Teaching Youngsters Respect for Vehicles, Driving and Using our Roads

You can’t contemplate learning to drive on the road alongside other road users until you are 17 years of age and have successfully applied for and received your provisional license. Then you can look to taking your driving lessons with an approved driving instructor. Although you can be taught by a friend or family member who is 21 years of age or over and has held a full driving license for a minimum of 3 years, it is highly recommended that you use an approved driving school instead.

More recently the option to experience “off road” driving lessons without the need for a provisional driving license from as young as 14 (depending on the individual company insurance policy) has been introduced at special facilities. These facilities afford the young drivers the chance to learn and focus on driving skills without any distractions from other road users, therefore offering a safer environment for the basic skills to be acquired before reaching the required age to drive on public roads.

These lessons are being advertised with the emphasis being on being suited to those with a slightly more nervous attitude to cars and driving and to those who would like to build confidence and obtain firm foundations that can be developed further once driving on public roads.

It is important that with these options being available from an even earlier age that our children are taught and are aware of the dangers that are all around them in respect of vehicles long before they even contemplate getting behind the wheel of car.

Most children will be used to being sat in the passenger seat of a car from a very early age, however many may find they have a misconception of their capabilities. A lot of this will be due to influences like the many computer games available to children which let them race virtual cars on screen without a care in the world.

The speeds these simulated games allow to drive at, far exceed those that have been put in place on our roads for our safety, a lot of the manoeuvring capabilities of the computer cars are more sophisticated than those of the cars we drive around in every day (unless of course you happen to be Lewis Hamilton!), stopping distances don’t even come into the equation and if they crash or fail at what they are trying to achieve, all you have to do is press the “x” button and start all over again!

With all this in mind, it would be prudent to ensure that children are taught basic road and vehicle awareness. None of us like seeing the adverts on television where the show the effects a vehicle hitting a person can have on our bodies, (which even at a speed we consider to be driving slow can be devastating) however parents should not shy away from either explaining these or allowing their children to see such footage.

Schools have long since worked with each other in teaching kids such things as the Green Cross Code which remain a vital part of their education, however since the inception of games consoles and the fact our cars are far more advanced from the day they were invented, it is more important than ever that awareness of our roads and the vehicles that use them are instilled in our children from a very early age.

 My personal opinion is that these off road lessons from the age of 14 are a positive step in bridging the gap between computer simulations and obtaining the feel of the true nature of a car’s capabilities long before they are allowed to drive alongside vehicles on public roads.

Tips for driving in adverse weather conditions

driving_in_snowI am currently sat in my dining room, heating on full blast, cup of tea in hand, watching my brother “gear up” for a couple of hours fun in the snow outside with my nephews. He looks like he is ready to join an expedition to cross the Antarctic! I will be considered “boring Aunty” as I have chosen to stay in the warm. The only thing that would make me consider going outside was if someone had invited group of penguins to join in the fun!

I am lucky enough to have a job where I can work from home, but Monday morning for many will probably mean a delayed journey to work in the cold and before they even get to work, tempers could very well be frayed. It is all very well advising us all only to travel if absolutely necessary, however for many of us this is not an option as a day at home could mean no pay and many bosses will expect their staff in work no matter the weather conditions.

So… for all those that have no other choice other than using their car in adverse weather conditions, please consider the following before setting off on your journey.

 The Vehicle

It would be prudent to check items such as the tread on your tyres, water levels, oil levels etc… This will ensure the vehicle is running efficiently and prevent unnecessary breakdowns. If the weather is such that temperatures are freezing it would be practical to make sure you have plenty de-icer for both the windscreen and locks.

Check that your windscreen wipers are capable of clearing your windscreen and that all of the lights are working perfectly. You can only be responsible for your own driving; however you still need to make sure that you are doing everything possible to make sure other road users can see you.

Driving Your Vehicle

Many of us are guilty of creeping a few miles an hour over the speed limits in perfect driving conditions, however now is the time to stick to the speed limits in place. They are there for a reason. Your mind needs to be totally focused on your driving so distractions such as the stereo on full volume should be a no-no. If you have company in the car such as children, make sure they are aware that misbehaving is not an option; you need to keep your eyes on the road. Using your mobile phone, whilst driving, is an offense which is punishable by law. If you have to use it, find a safe place to pull over, stop your car and switch off the engine before doing so.

In the Event of a Breakdown.

You should make sure you have a “Warning Triangle” in your car which should be placed appropriately on the road if you have broken down. It would also be sensible to make sure you have a working torch. Most importantly your car documents including insurance details, driving license, details of the relevant recovery company and as most of us own a mobile phone, ensure that it is fully charged before leaving the house.

It would also be sensible to take in your vehicle with you a blanket and/or warm clothing in the event you find yourself waiting for the necessary services for a long period of time. If you have children with you, then it would also be prudent to bring along items that will keep them distracted and entertained in the circumstances.

If you would like more information about learning the valuable skills for driving in adverse weather conditions, visit the Passplus page at James School of Motoring.

New Year Plan for Learning to Drive

new years plan to learn to driveAs Big Ben strikes to mark the start of the New Year, many of us have resolved to achieve certain goals in our life during the year ahead. Statistics show that many of us do not succeed at our ambition and one of the main reasons for this can be bad planning, which in turn leads to us losing focus on what we have been trying to accomplish.

If you are one of many who have decided that this is the year to pass to your driving test, planning for what lies ahead is essential. Not only will it help you realise your dream but as this dream could potentially be a very expensive one, it will also allow for cost effectiveness. Unless you are lucky enough that money is not an issue, then the financial aspects of learning to drive should therefore be the first objective on your plan.

The first cost will be applying for a provisional driving license which currently costs £50. This can be obtained through the Post Office or online and you will need 2 passport size photographs will cost an average of £5.

Government statistics show that in order to be ready to take a Driving Test, you will have to have had on average 47 driving lessons. After establishing how much money per week you will have to put towards lessons, research ALL your local driving schools and work out which one can offer you the best value for money based on your finances and the time in which you are planning for it to take to be ready to take a test.

You will also need to factor into your financial plan the cost of both your Theory and Practical Test.

The next part of your plan should be when you are intending on having your driving lessons. You need to ensure it is at a time when you are not rushing around and are at your least stressed from your usual day to day activities. When you get behind the wheel of a car, your mind should be solely focused on your driving lesson and nothing else. It would be prudent to check with your chosen driving school what their cancellation policies are in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Once your lessons are in place, it would be wise to investigate the various products available to aid in achieving success. These include books, interactive DVD’s, mobile phone applications and many more. No matter your lifestyle choice there will be a product on the market for every budget and to suit every your way of life. These will of course have an impact on your financial plan.

The final part of your plan should be how you can help yourself stay focused and overcome any nerves you may have. Again there are products available to help you relax and stay calm but remember these cannot be anything that will affect your capabilities when driving. Try researching items like relaxation CD, s or mind and spiritual classes like Yoga.

For more information to help you learn to drive, visit www.jamessom.co.uk.

Christmas Present Ideas for Someone wanting to learn to Drive

When I learnt to drive, all I had to help me was my trusty copy of the Highway Code which I studied “parrot fashion” and the time spent with my Driving Instructor. I didn’t have to pass a theory test or learn the basic knowledge of how my chosen car worked. It took me three attempts to pass my test and I still have to ask my partner to check my car for the oil and water levels!

What is involved with gaining a full driving license now has evolved such, that we achieve a higher standard of health and safety for all road users and with this so have the products available in order for a learner driver to pass their test so that they have a higher level of confidence and abilities when they get behind the wheel of a car on their own for the first time.

Learning to drive is an expensive process, so Christmas is the perfect time for friends and family to collate together a perfect package of tools to help a learner driver achieve success. With so many products now available there is something to suit every budget, so whether you are on a budget of pocket money only or have a healthier bank balance there will be something guaranteed to please any learner driver.

Most of us have a mobile phone which supports the many applications available in today’s market. These can start at as little as £1.99 and once downloaded afford the user the ability to learn their theory test interactively with access to over 900 example theory test questions whilst on the go. Therefore precious study can be done in all work and college breaks etc…

Nearly everyone has access to a computer or television at home, with this in mind and for a budget of approximately £10 – £60 there are arrays of interactive DVD, s which allow not only for the interactive study of the theory test but also show examples of and allow for practice tests of Hazard Perception Test. Some will also show a typical example of what to expect in a formal driving lesson and the practical test itself.

driving lesson christmas vouchersMy first set of driving lessons was a present from my parents, yet that many moons ago they cost an average of £7 per hour! This has changed considerably since then and lessons now cost a lot more. They can still be purchased and paid for by the hour however with many driving schools there is an option to buy block lessons and obtain discounts by doing so and of course there are also those centres which will allow you to take time out of life and undertake an intensive course over a few weeks.

So, if you know someone who would like to learn to drive and are struggling to think what to get them for Christmas, before you head for underwear or toiletries department to buy them those same old socks or fragrance, think about think about giving them an incentive to pass their test and browse the many wonderful comprehensive products which would help them achieve their desire.

Tips for Getting Your Car Ready For Winter

The summer is fast becoming a distant memory, temperatures are falling and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change colour from a vibrant green to fabulous shades of brown, yellow and orange. The children are headed back to school, the shops are displaying their autumn/winter ranges and no doubt we will begin to see products available and advertising reminding us that Christmas is on its way!


Driving in snowThere are many changes to make now in our personal lives in order to prepare for winter and our car should be high on the list of priorities in order to ensure our health and safety through the coming winter months.


  • You may have your vehicle serviced regularly, however; it would be prudent to check oil and water levels, tyre treads and windscreen wiper blades etc… to ensure they are working efficiently. It is very important when driving in rain that your wiper blades afford you the best possible visibility of the road ahead and that your tyres provide you with as much grip on the tarmac as possible.


Another item we often forget to check on a regular basis are the light bulbs. Even if they are working, it would be a good idea to invest in spares so that your car is fully visible to other road users at all times.


  • Now would also be a good time to make sure you have items such as blankets, a torch and all the necessary emergency items such as a warning triangle and reflective jacket etc… in the event of break down on a cold winter’s night and whilst not a part of your car it would be shrewd to ensure your mobile phone has enough credit and charge each time you make a journey.


  • Some of us still own cars which on a frosty morning often require manual labour with which to clear our windscreens. I know my credit card or such like has improvised as a scraping tool on many occasion! There are still many great products available to help thaw glass and key holes, so if your car requires defrosting by hand, then now is a good time to stock up on these essential items.


  • Ensuring all your paper work for your car is to hand if needed is also necessary and you may want to consider revising what you are covered for. It would be wise to entertain the idea of having breakdown recovery whereby you can be taken to your home town by the recovery service and that you have windscreen cover. Our weather is temperamental and we often experience varying temperatures which can wreak havoc on a slight chip in our windscreen.


  • We tend not to venture out for holidays during the winter months except those few days round Christmas when visiting the family. If you are expected to make an extended journey then you should plan in advance and make sure your vehicle is sustained to the uppermost standard BEFORE you leave and that you plan for every possible occurrence.


No matter if you only use your car for the short journeys such as the school or work run or whether you need to travel long distance it is very important you treat your car with the respect it deserves to ensure the health and safety of you and your family, especially through the winter months which afford us such varying weather. Most importantly drive with care and be aware of everyone and everything around you.

If you are nervous about driving in winter conditions, you may wish to consider some refresher lessons or the Pass Plus course.  Click here for details.

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Tips for Getting Your Car Ready For Your Summer Holiday

Summer is the time when we get to escape work for a couple of weeks and enjoy a fun holiday with friends or family. If the weather is at its best then we also make the most of the sunshine at weekends and for those with children there is the thought of how to keep them amused for six weeks off school! If what we choose involves travelling there by car then we need to ensure that both we and our vehicle are ready for whatever we decide to do.

  • Even though you may service your car often, it would be sensible to check certain items such as oil and water level, tyres treads and wiper blades amongst others to ensure that they are functioning effectively, especially if you intend going on a long journey. You won’t want to find yourself broken down on the roadside with the family whilst you wait for a recovery truck all thanks to something which could have taken just a minute to check and been fixed before travelling.

It’s a certainty that you will enjoy what you had planned far much more than playing “Yellow Car, Green Car” with an angry spouse and bored kids, whilst sat on a grass verge waiting for hours on end!

  • On that note, you should however be prepared for the unexpected which may leave you stationary for a while. Plan for your trip a few days in advance and ensure those all important games consoles for children or such like as well as snacks, drinks, map books, warning notices etc… are packed.
  • If you are going abroad you need to consider so much more. Along with your passport you will be required by law to carry your driving license, insurance details, MOT and the required warning sign and reflective body wear. You may also want to take the time to research possible other laws of driving relating to the country you are visiting.

For example; in parts of Spain you are not allowed to carry your supermarket shopping on the back seat of the car – it MUST be in the boot.  Failure to adhere to this and any other misdemeanour will result in an on the spot two hundred euro fine and it’s no use saying “you don’t carry that kind of money on you” – the Guardia will either escort you to the nearest cash point or charge your credit card (I kid you not!) or in worse case scenarios’ impound your car!

Whatever your choice of holiday or day out, the safety of you, your family and other road users is of the utmost importance, so think before you travel – make sure your car is maintained to the highest standard before you leave and that you are ready for every eventuality. This will all help to have a successful trip.