During lockdown whilst driving lessons in Southend and the rest of the UK, with a driving instructor are not allowed, it is important to keep your driving practice going, but you will need to keep checking the Government Guidelines to ensure that you are allowed to practice driving.

The DVSA currently state that learners can practise driving with members of their household or support bubble as long as it’s on an essential journey. Please note that you can only practice with fully qualified drivers who are 21 or older, had their driving licence for 3 or more years and of course, they must be from your household.

As driving instructors, we do meet pupils that have been practising their driving with parents or partners and start to gain some bad habits so please ensure that you drive the way that your driving instructor has taught you to drive.

Common faults include:

Coasting – This is where a driver depresses the clutch too early and allows the car to roll up to a stop. The clutch should be depressed at the last minute to stop the car stalling not to make pulling up easier.

Observations (Checking Mirrors) – Most drivers with experience not only look for hazards but also listen but a DVSA driving examiner cannot evidence you listening so must see you completing your observations to ensure you are creating the safest driving style aside from this with electric cars, bicycles and electric scooters you cannot always hear other vehicles around you.

When pulling away you must ensure you have completed around checks including blind spot checks. Having completed these checks, you can pull away with confidence knowing there are no hazards around you. As a general rule, you should check your mirrors before:

  • Changing Speed (changing gear or pressing the accelerator/brake)
  • Changing Direction (this includes changing lanes or going around a vehicle)

Remember mirrors are always checked in pairs – centre mirror & a side mirror

Meeting Traffic – When meeting traffic in a smaller road you may need to give way to other vehicles regardless of whether you have priority or not. It is better to allow someone else to go through a gap first rather than force your way through and create a situation where you force the other driver to stop or slow down, always take the safest option.

Making Progress & Hesitation – As you will probably have gathered going over the speed limit is not only illegal but could be a reason for you to fail a driving test but were you aware that you can fail a driving test and cause dangerous situations by going too slow? Making progress is a term used in the driving tuition world for ensuring you are maximising your speed whilst ensuring you do not exceed the speed limit so where road conditions allow you should always try to maintain a speed within 5 miles an hour under the speed limit, of course, this is not always possible where you encounter bad weather conditions, traffic or numerous other factors so your speed should always be appropriate to the conditions.

It is very common for learner drivers to hesitate at complex junctions and in particular roundabouts so ensure you get up and moving without causing anyone to on the roundabout to either stop, slow, swerve or swear.
Manoeuvres – It is a common misnomer that the manoeuvres are a common reason for people failing their driving test, it is more common for pupils to fail on general driving than the manoeuvres. During your driving test, you will be asked to complete 1 of the following:

  • Pull up on the right, reverse 3 car parking spaces and then pull off again.
  • Reversing into a parking bay.
  • Reversing out of a parking bay.
  • Parallel parking – always on the left during a driving test.
  • And you could also get asked to perform an emergency stop.

As well as these common issues you will need to be able to drive an independent drive which could be in 1 or more formats:

  • Following a Sat Nav
  • Following road signs to a particular destination
  • Following instructions from a DVSA examiner which is normally 3 consecutive junctions

You will have to prove to the examiner that you can drive following all road signs and markings in the direction requested without the examiner giving you any prompts or stepping in for any reason. Let’s face it you are going to have to do this when driving on a daily basis anyway so a reasonably fundamental part of your learning to drive.

When out practising there are some ground rules you need to have in place:

The supervising passenger is always in charge – If a situation starts to get stressful for either the driver or supervising passenger stop, take a break and then continue. As a supervising driver, you will get the best results from a learner if you keep a level tone to your voice, stay calm and explain faults properly.

Limit your driving time – set a start and finish time and make a plan of what you want to achieve, if possible, plan a route that will take in some of the driving challenges needed but only to a level the learner can handle.

Use diagrams to explain things – Most driving instructors carry a pen and paper so they can draw the road or junction to explain things a picture paints a thousand words.

If you can afford it buy 2 smaller mirrors for use by the supervising passenger. One should be set up to be looking out the back so you are aware of what hazards are behind and one so you can see the driver, this is to check they are performing their observations properly.

If you or the supervising passenger is not sure about anything ring your driving instructor. Trust me when I say they would prefer you to ask and practice properly rather than have to undo issues created by not practising properly.

Above all practice in a safe manner and if its starts to get too much, then stop!