It's life Jim but not as we do it.

  • By Stephen Lewis
  • 19 Feb, 2017

I did mention we'd come back to this.

Ok, if you were paying attention previously, I asked you to stay tuned as we'd come back to the topic of practicing. How good or bad it is and whether it's worth doing. This is going to be a bit heavy so, sit down, get comfortable and put the wine down. 

When students say they want to do private practice then it's all good providing it's "good quality", now what do I mean by that. Well simply put, what you practice must be what you've learned. No ifs & no buts, when we go on and on about mirrors there's a reason for it, firstly they are important and will get you that information to act on. Second the examiners are watching for it and if you don't do them, you fail, plain and simple. So your supervising driver should know (from yourself or your instructor) what it is you need to be doing, they may have forgotten after all these years. You are only cheating yourself if you don't do it.

On to the supervising driver, you are legally responsible for what the learner does. Yes, really. You have a full licence, they don't. Whatever they do wrong from a legal standpoint is your fault. So there are a few rules to abide by. The obvious one is you have to have a valid, full driving licence, if you don't or you have had it suspended you cannot supervise a learner driver (you must be over 21 years of age and held a full licence for at least 3 years.). So if you're banned from driving it's a no from the law.

Hangover? No way. You may still be over the drink drive limit and you are supervising the learner and may need to take control or drive, you have to be in a fit state and this applies to drugs also.
Mobile phone? Again no. Not even an instructor should have his/her phone in their hand while instructing, let alone use it to update a post, LOL. Oh, my, word. I typed LOL. Never again.
Have a nap? No. Hell no! How will you know what is going on if you're catching 40 winks. You are the one in charge, if you can't explain to the police officer how the collision happened because you were napping then you're in for a bad time.

Your car must also be road legal. Insured for both learner & driver, have current and applicable VED and an MOT if needed. Tyres, lights etc must all be good. FLOWERY checks are important. No, we aren't putting flowery decal on the car, quite simple you should check,
Fuel,
Lights,
Oil,
Water (coolant and windscreen),
Electrics,
Rubber (tyres & wiperblades),
You. (Are you fit to drive?)

So make sure you know the rules before sitting in the car with the learner and ask, what it is you should be doing with them? just "driving around" is good but what must they do to pass. If you aren't sure, ask.

Captains Blog

By Stephen Lewis 26 Nov, 2017
Here we are again. Yes it's been a while Constant Reader (nicked that off of Stephen King, don't tell him). Not a heck of a lot has happened since we last spoke, who I am I kidding, only I read these. We do however have the issue of the new driving test looming next month, or do we?

Driving examiners who are part of the PCS union are planning to take industrial action on the 4th & 5th of December, this means test may be cancelled. Why? If you listen to the DVSA (or devious agency if you listen to examiners), say it's over conditions, pay & pensions. If you listen to the examiners it's over safety concerns with the new driving test. Now who are you going to listen to? Me, I'd listen to the examiners. Their concerns are that pulling up in the right, reversing back for two car lengths and then rejoining traffic, may have some risk involved. Also, being asked a Show Me question whilst navigating via satnav may take their attention from the screen/instructions/road and this may lead to problems. The DVSA has asked RoSPA to carry out a risk assessment. They encountered no problems but then again a qualified driver undertook the exercise. Now I'm not saying we instructors are without our reservations over the new test, we do. We think it's a 50/50 on whether it's a good thing, some bits are great, some not to. One thing is that we will be teaching these new bits as safely as we can. However there has already been one collision with an ADI parked on the right but he was going to be hit no matter which way he was parked. 

So boys & girls, stop stressing over the new test because we know you are. What will be, will be.

By Stephen Lewis 25 Jun, 2017
So, it has been a while. I won't ask if you missed me because no one reads these except me but one day someone will stumble along and read them. 

There are a lot of sayings with regard to making life changes, in with the old, out with the new.... that's not right? Anyhow you may have noticed the nice new shiny car I have, yes indeed a 17 plate C3 mk3, lovely little technological marvel that it is. Should this mean as I'm now in the "jet set" (really?) I should change everything else I do? No. Many people make changes to their lives, especially around new years, but change isn't always good.

But I just changed my car!?!

Well for marketing reasons it is a good thing, keep the business fresh but also as a driver you have to get used to driving new vehicles, my day to day driving usually involves two cars, work & family, so I'm used to jumping out of one into another. Many years ago a friend had bought a new car but had taken ages getting used to the one he had. So he asked me to drive his new one first, explaining all the differences between the two as I went, what we now know is "commentary driving", but making changes such as this does cause people a considerable amount of anxiety. I know of one person who kept their new car parked on the drive as they were just too scared to drive it. Change is good but sometimes the thought of change fills us with dread.

Some of my previous blogs have mentioned the changes to the driving test coming this December, there is also another change due, learners may be allowed on the motorways again. Horrah! However only once they have met the required level and only, only with a qualified instructor.
By Stephen Lewis 09 Apr, 2017
It's been a while hasn't it? What do you mean "has it?", did you not miss me? How are your apps running? Now, you know me, I don't mean the ones on your phone. I mean the ones in your head. (he's lost it!) Nope, you always get a comparison between learner & novice drivers and experienced, qualified ones, Why do the experienced drivers make it look so easy!?!

Why wouldn't they? There is a process called " task automation", I may have mentioned it before, but if you think of your mind as, let's say a smartphone, as you drive you are using "apps" like observation, planning, braking, steering, anticipation, gears, clutch, the whole " kit & caboodle" but all these apps being open and working means your "processor" slows down like any computer would. You have so many processes running your brain can't keep the speed up. This is how your brain learns. Think waaay back to learning to tie your shoelaces, very laborious, lots of thinking, getting your fingers muddled up. This is exactly the same process as learning to drive. How are you now at doing it? All good? The task has become automated.

A qualified, experienced driver has gone through the same process, so their processor runs much faster as they don't need as many apps open, they no longer think about what they do, they do it, driving has become automated. So while you're learning to drive, don't compare yourself to a friend or family member who has passed, they aren't using as much brain power to drive as you are. The only thing they need to focus on (hopefully) is observation, they see and they know what to do, experience is a good teacher. 
By Stephen Lewis 27 Feb, 2017
OK, rules, laws, guidelines whatever you want to call them they exist, deal with it. Despite what some people think they do apply to us all and I mean all,  yes you again on the sofa in the onesie. Thing is when you learn to drive you learn that driving is fun and all, yes I said "fun", moving on, but there is also a whole lot of rules that go with it and they aren't always clear as to what you should do.

What do I mean by that, well as you learn to drive you have to read up on something called "The Highway Code", this is a set of rules & laws by which we drive. However they aren't all "laws", no my friend, some are just guidelines. The laws are always identified by the words "must" or "must not", followed by red writing underneath often with RTA (Road Traffic Act) and a bunch of letters & numbers. This relates to the act of legislation to which this rule applies. Hang on, there are rules that don't have must or must not, that means I don't have to obey them, right? Wrong. Even if a rule doesn't relate to an act of legislation and therefore isn't "law" you can still be prosecuted under a "breach of the Highway Code" but traditionally no "offence" has been committed. You can however still go to court.

Now this is all well & good but why do we see so many drivers doing the "wrong" thing, we also have our own rules by which we live.
Would you kill someone? Now before you jump up of that sofa, spill your coffee and yell "NO!", think it through a little. When would that situation arise? Home invasion? Family member held at knife point and you have disarmed an assailant and have "his" gun. Now we have a challenge to your moral compass. I won't kill anyone. Unless it was my only way to save a life. We've suddenly gone from "NO!" to "maybe", in fact "probably". Now some people don't take much persuading to go from no to yes and this is a problem for society in a whole but let's take the aforementioned Highway Code, how much of a push would it take someone who's idea of obeying the law is "voluntary"?

Not much.

Speeding? Couple of miles over doesn't hurt.
Drink driving? I can handle my drink and I've never had a problem before.
Mobile phone? I'm not holding in my hand so what's the problem.

The thing is, just a little nudge in the wrong direction is the start of a journey that often means that couple of miles over becomes 10, the one pint becomes three and hands free becomes hand held & texting. Breaking the law is very different from breaking our own rules. Try explaining to the family of someone you killed on the road how good a driver you are when you're drunk, speeding and trying to text someone. I think the question of "would you kill someone" will get answered and you won't like it.

Rules & laws are there to protect us all whether we like it or not.
By Stephen Lewis 19 Feb, 2017
Ok, if you were paying attention previously, I asked you to stay tuned as we'd come back to the topic of practicing. How good or bad it is and whether it's worth doing. This is going to be a bit heavy so, sit down, get comfortable and put the wine down. 

When students say they want to do private practice then it's all good providing it's "good quality", now what do I mean by that. Well simply put, what you practice must be what you've learned. No ifs & no buts, when we go on and on about mirrors there's a reason for it, firstly they are important and will get you that information to act on. Second the examiners are watching for it and if you don't do them, you fail, plain and simple. So your supervising driver should know (from yourself or your instructor) what it is you need to be doing, they may have forgotten after all these years. You are only cheating yourself if you don't do it.

On to the supervising driver, you are legally responsible for what the learner does. Yes, really. You have a full licence, they don't. Whatever they do wrong from a legal standpoint is your fault. So there are a few rules to abide by. The obvious one is you have to have a valid, full driving licence, if you don't or you have had it suspended you cannot supervise a learner driver (you must be over 21 years of age and held a full licence for at least 3 years.). So if you're banned from driving it's a no from the law.

Hangover? No way. You may still be over the drink drive limit and you are supervising the learner and may need to take control or drive, you have to be in a fit state and this applies to drugs also.
Mobile phone? Again no. Not even an instructor should have his/her phone in their hand while instructing, let alone use it to update a post, LOL. Oh, my, word. I typed LOL. Never again.
Have a nap? No. Hell no! How will you know what is going on if you're catching 40 winks. You are the one in charge, if you can't explain to the police officer how the collision happened because you were napping then you're in for a bad time.

Your car must also be road legal. Insured for both learner & driver, have current and applicable VED and an MOT if needed. Tyres, lights etc must all be good. FLOWERY checks are important. No, we aren't putting flowery decal on the car, quite simple you should check,
Fuel,
Lights,
Oil,
Water (coolant and windscreen),
Electrics,
Rubber (tyres & wiperblades),
You. (Are you fit to drive?)

So make sure you know the rules before sitting in the car with the learner and ask, what it is you should be doing with them? just "driving around" is good but what must they do to pass. If you aren't sure, ask.
By Stephen Lewis 14 Feb, 2017
So one thing is apparent when you spend your time teaching people to drive, they want to cut costs, yes I'm looking at you on the sofa, in the pj's. There are two sides to this argument for the perspective of an ADI, which means Approved Driving Instructor if you have ever wondered.

How cheap is your life? How do I mean, well when you learn to drive you are learning "safe driving for life", this is the mantra of the DVSA, how long is a life? Lets say you pass at 18 years old, your full licence will now last until your 70th birthday, yes really. Now, how many things, apart from a house, last 50+ years? Not many. You are learning the ultimate life long skill so cutting costs can mean cutting corners and if you do that skill could not quite be the standard that could one day save your life. So how much is a life worth? Do you value yours so cheaply?

The other side of the coin is that the more it costs you, the better the training, after all, didn't he just say that? No, I said cutting costs by cutting corners is a bad idea. All ADIs', no matter who they work with have to pass the same qualifying tests, some of us do further training so we come as a more rounded package, I don't mean the belly either. So ask your instructor if he/she is doing any CPD, whether it's reading up on things, going on courses or asking students for ideas to incorporate into lessons, make sure they are improving their skills so yours are good too.

But wait, what do you mean cutting corners? Some people like to learn the basics from an instructor and then practice with someone else. If that person isn't making sure you are exactly what you were taught to do, it maybe cheaper now but they won't pass their driving test and will back in an instructors car to relearn everything in order to pass their test.
I'm not saying practice is bad, oh no, it's a good thing but it must be good quality practice. More on this later. So stay tuned.
By Stephen Lewis 08 Feb, 2017
I have finally decided to take the plunge and add a blog to my site. I always wanted an easy way to share information with visitors and those wanting to learn to drive, there will be news, especially the proposed changes to the driving test... What? You didn't know about any changes! Have you been living under a rock or something? Visiting relatives on another planet?

Well my friend, there are changes coming. Later this year the DVSA will put forward proposed changes to the driving test, these will include dropping the "turn in the road" & "left reverse" from the test. "Bay parking" will come in two forms reversing in as it is now and also driving in and the reversing out but between parked cars. They may do this at supermarket that has agreed to allow it ( other supermarkets are available). Independent driving will come in two forms, as it is currently (see learning zone page) but also an additional 10 minutes with a sat-nav, I don't care if you hate them, get over it. Also to add to the three routine stops will may undertake there will be a forth whereby you pull up on the right, then reverse back for a short distance, one of the two "show me, tell me" questions will be asked while you drive and it maybe a "show" question so you have to able to do it while driving and then drive away again, returning to the left of oncoming vehicles.


We don't know a specific date for the changes as of yet, April has been mentioned but this more likely to be October at the moment. Add to that letting learners back on the motorway..... don't tell me you don't know about that either?
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