Driving in Fog

Driving in Dense Fog

Fog is one of those driving hazards that you forget about until it reappears, a bit like certain ‘friends’, but when it/they turn up, you have to deal with it.

No one gets “fog days off” allowing you to stay home from work.

So what do you? Well, you use your common sense and just deal with it.

If you’re one of those people who likes to talk about how well you can drive based on the area of the country you’re from, now’s the time to start bragging, things like, “You call this fog?” may be heard coming out of your mouth. But even if you’re not accustomed to fog, you probably have a few ideas of how you should drive in it. But are they correct?

Common sense may tell you to do one thing in the fog. The only problem is some of that common sense may not be very common and absolutely no sense.

So take a look at our five completely wrong ways to drive in the fog and test your fog-driving knowledge. Or confirm that you are, indeed, one the best fog drivers in Europe.

So let’s say you’re driving along and suddenly you are swallowed in a fog bank.

Instantly, you can’t see your hand in front of your face and your first instinct is to turn on your headlights to get a better view.

Well done! You’ll need those headlights to see clearly (but with poor visibility you should probably have had dipped beams on already)

But then you flick your main beams on full blast, tearing light straight through that nasty fog like a pro, right?



Main beam does not help you see well in the fog. In fact, they’re going to decrease your visibility.

The light from main beams reflects back off the fog and comes right back into your eyes, making it more difficult to see just what’s in front of you.

Think of how difficult it is to see when the sun reflects the wrong way off of the car in front of you. You move your head, squint, or look away so the sun’s not in your eyes. The fog acts similarly when your main beams are on, sending too much light back into your eyes.

One reporter found that when he turned the main beams on he couldn’t see a pedestrian that was standing near the car. When the main beams were turned down to dipped beam, the pedestrian magically reappeared.

So in short, don’t put the main beams on in fog. It may sound like a good idea, but, like a lot things, sounding right just doesn’t make it so.

Driving slowly in the fog is just for novices and wimps right?

No. Although you may think you know the roads you drive like the back of your hand, you literally can’t see the road in front of you when it’s really foggy.

Years ago I knew a guy with a big Citroen, who said he could drive fast because he knew the road even in fog!  Another person slapped him down by asking

‘And how well will you know the back of the combine harvester you will run into?’

Besides not driving at all, slowing down is one of your best options for avoiding an accident in these conditions.

Even if you don’t think you’re driving fast in the fog, check your speedometer. Fog causes an illusion and makes it look like you’re going slower than you really are. Without reference points like buildings, trees or other objects, you’ll have a hard time gauging just how fast you’re going without taking a good look at that speedometer.

If you should hit an unexpected patch of fog, don’t slam on the brakes. Ease off the accelerator and then use the brakes only if you need to. Hitting your brakes hard will be an unexpected move to the cars behind you, and you may even cause them to slam on their brakes as well. This is how a lot of chain reaction pile-ups are caused on motorways.

Fog is a drag. You have to drive slowly, you can’t see well and that makes your journey surprisingly tedious.

How about some music?

So why not turn up the radio to pass the time? There’s no possible way that the radio and fog could have any correlation.

None – what – so –ever. Well actually, cranking up the stereo might not be such a good idea.

Okay, we’ll admit it. Being able to hear in the fog doesn’t seem like something you’d need to be able to do, but it is. Trust us, we research this stuff. If you’re driving in dense fog, turn the radio down and roll your window down as well. It might just make your commute a little safer.

Rolling your windows down allows you to hear the traffic that’s all around you, even though you can’t necessarily see it. That car that’s 20 feet (6.1 meters) in front of you (the one that you can’t see), well, you just may be able to hear it — and believe it or not, that helps. Squealing brakes, tyres hitting a puddle, a bad CV joint or just regular road noise; hearing all of these things can help you identify when there are vehicles near you. And when you can’t see a car, hearing its location is the next best thing. You just may hear all the collisions going on!

If you don’t put your window down in the fog, you’re driving without visual or audible cues. And honestly, what’s left?

Close up the gap a bit?

We’re always taught that there’s safety in numbers. So if you’re driving in the fog and you spot a fellow driver, hey, speed up right behind them and stick close by. If you’re lucky, they’ll be going to the same place you are and you can use their car as a point of reference while you tailgate them.

While this may seem like a good idea, it’s another completely wrong way to drive in the fog. You may end up following him into his driveway – it has happened.

People tend to drive far too close to one another in the fog because it gives them a visual reference point. But the driver you’re following could hit their brakes, rear-end another car or veer the wrong way and you’d be in trouble quickly.

We all know that we should keep a safe distance while driving, but this becomes even more important when it’s foggy.

Keeping a safe distance greatly reduces your chances of getting into an accident because it gives you even more time to respond. So how far should you stay behind another vehicle?

The Highway Code recommends two seconds but interestingly we have one of the smallest gaps in the ‘civilised ‘world.

So keep your distance, even if it means you feel like you’re driving all by your lonesome.

Driving sensibly in foggy conditions could save your life.

You know those places on your morning commute where you need to nip out into traffic, so you accelerate hard and hope you’ll make it?

Well no one is ever there? – right?

Well, that could get you into some unpleasant situations when it’s foggy.

Why is erratic driving a bad idea in the fog? Firstly, it’s a bad idea in general (do we even really need to say it?). But it’s even more dangerous when no one on the road can see you until your right in front of them. In normal weather conditions, if you hop out in front of a driver they might honk at you; show you their middle finger or something of the sort. But if you jump out in front of another vehicle when it’s foggy, they’re probably going to just hit you with their car. Not that they want to, they just won’t have any other choice.

So drive a little less unpredictably when it’s foggy, and don’t change lanes or attempt to pass other vehicles unless it’s absolutely necessary. Yeah, it sounds like boring driving, but it could save your life. And really, you shouldn’t be making moves on the road that encourage following drivers to get pee’d off with you anyway. Not that this writer has ever had a problem with that…

And that oncoming glow of lights is always a lot closer than you think.


Parents Teaching Stuff Inappropriately

Driving School of Mum and Dad.

So why are there so many ‘driving school of Mum/Dad’ out there?

People who would not/could not pass a test today for whatever reason, are passing on their crap/out of date knowledge/skills/habits on to their kids.

Would you ask a plumber who has not updated his skills knowledge to fit you a new kitchen.

Would you ask an anaesthetist who has no new info since qualifying 39 years ago to assist in your kidney transplant operation?


If you’re a qualified driver and you are sure you would not pass a test today, you’re not alone. Researchers found that two out of three fully-qualified drivers failed when taking a copy of the current test.

Experienced Drivers 

These experienced drivers were most likely to fail on recognising basic road signs. Just 33% of those with a full licence passed this part of the test, compared with more than half of novice drivers who succeed in their theory test.


More than a third failed the hazard perception section of the test, while 50%  missed getting a pass mark on the multiple-choice questions.


Experts have warned that high levels of ‘road illiteracy’ and feeling uncertain about road signs, can lead to slow and dangerous driving.


The research by Churchill Insurance  revealed 53% of drivers want a compulsory ‘retest’ of the theory exam every 10 years. The theory test was introduced in 1996 and consists of 50 questions taken from a catalogue of hundreds. To gain a pass, the candidate must answer at least 43 questions correctly within 57 minutes.


Many parents will also have missed out on the hazard perception test that was introduced in 2002. This involves watching a video and clicking on the screen to show awareness of a hazard developing.

And yet they are happy to take their kids out and ‘teach’ them to drive.

Things kids have said after a session with Dad.

When I have a teen that has been out with a parent it is almost always so obvious.

Why are we doing 45 on a 70 mph dual carriageway?

My Dad said I must not do more than 40. Test fail. Inappropriate speed.

Why are we STOPPING at every roundabout?

My Mum says you have to stop before you go at a roundabout. Test fail. Hesitation, observation at junctions.

Why are you going through every gear in the box?

My Dad says you are not allowed to skip gears. Possibly test fail. Gears fault.

Why are you signalling out and back around parked cars?

My Mum does it and told me I must as well. Test fail. Signals correctly timed.

Why are you indicating to LEAVE these mini roundabouts?

My Dad does it and told me I have to as well. Test fail. Signals correctly timed.

Why is your head wobbling like a puppet with broken strings?

My mum’s friend told me to put the mirror a bit out so the examiner will see you looking at the mirror.

No, if he is feeling kindly he may politely suggest you pull over and adjust it properly.

I know one young man who was actually failed for not using his mirrors because he could not use them properly when advised to do just this by an inexperienced instructor.

Why are we so bloody close to this car in front?  (when waiting at lights).

My Grandad said you should be really close to save space in the queue. Test fail. Following distance.

Um, that is a red light! (As I hit the brakes hard) My Grandad told me you can go through a red light up to 2 seconds after it has changed. Dangerous test fail. Failure to obey traffic signs.

My mum only ever . . .

My dad always . . .

My Grandad passed his test in 1956 and has always . . .



Speed limits and Learners

Speed cameras

Pupils ask me about speed cameras and what happens if they are caught.

I have been teaching for over 15 years, given hours of tuition and never had anyone caught speeding, because it is not going to happen, pupils are made aware of their speed and the local limit – and who gets the points and fine.



The best way to not get caught is simple – keep your speed under control – almost certainly a serious fault and instant fail on your test.


What happens if a learner is caught speeding?

If a learner is caught speeding, then the learner – that is the DRIVER, takes the fine and the points.

It is not the fault of the accompanying driver – instructor, relative, mate or whatever and they do not get fined or receive any points – they are not the driver.

If learners were exempt then nobody would ever bother passing a test; as a learner they’d be untouchable.

UK law says that the driver is responsible for the offence and that only the driver can be prosecuted.

The fact that you’re still a learner driver is neither here nor there, and you will be dealt with in the same way.

Being on a driving lesson, a driving test, in a dual controlled car, with a driving instructor, an examiner or your dad, even on your very first driving lesson in a dual controlled car makes no difference at all.


The legal keeper of the car is sent a letter asking who was driving at the time.

They cannot lie and take points for you, even if they want to. Remember the MP and his ex-wife.


They both went to prison. Do not even think about it.

The keeper must name the person that was driving at the time and return the form to the Police who will then chase up the driver.

I keep my diaries for 7 years, it is for tax reasons, but I can still say who was driving at any time.

They could also have a photo of you driving from the speed camera so do not lie or you can find yourself in really serious trouble.

If you are a learner driver that gets caught speeding then you are sometimes offered the chance to go on a driver improvement course which costs around £110 – which you pay for – and you will avoid getting points. This is a one or two day course where you get to see footage of accidents caused by speeding and the reasons behind speed limits are explained.

Perhaps they work well but I did hear about someone who got nicked for speeding the very next day.


Of course we do our best to stop this happening but it is ultimately up to the learner as they are the driver. If you do not like the heat then get out of the kitchen

But the instructor has dual controls and can see the speedo as well?

Having dual controls makes no difference to who is driving the car. You don’t have to have dual controls when supervising a learner and even if they are fitted it may not be safe to use them. What if learners practice in their own car with a parent and they don’t have dual controls? How is the accompanying driver supposed to slow a learner down then?

But I didn’t think I’d get the penalty, I thought my instructor would?

It really irritates me when learners say this. What you’re really saying is that you didn’t care that you were breaking the law, because you thought the offence would be ignored, and someone else would be punished.

You also didn’t care that they could lose their business their livelihood, and their home. Does that really sound fair to you?

A boy pupil passed his test and months later his parents complained because he’d got caught speeding. Three months after passing and still they’re trying to blame the instructor who wasn’t there! Why not have a go at the examiner as well. How many hours had they themselves spent as passengers in his car?

How would I know if I was caught?

The registered keeper of the vehicle must get a letter through the post within 14 days of the offence. If they don’t then the whole prosecution is invalid. If you were driving someone else’s vehicle at the time, such as a driving school car, then the actual driver of the vehicle may eventually get the letter later than the 14 day period. In that case the prosecution is still valid. The only exception to this rule is if postal strikes delay the delivery of the letter or keeper takes weeks to send the letter on to you, in which case they can end up being prosecuted!

For example; you own a car and get a letter after 10 days saying that they intend to prosecute you. That is valid and the prosecution will go ahead. If however the letter was sent to a driving school car hire company after 10 days and they then send it on to your instructor who then sends it on to you, it could be outside of the 14 day period that you actually get the letter but it is still valid as the first person in the chain (the registered keeper of the car) had the letter within 14 days. In reality it would only take a company a few minutes to look up the driver of a hired car and so it would probably only make a difference of a day or two.

The letters are sent through normal post so you don’t have to sign for them. Changing your address or hoping that it will get delayed in the post won’t work. If you don’t reply they’ll just send another. If you don’t reply to that then they’ll send a Police officer round to your house with the ticket and it just gets worse.

What fine am I likely to get?

It depends on how fast you were going but the usual fine is 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine. If it was a rental car that you were driving then they usually add a £25+ admin charge on for sending you the paperwork.

Doing 35mph in a 30mph zone would be 3 points but 50mph in a 30mph zone means a court appearance and usually 6 points. 96mph+ in any speed zone is an instant ban, if you haven’t been killed in a crash anyway!

How much margin for error is there?

This varies across the country but the most common allowance is 10% of the limit plus 2 mph so you would be caught at 35mph in a 30mph zone and nothing less is prosecuted. The 10% allows for a difference between your speedo and theirs and the 2mph on top is because nearly all car speedos show less than you’re actually doing. Try comparing your cars speedo with a sat nav and you might see a difference of up to 10%.

“My friend got caught and they were only 1 mph over the limit”


I have heard piece of tosh so many times, the Police will not proceed for anything less than 35mph in a 30mph zone. Speedos always read higher by about 2 mph. I’ve been in dozens of cars over the years, and found that to be true.

If you got caught doing 35mph then your speedo would have read around 40mph. You weren’t just a bit over, you were 10mph over – that’s over 33% above the limit!

What will points on my licence mean?

Well you shouldn’t be going so fast and nobody wants points but getting 3 points on your licence is not the end of the world.

Would it surprise you to know that there are driving instructors, examiners, police and people in all jobs who have points on their licence?

It doesn’t make you a bad person and an online insurance quote for a new driver with 3 points it only increased the insurance by £55.

Depending on what you want to do for a living, where you live and how serious the offence was, it can have different consequences.


A speeding tale

Just to show you how silly some people are when it comes to speed, here’s a conversation I overheard from a teenage girl.  What do you think?

Girl – My dad is so upset. He got a speeding ticket.

Me – What happened?

Girl – It’s so bloody unfair. The limit  goes 30, 40, 30, 40, 30, 40 and he didn’t know what the limit was.

Me – So was he doing 40 in the 30 zone?

Girl – No he was doing 63!

Road Deaths by Country

 Death rate by country  

This is an extract of some figures taken from a Wikipedia page, here are a few of those available.

The African figures include a lot of the home countries of people I have taught, along with China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Most of these countries have ‘Rules’ for driving but the attitude is often ‘why should I follow the rules ? My car is faster, move over.’

Anarchy rules.

The idea of driving in Libya is terrifying.

I have been told that in India ‘You drive on the horn and God is driving the car’

You must avoid cars, trucks, cows, dogs, pedestrians, bikes, motorcycles, monkeys, water buffalo, tuk tuks, sheep, vans, buses and horses.

I think that is everything apart from elephants.

I once asked why Indian ladies sit ‘side saddle’ on mopeds and was reminded that it is difficult to sit any other way when wearing a sari!’

In Greece a saw Mum, Dad and three kids on a Honda 50, with three chickens tied onto the carrier.

If you look on You Tube and search for Russian, Chinese or Indian driving you will get an idea of why their fatalities are so high.

All of the European figures are from the home countries of people I have taught to drive – to UK standards.

It seems the further North in Europe you are the safer it becomes.

All across the world people need to be educated about driving and vehicle safety.

Across the world about 1,240,000 people die on the roads each year. It is like the population of Leeds and Sheffield combined, being killed every year.

The link below contains more of the original information.

Look for your homeland.







Fatalities/ 100,000 Vehicles






Total fatalities Deaths

per day

Australia 5.2 723 7 1 196 3.8
Bangladesh 11.6 3 1064.1 17 289 47.4
Belgium 7.2 559 8 796 2.2
Brazil 22.5 249 67.7 43 869 120
Bulgaria 10.4 393 23.6 776 2.12
Canada 6 607 9.3 2075 5.68
China 20.5 188 133.3 275 983 756
Congo – Republic of 17.1 27 1325.7 692 1.89
Congo – Democratic Republic 20.9 5 3932.6 13 764 37.8
Denmark 3.0 480 5.7 167 0.45
Finland 4.7 551 6.6 255 0.69
France 4.9 578 8.5 3250 8.9
Germany 4.3 588 6.9 3520 9.7
Ghana 22.2 30 481.6 5407 14.8
Greece 9.1 580 13.8 984 2.7
Iceland 3.8 747 4.9 15 0.04
India 19.9 41 211.8 243 745 668
Iran 34.1 200 96.7 19 969 54.7
Ireland 3.5 513 6.7 162 0.4
Italy 6.2 682 7.6 3753 10.3
Kenya 20.9 24 2176.5 8484 23.2
Libya 40.5 290 139.2 No figures ——
Mexico 14.7 275 54.1 16 714 45.8
Netherlands 3.9 528 6.9 650 1.8
Nigeria 33.7 31 425.2 53 339 146.1
Norway 2.9 591 4.4 145 0.4
Pakistan 17.4 57 383.7 30 131 82.6
Poland 10.9 537 17.6 4191 11.5
Russia 18.6 300 55.4 27 991 76.7
South Africa 31.9 165 156.4 14 993 41
Spain 4.1 593 5.8 1903 5.2
Sudan 25.1 27 9370.2 10 935 30
Sweden 3 520 5.1 285 0.8
Uganda 28.9 8 1518.1 9655 26.4
UK 3.5 519 6.2 2175 6.0
USA 11.6 809 13.6 36 166 99.1
Zimbabwe 14.6 114 212.4 1832 5.0

Dealing with Tailgaters Part 2

Solutions for Tailgaters.

Pig in the road

Is it your behaviour and driving that is actually causing this problem?  I don’t want to be disparaging but are you a bit of a ‘road hog’?

While there is no excuse for tailgating, you might argue that there are sometimes reasons people do this

Are you too slow on the open road?

You don’t have to be Jensen Button. You do need to make progress on today’s busy roads. On your test report sheet was a box ‘Driving at an appropriate Speed’. If you are enjoying a day out in the country, or are simply in a mellow mood, pull over from time-to-time and allow others to pass. (Especially so if you are a tractor or towing a damn great caravan!)

Are you a ‘holier than thou’ speed cop?

Some people think they ought to prove to others what the speed limit is. Like the motorway driver who sits in lane three at 70mph when there are opportunities to move back into lane two.

Just lazy . . . or thoughtless?

Many drivers sit for prolonged periods in lane-two of the motorway, presumably because it’s too much trouble to move back to lane-one.  Or are too stupid to know the Highway Code.

This behaviour is frustrating for any following driver, but is especially so for truck drivers who lack power and need to keep the vehicle going, especially up a hill.

By adjusting your driving you can do a lot to reduce the danger of being tailgated. There will always be times when you are in the right, but still feel bullied.

What can you do?

The first and most obvious choice is do nothing.

Just not get annoyed by the driver behind might show great strength of character, it still leaves you in danger if someone in front slows hard, even if you can stop safely, the following driver is almost bound to hit you.

Teach him a lesson!

A common reaction by many people is to brake sharply in an attempt to ‘teach the following driver lesson’. Other drivers will touch the brake pedal lightly to illuminate the brake lights without slowing the car down.

On the face of it, this second option might seem like a good idea – after all, you are simply giving the driver a wake-up call. However, you could provoke a road rage incident with disastrous consequences; it’s also possible that driver behind could over react causing someone to slam into the back of his car.

Speed up to escape

Not a good idea!

By speeding up you are decreasing your forward safety gap when there is a car in front. If you are on an open road you are at of risk driving blindly into danger without enough space to stop in an emergency.

Add to this, the following driver will simply speed up with you; you will then have a situation where you are travelling faster, still being tailgated, and not paying sufficient attention to the road ahead because you are distracted by the tailgater!

Increase the gap in front of you.

This is often cited as the solution for the tailgating problem. But even this solution carries a degree of potential risk.

While the extra gap ahead will allow both you and your follower to stop safely, it could incite him into ‘ There’s a gap, if I don’t overtake and get in there my balls will drop off’.

This is extremely hazardous when visibility is restricted or on double white lines.

The best solution?

You could simply add one second to your forward safety gap.

By easing off the gas and opening the gap ahead you will create more time and space to deal with any problem, it is part of defensive driving. The extra time allows you to spread your braking in order to give the fool behind a second longer. By simply opening your forward gap by a second is reduces the risk of erratic overtaking – especially important where there are double white lines or there is a restricted view.

Let them pass … If the driver stays behind, slow down further or pull in and allow him to pass.

Now please go to my facebook page for daily views and updates on ‘Things people Do’


Tailgaters and following too Closely

Tailgating  is Following too close Behind


How many times have you looked in your driving mirrors and can only see a Citroen or Vauxhall badge filling most of the available view.

Tailgating is a habit that most people get away with most of the time.

By ‘get away with’ I mean that they are not involved in accidents and do not get stopped by the police; because of this, their perception of danger is reduced.

Categories of tailgaters 


The Distracted

The short sighted



Each of these are explained below.

But who are these tailgaters listed above, and why do it?

When was the last time that you had to brake hard to avoid rear-ending car in front?

Or muttered curses because the driver in front was holding you up?

Are you a tailgating danger?

Most of us consider that we keep a safe distance; however, if you have had to brake suddenly because the idiot in front has taken emergency action or is simply dithering, you have been following too close.

If you have been following too close, which category do you fall in to?


Oh! l so love this stretch of road – Daydreamer.

There are people who drift into a daydream when driving.

They pay little attention to what is going on around because there are more important things to think about!

Who cares what’s happening in front when you’re thinking about tonight, shopping, new shiny bits for the car, the holiday.

We all daydream, but not  at the wheel.

The distracted

We all get distracted from time to time.

Children, would you just sit still a minute?

Perhaps the most stupid are drivers who text, try to read their e mails and believe it is ok to handle mobiles or other stuff whilst driving.

When I was trucking I’ve seen other truck drivers with the TV on,  reading a newspaper, Go to this on my facebook page,   https://www.facebook.com/DrivingLessonsMiltonKeynes and scroll down to 11 February 2014, really, true story.

Drivers trying to control their kids.

‘I need a wee wee! It’s not fair! Tell him to give it back! Ow! And your wife /husband is complaining about your mothers visit!

Then there was the lady who commuted from Birmingham to London and found the journey so boring that she devised a contraption to strap ‘puzzle books’ to her left knee. She did this so that she could while away the journey by completing crosswords and other brain teasers

The short-sighted

Whilst not physically short-sighted these drivers cannot relate their speed to their overall journey time. In their hurry to arrive, they try to gain extra seconds by sitting inches behind you. They are not going to get there any quicker, they still have to go through the same junctions, roundabouts and road works.

Ten seconds saved on the road is not going to add ten seconds to your life – and the risks involved might be no more life.

The winners

Don’t mess with me! This winner just has to get their first and try to pass every other driver who has the audacity to be in front of him. My balls are on fire and I need to be in front of you! This applies to some women as well.

There is no one waiting with a chequered flag. These morons drive in your slipstream and will attempt an overtake anywhere and anytime; they don’t realise that however many they burn off the road there is another million out there in front.

Do these numptys keep score somewhere, an ANPR camera matched to an i pad.

The Thugs

On the continent about 15 years ago there were physchos actually pushing cars off the road. That’s my space.

There are a few drivers out there who get their kicks from harassing us.

Ignore bullies. They love attention. Don’t be a victim and they have no one to bully – Just ease over and let them by.

Muscles? Perhaps but no more than three working brain cells.


They are simply in a hurry! There are others who could almost be forgiven for their tailgating, although, the problem is no less, perhaps even worse.

Perhaps his wife is in the back ‘Hurry, I can feel the babys’ head!’

Or it could be our dreamer who has just received some life changing news.

The ‘advanced’ drivers  who take up an ‘attack position’ prior to overtaking, but who leave less than the recommended absolute minimum one-second gap. These plonkers talk about safety but have lost the plot somewhere!

Whatever is happening in the mind of the driver behind it’s not personal – thiat dickhead doesn’t know you, all they see is some person in front who is in their way.

If they looked at their  sat-navs’ ETA  they would see that no matter how fast or stupidly they drive it does not change.

I use anecdotal evidence to tell kids they could be going to a party in Gloucester, in two cars and if one drives like it is Cannonball Run and the other drives my way there will only be a couple of minutes difference in arrival times.

In the next post I will offer some solutions to these clowns, and how to avoid falling into being one yourself.


More blogs on www.driving-lessonsmiltonkeynes.co.uk/blog/ 

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Failed Headlights and What to Try.

The obvious thing to say is check them regularly.

My car is parked overnight with the lights pointed at the side of our other car, so it is immediately obvious that a light is out when you switch them on, from the reflection you get back.

You will always see cars with just one light working, the driver probably doesn’t realise that there is a problem.

One headlight is dangerous, oncoming drivers might be confused into thinking that there is a motorbike approaching them on unlit roads.

It becomes even more of a problem when the second headlight fails.

When they fail you may still have some light from your parking lights.

If you are following another vehicle you can follow its tail lights to stay on the road while you assess your situation.

What to do if it happens.

First thing to do is to ease off the accelerator and slow down, don’t panic.

Flick the dip switch you might still have full or dip beam available depending on which one has failed.  The headlight flasher switch might also work, if the problem is with the cars wiring.

Next, try the light switch – it may be a bad connection in the switch, so flick it on and off a few times to see if anything happens.

Try the front fog lights, on my car the front fog lights will work with the parking lights.

If you still have no lights

Continue braking to stop, if your hazard lights and /or indicators are working, use them.  You might be able to park safely by reversing using the reversing light, indicators or fog lights. If you have no lights at all get your car off the road or out of the main traffic flow. You might be able to see other cars but they won’t be able see you. If you have a warning triangle and it is safe then put it out behind you.


If you know what you are doing and have the car’s handbook you could check the fuses, but if you are unsure, leave it be.

Buy a bulb kit and have a couple of assorted screwdrivers and a pair of pliers in the boot, you may not know how to replace them, but someone else may. There are still people who will stop and offer assistance. In Europe a bulb kit and a triangle are legal requirements.

Make sure your phone is charged to call for help. Be a member of a motoring organisation.

Carrying a torch in the car is essential to sort out this problem and any other night time difficulty, and we do get a period of dark every 24 hours. You will be able to walk to get help, a comfortable pair of shoes is a good idea.

Never try to drive using a torch, no matter how many million candlepower it is.



Overtaking accidents could be easily avoided with a little planning and forethought – driving can be fun on open roads, and so can overtaking… But only within the rules and with care.

It’s quite possible that your driving instructor didn’t teach you how to overtake safely, in which case this page will raise your awareness of overtaking risks and how they can be minimised.

A well planned and well executed overtaking manoeuvre is no more dangerous than any other manoeuvre. The important thing to remember is that you should avoid impulsive, opportunist overtakes.

The time to decide whether or not you want to overtake is when you first come up behind a vehicle, not when you see a gap. You may decide to overtake a vehicle and then follow it for miles before an opportunity arises. The opportunity might not arise. Don’t force it!

Here in Milton Keynes the best opportunity to overtake is when coming off a roundabout. You have seen the slower vehicle on the approach and are lining up to pass him as you accelerate off the roundabout, but do be certain that you are quicker than he is. You look a fool when trying to overtake a BMW 5 series in your Nissan Micra when you are left standing in the outside lane!

Researchers at Nottingham University determined the following statistics when studying police records of overtaking accidents:

  • 35% hit a vehicle turning right as the overtaking vehicle was attempting to pass
  • 16% hit a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.                                                                                                                                                                               This happened to me in Banff in Scotland some years ago when I was still trucking. A dark evening and on a country road. In front I could see lights approaching around the bend but as there were high dense hedges, the fool behind in a Renault 5 (age 19) could not see to overtake but that did not stop him. He escaped with a deep cut down his face but the poor guy approaching had to be cut out of his car and had a badly damaged pelvis. The collision occurred right alongside my trailer, there was nowhere for either car to go except into one another.
  • 10% side swiped the vehicle being overtaken
  • 8% lost control during whilst overtaking or returning to the nearside lane
  • 6% hit a vehicle that was turning or crossing at a junction
  • 14% involved ‘undertaking’ (passing on the left)
  • 5% resulted from evasive action taken by a driver when attempting to avoid someone else’s risky overtaking manoeuvre                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Is your overtake safe, legal or even necessary.                                                                                                                                                                                               How often have you been overtaken just as you are slowing to leave the road? How far did that get him?
  • If you live in Milton Keynes and need a couple of driving lessons on safe overtaking then give me a call.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             www.driving-lessonsmiltonkeynes.co.uk

Independant Driving on Test

I have mentioned this before but on a test there is an independent drive where you have to follow a set of directions.

The examiner will ask you to follow some really simple directions eg At the next roundabout take the first exit, then follow the signs to the station, when that is done he may say now follow the road signs for Bedford.
There are never more than three at any time. if they show you a map then it is a simplified map, basically straight lines.
The purpose is to see if you can remember your road drill, mirrors at a junction and dealing with whatever life throws at you in the next few minutes.

Yesterday one of mine took their test and she was following directions – sort of.

The guy said ‘follow the signs for Dunstable A5’.

Well that worked well for a few minutes, until the fourth roundabout in fact. My pupil saw A5 on the sign and went that way.

Problem, we wanted A5 Dunstable – south, we had A5 north – Hinckley.

Hey ho! It ain’t a test of following directions, the examiner did not even blink and we came home the scenic way. At the end he understood why it went wrong, we WERE on the A5.

About 12 years ago I went out on a test in the back of the car, the examiner was from another area. When an examiner comes in from another area, the local examiners take him out and show him one of the routes which he will then use.

Well we went through the Fenny Stratford double roundabout about four times and we were going round in circles and it was obvious the poor guy had left his route and had no idea where he was or how to get back on it, and kept looking for somewhere he recognised to help him back on the route.

Eventually he saw somewhere he liked the look of and got us all back to the test centre, only about ten minutes over the scheduled time.

My lady pupil passed, so we didn’t care.

On the way home we had to stop and laugh. Poor man, he only had to confess he was lost and I could have put him right without any embarrassment.

Vulnerable Road Users – Pay Attention

Pay Attention

Keep your ears clear and ears open.

We have quite stringent legislation in force in the UK about using mobile phones whilst driving.

When an instructor is giving driving lessons, he or she is not allowed to use a mobile phone.

Not just mobile phones, but any electronic thing pumping music into your head is going to be a distraction. You do see a lot of taxi drivers in Milton Keynes with earplugs in both ears. That is going to put him at fault if there is a bump.

If a taxi driver is using headphones when I am in his car I will ask him to remove them. I want his attention on what he is doing and to be able to hear what is happening around him. 

Do not allow yourself to get distracted.

Pedestrians, joggers, runners and cyclists should be thinking on the same lines.

The music should never be so loud that it drowns out the siren of an emergency vehicle, or the horn of the 41.00 tonnes of truck that you never saw, you won’t even know what killed you.

You may look right and then be hit by a truck reversing a couple of feet from your left.

In New York if you cross the road anywhere other than a specified ‘pedestrian’ crossing you get nicked for jaywalking. That is why on TV you see dozens if not hundreds of people crossing at the lights.

In New York if you cross whilst talking on your mobile you will get nicked.

Looking at your I pad or even having your earphones in you will get you nicked. Texting will get you nicked.

If you are walking and talking on your phone you do silly things like walk into bins and lamp posts, that is funny to see, what is not so funny is seeing someone walk into a truck.

If you are looking down at the phone you are not looking where you are going.

This morning in Central Milton Keynes I spotted a man walking up to cross the road, approaching from the left at an angle. I had already seen that he had his earphones in – a white cable helped – I told the pupil ‘watch this guy, earphones in’ and as I said it he stepped straight out before looking. We stopped quite hard and only then did he see us on his right.

He looked surprised, startled, scared and embarrassed.  I gave him ‘the look’ and moved my fingers to tap my ears. I do not know if he understood the message.


Another good reason for taking professional driving lessons.  I am more likely to spot these things.


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