Tag Archives: Driving Test

New Year, New You, New Resolutions, New Blah

Lots of people have done a year in review but this year has been kinda dull and really slow, it has been eventful so I’m not so much going to do a year in review as I am going to point a few highlights out from 2017. 

L Plate

L Plate

Late last year my shoulder surgery was delayed for one reason or another so to fill the gap I booked a dozen or so driving lessons over the 4 weeks gap between cancelled surgery, after passing my driving theory test first time a few months before. In the theory test I scored pretty close to a perfect score. Only 1 question wrong in multiple choice which still haunts me as I know exactly which question it was. I was also a little slow on one or two hazard perceptions videos but still nearly perfect is good enough. I started my driving lessons towards the end of January. This meant I had driving lessons in the frost, in the fog, in the snow, in the rain and ice and all that’s in between giving me really good all around experience. The worst was stuck in rush hour traffic on a 1/4 mile hill, which moved a few cars at a time, and meant non-stop constant hill starts, which was about my 4th driving lesson so yeah that wasn’t fun. When I passed my test about 4-5 weeks later I had 3 minor faults so my Driving Instructor John Swan did a pretty good job, in a very short space of time and literally just a few days before my surgery. 

Shoulder Surgery

AC Joint Grades I to VI

AC Joint Grades I to VI

My shoulder surgery turned out considerably more complex than planned, originally it was a Rotator Cuff Repair, and AC Joint Repair, it changed something much more once my shoulder was opened. My shoulder healed record fast, I was discharged from physio in just over 2 months, out of a planned 5-6 months. The surgeon wanted to discharge my left shoulder at 4 months, as fully healed and fine, out of an expected 9-12 months. All in all the healing process, very quick for the amount of work I had no one expected it to be so quick.

My return to the gym hasn’t been so quick, the many areas bone was cut away, or ground down was raw and exposed and then left soft and gooey, waiting for the scar tissue and hardening has been a long slow process. It was expected to be 18-24 months before fully healed. I could put some moderate weights on it at 6-7 months, by some I mean about 40% my maximum, where as a month before surgery I could manage about 20% of my maximum. For example bench-press, my max as been around 115-120kg (including the bar), a month before my surgery I could barely move 30kg with bad form, now I can move 50kg for 8, so definite improvement but still long way to go. 

I have done my first actual shoulder work out, including farmers walks, waiter walks, shoulder press, shrugs and upright rows, my grip is screwed, not sure I’ll get that back due to a torn tendon in my forearm and damage to my hand, so maybe stuck using straps and hooks. It has however 100% improved from pre-surgery, however under load when the bones appear to be touching, OUCH!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to squat again, the work on my glenohumeral has almost certainly left me with impingements meaning I can’t get my arms into position. Maybe some yoga or pilates will help, but I don’t know. 

Rich Piana Died

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

Rich Piana at Body Power 2017

For all the controversy, hassle, and fanfare over the Rich Piana crazy train, the man was a decent guy and a powerful inspiration to many. I don’t agree with his Synthol or PMMA or whatever the hell he was injecting to get his crazy size but he loved his fans and had a lot of respect for them. Way way more respect then almost anyone I have ever seen I’ll never forget him apologising to fans waiting while he did press photo ops, or for the long wait to see him, or even when he took his lunch/drinks breaks. 

Not ONCE, did I notice him rush a fan, cut one short, he spoke to them for as long as they wanted, and had a laugh, happy posing with fans, by all accounts he was a rock solid guy. 

The only other person who was equally popular who was a chatterbox was Kai Greene, he was being told off all the time his people for taking too long with fans. 

 

My Year 

Most of my year has been waiting, recovering and planning. Now I’m I’d say 85-88% recovered and able to put some power down on the left shoulder, and I’m not sure I want the right shoulder done. 

I started training again between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so that gives me 9 months out. I’ve lost about 1okg of muscle mass (rough estimate based on my monthly bio-impedance),  and gained about 6-7kg total weight, which is pretty diabolic. About 2 months of that was pretty no gym and comfort eating a lot. I’m getting back on the ball slowly now. 

Diet is horrific to reign back in to boring stuff again, I may need to just go for a crash and go meat, veg, sweet potato, and try reset it. 

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

New Driving Test is Finally Here

I’ve blogged about the new driving theory many, many, many times before, but the big day has finally. The big day is 4th December 2017, its not only the theory test which changes on this day. From 4th December you’ll be able to have driving lessons on the motorway. 

L Plate

  1. A new set of 21 Vehicle Safety Questions to be added. Questions about the engine, screen wash, where controls are, etc.
  2. New Manoeuvres added such as reversing and rejoining traffic, parking on the opposite side of the road and more replacing paraelle parking and reversing around a corner. 
  3. Independent Driving increased from 10 to 20 minutes. this is where you are told to follow road signs to destination of the instructors choosing. 
  4. You must safely set your Sat Nav to a location given by your instructor, and follow the instructions as as part of your test. 

You can also now have driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor on the motorway, but its down to your instructor to decide if they feel you are ready for it. You CANNOT go on the motorway with friends or family, only instructors. 

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

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.

Stopping Distances for Driving Test

Brake Lights Stopping

Brake Lights Stopping

This post includes a little tip I read somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me remember where. I read so much stuff before I did my theory test. In my opinion stopping distances are kinda useless, since you can’t really calculate them on the fly, but you still need to know them. Its more a visual or spacial awareness thing while driving.

You know *your car* need “this” much space to stop and thats kind of it.

I mean without any extensive thought, some of the variables are Road Condition:  Wet / Dry, Weather: Hot / Cold, Humidity: Dry / Wet, Tyres: Slick / Knobbly / Worn, Road Material: Loose / Firm / Soft, Tyre Pressure: Over Inflated / Under Inflated / Correct, Brake Type:  Disk / Drum, Brake Material: Steel / Carbon / Ceramic, this before we get to Electronic / Mechanical like ABS, Stability Control and Brake Assist and without too much thought, the variables must be into millions of permutations.

Stopping Distances by DVLA

Stopping Distances by DVLA

All these are dependent on when the driver actually realises they need to stop, and their reactions and indeed actions. 

However you need to know these for your theory test and I guess for your actual driving test because of the Show Me, Tell Me Section and / or when the examiner asks you questions during the independent driving portion.

Top Tip: Easy Braking Distance Calculation

There is an easy way to calculate these, its quick and easy. Which makes me equally proud of the mathematics but also suspect about authenticity of the figures. Not to mention if they actually have any real world correlation or basis.

You basically multiply the speed by using an incrementing modifier, so for example..

The Overall Stopping distance in feet:

Speed (MPH)  Qualifier (Feet)  Multiplier Distance (Feet) 
20 mph 20 ft 2x 40 ft
30 mph 30 ft 2.5x 75 ft
40 mph 40 ft 3x 120 ft
50 mph 50 ft 3.5x 175 ft
60 mph 60 ft 4x 240 ft
70 mph 70 ft 4.5x 315 ft
100 mph 100 ft 6x 600 ft
160 mph 160 ft 9x 1140 ft

 

You maybe thinking, but I need to know meters not feet. Negative, the theory test gives you the distances in both feet and meters. 

The Fastest Travelling Speed

This got me thinking about the fastest speed I have travelled, which were 155mph in a car with a NOS kit, along the lines of what the Wizards of NOS do, obviously not driver. We were in moist conditions on a slight down gradient and talking with music on, which can slow reaction times…

Lowes Motor Speedway Quater Mile Marker

Lowes Motor Speedway Quater Mile Marker via Wikipedia.

155mph slightly distracted by music and chatter giving slower than average reaction times, on moist/damp conditions makes the stopping distance 3,135 ft / 956 meters. 

The Earths curvature means at absolute best a 6 ft man can see between 1.8 km and 5 km away through a telescope or binoculars before the Earths curve obstructs your view. Whether your eyes could see anything smaller than a bus at a distance of 956 meters is debatable.

The above image is taken at around 500 meters / 1,600 feet from the building. I don’t think you’d be able to see the child and their father on the left from double this at 1,000 meters. Assuming you could even see them, my guess it they would be road kill at anything over 80 mph, at 158 mph, the driver and passengers would need to be steam cleaned off the buildings wall.

155mph = 70 meters per second.

That building is approx 6-7 seconds away at that speed and about 13 seconds away with the breaks on. Not even a Bugatti Veyron would be able to able to stop in time and that has some of the best brakes and air breaks in the world. 

This isn’t really an anti-speeding post, its more an awareness post, 1,000 meters or over half a mile sounds like a long distance, but when you think, at 70mph its 30 seconds away. 

 

Brake Lights Image by Myles Davidson.

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

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.

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.