Tag Archives: Learner Driver

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.

Driving Test Changes for 2017

L Plate

L Plate

I posted about the consultation on changes to the driving test previously but the results from that little experiment are starting to filter down. Whilst some of the things I agree with, some of them I have major issues with.

As a learner driver now, my experience is very limited, too small to be statistically relevant. I will of course update this with a new post at a later point and reference this one once I have more input.

Change Is In The Air

There are a few major changes, some are good and some appear to be minor tweaks, and one is questionable at best.

  1. An increase to the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Asking the candidates to follow directions given from a SatNav during the ‘independent driving’ part of the test.
  3. Replace the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay. Parking on the right side of the road.
  4. Ask one of the two vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while the candidate is driving, such as asking them to use the rear heated screen or use screen wash and wipers to clear the window.

The replacing the manoeuvres is a little eek, we already have the “Bay Park” which is reverse parking into a bay, on top of this they are planning on adding forward parking as well. I’m not sure this counts as real-life scenarios, but I guess its a start.

The using SatNav is a definite plus, and honestly its about time this were in there, so I guess on balance its ok. 

What’s New

Motorway Speed Light Lines

Motorway Speed Light Lines

One of the things suggested by Transport Minister Andrew Jones is actually really very good. He wants learner drivers to be able to take driving lessons on motorways before passing their driving test. Just when you think its getting good, it turns out these lessons will be voluntary. It would also be up to the driving instructor to determine when they learner driver is competent and safe to have motorway lessons. 

Currently the only way to get motorway lessons is pay for them after you have passed your test or as some new drivers do by completing the also voluntary Pass Plus or similar scheme.

Its complete madness yet again by not making them mandatory. Sooner or later you MUST use the motorway so you should be trained to use them.

High speed driving is a very different animal, during my first 4 driving lessons I never went over 31mph, and 51mph were the fastest speed I went in the 8/9 professional lessons I have had.  I went up to the next major town to me in a relatives car, and theres a NSL Dual Carriageway. Steering at 70-72mph is VERY different than lower speeds. If you’ve never gone 50+, the odds of you turning too aggressively are so high, and flipping the vehicle becomes a reality if not cracking something.

Making It More Modern

I mentioned changing the manoeuvres earlier to add forward bay parking and parking on the right side of the road. This is all well and good but its hardly scratching the surface of what’s needed. If you drove like you are trained to, and what you MUST emulate to actually pass, you would be Schrodingers Handgrenade on the road. By that I mean at any given moment someone tests your status, and its BOOM time.

The only way you get away with it while learning is because of the L Plates, and the exceptions others make for you. Excluding White Van Man who either wants to claim whiplash off you, or is too high on paint fumes to realise how much danger they are causing. If ever there were an advert for dash cams it should just be a picture of a white van in your rear view mirror.

Round About Lane Discipline

Round Abouts No Left

Round Abouts No Left

Today while I were out, one of the techniques I was taught and expected to use went wrong, horribly wrong. The round about technique is essentially if you are going left or straight ahead, you approach just left of the curb or in the curb lane. You then have to follow the curb around to the left and steer with the curb around to the exit and off. 

This works amazingly well on multi-lane round abouts, but as soon as you have a single lane, which is wide enough for 2 or more vehicles such as this one. In this google maps image, you can see a few cars have parked at the bottom.

I drew in the white line to show its wide enough, there are no lines though. What are you supposed to do, is in blue. While I followed the blue line, another car came up and followed the red line. The brown splat is where the others Christmas tree air freshener became ineffective against the load in his pants.

There is an argument the other guy shouldn’t over-take on a round about, but there also an argument that sticking to the curb is nuts in such circumstances. A more defensive road position would have solved this potential collision. I can see the point of instilling lane discipline on round abouts, but single lane round abouts need some work. There are slightly different rules for mini roundabouts, laned roundabouts, and normal roundabouts, so why not for single lane vs multiple lane ? 

Co-incidentally, the red line would be what is called “Straight lining The Round About”, it would fail your driving test, should a police officer be really kinky and enjoy the punishment of writing reports it can be an endorsable offence. While talking about this, Straightlining a mini round, as in driving over the hub, is a 3 point offence. Rule 188 prohibits it, but doesn’t expressly prohibit using a mini round about as a U-Turn location. 

3 Point Turn vs Turn In The Road

Austin Powers 3 Point Turn

Austin Powers 3 Point Turn

The 3 Point Turn has been renamed Turn In The Road some years ago, which is probably good, since its not always possible to do a 3 point. However as I understand it, you can still earn minor faults for doing more than 3 points. There are actually about 5 different ways to fail during a turn in the road manoeuvre. 

If its a 3 point turn, then call it that. The name Turn In The Road implies that as long as your observation, control and technique are on the ball then 3 or 6 should still be acceptable. There also needs to be a point where you are performing a 10 point turn, and holding 200 cars up, that you simply accept if the curbs low enough, its safe to do you, you have to mount the curb as its safer to do that.

I ended up on a new build housing estate where they hadn’t quite finished the road, the madness they hadn’t even lowered the curbs for drive ways, it were double parked and a nightmare. I hadn’t been prepared for that kind of turn, trying to use standard techniques I would have hit another car, mounted the huge 9″ curbs, or something worse.

 Reversing In General

While reversing, you’re expected to look out your rear window for about half of your time going in reverse. I can’t see much of anything out of my rear window, so I had to literally take my eyes of the road, and look into space. I may as well have been checking my phone and texting for all it helped. 

This needs to be updated, the technique for vehicles without a rear window needs to be taught and then the option given. I could see more by using my left, right, interior and checking my side (front and rear/blind spot) than I could in the rear, the rear window check made me feel like I were taking my eyes off the road.

The vehicles I have learned in have both had rear cameras, so the odd glance at that revealed a better rear view than any rear window glance ever could. While they are adding technology like SatNav usage, they should also include the usage of Parking Sensors and Rear View Camera’s. You should absolutely learn how park and reverse without using technology but you should also be taught how to use it too. 

I could go on way more, but hopefully this update is just the start and other updates are coming, more useful ones. 

 

Highway Image by Tookapic, Map Image by Google and Austin Powers image by New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.

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