at speed. 

I would like some training attached to first driving offences for new drivers, rather than losing your license you should be given more training. I know you get 1 shot at this per 3 years as a regular driver, I think a second one should be offered if a different minor offence within the first 2 years. 

Independent Driving Increase

The independent driving driving section has been increased. Its not clear if the Sat Nav element is due to be included here. Independent driving currently consists of you following road signs. The Examiner will say follow road signs to X place, now follow to Y place, and so on. 10 minutes can vanish in no time at all if you hit traffic. 

It would make sense to include the Sat Nav section here, I always thought it would be good to include a map reading section, but this is less and less important now. Its also been said that it 1 in 5 won’t be asked to do the Sat Nav driving, so for those the 20 minute independent drive will feel like a life time. 

Its also been clarified that if you make a mistake, it won’t matter as long as you don’t commit a fault. 

Show Me, Tell Me Changes

This update maybe good at well. Currently they ask you a few questions before you start driving. Tell Me, where they ask you how you would do something. In my case it was, Tell me how you would check the break is working, I think. Due to the weather being pants, I was asked to show them how I would use the screen washer and wipers. Self preservation played its hand there I think. 

Now they will ask you the Show Me question while you are mobile, so it would be “Show me how you use the demister” or “Show me how you put the hazard lights on”. This maybe good, the number of times when I first passed that I would be looking for a control and take my eyes of the road and end up drifting. Hopefully having to learn this during lessons will teach you to drift less. Now I can do it mostly without drifting and I’m getting better, so practice while learning would be good. 

Edit: Mickey Stafford posted a comment with a link for the Official Show Me Tell Me Questions

Manoeuvres Updated

I don’t really agree with this update, but reverse around a corner is no longer done, neither is 3-point-turn or turn-in-the-road as they call it now.  Instead they are going to ask you to do one of 3 new manoeuvres. 

  • Parallel Park.
  • Park in a Bay. Either drive in and out of a space. Either reverse in, Forward out, or Forward in, Reverse Out. 
  • Pull up on the right side of the road, reverse 2 car lengths backwards, then rejoin traffic. 

I can see the last item causing major issues both for the learner and for the other vehicles. 

Sat Nav image by Pixabay, Motorway image by Tookapic.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

62 Penalty Points and Still Legally Driving

As a new driver one of the things which bothers me is getting points and losing my license. In the first 2 yrs after a driver passes their test, you are permitted 6 points. This means you basically get 1 strike for many offences before you lose your licence. Unless its using a mobile phone, accidents, drugs, drink, massively over speed limit, all of which are 6 points or more which are instant losses for a new drivers.

There is a list on Driving Ban, about what offences get you what points and fines. The discretionary powers of police officers surprised me, even if the police vehicle camera gets you, the officer can overrule it given sufficient reason. 

In the South East of England alone there are around 10,000 motorists who have more than 12 points on their license, the vast majority have 12-18, but there are a handful who have 30+. This potential means there maybe as many as 70,000 in the whole of the UK, which is a scary statistic. I can’t find FOI requests for the whole UK, and can only find reference to the South East.  

Accidents Happen

More recently on a Friday night when a couple of drunks were messing around and dipping into the road. I spent a little too long watching them to ensure they didn’t come in front of my car or anyone else’s car for that matter. I was also keeping my eye on the road in case I needed to swerve around them, checking for other vehicles, and I wasn’t checking speedo as often as normal. At the time of writing this, I don’t actually know if I got a penalty for that, but it will suck if I do. 

Gatso Speed Camera

Gatso Speed Camera

Its a rubbish situation to be, do I check the speedo more often, while scanning road conditions, my rear, and increase the risk hitting an drunken erratic behaving pedestrian or prioritise I guess situational awareness. In hindsight, as soon as I saw them messing about in the road, I should have slowed way way down and increased my stopping capability. I guess once I’m a more experienced driver I will make better decisions like this. In future this will be my course of action, slow slow slow. Its hard not to “rubber neck” I guess.

This were one situation where C.O.A.S.T. didn’t help me, I was Concentrating on what was happening, Observing other cars, and what the drunks were doing, Awareness of where the cars were and where I could drive to avoid them, making sure I could allow Space for them fooling around and Time to react. What I didn’t do was check my speed often enough, I’m going to modify it to C.O.A.S.T.S. with the final S for Speed. I only noticed I *could* have been speeding because I had hit cruise control button at some point. When I had passed the hazard I checked my speed and it were set 4mph over the limit.  

At the time I was just like Oh My God, how drunk/high do you need to be to pushing each other into the road for a game while there are cars coming. If they walk just a few hundred meters up the same road they are on a 40 mph zone with energy saving in effect so no street lights, its pitch black. There are also road works so the road narrows too. I was debating phoning the police to make them aware, I haven’t heard of any accidents so hopefully they were ok. I keep debating now if I should phone and ask to settle my own mind.

Many Many Risks and Trickery

Speed Camera Consealed on A6 in Stockport

Plant & Forget Digital Speed Camera

Following on from the above its easy to accidentally accrue points, I have to drive through 3 traffic light cameras, 4 speed cameras, a few times per day. Which is 30 potential opportunities to get points every day just on my commute. The worse ones are traffic light cameras, when they are green all the way on approach on I have a little debate about speeding up, or slowing down to let them go red. Many times I have been going 30 mph, about 2-3 car lengths and they have turned Amber, if I have a car tailgating me, stopping is asking for a rear end, so I’ve had to carry on. A few times I’ve chosen to emergency stop, and once the lights actually turned red just as I passed them.

Out of nearly 200x I have had to go through traffic light cameras and/or speed cameras on my daily commute in the few month I’ve been driving, I have had 2 close calls, 1 of them very close. Once were when I had a car very close behind and the lights changed red. In hindsight I should really have stopped since it would have been their fault. I now try to slow down on approach in these circumstances so I can safely stop. 

I recently found out that Traffic Light Cameras can also Speed Cameras and can result in points, so speeding up to get through before they turn red, can be a major hazard. Which makes Traffic Light Speed Cameras all the more problematic. 

Concealed Cameras

Concealed Speed Camera

Concealed Speed Camera

Another situation is concealed cameras, the (right) image shows the speed camera concealed by a yellow sign at the bottom of a long steep hill. You don’t see the camera (Dubbed Stockport’s Scammera) until you are where the black car is, which has its brake lights on. The only way to see it from a safe breaking distance is where this Google image is taken from.

The image (above right), shows this camera is a new style digital speed camera, which means it never runs out of film, and is what they call “plant and forget”, operating 24/7. I assume plant is in relation to its eternal producing of fruit (money). This camera is between 2 steep inclines, directly at the bottom one, before, you go up another steep hill. Its ideally placed to get people who (1), allowed gravity to pick up speed, or (2), gained speed to make the lights, or (3), gaining speed for the upcoming hill. The fact its concealed is just a bonus for the police camera partnership.

There are various reports of this camera catching people for cutting the red light, and for speeding, many many many caught because they speeded up to make the lights before it changed red, and they assumed it were a traffic light camera. Its due to this camera, that I read about the fact traffic light cameras can be used to issue speeding tickets.  

62 Penalty Points 

In saying all the above potential traps, trickery and such hazards there is a driver in West Yorkshire which the BBC reported to have 62 Penalty Points on his license, the last 6 points given for Speeding just a few months ago (according to reports). Further more a driver in Oxfordshire has 51 Points, another in Essex has 42 Points, and one in Norfolk has 39 Points.

Where exactly does the “exceptional circumstance” come in here, how many times can you accidentally get points even  with the above examples. There must be a point where where Mr 62 Points has simply decided the rules don’t apply to him, he can speed, cut red lights, do as he bloody well pleases because the courts won’t take his license away. You only gets 6 points if you are significantly over the speed limit, not just a few miles over which can be an accident. I would really like to know exactly what he got and what his excuses are.

There are circumstances where you could accrue a few points, but surely there can’t be an excuse for getting 15-21 points per year, can there ? I estimate in my (at least) 2,000 Opportunities to accrue points, I have come really close once, which were extraordinary circumstances, and not normal at all. I also think a more experienced driver wouldn’t have made my mistake so where is the limit ?. 

Red Roadster picture by Pixabay, Speed Camera by Andrew Dunn, other images by Google Images. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Gordon Tullocks Dagger or Tullocks Spike

I recently read an article about Google Patenting a Sticky Car coating in order to protect pedestrians when they are in an RTA (Road Traffic Accident). The idea is quite funny, basically when a pedestrian is hit by a car or other vehicle they will stick to the vehicle. Yeah like stuck to the bonnet rather than being thrown off or dragged under the vehicle.

I guess it makes sense that lots of injuries are caused after the initial impact but the idea of being stuck to the vehicle is terrifying especially if its a looney driver or criminal. Initially google planned this for self driving cars, which makes the lunatic driver scenario moot but still the idea is scary. 

Anyway this brought the memory of a guy called Gordon Tullock, who way way back when seat belts were becoming mandatory came up with the idea of Tullocks Spike or Tullocks Dagger as some call it. It were more a thought experiment, which I sometimes enjoy doing, but more later.

He questioned if dire consequences of driving were ever present would it make people safer drivers, his idea were a dirty great big spike or spikes on steering wheels to keep the mortal danger forefront of your mind. Currently, assuming the driver is wearing a seatbelt, their survival rate is actually really good and they are somewhat insulated from danger. Its not great for pedestrians, cyclists and similar who are hit by vehicles. 

Modern cars are very safe for the driver with impact absorbing steering columns, side impact bars, crumple zones, side airbags, leg air bags, pre-tensioner seat belts, anti-submarine seats, multiple front air bags, whiplash reducing seating systems, and the list goes on. For pedestrians and those outside the vehicles the protections are somewhat less, including softer bonnets, crumple zones and some other bits, but at speeds of 20mph+ the victims survival rates drop faster than a rock. 20mph is 95%, 30mph is 45% and 40mph is 5%, beyond 50mph you’ll need a miracle.   

Risk Compensation

Would you’re almost certain death, make you take less risks ? This is called Risk Compensation, an easy way to envision this is compare 2 scenarios.

First, lets say you’re walking through the jungle and you find yourself surrounded by little green lizards like Newts, you’re not going to be that careful as they are kinda toothless and not aggressive or a threat. Now suppose you’re walking along, only this time you’re surrounded by man-eating Nile crocodiles which weigh more than your car with huge teeth. Risk Compensation says the bigger risk, the more care you take, thus a big effing spike would make you a safer driver. 

Ferrari Steering Wheel image by Ali Naqi, modifications by Steven UK.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.