January 6, 2016
Motorway Lessons for Learners

Learner drivers will be given motorway experience with an instructor before they can pass their driving test under new plans announced by the government.

The Department for Transport is considering the move as a way to make sure learners are properly prepared for everyday driving before they pass their tests. Under the plans, they would be allowed to gain experience on motorways under the supervision of an approved driving instructor.

Currently motorists are only allowed on the motorway once they have passed their practical test. The possibility of learners on motorways will be explored under a £2M project of examining driver education. It will look at whether the current regime gives the best training for learner and novice drivers. Compulsory basic training for learner motorcyclists will also be reviewed.

As part of a plan of reforms known as the road safety plan, transport ministers are also planning a £50M grant for better cycling training in schools, and looking at forcing lorries to keep their sideguards to better protect cyclists.

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December 3, 2015
Passing First Time Doesn’t Make You A Safe Driver

Those who take three attempts to pass their driving test are the safest drivers on the road. By contrast, ‘overly confident’ motorists who pass their driving test first time around are most likely to be in an accident. That is because they seem to be more ‘rash’ in their behaviour and take more risks compared to more cautious drivers who may fail at their first attempt, a new report has revealed.

The report by LV= car insurance also found that those who have to take their driving test multiple times before passing are less likely to be pulled over for drink-driving or dangerous driving.

The study looked at the driving records of those who passed after one, two, three or four or more driving tests. Researchers said they uncovered a connection between the number of times a driver takes his or her practical driving test and the likelihood of being involved in an incident such as a collision or being caught driving dangerously. This is thought to be down to over-confidence. The report notes that those who fail their first test say it was largely down to nerves and lack of confidence, which while temporarily denying them a licence, ironically means they may be safer once they do pass.

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= car insurance said that those who pass first time pass because they are confident. By contrast, he said if you fail first time, you could take comfort in the fact that your natural nervousness or caution will serve you well once you get a licence.

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November 26, 2015
Further Examiner Strikes

Some driving examiners are planning to take strike action at various times from Tuesday 1st December until Friday 4th December 2015.

Some driving examiners who are members of the Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union are planning to take strike action.

PCS has planned action at various times from Tuesday 1st December until Friday 4th December 2015.

DVSA is doing all it can to make sure that tests go ahead as planned. Not all examiners are union members, and many test centres are expected to be operating as normal.

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November 19, 2015
UPDATE: Driving Examiner Strikes

There is the potential for strike action by some driving examiners on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th November 2015. The DVSA wants all instructors and their pupils to turn up for their driving test despite this.

DVSA is doing all it can to make sure that tests go ahead as planned and recommends that you turn up for your test. You’ll get details of your new appointment within 5 to 10 working days.

You can claim out-of-pocket expenses if your test is cancelled, but you must have turned up for you test to do this. If you don’t turn up for your test, you’ll have to rebook your own test and you won’t be able to claim out of pocket expenses.

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November 18, 2015
Your Reaction Age

A new test has been developed that tests your reaction age. The online game gives you a driving age from 18 to ‘a very, very old person’ based on your ability to perform an emergency stop.

The game was created by London-based start-up Justpark.com, which matches drivers with spare car parking spaces.

It places a player behind a virtual steering wheel as they begin to drive down a road. They are asked to strike a key on their keyboard as quickly as possible to perform an ‘emergency stop’ when a red stop sign appears on the screen. The driving age is then swiftly displayed on the screen.

The results are based on the results of a survey of 2,000 people aged 18 and over who were asked to play the game. The reaction time was plotted against their age. The predicted age is the age that most closely matched the age of people with that reaction time.

The company behind the game found left-handed people had better reactions times than their right-handed peers, and men were very marginally faster on the ‘brakes’ than women. Drivers who get behind the wheel at least once a week reacted more swiftly than less regular motorists, while heavy drivers who consume between 31 and 40 units of alcohol a week had slower reaction times than occasional drinkers. People who reported drinking between one and five coffees or teas a day were more alert during the test than those who avoided caffeine.

You can try out the test here.

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November 12, 2015
Driving Examiners To Strike

Driving test examiners have voted to go on strike in a row over working hours. The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said its members had walkouts by 91% and other forms of industrial action by 96% in a turnout of 64%.

The union represents 1,600 DVSA staff at 360 sites across the UK, including driving examiners and officers who carry out vehicle and traffic safety checks. The row is over new working patterns which the union say will lead to longer shifts.

The union said it will now consider possible dates for industrial action.

Britannia Driving School will advise pupils who may be affected by this as more details are announced.

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November 9, 2015
Driving Tests And Bad Weather

The DVSA have released guidance on exams during bad weather. The main priority for the DVSA is to make sure that it’s safe to go ahead with the driving test for the candidate, other road users and the examiner. All candidates should be assessed fairly, to prove they are capable of continuing to learn without further supervision. Therefore, letting them take their test in adverse weather conditions may disadvantage them.

During the winter, driving examiners actively try to continue testing wherever possible. They will regularly check the road conditions and use areas which are unaffected. They’ll also regularly monitor local weather forecasts and use this information to make informed local decisions. This means that although early morning tests may be cancelled, there’s still a chance the afternoon appointments may go ahead.

During snowy spells, examiners have to consider issues such as visibility of road markings and general road conditions of the local area. They may also need to make some adjustments, for instance, offering to meet the candidate at a suitable location close to the test centre if the test centre car park is covered in snow.

Pupils can get in touch with DVSA and stay up to date about whether or not driving tests are going ahead by either phoning the test centre, calling the DVSA, or contacting them via social media.

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October 28, 2015
Blind Man Fulfils Driving Dream

An 88-year-old blind man has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to drive a car. John Cramond from Stranraer, South Scotland, lost his sight as a young boy and never had the opportunity to get behind the wheel until last weekend.

He mentioned his dream of driving a car to Leonard Cheshire Disability volunteer co-ordinator Bill Milven. He approached driving instructor James Edgar who has a dual control vehicle and together they hatched a plan to allow Mr Cramond the chance to drive.

Last Saturday morning Edgar took Mr Cramond to a war-time airstrip near Stranraer where he spent an hour behind the wheel. He proved to be a speedy learner and stated he was buzzing with excitement all day and couldn’t wait to tell his family.

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October 15, 2015
Van Bullies Pupil On Test

An appalling video shows the moment a white van man tried to bully and intimidate a learner driver – as she was taking her driving test.

The footage, taken on Monday morning in west Edinburgh, shows the learner driver travelling within the speed limit in a residential area when the van races up behind her.

Forced to slow down, he repeatedly pulls up close to her rear bumper in an apparent attempt to intimidate her into breaking the limit – meaning she would fail her test. Then, when the learner stops to allow oncoming traffic with the right of way to pass, he throws up his hands, accelerates sharply, honks his horn and revs his engine whilst shouting at the clearly marked driving school car.

During the test the driving centre examiner reportedly told the candidate, ‘ignore the man in the van, he is completely in the wrong’ and she went on to pass the driving test.

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October 7, 2015
Test Waiting Times

The DVSA has apologised for the increase in waiting times for driving tests. Certain areas have seen a substantial increase in waiting times for tests and a number of driving instructors have complained to the DVSA.

The DVSA said that were three reasons for the increase:

The economic recovery – more people are taking driving lessons again

More examiners retiring

There has been a surge in people in their 20s taking tests, after leaving it longer to learn to drive

There were 407,000 car driving test between January and March 2015, a 5.2% increase on the same period last year with demand increasing. The DVSA said that it had forecasted the increase in demand and also knew that there were a number of examiners retiring and began recruitment in October 2014, with further campaigns in March and October this year.

Various options have been considered to deal with the increase in demand such as the involvement of the private sector and examiners taking a photograph of the driver as soon as they have passed, so their licence can be processed quickly.

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