Well, at long last Nottinghamshire Police have begun to accept online submissions. If you have an example of bad driving and you caught it on dashcam, you can submit it here. Use the link for the Online Form (I stress that this is for Nottinghamshire – your own force will have its own system for submitting footage).
Make no mistake. If I catch someone behaving like a twat on my dashcam, they will get reported. I’ve been waiting for this for years!
I’ve submitted several so far over the last couple of months, and the police have responded by telling me they will take further action on all but one. They tell you what possible actions could be involved, but due to data protection they cannot tell you what that ends up being. But that’s no big deal.
I was rear-ended over the weekend. My pupil stopped at a Zebra for a pedestrian, and some twat rammed into us in a heavy 4×4. And she had a very young kid in the car – no more than a baby in the front passenger seat – and was obviously distracted. She’d not have stopped for the pedestrian, that’s for sure.
That one’s going through the insurance, but anything I see from behind that is even close to what happened will go to the Police. And if people get points or bans (or worse), so much the better.
Trust me on this. You need a dashcam. I know from experience – my own, and that of former pupils who have sought my advice – that if any halfwit ploughs into you they will try to make out it was your fault, even to the point of lying through their teeth. Even this one at the weekend is already trying to argue that we’d stopped short of the Zebra. Yeah, we did. About one and half car lengths short. And she still f**king smashed into us at full speed with a pedestrian about to walk out. With her kid in front with her.
This article was written over ten years ago! But it’s had a run of hits, so I’ve updated and expanded it.
Someone found the blog (during the last recession) on the search term “adi drive miles per year”. I was surprised that anyone should think that there is somehow a fixed figure, and that any sort of definite answer could be provided.
At one time, I would cover as many as almost 50,000 miles year on lessons (including travelling between them). During Covid, of course, it was close to zero. Your mileage is a combination of where you live, how wide an area you cover, and what you do on your lessons. For example, yesterday I took someone (qualified Ukrainian refugee) down the M1 to Leicester, back up the M1 and through Loughborough, then down some single-track roads and country lanes. Two hours of solid driving, and we covered about 60 miles. Other times, if we are simply brushing up on manoeuvres near someone’s test, we might only cover 5 miles. On average, though, I tend to do about 10-20 miles on lessons.
I knew for a fact – certainly when I wrote the original article – that some ADIs do a lot less than that all the time. I was also aware of some (far fewer) who did more. Using my figures, above, if every lesson was like yesterday, I’d rack up around 45,000 miles in a typical year. However, if I averaged 15 miles a lesson, it would be more like 22,000 miles.
As both an aside and an example, one of mine passed her test first time recently. She’d been referred to me by her friend, who is also one of my pupils. Both of them had been having issues with their previous instructor, and they felt ‘something was missing’.
The first thing wrong was that neither of them had driven in any of the areas the driving test could cover, and had simply remained very local in each case. Both had tests booked in the short term, and both had done at least 30 hours of lessons. They also had other issues – the one who passed was accustomed to finding the bite with the foot brake on, not using gas to move off, and checking her mirrors far too often.
After the second lesson, when I had to grab the wheel to avoid oncoming vehicles on a bend as she did the head-waggling routine across all three mirrors without actually seeing anything, I questioned her. She’d been told to check all her mirrors every three seconds! I pointed out she was looking in the mirrors almost as much as she was looking ahead, and if your eyes can’t see something in front of you, your brain isn’t going to tell you to avoid it. I explained that checking the mirrors according to an artificial and arbitrary schedule is a stupid thing to teach people, and you simply need to check your mirrors periodically (to remain aware) or when you want to genuinely see what is around you before you do something. Otherwise you mainly concentrate on what is happening in front of you. She agreed after seeing what had nearly happened.
I made it clear before the first lesson that if I didn’t think she could pass the test by the booked time we’d change it, which she also agreed to. Ironically, both she and her friend had chosen their original instructor because she was female (they are both Muslim). I made it clear to both of them I am Muslim-friendly, and that since Ramadan was approaching, if they had any issues with fasting and concentration then I was happy to arrange lessons accordingly.
A typical driving test covers between 8-20 miles based on accurate measurements I have taken. It follows that at least some driving lessons should cover that much – and more, particularly if you are covering motorways.
The bottom line is that the annual number of miles covered by ADIs is based on location, lesson quality and instructor competence, part time or full time, areas covered (or prepared to be covered), the current economic climate, and so on.
There is no set answer to this question. You do what is necessary for the pupil, and not what saves you the most money.
This is (eventually) a complete rewrite of the original article, which I will leave below under the dotted line until this latest saga is completed. Apologies for the bad language, but you’ll probably see why.
Day 1 – As of 4 April 2022, I have received notification that my ADI badge is due for renewal in 6 months time. The email from DVSA tells me what I need to do.
Essentially, I first have to apply for a Criminal Record Disclosure using an online link. I won’t detail the next steps just yet, since the fu*king link in the email to the website which issues the disclosures returns a 404 error (which means ‘Page not found’). And it does that from the GOV.UK website, too.
So at the moment, the first stage of renewing my licence is impossible to complete because First Advantage – the people issuing criminal disclosures this time around – have a ballsed up website.
I have emailed both DVSA and First Advantage to try and get it sorted. But hey, it’s not an important thing, is it? So why rush?
Day 2 – I got a reply from DVSA this morning (5 April) telling me First Advantage’s ‘systems were down’ yesterday. They gave me a phone number to ‘request an application pack’. A little later, First Advantage emailed me my PIN number, Org Name, and secret word with a link to begin registration. It worked this time, so no farting about with the Royal Mail and ‘application packs’ after all.
I’m going with my Passport, Driving Licence, and probably a bank statement (which I will have to go and get from my bank because I am paper free) as my verification documents. When I can find my passport, of course.
Remember what happened last time? My ‘valid from’ date on my licence had to be the date of my original test and not the start date of my current photocard. And my bank statement has to be less than three months old, but in the past, so I have to get it, then commence the application the next day.
Day 10-ish – I went to my bank a week ago and… they were shut early for ‘staff training’. When I got home, after spitting feathers for a while, I phoned the bank to request a paper copy of my statement. That arrived yesterday, and I applied for my ID check today at my local Post Office. Note that I said local Post Office.
Yes, unlike last time where there was only one office in Nottingham that did verification (the main one in the city centre that you can’t easily get to, and which is filled with people who look like rough sleepers with pushchairs), many smaller Post Offices now provide the service. And it turns out that unlike the main office, they are not intent on trying to reject your application for minor details such as a slightly faded printer line or anything. I used my pass date for my driving licence and explained what happened last time, and the whole process was completed in less time than it took each of the people in the queue before me (who still looked like rough sleepers, so I guess it’s a Post Office thing) to each post a small package.
Day 20-ish – I got an email from First Advantage telling me my application has now gone to the ‘next stage of processing’, which I think means the next stage after my initial application (indicating the ID check has been accepted).
Day 20-ish (a bit later) – I got an email from DVSA on 24 April advising me that my criminal record certificate has been accepted by the Registrar and I can remain on the Register until my current badge expires. I can apply for a new badge in the month the current one expires. So 1 October 2022 is in the diary and alarms are set.
I haven’t received my copy yet, but DVSA indicates it ‘may arrive after this email’.
Day 24-ish – My copy of my disclosure arrived this morning (28 April). So just to summarise: I have successfully completed my criminal record check application, and the result has been accepted by DVSA. All that remains is to do the renewal of my badge in October.
Watch this space – updates of the process to follow later in the year.
The certificate must be less than 6 months old, have been generated by GB Group, and be specifically for the purposes of DVSA registration. You cannot use a CRB/DBS* check generated by anyone else, or one that has been generated for a different purpose.
DVSA advises that you get your CRB/DBS* sorted as soon as you get the letter (which is 6 months before your badge runs out) as it can take up to 4 months for the police to finish their checks.
I’m sure that the usual crowd will find fault with this. But for the record, when I renewed about a year ago the process was easy and quick (with a minor photo glitch that DVSA bent over backwards to sort out for me). All I am interested in is renewing my badge – not trying to build some sort of early 20th century political career against DVSA. Quite simply, if you do what you’re supposed to do, WHEN your supposed to, everything is fine. But if you’re an idiot who insists on delaying, then whining about time scales… it serves you bloody well right!
* The Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) is now the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). I tend to use the term CRB when I’m talking to people, but it’s strictly a DBS check these days.
I originally wrote this back in 2010, but it gets a new raft of hits each year, usually around the start of Ramadan – which began at the weekend.
I had a pupil on test a while back who failed, and she mentioned that Ramadan had started as I drove her home. She insisted that she felt OK, but I couldn’t help wonder if it might have had some effect on her concentration otherwise she wouldn’t have brought it up.
Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. During it, participants abstain from eating and drinking between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Technically, those fasting are not even supposed to drink water (there are exceptions for pregnant women or those with specific illnesses), and some participants take it more literally than others. At least one reader has had concerns that Ramadan has affected their driving, and in 2016 it was unusually long at 32 days. In 2017, it ran from 26 May to 24 June, and in 2018 it spanned 17 May to 15 June. In 2019, it runs from 5 May until 4 June. It’s pretty much a full month anyway.
Some years ago, I worked in Pakistan – in Karachi – for a short time, and was there during Ramadan. Some people ate during the day, but very little, and some fasted properly. But in the main, whether they fasted or not, they just got on with things and worked normally. After sunset, though, the street vendors came out and it was scoff-out time (I have vivid memories of the sights and smells when I went to see Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s tomb one evening).
At the other end of the spectrum, when I worked in the rat race over here, Ramadan and other such religious festivals were used by some (not all, I must add) simply to avoid work. I remember some of my shop floor staff trying it on, and although we knew that they were doing so (having a smoke outside when you’re supposed to be praying is a bit of a giveaway), the employment and discrimination laws in this country pretty much tie the employer’s hands.
I used to have the (bad) habit of getting up at 8am or earlier, drinking only a cup of tea, not eating anything until I finished work in the late evening, then pigging out on kebabs or curries. Occasionally, during the day, my blood sugar would get so low that I’d crave something to eat there and then – at which point I could easily put away four Mars Bars and drink a litre of Lucozade! Someone who is very slight would probably not be able to get through the day without being affected at least partially – and this must also apply to those fasting during Ramadan.
If you are teaching Muslim pupils it’s worth discussing the subject with them – and just be open about it: they don’t mind talking about their religion (it’s people who think they do who have the problems). I’ve had several pupils in the past who were suffering during fasting, and in several cases we postponed lessons until it was over. Indeed, in 2019, I have a pupil who is very nervous and jumpy in the car, and we were both worried Ramadan might affect her. So we have agreed to do her lessons later in the evening (that was my idea), and although I will admit I thought sunset was a little earlier than it really is when I suggested it, we’re doing lessons at 9.30pm once a week so she can keep driving.
Irrespective of the reason for fasting, not eating could affect both lessons and driving tests because concentration could be impaired by low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). This would apply to anyone who hasn’t eaten properly (remember that it could also be due to an underlying health problem, like diabetes, so I’d advise anyone who is experiencing such symptoms to check with their GP). Not being able to concentrate on driving during lessons is a waste of the pupil’s money whether it’s due to a cold, hay fever… or fasting.
Advice I’d give to anyone fasting during Ramadan is to take lessons or tests in the morning or late evening (if your instructor will do it), and to eat properly when not fasting the night before. It also makes sense that anyone who isn’t fasting eats and sleeps properly, otherwise their lessons (or tests) could also be affected. In extreme cases, just put the lessons on hold until Ramadan is over.
As for the question about whether they should be driving or not, I think you need to be realistic. I’d say that 99% of white, non-Muslim UK drivers drive when they’re not feeling 100%, and Ramadan hardly turns most participants into hospital cases. I can’t see any automatic reason why people who are fasting for Ramadan shouldn’t drive.
Can I take my test during Ramadan?
Of course you can. However, you should consider how fasting affects you and your concentration. It might be better to plan ahead and avoid booking a test during Ramadan altogether. Alternatively, try to book an early test at a time just after you have eaten – or rather, before you start to get hungry.
Fasting during Ramadan affects my driving to work
Honestly, someone found the blog on that search term! The answer is simple.
If you are having problems, either don’t drive or don’t fast. What other answer did you expect? Some Magic Pill that makes it all OK? If you don’t feel well, don’t drive. And that applies whether you’re ill, drunk, menstruating, or fasting. It’s just common sense.
I first published this in 2019. At that time, ADIs were not on the list of accepted professions for signing passport applications. I contacted the Passport Office and their precise words were:
…a driving instructor can be considered a suitable countersignature not because they are a driving instructor, but if they would be considered the owner/manager of a limited or VAT registered company.
If they would not be registered in this way we cannot guarantee they would be accepted by the processing team.
Driving instructors could not countersign passport applications according to the Passport Office. Anyone getting away with it could easily not have, since ADIs were not officially acceptable as countersignatories.
It seems that acceptance of the countersignatory is discretionary, and ADIs apparently have a bit of a positive bias applied to them when this discretion is being exercised by the Passport Office. However, they are still not on the official outward-facing acceptance list.
Although this official document is dated from mid-2021, the size of it suggests that it has been around in some form or another for considerably longer. That would explain why I – along with others – have gotten away with countersigning passport applications in the past.
The bottom line is that ADIs are still not on the public list of accepted professions. However, the Passport Office can use its own discretion if the countersignatory is an ADI. It can also apply discretion if the countersignatory has known the applicant for less than two years. Most ADIs would require two discretionary passes here.
Technically, Driving instructors cannot officially sign off passport applications according to the public list of recognised professions – but they might be accepted if they do, since they are mentioned on the internal discretionary list. However, in applying discretion, I am sure the Passport Office might see a newly-qualified ADI in a different light to a more experienced one were they to check.
I sign them and no one says anything
Officially, you are not authorised to sign passport applications. It would appear the Passport Office is applying its discretion.
No one has ever questioned it
If they did, your signature could be rejected. The Passport Office is applying its discretion – which it won’t apply to everyone in the same way.
ADIs are “teachers”
No we are not. A teacher is someone who is a member of the teaching profession, and who specifically does that job day in, day out in a school or college. A driving instructor is absolutely not classified as a teacher in the professional and official sense the word is meant. Like it or not, a driving instructor is not one of the official recognised professions.
So is it illegal to sign them?
No – but it’d be bloody interesting to see what happened if someone you’ve only known for a couple of weeks, and whose passport was obtained with your endorsement, suddenly turned up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and they wanted to know how he or she got it. But it isn’t illegal to sign them off. You’re just not officially authorised to do so – but the Passport Office uses its own discretion to decide whether to accept you.
But I’ve been contacted previously to verify that I signed
That’s the Passport Office applying its discretion. If you read the SOP I linked to in the article, you can see that they have to chase the countersignatory in some cases to verify their identity and their knowledge of the applicant. In all honesty, being contacted is closer to not being accepted than you realise – they wouldn’t be checking otherwise.
The Passport Office told me I could sign as an ADI
I’d be surprised if that’s precisely what they said, because it is wrong. ADIs are not on the accepted list of professions, but they are on the list of discretionary professions used internally by the Passport Office.
Can ADIs sign passport applications?
The official public answer is no. However, the Passport Office can apply discretion and might (and quite possibly, often does) accept an ADI as a countersignatory.
Just bear in mind that the countersignatory also needs to have known the applicant for at least two years. Internally, this can also be shortened at the Passport Office’s discretion, but it means most ADIs will be asking for two lots of discretion, since most will not have known the applicant for two years. Indeed, the internal SOP refers to one year – and most ADIs will not have known most pupils for even that long.