Short Slip Roads Cost Lives

Recently a coach was involved with a collision with a lorry leaving a truck stop on the A1 at Witterings in Cambridgeshire. Three people were killed in the accident. One important factor that lead to the accident was the length of the slip road. The acceleration lane was found, by Accident Investigators, to be only half of the recommended 110 metres. In particular it was totally unsuitable for large vehicles trying to rejoin the fast “A” road where much of the traffic is travelling at 70mph. That strectch of the A1 carries up to 50,000 vehicles per day.

This slip road is just one of many slip roads that join fast sections of dual carriageway in Britain. A spokes person from Cambridgeshire Road Policing Unit said that “This slip road is not only joining a 70mph road it is also used by lorries with slow acceleration. What’s more it is also on a left-hand bend making observations particularly difficult. PC Edwards went onto say “Looking at the slip roads it is clear to see that there is considerable problems faced by all motorists who look to join. Rejoining the carriageway can take a long time if it is to be done safely. Drivers can become impatient which leads to them taking greater chances which in turn leads to more accidents.”

The purpose of these slip roads is to allow drivers to build up speed before joining. However this can be difficult on very short slip roads and with slower vehicles. It is also about timing too. It’s important for drivers to assess the gap and accelerate briskly to avoid causing other traffic to slow down. Unfortunately some drivers feel like it’s their given right to join once they have reached the end of the slip road.

A representative from IAM reinforced these concerns by saying “Motorists don’t have an automatic right to join the dual carriageway just because they have reached the end of the slip road. People sometimes assume that because they are at the end then other drivers will automatically have to let them in.” He also went on to say that “Drivers already on the dual carriageway can always move to the next lean if it is safe to do so in anticipation of traffic that might be trying to join.”

Good road signs can help motorists realise that a joining slip road is coming up. However sometimes there can be information overload when there are simply too many signs. Another option is to have lower speed limits at accident black spots. However this can itself cause problems when fast moving drivers are taken by surprise by a drop in the limit. Not only that but the drop in speed limit can also cause a tailback of traffic at busy times.

There needs to be a standardisation of slip roads to make them more uniform as they have on motorways. This can be a problem however as many are privately owned such as service stations. Dealing with the owners and also acquiring more land often from third parties can be difficult and expensive.

Let’s hope these changes come soon enough. In particular the A34 that runs near Newbury has some very short and hard to see sections of slip roads that can prove difficult for learners as well as experienced drivers.

More Weather Conditions in the New Hazard Perception Test

The Hazard Perception test now includes more clips containing bad weather to test pupils ability to deal with poor visibility etc. The tests looks at pupils ability to spot “developing hazards” that will cause them to change speed or direction. There are a total of 14 clips and points are scored from 5 down to 1 for how soon a developing hazard is spotted. The sooner it’s spotted the more points a candidate gets.

  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Wind
  • Fog

There are some clips that also show driving at night and low light conditions like dusk and dawn.

The new clips will also form part of the theory test for:

  • Motorbike
  • Driving Instructor part 1
  • Bus, lorry and coach

They are being introduced because the Department of Transport has reported that in 2017 there were 16,406 accidents in rain, fog, snow or sleet conditions. Of these 205 were fatal.

It is important that learner drivers can spot these developing hazards earlier especially if stopping distances are increased as in the case for rain where stopping distances can be twice as long. In snow or ice they can be 10 times longer.

The Department of Transport says that Hazard Perception training can account for a reduction in accidents by % which itself could save hundreds of lives each year.

The Road Safety Minister, Jesse Norman said “We are proud that the UK has some of the best and safest roads in the world, however we always strive to make them better.”

The new video clips will better test the new learner drivers to better deal with real world conditions and make them safer drivers in the long term. A spokesperson for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said “Our priority is to help everyone to become safer drivers for life not just to pass a driving test. Every year we have too many people, particularly young drivers who end up in serious or fatal collisions due to a lack of experience or understanding of the dangers of bad weather. We know that the theory test really works and we are now using CGI clips to better improve the theory training.”

Safer roads for the vulnerable – Newbury and Basingstoke

The Department of Transport has set out it’s plans to help protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and also to combat road rage in a 2 year plan. The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy called upon 14,000 people on their opinions on what needs to be done to improve road safety for everyone.

New legislation would give local authorities the ability to tackle parking in cycle lanes and have the power to spend 15% of their budget designated for transport on walking and cycling. The Department of Transport will appoint people specifically to improve the infrastructure for all road users.

Another plan is to introduce discounts on insurance companies for drivers and motorcyclists who pass a “Bikeability” test. The plan will also explore extra training to courier drivers to better deal with; horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians.

A new office will also be set up to look at any video evidence submitted by the public in terms of dash cam footage which possibly highlights bad driving.

The road safety officer, Jesse Norman, said “the protection of vulnerable road users was essential”. She also went on to say “We want to encourage healthy exercise, reduce stress and obesity and improve the air quality. This will in turn boost the economy and productivity on the high streets.”

Two charities “Brake” and “Living Streets” have welcomed the new initiatives and have provided invaluable evidence to support the government’s plans. Joshua Harris from Brake said “Cyclists and walkers need to feel safe in a welcoming environment. This form of travel is not only good for a person’s health but is great for everyone’s health too.” He went on to say “People need to feel safe enough on their bikes so that they will leave their cars at home.”

A spokes person for “Living Streets” said “We need any opportunity we can find to make our roads safer. Sometimes pedestrian and cyclists pay the ultimate price for using roads that should be made safe for all.”

Improvements to the highway code and how driving is taught at grass roots level will also go a long way to improve safety for all. Lowering speed limits in urban areas, longer time for pedestrians at crossings will also go a long way to improve safety on our roads.

Going “Dutch” in Newbury

As a way to keep cyclists safer the government are proposing a change to the highway code. Drivers will be asked to give way to cyclists and pedestrians when turning left and will also be taught to use the “Dutch reach” when opening doors.

The idea is to bring the highway code up to date and make the roads safer for everyone. The changes will be more in line with the US where pedestrians always have priority. In 2017, in the UK over 100 cyclists died on the roads.

Some people, however, say that there is not being enough done to safeguard vulnerable road users. A spokesperson said “Cycling ans walking are important to the nations health and well being, however people need to know that they are safe on the roads while they exercise. We are slowly improving the infrastructure to deal with this”

The highway code states that pedestrians have priority if they are already crossing a side road but does cover what should be done if a pedestrian is “about” to cross, i.e. walking to the edge of the kerb.

Recent research shows that most cyclists are also drivers and many drivers are also cyclists. Safety groups are trying to get rid of the “them v us” mentality when everyone is trying to achieve the same goal of getting from A to B safely.

One idea is to adopt the “Dutch reach” where drivers are encouraged to use their left hand to open the door. By doing so the driver is forced to symultaniously turn their shoulders to check their blind spot for cyclists. Another idea is for there to be a minimum distance for overtaking cyclists safely.

In some European countries motorists are expected to give 1.5m distance between themselves and any cyclist that they are passing. This rule may be reduced to 1m in urban areas such as in France.

Many driving schools in the UK already encourage learners to use a similar method to open the door and to check it’s safe before opening whether they are in the drivers seat or the passenger seat.

MPs want a ban on diesel cars much sooner and say it should be brought forward to 2032. The current Government plans want a ban in 2040 however the terms of the plan are very vague.

A report criticised a cut in subsidies and a lack of suitable charge points. However the government have expressed that they want the UK to be the best place in the world to own an electric vehicle.

Rachel Reeves MP said that the plans give little incentive to both companies and individuals to buy an EV. Parliament wants almost every vehicle to be electric by 2050. However the committee want all new car sales to totally green by 2032. There is concern over whether that includes hybrids too. The ban by 2040 was unclear on the government’s strategy on hybrids.

The county has around 14,500 public charge points and the UK was in the top 10 for EV sales. EV’s make up 0.6% of all cars sold in the UK and hybrids make up 1.6%. These figures represent only a small fraction of the total number of cars on the UK roads which is around 31.5 million.

One concern regarding the growth in electric car sales is whether the infrastructure is there to build the batteries needed to power the vehicles. That alone makes for a challenging target.

The charging point infrastructure is still currently inadequate and gives way to “range anxiety” were customers are worried that they have enough charge left in the vehicle to reach the next charge point.

Currently there is a subsidy on electric vehicles paid for by the tax payer of £4,500 however this is soon to be reduce by £1,000 to £3,500. The cost of pure electric vehicles remains high compared to combustion engines and consumers therefore need an incentive to make the switch.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said “We would like new sales in EVs to be 50% to 70% by 2030 with complete zero emissions on new sales by 2040. Our outline for what we are looking to achieve is very comprehensive.”

Hazard Perception – Driving School Newbury

The theory test may be changing again to match modern day situations. Vape clouds coming from car windows, pot holes and even drones may well be included in a revamped test according to reports.

Over 50% of drivers feel that the current theory test is outdated and doesn’t truly reflect modern day driving. The current test shows cyclists and horse riders but doesn’t show people reading the mobile phones while crossing the road or with headphones on listening to their favourite music. Some of the most common real world hazards are children playing near roads and children on scooters.
Over half of new drivers said that the current test didn’t prepare them for the real world and 57% believed that other new drivers were also not ready to face the dangers on the road.

The hazard perception was introduced in 2002 and has not been updated in the past 16 years. LV General Insurance have commissioned the report and are now asking the government to update the test. One driver who recently passed felt it was much more like an exercise you just had to pass rather then something that would help you while driving a car in the real world.

Something else that has changed in the past 16 years is the number of people using mobile phones while they drive. Here in Newbury I must see at least 20 people per day doing it. Illegal mobile phone use is now the biggest cause of accidents on Britain’s roads.
One instructor said that “There should be double the number of video clips rather than the current 14, with much more variety. There should be clips that reflect modern life.” They went on to say “Most people see it as a game rather then something to be taken seriously.” Another instructor went on to say “The biggest hazard is simply people doing stupid things”.

All new drivers should drive for the first time feeling prepared for the road and not left feeling inadequately prepared rather than feeling at the mercy to other drivers and hazards.

A representative of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA, said that more insurance claims were due to an increase in the number of potholes and backs the insurance companies campaign to change the current hazard perception test.

So stay safe while driving around Newbury and expect the unexpected. Also don’t assume that every other driver on the road is experienced. Many of them may have only passed their driving test yesterday.

Intensive Driving Lessons Newbury and Thatcham

The police are clamping down on tailgating, imposing £100 fines.This comes after research from the Highways England that shows almost 2,000 accidents were caused last year by tailgaters resulting in over 100 fatalities.

Research also shows that a driver being tailgated experiences an increase in heart rate, anxiety and an increased level of stress. It also causes traffic jams due to the fact that as a driver brakes the car behind then brakes a little harder causing the driver behind them to do the same until the traffic comes to a standstill.

Former formula 1 driver Nigel Mansell who is president of road safety group “Institute of Advanced Motorists” leads a campaign called “Don’t be a Space Invader”. Mansell says that tailgating is something he complete deplores due to the fact that it’s not only intimidating but also leads to serious accidents.

The safe following distance should be measured as 2 seconds in dry conditions and 4 seconds in the wet. 9 out of 10 drivers have been victims of tailgaters and around 1 in 4 admit to tailgating other motorists.

Richard Leonard of Highways England says that drivers who experience tailgating not only feel intimidated but can be more distracted as a result leading them to make more mistakes. He also points out that most drivers who do it do not do it deliberately. It’s more that they are unaware of what they are doing and the dangers involved. Thankfully only a tiny percentage of tailgating was deliberately done.

So when you’re driving around Newbury and Thatcham be aware of your own safe distance from the vehicle by saying “Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule” as the vehicle passes a fixed marker. Hopefully you will pass the same marker after you finish the saying. If the car behind is following too close then ”be aware but don’t stare”. Rather than being pressured to speed up, do the opposite and slow down. Create a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front.

Driving School Newbury- Under 17 Driving Lessons

Being able to drive when you’re 17 is a great way to gain some independence. There are so many advantages to being able to drive and we believe you don’t need to wait until you’re 17 to gain vital experience. There is so much you need to learn about safety and driving in general that you can never start too soon.

We are now able to offer off-road driving lessons to young people under the age of 17! This is a great opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of cars and safety when driving. It’s also a very fun and exciting experience for young people who have an interest in cars and are keen to get on the roads when they are 17. Gaining the basic knowledge of cars and driving can be done on or off-road, so learning at a younger age than 17 means it could be possible to start driving on your own much earlier when you start to learn on the road.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike and a lot of people learn this when they are young. Some say the same for driving so why not learn the basics while you’re young, and don’t have the stress of exams or university applications etc. Not having many distractions can make it easier to retain information you learn with Under 17 Driving Lessons.

We are excited to be able to offer vouchers for lessons which would make a great present for anyone under the age of 17!

Driving Lessons Basingstoke – Singing Roads

Have you ever heard of a singing road? Well there aren’t any in Basingstoke but in The Netherlands such a road exists. It has strips on the road which when driven over at the correct speed play a tune for the drivers as a reward.

However nearby residents in a nearby town have been driven mad by all the noise. One local resident said they have been driven mad by all the noise and said it was “mental torture” with some cars driving at twice the speed limit to see if the song plays twice as fast.

The local authority closed the “singing road” road 1 day after it opened from pressure by local people.

The tune that was played was the anthem of Friesland which is a province of the country. The cars had to drive at 40mph (60kph) and carefully placed rumble strips, the type that are usually found at the side of the motorway to warn drivers of drifting off course.

One of the locals said “Taxis were driving deliberately fast to play the tune at a higher speed. We had the song playing all night long at high speed. It was driving me crazy!!”

The road was chosen to help promote the city of Leewarden which is the Capital of Culture for Europe. It was also used in order to test a new paint. A local minister said “It worked very well and locals should not be unhappy” However it was decided that other roads would be better suited.

The cost of the strips including the cost of removing them was around £70,000. All for just one day of use. The minister went on to say “I was in the town myself and I must admit it was very difficult to sleep. However the town has now returned to peace and quiet.”

Weekend Intensive Driving Courses

Weekend Intensive courses are often very appealing to learners looking to pass their test quickly. Whether it is just excitement to get on the road or to pass before a deadline say for a job.

If you in a bit of a hurry to pass your practical driving test and get yourself on the road, then we can offer you an intensive driving course specifically tailored to your needs. An intensive course can be useful if you are completely new to driving or wishing to brush up before a retest. A weekend course can vary from 1 or more weekends with 6 to 8 hours per day. We are more than happy to be as flexible as necessary.

Unlike many driving schools that specialise in intensive driving courses, we will provide you with a 2 hour assessment lesson. That way your instructor will not only be able to assess your current standards but will be able to advise you in regards to what type of course is best for you.

Our courses will be designed around your needs and current ability. It will take into account your level of natural ability not only to drive but to absorb new and fresh information. Everyone learns differently and at different speeds and we will adapt each course to your needs.

We can if necessary book your theory test for you and provide you with free theory training. We can also book your practical driving test for you as well if you haven’t already done so.

Regardless of how many hours you take or over what time period, we will ensure that you have the skills necessary not only to pass your driving test but to be a safe and competent driver on UK’s busy roads.