The summer holidays have begun

It’s that time of year again when hundreds of families will soon be setting off to enjoy a week’s UK holiday break. But before the camping, theme parks and beach picnics can begin you need to get in the car and travel for hours to get there. Of course we all know that’s when the real fun can begin, you have heard it many times and we bet that you will have said it yourself at some time, “Are we there yet?”\r\n\r\nThe best tip is to keep them occupied because bored kids tend to make more noise, distracting the driver. Take with you some things to occupy the children such as pencils or books, electronic games are great if the volume is muted! Play some games such as spotting number plates or the first to spot a certain colour of car, but importantly take frequent breaks, it is recommended that this should be around every two hours.\r\n\r\nTry to ensure that the temperature is kept down, if you have air conditioning this is great, children should be strapped in and make sure that you have the child locks engaged, you do not want the door flying open on a motorway! Above all drive safely and enjoy your well deserved holiday.

Driving At Night

When you get ready to go out at night and need to drive, you should always make sure that both you and your car are prepared for the outing.  You need to make sure that you will be able to see adequately to drive and you may find that as you age you may need night time driving glasses.   Always allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness if you leave a brightly-lit building.  And it’s a good idea to make sure your windshield is clear on the inside of your car and the outside to cut any glare that may occur from passing vehicles in the other lane. \r\n\r\nThe biggest priority of a night time driver is to make sure the lights on his or her car work properly.  Headlights, taillights, parking lights and turn signals should all be in good working condition.  Make sure that the headlights work in both positions – main beam and dip.  Use the proper settings on your lights when driving to help you see better.  Dimly lit or dark roads with little traffic can be traversed using your high beams.  When driving in town or on roads that are lit, use the dipped setting.  Always remember to dim your lights when on the bright setting to oncoming traffic so as not to blind the other motorists.\r\n\r\nIf you feel yourself getting tired while you are driving at night, stop the vehicle, get out, and take a break.  Fatigue can cause you to fall asleep at the wheel and if this happens you could get involved in an accident, potentially a fatal one.

Now is the time to fit Bluetooth to your car

With insurance companies getting tougher with drivers who have points on their licence from hand-held mobile phone offences has to be an excellent development. The insurer Allianz believes that you are a more dangerous driver if you have points from using a hand held ‘phone than for a routine speeding offence, described by them as a “dangerous and needless act”.\r\n\r\nIf you are one of those who persist with this dangerous practice, you can expect fine, points on their licence, in addition to an increase in the insurance premium when you renew.  Amazingly 185,000 drivers were caught using hand held phones in 2007 but in spite of the increase in the penalties now a doubled fine, from £30 to £60, with three penalty points, the offence continues. There has never been a better time to invest in a Bluetooth hands-free kit, which are widely available at less than £30 which is less than half the cost of the fine if you are caught.\r\n\r\nRemember that hands free conversations are still a distraction and you should always tell callers that you are driving, and find somewhere legal, safe and convenient to pull over. Drive safely.

Start saving pounds at the pump

As soaring fuel prices continue to hit the headlines there can be no motorist who is not interested in saving this precious commodity. Here at the Bill Plant School of Motoring, we have vast experience in driving and want to share our knowledge on techniques you can use to save fuel.\r\n\r\nDo you really need to use your car today? If the journey is short, less than two miles for instance, the engine is at its most inefficient and will use more fuel, walking to your destination in these circumstances could be an option. Take the most direct route and go at off-peak times if possible to save fuel and time, sitting in congestion means you are often doing zero miles per litre. Check your tyre pressures this reduces wear and helps fuel economy.\r\n\r\nAt Bill Plant our qualified driving instructors always emphasise keeping within the speed limit, this is the law after all, but for instance travelling at 56 mph uses 25 per cent less fuel than 70mph and a smoother driving style can bring significant fuel saving. Reduce your drag by removing roof racks when not in use and drive with your windows up. Fuel has never been more expensive, save it!

What Is Corporate Manslaughter?

When driving a vehicle you are not only taking your own life into your hands, but also the lives of your passengers and of other drivers with whom you share the road.  If someone would happen to perish due to negligence on your part while you were behind the wheel, you could be charged with Corporate manslaughter.  While this is considered a misdemeanour charge, the action still carries severe penalties and the weight of guilt that you will have to bear for the rest of your life.  The term “vehicular manslaughter” is often used in accidental death cases where the defendant is being prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and usually includes a lesser infraction such as driving on a suspended or without a license, and a charge of negligence.\r\n\r\nOffences such as corporate manslaughter does not usually require the perpetrator of the crime to have criminal intent.  In other words, they did not premeditate the crime; it was due to their negligence instead.  For this reason, operating a motor vehicle of any sort while under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription drugs that could cause drowsiness and alcohol carry very stiff penalties which include fines, loss of driving privileges and jail time.

Pump Aid

In common with many countries in the Sub-Sahara regions of Africa, Malawi suffers from a lack of clean drinkable water in certain parts of the country, but help is at hand through the good offices of Bill Plant. The fastest growing National Driving School has donated money to Pump Aid which specialises in bringing water to those most in need.\r\n\r\nPump Aid have been around for well over 11 years and during that time they have successfully supplied and installed “Elephant” pumps which are simple devices that once installed, require little maintenance easily carried out by the local population themselves.\r\n\r\nThe initial donation made by the Bill Plant School of Motoring is seen by them as an initial signal, heralding the start of a long association with Pump Aid, which will save and improve the lives of tens of thousands of Africans.

Look around that blind spot

What is not in doubt is that modern cars are structurally far superior to models widely available in years previously, but the width of the pillars to achieve this has grown, in particular the one that divides the windscreen and the side windows, known as the “A” pillar, the downside is that his pillar obstructs the vision of thousands of drivers.\r\n\r\nYour Bill Plant qualified driving instructor will have made you aware of the potential restriction the “A” pillar may cause in your ability to scan the road ahead. As a reminder to all drivers you should make sure that nothing is hidden from view by the pillar before making a manoeuvre as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are easy to “lose” in the space behind this. Make sure you take time to look around the pillar, not just take a quick “snap-shot” look which could allow a cyclist to be hidden from view.\r\n\r\nNever forget that good all round vision is essential to safe driving, vital in fact and remember that as a driver of a motor vehicle, the onus is on you to ensure that nothing is there.

Car Control

Being able to control your car while driving and avoiding potential traffic hazards is the key to having a long, safe, driving career.  There is a way to control your vehicle and there are key elements that everyone should be aware of and always keep in the back of their mind when driving.  If you can incorporate this into your daily driving, you will be able to avoid accidents, safely navigate through treacherous terrain and inclement weather, and ensure your safety and the safety of anyone travelling with you.\r\n\r\nWhen you drive you want to read the road continuously.  Pay attention to the road signs, the white lines on the road surface and any other warning signs that motorists may inadvertently leave you, such as skid marks or debris.  Always make sure that you leave enough room between yourself and other drivers so that you can stop in plenty of time to avoid colliding with them.  Also, try to always have an alternative escape route planned if stopping is not an option.\r\n\r\nSpeeds are constantly increasing on the roadways and many people will speed when they shouldn’t.  Higher speeds should be limited to where the traffic conditions, visibility, and law permit it and nowhere else.  Space is once again a factor and it is recommended that while travelling at 70 MPH you need to have a stopping distance that is four times more than if you were travelling at 30 MPH.  Always make sure that your brakes are in good working condition before leaving your home.  Utilize down gear shifting to slow down when you can to avoid excess wear and tear on your vehicle.

Teenage drivers and alcohol

The chief medical officer Liam Donaldson has called for teenage drivers to be banned from drinking any alcohol at all when taking to the wheel of a motor vehicle, a zero limit. Even when they have consumed within the present limit the teenager is twice as likely as an older driver to be involved in an accident.\r\n\r\nMany younger drivers are asking why they should be treated differently to older drivers and we believe that the answer is quite simple. Not only are older drivers more careful due to their experience, but they are much more tolerant to alcohol than a younger person.\r\n\r\nAt Bill Plant we train our learner drivers to the highest standard at all our UK wide driving schools, and as part of our tuition we have always considered that driving a motor vehicle and alcohol are two things that do not mix, Mr Donaldson’s views may be controversial, but they could save lives.

Being a Proactive Driver

Most drivers tend to be reactive drivers when they first learn to drive.  New drivers tend to wait and see what the other drivers on the road are going to do.  As you gain experience driving, your skills start to reflect your personality and attitude.  You start to watch out for hazards sooner the more you drive and you begin to drive proactively.  This means you try to control your part of the situation by adjusting your speed and moving out of the road if there is room.  As long as no one is tailgating you, you do not have to worry about being rear-ended.  If you make good use of your horn, headlights, and brake lights, you can help avoid an accident.\r\n\r\nIf you need to brake to come to a stop and the road is dry and even, braking very hard is appropriate.  When the weather is bad – snowy, rainy, and icy – a proactive driver will use various driving techniques to slow down and stop their vehicle.  Threshold braking requires the driver to gently brake without excess pressure.  Cadence braking is the method of tapping the brake, pumping it to slow down. \r\n\r\nSometimes you will need to turn your vehicle around in order to avoid the road hazard in front of you.  If you are on a two-lane road you will need to perform a two-point turn with an emergency stop.  If the road is larger, you can safely try to perform a U-turn.  If you need to back up quickly, make sure there is not traffic behind you.

Finding a friendly driving instructor

As with anything in life, doing something that is completely new to you can be pretty daunting. This applies to learning to drive on today’s busy roads, towns and cities which are crowded with cars and other vehicles. This is particularly so if you have never sat behind the wheel of a car before, what you need in these circumstances is a friendly patient fully qualified driving instructor. We believe that is someone who is local to your particular area and is not just familiar with it, but “knows it inside out”!\r\n\r\nIt is not just about passing that all important two part driving test, but it is also coaching you in the skills that will make you a safe and considerate driver long after you have successfully passed your driving test. Bill Plant Driving School is in the unique position of being in the top five national driving schools, with a local approach and feel to it, whether you are learning to drive in Bradford, or one of the other major centres covered by this coveted driving school.

Finding a driving school near you

Bill Plant is a national driving school; in fact it is in the top five in the country recognised as being in the forefront of innovation with an ultra modern approach to driving lessons, and progressing to the important driving test, including the theory section of the two part driving test.\r\n\r\nAlthough one of the most successful driving schools in Britain, the approach taken by Bill Plant is that every locality should be treated as though it is a local area, whether this is in a major conurbation such as Birmingham or Sheffield or a smaller city such as Ripon for example. Your qualified driving instructor at the Bill Plant driving school wherever you live, will carefully and with consideration guide you through your driving lessons right through until you are ready to take your two part test and become a fully qualified driver.

Provisional driving in Ireland

By most standards, Ireland”s system for new drivers has been a bit peculiar. New drivers entering the system got a provisional license, which allowed them to drive with an accompanying licensed driver.  What then made this unusual, and delightfully Irish, was if they took their driving test and failed it, they could apply for, and get, a second provisional license, and happily drive without a fully licensed driver!\r\n\r\nUniquely the learner driver did not have to take a driving test and subsequently fail this to get a new two year provisional licence; they could simply not turn up for the driving test and use the appointment letter to renew their provisional licence. However from the 30th June 2008 provisional licence holders must have a fully qualified driver with them at all times, or face a fine of up to €1000, or imprisonment if they fail to pay this. We know at Bill Plant that after years of driving you can build up bad habits and it”s really difficult to get rid of them without training. As they say it can only happen in Ireland!

Advanced Driver Training

Advanced driver training is the next step for some people after getting their driver’s license.  It is designed to help students become smoother, more conscientious drivers.  The idea to offer more advanced instruction was conceived at the National Road Safety Congress that was held back in November 1954, and the idea was so well received that the members of the many different road and traffic organizations began to offer classes. \r\n\r\nThese classes have been shown to reduce accidents. The Pass Plus test can be booked through the Bill Plant School of Motoring and is open to anyone of legal age with the correct driver’s license.  The test is about ninety-minutes long and can cover thirty-five to forty minutes worth of driving on varied road surfaces, numerous road conditions, and possibly varied weather.\r\n\r\nMost people are afraid to take the test because they don’t want the person grading them to see the bad habits that have developed over the years in their daily driving routines.  As long as a candidate remains relaxed and calm they will pass the test and become rated as an advanced driver.  They will come out of it all with better awareness and better preparation for any driving eventuality that may come their way.