Tips for passing the UK driving test

Even if you are the best driver in the country, it is difficult when you have to take the actual take a driving test. You are nervous, scared, and things thing you know just disappear from your memory. To pass your test, it is a good idea to know what expected of you. Some tips and tricks for passing your UK driving tests are:

  • Remember that the driving test is easy. You drive for about 35 minutes. The roads you drive on for the test are the same ones you have probably driven before. Try and remember what is on the rough and all it foibles.
  • Get extra experience and drive with parents or relatives as much as they will let you. Ask them to critique your driving.
  • Practice the general maneuvers as often as you can. Parking, stopping, turning and any other maneuver required takes practice. If you are familiar with these maneuvers, you will do fine.
  • Do not panic. If you make a mistake or feel scared and nervous or your mind goes blank, remember that this thing can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Remain calm, assess your mistakes or emotions and correct them. Let your examiner know you realize you made a mistake and explain how you will correct this error.
  • Study the exam booklet. Become familiar with the DVLA standards of driving and what is expected of you as a driver in the UK. Knowing the signs and highway codes will give you confidence when driving with an examiner.
  • Learn your vehicle. Life the bonnet and have a quick look at the mechanics of your machine. If you are familiar with your vehicle, you may be more relaxed. Ask your instructor, friends and parents how to change a tire, check the oil and learn the basics of how your vehicle mechanically operates.
  • Eat before your test. Most people do not eat when they are nervous and ready to panic. You just magnify your stress levels by not eating. Eating will help settle your nerves and give you the impetus to maintain your focus on what is going on.
  • If you do not hear the instructions from the examiner, speak up. Ask what they said, don’t stay silent and try to guess the instructions. Have them repeat what they just said. This will help you confidently carry out their instructions.
  • Arrive at the testing area a few minutes before your appointed time. Take a deep breath, shake your hands, and try to relax. A nervous driver will make mistakes; so don’t be a nervous driver. You will do fine.

Follow these tips and it should help when you take your driving test.  If you have questions or are looking for a professional driving instructor, please do not to contact as at James School of Motoring, Essex.

Oh Those Frosty Mornings and Driving Lessons!

With recent reports in the news about how the UK is finally entering a season that can only be described as, well, chilly! Seeing bright frosty mornings is going to become the norm. Now, we know many people organise their driving lessons for the morning or the afternoon (after all there are other things to be done during the day).

If you’ve never encountered icy roads, bright sunshine low in the sky or even having to de-ice a vehicle before you drive it, this is something you should really pay attention to before you’re put forward for a practical driving test. Of course, any instructor worth their “weight” will make sure you take advantage of learning how to handle a car in colder weather. Just to give you an idea of what you’re up against below are some tips to help you:

Black Ice or Icy Roads in General

You’ve probably already worked out that keeping control of your car is the first thing any driving instructor will teach you, but black ice is something that catches even the most seasoned driver out. This is because (obviously), you can’t see it! Some things to be aware of when dealing with what is an incredibly real danger on our roads are:

Don’t Speed! Not that your driving instructor will let you do this anyway, but if you’re lucky enough to get some practice in before your next lesson, keeping your speed down in icy weather is of the utmost importance.

If you do encounter some black ice, the very last thing you should do is slam your brakes on (easier said than done, we know but this will only cause your vehicle to go out of control). Instead, tap lightly on the brakes or “pump” them. If you happen to encounter some black ice unexpectedly, the best thing to do here is take your foot off the accelerator immediately.

Make Sure You Can See!

One of the biggest problems in bright weather during winter is the position of the sun in the sky. Sure, all cars have sun-shades but they don’t always offer the right amount of protection. The best thing to combat this problem is to make sure you have a pair of sunglasses with you. If you’re unsure of the type you should use your driving instructor can advise you on this.

It’s not just your own eyesight you should protect, you also need to make sure your field of vision isn’t obscured and this will involve making sure all windows are properly de-iced and the water tank is topped up. Don’t think you’ll just get away with water at this time year with this one because that’s likely to freeze the minute it hits the screen. Again, your instructor will ensure all of this is taken care of, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can see how it’s done.

Above all, stay safe! There is no need for speed and if you’re careful you’ll be an expert at those frosty morning driving lessons before you know it!

Anyone for Driving Lessons in the Dark?

So, we’ve reached that time of year again when the nights are drawing in. In fact since the clocks went back, in some areas of the UK it’s probably dark when you leave home in the morning, and come home at night. For learner drivers, this can be a VERY intense time especially if you have to organise lessons early or late in the day.

If you’re just starting out with driving lessons, it might not be such a big deal because you’ll very quickly get used to the idea of driving at night. However, for those of you who started your lessons when it was still light outside the mere idea of taking to the roads in the dark can send you running (literally) for the hills!

But, Fear not because we have some advice for you:

Talk to Your Instructor

When you’re learning to drive, the instructor you’ve chosen should be your best friend. That doesn’t mean you have to talk to each other on Facebook every-day! It just means you need to be comfortable enough on a professional level to talk to them about your concerns.

It takes some-time for a person to become a driving instructor, and they’re trained to deal with just about all (if not ALL) eventualities that may crop up. Tell them you’re feeling nervous about driving in the dark even if it means setting some time aside during your next lesson.

Remember, they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Start in Daylight

Wherever possible, take a driving lesson so its light outside when you begin and gradually gets dark as you go along. This way, your eyes will adjust to things like headlights and street lights appearing. It will also help your senses of perception catch-up with you as day becomes night.

Take an Intense Night Driving Course

This is possibly one piece of advice that will help those of you who are close to taking a practical driving test, but have never driven in the dark. After all, you don’t get to choose when you take the test and it could very well fall right at the end of the day.

Again, it’s worth talking to your instructor about this because they may be able to put a package together so it doesn’t cost you a load more cash you weren’t expecting pay out. If that’s not possible, there are plenty of driving schools around that will be more than happy to help you. Plus, they have some pretty good deals on price if you book several in one go.

Don’t Go Backwards!

The one thing to remember, even though you’re probably feeling like you’re about to take your driving test is to not let driving in the dark send you backwards. Everything you’ve learned so far will stand you in good stead for this little “hurdle” you have to get over.

After all, the more prepared you are when you finally get your full driving licence, the safer you’ll feel once you’re allowed on the roads without someone by your side.

Driving in The Countryside is More Hazardous than You Think!

When I was learning to drive, my instructor told me I had a natural ability. In fact, he went as far as to say there weren’t too many vehicles I wouldn’t be able to drive. Now, I’m not blowing my own trumpet. After all, it took me 3 times before I passed my test.

My instructor put this down to nerves, which is a story for another day! However, I digress because this article isn’t about how many times it takes to pass a driving test, or even how confident you are in a vehicle. Well, it might have a little to do with confidence and how that could be your undoing!

You may (or may not) have noticed that the Government has recently started a THINK campaign, and this is all about the hazards you can come across when driving in the country. They have pointed out that a massive 60% of fatal car accidents happen on quiet country roads. This equates to three people PER day dying!

If those statistics aren’t enough to make you sit up and THINK, take this for an example. 11 times more people die on country roads than on UK motorways! This might you lead you to ask (as it did me) why when there is so much more traffic on a motorway and it’s travelling a lot quicker.

Well, you’re about to find out.

How Country Roads Differ to Motorways

I could start by going on about the fact that motorways have more than one lane etc, but that would just be an attempt at teaching you to “suck eggs”. What you need to think about is that country roads have lots of twists and turns and not just that, they hide potential hazards.

This includes the following:

  • Concealed entrances or junctions
  • Dips in the road
  • Blind bends and summits
  • Overgrown hedges or trees
  • Debris on the road that can cause your vehicle to skid such as wet leaves.

OK, so you might get wet leaves on a motorway (just like you do on a train tracks)! However, the other hazards mentioned are VERY real, and as mentioned above can cause you to lose your life.

How to Be Safe On Country Roads

It goes without saying you should never speed when you drive in the country. In fact, you shouldn’t speed anywhere! The Government has explained any speed limit that’s set on this type of road isn’t something to aim for. For instance, the National speed limit is 60mph but this doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast!

When you approach bends, pay heed to the signs (you should know what they are) telling you how sharp it is. Plus, you should never break ON a bend but before it. Oh, and the biggest no-no is impatience! Overtaking shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially where cyclists, horse-riders and slow moving vehicles are concerned.

You may think the information above is obvious, but given the statistics pointed out here, it’s also obvious not every driver pays heed to safety on country roads. The message is don’t become a statistic!

It’s True People Do Make Excuses for Not Paying Car Tax!

I can hear scoffs at the title to this article as I write these words. However, for the more law abiding people who have just gained a full driving licence, this is where it all begins!

Not only have you been deemed legal to drive alone and in your own vehicle, you now have the added responsibility of making sure your car isn’t going to land you in hot water with the authorities. We could discuss insurance, MOT’s and such like but today we’re sticking with road tax.

First of all….

Changes You May Not Be Aware Of

As most drivers will be aware, the law currently states you have to display your tax disc in the bottom of your windscreen. However from 1st October this all changes because you will no longer need this valuable piece of paper.

In an effort to streamline the process, the DVLA has introduced a system that works online. This means you will no longer have to display the disc. Even if you have a few months left to run (road tax runs for 6 or 12 months), you can still do away with the paper version.

You won’t need to pay more as the system will already know you’ve “paid up”. Anyone who needs to renew their road tax or take it out for the first time will need to complete a form online. Don’t worry if you don’t have internet! Your trusty local Post Office will still be able to do it for you.

Some drivers agree with the new system, others don’t but that’s a discussion for some other time. What you do have to remember is you CAN (and probably will) get fined up to £1,000 for not paying regardless of how the process works.

Now, on to why some people think it’s OK not to pay…..

Non-Payment of Road Tax Excuses

So, some of the excuses below may seem like they’ve been made up but in fact they’re quite the opposite:

  1. I had every intention of paying my road tax but on the way, I noticed a horse race was on with one of my favourites running. I couldn’t resist and had a bet! Unfortunately, it lost and I didn’t have any money left.
  2. I fell out of a tree whilst picking fruit and broke both my arms!
  3. I was unable to go to the Post Office because I had “man” flu.
  4. I was away for a few months and forgot where I parked my car.
  5. I was informed by my accountant that I was due a tax rebate, so I thought I didn’t have to pay.

These are just a select few of the excuses various people come with, and if you’re thinking of using one of them forget it! All of the people responsible for any of the above ended up with a fine.

The fact is, as a new (or well accomplished) driver road tax isn’t something you can get away with. After all, can you imagine the state of our roads if this system wasn’t in place!

Driving Anxiety Is a Real Issue But How Do You Deal With It?

Let us start by saying that if you have a problem with learning to drive because it makes you anxious (to say the least), you’re not alone! Millions of people across the globe suffer from this condition and it is something that can be diagnosed by a professional.

Of course, there are many reasons you might be in this situation. Perhaps you already hold a full driving licence and were originally quite happy to “potter” about in your car, but something happened and you’re now worried about suffering a panic attack whilst driving.

If you’re in the bracket of people who are afraid to learn to drive, the same applies. It could be that you were involved in an accident, witnessed an accident on the road or it could be something a little more complicated.

Symptoms of Driving Anxiety

Symptoms of this condition vary from mild to severe. Perhaps you’re fearful or get a feeling of claustrophobia when stuck in traffic? You flinch when another vehicle suddenly appears at a side junction or you could even start to feel anxious before you actually get behind the wheel.

In some cases, symptoms can be quite serious resulting in difficulty with breathing, pains in your chest and in rare cases people can pass out!

Recognising You Have Driving Anxiety

For anyone reading this that already knows about (or has been diagnosed) with this issue, you might think it’s a little obvious to point out how you recognise driving anxiety. However, for people who are not aware of it, this can be a very worrying time and it’s not always easy to understand that driving is the root cause of the problem.

Think about when you start to feel anxious. Is it the mere thought of driving? Does your heart race when you have to take to a motorway, or you need to take a route that’s unfamiliar to you? Have you noticed some of the symptoms mentioned above sound like you? If so, the best thing to do is seek some professional help.

Help Is There For You

Lots of people will simply give up on the idea of either learning to drive or turn to another means of transport instead. But, you must remember that help is out there for you. There are many ways in which you can deal with the problem from speaking with a counsellor to psychiatric help.

There are even professionals who will be more than willing to give you some ideas on self-help methods. The trick is to understand that you’re not alone, nor are you going crazy! The brain is a complex thing and although, right now, you might feel like everything is against you it doesn’t have to be that way.


Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about anxiety when you have to drive, he or she will be far more understanding than you might think. The trick is to accept you need some help, and although it may take some time you will be back on the road eventually!

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.


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

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!

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!