Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Ready To Drive

How old do I have to be to get a provisional licence?


You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months old. You can start driving when you’re: 17 if you want to drive a car 16 if you want to ride a moped or light quad bike Your licence will say when you can start driving different vehicles. You can drive a car when you are 16 if you get, or have applied for, the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You can apply for your provosional licence by visiting the .gov.uk website.




What do I need to study to pass the theory test?


The three study sources that are essential to passing your theory test are the Highway Code, the guidance " Know Your Traffic Signs" and " The Official DVSA Guide to Driving - the essential skills". Thoroughly studying these three documents will provide you with the ability to pass the UK theory test. You can use the D.V.S.A. website to test your knowledge by clicking here. It is NOT recommended to try to learn by just using the test as you may learn the answers to the questions by rote but you will not fully understand why the questions are asked or how they apply to the road. It is also recommended that you read ALL parts of the Highway Code including the rules -

  • for pedestrians
  • for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • about animals
  • for cyclists
  • for motorcyclists.
After all, if you do not know how these road users are going to behave on the road then how can you adapt your driving to suit?




Are you a D.V.S.A. Approved Driving Instructor?


Simply put, yes. This information can be verified by yourself by visiting the .gov.uk website and entering the postcode LL41 3DU into the search box..




Driving Eyesight Requirements*


Summary of advice from Direct Gov to drivers Before the practical driving test, the driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle. The distance requirement for the eyesight test using old-style number plates is 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the new-style number plate is used. New-style number plates are easily identifiable starting with two letters, eg AB51 ABC. If you can’t speak English or have difficulty reading, you may copy down what you see. The licence plate test If you can’t read the first number plate correctly, you’ll be asked to read a second
number plate, if you can’t read this number plate correctly, you’ll be allowed to walk
forward until you’re just over the appropriate distance away. If you still can’t read the
number plate correctly, the examiner will ask you to read a third number plate and
will measure the precise distance from this number plate. The distance will be 20.5
metres if you’re asked to read an old-style number plate and 20 metres if you’re
asked to read a new-style number plate. If you can’t read the third number plate
correctly, and the examiner is satisfied that you don’t meet the required eyesight
standard, you’ll fail the driving test, and the practical test will not continue. This test
failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25). Wearing glasses or contact lenses to meet the requirements If you can only read a number plate using glasses/corrective lenses for the eyesight test, the law requires you wear them whenever you are driving and throughout your test. You’re not allowed to remove your glasses/corrective lenses when carrying out test manoeuvres (reversing etc). If you used your glasses/corrective lenses to read the number plate and take off/out your glasses/corrective lenses during the practical test, your examiner will remind you the law requires you to wear them; if you refuse
to wear them, the test will not continue. If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test. If you don’t tell the examiner and attempt and fail the eyesight test, your test will be recorded as a
failure and the remainder of the test will not go ahead. Failing the eyesight test Should you fail the eyesight requirement, the examiner will ask you to sign a form DL.77 – which acknowledges you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements. The examiner (using form DL.77 form) will notify the DVLA that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked. To reapply for your licence, send to DVLA an ‘Application for a Driving Licence’ (D1) with a completed medical questionnaire V1. When your application arrives at DVLA they’ll ask the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a driving test centre. If you’re successful you’ll still have to pass the DSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test. * Optician. (2010) Driving and Vision. [Online] Available from: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/rbi-communities/wp-content/uploads/importedimages/driving2.pdf. [Accessed: 6th October 2015].





Booking Tests

How can I check or change my practical driving test date or time?


You can edit your practical driving test date and/or time by checking the .gov.uk website on the "Change the date of your practical driving or riding test" page. Verifying your driving test date Once you have booked a practical driving test, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (D.V.S.A.) will send a confirmation e-mail to the address you provided when you booked the test. However, with the many spam filters used, driving test confirmation e-mails can often be seen as junk or, at worst, get deleted. The D.V.S.A. do, however, provide a service where you can check the UK driving test date to confirm that it is actually booked. You are able to use this service to check the driving test date of your practical test between 6.00 am and 11.40 pm. You will not be able to check a driving test date by contacting driving test centres directly. Only the D.V.S.A. have driving test booking details stored on their database. Check driving test date and time online To check driving test dates of both previous and future test bookings, you will need to provide some information. You will need to provide two of the following pieces of information:

  • your valid Great Britain or Northern Ireland provisional driving licence number
  • your application reference number
  • your theory test pass certificate number
By filling out the D.V.S.A. " Change the date of your practical driving or riding test", you will be able to check your current driving test date and time without the need to change it. In the event that you experience any problems with this online service, you may use alternative methods to contact the D.V.S.A. and check your driving test date and time. Check driving test booking by phone You may contact the D.V.S.A. by telephone to check a driving test date. Though this is an automated telephone service, a representative of the D.V.S.A. can be reached by listening to the available options. Although the easiest way to check your driving test date is online, you may alternatively call the D.V.S.A. on 0300 200 1122. Opening times are from 8.00 am to 12.00 pm, Monday to Friday and long delays can be experienced on occasions. You may also e-mail the D.V.S.A. It may take a few days before a response is made. Please include two of the three pieces of information listed above in your e-mail.




How do I book my practical driving test?


You can book your practical test online by visiting the .gov.uk website.




How do I book my theory test?


You can book your theory test online by visiting the .gov.uk website.




How long do I have to wait for my practical test?


The lead times at the various Driving Test Centres in the area are constantly changing. For the latest times you can visit the .gov.uk website.




Where is my nearest theory test centre?


The nearest theory test centre to yourself can be found by visiting the .gov.uk website.





After The Practical Test

I've gained 6 points on my licence in the first two years. What happens now?


If you lose your licence under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995, you will now have to re-apply for a provisional licence. You will then only be able to drive with a qualified driver who is over 21 and has held a licence for at least three years and you will have to display L plates. If you want to get your full licence back again you will need to pass your theory and practical driving tests again and exchange your provisional licence for a full one when you have passed your test. For more information check here.





Test Day

I'm going for my test today. What do I take with me?


You will need to bring your driving licence and your theory test certificate. You will need to have checked previously that the car you are taking your test in is legal (i.e. taxed, M.O.T'd and insured for you to drive). Also, if the car model has been highlighted previously by the D.V.S.A. as having a defect, you need to show evidence that the defect has either been rectified or does not apply to your specific car. If you are using your Instructors car then this can relieve a lot of the pressure as he/she will ensure the car is legal and any defects have been addressed leaving you just to bring your licence and your theory test certificate.





About My Car

Why does my car need oil?


Try rubbing your hands together. What happens? They get warm? They start to get sore? That is because of the friction that occurs between your palms. Now imagine doing that 50 times a second, that's equivalent to your engine rotating at 3000 r.p.m. (rotations per minute), think how sore and hot your hands would get. It's the same in the engine so to reduce the friction and heat build up we need to add oil to lubricate pieces of metal that rub together, of which there are a lot inside an engine. If there is insuffient oil in the engine then it will overheat. This could occur if the engine is worn or has leaks.




Why does my car need water?


When the oil discussed in "Why does my car need oil?" is passed around the engine it gets hot. To remain efficient that heat needs to be removed from the engine, keeping the oil cool and functional. That heat is removed, in essence, by transferring the heat from the oil to water which also flows around the engine. This water is then passed through the radiator, usually mounted at the front of the car, which is then air cooled from the outside atmosphere which is blown over the radiator by the forward motion of the car. The cooled water is then pumped through the engine again to repeat the process. If the engine is old or has leaks the water level could drop and needs to be refilled between the maximum and minimum levels.




Know About Your Tyres


Your tyres are a very important component on your car as these ensure that you stick to the road and remain safe under a wide variety of difficult, complicated and ever changing circumstances. Ensuring that your tyres remain legal is not about satisfying bureaucratic politicians or keeping the Police off your back; it is about keeping yourself, your passengers and other road users safe. As of 1st November 2012 EU legislation came into effect that clearly showed how a particular tyre will perform since all tyres do not offer the same performance. This enables you to make an informed choice, balancing your budget with the benefits the tyre provides, ensuring that you can make the best decision possible when buying new tyres. This legislation affects all new cars, 4x4's, SUV's, vans and most trucks and will appear in the form of a label stuck to the tyre when it is purchased, similar to the energy rating stickers that now appear on white goods. The tyre label focuses on three areas of performance -: Fuel Efficiency - How economic is the tyre = Savings Wet Grip - How quickly can the tyre stop in wet conditions = Safety Exterior Noise - How noisy is the tyre = Sound Tyres that are not affected by these regulations are racing tyres, professional off-road tyres, spare tyres, vintage tyres, re-treaded tyres, studded tyres and tyres whose rating is less than 80km/hr. Rolling resistance is the force acting opposite to the direction of travel when a tyre is rolling. Due to the vehicle load, the tyre is deformed where the tyre makes contact with the road. This deformation induces internal losses in the same way that a rubber ball that is dropped does not bounce as high as it was originally dropped. The lesser the deformation the greater the fuel efficiency. Other factors that affect fuel consumption include -:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Vehicle weight
  • Type of engine
  • Auxiliary systems like air conditioning
  • Slope of the road
  • Personal driving style
  • Tyre pressure level
  • Accelerations
  • General traffic conditions.
As a rule of thumb, reducing rolling resistance by 6% decreases fuel consumption by 1% for passenger cars. The wet grip of a tyre refers to the safety performance as it reflects the capacity of a tyre to brake on a wet road. There are other factors which are relevant to safety such as -:
  • Road holding ability
  • Directional control
  • Deceleration ability on wet and dry surfaces at higher speed
  • Aquaplaning behaviour





Advice

Help! I've Broken Down!


One of the awful things that can happen on the road is to break down. Whilst the motorways are some of our safest roads, if you break down and are forced to stop on the hard shoulder they rapidly become a very dangerous place. You have only to leave your car projecting slightly into the inside lane and it could be clipped by another vehicle which can cause carnage. To try and ensure you, your passngers and your car don’t become another statistic, try these guidelines: "As soon as you’ve stopped – as far to the left as possible – get everybody out of the car and stand well off the carriageway" Pull onto the hard shoulder safely, leave your car in gear and apply the handbrake. Park as far to the left as possible. Put on your hazard lights and leave your sidelights on if visibility is poor. Do NOT put a warning triangle out, as you may on other roads. It is too dangerous. Ensure all occupants, including yourself, leave via the passenger side, to avoid being injured by a wandering articulated lorry. Stand well back from the carriageway, on the grass verge. Don't bother attempt to fix the car. Even attempting to change a tyre is out of the question, it is far too dangerous! Walk to an orange emergency phone; they’re a mile apart. Markers every 100 yards indicate the direction to the nearest phone. Using one of these is better than a mobile as it allows the operator to accurately pinpoint your position. Wait until help arrives; remain well back from the carriageway. Managed Motorways In a bid to increase road space, the government has increased the width of some motorways utilising the hard shoulder and turning it into a regular lane when traffic is heavy. Called managed motorways using Active Traffic Management schemes, these have emergency refuges every so often instead of a continuous hard shoulder. If you break down on one of these when the hard shoulder is open to all traffic, try to get to one of the refuges if you can. If you can’t, switch on your hazard lights as soon as you know there’s a problem and slow down as gradually as you can in the inside lane (what would normally be the hard shoulder). This should help prevent anybody running into the back of you. As soon as you’ve stopped – as far to the left as possible – get everybody out of the car and stand well off the carriageway. Managed motorways have lots of CCTV cameras and are patrolled by Highways Agency officers, who will come to your aid as quickly as possible. Don’t stop unless you have to The hard shoulder is only for emergencies; accidents on them typically claim the lives of 10-12 people each year, with a further 200 people injured. Use the next service station, instead of the hard shoulder, for:

  • Checking your directions.
  • Going to the toilet.
  • Answering a phone call.
  • Exercising your pets.
  • Having a drink or something to eat.
  • Having a rest/sleep.
  • Stretching your legs.




Driving In Flood Water


It’s easy to be over-confident when dealing with flood water, but you need to be incredibly careful as such conditions can catch you out big time. Not only can a swollen river carry your car away, but if water gets into your car’s electrics it can be written off by the huge cost of putting things right. What is more likely to wreck your car though, is water being sucked up into the engine. Your engine needs air to work correctly and this gets in via the air intake. It also needs to eject emissions through the exhaust which offers another direct route for water to be sucked into the engine. Different cars have this air intake positioned in different places, but it’ll be at the front of the car; the critical thing is what height it’s set at. "The golden rule is that if you’re in doubt chicken out!" Think of your car’s engine as being like your body; your lungs need air to breathe, but if you’re submerged in water, you’ll suck in water and drown. The same thing can happen to your car. It's more than just protecting your car though, if the water if more than 30cm deep you’re in danger of being swept away, unless you are driving a larger, heavier vehicle. Here, with the help of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), are the things you need to do to stay alive next time you have to drive in flood water:

  • Drive on the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
  • Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
  • If you can’t see where you’ll exit the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about driving into it.
Once in the water, keep the revs up, stay in a low gear and slip the clutch if necessary to keep your speed down; you don’t want to create a bow wave in front of your car, by driving too fast. Maintaining revs helps prevent the water from travelling up the exhaust pipe and into the engine. If you have to stop in the water, keep the engine revs up. Let the revs drop or stall the engine and you’ll probably be stranded. Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. Check there’s nobody behind, then apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds. It may also help to read about Driving In Rain Safely.




Driving In Rain Safely


In the car adverts it never rains, but sadly those of us who live in the real world have to put up with wind, rain and a whole array of adverse driving conditions. "Once the heavens open you have to deal with all sorts of issues, such as reduced natural light, grip and visbility, and just slowing down isn’t enough." Here, with the help of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), are the things you need to do to stay alive next time you have to drive in wind and rain:

  • Before you set off, set your heater controls – rain makes the windows mist up in seconds. You don’t want to be fiddling with controls when you should be concentrating on the road.
  • Slow down. In the rain your stopping distance is at least doubled. Giving yourself more space helps you to avoid spray, especially when following a large vehicle.
  • Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly – harsh manoeuvres will unbalance your car.
  • Strong winds can also unsettle your car and even change your direction of travel. Grip your steering wheel firmly and be aware of the effects of the weather on other road users.
  • If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads – it may create problems if you start to aquaplane.
  • See and be seen. Put your lights on – as a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should also turn your headlights on, and before overtaking put your wipers on their fastest setting.
Additional help with driving through the extremes of rain, a.k.a. flooding can be read here.




Driving With Kids In The Car


It can be wonderful taking your kids where they want when you want but this is what happens when you don’t pay attention while driving… PLEASE DO NOT WATCH IF YOU GET DISTURBED EASILY! Congratulations! You've recently gained your licence and one of the first things you want to do is take the kids out for a day out to celebrate. Regardless whether it's going for a meal, to a fun park or just out to town children in the car are the number one distraction for drivers, according to a survey by the IAM and Vision Critical, which found that 29% of drivers admit that their children are their biggest distraction while driving. "29% of drivers admit that their children are their biggest distraction while driving" Tranquilisers before every journey, or putting a gag on them, may seem like a good idea but these measures are DEFINITELY NOT recommended and are actively discouraged by police forces around the UK. So are ear defenders or ear plugs for the driver. So just how do you keep your sanity when driving with kids? In association with the IAM, here are some survival tactics:

  • Keep them occupied by introducing games that promote and reward quiet behaviour without needing the driver’s direct involvement.
  • Portable games consoles or in-car DVD players will keep kids occupied for hours. But don’t forget the headphones – the soundtracks can be just as distracting as the children.
  • If you’re planning a long journey, make sure you’re organised – take plenty of food and drink to avoid constant demands from the back seats.
  • Allow extra stops. Find somewhere for them to stretch their legs and let off steam, such as a playground or a park. Save yourself the panic and research some local parks and playgrounds where you plan to stop off.
  • Have a plastic bag (without any holes!) with you in case of travel sickness.
  • A second adult in the car to look after the children makes a massive difference, leaving the driver to concentrate on driving.
  • Don’t turn round to deal with fighting kids while you’re still in motion – find somewhere safe to stop first.




Driving In Fog


When the temperatures drop, the air cools and fog often results. The result is reduced visibility – which is bad enough, but what’s even worse is when it’s patchy. One minute you can be driving with perfect visibility, and the next you can barely see the end of your bonnet. The key – as ever – is to keep your speed down so you’ve got plenty of time to react to any hazards that might develop. But there’s also an array of other things you can do to make your life easier – and also the lives of those around you. One minute you can be driving with perfect visibility, and the next you can barely see the end of your bonnet. Here, with the help of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), are the things you need to do to stay alive next time you have to drive in fog:

  • Before setting off, clean your windows and windscreen and ensure all your lights are working. Clean the inside of the screen as well; it can be hard to tell if your windows are misting up, as it looks just like the fog outside.
  • Switch on the heater or air conditioning and leave them running to keep the inside of the glass clear. Air-con helps dry the air – on a foggy day it can really help.
  • Use your windscreen wipers on an intermittent setting to keep the screen clear; those droplets of moisture build up faster on your screen than you realise.
  • Always keep your headlights switched on, but stick to dipped beam as you’ll dazzle yourself on main beam. Don’t rely on your car’s daylight running lights – they tend to work only at the front of the car.
  • Use fog lights if visibility is less than 100 metres, but don’t forget to switch them off when visibility improves. And if you’re in stop/start traffic, keep them switched off or you’ll just dazzle the driver behind. Remember that rear fog lights may mask your brake lights, increasing the chance of somebody driving into the back of you.
  • Slow down and keep enough distance between yourself and the vehicle in front – make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see clearly.
  • Fog is not the same density all the time – when it gets thicker, slow down.
  • Brake gently, and earlier than usual so your brake lights warn drivers behind that you’re there.
  • Be aware that other vehicles may be travelling without their lights on, and pedestrians and cyclists will be hard to see anyway, so extra care and attention is needed.
  • At junctions, wind the window down and listen for traffic. If you have electric windows, open the passenger one to listen that way as well.
  • Straining to see through thick fog will quickly make you tired – take regular breaks.




Danger Of Texting Whilst Driving


Texting and Driving Statistics Texting while driving is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don’t lie. The United States of America ran an investigation and the results are shown below. Texting While Driving Causes:

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
  • Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents
Texting While Driving Is:
  • About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
  • The same as driving after 4 beers – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
  • The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers
Texting While Driving:
  • Makes you 23X more likely to crash – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
  • Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time – VA. Tech Transportation Institute
  • Takes place by 800,000 drivers at any given time across the country
  • Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – HumanFactors & Ergonomics Society
  • Leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road





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