Archive 2014

Taking the UK Driving Theory Test

The Theory test contains fifty queries in a multiple choice format. All the questions will be on a computer display screen which happens to be touch-sensitive. The queries are made to be particularly convenient to read, only showing one by one. You are allowed to skip forwards and backwards through the questions, and can take up to 57 minutes to complete the theory test.

If you happen to be a learner driver in the United Kingdom you are demanded, by law, to take and complete a driving theory test before making a reservation for a practical driving exam. In some cases however, you might be required to take a different test to be able to get a driving license for another car like a motorcycle bus, coach or even a lorry.

Presently, there are 2 tests that need to be passed to be able to get a complete driver’s license. Initially there is the theory test and then, within 2 years of completing this, the practical test.

The theory test consists of 2 parts

  • Multiple-choice test
  • Hazard perception test

Both parts must be completed to be able to get a theory test pass certificate. This will permit the candidate to book a practical driving test. Applicants have 2 years from the day that they passed the first section of their theory test to take their practical test, or perhaps they will have to complete both parts of the theory test again before they can book a practical test.

Outside Europe

In case you are in possession of a complete driving license from a country outside the European Union it might be simple for you to swap your license for an exact license that is valid in the United Kingdom. To be able to determine whether you can swap your license, you should to get in touch with the DVSA.

If you were not able to swap your foreign license you will still have to go for a UK provisional driving license, which would necessitate that you take and qualify for a UK driving theory test and practical test.

For more explanation or even recommendation, it’s suggested that you seek advice from a 3rd party booking service or perhaps go to the official United Kingdom Government web page to learn about  what you have to do .

Foreign License Holders

If you happen to hold a valid ‘Community’ drivers license and you’re travelling to the UK you can use any kind of car so long as your license stays valid. The proper complete entitlement for the car you would like to drive ought to be easily shown on your license. During these situations you will not be required to obtain a UK theory exam.

United Kingdom Driving License Holder

In case you presently have a complete United Kingdom driving license for a vehicle, should you need a license for a new classification of vehicle, for instance a motorcycle, you are going to be required to take a UK theory test that includes motorcycle proper multiple-choice queries.

But, upgrading a license within the exact vehicle class will not necessitate that you take a theory test. For example, when you have a complete automatic car license and you would like to upgrade to a manual license you will not be needed to take a test.

A Car Shouldn’t Be an Extension of Your Personality

So, you’ve passed your driving test and (with a little help from Mum and Dad), you have your first car! This is an exciting time for many young people, but it can also be a bit nerve-racking especially when you head out on to the roads alone.

However, this article isn’t about dealing with your nerves it’s about how you treat your car. So, in the following few words you will find out why a car shouldn’t really be an extension of your personality. Well, it might turn out that it can but only to a certain extent.

Fun Accessories

As you no doubt know, there are various hardware stores that dedicate quite a bit of floor space to all those fun accessories you can get for your car. However, be very careful when you’re choosing what you would like. Remember, you’re still new to driving and safety has to be your first consideration.

Of course, you can get spoilers, alloy wheel trims and all manner of stickers that will help “personalise” your car and these can be a good way of showing off your personality. Perhaps as a young lady you might want to add a pair of long eye-lashes to the top of your headlights, or as a young man, that strip of vinyl fire down the side is something you would like to consider.

What you do have to be careful of are accessories that will distract you or block your view when you’re driving. For instance, furry dice or anything-else that hangs from your rear view mirror should be off your list! The same goes for things that sit on you parcel shelf. In fact, anything that obscures your view isn’t a very good idea.

Electrical Gadgets

Again, there are tons of these on the market ranging from those that will allow you to use and charge things like MP3 players, iPhones and all sorts of other things. You may even have considered buying a satellite navigation system. This last gadget can be very useful if you intend to drive to places you don’t know very well.

However, they’re also a HUGE distraction. Many of them sit on your dashboard or in the middle of the control panel in your car, and the main problem with that is (whether you’re thinking about it or not), your eyes will be drawn to it. Whilst you were learning to drive, you will have been told about all the dangers associated with distracted driving, and if you’re not concentrating accidents can happen very quickly!

The same goes for music. Everyone loves to listen to a bit of music but playing it too loudly will affect your ability to concentrate. Plus, it may be so loud you won’t hear something that’s potentially important. In fact, if you are stopped by the police and your music is too loud you could end up in trouble.

Overall

Yes, your car can be an extension of your personality but just remember that safety ALWAYS has to come first.

Tips on Choosing the Right Car

As this article is being written, Easter weekend is upon us and many people will (hopefully) be enjoying a bit of sunshine and LOTS of chocolate! However, because most of us have a few days away from the daily grind, we prefer to spend the time wisely and this might be about deciding which car will suit you best.

If you’re of the younger generation, this might well be the biggest purchase you have made in life so far. For those of you who are a little older it might not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to consider your decision.

It’s very easy to get a little over excited when you visit a showroom. Not only are there lots of brand new and shiny looking cars to look at, you also have salesmen who will be more than willing to offer you all the “extras”. So just to try and keep things under control, below are a few tips to think about.

Budget     

This is highly important and it’s not just about how much you spend initially. You also have to think about tax, insurance, maintenance and fuel. How much all of these things will cost you does depend an awful lot on the type of car you choose.

You should also think about how much money you might expect to make when it’s time to sell your car. Not all brands are created equally and some retain their value better than others, so it’s worth asking about this when talking to a dealer.

Paying for Fuel

There are a myriad of choices in this respect these days because manufacturers have responded to the demand for economically efficient vehicles. Of course, diesel engines will cost you less to run and some engines will yield as much as 70 miles to the gallon.

However, if you really want a car that runs on petrol, some of the models that have smaller engines come pretty close to their diesel counterparts. You may even want to consider a hybrid car which is becoming ever more popular.

Do bear in mind though that the most economical cars on fuel tend to be more expensive to buy. For this reason, think about the amount of mileage you’re likely to do. If it’s not going to be that much, you may want to consider a cheaper car that’s perhaps not as economical on fuel.

Other Points to Consider

Of course, you also have to think about what you’re car will be used for (other than driving). How much boot space will you need? Will you often carry passengers in the back and will these be adults or children?

These questions will need to be answered because there is no point in spending your hard earned cash on a car that won’t suit your needs. In fact, (and don’t be afraid to do this) when you are looking for a car, take along things like golf clubs, the kids or even your pets so you know they will fit into the space you’ll have.

If you think carefully about the type of car you need BEFORE shopping for one, it will make your job an awful lot easier!

Get the Right Sunglasses for Driving

So here we are again, spring is almost upon us and it’s the time of year when we all look forward to some much needed sunshine. Getting those designer sunglasses out of the glove box and popping them on as you begin your journey just makes you feel so much more alive doesn’t it?

But, there is more to knowing what type of sunglasses will protect your eyes properly and keep you safe when you’re driving and you’re about to find out why.

For a start, the glare you get when you’re behind the wheel is magnified because of the windscreen. This can come from the sun being low in the sky, the rays can bounce of metal objects as you pass by and you can even be temporarily blinded by the bonnet of your own car!

In fact, glare is one of the most common causes of accidents on our roads, and it can happen at anytime of year the sun decides to show its face. So, below are some tips to think about the next time you decide to don the latest in fashion over your eyes when you’re driving:

Good Vision

Even if you don’t need prescription lenses, you still need to think about the clarity of vision you get when you where sunglasses. Some standard brands place too much emphasis on looks and not practicality. For instance, you need to make sure glare is kept to a minimum but at the same time, the lenses are not so dark you might miss something important.

When you’re shopping for a pair of sunglasses for driving, make sure you look out for brands that are made specifically for this purpose. Generally, they come in two different tints: Fixed and Variable.

Fixed Tint

The clue is in the name with this type. Whatever the lighting conditions, the level of tint will remain the same. These are the most readily available and cheapest form of sunglasses made for driving. If you’re worried you might not be able to have these if you need a prescription – don’t! Any reputable optician will be able to offer you fixed tint lenses.

Variable Tint

Again, as the name suggests, this type of lens will react to the level of light it receives. The brighter it is the more tint you get and vice-versa. However, you MUST remember that if you decide to go with a variable tint lens, make sure you visit an optician first.

The reason for this is that many brands are not suitable for driving because your windscreen already filters out UV rays, and this is what variable lenses react to in order to reach the right level of “darkness”.

Style and Safety

Whilst many of us like to wear the latest in fashion, do bear in mind that sunglasses with deep side arms can alter your peripheral vision which is something we all rely on when driving. You should also make sure that any pair you buy carries the “CE” which means they meet European Standards.

The Importance of a Driving Licence

You may think this article is about to give all the “youngsters” out there a lecture on how important it is that you ONLY drive a vehicle on your own if you have a full UK driving licence. However, for anyone sensible enough, you will already know how important it is that you don’t drive without one.

For a start, you won’t be able to get insurance and although the laws are changing with regards to showing an insurance certificate when you tax your car, it’s not that difficult for a suspicious police officer to find out you’re driving illegally.

The repercussions of driving without a licence can cause you all sorts of problems. At the very least you could receive a hefty fine or be banned from driving. In the worst case scenarios (for repeat offenders), you could end up facing a spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure!

However, as said this article isn’t about lecturing you on why you should have a driving licence but rather, why it’s important in other ways.

Job Opportunities

As we all know, finding a job isn’t the easiest thing in the world at the moment and if you’re fresh out of college or university the days of just walking into a job in your chosen career path are far more difficult than they used to be.

If you have passed your driving test and hold a full UK licence, more doors will be open to you when you’re looking for a job. Of course, some companies will insist that you hold a licence due to the type of job they have on offer, but if you have your own vehicle it’s possible to drive further afield in order to get to work.

A Driving Licence is a Useful Form of ID

When you get your driving licence, it will have a photo on it (not unlike a passport), and this can be very useful when you need to say, apply for a bank account or something-else that requires you to prove you are who you say you are.

If you’re in your late teens or early twenties and can produce a driving licence as a form of ID, it instantly shows you’ve been responsible enough to gain what’s considered to be a qualification and a very practical one at that!

A Driving Licence is a Sign of Maturity

You might find it hard to believe, but the minute you produce a driving licence many people will see this as a sign of someone who has “grown up”. You don’t just hold a licence, but you probably own a car as well. In which case, you have other responsibilities such as vehicle maintenance and budgeting skills for insurance and fuel.

So you see the importance of a driving licence goes much further than just being able to prove you can drive, especially if you’re young. It shows you have learned practical skills that will help in other areas of your life like decision making, general alertness and attention to detail which can help both personally and professionally!

Top Reasons Why People Fail Their Practical Driving Test

So you’ve been learning to drive for a while now, and your instructor took it upon themselves to set a date for the practical driving test (which is now looming). All sorts of emotions are probably running through you right now, not least that you think you’re instructor has shown too much faith in you!

Doubt is something that creeps into everyone’s minds when they’re about to take the practical driving test and the easiest person to blame is your instructor. The fact is the professional that has been with you through “thick and thin” whilst you’ve been learning would not have put you forward if they didn’t think you were ready.

So, that’s doubt number one out of the way! The next thing to deal with is the parts of the test that worry you most, and yes it is true that the reasons for failing (listed below) are the most common. However, you don’t have to be one of those statistics so in the hope that some of what you’re going to read will sink in, let’s see if we can go some way to helping you get that pass first time!

Improper Junction Use

We list this as the number one reason for failing because it’s something ALL driving examiners look for. The reason for this is improper use of a junction can lead to a very nasty accident so it’s important you remember what you need to do.

Remember that if your vehicle goes over the stop line, it could mean an automatic fail. When you see the junction approaching, take your time (your examiner will not thank you for doing the emergency stop before you’ve been asked to). Make sure you check your mirrors as you slow down and above all, take your time!

Proper Use of Steering

It probably shouldn’t be said at this stage, but there is a very small percentage of qualified drivers who handle the steering wheel the way they were originally taught to, but that’s a story for another day. Right now, you need to remember that crossing your hands over each other is a BIG no-no. Just make sure you keep both hands on the wheel (unless you’re changing gear) and thread the wheel through them just like you have been over the past few weeks.

Reverse Parking

NO! I hear you all cry! Well, yes you will have to reverse park at some stage, and it is one of the trickiest maneuvers you will learn. However, you will not be penalized for taking your time. As long as you can show good clutch control, an ability to use your mirrors properly and proper observation of other vehicles or pedestrians, you’ll be fine.

Above All

If it helps, on the day do your best to imagine you’re just going for a lesson only this time it’s up to you to make sure there are no mistakes. It’s hard to do, but try and enjoy yourself. After all, driving is supposed to be fun if you go about it safely.

Think you’re A Law Abiding Driver? Think Again!

There are all sorts of rules and regulations we need to adhere to when we’re out on the roads. What immediately springs to mind is staying well within the speed limits. The other major law many people immediately think about is drinking and driving, or even driving under the influence of drugs.

However, no matter how long you’ve been driving it can be difficult to keep up with the latest in driving laws. In fact, these days it can seem like the minute you get into your car all eyes are watching! There are cameras everywhere, you have to be careful of the odd police car at the side of the road complete with patrolman and speed camera at the ready, not to mention making sure you’ve paid a congestion charge in certain areas.

If you’ve just passed your driving test the following information will be incredibly useful to you. If you’ve held a full UK driving licence for some time and it’s clean, you may be surprised to learn that you could have unwittingly broken some of the laws detailed below simply because you’re unaware of them.

So, let’s take a look:

Altruism and the Roads

It’s not against the law to show a bit of kindness when you’re on the road. For instance, leaving a gap when you’re in traffic so someone-else can join the queue from a side road is very considerate, and could actually make someone’s day. However, if you happen to pass a policeman that’s armed with a speeding camera, it might come as a surprise that if you’re caught warning other motorists coming in the other direction, you could face a fine of up to £500!

Mobile Phones

Yes! We know! It’s against the law to take a mobile phone call in your car when driving unless you use an approved hands-free kit. However, if you don’t have this luxury and often pull over to the side of the road so you can take a phone call, you could be breaking the law.

If you’re found talking on your phone (even if you’re stationary) without the aid of hands-free, you could be in trouble if you have left the engine running. Some may think this is a silly rule, but think about it? What if you were to accidentally leave the handbrake off and then hit the accelerator pedal? This could result in you losing control of your car, and that’s why you should ALWAYS switch the engine off.

Other Laws

Beeping your horn when stuck in traffic i.e. your vehicle is switched on but stationary is illegal. There are of course, exceptions to this rule. If you think someone might be in danger, then you’re quite within your rights to let them know.

Not all of us are great at keeping our cars clean, but if you’re stopped and your number plate is too dirty for a policeman to read, this could carry a fine of up to £1,000! So, the next time you get in your car, just think about some of the less obvious road laws so you can hang on to that clean driving licence!

Learning to Drive – Parents and Their Kids

Our blog section is generally all about letting youngsters know how to go about learning to drive. What the best tools there are out there to help you pass your test first time, how you can be a good driver from the minute you pass and a whole heap of other hints and tips.

However, it recently occurred to us that we have neglected how parents feel in all of this! After all, you’ve been through thick and thin with your children, and it doesn’t stop just because they’re about to move into a new phase of their lives – adulthood!

Watching your “baby” take to the roads can be a particularly worrying time for any parent. How will they cope being on their own? Will they learn how to handle a car, and deal with the road and all the dangers it can pose? Are they likely to give in to pressure and make a stupid mistake when they have friends in their car?

These are all questions that will go through a parent’s mind but at the end of the day, you have to let them grow up. Many of you reading this may think that you are letting your child grow up.  After all, you just want to help (or are you)!

Teaching Your Child to Drive

You might think you’re the best person for the job. After all, you have been driving for many years without so much as a speeding ticket to your name! You may also think that you know all the “tricks of the trade”. But, and there is one big BUT coming!

No matter how well you drive or how safe you are, you have to accept that you’re not trained in the art of teaching someone to drive. Professional instructors are highly trained and spend many years perfecting this (they hold a special licence for a reason).

Add to this the fact that the relationship between parent and child can become pretty strained when you’re out in the car together, and it could end up in disaster.

Leave it to the Professionals

Of course, its understandable that you will want to make sure your “precious bundle” is well looked after when they go for driving lessons, and this is one very constructive way in which you can help. Use your life experience to make sure the instructor who will finally be chosen to teach your child to drive will be able to do so safely, professionally and successfully.

You might not believe it right now, but if you choose wisely you’re giving your child the best start when they first embark upon their driving career. Plus, it won’t mean shouting matches in your own car because of yet another near miss with the kerb or lamp post (that’s what the professionals are there to help avoid)!

Overall, whilst it can be hard to accept that your teenager is moving on to another phase in their life that feels like they’re been taken even further away from you, they will thank you for making sure the stress they’re feeling is kept well under control. And, pretty much the only way to do that is to let them learn with a certified instructor.

The Worst Driving Habits in the UK

If you’re no stranger to our blog, you will know we’re all about letting you know little hints and tips about how you can gain a full UK driving licence with the minimum of fuss and stress! You will also know that’s not all we talk about. Our blog is full of information that will help new and “old” drivers alike. Today, we aim to let you in on some of the worst driving habits in the UK.

Before we get going with what are considered some of the worst habits, you may be feeling pretty smug right now because you’re one of the best drivers on the road – right? Wrong! It may seem harsh to point this out but no-one is perfect and when you read the information below, remember to take a good look at the way you drive because the chances are you’ve probably developed some, it not all of these habits as well.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

OK, so there are a couple of things that spring to mind with this especially when it comes to driving on the motorway. For instance, how many times on a long journey have you gone sailing past another driver only to find they scoot past you minutes later? In fact, how many times have you done this?

You could also attribute this bad habit to both van and taxi drivers and the reason for this is probably because they always have to be somewhere. However, slamming on the accelerator for a half a mile, only to find you have to break particularly hard isn’t just dangerous it also costs more in fuel not to mention the amount of added wear and tear on your vehicle!

Changing Lanes Last Minute

Now you have to be honest with this one. We’ve all done it! There are generally two reasons why someone will feel the need to change lanes last minute, and both of them tend to happen in heavy traffic. The first is the type of driver who has not paid attention to where they’re going and has realised (last minute) they need to be in the other lane.

The other type of driver is the sort that just CANNOT stand queues and sees it as their God given right to change lanes so they can gain a few seconds journey time on everyone-else. This isn’t just annoying for other drivers it’s also highly dangerous and could result in an accident. Plus, it can make traffic problems worse so think about this the next time you decide to change lanes at the most inappropriate moment.

Overall

We have only used two examples in this post but there are many other bad habits to consider when you’re out on the road. In our last post we discussed drivers who refuse to move over to the inside lane on the motorway, and prefer instead to “hog” the middle lane. Again, this isn’t just dangerous but its VERY annoying for other drivers.

If you started reading this article thinking nothing at all was going to relate to you when you’re in a car, what do you think now?

Motorway Lane Discipline

You may have just passed your driving test and are now the proud owner of a brand spanking new full UK driving licence. However, not everyone has the benefit of being able to then go on to an advanced driving course that will really teach them about how to handle driving on a motorway. In which case, this article is a MUST read before you get into any bad habits.

If you’re someone who has had your licence for a while and think you know everything about motorway driving, you might be in for a shock! You see the law on motorway lane discipline in the UK is that you only use the two outside lanes when you intend to overtake. This may surprise some of you because there are an alarming amount of “qualified” drivers on the roads that simply don’t understand this rule, or choose to ignore it!

The Myths

  • Some people you come across view the inside lane (or the first) as the “slow” lane – not true! This is the lane where vehicles travel when they have no need to overtake.
  • Others think it’s their God given right to zoom along the motorway in the middle or 2nd lane without moving over. There may be several reasons for this. They might be nervous about moving lanes and have got stuck there (although that doesn’t account for this situation on the rare occasion the motorway is empty)! It could be they can’t be bothered to use their mirrors, and turn the wheel slightly so they can move over, or it could just be complete ignorance.
  • Drivers often refer to the 3rd lane (or the outside lane) as the “fast” lane – also not true! This lane is there if you need to overtake vehicles that are travelling too slowly in the first two, and was originally put there to ease traffic congestion.

Why You Should Use Motorway Lane Discipline

This is a simple statement to answer. It’s safer! For example, Lorries’ are big heavy vehicles that can cause a lot of damage if they’re involved in an accident. This type of vehicle is not allowed to use the outside lane on a motorway so they only have two open to them.

Say you’re “hogging” the middle lane and the motorway is moderately busy but you’re travelling too slowly for a lorry. The driver needs to overtake a vehicle on the inside lane but you’re in the way. They cannot go around you to the 3rd lane (it’s against the law), yet they can’t remain behind you because you’re stuck in their overtaking lane.

This can, and does lead to terrible accidents, which is just one of many reasons why you should observe the rules! We say this to all new drivers who have not been able to benefit from taking a pass plus:

Ignore people if they refer to motorway lanes as “slow”, “middle” and “fast”. Instead, remember they are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Oh, and also remember the maximum speed limit is 70mph and that’s there for a reason too!