Archive 24th March 2013

Action Plan for Learning to Drive

The forthcoming Easter holidays are a perfect time to take a break from work and studying, sit back and re-evaluate how the plans we made for this year back in January are genuinely panning out. Had you decided that this was going to be the year you were going to learn to drive but that plan has yet to turn into reality?  Has your plan taken a back seat?

If it has then don’t panic and consider the following before rushing to dial the first driving school number you come across.

Provisional License

Before you can get behind the wheel of a car, you will need to in possession of a Provisional driving license. The form you require to apply for one is called a D1 and you can either pick up a copy at your local Post Office or downloaded online. Your bank balance will require the mere sum of £50 plus a little extra for 2 x passport photographs, the cost of an envelope and a stamp!

Be sure to read the D1 form thoroughly so that you are sending ALL the required identification documentation the DVLA need in order to process your application. This will include ensuring that your photographic ID is certified by a person who is not related to you but has known you for more than 2 years. Be aware that if you decide to approach someone like your doctor then they will charge an administration fee for the privilege! It is also worth noting that the Post Office offers a service whereby they will check though your applications to ensure you send it off correctly.

Costs Involved

When I first learnt to drive I was very lucky as my own private bank (otherwise known as “Daddy”) paid for everything for me, however after having failed my first test this particular bank decided I should learn to stand on my own two feet and pay for the second time around myself! Your budget will determine how many lessons you can take per week which in turn will dictate how long you can expect to take to pass you test based on your learning abilities. You will also need to take into account the costs involved in sitting your Theory and Practical tests. (Currently this stands at a minimum of £93.00).

Driving lessons themselves will vary depending from Driving School to Driving School and whether you have the savings to bulk book a series of lessons in one go. There are often good discounts to be had if you can do the latter rather than paying as you go. Seen as Government statistics show that it takes an average of 47 lessons before you can think about taking your test, it may be prudent to plan a savings scheme before actually booking any lessons.

Driving Schools

With most things in life, when you are looking to invest time and money in something, it always a good idea to research the options available to you, it is no different with a Driving School. You will need to spend a lot of time in a car with someone who is not only teaching you but is also ensuring your health and safety. You need to consider a lot about your potential instructor including personality, temperament, and patience as well as their teaching abilities. Often recommendation from someone who has had a good experience with the results they desired is a good way to source a Driving Instructor.


Importance of a Driving License

provisional licenseBefore you can even think about getting behind the wheel of a car you will need a driving license. If you are a learner driver then you will need to apply for a provisional license. This can be done online or through the post office.  At the current time you will be required to send in with your application a payment of £50 and relevant forms of identification.

As long as all this is okay you will be forwarded your provisional license. This will now allow you to organise driving lessons. Whilst you are also able to drive with someone who is 21 years of age or over, who has been in possession of a full driving license for 3 years or over, it is advisable that you arrange your lessons with a competent professional driving instructor from a reputable driving school.

Your driving school of choice will also need to see that you are in receipt of a provisional driving license before they will be allowed to take you out on the road. Your license will show your name, date and place of birth, duration for which it is valid, your unique driver reference number, your signature, your address, the categories of vehicle you are allowed to drive and of course your photograph.

Once you have passed your driving test you will be able to apply to have your provisional license changed for a full one which will show all the same information and of course the fact that you are licensed to drive on your own. Once this information has been updated with the DVLA the information they hold will also be accessible by other companies.

Anything you do in respect of your driving such as parking tickets, speeding fines and/or other offences you receive will be recorded against your name and driver number. If the police stop you in your car for any reason not only will they check your license, but they will also be able to check if you have the appropriate insurance.

Your license will also become useful for many other instances where a company will require a form of identification. Throughout your life from banks to stores to almost anyone asking for proof of who you are, you’re driving license will almost certainly become your primary form of identification.

Your license currently needs updating every ten years with a new photograph and you should advise the DVLA every time you change address or of any other changes that may affect what you can and can’t drive. I hate my driving license and it stays firmly put in my purse and only comes out when absolutely necessary. Why? Because the photograph is awful! I think it is a pre-requisite of driving licenses that we all dislike our photo but as it is one of the most important documents I own I guess I will just have to wait until the next change and remember to put some lippy on!

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Driving Distractions

Driving Distractions

How often have you driven home from work or gone on a journey to see friends and family only to be stuck on the motorway at a standstill. When the traffic finally gets moving again, nine times out of ten you will eventually pass a vehicle or two being lifted onto a tow truck with the remnants of an accident still strewn across the lanes of the motorway.

I don’t know about you but when this occurs on a bright day with clear visibility I often wonder how the accident could have occurred in the first place.

For many years drink driving was regarded as the top danger for putting our road users at risk, causing accidents with the potential to inflict horrific injuries and worse, leading to the loss of life. Present day has seen distracted driving fast becoming the number one cause of accidents on our roads. What with mobile phones, iPods and Satellite Navigation Systems being readily available with many new cars having the options to use them built in, whilst they a convenience we don’t want to live without, they have the potential, thanks to the distractions they cause, to cause serious and often deadly car accidents thanks to the distractions they cause.

Studies were carried out as far back as 2003 in America, which showed that those drivers, who engaged in a long telephone conversation whilst driving, were actually worse whilst behind the wheel of their car than those who were driving above the legal limit of alcohol consumption. Whilst we allow drivers to have cordless or Bluetooth telephones in their car, some studies have shown that there is no significant difference when comparing stopping distances between people using these types of phones and those that use a handheld.

Although the use of handheld telephones is prohibited whilst driving, many people choose to ignore this and their use is still causing many accidents. Scarier than this is the fact that text messaging is probably causing even more accidents than telephone use. A study in America in 2009 showed that a huge 81% of their accidents were caused by distracted driving with text messaging being the single largest distraction.

Text messaging makes us over 73 times more likely to be involved in an accident, than if we were driving undistracted.

There are many other distractions other than just mobile phones. How our passengers behave, how we interact with them, how loud we have our music, ill health and much more can provide a distraction. The result however is the same. A driver who is not capable of giving their full attention to their driving is more likely to be involved in an accident.

Driving skills are taught right from the moment we first get behind the wheel of a car with our driving instructor, and a reputable company will ensure that all new drivers are aware of all the dangers they may be exposed to whilst driving including those they can cause themselves. Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car owes it to themselves and other users of the road to be a responsible driver.