Tyre Safety

Tyre Safety
During one of my most recent, all too frequent trips to a reliable tyre fitting company, I found myself looking at several large stacks of used, damaged and worn tyres.

I found myself drawn to the condition of some tyres, some of which had clearly been used well beyond the legal 1.6mm limit when they should have been replaced. Others were worn through the rubber compound and the base canvas was exposed and frayed.

Both of these examples had clearly been used well beyond their safe use on the public roads – the same roads you and I use every day.

So why is this a problem?

If you are driving with tyres with diminished tread you will find it harder to stop, you will have less grip to the road so if you need to stop abruptly you’ll be crossing your fingers as well as breaking.

Tyres that are too worn or structurally compromised will, at some point, fail.  This is commonly referred to as a blow out, and this will lead to an accident with little to no warning.

Consider this case study  – John see’s that it’s a nice day and decides to go for a drive. He puts the roof down, the stereo up, chair back, one hand on the wheel , the other arm resting on the door and sets off for a relaxing drive. On his journey he joins a dual carriageway which is a 40 MPH road, at this speed he is covering 17.88 metres per second (That is just under 60ft in old money) Another car is passing him in the other lane when suddenly he hears a bang coming from the front corner of his car, he spends the next 2 thirds of a second thinking about what has happened, during those precious moments he travels 12 metres and his car veers uncontrollably towards the passing car and collides with the back corner of it causing it to spin out of control.

You can make up the rest of that story yourself or simply open a random news paper and it may well be a contributory factor to one of the many “Driver loses control” stories.

So what good habits and practices could John have done to prevent this incident from happening?

  • Regularly  check the condition of your tyres – at least once a week
  • Ensure you always check them before you begin a long journey.

What am I checking for?

  • Wear and general condition
  • The pressure of each tyre

How do I do it?

  • Have a visual check of the tyre, ensure there are no cuts, scrapes, gouges or any other form of damage. Tyres often exhibit distressed cracking as they age too.
  • Check the tread depth all round the tyre. It should be 1.6mm across the central 75% of the tyre. Helpful tip – Every tread has several guides that are 1.6mm around the circumference.
  • Check the pressure when they are at cold, when the car hasn’t been driven recently.
  • Ensure the pressure gauge is reliable – the gauges at petrol stations are not always well maintained, calibrated or accurate.
  • Remember to replace the dust caps when finished.
  • You also have a spare tyre so remember to check that too.

Gift Cards to Any Value – Special Occasions Sorted!

Perhaps you are fed up driving your partner or family around? Is it time they need to get their wheels turning and they just need a wee nudge? Maybe it is time to introduce them to the independence of being able to drive – and also give yourself a break! Here, at Really Good Driving School we can provide the perfect solution with our Gift Cards, which make the ideal Christmas or Birthday present.
Call us on 07703 575 448 and we will help you get your gift solutions sorted. Our talented instructors and top of the range tuition vehicles are ready to go!

Bank Holiday Driving Tips – Avoiding Breakdown

Bank Holiday Driving Tips

It’s a busy time for road rescue services as motorists head of for the weekend. Problems such as running out of fuel and batteries going flat can ruin weekend breaks and could be avoided by just a few simple precautions.

Here are some top tips to use before setting off

Check coolant and brake fluid and oil levels
Check condition of  alternator  drive belt
Check tyre pressures when they are cold. Remember spare tyre.
Check all electrics including brake lights, heaters, demisters, indicators, lights
Check windscreen wipers condition for wear and tear


Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal had turned eighteen and had just passed his driving test some two months previously. It was the defining moment of a new stage in his life. He was on his “road to independence.” He looked down from his parent’s third floor apartment at his prized possession, his big red B.M.W., which he had named “Mad for it!” Jalal’s friends had abbreviated the name somewhat, and its street name was now reduced to the acronym, “M.F.I.”  This had displeased Jalal somewhat, as there was no doubt his friends were attempting some mockery, and besides, Jalal loved the car like nothing else mattered.

The first heavy snow of winter steadily began to descend from the thick grey sky above, landing, gathering, and covering M.F.I. like the icing on a Christmas cake.  Jalal noticed the roads had already started to coat a few inches white. It would make driving tonight a bit more exciting, and after all, M.F.I could handle it, he thought. Jalal had to be at work in the parcel sorting office for 4.30p.m; and it was edging past 4.15p.m. as he glanced at his watch. Cutting it fine was his trademark, and anyway, it presented him with the opportunity to put his foot down a bit and enjoy M.F.I’s powerful response. Keys in hand, Jalal scoffed the last of the laden plate of food his mother had left him and set off.

The big heavy amp Jalal had installed in the boot of M.F.I. powered the sound system up to max, he keyed the engine into life, and slammed into first gear.Clutch to bite, he gunned the accelerator and the front wheels spun and squealed in trademark Jalal manner. He was off!

Scenario 1

Jalal arrives at work just in time, receiving a warning look from his supervisor that spoke of his frustration over Jalal’s timekeeping habits. Jalal is excited and elated to have made it to work on time, despite the adversity of road conditions.  Regardless of a few slips along the way as long as he arrived for work on time his supervisor can say nothing against him. Tomorrow, Jalal thinks he will attempt to shave yet more time from his journey.

Scenario 2

Ten minutes into his journey to work Jalal Sohrab had lost control of M.F.I.  He had braked far too late for road conditions, and had skidded out of control. He crashed, smashing  into a vehicle in front, which had been stopped at traffic lights. He was taken to hospital, shocked, and subsequently suffered chronic whiplash injury. The occupants of the vehicle in front, a mother with her two children in the back of her car, were also injured. The children screamed and cried uncontrollably amongst shattered glass. Their mother  distraught, panic stricken. They were  taken away by ambulance and also subsequently suffered whiplash injury. The psychological damage would evidence itself later.  A pedestrian, who had been walking across the road at the “green man” signal, had narrowly escaped being hit by the forward propulsion of the mother’s car on impact from Jalal’s B.M.W. it was he who aleted the emergency services.

Jalal had never thought of himself or others as at risk through his actions, but any “Really Good Driving School” instructor would have recognised that risk was apparent even before Jalal had set out of his family home.

Now, my pupils, your job is to list all the events and attitudes that made Jalal Sohrab an accident waiting to happen, where he was at risk, and what also could have happened through his actions.
Describe how Jalal’s life –  post accident –  may be affected.
Think about the victims- they are victims -and how their lives could be affected by this incident.
How might the mother feel about Jalal?
How would you feel if you were Jalal?

Now look at scenario 1. Describe if you can see any parallels between Jalal’s actions and attitude, and what your own may be.

Scenario 2 may help to explain why insurance for young, new, and especially male drivers is so costly. I don’t mind admitting that I was a young driver once, and probably took risks both knowingly and unknowingly. For instance, I would not have realised that having a lot of weight in the boot of my car could have really had an effect on the steering and front wheel grip. Oops! Gave an answer away there! See for loading advice. That said, I would have known that in adverse weather I would take extra precautions – not giving you an answer this time!

At Really Good Driving School we care passionately about our pupil’s safety, and are always happy to offer further training and advice.
New drivers have a one in five chance of being involved in a serious driving accident during their first year of driving. 26 per cent of road accidents involve at least one young car driver aged 17 to 24. We don’t want any of our trainees to be in the above statistic. We believe education can help. Please have a go at the above case study. Bring your answers into the car on your next lesson to discuss with your instructor. Let’s see how risk aware you are, and where we can help you.

Psychometric testing of existing driving licence holders.

Aggressive Drivers Identify with Their Car

Psychometric testing of existing driving licence holders is a method of gaining some insight of a drivers road risk. In this blog, I want to look at its relevancy for our driving population, and how it could be implemented, even on learner drivers, who often have inherent ideas and emotions on driving matters.
In forums and media outlets, a common theme for discussion on driving, is that of on-going practical testing of existing licence holders. I find it hard to envisage this ever coming to fruition as there just aren’t enough resources to re-test our current licence holders – apart from those ordered to re-sit tests by a court.

One partial solution – and one widely used by insurance companies and authorities – is to conduct psychometric testing of drivers. Basically, this involves asking drivers a series of questions based around their attitude to certain aspects of motoring, which build up to produce a picture of  an individual drivers attitude. This helps predict how they may be likely to react in certain circumstances. A score is derived from the answers drivers give, and their risk liability is then quantified.  I am sure many could find fault with this system, but it does seem to be gathering kudos in the driving industry.

Given that road traffic accidents cost both companies and local authorities considerable a financial expense, not to mention the awful human costs and emotional tarriff of such events, many companies such as Arriva and Scotrail are using psychometric testing to reduce both cost and casualties. It would appear this has had a significant benificial impact.See this B.B.C. report.

Although this report suggests Arriva cut their fatality rate by almost one third, it would be wrong to think this was all down to psychometric testing. Arriva also implemented a policy of using dipped headlights on their buses at all times, for instance.

A Typical Psychometric Test Question
“The speed limit on the Motorway should be lowered to 60m.p.h.”
Do You: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

Driver Attitude Survey

Some interesting recent statistics  show:

  • In  Europe study, 80% of drivers believe that  another driver could have prevented the accident they were involved in.
  • Only 5% admitted fault on their part.
  • A majority of drivers thought they were above average  drivers in both  safety and driving skill.
  • Most drivers have the tendency to think that accidents only happen to other people, but will never happen to themselves. Yet, statistics demonstrate that most drivers will have an accident within the first 2-5 years of attaining a driver licence, especially if they’re under the age of 25.

Even if to make drivers more aware of their own attitude and vulnerability it’s hard to argue that psychometric testing could do any harm, and might just be another useful tool in the quest to keep our roads and population safe.




Responsibility – One of The Vital Qualities Of Safe Driving

Responsibility – one of the  vital qualities of safe driving. I came across this D.S.A. video and thought it quite a powerful message. I can’t emphasise enough that getting a licence is just the first step to driving. What we do with that licence has an effect on so much more people than the driver. Case studies in theory tests can help foster responsible attitudes. So can driving instructors, mums and dads and peers. Education is so vital to understanding the dangers of irresponsible driver behaviour, so i unashamedly recommend you take a look at this short film.

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.

“Baby on Board”

 “Baby on Board!” What is the first thing you think of when you see a sign  as you approach another vehicle, advising  of this?   The first thought in my head is a scene from the Simpsons, the one with the barber shop quartet song, quickly followed by a quote from the same episode “Now people will stop intentionally ramming our car”

The implication of these notifications is that special care is required which always gets me wondering with whom do the presumed extra responsibilities lie. Is it on the driver of the vehicle behind to keep a greater distance or is it the responsibility of the parent, aunt, grandparent or whoever is displaying the sign to ensure they are driving well and safely?

For the driver following behind, the case seems to be clear.  Adequate clearance is a basic safety precaution for everyone but it is sadly, massively abused or ignored. We give each other personal space on trains, in shops etc so why do we choose to harass and intimidate others when we are left in charge of a one ton metal box?

As for the family member who has felt the need to display this sign. The child is in their care so surely they should be taking all care possible, leaving lots of space, planning well ahead, not speeding. Essentially doing everything they can not to put that child in a position of danger.

The answer to me is clear – These declarations displayed on the back of vehicles should not be necessary at all – after all, all drivers should be driving safely, with adequate clearance, with due care and attention. We are all taught these basic rules from the very first day when we start to learn to drive- or  at least all “Really Good Driving School Glasgow” pupils are.

I know this is an ideal world situation but consider that everyone is precious and valuable to someone no matter what age they are.  So next time your following another vehicle take a moment and think, “do I have as much space in front of me as I’d like the car behind to give me.”

Minimising Road Risk – And Taking Responsibility.

By 2020, the World Health Organization predicts, road fatalities will be the world’s third-leading cause of death. A lot of us may spend more time driving than we do with our family, on holiday, or even sleeping- though alarmingly, there is a high statistic of people falling asleep while still behind the wheel!- and we can see how our road risk profile builds up.

Self – Awareness – The First Step To Taking Responsibility
How therefore, do we minimise risk? Well, the first step is to  actually realise that risk exists. None of us are exempt from risk, even the most skilled drivers cannot guarantee that another road user will not crash into them.
Further to the above, how many of us assess our driving performance, and, can admit we have weaknesses? Surely we all must have weak areas in our driving? From knowledge of the Highway code to reversing into a parking area, to merging onto a busy Motorway, to getting stressed and angry, most of us will make some mistakes. After all, to err is human.
Once we have taken account of the above, and realised that we have indeed, a risk factor, then we can take further measures to minimise our risk. In this blog-post  i will highlight some procedures that should help drivers to take control of their responsibilities. I must admit to a bit of self  interest here though, because the safer  my fellow driver is, the safer I will be when conducting driving lessons throughout the Glasgow area!

The Driver
Ultimately, the driver is responsible for not just their driving, but also their vehicle, and complying with the laws of the country they are travelling in. Even with a hire car the driver is held to account if the vehicle is not roadworthy; this could range from tyre, lights, and road tax offences. Firstly though, let’s look at how a drivers efficiency as an operator of the vehicle is influenced by their knowledge, experience, health and attitude.
Driver Knowledge
Ignorance is seldom an excuse in the eyes of the law. Be it knowledge of a speed limit or complying with driving regulations in a foreign country, it is the drivers responsibility to be be informed and up to date. Many publications exist to help with this, such as the Highway Code for the U.K. or for driving abroad. Perhaps we should ask ourselves how up to date our knowledge is? For instance, when i am working as a driving instructor around Maryhill Rd., hardly any vehicles drive along the bus lanes, even though they only prohibit traffic at peak times in places.

Driver Experience
There is no doubt that new drivers are involved in a far greater number of road traffic accidents than those with greater experience. New drivers are often young and need to be aware that certain key factors increase their road risk, such as their social habits and peer influences. In my next blog, i will examine some of these issues.

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Speed Cameras – A Blessing Or A Curse?

Since the advent of speed cameras, much debate has taken place over their use on Britain’s roads. Some people would appear to suggest they have been placed to catch motorists out and penalise them for being slightly over the speed limit, often citing cameras to be discretely hidden. indeed many drivers seem to resent their presence, feeling they are just used to  raise revenue – see here  This view though,  seems at odds with the Governments current policy of making cameras and their locations more open and obvious – they want cameras to be openly visible from at least 60 meters, painted yellow, and have advance warning signs of their presence from 1 kilometre. Probably, this is why we now have information on speed camera locations through Strathclyde’s “Camera Partnership” where camera locations are openly disclosed.

Opinion seems divided on  the effectiveness of speed cameras as a road safety device . In a R.O.S.P.A. article from December 2011, it would seem that evidence suggests speed cameras reduce accidents. It states that an ” independent review of 4,000 safety cameras over a four year period showed conclusively that cameras significantly reduce speeding and collisions, and cut deaths and serious injuries at camera sites.” Other contrasting views can be found in the Daily Telegraph of June 14th 2012: 
Robert Gifford, Executive Director of Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety

“Speed is a contributory factor in about 30% of road crashes. A driver’s choice of speed can affect the margins of error that are left when he or someone else makes a mistake. Excess speed – breaking the posted speed limit – can play a significant part in those crashes.
In fact, police estimates suggest that around 14% of fatal crashes involve excess speed – around 200 road deaths in the 2010 casualty figures.”Different types of speed camera can have different benefits. The fixed camera is a visual roadside reminder that, at some point, someone has made a fatal mistake. DfT advice, after all, makes clear that they should only be placed where there has been a history of fatal or serious crashes, where non-compliance with the speed limit is an identified problem and where no other engineering solution is possible. Time over distance cameras are effective in different circumstances: where roadside workers are at risk on motorways and where there is a need to control speed on long stretches of urban road. Managing speed means that we reduce the risk to those these able to look after themselves: children, cyclists and older pedestrians. Cameras are part but not all of that management process.”

Against this arguement   Armstrong, of pressure group  “Safe Speed,” who in the same article says: “Road safety is based on driver ability. Our best road safety asset is the driver.
The central problem with speed cameras is that they affect driver’s management of risk. Speed cameras have changed the things we pay attention to and the things we regard as important. The basis for the setting of speed limits has changed, so that the limits are no longer an indication of the predictability of hazard density. Wrongly set limits encourage drivers to use the speed limits as their safety limits.
Speed cameras routinely cause panic braking. Sound engineering solutions have often been displaced with speed cameras, so the original problems remain. The respect and trust that the public once had in the police and the justice system is seriously damaged.
Those that have paperless trails avoid identification, fines and prosecution. Many admit guilt when they believe they were driving safely. Speed cameras never apply any discretion.This technical infringement is disproportionately applied, ignoring driver behaviour. Remove all speed cameras and reintroduce good police patrols. Speed cameras have been deliberately placed after accidents rates have spiked, and the expected casualty reduction is then wrongly attributed to speed cameras. This is effect commonly known as “regression to the mean” as accidents occur by random chance and so the subsequent reduction would have occurred anyway with no speed cameras present. Road safety is not measured in miles per hour.”
Recently, Government policy has ceased the central funding of speed cameras and placed the responsibility for cameras on local councils. There now seems to be a general decommissioning of many u.k. speed cameras.    It would appear though that the impact of this has had varied results throughout the country – see     and the difference is clear – casualty rates in Swindon remained the same after removal of cameras, while in Thames Valley region there was a38% drop in vehicle collisions since their deployment of speed cameras – hence their concern decommissioning will have a negative impact.

In my personal opinion, if speed cameras save even one life, then they are a valuable road safety resource. No doubt other methods of traffic management – such as road engineering –  could be applied. I can see how sudden braking from some road users as they approach a speed camera can be in itself hazardous, but then if a safe following distance is applied the hazard of sudden braking is negated. Problems only occur when drivers fail to follow rules and guidelines. The argument that drivers are being penalised to raise revenue is one I find difficulty with – speeding is an offence. Why should i have a problem with speed cameras if i am not speeding? Herein may lie the solution. If funding could be found for training to help and affect a change in driver attitude, then perhaps the whole consciousness of the driving community could be changed for the better.
According to dft statistics, the average car journey was 7.6 miles in 2010. If a motorist therefore, does 40mph for 7.6 miles – lets imagine the unlikely scenario that the journey is on a long straight road, uninterrupted by junctions and traffic lights – it takes 11.4 minutes for their journey. If they travel the same distance at 30mph, their journey takes 15.2mins. therefore,they stand to save precisely 3.8mins.  Add now to this delays at traffic lights for both drivers, and the difference in journey times would almost certainly be less.
Most of us will have heard the road safety advert with the child’s voice saying  “Hit me at 40mph and there is an 80% chance I’ll die … Hit me at 30mph and there is an 80% chance I’ll live.”  All this risk just to save 3.8mins off a journey.
There is a very well known saying that “speed kills,” however, i would be very interested to know the fatality statistics derived from driver attitude. Somehow, I expect they would be very high indeed.