Driving Lessons in the Dark

Learning to drive in the dark

By mid afternoon it’s already starting to get dark at this time of year. A lot of people decide not to learn to drive until the days are getting lighter. What with Christmas around the corner it’s tempting to put off those driving lessons until next year. Don’t be so hasty, let’s have a look at some of the challenges of learning to drive in the dark.

In a city like Nottingham it can get very busy come the late afternoon but don’t worry, you’ll always start your lessons in a quieter area. The glare from the headlights of oncoming cars can take some getting used to at first. The trick here is to not look directly at the cars but look to the space in front that you are driving into. Take special care to look for cyclists and motorbikes as they filter through the traffic. They can be hard to pick out at night.

Sometimes brake lights can be a problem, especially when everyone is slowing down on the approach to junctions. If your windscreen is wet with rain then they can cause a fair amount of dazzle. Make sure you’ve got the wipers on a good speed to keep the windscreen clear. Dazzle from brake lights can be a strain on the eyes and make you feel tired after a while. If you use the handbrake and come off the foot brake you will avoid dazzling the person behind and make things more comfortable for them.

The rear view mirror has an anti dazzle feature that you should use. By moving the tab at the bottom edge of the mirror you can cut down on learning to drive in the darkglare from cars waiting behind you. Make sure you put it back to normal when the car behind has moved in order to see clearly again. The anti dazzle feature cuts out a lot of visual detail.

Starting to drive in the light as darkness falls during the lesson will allow your eyes enough time to adjust naturally. If you have just left a well lit building then it will take some time for your eyes to become accustomed to the changing light so be aware of this and take extra care. Lower your speed a bit until you can see properly.

Driving instructors teach in the dark.

Be careful how you use the indicator stalk. Many cars have the main beam switch on the indicator stalk and if you push it the wrong way accidentally you may dazzle other drivers. The flashing of the main beams may be taken as a signal that you are giving way to other drivers and could be dangerous. Handle the stalk with care and you’ll avoid this problem.

Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users are at greater risk during the hours of darkness. Watch out for pedestrians in charge of animals. It’s easy to miss seeing them at crossings when you are learning to drive and concentrating on other things. Cyclists should wear reflective jackets but many don’t so keep your eyes peeled for people on bikes. It’s a good thing to learn to drive in the dark. You will gain confidence and experience which will make you a safer driver after passing your test.

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Stick to a Clean Windscreen.

Make sure your driving vision is clear

It may seem like a bit of a joke but it’s thought that covering your car windows with decals can be a factor in road accidents. Having big logosdriving instructors nottingham windscreen or phrases on the rear windscreen can cut down your vision as well as distract following drivers. Rear windscreens can be really small on some modern cars so the vision is pretty bad anyway. Some of those wiper blades you see now are tiny and clear an area the size of a letterbox.

Lots of cars out there have the rear windscreen covered with stickers or soft toys and all kinds of other stuff. This is a problem when it comes to changing lanes and you can’t see if the space you want to move in to is clear. Cutting in front of other cars because you can’t see they are there is dangerous and may seem aggressive to other drivers. Use defensive driving skills and leave plenty of room.

The Child On Board decal is one of the main offenders as it is quite large. The original idea behind this sticker was to alert emergency services at the scene of an accident that there is a child on board and so give that vehicle priority attention. It was soon found that cars displaying the sticker didn’t actually have a child on board so it was usually a false alarm. The suction cup fitting allows for easy removal when not carrying a child but naturally people forget and just leave it in the window permanently. Emergency services may waste valuable time looking for a child that isn’t there.

You’ve got to be able to see when you’re learning to drive.

Believe it or not there are plenty of driving instructors who place large decals in the rear windscreen and dangle air fresheners from the rear view mirror. I have seen some driving school cars with decals that almost cover the rear windscreen. This sets a poor example as it looks bad and reduces rear vision for both instructor and pupil. Reversing manoeuvres will be made more dangerous if vision to the rear is blocked. Sometimes stickers will be used as markers to help with reversing but if you rely on these to get you through the test then you won’t be able to reverse without them once you’re out there on your own.

It’s tempting to have decals placed on the rear passenger windows but this can easily reduce vision towards the blind spot. Although a lot of drivers neglect to check the blind spot before moving off it is an important area which may contain hidden dangers and should be kept clear and checked each time before moving off. Avoid having tinted rear windows. The amount of vision you get at night is absolutely useless with so much detail lost. Unless you’re carrying a rock star around there’s not really much point.

Some people keep so much junk in their cars it really makes me smile. Rows of soft toys all looking out at you through the front windscreen as they sit there on the dashboard. Rows more looking out of the back from the parcel shelf and yet more swinging from the rear view mirror. Take a corner too fast and they’ll be thrown all over the car. Keep it sensible with the odd sticker in the corner of the windscreen or a small mascot secured to the dashboard and we’ll all be safer on the road.

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Look Out For Those Animals!

Don’t drive over our furry friends.

Not many people think about road accidents involving animals. Most of these accidents happen on quiet rural roads so are perhaps not seen driving lessons nottingham animalsby so many people on driving lessons. If you are mainly a city type person there are dangers you need to watch out for on country roads where animals are free to roam around.

Sheep and deer are the most common animals to be involved in accidents. It’s not hitting the animal that causes the accident most of the time. It’s when a driver swerves to avoid the animal that crashes occur. The deer may just walk away unharmed. During lambing season you may see new signs put up to warn you of the presence of animals. People herding animals will do so mainly during the day as it would be way too dangerous at night.

The vast majority of people will drive mainly in the towns and cities. Accidents involving animals will therefore seem obscure and not really worth thinking about. Motorways can sometimes have accidents involving animals as they run next to fields where animals escape and go walkabout. Horses have been seen running on the motorway bringing traffic to a halt on rare occasions.

Accidents that involve animals in the city environment are usually caused by pets not kept properly under control. This can be a problem for older drivers. If you see someone walking a dog on the pavement which isn’t secured on a lead then slow down and be prepared in case it runs into the road. I can tell you it’s a horrible feeling when you run over someone’s cat as it runs out straight from under a parked car and leaves you no time to stop. Looking ahead in between parked cars and underneath cars in the distance will give you time to take action and avoid a last second swerve.

Look out for animals on driving lessons.

The urban fox is becoming increasingly common and there are no shortage of dead foxes that have been hit by cars along the dual carriageway. As vehicle speeds are higher on these roads swerving could be lethal so looking along the verge for any movement is important.

I drove on a narrow country lane near some horse stables during an advanced test which was a bit of an eye opener. I brought the car to a halt as a young rider lost control of her horse. If I had not stopped in good time the consequences could have been serious. Look through the gaps in trees and bushes on bends to get the early view.

Danger from animals can also come from inside the car so make sure your pets are kept properly restrained and not allowed loose in the car. A dog sticking it’s head out of the window from the front passenger seat may look cute but is probably not such a good idea. Stones and other road debris can be thrown up by the wheels of other vehicles and hit the dog causing it to panic. As well as being distracting there can be real danger such as a cat I carried many years ago crawling under my feet around the brake pedal. I should have kept it restrained in a proper carry box, and you should carry your pets properly too.

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Defensive Driving in the Big City

Planning your drive for greater safety.

Yesterday I delivered a one day defensive driving course on behalf of a commercial company. The first time I’ve done this kind of work in quite adefensive driving course nottingham while. I’ve got to say I enjoyed it and my client, Richard, found it challenging and helpful. Let me tell you all about it.

I arrived at the company’s site at about 8.30am. Not too far away from where I live actually. I must update my sat nav maps soon because they were telling me the speed limit was 70 when it has been 50mph for some time now. Could lead to problems if a person is not looking out for signs.

The people at the company office were really nice. They showed me Richard’s insurance certificate and had a word about his driving in a jovial style. After a quick cigarette out in the yard we began our journey of discovery. The vehicle we were using was a Ford Ranger. A well beefy pick up truck. Much larger than my normal driving school car.

In the area surrounding the work place there were no driving problems at all. As is the case with many drivers, there will be fewer problems on familiar ground. We first encountered some of Richard’s driving issues when turning right at a major crossroads. Too quick on approach and a lack of all round observations. It became apparent that Richard tends to stare at one area rather than taking in the whole traffic scene. Planning a drive begins with seeing what’s there, If you don’t properly observe then everything else is shaky. Planning also allows for a more economical driving style.

Next came a few dual carriageways and a motorway drive. Smooth as silk with no problems at all. Richard was looking relaxed behind the wheel and we just rolled along with it. Overtaking was up to standard but we could have returned to the left earlier before leaving at the slip road of the motorway. Always a tough call that. Do you tuck in now or keep your speed up and overtake some more? Always return to the left in good time before the slip road and take the stress out of it.

Defensive driving for fun and safety.

Next up was city driving which was the source of all Richard’s woes. Tense behind the wheel, staring at the space ahead and zero planning all took their toll on the drive. Failure to see signs almost led to us driving down a 24 hour bus lane which has a camera on it. Would have been points on the license for that one. Not moving the eyes around meant not seeing people waiting at pedestrian crossings and trying to overtake buses that were about to pull out.

I offered a short commentary to the drive to illustrate how the eyes should be moving and how far ahead to look to get information on upcoming hazards. Richard really responded to this and his driving improved as he started to look around more. Earlier and smoother braking, more safety space around our vehicle and a relaxed posture all came from taking effective observations.

Another issue effecting commercial drivers is meeting deadlines set by the company. No matter how tight a deadline is we cannot let safety be compromised by the pressure we feel about a job. Risks taken in city driving don’t bring any real time benefits anyway and aren’t worth it.

Upon arriving back at base we discussed the drive as I filled in the assessment form. I gave Richard a few pointers on how to further improve his driving in the future. You’ve got to keep working on your driving if you want it to improve.

This was a fantastic experience. Working with a qualified driver made a nice change from working with learners and is something I would like to do again in the near future.

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What the Fog is Going on?

Take care when driving in fog.

Nottingham is surrounded by lots of lovely countryside and is therefore prone to fog in some areas. Watch out for sudden low lying patches driving schools nottingham foggyof dense mist and fog. They can take you by surprise. This can present challenges during driving lessons. Let’s have a look at what we can do to make things easier.

The most dangerous type of fog is the dreaded thick patchy type. You can be driving down a nice clear road and then in an instant you can’t see the road in front of you. For new drivers this can be a very weird experience, especially if there’s water on the road. Whatever you do don’t use the car in front to navigate which is very tempting if it’s dark. If you can see the tail lights of the vehicle then you are driving too close. It gives a false sense of security and if they braked suddenly it’s unlikely you would stop in time to avoid hitting them.

It’s tempting to navigate by driving on the centre line of the road. If you do this you risk hitting oncoming traffic. Stay on your own side and look well ahead for approaching head lights. If you are on a country road where fog tends to be worse then look for the reflective marker posts to the left and use these to guide you.

Put your lights on when driving in fog.

Make sure you use the dipped beam headlights when driving in fog. If visibility is less than 100 metres then use the fog lights. If you use fog lights in a light mist you risk dazzling other drivers so make sure visibility is poor before you switch them on. Don’t use full beam headlights as they simply reflect back off the fog and then you can’t see anything. You will totally blind oncoming drivers as well so be careful. Dipped beam headlights offer the best visibility so use these and slow down if you can’t see. You must always be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Which won’t be very far if it’s foggy.

Rural areas have junctions without any road markings and these can be very dangerous if visibility is poor as there’s no way to see which side of the road you’re on. If you’re emerging on to a main road the situation can be tense. A good idea is to open your windows so you’ll be able to hear other vehicles before you see them giving you an advanced warning. Keeping your foot on the foot brake will keep the brake lights on and make you more visible from behind. Using your horn gives a good warning of your presence over a large distance so don’t be afraid to use it. This is particularly useful if you are approaching a bend.

There’s no need to cancel driving lessons just because it’s foggy. Look at it as a learning opportunity and a chance to do some real life driving. Take it steady out there.

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