Did You Know?

Lots of facts, guides, articles and other snippets of amazing useful information, brought to you by our amazing team of driving instructors.

Learner Drivers To Be Allowed To Use Motorways From June 4th 2018.

It has been announced that learner drivers will be allowed to drive on our motorways from June 4th, 2018.

In this post we will look at how the approach to this major change will be handled by the driving instructors here at John Lowe Driving.

Firstly, we need to get some facts straight!

Motorway driving will not become part of the driving test and this has nothing to do with the driving test changes that are coming on December 4th 2017.

The DVSA are allowing motorway use for learners to ensure that more drivers can use the motorways properly and safely.

However there are conditions attached!

Learner drivers will have to be accompanied by a fully qualified approved driving instructor in a dual-controlled car, displaying “L” plates. Trainee driving instructors will not be able to offer motorway lessons, nor will friends and family.

Motorway lessons will not be compulsory and it will be up to the approved driving instructor to decide if the student is competent enough to use the motorway, but will never pressurise anybody to have a motorway lesson, it will be completely voluntary.

Our driving instructors will ensure the following is incorporated in motorway lessons:

Full two way discussion on motorway procedures.
Joining and leaving the motorway.
Use of lanes and lane discipline.
Overtaking safely.
Use of speed. Reminder that motorway speeds can vary. Students from the Gloucester area will have already practised a lot on the local dual carriageways, so getting up to speed will not be too challenging.
Dealing with breakdowns and the use of the hard shoulder. How to find and use emergency phones. Reminder that the hard shoulder is sometimes used as a lane.
Safely dealing with spray in wet weather. The instructor will decide on the safety of a motorway lesson if the weather is poor.
How to use the 2 second rule.
Motorway signs.
A lot of drivers do not use motorways for a number of reasons and so miss out on the great advantages they offer.

Don’t be one of them!

Have your driving lessons with John Lowe Driving and get the full package.

Call us on 01452 313713.

Click this link for the DVSA information.

Warm Regards,
Tom Lowe.

Eco-Safe Driving, what is it? Part 1.

Almost every day we hear about the environment, global warming, climate change, air pollution and other nasty things that driving your car can contribute towards, not to mention the sky high fuel and maintenance costs.

None of these facts seem to deter us from driving though, as anyone can see the roads getting ever busier.

In this short series we will look at a style of driving that minimises these negatives, will contribute to your own road safety and save you money in fuel and maintenance costs.

This style of driving is:

Eco-safe Driving.
So what is eco-safe driving?

In this first part of the series we will look at the keys to driving eco-safe, which are:
Hazard perception and planning.

Vehicle control.

Those of you learning to drive, or have recently passed your driving test, will be familiar with these terms, but they apply to all drivers regardless of how long you have been on the road.

In fact, eco-safe driving is part of the current DVSA driving test.

You will read in some articles that eco-safe driving is an “informal” part of your driving test and that driving in a non eco fashion will not result in a test fail, but beware! The faults will not be marked in the eco-safe section as a fail, but the manner of your driving that is considered non eco will be recorded elsewhere and could still result in disappointment.

For example, if you were waiting at lengthy traffic lights with 1st gear engaged, your clutch at biting point and your engine revving for a few minutes, the faults would be recorded under proper use of gears and proper use of accelerator.

The examiner would inform you at the end of your test that your eco-safe driving is in need of improvement, but the faults that failed you would not be recorded under the eco-safe section.

A successful driving test depends very much on eco-safe driving.

Hazard Perception and Planning.

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to avoid accidents and keep yourself safe, as you are prepared in advance for potential hazards. By concentrating on hazard perception, (remember those videos on your theory test?) you can plan more accurately and make better use of the momentum and engine braking of your car, saving yourself fuel and maintenance costs and reducing environmental damage.

A little bit of thought will go a long way over time.

Whenever you are driving, try to keep up your scanning and observation. Check the far distance, middle distance and foreground, as well as what’s happening at your rear and to your sides with regular, effective use of your mirrors.

This way, you will pick up potential hazards, but you still have to deal with them, which will be easier as you have spotted problems earlier.

Having seen ahead,you can ensure that your speed is correct when meeting the hazard, avoiding late braking or harsh acceleration, causing higher fuel consumption, which is no good for your wallet or the environment.

Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, as this will give you more visibility and help your planning. Sometimes just easing off the gas pedal is sufficient to slow down, avoiding the need to brake, saving some fuel.

If every driver planned ahead this way, bunching would be avoided, allowing traffic to flow more smoothly and a lot of fuel would be saved.

Vehicle Control.

Keep it smooth, keep it steady, do it gently.

These simple actions will save you money almost straight away and would go a long way towards saving the planet if every driver adopted them.

Every time I hear a car “blasting off,” I picture pound coins tumbling down the drain, as the fuel wasted and the damage caused to the car really add up over a few months or years.

Driving away.

There is no need to over-rev your engine when you start up your car, or to pull away in a hurry. Try to pull away smoothly.

Regulating your speed.

These days, there are a lot of incentives to drive sensibly and to stay within the speed limit. It’s not only the high chance of being caught on camera and the resulting hefty fine and points that should encourage you, but you will again save fuel and reduce the risk of a nasty collision. All saving you money again, with fuel and insurance.

So slow down.

Vehicles travelling at 70mph use about 30% more fuel to cover the same distance as vehicles travelling at 50mph.

If you have cruise control fitted, then use it. It can help with keeping to the speed limit and saves fuel by keeping a steady setting on the gas pedal.

The accelerator.

A lot of money and damage from wear and tear can be saved by smooth use of the gas pedal. Remember that rapid acceleration will often lead to heavy and harsh braking which results in greater fuel consumption.

Smooth driving can save you around 15% in fuel costs and a lot of money in repairs, as well as reducing pollution.

Whenever it is possible, take your foot off the accelerator and allow the momentum of the car to drive you. This works rather well on downhill stretches without any loss of control, but you will save a lot of fuel.

Gear Selection.

You can save fuel as well as wear and tear by making use of block gear changes. This is where you can miss out intermediate gears as you change up or down. (Eg, 1st to 3rd, 4th to 2nd, 3rd to 5th.)
This will reduce the amount of time you are accelerating, when fuel consumption is at its highest, and will save on wear, as you are doing fewer gear changes.

Use the highest gear possible as soon as you can, without making the engine labour.

In part 2 of this series we will look at fuel consumption in more detail and other simple ways to save money and the environment.

All of the driving instructors at John Lowe Driving are eco-safe specialists, so if you would like to know more, or to start your driving lessons in an eco- friendly way,

Call us on 01452 313713.
Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe.

Eco-Safe Driving. Part 2.

In part 1 of this series,we discussed how you can save yourself a lot of money and at the same time protect the planet, by driving in an eco-friendly manner,so in this part we will look at other straightforward ways that anyone can adopt to achieve these aims.

If every driver did the following, it would make an enormous difference to us all.

Keep an eye on your fuel consumption.

Petrol and diesel are horribly expensive, but we wouldn’t go far without them, so some simple calculations can ensure that you are not wasting your money. If you use unnecessary fuel, you are emptying your wallet as well as causing avoidable pollution.

Keep a record of the amount of fuel you are using, against the miles travelled as a check on whether your’e using your car and fuel efficiently.

If you are doing your best to be eco-safe in your driving, an increase in your fuel consumption probably means that your car needs a service.

Engine braking.

This is a very fuel efficient way of slowing down, as the engine needs very little fuel when you take your foot fully off the gas pedal. Use engine braking wherever possible. Looking well ahead will help a lot.

Use higher gears.

Modern engines will deliver power when the revs are quite low, so where possible make use of the higher gears at lower speeds, saving fuel and wear.

Planning your route.

Before you set out, make sure you know where you’re going, and what sort of roads you’ll be using. A good, old fashioned map is a good start, as well as local traffic news. You can then figure out if there are any known hold ups, road works etc., that you can avoid.
Program your sat nav, which will usually take you the most effective route, but have a map ready in case things go wrong.

Try not to get lost, as this will cost you a lot of wasted fuel and time.
If you are forced to stop for any length of time, such as at a level crossing, switch off your engine while you wait. Many modern cars will do this for you automatically.

Reduce drag.

Drag is unnecessary weight carried in your car, or wind resistance caused by roof racks or roof boxes. So, before you set out, empty your car of equipment not needed and remove your roof rack. These simple things can save you 15% in fuel costs.

Air conditioning.

Continuous use of aircon can increase fuel use quite a lot, so use it as sparingly as is comfortable. Opening your window will help, but this will create drag, so you can’t really win!

When you have completed your eco-friendly journey to your destination, you will need to park your car.

Always try to reverse into a parking bay, so that you can drive out of it, because manoeuvring with a cold engine uses a lot of fuel and causes wear. Reverse in when the engine is warm and drive out forwards when it is cold.

In part 3, we will look at the different fuels available, petrol, diesel, LPG, and electric.

If you would like to start your eco-safe driving lessons, or find out more, please call:

John Lowe Driving, 01452 313713.
Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe.

Eco-Safe Driving. Part 3.

An enormous decision that every driver has to make is which car to buy. There are obvious attractions in appearance and cost in the thousands of cars available, but the eco friendly driver will also consider other factors such as economy and the fuel type that will produce lower harmful emissions.

So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at what’s available.

Petrol engines.

With increasingly stringent emissions standards coming in the last few years, petrol engines have undergone design changes to become acceptable.

The key changes have been in fuel injection, electronic engine management systems and revamped exhaust units.

Catalytic converters have been required to be fitted to the exhaust systems for a number of years now.

A catalytic converter will remove around 75% of harmful gases, but carbon dioxide is still produced
The converter, however, cannot clean up emissions completely if the car is over accelerated.

Diesel engines.

Until the last couple of years the government was urging us to buy diesel cars as they are a lot more fuel efficient, in other words, you get a lot more miles per gallon, and they produce less carbon dioxide, which is a major global warming gas.

This opinion has reversed quite dramatically in the last couple of years, as further research has discovered that the particulates produced by diesel engines can be very harmful to health and bad for local air quality.

The mayors of major cities around the world, Paris, Madrid, Athens and London have said that they want diesel vehicles off their roads by 2025, because of these risks.

The UK government has talked about a diesel scrappage scheme in the near future, so diesel use appears to have had it’s day.

LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) also called autogas.

This fuel is available, but not everywhere. It has never really caught on for use in ordinary cars. It is cheaper than petrol or diesel and produces less emissions, but more carbon dioxide.


This is probably the future and in part 4 we will look at the pros and cons of using an electric vehicle.

Other relevent points.

When filling up, think about ultra low sulphur petrol or diesel, often described at the pump as “ultra.” It costs more, but is less harmful.

Your tyres will eventually need to be replaced, so consider buying energy saving tyres which have reduced rolling resistance. This will increase fuel efficiency and your grip on the road.

Why not learn to drive in one of our energy efficient cars?

Call John Lowe Driving on 01452 313713.

Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe

An Unexplained Mystery. (Mistery!)

Most people over the age of seventeen have got one.

Most of these people have got a full one and those that haven’t, badly want one.

This desirable object is a driving licence, provisional for those that are learning to master the necessary skills, and full for those that have gone through the learning process and passed the DVSA tests to be granted the coveted full driving licence.

Whether you are in possession of a full licence, or still with provisional, you are in the company of millions of others. There are millions of driving licences of one sort or another out there.

The mystery is that licences held by men are subtley different to licences held by women.

When the DVLA process a driving licence for a woman, her title is automatically included, usually Mrs. or Miss, but when a licence is processed for a man, there is no title attached, unless it’s honourific, e.g. Dr. or Rev.

Nobody can tell from the licence the marital status of the man, so why should the marital status of the woman be displayed?

This has led to some irritation and the DVLA and the Department for Transport have been approached by some newspapers and individuals for an explanation.

The DfT have said that it is purely a matter for the DVLA, and the DVLA have apparently refused to comment. Neither will take responsibility or offer any information.

It is interesting that military licences stopped using these titles years ago.

Apparently, women can request that the title be removed by sending their licence back to the DVLA with a covering letter!

If you are planning to learn to drive in the Gloucester area, and getting your full licence at the first attempt, our driving instructors are ready and waiting!

Call John Lowe Driving.

01452 313713.

Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe.

Penalties For Speeding Updated on April 24th 2017.

The methods used to calculate speeding fines and penalty points were updated on April 24th 2017.
In this post we will set out what speeding could cost you under the new system.

This is especially relevant to new drivers, who have held their licence for less than 2 years, as some speeding offences carry 6 penalty points which would result in a driving ban.

Ouch! Back in “L” plates!

Under the new rules, fines of between 25% and 175% of your weekly wage will be given, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

A cap of £1000 for a minor offence and £2500 for a major offence will exist.

A three band system will be used to determine the severity level of the offence and the fine will be calculated on a percentage basis.

· Band A. This will be applied to minor offences, for exceeding the speed limit by between 1 and 10 mph. This will attract a fine of between 25% and 75% of your weekly wage. In addition you could also receive 3 penalty points.

· Band B. This will be applied to drivers exceeding the speed limit by between 11mph and 20mph. The fine will be between 75% and 125% of your weekly wage, and the possibility of between 4 and 6 penalty points.

· Band C. This band is for the most serious speeding of over 22mph above the speed limit. This will attract a fine of between 125% and 175% of your weekly wage and 6 penalty points. Also if it is considered that the driver has driven, “grossly in excess of the speed limit”, a disqualification “in excess of 56 days” can be given.

So keep an eye on your speedo. Don’t risk it!

If you have had any problems with speeding, want more information, or want to learn how to drive safely and effectively without the need to speed, please get in touch. Our driving instructors are ready to give you all the help and encouragement you will need.

John Lowe Driving 01452 313713.

Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe.

Changes To Your Driving Test From December 4th 2017.

The DVSA have announced that changes to the driving test will take place from Monday 4th December 2017. This test update will include following sat nav directions and the testing of different manoeuvres.

In this post we will look at the changes in as much detail as is available.
There will be 4 driving test changes.
1. Independent Driving.
The length of the independent driving section of the test will increase from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, which is approximately half the length of the test without directions given by the driving examiner.

This will require a lot of concentration! Our driving instructors at John Lowe Driving will ensure that all of our students will be ready for this before their test.

2. Following sat nav directions.
This is a completely new skill that will be tested, although it will not apply to all tests. A fifth of tests will not use a sat nav, but will follow traffic signs instead, so plainly, both skills will need to be mastered.

The sat nav will be supplied and installed by the examiner, using the most suitable method for your car, with an aim to use a dashmat set up where possible, rather than a windscreen attachment. However, some vehicles may only be suitable for a windscreen set up. We will mimic the use in our cars on your driving lessons with how it will be set up for your driving test, so there are no last minute surprises.

You will not need to set the route, as this will be done by the examiner and you will have to use the sat nav supplied by the examiner, you cannot use you own device. If you make a mistake and go the wrong way, don’t worry, this doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t commit a fault in the process.
3. The reversing manoeuvres are to change.

There will be, as now, one reversing manoeuvre to deal with on the test. Your examiner will choose from the following 3 possibilities:
Parallel parking.
This will be the same as is currently being used.

Bay parking, either reversing in and driving out, or, driving in and reversing out. Your examiner will tell you which one to do.
The DVSA plan to use a wide variety of car parks for the bay parking, such as hotels, supermarkets and retail parks and are talking to national car parking organisations regarding the use of their car parks for this part of the test.

Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse 2 car lengths, and then rejoin the traffic on the left-hand side.
This manoeuvre caused a fair amount of head shaking when it was proposed, as the Highway Code advises not to park against the flow of traffic during the day.

The DVSA have, however, confirmed that it is an entirely legal manoeuvre. They say that on our busy roads, there are times when a driver will need to pull up on the right, and they need the skills to do it safely, using a safe and systematic routine, including appropriate signals and observation. This is what will be tested.

When the examiner asks you to pull up on the right, you will have to decide what factors to take into account, before parking. It must be safe, legal and convenient, so a busy road with constant traffic would not be suitable.

You, as the candidate will have to use your understanding of these factors to choose a suitable place to pull up on the right.

4. Answering a vehicle safety question while you are driving.

Current students will be familiar with the “show me / tell me” questions, but the questioning will now be different. You will still be asked 2 vehicle safety questions during your test, but the “show me” question will be asked during the drive and you will have to demonstrate that you can perform the task.
For example, you may be asked to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers. This makes sense, as you can’t forever pull over if you need to turn on your lights, or operate the wipers!
The “tell me” question will be asked at the beginning of the test, before the drive begins.

Will there be other changes?

No, the pass mark, length of test and the cost will remain the same.

The pass mark is not being changed, so you will still be successful on your driving test if you make no more than 15 minor driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults.

The DVSA examiner will mark the test as they currently do, and the driving faults will remain the same.

The test will still last for around 40 minutes.

The cost of the test will remain the same.

Why are the changes being made?

Road collisions account for over a quarter of all deaths of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 and are the biggest killer of teenagers, way beyond illness, drug use, or other accidents.

Most fatal collisions occur on high speed roads (not motorways), such as country lanes, and these changes will allow more high speed roads to be included in the test routes.

All of the students learning with John Lowe Driving in Gloucester, will continue to get full coaching on these roads.

In areas such as Cheltenham, there are fewer high speed roads available, so these changes will enable the test routes to be adjusted.

Over half of drivers now use a sat nav, so training in how to use them safely will avoid potential accidents.

Independent driving is useful to new drivers, as they relate to it after passing, so the changes will be beneficial.

If you would like more information on these changes, or want to get started on your driving lessons, get in touch!

Call John Lowe Driving on 01452 313713.

Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe.

New “Show me/ Tell me” Questions from December 4th 2017.

For some years now, at the start of your driving test, before the driving part, the DVSA examiner asks one “show me” and one “tell me” question.

This will change on December 4th 2017.
From this date, you will still have to answer the two questions, but the questions and the formula will be different.

Here’s what you can expect after December 4th 2017:

You will be asked:
One “tell me” question, where you’d be asked to explain how to carry out a safety check, before you start driving, at the beginning of your test.
One “show me” question, where you’d be asked to carry out a safety task, on the road while you’re driving.
The changes to the “show me” format may well cause some problems to any test candidate who is unprepared.
Every driving student learning with John Lowe Driving is already fully competent in performing these safety tasks before their driving test, so these changes will not make any difference at all, but if you are learning elsewhere and these skills are being ignored, our driving instructors are ready to help you.

What questions can you expect?

Here are the 7 “show me” questions that you could be asked on your test. You will be asked to carry out one task.

1. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
2. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
3. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?
4. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?
5. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?
6. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?
7. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

Here are the 14 “tell me” questions. You will be asked one of them before you start to drive:

1. Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.
Brakes should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side.
2. Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.
Manufacturer’s guide, use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don’t forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.
3. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. Note: Some restraints might not be adjustable.
4. Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.
No cuts and bulges, 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference.
5. Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).
6. Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.
Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.
7. Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).
8. Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.
Explain you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.
9. Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.
If the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey, 2 simple checks can be made.
Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained while the engine is started, should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.
10. Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. Explain use.
11. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.
Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.
12. Tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.
Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.
13. Tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.
Identify high and low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to correct level.
14. Tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
Identify reservoir, check level against high and low markings.
We hope that this information helps to keep the changes clear, but if you’d like to find out more, start your driving lessons in Gloucester, or pick up your driving again, please call us on:
01452 313713. John Lowe Driving.
Warm Regards,
Tom & Lisa Lowe

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 1 – Your Vehicle.

Todays date is November 25th, 2016, a month until Christmas. So far this autumn, there has been one named storm, Angus, which bought some torrential rain and flooding in some areas, but other than that, the weather has been fairly tame. We have had some rain, some wind and the odd frosty morning, but we all know that this will almost certainly deteriorate at this time of year, with the winter approaching fast.

This series of posts will look at driving in poor weather and how to keep safe.

We will look at the following subjects:

Your vehicle.
Weather and vision.
Wet roads.
Snow and ice.
OK, so before you can venture out for a drive, into poor winter weather, you obviously need a car, so we’ll start this series with:

Your Vehicle.

Whatever the time of year, your car should be kept in good condition and checked regularly and serviced when needed. Don’t skimp on these requirements, as you probably won’t save any money overall and you are more likely to avoid costly, expensive and dangerous breakdowns.

The two crucial areas to be confident with are your tyres and brakes in poor weather.


Tyre condition and pressure should be regularly checked.

Make sure they have a good tread depth, no less than 2mm across the whole tyre surface (1.6mm is the legal minimum.) and check the tyre walls for damage that can often be seen as cuts and bulges.

Check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure which can be found in your handbook. This can save you money in fuel costs as well.
Don’t forget to check the inside tyre walls.

Another important check is for uneven wear on the tread, which can be caused by a mechanical fault such as poor tracking. Get your car checked over and have the fault corrected and then replace the tyre.
Simply replacing the tyre without the repair will mean the new tyre will wear out badly as well.

Try to always be prepared, don’t wait for the bad weather to take you by surprise, as then it may be too late, as your safety could depend on a few millimetres of rubber that was missing.

The area of your tyre in contact with the road surface is about the same as the sole of your shoe, so make sure it’s up to the job!
Good tyres are vital in snow, ice and rain.


Ensure your brakes are kept in good condition, as stopping takes much longer on wet, slippery roads, even with perfect brakes. Give yourself a chance!

John Lowe Driving offers driving lessons in Gloucester with friendly instructors, so why not call us to get started on:
01452 313713
We’d love to hear from you.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 2 – Weather and Vision.

When you drive your car on any journey, it’s pretty obvious that you have to be able to see properly to drive properly.

That’s why cars have windows, right?

Windows aren’t much use if you can’t see through them and the weather can cause you problems with clear vision. However, before the weather can do it’s worse, you must make sure that your windows and mirrors are always clean.

Have a regular routine of checking and cleaning and always give them a “once over” after you have driven in a situation where your windows will be dirty. Following lorries for example can leave your car covered in muck.

Wipers and washers.

Make sure your wiper blades are efficient and if they are smearing or missing, get them changed. It’s quite easy to do the job yourself, or you can ask your mechanic, or shops such as Halfords will do it after you have purchased the wipers, for a very small cost. This way the fitter will make sure you have the correct blades as well, which is important.

Make sure the washers are working properly and keep the reservoir topped up with the correct liquid, which can be bought at any petrol station. It helps:

In winter to prevent freezing. Water alone will freeze if it’s cold enough, making the washers useless.
In summer to clear insect remains and smears from the windscreen.
If your car requires an MOT certificate, faulty wipers and washers will result in a fail.
If you are learning to drive, you will learn about wipers and washers and how to use them and may be tested on them in the “show me/tell me” questions.

Misting up.

Misting up of the windows and mirror inside the car generally occurs when the weather is cool and can seriously affect your vision. It can occur even on a summers day after a rain shower.

If you are carrying passengers, with everybody breathing and talking, misting up can be sudden and severe.

Have a dry cloth to hand in the car and use it to clean all inside glass.
Drying the windows before you set off will help.
Use your demisters. Make sure you know how to operate them. Again this is now part of the driving test. The driving instructors at John Lowe Driving will ensure that you fully understand washers, wipers and demisters, as part of your driving lessons. Many of the more modern cars have a heated windscreen, as well as a heated rear window, so use them early.
Opening your windows will assist in clearing mist.
Use your air conditioning to speed up the de-misting.
Make yourself familiar with the vehicles’ handbook and follow the advice regarding heating, ventilation and demisting, appropriate to your particular car.

There are plenty of accessories available, such as glass cleaning liquids, de-icers and ready prepared cloths, but warm dry air works best when the engine has warmed up.

Icy weather.

If the weather is icy, your windows and screen can be frozen over. Don’t attempt to drive until they have been cleared.

Allow yourself extra time to sort this out, waiting until your demister and heater are working effectively.

Avoid damaging your wiper blades by switching them on when they are frozen onto the window. This can cause the rubber blade to split apart from its base.

Avoid pouring boiling water onto the window, as this can crack the glass, although I have found ordinary hot tap water to work well.


Rain can drastically reduce your vision through the windscreen, windows and door mirrors and this of course affects all other drivers as well, so use your dipped headlights so you can be seen.
Keep the glass clean, as this will enable the wipers to work better.

If you take care of all the points in this post, you will not be taken by surprise by unpleasant weather conditions and remember, don’t drive unless you can see fully all round.

If you want to start learning to drive in Gloucester,
Call John Lowe Driving on 01452 313713.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 3 – Wet Roads.

Our roads are wet a lot of the time in this country of ours, so driving in the wet is taken largely for granted, but wet roads can be sometimes dangerous.

Let’s have a look at some of the problems that can come your way when the roads are wet.

Tyre grip.

Wet roads reduce the grip that your tyres have on the road surface, so give yourself plenty of time and space for slowing down and stopping.

As always, keep your distance from other vehicles, but this is particularly important in the wet and you should allow at least double the braking distance than for a dry road.

After a dry spell, an invisible layer of rubber, from vehicle tyres, can build up on the road surface and if it then rains, this can make the surface even more slippery, so take extra care, especially when cornering.

Road surfaces can vary from time to time, (tarmac, concrete) and this might affect your tyre grip.

Also ensure you have sufficient tread on your tyres, as the less tread, the greater the braking distance. Change your tyres if they are wearing down.


Aquaplaning is an unpleasant experience, caused when your tyres completely loose contact with the road surface in very wet weather.

Sounds impossible?

When driving at speed, aquaplaning is caused by a build up of water between your tyre and the road, causing your car to slide on a thin film of water as the tyres lose contact with the road surface. Even good tyres cannot grip in this situation and you will have no control over braking or steering, as your tyres are no longer touching the road.

If your steering suddenly feels light in wet weather, you are probably aquaplaning.

When this happens, slow down by easing off the accelerator, as there is no point in braking. Higher speeds will make the chances of aquaplaning higher, so in wet weather, keep your speed down and avoid driving into pools and puddles, as this is a major cause.

Your brakes.

Water can reduce the effect of your brakes, so make sure you test them in a safe area, to confirm they are working normally.


Spray is the water thrown up by other vehicles on wet roads, so keep your speed down to reduce the problem.

Overtaking, or being overtaken by heavy vehicles on a motorway or dual carriageway can be a traumatic experience, as you can be temporarily blinded by spray, even with your wipers at full speed.


If you have to drive through a flood, don’t rush in. Stop and gauge how deep the water is. Some roads which are prone to flooding have a depth gauge, so check it before you enter.

If the water is too deep, turn back and choose a different route, don’t risk it.

If in doubt, don’t go!

If the water is too deep it could flood into your exhaust, or enter the air intake, causing the engine to stop and probably causing serious engine damage.

Shallow water.

If the water is not too deep, drive slowly, but keep to the shallowest part of the road, which is normally the crown, along the centre.
Drive in first gear as slowly as possible, but with high engine speed, by slipping the clutch.

If the engine speed is too low, you could stall.
If you drive too fast, you could create a wave that might enter your engine, causing it to cut out.
Remember, engines and water don’t mix!

When you are safely through, test your brakes when it’s safe and dry them if necessary, by applying light pressure to the brake pedal as you drive along.

If you would like to take driving lessons and pass your driving test in Gloucester with a friendly instructor, call us on 01452 313713, we’d love to help you.

Best regards,

John Lowe.

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 4 – Crosswinds.

Looking back on the year, in the last couple of weeks of December, the weather has been rather windy a lot of the time. Driving in wind is not usually a big problem, unless it is exceptionally strong, bringing down branches and throwing debris around. If conditions are that bad, as they occasionally are, then it’s best to not go out until things settle down.

However, crosswinds can surprise a driver and can be very dangerous.

Crosswinds are strong gusts of wind coming sideways across the road and can make some vehicles become unstable, which could affect you.

Vehicles such as high sided lorries, towed caravans, trailers and horse boxes etc., particularly if they are empty and light can be pushed and pulled by crosswinds, and sometimes overturned, especially on exposed roads such as motorways, viaducts and bridges.
Be particularly careful when you are overtaking, or being overtaken in windy conditions, by these sorts of vehicles.

Cyclists and motorcyclists.

In windy conditions be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists being blown sideways into your path. Allow extra room when overtaking.

If you would like to learn to drive, why not try us at driving lessons Gloucester for beginners.

Call us on 01452 313713.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 5 – Fog.

Fog is a weather condition that can make driving extremely hazardous and around Christmas time 2016, there have been some nasty accidents resulting in loss of life and serious injuries, occuring in foggy conditions.

There were several multi vehicle pile ups in one day on the M5 motorway and a few days later, two coaches full of travellers swerved off the motorway and finished up on their sides in a field.

Very unpleasant and dangerous, probably caused by fog.

Could these tragic accidents have been avoided? Sitting here in my office, there is no way of knowing, but the police and Highways Agency, will draw their conclusions in due course.

As with all aspects of driving, it is possible to minimise the risk if the weather is foggy and some basic precautions can keep you safe out there.
Let’s take a look at them.

Look around before you start a journey! It will be obvious if it’s foggy, so be ready.
If possible, cancel your journey and do something else. If you have to drive, allow time to check your lights and windscreen and give yourself more time for the journey.

When you are on the road, beware of fog patches, where the density of the fog is variable. It can go from being fairly clear to very dense in a few seconds, so avoid speeding up in the clear patches.

If the fog is very dense and you can see the rear lights of the vehicle in front of you,

You’re probably too close to stop safely in an emergency!

Use of lights in fog.
It’s crucial to see and be seen when it’s foggy, so the use of your fog lights can be a safety bonus.

In daylight. If your visibility is reduced by fog, you must use your dipped headlights and / or front fog lights, as you’ll be seen from a greater distance than just sidelights and they will not dazzle other drivers or pedestrians.

Resist using main beam headlights, as the beam will reflect back from the fog and dazzle you! You will be blinded by your own lights.

At dusk. Use dipped beams.

At night. In darkness you will probably rely on fog lights and dipped beams, perhaps alternating as the thickness of the fog varies.

Rear fog lights. Use them only if visibility is seriously reduced to less than 100 metres and remember to switch them off when visibility improves – it is the law.

Using different lights. Adjust and change your lights as the conditions change.
For example, if you are in a traffic queue, it would be a good thing to temporarily switch off your rear fog lights, to avoid dazzling the driver behind, as he knows that you are there.

Driving in fog. Poor visibility caused by fog makes driving difficult and is a strain on the eyes and your sense of anticipation is dangerously reduced.

It becomes much harder to judge speed and distance, vital considerations for safe driving, when outlines become blurred.

How can you deal with this?

Slow down.
Make sure you are able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear.
Use your windscreen wipers.
Use demisters, aircon, or heated windscreen to keep windows clear.
Use all available lights to see and be seen.

Important considerations in fog.

Resist overtaking. It might be a lot denser ahead.
Remember to take extra care at junctions, especially when turning right.
It’s harder to see cycles, pedestrians and motorbikes in fog.
Avoid driving on top of the centre line. A driver coming towards you might be doing the same.
Park sensibly off road.
If you would like to know more about driving in fog and poor weather, or you would be interested in driving lessons in Gloucester with a friendly instructor, we have everything you need here at John Lowe Driving.

Call us on 01452313713.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 6 – Snow and Ice.

This is quite a big subject, so I will break it into 2 posts. This is post A.

These days, weather forecasts are so frequent and usually accurate, that it can’t really be said that the snow or ice was a surprise, so if it’s forecast, ask yourself if your car journey is really necessary.

If it’s essential that you go out in snow and ice, look after yourself by carrying a spade, warm clothing, a warm drink and some food in case things get really held up.

I once lived in Wembley and getting home from work one night in a snowstorm (a necessary journey!), I arrived at the bottom of Blackbird Hill, near the stadium at about 6:30 pm and it was gridlock on ice, and I didn’t reach the top (about half a mile) until 11pm! I really could have used a warm drink and some food that night, as well as a spade.

Driving in snow.

Falling snow will reduce your visibility, so use your dipped headlights, as you would in heavy rain or fog. Snow that is falling, or freshly fallen will not really cause you any problems, provided you stick to a few basic rules:

Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front.
Test your brakes every so often. Packed snow behind the front wheels and around the brakes can affect steering and braking.
Keep your windscreen and lights clear, by hand if necessary, so you can see and be seen.
Clear your rear window before setting off, and keep it clear.
Road Markings.

Remember that snow will blanket any road markings, so that even familiar roads can appear strange, so take extra care.

Braking on Snow and Ice.

All but the most gentle braking will lock your wheels on packed snow and ice.

If your front wheels lock, you can’t steer. If you can’t steer, you’re in trouble. It would be like driving blindfolded! The car could go anywhere.

Get into a lower gear earlier, allowing your speed to drop, and then brake gently and early to keep your speed controlled.

Braking distances on ice can easily be ten times further than normal.

Anti-lock brakes will not compensate for poor judgement and excessive speed on snow and ice, as they cannot help your tyres to stay in contact with the road surface.


Driving on ice should be avoided whenever possible. It’s even more dangerous when the roads are just beginning to freeze or thaw, as the combination of water and ice makes an extremely slippery mixture.

Black Ice.

This type of ice is especially dangerous, as it’s invisible. It’s usually caused by rain freezing on the road surface as it falls, and your steering will feel very light, as if you were aquaplaning.
If the road looks wet, but there is no sound from the tyres, you will be on ice, so,

Keep your speed down.
Treat every control – brakes, gas pedal, steering, clutch and gears – very delicately.
In the next post, we will continue on the subject of driving in snow and ice, but if you would like to hear more from one of our driving instructors, or would like to start your driving lessons in Gloucester, with John Lowe Driving,

Call us on 01452313713.
Warm Regards,
John Lowe,

Driving In Poor Weather – Part 6, Continued.

This is part B of the “Driving In Poor Weather” post and we’ll have a look at cornering on ice and snow, starting off on snow, climbing hills on snow and ice and dealing with other vehicles on snow and ice.
As we said in part A of this post, only drive in snow and ice if it’s really necessary, so if you do venture out, this should help you to get back in one piece.

Cornering on ice and snow.

Timing is all important in these conditions and slow down enough, so that you do not have to use your brakes on a bend or corner.
Approach a corner at a steady low speed, using as high a gear as possible.

Use the accelerator gently.
Avoid using the clutch wherever possible.
Steer smoothly – avoid sudden movements.
Come out of the turn as carefully as you went into it.
Starting off on snow.

If your wheels spin when you are moving off on snow, don’t race the engine because the wheels will dig in further.
Try to move the car slightly backwards and then forwards out of the rut, using the highest gear you can.
It’s worth carrying an old sack or towel and a spade, to dig out and provide grip to help you get going.

Climbing hills on ice and snow.

It is obviously necessary to keep your speed low in slippery conditions, but this essential safety measure can create other problems.
You could lose momentum going uphill and trying to accelerate and regain speed can cause wheel-spin and loss of control.
If you are forced to stop, it may be difficult to get started again.
Keep a generous distance from other vehicles, so that if they stop, you may be able to get past without stopping.
Use the highest possible gear where possible to avoid wheel spin.
Avoid changing gear as much as possible, as it takes very delicate footwork to avoid wheel-spin and loss of speed.

Other vehicles on snow and ice.

Use engine braking where possible to avoid other vehicles, but if you have to use the brake pedal, be as gentle as possible.
Avoid braking and steering at the same time in icy conditions.
Check and assess what’s ahead, looking for escape routes.

If you would like to learn more about these techniques in your driving lessons, why not start learning to drive in Gloucester now with John Lowe Driving. Our driving instructors are always ready to help.

Call us on 01452313713.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver?

We often have conversations with our learner drivers about incidents that we see on the road, during lessons, and at other times,(I’ve just driven back from Blackpool and have some motorway stories for another day,) and naturally the antics of some drivers are compared to how a “good driver” would have behaved.

So, what makes a good driver?

To put it in one word, a good driver has the right attitude.

Whatever we do in life can always be improved and the same applies to driving, as the perfect driver does not exist, so even the most skilful driver can get better and a good attitude will influence driver behaviour in a positive way.
Skill and experience only come with time, but attitude can be worked on from day one.

What is attitude? Attitude is the combination of the following qualities:

Some drivers will find it harder than others to develop a good attitude, but it is to every drivers advantage to keep working on it, as however long you have been driving, there is always something to learn and improve upon.

Nearly all road accidents are caused, by some degree by a driver, so it is the responsibility of every driver to reduce the chances of an accident.
In the following posts, we will look more carefully at these qualities, starting with responsibility.

You can learn to drive in Gloucester if you are a beginner, or need a brush up.

Call us on 01452 313713.

Best Regards,
John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver? – Part 2, Responsibility.

If you take on the role of a driver, you must always be completely concerned for the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users, especially the most vulnerable.

This is the “responsibility” part of the drivers attitude, and it is non negotiable, that is it cannot be turned on and off as the mood takes you.

Think for a moment of the different types of people who use the roads:

The elderly.
People with disabilities.
People in charge of animals.
There are of course many more, but the ones listed above are perhaps the most vulnerable. Road use is not just for cars, lorries, vans and buses, everybody is entitled to use the road and the responsible driver may have to make allowances from time to time.
Be tolerant, if you are delayed by a slower road user, anybody who is lost, or somebody in charge of a difficult job on the road.

Plan ahead at school times for example, or rush hours, expect delays and be ready, in this way you can avoid the temptation to plough on when it is not appropriate.
Have in mind the problems that can occur on quicker roads, country lanes and motorways. They can have lengthy holdups, especially on our more local motorways such as the M5 and M6, that are being upgraded at present, so it’s important to stay cool and keep your distance, as traffic will bunch up, causing potential problems.

Be responsible by understanding the limitations of yourself and others.


The responsibility for safe driving rests with you.

If you want to pass your driving test in Gloucester with a patient instructor, or need to develop your driving, we are ready to help you.

Please call us on 01452 313713 to make arrangements.

Best Regards,

John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver? – Part 3, Concentration.

Well, we’ve all heard of concentration, from our school days, to our jobs, from simply reading, or figuring something out.
Expressions such as “I lost concentration,” “I’m trying to concentrate!” “He needs to concentrate!” are in daily use, but what is concentration?

Concentration is the ability to control your attention when you need to. It is also the ability to do one thing at a time, instead of jumping from one thing to another and losing attention.

Driving a car requires many different actions, so make your car journey the focus of your attention and concentrate only on getting all aspects of the journey correct and you will dramatically reduce the risks involved.

Many things can ruin your concentration when driving, so it’s best to avoid using your car if you’re:

Feeling tired or unwell. Make your excuses and wait until you feel better.
Thinking heavily about any sort of serious problem.
Annoyed or upset. Go for a walk round the block and relax.
Suffering stress of any sort. You know the signs, give driving a miss.
If you really have to get somewhere, ask someone to drive you, or allow more time to take things more slowly, allowing yourself more time to react to events.

Concentration is closely linked to anticipation, which is vital for safe driving and is helped by having the following:

Good eyesight. If you’ve got any doubts, get your eyes tested, and wear glasses or contact lenses, if needed.
Good hearing. Again, if in doubt, have your hearing tested.
Good health. If you’re not well, get it checked and cured.
Self discipline. Try to always improve how you drive.
Things to avoid.
While on the move don’t:

Let conversation distract you. Any sort of argument with your passengers will be very distracting.
Use your handheld mobile phone.
Have your music too loud or use headphones that block other sounds.
Look at road maps.
Fiddle with the radio controls or CD’s
Eat or drink.
Also, avoid having unnecessary stickers in your windows, or hanging dolls and dice etc from your mirror, as these can distract you.

If you would like driving lessons in Gloucester with a friendly instructor,
call us on 01452313713

Best Regards,
John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver? – Part 4, Anticipation.

On any drive, down any road, you are always anticipating.

What is anticipation? Do you have to learn it? Is it optional?

As you drive your car anywhere, things will be changing all the time. The fact that you are moving along creates a change, as you are forever on a different part of the road. You will rarely be alone on your travels and all of the other road users will be creating changes as well.

With this ever changing scene, planning your actions well ahead and acting promptly to safely deal with the changes becomes crucial.

These actions are your anticipation.

As you gain experience in your driving, anticipation will become an almost automatic reaction which is closely linked to your ability to concentrate.

Anticipation is the mark of a good driver.

Anticipation will give you the time and skills needed to always question the actions of other road users.

With proper anticipation and forward planning, you can:

  • Avoid being taken by surprise.
  • Prevent some hazards developing.
  • Take evasive action early to hazards that do develop.

Anticipation and good planning are the foundations to developing defensive driving skills and techniques, which can avoid a lot of tragedy on the roads.


Patience is a quality that is sometimes in short supply from some individuals who use the road.

Remember, most road users do a very decent job of driving, but quite often you will come across members of the minority who think that the rules don’t apply to them.

These drivers display aggression, bad manners and incompetence, requiring the rest of us to dig deep into our patience reserves.

Don’t allow stupid antics of other drivers lead to conflict. This can lead to an accident. When you have safely dealt with their actions, ignore them and drive on. It’s them that looks pathetic.

However, people can make mistakes, so be prepared to make allowances if another driver gets something wrong. Help them out if possible.


  • Retaliate or compete.
  • Use aggressive language or gestures.
  • Try to teach any other road user a lesson.


  • Keep calm, be professional.
  • Show restraint. You’re better than them.
  • Use sound judgement. Set a good example.

Learner Drivers.

The roads are the network that drivers use to go wherever they like, so having a full driving licence and being able to use the complete road system whenever you want is obviously a very desirable state.

Unfortunately, we are not born with the ability to drive, we have to learn all the skills that make a safe driver.

It is this fact that creates learner drivers………So:

Be patient if you are driving behind a learner.


  • Drive up close behind.
  • Rev your engine.
  • Become impatient if they are slow to move off.
  • Overtake unnecessarily, only to cut in again sharply.

A learner will make mistakes, so allow for them.

Not every vehicle displaying L plates will have dual controls, and the accompanying driver may not be a professional, so keep your distance!

If you are a learner and you suffer aggressive or stupid behaviour from other drivers, follow the lead of your driving instructor, smile and brush it off. Don’t get involved!

If you would like to start learning to drive in Gloucester-
Call Us On 01452 313713
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver? – Part 5, Confidence.

We have looked carefully at the qualities that make a good driver in the previous four posts, these being:

  • Responsibility.
  • Concentration.
  • Anticipation.
  • Patience.

Now, if all goes well and we combine these attributes, they will lead to the final quality to be desired, which is confidence.

A confident driver is a good driver, because it means that you understand all of the requirements, and that you know it!

Confidence is gained with skill, judgement and experience.

Confidence can be a double edged sword, however, because it can be in short supply in new drivers, for obvious reasons, and sometimes over abundant in experienced drivers, which can lead to risk taking.

So for a new driver to gain confidence, start your driving career in a steady manner, avoid over extending yourself, and remember the skills you displayed to pass your driving test should be held onto and developed as you go about your business.

Experienced drivers will know when they are taking risks, so the best advice is to calm down and get home safely (maybe a couple of minutes later.) Risk taking is for mugs, and your passengers will not be impressed, they will probably be frightened and avoid getting into your car.

Remember, let’s be careful out there!

We have some of the best local driving instructors ready to help you, so,

If you want driving lessons in Gloucester with a patient instructor,
Call John Lowe Driving on 01452 313713

Best Regards,
John Lowe.

What Makes A Good Driver? – Part 6, Good Habits.

In the previous five posts, we’ve looked at the essential qualities needed in a good driver, but can you keep them up as normal behaviour when the world and the road seem to be throwing everything at you and driving your car properly becomes rather challenging.

The best way to cope is to have good habits as your default setting. Easier said than done, sometimes, but thoughtful behaviour does spread around on the road and will help to ensure that you and your passengers arrive safely.

If the behaviour of another driver has upset you, try not to react to it, it’s just not worth it and as we’ve discussed in earlier posts, the situation will usually pass in a matter of seconds. Slowing down will mean calming down.

Avoid any aggressive response, as that may escalate the situation, solving nothing, and endangering not only you and your passengers, but other innocent road users.

Ignore the person driving stupidly (do not make it personal) but use your driving skills to avoid his vehicle and then drop back to let him go.

Slow down to calm down.

Why not stop then to take a break? Remember, if you are upset, you are vulnerable. Your powers of concentration, anticipation and observation will be much reduced and an accident is much more likely.
As we know, anybody can make a mistake, so make allowances if another driver goes wrong.


Allow plenty of time.
Make sure you are comfortable.
Concentrate on your driving.
If you feel good, you will drive good.

Consider others.
Don’t try to dominate the road.


Cutting up other vehicles.
Rushing through traffic.
Changing your mind at the last minute.
Using aggressive language and gestures.

Don’t get in your car if your not in a good frame of mind. If you’ve just had an almighty row, calm down fully before driving, as irritation and anger cause mistakes that can lead to accidents.

We hope these posts have helped to make it clearer the attributes that make a good driver and if you would like to start learning to drive in Gloucester, call us now on:

01452 313713.
Best Regards,
John Lowe.

Black Box Insurance.

I was talking to a friend of mine from Sheffield recently, and the discussion turned, as it often does, to driving. His daughter has recently passed her driving test, and he explained that to reduce her insurance costs, she has had a “black box” fitted to her car. I had some knowledge of these devices, also called telematics, but decided to have a good look at how they operate, and here are my findings.

Insurance premiums are very high for young drivers because of the poor accident rate of that age group, so insurance costs can be reduced if the driver can demonstrate to the insurer that he is safe. This is where the “black box” comes in.

The boxes are installed in the car, usually behind the dashboard, in a tamper proof position, and will monitor events such as speed, acceleration, braking and cornering and the time of day that the car is used. The information is transmitted back to the insurer and turned into a score. The better the score, the safer the driver, which will lower the insurance premium. If poor driving is identified, the opposite will occur, and the premium will rise.

Some insurance companies will email the driver if poor driving is identified, and some companies will put the information on a smart phone app that can be seen by the driver. All of them make the information available online, so that any bad driving can be worked on and rectified.

Accident rates in Italy have dropped by 16% where the use of telematics is quite common. So overall these devices seem to be useful in nudging drivers to take fewer risks and to drive more responsibly and can reduce insurance premiums by up to £1000. Must be a good idea all round, and John Lowe Driving will be able to answer any questions on this subject.

Abolition of the paper licence.

From 8th June 2015 your provisional licence will no longer be supplied with the paper counterpart.

The paper counterpart used to hold information about any endorsements and driving bans, as well as the categories of vehicles covered by the licence.

All driving instructors are required to check your licence before you can drive their car, and it is now necessary to provide the information to your driving instructor yourself, on your first driving lesson.

This is simple to do and the following steps will provide you with all that you will need.

Have to hand:

  • Your driving licence number.
  • Your national insurance number.
  • The postcode that is on your driving licence.

Then follow these steps online:

1. Go to https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

2. Read the instructions and click “View now”

3. Enter your

  • Driving licence number.
  • National insurance number.
  • Postcode that is on the driving licence.

4.You can now:

  • View your details.
  • View vehicles you can drive.
  • View any penalties and disqualifications.
  • Share your licence information.

5. Now click on “view, print or save your licence information.” You will get a screen entitled “Licence Summary” with your name in the top left. This is the page to print off and give to your driving instructor on your first lesson.

Remember- You must still bring your provisional licence with you to your first driving lesson.

Black Box Insurance

I was talking to a friend of mine from Sheffield recently, and the discussion turned, as it often does, to driving. His daughter has recently passed her driving test, and he explained that to reduce her insurance costs, she has had a “black box” fitted to her car. I had some knowledge of these devices, also called telematics, but decided to have a good look at how they operate, and here are my findings.

Insurance premiums are very high for young drivers because of the poor accident rate of that age group, so insurance costs can be reduced if the driver can demonstrate to the insurer that he is safe. This is where the “black box” comes in.

The boxes are installed in the car, usually behind the dashboard, in a tamper proof position, and will monitor events such as speed, acceleration, braking and cornering and the time of day that the car is used. The information is transmitted back to the insurer and turned into a score. The better the score, the safer the driver, which will lower the insurance premium. If poor driving is identified, the opposite will occur, and the premium will rise.

Some insurance companies will email the driver if poor driving is identified, and some companies will put the information on a smart phone app that can be seen by the driver. All of them make the information available online, so that any bad driving can be worked on and rectified.

Accident rates in Italy have dropped by 16% where the use of telematics is quite common. So overall these devices seem to be useful in nudging drivers to take fewer risks and to drive more responsibly and can reduce insurance premiums by up to £1000. Must be a good idea all round, and John Lowe Driving will be able to answer any questions on this subject.

Driving Instructor Impersonator Arrested.

A man has recently been arrested in Wales for fraudulently impersonating a driving instructor and taking payment for the “lesson.” He was caught in an operation conducted by the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA.) Anybody charging money for driving lessons must be a registered Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), or a registered trainee instructor (PDI). The ADI must display his green licence in the car windscreen and the PDI must display a pink licence. Both are CRB checked and undergo assessment by the DVSA, by routine.

It’s best therefore, to be sure of your driving instructors credentials, before you start, to avoid being ripped off and put at risk.

These events are thankfully quite rare, as any impersonator is quickly spotted by genuine instructors and reported to the DVSA.

“Drugalysers” Come Into Use.

New regulations aimed preventing drug driving have come into force in England and Wales.Drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs.

Police will be able to use “drugalyser” devices at the roadside.The new rules run alongside the existing law, under which it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug.

The existing penalties mean drug drivers already face a fine up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and a minimum one-year driving ban.

Some drivers, though, as with alcohol, will not take much notice, until disaster strikes. A man has just been jailed after being convicted of drug driving. He was 130 times over the limit!

Drug-driving law

After a change in the drug driving law on 2 March 2015, drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including MDMA

The new rules run alongside the existing law, under which it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug

Under section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, 10 microgrammes per litre of blood is the limit for Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

Very occasionally driving instructors have to terminate driving lessons after suspecting drug use before the lesson in their student. It is usually pretty obvious and we always take action to protect everybody. It is very rare.

First Aid Knowledge Could Be Part Of The Test.

The Conservative MP, Will Quince is tabling a Bill this week that would compel learner drivers to attend a compulsory four hour practical first aid course presented by an approved driving instructor. This is intended to reduce the high level of death and serious injuries on the roads. It is thought that a majority of people would not feel confident enough to save a life at the scene of an accident. Apparently, just rolling an unconscious but breathing casualty onto their side and lifting their chin can be enough to save their life.

Such a qualification is nothing new on the Continent where first aid is a compulsory part of driver training in countries including Germany where learners must attend a seven and a half hour first aid course and Switzerland where pupils are expected to have 10 hours of first aid training before they can pass their tests.

We fully support these measures at John Lowe Driving, and will make any changes necessary in our driving school to implement them. We will, of course, keep our loyal students up to date with any changes.

Crazy End To A Test.

A learner driver who failed at a roundabout during his driving test could be sent to prison after threatening to kill his examiner and driving instructor.

Antony Kevin Alltree, 25, then chased his instructor around, swearing profusely.

Burnley Magistrates Court heard how Alltree flew into a rage after the examiner stopped him entering a roundabout in an unsafe manner by using the dual brake, on February 9.

After pulling over to the side of the road, Alltree got out of the car, slammed the door and shouted at his examiner: “You would not have one that if you knew who I was.”

His driving Instructor tried to calm Alltree down, yet Alltree shouted: “All I have to do is make one phone call and you are both dead. I will kill you.”He then started banging on the car and continued to shout expletives. The examiner and instructor began to drive off towards the test centre and Alltree chased after the car screaming abuse.

The police were called and when Alltree arrived back at the test centre, he denied making threats. He claimed to have returned to the test centre to retrieve his provisional licence, which seems strange, as all provisionals have to be carried by the candidate throughout the driving test. They are never left at the test centre.

Alltree was released on bail, and the case is adjourned until April. The magistrates said that all sentencing options were open.

Events of this nature are fortunately very rare, most people accept things if the decision goes against them, but rarely, some people react in a hysterical manner, and the law takes a dim view. I have never seen this happen in Gloucester or Cheltenham.

Driving Test Fraud and Impersonation.

As any learner driver will tell you, the earning of a full licence requires a commitment of time, patience and money, with few easy choices, but is regarded as such an important step in life, that most people will undertake driving lessons as early as possible.

Your full driving licence opens up employment chances,leisure activities and ease of travel, not just in the U.K., but pretty much all over the world. so it is obviously regarded as a prized possession. Most people will go through the process quite happily and emerge with their full licence, but a minority of people will try to buck the system, by paying someone else to sit the tests for them. This applies to the theory as well as the driving tests. Attempting to obtain a driving licence by deception is a crime that is growing.

Criminal gangs involved in identity theft also regard driving licences as a crucial tool, and become involved in impersonation for these reasons as well.

The vast majority of learner drivers are going through the process perfectly honestly and are obviously frustrated and enraged when a minority of dishonest people end up with a licence without making any effort. These people are unqualified and unsafe on the roads and probably don’t take much notice of requirements such as car maintenance, MOT tests and insurance.

Here at John Lowe Driving, we are always alert for any “strange” requests from telephone enquiries and they usually come in a similar form. Somebody will call on a withheld number saying that they’ve just moved to Gloucester, having learnt somewhere else and they’ve managed to get a test for next day or next week, and could we collect them at the railway station. They nearly always speak too quickly and are easily confused. Any calls of this nature are immediately discarded, and in future will be reported to the DVSA fraud and integrity team.

The DVSA is on the case in clamping down on the criminals – and, very often, it is organised criminal gangs that are behind this activity – attempting to obtain fraudulent licences. Since 2004 it has had a dedicated specialist fraud and integrity team, involved in investigating and uncovering driving test fraud.

We get to know our students well during their time learning to drive with us, so on the rare occasion that somebody acts out of character can be detected quickly by our driving instructors, and appropriate action taken if fraudulent behaviour is suspected. Cheats and scammers will not get past us, we are here to take care of our regular, loyal and honest students, and to keep the roads safe for all.

Driver Asks For Points and Fine.

Police have reported that a driver caught using his mobile phone has asked to be fined and given penalty points rather than have to attend a “boring” driver improvement course. He had only recently attended a course on another matter and could not face it again.

He wrote, “Just give me the points and the fine, I did the mobile phone course yesterday and it was as boring as hell.”

Courses are sometimes offered by police forces, instead of penalties for some offences. The traffic police shared the form online saying “some will never learn,” adding that the risks involved in using a mobile when driving were well known.

Beware! – Con artists, Cheats and Scammers.

Be aware of the tricks and illegal activities that are affecting some unsuspecting learners and inexperienced drivers across the nation – so you don’t get involved.

Learning to drive is enough of a challenge, but with scammers, con artists and other criminals hoping to profit from the process, it can make the experience extremely time consuming and unpleasant. So take a look at the following advice, which will help to keep you safe from people trying to rob you.

Ghost Brokers

What do they do? Young drivers are their main target, ghost brokers offer up fantastic insurance deals via websites, online forums, listing sites and even university message boards. It comes as no surprise that their deals are invariably too good to be true, ripping off the unsuspecting driver and leaving them with no actual insurance – and a potential criminal record and fine to boot.

They operate in many different ways, and are very convincing. Only use a reputable insurer, and take advice and recommendations from others. If in doubt, walk away. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Posting Your Licence Online.

You’ve spent a lot of money, time and effort in learning to drive, and at last you’ve passed your driving test. Naturally you want to tell everybody, and recently, a craze has swept social media which sees newly-qualified drivers posting pictures of themselves holding up their new driving licence.

Remember that your licence holds most of the details needed for hackers and other con artists to use in committing identity fraud, so don’t make it so easy for them. Sure, tell the world, but keep your licence private.

Illegal Driving Instructors.

Unlike qualified ADIs who’ve been CRB checked and have spent hour upon hour working hard to qualify, cowboy instructors with zero qualifications or government checks can dupe pupils into signing up with them.

You will have no idea who the instructor is – does the “ADI” have criminal convictions? Can they be trusted with a teenager? Second, who knows just how bad the illegal instructor is as a teacher or a driver? Do they even have valid insurance? Doubtful. The list of issues is endless.

To avoid contact with these individuals, look for the ADI licence mounted in the instructor’s windscreen; a pink licence with a triangle shows that the instructor is a trainee while a green licence with a green octagon denotes a qualified instructor. Both denote legal instructors, but it’s always best to use a reputable company, or instructor who has been recommended to you. As always, if in doubt, walk away.

There are always new scams being developed, mainly online, some pathetic, others extremely convincing, so always be on your guard online, and double check that you are using a reputable government agency before you part with any money for licence or driving test applications.

Your driving instructor at John Lowe Driving will be happy to help with any doubts you may have.

Box Junctions.

Box Junctions cause a lot of confusion, and not just to learner drivers. In my daily travels I see them misunderstood and misused pretty regularly. They would not cause so many problems if they were used correctly.

Do not enter a box junction, unless you can exit it without stopping, unless you are turning right, and the only things stopping your progress are approaching vehicles and others turning right. The crossroads at Cheltenham college is particularly frustrating, as drivers when turning right do not go into the box junction and wait. (It’s pretty large.) Here’s what the Highway Code says:

Rule 174

Box junctions. These have criss-cross yellow lines painted on the road.

You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear. However, you may enter the box and wait when you want to turn right, and are only stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic, or by other vehicles waiting to turn right.

At signalled roundabouts you MUST NOT enter the box unless you can cross over it completely without stopping.

Car Fires.

Cars today have a large amount of electrical connections and components, so occasionally things can go wrong and an unwanted fire can occur.

If this happens to you and you don’t have a fire extinguisher you must stop and get yourself, and any passengers, out of the vehicle as quickly as possible. Move yourself and passengers a safe distance from the vehicle and call the fire brigade. If you have an extinguisher and the source of the fire is obvious, you may be able to tackle it, but be cautious and still call the fire brigade. Do NOT take risks with fire!

When driving and you smell petrol or diesel fumes you should always park somewhere safe and investigate.

If you suspect a fire in the engine compartment:

  • Pull up as quickly as you can, in a safe position and switch off the engine.
  • Get all passengers out safely.
  • Call 999.
  • DO NOT open the the bonnet.
  • If you have a fire extinguisher you may be able to direct it through the small gap created when the release catch is released.
  • If the fire is large, leave it for the fire brigade.

Minimise the risk of fire by keeping your car in good condition, check it regularly and keep it tidy and clutter free.

Accident Procedure- What To Do, How To Cope

Accidents happen! If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a road accident, there are certain procedures that you have to abide by.

If the accident causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property then you must:

  • Stop and remain at the scene of the accident for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Provide your name address and registration details to any person who has reasonable grounds for asking for them. If the vehicle you were driving is the property of another person, then you must provide their details too.
  • If these details can’t be given at the scene, then you must report the accident at a police station or to a police officer as soon as is practicable possible and within 24 hours.
  • If another person is injured you are obliged to produce your car insurance certificate at the scene of the accident to anyone who has reasonable grounds to view it. If you are unable to produce your car insurance certificate at the scene of the accident then you must take it to the police station you reported the accident to within seven days.
  • You must abide by these requirements even if you were not directly involved in the accident. Failure to do so and you will be committing two criminal offences – failing to stop and failing to report.

Insurance Procedures:

In order to have a smooth insurance claim it is vital that you do the following:

  • Gather as much information as possible at the scene.
  • Take photos of the vehicles position, damage, number plates and model.
  • The name, address and telephone number of anyone else involved. If someone not at the scene owns any vehicle then get his or her details also.
  • Details of the other driver’s insurance policy – insurance company, whether third party of fully comprehensive, expiry date.
  • The contact details of any witnesses.
  • Weather and road conditions.
  • What the involved vehicles were doing as the accident happened.

Offering Assistance:

If ever you find yourself at the scene of a road accident then follow the golden rule – never put yourself at unnecessary risk. However, if you can safely offer assistance then this is what you should do.

  • Make sure YOU are safe. Look after yourself first.
  • Switch off engines.
  • Absolutely no smoking.
  • Call ambulance.
  • Remove non injured people.
  • Worry less about “noisy” casualties. Concern yourself with the quiet ones. Keep them company and reassure them.
  • Don’t move casualties unless in danger.
  • Use hazard lights and a warning triangle.

Headlight Flashing.

A lot of drivers (not just learners) can be very confused by others flashing their headlights. Let’s have a close look at this problem, and see what conclusions we can draw.

The Highway Code is quite clear in its advice, rule 110 states:

‘Flashing headlights. Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.’

Rule 111 adds:

‘Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.’

So there we have it! Easy to read, but often confusing on the road, especially for inexperienced drivers.

Many drivers interpret flashing headlights as an “instruction,” and act accordingly without taking in the bigger picture………Are you CERTAIN that the other driver was flashing at you? Are there pedestrians or cyclists nearby? Could the signal be to another car? If you are not CERTAIN on these possibilities, do not act on the flash. Sometimes it is obvious and you can take advantage with care, but if there is any doubt, hold back and decide for yourself.

It would be better all round if flashing was only used to let others know you are there, but there will always be some drivers who will flash for other reasons, so remember it is NOT an instruction, and your decision is the one that counts.

Ask yourself the following if you are flashed:

  • What’s the other driver trying to tell me?
  • If I move, will it be safe?
  • Is the signal for me or another road user?
  • Am I causing a hold-up by staying where I am?
  • Is the other driver really signalling or were those headlights flashed accidentally?
  • When the situation becomes clear in your mind, proceed carefully, with full control and observation. Do not be rushed by others!

There are some situations where flashing your lights may be useful, for example:

Flashing from dipped to full beam can warn of your presence on bends and at junctions after dark or to warn of hidden danger during daylight hours, but use flashing lights with care and consideration. Your instructor at John Lowe Driving will be able to offer full advice on this subject.

Keep It Safe Around Horses.

A few facts:

There are over 3 million horse riders in the UK
There are around 8 road accidents involving horses every day
An average of 16 riders are killed each year
The majority of accidents with horses happen on minor roads
While these facts may be simple to read, they include stories of both human and animal misery. This misery can be avoided by better understanding by both drivers and riders.

The driver
Lets face it…

Horses can sometimes seem like a bit of a nuisance when you are out on the road.

Even though you might sometimes feel this way, horses have as much right to the road as drivers. After all, they came first!

In an ideal world, riders would prefer to ride on bridle ways and tracks well away from roads all the time, but it’s often necessary to use roads to gain access to these tracks. With this in mind, it makes sense to share the roads safely – a horse might delay you for a couple of minutes, but an accident can cause all sorts of misery and is usually avoidable.

Roadside information
The signs shown below are the most common ‘official’ signs relating to horses. However, you should also look out for ‘unofficial’ signs which may be erected near riding schools or other places where horses are found on the road.

Signs for farm shops, caravan sites or other rural businesses could indicate horses, horse boxes, children, lorries, slippery road (due to horse muck!) or any other problem associated with horses.

Equestrian Crossings

The equestrian crossing is similar to any other traffic light controlled crossing, but in addition to provision for pedestrians (as at a Puffin Crossing) and/or cyclists (as at a Toucan crossing), the equestrian crossing makes special provision for horses

From a drivers point of view, the crossing works in the same way as ordinary traffic lights; while trying to beat the lights is always dangerous, it is especially dangerous at a Equestrian Crossing due to the nature of horses.

For riders there is a ‘high level’ push button to operate the crossing. Because this is placed on the traffic-light support, the horse has to come very close to the road in order for the button to be pressed. So be careful!

In Conclusion.

When driving, give horses plenty of room. Expect erratic behaviour. Treat them and the rider with respect, do not intimidate them. With a sensible approach, you should remain accident free. Check the Highway Code for more info.