For all of you who’ve recently passed or those of you who are still in the stages of completing your lessons or indeed researching which driving school to go with, you all need to read this article.
How many of you are planning to rush to the nearest drive-thru for your favourite delicacy? No judgement from us if that’s your first pit stop. I for one still remember the thrill of rushing to the nearest ‘Golden Arches’ on a lunchtime during my 6th form days when I had just bought my first car. And if I’m honest, I probably went there a few too many times…
One of the things we didn’t have back in my day was the ability to pay for my lunch with my mobile phone. Whilst you may be tempted to quickly zap your phone on top of the contactless machine you need to be aware that you are potentially risking your shiny new, pink licence.
Experienced drivers risk receiving a £200 fine and 6 points added to their licence, however new drivers are likely to have their licence revoked because of this.
And just for extra clarity, changing songs, texting, looking at social media, creating daft videos for social media, or in fact using your phone for any reason whilst driving is illegal. One day, you will pay the price for it. In short, simply touching your phone whilst your engine is running could be deemed as a criminal offence.
If you feel the need to use your phone, pull over in safe place, switch off your engine and even remove the keys to make it extra obvious that your engine is not running.
Let us paint a quick picture for you:
It’s a cold December morning, and you’re about to leave to go to work. It’s a freezing, dark and you feel miserable The thought of doing yet another week at work just doesn’t appeal you to. You’re starting to wish that you saved an extra week of annual leave instead of using it all during the earlier in the year.
You step out of the front door, look across the street and see your neighbours living room window with a bright, warm and cosy looking light on it the background. Now you turn your head to see your Baltic, covered-in-frost automobile waiting for you. Lovely.
You’re already running late and now you have to mess about defrosting your windscreen. F#%@ing great.
The temptation to go and drown your windscreen in the warm water is way too tempting (and if I’m being honest, I’ve personally used this tactic in the past) but please avoid this. The likelihood of you cracking your windscreen due to thermal shock.
Once the snow and ice is removed (or rather it has melted away), give your windscreens a quick wipe to remove any residue.
Not something you typically think about when going through your HGV training course.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 explains that a person may be charged with the offence of ‘careless and inconsiderate driving” if they drive “a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place’.
In fact, you could be looking at a maximum £5000 fine – usually you’d receive 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine – should you be found guilty of deliberately splashing pedestrians.
When you find yourself driving in wet conditions, just plan ahead more, and slow down slightly when driving in built up areas. Lets step back from splashing pedestrians for a moment: driving through a puddle increases your chances of aquaplaning, resulting in an accident.
Just don’t be that person. Don’t be a jerk.
There are several types of lights in your car: your instructor will demonstrate how and when to use them during your lessons, but one thing which very rarely gets taught the use of full or dipped headlights.
Dipped headlights are the usual go to headlights. They are brighter than sidelights, but not as bright as full beam. They are angled slightly downwards and look towards the road.
To quote the Highway Code ‘you must use headlights when your visibility is seriously reduced’. Seriously reduced meaning when you can see less than 100metres in front of you.
Full (or high) beam headlights are the brightest of all your lights on your car. Positioned at a higher angle than dipped headlights; their primary role is to help you see more of the road and should only be used on stretches of unlit road at night.
In the case of meeting oncoming traffic or in fact following another driver, you must refrain from using them as they can daze others and ultimately lead to accidents.
Plus… it’s pretty annoying. Don’t be surprised if you get an angry flash of the lights from other road users should you forget to leave them on…
As HGV instructors one of the most annoying things about our job is having to explain to 99% of our candidates to ‘look as far down the road as possible and read the road’. And our only assumption is that their previous driving school failed to emphasise this to them.
Let’s make this abundantly clear: this is the safest way to drive. We need you to build a picture up of the road ahead, reading both road conditions and the physical road signs which dictate speed limits and lane markings etc.
Why studying your road this way is beneficial? Well, for one thing, any surprise hazards will be less shocking and you’ll be reducing any risk or danger. Should you have to manoeuvre around an obstacle or have to change your road position for whatever reason, it won’t be as severe as you will have given yourself ample time to plan what you will need to do in order to avoid this safely.
And of course, we’re forgetting that you will give your examiner a good indication that you are a really safe driver. And let’s not forget that this is exactly what your driving test is about: investigating whether or not you are safe enough to be let out on the road by yourself. And by the time of your test, you will be.