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Are You Ready For The Check Test Changes?

As you’re probably aware, the current check test is to be replaced on the 7th April 2014.

The new standards check test (or the “SC1 Check Form” for short) aims to bring driving tuition in line with the National standard for driver and rider training, that the DVSA published last year.

You can view the official example SC1 form here.

At the moment there is a plethora of workshops and conferences aimed at gearing us all up for the major change.

These conferences are not cheap: some of the larger ADI organisations are charging double figures for these (and you then also need to factor in your loss of earnings, travel costs and accommodation if you do not wish to arrive tired on the day).

Not everyone has been able, or will be able, to attend these conferences, this article is to help you make sense of the key check test changes.

Specifically, the article will be focusing on what new skills you need in this brave new world of driving tuition and it’ll also explain what hasn’t changed.

Lesson Planning

The key principle that the new check test wants us all to adhere to is the idea  that as ADI’s, we operate in a service industry and we need to put the pupil’s agenda first.

The element of the National driver and rider training standards which relates to lesson planning is Unit 6.3.3. This element focuses on coaching in particular. It states:

“….listen to what the learner tells you….” 

If the learner comes out with something bizarre such as “I want to drive on the dual carriageway” and as a novice driver, they are still in the early stages of driving, then we can ask more open ended questions.

For example, you could ask “What skills do you think we need to drive on fast moving roads?”

A goal needs to be discussed and agreed in a mutual manner.

Goals need to be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time specific/ time bound.

This is an area where the learning style if identified at an early stage, will yield significant results in the pupils development of driving.

The challenge here of course is that everyone has different learning styles; how can you discover what learning style works best for each of your pupils?

A good starting point is the VARK Questionnaire (Google it for alternatives).

Taking the time to establish your pupil’s individual learning styles will enable you as an Instructor/coach to use the different tools to make learning, and the lessons overall, more enjoyable and easier for your pupils.

The latest guidance on route planning is not new: a route needs to be planned according to the pupils skills and abilities, as was always the case.

Just remember that, as Roadcraft advises, route planning needs to be agreed so the pupil is not over burdened with traffic and with fixed and moving hazards.

And encouragement ought to be given to the pupil to add value to their already successfully built up psychomotor skills.


A Backbend Sequence For Anyone Who Sits All Day

Many of us spend the majority of our days sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, rounding our spines, closing off our chests and hearts and focusing our energy in a downward direction.

Jennifer Jarrett explains HERE how to alleviate back pain with some simple exercises.


Motorwat Speed Cameras

Motorway speed cameras to be rolled out to stop those driving faster than 70mph

This week The Telegraph newspaper reported the following information: Speed cameras designed to catch motorists driving in excess of 70mph are to be   installed along hundreds of miles of motorway for the first time.

New so-called ‘stealth cameras’, which will be grey rather than bright yellow,   are to be deployed on busy stretches of some of the most important motorways   including the M1, M6 and M25.
Previously, motorway speed cameras have mainly been situated on stretches   undergoing roadworks, in order to enforce variable speed limits. But now for the first time the Highways Agency is looking at the widespread   introduction of cameras to target drivers exceeding the maximum allowed  speed of 70mph.
The cameras will be deployed on sections of so-called smart motorway, where   the flow of traffic is carefully controlled using a variety of techniques.

According to the Highways Agency, smart-motorways will prevent jams and allow   the better flow of traffic by carefully controlling speed limits and opening   hard shoulders to traffic where necessary. But critics claim the introduction of cameras aimed at enforcing the 70mph   limit, is not about road safety but about generating income through fines.

One recent survey in Autocar magazine, found that almost 95 per cent of   motorists admitted driving in excess of 70mph while on the motorway. The authorities are also allowed a certain amount of discretion when   prosecuting speeding motorists, with drivers travelling as fast as 86mph in   a 70mph zone allowed to avoid points if they pay to attend a speed awareness   course .

With the cameras likely to be less visible than those currently in use,  critics also point out that they will have no impact on actually slowing   drivers down. Roger Lawson, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), said: “We   are opposed to speed cameras in general. The evidence of their success in   promoting safety is not good and in reality what is happening now is that  the police are using speed cameras to fund their other activities through  speed awareness courses.” He added: “If these cameras are grey rather than yellow they are going to be  harder to spot and so will have no impact in slowing traffic down. If there   is a good reason for the traffic to be slowed down then the cameras need to  be as visible as possible.”

The ABD has called for an increase in the upper speed limit on motorways to  80mph. It is thought that the new cameras, dubbed Hadsec3 (Highways Agency digital   enforcement camera system) will be running along more than 100 miles of   motorway within two years, with the further roll-out eventually covering at   least 400 miles of road.

Speed cameras have been a politically sensitive topic with the Coalition  scrapping the capital grant for local authorities to pay for cameras in the   2010-2011 budget. The police have also been reluctant to employ speed cameras on motorways  because of the cost implications. But digital technology has made it cheaper and easier to install, monitor and   collect information from cameras.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “These are not stealth cameras they   are more visible that they were before. These motorways are not about speed   limits. They are about smoothing the traffic flows and increasing capacity.” The spokesman said the new cameras would be signposted and added: “The onus is   on the driver to abide by the speed limit.”

The Worst Cars In Britain

The humble and much-loved Volkswagen Beetle is the crappest car in Britain according to Crap Cars, a new book published tomorrow.

From the aesthetically pathetic to the mechanically misguided, Crap Cars (£9.99, BBC Books) lists the 50 worst cars ever to grace the roads of Britain, including tales of the most appalling cock-ups in motoring history.

Author Richard Porter, who compiled the list, says: “The Volkswagen Beetle hit the number one spot because it’s slow, it’s noisy, it’s uncomfortable and it has such a completely pathetic heater than on cold days you’d be better off setting fire to your hair. The Beetle marks you out as a mush-brained git who knows nothing about cars. It’s a dismal car with its engine in the wrong place. The only good thing about it is that after 57 years of continual production – about 55 years too long – Volkswagen finally killed it off.”

Crap Cars is a celebration of the shoddy, the inept and the downright ugly, featuring 50 wince-inducing photos to illustrate each entry. According to Richard, the following cars cruise into the Top 10 Crappest Cars in Britain:


“For some reason, beardy peaceniks and straggly-haired surfer dudes love the Beetle, thinking it is alternative and cool. Which is fine, although it does overlook the fact that it’s also clearly bollocks.”


“The Godfather of the crap car. The people who translated the original designs into metal got their maths wrong and made the sides all bulbous and fat. Then some clot from marketing insisted it would be a corking idea to have a square steering wheel.”


“A pretend 4×4 that would get stuck in a puddle. It doesn’t even have the saving grace of looking rugged.”


“This car corners with all the sure-footed competence of a child on roller skates. There’s low-tech, and then there’s the Morris Marina, which is based on something Noah found in his shed.”


“This is the real reason the Russians had it tough under Communist rule. A cheap and incompetent remix of a sixties Fiat, offering grimness of a miserable depth.”


“Amazingly, the name wasn’t the worst thing about this car. No, that would be the almost complete lack of anything resembling performance. Its acceleration time from 0-60 was measurable in months.”


“Cheese. Nice enough on toast, a stupid thing to use as an inspiration for a car design. Especially since they only sold it in orange. Frankly, you’d be better off trying to drive around in an actual piece of cheese. At least fewer people would have laughed at you.”


“Holds the lap record at the famous Le Mans circuit in France. Hang on, I was thinking of something else. The Robin is an unloved pile of s***. Sorry.”


“Had an engine so lame even the people who made electric carving knives deemed it feeble. When the Berlin Wall came down, news reports claimed that East Germans ‘flooded’ over the former border. Not if they were driving Trabants they didn’t. ‘Farted’ would have been more appropriate.”

10. MGB

“The MGB is the darling of the classic car scene. Which is odd because it is spectacularly rubbish. The only thing worse than driving one would be having your face pushing into a lawnmower. And come to think of it, that sounds quite nice.”

Notes to Editors:

Crap Cars, by Richard Porter, is published by BBC Books on Thursday October 14, £9.99.

Richard Porter is the creator of the acclaimed website

The cars featured in Crap Cars solely reflect the author’s opinion.

The full list of 50 cars that made it into the book:

50. Lancia Monte Carlo

49. Porche 924

48. Ford Scorpio

47. Cadillac STS

46. Renault Safrane

45. Jaguar XJ40

44. Ford Escort MK1V

43. Yugo Sana

42. Mitsubishi 3000GT

41. Rover 800

40. Volvo 340

39. Delorean DMC-12

38. Vauxhall Belmont

37. Triumph TR7

36. Rolls-Royce Carmargue

35. Talbot Tagora

34. Suzuki Wagon R

33. Volvo 262C

32. Subaru XT

31. Nissan Sunny Coupe

30. Skoda Estelle

29. Renault 9

28. Maserati Biturbo

27. Daihatsu Move

26. Alfa Romeo Arna

25. Hyundai Pony

24. Fiat Strada

23. Subaru Justy

22. Austin Maestro

21. Toyota Space Cruiser

20. Fiat 126

19. Daihatsu Applause

18. Ferrari 400

17. Austin Ambassador

16. Yugo 45

15. Datsun Sunny 120Y

14. Aston Martin Lagonda

13. Susuki SJ

12. FSO Polonez

11. Seat Marbella

10. MGB

9. Trabant

8. Reliant Robin

7. Bond Bug

6. Nissan Serena

5. Lada Riva

4. Morris Marina

3. Suzuki X90

2. Austin Allegro

1. Volkswagen Beetle

Is it ever ok to drink before driving?

UK drivers can legally have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the highest in Europe. But new evidence suggests drivers should think again before having even one glass of wine. Even after a small amount of wine, there is some loss of judgment in being able to track a moving target.



Do you say no to any alcohol if you’re driving home, or do you limit yourself to two glasses of wine, knowing you’ll feel fine by the time you get behind the wheel? Surely it is safe to drive if you’re under the legal limit? Last month a study from the University of California, San Diego, published in Injury Prevention, found that any alcohol in your bloodstream increases your risk of an accident. There is, concluded the authors, no safe level of alcohol in the bloodstream when you’re driving, and reducing the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.05% would save lives. In the UK, the legal BAC is 0.08%, the highest in Europe – most countries have levels of 0.05%.

Read the full article here by The Guardians Dr Luisa Dillner.


What will happen if you’re stopped

The police are allowed to stop any vehicle at their discretion.

If the police want to investigate whether you are over the legal blood alcohol level, they will carry out a screening breath test at the roadside using a breathalyser test. The police can carry out a breathalyser test if you have committed a moving traffic offence (such as an illegal turn) been involved in an accident, or have given the police grounds to believe you are over the limit.

If you fail this test, or if they have other grounds to believe that your driving was somehow impaired through drink, you will be arrested and taken to a police station.

At the station you will need to provide two more breath specimens, using a more complex breathalyser, called an evidential breath-testing instrument. The lower of the two readings is sued to decide whether you are above the drink-driving limit.

If the evidential breath sample is up to 40% over the limit, you have the right to replace your evidential breath specimen with a blood or urine (the police officer dealing with you will decide which test you will have). If your evidential samples show that you are over the limit, you will be charged.

The new Standards Check Test

The guide for examiners identifies four ‘types’ of pupil that might be presented for the ADI’s Standards Check, whilst also acknowledging that these ‘types’ are just broad guides. The four types are:

  •  Beginner or partly trained
  •  Trained or test standard
  •  Newly qualified
  •  Experienced qualified

There is no role play option and the guide clearly sets out the requirements for attending a Standards Check. For many instructors the new Standards Check will represent the opportunity to be able to deliver a lesson that accurately reflects how you teach on a daily basis. For others the new check test will mean having to carefully consider the skills and techniques currently being used and figure out how those skills can be best utilised to meet the two core aims of all drive training:

  1. That learning must take place and
  2. Value for money must be given.

If you’d like to know more about the new Standards Check Test then please contact our team on 0800 08 38 441.

Should you cancel lessons in the snow?

It starts to snow, so what are your first thoughts?

  • I will have to contact my pupils to cancel their driving lessons?
  • All my pupil’s driving tests are going to be cancelled?


  • How much money am I going to lose, and how much is this going to cost me in lost revenue?
  • How am I going to pay my bills?
  • How am I going to pay my mortgage?
  • How am I going to make my car/franchise payments?
  • How can I now afford to get the things I promised my kids for Christmas?
  • How long is this weather going to last?
  • When will I be able to start taking pupils out again?

These are just a small sample of the questions which go through most driving instructors minds at the first sign of snow or icy weather.

And for the majority of instructors this is a major headache. Not many people enjoy driving in wintry conditions, and those that do can be quite reckless and put not only themselves, but other road-users at risk too.

Some instructors get very selective about which pupils to take for a driving lesson. That’s fine but remember if the wintry conditions are prolonged then it could cost the instructor a substantial amount of money in loss of earnings.

Of course, as responsible driving instructors and actually the people at the ‘coal face’ so to speak, then you will understandably be selective of which pupils we elected to take out.

It doesn’t help when the media warns motorists not to drive in adverse weather conditions unless the journey is absolutely necessary. This is good common sense. But at the same time the same media accuses driving instructors of only teaching people to ‘Pass the Driving Test’.

The responsibility of a driving instructor is to teach people to ‘drive’ and all that this entails. So pupils can be taken out in the fog, high winds, ice and snow, which is all the things through which the driving test may be cancelled. You also take pupils on country roads, through shallow fords, main roads, dual-carriageways and other situations which they may not necessarily experience on their driving test.

So why do so many instructors cancel driving lessons at the first sign of ice or snow, is it because the media tells you so?

What happens next year after your pupil has now passed their test and they do have an ‘essential journey’ to make in these same types of conditions? Perhaps they have to get their sick child or a relative to hospital where time is of the essence and they cannot afford to wait for an ambulance. Imagine having to drive under this stress in addition to having to drive in the snow for the first time without having had any previous advice or experience. How safe do you think they and their passengers will be?

Of course it’s possible that many instructors may not have had very much experience of, or avoid driving in snow and icy conditions let alone teaching learner drivers. But this could be costing you lost revenue.

Except for exceptional circumstances, such as either not being able to get to or back from your pupils address, we recommend you always tell the pupil that as long as you can get from your house to their house then the lesson will proceed and concentrate on how to drive safely and cope with adverse weather conditions.

Please remember when you pick up a pupil for their driving lesson in the snow or ice, make sure that you give them an in-depth briefing on what they will or may experience and precisely what they need to do in any given situation. Have handouts covering all the same aspects to give to your pupils, reminding them to keep it somewhere safe for next year when they will be out there on their own.

Obviously it may be advisable to not take out pupils who are either erratic or in the very early stages of their driving lessons. But we recommend you should still go through the theory of driving in the snow and ice and give them a handout.

Driving Instructor of the Year 2013

Driving Instructor of the Year awarded to Mark Lyons photo MarkLyons_zps860aeb58.jpg  

Driving Instructor of the Year 2013

held at the awards ceremony, Manchester United Football Club.

Mark receives £500 first prize.

Other prizes went to:

  2nd place  Greg Davidson

3rd place  Mark Quinsee

Commendations to driving instructors who displayed outstanding professional skills were awarded to:

Glen Griffith
Rachel Selwood
Mile Fairbrass
Steve Howard
Alan Wilkinson
Colin Dixon
Helen Whelan

All winners are nominated by pupils who send in feedback forms (found in the New Driver Guide issued to all new pupils) with positive comments or who post pictures of their test pass to our Facebook page.

The event was a huge success with guests drawn from Surepass driving instructors, their partners, suppliers, friends and family and our many associates who contribute to making Surepass Ltd a success. Thank you to everyone who attended.

To see the pictures taken at the event please CLICK HERE.






New ADI Standards Check test due April 2014.

The new Standard Operating Procedure for the Standards Check due in April 2014 is now available to download from GOV.UK.

This is the procedure to which the DSA examiners are being trained to in order to carry out the forthcoming standards check. In order to understand it fully, you will need to download from the links within the document the SC1 form, and the reflective log.

This document will replace the current ADI 1 Standard Operating Procedure. It is a must read for ADIs, to help them to ensure that they will meet the new standards.

A copy of the DSA National Driver and Rider Training Standards should also be obtained through the GOV.UK website as the Operating Procedure refers to them too.