Drivers please … A little patience helps us all!

Whereas I fully understand that we all have to be somewhere I will never understand why the tolerance and courtesy towards others that we would display automatically in any other public space eludes so many while they are driving.

There are countless good advice posts online suggesting leave more time for your journey, advice regarding weather conditions etcetera, I shall almost certainly write more of those myself.

This post on the other hand is simply a plea from the heart of a cynical driving instructor to his fellow humanity:

Please show a little more patience on the road!

Pedestrians of Nuneaton please be aware when you walk along the carriageway

Temperatures in the Nuneaton area were below freezing point last night and remain in low single figures as I write this.

Having been out on lessons this morning I have seen pedestrians who have chosen to walk along the road instead of the footpath. Please understand that this is something that you undertake entirely at your own risk and not a choice that I can endorse or encourage. Walking slower on the footpath has to be safer. However, should you find yourself in a position where you have no alternative to walking along the carriageway; or should you continue to choose to, then please follow the advice in the Highway Code and walk on the side of the road that allows you to face the oncoming traffic.

I am not trying to preach here. I saw a lady on Vernons Lane this morning scared by a near miss from a driver who was in control of their car but drove very close anyway, literally as if the pedestrian had not been there.

This behaviour should not happen but we have to face the fact that we know that it does and act appropriately.

A444 Coton Road Roundabout, Nuneaton

Alongside a great number of Nuneaton residents I am delighted to see that the improvements to the roundabout on the A444 on Coton Road in Nuneaton are nearing completion.

Until the traffic light system is switched on sometime later this month I would advise extra caution when approaching this roundabout from any direction. Many drivers are entering the junction in a haphazard manner which increases the danger for every other road user. I would certainly advise cyclists to avoid this junction completely until the traffic control system is fully operational, or if that is not a possibility at least exercise extreme caution before changing direction.

While the scheme is being completed I would urge all road users to pay considerable attention to the signage and road markings on approach to the roundabout. They are now quite considerably different and it is clear that drivers at the moment are all over the place.

Take your time on the new junction and drive accurately please – this is in your own best interests!

There is some debate locally as to whether the improvements will actually deliver benefits to safety or the flow of traffic in the area. It is my belief that they will deliver both. I am looking forward to the latest improvement to our traffic system becoming fully functional to experience it for myself.

Happy New Year!

A few days later than most quite possibly but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2019. If you can manage healthy and prosperous then happiness will be a lot easier to achieve.

Have a great 2019!

With regret I shall not be delivering any driving lessons on snowy roads this year

This is a decision I made after the last snows melted this past winter. I have always taken pleasure for offering pupils the opportunity to learn how to drive on the snow and ice when those conditions became available.

The plan was always simple: scrap the current lesson plan and educate about how to keep themselves and others safe in the current weather conditions. Those were great lessons! My pupils all said that they benefitted from the experience and were really glad that they had taken the opportunity. For my part I not only enjoyed the variation in work, I know full well that at some point in the future those past pupils will have woken up; drawn back the curtains and boom: snow! Not a problem for them, in fact some of them probably smiled.

I have seasonally watched as other instructors fled from the roads to the safety of home where I am now being forced to join them. My current crop of pupils are not the problem. They too would benefit from the experience. I have not changed my mind on the matter. I absolutely believe that the variation in experience is as good for the pupils as it is for me.

I am sorry to have to say that the reason for my decision was, and remains, the sorry deterioration in the general standard of driving that I witness on the roads in and around Nuneaton on a daily basis. Last year after conducting driving lessons on snow and ice I returned home happy to have made it back safely because of near misses. Near misses that should never have occurred in the first place and that myself and my pupil played no part in the creation of and could not have avoided had they hit us.

I have witnessed the gradual decline of driving standards as have others but for me now the point has been reached where I feel the need to underline this most enjoyable and beneficial part of my job and say, with deep regret, no more. I know for a fact then if or when it snows this winter I shall remain at home instead of jumping gleefully into the car and heading off with a smile on my face.

I really did enjoy those lessons!

Driving instructors are planning for the Christmas season

Or at least those of us who have any sense are…

Being self employed, which all driving instructors are, has it’s advantages. A regular dependable income is not one of them.

Christmas is the time of celebration, presents, dressing nicely and merriment. All of which costs money! From early December driving instructors will hear a steady stream of, “I won’t be able to book any more lessons now until January i’m afraid. You do understand don’t you?” We understand perfectly. Pupils don’t always understand quite so much when I respond with, “Totally understandable! However should anyone ring for lessons I will have to sell them this timeslot. You do understand don’t you?”

In business as with driving forward planning is the key to a successful journey. The wise instructors are squirrelling away a few pounds now to see them through. It would be nice if pupils did too but, ah well; that is life.

The reward for driving while tired can be death!

Bit melodramatic for you this morning perhaps?

Think about the different circumstances that life throws at us though and it is easy to see the possibilities and many of them are normal life stuff.

A change of shift at work can take a while for the body and mind to adjust to. A bout of illness can have exactly the same effect. Something as expected as a night out can leave you driving tired just a few hours later than you normally would be.

It is so easy to roll off the old, ‘avoid driving tired’ routine when in real life all of the above are unavoidable.

So some practical advice:

  • Allow larger gaps between your vehicle and everything else because tiredness impairs judgement.
  • If you have to drive for more than half an hour take breaks.
  • Swap drivers at the half hour point if possible.
  • Open the drivers window – others may complain but having a driver refreshed by cooler air is better than experiencing a car crash.
  • When you take a break at least get out and walk about.
  • If possible when you take a break run cold water across your wrists and keep them there for a while.

If you find that your driving is impaired within your half hour driving time then you only have one further option:

Park safely and SLEEP!

Ovo Energy Cycle Tour of Britain Stage 4 – Nuneaton to Royal Stratford upon Avon

I do not normally make a big thing of it but I love watching the cycle races on the television.

When we at maison de Findley learnt that the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain 2018 had a stage starting from Nuneaton there was no doubt that a half day off would be booked.

I must say it was great to see quite a number of the current greats of world cycling on stage in the town centre for the signing in ceremony.

Certainly for this family of cycling fans the televised races will seem that little bit more real now that we have been directly alongside over one hundred top riders.

Why do driving instructors wave to each other?

“Do you know all of the other driving instructors?” I am often asked. In reality no. Certainly over the years I have met a large number of driving instructors from Nuneaton and the surrounding area in the Nuneaton driving test centre but to say I know them all would be an exaggeration.

There is another designation of road users who frequently wave to other members of the same group even though they are strangers and that is motorcyclists. Motorcyclists share a common bond because to be a motorcyclist is to experience a common set of problems that would not be immediately apparent to other road users; among which the two primary ones are a commonly held stereotype and the fact that both sets operate in isolation. Believe me, I am not on a social excursion when I am on the road with pupils. I operate in professional isolation.

It is nice to get together with other instructors, which I do once a month at the NADDIA group. As road users go driving instructors are an amicable and fairly friendly bunch from literally all walks of society. As with any section of society there will always be the odd one who prefers to maintain a professional distance (as we say when we are being polite) from the others.

How many illegal drivers are on our roads?

I simply cannot help but wonder how many people are driving cars in the UK, either on a regular or occasional basis, without conforming to the legalities.

This thought occurred to me earlier on today when we popped off to Shackfest which is only about a twenty minute drive from us along the A444. Within that short and simple drive along a comparatively straight road interspersed with only a few villages the standard of driving on display was appalling!

Certainly the awareness of any sort of risk assessment strategy was absent in the minds of drivers simply launching themselves into the other lane approaching blind bends and accelerating like crazy up to the point that harsh braking was required.

I can tell you that someone important to me would have to have a dire need way beyond a mug of tea before I would accept such risks.

Please drive safely friends.