Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

I’ve updated this article, as it continues to be popular – and I can understand why, because it’s the one many of my own pupils struggle with initially. I think it all boils down to the fact that you have to be in full control all the way through it, whereas the other manoeuvres tend to involve full lock this way, full lock that, or straight wheels.

The manoeuvre is actually quite simple. On your test, all you’re expected to do is keep reasonably close to the kerb and watch out for other road users. The examiner won’t get out and use a tape measure or anything, and as long as you don’t mount the pavement or end up across the other side of the road then you’re probably not even going to get a driver fault, let alone fail your test because of it. The examiner doesn’t care what method you use – you can gauge your position relative to the kerb by looking out of the back window, the rear passenger window, or using your mirrors, and you can steer as much or as little as you like. However, it is best to learn to do it very precisely, because if you then deviate a bit on your test you’ll still be well within acceptable limits. If you’re usually all over the place – even on lessons – then nerves on the day could more easily push you too far outside these limits.Reversing around a corner

As I said above, you have to control the car all the way through the manoeuvre, and since every corner is different it just isn’t possible to have a simple prescriptive method like it is with the others. This is how I teach it to those who’ve never done it before.

Step 1

As you approach the corner you’re going to reverse into, check your mirrors and signal if necessary to let people know you’re pulling over (don’t do it too soon or they’ll think you’re turning into the side road). Pull over about 3-4 car lengths beyond the side road. You’ll be able to see the kerb leading up to the bend in your left mirror.

Step 2

Get the car into reverse as soon as you can so that your reversing lights inform others of your intentions. Check that it is clear, and then reverse back slowly to the point of turn, This is when you can see the bend just begin to curve away in your left mirror. Stop at this point.

Step 3

Check that it is clear, then steer towards the bend by a fixed amount as you start to move (it doesn’t matter if you dry steer, though you should avoid that if possible). About a half or three quarters of a turn is enough in my car (yours might require a little more or a little less). Don’t move the steering wheel any more while you’re moving. After you’ve reversed about a half a car length stop and assess what has happened. If the kerb has moved closer, steer away from it by a quarter turn. If it has moved away, steer towards it by the same amount. Then reverse another short distance, stop, and assess what has happened again. Repeat the small steering adjustments each time you stop depending on which way the kerb has moved in the mirror. Keep a look out for other traffic and pedestrians – having a look all around each time you stop is a good idea. Aim to keep the kerb no more than half way across the mirror, but not so close that you lose sight of it into the side of the car.

Step 4

Once you are straight in the side road, straighten up your wheels and reverse back about 4-5 car lengths. On your test, the examiner might tell you to stop if it is obvious you have done it properly, although if he lets you carry on it is sometimes a sign that you’re not straight and he’s checking to see that you can complete the manoeuvre satisfactorily. Keep a lookout for other traffic and pedestrians as you finish the manoeuvre.

You do not have to use the handbrake each time you stop (but it doesn’t matter if you do). Use it if it will help prevent the car from rolling, and especially if you’re reversing on a slope.

Are there any other ways to do it?

Many learners have initial problems with steering in reverse. In particular, they steer the wrong way – and this is especially true when they’re under pressure. However, if the pupil has good reverse steering skills then there is no reason why they can’t just go round the corner, steering as much or as little as they need (let’s call it the freestyle method) until they’re in the side road. That’s the ideal way of doing it, as long as you don’t forget to keep an eye out for other traffic and pedestrians.

Is there a fool proof way of doing this manoeuvre?

Yes and no. The method I’ve described above is about as close as you can get to one that will work on all but the sharpest of corners. Once you can do it this way, the chances are you’ll become better at steering in reverse naturally and you can then develop your own freestyle method as necessary.

Isn’t that method too prescriptive?

Some people have major problems steering in reverse, and nowhere is it written that they must be able to reverse around a corner like a veteran driver of 30+ years experience. They are NEW drivers. They drive like NEW drivers. If they can whizz safely and accurately around the corner whilst simultaneously solving a Rubik’s Cube and playing the banjo, so much the better.  The method above can help those who don’t fall into that category.

If your pupil (or you) can do it freestyle with their eyes shut, all well and good. If they have problems, though, you’d be crazy to carry on trying to teach them that way.

What do I do if another car turns up when I’m reversing?

You need to use your own judgement, but generally it is OK to carry on unless someone is coming up close behind you on the main road. As you start to turn, you’ll need to respond to traffic coming from all sides, so good observations are essential. Once you’re about half way around your main worry is people coming up from behind out of the side road you’re reversing into, or people turning into the side road from the main road. Of course, a lot will depend on where you do the manoeuvre – i.e. how wide the roads are, and how much traffic is around. The Golden Rule is not to miss anyone or anything because the examiners are watching for precisely that.

What do I do if someone flashes their lights at me?

Make sure that they’re flashing at you and not someone else, and then carry on with the manoeuvre if it’s clear that they’re waiting for you – but keep an eye on them, because once you’re around the corner they’ll probably go past and you’ll have to pause as they do.

What would be a serious fault on this manoeuvre?

The decision will be the examiner’s, but as a rough guide: missing other cars and pedestrians, not looking all around before commencing the actual turn, mounting the pavement, going more than half way across the side road at any point in the manoeuvre, and so on are likely to be marked as serious faults.

Never self-assess, though. Most people who assume they have “failed” for something usually turn out to be wrong, and not long ago one of my own pupils rode up the kerb slightly and slipped back down again (jeopardising my alloys) and still passed. It depends on how good the drive was, and the way the particular examiner marks tests.

Do I fail if I stall when reversing around a corner?

No. Not automatically. It depends on various factors – how many times, how you deal with it, what is happening at the time (i.e. other road users), and so on. Aim not to, stay calm if you do, then concentrate on the rest of the test and keep your fingers crossed. Don’t self-assess. It’s the examiner’s decision, not yours.

Read the article on stalling.

At what point do I turn?

It doesn’t have to be millimetre perfect. All you’ve got to do is follow the kerb around, making sure it doesn’t go too wide or disappear into the side of the car when looking in the left mirror, and you’ve cracked it. Generally, you want to start turning just as the kerb starts to curve away from the car.

How much should I turn the wheel when reversing around a corner?

To go round most corners driving forwards you’ll need between a half and one full turn of the steering wheel. It would obviously need about the same amount going round it in reverse. It depends on the corner – some are much tighter than others – and the exact amount of steering will also depend on your car, since some have tighter turning circles than others.

Which way should I steer?

This is the main reason many learners have problems with this manoeuvre. They have an autopilot mode which is programmed to steer in exactly the opposite direction to what is required whenever they are reversing. The urge to do this is really strong, especially when they are panicked or rushed.

Remember that you are steering the rear of the car when you’re reversing – not the front. To get closer to the kerb, steer towards it. To move further away, steer away from it. It’s exactly the same as when you’re going forwards. Stop frequently if you’re unsure about which way to steer – don’t just keep moving while you try to work it out, otherwise your autopilot will kick in and the whole thing will get messed up.

A useful trick is to say to (or ask) yourself out loud each time you stop “the kerb is moving away, so which way should I steer?” It doesn’t work if you just think it, because your autopilot takes over again and makes you do it wrong. You have to talk your way through the process. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Can I dry steer?

Yes. Dry steering is when you steer while the car is stationary, and although it isn’t good practice to do it unnecessarily (it can damage the tyres, the steering column, and the road surface), it is NOT marked on the test. You can read more about steering in this article. In any case, you will usually only be steering a little while you are carrying out this manoeuvre, so dry steering is even less of an issue.

Should I use the handbrake every time I stop?

No. Use it if there is a risk of rolling, if you think you might be waiting for a long time, if you want to shift your foot, and so on. Otherwise, control the car smoothly using the brake and clutch as necessary (not at the same time, though). Having said that, if you do use the handbrake for each stop you’re not going to fail for it, so if it makes you feel better go ahead and use it (several years ago, one of my pupils was told on the debrief that there was no need to use the handbrake so much – but no fault was recorded and they still passed).

My last instructor told me it’s wrong to look in the mirrors

Your instructor is wrong, and you did well to get away from him before he did any more damage. The aim of the manoeuvre is to stay reasonably close to the kerb and to keep an eye out for other traffic. Your mirrors are there to tell you what is happening behind you, so you should make use of them. Just make sure you don’t stare at them – just as you shouldn’t stare out of the back window like a zombie if you’re using that method.

But what if I can see the kerb out of the window?

Use that by all means. Just be aware that when you buy your own car you might not be able to see the kerb through the windows. I pick up loads of pupils who can’t use that method in my Ford Focus and they haven’t got a clue what to do. A mirror-based method works in any car.

What does the left wing mirror tell me?

It came as a big surprise to me when I discovered that a few pupils actually believe that if something is moving closer to them in the left mirror, it must be moving away from them in reality! This is not correct. If something is getting closer in the mirror, it is getting closer. Period.

Although it depends on how you’ve adjusted it, as a rough guide you want to keep the kerb about a quarter to a half of the way across the left wing mirror.

Can I ask the examiner to adjust the mirror for me?

Yes. The examiners’ DT1 guide says that they should not refuse to assist if this request is made. Obviously, this only applies to manually-adjusted mirrors – you can adjust electric ones from the driver’s seat. As I said above, if your mirrors are in the correct place for normal driving then they don’t really need to be adjusted. However, I am aware that some ADIs advise their pupils to adjust the mirror downwards so that they can see the kerb, and although I personally cannot see the point, if that’s how you do it then it doesn’t matter if it works for you.

How far away from the kerb should I be?

I teach my pupils that ½ metre (about a drain grating’s width) away from the kerb is perfect, ¾ metre is a little wide (but acceptable), and more than ¾ metre is too wide. These are ratings I use on lessons – they do not apply to the driving test.

On the driving test the examiner’s decision is final, and in most cases they are happy as long as you don’t hit the kerb or go more than half way across the road you’re reversing into at any point during the manoeuvre. My approach to teaching the manoeuvre is that by training my learners to be very accurate about it, if they deviate a bit on their tests then they’ll still be well inside acceptable limits.

What happens if I touch the kerb?

First of all, never self-assess your performance when you’re on your test. People who assume that they have failed because they’ve made a mistake are often wrong. Brushing the kerb isn’t an automatic fail (DT1, the examiners’ own internal reference document, says that). Some examiners seem to be harsher than others considering all the tales I hear, so it’s obviously best to not touch the kerb at all – but if you do, don’t worry about it and keep your fingers crossed.

Mounting the pavement is almost certainly a fail – but again, don’t assume anything! Not long ago one of my pupils rode up the kerb slightly and then slipped down again (risking taking chunks out of my alloys), but he still passed. He probably wouldn’t have if he’d have managed to get the whole wheel on to the pavement, but the point is that the rest of the drive can play a big part in how some mistakes are marked. Examiners often use common sense and aren’t out to fail people without a good reason.

Is it OK to keep stopping during the manoeuvre?

Yes, yes, yes, YES! Although it IS possible to fail for taking too long to complete the manoeuvre, stopping for a few seconds a half a dozen times as you steer around is not going to push it anywhere near this. The worst that can happen is that you’ll get a driver fault for taking a bit too long – which is much better than a serious fault for steering the wrong way and messing the whole thing up. Take your time.

Note that it doesn’t matter how long it takes when you’re trying to master it on your lessons. Start out slow – a suitable speed will come naturally later.

What if I don’t have power steering?

It doesn’t matter. You need to steer enough – and that will be the same amount of steering that you’d use driving around the same sort of corner going forwards.

My last instructor told me to look out of the back (or side) window to follow the kerb

In my car – and many others – the rear sill is too high for this to work, and people who have been taught that way get into a terrible mess. I drive a Ford Focus, and many of those who pass their tests are likely to drive one, too. They were quite probably taught in a small “learner” car that there was never even the remotest possibility of them going out and buying.

The mirrors exist so that you can see what is behind you. Use them to follow the kerb and you’ll be able to reverse in ANY car. Having said that, however, use the windows by all means if you can follow the kerb that way – just remember that when you get your own car this may not work.

I can’t see the kerb when I reverse around the corner

If your mirrors are correctly set for normal driving then you WILL be able to see the kerb if you are carrying out the manoeuvre properly. If you’ve been taught to look out of the back or rear passenger windows, the chances are you’re driving a different car where that method won’t work.

What should I be looking for out of the back window?

Pedestrians and other road users – and not just out of the back windows. Keep a lookout all around as you carry out the manoeuvre.

What if I can’t see it’s clear?

You mustn’t reverse anywhere if you aren’t sure it is safe. If necessary, get out and have a look – but make sure the car is safely positioned and secured before you do.

I can’t see the point of turn

If your mirrors are adjusted properly for normal driving you WILL be able to see the point of turn – it’s when the curved part of the kerb starts to move away from you in the left mirror. You don’t need to angle them down especially or anything, though some people do. However, if you’ve been taught to reverse by looking out of the rear windows then you will have problems in many vehicles.

Can you move forward to correct your position if you make a mistake?

Yes, but be careful. Having to add extra stages means having to do extra safety checks, and the pressure of knowing you’ve gone slightly wrong will increase the risk of you forgetting them. It’s best to get it right first time to avoid all of this. However, it isn’t a good idea to drive all the way back to the starting position so you can have a second try – apart from the additional safety checks, you’ll end up taking much longer over it and that can be grounds for failure.

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Note: This article was originally published in 2011, and there are updates here, and here. This main article has also been updated and its publish date changed.


Some test centres don’t ask candidates to do a bay park, and it’s no secret that in those areas a fair number of ADIs don’t bother teaching it either.Empty parking bays It’s even more interesting when you consider that DVSA is about to start trials which could involve the driving test changing at some point, and these changes might well involve “new” manoeuvres like driving into and reversing put of a bay. I wonder how that will work at these centres which can’t do bay parking? Will it be yet more stuff for substandard instructors not to have to teach to their unfortunate pupils?

Before Nottingham’s Colwick MPTC opened none of the extant centres had suitable parking facilities for conducting the bay park exercise, and candidates were never asked to do it. When the MPTC opened – and so bay parking was on the agenda in Nottingham for the first time –  there was a mass exodus to Chalfont Drive. Seriously. Waiting times there rocketed to 9 weeks or more, although you could get a test in less than a fortnight at Colwick (note that normal waiting times are 9 weeks or greater at all Nottingham test centres as of 2015).

I know for a fact that not being able to teach the “new” manoeuvre was a deciding factor in prompting many ADIs to boycott Colwick. Others just resented the fact that the two original test centres had closed, and boycotted it on principle. But in the long run, forcing pupils who live closer to Colwick to take their tests at Chalfont was bound to backfire – and it did. In the years following Colwick’s first tests I have picked up dozens who were trained around Chalfont (or who had already failed there at least once), but who lived much closer to the MPTC. Whenever I expressed surprise at their apparent choice of test venue, they all made it clear it wasn’t their idea. You don’t have to be a genius to work out whose benefit this was really for.

However, you still get the occasional pupil who naively thinks that having one less manoeuvre to learn increases their chances of passing. I’m sure there are ADIs out there who see it that way, too, as well as being one less manoeuvre to teach. There was a completely fallacious belief that Chalfont was “easier”, which still persists in one form or another (at the time of the original article, the statistics showed that Colwick was actually 0.2% “easier”). Several pupils said that their previous instructor told them Chalfont was easier, and many others appeared to have picked this up from friends, some of whom no doubt got it from their own instructors. It’s rubbish. It always was, and it still is. The bottom line is that if you drive like crap, you’ll fail at whatever test centre you go to.

It’s unlikely to be much different around he country, and substandard instructors everywhere will be looking to cut as many corners as they possibly can.

Supermarket car park bays

“Bay parking” for the test (in the format used in 2015) means reversing into a parking bay in a car park where the bays are next to each other (unlike parallel parking, where you reverse into a space between cars which are end to end – usually against the kerb). Think of it as parking in Asda or Morrisons – but backwards!

Many drivers are terrified of any sort of parking and spend a large part of their driving lifetimes avoiding doing it. They would much rather drive into an bay well away from anyone else – head-first – and pray that no one parked near them by the time they came back out! But it is easier to get into a bay by reversing in, and easier and safer to get out again driving forwards – especially if you have kids with you and you’re loading up your car in a supermarket car park. And in any case – as I always add if someone questions it: “…you’ve got to be able to do it for the test, so you are going to learn how!”

Bays can be laid out in a rectangular pattern, diagonally (often called “herringbone”), and in regularly or haphazardly arranged blocks. I’m sure there are other types, but these are the most common ones.Bay layouts

What is the examiner expecting when he asks me to reverse park into a bay?

He will NOT dictate which bay you should reverse into, or which side to do it from. He will NOT influence the method to be used. He will NOT tell you to park in the centre of the bay. The car’s wheels do NOT have to be exactly straight once the manoeuvre is complete, nor does the car itself have to be completely square in the bay. The DT1 SOP says:

Candidates should park within a bay, but examiners should not be too concerned, when making their assessment, of the final position of the car in the bay1. Parking outside the bay is unacceptable2. Candidates should not normally be penalised for crossing the lines when entering the bay3.

Examiners should consider whether the car could reasonably be left, in that car park in the prevailing conditions, in that position. Exceptionally the examiner may feel the need to leave the car before making an assessment. This is acceptable provided the candidate is asked to secure the car and stop the engine4.

Irrespective of the presence of other vehicles or pedestrians, the candidate should be expected to take all round observations to ensure that the manoeuvre is executed safely. The question is not whether there is anybody there, but whether the candidate has taken adequate observations to ensure that safety is maintained throughout the exercise. Observation should be assessed as though the exercise was carried out on road5.

At some DTCs, to avoid congestion, it will be necessary for some examiners to carry out the exercise at the start of the test and some at the end. The exercise may be completed into any empty marked bay, irrespective of whether cars occupy the adjacent bays, providing that these vehicles do not encroach on the bay to be used6.

I’ve added superscripts, which are explained below.

  1. You don’t have to be precisely central in the bay when you’ve finished
  2. You must actually be within a single bay (and that includes touching one of the lines). You must not finish in any part of the adjacent bays (being completely on the white line is pushing your luck a little)
  3. It doesn’t matter if you cut across the end of the adjacent bay line when reversing in, but if you are so close that you cut completely across the adjacent bay then you are again asking for trouble (if someone else was parked there, you’d just hit them)
  4. The examiner’s judgment over what is acceptable is what matters.
  5. Just because the car park is empty doesn’t mean you can forget to look around you. You must behave as if you were on a busy road, and the examiner will assess you on that basis. In any case, unless you actually look you don’t know for sure that it is empty.
  6. Don’t assume that the car park will be empty of other cars for this manoeuvre. You could end up having to park between two vehicles in bays either side of you, and other candidates may well be returning from their tests

What counts as a fault for the bay parking exercise?

Again, referring to the DT1 SOP:

REVERSE PARK ROAD / CAR PARK Control / Observation

Expected outcome / competence

Ability to control the vehicle accurately when parking on the road or into a parking bay.

Effective all round observation throughout the manoeuvre showing consideration to other road users.

Assessment Criteria – (example = control)

Driving Fault

Re-positioning required to correct a loss of control or accuracy.

Serious Fault

Excessive re-positioning to correct complete misjudgement and /or significant loss of control. Final parking position parking – outside the bay.

Dangerous Fault

Any situation brought about by the above loss of control that resulted in actual danger to the examiner, candidate, the general public or property.

Car Park:

  • Poor co-ordination of controls
  • Ending up straddling two bays
  • Unnecessary shunting forwards and backwards
  • Turning the steering wheel the wrong way
  • Stalling

Observation:

  • No blind spot checks
  • Relying too much or entirely on the mirrors
  • Ineffective observation
  • Looking but not reacting to other vehicles or pedestrians
  • Waiting too long for other users in the car park

This doesn’t need much explanation other than to point out that just turning your head doesn’t mean you are looking – you have to see any potential hazards. And although you can technically get away with being completely diagonally parked within a bay – with a front wheel touching the line one side, and the opposite rear wheel touching the line the other side – you obviously should be aiming to be completely straight and dead centre. That way, if you are a little off-target on the day you’ll still be pretty good if the examiner needs to decide if the car could reasonably be left in that position without causing an obstruction.

What’s the best way to bay park?

There isn’t a “best way”, but there are several alternatives, all of which have their place at one time or another. Some pupils can handle one way better than the others.Bay parking from a fixed position (rectangular grid)

My preferred method for beginners is to start in a fixed position at right angles to the bay you want to park in, and about a car’s width away from the end of the bays (the orange car in the diagram). As soon as the car moves, get full lock on as quickly as possible and reverse in. Use the mirror on the side you’re coming in from to judge when you’re parallel with the bay line.Bay parking from a fixed position (angled grid)

The method works just as well where the bays are in a herringbone pattern, although you have to angle the car as show, and start a little further away from the ends of the bays.

Success with this depends entirely on being able to start from exactly the same position relative to your target bay every time you do it. You need to find a reference point in your car, and line it up to the third line away from your target bay.

I prefer this method because a) it requires the smallest amount of space, b) anyone can do it, and c) you can put it into written words and follow it prescriptively.

An alternative way is to simply turn away from your target bay as you approach it – possibly even driving into another bay opposite if it is vacant – then reverse back in a straight line. This is fine if you have enough room, and if you don’t have to correct your position too much.

The most flexible method is simply to use your mirrors to aim into your target bay. Many learners have problems with steering in reverse, though, and in such cases this method is probably the most difficult to master.

Using the fixed position method, the reference point you need varies from car to car. I once taught it to an ex-pupil on a parking lesson in her own vehicle – an 18-foot minibus/van. The only real difference was that we had to line up with the fourth line instead of the third. You’ll find that the reference point is somewhere roughly in the middle of the front doors, give or take a bit.

Are there any other ways to bay park?

The fixed position method has two major drawbacks, in that you have to have at least two more lines lines beyond your target bay otherwise you can’t do it, and the bays have to be a standard size. If you want to get into an end bay or one that’s been deliberately over- or undersized by whoever painted it, you’ve got to choose another way.

The straight line method is certainly the easiest, but you must have room or else you simply can’t do it.

The mirrors method requires good reversing skills, which many learners simply don’t have – nor do they have the financial resources to acquire such skills if it turns out they have a problem.

I show all these methods to my own pupils, but in almost all cases it is the fixed position one that we go with. I explain that they will have plenty of time to practice the other ways once they’ve passed. Being brutally honest, taking two minutes to park in Asda once they’ve passed is only going to annoy a few drivers (and maybe give them a bit of a giggle), whereas taking two minutes over it on your test will likely earn a fail. So it makes sense to focus on a method that works rather than one that they have got the next 40 years to perfect.

Which method should I use on my test?

It’s up to you. However, I always explain to my pupils that although I am teaching them to be good drivers for the rest of their lives, we mustn’t forget that I am also teaching them to pass their tests in the most cost-effective time frame for them (and no matter what they might claim, all ADIs are teaching their pupils to “pass the test” – it’s what they are paid to do!) This is not the same as only teaching the bare minimum to pass.

To that end, the fixed position method is usually the best option for me, because it works every time as long as you get one simple reference position right, and it also works in real life.

I remember my own examiner telling me when I’d passed my driving test that it was only the start, and that I’d be learning for the rest of my life. She was right. And that is just as true now as it was then. If you can park reasonably well, you’re going to be fine – you don’t need a PhD in the subject.

Do they do the bay park manoeuvre at Watnall?

A friend of mine told me that they don’t. However, the test centre DOES have bays, so even if they don’t do it at the moment I can’t see why they shouldn’t introduce it at some stage. If you ask any examiner, they will tell you that bay parking is on the syllabus and the marking sheet. They will not say “no, we don’t do that” (they will also say the same thing if you ask them about the right corner reverse – it IS on the syllabus and you SHOULD know how to do it). Learn how to do it – you’ll need to know how when you’ve passed your test, whether you get it on the test or not.

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I saw this news clip on the BBC a couple of days ago. In one way, it’s old news (if you’re an instructor who reads the relevant channels). since DVSA announced its plans well over a month ago, and is due to commence trials very soon. It was also covered in various newspapers during February. The story concerns proposals to alter the content of the driving test.Satnav use in car

Judging from the BBC news item, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was all about cyclists yet again. The item features a woman who lost her husband (a cyclist) when he was hit by a (female) motorist who was farting about with a satnav and didn’t see him. In typical, saccharin-sweet, knee-jerk manner, this now means that the driving test should change solely to teach people about satnavs.

For f***s sake, satnavs come with an instruction manual. Even if people bothered to read it – or look at the pictures if they’re especially stupid – they are unlikely to follow any rule if it suits them not to. For example, every satnav manual in existence says – in words or in pictures – that you shouldn’t attach it directly in your field of view. Of course, that’s precisely where the vast majority of people put the damned things, where they could easily obscure the driver’s view of pedestrians, cyclists, and even other vehicles. They do it because they’re idiots – you know the ones: they have the satnav running when they go to the shops or travel to and from work – and no amount of “training” would ever make them do it any other way.

Every satnav manual also says not to use it while you are moving. Some units (and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this applied to all of them) even nag you about it every time you turn them on – on my Ford, I don’t think you can’t turn the visual nag off, and you just have to press OK each time you start it for the first time after each engine start. And yet almost every driver in existence attempts to programme them or play around with the settings while they’re moving. Again, no amount of “lessons” now will ever change that – if they want to fiddle with it while they’re driving, then they will, and no one is going to persuade them otherwise.

It’s the same with mobile phones. Every jackass 17-year old (and anyone else, come to that) knows full well they shouldn’t use them while they’re driving. But of course, that rule only applies to everyone else, and not to them.

To be honest, I’m sick and tired of cyclists being held up as sentimental shields to try and prove points against motorists. The vast majority of cyclists are far less well-behaved on the roads than the vast majority of drivers. The majority disobey almost every Highway Code rule  going at one time or another (not giving signals, riding on pavements, riding across pedestrian crossings which aren’t designated for cycles, red lights, and so on). The fact that they also ignore cycle routes and deliberately mix it with traffic might well appear to be a brilliantly militant way of proving their entitlement to use the roads, but it’s bloody stupid if they end up dead as a result of being right.

If these bleeding hearts are going to keep going on about petty issues like using satnavs, maybe they need to look elsewhere for the cure. Because another thing that makes my blood boil is the number of times I see mummies and daddies stopping on yellow zigzags in the morning to let their own brats out, obviously believing the rules about stopping on those only apply to others. And those idiots in spandex who shun cycle paths to deliberately get in the way of busy traffic on national speed limit roads. Or those who ride in huge groups on narrow country lanes.

Most of those people are parents, and their arrogant and ignorant attitudes are the real reasons why idiot 17-year olds use satnavs and mobile phones while they’re driving. Pity the kids being brought up by people who behave like this. It’s inevitable that if they are being taught adult skills by a bunch of retards who think it’s fun to get in the way of lorries and cars traveling at 60 or 70mph just to prove a point (or stop where it is illegal to stop, or cross where it is illegal to cross, and so on), is it any wonder they run the risk of killing someone when they become responsible for themselves? Poor parenting is the problem, and that’s where any training ought to be taking place.

As things stand, a 40 minute test involving 10 minutes of using a satnav – one of the changes being trialled – will have as much effect on the attitude of the average 17-year old as a drop of water does on the level of the Pacific Ocean. Much bigger changes are needed.

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Nottingham City Council really are a bunch of idiots.

Over the last couple of weeks, Domino’s Pizza has been using human billboards (known as wobble-boarders) to advertise its products.Dominos Pizza wobble-boarder

Basically, they get a bunch of cash-strapped students to wear giant pizza boxes with a special offer price on it to stand on corners. Depending on how extrovert the respective student is, you may get a dance or a wave as you drive by.

Quite frankly, they’re not doing any harm, so it comes as a major surprise (or maybe not, when you think about who the council are) to discover that this activity is actually very, very dangerous on several levels:

…degrading and exploitative.

They were a dangerous distraction to drivers and obstructing the highway.

So dangerous, in fact, that Domino’s has been threatened with a community protection notice and £20,000 fine:

…detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality.

What a bunch of arseholes they really are. No one wearing a wobble-board was forced to do it, so the “degrading and exploitive” nature of the scheme exists solely in the minds of people who couldn’t get a real job themselves and so ended up working for the council. And as for affecting “the quality of life of those in the locality”… absolute bollocks.

It reminds me of a similar scheme a few years ago where Kennelgate (I think it was) had paid students to dress up in animal costumes and do pretty much the same thing. In fact, they must have recruited their students exclusively from the performing arts colleges judging by the antics they got up to, and I can remember me and my pupils saying what a good idea it was (we’d never seen anything like it before). I don’t recall reading any stories about how that was banned (though with hindsight it probably was)

The average cyclist is a million times more dangerous than a Domino’s wobble-boarder.

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TickWell done to Arjun, who passed first time last week with just 2 driver faults. He’s doing a Masters course at Nottingham University and will need to get around. He plans to get a car straight away.

He was an interesting one – he’s been driving since he was 10 in his home country and as a result had got a lot of the typical bad habits you associate with that. But we managed to overcome them and a good result came out of it.

Another interesting detail was that his inability to follow road signs is probably his weakest point, and this came out on the test – but since he did everything properly it didn’t result in any faults. People should remember that when they start worrying about independent driving.

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TickWell done to Carrie, who passed with just 3 driver faults last weekend. She has always been a particularly good driver and deserved to be out on the roads long before this.

Now those odd shifts won’t be as much of a problem, especially early winter morning ones. She already has a car waiting and will be out straight away.

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TickWell done Chloe, who passed last week with 9 driver faults. She was nearly sick several times while we were on our way to the test centre, and almost decided not to go through with it. Fortunately, she did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

As I pointed out to her, her demeanour after she passed improved significantly compared to what it was before. She’s already signed up for Pass Plus, and hopes to get a car very soon.

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TickWell done Helen, who passed with 5 driver faults in early February. I have to say that she has probably been the nicest person I have ever taught (though that may have been down to the fact that she thought my jokes were funny).

I had to force her to do her theory test, and the same with the practical. The funny thing was that she was convinced she was going to fail the first time she took it – and was then angry with herself for failing over such a silly mistake. After that she was desperate to take another, which was great.

Another nice thing was that her parents bought her a small car for Christmas. I know she’ll be a safe driver, and now that she has a new career path sorted out, being able to drive will be an important asset.

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TickA little late posting this, but well done to Phil who passed first time in early February with 6 driver faults. This was a rearranged test, the first having been cancelled back in January as a result of the snow we had.

He’s recently gone self-employed and needs to be able to drive a van, so passing was vital to him. It’s great when you can help someone in this way.

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Someone found the blog with this first question.

If my driving test is cancelled, can my instructor still charge for the lesson/car hire?

Unfortunately, there is no law which says your instructor cannot do this (that I’m aware of, anyway). However, if he or she tries it then they are the biggest scumbag in the history or the world, so dump them and find one who isn’t a crook. And make sure you tell your friends so they don’t end up using the same instructor.

If a test is cancelled by DVSA, it is beyond your control. You should not have to pay extra as a result.

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