The New Driving Test

As you’ve probably read now, the new driving test comes into effect on Monday 4 December. There are, broadly, three changes coming in:

1) The Independent Driving section of the test is being expanded from 10 to 20 minutes and will, in 4 out of 5 tests, be conducted by following a Sat Nav (supplied and programmed by the examiner). In the remaining tests candidates will be asked to follow road signs as per the current test.

2) The ‘Reverse around a corner’ and ‘Turn in the road’ manoeuvres are being dropped and replaced with driving into and then reversing out of a bay, and pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing two car lengths, then pulling away again.

3) One of the Show Me Tell Me questions will be asked whilst on the move (the other will, as presently, be asked at the start of the test).

We will still be teaching the ‘Reverse around a corner’ and ‘Turn in the road’ manoeuvres as they are valuable lessons in their own right and are manoeuvres that you may be called upon to do at any time in your driving.

The Show Me Tel Me questions will be changing slightly and I will be publishing these for students in the near future. In the meantime they can be seen on the DVSA website.

The DVSA have released a set of videos on YouTube to explain the new test and demonstrate the new manoeuvres:




Read the full DVSA article by clicking here

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Insurance…

One question I often get asked is “Where can I get cheap insurance?”  The trouble is, as a learner or new driver, you probably won’t get cheap insurance, but you can get it fairly cost effectively if you shop around.

For a while now I’ve recommended Collingwood Insurance who do short term learner-specific policies, so you can take out short term insurance cover whilst learning (say, for 4 weeks, or 3 months, etc) rather than going on Mum or Dad’s insurance where you’d be paying a sum for the whole year.  As such this can work out much cheaper.  Don’t forget to use the discount code 336723 if you speak with them.

One of my students recently found another great deal.  While searching he came across a company offering similar short term deals to Collingwood – Marmalade Insurance – before settling on something I’ve not come across before.

A-Choice offered him a deal where the insurance premium is set through the life of the policy.  What this means is that he pays the same each month, even after he passes his test.  Normally you can find cheaper insurance while you learn, with the price sky-rocketing after you pass (obviously as you are now driving on your own for the first time and, therefore, a higher risk).  Whilst the initial payments aren’t as cheap as they could otherwise be, the policy works out cheaper in the long run and also includes another benefit – he is starting to build up his No Claims Discount immediately, something which, in my experience, is quite unusual – normally a new driver would need to drive for a year before they start accruing NCD, so this is well worth looking at.

If you’ve come across any other good deals for learners / new drivers, please comment below or email me at simon@simanndriving.co.uk

Insurance Tips

One of the biggest costs for drivers (especially new drivers) is insurance, so how can you keep the costs down?

Martin Lewis’ site, Money Saving Expert, has published a guide to saving money on insurance and you can read it here.

There is also a section specifically aimed at cheaper insurance for young drivers here.

While you are learning, you can get specialised learner insurance through Collingwood Insurance, quoting the discount code 336723 for even better deals.  Collingwood deal with short term policies for learner drivers from 7 to 24 days – this will often work out far more cost effective than just getting added onto a parent’s insurance policy (which would normally be charged for the whole duration of the policy, i.e. up to a full year).

If you have found a great insurance policy, either as a learner, or as a newly qualified driver, please leave details in the comments below, and please share this post to help your friends find better insurance deals.

The Proposed New Driving Test

Last week I was at a meeting about the proposed changes to the practical driving test.  In April trials start at a number of test centres across the country to see the effectiveness of the proposals.  The changes that have been proposed are as follows:

  • The Turn In The Road and Reverse Left are to be dropped in favour of driving forwards into a parking bay then reversing out and pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing back two car lengths, then moving off again.
  • Currently two safety questions (Show Me / Tell Me) are asked at the start of the test. Now one of these will be asked during the test, while the candidate is on the move.
  • The Independent Drive section of the test will be increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes and a Sat Nav utilised to give the route. This section will also include the normal checks of pulling the car in and pulling away and the reversing manoeuvre which are currently undertaken outside of the ID section.

As with when the Independent Driving section was added to the test a few years ago, these changes are designed to more accurately mimic real life driving.  Whilst very few people I’ve spoken to admit to pulling up on the right, reversing back a couple of car lengths and pulling off again, the reversing part is added to ensure it meets the legal requirement for a manoeuvre in the test.   The safety question on the move is designed to act as a distraction whilst driving, much as we come across every day.  Sat Navs will be supplied by the DVSA for the test and will be pre-programmed with a route, including stopping off points along the way.

The discussion turned to the outgoing manoeuvres, Turn In The Road and Reverse Left, and whether people would stop teaching them.  The general consensus (and one I subscribe to) is that we teach people to drive, not pass the test.  The Turn In The Road is an excellent way of beginning to teach a student the skills necessary to manoeuvre the car and both are important real world skills.  To stop teaching them would be to offer a service less than is being paid for.

What are your thoughts on the new test?  Please comment below.

Hazard Perception

Following my blog about the Theory Test, Driving Test Success have recently published a blog with hints and tips for the Hazard Perception section of the test.

Pop over to the Driving Test Success website to see what they have to say about it.

Don’t forget you can also use their online trainer to practice for your theory test on simanndriving.co.uk

Preparing For The Theory Test

One question I always get asked when I first speak with a student is regarding the best books to get to revise for the Theory Test.  There are a multitude of books and DVDs available, so how do I know what to get?

There is a page on my website which details most of the best study aids for the theory test, each image linking through to the relevant page on Amazon.co.uk, but I thought I’d detail the best ones on here to make it simple.

Firstly, there are two books which I would consider absolutely essential, read and understand these two and you’ll pass the theory test with no problems.  The first is The Highway Code.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code

First published in 1931 (check out a digitised copy of the first edition here), The Highway Code has been updated a number of times to reflect various changes on our roads.  The latest revision was published in 2007 and costs £2.50 (currently £1.99 on Amazon).  It contains various rules and laws for any road users, from pedestrians up to motor vehicle drivers.  Any rule which includes the red words “Must” or “Must Not” is a legal requirement and failure to observe can lead to points on the licence, fines and driving bans, some of the most serious leading to a prison sentence.  Whilst other rules (identified with the words “Should” “Should not” “Do or “Do not”) are not legal requirements per-se, failure to adhere to these rules could be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability.

The Highway Code is also available online for free at https://www.gov.uk/highway-code

The second book is The Official DSA Guide To Driving, The Essential Skills.

Driving, The Essential Skills

Driving, The Essential Skills

Costing £12.99 (currently £8.93 on Amazon), this book gives advice and tips on driving, above and beyond the rules laid out in the Highway Code.  Although quite a thick book, The Essential Skills is quite an easy read, broken down into logical sections and is a recommended read for experienced drivers as well as learners.

Between these two books you will gain enough knowledge to pass your theory test, although don’t forget that you aren’t just studying for the test – this knowledge is essential for driving in general.

As an addition to these two books, I highly recommend the series of DVDs published by Focus Multimedia.  In particular I’d suggest getting All Tests which covers the Theory Test, the Hazard Perception Test and various aspects of the Practical Test. Currently £7.14 on Amazon, this is readily available in various supermarkets and Staples for about £5-6. It is also available as an online subscription at http://www.simanndriving.co.uk/training/dts/ for up to £10 for a 6 month subscription.  Also available are versions for various smartphones at http://theorytestapp.co.uk/  These are very handy for studying wherever you are, but lack some of the more advanced features of the DVD version.  If you intend getting the phone apps, I’d suggest you also invest in the DVD.

Using this DVD (or online subscription), you can take mock tests, keeping track of your progress. The software will chart your results over time and details the various subjects within the test so that you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are, allowing you then to focus tests on specific areas.

Don’t forget, however, that the DSA have, over the last couple of years, changed the way that study aids help in your revision. Previously all the questions that you could be asked were published in software such as this DVD as well as various Theory Test Books.  This is not the case any more – to prevent people learning by rote, published questions are not identical to those asked in the test.  The idea behind this is to ensure students study and understand the subject properly.

Beyond the above three essential products, I would also recommend Know Your Traffic Signs.

Know Your Traffic Signs

Know Your Traffic Signs

This book is currently £3.74 on Amazon, but is also available as a free PDF at http://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/uploads/3/2/9/2/3292309/know-road-traffic-signs.pdf – very handy to download onto your smartphone so you can revise on the go.  A short history of road signs and a section on the system used on British roads precedes images of most of the signs you will ever come across.  It is clearly laid out and it won’t take long before you understand any road sign you see.

So, for about £15 you can get all the essential material you need to successfully study for your theory test.  Read, understand, practice and it’ll be a doddle.