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Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to Pass Your Driving Test First Time

It is easy to see why many people believe that the most important part of learning to drive is learnt simply by driving the car. It's true that mastering the necessary practical skills is definitely an important part of learning. You will need a good level of practical experience to co-ordinate the controls and also a good deal of experience in varying situations in order to be confident in the decisions you are making and the actions you are taking. But practical skills and experience form only part of what it takes to learn to drive safely and responsibly. 

To learn fully and effectively there are four main elements of learning; Knowledge; understanding; attitude and practice. 

Gaining Knowledge
Nobody likes a know-it-all until it comes to driving. Then every other road user depends on you to know what to do and then do the right thing. If you don't know what to do in a driving situation then you can take too long to make a decision and have an equally good chance of making the wrong one.
This makes you unpredictable and this scares other drivers because it increases the risk of a collision. If you've ever felt annoyed at the person in the supermarket who stops without warning, you'll know how other drivers feel when you are unpredictable.
Lack of knowledge also increases the risk of you breaking a law which could result in a fine or even a driving ban.

Your level of knowledge affects the decisions you make and actions you take when driving. During the test your driving examiner will check to make sure you can consistently make the right decisions and take the correct actions - any gaps in your knowledge are likely to show up in your driving and may result in faults being marked.

What you can do to help yourself learnKnowledge comes through study, so study frequently - the official publications "the Highway Code" and "Driving - the essential skills" are highly recommended reading materials for all drivers.

Developing Understanding
Knowing what to do is not always enough to convince you that it is the right thing do or even important to know. Sometimes we need to explore the reasons why this is the best thing to do in order to accept it.
Understanding can be developed through 'doing', so it is important to practice doing the right things.
Take this example; Normally you'd position your car about a metre from the kerb. There's not much to remember and it might not seem that important, but when you explore and consider the reasons why this distance is an important safety margin and then experience the benefits, you develop a better understanding, and in turn a good understanding helps develop a good attitude.

What you can do to help yourself learn: Don't be afraid to ask questions during your lessons,especially if you don't understand or agree with something - in fact your driving instructor encourages you to do so as this not only helps broaden your understanding, it also helps the instructor understand how to support your learning better. A poor understanding can lead to mistakes and mistakes lead to crashes. 

Demonstrating a Good Attitude
When you become a driver, you become a member of one of the biggest team participant events there is. In this team everyone depends on one another's co-operation. Some of the team are more experienced than others and some not as good as others - what we all have in common is that we all make mistakes from time-to-time.
We have to show tolerance of other's mistakes and actions because once you become annoyed or upset, your decisions and actions are affected and you become part of the problem, which ultimately increases the risks.

During the test your examiner will be monitoring your attitude to check that you are able
demonstrate tolerance and patience whenever necessary.

What you can do to help yourself learn: You need to become self-aware and recognise the behaviour in other drivers that makes you annoyed or angry and ask yourself why this is. Some drivers get annoyed simply because they've given way to an oncoming vehicle and the driver doesn't wave to say thanks - do you really need to put your own safety and that of others at risk by driving angrily for such a minor reason? Do you really need to be acknowledged every time you give way to someone? Instead, take comfort and pride from the fact that you were courteous and safe.

Developing Your Skills Through Practice
You will need to develop your practical skills and there's only one way to do this and that is by practising.
The key is to practice doing things the right way otherwise you will become very good at doing it wrong.
The sign of a good driver is well coordinated use of the foot controls and steering. This results in smooth driving which is unhurried.
During the test your examiner will check that you can maintain full control, and as you may expect, a loss of control can result in a fault being marked.

What you can do to help yourself learn: Once you have achieved a good level of coordination ask your instructor if they feel you are ready to practice privately with a suitable family member or friend. Remember though that you MUST be insured to drive any car you drive and the person supervising you MUST be over 21 years old and have had a full licence for at least 3 years. Check out Marmalade insurance for provisional licence holders on this link to my website http://www.udidit.co.uk/#!marmalade-/cowz

There's no real secret to passing first time, you just  need to take responsibility for studying to improve your knowledge, improving your understanding, developing a good attitude and getting plenty of practice with a professional instructor and private practice.

© UDIDIT Driver Training 2014 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Top 5 Driving Test Faults and How to Avoid Them

There’s no such thing as a perfect driver, drivers often make mistakes, but a good driver is able to recognise a problem and take the appropriate action to correct it. Here are the 5 most common faults committed on the driving test and how to avoid them

Top 5 Male Faults
Top 5 Female Faults
Junctions - observation
Junctions - observation
Mirrors - change direction
Mirrors - change direction
Move off - safely
Reverse left - control
Junctions - turning right
Reverse park - control
Response to signs - traffic lights
Control - steering

Observations at Junctions
A typical fault at a junction is emerging without having checked effectively.
Making effective observations means not just looking but actually seeing what is there, making the right decisions and then taking the right actions. If you don't make effective observations you could cause another road user to slow, swerve or swear.
Poor observations are often caused by stopping too far back from the end of the road which restricts your view into the new road. The same goes for emerging when parked cars are blocking your view and you don’t move forward to improve your view.
Another common reason is the amount of TIME you take to look properly. If you approach the junction too fast or if someone behind is being impatient, you may feel under pressure to go and you won’t give yourself enough time to look in the right places. This can especially happen at roundabouts.

How to avoid this fault: An essential part of your junction routine is LOOK-ASSESS-DECIDE-ACT. Make sure you get the car into a good position where you can see clearly into the new road. Sometimes you may even reach the give way line and still can't see because of an obstruction of some kind. In this event edge forwards using clutch control to get a better view and only emerge fully once you know it's safe in both directions.
Another underlying cause may be that you are trying not to be hesitant. Hesitation in driving is not always a bad thing. If you swap the word “hesitation” to “caution” it becomes a good thing as caution can save lives. Many learners misunderstand this and believe they can’t hesitate at all. You can and should when necessary, but avoid being “unduly hesitant” or in other words “over-cautious”. Don't be rushed by an impatient driver behind or by thinking that there’s a time limit for waiting for a safe gap to emerge into – if there hasn’t been a safe gap, you can’t go and won’t be expected to.

Changing Direction -Mirrors
There are many similarities with this fault and not making effective observations at junctions. The huge number of mirrors checks needed means that there is a much greater chance for these to be missed and therefore a greater chance to be marked as a fault.
There’s that old saying you may have heard of ‘look before you leap’, well this definitely applies to observations at junctions and mirrors. You are expected to look well before changing speed or changing direction or signalling. Common faults include not looking in the mirror at all or looking at the same time as taking action or after you’ve started to take action such as changing position.

How to avoid this fault: Use your mirrors frequently throughout your drive and be aware of what is happening behind you and how this is changing at all times. This helps you to keep a track of what's happening and what might happen if you want to change speed or direction. The mirror checks you make before changing direction should confirm what you already know and that the action you are intending to take is the right one. The key steps of LOOK-ASSESS-DECIDE-ACT also apply to the way you use your mirrors. A good tip is to commentate and say to yourself before you take action, for example; “I’ve checked the mirrors, I won’t cause any danger if I signal and then change direction”

Move off safely
In this case it means failing to move off safely. This usually means you haven’t checked all around properly – often missing the final blind spot check just before releasing the handbrake. There’s another link to LOOK-ASSESS-DECIDE-ACT. You need to know if it’s safe to go and whether you need to let others know you intend to move off. This is a fault because if you move off without knowing what’s happening around you, you might put someone else’s safety at risk.

How to avoid this fault: Many learners get so wrapped up in deciding whether or not to signal that they forget to check their blind spot. Make sure you are well practised in assessing the situation around you. Your mirrors do not show everything so get into the habit of checking your blind spot by scanning the road, pavements and any driveways like a life depends on it. You may get away with not looking a thousand times or miss the check once and cause danger or worse – NOT checking your blind spot is always a gamble.

Reverse Left, Reverse Park - Control
This usually means that the manoeuvre was inaccurate – the wheels either hit the kerb hard or the car was too far away from the kerb, or over the lines when bay parking. The possible causes for this include going too fast with poor co-ordination of the foot controls and mistimed steering. Other causes are poor spatial awareness due to the driver looking at one particular place for too long or only in one place. For example, the nearside mirror.

How to avoid this fault: The key to any manoeuvre is getting the car to move at a slow but steady speed, so to be good at it get plenty of practice at getting the car to move slowly on uphill and downhill gradients as well as on flat roads and corners with varying degrees of sharpness.
This slow speed creates time for you to notice and correct any mistimed steering before it becomes a problem, giving you time to check lots of different views so you can work out exactly where the car is in relation to the kerb or line.
Spatial awareness can be improved through practise. Of course, you may well get the speed right but misjudge the turning point if you are not well practised, but a slow steady speed helps as it limits the impact. This creates time to make frequent glances into the door mirror nearest the kerb – in modern cars with high parcel shelves and broad pillars this is often the only way you can see the kerb and is perfectly acceptable as long as these glances into the mirror form just one part of your all round observations and are not the main focus of your attention.

Steering - Control
An example of this is when turning into a side-road and the car didn’t go where it should. This results in either the car hitting the kerb hard or swinging out too wide. This mistiming is often caused by being too close to the left kerb on approach, or not looking into the road when turning left or approaching too fast. When turning too late for a right turn, again this is often because you are not looking into the road but instead focussed too much on approaching cars.

How to avoid this fault: After checking the mirrors, signalling and positioning, it is essential to get the speed down before selecting the appropriate gear for creating enough time for looking, assessing deciding and acting. Make sure you are well practised at using the MSPSL routine and have the car fully under control and have made your observations and decisions well before turning so that the only things you need concentrate on when you reach the side-road is looking into the road and judging the turning point.

Junctions - turning right
This fault means you were late in positioning or incorrectly positioned before turning right. If you position the car incorrectly this gives confusing messages to other road users and leaves doubt. This can lead to them making the wrong decision. For example, if you stay too far back from the side-road turning point it encourages emerging drivers to pull out in front of you. This fault also includes not moving forwards into the correct position when turning right at traffic lights.
A common reason for not moving forwards is lack of knowledge such as; “Am I allowed to move forward before the filter light comes on?” or “Can I go into the yellow box?”

How to avoid this fault: The solution to this fault is reasonably simple – study well and know your Highway Code. Be aware of the unintended messages you can give simply by your car’s position and remove any confusion by positioning as advised by the Highway Code.

Response to signs - traffic lights
There are a wide range of things this could mean, such as; the driver reacting late to amber lights and failing to stop when it was safe to do so or not complying with a red light.
This could also mean the driver was late in moving off when the light changed to green and it was safe to do so. Not moving off on a green filter arrow is especially common.
These faults are often caused by not planning far enough ahead and not anticipating the lights changing or mentally switching off when the car stops.

How to avoid this fault: You should scan the road ahead and if the lights have been on green for some time expect them to change. Most traffic lights have a sensor of some kind that is triggered by vehicles approaching, so scan for clues such as vehicles approaching or waiting in the side roads. These sensors work in a similar way to those at pedestrian crossings and change when activated. If you can read these clues, you can plan to reduce your speed and therefore give yourself more time to react if the lights do actually change.
When you come to a stop at the lights you shouldn't mentally switch off. Treat this just as a pause in moving forward and stay alert. While waiting you need to continue gathering information, such as watching the other traffic flow to see if they are slowing down or stopping because their lights have changed. Remember though - Don’t be tempted to go too early when the lights are still on red and amber – wait until the lights are green and it’s safe to go.

To avoid getting any faults during your test you need to be well prepared – this means knowing what to do, why you are doing it and that have had enough lessons and practice to do it properly.
Good Luck!

© UDIDIT Driver Training 2014