Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Nervous? How to approach your practical test

Helpful Advice if you're Nervous.

It is perfectly normal to have some nerves on the big day. You wouldn't be normal if you weren't a little nervous. For some though, those nerves can prove to be be a real problem and can severely affect them on their practical test.

When suffering from these nerves, the words from your instructor to the effect of 'you'll be fine' cut little ice. This article will go some way to giving you some weapons to use against the nerves, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer badly with them.

These type of nerves have a name. It is called 'performance related stress'. Before an exam, for some learners all the personal factors riding on the success of their test can weigh heavy on the mind. Money invested in learning, needing to drive for their job or the relative freedom that comes with being able to drive can all be factors the lead to increased nerves on the day.

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Don't despair though, because there are things you can do to help yourself during this testing time. 

Determining why you are nervous is a good starting point.

If whilst reading this, you are a number of weeks away from your test, you have a head start, as you have time to address the issue before the big day arrives. This time you have will give you the chance to work out what it is that leads to the nerves and use the information in this article to best manage the problem. If however, you are just round the corner from your test, then it is still no time to panic. If you have the knowledge required to understand your nerves, you are much better placed to deal with them.

What real effect can my instructor have on the day?

The instructor who has brought you thus far is your best weapon against the nerves. Your instructor knows precisely what it is you're going through, as he or she has been through it many times. Having them in your corner has several benefits:

I)   Your instructor knows that it is not in your interest (or theirs) to put you in for your test before you are ready. When they do put you in for it, they expect you to pass. It is not in a vain hope that you do.

II)  Before this point arrives, you will have had to satisfy all the pre-test requirements before they will even put you forward. Everybody is different and each learner will  have different areas of strength and weakness, but it will not be until your instructor believes that you have reached the minimum standard for every part of driving proficiency that you will be registered for your practical test.

III) By the time your test comes around, your overall driving will have been good for a while. Your instructor wouldn't have even taken you into heavier traffic if you weren't ready for it let alone let you go for your test. Trust your instructor. They know.

IV)  The strengths and weakness of your driving will be well-known by your instructor and he/she will have been reinforcing and working on them in each of the lessons leading up to your test.

V)   In the test, you will not be experiencing anything that you haven't already been through with your teacher. The same types of roads, the same levels of traffic and the same driving conditions. Any good instructor will ensure that you will be fully readied.

Is there anything I can do on my own?

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes, the perspective you have on passing or failing can be all-consuming and its importance in your own mind can become overwhelming.

You only need to see the smile on a newly passed driver's face to know what it means to them, but it is not life and death. If you fail, you fail. The sun will still come up in the morning and go down at night. You can always take it again. No one will say "sorry, you failed. You can't take it again". A more philosophical approach will help calm you.

Also remember that you have an hour before your test to warm up your driving skills and fine tune any last-minute teething troubles. If there are any issues, they should raise their head in that time and be addressed.

Your instructor has been with you throughout your learning process and has probably witnessed you stressed. They know you as a driver better than you know yourself. They know that test nerves account for around a 20% drop in standards on the day and this is taken account of by them so they make you that much better than you need to be. Every care will have been taken to ensure in a successful result for everyone.

Relax, Smile and take a Deep Breath

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How else do I cope on the actual day?

There are a few things that you can get right that are easy to get right. It's hard enough with out you making it more difficult than it needs to be.

I)   Have a good sleep the night before.

II)  Make sure you aren't overly hungry or overfed at the time of your test. Too far either way can affect your concentration levels.

III) Turn your phone off. Good luck message might be what your friends think you need, but the last thing you need is the thought of all your friends 'expecting'.

IV) Drink lots of water that day and make sure you remember to visit the bathroom beforehand. Water is vital in concentration and is the most forgotten remedy in making sure you are at your best.

V)   You can buy a natural calming product that helps people take exams, fly and other stressful situations from your local pharmacy called 'Rescue Remedy’. For some it helps promote an amazing feeling being in control.

Finally, just remember that examiners are not looking to fail you. They don't spend their days revelling in the misery of failing people. They are nice normal people who are just looking for safe, competent driving.

Good luck and remember, you can do it. You just need to allow yourself to.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tips for driving in Fog

Fog is basically cloud that is on the ground. Rather than looking up at them, when it is foggy we are in them rather than beneath them. There is something called a 'dew point' which is when the temperature drops to a point where the air becomes saturated and fog forms.

Fog can limit visibility to less than a 1/4 of a mile, a distance you will cover in around 10 seconds when driving at 60mph. Needless to say, drivers should limit their speed to reflect this reduction in visibility.

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As with any adverse weather conditions, it is always advisable to postpone your journey if at all possible as most fog will usually not last more than a morning. If you can’t, then the following tips should help you get where you're going safely.

1)  Drive with your lights on low beam. You will only succeed in blinding yourself and anyone driving towards you if you use your high beams in fog. As fog is white, it will reflect your lights right back at you.

2)  Keep an eye on your speed. When driving in fog, you can get a false impression of your speed as the conditions create a slow motion effect. It doesn't alter your speedometer, so use it to gauge your speed.

3)  It might be an idea when driving in these conditions to refrain from to listening to music in your car. This will help you to listen out for traffic you may not be able to see. Wind down your window and keep an ear out for other cars.

4)  Don't let visibility problems you can control affect your ability to see. Use your wipers when you need to and if it happens to be freezing fog, then top up your winter windscreen wash and properly defrost all of your windows before you set off.

5)  Use visible road markings as a guide and to where you should be going. Don't use the rear lights of other vehicles in front to guide your direction as there is no guarantee that the lights you can see belong to car that is actually moving. It could be a stranded car. By the time you realise the car isn't moving, you may not have the time to avoid it.

6)  If you break down in this sort of scenario you must turn off your lights to avoid confusing others and if possible to do so safely, move away  from your car before making your calls to whichever recovery service you belong to.

7)  Don't use your fog lights unnecessarily. If you drive for long enough, you will see a lot of people putting on their fog lights at the first hint of fog. A fog light should only be used when the fog is dense enough to need it. It will cause an effect similar to blinding someone with main-beam headlights.

8)  Remember that fog has precisely the same effect on the road that rain does and the moisture present on the tarmac will mean greater stopping distances to be taking into account.

9)  It may feel natural to accelerate away from a car behind you that is driving too close to you, but you must refrain from doing so. When it is safe, you should do what you can to remove yourself from the situation by perhaps pulling over in a layby and letting them past.

10) If you appear to have made it through the fog and are in relative good visibility, don't turn off to the fact that you could be just be in a good spot and the fog could return at any moment.
We hope that these tips help you get where you're going to safely and in one piece!
Take driving lessons in and around London with Drive2Pass.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Driving after your test

You've passed your driving test and you're ready to go it alone!

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Your new-found independence and freedom are something that you just have to try out and all you want to do is get out there and take your car out for a drive. Although the primary emotion you feel is excitement, there can be a tinge of worry as being out on your own can be a little daunting.

Having previously only driven with a comforting relative or an assuring driving instructor, its very normal to feel a little strange when going out on your own in the car. It can take a bit adjustment until it becomes comfortable for you.

Pick a good time

Unless there is a specific reason for going out in your car, then you can pick and choose when to you go out. If you go out at a quieter time, you'll have more time to practice the parts of your driving that need attention.
On the first occasion you venture out on your own, follow a route that you are familiar with.

As you gain confidence in your driving, you may venture further out and into less familiar or busier roads. At the beginning though, it is a good idea to stay on easier roads to build your fledgling driving confidence.

P Plates

It is not a mandatory for you to use the green 'p plates' that display that you have recently passed your test, but it is an allowance that you can use to further build your confidence. If the more experienced drivers you encounter are aware that you are still learning your craft, then they will more often than not be more patient with you. Any understandable mistakes or hesitancy should be forgiven, and knowing this might make that first drive more comfortable for you.

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Running out of petrol

It's happened to most of us. We think we can make it just a little further without fuelling up and what happens?.... you run out in just the wrong place on a junction or in the middle of nowhere. If you're unsure about putting petrol in to your car, it's not a bad idea to take someone with you who does. It might seem
like an over-cautious approach to the task, but there are things that can go very wrong, for example putting diesel in a petrol engine or vice versa. A mistake that can cost you hundreds of pounds in repair costs.

Inform someone where you are going

Tell someone that you are off out on your first drive and approximately when you plan to return. If you only planned to pop round the block or to a local shop, then they will know where to look if you aren't back within a reasonable time.

Take a mobile phone with you.

In this age of cheap and easy mobile communication, it's easy to get a means to let someone know that you have either broken down or are in need of assistance. Don't however, use it when you are driving. Always pull over before calling someone.

Lastly, if you get lost, don't worry as you won't be lost for long. Everyone gets lost at some point. If it happens, pull over when it is safe to do so and check either your AtoZ or your SatNav to get you back on track. Just don't panic!

Your first drive should be just as exciting as you plan it to be. Just remember that you need to legislate for slight mishaps or miscalculations that could turn that drive into a nightmare if you don't.

Be safe and enjoy yourself. You've passed your test!! http://www.drivingschool-wembley.co.uk/