Tag Archives: Driving Lessons

I Shall Pass… My Driving Test… After 33 Attempts

Not even Gandalf can stop this Barnsley man from passing. This is fairly old story, but I forgot to publish it at the time. Christian Whiteley-Mason, 42 from Barnsley has taken his driving test 33 tries and £8,000. Mr Whiteley-Mason had lessons with 14 different driving instructors, a total 85 driving lessons, over a 25 years period.

 

Christian Whiteley-Mason Finally Passed Driving Test

Christian Whiteley-Mason Passed

Christian had 56 lessons with his first driving instructor who finally told him to quit, its never going to happen, there were one Examiner who he hate seeing who would always fail him.

He took his first driving test in 1992, and took it a further 32 times over the next 11 years until 2003 when he decided to accept it and call it a day. 

In 2017 Christian got a new job which required more travel, he grew tired of taking taxi’s and relying on others for rides, so he dug out his notebook and arranged a refresher course. 

He was so determined to pass, and preyed to not get the same examiner from all those years ago, 33rd time lucky he passed. 

Christian is quoted as saying “I’m so proud of myseld. Its changed my life to be honest. I delf like I’d achieved everything I really wanted to achieve, this was the one thing left I had to do”. 

They say second time pass people are better drivers, what does that make Christian ? Perhaps it makes him the next Stig ?

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

Driving Test Failures and Near Misses

L Plate

L Plate

There is quite a bit of buzz about a guy who recently failed his driving test within a few seconds of starting out. Apparently he left the parking bay at the test centre, and positioned himself on the right hand side of the road. We in the UK drive on the left, so it were an instant fail.

It were more galling due the examiner stating that the following 40 minutes of driving were near enough flawless and a certain pass. I also recently posted about the examiner given whiplash during an emergency stop manoeuvre, but these are the tip of the iceberg.  

While I’ve been learning and recently passed I’ve been hearing about bizarre fails, and near misses, and instances where the examiner weren’t looking in the right place at the right time.

Rapid Driving Test Fails

Some examples of rapid failures, which I have heard about in recent weeks. Some of them are a little woah, some are a bit arrrgh, some are aaaaahhh but hardly surprising, I imagine the pressure added with nerves when you first start is immense for some. I personally weren’t too bothered, John my instructor had prepared me so I could drive with the radio on, while talking, in the rain, in the snow, at night, all but on the wrong side of the road. He were so confident, he didn’t even want to ride along with me on my test, he probably took a nap or something. 

1, A woman pulling out of the driving test centre parking bay, without noticing a car approaching from the left. Failed within seconds and a few meters of actual driving. 

2, A man pulling out of the driving test centre parking bay, and mounting the curb fully. Its not clear if it were under steering or over steering other than he ended up wheel fully off the ground.  

3, Failing to Indicate and Position correctly all upon leaving the test centre car park to join the first open road. Didn’t even get 100m away. 

All of the above were fails within mere seconds, and all 3 candidates would have otherwise passed with a few minors.

I haven’t been told about any walk backs, apparently if you commit dangerous driving offense, you are given a walk back. This is where the examiner doesn’t believe you are safe to be in control of the vehicle, and they are not insured to drive the instructors car. I have heard drink, drugs and unsafe cars are the main reasons. 

Look Over There

Bulldog in a Car

Bulldog in a Car

There are stories about an examiner looking the wrong way at just the right time or wrong time. 

1, Pulling out of short road in to the test centre, getting to the first open road. The examiner looking right, as a car pulls up from the left concealed by parked cars. The candidate pulls out without seeing the car, the examiner decided it were a minor for inappropriate speed rather than a serious observation fault. 

Result: PASSED!

2, Moving off from a parking spot, the learner driver looks left, looks right, checks rear view mirror, checks right blind spot and pulls away while looking forward. Only problem is, as the driving candidate checks his blind spot, the examiner is looking left and fails to see the blind spot check, or final check as pulling away.

The driving instructor happens to be in the back seat, and knows the examiner so it were questioned. The examiner wouldn’t change the fault, but luckily it were marked as a minor as no other road users were inconvenienced or forced to change course.

Result: PASSED!

3, Having pulled up at the side of the road as you do many times in a test and often a lesson. The learner driver, prepares to move away once told too, is observing and waiting for a gap in traffic, then indicates and go to move off. A car coming decides to slow, stop and let you out. 

The examiner wasn’t observing the on-coming traffic. They didn’t realise the car which let the candidate out were the last one before a large gap which the learner intended use. The assumption were the other car seeing the Learner Bar on the roof of the car thought they would be helping so slowed rapidly. The result were the examiner saw the learner driver indicate out, and another road user changed course and were inconvenienced by your actions.

Result: FAILED!

The last story, my driving examiner confirmed that as long as you didn’t indicate out immediately, you at least attempt to wait a minute or two for a gap before resorting to indicating, she wouldn’t fail you for that. She went as far to say “How else would you get out…”.

The Home Run Fails

There is another type of fail, where by the driver has been driving perfectly but then on the way to the test centre, it all falls apart due to a judgement error.

1, On-route back to the test centre, with 7-8 minor faults but otherwise solid driving. They come down the open road there is an on-coming car the right side about 20 car lengths away. The learner comes up 7-8 car lengths from the turning point, as the on-coming car slows and flashes. The learner speeds up, moves up to 4th gear, crosses the central line, continues driving, cuts the corner, takes the corner at too high a speed, too high a gear and didn’t check the mirrors at all. Clocked up enough minor faults to fail, and a serious fault too. 

Result: FAILED, 16 Minors, Double Fail!

2, About 2 minutes away from the test centre, there were an accident which created a minor detour. The detour took the learner down a 2 lane one-way street, and the candidate had to take a right at the end. The learner positioned just to the left of the centre lane, and turned right.

The examiner apparently commented that the candidate hovered at the indicator half way down the road and considered indicating to the right lane. The examiner also told the learner to take the turn into the one way and turn right at the end. On this occasion they went to the left lane and should have been on the right.

Result: FAILED!, 4 Minors.

3, Approaching the test centre car park, the examiner asked the candidate to choose a parking spot. No request for a manoeuvre just go in to a parking spot. The learner driver chose to reverse bay park, and did so without looking around or out of his back windows once, just using his mirrors and reverse camera.

The examiner commented that, had he pulled in forward, he’d have passed. He’d already done Turn In The Road, so his manoeuvre had been completed. 

Result: FAILED!

Final Thoughts

Remember you’re on your driving test from the minute your name is called in the test centre until the minute you’re given the PASSED or FAILED result. This is all your test, so take no  risks, don’t rush, and take your time. Its your test, so own it. 

 

One Way Sign image by Gratisography, Brake Lights image by InstaWalli, Bulldog in a Car image by Tim Gouw.

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

My Driving Test

L Plate

L Plate

I finally succeeded at passing my driving test, I say finally but given my first driving lesson ever were less than a month before hand, I guess it weren’t that long. It just felt like longer due to the pressure and rushing to fit it all in before my shoulder surgery, work issues, business and other stuff. I’ve included more about my theory test and driving test results later along with some commentary. 

First things, my Driving Instructor were John Swain (FB link) or 07968956860. He does both slow and steady as well as high intensity driving courses. Basically this is lessons from 1 hour to 5 hours (with breaks), between the hours of 6am-8pm. He can be flexible beyond that too, but best to talk to him about your specific needs.

I did a mixture of lessons, I went with 3-4 hours for my first few lessons, then between 1.5-3 hours, using the longer lessons to work on my sticking points. I believe it were a total of 11 lessons, spread over about 3 weeks, with lessons from 7am to 8pm fitting around my work timetable.

What I will say is intensive teaching seems a little overwhelming at first as you literally dive right in. Lots of things, for example moving off safely, at first I were thinking, where are my peddles, check mirrors, look over shoulder for blind spot, damn it man you forgot to indicate, indicate on, check mirrors, look in blind spot, press clutch down, find my gear stick, move into first gear, its been too long, check my mirrors, and blind spot again, slowly raise clutch, don’t stall, find the bite point, don’t stall mofo, check my mirrors again, steer out the spot, last glance to right, ease on the gas, mirror check, off the clutch fully, and pull away. 

Once you’re more in to it, you don’t think so much about the actions, or sequentially its more check mirrors while getting into gear and finding bite point, blind spot check, move out, speed up and away. The intensive courses made this process harder at first but the extended driving lesson time meant you could keep trying and trying and get it nailed.

My Driving Test Pass Score

My Driving Analysis Form

My Driving Analysis Form

My test started out potentially really badly, firstly the number plate I were asked to read had a bolt and cap in one of the letters, which made it near impossible to determine M or N and possibly even a W. Angela (my test examiner) struggled a little too, but I chose M and upon inspection at about 5m we both agreed M.

For reference in this instance its the examiners discretion if they accept M/N/W and your option to ask to read the car next to it or another plate, if you wish. 

The nitty gritty, I got 3 minor faults. One of them were as simple as poor positioning of my left foot and the heel got caught on the floor mat so I fluffed some consecutive gear changes. The other 2 minors were for mirror/signal category. I’m not 100% sure where they were, but I’m sure 1 of them were signalling (indicator) before a mirror check. I’m working on this, when I’ve been checking my mirrors on approach to a turn, I have sometimes forgotten to double check or rather include a dedicated mirror check.

I made an absolute point of NOT looking at what my DVSA Examiner were writing or marking, I didn’t want it to distract me. This is why I’m not 100% what the minors were for, other than the gear one.

I asked Angela for an extra critical assessment at the end to which she jokingly offered to add some extra minors if I liked. To be crystal clear I’m 100% sure I earned those 3 minors and they were genuine. I included mention of this joke as often I hear examiners are very stuffy, but they are only human. In her more critical assessment she said her only suggestion were work on mirrors and observation in general, everyone always need more observation. In general my driving were fine.

John also parroted her observation comment saying more experienced drivers often don’t do blind spot checks, so hammer the checks home as a newly qualified driver and build the habit.  

Excellent Lesson 

Poynton Round About Hazards

Round About Hazards

On my test day, a really helpful thing happened, confusing at first but helpful. Right by the test centre in Bredbury is a BP petrol station, which has a HGV/LGV fuel pump (I’d never seen one, or noticed before). We needed air in one of the tired and a screen wash refill to make sure all tip-top for the test. A large truck was in the right lane, indicating left, so I’m thinking slow down, give it space, its going to turn left at the lights. Suddenly its hazard lights come on, it did some weird positioning and manoeuvres, so I come to a near stop, then it became clear it were heading into the petrol station.

It were an excellent thing to happen, and taught me when you’re going to perform unexpected manoeuvres bang the hazards on and hopefully the cars behind will give you extra room. The first day I were driving, a transit van pulled up towards the end of a one way road, and banged the hazards on, so I hung back an sure enough the driver performed a tricky reverse park into a obscured drive way. His hazard lights meant I allowed space and all good. 

Consealed Car Park Entry Hazard

Consealed Car Park Entry Hazard

The pic on right is a place I sometimes park to stop at the pharmacy and its a nightmare, the green dot is a tree, the blue dot a statue and the red line is my route of travel. Invariably people expect you to enter the round about, so when you indicate left into the concealed entrance between the tree and statue you’re risking a rear end bump. I have seen many actual bumps and near misses in this very spot. When I approach now, I bang my hazard lights on about 2-4 car lengths before the status and the car behind me almost without exception drops back and I can safely make that turn.

Just for completeness as I have said before, I passed my theory with 49/50 on questions and 67/75 on hazard perception, which is a very good score, since I had never had a driving lesson before. 

Generation Gap

Huge Round About Portwood

Huge Round About Portwood

My early days driving has highlighted many things, many of these things are linked to potentially overly confident drivers, or perhaps drivers who were trained the old ways. My mum for example said she had never seen a round about with more than 2 lanes before. She as a younger person had never even seen or been on a motorway as a passenger.

The biggest round about she encountered for years of driving were 2 lanes, and she never came across one with lane guidance which negated the need to indicate in the first decade (see left). Lots of other things she had to figure out as she came across them. There is a growing argument for drivers to take refresher tests or a second driving test to see if you’re still safe, I can see why. I can however see that actual driving is about the road not the book, so I’m not sure it would help massively. 

I get the feeling many of the things which confuse me as a new driver, are because I’ve been taught the 2016 way, and my mother were taught the 1990s way, my older sister the 1980s way, and so on.

Its not so much people are driving wrong, they are just driving to a different era and we all have to find a working middle ground, and get by. 

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

Shoulder Surgery and Driving Test

Austin Powers 3 Point Turn

Austin Powers 3 Point Turn copyright of Warner Brothers.

January is turning in to somewhat of a monstrous month on the whole, and February is shaping up to be chock full of pain and misery. The first 3 weeks of 2017 have been monstrous, and the next month is shaping up to be equally horrific.

Welcome to 2017, its not exactly year I had in mind… in any way, shape or form. 

Shoulder Surgery

My Pre-Op and Surgery have clashed not once but twice with my driving, and now the surgery classes badly with some work related issues; same day to be exact. The surgery clashed with my Driving Test, and the hospitals waiting list manager were shall we say unsympathetic and unwilling to change the date. This may end up being a moot point as I’m getting ill, I have a sore throat, and shivers. I seem to be coming down with a cold or flu and less than 2 weeks til the surgery. Again the waiting list people don’t seem concerned even though all the NHS Documentation paints a very grim picture. 

Aside form that, there does seem to be a little discrepancy, the lady who also weren’t very sympathetic told me I were having slightly different surgery to what the surgeon / consultant told me. They did confirm the two biggies which are Subacromial Decompression and AC Joint Excision. I assume once they open it up they will do whatever else is needed which were debridement and clean up stuff. I’m still praying my Rotator Cuff and Glenohumeral something are in good condition and don’t require any intervention.

Driving Lessons and Test

I finally got around to sorting driving lessons, literally after 1 lesson I got the notice for surgery and it all clashes, so I’m not going to have time to fit it all in and get to 100% test standard. Since then 1 lesson were cancelled due to snow, and 2 needed to be cut a little short due to traffic. Better to bank the time than sit in traffic.

I’m struggling with two things, one of them is alluding me and its not getting easier, the other is procedure. Bizarrely the things most people struggle with (3 point, parallel and bay parking) I have nearly nailed. 3 point I have never once hit the curb.

Even when I had to go all Austin Powers (Spy who shagged me) and do a 10 point point in a narrow road. Seriously, The instructor actually compared the amount of turns to the above clip, and still didn’t hit the curb. Other more simple stuff but potentially more important isn’t coming easy. I need more time on the actual road, a longer gap between lessons to practice.

I think the added pressure from the surgery and other stuff has just left me not in the best mindset. I left it too late I fear to actually sort enough lessons or perhaps not enough time to practice due to the lemon car I purchased.

The Future

The pisser is I’m not sure I will have recovered in time for Body Power 2017, which I think will the first one I will have missed since it started 🙁 This year its in the middle of May (19th-21st) at the NEC in Birmingham. A little bit sucky as I already things in place and moved work around so I can do the show again. Every year I end up getting a different bit of work and missing at least 1 day, this year I’ve planned it all bang on and now surgery is just a few months before the show.

On a side note, this post has left me really wanting to watch Austin Powers, I think I need to check if I its on Amazon Movies or order the boxset

Austin Powers video and still capture used for commentary and comedy purposes, I do not own copyright to either of them. I am using them under the fair use clause to parody an event which happened. If you are the rights owner (New Line / Warner Bros) and wish me to remove them, please use the contact form.

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