Friday, February 26, 2021
Special provision will be made by the DVSA for those with additional needs when taking their theory and practical tests. Whether you're hard of hearing, you have a physical disability or a learning difficulty, support is available for you.
You must inform the DVLA of any special needs or physical disabilities which might affect your ability to drive safely. More information can be found here.
Theory test support
Extra time may be given for those with learning difficulties or hard of hearing. You can choose to listen to the test using a headset, this option is available to everyone - no proof of disability is required. You can also opt for a one-to-one reader/recorder. This is a person appointed by the test centre who can read and record your answers. They are not allowed to explain any questions to you. No allowance will be made for additional support for the Hazard Perception Test.
You must inform the test centre of any additional support needed when booking your theory test.
More information can be found on the DVSA website.
Practical test support
There are a few options available to help support those hard of hearing, those with a physical disability and those with a learning difficulty. Your examiner will allow you extra time for your test. This will allow time for the examiner to explain the support available to you. You may choose to take a break during the test.
You must state any hearing, physical disability or learning difficulty when booking your practical test. Details will then be passed to your examiner who will be aware of your needs before meeting you.
More information can be found on the DVSA website.
Further information on driving with additional needs can be found at the following websites.
Monday, February 22, 2021
I'm pleased to announce I've completed training in understanding autism, an online course supplied by The Open University.
'This course forms part of a programme designed to cover the complete set of Level 3 learning outcomes in the Safeguarding Adults Intercollegiate Document - Adults Safeguarding: Roles and Competencies for Health Care Staff, published in August 2018.'
I am proud to have completed 'Teaching Students Who Have Suffered Complex Trauma', a course provided by FutureLearn.com, as a part of my commitment to professional development.
This is a very interesting course for anyone involved in teaching those who have suffered some form of complex trauma. These short courses are instrumental in helping to better support those who need that extra bit of guidance.
Whether you choose an intensive driving course or you opt for weekly lessons, its important to stick to a routine that maximises efficiency and keep things fresh. Here's why.
The route to driving success is dedication and good organisation on your part. Past test results have shown that a set routine for your driving lessons will improve your chances of going on to pass your driving test in the most efficient way possible.
That is, if you choose a 2 hour slot once a week this will ensure your knowledge is fresh, you will quickly build on what you have learned from your previous lesson, keeping recapping time to a minimum. Those whose lessons are infrequent and patchy will spend more time recapping on previous lessons, ultimately requiring more lessons to pass their driving test.
You will see more rapid progress too.
Inevitably, life gets in the way sometimes and there may be times where you cannot commit to a regular driving lesson. Do try to make it as regular as you can though.
Get it booked, get it done, get passed.
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Should you get in some private practice with parents in between driving lessons? I take a look at the benefits of gaining experience outside of lessons.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to a vehicle alongside driving lessons but for those who are, why not make the most of the extra experience alongside your lessons with your instructor? It will enable you to get used to another vehicle, particularly if the vehicle is to be yours once you've passed your driving test. Getting used to a different clutch will help improve your clutch control too.
Remember you must be supervised at all times by a suitable full licence holder and your vehicle must be insured for you. More information can be found here.
You can use this opportunity to get plenty of practice at times when you wouldn't be able to have a driving lesson, for example in the evening and in varying road conditions. Although your instructor will strive to provide you with as much on-road experience as possible, they can't cover all situations.
Practice what you have learned on driving lessons
Learned a new manoeuvre? Get in your car and practice it. Try it out and see what works for you. You can always return to this on your driving lesson and continue to improve. Use the opportunity to complement your driving lessons.
If you want to spend more time covering a particular junction, go back to it in your own vehicle. The more confident you become, the less your parents should guide or advise you on, the more independent you will become. Enjoy it, its all part of your journey to becoming a safe and confident driver.
Guidance for supervising persons
If you're a little apprehensive about supervising your son or daughter, take them to a quiet area and let them show you what they can do. Try to relax and let them drive as they do on their driving lessons. Be patient - they may make mistakes, see it as a part of their learning. Advise and guide as best you can. I will always be available to chat before or after their driving lesson if you need to seek my advice.
It is important to note that if I do not think they are at the required level in their learning to be on the road without a qualified driving instructor I would not advise private practice. Under no circumstances should you put yourself or others in any danger. We are qualified to manage the risk and to share responsibility so will always advise accordingly.
If things do not go to plan and you find yourself or your son or daughter getting stressed or anxious, take a break. If things don't improve, consider calling it a day for now. Driving while feeling anxious will harm their confidence and could hinder their learning. Seek my advice if this is something you are struggling to manage.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
The day is finally here. Everything you have been working on with your driving instructor has led to this day. What can you expect?
Your driving instructor will pick you up at the pre agreed time and location. Be sure to bring your provisional driving licence and theory pass certificate with you. Think about how you can best use the lesson time before your test - maybe some general driving, maybe practising a manoeuvre?
We will aim to arrive at the test centre around 5-10 minutes before your test start time, we will get parked up and get everything ready. I will follow Covid 19 guidelines with cleaning the vehicle before the examiner gets into the vehicle. They may choose to wipe down the vehicle too.
Your examiner will meet us at the car and will introduce themselves to you. They will ask to see your provisional driving licence. You will need to sign a piece of paper to verify you are who you say you are. Please ensure your signature matches that of your driving licence.
The examiner will ask you to read a vehicle licence plate from a set distance. This is to ensure you meet the safety requirements to continue with the test.
The practical driving test will consist of general driving, a reversing manoeuvre, and an independent driving element. Your driving test will last around 40 minutes.
The general driving element of the test will include pulling over beside the kerb and moving off safely, moving away from behind a parked vehicle and a hill start. You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop.
The examiner will ask you to perform a reserving manoeuvre. This could be a parallel park, parking forward into a bay and reversing out, reversing into a bay, or pulling up on the right-side of the road and reversing back two vehicle lengths, before re-joining the traffic.
You will be asked to drive independently for 20 minutes. You'll be asked to either follow signs towards a destination or to follow a sat nav. The sat nav will be set up for you. If you cannot see traffic signs due to being obscured, your examiner will give you directions until it becomes clear again.
If you think you've made a mistake during your test, put it behind you and carry on as normal. If your examiner has marked a serious fault you will be guided back to the test centre where the test will end. Feedback will be given so you know what went wrong.
Your examiner may be accompanied by a supervisor. They are not there to observe you so try to ignore the fact they are there.
When you return to the test centre, the examiner will let you know if you've been successful. They will explain any faults you may have picked up and will provide any relevant feedback. You will then be driven home.
If you have any questions or concerns prior to your driving test, please let me know.
- How many lessons will I need?
Monday, February 8, 2021
Follow this quick guide to book your practical driving test.
IMPORTANT! Please ensure you have an agreement with me and we have spoken about your readiness for a practical driving test before you proceed.
If you book a practical driving test on the pretence that you are not likely to be ready, you risk not having my vehicle available for your test. I cannot guarantee adequate lesson availability if you book a practical test at short notice without having agreed a plan beforehand.
The easiest and most convenient way of booking a practical driving test is through the DVSA bookings website. You are able to book, change and cancel practical tests through this service. You will be asked for my reference number. Please ignore this. Providing you contact me prior to booking your test, you will not need to worry about double-booking my vehicle.
You can contact the DVSA bookings support team on 0300 200 1122 if you have any issues.
Beware of third-party booking services
You should only book your theory and practical driving tests through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency official website. The cost of the category B practical driving test is £62. Be particularly aware of websites which promises 'free retests' or 'guaranteed passes'.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
It's one of the most stressful events of your life, its up there with moving house. The driving test. You've spent a number of hours practising for this day, how can you minimise the stress to help achieve that all important pass?
I have put together ten top tips to help you keep those nerves under control. Everybody starts their driving test with a clean sheet, lets keep it that way!
1. Stay calm, breathe, don't think of the what-ifs, just focus on the task at hand.
I can't stress this enough. Take each minute as it comes. Stay focussed, deal with the task at hand and forget about what the examiner is doing. They will encourage you to relax and concentrate as best you can. The more you relax and get into the swing of it, the more you'll enjoy it and the quicker the time will pass.
The examiner will introduce themselves and may engage in a little conversation to help put you at ease. You are welcome to listen to some music to break the silence, the volume must remain low though.
If you think you've made a mistake, try to forget about it and move on. You cannot change what has happened but you can affect what happens later.
2. Don't change the way you drive
The examiner wants to see you drive as you drive with your instructor. Don't be tempted to drive under the speed limit "because my Dad says its safer", keep making progress. They want to see you fit in with other road users. Do not make anyone slow down or stop unnecessarily, swerve or swear. Be courteous and respectful to all road users.
3. Remember your observations
I lose count of the number of times I remind pupils to check their mirrors. Its easily overlooked but its crucial the mirrors are checked. Remember to always check your mirrors before changing speed or direction and before giving a signal. Constantly check your surroundings when performing a manoeuvre. Check, check, check!
4. Don't be afraid to ask
If you are unsure of what you are being asked to do, don't be afraid to ask your examiner to repeat the instruction. It's far better to double-check rather than take a guess at what it is you're being asked to do.
5. Know the speed limits
Be sure to gather all the information you need - be aware of speed limits, obey all road signs, all the clues are there. Remember its your responsibility to stay within the law and practice safe driving - for life, not just to pass your driving test.
6. If in doubt, hang back
If you are unsure whether its safe to emerge from a busy junction, hang back. Only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. If its takes longer than usual to enter a busy roundabout, so be it. Don't proceed if it isn't safe 'just because we were waiting ages'.
7. Don't panic if you take a wrong turn
The driving test is a test of your driving ability, if you take a wrong turn - providing you do it safely, there's no need to panic. It happens when under pressure. Your examiner will guide you back onto the test route.
8. Take a shunt on a manoeuvre if you need to
If you feel your manoeuvre isn't shaping up as you'd like it, you always have the option of correcting it. Remember to take your time and to be aware of your surroundings. If the examiner remains quiet when you have finished your manoeuvre, use this as a hint - maybe they feel you haven't quite completed it satisfactorily.
9. Keep a safe distance
Always leave a safe travelling distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Take into account the weather and road conditions. Give larger vehicles more space on roundabouts and when changing direction.
10. Be polite, courteous and calm
Your examiner will let you know your test result as soon as you return to the test centre. Give them the chance to explain their feedback, be polite and remain calm if you do not get the result you hoped for. Raising your voice will not make you look good and will result in an awkward drive home. Remember, despite the stereotypical hard-nosed reputation, they are only doing their job.
Friday, February 5, 2021
If you are like me and have to keep busy, I'm sure you are looking forward to being able to return to some sort of 'normal' routine - work, college, seeing family and friends, maybe even going abroad. I am completely supportive of the Government and their reasons for the national lockdown, but there is only so much TV you can watch without driving yourself insane. I am eagerly anticipating the day when its deemed safe enough to continue with doing what I do best - getting people behind the wheel and well on their way to gaining a driving licence.
With that in mind, I have set out a plan for how it will (hopefully) all come together. After all, this has been done twice in the past 12 months following the easing of restrictions, so this shoudn't be any different, right?
So, first things first. For those pupils who had a regular slot in my diary and you wish to continue with it, I will keep you in that slot. If you are unable to do it, no problems, just let me know. I will be in contact with you to confirm this anyway.
If you are one of the unlucky ones who've been so close to taking a driving test just to have it rescheduled for your 80th birthday, my heart goes out to you, it truly does - you will of course take priority. Its important that you have enough time to get up to speed before going for your test, especially as I've got a new car. It is nice to drive though, proper luxury (haha its a Ford, so I'm obviously not being straight with you there!), so don't panic.
If you enquired about driving lessons over the last two months or so, and I've promised to add to you my waiting list, rest assured you won't be forgotten. I thank you immensely for your understanding in having to wait, I will get you on the road as soon as I possibly can. Your turn will come and we will make it a good journey! If you haven't done so already, get cracking with your theory practice. I look forward to meeting you in the not too distant future.
In a nutshell, I will be in contact with you all once we know when driving lessons can resume. Please be patient with me, I will be in contact with you all when I reorganise the diary, even if it takes a whole morning and half a bottle of Kraken - we will get there together.
See you all soon, stay safe, and as ever, if you have any questions or concerns, just let me know.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
This three week, 12 hour course is specifically designed for those supporting people on the autism spectrum - practical tips and advice aplenty. Go give it a look - www.futurelearn.com.
These are difficult times for everyone, I understand your frustration but safety must always come first, we must do all we can to remain safe and follow government guidelines.
Just a reminder to those of you who have had your driving tests rescheduled, please let me know as soon as you get a new date.
If you have recently contacted me regarding driving lessons, please be assured I will be in contact with you once we have an idea of when we can resume lessons. As always, my current pupils must take priority, especially those with imminent tests.
If you are practising for your theory test and you are not yet registered for the Theory Test Pro app, please let me know (pupils only.)
To clarify, the DVSA has stated that you ARE able to practise driving your own vehicle with a suitably qualified person within your bubble on essential journeys only.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything, please let me know. Each and every one of you will get as much driving time as you need once its safe to resume lessons.
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