Distracted Driving


Are you distracted?

[su_heading size=”16″ align=”left”]This week I had the pleasure of doing a piece to camera for the ITV program Good Morning Britain on distracted driving, especially looking at people who use their mobile phones to text and tweet while driving.[/su_heading]

The presenter and cameraman turned up at 6am to shoot the piece, we decided to drive into town to get set up for it, we parked up beside some traffic lights which is also very close to a roundabout, the presenter was on the lookout for people driving past who were using their phones while driving.[su_spacer]

To be honest I was expecting that many people driving past to be using their phones at that time of the morning especially as it was so early and where I live it is mostly older people driving at that time. But within seconds the camera man spotted someone driving past at speed heading towards the roundabout while they were looking down at their phone.
We were parked there in total for about an hour and it seem that about 1 in 10 drivers were on their phones.This to be honest frightened me a bit, the thought that someone driving behind me could be texting and not looking at the road ahead, I myself have been hit from behind before many years ago by a lady who was texting and driving at speed while my pupil and myself were stopped at red traffic lights. I could see her in my rear view mirror but there was nothing I could do to stop the crash.[su_spacer]
At the ” accident ” the lady got out of the car and started screaming at me for stopping at a green traffic light, I explained to her that the lights were red she started crying and asked me not to call the police. She also promised she would never never use her phone again whilst driving. I somehow didn’t really believe her that she would keep her word and lucky for my pupil and myself that we were not hurt. We were the lucky ones you might say.[su_spacer]
distracted-driving-800How do we deal with people who use their phones whilst driving?
They already know it’s wrong and against the law but it still does not stop them.
What will stop them? Make them think twice about checking the texts or emails while driving. Education about the damage they could do to themselves and to others maybe one day they might end up killing someone. It is amazing how many people think they can win the lottery but when it comes to them texting while driving it’s not going to be them that’s going to hurt or kill someone, its the other person who is texting that will do that, definitely not them, NEVER they say. They are great drivers,well above average. It is always the other person.[su_spacer]
My solution or a part of it is to have a instance 3 month ban from driving if it’s their first offence, do it a second time and you get a full 1 year ban and if your stupid enough to do it a third time you will be banned for 10 years.
There’s never a good excuse to check you phone while driving. This will save lives and stop people getting badly hurt. Using the phone should be viewed the same way as drink driving, Make it socially unacceptable and maybe we will all be a little safer on the roads.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]As instructors we have a big role to play in educating the people about the dangers of using phones and anything else while driving. Noel Gaughan[/su_pullquote]At the start of my lessons I always explain the dangers of having the phone switched on as the pinging noise it makes when you get a message can be a distraction in itself. People are curious and always tend to think that that message could be really important and there is the temptation to have a sneaky look as they are driving along. I always explain to them that the phone is best switched off while driving and the phone should be out of sight, preferable it should be in the glove box or as I call it the phone box.[su_spacer]
Instructors please drive home that message that while driving the worst thing you could have is been distracted by a silly message on the old mobile phone. I hope you all have a fantastic and safe months on the roads, keep a check on the rear view mirror mind, you never know what’s coming up behind you.[su_spacer]
PS: At the time of writing this we are on target to hit the 3000 signatures for our campaign to bring down the waiting times for driving tests.[su_spacer]
Thank you.

Driving into Old Age? We can Help You! This is What You Need to Know

Driving into Old Age?  A petition backed by almost a quarter of a million signatures sparked major debates across the country whether it should be made compulsory for drivers driving into old age to retake their driving tests every three years. Here’s what it is all about…

Current Legislation

At present, UK law simply requires drivers over 70 to renew their licence every three years. These licence renewals are done via self-assessment forms – there are no actual tests to assess a driver’s eyesight, hearing, reaction or driving skills in general.

There is also no legal age at which drivers should give up driving. It is left up to drivers to determine when they should hang up their car keys. As a result, some people give up driving too soon for fear of no longer being able to drive safely. Others continue driving into old age for too long and end up causing accidents due to failing eyesight, severely diminished reaction times or confusion.

Expert Recommendations

Aware of these facts, leading road safety experts setting out a national strategy for safely driving into old age made several recommendations. One of these recommendations was to raise the age of licence renewal to 75 if providing proof of having undergone an eye test is made compulsory.

The Petition

Driving into old age petition
Petition to Introduce compulsory age-appropriate retesting

Started by Ben Brooks Dutton after his wife was killed in an accident involving an 85-year old gentleman hitting his accelerator instead of his brake, the petition calls for a change of this legislation (learn more).

Ben is asking for compulsory triennial retesting –  including assessments of drivers’ eyesight and hearing; general driving skills and their ability to react quickly and correctly in case of an emergency – of drivers from the age of 70 onwards.

Thanks to support from his local MP, Ben’s petition will soon be discussed by a cross-party transport committee. In the meantime, banners are highlighting the core issue of his campaign to families everywhere.

As Ben said, nobody wants the thought of having killed someone hanging over their head for the rest of their life, but cars are powerful weapons and we must make sure we are safe to use them. This is not a matter of saying ‘I’m just fine’ – it is a matter of making sure we are.

Reactions to the petition

Old Drivers Taskforce spokesman Sgt Rob Herd said that, as a rule, drivers over 70 are no more likely to be involved in collisions than younger drivers. He added that it must, however, be considered that as we age and start suffering from frailty and diminishing hearing and eyesight, problems can arise unless these issues are addressed at an early stage.

IAM Road Smart’s Director of Policy & Research, Neil Greg, stated that IAM Road Smart, the UK’s largest road safety charity, is not convinced that compulsory retesting will work. Stating that in the charity’s opinion, 70-year old drivers are no less safe than 50 or 60-year-old drivers, he added that testing thousands of potentially safe drivers aged 70 and over every three years would be incredibly difficult and expensive both in terms of logistics and administration.

He continued by saying that compulsory testing would have little to no impact on road safety and could result in people losing their licence and ending up isolated and with no mobility or independence for no reason at all.

Explaining that simulations carried out by IAM Road Smart revealed that younger drivers are more likely to cause accidents because they drive too fast and too close to vehicles in front of them, whereas older drivers with a lifetime of driving experience keep safer distances and drive slower, he added that the charity believes voluntary assessments, schemes like the Old Drivers Taskforce’s Driving into Old Age campaign and Hampshire Council’s Driver Skills Scheme and providing people with relevant information on when it is time to stop driving would be far more useful.

He did, however, state that these are issues that need to be discussed, especially as the number of drivers over the age of 85 is expected to double to a million by 2025. You can see what else he told the BBC here.

The Driver Skills Scheme

Hampshire Council is hoping to help older drivers make sure they are safely driving into old age by offering a Driver Skills Scheme. Speaking to BBC reporter Holly Hamilton, Hampshire Council’s Senior Road Safety Officer Graham Mylward explained that the scheme – which is currently used by around 50 people every month and involves assessors sitting in with drivers in their own cars, offering advice and monitoring their ability to drive safely – is designed to help people carry on driving into old age for longer, but without going on too long and becoming unsafe.

Senior driver Brian Kaz, who has been driving for 56 years and is currently participating in the scheme, stated that he is aware that his eyesight and reactions are no longer as sharp as they used to be. He feels he is benefitting from the appraisal he receives via the scheme and believes that retesting makes sense once you get to a certain age.

Driving into Old Age with Intensive Courses Driving School

Driving into old age - Intensive Courses
Driving into old age – Intensive Courses

Are you driving into old age and want to make sure you are as safe on the road as you used to be? Offering refresher lessons, semi-intensive courses and helpful advice for experienced drivers, we can help you stay mobile and independent for longer without taking the risk of causing an accident.  

We also firmly believe that it is never too late to learn to drive – and if you are a 40, 50 or 60-year-old looking to learn to drive for the first time, you can rest assured that we have the best, most experienced drivers to help you pass your test and become a safe, responsible driver.

Whether you have a lifetime of experience and are driving into old age or an older individual just starting on the road to independence, we are here to assist – so why not give us a call on 0800 056 9418 or +44 (0) 0207 205 2251 or book your lessons online right now?!


Driving Test Changes

The DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) announced upcoming driving test changes for UK learner drivers today (14/04/2017). Here is what these changes are about.

Driving Test Changes

Part of the government’s commitment to reducing serious and fatal injuries on Britain’s roads, these driving test changes are designed to help achieve this by enabling better assessment of candidates’ ability to drive unaccompanied in today’s driving conditions. In addition to extending the current 10-minute ‘independent driving’ element of driving tests to 20 minutes, the proposed driving test changes include:

  • Candidates being asked to follow sat nav directions during their ‘independent driving’ test.
  • Current ‘turn in the road’ and ‘reverse around a corner’ manoeuvres being replaced by more realistic scenarios such as, for instance, driving into parking bays and reversing back out of them.
  • Candidates being asked one of their 2 ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions while driving.

Examiners may, for example, ask candidates to use the vehicle’s heated rear screen.

The Importance of these Driving Test Changes – Sat Nav Driving Lessons

Accounting for more than 25 per cent of all death among people aged 15 to 19, collisions on the road are the largest single reason for young people’s deaths. Aiming to ensure that their training and driving tests help reduce the numbers of fatal injuries to young people, the DVSA proposed these driving test changes because:

  • Most fatal collisions occur on high-speed stretches of road (this does not include motorways). By changing the test’s format, more of these road types can be included in test routes.
  • More than half (52 percent) of drivers now use sat navs. The DVSA wants learner drivers to be trained in safely using them.
  • Research revealed that ‘independent driving’ training regarded as valuable by new drivers, as they can tie it in with driving after passing their tests.

Research into How Drivers Will Be Affected By the Driving Test Changes

Sat Nav Driving Lessons - Intensive Driving Courses
Sat Nav Driving Lessons – Intensive Driving Courses

The driving test changes were trialled by the DVSA and the TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) across 32 test centres during 2015/16. These trials revealed that the driving test changes are believed to:

  • Provide a good basis in terms of independent decision making and driving and relevant to ‘driving in the real world’ by supervising drivers, test passers and ADIs
  • Provide greater insight into their own driving skills and improve their confidence that they will be safe, good drivers able to use sat navs safely by the individuals who passed their tests during the trails.

You can learn more about these driving test changes and see the full trial report at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/new-driving-test-trial.

Safe Driving for Life

Talking about the changes, Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s Chief Executive, said: “British roads are among the world’s safest roads. We, however, still do more to keep road users – and especially newly-qualified drivers – safe. Ensuring driving tests assess new drivers’ ability to drive independently and safely forms part of our strategy, which is to help all drivers through a lifetime of safer driving.”

Lesley Young, the DVSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, added to this by stating: “We want candidates to show their ability to assess risks and cope with distractions without instructor/examiner interventions, so they will be given increased decision-making responsibility during their test.”

Road Safety Professionals’ Support

Initial feedback on the proposed driving test changes provided by both trial participants and driver training industry representatives – including driving instructor associations, the AA and the RAC, as well as the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) – was both positive and supportive.

Carly Brookfield (CEO, Driving Instructors Association) said that the association ‘fully welcomes these test developments’, adding: “The evidence presented by the trial compels us to recommend that these well-overdue changes are made to driving tests – which have remained fundamentally unchanged for more than 20 years and have failed to keep pace with how British roads and driver behaviour have developed over time.”

Mark Peacock, Head of BSM, responded to the trials’ findings by stating: “The proposed practical driving test changes, especially the use of a sat nav and extended independent driving duration, should help us in producing safer, better motorists. Having received positive feedback from both our instructors and their students, we fully support the introduction of these changes.”

Edmund King OBE, the President of the AA, also responded positively by saying: “We know that new drivers pose an increased risk on the road. We, therefore, need to prepare them better for driving in the real world. These driving test changes will test learner drivers in a more realistic fashion, which is imperative in improving their safety upon removal of their L plates.”

Please note: All quotes have been paraphrased to avoid copyright infringements.

Intensive Courses Driving School

We also fully support these driving test changes and will, of course, be offering the necessary sat nav driving and special driving manoeuvres lessons as part of our intensive driving lessons. For more detailed information, please do not hesitate to explore our Website (and in particular our ‘What You Need to Know’ page), contact us online or give us a call on 0800 056 9418 or 0207 205 2251. You can also book your driving lessons online.

Bromley Court Driving Test Centre – New Test Centre in South East London

Bromley Court Test Centre | New driving test centre for South East London.

Great news the DVSA have a new driving test centre in South East London, the new driving test centre was opened the 30th January 2017. We believe this will be a temporary test centre as residents maybe not so happy to have so many learner drivers driving down their roads all day long.

FULL ADDRESS: Bromley Court Driving Test Centre, Bromley Court,  Bromley – Kent – BR1 4JD

The driving test centre address is Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Driving Test Centre Bromley Court, Bromley Hill, Bromley, BR1 4JD.There are designated bays to park in beside the test centre, you may be asked to do bay parking there on your driving test. Because the driving test centre is on hotel grounds, the car park at Bromley Court can get very busy with hotel guests parking in the same car park. In the mornings it can be tricky getting onto the main road turning right out of the driving test centre but I have it on good word that the DVSA driving examiners might be able to assist the driving test candidates at the start of the test getting on the main road.

The reason the DVSA is opening another driving test centre close to the Hither Green and West Wickham test centre is that of the very long waiting times at the West Wickham centre. We believe West Wickham test centre may be closing once the DVSA have found a suitable replacement site for a new test centre.

We believe the Bromley Court driving test centre will be a hit because it is so close to the West Wickham, Hither Green and Sidcup test centres.  We hope that the nearby residents give the DVSA and the learner drivers a chance to prove they are not a nuisance.  There is great demand for more driving test availability in the South East of London.  As of yet, there are no figures to show what the driving test pass rate at Bromley Court Driving Test Centre is but we will try and keep you updated on this when we get the figures from the DVSA.


DVSA Bromley Court Test Centre Area Map

For Test Centre waiting times, please contact us.

General Information

Toilets: Male, female and disabled toilets are available
Disabled access:
Other notes: Please do not arrive more than 10 minutes prior to test. Follow the on site vehicle entrance and exit system. Park in DVSA marked bays and report to waiting area. Strictly no access to site for practice.

Bromley Test Centre Review

Have you done your practical test at Bromley Test Centre? How about sharing your experience with us? We’d love to hear your story. Make your comment below.

Brexit and the UK Driving School Industry – What happens next?

Will people from the EU have to apply for the international permit like other people from other parts of the world have to do post-brexit? 

We have heard lots about what the UK will look like from a trade point of view and even more about people from the EU having to apply for a visa to visit our wonderful country but nothing about how if they will be allowed to drive if they wish to stay more than a year.  Will they be able to swap their licences to a UK licence? or will they have to take the UK driving test?. For those applying for a provisional driving licence from EU countries at the moment they can do so straight away and those from outside the EU need to have an address in the UK for at least 6 months.  Will this also apply to EU people as well post-brexit.

Brexit - Caution speed ramps sign

If people coming from the EU have to wait 6 months before they can apply for a first provisional driving licence this will effect greatly on their ability to work in the UK, it will put them at a massive disadvantage when applying for work and it will also impact on where they will be able to live especially if there is little or no public transport. By limiting their ability to have gain a full driving licence it will also have a knock on effect on the UK economy as a whole. Businesses where there is a need for employees to be able to drive will find it hard to fill their vacancies. This will lead to a smaller economy and will inevitably lead to higher costs for both business and consumers.

From a driving instructors side of things it will indeed make us a lot busier but on the down side for UK learner driver residence it will lead to much longer waiting times at both the theory test centres and the practical driving test centres making it much harder for UK residence to gain their full driving licence quickly.  It may also lead to much higher prices for UK learner driver residents as there are few driving instructors working in the industry and with more people having to take driving tests. The learner industry is like any other industry, the more demand with less supply always leads to higher prices.

This is something the UK government will need to address sooner rather than later.  The longer there is uncertainty about how EU residents will be treated post-brexit when it comes the the driving tests/ licences the more confusion that will ensue.  This matter is too important to be left until the last minute to sort out.  I hope we will get to know more on our government thinking on this very important matter.

Most people living in the UK learn to drive at some point in their lives, do we really want full driving licence holder for the EU filling up our theory and practical test centres?.  By making good EU full driving licence holders do the driving test again in the UK is of no use to anyone.  The only reason to make people do this is to tick boxes and keep the civil service employees in work.  It will have nothing to do with road safety.


Driving Test Fraud

Driving test fraud figures.


The following figures were released in response to a parliamentary question from MP Karl McCartney from Lincoln.

Unbelievably there are dozens of people who try to cheat at the theory and practical driving test. There were 209 convictions from 2012 to 2016 with over half being dealt with by the Met police. These figures were released by the transport minister Andrew Jones.


The figures are small but not insignificant. There are normally around 1 and a half million practical driving test a year and nearly 2 million theory tests.

According to the transport Minister Andrew Jones the majority of the investigations were conducted by the DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency).  The DVSA conducted both the theory and practical driving tests.

Please see below the convictions figures that were released by the transport minister.

Driving Test fraud conviction figures between 2012 to 2016
Driving Test fraud conviction figures between 2012 to 2016


Andy Rice who is the head of the DVSA counter fraud and investigations said  “The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly.

“Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.  Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly.

“We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice.”

Over 1,100 driving licences have been revoked due to fraud in the past five years.
Noel Gaughan who is head of intensivecourses.co.uk the driving school said the punishment for fraud of this nature is not severe enough. Having just one driver on the road who is unsafe and they themselves know they are unsafe (that is the reason they get someone else to do the driving and theory test because they know they would fail) is one to many.  I believe anyone caught driving without a full licence should be jailed for at least 3 years. By driving illegally they are putting the rest of us in great danger.

Women VS Men Driving | Who is the better driver?

When it comes to driving who is the better driver. Women or Men?

The age old question of who is the better driver.


When it comes to handling cars I think men just about have the edge but when it come to actual driving and being a safe driver then women are way ahead.


Sometimes people get confused between the handling of a car and being a safe driver.  Most men are confident in their ability when it comes to driving and in my opinion as a driving instructor of 25 years men are maybe way to confident in their ability. Women on the other hand tend to under estimate their ability, women are by far safest drivers as is borne out by research.


Women VS Men Driving - Who is the better driver? Intensive Courses
Women VS Men Driving – Who is the better driver?

Why are women better drivers?

I have seen first hand how men and women learn to drive and the big difference I have noticed is the men are much keener to just get on with the driving part and in their eyes will pick it up as they go along. Women on the other hand generally speaking want to know all the details first about what they are about to learn and then go on to learn the specific subject, i.e. reverse around the corner exercise. Women take more lessons before the driving test but have about a 10 % bigger chance of failing the test than men. This is in my opinion comes back to the confidence issue. Insurance companies bear out the women are better drivers because in general insurance fees for women tend to be lower than men.


Can Men learn from women when it comes to driving?

Men can learn a lot from women when it comes to driving, women look out more for danger and feel less safe on the road. This makes women more aware of their surroundings, this is something generally men do not do. Women take more driving lessons which gives them a greater edge when it comes to driving once they pass the driving test.  If men put as much work in the learning to drive process they would be as safe as women on the roads and have a much lower insurance premium. Women tend not to overestimate their ability which gives them the edge.


Give it up for safer women drivers. We can all learn a lot from them.

Does The Colour of Someone’s Skin Matter? | DVSA Driving Test


I have been a driving instructor for over 25 years and if anyone asked me when it comes to the driving test does the colour of someone’s skin matter I would have had no hesitation in saying NO. But after looking at the official DVSA (Driving Vehicle Standards Agency) stats (DVSA are the people that conduct the driving test) it seems that the colour of someones skin might make a difference. At some test centres like Eastbourne the difference in the pass rates is a vast. In Eastbourne the pass rates for white people is 52.8% and the pass rate for black people is 20.6%.
Here is the DVSA disclaimer


[su_quote cite=”GOV.UK” url=”https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/car-driving-test-data-by-test-centre”]The ethnicity data should be used with extreme caution. The information is voluntarily provided by test candidates and over 70 per cent of candidates do not declare any ethnicity at all. The data are therefore subject to self-selection and self-reporting biases and it is likely that the figures do not accurately represent the true ethnicity breakdown of test candidates[/su_quote]

Black pupils from Intensive Courses who passed their Driving Test
Pupils who passed their Driving Test – Does The Colour of Someone’s Skin Matter?


For the full disclaimer please click on the DVSA link below.

These are the official figures on the  website. These figures were from people who were happy to take part in the survey obviously there were a lot more people who didn’t want to take part. So we probably don’t get a full incite into what really is happening at the test centres.


Eastbourne is not an isolated test centre in regards of the pass rates of white and black people. In my search of DVSA website named above I did not see many test centres in the whole of the UK where percentage wise black people passed the driving test more than white people, even in the areas of the country where there is a higher percentage of black people there is still a huge gap between the pass rates. In Wood Green for an example the percentage of passing is 48.6% as apposed to 32.4% as of August 2016. These are the latest figures available from the DVSA.


I am very rarely surprised by much but I am taken aback by the difference in the pass rates. As far as I can see the DVSA have done little about looking into why there should be such a difference in the pass rates between ethnic groups. I have never had any difference in the pass rates of the people I have taught to drive mainly because most people have passed with me first time. Is the reason that the pass rate is down to the DVSA driving test examiners or the the way people are taught to drive? Or maybe there is something else going on that I don’t understand. I really can’t explain it. I will be looking into this more over the coming weeks to see why this is happening. I will keep you updated on my findings. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it.


[su_pullquote align=”right”]Does it matter if you’re black or white when you are doing your driving test? Leave your comments below.[/su_pullquote]Please click on the DVSA website above to see for yourself. My question at the start which was does it matter if you are black or white when it comes to the driving test. The answer seems to be YES according to the DVSA’s statistics. I will remind you again to read their disclaimer on their website.

Tottenham Test Centre

New driving test centre for North London | Tottenham Test Centre.

Great news the DVSA are opening a new driving test centre in North London, the new driving test centre is opening the 9th January.

The driving test centre address is Driving test centre, Annex Building, Selby Centre, Selby Road. Tottenham. N17 8JL

There are designated bays to park in beside the test centre, You may be asked to do bay parking there on your driving test.

The reason the DVSA is opening another driving test centre close to the Wood Green test centre is because of the
very long waiting times at the Wood Green centre.

I believe the Tottenham driving test centre will be a hit. Because it is so close to the Wood Green test centre
I expect that the Tottenham test centre will use most of the same test routes that Wood Green use.


DVSA Tottenham Test Centre Area Map


For Test Centre waiting times, please contact us.


Motorway Driving Lessons – Intensive Courses

Andrew Jones the transport minister announced the plans today to allow motorway driving lessons for competent learner drivers to drive under supervision from an approved driving instructor. This is probably the biggest change in the way learner drivers are taught in many many years.


Motorway Driving Lessons for Competent Learner Drivers


The thinking behind the move is that it will help learner drivers experience all different types of roads under the supervision of professional driving instructors. At present anyone can drive on our motorways after passing the driving test without any training. Driving on the motorway without any training make it a scary experience for anyone who has just passed the driving test and more dangerous for everyone else. Can you remember the first time you went onto the motorway on your own? I can and let me tell you i was more than nervous. This will put an end to that.

Motorway Driving Lessons - Intensive Driving Courses
Motorway Driving Lessons – Intensive Driving Courses
Taking learner drivers on the motorway is something I have advocated for years. It will help learner drivers experience the real driving experience with guidance and advice for their driving instructor. It will also help them judge speed and teach them to look well ahead and plan. It will also help them see why their mirrors are so important. As we all know when driving on motorways we should be looking about a mile ahead and in our mirrors looking a mile behind.
When you see a learner driver on a motorway please treat them like every other driver and don’t make allowances.
Do not also try to bully them because at 70 miles an hour pretty bad things can happen if the driver is distracted.
I believe our minister for transport Andrew Jones has started listening to driving instructors and we will see many important changes to the way we learn to drive in the future, changes for the better. It’s an important first step in making our roads the safest in the world and I am not just talking motorways. I hope in the future that taking learner drivers on the the motorway becomes compulsorily for ALL learner drivers in the learning to drive syllabus. That way we really will be making great progress in the learning to drive field.