All posts by Russ Chaplin

My name is Russ Chaplin. I am a DSA approved driving instructor giving driving lessons in Nottingham. I hold the Diploma in Driving Instruction and have passed both the Diamond Advanced and Special driving tests, qualifying me as a Diamond advanced Instructor. I am ORDIT registered to deliver all parts of the Approved driving instructors Nottingham qualifying exams as well as Check test re-assessment and training for other driving schools Nottingham. I teach driving at all levels and also deliver the Pass Plus post-test training course.

No Passengers for Young Drivers?

Improved driver education is the answer

It looks like new restrictions are to come into force for young drivers. If you’ve finished your driving lessons and recently passed your test you young driving lessons nottinghamwill be prevented from carrying friends, though you may be allowed to drive your immediate family around. Should young people have these restrictions placed upon them or is improved traffic education the most effective way to keep the roads safe?

One of the new proposals concerns having a complete ban on carrying passengers. This may stop young drivers gaining the real world driving experience they need. The new driver will have never driven alone before. Either a parent or friend, your driving instructor and finally the test examiner will have been in the car with you while you learned to drive. Driving accompanied while learning and then being forced to drive alone immediately after the test can be a contributing factor in traffic accidents.

Those first few journeys with nobody else in the car can be a frightening experience. Nervous drivers can present a high risk on the road. If you’re in busy traffic with no one there for support it can become overwhelming. Having a friend in the car who has some driving experience can be helpful. Family members can help but can also add to the tension by being critical and commenting on the drive. Driving is supposed to be enjoyable and the best way to achieve this is to be well trained before the test and have a positive attitude at the wheel.

Young drivers at risk.

It would be difficult to enforce these restrictions as there is a distinct lack of traffic police on our roads. Young drivers would need to be pulled over and their license checked to see if the restrictions applied to them. Any passengers in the car would possibly need to prove that they were immediate family members. This would be a long process and the cost of police time would be substantial.

If you took driving lessons in the summer months then chances are you will have never driven in the dark before passing your test. There may also be a ban on driving during the hours of darkness. Some training in driving at night before passing a test would be beneficial. Roads are much quieter at night so present less risk from other traffic. People who work night shifts may need to drive to get to work as there are few buses through the night. A short post test night driving course would surely be better than restrictions.

Young employees may be required to drive unattended. These restrictions could lead to limited job prospects until a time when the person can legally drive alone. As young people are important to our economy it is important they can drive as part of a job. Surely the answer is improved driver education with road safety courses starting early in schools. Attitude is all important in safe driving and this has to be introduced at a young age.

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I Was a Poor Pedestrian…

But I turned into an OK Driving Instructor.

It may make me sound old but it seems the younger people of today have no road sense. They wonder out in front of cars staring at a mobile phone while texting a mate seemingly oblivious to the vehicle heading towards them. When the car stops they stare at it like it’s the drivers fault. I like to think I’ve always been a good pedestrian but this is not the case.

My first brush with death came when I was about 10 years old and was walking around in my snorkel parker. I couldn’t see left of right owing to the furry edged hood being zipped right up. I decided to just run out into the road and I was shocked by the sound of screeching tyres. The driver of the vehicle which nearly killed me got out and gave me a good shouting at. I’ve got to say it worked cos I was very careful from then on.

The police came round to do a presentation when I was in the cubs. The copper showed us exactly how long it took to stop a car which surprised me and I must say I didn’t quite believe it. We practised crossing the road in a reasonable way and at the end were all given a badge.

Fast forward to when I became a teenager and was forced to display manliness in front of my mates. We would challenge each other to see who could walk the closest to an oncoming car without actually being hit with the door mirror and being spun around. I don’t recommend doing this at all.

Watch out for crazy kids when you drive up to pedestrian crossings.

Back then the art of being a good pedestrian was promoted on the television all the time. Who can forget Darth Vader telling us all to use the Green Cross Code while dressed in green lycra? Classic entertainment. Before that there was the Tufty club featuring Tufty the road safety squirrel. Kids of today might find tufty a bit lame but back then he really got the message across.

I think we need a modern mainstream promotion about being a good pedestrian. Some of the people I see walking out in front of the car during driving lessons are easily old enough to know better. Youths walk out onto Zebra crossings with an arrogance that beggars belief. Not taking even one tiny glance to see what’s coming.

Attitudes that are ingrained at an early age tend to stick. By teaching children how to look after themselves and others as pedestrians it would help engender safe attitudes towards driving.

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The Haunting of George’s Lane

Ghosts on the Road in Nottingham

After starting driving lessons with a new pupil in Nottingham I have been introduced to a haunted road. George’s Lane near Calverton has a longdriving instructors nottingham ghosts tradition of spooky goings on. After some research at the Calverton Ghost Stories website I am certainly intrigued. Let’s have a look at some of the cases.
George’s Lane is frightening enough from a purely driving perspective. Many accidents have occurred on the road owing to it being a windy road with many blind corners. Deadly if you meet a bus coming the other way. The road is unlit adding to the spooky nature and ramping up the danger level for the unwary driver. Add the wet weather we’re having at the moment and it’s a recipe for disaster which must be handled with care.
So what’s been happening down there? A mysterious figure in a black robe has been seen on several occasions since the 1930s. With a hood masking the face except for a large hook nose it has terrified those out walking when the clock chimes midnight. The figure chased a Mr Lawrence Bardill for some distance and he was ill for several days afterwards. Could this have been someone with a coat on walking along who happened to have a big nose? I’ll let you decide. Pedestrians would be well advised to wear a high vis tabbard and carry a torch to avoid being run over or being mistaken for a supernatural entity.

Maybe there’s a haunted driving school.

Some local taxi drivers refuse to use the road and always take another route. You can hardly blame them when motorists have seen a figure in black sitting in the back seat of their car. Apparently the figure disappears when you turn round to look and can only be seen in the rear view mirror. I wouldn’t advise taking your eyes off the road on George’s Lane, even with a ghost on the back seat. You’re just asking to smash into the trees if you do that. Pull up safely, apply the handbrake and then look for the ghost.
In 1977 eerie mists were seen along the road the road as well as swirling black vapour. As country roads are prone to thick patches of fog I hardly think this is paranormal. Unlike the time in 1992 when villagers Bill and Allison saw a pair of legs, just legs mind, clad in white riding breeches running across the road. No easy explanation here. It happened as a bus was coming the other way so big potential for an accident. Could have been a large duck or swan, could have been a pair of ghost legs.
If you are brave enough to venture along George’s lane I would make sure you keep your speed down on the bends. Make sure your windscreen is clean of smears and put your headlights on as soon as it gets gloomy. Don’t wait for it to get too dark. Position well to the left to avoid oncoming traffic and don’t be distracted by ghosts.
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Nottingham is a Traffic Jam

Why does the sign say Road works when it doesn’t?

The roads out there in Nottingham are more congested than ever with the installation of the new tram system and numerous other projects driving lessons nottingham traffic jamgoing on which involve digging up the road. This can have a big effect on the content of intensive driving lessons and the ability of the driving instructor to get there on time. Believe me, the day is long when you’re sat in a jam half the day and doing lessons in between.

More people than ever now own their own car. In areas with old narrow streets with cars double parked it can be a real problem getting through. New learners need to stay away from these areas when practising until they have gained some experience. A dodgy slip of the clutch while moving off or poor judgement of space could lead to a prang and loss of door mirrors.

Traffic is at it’s busiest when people are on their way to and from work and at the beginning and end of the school day. This can cause a lot of traffic queues so may not be the best time to take a test, though being caught in traffic during a test has it’s advantages. So long as you don’t hit the car in front time will just tick away without the opportunity to commit any faults.

Learning to deal with busy driving.

Remember the time shown for a journey on internet route planners or on your sat nav does not take into account traffic congestion. Make sure you allow plenty of extra time for your journey. It can be maddening to be sitting in traffic when you’ve got to be somewhere else. Drivers are prone to make snap decisions to gain advantage without really thinking them through so be prepared for sudden moves from other drivers. If you’ve had enough and you leave the traffic queue by a side road your sat nav will reprogram another route but be aware that they are notorious for sending people the wrong way down one way streets. Always check for signs and markings.

Don’t be getting your mobile phone out to text ahead while the engine is running. It’s illegal even if you are sat still in traffic. Use a hands free kit for the call or get a passenger to do it for you. If you have a driving lesson and you end up in traffic do not despair. Keep calm while your friendly instructor thinks up another route and you make your escape.

Congestion is controlled on motorways by means of variable speed limits. You will see these displayed on the overhead gantry signs. Make sure you obey these and stay in the left hand lane unless you’re overtaking. When traffic is super busy it can often be the left hand lane which is moving faster. This can be very annoying if you moved to the right hand lane thinking that it was going to be quicker. Don’t think you’re missing out or the world is against you. It only seems like the other lanes are moving faster. Happy days.

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Older Drivers Staying Safe on the Road

You’re never too old to improve your driving

These days we are all living longer which means the number of drivers above the age of 70 is set to increase. As we become older the effects ofcourses for older drivers in nottingham ageing can mean that our driving is not up to a reasonably safe standard. It’s important that older drivers have their driving checked and their skills updated to remain on the road.

Driving is a great source of freedom and independence for us all, especially older people who may have difficulty using public transport, cycling or walking long distances to shops and making other essential journeys.

First thing to consider is the car being driven. As older people tend to drive less miles the car may have been used for a number of years so needs to be checked to make sure it is properly maintained. As we become physically weaker a newer and lighter handling car may be more appropriate. A stiff handbrake lever or gear stick as well as lack of power assisted steering can effect safe handling of the vehicle.

Eyesight is an important factor. It must reach the legal standard of being able to read a standard number plate at 20m. As we age vision night vision can suffer making driving after dark a problem. The eyes lose the ability to refocus quickly when looking at dashboard instruments and the back at the road. This strain on the eyes can lead to fatigue and loss of concentration. If the driver is taking prescription medicines then the this problem can be made worse.

Assessments for older drivers.

It’s important that older drivers have the support of their families when making decisions about their driving. Assessments by a qualified driving instructor are a good idea. An objective view of driving ability can help older drivers to find a way forward. There are many possibilities to explore before deciding to give up a licence entirely.  An older person could restrict themselves to daylight driving on familiar roads avoiding peak traffic times. This would reduce risk considerably. Perhaps a smaller car that is easier to handle especially when it comes to parking and other close manoeuvres would prove more manageable. If an older person finds physical movement limited a couple of extra mirrors fixed to the windscreen may solve the problem.

An assessment can also be a tremendous learning experience for an older driver. They probably passed their test many years ago and have had no further training since. A few lessons followed by a second assessment may show that driving has improved enough to now be considered safe. Topping up this training every few years for the over 70s would increase their level of safety and provide peace of mind for their loved ones.

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Mirror Mirror on the Door…

Check those door mirrors before you move.

It’s been a week where a lot of people have been getting ready to take the driving test. As we prepare for the big day with some busy town drives driving schools nottingham door mirrorsit has brought to light how neglected the faithful door mirrors can be by learners and the more seasoned driver.
It’s important to link the use of door mirrors with space. Not space as in the final frontier but the road space you are about to drive into. Space comes in different varieties.
Safe space is a part of the traffic flow that is OK to move into. In order to know that the space is safe down the side of the car you drive when changing lanes you need to look in the door mirror as well as the internal rear view mirror. Make sure the mirror you check is at the side you are about to move into. Not much point checking the left mirror when changing lanes to the right. Not much point checking the left blind spot before moving off from a normal position.
Contested or closing space is where another vehicle wants to move into the bit of road you intend to use. If you see a car closing in you may need to check the mirrors over a longer period of time to see the movement of the other vehicle and anticipate what’s going to happen. Don’t make it one long look. That would effect steering which is not good. Use a few short glances and keep returning your attention to the road ahead.

Check the blind spot like your driving instructor taught you.

When you want to move left or right around parked cars check the door mirrors first. They are not to be used only before signalling though this is important. Changing lanes may also require a tiny glance into the blind spot over the right shoulder, often neglected by the learner driver. Don’t look for too long. My car nearly ploughed into a wall once from a learner turning their head and staring behind.
If you are moving off in lanes of traffic check both door mirrors for any cyclists or motorbikes filtering through. Some people will often pull a hasty three point turn to escape the traffic jam. A biker buddy of mine went flying over the bonnet Superman style and ended up with a neck brace and three weeks off work because of this. A mirror check before moving would have prevented this.
Regard the door mirrors as your friends. They are there to help you make the right decision. Don’t ignore them but keep them clean and nicely adjusted. They will help look after you and those around you.

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Double Yellow Lines and Parking Fines

Park safely when you’re popping to the shop.

Plans are being made to allow short term parking on double yellow lines. You can drop off and pick up passengers on these lines but not actually stop and wait. Local shops on the high street suffer when drivers cannot stop to shop. People don’t seem to want to park somewhere else and then walk back to the shop. Time is money and with the daily demands of life people just haven’t got the time. It’s got to be out of the car and into the shop.

Sometimes it would be handy to be able to leave your car for a couple of minutes to go to the shop but the risk of a parking fine puts people off. It’s easier to shop online or go to the major supermarkets where you can park safely. Local economies would receive a big boost if drivers were allowed to park for a short time. just long enough to get what they need and go. People don’t really browse in small shops so these things rarely take long.

Many double yellow lines no longer need to be there and room could be made for short stay parking bays. Care needs to be taken on where these lines are driving instructors nottingham yellow linesremoved from. They are placed on the road for safety reasons where there is not enough room to stop and sight lines are very short due to bends and surrounding buildings.

Look before you open the car door.

Pulling up in a busy area with pedestrians and shops has it’s own dangers. Take care where you leave your vehicle and make sure others can pass before you switch the engine off. Make sure you are parked straight and close to the kerb.

Look out for pedestrians, especially children as you pull in. It’s common to see people walking out of shops and onto the road while texting or talking on a mobile phone and not really looking at what’s going on. Take it slow and sound the horn if necessary.

Mind how you open the door. Check the mirror before getting out and pay particular attention to approaching cyclists. Motorbikes can be hard to see and opening a car door in front of them can be fatal. It may be better to slide across the seats and get out of the passenger side.

If you park in a marked bay make sure you are fully inside it. Nothing gets people annoyed more than a car straddling two bays.

Allowing parking near local shops is a good thing. It might bring the high street back but there are definite safety issues to consider. Use your common sense and keep your eyes open and it’ll all go smoothly.

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Keep Cool While You Deal With Emergency Vehicles

Don’t panic when you see those blue lights

It can be one of the most stressful things to happen to learner drivers on a driving test. Sirens blaring and blue lights flashing in the rear view mirror. The most important thing to do is stay calm.

It’s often the case that you hear the siren before you see where it’s coming from. Don’t take your eyes off the road and start looking over your driving lessons nottingham emergency vehiclesshoulder. This can lead to accidents. All will be revealed if you carry on and allow the situation to develop. It’s important to keep driving as normal. The emergency vehicle might not even be going your way.

Keep going until the vehicle pops up in your mirrors or you can see it through the windscreen. When you see it anticipate where the vehicle is going and decide if you will need to stop. If you do then take a breath and choose a safe place to pull up. Whatever you do, don’t blindly stop just anywhere.

Keep calm and listen to your driving instructor.

Lots of learners pull up opposite a parked vehicle and don’t leave enough room for the ambulance to get through. A common mistake on driving tests. This makes the problem worse. Keep moving until you find a good spot .

Forcing your car up the kerb onto the pavement is not a good idea. I see plenty of people overdo this. It can damage your tyres and ruin the suspension of your car. If you do have to pull up on the kerb do it slowly and make sure you check for pedestrians first.

Finally, remember you’re not allowed to break the law to clear the way for emergency vehicles in heavy traffic. If you must go over the stop line at a red light. Check first for opposing traffic and only go out as much as necessary. If it looks dangerous wait for the green light.

Braking the speed limit and driving down bus lanes during their hours of operation remain illegal even under these circumstances. Keep calm, pick your spot to pull over and do it carefully. It’s bad form to overtake people who pulled over for emergency vehicles. Hold back and let them move off again. Good manners cost nothing and keep everyone happy.

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Drivers Versus Cyclists – A Question of Attitude

Cyclists and drivers should love each other more.

With more and more cycles competing for road space with cars and other vehicles it is no surprise that people on both sides can get annoyed. I had a pupil taking driving lessons in Nottingham with me who hated cars when she was cycling and hated cycles when she was driving. Not a healthy attitude at all.

The way new drivers approach cyclists on the road during lessons falls into two categories.

Some pupils actually moan when faced with the prospect of overtaking a bike. They become tense at the wheel and seem aggressive as if they actually driving schools nottingham cyclistsresent the cyclist being there.

The driving task does become more complicated when you have to overtake a cyclist but this is no reason to get annoyed. The new driver will tend to go way too close to the cyclist instead of hanging back. Bikes can stop much quicker than cars so leave enough stopping distance.

Driving straight round a cyclist no matter how little room there is can also be a problem. You need to pick your spot to go around. Make sure you can move to the right enough and get back to your own side in time to avoid oncoming traffic. You need to time it right so you don’t pass opposite a central reservation. There’s simply not enough room.

Some learners can be too cautious which leads to other complications.

Look out for cyclists when learning to drive.

Don’t hang behind a cyclist forever. Cars will queue behind and have to overtake both you and the bike. Go round first chance you get which can be difficult on country roads. When you pull out leave enough room so the cyclist can swerve if necessary. You don’t need to shift all the way to the other side of the road.

Cyclists can make it easier on themselves and drivers. Don’t weave from the pavement to the road and back again. Red lights mean stop even if you are on a bike, a lot of people seem to forget that one. Look for indicators before passing cars on the left. There’s lots you can do to help the overall traffic situation.

If we all take a more co-operative attitude we can reduce stress levels and make the roads a nicer place to be.

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Don’t Be a CLOD While Driving on the Motorway


The police have been given new powers to crack down on drivers who are lane hogging and tailgating while driving on the motorway.

CLODS can really get in the way!

CLODS or Centre Lane Owner Drivers as they are called, are people who never pull back to the left hand lane of the motorway after overtaking. Instead they stay in the centre lane forcing drivers who wish to overtake into the right hand lane and making it difficult for large vehicles to overtake.

You should always pull back to the left after passing vehicles as this makes best use of road space and allows for a freer flow of traffic. You may motorway driving lessons nottinghamalso tempt people to pass you in the left hand lane by staying in the centre lane which can be very dangerous. I always teach about this during motorway driving lessons in Nottingham.

If you can see a slower moving vehicle in the left lane and it will be a short time before you reach it then by all means do overtake and then pull back in afterwards. If it will take a while to reach it then move to the left and move back to the middle lane to pass it when you are closer.

Practise on the motorway with a driving school.

When passing a joining slip road it can be best to stay in the centre lane to allow traffic to merge in on the left. Pull back over after the junction when traffic has finished merging. You’ll need to look well ahead if you see a service station and watch for people leaving and re-joining the motorway. Check your left door mirror when you are passing a slip road. Joining cars can be easily hidden in your blind spot. Speed up or slow down to give them a gap. You can move over to let them in as long as there isn’t a CLOD in the way.

Tailgating is driving too close to the car in front for prolonged periods of time. This can be deadly. Always allow a two second time gap between you and the vehicle you are following. At high speeds it would be best to leave even more. If a vehicle pulls in front of you then check mirrors and make sure you drop back to reinstate the two second gap. If the surface of the road is wet then make it four seconds

Young or inexperienced drivers can commit these offences through ignorance rather than wilful bad driving. You can’t drive on the motorway as a learner as they are not included on driving test routes so you don’t gain any experience until after the test, often unaccompanied. It’s a good idea to take some lessons on a motorway before you drive on your own.

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