Interesting stuff

Emergency blue light response

At some point we will all see in our mirrors, or heading towards us, an emergency vehicle. How should you react? What is the law? What can we do to help the emergency services?

Follow this link to watch the “Blue Light Aware Video


Handsfree calls and driving

Have you ever attempted to hold a conversation on your handsfree while maintaining safe driving and good awareness?  Click here and give it a go!!  How good are you?


Tips & Benefits Of Defensive Driving

Whether you are a brand new driver, or someone who has been driving for many years, you have probably heard the phrase “defensive driving.” However, it may be that you haven’t actually considered what the phrase means for quite some time. There are important distinctions between simply driving safely and driving defensively, and they are important to recognize if you are going to be responsible on the road.

Driving safe is a general effort that most of us make to some extent. Defensive driving, however, is a way to make sure that you are not only being safe, but also compensating for potential mistakes from other drivers. Practicing defensive driving keeps you and the drivers and pedestrians around you as safe as possible, and also reduces the potential that you will ever need to make an Aviva insurance claim due to a driving issue. Here are a few of the basic principles of defensive driving, specifically with regard to managing road spacing and speed.

Managing your spacing and speed on the road, with regard to your surroundings, is one of the most crucial aspects of defensive driving. Here are a few specifics on what you need to consider.

  • Stop Time – It is extremely important when driving to maintain an appropriate distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Sudden hazards, reckless driving, etc. can cause the vehicle in front of you to swerve or slam the brakes, and with enough space you can have adequate time to stop, preventing an accident.
  • Vision – Maintaining accurate vision on the road also means maintaining appropriate space between yourself and the vehicles on either side of you. Driving for too long with vehicles around you on all sides prevents you from judging and managing the road on your own, which reduces your preparation for potential hazards and puts you at risk.
  • Surroundings – It is also important to maintain space between your vehicle and other surroundings, such as pedestrians or parked cars on the side of the road. Surroundings can be unpredictable (for example, a car door can open, or a kid may run into the street), and by allowing space and caution you can prevent these sudden occurrences from being disastrous.
  • Progress – Part of managing road space is also about making appropriate progress when speeding up. If you drive too slowly, or take too long to speed up after a stop, the cars behind you may become impatient, which can lead to recklessness. Keeping up an appropriate, but not excessive speed and acceleration is important for distancing yourself from the car behind you.
  • Preparation – Managing speed also comes into play as you prepare to make turns, or approach hazards. In these situations it is important to drive only as fast as is appropriate based on what you can see at a given time. For example, if the road curves but the speed limit doesn’t change, you still need to reduce speed to manage the curve.


Driving In A Mechanically Sympathetic Way

When learning to drive it is well worth concentrating on driving in a mechanically sympathetic way which will both save you money in the future and provide your passengers and driving test examiner with a smoother and more pleasant ride.

The key to driving smoothly and looking after your car is the careful and considerate use of the car`s controls. Let`s look at the clutch first.

The clutch is the link between the car`s engine and its gearbox. When the clutch pedal is pushed fully to the floor the engine and gearbox are disengaged. The appropriate gear is then selected and the clutch pedal gradually raised to re-engage them. Stalling occurs when the clutch is engaged (raised) too quickly. Correct use of the clutch will extend both its life and that of the gearbox. It is very important to fully disengage the clutch before changing gear, not doing so can damage the teeth of the gear cogs and can be a very costly mistake.

To save fuel and keep the car running well you should select the highest gear possible without the car seeming to labour. Labouring is when the car will not respond to the accelerator being pressed as quickly as it should. Your rev counter can be a good guide but the best indication is listening to the engine and getting to know the car well whilst on your driving lessons. Looking and thinking ahead at roundabouts and junctions may save you having to stop the car and pull away in first gear, again, this saves fuel and wear and tear. Down shifting to slow down also saves your brakes and demonstrates good driving skills to the examiner.

Once in the appropriate gear, acceleration should be smooth and gradual. Racing up to the car in front and then braking behind it wastes fuel and your brake pads. Driving too fast, accelerating too rapidly and unnecessary braking can increases fuel consumption by 33%. Keeping your distance and thinking ahead can allow you to simply come off the accelerator and slow down naturally. This is well worth practising with your driving instructor as it shows your examiner you are a sensible and thoughtful driver. You will also be better able to see and react to any hazards on the road such as pot holes or debris. If you have cruise control then use it, it can save 5-10% in fuel costs.

Whilst driving try to keep your foot off the brake pedal completely, even the slightest pressure can create drag which wastes fuel and causes the engine to work harder than it needs to. Similarly, try not to drive with a hand on the gear stick as the constant downward pressure can damage the gear box.

It is also best to keep a fairly full fuel tank, driving with a near-empty tank increases the chances of moisture, dirt or rust entering the fuel system. Having plenty of fuel is also a good idea because you never know what is round the corner, there may be a 10 mile traffic jam or diversion ahead and you need enough fuel to cope with these unforeseen circumstances.

Correct maintenance of your car will improve its lifespan and efficiency. Regularly check water, oil, transmission fluid and brake fluid levels and replace the air filters regularly. It is also important to keep your tyres inflated and check them for wear. Regular services are essential and MOTs are a legal requirement. Even a brief scan of car-related online forums such as those at shows that the main cause of breakdown is poor maintenance.


Driving Test Nerves

Unfortunately, even the calmest among us tend to get seriously nervous before taking a driving test. Although we all know that being nervous about such things is a little silly, it is hard to avoid. However, whilest you may never lose that nervous feeling entirely, there are a few things you can do to ease matters.

Before Taking The Test
The most important thing to do when taking any type of test is to make sure you are suitably prepared. Don`t book your test until you are confident you have had enough practice and that your driving standards are up to scratch. Just bear in mind that your driving performance will likely be a little lower than usual on the day and this factor should be taken into account. With regard to the theory test, take as many online sample tests as you can (there are plenty available) and get friends or family to test you.

Once you feel you are ready for the test you can go ahead and book it. However, there are one or two things to consider here. First is the timing of the test, a factor which could be crucial. For example, try and avoid tests that take place in the late afternoon. Not only is this the time of day when most people`s energy levels slump but you will also have the whole of the day to worry about it. In addition, ensure you don`t book a test when you have other commitments to worry about such as university exams or wedding preparations.

You should also ensure you book your test at the right test centre. If a number of your friends or colleagues have failed their test at a certain centre this is likely to affect your confidence a little. Instead, opt for the centre where the majority of people you know actually passed their test. Believe it or not, this will make quite a difference.

Avoid telling anyone and everyone when you are going to be taking the test. This will just add to the pressure as you will be compelled to live up to the expectations of your friends or work colleagues. Stick to telling your parents only, who will be sure to provide all the encouragement you need.

Finally, ensure your instructor takes you for a mock test. Ask them to get you to do all the manoeuvres you most struggle with and try and take this mock test as seriously as you would the real thing and, most importantly, make sure you get a good night`s sleep the day before the test.

On The Day
Upon waking on the day of your test, hopefully after a good sleep, start by thinking positively. Repeat to yourself that you are going to do fine and promise yourself to stay calm througout, then you can ensure you enjoy a good healthy breakfast.

Choose your outfit carefully. Of course, you don`t want to make a bad impression with the examiner before you even start but you don`t want to wear something that may restrict your movement either. Go for something that is both comfortable and makes you feel good.

Ensure you arrive in plenty of time, rushing around at the last minute is a sure way to add to the nerves. Relax by taking a few deep breaths and clenching and releasing your muscles. Speak clearly and confidently with the examiner, smile and remember they are only human too. The fact is, they are likely to want you to pass as much as you do.

Listen to the examiner`s instructions carefully and explain any actions you make, should you think they may be misunderstood. Try and enjoy the drive as much as you can, as difficult as this may be and above all, drive smoothly. Afterall, having to call out for roadside assistance during your test will not make a great impression at all.

Top ten cars for first time drivers

First time drivers need to think carefully about the car that they will choose after they have passed their test. Of course it needs to look cool and be fun to drive but must also be economical, safe and cheap to insure. Here are ten of the top cars for first time drivers just out of driving school. To more fully understand this list, it is worth looking
at used car reviews

Fiat Punto
Italian flair can be hard to find in a first car but the Punto packs it all in. Even 10 year old models still look cool and they can be cheap to buy and run, just avoid high milers or those with patchy histories.

Ford Ka
One of the most popular first cars around, while the revised new edition may be hot right now there are tons of older examples out there waiting for a new owner. Fun to drive, plenty of character and with solid reliability, the Ka is a keeper.

Renault Clio
Another supermini with a venerable history, the Clio has undergone various facelifts but kept its cheeky charm. Solid safety and impressive comfort for a small car is countered with some known reliability issues, so check thoroughly before you buy.

Ford Fiesta
Giving a bit more space than the Ka but retaining the Ford build quality and driving experience, you can get a decent Fiesta for under a grand if you shop around.

Volkswagen Polo
This German manufacturer has consistently created great small cars for new drivers and you do not have to be as wary of high mileage on this model since it will run forever with little or no trouble.

Toyota Yaris
This is probably the best value for money vehicle on this list, offering cheap running costs, affordable insurance and a high level of reliability which even premium European manufacturers rarely match.

Vauxhall Corsa
Yet another classic little range of vehicles, the cars made between 2000 and 2006 are probably the best bet for first time drivers as they blend modern features, fuel economy and good looks to make the perfect

Peugeot 206
Another French offering, this is one to pick if you are looking for a small, competitively priced diesel, although the petrol editions are equally as good and the unusual styling will definitely help you stand out.

Ford Focus
While the Focus may be a little less exciting than some of its rivals, it provides far more space, larger engines and good reliability. Maintenance is also inexpensive because it is such a common car and new drivers will be able to get all their gear inside it with ease when they head out on that first road trip.

Seat Ibiza
A good alternative to the Focus is the Ibiza, which has always had style on its side and is surprisingly well equipped when you consider the relatively small amount you will pay for a well looked after example. You can get 50 miles per gallon from the 1.2 engine version, helping to offset rising fuel costs.