Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

TickWell done Maddie, who passed with 8 driver faults today. She’s been one of my “serial failers” of this year, but the beta-blockers really helped us on lessons, and we got there in the end.

The effects of beta-blockers really are amazing. What they do is break down the shields or barriers that cripple many nervous people on their lessons. Learning can then take place, along with a growth in confidence, because the nerves are not firing off uncontrolledly as they were before. This increased confidence naturally also has a positive effect. Subsequently – and certainly once the pressure of passing their test is gone – people don’t need to take the tablets anymore.

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A few people have found the blog on this search term in the last few days. I wasn’t sure why until I checked, but it’s because episode 11 of the documentary “Metal Evolution” is being shown, and all three members of Rush are interviewed in it (which is an achievement on the part of the producers and Sam Dunn, since Neil Peart doesn’t do many interviews, and he is very forthcoming in this one).Rush trio

Actually, you can buy this highly acclaimed documentary series on DVD and Blu-ray, and it is really worth having if you’re into rock music.

It’s also worth pointing out that an R40 boxed set is planned for later this year featuring 6 discs and lots of bonus material as well as their recent (post-hiatus) performances. I’ll be getting it, that’s for sure!

Correction: There is a new show, Classic Albums 4, featuring Rush and their albums 2112 and Moving Pictures. Again, Neil is included prominently, along with Alex and Geddy. The show was originally aired in the US in 2010, but it has taken this long to come over here!

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The DVSA has released the latest statistics for 2014 covering check tests and the new standards check.

The key points of the period between 7 April and 30 June are:

  • 2,520 standards checks carried out
  • pass rate was 81%
  • 24% of ADIs achieved Grade A, 57% achieved Grade B

I note that in some quarters, the usual agitators have suddenly become expert statisticians again as they dismiss these figures without having a clue what they actually mean.

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I saw this story on the BBC website. It shows a video, which has been released by Norfolk police, of a motorcyclist travelling at 97mph on the A47. He had a helmet camera fitted. The rider, David Holmes, died after he rode into a car which was turning right. The BBC has edited out the impact, which is apparently in the full version – which can be seen on the Suffolk police website (I haven’t watched it here, and have no desire to do so).

Apparently, the car driver was prosecuted for causing death by careless driving. I suppose that the charge of “careless driving” sends something of a message – it wasn’t classed as “dangerous” – but I can’t for the life of me see what the driver could have done to anticipate some Neanderthal halfwit coming at them out of the blue at almost twice the speed limit. Not unless we are to assume that all motorcyclists are the same and they could be behaving like this at each and every junction. Or that the fault always lies with the motorist, and not the rider.

The Norfolk police quite rightly make no apologies for releasing the video, in spite of the negative comments it may attract. I make no apologies for my opinion on the matter, either.

Holmes’ family have allowed the video to be released.

Mr Holmes’ mother, Brenda, is shown on the video talking about the heartache of losing a child and makes a plea for people to be more careful on the roads.

She said if the video could save one life, it would be worth it.

Although I have sympathy for her, I hope she is referring to insane motorcyclists and not just car drivers. But I don’t think she is, because on the Suffolk police site she is quoted:

I know he rode fast that day, he loved speed but he also loved life. This hasn’t been an easy thing to do but I just hope that somebody benefits from the warning; that people slow down and take time to look for bikes.

Holmes was travelling at nearly 100mph, for God’s sake – that’s almost 50 metres per second! From his perspective, the chance of someone turning right at a right-turn junction was a damn sight more likely than that of someone bearing down on you at 100mph – which is how would have seemed for the motorist. I don’t see anyone loudly proclaiming that Holmes should have anticipated things better, do you? It’s bloody obvious who was at fault. If he’d been travelling within the speed limit the accident almost certainly wouldn’t have happened, and the comments by the “expert” rider in the video miss that point entirely. Looking at the footage, if Holmes had been driving at the speed limit (or around 25 metres per second) the issue of whether he could have avoided the accident or not would have been moot – the car driver would probably have seen him, or would have had time to turn safely if he was farther back. At 60mph, it would take about 4 seconds to stop, whereas it would take around 6 seconds at 100mph – and this is for a car (not a bike) under theoretically ideal conditions. The distance travelled in those additional two seconds would be huge, and don’t forget that if you double your speed, your braking distance is about four times longer.

You simply don’t expect some prat to be coming down a hill at that kind of speed. The most frightening thing is that if they are, most drivers wouldn’t stand a chance of anticipating it. And quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to.

Just for the record, any car driver who drives dangerously (or carelessly), or who breaks the speed limit, deserves to be prosecuted. But so does any motorcyclist who does similar.

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Imagine that you have an online retailer who sells, let’s say, groceries. They fulfil all orders from their own warehouse. You place an online order which includes a bag of flour. When your shipment arrives, you find that instead of flour, you have been supplied with 2kg of Cocaine. When you protest, the supplier apologises, insisting that it was a computer error and you were supplied with the wrong item.Kung Fu Panda

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is no possible scenario I can imagine which explains the error away properly. Yes, there may well have been a computer glitch. But how do you explain the Cocaine in the first place?

On a related note, I saw this story on the BBC website. Apparently, the London School of Economics (LSE) sent out a welcome email to its students – 25% of whom are East Asian – and some “test names” from the database resulted in people being identified as Kung Fu Panda.

The university says that other test names used include Piglet, Paddington, Homer, Bob and Tinkerbell.

Yes, but there’s no mention of people being identified by those names. More telling is this bit:

The use of this ‘name’ merely reflects that a member of staff who set up the test record is a fan of the film.

It’s an odd name to choose. Joe Bloggs or John Smith are the ones I usually go for. I’d steer well clear of double-barrelled monikers if I were testing a database. They also say:

The email was sent to all students and did not target students from any particular background.

The article doesn’t mention any non-Asian examples. What I do know is that Asian students usually turn up a week or two earlier than everyone else (I’ve mentioned this before). Maybe Finding Nemo is in that database somewhere, too?

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This story on the BBC caught my eye. It begins:

As many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK may feel that they have nothing to live for, a study for the Prince’s Trust charity claims.

This makes me angry whenever I read it, but not for the reason you might expect. My reason is based on one of the examples given in the story, where a young male tried to kill himself because he couldn’t get a job. His story begins and ends as follows:

Excluded from school at the age of 14, [he] had no qualifications…

…But after attending a course run by the Prince’s Trust, [he] built up his self-confidence and gained new skills and qualifications. Now 23, he works in a residential home for young people and is studying towards a youth worker level 2 qualification.

I seem to be the only one who can see that it is bad behaviour (and whatever caused it) and the subsequent lack of qualifications which was fundamental problem. Once he had sorted himself out and gained some sort of education – which he should have got 10 years earlier – he got a job. Surely there is an obvious lesson to be learnt here?

It’s all very well rattling on about how people who have been unemployed for a long time suffer depression, but much of the time they brought it on themselves by bunking off school (and getting away with God knows what). Childhood isn’t childhood any more. You get 14-year olds who think they’re adults – often egged on by well-meaning but incompetent parents and teachers – who simply refuse to study properly at school. You don’t need 40 GCSE A* passes to get a job, though God knows that’s not difficult these days. Just a handful of Grade Es passes as an education and is more than enough to gain employment. It might not get you into Merchant Banking – you should have got the A*s if you expected that – but it’s certainly a lot better than having a disciplinary record the FBI probably has a copy of.

Too many kids think they’re grown up at 12 and get away with it. It’s a shame they only seem to actually grow up in their 20s once they’ve realised that the gutter they have crawled into isn’t as cool as it once seemed. Reading between the lines, many of the kids referred to in that article did not have stable family backgrounds (many young girls have got two or three kids of their own by the time they get to his stage). This is where most of the problems stem from.

The Prince’s Trust says:

If we fail to act, there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.

As far as I’m concerned, any action needs to be for the generations still at school – to force them to get a bloody basic education instead of pissing about until they’re 20-something then expecting the world to save them.

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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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