Wow. I just got back from the first night of the UK leg of Rush’s Clockwork Angels Tour, and it was bloody brilliant! A great crowd at Manchester’s MEN Arena, and I couldn’t see an empty seat in the entire place. Here’s my review of the concert (gig).
As well as playing at least half of the songs from Clockwork Angels (I love Wish Them Well, and The Garden), they also covered some of the older stuff that I haven’t heard live before (or not for a long time, anyway), such as The Pass, Dreamtime, and Territories. Spirit Of Radio was in there – they can’t EVER not play that – and they encored with Tom Sawyer and parts of 2112. The full set list was as follows:
- Big Money
- Force Ten
- Grand Designs
- Middletown Dreams
- The Analog Kid
- The Pass
- Where’s My Thing?
- Far Cry
- Clockwork Angels
- The Anarchist
- The Wreckers
- Headlong Flight
- Halo Effect
- Wish Them Well
- The Garden
- Drum Solo
- Red Sector A
- The Spirit of Radio
- Tom Sawyer
- 2112 Part I: Overture
- 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
- 2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
There was a 15 minute break between Part 1 and Part 2, and the strings section joined for virtually all of Part 2. I tried out my new camera – the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 – for the first time at a gig, and the results are unbelievable. Judge for yourselves.
You see what I mean? This time, I even got a bunch of fantastic pictures of Neil Peart. I’ve reduced these in size for the blog, but on the originals you can literally see the threads on the shirts the guys are wearing! I got nearly 550 shots, and 90% of them have no blur whatsoever!
I was six rows back and had an excellent view – my ticket guy had come up trumps again.
There was a fantastic lightshow, and plenty of pyrotechnics. And the band used a strings section to provide extra depth for about half of the show. The films played to accompany each song on the rear screen were easily the best I’ve ever seen. Oh, and Neil did three drum solos this time (even though the set list doesn’t mention this).
The only hiccup in the whole evening was the female Hitler – so that would be a Hitlerette – who told me I wasn’t allowed to use “one of those cameras” about half way through. But I went up to one of the stewards (who’d seen her do it) and explained that it was a fixed-lens camera, and he said to carry on. Which I did.
Next stop, London’s O2 Friday. It seems I’m not the only one doing the Grand Tour of all UK shows again. I met up with someone I’d first met on the Time Machine Tour a couple of years ago, and he’s doing the same thing this time. And it turned out the couple in front of us were also doing it.
NOTE: This article was written in August 2012, but it’s worth updating it as a result of hits received by the blog.
I originally wrote about this over two years ago, then revisited it around this time last year (what you are reading is the article from that time, updated). But the topic does keep coming back… like a bad smell.
At that time – two years ago, remember – the DSA had updated its Internal Guidance Document (DT1) to say:
To ensure uniformity, when conducting car or vocational tests and ADI qualifying examinations, only assess the candidate’s ability to control the vehicle and do not consider it as a fault if, for example, they do not hold the steering wheel at ten to two or quarter to three or if they cross their hands when turning the steering wheel. The assessment should be based on whether the steering is smooth, safe and under control.
The part in bold was the main change/addition. In previous versions of the document it had said nothing at all about the steering – and examiners round my way didn’t fail people for “crossing their hands”. All the DSA was doing was making sure that none of its examiners made the mistake of marking this as fault (hence the comment about “[ensuring] uniformity”. Reading between the lines, I would imagine that there had been complaints about one or two examiners faulting candidates for steering technique when they shouldn’t have been marking it at all.
The thing is, as long as steering is under control it doesn’t matter how a pupil does it. They can steer with one hand, with their palm, use hand over hand… it doesn’t matter. And it has not mattered – not officially, anyway – for a very long time. The change to DT1 was a clarification, not a major change in policy.
You see, a lot of ADIs and PDIs get hung up on this “crossing your hands” business. The previous version of Driving: The Essential Skills (TES) said:
Turning – When turning the steering wheel, avoid crossing your hands. Except at low speeds, this can reduce your control and can cause an accident. Feed the rim of the steering wheel through your hands. Vary your hand movements according to the amount of lock you want.
This is called the pull-push technique.
Notice the part about “at low speeds”. It advised you to avoid crossing your hands except at low speeds. It didn’t say that you must/must not steer in a specific way, under all circumstances. There is a huge difference in control when whipping the steering round quickly as you’re turning into a road at 20-30mph (almost on two wheels) compared with taking it at 5-10mph.
The only “crossing hands” that is definitely wrong – it always has been, and it remains so – is the one where pupils grip the steering wheel tightly and turn from their shoulders, keeping their hands in a fixed place on the steering wheel. This nearly always results in insufficient lock to get round the corner.
The latest version of TES merely says:
- place your hands on the steering wheel in a position that’s comfortable and which gives you full control
- keep your movements steady and smooth
- turn the steering wheel to turn a corner at the correct time
Personally, I rue the loss of the previous advice, because this latest approach amounts to dumbing down, and far too many people are ready to accept it as evidence that pull-push was bad, when it most definitely wasn’t. The pull-push technique certainly isn’t the only way to steer, and people who can already drive shouldn’t be forced to use it (and TES never said otherwise). But for normal beginners who have not yet developed any suitable technique (or people who are simply a danger on the roads doing it their own chavvy way) it should definitely be a starting point for them because it requires coordination.
A good analogy would be with a professional footballer. He can play “keepy up” for hours on end because it is an important basic control skill – but you will rarely see him do it on the field (unless he’s showing off). He simply applies the skill to bigger things. Well, it’s the same with steering, and being able to use pull-push represents an important skill that drivers should possess.
Once beginners can do pull-push they can steer easily without running out of space on bends and corners. They are also in control such that over steering into the kerb is less of an issue. You see, that’s a major drawback to hand-over-hand steering during normal driving for beginners, as they can easily over steer, and they can sometimes do it so dramatically that the time the instructor has to react is very short.
I quite often get people who can already drive and who have developed chav-like habits – arm on the window sill, hand on the gear stick, seat almost in the lying down position, one-handed steering, and so on. But I decide myself whether any of their habits are a genuine problem, and if not I don’t try to change them (though I do wind them up over it). None of those chavvy habits I mentioned is individually a problem. But it can sometimes lead to situations which wouldn’t otherwise happen, and which ARE problems. For example, occasionally driving with one hand on the gear stick is not really an issue that someone should automatically fail their test over. However, if they suddenly had to take evasive action and not having two hands on the wheel at that moment compromised their reaction, then it could easily create a fail situation on test (and obviously, be dangerous in real life).
My biggest concern is that someone without the necessary number of brain cells could interpret TES new wording as a mandate for actually teaching chavvy habits from the outset just because “it’s easier” for their little darlings. You already get ADIs who are under the mistaken impression that it’s “coaching” to let people pick up bad habits. If someone hasn’t got any habits yet, don’t let them develop bad ones where you could force good ones on them.
Incidentally, when someone pull-pushes the steering in one direction, the natural return action frequently involves push-pull. They’re not two separate methods like some people seem to believe.
Why shouldn’t I turn (dry steer) the wheel when the car isn’t moving?
Moving the wheel when the car is stationary is called “dry steering”. The examiners do not mark you on it, so it doesn’t matter if you do it or not during your test. However, it is extremely bad practice for two important reasons:
- it can damage your tyres
- it can damage your steering mechanism
Normally, your tyres are rolling as you turn the steering wheel. When you dry steer, they are scrunched over whatever they’re sitting on top of. Gravel, glass, nails, all kinds of rubbish. You’ll get smart arses telling you they’ve never come across an example of dry steering causing damage, but the reality is that every time someone gets a puncture or has to replace a worn out tyre, dry steering will have definitely contributed to a greater or lesser extent. It’s just part of wear and tear – but the more you do it, the greater the effect it will have on that wear and tear.
Also, when you dry steer you can feel the extra resistance on the steering wheel (and even on newer cars with advanced power steering, just because you can’t feel it much doesn’t mean the same stresses aren’t being absorbed somewhere within the mechanical system). This resistance means additional wear on the steering mechanism.
Replacing burst tyres or fixing worn out steering is likely to cost you a lot of money.
Except in certain circumstances (i.e. pupils who have a genuine problem – and I’ve come across just one out of the hundreds I’ve taught), dry steering is an excuse for laziness and bad driving practices. Even if you decide to let someone get away with it on lessons, it will still increase the wear and tear on whatever car they end up driving, so it is generally something you want to avoid.
I can’t master “pull-push” steering
If you can steer safely and in control, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Even using the palm of one hand and driving like the chavs do is perfectly acceptable… as long as you’re in control.
However, if you are a beginner and you don’t already have a suitable way of steering, pull-push is a good technique to master. As I said above, just like playing “keepy-up” teaches important basic footballing skills even if the actual routine is rarely used on the field, so being able to do pull-push steering provides skills that you can adapt to your own style.
You can easily practice it at home using a book or dinner plate. And just like those Chinese puzzles I mentioned in a follow-up article , once you get it you won’t have any more problems.
If you want to steer left, move your left hand to the top of the wheel (or dinner plate), grip, and pull the wheel down until your hand is at the bottom. Move your right hand to the bottom, grip, let go with your left hand, then push the wheel/plate up. To continue steering, move your left hand to the top again, change grip, and repeat – although you’ll probably have full-lock on before you complete the third movement.
To steer right, start by moving your right hand to the top of the wheel and pull down, etc.
Using pull-push means you always have more steering available to you. Using big turns is good for getting full-lock quickly, but you can use small shuffles for more precise steering as needed.
Get the dinner plate out and make sure you can do it.
How do you teach a pupil to steer properly?
First of all, it isn’t rocket science, so don’t let your pupils think it is. Secondly, remember that as long as they are in control it doesn’t matter how they steer. Having said that, if they have not driven properly before it is a good idea to teach them how to use the pull-push method first, and let them develop their own style from there. Pull-push requires fundamental skills that they can use in their own style, and not teaching it is likely to create problems for them, even if it means the ADI can avoid something they don’t know how to teach properly.
Once they know the principle of steering, the next step is putting it into practice. For most new drivers that’s not a problem and just getting out on the road is enough for them to hone their skills. However, I find that about 20% of new drivers need a bit of extra help with knowing how much to steer and when. What I do is get them into an empty car park which is big enough to drive around in a figure of eight pattern.
We start off by just doing the figure of eight, with me telling them when to get full lock on the steering wheel. In fact, this is sometimes good even when initially briefing them on pull-push – they can try it out without having to worry about other road users, and it gives the instructor a chance to get them into the habit early and “crack” the Chinese Puzzle I referred to above.
The next step is to add some accuracy and control. So I will tell them to aim for a certain door, lamp, sign, or other feature as we drive in our figure of eight pattern. They quickly learn when to steer so as not to overshoot – and how much to steer to avoid having to correct themselves. It is important to get them to turn their heads so they can anticipate the target and straighten up in time, rather than react to it only when it appears directly in front of them.
With most people, 10 minutes of this sorts out any issues they may have had. A few need a bit more practice, perhaps spread over several lessons.
I have to laugh. I noticed on a forum someone asking how they can get out of their agreed contract with a national driving school franchise due to “lack of work”. But that isn’t the funny part.
Someone has posted in reply that the franchise in question isn’t a “real” one, and that a “real” one would give you “exclusive rights to the brand and pupils within a dedicated area”. This is total crap!
By way of explanation, take my favourite example – McDonalds. When you take out a franchise with them (all outlets are franchises, and cost a lot of money up front) you do not have exclusive rights to the brand. You do not have exclusive rights to the customers (whatever area they’re in). You have to sell exactly what McDonalds tells you to sell, how they want you to sell it, and the customers can go wherever the bloody hell they please (which I do frequently if there’s a queue or only one zit face serving whilst trying to assemble 10 Happy Meals at the same time). McDonalds – whether it be the franchisor or franchisee – has no rights over me whatsoever. But it is absolutely a “real” franchise.
Indeed, I have complained to McDonalds Head Office before about appalling customer service at certain branches and they’ve told me that it isn’t what they expect from their franchisees and that they’ll deal with it. And they have dealt with it. Non-approved practices screw up the brand image, and it is McDonalds (the franchisor) who owns the brand – not the franchisee.
If a franchisor decides that any given area can stand another franchised outlet – and it is they who have the resources to decide, and they who also lose out if they’re wrong – then it has every right to grant such a franchise. It is inordinately difficult for a franchisee to prove that perceived damage to their business was caused by the additional franchise – and not by the plethora of competitors who are springing up all the time. In the case of driving instruction and national brands, the brand is easily outnumbered by independent ADIs who are not affiliated to any multi-car school. However, most “big brands” aim to chip away at that, and the way to do it is to advertise like no independent could ever dream of, and increase the number of cars to handle the extra pupils which result. It’s what is known as “business”.
I also note that the person who complained about the lack of work appears to be turning 10 or more hours a week – which for someone who has only been going 4 months in the current economic climate (and in East London) is pretty damned good. If he’d gone as an independent straight away then he might now have been paying a third less for his car, but with less – possibly much less – than half of the work he currently has. You don’t need to be a genius to see which option is the better gamble as a start up instructor in an instructor-heavy location.
By definition, franchising is the use of another company’s successful business model. Further definitions include:
…an authorization granted by a government or company to an individual or group enabling them to carry out specified commercial activities, for example acting as an agent for a company’s products.
A franchise holder, on the other hand, is defined:
It isn’t rocket science. But it would appear that even walking and chewing gum at the same time seems like rocket science to some people.
The “real” franchise imagined by the ADIs who have responded to the topic is completely imaginary, and the stuff of very biased minds. These nonsense replies are another example of ADIs with huge chips on their shoulders. Even the guy who asked the original question is clearly going to become one of them, given the fact that he is unhappy his franchise didn’t supply him with 300 hours of work within two days of signing up!
And so the cycle continues.
As an aside, although the comment has now disappeared, someone else chimed in on the same topic and dismissed all franchises as spawn of the devil, declaring that people should join a small local outfit like he did “instead”! Just another example of someone who hasn’t got a clue what they’re talking about (if it isn’t clear, a small local outfit is still a franchise).
I’ve just had a sudden rush on this search term, including one with “AA” in it. There is no specific “AA” method – instructors all teach it their own way, and good ones will use different methods for different pupils and different cars. I touched on the subject a while back, but not in great detail.
Having said that, there isn’t much to it and it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that if you lumped all the methods together you wouldn’t have more than a handful at best. ll the examiner is looking for is a safe controlled turn, and he or she doesn’t care how it is done beyond that. They aren’t looking for a specific method.
The first thing you need to do is pull up about ½ metre away from the kerb, and about 2-3 car lengths past the side road so that you can see the straight part of the kerb in the mirror, as shown in the diagram. You can also look for the straight part of the kerb out of your back window, but this depends on the car – in some, you can’t see the kerb line.
Make sure that you check your mirrors for following traffic as you move in and indicate if necessary. And you must also look into the side road for any obstructions as you drive past. If you don’t do either of those things you’re probably going to get a driver fault for it – but if someone is following you and you don’t signal to pull over you could easily end up with a serious fault. You need to be driving reasonably slowly to be able to do all this in a controlled manner, so take your time.
Get the car into reverse so that people know what you intend to do (i.e. your reversing lights will come on). Check all around, and if it’s safe, start to reverse back until you get to the turning point – that’s where the gap between car and kerb begins to get wider (use your nearside mirror for this). Keep a look out for cars and pedestrians while you’re moving, and deal with them appropriately. Stop at the point of turn – you don’t have to use the handbrake, but it can help prevent you rolling if you’re on a slope.
Before you turn the wheel you MUST check all around. The front of the car will swing out, so you will cause problems if you start moving and something is coming. Not checking properly before you turn is almost certainly a serious fault (unless the examiner is in a generous mood).
If it’s clear you can start to turn.
How you do this is up to you – some people are naturals and can steer the car smoothly, keeping the kerb in the same position either in the nearside mirror, or out of the nearside rear windows (it depends on the car, as I have already mentioned). However, other learners will have more of a problem.
Some people seem to be mentally pre-programmed to steer the opposite way to where they should when they reverse, and it helps if they stop frequently – at least while it is new to them – to work out which way to steer, instead of just doing what their brain tells them in the heat of the moment. I’ve written a separate article on what causes this problem in some pupils.
The golden rule is to steer in the direction you want the back of the car to go (which is exactly the same way you’d steer going forward).
Some people will steer too much or too little, and they have to learn to make small adjustments and see what effect this has on their position. Others will be unable to hold the steering wheel still, even when there’s no need to adjust anything (that one drives me mad). A way of managing all of this is to put, say, one full turn on to begin with, then adjust the steering by fixed ¼ turns depending on which way the kerb is moving in the mirror or out of the window. It’s basically steer-check-steer-check-steer-and so on. It may even help if the ¼ turns are done whilst stationary with some pupils. It’s up to the ADI to work out what’s best in each case (if you’re a learner who is reading this, make sure you choose the best method for you). Some pupils have a problem with the concept of a “¼ turn” (or any other fraction), for example, but in other cases a rigid approach like this can work very well.
Remember that you MUST keep checking for pedestrians and other traffic throughout the turn, and deal with it as necessary. Don’t reverse directly towards anything which is close to you and moving. Stop and make sure it is safe to continue.
If someone flashes their lights at you to continue, don’t assume they are going to sit there all day waiting for you. Keep an aye on them because they will probably go past you as soon as you move a little further out of their way (and they’re not doing anything wrong if they do go past). The examiner will quite probably consider that you are at fault if you don’t see them start to move, and depending on the actual situation that could mean a serious fault (and, therefore, a fail).
Once you’re around the corner, make sure you’re parallel with the kerb using your nearside mirror and/or by looking out the back window, then straighten your wheels. Keep checking for traffic and pedestrians, and correct your angle if necessary with small adjustments – it doesn’t need full lock, just small corrections (usually ¼ turns again).
Go about 2-3 car lengths back and stop (or stop if the examiner says he’s seen enough – they often do that if they’re happy).
And that’s it. It sounds complicated when you write it down – and you’ve got to remember that I’ve lumped several methods together in my explanation – but there isn’t much to it at all.
Bear in mind that when I talk about serious faults I can’t be certain what the examiner on your test is going to decide. I can only go on my own experiences. The main thing to remember is that not checking for other cars and pedestrians increases the risk of failure dramatically, so learn to do it properly.
The more often you do it right the sooner it becomes habit – and the less likely it is to go wrong on your test.
Remember: drive slowly and stop often. You ARE allowed to stop. At each of these short pauses work out what you’re going to do next, and don’t just steer for the sake of it. Going too fast or not stopping just forces your brain to go into autopilot, and that can make you panic and do it wrong.
At what point do I turn?
It doesn’t really matter. All you’ve got to do is follow the kerb around, and as long as you do that you’re on the right path. A better question is “when SHOULDN’T I turn?” – to which the answer would be not when you would hit the kerb or move too far away from it.
Generally, you want to start turning just as the kerb starts to curve away from the car, but the exact position isn’t critical. You can tell when this point is reached by looking in your nearside mirror.
I suspect this question arises when a very specific method being taught and the learner doesn’t understand exactly what they are doing. In that case, you must talk to your instructor and get them to explain.
How much should I turn the wheel when reversing around a corner?
First of all, it depends on the corner – some are much tighter than others. But the real trick is to think how much you steer when you go around one going forwards. It’s almost exactly the same going backwards (and it’s in the same direction, as well).
Let’s say that in your car (that makes a difference, too – if you don’t have power steering then you’ll have to steer more than in one that does) you need between a half and one full turn to get round most corners when driving forwards. So, when you’re reversing around one, start with a similar amount of steering when you get to the point of turn, and then adjust it with small amounts on and off to keep the kerb a suitable distance away from the car.
Which way should I steer?
I’ve found that up to 80% of people are somehow pre-programmed to steer the wrong way when they try to turn the car when reversing. In most cases, it’s got something to do with the direction the front of the car moves in when you steer – turn the wheel left, and the front of the car goes to the right – and their brains try to make sense of that and get muddled.
The secret is to remember that when you are reversing, it is the BACK of the car that you’re steering and not the front. So stop often and turn your head around to think about where you want to back end to go – closer to or further away from the kerb. The worst thing you can do is keep moving, because that will create panic and your brain will just revert back to what it thinks it should do, which is nearly always wrong (plus, you’re likely to lift your foot off the clutch even more and the whole thing escalates out of control).
Remember: to get closer to the kerb, steer towards it. To move away from it, steer away.
Another source of confusion is the mirror, and what it is telling you (if you use the mirror, of course). Some people are conditioned to believe that if something is coming towards the car in the mirror, then it is actually going further away. Mirrors don’t make everything the opposite of the real world – the only thing that IS the opposite is the line symmetry (hold up your left hand in the mirror, and the symmetry of the reflection changes into a right hand; but point to the left with your hand – either hand – and the reflection also points to the left).
How far away from the kerb should I be?
Or “how much gap am I allowed?” – as someone used to find the blog. Quite simply, as long as you don’t touch the kerb and don’t go too wide, you’ve nothing to worry about. But how far is “too wide”?
It’s the examiner who decides, but the way I teach my pupils is to tell them that anywhere up to ½ metre is perfect (that’s about the width of a normal drain grating in the gutter), up to ¾ metre is pushing it a bit (but still OK), and anything above that – well, you’d better keep your fingers crossed if it happens on your test. Out on lessons, if I think they’re a bit wide then I say so. No point pretending everything is hunky-dory when it isn’t.
I hear stories of examiners who are happy as long as you stay on your side of the road and don’t go beyond the half way point (on some wide roads, I’d consider that way too far out). If you go that wide on your test, start praying. In the meantime, learn to do it properly.
What happens if I touch the kerb?
If you brush the kerb, that isn’t an automatic fail in itself – or it shouldn’t be (according to the examiners’ own internal reference document). Some examiners seem to be harsher than others considering all the tales I hear, so the best thing is to avoid touching the kerb altogether – but keep your fingers crossed if you do.
If you ride up on to the kerb, that’s almost certainly a fail – but don’t assume anything! Again, from tales I hear, a very good drive otherwise can affect how other faults are regarded, and people apparently get away with riding over kerbs on normal turns if the drive is otherwise good. Indeed, one of my pupils passed this year, even though she rode up the edge of a kerb when emerging from a junction (the examiner mentioned that in the debrief).
The main thing is not to self-assess your driving on test. Don’t decide that something you’ve done is “a fail”. People who do are usually wrong, and in any case it isn’t their decision. It’s the examiner’s.
Is it OK to keep stopping?
Yes, yes, yes, YES! Even if stopping means you take a bit longer to do it, that is much better than screwing it up completely.
You CAN fail for taking too long over it, and the judgement over what constitutes “too long” lies with the examiner and the situation at the time, but you would have to be ridiculously slow to fail outright for this. I’ve had a handful of pupils who have only ever managed to master this manoeuvre to the barest minimum of level acceptability, and on their tests they will move half a car length, stop, look around, move another half a car length, and so on. They do not fail for it if they do it reasonably promptly and safely. I’ve never had anyone fail for taking too long – although once in a debrief the examiner said to a pupil “you don’t need to keep putting the handbrake on every time you stop” (but no fault was recorded).
In any case, trying to do it as a continuous single movement is more than likely going to lead to safety check/observation errors if you get it wrong and miss something. So, stop and check properly.
You should also remember that taking 10 minutes to do it on a lesson as part of a learning process is NOT a fault, especially if you’re having trouble with it. After all, if you want to learn to juggle, you will not start out doing it as fast as those who can already do it! You’ll start slow, and build up from there without even noticing you’re getting faster.
It’s the same with learning any driving manoeuvre. Start out slow – a suitable speed will come naturally.
What if I don’t have power steering?
It doesn’t matter. You need to steer enough – and the amount going in reverse will be the virtually the same as the amount when you go forwards around the same corner.
My last instructor told me to look out of the back (or side) window to follow the kerb
Welcome to the real world!
In my car – and many others – the rear sill is too high for this to work, and people who have been taught that way mess it up completely when they try with me. I teach people a method that will work in ANY car. And that involves using your nearside mirror to watch the kerb (but maintaining all round checks).
I can’t see the “point of turn”
Yes you can! As I mentioned above, welcome to the real world.
Make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly for normal driving and you’ll be able to see the point of turn in those. You don’t need to angle them down especially or anything.
I wish I could catch the twats responsible for this. It happened in my neck of the woods, near Gotham in Nottinghamshire.
A three week old lamb has had its ears cut of with what appeared to be either a knife or scissors. It was subsequently rejected by its mother and is having to be hand-reared.
There’s almost no chance of the perpetrators being caught – though my suggestion would be that if the police stopped every Corsa driver under 25 in the area who was behaving like a prat they’d probably have them. I’m sure that will upset a lot of people, but that’s tough. It’s half joking, half serious.
It’s all down to attitude and morals – which seem to be running down the plug hole by the day in this country. Therefore, by pulling over anyone with an attitude problem in one area you’re likely to snag offenders from other areas – including pond scum like those guilty of this affair.
This came in on the news feeder. Richard Crookes, 19, was more than twice the legal limit, wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and had never taken a driving lesson in his life.
He crashed the black Renault Clio he was driving (so add “no insurance” and any number of other related offences to the list) and was killed. His passenger sustained injuries but recovered. Evidence from the passenger suggests speeding was also involved:
“It was a terrifying journey and I asked him to stop and slow down,” he told the inquest.
His mother confirmed at the inquest that he didn’t even have a provisional driving licence!
Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Paul Kelly said: “The journey was uninsured and Richard Crookes was unfit to drive due to the alcohol consumed.
“He drove at excess speed and lost control, leaving the side of the A161.
“Richard Crookes was not wearing a seatbelt and sustained injuries not sustainable with life.
“It is a very sad and tragic waste of a young life.”
My view is less sympathetic. It was lucky he didn’t kill anyone else. Fortunately, there’s now no chance of him ever doing so. Sometimes, Higher Justice turns up an ace.
As I mentioned in that recent Rush article, I have bought a new camera. I’d done my research and I knew exactly which one I wanted – the Panasonic Lumix FZ200. But it wasn’t cheap. Even now, Amazon sells it for £400, but when I first started looking it was anywhere between £400-£500 (indeed, currently John Lewis sells it for £440, Panasonic for £445, and Jessops for £410).
While I was researching, one supplier which came up again and again was SLRHut. Their price was £320.
To cut a long story short, I nearly didn’t buy from them. When I looked them up, they appeared across various photography forums as being “dodgy” and “a scam”. One Wise One – it looks like photographers are worse than driving instructors when it comes to believing their own fabricated hype – said “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. However, between the lines it was clear that this was just opinion based on that deluded self-belief, and had nothing at all to do with concrete facts.
So, I ordered from SLRHut late Tuesday (their lines are open until 11pm). The product was shipped within 24 hours from the USA. It arrived with DHL in the UK in the early hours of Saturday morning. There was then a frustrating wait for nearly three days over the weekend (and Bank Holiday Monday) while it sat with DHL, who don’t deliver weekends or holidays. It arrived Tuesday morning, less than a week after I’d ordered it. It would probably have arrived a few days sooner if I’d have ordered on a Thursday or Friday, with no Bank Holiday.
SLRHut has a UK office, but it does not supply products from there, and the UK people are apparently only involved with returns and warranties. It ships from the US, and all import duties are included in the price. Products are not “grey” imports and have a full worldwide warranty. They are supplied with UK plugs on the power adapters. Ordering is quick and easy.
Basically, ignore any crap you read elsewhere. Although I’m sure that SLRHut has exactly the same problems any other retailer does – and I mean the occasional order going pear-shaped for some reason – you have absolutely no worries outside of that. They’re definitely kosher.
Well, it’s been a long wait between the first announcement over a year ago and the Big Event itself. But the UK leg of Rush’s Clockwork Angels Tour is almost here at long last.
It’s been a nerve-wracking year worrying if my ticket agent would get me decent tickets, but he’s come up trumps once more (including the O2 one this time). I also came within a gnat’s whisker of front row seats and a meet’n’greet, but that’s another story.
I’ll be at all five of the shows once again – in London, Birmingham,Sheffield, Manchester, and Glasgow – and I can’t wait. But it’s less than a week to go now. And I’ve got a shiny new camera to try out, too.
I’ve got a rough idea of the set list, but apparently they’ve been changing it around for each of the different stages of the tour. So it’s a case of wait and see, really (which I have to say that I prefer).
A DVD of the tour is already planned, but a release date isn’t yet known (earlier reports of 21 May have proved to be incorrect).
The ASA has slammed Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd for the second time in less than 6 months. You may remember I reported on another of their adjudications in January this year. That last one was following deliberate attempts to look exactly like the old DirectGov booking site.
This time they have been pulled up over claims that they are “the fastest” and “the easiest” way to book your test online. Both claims were total bollocks even before ASA got on to the case. This time, Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd appears not even to have responded to the ASA to try and defend themselves, and ASA has concluded the same as me – that the claims are total bollocks (though not in those same words, of course).
I have a very low opinion of these scam artists. The only reason they get away with it is because English Law doesn’t have any balls, but plenty of loopholes for these bottom feeders to play with. They should not be doing this at all. It doesn’t matter that you include in your small print all sorts of disclaimers when you are purposely trying to mislead people with the big print and make them spend more than they need to by pretending you’re something you’re not.
Recently, two of my pupils have got caught in the web. Neither was aware that they were not booking directly with the DSA – and that’s where my argument comes into play. Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd knows full well that most people will fall into this category, and their previous deliberate attempts to mimic the DSA’s own website prove that beyond doubt. Let’s face facts here: no one in their right mind is going to pay £82 when they could be paying £62 with the DSA.
One pupil (around Christmas) had booked her test, and she phoned me to say that they’d told her they would get back to her when the test was booked! Alarm bells went off, and I immediately asked how much she’d paid. When she told me (£20 more than the DSA price) I informed her she had used a scam site. Fortunately, they’re not such big scammers that they won’t refund people’s money – they’d be shut down and prosecuted if they did that – and she got her money back and booked properly.
The second pupil tried to book her test a few weeks ago. She told me she couldn’t get online to book, as it wasn’t showing any free dates. Initially, I said the system must be down and to try the next day. But when she phoned me again because it was still not working properly, she added “and it’s more expensive than last time”. Again, alarm bells rang and it was confirmed she’d been sucked in by them.
These sorts of scammers deliberately engineer it so they come up in Google searches where they shouldn’t. And they have sponsored links in Google which means they guarantee themselves a prime place on any search to do with test booking. Even if you use “DSA” in your search, they still come up – indeed, adding “DSA” brings some of them higher up the normal search results, so it is clear what they are up to.
I should point out that anyone using Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd probably will get a test (I can’t comment on the others, though some will just take your money and run because they’re not even based in the UK). But people are unwittingly paying extra for something they didn’t want, ask for, or need, and they may get the run-around as a result. And that’s what makes it a scam.
It’s good to see that the DSA is using ASA to attack these scumbags.
Remember: to book your driving test, go to the DSA site. Do not use any other site.
A request from adiNews…
adiNEWS needs your help, and in return we are offering you the opportunity to WIN a brand new iPad with 3G! – compliments of the lovely people over at Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Centre.
The current series of feature articles in adiNEWS magazine focus on using the latest tablet and smartphone technology to help run a driving instructor business, from lesson plans and training aids, to admin and book keeping… but we think they can offer even more, and that’s where you come in…
Information Is Power!
We want to know ‘apps’ YOU use to make this possible. Whilst there are still only a few apps dedicated to driving instructors in particular, there are many others that can be used throughout your working day. So we want to know how many of you are harnessing the power of apps through your tablets and smartphones, whether you are operating your business using the latest technology and, if not, whether you are interested in doing so?
In return, we are very excited to announce that we shall be giving away this fantastic prize of a brand new iPad with 3G to one lucky entrant, no strings attached. All you have to be is an ADI or PDI and spend a minute of your time answering a few simple questions. We just want the facts and figures to understand where the industry is, where it wants to go in the digital revolution, and use the information to help everyone get more by unlocking this massive potential for their business.
Everyone’s A Winner!
Go to: http://www.delivr.com/22qsf, answer a few questions, and you are automatically entered into the prize draw to win a brand new iPad with 3G. That’s it!
You don’t have to be a subscriber, so tell all your ADI and PDI colleagues to log on too!
Whether it’s a new iPad, better information or better technology deals – you win!
T&C’s Apply, see www.adinews.co.uk/competitions for details. Entries close on the 23rd June. Winner to be announced with the survey results in the August edition of adiNEWS.
adiNEWS and Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Centre
So head on over there and see if you can win.