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hardest place to pass the driving instructor test

Driving tests suspended for up to THREE MONTHS due to coronavirus

hardest place to pass the driving instructor test

Driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales have been suspended for up to three months. This is due to the unfolding coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

The DVSA made the decision on Saturday 21 March. This was because tests involve extended close contact in vehicles. 

Motorcycle tests are also cancelled, along with lorry, coach and bus driving tests, plus Approved Driving Instructor tests and checks. 

However, plans are in place to provide tests for critical workers and they are advised to visit a new advice page on gov.uk

Critital workers include NHS staff and drivers delivering goods. 

ALSO SEE: London Congestion Charge and ULEZ suspended due to coronavirus

Anyone with a test booked will automatically get a refund. They will also receive an email from the DVSA to confirm this has been done.

It says that driving tests will be rebooked, free of charge, as soon as possible. Those who have had tests cancelled will get priority when testing resumes. 

Learner drivers will receive an email from the DVSA as soon as the test has been rearranged.

There are separate arrangements for Northern Ireland

Theory tests suspended

Driving theory tests have also been suspended, for one month up to and including 20 April 2020. 

Those who were due to attend a cancelled test will receive an email and an automatic refund (which may take a few weeks to arrive, advises the DVSA). 

New drivers can still book a theory test, but only on a date from 21 April 2020. 

‘Respect the unprecedented measures’

Bill Plant Driving School Volkswagen Golf

Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, said: “We’re sure that there are many test-ready Britons around the UK that are going to be disappointed by this news.

“However, we all need to respect the unprecedented measures set by the DVSA via government advice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We trust the DVSA will take this time to consider their ongoing approach to driving tests moving forwards, and ensuring that the safety of the students, driving instructors and examiners is at the forefront of everything that happens.”

For the latest information, visit the page dedicated to coronavirus updates.

Changes to the theory test

How will the theory test changes affect you?

Changes to the theory test

The way the theory test works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is changing. From 14 April 2020, the theory test will include three multiple-choice questions based on a short video.

It’s hoped that the changes will make the theory test more accessible for everyone. Research shows that drivers with reading and learning difficulties struggle with written questions. The use of video-based questions should help people with dyslexia and autism.

ALSO SEE: The 10 cheapest cars for 17 year olds to insure

Anyone taking the theory test before 14 April is required to read a case study before answering five questions about it. Following the changes, you’ll be asked to watch one video, then answer three questions. Below is an example of a car theory test video.

Questions based on this clip could include:

  1. Why are motorcyclists considered vulnerable road users?
  2. Why should the driver, on the side road, look out for motorcyclists at junctions?
  3. In this clip, who can cross the chevrons to overtake other vehicles, when it’s safe to do so?

Each question will come with four multiple-choice answers.

The video will play on the left-hand side of the screen, with controls allowing the learner to play, pause or move to a specific video on the progress bar. The right-hand side shows the questions and answers.

In another example provided buy the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the video shows a street with double yellow lines. The question asks: what do the yellow lines mean? The following answers are provided:

  • They mark the edge of the road
  • You can wait at certain times
  • No waiting at any time
  • They mark a cycle lane

Who is affected by the changes?

Changes to the car theory test

All car theory tests will use video clips from 14 April 2020. The change does not yet apply to theory tests for motorcycles, lorries, buses, coaches or approved driving instructors (part one).

If you fail a test before the date and retake it from 14 April, you use the new theory test. The same rule applies if your test is cancelled and moved to a date from 14 April.

What’s not changing

Other elements of the car theory test aren’t changing. For example, you will still need to answer 50 multiple-choice questions within 57 minutes. To pass, you will need to get at least 43 questions correct.

The hazard perception test is also unchanged.

What the industry says about the changes

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ”This is a very positive change and should make the driving theory test accessible to many more people as watching case study videos is far more reflective of real-world driving than having to read them and then answer questions.

“We know from RAC research that being able to drive is an important milestone in people’s lives as it allows them to get around more easily. This is particularly true for those who live in more rural locations.”

Peter Brabin, head of training at Bill Plant driving school, added: “There’s no doubt that the changes coming into effect are an improvement to the theory test; as whilst the majority of the examination remains unchanged, the introduction of video clips in place of written case studies puts students into more realistic scenarios akin to everyday driving experiences.

”As well as this, the implemented changes will prove far more beneficial to drivers with reading and learning difficulties, as well as those who find they learn better in visual scenarios. The improvements, while small, are more geared towards making the theory test more client centred, leading towards longer term understanding, rather than shorter term revision.”

MOT test centre

Half a million cars have a late MOT test in January

MOT emissions failures double inside a year

Half a million cars had a late MOT in January 2019, as cash-strapped motorists deferred the test until payday. Of these, around 70,000 cars FAILED with a dangerous fault – that’s 14 percent.

January is a tough period for the household budget, with many families still paying the price for over-indulging at Christmas. The problems mount when the credit card bill arrives towards the end of the month.

Deferring an MOT is illegal and could be expensive. Anyone caught driving a vehicle without an MOT is likely to be fined up to a maximum of £1,000. It’s for this reason that Highways England is urging drivers to make sure their car has a valid MOT. 

There’s no excuse for a late MOT. While some garages will contact a customer up to a month prior to the date of expiry, there are some things you can do from the comfort of your home. These include:

  • Putting a note on the calendar. Make sure you transfer the date when you get a new calendar at the start of the year. Alternatively, use the calendar on your smartphone and set a reminder for a month before the test is due.
  • Sign up for a free MOT reminder via the government website. You need the vehicle’s registration number and a mobile phone number or email address. If you own a car, van or motorcycle, you’ll receive a text message or email one month before the MOT is due.
  • Download an app to keep track of your car’s service and maintenance. The AA app includes special offers, a map and information about your car, including when the MOT is due, tyre pressures and the VED renewal date. You’ll receive a reminder before the MOT runs out.

If you’ve lost your MOT certificate, it’s worth remembering that you can check the MOT history of a vehicle at any time via the government website. You’ll need the vehicle’s registration number.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), around 50 percent of all faults found during the MOT test could be avoided by carrying out regular maintenance or by checking some basic items before the test.

Further MOT data reveals that around 40 percent of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt. Check out our guide to 10 easy pre-MOT checks to increase the chances of your car passing first time.

Simple regular checks for drivers

Get a Grip tyre campaign to get young drivers educated

Highways England has issued further advice for drivers, regardless of when the MOT is due. These include:

  • Check tyres
    • Prior to a long journey, check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load and the condition of your tyres. Look out for cuts or wear and make sure the tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • Check engine oil
    • Use your dipstick to check oil regularly and before any long journey. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual.
  • Check water
    • To ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screenwash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen.
  • Check lights
    • If your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. In addition, light malfunctions can be a reason for your vehicle to fail its MOT.
  • Check fuel
    • Before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to reach your destination.

For more hints and tips, please visit our motoring advice section.

How to drive safely through flood water

How to drive safely through flood water

Three quarters of drivers (74 percent) would risk driving through flood water. That’s despite it being the leading cause of death in flooded areas. Indeed, 32 percent of flood-related deaths are in vehicles.

New research reveals that many drivers are oblivious to the risks associated with driving through flood water. With heavy rain expected over the Christmas period, this could spell trouble for many motorists.

Just 30cm of moving water is enough to float a car, but only one in four drivers (24 percent) would find an alternative route to avoid a flooded road. 

In November, three people were rescued from the roof of a car in Devon after fast-flowing water reached the windows of their vehicle. Meanwhile, a woman in Doncaster had to be rescued from a submerged car.

The survey carried out by the AA in partnership with the Environment Agency found that Leicester is the top place for flood-related breakdowns in the UK.

Watery Gate Lane played host to 88 flood-related callouts between 2014 and 2018. It tops the list of the top 10 places for breakdowns due to flood water.

Location Callouts
Watery Gate Lane, Leicester 88
Rufford Lane, Newark 71
Houndsfield Lane, Birmingham 49
Furnace Grange Road, Wolverhampton 37
Riverside, Dartford 35
Buttsbury, Essex 32
Green Road, Birmingham 30
Tanners Lane, Salisbury 28
Riverside/The Embankment, Twickenham 28
Hawkswood Lane, Gerrards Cross 27

‘Never drive through flood water’

Never drive through flood water

Caroline Douglass, director of incident management and resilience at the Environment Agency, said: “It is concerning that so many drivers are willing to risk their own life and the lives of others by driving through flood water.

“Our message is clear: surface water flooding it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car. Never drive through flood water. Turn around and find another route.”

The AA’s Ben Sheridan added, “Don’t chance it if the road ahead is flooded – flood water can be deceptively deep and can hide other hazards in the road which can leave you stranded.

“Trying to drive through flood water puts you and your passengers at risk, but it can also cause damage to your car. It only takes an egg-cupful of water to wreck your engine and on many cars, the engine’s air intake is low down at the front.”

How to drive through SHALLOW flood water

Flood water in Worcestershire

The message is pretty clear: you should avoid driving through a flood. However, if you decide that the flood is shallow enough to drive through, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has the following advice:

  • Allow oncoming traffic to pass before driving through the flood water.
  • Drive along the highest part of the road (usually the centre), but look out for approaching drivers who may be doing the same thing.
  • Go slowly and keep to a steady speed.
  • Use first gear and keep revs high by slipping the clutch (keep it partly engaged).
  • Once you’ve made it through, test your brakes before resuming normal driving.

NEVER attempt to drive through fast-moving water such as a flooded bridge or a ford. Conditions can change rapidly, so you may be swept away. Equally, you don’t know if the flood water is hiding debris or a broken road.

MG in flood water

If your engine cuts out after driving through flood water, don’t attempt to restart it. Instead, call your breakdown provider and wait for help.

The AA lists these facts about flood water. They are worth considering before you attempt to drive through a flood.

  • Most drowning deaths happen within three metres of a safe point
  • Two-thirds of people who die in flood-related incidents are good swimmers
  • Just 15cm of fast-flowing water can knock you off your feet
  • If the speed of the water doubles, the force it exerts on you and your car goes up four times
  • Flood water can carry diseases

Listen to local traffic and weather reports, and use social media to receive an early warning of roads blocked by flood water. It’s better to plan ahead than it is to react to sudden changes in conditions.

This Swede is the world’s smartest driver

Anders Lindstrom

Anders Lindstrom can claim to be one of the best drivers in the world. The Swede has won the inaugural FIA Smart Driving Challenge (SDC).

The first season of the FIA SDC started earlier this year, with motorists from around the world invited to take part in 14 week-long heats.

Competitors saw their driving patterns assessed in real time thanks to an AI-based smartphone app powered by Enerfy.

The eight best drivers were invited to compete in the FIA SDC grand final in Paris. 

Lindstrom lined up alongside competitors from France, Great Britain, Qatar, Sweden and Singapore, with each driver given four attempts to complete a 4km route around Paris.

The driver who completed the route in the most efficient manner would be declared the winner. In the end, Lindstrom was announced as the smartest and safest driver.

FIA Smart Driver Challenge trophy

Lindstrom said: “It’s been great to refine my skills on the road all year long, being a smarter, safer and more efficient driver. I have learned a lot, not only from the Enerfy app, but from my fellow competitors and my team leader.

”I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and look forward to continuing to be a smart driver. I’ve got to live up to my title now!”

FIA deputy president Thierry Willemarck, added: “Congratulations to our first FIA Smart Driving Challenge winner who is today rewarded for his safe and eco-friendly driving skills. We believe such initiatives can improve driver behaviour and invite more FIA Clubs to join the challenge and lead that change.”

The 2020 season of the FIA Smart Driving Challenge gets underway in February, and applications are already open for new competitors.

FIA Smart Driver Challenge final

To compete, drivers must sign up via the FIA SDC website. They must then download the app on their smartphone and connect the OBD plug-in to their car. 

For more information, visit the FIA Smart Driving Challenge website.

Revealed: the biggest fears of new drivers

the biggest fears of new drivers

Ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. But enough about Halloween, as we reveal the biggest fears of new drivers.

A new survey of 1,501 UK adults shows that driving on a motorway is a chilling prospect for many drivers. Around a third said they were scared of venturing onto the three-lane highway.

This is followed by crashing, driving in bad weather (e.g. rain or snow), and that perennial nightmare – parallel parking.

When considering a gender split, the women who took part in the survey put motorway driving at the top of the fright list (35 percent). On the other hand, crashing is most likely to result in men waking up in a cold sweat.

A spokesperson from Car Parts 4 Less, the company behind the data, said: “Whether you take your test as a teenager or adult, we all crave the freedom that driving can bring us. However, passing your test isn’t the end of your driving education.

“We’re constantly learning how to be better and safer drivers on the roads and its natural to feel scared or anxious when you first drive alone on the roads.”

Women scared of motorway driving

In June 2018, the rules changed to allow learner drivers to practice driving on motorways, with a driving instructor.

The changes were introduced to give learner drivers the opportunity to get a broader driving experience before taking their test. The overall aim – to reduce the number of motorway accidents involving a novice driver.

Learner drivers are advised to put the horror novel to one side and familiar themselves with the rules of motorway driving. Sections 253 to 273 of the Highway Code cover everything from joining a motorway to overtaking.

Top 10 biggest fears of new drivers

  1. Motorway driving: 31 percent
  2. Crashing: 28 percent
  3. Driving in bad weather: 26 percent
  4. Parallel parking: 26 percent
  5. Stalling: 22 percent
  6. Reverse parking: 20 percent
  7. Night driving: 19 percent
  8. New or unknown roads: 14 percent
  9. Driving alone: 14 percent
  10. Car maintenance: 13 percent

Useful advice:

A quarter of drivers pass their test first time

Citroen C1 learner

Around a quarter (26 percent) of new drivers pass their test first time. This is according to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) shows that, of the 1,692,782 drivers who took a practical test in 2018, just 447,442 passed first time. A total of 13,155 candidates required 6-10 attempts, 328 needed 11-15, while ten passed after 15 or more practical tests.

The FOI suggests learner drivers are taking longer to get behind the wheel. In 2016, three drivers required 15 or more attempts to pass the theory test. In 2017, this went up to seven, with 10 requiring a mammoth effort last year.

The DVSA introduced changes to the practical driving test in 2017, and this is seen as the primary reason behind the number of failures.

Learner drivers pay less up North

In September, we revealed the most likely reasons for failing the driving test. Pulling out of junctions topped the list, followed by inadequate use of mirrors, turning right at junctions, steering control and traffic light responses.

Learner drivers in London and the South East are the most likely to require 15+ theory attempts, followed by the Midlands, North of England, Wales, South West and Scotland.

‘Rite of passage’

Is this why more learner drivers are failing their test?

Tom Preston, managing director of Hippo Leasing, the company behind the research, said: “For almost a century, the driving test has been a rite of passage for many young adults in the UK. But while safety principles have remained the same, the test has frequently adapted to the country’s changing roads. Driving tests are designed to be challenging and you’re more likely to fail on your first attempt than pass.

“It’s important that learners feel 100 percent ready before signing up to take a theory or practical driving test. Multiple failures can leave learners with huge additional costs and knock their confidence at a vital time in their driving careers.”

A theory test costs £23, while the practical driving test costs £62 on weekdays or £75 on weekends and Bank Holidays. The costs are different for lorries, minibuses, buses, coaches, motorcycles and mopeds.

How to drive safely in the rain

How to drive in the rain

Heavy rain and flooding have hit parts of Britain over recent weeks, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.

In wet weather, stopping distances are at least DOUBLE those required on dry roads. This is because your tyres have less grip on the road.

The ‘two-second rule’ no longer applies, with the Highway Code advising drivers to allow at least twice the distance on wet roads. Further advice includes:

  • If the steering becomes unresponsive, it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road. This is called aquaplaning. Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually, maintaining a good grip of the steering wheel. The car will regain its grip as the water clears.
  • Rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen.
  • Spilt diesel may make the surface very slippery, especially after a prolonged period of dry weather.
  • Take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe.

“In the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Further advice for driving in rain

How to drive in floods

IAM RoadSmart has the following additional advice for driving in the rain, including what to do in a flood.

  • If you need windscreen wipers, you need your headlights. Automatic lights may not activate in bad weather, so make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on. Daytime running lights are not suitable in heavy rain, especially as your rear lights may not be illuminated.
  • Keep your windscreen clean, the wipers in good condition, and the washer jets positioned correctly.
  • If you approach a flood, ask yourself some questions, for example:
    • Can you find an alternative route? If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If in doubt, stay out.
    • What caused the flood? If it was a burst water main, the road surface may be completely broken up.
    • Are other vehicles able to get through? If not, find an alternative route.
    • Is the water fast flowing? If it is, DO NOT drive through the flood – there’s a danger your car could be swept away.
  • If you drive through standing water, do it slowly. Press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on the accelerate to increase engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed to precent water from entering the exhaust. When you have passed through the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and operating correctly.
  • Remember, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your licence for accidentally splashing pedestrians. Do it deliberately and you could receive a court order and a fine.

Click here for tips on how to drive in summer rain.

Men far more likely than women to commit driving offences

Car cloning problems for second-hand buyers

Men are nearly twice as likely to receive a motoring conviction than woman, new research shows.

Using insurance quotation data, the study found that 65 percent of convictions were from men, while 35 percent were from women.

Men are also two and a half times more likely to have a drink-driving conviction than women.

But drink-driving isn’t the most common conviction. That ‘honour’ belongs to speeding, accounting for 65 percent of all declarations. Driving uninsured is next on seven percent, while drink-drivers are responsible for five percent of offences.

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at CompareTheMarket, the company behind the research, said: “During 2012, the rules were changed by the EU so that insurance premiums could not be based on gender.

“However, this clearly shows that many male drivers are not doing themselves any favours and goes someway to demonstrate why men could still be paying more for insurance than women on average. Convictions on your driving record could have a serious impact on the premium you could be quoted. Poor and unsafe driving practices are rightly having a punishing impact on the cost of running a car.”

‘Surrey’ seems to be the hardest word

 

Drivers with a motoring conviction are most likely to be found in Surrey. Last year, 83,230 people (seven percent of the county’s population) reported a driving conviction when arranging insurance cover.

It’s a similar story in Lancashire, where seven percent of the population hold a motoring conviction, followed by Cheshire (6.7 percent), West Yorkshire (6.5 percent) and Rutland (6.4 percent).

Revealed: the shocking ways drink drivers avoid the police

Looking at drink-driving convictions – which is about to become topical during the lead up to Christmas – Lancashire’s drivers are the worst offenders, with the county accounting for six percent of the country’s convictions.

Lancashire is followed by Cheshire, Cornwall, Shropshire and Northumberland.

Don’t hide your motoring conviction

According to Moneysupermarket, a speeding offence adds around £72 to the cost of car insurance, making it tempting for drivers to ‘forget’ previous convictions.

A conviction doesn’t need to be a driving offence – statistically, convicted drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident. Some insurers will consider such drivers too high-risk to insure.

Moneysupermarket says: ”Don’t be tempted to hide your conviction just to get a cheaper quote. If you don’t reveal convictions, you could invalidate your policy, meaning that any claims would be refused and you would essentially be driving while uninsured.”

 

 

More than half want driving age raised to 18

Driving test age

A new survey indicates that 53 percent want the minimum driving age raised from 17 to 18. That compares with just five percent who want it lowered to 16.

Meanwhile, 42 percent said the legal driving age should stay as it is. 

The survey of 2,000 British people by Veygo made up part of the Learner Drivers Report. It also found that learners between 16 and 25 usually pass on their third attempt. For older age groups from 26 upwards, most past pass first-time.

Should drivers be re-tested?

Driving test age

Another point of contention was whether drivers should retake the test later in their driving career. Overall, a retake was favoured, with 47 percent saying there shouldn’t be retests.

One in five said drivers should be re-tested every 10 years, while the same percentage favoured every 20 years. Perhaps surprisingly, just 15 percent said a retest should take place when drivers reach retirement age.

The 16-24 age group has by far the fewest qualified drivers, at less than 2.8 million. Compare that to 45-54 and 65-plus, both with more than eight million. 

Is it getting tougher to pass the test?

Driving test age

Popular opinion says that the driving test is getting more difficult. Indeed, recent years have seen the introduction of new areas of examination.

Pass rates, however, have stayed more or less the same. From a low pass rate of 44 percent in 2007-2008, it has fluctuated in recent years, going from 47 percent in 2016-17, through 46 percent in 2017-18, to 45 percent in 2018-19.

Compare that to the number of passes with zero faults, which has increased markedly since 2007-2008. A lowly 0.19 percent rose to 1.04 percent in 2016-2017, although there aren’t figures for the recent (and ‘more difficult’) years.