A Driving Instructor's Blog

DfT

StairsLast December (2017), the driving test was changed to include use of a satnav, and two of the harder manoeuvres were replaced with two that my cat could do. From June 2018, learners will – at long last – be allowed to take lessons on motorways (with an instructor, and not with mum, dad, or best mate Kyle/Kylie).

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a new pupil if they knew about the changes, and they came out with something about “graduated licences”. I pointed out that graduated licences (GLs) have been talked about for almost as long as learners being allowed on motorways has (30 years at least), and although they are a good idea, their introduction is not going to happen in the near future.

I picked up this month’s copy of Intelligent Instructor and saw that Northern Ireland is to introduce such a scheme, and DfT is going to monitor the success of this with a view to introducing a scheme for the rest of the UK. It is worth pointing out that the scheme in NI is set for launch “in 2019/20”. Allowing for a suitable monitoring period, followed by consultation, then the likely changes in the Law, any similar scheme in the UK is unlikely to be seen before 2025. And even that is if there’s a highly favourable following wind (i.e. the same government and no other unrelated problems rearing their heads).

For a start off, IAM is involved, and it is already opposed to night-time curfews – which would be one of the most obvious things to include in any GL system). Then there is some nonsense about post-test training involving parents, when the parents are some of the worst offenders out there. And Theresa May’s hold on power is tenuous at best, so she’s unlikely to risk bringing in anything that loses votes.

The learners-on-motorways saga picked up steam almost ten years ago, but it’s taken until now – with several government changes and other delays along the way – to come to anything. Now, we have Brexit hanging over us like a skip load of manure ready to fall.

Don’t hold your breath.

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A two-legged stoolThis email alert just came through from DfT. It’s about allowing learner drivers on motorways.

Let’s just take a time-out here before we get all excited. This precise subject has kicked off at least twice in the last 10 years, and each time it was put across as ‘definitely going to happen’. Changes to government killed it stone dead both times, just as it has the various other times it’s kicked off going back further still.

This current government is about as stable as a two-legged stool as a result of Brexit and Theresa May’s unbelievably bad appointments to both the Cabinet and other posts, and her obvious inability to see how ‘Brexit’ and ‘business as normal’ are mutually exclusive. It isn’t going to survive past one term at best, and even if it does it’s going to have a lot on its plate. This particular issue will be way down the list, and quite frankly – and disappointingly – I can see it sinking without trace just like it does every other time.

Having said that, I really hope that I’m wrong. Allowing learners on to motorways is massively overdue, and I would welcome it.

The proposals would mean that only ADIs in cars fitted with dual controls would be allowed to conduct motorway lessons. Roof boxes (advertising the school) would not be allowed, because they can (and do sometimes) blow off at speed. Motorway lessons would be ‘voluntary’ – I’m not 100% certain what that means, but it’s probably a get-out clause for people who don’t live anywhere near a motorway (and, unfortunately, those ADIs who – through every fault of their own – can’t afford the fuel for the additional miles a motorway lesson would entail, and who wouldn’t do them even if they could).

There is a consultation in that link I gave for people to add their own comments.

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I’ve just opened this month’s copy of Intelligent Instructor and one of the feature stories concerns the public consultation on proposed changes to the driving test.The driving test

One highlighted comment caught my eye. It comes from David Davies of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). He says:

No one gets killed making a three-point turn in a cul-de-sac

What an idiot! He – and all of his colleagues who are hell bent on feminising and dumbing down the driving test in order to get a higher pass rate – seem incapable of understanding that the skills needed to do a three-point turn (or turn in the road as it is officially known) are critical for avoiding situations where one does stand a higher risk of “being killed”.

To start with, attitude is the number one factor in most accidents, closely followed by inexperience. When 17-year old Wayne overshoots his turn for McDonalds at 1am on a Saturday night as he, Kyle, Jack, and Liam decide to go and stock up on some litter to strew all over the local retail park, he is going to want to turn around. I can assure you that if I was anywhere within a 2-mile radius of Wayne at that point, I would rather that he at least knew how to turn around properly – and that my life wasn’t being traded solely against his attitude.

Do you get that, David Davies? It’s the difference between some juvenile delinquent having the right skills and the wrong attitude versus him having no skills at all and the wrong attitude. Your job is to uphold the skills part-not to get rid of it so you can pretend you upped the test pass rate by not asking them to do something they find hard.

Removing manoeuvres from the existing driving test and replacing them with baby-exercises is going to lead to more deaths – if it has any discernible effect at all. It is certainly not going to cut deaths.

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I’ll believe it when I see it, but DfT has announced a “task force” to look into the problem of “pointless road signs”.One example of erroneous signage

I’m sorry, but they’ve not got the complete story. It isn’t just pointless signs, but also ones which are blatantly wrong – erected by incompetent people employed in sinecures at local councils.

In Nottingham, a good place to start when putting things right would be with the “Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing”. The sooner the clown who holds that position is put somewhere where she can do less damage, the better it would be for everyone.

I’ve already mentioned how she has been directly responsible for hundreds – if not thousands – of 20mph signs being erected in her quest for a blanket 20mph speed limit. But what she also failed to do was make sure the old 30mph signs were removed. The image above is one I took back in May this year, but there are numerous locations where there is the same problem. Most of them are still there. Furthermore, in changing 30mph limits to 20mph ones, the fact that there were already 20mph zones within those areas means that much of the signage is the wrong size.

I believe I am correct in saying that a large sign is legally required at the start of any given speed zone, and smaller repeater signs are used within that as reminders (unless it’s a 30mph zone, in which case the presence of street lighting is the “reminder”). In changing the 30mph signs to 20mph, whole areas now have larger 20mph signs INSIDE the new 20mph zones, which implies that the limit changes at that point. The inconsistent use of 20mph repeaters in the new zones means that motorists could easily be misled.

As an aside, I have been sent some raw data files which show the results of the public consultations on the 20mph speed limit. I won’t spoil it, but watch out for a separate article on that.

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