Driving Lessons

New Graduated Licence Proposals – A different “School” of Thought

Yes, we need to do something to improve accident statistics for 18 – 24 year olds behind the wheel. In my opinion there is no question the current system exposes young and new drivers – and others using the road -  to extreme danger. Given  that drivers in the above age group account for only one twentieth of all driving miles  U.K. wide, however are involved in one fifth of fatal or serious driving accidents, you don’t need a degree in statistics to work out something is wrong.

Proposed measures, aimed at a graduated licence, could still see learners begining driving lessons at 17, however they would be required to reach 18 before gaining a licence.

During the learning process one hundred hours of supervised driving and at least twenty hours of night driving. Additional restrictions such as a night curfew, and not being allowed to carry passengers are being mooted.

Practice Makes Perfect

Surely there can be no doubt that practice improves performance? As long as driver training remains a financial consideration i fear the public will still look for the cheapest way possible to gain a licence. Cheap is not always good. Look at the take up for the Pass Plus scheme. Less than 1.5% of newly qualified drivers take this course – despite never having previously driven on a motorway.
Instructors explain the merits of post test training and pupils (or parents) decline the opportunity in droves. Maybe they feel having passed  the new driver can be further trained by parents, or maybe they think they will just “go in at the deep end.” Whatever, the public rejection of driver training other than the bare neccessities needed to pass a test, must surely contribute to the aforementioned casualty rate.

 National curriculum for Schools

Personally, i am a huge advocate for bringing driver training into the shool curriculum. For one, it would remove the “budget licence” mentalliity that persists currently. Learners can get there in their own time. They can enter a group learning environment where experiences can be shared. They can be given more thorough attitude training and psycometric testing. They can leave school with an increasingly essential credential for the job market. How many jobs now state “driving licence essential”?

Education Rather Than Restriction and Regulation

The current proposals will no doubt be seen as restrictive by many, indeed they are just that. With an effective learning programme, fit for our current times, we may find that its also very much more cost effective. Consider the costs of policing and administrating such proposals. Would the expense not be better used to make our new drivers well educated, careful, responsible and skilled road users?

First Driving Lesson – A “Really Good” Place To Start

It’s that first driving lesson; the one where you don’t know the instructor, but your friend says they’re “reallygood;” the one where you have to get to know lots of different controls and levers- but someone told you about A.B.C. – Accelerator, Brake and Clutch, the one where you might actually have to move and stop a car.

In truth,  how people feel about their first driving lesson is an  uniquely individual emotion. From those who are raring to go to others who may be filled with trepidation, its a journey- no pun intended- most of us will make.  So here is a little summary of what to expect and how you can prepare for that first driving lesson.

  • Bring along both parts of your provisional licence
  •   footwear – avoid heavy boots and high heels
  • If you wear glasses, bring them along
  • If you have passed the Theory test, bring the certificate along.
  • Relax

Your instructor should arrive punctually, and introduce themselves. They should go over necessary documentation with you, and explain a bit about learning to drive. During this time the instructor will usually ask you if you have any driving experience, or if you are likely to receive private practice.

Some pupils just cant wait to get going, and can identify and explain the function of the controls without any hesitation. Others will need an expaination and instructors will take time to make sure that familiarisation with the vehicle controls is confirmed before any actual driving can take place.

The next step is usually to go over the “Cockpit Drill.” Getting the seating position correct is crucial to being able to control a vehicle, again the instructor will supervise this and ensure the drill is completed safely. It should be noted that the instructor may well demonstrate the cockpit drill and how to operate the controls smoothly. Even on the way to a suitable – normally quiet  – location, the instructor can be demonstrating and explaining.

Depending on the duration of the lesson, and how long it takes to complete the above, some moving off and stopping can take place, sometimes more. The important pont is that the instructor works at a pace suitable to the individual learner – which can vary greatly – and that a working relationship begins to form with the pupil and their instructor. After all, much of successful driver training relies on effective teamwork.

Please visit the “Learner Resources” page on the main website, which goes in to some detail over controls, cockpit drill, moving off, and stopping.

Intensive Driving Courses – Do They Work?

Intensive driving courses in Glasgow seem much more popular nowadays than when I was instructing in the Nineties and Naughties. Perhaps people are enticed by the notion of getting it all done in a few weeks, or may feel their learning style requires longer periods of driving spaced closely together. In many cases riving schools offer big discounts on intensive courses. It would seem however, that driving instructors are themselves divided in opinion as to how effective intensive courses really are.

Personally,  I think intensive driving courses certainly have their place as a training programme. What i would say with certainty is that they are not suited to everyone. This is where a skilled and experienced driving instructor can really help. As learners are all individuals in their learning needs, so they require an approach that is individually suited to them. Just a few hours with a “Really Good” instructor will normally enough to assess a learners suitability for intensive training. Instructors then have the opportunity to help learners decide if they have the necessary concentration and stamina for such a course, how long the course should be, and if they are likely to progress quickly enough to take a test at the end of their course.

It is in the interest of any responsible driving instructor to “best advise” their pupil on the above. In addition, instructors are professionally obliged not to submit pupils for tests until they have proven themselves “test ready.” Herein lies a potential problem: the learner may for instance, not progress to test standard within the course time. Sometimes learners may be doing really well but could struggle with reversing or roundabouts, for instance. The closer to test date they get, the more the pressure goes on – for both learner and instructor. Here, the instructor will do their very best for their pupil, but in final analysis, if the pupil is not at a safe standard, the instructor must advise cancellation of the test – however disappointing that may be.

On the up side, the learner will still have gained a lot of driving skills in a short space of time – they will just need to persevere a bit longer in their training. The down side could be a loss of a test fee, unless the instructor is able to determine difficulties early enough.

There is much to consider with intensive driving courses in Glasgow. Please feel free to contact Really Good Driving School or our sister site www.mytestpass.com anytime to discuss learning requirements.

Following Distances at Speeds Over 40m.p.h. – Some Useful Advice

It has happened to all drivers, and by the same token, nearly all drivers must have done it. It occurs frequently on faster roads. It’s the cause of many accidents. The slang name for it is “tailgating,” which happens when one driver is following another vehicle far too close to be safe. Bang! You have either joined the vehicle in fronts occupants unexpectedly, or someone behind has joined onto the rear of your vehicle. Either way, you lose.
So, what do you do to reduce the risk of collision? Simply leave a gap of two seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front – four seconds in wet or adverse weather. If you are taking Driving Lessons with “Really Good Driving School” in Glasgow, your driving instructor will show you how to time this.

Leaving a separation gap allows you to react if the driver in front slows down suddenly, and means you don’t have to brake so hard that the driver behind – who may be following YOU too close – doesn’t run into your vehicle. On slower roads leave a yard -or metre – for every mile an hour of your speed.

Remember, tailgating does not get you anywhere more quickly, but does increase risk and anxiety for those around.

You Don’t Have To Be Young To Learn To Drive- Just Determined!

Well I am on a high today! Even after 22 years of driving instructor work in Glasgow I still  love when my pupils pass. Today was the turn of Rajan Thomas, one of my more mature pupils – well, only seven years older than myself.

Often it does take a wee bit longer when a mature learner takes to the wheel, but also they are often completely blown away by their success, and so they should be. I must admit when i was a younger man i probably was “ageist” in the sense that i thought anyone over 50 was   not going to achieve much more in life. How naive I was! Personally, I have never felt more energised in business and if anything i have found myself working harder and longer than ever before. Rajan, like so many of my contemporaries, proves with his achievement that with will and determination anyone can succeed. My advice would be “Go For It” – don’t let anyone hold you back.

As a youth i may have hated the man i have become. But, then again, as Mark Twain said, “Youth is wasted on the young!”

Driving Home The Lesson In Bearsden – A “Really Good” Place To Start

These days i notice many of my Bearsden pupils are fortunate enough to have the help of their parents giving them extra  “private practice.” This can really help pupils overall experience, and help them build confidence – if done correctly. One of the first questions i will ask a pupil is if they will have the opportunity for private practice, and if so I will speak to parents to let them know where i can help. Not all instructors may be so proactive as this, but when approached a few words with the local driving instructor/school for Bearsden can give great direction to this type of practice. Beware though, because without this rapport an over- enthusiastic mum or dad can easily take their offspring into very dangerous territory where the learner is completely out of their depth.

Take for instance, that the learner will normally need time to get used to a different type of vehicle, where the controls are situated, and how it handles. The majority of driving instruction vehicles are diesel engined – changing to petrol can be tricky to master clutch control. Ancillary controls such as wipers and light switches may be located in an entirely different position. The gears and pedals  may well feel unfamiliar, and, the vehicle may well be much more powerful and larger in size.

Considering the above, do you really want to let your child loose on Canniesburn Toll or Pendicle Rd. without firstly finding out what they can do or giving them a chance to get used to a different car?  Take them to somewhere quiet and build car control before getting too adventurous. Avoid the “jump in at deep end” scenario – you may both drown…
Most a.d.i’s would be more than happy to discuss the progress of their pupil and give direction to private practice. If I am aware my pupil can handle Crossroads fluently but struggle with reversing to the left, whats the point in parents doing more Crossroads? Parents may not be sure where to take their children for reverse left driving practice during driving lessons in Bearsden – but I do and i would be happy to help!

Personally, i really enjoy when parents get involved, and i will go out of my way to offer advice, teamwork can work! If you are thinking of enrolling your son or daughter for driving lessons in the area of Bearsden, why not call Really Good Driving School? We are the local experts.

Learn To Drive – A Valuable Addition To The School Curriculum

So many of our young people are leaving the educational system and finding a job hard to come by these days. I am left wondering why such an essential skill as driving is left aside from the educational process. From what i can see, many employers are looking for applicants with driving licences to fill their “situations vacant.” This must surely bring jobseekers a severe disadvantage, unless they have been lucky enough to have been afforded lessons funded by family. Surely a driving licence is as essential a qualification as Arithmetic in many jobs?
For a number of school leavers, perhaps their academic prowess has fallen short of the mark for university, college, or an engineering apprenticeship, yet these same young adults could be able to get into stable employment if they were given the opportunity to gain a driving licence. It seems the exclusion of driving from the school curriculum could fail a number of young adults.
As many driving instructors would attest, the vast majority of their pupils are aged 17-25. I can only see benefits if we – instructors – could work within the school system. Firstly, financial restraints could be relieved from families and learners could be given comprehensive training in all driving aspects. Currently, money still restricts pupils from fulfilling their full potential. How many go on to Pass Plus? Less than one percent the  last i knew.
Instead of jobs being only open to the financially fortunate, why not give our young people an equal chance?

Driving Lessons Partick- The Clydeside Expressway

When i first started teaching people to drive, the driving test took about 30 minutes. A candidate would be unlikely to drive at more than 30mph and usually the tests routes stayed within Knightswood, Jordanhill and Whiteinch. Nowadays, expect to travel on faster roads for further distances! One popular route is on the Clydeside Expressway between Finnieston and Jordanhill.

Any reputable driving instructor should train their pupils to drive on all types of road, and even back in the day i ensured my pupils could handle areas outwith driving test routes. Personally, i believe that by training my learners to be observant and “read the road” they will be best prepared for all eventualities – not just a test route. That said, the Clydeside Expressway is an excellent area to teach any learners getting driving lessons in Partick and surrounding areas, how to join and leave a busy dual carriageway.

At various locations on the Expressway a driver would enter it from a slip road . On most slip roads  drivers should build their speed to match that of traffic on the carriageway, check mirrors, signal, and merge into the main carriageway  without causing any other road user to slow down, stop, or swerve to avoid them. This is how we “harmonise” with traffic. Sometimes though, the  slip road may be quite short – like at Thornwood- and it could be unsafe to build up too much speed only to have to brake hard if no gap exists! At peak times it may even be necessary to stop on the  slip road and wait for a gap. This can happen often at the Clydebank/Clyde Tunnel shared merging point.

Once on the dual carriageway leave a gap of 2 seconds in dry weather, and 4 seconds in wet weather, between yourself and the driver in front at speeds of 40mph and above. This will eliminate much of the risk of running into the vehicle in front, or the following vehicle running into you!

When leaving the Expressway, remember to use mirrors and signal in good time before reaching the  slip road. On the slip road  watch for a reduction in the speed limit and use your speedometer to check your speed. You may be faster than you think.

All Really Good Driving School instructors are expert in training their pupils in the negotiation of these procedures so rest assured, learners will be in safe hands.

If you are thinking of driving lessons in Glasgow West, give us a call or email. You can find even more information on our homepage.

The Driving Test – Is It All A Fix?

New to the world of blogging, i was thinking of what subject from the world of driving i should choose to open for debate. So here goes, and it may be a controversial topic – IS THE DRIVING TEST A FIX?

For over 22 years I have been meeting people who believe that driving examiners have quotas and it’s mostly down to luck whether a candidate passes or not.
It is indeed a fact that examiners have quotas. For instance, if an examiner conducts seven tests in a day, then only seven candidates can therefore pass.

As for the belief that passing is down to luck, there is also some truth in this. For instance, a candidate who is lacking in some competencies may just get lucky on the day: but then again, may go on to be fatally unlucky in their  future driving. One thing I can be certain of is that those candidates who have been thoroughly trained and have gathered enough experience usually pass. The converse is equally true: those who have not gained sufficient skill and experience will, thankfully for themselves and the rest of the public, almost certainly fail.