Tag Archives: Nottingham

Are You Seated Comfortably When Driving?

Take control during driving lessons in Nottingham

One of the first things a new pupil is taught by Nottingham driving instructors is how to set the driving position for optimum comfort seating position for drivingand safety. This is something perhaps forgotten after the test as you can see so many experienced drivers who do not pay attention to their seating position. They will often strain themselves to reach the pedals or sit too close to the wheel. Let’s have a look at a few things to consider before you turn on the engine and move off.

First thing to look at is the clothes you are wearing. So many pupils get into the car and keep their coat on. Yes, it may be cold outside but the car is heated and soon you will be too warm. Many times we have pulled over to allow the learner to take off coats and jumpers. If you were on a motorway you may have to sit there boiling before you got the chance, so make yourself comfortable before you start. I think some nervous drivers feel more protected if they keep a large coat on. It may protect you in a crash, but not much.

Footwear is the other big thing. In a learner it can make a huge difference when it comes to clutch control. You don’t want the soles too thick or you can’t feel the pedal movement. Too thin and you may have trouble pushing the pedals down. Make sure they are not too loose or tight and that they aren’t flip flops. These have got to be the worst shoes for driving.

Next comes the seating position. Car seats have a pretty wide range of movement nowadays to accommodate the tallest to the shortest people. It’s important that you adjust things correctly as poor posture can cause aches and pains particularly in the lower back and can effect your level of awareness on long journeys, putting you at risk while driving. You need to be a distance from the pedals which allows you to fully press down the clutch pedal without reaching too far or locking your knee. If you have to reach then chances are you won’t press the clutch all the way down and will grind the gears. If your knees are locked and you have even a moderate collision you stand a bigger chance of breaking your leg. If your leg is bent it will just fold in a crash. If you are driving an automatic check you can press the brake or accelerator without reaching. Sitting too far forward can hinder movement and trap your legs under the wheel.

Shorter people will benefit from raising the height of the seat. This will give you a better view of the road ahead and also the dials on the dashboard. As the seat tilts forward as it is raised it allows for better reach of the pedals. The seatbelt anchorage point can also be lowered so the seatbelt fits correctly over the shoulder and across the chest. With the seat too low the seat belt can cut into your neck.

Nottingham driving instructors do it while sitting comfortably!

Alter the rake of the seat, that means the degree of backward tilt, so it supports your weight and doesn’t have you leaning too far back or hunched over the wheel. New learners tend to have the seat  tilted too far back and then pull themselves forward using the wheel. This causes wobbly steering and is sometimes a sign of nerves. Remember the head restraint is just that and not a head rest. One pupil I had recently could not help but force his head back against the head restraint by pushing against the wheel with his arms. Not a good posture at all. You can’t move your head properly to look to the side.

A guy I gave instructor training to was involved in a car accident. He was hit from behind by a car moving at speed. He had checked his mirror and saw that he was going to be hit. The mistake he made was to brace himself by locking his arms and gripping the wheel tightly. He suffered serious damage to his wrists on impact. This is one good reason not to lock your arms when driving. When the arms are extended then the inside of your wrists should touch the wheel. They will then have a bend in them when the wheel is gripped properly allowing for more accurate steering. In the event of a crash the arms will bend and the seatbelt will prevent you from being propelled forward.

Once the seat has been set you may need to adjust the steering wheel to finish things off. If you’ve got long legs like me then you may have the seat quite far back and low down. To prevent reaching for the wheel, flip the lever and pull the wheel out towards you. It can also be raised or lowered. Don’t have the steering wheel too close to your chest. There can be the risk of injury if the air bag goes off. You need a distance of at least 12 inches between you and the steering wheel for the air bag to do it’s job. When you have the position you want just flip the lever back and make sure it locks back into place.

There you have it. Take a bit of time before your next drive to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Happy motoring to you.

Do You Believe You’re at Risk When Driving?

Lessons in driving and life.

I remember when I was a fresh new driver. No, I honestly do remember. I thought that accidents would never happen to Nottingham driving schools for young motoristsme. I truly believed my driving was absolutely tip top and there was nothing to worry about. This was in the Eighties. Back then the driving test was nowhere near as difficult as it is now because driving was not as difficult. The roads were simpler, cars were slower and there weren’t nearly as many drivers on the road as there are today.

So, what puts today’s young motorist at risk? Many things. Speeding and racing are two factors. Young drivers enjoying the thrill of acceleration and daydreaming they’re a racing pro make things unsafe. You should never drive in a spirit of competition unless you are actually on a race track. Using a mobile phone at the wheel is another one. When you look around and see just about everyone else doing it then it’s easy to think it’s alright for you. Easy to believe that it’s ok because it’s generally accepted. It isn’t and neither is texting at traffic lights. Yes, I’m looking at you.

Looking for that certain track on your CD is another good one. While your twiddling the knobs and looking at the display you’re not watching the road. The car travels a surprisingly long way in the few seconds it takes you to select the track you like. It’s easy to have a lazy, carefree attitude when you’re comfortable and the sounds are on.

Not really looking ahead for hazards is my personal bug bear. Staring at the next 30m of road you see over the bonnet simply won’t cut it. Look as far ahead as you can and move those eyes around to take everything in. Train yourself to do this especially at night. There are fewer cars on the road at night but things are easily missed until it’s too late. Get yourself some glasses if you think you need them.

Research shows that young drivers believe that they are less at risk of negative driving experiences than more experienced drivers. Probably because it hasn’t happened yet. I couldn’t believe my first prang. How could this happen to me? The benefits of taking a risk such as saving time or enjoying the excitement outweigh the risk factors more in new drivers. Life is long and getting somewhere a couple of minutes later won’t make much difference. If you’ve got to be on time then make sure you set off early enough.

 It’s all about the right attitude when you’re in the driver’s seat.

I believed I was one of the truly great drivers when I first started. Over estimating your own abilities can be deadly. Truth is you are not an expert. Thinking you can control the traffic situation is a common misunderstanding. You should never put yourself in a position where your safety relies on someone else. Try to anticipate what will happen next based on what you can see. Not on what you believe another driver will do. Never drive faster than you are comfortable with as your car control skills will take a certain length of time to develop.

‘You learn to drive when you’ve passed your test’ is a common myth. The stuff your driving instructor taught you is not something to just forget once you have your licence. Personal experience does count for a lot in driving. When you have just started out on your own you don’t have that experience. Remember what you learned during your driving lessons and put it into practice. Everything else will develop in time. Forget what you’ve been taught and the risk factor is sky high. This is a reason for the high accident rate amongst young drivers and leads to penalty points on your driving licence.

 Driving is such a personal experience.

People tend to drive according to their personality. The driver who is all me me me will be the one jumping from lane to lane trying to force their way to the front of the queue. A disregard for authority in general makes breaking the rules of the road seem much less of a risk than it is. The safe driver will exercise self control and a regard for the safety of others. This will be shown in their driving style. The hot head who doesn’t take any kind of responsibility for their actions in life is someone to avoid out there on the road.

So there. Try not to over estimate your abilities and think you have some magical aura which protects you from harm. Be a nice person to those around you. Peer pressure to do the wrong thing can be hard to resist, but resist you must. Set a good example and others will learn from you. Keep it safe and smooth.

Feeling The Pressure on Driving Lessons

Other drivers aren’t out to get you

It’s always surprising how the performance of some people taking driving lessons can differ from one area to another. Many pupils driving lessons nottingham pressurewho have mastered the art of moving off and stopping in a quiet area can suddenly start to have difficulty as soon as there is more traffic around. Even learners who are good at moving off uphill and at an angle can become serial stallers as soon as we leave the quiet estate and enter the traffic flow. This can also happen when you are driving accompanied by a friend or relative.

The car controls stay the same wherever you are. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the middle of nowhere or there are a million cars behind you, the clutch movement remains exactly the same. Your skill levels will not suddenly drop. You will be as good on a busy road as you are on a quiet street. So what’s the problem?

Imagined pressure from other drivers effects most learners at one point or another. Picturing the person behind getting really annoyed at being held up can reduce a learner to a gibbering wreck. It’s so easy to start mind reading other drivers and imagining the worst. In the vast majority of cases there is no truth in this at all. Nearly all drivers will happily wait a few seconds for you to move off so take your time. You’ll always get the odd one who becomes impatient but that’s life.

Trust your driving instructor. No-one is out to get you.

Remember it takes a lot longer to rush, stall the engine, restart the engine and go than it does to move off once at a speed you can manage. Don’t let the tension build at a red light. Check the rear view mirror and you’ll see the driver behind is probably staring into space or picking their nose. Knowing they are not staring you down will go a long way to putting you at ease.

Imagined pressure from behind can also effect decision making. Particularly when emerging at junctions or when confronted by the yellow box at a crossroads. Make sure you wait at T junctions for a gap you are comfortable with. Remember you have every right to be on the road and being a learner doesn’t mean you have to get out of everybody else’s way. If you move out in front of other traffic the person behind won’t be responsible .

Always make sure you can clear the yellow box junction. The pressure you feel to go across is nothing to what you’ll feel if you end up stuck in the junction when the lights change and you’re blocking traffic from the other direction. In this case other drivers might well glare at you. Take it easy.

driving instructors in Nottingham

Get Some Driving Done

Just be careful who you do it with.

If you’re taking driving lessons it can help to speed you along towards your test if you get some practice with family or friends. A lot of my pupils accompanying learner drivers in nottinghamhave mates who promise that they will go out for a drive to help them along. When it comes round to actually going out on the road the excuses pile up and nothing actually happens. It makes me laugh a bit but you know what people are like.

A while ago I saw these two lads in a car and you could tell that one was trying to teach the other to drive. The guy playing instructor looked well proud giving out the advice as the car bounced along the road, swerving all over the place. Were they displaying L plates to the front and rear of the vehicle? Of course not. I would be very surprised if they made it back to base without some sort of incident.

Just to recap, the person who accompanies a learner driver must be at least 21 years of age and held a licence for 3 years. Having had a licence for 3 years is no guarantee that the person has had a lot of driving experience and is in a position to teach you how to drive. You’ve got to be careful who you go out on the road with. Another thing to check is that you are actually insured to drive the vehicle. Remember that failure to display L plates will invalidate any insurance.

Listen to your friendly driving instructor.

Parents are notorious for teaching bad habits. Unintentionally I dare say. It’s just that they may not have had any further driver training since they passed their test some time in the eighties. I passed mine in the eighties and things have changed a lot since then. It’s good to get time on the road but if your instructor says one thing and your parents say another then it’s probably the instructor that’s correct.

Use of the mirrors is one of the main things missed during private practice. The accompanying driver rarely seems to have their own rear view mirror which shows how much importance they put on them. Very dangerous if the person supervising can’t see what’s behind. Lack of dual controls can make the person accompanying the driver a bit nervy. All they’ve got is the handbrake to yank at if things go wrong.

That said, there can be great benefits to gaining private practice in between lessons. It’s better to do it in the later stages of learning when you have covered the entire syllabus. Make sure the person you are with has a good amount of road experience and enough knowledge of the basics to correct mistakes and help you build up your confidence.
driving instructors in Nottingham

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.

driving schools Nottingham

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.

driving instructors Nottingham

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.

driving lessons in Nottingham

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.

driving schools Nottingham

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.

driving lessons Nottingham

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.

driving schools Nottingham