Christmas Shopping Nightmare For Drivers

But not for me this year. Ha.

Christmas shopping is an absolute nightmare for me as a motorist. If ever there’s a  bad time to be in a car, in a city then it’s got to be the season driving instructors nottingham christmasof goodwill. As soon as I join the traffic flow at the end of my street I know it’s that time again. Driving over speed bumps and waiting at red lights. I want to rebel. I don’t want to be a shopping zombie but some things have just got to be done.

During the crawl into town I can already envision the misery of the multi storey car park and the desperate hunt for spaces. Sure enough, it starts at the entrance. I love staring at the ticket barrier machine waiting for the golden moment when a car drives out and there it is, the ticket I need so bad. Now to drive slowly looking for that elusive space.

You can’t do this too quickly because if you miss the space and drive past it then the guy behind you will bag it. There is no return if you overshoot it. At the same time the pressure is on from the guy behind who drives really close cos he’s dying to get to the shops. This is misery.

Yes! I’ve found a space and carefully reverse in. Owing to other people’s bad parking I have four inches of clearance at either side. If I breathe in and force myself through the crack in the door I can escape from the vehicle. Don’t forget to fold your door mirrors in before leaving. It may just be the saving of them if there is a 4×4 around.

Round the shops we go. Queues a mile long and not knowing what to buy anyway. Got to try and get away early because if you leave it until everyone goes at closing time it will be worse than getting in. Doesn’t matter if you didn’t get what you came for. It can’t be worth waiting in the multi storey waiting for the barrier to raise again.

Feeling the strain of Christmas driving.

Careful when packing those expensive gifts into the car. You will not want to smash the mugs, trinkets and ornaments you have bought that no one really needs. Careful closing the boot if you have a mountain of stuff. Put small stuff in the rear foot wells instead of on the seats then when you slam your brakes on later it won’t fly off the seat and break.

This year I have played it clever and gone into town on weekdays when I’ve had an empty afternoon. There has been on-street parking available at a fraction of the cost of multi storey parking. No single trip lasted more than an hour and the rest I did online, which is the ultimate form of shopping. All from the comfort of my settee. Nice.

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How to Drive Over Speed Bumps

Slowly slowly wins the race…

I’m often asked by pupils “what is the best way to drive over a speed bump?” Here are a few things to consider.driving over speed bumps

The first thing is obviously speed. That’s why they’re called speed bumps. Nobody ever calls them traffic calming measures. This phrase is used to describe all sorts of things that annoy drivers such as chicanes that narrow the lane so only one car can go through at a time. One direction usually has priority and this will be shown by the signs. This can often seem pointless but if people didn’t speed around then these things wouldn’t be here at all.

Take them at a speed below 20mph.This is often the speed limit on roads that have speed bumps anyway. If you take them any quicker than this then you risk damaging your car’s suspension. Make sure you plan ahead and see the signs and bumps well in advance. Some speed bumps are not coloured red but are the same colour as the road surface. The white triangle markings wear off as cars go over them and if it’s wet they can be just about invisible until your car hits them. Especially if you are having driving lessons in the dark. If you’re on a motorbike can be deadly.

When confronted by the square with slanted sides variety of bump that can be straddled by buses then there are a couple of ways to go over them depending on how many people are in the car. If there are two or more then go over them centrally. The tyres will hit the lower slanted bit and you’ll get less of a bump. You’ll also stay in a safe position on the road.

Don’t hurt the driving school car.

If there is just you driving and the passenger seat is empty then check mirrors and move over to the right a bit if the road is clear. The passenger side wheel which has less weight on it will go over the bump and you’ll get less of a jolt. DO NOT swerve in front of oncoming traffic to do this. It’s one of the things which annoys me when I see it being done.

My favourite speed bump is the type that goes all the way across the road. Probably not a favourite of cyclists and motorbike people. You know you can’t avoid it and so everybody slows down properly to go over them. Which is kind of like the whole point. Keep a low even speed on roads with speed bumps. Don’t accelerate and then brake in between each one. You’ll use a lot more fuel and cause wear and tear on the car. It’s not a nice ride for passengers either.

Make sure you have finished braking before you get to the speed bump so the weight isn’t on the front wheel. This will make it a lot smoother. That’s all I have to say on speed bumps.

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Will Telematics Make Young Drivers Safer?

There is no substitute for good driver training

Telematics is all the rage at the moment. Used as part of a package of measures to help bring down the accident rate for young drivers. It is also know as the Black Box and believe it or not it really is black. Let’s have a look at what this technology does and if it really will help make the roads safer for new drivers.

The word telematics is a blending of telecommunications and infomatics. The new word is mostly used to describe the technology used to driving instructors nottingham black boxmonitor how a car is driven mainly for insurance purposes. This kind of technology has been used to track parcels being delivered around the globe and even to monitor the performance of racing cars.

The use of this technology by insurance companies to monitor the way a car is driven is now becoming more widespread. Information gathered by the black box is analysed and the level of risk presented by the driving style can then be used to calculate insurance premiums. The lower the calculated risk, the lower the insurance premium, or the greater the cashback offered. It gives young drivers a financial incentive to drive more carefully and avoid harsh acceleration and braking. This style of driving will also save money on fuel as well.

The black box is wired in behind the dashboard where many of the electrics are. It’s out of the way and in a pretty safe place. Power is drawn when the engine is running so it won’t flatten the battery when the engine is switched off. A roaming sim card finds the strongest mobile network to send the information back to base where it is collected and analysed.

For this to be of any long term use to the driver there would need to be some sort of assessment and re training in the problem areas shown by the data. This would be an ideal opportunity to improve driving skills and make for a safer motorist. If something is learned we could consider it an excellent use of technology.

A GPS sensor knows where the car is being driven and the speed limits for those roads.  From this it can be determined whether the car was being driven within the posted speed limits. Keeping within the speed limits would obviously give you a better score. If drivers took note of speed limit signs and made the decision to obey them there would be no need to monitor drivers at all.

It cannot, however, measure inappropriate speed which is a major cause of accidents. Driving within the speed limit on a busy road with pedestrians around might not be safe but would not be flagged up by the black box. After all, the black box cannot see what the driver can see.

I feel this technology is intrusive and detracts from the freedom of driving. With freedom comes responsibility and it is up to drivers to act responsibly when behind the wheel. Safety measures are usually a response to a need and there is obviously a case for monitoring young drivers. I believe that better traffic education from an earlier age would do away with the need to monitor individuals so closely.

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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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Eco Driving for Fun and Profit

Save Cash and keep your car happy with Eco driving

If you want to save money on fuel and help protect the world we live in then get yourself an economical driving style. You will learn about thiseco driving lessons nottingham during driving lessons and it’s also an item that’s marked on the driving test. What does eco driving involve and how can you get some I hear you ask?

Environmental issues are all over the television and internet so we’re all aware of how we are harming the planet. You can do your bit to help by driving in a way that cuts down on pollution and uses less natural resources. As well as being safer on the road you will help look after your vehicle as well. Pedestrians with breathing difficulties can suffer from the low level pollution caused by burning fossil fuels like petrol and diesel.

If you want to drive in an environmentally friendly way you’ll have to practice looking well ahead and planning your drive. If you do this you’ll make the most use of the car’s momentum and have less need to use the accelerator and brakes. Keep a good distance from the vehicle ahead so when things slow down you can just let the car roll instead of stopping and moving off again. Only a fool breaks the two second rule as they say.

Why not take an Eco- driving lesson?

When you move off try to do it smoothly without over revving the engine. This can be hard to do when you are moving off uphill. Too many revs can also lead to clutch wear which can be expensive. Keep a smooth engine tone whether you are moving off uphill or on a level. Taking your foot off the gas when driving down hill can save fuel without compromising safety but don’t coast with the clutch in. This may lead to loss of control of the vehicle. If you are waiting for any length of time then it may be worth turning off the engine. This can be the case at level crossings. If you do switch off the engine, watch the lights and anticipate when traffic will begin to move again. This will allow you to switch the engine back on in good time.

When I’ve finished giving driving lessons I always take the roof sign off my car as it produces a lot of drag. There are things you can do to reduce drag and therefore fuel consumption in your own vehicle. Don’t keep heavy items you’re not going to need in the boot. Remove them to make the car lighter. Take off the roof rack if you’ve got one fitted and won’t be using it for some time. If it’s mainly short journeys you make only half fill the fuel tank each time. Carrying the weight of a full tank makes the engine work harder than it needs to. At slower speeds open the windows instead of using the air conditioning.

Keep the car as light as possible, use the controls smoothly and combine this with good forward planning to save pounds on fuel over the years to come.

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Flood Season is Here Again

Take care when driving through flood water

It’s raining heavily out there so we will have to brave the weather on our driving lessons. Never fear, there is always something new to learn driving instructors nottingham floodsand wet roads just add to the challenge. Let’s have a look at what you can do to drive on flooded roads safely.

First thing to do is remain calm. When the rain is pounding down on to the roof of your car it can make a lot of noise. If you are learning to drive it can mask the noise of the engine making moving off more difficult. Add to this the movement of the windscreen wipers and the blowing of the demisters and things can seem quite scary.

If you come across large pools of water on the road pull up and try to determine how deep the water might be. If you know the area it can be easy to guess how deep it is, otherwise look for clues before you try to drive through. Believe it or not a car will float in about two feet of water and then you’ll have no control whatsoever. The car door is only about six inches above the ground so any deeper than this and you might get water seeping in and damaging the carpets. If the water is flowing at speed it will need to be even more shallow to avoid danger.

The water will be at it’s most shallow at the centre line of the road. This is higher than it is at the kerb for drainage purposes, often referred to as the camber. If you’ve got oncoming traffic then it would be difficult to drive up the middle of the road so check the water is not too deep at the kerb.

Pouring rain on driving lessons.

Drivers of large 4×4 vehicles need to spare a thought for those of us in cars. Driving through water at speed creates a bow wave which can cause real problems for smaller vehicles. Try to bear this in mind when you’re piling on through unhindered. Keep your speed down so you don’t cause a wave.

Keep your engine revs high when driving through water and the vehicle speed low by slipping the clutch. Doing this stops water from going down the exhaust pipe and choking the engine causing the car to stall. This is a bit of a challenge for a learner driver who may have difficulty controlling the clutch bite for any length of time. Could be time to use the dual controls if you’re a driving instructor.

A lot of driving instructors will work in areas prone to flooding and should be able to teach you these techniques. I was on a lesson in Lowdham during a heavy shower and the rural roads were flooding as the lesson went on. It made for an interesting learning experience. Brakes don’t work so well when they are wet so dry them off once you are through the water. This is best done with the left foot gently pressing the brake pedal as the car is being driven. Once the braking is restored you’re home and dry.

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driving lessons Nottingham by Russ Chaplin. Driving instructor training for driving schools Nottingham.