Tips

Tips

Driving in foggy conditions

It’s that time of year when it gets dark before you know it and the weather conditions range from cold to miserable to, more often than not, both at the same time. December is also known for its frequent foggy conditions as temperatures still fluctuate significantly between day and night and there is lots of moisture in the air from all the autumn storms we get coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. Driving in foggy conditions can be particularly hazardous given their limited visibility so we are focusing on a few key tips this month to help you navigate foggy driving conditions safely.

Drive more slowly

Whether you encounter pockets of fog suddenly or the road is covered in a long blanket of it, your first instinct should be to slow down. Significantly. With limited visibility you have no idea what may be in front of you and you want to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a collision; if the worst does happen and you have an accident, having lower speeds is less likely to result in serious damage, injury, or worse. Keep a very close eye on your mirrors too and be aware of who is behind you in case you hit a pocket of fog and have to slow down suddenly. Avoid slamming on the brakes, but instead reduce speed slowly to give those behind you notice that you are slowing down.

Turn down the volume

If you have the radio or music on, turn the volume down. In times of reduced visibility your hearing will become a more important way of identifying potential dangers. You also want to minimise distractions as you will have to concentrate much more in challenging driving conditions.

Wind down the window

To help identify potential dangers or other vehicles on the road, wind your window down and listen carefully. This is particularly useful at junctions when you have to pull out or turn. When manoeuvring at a junction take your time to listen for any other vehicles on the road, then pull out promptly to minimise the time during which you are in the middle of the junction.

Use your lights wisely

When fog sets in, your low beams are your friend. Avoid high beams as the light will only bounce back and make things trickier for you. If you have front and back fog lights turn those on when visibility is below 100m or 328 feet and remember to turn them off when things improve, or you will be distracting other drivers.

If in doubt, stop

If conditions are very bad, roads are busy or in poor condition, or if you don’t feel that confident driving, then err on the side of caution and stop until things clear up enough for you to feel more comfortable. If you are planning to stop, look for a parking lot or area that is removed from traffic if possible. If there is no such spot, pull off to the side as far as you can from other travel lanes.

For more tips on driving in challenging conditions or for help getting on to the road with one of our driving courses talk to us at Lanes School of Driving. Call us on 020 8166 5678 and we will make sure you feel safe on the roads.

Tips

The Highway Code: rule change for motorways

It is nearly a year since the announcement of changes to the driving test which would involve learner drivers to be able to practise on the motorway. Since June of this year, provisional licence holders have been allowed to drive on the motorway, following a change to the Highway Code. This month we take a look at what the change to Rule 253 means and use the opportunity for a quick refresh of motorway driving to keep skills sharp and knowledge fully up to date.

Rule 253

An addition has been made to this rule stating that provisional licence holders are allowed to drive on the motorway as long as they are under the supervision of an approved driving instructor and bear red L plates. The car must also be fitted with dual controls. This change came into effect on the 4th June 2018.

Why has this changed?

This change was introduced to enable student drivers to practise driving on the motorway as this forms a significant element of driving experience for many drivers, new and seasoned. Until recently, motorway driving lessons were not permitted until after passing the driving test, which cut out a large proportion of potential road experience for many drivers.

Why is motorway driving different?

There are a number of differences between driving on motorways and other roads – whether urban or rural – and they relate to the fact that speeds are much higher. This means that motorway drivers need to be aware of and apply the following:

  • Mirrors become even more important on a motorway. This is because the speed at which vehicles travel means that there is less time to react to any situation, so greater awareness of what is happening around you is even more important.
  • On joining the motorway, use the slip road to increase your speed so that it is closer to that of vehicles already on it. Join the motorway by signalling right and merging with traffic as soon as you can. Solid white lines mean that they should not be crossed so stay in lane until you are allowed to move across. Similarly, use the exit slip road to reduce your speed as you come off.
  • Keeping your distance from the vehicle in front is crucial to being able to react in an emergency. Maintain a distance of two chevrons (or equivalent) in dry conditions and increase that in wet, icy, or foggy weather.
  • Remember that the speed limit is a maximum of 70 miles per hour and be alert to changes in the speed limit to account for accidents, a greater volume of traffic, or road works.
  • Never stop on the hard shoulder, carriageway, slip road, or central reservation unless it is an emergency or you have been instructed to do so by the police, emergency signs, or flashing red signals.
  • Overtake only after you have checked your mirrors and your blind spot and ensured that it is safe to do so. Keep an eye out for motorcyclists who may not be as easily visible as larger vehicles.

If you have any questions about motorway driving or would like a refresher course get in touch with our team at Lanes School of Driving.  We have been helping motorists get on to and stay safe on the roads for over 100 years. All you need to do is call us on 020 8166 5678 for a chat and we can take it from there.

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Tips

Tips to reduce the cost of insurance for young drivers

The average cost of insuring a new, young driver – under 25 years of age – is over £1,000 and often significantly higher. This isn’t a cost that many young drivers can afford and quite often it is what puts people off from learning to drive in the first place. There are ways to reduce that cost and this month we have picked our favourites to help young drivers navigate their way around and find suitable insurance cover for them that won’t cost the equivalent of two or three month’s wages.

Comprehensive vs third-party

While it used to be that third-party cover was cheaper, that is no longer always the case. It is worth checking both when looking for quotes and you may be surprised by the difference in price in some cases. Third-party cover is typically chosen by new and younger drivers, who statistically are more likely to make a claim in their first twelve months, so insurers may be charging more.

Black boxes

Using a tracker placed in the car, usually in a black box, insurers are able to calculate premiums based on actual risk as they have a clearer idea of how you drive, as opposed to a generic risk applied across the board. This is perhaps the best way of making significant savings on your insurance premiums.

Excess

Increasing your excess will help to lower premiums. Be sure to find the balance between what is affordable now and what you may have to pay out should you have an accident. With little spare cash and greater chances of claiming for an accident in the first year of driving it is something that needs careful thought before committing to the highest excess allowable on a policy as it could turn out to be more expensive in the long run.

Named drivers

Another way to drop your premium is by adding a named driver. This is typically someone who is older and who has more driving experience. It could be a parent, so long as they are the named driver and the policy is not in their name instead as that is illegal. Avoid anyone who has points on their licence.

Avoid modifications

While it may be cooler to have a car with alloy wheels, steering clear of modifications may not help with your cool image, but it will benefit your pocket. Similarly, avoid fast cars. Both will attract higher premiums, in some cases significantly.

Do add safety features

Certain modifications may actually be beneficial – such as alarm systems or immobilisers. They are seen as ways of minimising the risk of theft and as such will attract lower premiums. Similarly, parking in a garage or driveway instead of leaving your car on the street overnight can also help to lower premiums.

Pay annually

It may seem like a big amount of money to pay in one go, but it will be quite a bit cheaper than paying monthly as that attracts additional fees. And don’t auto-renew when the time comes around. You’re more likely to find a cheaper alternative than not, so it’s always worth shopping around.

If you are considering taking a driving course or want a refresher course after being off the road for a while get in touch with us at Lanes School of Driving. We have over 100 years of experience in getting drivers on to the road so we’re sure we can help you too. All you need to do is give us a call on 020 8166 5678.

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Tips

Do you need to re-take your eye test?

You may have had your driver’s licence for a while now, but the chances are that you don’t remember what the eyesight rules are. The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) has been running a campaign over the summer to make drivers aware of the rules when it comes to driving and eyesight – and this has been widely reported by the media. To save you trawling through the internet we have done that for you, and set out the rules and requirements, together with what you may need to do.

What are the rules?

The rules are pretty technical, but you can find the full details on the gov.uk website. There is a quick and easy way to remember them though, and it’s also the best way to test yourself: you need to be able to read another car’s number plate from a distance of 20m. It doesn’t matter if you need glasses or contact lenses to do this, so long as you are wearing them when driving if you do. As well as this, your field of vision needs to be adequate and this is something that you optician can check for you on your next appointment.

‘How far is 20m?’ we hear you ask. Standing by the side of the road, count five parked cars and then read off the number plate of the fifth one. That is an approximate length of 20m. Alternatively, think of it as eight car parking bays away.

Getting tested

All learner drivers will need to pass the eye test, and it is something that is checked during the driving test. If a driving candidate is unable to read a number plate from that distance, then the test cannot continue and the examiner is obliged to let the DVLA know. Once the test has been passed successfully, it is each driver’s responsibility to ensure that their eyesight is regularly tested.

Many of us may not get around to it as often as we should and it’s not until our eyesight has deteriorated significantly that we do something about it. However, it is worth remembering that it is not just our safety that is at stake, but that of other road users as well – drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Why not take the 20m licence-reading test the next opportunity you get? If you have any trouble making it out, make an appointment to see your optometrist.

The consequences

If you are found to be driving with eyesight that is below the required standard then the DVLA can revoke your licence. They can also fine you up to £1,000 if it is found that you are suffering from any medical condition that affects your ability to drive, and this includes any that impact your eyesight. If you are involved in an accident as a result of this, you could even be prosecuted.

Don’t delay, check your eyesight as soon as you get the chance. If you want to check your driving skills as well or wish to take a driving course, talk to us at Lanes School of Driving. We have been teaching people to drive for over 100 years and are ideally placed to help you too. Just call us on 020 8166 5678 and we’ll take it from there.

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Tips

Intensive vs standard driving courses

You have decided that it’s time to learn to drive and are now trying to figure out the best way of doing so. With so many driving schools and instructors out there it can be a little overwhelming to know what is best to do. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or a little more mature, whether you have some driving experience or not. What matters is that you get up to the right standard to be able to take your driving test and pass successfully. Before you start looking around to book your first lesson, it’s worth having in mind what sort of instruction you want and what the benefits and disadvantages are. Which is the right course for you – a standard or an intensive one?

There is no legal minimum set by the Driving and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA), it is up to you and your instructor to know when you are ready to take the test. Your driving instructor must, however, be approved by the DVSA. On average it takes between 40 and 50 hours of instruction and practice to feel ready to pass your test successfully.

Standard courses

A standard course will see you taking anything between one and three lessons a week, each lasting around an hour and a half. The benefit of doing it this way is taking the time to learn at your own pace and get some practice in with a friend or family member, who is already qualified, to embed what you learn with your instructor and get some experience of being on the road without them. The downside to this option is that it will take you longer and may cost you more in the long run.

Intensive courses

The other option is to take an intensive course. You may be pressed for time and need to get on the road fast, or you may have some driving knowledge but not enough to get to test standard. An intensive course can help you do just that in a compressed period of time. It works by spending a few days with an instructor getting all the knowledge and practice you need. This could be as many as six hours a day for five days, so it is definitely intense!

The benefits are the speed with which the course can be completed and the fact that you can be ready to take your test after just a few days. It can be a cheaper way of doing it as well, as you are committed to the hours that make up that intensive course.

The downside, if you are on the younger end of the scale with little previous knowledge or driving, is that the level of road-user experience that you get with an intensive course is no match for that which comes with a standard one. However, it may be just what you need if you do have some experience already and want to get on to the road quickly.

If you are looking for an approved driving school with the experience and expertise to help you decide which course is right for you and to get you qualified and driving, look no further than Lanes School of Driving. We have over 100 years of experience under our belt and enjoy getting new drivers on to the road, safely. For information on any of our courses or advice on which is right for you just give us a call for a chat on 020 8166 5678.

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Tips

What has happened since changes to vehicle tax rates were introduced?

Following the big overhaul of car tax that took place last year, this year sees in some new and additional changes. Effective from April 1, 2018 they will have an effect on a large proportion of drivers, not least diesel vehicle owners. The rationale behind many of these changes is to encourage drivers to opt for less polluting cars. It is worth noting that these new changes apply to passenger cars only and not to vans or commercial vehicles so you may still be exempt. Read on for our summary of the new vehicle tax changes and how they may affect you.Read more

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Tips

Stopping and parking

One of the key things that drivers learn early on is about stopping and parking. It is all too easy to get confused by the rules that apply, particularly when you are just starting out – after all, there is so much to remember! Add to that the various restrictions that individual councils may introduce in their areas, and it can be very easy to get caught out. This month we take a quick refresher on what the main rules are with regard to stopping and parking to help you keep them at the forefront of your mind as you go about running your daily errands.Read more

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Tips

Driving safely in wet weather

The recent cold spell has given way to slowly rising temperatures and before we know it, it will officially be springtime and with that comes the rain. The Highway Code sets out a few basics for wet weather driving, but we are going a step further this month by letting you know what you need to be aware of and giving you some tips and tricks to have up your sleeve should you get into problems.Read more

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