Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Driving Lessons On Ice

ice driving in Nottingham

Driving on ice can be very revealing.

Last week I did a few lessons in between Christmas and New Year. We had a good bit of snow here in Nottingham but I didn't let it interfere with lessons too much. We're preparing people for real life driving so it's good that pupils get experience in all sorts of weather conditions. Holiday week means there's less traffic on the road so an ideal time to get some practice in.
   It all depends on the pupil's experience and confidence when I take them out in the snow. People have different attitudes towards it. One person who is having refresher lessons phoned up to cancel. |I always give people the option of cancelling late without charge if conditions are bad. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't want to do it. As they have already passed the test and are just bringing their skills up to date a drive in the snow would have been ideal. I thought it a missed opportunity but you can't force people into things.  A relatively new pupil also cancelled. She is still at the nervous stage anyway and one tiny skid could wreck her confidence. In this case it was good that she made the decision to cancel.
   Driving on a slippery road is good for developing smoothness in the use of controls. Too much gas on the move off and there's your wheel spin. One or two of these and it's amazing how the learner gets to grips with the biting point and the right amount of gas. They develop this more quickly than driving on a dry road where they can get away with a certain amount of jerkiness. Harsh braking on icy roads results in the sound of the ABS coming on and if the wheels are being turned a small skid. Soon the pupil's braking is a lot smoother as they seek to avoid a skid. Again, excellent practice that you wouldn't get on a dry road.
   Hazard awareness and forward planning come along a treat when there's snow on the road. Give way lines can no longer be seen at many junctions. Anticipation is required in case anyone is coming the other way and can't see their give way line. Like at crossroads. The Mirror signal manoeuvre routine needs to be started early to allow for gentle braking. Paying attention to the road surface itself becomes a factor whilst trying to keep the tyres off the snow to maintain grip.
   Yes, they were very good lessons last week. It was a fantastic Christmas holiday altogether. I read a lot of Harry Potter and had a good time with my daughters playing Xbox and watching films. Now the diary is filling up again with new pupils and existing pupils coming back off holiday. A happy new year to all you driving instructors out there. All then best for 2015.

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