Driving Test Form – Final Part

I can’t believe it has been a months since I last updated this learner driver tips blog, but anyway let’s finish discussing the last few sections of the driving test form – sections 23 to 27.



23. Positioning – this is divided into two sections:
Normal driving position – faults here would include driving too close to the kerb or over the white centre line when you don’t need to be. But it would also include cutting across the normal road position when going ahead at a roundabout (without lane markings). It continues to surprise me that almost all roundabouts have lane dividers on approach (green arrow) and almost none have them on the roundabout (red arrow). The roads in the UK are very good but far from perfect. My tip for this one is to aim for the yellow bollard (in front of the car in this pic) and you will be remaining in the left lane.



Lane discipline – This one seems to be exclusively for roundabouts that DO have lane road markings on the roundabout. By definition there will be less test failures for this one, since most roundabouts don’t have lane markers. However in my experience a lot of new drivers are not comfortable on these roundabouts because they are generally large, multi lane and confusing to the untrained eye. Maybe I should cover these in a separate post sometime soon.

24. Pedestrian crossings – fairly obvious this one. Failure to give precedence to pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing. Non-compliance with lights at Pedestrian Controlled crossings. The trick here is to make sure that you are alert and if you see a crossing, expect that there may be someone walking towards it. The hazard perception test is very good at promoting this approach – look for a hazard and you will be not be surprised it it develops into a problem.

25. Position for normal stops – during an average driving test, you will be asked to stop on the left several times. You need to choose somewhere that is safe, legal and convenient. A few bad examples are opposite a junction, on double yellow lines and blocking someone’s driveway. Although every driving test will include a stop that requires you to move off at an angle by parking reasonably close to a parked vehicle. For this element the examiner by advise you to “not worry about blocking a driveway on this occasion. This is because they want you park in particular position to do the angle start.

26. Awareness and planning –  this can cover many, many situation, in examiner speak this is what they are say “failure to judge what other road users are going to do and react accordingly”. A few examples that I recall from driving test:

A coach (not a bus) has stopped on the left and the driver has pulled up close to it and doesn’t realise that it is going to be there for a while….

A vehicle is clearly giving away its priority let’s say on a roundabout because their exit route is not clear. the driver is unaware of why this is happening and remains stationary, meanwhile the traffic behind is becoming increasingly impatient…..

A high sided heavy goods vehicle is waiting to pass under a low bridge and needs to be in the middle of the road and the driver doesn’t know and doesn’t react….

Just like all faults in a driving test, I don’t mean to suggest that the three above examples would be a test failure. It really depends on the context on the situation, how long it takes for you to work it out, how much a problem that is. This is discussed in an earlier blog post.

26. Ancillary controls – this is to do with windscreen wipers heater controls etc. So an example might be it is pouring with rain and the driver doesn’t know how the wipers work or doesn’t think they are necessary and the examiner know they are required. Same would go for a misted windscreen or similar.

Well that’s it for now and remember if you want to book an intensive course in Lichfield please click the link. The same goes for Leicester

Driving Test Form – Part 3

So let’s have a look at sections 15-22 on the driving test form in a little detail. Remembering from a previous post that each could be a driver fault, a serious or dangerous fault. 

Dl25 Section15
15. Signals, this is broken down into a) necessary b)correctly and c) timing.
Necessary – this fairly obvious, you should have signalled to turn left or right and didn’t.
Correctly – this would be an incorrect signal e.g. signalling right and moving left. It could also be failure to cancel a previous signal. An example of this could be giving a correct signal when exiting a roundabout but forgetting to cancel it. Let’s imagine that there is a road on the left and a car pulls out after seeing your signal – this could be serious or even dangerous.

Timed – this could be too early or too late to be of value. Too early would include this example: Travelling along a main road and intending to take the second road on the left but signalling before the first one – a driver from the second road may assume that you are taking the first one.

Remember that signals are meant to warn and inform other road users, so think about it.

Dl25 Section1616. Clearance/obstructions
This is almost always about passing parked vehicles (or similar obstruction) and travelling too close. The recommended clearance is one car door width which is roughly a meter.


Dl25 Section17



17. Response to signs/signals is split into 5 sections





Response to traffic signs – this would be a failure to comply with a sign or a late reaction to a sign. An example would be trying to turn right when there is a left turn only sign – perhaps onto a dual carriageway.

Response to road markings – this would include double white lines, box junctions and lane direction arrows.

Response to traffic lights – this could be failure to move off when there is a green light and it is safe to go.

Response to traffic controllers – most likely to be school crossing warden (lollipop man), but could be police or stop/go man at roadworks.

Response to other road users – perhaps when someone is obviously giving away the normal priority and you don’t take appropriate action.

Dl25 Section18     18. Use of speed

This is driving too fast for that road, weather and traffic conditions. Please see earlier posts about working out the speed limit if you are unsure.

Dl25 Section1919. Following distance

This is keeping a proper and safe distance from the vehicle in front when moving. Also leave a reasonable gap from the vehicle in front when stopping in lines of traffic. I will try to cover the two second gap and “tyres and tarmac” in a later post to clarify.

Dl25 Section2020. Progress is split into two sections – appropriate speed and undue hesitation.



Appropriate speed – this is where you are driving too slow for that road and traffic conditions. I find that the examiner’s are fairly lenient with this, but if you are holding traffic up for a while they will be critical and even fail you if it is excessive.

Undue hesitation – this will most likely occur at junctions, roundabouts etc. When there is a clear opportunity to go we should take it (do we don’t hold up traffic behind). Again I find the examiners are quite forgiving in this area; they assume that with more experience you will get much better at moving into gaps (I think). In contrast I think they will never give the benefit of the doubt if you go when you shouldn’t.

 

21 Junctions split Dl25 Section21into five sections and this is one of the most important areas (lots of test failures here).






Approach speed arriving at junctions – Either too fast or too slow, I would say most problems are by arriving too fast.

Observations at junctions – Not taking effective observation before emerging from junctions. Junctions can be anywhere that you emerge, so roundabouts, T-junctions and crossroads. During 2011 there were 201175 driving test failures for this reason and 187075 in 2010 – so clearly the most common test failure.

Turning right at junctions – Late or incorrect positioning before turning right, including failing to move forward into the correct position to turn right at traffic lights.

Turning left at junctions – Positioning too close or too far from the kerb before turning left.

Cutting corners: Cutting right hand corners, particularly where the view is limited. Please see previous post for an explanation of this one.

Dl25 Section 22




22. Judgement – split into 3 sections.
Overtaking, mee
ting and crossing.



Judgement when overtaking – Attempting to overtake unsafely or cutting in after overtaking. This could include overtaking cars, tractors, cyclists etc.

Judgement when meeting – Failure to show proper judgement when meeting approaching traffic. A meeting situation happens when you are passing a parked vehicle (or other obstruction) on the left and there is an on-coming vehicle. Of course you will be on the wrong side of the road, so need to ensure that you can safely get back to your side before “meeting” the on-coming vehicle.

Judgement when crossing traffic -Turning right across the path of oncoming traffic and misjudging the gap.

I will look at some more sections of this form in my next post.

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Driving Test Report Form Part 2

Ok so let’s look at the next portion of the driving test report form.Dl25 Middle Column

I will go through this section by section later but I want to make sure that the driver fault and serious/dangerous is explained thoroughly.
I’ve highlighted with the green arrow the “cutting corners” part of 21 – Junctions and it can be seen that this (along with all others in this part) can be scored as driver fault, serious or dangerous. Most people will know that when turning right, you are meant to stay on your side of the road and not “cut the corner. Looking at the picture below, you turn roughly following the green arrow and keep off the “Turn after me” patch. 
It would be a generally be a driver fault (minor) as long as there isn’t a vehicle approaching following the green arrow. If that vehicle had to slow down it would be a serious (major) fault; if you hit the car it would be a dangerous fault.
A single serious or dangerous fault will, of course, cause a test failure.
Cutting Corner
Notice that I have given this form 2 driver faults for cutting corners. Another way to fail a driving test is multiples of the same fault. You would get away with 2 but not 5 in one category, the easiest way is to drive properly and get none.

 

These same principles can be applied to most faults in a driving test. So let’s have a look at the other categories in this list.
13. Move Off: You will be asked to do this several times in  your test. You can make mistakes in safety and/or control. Safety will generally mean that you didn’t take effective observation ahead, behind and into the blind spot (also behind you). Again these could be driver faults or serious depending on the situation – don’t make another road user take evasive action (mostly making them slow).
Stalling an engine in this situation will generally be a driver fault for poor control, it is hard to imagine how this could be a serious fault, since you are already stationary. But I suppose that multiple stalls would be a fairly common fail, especially for a very nervous driver.
14. Use of Mirrors: this is a very common area of failure, especially use of mirrors before change of direction. In fact during test in 2011 there were 130624 candidates who failed in this category. This is an area where examiner’s are very critical (quite rightly). An good example would be when turning right at most roundabout, at some point you need to change lanes (right to left) and you need to ensure that the left lane is clear. I will cover roundabouts in a later post as they are the most hazardous junction to negotiate. Use of mirrors before change of speed often happens when the driver is asked to stop on the left but doesn’t check that there is a vehicle behind.
That’s all for now, but I will examine sections 15-22 in the next post.

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Driving Test Report Form

During the next few posts, I’d like to explain and give my opinions about the UK driving test. There are certainly several myths about this practical test and I intend to cover those and maybe dispel them in a later post.

This link is to the whole form, which comes in four sections – Driving Test Report Form.

DL25A – Top copy – I believe this is returned to DVDA HQ and filed
DL25B – Test Centre copy, the reverse side is used by the examiner as an aide memoire; more details lower down.
DL25C – Candidate’s copy of the report, the reverse side of this has guidance notes and appeals procedure. These notes are meant to explain how the test was scored. This is not easy to understand, but see below.
DL25D – Guidance Notes – given to the candidate as explanatory notes. Also not very easy to comprehend but again see below.

The front side of each copy of the report are substantially the same and I wouldn’t worry about the small differences. 

At the end of a driving test (pass or fail) the candidate is given their copies and I think most people never read them or still less understand them. After explaining the result (more details in a later post), the examiner will return to the office and fill in the reverse side of their copy. This is to help them to remember what happened in case of an appeal. Doing 7 tests/day, 5 days per week must be boring and tough to remember if asked a few days later. So they make a few notes about the weather, the car, what the candidate looked like, any other info to jog memory. I guess that they pay more attention to this section when they are expecting an appeal against the decision.

So let’s see if I can make some sense of the driving test marking form – the top section is below


Most of this part is self explanatory, but here are a few pointers.

Orange arrow shows the test application reference number, received when a test is booked.
Blue arrow contains the middle 6 digits of the driver’s licence number.
Green arrow indicates tick box to be used if car is an automatic.
Red arrow shows tick box for an extended test. Necessary if driver has been banned and is going through the process again. Actually not just returning from a ban but that the incident that caused the ban was VERY serious.
Purple arrows indicate if the test was observed by a supervising examiner and/or instructor. Several years ago, I was asked to sit in on a test which also had a senior examiner checking the test examiner. Four of us in a Fiesta on a rainy day, windows misted up continuously. But well done to Stuart for concentrating with a car full and passing his test.

Here’s the left side of the form; one of the most important of the whole form is shown by the two red arrows and the black arrows, but more of that later. Progressing from the top and using the reverse of part 25DLD, the explanations.
1a. Eyesight Test, you are asked to read a number plate at a reasonable distance and if you can’t the test will not go ahead.

1b. This wouldn’t apply to a car test, used for tractor tests or some other specialist vehicle.

2. Controlled Stop: Around 30% of car tests are asked to do this. The blue arrow 
indicates the box that shows if this occurred.

3. Reverse Left: Around 25% of car tests are asked to do this. The blue arrow indicates the box that shows if this occurred.

4. Reverse Right: Currently this is very rarely done.

5. Reverse Park: Around 50% of car tests are asked to do one of these manoeuvres. the first green arrow again shows if this was done and the second arrow indicates if this was done on a road (parallel park) – box R or if done in a car park (bay park) – box C.

6. Turn in road: Around 25% of car tests are asked to “turn the car around using forward and reverse gears, try not to touch the kerbs”. This is their current way of asking you to do a three point turn.

7. Vehicle Checks: These are the so called Show Me Tell Me questions (click link).

Sections 8, 9 and 10 are not used in the car test.

Ok let’s go back to the top of the form and discuss the S an D columns, this applies to all relevant sections and explains what the difference is between a driver fault (a minor) and a serious or dangerous fault (a major). As an example, look at item 12 which is control and then section titled parking brake. So a mark or marks in the long horizontal box would show minor(s), but one in the S or D column would be a major i.e. a test fail. 
So let’s say that on a test the driver was asked to stop on the left, sounds simple. After stopping, the examiner says “drive off when you are ready” and because the car is on a hill and the driver makes a mistake, the car rolls backwards. If it rolls back a few inches and is recovered by the driver it will be recorded as a driver fault (minor). However if it rolls back a few feet it will be deemed serious or even dangerous especially if there is something or someone behind.

Let’s look at the other parts of this form next time and remember if you want to learn to drive quickly in Tamworth or Birmingham click a link and give me a call.


Filtered Traffic Lights

So following on from the previous post, I said that we would have a look at filtered traffic lights and as usual there are a few different combinations. Here is the first example:


With this one it is fairly obvious that the left pair of lights control the left 2 lanes and the right 2 control the right turning traffic. So in the current state of this picture the traffic turning right have a red light, whereas those going straight ahead have green. But sometimes it is not quite as clear as this, here is another example (sorry picture isn’t perfect).



The lanes shown by the green and blue arrows are controlled by the lights shown by the red arrow. I’ve inserted a larger version into the picture to help you to see what’s going on. So if you are travelling in the “blue” lane, intending to turn right – you must obey the RED light. However as the light sequences progresses you will see a green light in the shape of a right facing arrow. When this happens, you need to turn right, safe in the knowledge that the on-coming traffic will have a red light i.e. you don’t wait.

The next picture shows a few of typical filter lights, but there are many types.



The junction in the image below is in Lichfield and has what I call a “part-time filter light”. Looking at the above picture, the right hand light has a normal green light plus a right facing arrow green light. This is what is we have in the picture below (shown by white arrow).



As you approach this one, the lights will change (at some point) and traffic going left, ahead and right will have a green (circular) light. So if you are turning right, you will position yourself ready to turn – waiting for on-coming traffic. However after a few seconds the bottom fourth light (green arrow) might come on and you can proceed (as above you can be sure that the on-coming have red light). But filter light doesn’t always come on; the sensors try to check if there is any vehicle waiting to turn (hence my name – part-time).

So lots of different filtered traffic light complexes to deal with and if you want to learn to drive in Tamworth or Lichfield please click the appropriate link.



Conventional Traffic Lights i.e. Not Filtered

This post concerns conventional traffic light controlled junctions. I will cover filtered traffic light junction in the next post.

When turning right at most traffic light junctions, you need to position the car waiting to turn right. This can sometimes be difficult to judge, here are a few tips that will help you decide.

Right Turn Only

As you approach the above crossroad, it is fairly clear that the right lane is right turn only. On modern roads this is the most common arrangement, but beware of (generally) older ones where the right lane can also proceed ahead (see below). Also the current convention is to pass passenger side to passenger side, look out for arrows which indicate the opposite (again generally older designed junctions). I learned to drive in the early seventies and the convention was to pass driver’s side to driver’s side. This is safer since you can see better, but less efficient and to be honest I can’t really remember it changing.

So considering this image, when the light is green and you have on-coming traffic – where do you wait? Well the first decision is whether to cross the white STOP line. If I were driving the first vehicle then I’d move forward on green (unless something very unusual is happening). However if I were the second or subsequent vehicle, I would only cross the line if I was sure that I could get the back of my car beyond the pedestrian part of the crossing – see next image.


This is to make sure that I am caught is a bad spot when the lights change. As the lead vehicle progresses further into the junction, you may find that there is enough room to move forward. So where do we wait, even I am impatient 🙂

The exact position will vary from crossroad to crossroad but here’s my simple rule. I will not go too far forward in case I block someone turning right from opposite and I will not go too far right so I don’t make on-going traffic drive around me.


This picture demonstrates this fairly well. The blue car is blocking the lane that the white van is in, but it has to turn right – so fine. The blue car could go a couple of feet further right but not too far – remember you can always creep further forward (but NOT back). The white car is just crossing the pedestrian studs, so that looks fine. But the car that has Google’s camera should wait here for now

Right Hand Lane can go ahead as well as right


So remembering that some right hand lanes can go ahead, as well as right – the wait position would not be so far right (so you don’t block on-going traffic). But everything else would be the same as the above example.

Very often you can’t see the opposite road’s arrows (blocked by cars or elevation change). In my experience, if your right lane is right turn only then the one opposite is the same. But as ever with driving, proceed with caution and look for the evidence.

Next post I will have a look at filtered traffic light junctions and if anyone wants to take an intensive course in Leicester or Redditch just click one of the links.




What is the speed limit? Part Three

This last section on speed limits concerns that national speed limit, there are actually two. The first national speed limit is 30 mph in a built up area, but it is the second one that I want to explain here.

The first thing to notice about the national limit sign, shown below, is that there is no number on the sign. Also you will see this sign on a variety of different roads, from fast dual carriageways to narrow country lanes. This national speed limit demands a different limit for different vehicles, even a car that tows a caravan will need to observe a lower limit. 
When I see this sign, I think it means use your “common sense”. The theoretical limit for a car on the road below is 60 mph, but that would be crazy on this narrow lane – 25 mph maybe too fast. As always you need to drive to the conditions that are apparent. Most of my pupils are very surprised when they enter a road like this one and see this sign. They assume that since they are encouraged to drive reasonably close to other speed limits that I would expect the same here. So I explain that if the county and borough councils had to specify exact speed limits for every road, the cost would be prohibitive. This is because most of the roads in the UK are national, but most of the roads that we regularly drive on are signed up with specific limits. The cost of mounting signs on all of these type of roads would be enormous. Each would need a lamp, therefore an electricity supply, someone would need to maintain them, replace bulbs, clean them etc.

When you join a national speed limit dual carriageway, you should try to get up to about 60 mph (as long as the traffic will allow this. This is so that heavy goods vehicles (which are speed limited) will not catch up and overtake you. If you are driving 50 mph on a clear road, the truck driver will be “forced” to overtake you. The truck will take a while to do this since it is limited to 56 mph (probably), and both lanes of a fast dual carriageway will be blocked (not a good idea).

If you know anyone that wants to learn to drive in Leicester, click the link – same goes for Burton-on-Trent.

What is the speed limit? Part Two

There are some roads that I find the speed limits difficult to understand, here are a couple of examples.



This is Cricket Lane in Lichfield; there are houses on the left, close to the road and yet the speed limit is 40 mph (at least there are a few repeaters to remind you).



The above picture is Cappers Lane, also in Lichfield and the limit is 30 mph. it really doesn’t look like it and two things are true. Most of the traffic on this road will be exceeding that limit and people fail their driving tests every day on this stretch of road. So use the tips from Part One to help work out the limit; a driving test examiner will be quite forgiving if you drive a little below the limit for a short period (while you work it out).

Finally look at the 2 signs below, both show that speed cameras may be around (fixed or mobile). I can’t see the point of the one on the right, the one on the left shows the camera sign AND the speed limit – much more informative.


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What is the speed limit? Part One

Well I can’t believe that it is almost four years since I wrote one of these Learn To Drive Tips. Anyway I hope some of you will enjoy reading and may even learn a little bit.

Question: How do the speed change signs work in the UK? What do I even mean by this? Let’s clarify, the images below are all taken from the same road in Lichfield. PS I love Google Street View 🙂


In the picture above there are two 40 mph signs; notice that they are fairly large and there’s one each on posts on right and left side of the road – opposite each other. This is typically how a change is notified to the driver. So the speed limit will be 40 mph until the next change sign on this road or when you turn off into a different one.


In contrast, the above image shows a 40 mph repeater; this is not a change but a helpful reminder of the current speed limit. Notice that the sign is fairly small and although there is one on the LHS, there isn’t one on the right.


Personally I would like to see a few more of these, but there seems to be little consistency with repeaters; some roads have a repeater every 100 yards and sometimes you can drive for miles and not see one. They seem to happen more often when a limit has been changed. So a road that was previously signed as national speed limit and has been changed to 50 or 40 mph, you are much more likely to see repeaters.


The last shot shows a view into a side road and you can clearly see two change signs. So here the speed limit is changing (from 40 mph) to 30 mph. Incidentally if you were to look at the reverse of these signs, you would see two 40 mph signs – showing the change in the other direction.

So how can this help a new driver.

First of all, look out for change signs and repeaters. Nobody will see every sign but if you try, you will see more. Notice that most appear at junctions, either before a junction or just after. Don’t forget that they are also painted on the road sometimes, see below.


If you find yourself on a road and you are not sure what the speed limit is, then look for evidence. The best way is to look down a side road and see if there are any change signs. If there are no change signs then the limit should be the same on both roads. However if there are change signs then you certainly know that the limit on the road you are on is different and this will always help to work it out.

Other clues would be:

Are there lampposts? If there are none, then this indicates national speed limit – although some of these roads have a few lampposts to illuminate junctions.
Is it a built up area? Houses close to the road indicate 30 mph, although some could be 20 mph (as above). Footpaths on both sides of the road would also indicate a built up area.

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Lichfield Driving Test Centre Exit Left

Ok, so your taking your test in Lichfield – what problems do the first few minutes present?

Going left you proceed down really narrow and bendy road – there are usually cars parked on the left, so you need to be in 1st gear and looking well ahead.

Further down this really narrow road, there’s a T-junction where you really need to stop to look both ways – generally you will asked to turn right.

Having negotiated that junction, you will be asked to turn left at the STOP junction – of course the examiner will not use that word. You must stop and mainly look right to give way – however a few other things to watch:

  • The corner is reasonably tight, so don’t get too close to the left kerb, there is a chance of mounting it if you turn too soon.
  • There may be vehicles turning right into your road – they can surprise you, so look left as well as right (as you should always do).
  • There’s a light controlled pedestrian crossing as soon as you turn left and you probably will not have time to see this after you turn. So make sure that the lights are green before you set off – keep an eye out for people pressing the button.

So now your test in under way and assuming that you have taken care, you will be off to a good start.


Next time we will look at turning right out of the Lichfield test centre.


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