Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

TickWell done to Brendan, who passed today first time with 10 driver faults. What made this one sweet was the fact that I found out only last week that he has anxiety issues requiring medication, which explained why he had good days and bad days on his lessons.

I like it when I can help people get over these sorts of problems. And he’s already signed up for a motorway session, which I’m sure he’ll enjoy.

This run of passes has certainly helped balance out my overall pass rate for the year, which stands at a paltry 45%. However, my first time pass rate is 70% – 13 out of 19 passes were all first-timers. But I still feel bad about those serial failers. This time last year my overall rate was almost double what it is now.

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TickWell done to Paul, who passed first time last Friday with just 2 driver faults. This one meant a lot to me, as I’d taught him from scratch – and I’ve only just realised as I write this that he has broken the record for my quickest learner. He did it in only 14½ hours, beating the previous record of 17 hours!

The pass means a lot to him, too, because his job is in London and he will now be able to drive there in his own car which he bought a few weeks ago.

I wish all my learners were like this, as 2014 has been a nightmare for pupils who aren’t natural drivers and who have failed their tests several times. When you get a lot of them all at once it makes you wonder if you’re doing your job properly.

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TickWell done to Martin, who passed first time with just 3 driver faults. This meant a lot to him for his job, and for his future family status, as he and his wife are thinking of children. After all, someone has got to be able to take them to dance class or football training!

Another one who has been a pleasure to teach, and another natural driver.

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TickI forgot to post this one, but well done to Andrew who passed at the end of July first time with 8 driver faults. It was important to him as he will now be able to look for a better job (and get to the one he currently has)… if his mum will let him borrow her car!

He’s been another one who has been a pleasure to teach. I seem to have been lucky with that lately. It was also nice to get someone who is a natural driver – and I’ve been very unlucky with that this year.

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This article was originally published in 2011, but it has been popular recently so I have updated it.


Someone found the blog on the search term “adi how to check wing mirror position”. A bit of a strange question if it was from an ADI, but for pupils it is often a problem – certainly to start with.Wing Mirror Position

The wing mirrors should be adjusted to give the maximum view behind without creating blind spots. My own lesson plans use the image shown on here – however, this is not intended to provide millimetre-perfect guides for where to put the mirrors!

The bottom line is that you aren’t interested seeing birds and aeroplanes, or road kill. You want to see as much as possible of what is happening behind you and to your sides. You don’t want to be looking at half of your own car. It isn’t rocket science.

I currently teach in a Ford Focus and I’ve found that a good position position for the wing mirrors from the pupil’s position in the driving seat is when they can just see the tip of the front door handle in the extreme bottom right of the nearside mirror, and the extreme bottom left of the offside mirror. Anywhere near that position is fine – it doesn’t have to be measured with a ruler! Obviously, if you’re an ADI using a different car, you set the mirrors yourself and then look for a reference you can explain to your pupils when they have to do it.

One point I do stress to my learners is that if they plan on using the mirrors for any reversing manoeuvres, it makes sense to adjust them consistently each time they get ion the car (during their cockpit drill). If they don’t, what they see can vary – and early on that can be a problem.

An ADI needs to have their own reference positions from the passenger seat so they know if the pupil is doing things properly. These “references” are just based on instinct, because with the mirror position you have to remember that all pupils are different – some sit 4 feet behind the steering wheel because they’re 6′ 7″ tall, whereas others sit only a few centimetres away because they’re 4′ 10″! You just get a feel for it over time.

I remember one occasion when one of mine had driven to a location for a manoeuvre. Just before we started I casually glanced at her offside mirror and something struck me as being odd. I couldn’t immediately pinpoint it, but then it hit me: I could see the side of the car in it from the passenger seat. When I tested the position later I confirmed that she would have been unable to see anything but the side of the car and quite probably just her own reflection!

Lord knows what she was thinking, or better still what she thought she was seeing. She’d been through her cockpit drill and insisted everything was OK. She was religiously doing the MSM routine throughout the lesson, but was obviously seeing nothing at all. It just goes to show what you have to look out for.

What is the correct position for my mirrors?

You want to see as much as possible of what’s going on behind you and to your side, and not leave any unnecessary blind spots.Blind Spots

You can see from the diagram that there is overlap of the mirrors’ coverage behind the car – but you don’t want this overlap so far behind that you have huge blind spots that could conceal things, nor do you want to increase the blind spot area to your left and right (i.e where the red car is).

There is no advantage to being able to see the birds and aeroplanes anymore than there is to being able to check out the squashed hedgehogs. And it goes without saying that the interior mirror is not for checking your hair and make-up.

How you achieve the correct mirror setting is really up to you, but it makes sense to have a consistent position so that you can see the same space around the car whenever you go out. If the mirrors are too high then you won’t see the lines when you’re reversing into bays, for example, but too low means you can’t see behind you properly when you’re driving, particularly when the road isn’t level and you’re going up and down hills.

On my Ford Focus, I get them to use the door handles as a reference position for the wing mirrors, as explained above. For the inside mirror they want to see all of the back window with a slight bias towards their left ear. But remember, this is just a very general guideline that I use – it isn’t written down anywhere that you have to use it.

Would I fail if I touched someone’s wing mirror?

If you mean clipping it with your wing mirror (or any other part of your car), almost certainly, yes! You could fail just for being too close to someone’s wing mirror, so clipping it would be even worse.

Like most things you can never be 100% certain that it would result in a fail – there might be extenuating circumstances – but in all normal cases it would mean that you were passing too closely, and that has its own box on the DL25 Marking Sheet. You’d get a serious or a dangerous fault for it depending on the actual situation.

Who are you to tell people how to set their mirrors?

Yes, that question has been asked in those aggressive terms on more than one occasion. I also remember seeing a moronic comment from an alleged driving instructor on a forum demanding “who are you to tell people how to set their mirrors” in response to another ADI criticising how a newly-acquired pupil had allegedly been told to do it by their previous instructor. This kind of tit-for-tat rubbish is common in this industry, I’m afraid.

The short answer is that if someone hasn’t done it before, they need guidance on the best way from someone who knows. If your instructor isn’t helping you with stuff like this it is probably because he or she doesn’t know how to deal with your problem, and you might want to begin considering  what else they might not know.

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Fuji Xerox robotic printerApril Fools’ Day has come early this year. Fuji Xerox has apparently created a printer that can…

…move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them.

It has to be absolutely the most pointless invention ever. Even when you consider that it is intended to improve security by going to the person printing the document, it still ranks as the most guaranteed failure ever. Fortunately, it is confined to Japan. I’d be surprised that even the Japanese take to it, but it has no chance anywhere else.Homer's electric hammer

It reminded me of an episode of The Simpsons (back when The Simpsons was actually funny, and not now, where people just pretend it is), where Homer invents an electric hammer.

I’m just trying to imagine someone taking such a device on to the Dragons’ Den to try and get funding. They’d be laughed out of the room. One of the dragons recently complained that people invent things just for the sake of inventing them. This is right up there.

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Regular readers will know that I enjoy going to live music gigs. One of the best smaller venues is Nottingham’s Rock City, which in the past has hosted the likes of David Bowie, Nirvana, U2, REM, Ozzy Osbourne, Oasis, and Blur. I’ve seen Gary Moore there a couple of times, along with The Darkness, Haim, Courtney Love, Steel Panther, Hawkwind, Black Star Riders, and Primal Scream. At the attached Rescue Rooms I’ve seen John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett, Evarose, CJD, and Mostly Autumn. There have been a few others.Rock City, Nottingham

A story came in on the newsfeeds about a club in Manchester – several around the country, in fact – which might face losing its licence because of complaints by people living in nearby flats about the noise. When I did a bit of searching, I found that Rock City had had the same problem back in 2004, where it was forced to spend £250,000 on new soundproofing because people who had moved in nearby had started whingeing about “the noise”.

The club had already opposed planning permission for the flats on the grounds that they were too close and were bound to be affected by noise, but since Nottingham City Council is run by money-grabbing idiots of the first order the flats were built, people who were too stupid to guess what might happen moved in, and… well, Rock City had to spend a quarter of a million on a new roof after the complaints started. At the time all this happened, Nottingham City Council “declined” to speak with the BBC.Night & Day Club, Manchester

Night & Day in Manchester is now going through the same unfortunate experience. Their plight is somewhat worse than the one Rock City went through, as the flats are in the building next door and adjoin the venue. Furthermore, although the venue is a successful business, it appears to be smaller than Rock City and probably couldn’t afford to shell out the money needed (scaled up to 2014 prices, and given the extreme proximity of the complainants) to address the problem.

Night & Day argue that it is not fair that someone can move next to a venue that has been open for 23 years and potentially bring about its closure.

And they’re right. Manchester City Council is likely to revoke their licence, having decided that there IS a noise nuisance.

“We’ve done what we do for over 20 years and nothing has changed,” the venue’s promoter Gareth Butterworth insists.

“There’s no new system. Nothing has been turned up or turned down. Why would we? Music too loud doesn’t sound good anyway.

“If a person wants to live in the city centre, there are things that go with that and noise is one of them.

“Venues are suffering up and down the country. Most of them are small businesses and they don’t really have the finances to fight this kind of thing, and they end up losing their business.”

Councils up and down the country are run by idiots. That’s the real problem. They insist on building “premium” accommodation in central locations where there is automatically going to be an issue with something or other. And the clowns who buy these properties really should do their homework, because you don’t need a degree to work out that you aren’t going to get a quiet life if you move in next to a bloody nightclub.

Delving into it further, it seems that the flats weren’t built properly – probably to save money – and the issue of noise transference is connected with inadequate soundproofing in those.Boileroom, Guildford

The story also reports other problems around the country. The Boileroom in Guildford is subject to a hearing in September. The Fleece in Bristol, which has been in existence for 32 years, opposed the conversion of an office block into flats because it was worried about a “deluge of complaints” (although Bristol Council appears to have addressed this with demands for soundproofing measures – even though the people who move in will probably still complain). The Blind Tiger and Freebutt in Brighton and the 200 Club in Newport, Gwent have already closed because of noise issues, and Le Pub – also in Newport – is trying to raise £10,000 for a new soundproofed roof after being issued a noise abatement warning.

The Music Venue Trust has been set up to lobby for a change in the law.

The Music Venue Trust wants the UK to adopt the “agent of change principle”, whereby the person responsible for a change in the circumstances must deal with the consequences.

So if someone builds a block of flats next to a venue that is not otherwise causing a nuisance, it will be down to the developer to pay for soundproofing. If a club turns the volume up, it is their problem.

This makes perfect sense. And I would add that the local council should also be included in that, inasmuch as if they’re stupid and greedy enough to grant planning permission for these locations, then they should be held partly responsible for any problems – prospectively or retrospectively – experienced by existing businesses..

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Not so much a “two pinter”, as a kegmeister this time. Nicholas Ward, 47, was found to be three and a half times over the limit after he had crashed his car. Ward, a consultant doctor, was avoiding police and refusing medical treatment in an attempt to escape detection.Drink Driving

Ward was banned for nearly three years, fined £1,000, and given 200 hours of community service. Frighteningly:

Michael Oerton, defending, said Ward had ‘self imposed’ a disqualification on himself since the collision and now cycled to work.

He said the collision was a ‘wake up call’ and he had now sought medical help for his alcohol problems.

Let’s hope this “help” ensures he doesn’t ride his bicycle whilst put of his skull on booze. After all, not having to worry about losing your licence anymore does open up possibilities for a few extra snifters now and then, doesn’t it? Cyclists already manage to go under the radar on this and many other matters which motorists don’t.

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They come in groups. This story tells how another drink-driver blew a relatively low reading of 56mg when stopped by police. However, his “couple of pints” prompted him to drive at 110mph in heavy rain, past a police car, in a high performance vehicle (the make isn’t specified).Drink Driving

Rhys Fisher, 26, Is (or, most likely, was) an estate agent. He was put in prison for 5 months, banned for three years, fined £500, and ordered to take an extended test when his ban finishes.

John Dowlman, defending, said Fisher had no previous convictions and on the night of the offence had been out for dinner.

Mr Dowlman said: “He has messed up and he accepts it is his own fault. He struggles to understand why he did it.”

Actually, understanding why he did it is easy. He was already an idiot who thought that a couple of drinks would be “all right”, and drinking had simply amplified these qualities.

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An interesting story from Cumbria. Rory George Amos had only drunk “a couple of pints”, but he registered 53mg of alcohol in a breath test, against the legal limit of 35mg.Drink Driving

He was drink-driving, it’s as simple as that. But comments from the defence lawyer, John Cooper, are worth mentioning:

“It still seems to be a common belief that if you drink only two pints you will be okay.”

He went on to say that the sooner people know and realise this is not the case, the better.

If you’re going to drive, you shouldn’t drink. The old story about two pints being safe only applies to the average male, and it assumes that the beer is 3.5% ABV – many beers are stronger than this these days, and even a pint and a half of Stella Artois is well into danger territory. Most people don’t know what ‘%’ means to begin with, and they’re hardly likely to be able to do the maths necessary to adjust their intake pro rata.

I was involved in an accident a few years ago (not my fault) and had to take the mandatory roadside breath test. I blew 0mg, and the police officer who administered it said:

You’ve restored my faith in driving instructors.

You see, any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream has an effect on your body. Drink ten pints and you’re pissed out of your skull. Drink five and you’re probably loud and showing off. Drink two and you are STILL affected – even if you are still “legal” according to a breath test. I remember when I was at Uni and then when I first started work, and being tired in the afternoon after a couple at lunchtimes – one of the reasons I never drink during the day, even when I’m not working. But just think how it would look if driving instructors were doing their jobs with alcohol in their bloodstream, knowing that these side-effects were likely.

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