Learner Driver

  1. Comments Off on Is the driving test getting more difficult?

    Driver passed their driving test.

    Following the changes made to the driving test in 2017, the BBC news website published an article at the end of last year asking the question ‘Is the driving test getting more difficult?’.

    It’s just over a year since some changes were made to the practical driving test, these were:

    1. Increasing the time that the driving test candidate drives without turn-by-turn directions from the driving examiner (known as the independent driving part of the test) to 20 minutes
    2. Asking the driving test candidate to follow directions from a Sat Nav during the independent driving (candidates in one in five driving tests will be asked to follow traffic signs instead)
    3. Removing the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres from the test, instead driving test candidates will be asked to complete one of the following;
      • parallel park at the side of the road
      • park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out
      • pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic
    1. Including two ‘show me, tell me’ questions about safety tasks during the test, one to be asked before the driving test candidate starts driving and one to be asked during the test while the driving test candidate is driving.

    So, what affect have these changes had, if any, on the overall pass rate and is there any evidence to show that the driving test is in fact getting easier or more difficult?

    Overall Pass Rates have changed very little

    According to official figures, since the changes were implemented in December 2017 the pass rate has been 45.5% (up-to December 2018). Although this is slightly lower than some recent years the pass rate has fluctuated by only a couple of percentage points for the last 9 years (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/driving-test-failure-reasons-data).

    As the DVSA’s Chief driving examiner Mark Winn explains, the driving test changes weren’t made to make it more difficult; “The driving test was changed to make sure new drivers have the skills they need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving – not to make it harder,”

    “The old driving test spent a disproportionate amount of time on low-risk roads, such as housing estates, largely to access locations to carry out manoeuvring exercises. The changed manoeuvres, while testing the same skills, are more representative of what new drivers will encounter in their everyday driving.”

    Does the longer independent driving mean that it is easier to pass in quieter areas?

    Some of the statistics may prove this point as half of London’s test centres have the lowest pass rates. However, looking at those figures in isolation cannot link them directly back to the changes that were made recently.

    Jan Freeborn, a driving instructor based in London, explains: “When it’s more congested, there’s a higher likelihood of coming across a challenging moment. Driving in London, there are more challenging moments, so more opportunities for mistakes.”

    However, Bruce Johnston, a driving instructor from Haddington, East Lothian, a small town with one of the highest pass rates in Britain explains there are also challenging conditions in quieter areas too; “There is a lot of country road driving now in the test. There are narrower roads which can’t fit two cars. It’s all about anticipating what’s around the corner.”

    Why do candidates fail their test?

    For more than 10 years, incorrectly observing traffic at junctions has been the top cause for driving test candidates to fail their test, closely followed by using mirrors correctly when changing direction. Something to remember if you’re learning to drive at the moment!

    Here are the top 10 reasons for candidates failing their test, as published by the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency:

    1. Observation at junctions
    2. Failing to check mirrors
    3. Control of steering wheel
    4. Turning right at junctions
    5. Failing to move off safely from stationary position
    6. Positioning of car on road
    7. Stalling or accelerating quickly when starting
    8. Response to traffic lights
    9. Reverse park control
    10. Response to traffic signs

    In our opinion, the recent changes made to the driving test cannot specifically be linked to any data to suggest that the driving test is getting any more difficult (or easier!). It is always our aim to make sure our pupils are the safest drivers they can be. As the amount of traffic increases on our roads and driving conditions change with the introduction of new technology (Sat Navs for example) we welcome any changes to the driving test that make our roads safer.

  2. Comments Off on Learner drivers now allowed on the motorway!

    Learner drivers on motorwaysAs of yesterday (4th June 2018) learner drivers of cars in England, Scotland and Wales can now drive on a motorway with an approved driving instructor!

    Here at Road Masters we’re based right next to the M5 so rest assured we’ll be taking advantage of the new rules to make sure that all of our learner drivers know how to use motorways safely. All of our students will be given motorway driving lessons prior to their test, although motorway driving itself doesn’t form part of the test.

    This won’t be tackled on lesson 1 though … it’ll be up to our fully qualified driving instructors to decide when our learner drivers are competent enough to drive on the motorway. Safety is always our priority and all lessons will be in our dual control vehicles.

    There are lots of different elements to driving on the motorway, learner drivers will now gain experience of:

    • joining and leaving the motorway
    • overtaking and using the lanes correctly
    • driving at higher speeds
    • motorway specific signs

    During the motorway lessons they’ll also be time to talk about the more practical parts of driving on a motorway, like what to do if you break down!

    Ultimately these changes will prepare drivers for a lifetime of safe driving and give them a broader experience before taking their test. Driving on the motorway forms a large part of daily life for many drivers and it can be a daunting thing if you’re inexperienced so these changes will help to improve confidence and understanding before drivers take their test.


    Is there anything other road users can do to help?

    If you see a learner driver on the motorway, as with any vehicle on the motorway, please keep a safe distance from them and increase the gap even further in wet, icy or foggy conditions.

    Also, (this goes for all learner drivers on any roads) please be patient, we were all learner drivers once! While drivers are learning they may not be as skilful in anticipating and responding to different road events.


    If you’ve already passed your driving test but don’t feel confident driving on a motorway we can help! As well as taking advantage of these new rules for learner drivers we can offer motorway specific driving lessons for drivers who have already passed their test.

    Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about our lessons and how we can get you motorway-ready!

  3. Comments Off on For people who NEED a cancellation driving test

    For people who NEED a cancellation driving testThe DVSA’s waiting list time in Exeter is currently 8 weeks… DrivingTestCancellations.co.uk can find you a test date sooner for £18.  They will email you the second there are closer dates available give you first refusal!

    One of our recent passes, Nicola, needed to use them as she only had one week left in the UK before emigrating.

    Nicola passed

    If you are in a similar situation or just don’t want to wait, check out DrivingTestCancellations.co.uk

  4. Comments Off on The Government are considering allowing learner drivers on motorways

    Exeter sits at the end of one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the country – the M5. During the summer it is the main holiday artery for thousands of holiday-makers heading down to Cornwall, and every day throughout the year hundreds of lorries thunder up and down it. To some, motorway driving is something they have to do every day, while others prefer to use it occasionally. The Department for Transport tells us that a modern road network [motorway] helps traffic move around the country more easily and is essential for economic growth.

    Exeter M5 motorway drivingSo why is it that we only allow newly qualified drivers onto these roads?

    We should be educating learner drivers how to cope with faster driving and heavier traffic and how to navigate the myriad of new signs and information boards. Smart motorways came into action in 2013, with CCTV controlling digital message boards, variable speed limits, and lane closures. All this can be intimidating for the most experienced of drivers. Therefore it is with a sense of relief that somebody at the Department for Transport is at least considering allowing learner drivers onto these busy roads under the expert eye of qualified driving instructors.

    The Guardian in December 2015 reported that:

    The possibility of learners on motorways [would] be explored under a £2m project examining driver education. It would look at whether the current regime gives the best training for learner and novice drivers.

    Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation welcomes the idea of supervised practice for learners; “One in five young drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test so putting the learning process under the spotlight has to be a good thing.”

    At Road Masters we welcome these considerations as driver confidence and safety is at the forefront of our ethos. In the meantime we will continue to offer our Motorway Driving Tuition for newly qualified drivers.

  5. Comments Off on A Sat Nav Examiner?!

    sat nav examinerHow many of you use a Sat Nav or a phone app to get to your destination?  It might be a very useful gadget, helping you arrive at your important engagement but isn’t it distracting?!  Learning to use a Sat Nav safely is becoming a really important skill in driving.  Then, including it in the driving exam seems a good idea?

    How would a Sat Nav Examiner work?

    For around 20 minutes of the driving test you will be asked to follow directions given to you from a Sat Nav.  This is being done to make the test more realistic.  The Sat Nav will be provided and the examiner will always be ready to step in and direct should the Sat Nav have any problems.

    Why would the DVSA introduce the Sat Nav?

    Sat Navs are now being commonly used so the DVSA have said that it would better replicate a normal driving situation.  The learner would be tested on their ability to familiarise themselves with the potential distractions of using a Sat Nav.  It would also give the learner more responsibility to make their own decisions.

    Struggle to follow a Sat Nav

    The learner driver will not be tested on their ability to follow a Sat Nav but their standard of driving whilst doing so.  It will not matter if the learner driver deviates from the route recommended on the Sat Nav.

  6. Comments Off on Ideal Christmas Presents For Learner Drivers

    Christmas presentSo it’s that time of year again and you’re seeking Christmas gift inspiration for a young friend or family member. You realise that gig tickets and stylish clothes are high on Christmas wish list. However, you’re particularly eager to combine the festive fun with a sense of practicality. Thankfully the considerate Road Masters team have taken the time to come up with some perfect festive suggestions.

    Customise their ride

    We appreciate that the majority of young drivers are restricted to the purchase of cheap and trusty runarounds. However, there is the option of adding personalised numberplate, stylish graphics and toppers for the all important personal touch. You could fill the Christmas stocking with vehicle decorations in the shape of popular cartoon characters or pop stars as a special surprise for the novice driver.

    Car Cleaning Kit

    You may choose to drop a not-so-subtle hint and buy your young friend or family member a complete car cleaning kit this Christmas. They’ll undoubtedly be surprised by the effect of a gentle sponge down and polish. You might even inspire a trend for routine cleaning and maintenance throughout the year.

    Driving Shoes

    It is well known that drivers who opt to wear high heels, sandals and other inappropriate forms of footwear face a far greater risk of crashes. However, some of the leading shoe wear manufacturers have produced practical shoes and boots for enhanced road safety. Why not buy a pair for your favourite learner driver this Christmas?

    Sat Nav

    The traditionally important skill of map reading has seemingly been forgotten by the community of learner drivers. However, there is the option of buying advanced satellite navigation systems to ensure that journeys are quick and hassle-free. You might like to splash out one of the latest models as an ultimately useful Christmas gift.

    Driving Lessons

    If you’re keen for a friend or loved one to stand the best possible chance of passing their driving test first time then it would be worth booking driving lessons with Road Masters. You could arrange 10 hours of expert tuition for the special price of £240 this Christmas. Or perhaps you’d like to make a pass plus course booking for enhanced safety. Your generosity is sure to be appreciated in the months and years to come!

  7. Comments Off on 7 Essential Facts For Learner Drivers

    Learner Drivers who have just started driving lessons in Exeter or Exmouth may be a little overwhelmed by the amount of information regarding the rules of the road. You might have trouble remembering the steps that should be taken during specific manoeuvres. You may also be daunted by the prospect of having to prepare for different elements of the theory test. However, the Road Masters team have produced this helpful list of facts for your consideration.

    1. Hazard Perception Is Essential

    You might believe that the safest drivers are those with impeccable vehicle-handling skills. However, hazard perception is the key skill with regards to safety behind the wheel. It is important to closely monitor the road and identify potentially dangerous situations in advance.

    2. Speed Kills

    It has been estimated that 300 lives would be saved if all of the UK’s drivers were to reduce their speed by 1mph. You can do your bit by maintaining appropriate speeds when navigating different types of roads.

    3. Local Roads Aren’t Necessarily Safe

    You may be surprised to hear that a relatively high proportion of accidents happen within five miles of driver’s homes. This may be due to increased relaxation and lack of concentration in familiar areas. Thankfully you can reduce the risks by maintaining focussed until you’ve successfully parked your vehicle.

    4. Stalling Doesn’t Always Result In Failure

    The driving examiners are aware that novice drivers typically experience high levels of anxiety in test conditions. They allow a certain amount of leeway with regards to minor errors. Stalling when pulling away or completing challenging manoeuvres won’t necessarily result in failure.

    5. The Driving Examiner Doesn’t Have Anything Against You

    The professional role of the driving examiner would be far less stressful if all of the candidates were fully prepared for the variety of driving challenges. They wouldn’t have to fill in forms detailing the reasons for test failure. However, the examiners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all road users.

    6. You May Be Accompanied By A Friend Or Instructor In The Exam

    The vast majority of learner drivers pluck up the courage to take the driving test independently. However, a trusted friend or driving instructor may join you for moral support if so desired. Foreign test takers are entitled to enlist the help of professional translators.

    7. 20% Of Drivers Crash Within A Year Of Passing

    Novice driver’s typically feel a mixture of relief and excitement upon successful completion of the driving test. However, some are very quick to discard the essential rules and act irresponsibly behind the wheel. They stand a relatively high chance of involvement in serious accidents.

  8. Comments Off on Reasons For Learning How To Drive

    Learning to driveThere have been a number of media reports about young people who’ve opted against driving due to the combined costs of lessons and car insurance in recent years. However, the experts at the Road Masters driving school are absolutely convinced that the pros of learning how to drive far outweigh the cons. We’ve come up with this assortment of excellent reasons to arrange driving lessons in Exeter and Exmouth.

    A License For Life

    The great majority of students feel anxious about the theoretical and practical driving tests. Many are required to make repeat attempts. However, there’s no beating the satisfaction of hearing the supervisor say you’ve passed. The title of full driving license holder will be maintained for life, as long as the motoring laws are respected.

    A Professional Necessity

    Youngsters who successfully complete their GCSE’s and A levels may be more excited about the prospect of university parties and dates than full time professional employment. However, modern day job applicants are generally expected to hold full driving licenses. Those who particularly enjoy the driving experience may even consider careers in the motoring industry.

    Freedom & Mobility

    Public transport may be a viable option for those people living in cities and towns. However, car ownership is absolutely essential for rural residents who are keen to enjoy freedom and independence. Some people rely entirely upon their cars as means of travelling to the shops and family homes.


    Parents usually accept the responsibility of ferrying their children to school and social venues. However, there comes a time in a young adult’s life when increased independence becomes absolutely essential. The acquirement of a driving license can open up a host of opportunities with regards to dating and activities.

    A Cost-Effective Option

    There are a variety of ways of reducing the cost of learning how to drive. It would be worth contacting the Road Masters driving school about reasonably priced motoring lessons. Budget conscious drivers may also consider taking the Pass Plus course as a means of improving safety and minimising the cost of insurance.

  9. Comments Off on Preparing For Your First Driving Lesson

    It’s quite likely that you’ll feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety about the prospect of your first driving lesson. You may be eager to pass your driving test and gain an increased sense of independence. However, you’ll also appreciate importance of developing the broad range of motoring skills to ensure complete road safety. Thankfully, you can rely upon the professional guidance of the Road Masters Driving Instructors.

    Realistic Expectations For The First Session

    It is advisable to read the highway code and ask an experienced driver to teach you the cockpit drill in preparation for your first driving lesson. The driving instructor will also expect you to show them both parts of your provisional license and provide details of any visual limitations. You’ll be driven to a safe residential area upon completion of the initial checks. You will then have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the various functions of the driving instructor’s vehicle.

    The experienced Road Masters driving instructor’s appreciate that you will learn at your own pace. We do not expect you to soak up every last detail that is covered in the first lesson. We’ll take the time to address your concerns and explain the reasons for common motoring errors. Every effort will be made to ensure that you feel calm and confident behind the wheel.

    Setting Yourself Up For Success

    It’s worth bearing in mind that your motoring knowledge will increase incrementally over time. The D.S.A recommends at least 45 hours of professional motoring instruction. Of course you’ll learn some of the essentials during the first lesson. However, it will be some time before you develop the confidence and ability to practice hill starts and three point turns. The learning process will prove smooth, enjoyable and ultimately successful as long as you don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

  10. Comments Off on The Most Useful Resources For Learner Drivers

    Regular readers of the Road Masters blog will appreciate that there are a wide range of factors that contribute to driving test success. Novice drivers may develop the essential practical skills during driving lessons in Newton Abbot and Exeter.  However, learner drivers who are keen to develop a thorough understanding of motoring should also take a look at the resources outlined in this blog.

    Learner Drivers Highway CodeThe Highway Code

    The Highway Code was published in 1931 as an essential guide to the rules of the road. It has been updated in accordance with changes in road management and vehicle innovation. The current edition contains 307 rules pertaining to the behaviour of different road users. Students are encouraged to consult the text on a regular basis in preparation for the practical and theory tests.

    Government Services

    Learner drivers can find a wealth of useful information on the National Government website. There are detailed sections on the benefits of the Pass Plus scheme and the costs of various motoring examinations. It is even possible to book official DVSA tests via this website.

    Mock Test

    Learner drivers are encouraged to access the Safe Driving For Life website and answer the randomly generated mock questions. It’s worth taking the online test on a number of occasions in order to ascertain your knowledge of different motoring topics.

    Deadly Mates

    There are a wide variety of websites which address the subject of road safety. However, Deadly Mates is targeted specifically at the community of young road users. It alerts teenagers to the potential dangers of irresponsible driving.

    Temporary Insurance

    This link will enable you to gain temporary insurance cover from seven days to twenty four weeks, so that you can practice what you’ve been taught so far,  in your family car. You must be 17-65 years of age and the person sitting with you must be at least 21 years old have held a full UK driving licence for three years and of course, you need to display L plates….. not the ones that go in the windows! 

    We recommend that you have at least twenty hours of tuition with an instructor before doing this. It is advisable, to begin with, going out in the evenings when the roads are quieter, after the rush hour, but before it gets dark. Try to stick to the roads/areas that you drive on during your lessons, this will help with any initial nerves. 

    Good luck and please inform your instructor when you’ve been out privately, at the start of your next lesson!

    Road Masters

    Ok, so this may be a shameless act of self-promotion. However, we firmly believe the Road Masters driving school is the best in Exeter. Prospective drivers are encouraged to read the information on our website and then book driving lessons with Ryan.

  11. Comments Off on Dealing with stress as a Learner Driver

    It is extremely common for people to feel daunted about the prospect of learning how to drive. It is important to deal with stress as a learner driver. Some worry about the possibility of making basic mistakes under the watchful eye of their driving instructors. Others fear that they’ll become the victims of road rage. However, it is possible to limit the levels of anxiety by adopting the strategies outlined in this article.

    Develop A Positive Mental Attitude

    It is quite usual for ‘what if’ scenarios to dominate the thoughts of learner drivers. Novice motorists may have vivid thoughts about pedestrians who unexpectedly walk into the middle of the road, or lorry drivers who veer out of control. However, it is important to remember that the likelihood of such events is miniscule. It would be far more sensible and beneficial to imagine positive scenarios. Think about the satisfaction of passing your driving test first time or enjoying the praise of your driving instructor.

    Practice Proven Methods Of Relaxation

    Those of you who experience anxiety on a regular basis should try the various means of physical and mental relaxation. It might be worth meditating for a short time to clear your mind before potentially stressful driving lessons. You could also learn the effective art of deep muscle relaxation.  However, you should remember the importance of staying alert and attentive while navigating the roads.

    Concentrate On The Road

    You should be aware that the stresses of everyday life can have a negative impact upon driving performance. Drivers who take to the wheel after intense arguments may feel the urge to speed and act aggressively towards other road users. Those who feel upset and depressed may struggle to remain focussed on the road. However, it is possible to reduce the impact of outside interferences by clearing your mind before driving. It would also be advisable to inform your instructor if you feel unusually anxious.

    Communicate With Other Motorists

    The actions that you take will have an impact on the behaviour of other motorists. If you appropriate reasonable speeds and keep a reasonable distance from other vehicles then the potential for accidents will reduce. You should also make the effort to communicate your intentions to other road users. Let them know if you are giving way or carrying out a precision manoeuvre. And remember to thank motorists who act with courtesy.