Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Misery of Driving Lesson Cancellations


There is the matter of the driving instructor's fee...

It's always a pain when a pupil decides to cancel a driving lesson at the last minute. Often the reason is for cancelling is totally legit but this still does not cover the time that the driving school has lost. Hence the charging of cancellation fees if not enough notice is given.
   Some pupils take being charged really badly. This is understandable as nobody likes to lose money and think they are being ripped off. Especially me. That's why it's important that terms and conditions are made known to the pupil at the very start so we all know where we stand. If a pupil books two hours and on the day decides they only need one then both hours have to be paid for. I can't be sitting at home all day writing blogs like I am right now.
   Any industry where you book things has some sort of cancellation policy. If I book a hotel room and then don't show up on the day then I will have to pay for the room. Ever hear of a concert ticket being refunded cos your car broke down on the way to the gig? Of course you haven't. 
   Driving instructors who don't charge last minute cancellations fees are asking to be let down. I allow 24 hours notice which should be enough if you will definitely need to cancel. If people refuse to pay then they must find a different instructor. I'm not out to grab money I don't deserve but at the same time there must be some protection for those who book people in and are then let down. Let fairness reign.

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Friday, 24 January 2014

What Makes a Good Driver?

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What Makes a Good Driver?

here's a blog post all about the personal qualities and attributes that combine to make a safe and competent driver. Be educated and entertained by this piece of creative journalism.

He's Passed His Driving Test!

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Top marks for Taha Ismaeil

It was a great morning for Taha Ismaeil when he passed his driving test at Beeston here in Nottingham.
   It can be tricky in Beeston at the moment. The building of the new tram line means heavy traffic congestion making arriving on time a bit of a nightmare. I got to feeling tense on the way there as the minutes ticked away with no end to the traffic jam in sight. A quick turn and a change of route and we made it with about two minutes to spare.
   Taha wanted me to ride out on the test with him which is not something I usually like to do. it can make a pupil more nervous to have three people in the car. I am not allowed to say anything and cannot interfere in any way in case it's thought I am trying to assist the pupil. The car is also heavier which can affect moving off.
   Taha seemed to be okay with the three of us though and put in a good drive. The left hand reverse was a bit tough as it was uphill and on a tight corner on a busy road. Plenty of stopping and starting but good observations meant Taha didn't miss a thing and he pulled it off nicely. Following the car in front led to us going off the test route but we were soon back on it without incident. 
   A good result and a great start to the day. it's been a long one finishing with me writing this. I might kick back and do some video gaming now. Ciao.

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

Driving Test Success in Nottingham

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Big cheers for Morag Colquhoun.

It's a great start to the day for Morag Colquhoun who passed her driving test this morning. She looked a bit shaky as we made our way to Colwick test centre in Nottingham but she managed to conquer her nerves and put in an excellent performance.
   Morag's lessons were a bit different from most as she brought her infant son Archie along. He sat gurgling nicely in his baby seat while mum learned to drive. A lot of young mums don't know that it's OK to bring their child to lessons. No need to be worrying about child care.
   Remember that you are learning to drive in the real world, not just to pass a test. If a child starts to make a noise or cry then it can be a stressful situation as well as a big distraction. It's far better to get used to this under supervision than to deal with it driving alone after the test.
   If young Archie did start to cry or become uncomfortable then we just pulled over in a safe place and sorted him out. Just as you would in real life. Morag is now better equipped for the road and can deal with driving around with a child passenger. Well done Morag and all the best for the future. 

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Show Some Courtesy!

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Cos it hurts when you don't

I am regularly asked by my pupils if it's OK to wave at people who have made way for you in traffic. Absolutely YES is my answer. It's called a courtesy signal in the police drivers handbook and goes a long way to keeping everybody happy on the road.
   There's nothing worse than letting someone through and they just ignore you like you don't exist. Makes me angry it does. Well, for about ten seconds anyway. Good manners cost nothing and maketh the man as my grandma used to say.
   The best way to give a courtesy signal is to extend the fingers of the right hand while keeping a reasonable grip on the wheel. If you want to be super cool you can just extend the one finger. I have heard this technique referred to as the countryman's thank you. Must be popular out in the sticks. There is no need to give a full on happy wave. People will just think you're mad.
    There are other ways to show courtesy. You can leave junctions open in a traffic queue instead of plonking your car across it and making people wait. You can park your car in a decent place instead of right next to a junction. Try to do at least one nice thing tomorrow if you are out driving. It will make you feel better.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Driven To Succeed

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Well done James Mason!

The day has finally arrived for James Mason who passed his driving test today. He did the honours at Colwick test centre here in Nottingham. It's not the first time for James. He has taken the driving test no less than six times with other instructors over the years.
   He's a tech minded individual and this can be a problem when learning to drive. The art of driving is very intuitive with a lot of it being done by feel. By the time you have weighed up the situation, explored all the options and second guessed yourself time has run out. 
   Really intelligent people can tend to over think everything in driving from how to operate the controls through to dealing with the traffic situation. You've got to learn to relax and just go with it sometimes. As you become more experienced you'll find that your first gut decision will be the correct one. Getting caught in two minds can lead to some very dodgy situations.
   James learned to do this and has become a very smooth and competent driver. All the best mate and happy motoring to you!

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Sunday, 12 January 2014

My Poor Alloy Wheels.

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My tyres have had a beating too...

It's been one of those weeks where my tyres and wheels have taken some serious punishment. There's nothing like the sound of your alloy wheels scraping along a high kerb to set your teeth on edge. Getting out of the car to inspect the damage that's been inflicted is always a bit of a downer.
   When a bunch of new learner drivers have started it's something I need to watch out for until moving off and stopping has been mastered. It can happen with more experienced pupils I don't expect it from and that's when most scrapes occur. 
   One little technique I like to use is to help learners judge the distance to the kerb is to guide them in by helping with the steering wheel. When the car has stopped in a good position, look at how the kerb comes to meet the car. Pick a spot on the wiper blade where the kerb meets it. You can use this as a sight. When the car moves in towards the kerb, you will see the kerb move from left to right across the bonnet. When it gets to the position you have chosen you know it's close enough.
   it's been a bad week for the tyres being run over debris as well. The gutters have been chock full of nasty bits of wood, cartons and bottles. New learners tend to stare at things and end up hitting rather than avoiding them. Try not to look directly at things you want to avoid but look at the space you want to drive into. Over and out.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Happy Days at the Test Centre Again

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Congratulations to Wojtek Chwiej!

It's a good day again with another pupil passing their driving test. This time it's the turn of Wojtek to step up to the plate and do the business. Having taken his test with another instructor before and failed his test, we had to work on a few areas and modify how Wojtek drives.
   Spatial awareness was one area we worked on. Pulling up too far from the kerb is never a good idea. It leaves you open to being hit by passing cars. After a bit of practice we were getting six inches from the kerb consistently.
    This spacial awareness issue also effected the manoeuvres. Parking into a bay and parallel parking both proved a challenge for Wojtek. We changed the methods being used to incorporate better use of the door mirrors to judge distances and position of the car. It paid off and after a few lessons the parking was up to standard.
   We had to rein in the speed to make sure the posted speed limits were not being broken which completed the picture. Succcess today was the result of some hard work which is what it's all about really. Hurray!

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Driving Lessons Nottingham - Test Pass at Beeston

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Well Done Alex Grafton!

It's a fine day for Alex as he passes his driving test today at Beeston test centre here in sunny Nottingham. A very convincing performance with only the one driving fault. He's away to university on Saturday so it's a relief that he's got his licence sorted before he goes and can now use it for ID in clubs and bars.
   It's been a two part journey for Alex. Having learned with me from scratch earlier in the year up to taking his test at the Colwick test centre. He was a good driver then but the weather on the test day was really bad. Heavy rain makes it difficult to use the mirrors during manoeuvres and Alex fell foul of this. Striking the kerb on a left hand reverse.
   After a break for school commitments he returned and had some refresher lessons over the Christmas period and improved his driving skills even further. Hazard awareness and forward planning were developed to a higher standard around the busy areas of Nottingham leading to today's success.
   Well done Alex. It's been a pleasure and I wish you all the best for the future!

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

They're Braking My Heart...

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Missing driving lessons is not a good thing.

Had my car serviced the other day. Nothing wrong with it just the brake pads getting a bit low. Now I must confess that last time I let the brake pads get way too low until they made the awful scraping sound. Easily done when you're busy but I wouldn't want to do that again.
   this time I thought I'd get them changed in good time. Instead of taking the car to the main dealer I took it to another reputable garage who would be a bit cheaper. Or so I thought. After leaving the car I walked home to print out a money saving voucher and then went back.
   In the process of getting to the brake pads they had removed two bolts, shearing the threads in the process. it would require new parts to put right which I was expected to pay for. Alternatively I could wait a couple of days and they would repair the old part for free. What's an instructor to do?
   If I waited I risked missing a driving test which is a nightmare for the pupil so this was not an option. I coughed up over £200 and had a day off work while they did the replacement job. Should I have just taken the car to the main dealer in the first place? Who knows. I lost some cash and a day of work but you live and learn. I'll chalk it up to experience and at least my pupil will do his test tomorrow. Job done.

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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Move Those Eyeballs!

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Always look in the direction you're driving in

You would think by the way that some people drive that their eyeballs were glued into their sockets. Staring relentlessly ahead at the back of the car they are following while excluding everything else. This is not the best way to go about things.
   It can lead to problems for learner drivers as well. Staring ahead at the road surface about 20m in front of the bonnet gives a feeling of safety. If you keep looking there you can't run into anything right?
   Wrong. Looking at the road leads to poor steering as the eyes turn towards the kerb and then over to the centre line. You will always drive where you look so swerving all over your lane is the result. When turning into a junction you must look into the new road. Not at the corner of the kerb or you'll go wide and strike it. You need to see any parked cars near the junction as well so you can avoid them and leave plenty of room.
   Generally moving the eyes around allows you to pick out hazards early and steer a safe course. So this is the best way to go. Feeling nervous will make you stare at one spot so relax and take in the whole scene.

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Friday, 3 January 2014

Feeling The Pressure on Driving Lessons

Feeling The Pressure on Driving Lessons

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Here's one for all you learners out there who feel the heat from behind when you're driving in traffic, especially if it's your first time. Stay calm out there and read these reassuring words.

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Driving Lessons Nottingham - Happy New Year!

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Well done to the class of 2013!

Last year was a busy year for me and had a lot of success stories. Many of my pupils passed their driving test. Many of them passed first time and a couple of them managed to a perfect pass. No faults at all!
  Those who were successful and have earned the freedom of the road include -
   Jasmine Freeman, Tomas Walker, Samantha England, Adrien Haddab, Robin Lowe, Tom Burnham, Greg Hall, Hossein Mowahedi, Nazia Parvaiz and many more.

Make 2014 the year you get your driving licence. Many of my students have gone on to start their chosen careers or studies and you can do the same as a qualified driver. Call me on 07932 458838 and get started today!

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Fit To Drive

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Keeping it firm and flexible

I tell you, sometimes after 10 hours in the car driving and teaching I get this total Jabba the Hutt feeling. I feel well slobby and lazy. The mind is tired after a long day but the body has done nothing at all.
   It's good to get some exercise if you have a driving type job. Being sat in a seat for hours on end is not the best thing for a body. I find it can lead to back ache, weight gain and a general lethargy. There are definite safety benefits in getting some exercise as well.
   When you run or whatever it is you'd prefer to do the blood is oxygenated and pumped all around and up to your brain. This will lead to greater alertness and powers of concentration. Just right for driving through those busy town centres. Fatigue can be a problem when driving for long periods and vigorous physical activity can help keep this to a minimum. Your physical reactions will be quicker giving you a much shorter stopping distance should an emergency situation occur.
   Having a good stretch on the gym ball helps keep away those lower back aches and pains. These can be distracting and hinder your physical movement. So get out there and get some exercise. it will make you a better driver. That's a promise.

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