Intensive Driving Courses & Driving Lessons: Compare Prices, Find Instructors and More

You are on a life changing journey. Learning how to drive. Exciting, but some might also be a bit intimidated… After all, starting driving lessons, maybe choosing an intensive driving course, finding a driving instructor or driving school, are not the kind of things that you do every day.

In fact most people probably only want to take driving lessons just once in their entire lives. But if they make a bad choice of driving school they may have to do lessons over and over again.

And given the statistics that over 50% of people fail their driving test it's obviously very easy to make a bad choice. Now that you know that, here are....

3 reasons why you shouldn't choose Driving Test Pro

  1. If you are looking for a driving instructor with the cheapest hourly rate, we’re not for you
  2. If you don’t mind taught by an inexperienced or badly trained instructor, we’re not for you
  3. If you want lessons without knowing how we work, once again, we’re not for you

If you’re still here, that’s great. Let’s see how we can help.

The problem until now has been that there’s very little easily available expert information to help you to decide which driving instructor to choose. Which is where we at Driving Test Pro come in.

On this page we have the most comprehensive guide to learning the skills that you need to pass the driving test. These skills will also serve you well once you’re out on your own. But before you go to the skills section, we’ve some little known information that could help you save hundreds of pounds.

That’s right. Reading for another few minutes could save you hundreds of pounds that you might otherwise simply throw away.

But before we tell you how, let’s quickly tell you a bit more about the site.

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Firstly, it's a work in progress, but what you’ll eventually find here are:

  • Great video lessons - prepare for and revise your driving lessons
  • A complete guide to the Driving Test - pass first time
  • Local driving instructor comparison - find the best one for you
  • All sorts of other weird and wonderful helpful information

However at the moment these aren't all available, because we're a small team and we've been too busy helping people in the real world.

Although what you do find will already help if

  • You’re looking for hourly driving lessons or an intensive driving course
  • You’re a complete novice, driving test standard or anywhere in between
  • You want to find the best driving instructor for you
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Contents

Click on the topics below for more information
Section 1 - What you should know about driving before you choose an instructor
Section 5 - The Theory and Hazard Perception tests
Section 8 - The SCAN method of skillfully dealing with any situation
Section 12 - Why most people aren't properly prepared for the driving test and how you can be
Section 13 - How the real test of your driving starts after you pass
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The first thing that you’ll probably want to know is how to tell a good instructor from one who isn’t. We’ve got a list of consumer savvy questions for you to ask before you part with any money.

If you’ve already chosen a driving school and are having driving lessons but are struggling to learn, it may not be you that’s the problem but the teaching style of your instructor.

No worries, our free video lessons show you what the differences are in teaching techniques between good and not so good.

These are not your average common or garden driving videos. You know, the sort with lots about what you have to do and very little about how to do it.

Our videos are more like a set of cheats and walk-throughs for the driving test. They’re highly focused and tell you exactly what you need to do to deal with any situation. What is really amazing is that each topic is covered in less than a minute. You read that right, under sixty seconds.

You’ll probably also want to make sure that you’ve covered every topic that you need to pass the driving test. That way you can be sure that you’re going to deliver just what exactly the examiner is looking for.

We’ve got that covered too with our free, ultra-detailed guide to the examiners’ driving test marking report.This also doubles as your ultimate driving lesson progress form. You can also use it to chart your progress so that you’ll know when you’re ready for your test.

Once you’ve read this guide it’s likely you’ll want to find an instructor. Of course we’ve got this covered too.The thing is, we don’t intend to just have Driving Test Pro approved instructors on this site. Why? Because in spite of training learners and training instructors ourselves this is a resource for you. So we have open listings available to all instructors.

Every individual instructor in the country is given the option of listing a whole host of their details for the benefit of potential customers. This means that you can compare them at a glance rather than spending hours phoning and texting them to find out what they offer.

There’s also a whole host of other information that can help you to overcome ‘humps in the road’ of the learning process.

Now sit back and get comfy. Some bits may be a bit hard going others may be obvious, but if you don’t understand something please let us know so that we can improve this ultimate guide.

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What you should know before you choose a driving instructor

The next couple of sections are really boring, but could save you £500 or more. Read them. Be bored. Save money. And potential heartache.

If you’ve no time to read the rest of our guide and potentially save yourself a whole load of heartache (and money) there are links that follow to the four biggest driving schools in the UK.

But before you rush out and book with them read this too. Why? Because we want to draw your attention to a very important, customer unfriendly get out clause in all of their terms and conditions.

Insider knowledge that you might not be aware of

Did you know that most of the businesses that promote themselves as Driving Schools are really nothing more than booking agents rather than driving schools?

That they will wash their hands of any responsibility if you have issues with one of their instructors?

And that their instructors are effectively all on zero hours contracts?

It’s all in their terms and conditions. Let’s have a look:

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AA driving school logoYour instructor is a self-employed franchisee of Automobile Association Developments Limited…The contract for driving tuition is solely between you and your instructor.
British School of Motoring BSM logoYour instructor is a self-employed franchisee (“Your Instructor”) of Automobile Association Developments Limited trading as “BSM” (“BSM”, “We”, “Us”, “our”).The contract for driving tuition is solely between you (“You”) and Your Instructor.Quick question. Did you notice that BSM is the AA under a different trading name?
RED driving school logoRED engages directly with individual franchised driving instructors, who are self-employed and act in their capacity as franchisees of RED under the terms of a franchise agreement between RED and the instructor. The contract for driving tuition is solely between you and your instructor.
Bill Plant driving school logoThe Pupil should be aware that all Bill Plant instructors are franchisees of the company. Bill Plant Driving School Ltd. takes no responsibility for any payments made by the pupil directly to the instructor, as these monies are not paid to Bill Plant Driving School Ltd.
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Some more facts that can save you money

So, did it come as a surprise to you to discover that the major driving schools are just booking agents?
That AA and BSM are in fact the same company? – Yet if you go onto their websites you’ll see that they charge different prices.

Did you also know that they can all legally supply you with someone who has only just qualified without telling you? Or, even worse, someone who is only a trainee instructor and who may never qualify, without ever making you aware?

How much do you think it would cost you to learn if you were only taught by a trainee? Do you think these ‘driving schools’ give you a discount if they supply a trainee?

If you must go with one of these without finishing our guide we advise that you ask for a Grade A instructor. (More about that later). But you can often save money and get better instruction elsewhere.

If you’re interested in an intensive course and want to save money the following might interest you. If not SKIP to further down the page.

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5 things you need to know before choosing an Intensive Driving Course

Like the big national driving schools such as BSM and RED, those who advertise as Intensive Driving Course Specialists are merely booking agents. They will charge you what they call a ‘deposit’ of hundreds of pounds when you book a course. This deposit is actually a ‘booking fee’. What they do for the hundreds of pounds that you pay them, is to blanket text instructors in your area, to see if any of them want work.
To keep you remote they get you to book online. Even though you select a date when you book and pay, their small print usually says that this date is not fixed and that they will seek to find an instructor for that date. Once you have paid they will often be hard to get hold of and make excuses for not sourcing an instructor.

Here are just 4 of them to be aware of.


One Week Driving Course acts as an agent.

OneWeekDrivingCourse.co.uk will not be held responsible for any balance payment forwarded to the instructor. Any dispute over the balance payment would need to be taken up directly with the instructor.

The company cannot be held liable for any compensation claim from either instructor or student, nor can it be held responsible for any traffic law violation on the part of either instructor or the student.

Any recommendation given or quotation provided by the Agent is an estimate for a course that is considered suitable based on the information given by the Pupil and the Agent’s experience of the driver training industry. This is particularly important if the Pupil has a disability or special needs.

There is no promise or guarantee:

  • that any course will be suitable or sufficient for the Pupil’s needs
  • about the quality of the tuition provided
  • about the date that a course or test will be arranged
  • that the personality and temperament of the Pupil and the Instructor will be compatible
  • of the result of any test conducted.

Oneweekintensivedriving.com logo

we do not provide any driving courses ourselves and we undertake all our activities on behalf of the individual driving schools or driving instructors. We are paid on commission off the instructor for successful bookings…A ‘successful booking’ is when we allocate an ADI and the Instructor and pupil agree to begin the driving course.

intensivecourses.co.uk logo
Where Intensivecourses.co.uk Ltd Driving School Agency makes bookings with, or supplies any information or documentation to you, or processes any payments for your lessons, they act as the agent for your instructor.

Intensivecourses.co.uk Ltd accepts no responsibility if you the pupil choose to go direct to your allocated instructor after meeting your instructor or once your course has been completed.

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So you can see from these terms and conditions, all of the national intensive ‘specialists’ are just booking agents like those who websites who charge huge amounts for concert and theatre tickets.

None of them actually employ instructors. Despite the impression they give of having instructors nationwide.

Which means that you can spend more of your budget on actually learning to drive if you bypass these middle men.

Call us to find out how you can contact intensive specialists directly.

There. You’ve barely been reading for five minutes and you’ve probably already saved yourself well over £100, possibly even over £500.

That’s enough to cover the cost of your driving and theory tests and have some over to pay for more lessons, should you need them.

As well as saving you money, if you read this guide to the end and follow its advice you’ll probably save a whole load of time and become a more skilled driver too.

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So how do we differ?

Payment

  1. There is no deposit to pay
  2. Your first payment need only be 48 hours before you commence your lessons
  3. Thereafter you pay on a day by day basis

Instructor grade

  1. You will be assigned a grade A instructor

Instruction

  1. Our forward thinking instruction style is unique
  2. You avoid the problems caused by traditional instruction
  3. You can therefore get to a higher standard, faster
Test preparation

  1. From day 1 you will be introduced to the Examiner’s test marking sheet
  2. Your instructor will give a demonstration of what is required for each skill
  3. You will learn exactly what the examiner is looking for on the test

Once you have passed

  1. You’ll see how our unique teaching style transfers easily to the real world
  2. You’ll have the skills necessary to cope with day to day traffic
  3. You’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to new situations to keep you safe
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Understand the Different Styles of Driving

The first thing you need to understand is what is meant by driving. That might seem obvious. But it isn't.

If we don’t define something then we leave it open to individual interpretation. So the DVSA, trainers, instructors PDI’s, learners, their parents and other road users can all have a different idea of what is meant by driving.

A composite of dictionary definitions would suggest that driving is: the act of operating the controls of, and directing, a vehicle.

That definition however does not mention that it needs to be done comfortably, safely, competently, or within the constraints of the Highway Code. Which is what needs to happen on a driving test.

If you are driving comfortably and safely you are obviously driving competently. So as long as you know what the test definitions are for comfortable and safe, then all you have to do is drive like that and follow the Highway Code to pass your test.

Luckily there is a whole load of research that can define what is comfortable for the human body, with regard to the forces that act upon it.

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Comfort

Comfort refers to the feeling of safety and gentle changes in acceleration or direction. Most people who have passed their test drive too fast and brake too harshly for their passengers to feel physically or mentally comfortable.

As the driver has prior knowledge of what they are going to do in response to a situation, they have little or no mental stress about how they will deal it. Passengers on the other hand will make judgments about how a situation will pan out from the vehicle's instantaneous speed and steering as they experience it from moment to moment.

So the instant that the passenger sees a hazardous situation they need the driver to take action to prevent their stress levels rising. If the driver doesn't take action stress levels will continue to rise until they do.

From the purely physical point of view, this pre-knowledge about steering and braking allows the driver to brace themselves in total harmony with these control inputs. This makes their drive feel physically smoother to them than it does to their passenger, who is unable to brace themselves so well.

This explains why there is so much conflict about the competence of a person's driving. The subjective and objective  sensations are frequently wildly different.

In most scenarios, the driver, who is in charge of the vehicle, has the power to have it their own way and, if they want, drive in a passenger disturbing manner.

This however isn't the case on the driving test. On the test it is the passenger (examiner) who determines whether the driver is competent, so that is why people need to learn to drive in a style that is different from the one that they see around them everyday.

From an academic point of view, the particular forces that we need to be aware of are those of acceleration (rate of change of velocity) and jerk (rate of change of acceleration) as experienced by a passenger.

Comfortable lateral acceleration (cornering) is about 0.15g while longitudinal (acceleration forward or braking is comfortable) up to a rate of around 0.25g

According to research jerk should be limited to 0.3g/s.

These guidelines can be measured by an dashboard accelerometer, which is similar to what insurance black boxes do. However as research shows that these forces are sensed almost universally, it usually takes little time to get a feel for what is acceptable.

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Safety

Research has also shown that in general passengers and other road users only feel safe when there is no realistic likelihood of collision or other transgression (such as entering a junction without looking).

This is different to there being zero statistical chance of collision. This would be known as infinite headway. Headway being the time to transgression if the driver continues with the direction and speed set as they currently are.

While the car is moving along the road headway can never be statistically infinite as eventually there would be a corner and the steering would have to change.

The only way headway can possibly be infinite is if the car is stationary. If it's standing still it can't go anywhere to hit anything. Remember this as it will be very important later on when you learn more about the test.

However, as with the comfort side of things, your passenger will feel as if there is zero chance of collision if the chance is very small and therefore below their threshold for anxiety.

This feeling is obviously is less easy to measure. However if a driver reacts late to a hazard the input is usually measurably uncomfortable and this then indicates a previous reduction in the passenger's feeling of safety.

Managing the passenger's feelings of comfort and safety are generally known as risk management. And the way an examiner thinks about driving is always from your risk management point of view.

So, there's a scale going from no risk and everyone feeling completely safe - to inevitable crash and everyone
being terrified. Within this scale driving has been academically broadly categorised into three styles:

  • Proactive or Comfortable
  • Everyday or Reactive
  • Dynamic or Thrill seeking
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Proactive (Comfortable) driving

As seen in the previous section, Proactive driving has safety at its core. It always feels comfortable to a passenger, hence the name. Safety and the feeling of safety always takes precedence over progress. The driver, passengers and other road users can be certain about what the car is going to do all the time. The passenger experience is largely jerk free. This is probably the style of fewer than ten percent of drivers.

To repeat, Proactive driving is always subjectively safe from a passengers point of view. This means the passenger's, as well as the driver's expectation of their vehicle being in a collision is below the threshold that induces any anxiety and so will be regarded as being zero.

As you've seen, this doesn't mean that it is statistically zero. According to work by road safety researcher Professor Ray Fuller, it just feels like it.

This proactive, comfortable style of driving is the skill you need if you want to be sure of passing your test. It’s an uneventful way to drive, in the same way that walking is. It simply gets you from A to B with little stress or fuss.

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Everyday driving

As the driver starts to move away from safety and comfort to prioritize progress the driving style becomes Everyday or Reactive. The car tends to become somewhat jerky. The vast majority of people drive in this style.

This is not necessarily because they want to, but as a result of less informed driver education. In effect their instructors allow them to drive in this style, because the instructor themselves is not very well informed

In everyday driving most drivers aren't particularly aware or bothered by the jerkiness. Nor of its effect of making others feel less than completely safe. They themselves though feel safe and in control.

This is because the driver will usually accept higher rates of acceleration as being comfortable as they can accurately time the necessary counteractive bracing.

From a subjective point of view their driving is fine. From an objective point of view some parts aren’t fine. So everyday driving may or may not be good enough to pass the driving test.

The difference between everyday and comfortable driving can often be thought of as being similar to how people might speak in public and in private. Some might never use slang or swear. Others might do to a degree, but not to an unacceptable amount.

However at some point it might go beyond what is acceptable in the particular company that they are in. At this point they might face censure. In driving test terms this would be a fail.

So if you drive like this you’ve got about a 50% chance of passing your test. You also have an increased chance of a collision.

So, as progress becomes a greater priority the passenger experience feels less safe and comfortable. At some point everyday driving is no longer safe enough to pass the test.

Whether drivers are aware or not of their effect on the feeling of comfort on others, they know that even as they drive faster they have very little chance of getting fined or getting points on their licence.

Even if directly observed by the police they can get away with a lot of things that would fail a driving test. These might include things such as driving too close, forcing their way into traffic, and breaking speed limits.

The thing about everyday driving is that although progress is prioritised the driver doesn't get from A to B much faster. All that happens is that they get from one hold up to the next more quickly. Just like the hare and the tortoise.

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Thrill seeking or Dynamic driving

For some everyday drivers, at certain times, progress is prioritised way above considerations of people's safety, including the driver's. This style of driving is known as Thrill seeking. It’s much more common in motorcyclists than car drivers.

However, while motorcyclists end up killing themselves it’s the car drivers who drive like this that end up killing and maiming others as well as themselves.

Many people are not made aware of these styles of driving by their instructor, because although all instructors are aware of differences in style, they won't necessarily know how to explain the differences.

For this reason people are often surprised when their everyday driving causes them to fail their test. Because, to their mind, they always had every situation under control.

If you fail to understand the importance of driving Proactively you’ll be more likely to fail your test.

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What you should know about teaching before choosing an instructor

Next you need to understand about the teaching part of learning to drive. The style of teaching is obviously down to your instructor.

This is a bit of a crazy thing to reveal but…..there’s a lot of historical evidence to suggest that people don’t learn to drive any better with most instructor led driving lessons than they do with friends and family. This has been detailed by cognitive psychologist Professor John Groeger in his scientific paper The lawful nature of learning: acquisition of driving skills.

So why do we tell you, on a site that is giving advice about choosing a driving instructor, that research indicates that most instructors are no better than parents? Because the research was done on the vast majority of instructors who teach a reactive style of driving.

The reason that they teach this way is largely down to the likelihood that they themselves were taught this way.

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Why the methods your instructor teaches have a huge effect on your driving skills

There are different levels of most tasks from baking a cake to teaching someone to drive. These are frequently classified into just three categories

  • Strategies - What needs to be done - Bake a birthday cake
  • Tactics - The processes used - Ingredient gathering, mixing, cooking
  • Operation - Process details - Amounts to mix, cooking time and heat
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Proactive versus Reactive teaching strategies

As you've learned, the difference between the strategies of Everyday Driving and Proactive Driving is in their application of risk management.

Because instructors have dual controlled cars, which allow them to take control if necessary, they often fail to intervene as soon as they aware of possible hazards. They also allow time to see if the learner is going to take any action.

Learners therefore tend to infer that there is no need to take early action when they see a hazard. So their strategy for dealing with hazards is largely a delayed reactive one.

Instructors who are aware of the differences between Everyday and Proactive driving will get you to understand how someone else, inside or outside the car, might be worried about the outcome of a situation if they see no action being taken.

If your instructor is good they will ensure that you are instantly proactive when you become aware of a hazard. You’ll also get to learn something about the psychology of driving if your instructor is teaching this style. With this knowledge of how other drivers think and act, you’ll have a better insight to the driving test and be more skilled out on the road, once you have passed your test.

The more reactive your instructor allows you to be, the longer it is likely to take you to gain the skills that you need.

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The different tactics used by Proactive and Reactive instructors

The tactics used in Everyday instruction are to teach people mirrors, then signals and then move on to instruction on moving the car and dealing with traffic. This is simply because that is the way that things are presented in the phrase ‘mirrors-signal-manoeuvre’.

However, this emphasis on using mirrors and signals is bad from a learning point of view.

Firstly it makes no mention of actively looking for any hazards. Which is bad as you are then only likely to see them as they happen to come into your field of view. For learners this is generally about 10 to 20 or so metres ahead. This means that there is little time to react gently.

Also, according to academic research by Dick deWaard of the University of Groningen, experienced drivers naturally reduce mirror checks as task difficulty increases. His conclusion was that mirror checks put unnecessary load on the brain, when its attention needs to be directed to more important car control tasks.

So to help learners save their brain power for learning more important tasks, the instructor should be checking the mirrors. Mirror use shouldn’t be added until the learner can control the car to an acceptable level.

Another reason for this is that at the beginning, learners use foveal (forward focused) vision to keep their position in lane rather than by using peripheral vision, which is what experienced drivers do. There is no known research about how long this takes. However an individual's transition can generally be gauged by an experienced instructor. They can then introduce the formalised mirror use necessary for risk management and the driving test.

In contrast to Everyday instruction's obsession with the mirrors, the skills of controlling the car at low speed and bringing the car to that low speed are what you’ll learn first in Proactive driving. This is because the greatest likelihood of transgression is caused by failing to get to a low enough speed, to put the car where you want it. Not failing to use your mirrors.

Logical risk management therefore that dictates these skills should be learned before mirror and signal use. If you work backwards from negotiating a hazard you can figure out what steps to take to deal with it

  • If you learn how to control the car at low speed you can negotiate any hazard
  • If you approach hazards slowly enough you will be able to negotiate them
  • If you search for hazards you’ll be aware and able to approach them slowly enough.

The tactics of learning to do things in this order is the way for you to acquire your driving skills with less distraction, and therefore is ultimately likely to be quicker.

Once you have learned these skills your performance is unlikely to be noticeably compromised when you come to learn to check the mirrors or signals.

Rather than using Mirrors-Signal-Manoeuvre, these proactive tactics can then be formalised into the four steps of an improved set of tactics: Search, Check, Approach, Negotiate or SCAN.

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Why learning to drive Reactively takes longer

Learning to drive reactively takes longer as you have to employ a trial and error method to see what works and what doesn't.

Sadly most everyday instruction is quite vague, with advice like “brake harder” or “steer more”. Friends and family and instructors who use the mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine are likely to give instructions such as these.

The reason for this is that most driver training including MSM is derived from ideas from the 1930's. Teaching practice largely hasn't caught up with 80 years of academic research. The Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre routine therefore is still seen as, and taught as, being the whole process, rather than being a particular part of a process.

It is therefore unsurprising that there isn’t any difference in the driving skills of people taught by instructors and non instructors who see MSM as the be all and end all of learning to drive safely. Both the professional instructor and the amateur depend on the learner eventually working out how much to steer, brake or whatever by trial and error.

Some instructors try to help by getting people to analyse their own driving, using a style of teaching known as coaching. While analysis like this can help, it is unlikely to produce very good results if the driving that the pupil is aiming for is Everyday driving.

Not only does Proactive Teaching have improved tactics, it also has better operational instructions than those used for Everyday Teaching. Because the operations are more detailed it is a better way of learning. Especially for those who don’t have a natural aptitude.

Each type of action will have specific instructions. For example an instruction on how much to steer when turning left might be “You should aim to pull up next to the kerb just around the corner” rather than the everyday “Steer more”.

Most learners will need little practice to steer and brake with great accuracy if the instruction is sufficiently detailed. There would be instruction prior to this about when to steer and then be further detailed instruction about how to straighten up.

Hopefully you can also see that comparing your performance to methodically detailed instruction rather than something vague, like 'steer more' or 'how was your steering?', can offer much more help to improve it.

So you’re now aware general shortcomings with typical everyday driving lessons and some of the problems with MSM as a teaching method. You are also becoming much better informed about what to look for when choosing driving lessons.

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Why do instructors use different styles of teaching

The big problem is that these Reactive techniques are the ones that are still taught to driving instructors by the major training establishments such as BSM, RED, Bill Plant and others. These instructors will then be passing on the techniques that they themselves have learned to their pupils. To understand why these methods have been used for so long it’s necessary to understand a bit more about the history behind driver training.(Coming soon)

By learning to drive with methodical Proactive strategies, rather than heuristic Everyday ones you will be able to drive like an expert in a few tens of hours. There is no need to spend years getting experience.

Such expert training doesn’t have be delivered directly by an expert though. Following expert instruction through a book or online course can deliver good results too. The main advantage of having an expert present is that they will quickly notice if you deviate from the expert method.

You can access our unique course of Proactive driving videos for free. (Coming soon)Let us know how they compare to others that you might see on the web.

The lesson here is make sure that you learn methodically, not heuristically, if you want to get your skills to a higher standard and do it quicker.

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Vital clues to finding out how long you'll take to learn

This isn't a precise guide to how may hours you will take , but more a way to work out whether you are likely to make progress swiftly or have mental barriers that can hold you back. There are three aspects to this:

  1. Self awareness - do you know what you are doing?
  2. Self assessment - compare this to what you should do
  3. Self improvement - make the change.
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Self awareness doesn’t just apply to learning to drive but to all aspects of your life.

If you’ve done some driving lessons before reading this article, it’s likely that you’ve learned to drive in an Everyday, Reactive style. But now maybe you’re beginning to change your mind about the best way to learn. If you haven’t driven before then at least you can now make an informed choice about what type of instructor you’ll choose.

Having made that choice you need to look at yourself.

Do you just want to turn up for lessons and learn everything in the car. Or do you want to be prepared for them. Being prepared can save you money. There are various books, apps and videos that can help you get ready for your theory, hazard perception and practical driving.

Aside from these training resources and your own self awareness, it is your ability to self assess and self improve that will enable learning to take place at a good pace. Many people are not taught these skills in school as part of their general education. Frequently it is only when they come to do driving lessons that they learn such skills.

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Self awareness and the driving task

When people reach the stage in life when they want to learn to drive, most seem to be of the belief that they can control their limbs easily. After all, most people don’t struggle to run or to use a computer keyboard.

However most major motor skills are learned quite early in life. For many people driving is the first new physical thing that they learn in a good number of years. If you don't believe this, ask your grandparents to use a video game controller, most won't have a clue

So when people start to drive they often discover that they can’t always coordinate themselves as well as they thought they could. Many get frustrated. Some even blame the car itself. A little bit of thought will bring back memories of not being able to do things.

Awareness about the fact that we all take time to learn may help reduce frustration. No-one is good at everything to begin with. But some are more fortunate, simply in the way that their brain happens to be randomly wired. This makes controlling a car easier for some than it is for others. Some of those who find car control a problem though may find it easier to recognise hazardous situations.

Therefore if progress is not made at the rate you expect or hope for, don’t blame yourself. Blame your brain wiring. It is more likely that your hopes and expectations about your rate of progress is the major problem.

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Barriers to learning

When you finally get around to driving there are a number of barriers to learning that you will have to overcome. These come from a variety of places:

  • An evolutionary desire to conserve energy
  • The evolution of our senses
  • Our societal evolution
  • How words frame our thinking
  • The ‘curse of knowledge’

The more that you know about these issues the more you should be able to prevent them from slowing your acquisition of new skills. Rather than sidetrack you on this page we've created a special one on barriers to learning

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Self assessment helps speed up learning

Self assessment means taking a logical and measured (SMART) look at what is good about your driving and what needs to change. It may also involve looking at how your emotions and moods affect and respond to how things are going. People progress faster when look at what is preventing their progress rather than bemoaning it.

Naturally this is where a good instructor will help. But if you don’t have a good instructor you can help yourself by deconstructing elements of your driving and finding out just where improvement needs to be made to make things easier overall.

Self improvement requires effort but results in things becoming easier

This brings us on to self improvement. Many people find improvement in a particular area much easier than others. This often leads to developing inefficient compensating behaviour and coping strategies.

For instance, when learning many people position badly when turning left. However their instructors often don’t notice, as they do the same. So to compensate many concentrate on steering more quickly. Which is exactly what many people do.

Unfortunately quicker steering will not always be enough. In some circumstances the position is so bad in the first place that no amount of steering will compensate. On such occasions it may therefore be necessary to reverse the car and try again.

Correcting a problem rather than doing the right thing is not usually a problem once people have a licence. It could however lead to you failing if you have to correct too many things on your driving test.

By addressing the position problem from the very beginning there won’t be any problems on the driving test or once you’ve passed. This of course applies to a whole raft of situations that can occur when learning.

The lesson here is to be aware of how your personality and control of it affect the speed at which you learn and the standard to which you learn.

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Understanding how your learning mind works

If you want to know more about how managing your personality can help you to learn to drive there is an excellent book, by renowned sports psychologist Professor Steve Peters, it's called The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness.

Although Dr Peters is not involved in driver training, the principles within his book may well help anyone who is struggling with anxiety or confidence issues around driving.

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How the particular features of a car can make learning easier

So here we are, already a good chunk of the way to finally finding a driving instructor that is suitable for your own individual needs. However, as well as choosing because of the teaching style or intensive driving course versus conventional lessons you might also be influenced by some features of the car. So let’s have a look at the options that are likely to influence you.
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Special adaptations needed when learning to drive for those with disabilities

Perhaps the first distinction that needs to be looked at after you decide whether you want everyday or proactive driving lessons is whether you need any special adaptations to the car to enable you to control it. Or whether you have other special learning needs including being hard of hearing.

Should you need an instructor that has a specially adapted car your first port of call should probably be the Disability Driving Instructors find a specialist driving instructor site.

If you are one of the vast majority of learners who need no extra controls to help you to steer, brake, accelerate, change gear or perform any other task, the main choice that you are likely to make is to choose between driving a car with a manual or automatic transmission.

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Should I learn to drive car with manual or automatic transmission

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What is the difference between a manual and automatic car

The manual or automatic transmission is the part of the car that take the power from the engine and transmits it to the wheels. It consists of both the clutch and gearbox.

In an automatic car all you need to do is set the gear lever to drive at the beginning of a journey. It will then take care of all the clutch work and gear changing that is necessary until you come to your destination.

In a manual car you will need to learn to change up through the gears in order to go faster, although once you are over about thirty miles per hour in most cars you will be in the highest gear and no further changes will be necessary until you slow down.

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Why it is easier to learn to drive in an automatic car

If you want to have the fewest possible number of driving lessons and therefore take less time and spend less money to get your licence, then learning in an automatic is definitely the way to go. Generally you might expect to take ten to twenty hours fewer, if not more when learning to drive an automatic.

The main reason for this difference in learning time is because an automatic car only has two foot pedals rather than the three found in a manual car. Both types have a gas or accelerator pedal on the right, with a brake pedal to the left of it. A manual car though has another pedal called the clutch.

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What makes the clutch tricky to use and increases the likelihood of stalling

The clutch does not work in the same linear way that the gas and brakes do. Linear means that the more you press on the gas the faster the car will go and the more you press on the brakes the quicker it will stop. The use of the gas and brakes can generally be learned very quickly due to their linearity.

The clutch on the other hand has does not work like this. Although the clutch pedal moves about 10-15 cm there is only a distance of 1-2 cm somewhere in the middle of its travel that has any noticeable effect. This portion of its travel is known as the ‘biting point’, although in reality it’s more of a ‘biting zone’.

The use of the clutch needs to be coordinated with your brake, accelerator and gear selection to be properly able to control the speed of the car. Although you don’t have to be very well coordinated to move the car, doing it correctly will make things a lot smoother.

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How to make learning to use the clutch easier

Be aware that there is a lot of misinformation about how to change gear in a manual car on the web. Many of the top results in Google for video driving lessons and web pages get the details wrong. So although the car will move, it won’t be smooth. Although this guide to choosing a driving school frequently refers to other sites for further information, because so much is incorrect we have produced our own guide to moving off and changing gear.

Many people who have small feet or short legs and good coordination may still struggle to drive a manual car easily. This is simply because they will not be able to operate the clutch pedal in the most controlled way. This involves having the heel of the foot on the floor of the car, while at the biting point.

Instructors who are aware of this issue can help you to sort it. Many won’t. Those that are aware have devices that can raise the pivot point of your feet. Some may also help by limiting the travel of the clutch below the biting point so that it is easier to get your foot to where it needs to be to take up the drive.

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Using the left foot to brake and the right for the gas

Some control issues may arise through dyspraxia and similar conditions. One way to combat such problems is to use one foot on each pedal of an automatic car. Historically, people have been taught to just use the right foot for the accelerator and brake in manual and automatic. The left foot is used only for the clutch in a manual car.

Some instructors frown on this and refuse to teach it. Some even wrongly believe it to be illegal. In spite of what some instructors say, the DVSA examiners’ guidelines explicitly state that there is no fault marked if the brake is being operated by the left foot in an automatic car.

In fact choosing which foot to use on the brakes is regarded as being best practice, in the field of client centred learning that is promoted by the DVSA. According to this, it is for the individual to decide what works best for them. That means that it should be up to you as an individual to choose which foot to brake with.

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Am I more likely to pass a test in an automatic car?

If you intend on doing a one week intensive driving course then you have limited time to learn the coordination skills necessary for manual. This is obviously likely to influence the result at the end of the week.

So if simply getting any licence that allows you to get mobile is your goal then the obvious choice would seem to be a ‘crash’ course of automatic driving lessons. Be aware though that government statistics surprisingly show that the overall pass rate for automatic cars is lower than that for manual cars.

The likelihood for this seeming anomaly in pass rates is that automatic tests are much more popular in busy towns and cities, while in more rural areas manual tests dominate. In towns and cities there are many more hazards to deal with every minute. This means that although tests take the same amount of time in rural and urban areas, a driver in the country may only have to deal with half the amount of hazards as one in the city.

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Running a car after passing the driving test

If you want to reduce pollution and are intending to get a hybrid or electric car once you have passed your test then you have no real need to get a manual licence as all such cars have automatic gearboxes.

Be aware though, if you do pass in an automatic car then you can’t drive a manual until you have taken another test in a manual, whereas you don’t need to take another test in an auto if you pass in a manual car.

Another thing that you might like to consider is the follow up costs from driving lessons once you are driving either type of car. Automatic cars tend to cost more to buy, whether new or second hand.

For this reason insuring them also tends to be a bit more expensive as the insurer will, on need to pay out more in the event of a claim to replace the car. For typical learner insurance this sum might be of the order of £100 - £150.

Historically fuel costs have been lower for automatic cars, but with advances in engine and gearbox software and hardware design the gap has been substantially reduced. In an urban environment automatics are even beginning to have the edge on manual cars.

When buying a second hand car be aware that there is also likely to be less wear and tear on an auto. This is because it is impossible to damage the clutch or gearbox by bad gear changing techniques. There are of course many second hand manual driving school cars that might have excessively worn clutches due to the nature of their use.

Be aware that these cars will never have the words ‘ XYZ school of motoring’ in their registration documents when you come to buy one. They will have been registered under another company name to prevent their value falling. Should you buy a typical driving school car be sure to research the former registered keepers.

Finally when choosing between manual and automatic it would be wise to look to the future and where the development of cars is going.

As climate change becomes a bigger issue and emissions tests become more stringent, car manufacturers will have to exert as much control over the pollutants that their cars put out as possible.

This means an increasing number will be using automatic gearboxes. With more cars coming on the market the price differential is likely to reduce and automatics will become as cheap to buy and run as their manual counterparts

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What if I need to drive a manual car

There is often an argument used by people, who for some reason want others to drive manual rather than automatic, that if there is only a manual car available in an emergency, you won’t be able to drive it.

Funnily enough, if you check this out on Google there’s not one article of anyone ever being in such a situation. Enough said.

The lesson here is that automatics are the future but manual might still be the right choice for some people.

So that brings us to the end of the section on what type of transmission to choose. Now we’ll move on to discover how the type of fuel that a car uses can have an effect on driving lessons.

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What are the differences when learning in a diesel, rather than petrol engined car?

The differences between petrol and diesel cars are only really significant in the 0-4 mph speed range and only in manual cars. To move a car clutch control is used to get the car going from rest and to change gear smoothly. Remember, the clutch is controlled with the left foot in a manual car, but is done without any input from the driver in an automatic.

Both petrol and diesel cars can move off by just using clutch control. However, if your clutch control is poor, it is easier to stall the car in a petrol car compared to a diesel. Stalling is where the engine speed is too low and the car suddenly stops. Correct clutch control to prevent stalling can be learned quite easily.

So on the whole the differences are quite small. But, particularly when you start to drive, if you don’t control the clutch with your heel on the floor of the car then the differences are magnified. This is because it is more difficult for new drivers to control the clutch if they don’t have their heel on the floor and it is poor poor clutch control that causes stalling.

After a while people develop a feel for the clutch, and the issues go away. This is likely to take longer though if the heel can’t be kept on the floor. However just as important as the clutch is the smoothness of the gas (accelerator) pedal. Some cars have stiff or sticky accelerator action, which once again can be overcome by developing a feel, but which may cause problems for the new driver.

If you have learned in a diesel and then drive a petrol car after passing your test you may struggle. This will only be the case though if you have learned to rely on the diesel engine to stop you stalling rather than your clutch control. Ideally your diesel instructor will have taught you to move off using the gas and clutch together.

The lesson here is that choosing a good instructor is much more important than the type of engine.

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How will I learn best, are hourly or intensive lessons better?

People waste an awful lot of money on intensive lessons by paying deposits of hundreds of pounds to one or other of the so called specialist intensive driving companies that are just booking agencies in the same way that all other driving schools are.

In exchange for these huge deposits, the companies simply put the course that you have requested on a specialist instructor website and wait till an instructor ‘bites’. Once the course has been allocated the specialist has fulfilled their part of the contract. Any issues from now on are between you and the instructor. Quite often the ‘deposit’ for the course is greater than the instructor’s payment for doing the teaching.

If you go direct to an intensive instructor your money will likely go somewhat further, if that’s the way you choose to learn.

As for which is the best way you need to consider other factors in your life that might affect the number of hours you need. With hourly lessons, if you have them after work, you may be tired. If you live in a busy area it may be difficult to find an area that is quiet enough to make things easy to start with.

If you book an intensive are you being realistic about the amount of hours you have booked. If you are doing multiple hours per day will it make you tired or ache?

Course type chooser.

The lesson here is that you need to research and think about what your needs are.

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Other options for your choice of instructor

Some people will want an instructor of a particular gender. It should be noted that male instructors greatly outnumber female ones. For smokers it may be good to have an instructor who smokes too. That way if you feel you need a cigarette on a lesson you can make it part of the social side of learning to drive.

Language can be a barrier to learning for some people. If this is the case be sure to try and find an instructor who speaks your language.

All instructors are regularly checked by the DVSA to see that their teaching skills still meet the minimum standard. Those that do meet the standard are graded either A or B. On a star rating system grade B would rank from 0-2 stars while grade A would rank from 3-5. We offer free instructor training videos as we do learner training ones to try to bring all instructors up to grade A.

It’s a good idea to know the grade of your instructor.

The grade of an instructor is less important if they are following our methodical driver training system. This is because their lessons are of grade A quality that you can use to prepare and revise.

The DVSA have a service that enables you to find a local instructor but it has few details apart from general location and a contact number. Only about 50% of qualified instructors are on it. There is the option for an instructor to add their grade. Beware that the vast majority of instructor with no grade listed will be grade B.

Here’s a better instructor comparison site that lists lesson price, type of car and engine, gender, intensive or hourly, areas covered, languages spoken, heuristic or methodical teaching style. Some entries will also contain photos and a brief biography.

You could even get a friend or relation to teach you using our recommended free video training course. They may struggle to spot faults as well as a professional, but with our driving test fault analyser it shouldn’t be impossible.

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The Theory and Hazard Perception Tests

You need to pass both the Theory and Hazard Perception tests before you can book a practical driving test. They are taken one after the other in a single session at a designated test centre. You need to pass both in the same session.
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Theory Test

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Hazard perception

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Starting to drive and the one vital thing that most instructors don't teach

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Basic control skills

There are two aspects to dealing with the controls.

The physical actions you take to use the controls and using those skills to control the speed and position of the car with regard to hazards.

All the control skills covered here are explained to enable your driving to be Proactive. The controls can be used in other ways to get the car down the road but the results wouldn't necessarily be Proactive.

Other methods that you see or hear of are more likely to be of the Everyday driving style.

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Steering

Steering has two aspects to it.

  1. Control within the car - turning the steering wheel
  2. Control of the car - directing where it should go

Steering wheel control

Turning the steering wheel comes naturally to some, but not to others. Unfortunately many people only discover that they are not naturally gifted when they come to the first corner. The resulting actions look like a gibbon trapped in a washing machine. Arms going everywhere, machine carrying on at its own devices.

The easiest way to prevent this happening is to learn how to control the steering before you move. A few minutes of correctly set up stationary steering practice without other things to concentrate on should see you much better prepared before you go out on the road.

Be aware that if you don't set this up in a manner similar to the one shown you may cause damage to the steering. Holding the steering turned fully to the left or right for more than ten seconds or so may also damage it.

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Using the eyes for directional steering control

When driving you’ll be using your hands and feet on the controls. But the controls themselves are used in response to situations on the road. So your eyes are if fact the most important part of your body involved in controlling your car.

To aid the visual aspect of control many instructors will tell pupils to look to ‘where they want to go’. This is helpful, but only to a degree. There is still a lack of detail here. The instructor is directing you to look in a certain direction. But not to a very specific area.

Some people might look to the foreground. Some to the distance. Some might look to the right place, but then remain fixated on it for too long.

Unless your instructor is directing your gaze to help your positional control, you are going to take longer to learn to drive.

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Steering direction control

Once you are confident with turning the steering wheel without knotting your arms you can move on to practicing while having the car moving slowly. This is when you begin using the eyes to direct where you are going.

Ideally such early practice should be done in a car park or other quiet area large enough to steer in a figure of eight.

If you are driving an automatic practicing at low speed can often be done without using any of the foot controls. In a manual the clutch will need to be used. This can either be done by you or your instructor using the dual controls.

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Why people struggle with the clutch, and why you won't

The clutch pedal is found to the left of the brake. If you have trouble reaching the clutch with your heel on the floor at biting point you can use a device to raise the floor to make things easier as you are learning.

In order to drive a manual car Comfortably you need to use the clutch correctly. You don't however need to use the clutch correctly to move off or to get the car along the road. If you can move off or change gear without feeling it you are doing it correctly. If moving off or changing gear is jerky you are not doing it correctly and Comfortably, but in an Everyday manner.

Using the clutch and gears in an Everyday manner can cause people to fail their test. Even if you pass it means that you would probably spend the rest of your life making your passengers journeys jerky.

The clutch is designed and included in the car to prevent jerkiness when accelerating and decelerating. So it should not be used like an on-off switch. Sadly many instructors teach it to be used like that. It should be used more like a dimmer switch.

When manoeuvering at low-speed it is not necessary to have the clutch all the way up. It is often easier to control the speed of your car by having the clutch around the biting point. This means that you don’t have the time lag that you would get from moving your foot from gas to brake and back again.

This use of the clutch doesn't just apply to reversing manoeuvres. It also applies to actions like turning sharp corners. Many Everyday instructors are not aware of this fact. So they will often insist that you always have the clutch all the way up when cornering. While it is often possible to do this as an experienced driver, it is much more challenging for the learner and unnecessary.

There is a separate more detailed article dedicated to use of the clutch that should answer most questions about it.

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Using the gas, also known as the accelerator; and how more gas can equal less speed

The gas pedal controls the speed of the engine. It is the pedal on the right. It should always be used gently. In first and second gear the clutch will frequently be used at the same time as the gas in order to prevent jerkiness.

It is good practice to learn how to ‘set’ the gas in a manual car. This is where you hold the engine at a little above it's idling speed of 800 revolutions per minute (rpm) at about 1200 to 1500 rpm. If you do this the clutch will slip and you can vary the speed of the car just by varying the slip of the clutch. Doing this means that you can ensure a smooth take off and gear changes. If the engine speed is much higher the car will tend to rush forward if you are hasty with the clutch.

Although most instructors will get you to 'set' the gas before moving off, those who have diesel cars might not. This is because it is not always necessary in diesel cars, as they have more power at low speed.

However many instructors will frown on slipping the clutch, even though it enables very fine speed control. This is because slipping the clutch wears the clutch out. Once you have your own car and become experienced you will naturally become skilled at keeping clutch slip to a minimum. The wear and tear on your own car will therefore be negligible.

However an instructor's car is constantly being used by people who are learning and who would regularly slip the clutch much more than necessary as they build up their skills. As this wears out the clutch, and replacement can cost up to £1000, many instructors shy away from teaching this skill that is the essence of smooth driving, leaving their pupils to miss out.

Here at Driving Test Pro we believe that a slight reduction in profit is more important than leaving you lacking useful skills.

So if you are able to set the engine speed when you are intending to move off or move slowly the car is unlikely to stall if you get the clutch use a bit wrong. If you have the engine at idle the clutch is more likely to suddenly grip. This may result in a stall or the car jolting forward.

Once again this basic car control skill can be practiced in a car park or other quiet area before you go out on the roads.

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The footbrake

The footbrake is to the left of the gas pedal. It acts on all four wheels. Like all the controls it should be used gently and smoothly at all times, except in an emergency.

To begin with it can seem rather harsh. However a small amount of practice should soon enable you to control it correctly. If you have trouble reaching the brake with your heel on the floor you can use a device to raise the floor to make things easier as you begin.

When braking for a hazard you should normally brake firmly enough as soon as you start braking in order to stop a little distance from the hazard without having to increase the pedal pressure as you get closer.

This is known as setting the brake. Setting the brake early is essential if you want to make your passenger feel comfortable.

A passenger (such as your driving test examiner) will only be certain that you are going to stop in time when you are braking your hardest. If this is done too close to the hazard you are likely to be marked down, which may then result in a test failure. Don't say you haven't been warned.

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Parking brake

The parking brake is used to hold the vehicle stationary while the brake pedal isn’t being used. If it is applied it will automatically lock on. In some cars the whole action of applying and releasing it is now automatic. In this case there may just be a button on the dashboard to override it.

Many cars though will still have a parking brake between the front seats. To release the parking brake you should first raise it a couple of millimetres. This disengages the automatic lock. Then you should push the button on the end of the handbrake. This prevents the lock from re-engaging. Finally you should gently push it down until it will go no further.

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Gears

In a basic automatic car you simply need to select D (drive) to allow the car to go forward and R for reverse. You should always have the footbrake pressed firmly as you select a gear when stationary.

When stopped for any length of time you should select N (neutral), or P (park) if you are exiting and leaving the vehicle.

In a manual car you will need to change gears to enable the car to be driven comfortably.

You should normally change up as soon as the next highest gear will enable the car to accelerate. On a flat road this is normally at an engine speed of somewhere around 1500 rpm. If you are in too high a gear the car will not accelerate. If you are in too low a gear the car will be very sensitive to the gas pedal.

Many learners drive jerkily simply because their instructor makes them stay in a lower gear for too long. Many instructors do this because they are still teaching old methods that fail to take into account the changes in engine technology over the last 30 years.

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The number one thing that many instructors fail to spot

The easiest way to tell if you have a well trained instructor is to be aware of how they teach you to turn left from a minor road into a major one.

As 'emerging to the left', as it is often known,  is one of the first skills that you will learn it will give you an early clue as to the competence of your instructor.

There are number 1 clue that gives away a poorly trained instructor is that they allow you to look right when you should be steering left at the end of a road.

If they allow you to do that, you will probably go on to struggle with roundabouts.

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How to recognise and classify hazards to make them easier to deal with

Rather than there being a seemingly infinite different hazards, with the SCAN routine hazards are allocated into one of four categories.

These increase in order of complexity:

  1. Stopping - staying in your lane and coming to a stop
  2. Slowing - staying in your lane to deal with a change of direction
  3. Passing - changing lane to pass an obstruction
  4. Merging - lane changes with an extra lane in your direction

The approaches used for Stopping and Slowing are identical. The Passing approach is similar but will vary depending on whether the hazard is close to or on a bend, and which way the bend goes.

Ideally you should be confident with these before having to deal with Merging. There will be a number of different scenarios in each category.

Stopping

  • On the flat
  • Downhill
  • Uphill
  • For Stop lines
  • For vehicles crossing your path
  • For pedestrian crossings
  • For other permanent traffic lights
  • For temporary traffic lights

Slowing

  • For directional steering
  • For right turns into a road
  • For right turns with a waiting space
  • For roundabouts

Passing

  • Stationary obstructions
  • Cyclists
  • Slow moving vehicles

Merging

  • Onto a dual carriageway or motorway
  • Changing lane on a dual carriageway or motorway
  • Traffic merging into your lane
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Awareness and planning

Using the eyes for information

Using your skills to control the speed and position with regard to hazards. Once you have learned how to physically control the car, you can start to put those actions together to change the speed and position of the car on the road to deal with hazards.

Your lessons should progress with regular reference to the Driving test skills competence forms to help you assess your progress.

You should be regularly tested throughout your lessons to help prepare to perform with an examiner in the car. These mock tests will increase in complexity and length until you can drive to driving test passing standard for 40 minutes.

Once you are up to standard and understand what is required of you you’ll be ready to take your driving test.

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Type 1 - Stopping

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Type 2 - Slowing

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Type 3 - Obstructions

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Type 4 - Merging

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The SCAN method of skillfully dealing with any situation

For Proactive Driving it is best to use the SCAN routine as your tactics to deal with a hazard. SCAN refers to Search, Checks, Approach, Negotiate.

  1. Firstly, you actively Search for a hazard or warning of a hazard
  2. Secondly, the Checks, you check your speed (come off the gas) plus check in the mirrors and if a signal is necessary
  3. Thirdly you Approach as if to stop two car lengths or so from the hazard to give infinite time to decide whether to proceed
  4. Finally you Negotiate the hazard, while Searching for the next.

It therefore contains all the elements that you need when driving unlike Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre (MSM), which lacks the element of actually searching for hazards on the road ahead.

There are quite a few other safety critical differences between the two.

With MSM any decision to give way to other traffic is frequently only made very close to the end of the sequence.

This is because the routine in full is:

  1. Mirror
  2. Signal
  3. Manoeuvre

The Manoeuvre is broken down into:

  1. Position
  2. Speed
  3. Look

And the Look is further divided into:

  1. Assess
  2. Decide
  3. Act

So a learner will be in two minds about what to do, almost until the last moment.

If that decision is then wrong it gives little time or space to correct it. Leaving the decision until late in the sequence can also create time stress. Such stress can cause problems switching between tasks.

Also the manoeuvres are not defined. This leaves the learner to struggle to find their own way of doing things for a seemingly infinite number of situations.

The SCAN routine on the other hand gets you to make an initial decision to stop a little way from any hazard as you first see it. This means that you have a simple initial task. This minimises anxiety.

As you get closer to the hazard, you will be able to gather more information as to where the best place is to position your car to enable you to move on once it is safe to do so.

This approach also allows you the option of extending the time that you take to encounter any traffic hazards. Which means that you can allow any traffic that might hold you up, to pass before you come to a complete stop.

Approaching hazards slowly, rather than rushing up to things and stopping, makes your drive much easier and more comfortable.

Videos that deal with how much to brake and precisely when and how to steer for each hazard can be seen here(LINK TO COME)

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When you first begin to learn your instructor will be looking out for the hazards and alerting you to where they are and how to deal with them. This means that there are fewer cognitive loads on your brain, so you can concentrate more easily on the tasks that you need to learn in the early days behind the wheel, namely approaching and negotiating hazards.

As the demands on your brain for Approaching and Negotiating become less as you become better, you will begin to devote more of your attention to Searching for hazards and warnings of hazards. The more your awareness of your surroundings increases, the easier and more fluid your driving becomes.

And the easier your driving becomes the more you will be able to Search for hazards. You'll be able to anticipate where to look too.

A easy way to spot a skilled driver is if they use the Approach phase to a hazard to Search for elements that will enable them to deal with a hazard with the minimum of effort.

Unfortunately if you do all your lessons in areas that you are familiar with, you will tend to deal with many hazards from memory rather than observation. Only if you can deal with areas that you are unfamiliar with will you be able to be know whether you are good at Searching or not.

As soon as you see a hazard you should move into the next phase - Checks

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Checks

Check in the context of driving has two meanings:

  1. Slow the progress of something - namely your car.
  2. Pay attention to something - namely your mirrors and signals

When you see a hazard on the driving test you can be pretty sure that the examiner has seen it too. In fact they may well be aware of it before you, given that they have years of experience of Searching for hazards while on test and in the course of their own driving.

As soon as the examiner sees a hazard they want to see that you are taking some action. This will make them feel comfortable. Generally, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that you are not accelerating toward the hazard.

There may be odd exceptions to this, such as when the hazard is a long way off, but generally the first thing you should do is come off the gas if you are in a higher gear (3,4,5) or depress the clutch in a lower gear (1,2,)(unless descending an incline). Both of these actions will comfortably prevent further acceleration. If going down a slope you may need to gently apply the brakes.

When you are first learning and you are still learning the Approach and Negotiate skills it is really only necessary to concern yourself with the first of these Checks

Once you are reasonably competent and taking your eyes off the road will not compromise your car control you should also simultaneously you should check your mirrors and your signal options.

Sadly many badly trained instructors insist on mirror checks even from complete novices, not realising that this compromises their car control.

In the order of importance for staying safe while learning, mirror use is way below that of braking and steering.

Again you will blend into the next phase - Approach - pretty well immediately.

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Approach

If you are to take just one thing from this page, learning the Approach is it.

Learn this and apply it to every hazard.

Always Approach a hazard as if you are going to stop comfortably some little distance from it.

As a general guideline this will be about two car lengths from the point of impact with something solid. You should also usually aim to stop about the same distance from a Give Way or Stop line.

Your brakes should be applied firmly enough to stop at this point as soon as you start braking. If they aren't, your examiner (or instructor on your lessons) will feel as if you might not stop.

This is completely different to what all other driving schools currently teach. But it will be your secret weapon in the driving test and afterwards too. This is because it allows you to better control the speed at which you are going to deal with the hazard.

If you think about it the speed that you need to be going to deal with a hazard is always somewhere between being stopped for it and the current speed. You may not know what that speed is in numbers, but you'll know when you reach it by feel. Just like you might when cornering on a bicycle.

So if you always slow down as if to stop before a hazard, at some point you must be going at the appropriate speed. At this point you can simply come off the brakes and enable the car to continue at that safe speed.

We cannot emphasise just how crucial this is is you want to be a really skilled driver when it comes to taking responsibility for your car.

The vast majority of new drivers do not learn this skill.

If you just generally slow down for something you will occasionally find yourself going too fast. You only need to do that once to fail your test or even worse, crash.

This approach also gives you an infinite amount of time to deal with the hazard. While you are learning, having an infinite amount of time to do something means it becomes much easier.

Also, by setting the brakes to come to a stop early in the approach you can then allow your eyes to move away from focusing on the one hazard that you have to stop for to look for others.

When you know that you are going slow enough to deal with the hazard the you can prepare to Negotiate it.

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Negotiate

Negotiating a hazard can be anything from steering round a gentle bend, or moving away from traffic lights to dealing with a multi lane roundabout.

The first two involve just a single change of direction or speed. The latter however may involve multiple changes of speed and direction and may therefore have multiple approaches to separate hazards within the roundabout system.

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A quick guide to manoeuvres used on driving test and after

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Parallel Parking

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Reverse Bay Parking

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Forward Bay Parking

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Pull up on the right and reverse

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Turn in the road

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Reverse around a corner to the left

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Reverse around a corner to the right

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Taxi Turn

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Beyond Novice

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Junctions including Roundabouts

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Dual carriageways

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Mock Tests and other preparation for the driving test

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The Driving Test

This should be a formality if you are properly prepared.You can use your own car or your instructors car for the driving test.make sure that you don't arrive more than 10 minutes early for your driving test as you don't want to clog up the roads or car park where other people may be returning from the previous test.

When you arrive at the test centre park the car in a sensible position that allows you to move off easily.Then go into the test centre waiting room making sure you have the car keys and your driving licence with you.

When the examiner comes into the waiting room and cause your name identify yourself and give them your licence.They will ask you to sign a driving test report form so that they can compare your signature with the one that's on the licence that you've given them.

They'll then identify themselves and ask you how you would like to be addressed

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After the test