With the change in seasons throughout the year and the continued increase of motor vehicle traffic in the UK, it is likely that you will encounter bad weather when driving. In the winter months, a driver is at increased risk of visual impairment, such as heavy rain, snow or hail. The road surface is different due to ice, leaves and surface water. Statistically, a driver is 20% more likely to have an accident when driving in poor weather conditions.
Preparation for bad weather
Bad weather can sneak up on us, but it is safe to say that it is more likely during the winter months. We can definitely expect more rain and wind. These alone can make driving hazardous with reduced visibility and increased risk of losing control of the car. There are a few simple steps that car owners can take as winter approaches to reduce the risk. One very low-cost tip is to make sure that the windscreen wipers are fit for purpose – this will be invaluable when an unexpected downpour hits when on a long motorway journey. Also, check that the tyre tread is within legal thresholds – this is especially important when expecting higher levels of surface water on the roads. A tyre with higher tread depth will have greater grip on the road and be much safer.
The first thing that you should ask yourself when setting out on a journey when the weather is bad is “do I really have to make this trip?”. Of course, the safest answer is no – if you don’t go out then there is no danger. If the answer is yes, then make sure both the driver and vehicle are ready for the trip. If your car is covered with snow or ice, it is very tempting to just clear enough to be able to see out of the driver’s window. However, please take the time to remove the visual obstructions from all windows and lights. Any restriction could cause a hazard to be missed, including other vehicles not seeing you due to your headlights being blurred.
If the trip is important and cannot be delayed until weather conditions improve, try to schedule the majority of the driving to be during daylight hours. This will improve visibility and reduce risk. Even when heading out in the daylight, it is very important to check the headlights before starting out. If visibility is slightly reduced, it is highly advisable to turn on your headlights, even during the daytime. Dense fog will need fog lights to be turned on at short notice, so make sure you know how to turn these on before you start the car!
When making that unavoidable journey in bad weather, adjust your driving style to suit the conditions. This can just mean going a little slower than usual to give you a fraction longer to react if something should happen on the road ahead. It is also a good idea to be weary should there be standing water (aka a big puddle) ahead – if needs be stop to assess the depth of the puddle before entering. You don’t want to get halfway through to find out that the puddle is too deep for the car only for the engine to cut out!
According to road safety charity Brake, drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders. However, this age group is at higher risk of being involved in a vehicle crash or collision than older drivers. Why are teenagers still involved in more road accidents than any other driver? Younger road users:
Succumb to peer pressure to take risks
Use mobile phones more frequently at the wheel
Some are more likely to drive after recreational drug or alcohol use
Drive over the speed limit
Inexperience means they are less likely to spot hazards
Overconfidence after passing the driving test
Not every young driver makes these mistakes, some are overly cautious and may even take longer to pass their driving test. As a parent, you can take responsibility for teaching your teenager good driving habits. Sometimes all it takes is allowing your kids to remind you how to follow the road safety rules to get them into good habits themselves. Follow these ways to teach teenage drivers to ensure that your teenager is a role model behind the wheel.
How To Pass Your Driving Test At The First Attempt.
As you will appreciate the automatic response from a driving instructor is to say, don’t worry about passing first time, just concentrate on being a safe driver. And despite the answer being correct it isn’t always what you want to read or hear, so we are going to take this a little further for you and offer some best-practice tips.
The key to passing the driving test is understanding the purpose of the driving test and what the driving examiner is going to be looking for. Your test day is your opportunity to demonstrate you can drive a car without assistance or supervision from a driving instructor or anyone who has held a driving licence for more than 4 years.
So where might you need assistance? The wrong answer to suggest particular scenarios such as approaching roundabouts, hill starts, your speed, and how to turn left. Yes they are all factually correct but don’t go far enough in demonstrating what you need to do.
Naturally safety is paramount but what determines that you are safe on the roads and not requiring supervision? Being safe can be broken down into these parts. Obeying the laws of the road. Being aware of your surroundings to include potential hazards all around the car, in front of you, from the sides and of course from the rear. Finally, to be in control of the car at all times.
By meeting this standard you are going to give yourself a very good chance of impressing the driving examiner with your driving ability and being awarded your driving license.
The question which needs asking now is how are you going to get to that point before your driving test?
At Lincs Driving Solutions you will go through a specific learning programme tailored to your needs and at the same time monitors and reflects your development. We call this a progress form. On the form all the skills for driving are listed and are marked as “introduced”, “assisted” and “independent”. It is when you are independent in all aspects are you ready to drive by yourself.
Prior to the driving test you will be given at least one mock test – you may require more depending upon the outcome and the level of your confidence. The aim of the mock test is to give you the opportunity to take a practice driving test, under test conditions. Here you will recognise your strengths and any possible areas for development; crucially you will enhance your driving confidence.
In the lessons just before your test the aim is for you to be driving without assistance, and only for fine detail to be taught at this stage. You could almost consider it as advanced driving because the skills you will learn are now above that level. Some of the skills you will learn are based around fuel economy, predicting other driver’s behaviours and advanced hazard perception.
At this stage of your training, going into your driving test ought to be a straight forward process. You have the skills (and more) to pass your driving test and to get your driving licence, and importantly you know that. This won’t be a case of you going into your driving test hoping you will pass but you will go into the test centre with the preparation and confidence you need. That is how you will be able to pass your driving test first time.
How To Save Money On Passing Your Driving Test
At Lincs Driving Solutions we are asked this question every week. Our answer never changes; the secret – if there is one – to passing cheaply is actually being rigid with your lessons and thinking about how you drive.
First of all, if you are short on finances for the moment and think at some time in the future you may have to miss a week here or there, that is going to cost you. You will need to spend more time in the car and therefore end up paying for more lesson. The problem all learners of any subject have is, the longer the time in between lessons the more you are going to forget.
In an ideal world, and we know this might not be possible for you, would be to take a 2-hour lesson every day, or at least every 3 or 4 days. The 2-hour lesson allows you time to think, not rush and to ask questions. It gives you valuable driving time and the opportunity to relax. Then by taking the lessons day after day, or having a short break in between your lessons will allow you to retain what you have learned.
However, if you increased your learning into an intensive course of say 6 hours a day, dependent on your ability and mental approach, could be too much. It all depends upon you. So either skipping lessons or doing too much could cost you more in the long run.
Passing your theory test sooner rather than later will also help you reduce the cost of learning. There are many aspects of the theory test which you can bring into the car, therefore if the driving instructor does not need to teach you, time and money is being saved.
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In traditionally taught driving lessons, the instructor starts the session by setting the aims and objectives – the student remains passive; is told what they have to do and has no opportunity to take ownership of their learning, which they have paid for.
The students’ motivation is purely to pass a DVSA Driving Test and the Driving Instructor helps them to achieve this. The student learns because they have to.
In coaching however, a more Client-Centric approach, the student is encouraged to set their own goals for their lessons. This empowers them to take ownership of their progress and their learning. Their motivation now is to achieve goals set by them, because they have an interest in doing so.
Goal setting is a process that should be inclusive of the student. However, it is more than asking ‘So, what do you want to do today?’ and then accepting it, assuming they have the capability and capacity, by responding with ‘OK, let’s go and do it then’.
Assuming the student has asked to try a Turn in the Road, for example, it needs to be established first what skills they already have and those they need in order to complete the manoeuvre.
Having done so, which is most important to achieve first? How will they use them? What, in particular, do they want to focus on during the task – controlling the car?; completing the turn in a set number of stages?; being aware of their surroundings?
Now we have an appreciation of the specific needs of our students, it is possible to agree the goals for the lesson, which could be several, especially on a longer session.
In taking the time to set properly thought-out and agreed goals, your student will progress and achieve because they want to, not because you tell them to.
‘When I want to, I perform better than when I have to. I want to for me; I have to for you. Self-motivation is a matter of choice’ Sir John Whitmore – Coaching for Performance