Archive 26th September 2013

Tips on Driving Safely in the Rain

Rain never seems to be that far away in England, even during the summer months. However, we have now reached that time of year when we can get what seems like endless days of grey, miserable days with a never-ending deluge from the sky above.

You would think that many drivers are used to waking up to wet, and potentially dangerous roads and know all the precautions that should be taken when you get behind the wheel. But, you would be surprised at how inexperienced a lot of drivers are. So in the following few words, we’re going to give you some tips on how to drive safely when it’s raining.


This is an obvious point. When the roads are wet and you have to make an emergency stop, it will take far longer for your car to react. Sticking to the speed limit is something you should do whatever the weather conditions, but in the rain it’s vitally important! Accidents happen more often in poor weather, and a great number of them are due to the fact that people drive at the same speed they would in fine weather.

If you’re on the motorway, be especially careful and NEVER go above the speed limit that’s set out in front of you. That is to say, if you come across a digital sign telling you the limit is 50mph make sure you don’t go over this.


Some of you reading this may have no idea what we’re talking about. What aquaplaning means is when your car is travelling on water, and has little or no contact with the road. This can be incredibly dangerous and you could lose control. The main thing to do is stay calm. Slow down without using your brakes and steer as straight as you can. Of course, this point does kind of go hand in hand with speed so bear that in mind too.

The Car

There are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re visibility isn’t reduced when you’re on the road in the rain. Many shops sell rain repellent products you can spray on your side mirrors and windows which will help. Make sure your wipers are in good working order, and that the cool setting on your heating system is also working. The latter will help if your windows start to “fog” up.

If you’re Nervous

If you you’re worried about driving in the rain, where you can take an experienced driver with you. They can act as a second pair of eyes, and it will help your confidence. Where possible, avoid driving in the dark because rain repels light and this can affect your visibility. Most of all, TAKE IT SLOW!

Don’t worry about other road users who appear impatient with you (they’re probably not thinking about safety anyway). If you get to a point where the weather is really affecting your concentration, and you’re concerned about being safe find somewhere to pull over for a while. Following a few of the simple steps above will help your confidence grow, and most importantly will keep you safe!

The Costs and Learning to Drive

Learning to drive can be one of the most exciting yet stressful times in your life, and it doesn’t matter if you’re ready to take to the roads the minute you turn 17, or you decide to learn later in life. The trouble is many people don’t think about the cost implications, and that’s why some careful planning is needed. In the following few words, we aim to let you know about the costs associated with learning this all important skill.

Provisional Licence

Before you can sit behind the wheel of a car, there are two things you have to remember. One, you need to be 17 years of age (or 16 if you qualify under disability law). Two, you must have a provisional licence. This licence will currently cost you £50, so that’s the first outlay you should think about.

You should also remember that you cannot drive alone on a provisional licence. If you do, and get caught you may end up with a hefty fine (not the best way to start spending your hard earned cash)! Anyone who accompanies you in the car must have a full driving licence that’s at least 3 years old, and they must be at least 21.

Learning Materials

Some people think they can take shortcuts when it comes to using various learning materials, but this will only hold you back and that won’t help your budget. Remember, you have to pay for your driving test, and the more times you fail the more it will cost you.

Instead, make sure you have the money to buy at least the minimum amount of materials you need. These include a CD-Rom on hazard perception, and three books which include the Highway Code, the Official DSA Theory Test Question Bank and Driving – The Essential Skills. All of these can be found either online or in your local book shop, and should cost you about £30.

Driving Instructors

These people are highly trained in what they do, and in some cases it can cost as much as £20 per hour. However, do your research because many reputable driving schools will have offers from time to time. For instance, if you book a block of 10, you can get one additional lesson free. You may also come across deals such as 2 lessons for the price of one for novice drivers.

Don’t Cut Corners

All of the points above are vital if you’re going to successfully pass both your theory and practical driving exam so you can at last be free to drive your own car. If you decide not to use a professional instructor for instance, it could cost you more money in the long-run. These people are incredibly important during the learning process, and they can help you learn far quicker than if you were to rely on a friend or family member.

By saving enough money to cover the cost of your provisional licence, learning materials and the cost of your exams along with a few professional lessons, you’ll soon be joining the many millions of other drivers on the road.

Taxing Your Car

So you’ve passed your driving test, and you think you have it all covered. You’ve got your new driver plates correctly placed on your car so everyone knows they should be a little gentler when it comes to reaching for the horn if you make a mistake. You have your car insurance all sorted out, and you proudly carry your full driving licence with you at all times.

However, you do have one more hurdle to overcome, and this is something that can easily be missed by even the most seasoned drivers. This “little” thing to remember is the renewal of your car tax. If your tax runs out, you’re stopped by the police and you can’t prove you’ve already applied for a new disc you could be in a lot of trouble.

Whilst you may be looked upon a bit more leniently if it’s your first offence, you shouldn’t take this part of driving law lightly! In some cases you could end up with a hefty fine (which will cost you WAY more than if you had paid for your new tax disc in the first place), and if you’re really unlucky it might mean prosecution. Not a great way to start life as a driver is it?

When You Should Apply

You MUST do this before your current tax disc runs out. Before July of this year you had 5 days after the expiry date to display your new disc. Now however, you get 14 days but this doesn’t mean you can be complacent about making sure you get your application in on time.

If your car is spotted parked on public land, and the expiry date (which is usually the last day of any given month) has passed you will be asked to for proof that you’ve applied for a new one.

How to Apply

Well, this has got an awful lot easier since I first learned to drive. These days you have a number of options open to you. You can go direct to the DVLA website and apply online, you can go to your local post office and renew there or you can contact the DVLA by telephone. In fact, it’s that easy these days there is no excuse for not having an up to date tax disc in your car.

What If Your Car Is Off the Road?

I’m sure there many members of law enforcement that have come across the excuse “my car is off the road”, but you have to remember you need to be able to prove it. If you’re not currently using your vehicle, it MUST be parked on private land. Parking it on the road outside your home won’t cut it with the police.

You should also make sure you have completed a SORN form, or Statutory Off Road Notification. These forms can be obtained directly from the DVLA or at your local post office. Be honest when you complete the form because the chances are, if you lie, you will be found out.

Remember, paying your car tax is a legal requirement and as said, it does carry its penalties if you try to flaunt the rules!

Applying for Your Driving Licence Online

If you have been through the process of applying for your provisional driving licence, you will no doubt be aware that you can easily do this online through the DVLA. Of course, you can make use of the postal system which is obviously a lot slower, but some people don’t have regular access to the internet.

Once you’ve passed both your theory and practical driving exams, you will receive a pass certificate. This is a VERY important piece of paper, and if it gets lost you can end up having to deal with a whole lot of red tape which is something a new driver really could do without.

What to Do Next

If you have been using a driving instructor, the best thing to do is pass the paperwork on to them. They will then deal with the application that’s required so you can swap your provisional for a full licence. This makes life much easier for you because your instructor will have done this many times over, and should be able to complete what’s needed within minutes.

If you don’t have an instructor to fall back on, your next step is to send all the relevant paperwork to the DVLA in Swansea by post. Everything you need can be found on their website. If you don’t have access to the internet, pay a visit to your local post office. The staff there will be happy to let you know which form needs completing (which, by the way is called a D1). If you’re lucky you will also find someone who will be more than happy to help you complete what’s needed and make sure it’s safely posted.

Usually, you will receive your licence in the post within 4 weeks of sending it off and you’ll at last be free to make use of your own vehicle (which you’re licensed to drive) without any worries about having the right paperwork. However, there are pitfalls which you should look out for if you intend to make use of the internet when swapping your provisional for a full driving licence.

There are Sharks on the Market!

Just recently the DVLA announced a warning on their website detailing information about companies that offer to do a “check and send” for you, and they’re very convincing! When you enter the phrase “apply for a driving licence” into your search engine (or something similar), watch out for websites that may appear as paid or sponsored links.

You should be aware that these are NOTHING to do with the DVLA, and all you will ever receive from companies like this is an application form that has been completed for you. This is something that can be done in minutes, and you may end up paying as much as three times more for the privilege!

The standard fee from the DVLA for a driving licence is £50, nothing more, nothing less. So, if you’re asked to pay more avoid these services like the plague. The best thing to do is follow the advice given above and you’ll be fine.