Road Safety

  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 (

    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 What is the Pass Plus Course and why should I go on it?

    Information taken from the website

    After you’ve worked so hard to learn how to drive, passed your theory test and passed your practical driving test your first thought probably isn’t ‘let’s go on another course and have another assessment’ but going on the Pass Plus course has its benefits!


    What is Pass Plus?

    Pass Plus is a practical training course that takes at least six hours. It’s for drivers who have already passed their initial driving test and want to improve their skills and drive more safely.

    Only a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor (ADI) can teach you and you’ll be pleased to know we’re all approved here at Road Masters!

    The Pass Plus course has six modules covering driving:

    • in town
    • in all weathers
    • on rural roads
    • at night
    • on dual carriageways
    • on motorways


    All modules are practical sessions; you’ll normally spend at least five and a half hours driving. There isn’t a test with the Pass Plus course (phew!) but you’ll be assessed throughout the course. To pass you’ll have to reach the required standard in all the modules.


    When can I go on the Pass Plus course?

    Anyone who has passed their practical driving test can go on the Pass Plus course although it’s probably most useful to new drivers in the first year after passing their test.


    Why should I go on a Pass Plus course?

    The main benefit of completing the Pass Plus course is the potential discount offered by car insurance companies. We all know how expensive insurance can be, especially for new drivers, so anything that can be done to reduce the cost is a positive!

    You’ll receive a certificate when you’ve completed the Pass Plus course and car insurance companies will want to see this certificate before giving you a discount.

    Even if you don’t think you’ll be insuring a car straight away after you’ve passed your practical driving test you may be able to put the discount on hold for up to two years. Each insurance company has a different policy, best to check with them direct.


    Please be aware that the amount of discount depends on the insurance company and not all insurers offer Pass Plus discounts. Also, as the Pass Plus course is primarily aimed at new drivers check with your insurance company if you can still get a discount if you passed your practical driving test more than a year ago.


    How much does the Pass Plus course cost?

    Here at Road Masters the full Pass Plus course costs £199. However, if you’ve already passed your initial practical driving test with us the costs is discounted to £175.


    If you’d like to book a Pass Plus course, or would just like more information, please contact us!


    All prices are correct at the time of publishing this Blog.




  3. 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!

  4. Comments Off on Avoiding driving distractions

    driving distractionsThis subject, driving distractions, comes to the forefront far more as the days become shorter and more of us are driving in the dark.  Aside from the obvious darkness and having to use your lights to see and be seen, also you will tend to tire more quickly and could be dazzled by bright lights.

    While some distractions like dazzling headlights can’t be avoided, others can be. Try to keep your attention focused on the road at all times, do not get distracted by sightseeing, your mobile phone or smoking behind the wheel. Don’t forget to take regular breaks too, if you feel drowsy, stop as soon as it is safe to do so.

    Dazzling drivers

    It is said that you can lose your vision for up to two seconds when you have been been momentarily blinded by an oncoming car.  I’m sure we’ve all had that happen to us, as drivers and passengers.  Some cars, these days, have automatic dip-beam function but it is still a dangerous problem as you can still be blinded by vehicles even when the lights are dipped. The quality of lights and the angle of the beam or beam pattern can also be a factor.  Xenon bulbs are quite popular as they create a brighter light than traditional halogen ones.  They improve the visibility for the driver, but create a strong glow for oncoming motorists.

    Whilst you can not stop other drivers making mistakes, you can make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps and potentially cause a fatal accident.

    Take care as you drive this winter, avoid driving distractions!

  5. Comments Off on Keep your car safe

    Figures gathered by the RAC has reported rise of 30% in car theft in recent years.  Whilst there could be other reasons for this it does raise questions about modern anti-theft technology as car theft rates had actually been decreasing since 2002. The RAC also found a notable rise in the theft of motorcycles and scooters.

    Modern anti-theft technology

    When buying a new(ish) car you are often presented with extra, modern anti-theft alarms and immobilisers but are they effective?  The rise in car theft is surprising considering these improvements, however in reality the thieves are just finding new ways to get around these high tech features. Anti-theft devices being put in place are just not up to scratch.

    Cars using keyless fobs seem to be the worst as the technology is far from secure. It is even possible to steal a car by holding a bag up to a house door and use a device to activate and extend the reach of the keyless fob inside the home.  Organised gangs will then steal cars and export them abroad for profit.

    How to keep your car safe from car theft

    As a consequence of this rise in car theft, motorists are also seeing their insurance premiums rise. Combined with a variety of other factors, this is making the cost of driving even more expensive.

    Now there is a rise in the number of people purchasing anti-theft devices like those used back in the 1980s and 1990s! Steering wheel locks and gear stick locks are enjoying something of a resurgence.

    There are several steps you can take to help keep your car safe.

    1. Park it somewhere safe particularly at night
    2. Always remember to lock it, with all windows and the sunroof closed securely
    3. Leave all valuables out of sight as well
    4. You should also ensure that you have any appropriate alarms and immobilisers fitted, which will hopefully deter anyone who is hoping to steal it
    5. Never leave your car running while it is unattended
    6. Try to avoid leaving your registration document in the vehicle, as this can help thieves to get away with stealing it if they’re stopped by the police
    7. If you want an obvious deterrent, a steering wheel lock is ideal. This shows people that you’ve taken steps to secure your car, which may make them think that you have other devices in place too (even if you don’t).

    By following these tips, you can decrease your chance of being a victim of car theft, even if the numbers continue their steep rise.

  6. Comments Off on The dangers of dehydration

    Did you know that driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving?

    Dangers of dehydrationYou wouldn’t drink drive, but what about driving whilst dehydrated? A recent study has found that even mildly dehydrated drivers can make just as many errors as drink drivers.  I’m sure you will find that surprising, just as we did.  If you are dehydrated then you may make mistakes such as lane drifting, late braking, or crossing over a rumble strip.

    The study used driving simulators with a group of men, once when they were sufficiently hydrated and again when they were slightly dehydrated.  It was done to simulate real-world conditions, such as when you’ve had a particularly busy day and were unable to take breaks for drinks.

    This slight dehydration was enough to significantly skewer their driving abilities. They made twice as many mistakes when dehydrated as when hydrated. This sharp spike in errors that could lead to driving accidents matched what Watson observed in his previous studies, when participants used the same simulator after downing 2.5 ounces of vodka.

    Just like alcohol, “mild dehydration has been shown to reduce concentration, slow reaction times, impair memory recall, and produce negative effects on mood,” says Watson. “All of these factors can impact our ability to safely drive a motor vehicle.”

    So don’t forget to…

    Hydrate before you drive and don’t avoid drinking before a long trip to avoid bathroom stops.

  7. Comments Off on Newly qualified drivers will lose their licence

    Lose your driving licence

    Newly qualified drivers will lose their licence if caught using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, under tougher penalties that come into force in England, Scotland and Wales today (1st Match 2017).

    The government are bringing in these strong deterrants to prevent serious road accidents.  Penalty points and fines for using a phone while driving will double, to six points and £200.

    Drivers can have their licence revoked if they accrue six points within two years of passing their test. Those caught using their mobile twice, or who accrue 12 points on their licence, will face magistrates’ court, disqualification and fines of up to £1,000.

    Mobile phone epidemic: Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents where drivers were using a mobile phone last year in Britain.

    Do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving

    It may not seem like too much of a distraction, but it only takes a second.  Holding and using your phone at the wheel can cause serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.  Your reacts are twice as long for drivers who are texting compared with those who have been drinking.

    Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.

  8. Comments Off on Crackdown on dangerous drivers

    Caught using a Mobile Phone

    Drivers caught using handheld mobile phones in Britain are to face “much tougher penalties”, with fines and points doubling. Under new rules expected to be set this year, drivers could face fines of £200 and six penalty points.  Newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their test the first time they are caught.   This comes alongside pressure by ministers calling for motorists who cause death while on a mobile phone to face tougher sentences.

    Neil Greig, RoadSmart director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he “strongly” supported a mobile phone awareness course as an automatic option for first offenders.

    Caught Speeding

    Drivers responsible for the most serious speeding offences are also set to face harsher penalties under new sentencing guidelines for magistrates.  Fines for motorists caught going well above the speed limit will start from 150% of their weekly income rather than the existing level of 100%.

    Drive carefully and abide by the rules!

  9. Comments Off on Changes to the Driving Test

    Changes afoot to improve road safety

    The government has committed to reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.  They believe that changing the driving test will help to do this.  They will be trying to make the driving test a better assessment of the candidate’s ability to drive independently in modern driving conditions.

    So what wil they be changing?

    The changes are to:

    • increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes
    • ask candidates to follow directions from a sat nav during the ‘independent driving’ part
    • replace the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios, eg driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
    • ask 1 of the 2 vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while the candidate is driving, eg asking them to use the rear heated screen

    Why the changes are important

    Accidents on the road are the biggest killer of young people and account for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19.  The DVSA wants to make sure that training and the driving test will help reduce this number.

    These changes have been proposed because:

    • most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (not including motorways) – changing the format of the test will allow more of these types of roads to be included in driving test routes
    • 52% of car drivers now have a sat nav – DVSA wants new drivers to be trained to use them safely
    • research has shown that new drivers find ‘independent driving’ training valuable – they can relate it to driving once they’ve passed their test

    What are your thoughts?

  10. Comments Off on A driving test for the 21st century

    gov driving testBack in November 2015 the government launched a consultation of new proposals to improve the driving test. If these proposals go ahead it could be the biggest shake up of the driving test in over 10 years.  The proposals include a ‘cashback’ incentive which will introduce deposit system where it will be returned to the driver if they pass.  This is thought to encourage learner drivers to take their test when they are ready as currently only 21% of driving tests result in a first time pass.

    Reduced driving test fee

    Under the new proposals the driving test fee would be reduced by requiring learner drivers to pay a deposit when they take their test, which they get back if they pass.  It will be an incentive to be prepared for the test and hopefully increase the pass rate.  Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said, “We want to make learning to drive safer and more affordable”.  Steve Gooding director of the RAC Foundation said “We support measures that will encourage learner drivers to get the experience they need to pass their test first time with flying colours, rather than barely scraping through or failing and having to repeat the process a few months down the road at yet more expense.”

    Improving road safety and increasing efficiency

    The consultation also sets out proposals to:

    • introduce more driving test appointment times, including weekends and evenings
    • offer tests from a range of venues
    • review fees for all services provided by motoring agencies
    • change providers for some services
    • combine services at motoring agencies

    Information taken from article –

  11. Comments Off on Will Driverless Cars Catch On?

    driverless-carThere have been a number of media reports about the development of driverless cars in recent years. The technological experts at Google have been busy honing a fleet of driverless vehicles and carrying out tests on the roads of America. It has been predicted that the UK’s driverless car industry will be worth £900bn by 2025. However, there is still some considerable scepticism and fear over the safety of these autonomous vehicles.

    Reasons For Concern

    It is questionable whether people will ever have complete faith in completely autonomous technology. Recent road tests have involved the use of slow moving vehicles. People have been happy to hitch rides aboard the self-driving Meridian shuttle at London’s North Greenwich Plaza. However, it is doubtful whether they would be prepared to ride at speeds of up to 70mph along the A-roads and motorways.

    The vehicle manufacturers have given a number of reassurances regarding the safety of their driverless models. They have integrated advanced laser sensors to minimise the risk of accidents. Computer vision and GPS tracking technologies have been included to ensure that the autonomous cars stick to established road safety rules and maintain appropriate speeds. However, it’s likely to be some time before drivers are prepared to relinquish total control.

    Potential Benefits

    There would be some notable benefits if the general public were to adopt driverless technology. It would be possible to complete urgent work and use mobile phones during the daily commute. There would be no need to spend vast sums on driving lessons. Some of the leading insurance companies have even claimed that they’d reduce premium prices given the relative safety of autonomous cars. However, motoring expert Greame Trudgill said, “It’s possible that premiums for these cars will be even higher, especially if drivers of the future – used to driving semi-controlled cars – lose the skills we have today”

    A Matter Of Debate

    Of course we are some way from the widespread adoption of driverless vehicles. It is still worth taking Road Masters driving lessons in Exeter for the assurance of enhanced safety behind the wheel. Driverless cars may even be consigned to the same dustbin of history as the ill fated segway and monowheel. If you have any other opinions about this hot topic then please get in touch with Road Masters.

  12. Comments Off on Considering The Use Of Car Tracking Technology

    Black box trackingIt is quite common for teenagers to seek means of limiting the amount of parental interference in their everyday lives. Many look forward to the sense of freedom which comes after passing the driving test. However, some of the leading insurers are promoting the use of black box car tracking devices as a means of monitoring the driving behaviour of newly qualified motorists. These devices keep a constant track of speed and send automatic alerts to the parents of teenagers who drive irresponsibly. However, they do offer some notable benefits, as outlined in this blog.

    The young drivers who opt for the installation of car tracking technology pay considerably less for insurance. Some of the leading insurers even offer incentives for good driving behaviour.

    The likelihood of involvement in serious crashes is significantly reduced as the young drivers are aware that they are being monitored. Some leading motoring groups have claimed that black boxes should be fitted as standard for the assurance of road safety.

    A number of young drivers have said that they couldn’t have afforded to take to the roads if it hadn’t been for the option of relatively inexpensive black box insurance. They have adapted their driving behaviour for fear of being disciplined by their parents. The insurers have also threatened substantial fines for those young drivers who fail to keep to the rules of the road. A leading insurance expert said that the technology “is not about spying, it is about safety, the single most important factor when looking at young drivers.”

    The safety-conscious Road Masters team fully appreciate the importance of improving road safety. It is for this reason that we offer fully comprehensive training and only encourage learners to take their tests when we have complete confidence in their ability behind the wheel. We also encourage our valued customers to consider the option of black box insurance.