News

Get ready for changes to the driving test

learner driver roofbox says Did You Know?

Later this year, the driving test is changing, with some new elements being introduced and some of the current ones removed.

You’ll no longer be asked to do a turn in the road, for example. But the ‘independent drive’ section, where you are asked to follow road signs to a certain destination for 10 minutes, will be longer – and you’ll need to follow a sat nav instead.

What changes are being made to the practical driving test?

The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is making changes to the driving test to make it better reflect “real life” driving situations. A consultation took place last year and a trial has been taking place in 32 locations around the country with more than 4,500 learner drivers and 850 instructors in 32 locations.

Here’s how the driving test will change:

1.    The independent driving part of your test will be twice as long – 20 minutes instead of 10. That’s half the duration of the test itself, which is 40 minutes long.

2.    During the independent drive, you are likely to be asked to use a Satellite Navigation system to find your way to a location of the examiner’s choice, rather than using road signs. Not all pupils will be asked to do this on their test, but the DVSA say 80% will, so it’s important to be prepared. (If you aren’t one of those asked to use a sat nav, you’ll be asked to follow road signs, as is currently the case.)

3.    You’ll no longer be asked to perform a ‘reverse around the corner’ or ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvre. Instead, you could be asked to:

  • Parallel park at the side of the road,
  • Park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out, or
  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and re-join the traffic

4.    The way you’re asked your vehicle safety questions will change. The ‘tell me’ question will be at the start of your test, whilst the ‘show me’ question will be asked on the move during the test (for example, showing the examiner how to wash the windscreen and use the wipers).

The DVSA has produced this short video to explain the changes:

Why are the changes needed?

The DVSA wants to make the test more reflective of the type of driving that you will be doing, once you’ve passed your test.

So, the new driving test is more focused on the key skills you’ll need for day to day driving. Of course the use of sat-navs is much more common now than it was just a few years ago – so it makes sense that they want to make the ‘independent drive’ part of your test look at how well you find your way using one of the devices. The key will be using the sat nav for directions, but remembering to ‘read’ the road for information about speed, positioning and any hazards.

Driving licence UK

When will these changes happen?

All driving tests taken on or after Monday, 4 December 2017 will be tested under the new system.

Will the new driving test be harder to pass?

With the right preparation from your driving instructor, it shouldn’t be. At Progress Driving School we’ll make sure that when the changes come into force, which will be for any tests taken on or after Monday, 4 December, that all our learners know exactly what to expect and are as well-prepared as they can be.

The DVSA has said that it hopes, by putting more emphasis on independent driving during the test, that pupils will do more of this whilst out on their lessons beforehand. This will help you get used to all kinds of realistic traffic conditions and more closely replicate the kinds of journeys you might want to make once you pass your test.

The proposals also men that manoeuvres will be incorporated into the test in a more natural way – this could mean that, rather than finding a quiet back street, the examiner will be looking to see your vehicle handling skills and how you interact with other road users in a “more active environment”. The DVSA have indicated that they do believe this will be more “challenging” than it currently is – in fact, that is their intention.

Above all, the aim of the driving test is to see whether you are a safe driver – which is ultimately what you, we and the DVSA all want!

What if I don’t have a sat nav?

Don’t worry – we’ll provide this for your test. We’ll also make sure you get chance to practice using it in the run up to your test.

Any questions?

Just ask your Progress driving instructor who will be happy to advise you.

Ready to start learning to drive with Progress Driving School?

We offer competitively priced driving instruction in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan an surrounding areas.

Check availability and book your lessons today.

Learn to drive with Progress Driving school in Lowton, Golborne, Wigan, Leigh, Newton-le-willows
Learn to drive with Progress Driving School

About the author

Tony, approved driving instructor with Progress Driving School

Tony Melling is a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor at Progress Driving School. Learn to drive with Progress and we will help you through your theory test and practical driving test. Enquire now about driving lessons with us in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan and surrounding areas.

 

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New mobile phone regulations every learner driver should know

mobile phone in holder of car window

Hopefully, we all understand that using mobile phones while driving isn’t a good thing.

In fact, research shows that your reaction times whilst using a mobile phone are as much as twice as slow as if you’d been drinking alcohol.

Today, the law which prevents using your phone while driving was beefed up, to send an even clearer signal to motorists that this is an offence which will be taken extremely serious – and now has even more serious consequences.

What has changed?

From today (1 March 2017), if you are caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel, you will face:

·         A £200 fine

·         Six penalty points on your licence (half-way to losing your licence altogether)

But, if you’re a new driver (you passed your driving test within the last two years), you have even more to lose – if you are caught using a mobile phone whilst driving, you could lose your licence instantly. That is because, as a new driver, you are only permitted to clock up a maximum of six penalty points (compared to the usual 12) before you licence is revoked. So, it’s one strike and you’re out – use your phone while driving and it could be the last journey you make in a while.

Why is it so dangerous to use a phone behind the wheel?

Ok, so the new ‘punishments’ for using a phone while driving have been toughened up – but of course the real impact of driving whilst distracted in this way are much more serious.

Remember, the real consequences of checking a text, making a call or scrolling through Instagram whilst in charge of a vehicle could be life-changing injury or even death – for you, your passengers or another road user.

It may seem harmless to have a quick glance at your phone when it bleeps – but if you’re driving at 60mph, you’ll travel forward almost 27 metres for every second that your eyes are off the road. If that car or lorry in front of your brakes suddenly, or somebody steps out into the road – could you stop in time?

Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents where drivers were using a mobile phone last year in Britain. You do not want to add to these rather sobering statistics.

What counts as using a mobile phone behind the wheel?

Using a mobile phone behind the wheel isn’t just about texting or making calls. You also need to be careful when playing music or following directions using your device. And the rules apply to any internet enabled handheld device, such as a tablet.

Here’s what you need to know:

·         Even when you are stopped in a traffic jam, you still cannot use your phone – even if you are stationary with your handbrake on. In fact, as long as the engine is running the law applies – even if you are parked in a car park.

·         The only exception to this is if you need to call 999 in an emergency, if it is unsafe or impractical to stop.

Can I still use my phone as a sat nav whilst driving?

If you use your phone as a sat nav, it should be secured in a holder correctly (out of the 45 degree angle of the driver’s view). You must not touch it, or re-programme it whilst driving. And even if you aren’t touching it, be careful – it can still be distracting and if it negatively affects your concentration it could be a factor in a prosecution for careless or dangerous driving. This applies to actual sat navs, as well as mobile devices.

Can I use my phone to play music in the car?

You can use it to play music but you must set this up before you set off and before your engine is running. Once you begin the journey you must not touch the phone once the engine is running – so no scrolling through songs or skipping tracks.

About the author

Tony, approved driving instructor with Progress Driving School

Tony Melling is a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor at Progress Driving School. Learn to drive with Progress and we will help you through your theory test and practical driving test. Enquire now about driving lessons with us in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan and surrounding areas.

8 top tips for driving in stormy weather

Top tips for driving in wind and rain

Today, we’re seeing high winds and rain battering our area thanks to Storm Doris!

I’m at least two fence panels down already and the roads have been a challenging prospect today – with debris flying, wheelie bins lying in the road and trees blocking the way (I encountered one on Slag Lane, Lowton), and I saw on Twitter pictures of one blocking Victoria Road, Newton, earlier.

It can be intimidating driving in weather like this but there are a few tips which will help, if you find yourself having to make a journey in the driving rain and howling wind!

1.       Before you set off (and before the bad weather even arrives) make sure your tyres are in good condition, with a tread depth of at least 3mm, to give you the best possible grip in wet road conditions.

2.       Take time to plan your journey and set off a little earlier to allow extra time. Choose main roads if you can, rather than smaller roads, which may be more prone to fallen branches, debris and flooding.

3.       It can be surprising how much gusts of wind can blow your car off course. Keep two hands on the steering wheel and keep a tight grip to give you better control.

4.       Look at the road ahead and be prepared for ‘side winds’ – these will hit you in the gaps between trees and buildings, and also as you drive on bridges or higher, exposed roads. Leave enough space either side of your car in case the wind blows you slightly left or right.

5.       If you’re overtaking a cyclist or driving alongside a motorbike – leave plenty of space, in case wind blows them into your path. Overtake slowly and carefully. Similarly, if you’re driving next to a large, high-sided vehicle, remember they are particularly vulnerable to side winds. Keep well back!

6.       When driving in heavy rain, the spray from other vehicles can affect how well you can see the road. Keep your distance from the vehicle in front so that you can see better. Remember, your stopping distance will be double what it usually would be – you should allow at least a four second gap when driving in the wet.

7.       When visibility is reduced, use your headlights appropriately. Dipped headlights would be a good choice for slightly reduced conditions.

8.       If you come across patches of flooding or large puddles – be careful! Do you really know how deep that water is before you try driving through? If you are going to try driving through, drive slowly through in first gear, but don’t stop… if you’re in any doubt, don’t do it! As soon as you’re out the other side, check your brakes. Help them dry out more quickly with a little light touch as you’re moving.

About the author

Tony, approved driving instructor with Progress Driving School

Tony Melling is a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor at Progress Driving School. Learn to drive with Progress and we will help you through your theory test and practical driving test. Enquire now about driving lessons with us in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan and surrounding areas.

 

Changes to the practical driving test could be on the way…

learner driver roofbox says Did You Know?

Later this year, it is widely expected that changes will be made to the practical driving test in the UK, with some new elements being introduced and some of the current ones removed.

You’ll no longer be asked to do a turn in the road, for example. But the ‘independent drive’ section, where you are asked to follow road signs to a certain destination for 10 minutes, will be longer – and you’ll need to follow a sat nav instead.

What changes are being made to the practical driving test?

The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is proposing changes to the driving test, which could take effect later this year. A consultation took place last year and a trial has been taking place in 32 locations around the country with more than 4,500 learner drivers and 850 instructors in 32 locations.

If the changes go ahead, this is how the driving test might change:

1.    The independent driving part of your test will be twice as long – 20 minutes instead of 10.

2.    During the independent drive, you’ll be asked to use a Satellite Navigation system to find your way to a location of the examiner’s choice, rather than using road signs.

3.    You’ll no longer be asked to perform a reverse around the corner manoeuvre. Instead, you could be asked to show the examiner how well you can reverse into, and out of, a parking bay.

4.    Two of your vehicle safety questions will be asked while on the move, instead of at the start of the test. This could be something like being asked to operate the rear heated window whilst driving.

Why are the changes needed?

The DVSA wants to make the test more reflective of the type of driving that you will be doing, once you’ve passed your test.

So, the new driving test is more focused on the key skills you’ll need for day to day driving. Of course the use of sat-navs is much more common now than it was just a few years ago – so it makes sense that they want to make the ‘independent drive’ part of your test look at how well you find your way using one of the devices. The key will be using the sat nav for directions, but remembering to ‘read’ the road for information about speed, positioning and any hazards.

Driving licence UK

Will the new driving test be harder to pass?

With the right preparation from your driving instructor, it shouldn’t be. At Progress Driving School we’ll make sure that when the changes come into force in our area, that all our learners know exactly what to expect and are as well-prepared as they can be.

The DVSA has said that it hopes, by putting more emphasis on independent driving during the test, that pupils will do more of this whilst out on their lessons beforehand. This will help you get used to all kinds of realistic traffic conditions and more closely replicate the kinds of journeys you might want to make once you pass your test.

The proposals also men that manoeuvres will be incorporated into the test in a more natural way – this could mean that, rather than finding a quiet back street, the examiner will be looking to see your vehicle handling skills and how you interact with other road users in a “more active environment”. The DVSA have indicated that they do believe this will be more “challenging” than it currently is – in fact, that is their intention.

Above all, the aim of the driving test is to see whether you are a safe driver – which is ultimately what you, we and the DVSA all want!

What if I don’t have a sat nav?

Don’t worry – we’ll provide this for your test. We’ll also make sure you get chance to practice using it in the run up to your test.

Any questions?

Just ask your Progress driving instructor who will be happy to advise you.

Ready to start learning to drive with Progress Driving School?

We offer competitively priced driving instruction in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan an surrounding areas.

Check availability and book your lessons today.

Learn to drive with Progress Driving school in Lowton, Golborne, Wigan, Leigh, Newton-le-willows
Learn to drive with Progress Driving School

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Get free help to pass your theory test

Learner driver uses free driving theory test revision software

As a Progress Driving School pupil, you’ll get FREE help to pass your theory test, thanks to our partnership with online tuition provider, Theory Test Pro.

Passing your theory test is the first step towards getting your full licence – you cannot take your practical exam until you have passed it.

What is the driving theory test?

The driving theory test is  series of multiple choice questions which tests your theoretical knowledge of the rules of the road – things like road signs, speed limits and stopping distances.

You’ll sit the test at your local test centre- details of this will be available on the Government website when you book. The test is 57 minutes long, and you’ll get 50 questions. You must get 43 of those right to pass. You’ll also take a ‘hazard perception’ test, in which you’ll watch videos of developing hazards on the roads. You must score at least 44 out of a maximum 75 to pass this part of the theory test.

How can Progress Driving School help me pass my driving theory test?

All our learners can register free of charge on the Theory Test Pro website, which offers online help with revision, mock tests and practice hazard perception video clips. Just ask your instructor for log-in details.

As well as allowing you to practice from the bank of multiple-choice questions that you can expect to come up on your real test, Theory Test Pro will show you which areas you are progressing well in and which you need to revise more thoroughly.

And with Theory Test Pro though Progress Driving School, your instructor will be able to see how you are doing – so he can support you on those areas which you are still unsure of, or need more practice with.

Remember, if you have any queries about the questions or answers whilst you study for the theory test, your Progress Driving School instructor will be happy to help explain or clarify anything in your next lesson.

Learner driver uses free driving theory test revision software

How do I book my theory test?

You can book your theory test online. You’ll need your:

  • UK driving licence number
  • email address – you have to book by phone if you don’t have one
  • credit or debit card

Do I need to ask my instructor before I book my theory test?

No – on the day of your theory test your instructor does not need to be present. However, please make sure you let your instructor know when you pass your theory test – you cannot be put in for your practical test until you have done so.

When it comes to booking your practical driving test, however, you must let your driving instructor know before you book – because you will need both your instructor and their car to be available on the day and time of the test!

Our top advice to help you pass your driving theory test

Recommended books for driving theory test revision
Some essential reading for learner drivers

Before taking either your theory or practical driving tests, it is wise to have a good knowledge of the Highway Code – every driver should own a copy. There are other official DVSA books including Driving: The Essential Skills and the Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Drive, which are also worth a read, and which will give you a good grounding in the theory you’ll need to know.

The Driving Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends that it will take at least 20 hours of revision in order to pass your theory test. So make sure you start studying as soon as you think about beginning to take driving lessons, and don’t leave it until just before the test to revise.

The best way to be sure of a pass is to put lots of practice in and complete plenty of mock tests. Use Theory Test Pro as a Progress Driving School pupil, and ask friends, family and your driving instructor to test you too.

Tips for the day of the test

  1. Make sure you know where the test centre is and how you’re going to get there. Arrive early – you need to be at the centre at least 30 minutes before your test is due to start.
  2. Remember to take your provisional licence with you – they won’t let you sit the test without it, but you won’t get a refund on the test fee.
  3.  Use the practice time that is given. You get 15 minutes at the start of the test to try out the touchscreen computer and see how the test will look. Make sure to use this so that you know what to expect when the real test begins. If there are any technical problems, or if you are confused about anything, this is the time to ask and not during the real thing!
  4.  Don’t waste too much time on questions you find really hard. On the test, you get 57 minutes to answer 50 questions. But you don’t have to do them all in the order they are asked – if you are stuck on one you can ‘flag’ it, and come back to it at the end.
  5.  Once you have finished the multiple choice question part of the test, you’ll get a three minute break before the hazard perception part begins. Use this to have a quick relax, take deep breaths and have a little stretch. Remember, at that point, you’re halfway there and nearly all done!

Ready to start learning to drive with Progress Driving School?

We offer competitively priced driving instruction in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Wigan an surrounding areas.

Check availability and book your lessons today.

Learn to drive with Progress Driving school in Lowton, Golborne, Wigan, Leigh, Newton-le-willows
Learn to drive with Progress Driving School

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Do you know your stopping distances?

stop sign in countryside

Not only do you need to know your stopping distances for passing your theory test – you need to really understand the for safe driving too!

Your stopping distance is how far your vehicle will travel once you’ve pressed your brake before it comes to a complete stop. And the distance depends on how fast you were traveling in the first place!

So try this clever little quiz, put together by road safety charity Brake, and see how much you really know about how speed effects your ability to stop in time.