Think if you drink before taking a driving lesson

I have just posted a piece in my Twitter account asking that drivers who had a drink last night think about it before driving today.  We all understand that a few drinks may have been consumed yesterday, and yes today is a different day, but the alcohol is no respecter of the calendar.

Pupils are pedestrians at any other time and may not take into consideration the lasting nature of alcohol.

It is annoying to driving instructors, and we all experience this, when a pupil gets into our car and we suspect alcohol.  Ask a simple question and sure enough, last night was party time.

Lesson over, fee paid in full, taken home unhappy, no sympathy (believe me, none at all).

Fancy arguing that with me!  I carry an up to date breathalyser in the glove compartment.

Quick story (and I have many):

Arrive to pick up a new pupil for their first lesson. Door opens for me to be greeted by, as it happens, my new pupil.  Once I introduce myself I am treated to, “Oh, I forgot about you.  Give me a minute”.  Not the first time and I am thick skinned.  Imagine my surprise when my prospective pupil shouts to mum that they are going on a driving lesson, reaches to the hallway table and picks up an already open can of Carling, swallows the remains and says, “Not leaving that for someone else to finish, let’s be off then!”  Turns out that was the third can of the day.

No driving lesson and a lecture on alcohol awareness delivered at the door.  No re-booking sought or offered.  Call me fussy if you will, believe me I have been called far worse.  The life of a driving instructor is not always plain sailing.

Would you park opposite a bus stop?

Seriously would you?  Clearly I spend more time than most driving in urban areas of Nuneaton than most and I am surprised at the number of people who actually do.

The Highway Code Rule 243 clearly states that you MUST NOT stop or park, “at or near a bus or tram stop or taxi rank” among its list of places where parking is legally prohibited.

Just to clarify, the term “at or near” includes opposite.

Think of it this way.  The bus drivers have well defined places where they are expected to stop.  You guessed it, bus stops.  If a bus comes to a halt at a bus stop and your car is already parked opposite the bus driver has not legally blocked the carriageway.  You have!

You are not legally allowed to park opposite the bus stop whereas the bus driver is obliged to stop there.

If we could all show a little more forethought and courtesy to others then driving would be a far more pleasurable experience.

Do you concentrate as much on car parks?

I just popped a piece on the Twitter account which moved me to think a little, it’s amazing how that can happen, even on a Sunday.

The practical driving test for car drivers was changed at the back end of last year to bring it more inline with the needs of today’s drivers and I cannot argue with that.

We are looking forward to taking a peek at the first ever Nuneaton Food Festival in Nuneaton town centre today and this is what sparked my thought.  The extra parking elements to the driving test were brought in because of the ever increasing number of insurance claims originating from use of car parks.

Lots of our fellow festival goers today will drive into town, as will I.  The insurance industry has been banging on for decades about accidents in the last mile of travel due to complacency and I cannot help but suspect that drivers on car parks have been feeling a little too comfortable that their journey is over because they have entered the car park.

Your journey is not over until you have parked the car safely!

Safe Driving is for Life!

I just want to reaffirm the point that safe driving is for life and not just the feel good days such as Sunday’s, high days and holidays.

Whereas this positive attitude to road safety is one that I foster in my pupils right from the beginning I do not see it portrayed on the roads as much by other drivers.

It is a sad fact that the standard of driving, and it has to be said; a distinct lack of courtesy, have reduced in correlation to each other.

Please remember that safe driving is for life, not just for the driving test examiner. As I am sure your parents will have mentioned, a little manners costs nothing.

Enjoy your driving today.

Be pedestrian aware

There is no licence or supervision required to be a pedestrian.

We have all been and to some extent still are pedestrians. Hopefully the readers of this blog are sensible enough when walking around but I am fairly certain that all of you will have seen others walking blindly around paying no heed at all to their own health and safety.

Why then when driving do pupils always need reminding to not rely on pedestrians to be sensible?

The answer of course is that they are human beings and while learning and implementing new techniques they will have a pretty narrow focus. Health and safety is the watchword of safe driving for life so I will always be encouraging my pupils not to just observe their side of the road ahead, indeed not just the entire carriageway, but the importance of observing the entire street scene.

From experience I can assure you that every month I see several instances whereby my pupils plan has to be modified because of the seemingly random actions of a pedestrian.

This is why we maintain a dynamic risk assessment at all times.

Stay safe people, be pedestrian aware.

It rains in the summer too!

Check out @FindleysDriving’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/FindleysDriving/status/1008647443070832640?s=09

I saw this on my Twitter feed earlier and thought that it may be worth more than a short comment.

There is a feel good factor that we all feel when driving in the extended daylight of summertime. It’s great isn’t it?

This can lead us into a false sense of security.

When the weather worsens we need to remember that stopping distances are unaffected by the extra daylight and drive accordingly.

Learner drivers on motorways from 4th June 2018

That’s next week!

I will say, as I have been saying for years, that the motorways would be far safer than they already are if learner drivers could access motorway training from qualified driving instructors.

As you can see in this piece from the government website: Gov.uk the announcement has been made and we can begin the process of making what are already regarded as being statistically the safest roads; even safer.

Anyone who has driven regularly on the UK’s motorway network will be only too well aware that the standard of driving exhibited around you can change from minute to minute.  We are all painfully made aware that the vast majority of drivers have had no extra training what-so-ever in preparation for motorway journeys and this manifests itself in some of the displays of driving that make us cringe.

This change is welcome and in my opinion will improve the safety standards on our motorway network on a drip feed basis.  Practically speaking this is the only way.  It is hardly practical to close the motorways to those without suitable training, nor desirable for that matter.

I extend my sympathies to anyone who is learning to drive far enough away from the motorway network that it is not reasonably practical for them to take advantage of this legislative change.  For the majority of the population though this is an opportunity that I believe the majority of pupils will welcome to gain their first experience on a motorway with their professional driving instructor.