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Food to help you enjoy your trip to Blackpool

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Discover great places to eat so you can make the most of your trip to Blackpool.

Boonnak Thai Restaurant

A fabulous, charming little find, a real hidden gem. Friendly traditional welcome from the staff and great service. Pleasant atmosphere and spotlessly clean, bright and spacious. Even the cleanliness of restrooms deserves a mention. The truly authentic food is delicious, fresh, beautifully presented and very good value.The early bird menu is particularly good value. There is a wide range of fish and seafood dishes for those that don’t eat meat and a good choice of tasty, vegetarian and vegan dishes.

West Coast Rock Cafe

Amazing atmosphere, amazing music, amazing food, amazing drinks. Superb food, right on time, hot and at a great price. Great with kids, well looked after with a play area for them. Attentive, friendly, helpful and polite staff. A lovely cafe that is clean and tidy. Although very heavily meat orientated there is a choice of vegetarian options.McHalls Bistro

McHalls Bistro

Friendly, down to earth, service and atmosphere, and high-quality cuisine worthy of a fine dining restaurant. The food is beautifully and expertly prepared, cooked and presented and is extremely tasty.  The menu choices are plentiful and inviting, a perfect selection in all three courses. There is also a good selection of beers, wines and spirits all reasonably priced. The Bistro itself has a lovely ambience, cosy with a lovely, personal, homely feel. It is an amazing place, spotlessly clean and tidy. Highly recommended.

Ambrosini’s

Amazing, incredible food, so fresh and delicious, proper Italian food. The front of house staff are delightful, warm and friendly yet professional and courteous, they really look after you. A great place, a real diamond find, it is only small, seating 15-20 people, but the staff are really accommodating and flexible when fitting in party bookings.

Hauze Restaurant

A great little find. Lovely, fantastic customer service, friendly and attentive making you feel really welcome. If you’re looking for something different this Latvian Russian fusion menu will not disappoint, vegetarian-friendly, vegan and gluten-free options are also available. The food is delicious, consistently high standard and all reasonably priced. The restaurant is nicely laid out and caters for couples or large groups with a great atmosphere, soft lighting and lovely background music, really inviting.

Montagues

An independent neighbourhood restaurant & bar, offering a small, considered menu that is cooked from scratch using well-sourced, local ingredients. Open every day for breakfast and lunch, open evenings Thursdays to Sundays. A lovely, friendly little Bistro, warm and welcoming, staff very friendly and attentive. Gorgeous food.

Othello’s Greek

If you love Greek food you must visit this restaurant. The staff are very friendly and welcoming and the service is very efficient. All food is authentic Greek, excellent, delicious and of the highest standard and very reasonably priced. The restaurant is exceptionally clean and there is a lovely atmosphere. Certainly worth a visit.

Ziggy’s Cafe Bar

This is a lovely little David Bowie-themed cafe just at the back of the town centre which serves really good quality and innovative food at reasonable prices. A friendly welcome, quality drinks including alcohol, good food, sensible prices. Great for delicious homemade cakes, afternoon tea or just a drink and a light snack. There are lots of choices and the servings are large, freshly cooked and great value for money. Nice clean cafe with a great atmosphere.

These are just a few of the numerous and varied places to eat in Blackpool. From fast food outlets and teashops to fine dining, there’s something to suit all tastes, budgets and requirements.

Other things to look at or do in Blackpool:

Heather TrimnellFood to help you enjoy your trip to Blackpool
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Food to help you enjoy your trip to Rochdale

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Places to eat in Rochdale

Finding out the nice places to eat will help ensure you have a good trip to Rochdale.

If you are visiting Rochdale, then why not stop for something to eat! There is a wide variety of cuisine available, British, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai.

The Green Door, Littleborough, Rochdale

This great, child-friendly restaurant serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and After-hours. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available. You will receive a warm welcome from the friendly staff. the atmosphere is relaxed with impeccable service and fabulous food.

Nutters Restaurant, Rochdale

An excellent example of an English restaurant, comfortable and with a relaxed atmosphere. Luxurious, gourmet food, fine dining at it’s best at a reasonable price. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available.

The Pavilion 2 Bangladeshi Restaurant, Rochdale

Simply amazing food with friendly, attentive, welcoming staff. Authentic dishes, menu descriptions are spot on so mild means mild and hot means hot. Very good value, generous portions.

Springhill Tearoom and Gift Shop

Raising money for the Springhill Hospice this tea shop is run by friendly local volunteers. The food is excellent, they serve breakfast, light lunches, snacks and afternoon tea. There is a well-stocked gift shop, which sells a range of gifts, cards and Hospice merchandise.

The Waterside Restaurant and Winebar, Littleborough, Rochdale

A great venue with lovely views of the surrounding countryside, situated by the Rochdale canal and nearby Hollingworth Lake. The atmosphere is cosy, homely and welcoming and the staff are friendly and engaging providing excellent service. The food is fantastic, well cooked, tasty and excellent quality.

Madisons Restaurant

This is a wonderful restaurant in central Rochdale. Both the food and service are excellent. The perfect venue for a party they will even provide a cake if you’re celebrating a birthday. The staff are kind, understanding and flexible when catering for special dietary needs.

CockaDoodleMoo Rochdale

Very pleasant, welcoming staff who are friendly and helpful. Genuine American style slow-cooked smokehouse food served in generous portions. Very reasonable prices and the place is spotlessly clean.

This is just a few of the many amazing places to eat in Rochdale. There are restaurants, cafes and takeaways to suit all tastes and budgets.

Other things to look at or do in Rochdale:

Heather TrimnellFood to help you enjoy your trip to Rochdale
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food to help you enjoy your trip to wirral

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Places to eat in Wirral

Finding out the nice places to eat in Wirral will help ensure you have a good trip to Wirral.

If you are having a trip over to Wirral, then why not have a bite to eat! Wirral plays host to lots of great restaurants, local cuisines, Fine dining restaurants and you have a great choice from Local to Chinese to Indian to Italian food (one of my favs!).

The TeeRoom, West Kirby, Wirral

 This is a little gem and well worth the visit. It’s in excellent condition, has great service and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. You can get Breakfast all the way to supper. But you probably want to book a table as it does get very busy – the word is already out about this great local small place!

Fraiche, Wirral

This is a place that you want to visit over and over again! It plays host to beautiful food and clever selections of wines. Great ambience and a must.

Driftwood Cafe, New Brighton, Wirral

If you are after a spot of lunch in a nice setting just off the prom then look no more. You will love the sandwiches made here and try not to resist the lovely cakes!

Isabelle’s Tea Rooms, Heswall, Wirral

If you are doing a spot of shopping in Heswall and want to take the weight off your legs, then having a nice cuppa and a cake at Isabelle’s will be just what the doctor ordered. Sit back, relax and think about your next shopping purchase while finishing your cuppa.

Grove House Hotel Restaurant, Wallasey, Wirral

Not only a great restaurant to eat at. You could also have a bottle of wine or 2 and stay the night! They also have gluten-free and vegan choices!

Nova, Heswall, Wirral

Locally sourced food served by the staff that are fantastic all day long. The menu changes regularly so you must visit more often to enjoy the full flavours and taste that this places offers.

The Mediterranean Kitchen, Bebington, Wirral

As the name suggests, it’s a Mediterranean food place. The food is beautifully cooked, presented well and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It even has a top floor if you have an occasion to celebrate.

These are just a few places to eat. In Wirral, they have over 600! So you can be sure to find a restaurant or eating place that caters to your tastes, budget and needs.

Other things to look at or do in Wirral:

Directions from New Brighton to 123 Driving School in Wirral

 

Chris Richardsfood to help you enjoy your trip to wirral
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Winter Driving tips help and advise this winter

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With winter finally upon us and shop windows everywhere filled with stick-on snowflakes and winter-themed drinks, are we ready for the real winter outside? According to the weather forecasters, we are set for a particularly cold one! This I find means different things to different people, my 5-year-old sits in the window watching for the first snowflake, my Nan buys in supplies and hibernates and driving instructors … well, try to survive the cancelled tests and lessons.

Winter theory 10 times stopping distances in ice

10x Normal Stopping Distances in Icy conditions

So are we.. the royal we.. prepared for icy roads, snow blizzards and the general chaos of winter traffic? The forecast for this winter is for the exact opposite of last winter, colder, less rainfall and less storms. It is predicted that there will be a higher incidence of wintry weather including snow, frost and low temperatures. I have already had to defrost my car once.. which would have been a lot easier if i’d prepared by buying some de-icer! So on the news of further bad weather to come our way and my lack of preparation I thought.. How many of us do actually make any preparations for winter driving? Our driving instructors are out in all weather and to them filling the boot with emergency essentials is common place, I’ve seen shovels, blankets, cereal bars and hot flasks.  Also many new drivers passing their tests in the summer may never have encountered icy roads before and does everyone remember the theory of driving in wintry conditions? And thats different wintry conditions as one journey in this country could entail rain one minute and hail the next, so we need to know how to adjust to all extremes.

This blog was actually good for me to research too, not being an instructor like my fellow colleagues it was great to test myself on how much I remembered from taking my theory test. I found that not only did I not remember some of the theory a lot of it was new advice, practical tips that I feel make all the difference to being a more confident winter driver. It maybe that the process of revising for our theory tests focused our minds only on the questions and answers rather than all round safe driving knowledge. So even if you feel that you know all your winter driving theory and are a seasoned pro, its worth a read!!

So here is our 123-drive guide to winter driving to keep you and your car safe over the winter period! 

1) take the bus

…. only joking !!

2) Don’t eat yellow snow!!…… only joking, but seriously don’t!

The best way to be prepared is to first ensure your car is fully checked and it a good idea to have your car fully serviced before the winter period. The RAC gets more call outs for battery related breakdowns down any other and at this time of year thats one thing we could do without. so try to have your battery checked and avoid being stranded. below are a list of checks that you should be able to do your self ( for me with the help of a handbook!!)

1) Check that all lights are clean and working properly

2) Windowscreen, wiper blades and all other windows are clean and that the washer bottle is filled with screen wash.

3) Check the condition of all tyres, tread depth and pressure.

4) Brakes are all working properly.

5) check anti freeze levels ( needs to be accurate concentration ) and also oil.

 

Rospa the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also recommends that you have an emergency kit containing the following; tow rope, shovel, wellington boots, a hazard warning triangle, first aid kit, working torch, car blanket, warm clothes, emergency rations, de-icing kit and ensure that your phone is fully charged. Now all this may seem a bit extreme if all you do is go to the local shop once  week. However if considering a long journey or a journey on remote rural roads and being mindful of the latest weather report if you think theres a slightest chance its better to be safe than sorry.

Rospa also suggests that you prepare yourself for the journey ensuring that if you are travelling to meet someone that they are aware of your Expected Time of Arrival therefore will be alert if you do not arrive. Have an alternative route just in case your previous route is no longer preferred. Ensure that your fuel tank is full and if you do become stranded be careful not to waste all your fuel on keeping the engine running to keep warm. And although tempting to leave as soon as possible, try to wait until your heater is blowing warm air first to avoid window screens misting up.

At this time of year many of us will be suffering from colds etc, consider if you are fit to drive and check any medication to ensure it will not cause you drowsiness. But importantly prepare yourself knowledge wise consider how you will have to adjust to each different type of weather.

Snow/ Ice and hail driving

As with most hazardous conditions adjust to a suitable speed always baring in mind stopping distances, and as the chances of skidding in ice and snow are far greater your stopping distance will be increased massively. Only travel at the speed at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear.

1) Avoid harsh braking and accelerate gently, also avoid sharp steering. If you see a sharp bend ahead reduce speed as soon as you can and try to keep steering and actions smooth.

2) Always reduce speed gently and in plenty of time on slippery surfaces. ( bear in mind that some ice may not be visible).

3) Don’t brake on corners and bends as the centrifugal force will continue to pull the car outwards and the wheels on icy surfaces will not be able to grip the road having dangerous consequences such as spinning the car.

4) when braking drop into a lower gear and earlier than normal to allow the car to lower its speed and you may need up to 10 times the normal stopping distance.

5) Ensure your vehicle remains well ventilated, car heaters turned up will cause drowsiness. Be aware of how you feel and if your concentration is reduced.

6) If visibility is reduced used dipped headlights.

7) Remember that just because you cannot see the ice it does not mean it is not there. As roads defrost it can lead to patches of ice and these may be hard to see.

If you do get stuck in snow don’t panic, revving your engine to try and power out of the rut will cause you to make the rut worse. Instead use a higher gear to try and edge forward and backwards out of the rut…. if you are firmly stuck a kind passerby may be needed to give you a push!!

Hail unlike snow however can be dangerous to drive in and cause damage to your car and you. In a severe hail storm do not leave your vehicle, hail can fall at speed and cause you bodily harm. In severe hail try to pull over to avoid damage to your window screen, if you can try to stop under an overpass. If the hail is particularly bad park your car at an angle directed into the hail as the window screen is reinforced whereas the side windows and rear window are not.

Heavy rain and floods 

Rain although common all year round ( as we all know) hits us even harder over the winter period and when combined with cold weather and steamed up windows becomes harder to contend with. With recent years seeing record levels of rainfall and flooding becoming more common, knowing how to drive safely in these conditions is becoming more and more important. But rain also poses greater risks to the our cars, with engines these days having more electrics damp weather can cause a great deal of problems. The RAC says that during the winter months and periods of heavy rain there is always a huge increase in engine and electrical based breakdowns mostly due to people driving through standing water, which will cause catastrophic engine failure. Whereby water can be sucked into the engine and cause it to ‘lock up’. If you are unsure of the depth of the water don’t attempt to drive through it and bear in mind that the deepest part of the eater will be near the curb.

Other advice that the RAC suggest is that if you are unfortunate enough to breakdown do not leave the bonnet open whilst awaiting help as the engine will get wet and cause electrical damage.

Another problem with wet weather is the chance of Aquaplaning. This is when water on the road comes between the road and the tyres causing a lack of contact so that the car is technically floating on the water giving no grip. Its usually caused by driving too fast through standing water. Similar to driving on ice and losing grip, do not break sharply as this will cause the car to skid, instead ease off gently until you can feel the car grip again and always re test your brakes to ensure they are effective again.

Fog and poor visibility 

I am someone who knows how thick fog can get and how terrible visibility can become, living down a rural lane with ditches either side travelling along that road in impenetrable fog was a common scary jaunt. The highway code states that headlights must be used when visibility is less then 100m ( roughly the length of a football pitch)  so make a point of learning how to put your fog lights on, it may sound obvious, but many of us don’t ever have to use them and may not remember how to operate them. Ensure that your headlights are dipped all the time and try not to tail gate the lights of the car in front as you may without realising it lose your stopping distance and not pay due attention. It may help when at junctions to wind your window down if visibility is so bad, you may be able to then hear approaching traffic. But most importantly if you cant see DONT drive! its simply not worth it, take a break and wait.

If visibility improves again don’t forget to turn the fog lights off!

Driving in high winds

After last years gales and storm damage we all know how dangerous wind can be, high winds can get under a car quickly and effect your steering. Also be aware that exposed areas may be prone to strong side winds, keep your speed reduced and both hands on the wheel and keep an eye out for these exposed areas. Be careful of exposed high bridges and debris on or at the side of the road.

Other vehicles to be cautious of are those towing caravans, motorcyclists who are greatly effected and do not be tempted to use a roof top box in high winds. Tall sided vehicles may get caught by the wind so beware when overtaking. They will also protect you from the wind as you overtake but then be aware that once you pass you will again be exposed to the high winds.

Lastly it may be prudent to park away from tall trees etc, there are often lots of reports on the media of cars crushed by falling trees!

Have you got all that??

It is all a lot to take in and for the most part common sense! But I did as i was writing learn a lot myself and with our weather hitting a particularly cold spike at the moment I have even put into practice my own advice. When in a crazy hail storm on Parbold hill at the weekend I felt re assured from the research into winter driving that if the storm became worse i would know how to deal with it and keep me and my car safe! Previously i have looked out of the window and felt a sense of trepidation about going out in the car. Although I have learnt previously for my test all those years ago the theory of driving in different weather conditions the re cap was much needed!

lastly enjoy the winter driving, if it wasn’t so cold its actually quite beautiful!!!

Please leave us a comment or your best winter advice below..

Post by Samantha Richards.

Chris RichardsWinter Driving tips help and advise this winter
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❄️ Out of Power ❄️

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picture of battery powered by a mouse that has stopped due to cold

Battery flat??

Winter is definitely the season to be jolly, but it can also be stressful… and not just for us, but for our cars too!

This year has so far seen temps below average and I have heard quite a few foreboding sounds of car engines refusing to start!! Not what anyone needs when its cold and traffic will be building up the more you are delayed!!

So why does it choose the coldest most inconvenient time to run flat?

Unfortunately, car batteries contain chemicals ( not mice!! ) that require a certain temperature before they can work effectively, in the cold winter these chemical processes struggle to work. Added to this is an increased workload as engine oil thickens in the cold, making it even harder for the battery to crank the engine into life! It is more common the older your car battery, but it can also happen in some cars after just 3 years! it all depends on the Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) rating of your battery, the higher the score the greater amperage the battery can supply. The amperage is recorded by testing at -18℃ for 30 sec, a battery that gives out 500 Amps will have a CCA rating of 500, the range for all batteries is from 300-600, not much of an issue in young cars, but the older the battery and the more drain we exert on it, the more initial power it will need to start effectively.

Hints and tips to avoid the non-starter!!

It’s not all doom and gloom and there are things we can do to make for a better start in the morning, before considering investing in a new battery.

  1. After your previous journey, try to make a habit of turning off as many functions as possible before turning off the ignition, such as Heating and AC, demisters, headlights, wiper blades and unplug any devices such as chargers. All these drain from the battery and increase the starting workload for your battery the next time you start it.

  2. Try to keep the fuel tank topped up, in the winter fuel can condense and form ice in empty tanks and in the pipes, fuller tanks prevent this.

  3. If your car is not kept in a garage, try to keep it warmer via other means, such as car covers or even purpose made battery blankets!

  4. Always depress the clutch pedal! This reduces the load on the battery when starting.

  5. Between attempts to start the engine, leave it for a few moments, allowing it to recover before hopefully being successful the next attempt.

picture of Battery Booster power pack

Handy battery booster for those non-starters!

If you have regular problems starting your car or are at risk of being stranded when travelling, there are handy battery chargers that can be stored in the boot for emergencies and just clip onto your flat engine to give it the boost it needs to crank the engine. If all else fails, it may be worth investing in a battery with a good CCA score and remove the winter worry!!

 

Samantha Richards❄️ Out of Power ❄️
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Can I learn to drive before I pass my theory test

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Can I learn to drive before I pass my theory test?

As a trusted driving school we get lots of questions asked about learning to drive etc. So we have decided to create blogs for all the FAQ’s about learning to drive. This blog post is part of our Frequently Asked Questions on learning to drive.

Yes is the short answer!

You can have driving lessons before you pass your theory test. We advise you to book your theory test and start revising for it as soon as possible.

Advantages of passing your theory test fast!

Even though you don’t need to pass your theory test before you start your driving lessons if you are looking to minimise the number of lessons you need and save money then booking and passing your theory test early on in your driving lessons will help you do this.

The main reasons for this are that you will have the knowledge of the rules, road markings and have a greater depth of understanding without the driving instructor having to go through everything and spend time explaining and giving you the knowledge. This will allow you to have more time practising instead of discussing the topics at the road-side.

Ways to practice your theory test.

We use Theory Test Pro and give our students access to it as part of our lessons. This allows the user to practice topic questions and decide what areas they need to practice and revise more. To have a quick test click on the banner below and sign up for a free quick test:
Theory Test Pro in partnership with 123-drive.com

You will also need to know the Highway Code.

A lot of the theory test and driving is based on the highway code which is available for free on the government site:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code

If you have any thoughts or comments on this post, we would love to hear your opinions or views. Just leave us a comment below.

Chris RichardsCan I learn to drive before I pass my theory test
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How long will it take to learn to drive?

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How long will it take to learn to drive?

As a trusted driving school we get lots of questions asked about learning to drive etc. So we have decided to create blogs for all the FAQ’s about learning to drive. This blog post is part of our Frequently Asked Questions on learning to drive.

When you are trying to work out how many hours it will take you to learn to drive, you have to remember an old cliche “everyone is different”.

Everyone is different so you may need 30 hours and your friend may have 60 hours! But you can do a few things to make sure you reduce the number you need (see below)

Our average number of lesson from a beginner to passed.

We do find that as a driving school we do have an average of around 30 hours from a total beginner. This is a lot less than the DVSA published in 2008 after a major study of learner car drivers found that on average people who passed their driving test had 47 hours of tuition and 20 hours of private practice. But that also means we have learner drivers who take longer or have had fewer lessons. Don’t be fooled by some driving schools saying they have an average of 20 hours! They may not be talking about complete beginners!!!

What you can do to minimise the number of lessons you need to pass your driving test.

We have asked our learners, driving instructors and also looked into the patterns of learner driver’s behaviour to give you these top 10 ways to reduce the number of lessons you need. The learner drivers with the best habits tend to progress the quickest.


1. Make sure you have a great driving instructor that you get on with.

It seems sensible to suggest that you need to be able to “get on with” your driving instructor. But it will make a huge difference. You have to be able to relate to them trust them and they should be able to help you understand and reflect on your performance while working with you to hit your goals. This alone will help you reduce the number of hours you need. If you don’t like your instructor, you won’t learn as quickly, the time between lessons will be spent worrying about them and time in the car will drag and not be used effectively.

Make sure you get on with your instructor to ensure you learn quicker

So what makes a great driving instructor? Aren’t all instructors the same?

All driving instructors who are legal, are registered with the DVSA. But we do find that the quality of driving instructors differs dramatically. If you have an instructor who is just “doing it for pocket money” as they are near retirement, or took early retirement and are just keeping their pension topped up, they often are not enthusiastic and will not put the effort in that a dedicated and enthusiastic instructor will. Also, the DVSA have also been working to change the way driving instructors are trained as they want a more client-centred approach, with coaching and reflection as the main training tools. This is due to come in anytime around December 2017 to February 2018 after they have got parliamentary approval (it was originally scheduled for October 2017). Lots of the older generation of driving instructors will never have had any training on client-centred approaches or coaching techniques. They will be able to tell you what you need to do to pass a test, but a trained coach will be able to help you with your needs and ensure you learn the areas that you need to improve on and skip the areas you don’t, this will minimise the lessons you need but also keep you safe on today’s roads – thus making the driving test easier to pass.

Find an enthusiastic driving coach to minimise the hours you need


2. Ask and plan what you can do between lessons.

At the end of your lesson, you can discuss your goals and reflect on your lesson. But, asking simply “what can I do before my next lesson”, will give you the ideas of what you can do. Some of the things you can do to minimise the time you are paying for in a car are:

Watch Videos

Quite often, you can use youtube (you instructor can recommend good videos) to watch videos on the topics you are learning, need to improve on or even the next lesson’s topics. That way you will minimise the time needed for your instructor to give you the knowledge and they can just help you with putting your knowledge into practice.

Observe your parents/friends driving

We spend a lot of time in cars, but most people don’t ask or observe others driving. Just asking whoever is driving you, what they are doing, why and observing if you would have done the same thing, can help you massively. If you keep thinking about driving between lessons, your brain will subconsciously also think of ways to solve the problems you may have. Just learning to drive on your driving lessons will extend the number you need. However, the learner drivers that we have who are more dedicated and excited to learn to drive tend to do this automatically and have a better knowledge and understanding of their lessons.

Reflective Logs

Completing a reflective log between lessons will keep your learning points and aims fresh in your mind. This will also help you learn and think about driving when you are not just in the car.

Use handouts

Does your driving instructor have handouts or other learning material you can use? If so then use them! 🙂


3. Book your theory test as soon as possible.

When you are revising for your theory test, the knowledge and understanding you gain will dramatically help you when it comes to driving in your lessons. The learners who book, revise and pass their driving test earlier in their lessons progress the quickest. Also, you cannot book your driving test until you pass your theory test. With the current waiting times for a practical test (at the time of writing this) being long and the examiners striking, you don’t want to be ready or at test standard in your driving and have to wait longer, keeping regular lessons so you don’t drop the standard just because you didn’t pass your theory in time to book your practical test for when you are ready to take it.

We give all our students free access to Theory Test Pro to encourage this. To have a quick free test or to sign up click on the banner below:
Theory Test Pro in partnership with 123-drive.com


4. Book your practical driving test and make a plan to pass it.

Once you have passed your theory test, book your practical test! Work with your driving instructor to estimate how many hours you need, book those in the diary and then find a practical test that matches the date you will be ready. This way you can make a plan and it ensures that driving lessons are a priority, we all know that sometimes other things get in the way but if you have booked your test, then make sure you are committed to those lessons. You don’t have to worry though if you are not ready in time, you can change your test (giving at least 3 clear working days notice) to another date or ask if you can book extra lessons in on the run-up to the test to help.


5. Listen to your driving instructor and discuss topics with them.

My dad was chatting with a guy in the pub…

Yes, your driving instructor does know best! I have lost count of the number of times over the years I have been told “my dad was chatting with a guy he knows at the pub, and he said ….” Driving tests, situations, training and roads have changed a lot over the years so your “dad’s mate” who used to be an instructor 40 years ago probably is trying to help but, it’s likely not to be correct for you.

My mum said I was getting too close to the curb, or I’m driving too fast…

It’s great that your parents or guardians are getting involved and helping with private practice. But chat with your instructor on what is best. Remember, when your parent learned to drive, a lot was different. Also, they are not used to being passengers. Often, we find that after being out with parents, a learner then can’t keep to the left or they drive so slowly they become dangerous! Ask your driving instructor to explain to your parents what’s required now and what to work on. Or if your driving school has a workshop on supervising a learner or advice on the topic, encourage your parents to go to it or use it.


6. Don’t have long gaps between driving lessons.

If you have long gaps between each lesson, you will need a longer time to get back to the standard you were in the last lesson. Also, you can forget things as you may not have developed the skill into the long-term memory or developed muscle memory for that skill yet. This all adds up to wasted time in the car and means you will need more lessons 🙁


7. Get some private practice.

One of the main reasons people fail their driving test isn’t because they are not good enough, it’s often because they are not confident enough. If you are not confident in your abilities, you will overanalyse and do silly things when you are in a pressured environment – under test conditions. Be calm, get practice (legally – see our post on what you need to have private practice), with someone who isn’t your driving instructor so you know you can do it without them! If you can’t then try asking if you can have a mock test with another instructor from their driving school, this will help you become more confident.

Have a mock test with another instructor if you can’t get any private practice. This will help you be more confident.


8. Seach for workshops in your area.

If you want to save money and have fewer hours in the car with a driving instructor, then a workshop or classroom session on practical topics, theory topics and the driving test can help you minimise the number of hours you will need in a car 1-2-1. This will reduce the cost for you overall. Ask if your driving school provides this.

Workshops and training sessions can reduce the overall cost of learning to drive by giving you the knowledge and understanding of the topics in a group environment.


9. Join your driving school’s private Facebook group.

If you have questions to ask, can you ask them between lessons? Your driving instructor may not be able to reply to you as he is teaching someone else, by the time they do you are then doing something else. Giving you extra support and a place to ask questions that you can get correct answers to is another way to help you pass faster.

Join our new group today:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1559261187446106/


10. Have more than a one hour lesson a week.

If you want to maximise your learning, having at least a 2-hour lesson a week will help. If you want to learn faster, then having several 2-hour lessons will give you much more of an advantage. If you have more spare time in a week then have a look or ask about doing an intensive or semi-intensive course over one to six weeks.

 

If you have any thoughts or comments on this post, we would love to hear your opinions or views. Just leave us a comment below.

Chris RichardsHow long will it take to learn to drive?
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Driving Test Changes – New Changes to the practical test 2017

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All you need to know about the new changes to the DVSA practical test – starting in December 2017 and what effect it will have on driving lessons and the learner driver.

The driving test is changing to make it more realistic and assess the changes and challenges in driving on the UK roads today.

Will passing your driving test look any different in 2017?

Will passing your driving test look any different in 2017?

This is a long-awaited change to the driving test. The DVSA have been trialling the changes since August 2015. So why has it taken so long and will it make the drivers of tomorrow safer? I’m not sure, I will give you my full opinion later in the post but for now, let’s just say that it’s a long time coming and have a look at the changes that will take effect in December. If you have a driving test before 4th December 2017, then you will still have the old style test, so these changes won’t affect you. However, it is a good idea to read the information below and ask your instructor to train you more for post-test driving using the points below.

The four changes to the DVSA driving test:

The DVSA have made four changes to the driving test. These are good changes aimed at improving the ability of new drivers. These changes are:

1 – The independent driving part of the test will be extended from 10 minutes to last 20 minutes

The independent driving part of the test was first introduced in October 2010. The reason for this was that the biggest challenge for new drivers after passing their driving test, is learning how to make decisions; such as choosing what lane to be in, processing road signs and markings, taking in new information and dealing with distractions. It was made apparent that the DVSA has to assess these to ensure the candidate can cope with the modern-day post-test challenges. To do this they devised a way to test the candidate’s ability to drive unsupervised and to make decisions in unfamiliar situations without guidance – The Independent driving section of the driving test was born!

The changes in 2010 as outlined above was a great “wake-up call” to lots of driving instructors who just “instruct” people to drive. I saw a huge change in the way instructors conducted their driving lessons and started to think about what skills the new drivers would need. This was also backed up with the National standards for driving and riding training syllabus, developed by the DVSA in August 2013. Overall I see this a massive positive in terms of having better-skilled drivers on the road who can assess, scan and plan their journeys. This was the end of the old saying “you learn to drive when you pass your test” as all instructors (some already did) had to then teach people how to drive post-test!

So how does the new change to the Independent driving affect a learner and why has it changed?

The independent drive has basically changed to 20 minutes, double the current time of 10 minutes and around half the time of the overall test (38-40 minutes). This will make sure learners are of a higher skill level as they now have to concentrate, scan, plan and assess the situations for longer independently. You may be thinking that performing a skill for longer isn’t much of an issue? But when we train driving instructors, the driving test is longer from 40 minutes to 60 minutes. Just this simple change means that the standard of the driving has to be more consistent, and of a higher standard and is a lot harder for them to achieve (not to mention the other criteria and fewer faults allowed). So in making the independent drive longer in duration, the DVSA is increasing the standard that a Learner driver has to reach in order to pass the driving test. This point has been missed in the reporting of the changes. It will in some situations mean that the learner driver who struggles with concentrating will need more lessons to be able to perform at the level required, independently for 20 minutes. Also, the fact that they drive for longer will mean that the test routes will be changed, more challenging situations can be encountered on the route (also the reason for removal of some manoeuvres – see below). This, in theory, should increase the level of skill that a learner driver has when they pass the driving test. This can only be a good positive for road safety. 

In the independent drive, you may also be asked to follow the directions from a sat nav (see below).

2 – The learner driver will have to follow directions from a Sat Nav. Well, 4 out of 5 will!

In the Independent drive, a learner would be asked to follow directions from a Sat Nav, provided by the DVSA and the examiner will have it with them set-up ready to use. However, one in five tests will use road signs for the independent driving (you can assume this is in case a sat-nav breaks and they don’t have to have spares so they will then use signs to continue. Also it saves costs in having spares etc.). You will still be able to ask the examiner where you’re going if you’re not sure and it won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it. However, having experience on this topic from observing and having feedback from lots of tests, the examiner won’t want to help you and will try to  get you to work it out yourself by answering your questions with responses such as “it’s your driving test, just do what you think is correct” or “I’m here to assess your driving ability, I can’t help you with that, just do what you think is best”. In defence of the driving examiners, they will help you if they think it’s a genuine question, but lots of learners just don’t want to do it so ask all the time, leading the examiners to try to get the learner driver to help themselves.

The introduction of the sat nav will make it harder for the learner to scan, plan and drive safely! It also provides a massive distraction to the driver, making the learner driver watch the sat nav, work out the diagram/map it’s showing, listen to the directions, while at the same time they may be thinking about developing situations. All in all, it will stretch the average learner driver. It will also provide the driving instructor who is training the learner driver a great opportunity to link the distraction of using a sat nav to that of a mobile phone. This can be a great tool in bringing the extra hazards of post-test driving to reality in a controlled pre-test environment.

This should have been introduced earlier as we currently have a huge problem with the modern day distractions while driving.

3. The reversing manoeuvres will be changed and some not tested anymore.

You will still be required to perform one reversing manoeuvre on your driving test, however, you will not have to perform a reverse around the corner or turn in the road manoeuvre. This is good in a way! Hardly anyone uses the reverse around a corner manoeuvre post-test and if they do it’s nothing like what is taught. The Turn in the road manoeuvre is used post test and is also a great learning tool when teaching control, coordination, reversing and observation. The DVSA still want driving instructors to teach these manoeuvres. I can see lots not bothering to teach the reverse around a corner manoeuvre, especially when learners are putting on the pressure to pass their driving test in as little time as possible and for as cheap as possible.

Another by-product of removing the turn in the road and reverse left manoeuvre is that DVSA are getting more time to assess on-the-road driving. This will be because finding and getting to an area to practice the now old manoeuvres takes time out of the driving test. They can often be only found in quieter housing estates and away from the more challenging roads.

One last positive for lots of the public will be less driving school cars practising the left reverse. Quite often in test centres, you have notices for instructors not to practice left reverses on certain roads as lots of complaints are received from residents who own the houses on the corners that are used to practice or are on test routes. The removal of the testing of the manoeuvre will lead to fewer people practising it, fewer complaints and a better standard of living for those unfortunate people who live in the houses on the corners.

The manoeuvres you may be asked to perform will include:

  • parallel park at the side of the road –No change
  • park in a bay  – Changed
  • pull up on the right-hand side of the road – New

Bay parking manoeuvre Changes:

The Bay parking manoeuvre will be changed so you will either be asked to drive in and reverse out or reverse in and driving out of a bay. This will be better as lots of people post-test, drive into a bay and are not aware of the extra dangers or hazards in reversing out of the bay, especially if you have a large high sided vehicle next to you!

New – Pull up on the right manoeuvre.

Pull up on the right-hand side of the road is a new Manoeuvre. You will have to pull-up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and then rejoin the traffic. This part is one of the most controversial parts of the new test. As the Highway code Rule 239 states “…wherever possible. If you have to stop on the roadside: do not park facing against the traffic flow”. So in teaching people to pull up on the right hand side of the road, it may be seen that we are not only encouraging the new generation of drivers to pull up on the wrong side of the road, but then also saying “you can in a test” and giving them the impression that it is ok! It’s also much more dangerous a situation, to set off from the wrong side of the road. The last time the DVSA (then DSA) changed a test with as many people worried about it, it caused chaos and crashes when they changed the motorbike test in 2009. Let’s hope it doesn’t cause crashes or danger. This is a cause of concern for me and lots of other instructors.

4. You will be asked to answer a vehicle safety question while you’re driving.

This change won’t worry most people. But it will cause more nerves on the test. Often, as a driving instructor, I’m asked will the examiner ask me any questions while I’m driving? When we used to say no, the relief on the learner’s face was huge. Now they will be worrying about when the examiner will ask them a question and “what if I can’t remember”. When people are nervous they often worry about things they wouldn’t normally. This will lead to more nerves on a test. We normally call these “Show me, tell me questions”.

Will asking a question on the move make a difference?

It will allow the learner to demonstrate to the examiner that they can operate the controls and judge when it is safe to do so. Overall it won’t make a massive difference as most controls will be adjusted by the driver on a lesson at some point. It will also allow the driving instructor to have more conversations about distractions, taking their eyes off the road and planning when to use the controls more. So this could be a good idea.

The changes will be in the show me questions, you will now be asked one of the following show me questions:

  1. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
  2. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
  3. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?
  4. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?
  5. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?
  6. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?
  7. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

For a full list of the questions click: Show me tell me questions from December 2017

 

The Official DVSA change to the driving test video:

Our thoughts about the changes to the driving test in December 2017

Overall the changes are a good idea. They have been implemented to help prepare the learner driver with the changing demand in post-test driving. This can only be a good thing.

The changes will have an impact on learner drivers as they will have to learn new skills, improve their scanning and planning and think more about their actions and timing of their actions they are performing as a driver.

The Driving instructor will have more chance to teach more relevant skills and try to get the learner drivers to understand the risks involved with post-test driving. This hopefully will create a better, more skilled and understanding driver who can deal with the distractions in modern driving.

The driving instructor ADI part 2 (driving ability) test, currently will not have the changes replicated. This will mean that it’s different from the learner driver test. This is a mistake in my opinion.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below:

 

Chris RichardsDriving Test Changes – New Changes to the practical test 2017
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