Supplementary NotesSupplementary Note: 1. Motor Insurance and Vehicle Excise Duty
It is a legal requirement that before you drive a vehicle on public roads you have the proper insurance cover. Indeed to obtain a vehicle excise licence (i.e. a tax disc) it is necessary for you to have insurance cover. There are three main types. These are :
Third Party Insurance
This is the legal minimum cover and is also the cheapest. It covers anyone who you might injure or whose property you might damage. It does not cover your own property or injury to yourself.
Third Party, Fire and Theft
This offers the same benefits as third party insurance but also covers your own vehicle should it be damaged by fire or stolen.
This is the best and the most expensive. As well as the benefits of the two previous types it also covers damage to your own vehicle and injury to yourself.
The cost of insurance varies from company to company and also depends on certain factors. These include:
Age of driver (e.g. people in the age group 17 - 25 years are the most likely to have an accident, therefore the younger the driver the more expensive the insurance).
Make of vehicle.
Size of engine.
Number of years driving experience.
Full or provisional licence holder.
Court convictions, if any.
Where you live.
Where the vehicle is to be kept and if it has an alarm.
Intended use of vehicle.
No Claims Bonus (a discount given to drivers off their insurance premium for each year they do not make a claim).
Amount of excess (the amount you are required to pay towards each claim the higher the excess the lower the premium).
Completion of Pass Plus Scheme (a scheme to give new drivers more experience by taking further training with an ADI after passing their test). Everyone who takes and passes the course will get reduced premiums with certain insurance companies.
A Cover Note is a document issued by an Insurance Company on receipt of a deposit, or full premium which has been paid for third party only, third party, fire and theft, or comprehensive insurance cover for your vehicle for the risks stated. This document is usually issued for a limited period of time, which is normally one calendar month from the date of issue. The Cover Note is a temporary substitute which is issued until such times as a proper insurance certificate, can by provided by the Insurance Company concerned.
When looking for insurance shop around to find the best policy for your requirements. Buy the best policy you can afford. Do not just go for the cheapest as you may regret it later if you need to make a claim. Please remember you can be fined up to 5,000 and acquire 6-8 penalty points if you are caught driving without insurance.
Vehicle Excise Duty (Car Tax)
Vehicle Excise Duty MUST be paid on all motor vehicles used or kept on public roads.
[Law VERA sects 29 and 33]
The registered keeper of a vehicle is responsible for taxing the vehicle or making a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) until the vehicle is officially transferred to a new keeper.
Keepers who fail to declare SORN or re-licence will incur an automatic penalty.
A keeper can declare SORN if the vehicle is not going to be used or kept on a public road, this means that road tax does not have to be paid.
A SORN declaration is valid for 12 months provided the vehicle remains off the road.
Supplementary Note: 2. The Environment
The car is no longer a luxury. It has now become an essential part of modern life. As more and more cars are using our roads they are unfortunately having a detrimental effect on the environment.
As fuel is burned in the engine it produces waste gases which are toxic and harmful. These pollutants are released into the air causing damage to plant life and human health problems such as asthma. Buildings are now showing the effects of these pollutants as stone and brickwork start to deteriorate.
The more cars that are being used means that we need to make more roads or widen the existing ones. This changes the landscape and disrupts wildlife.
More fuel is also being used which depletes our natural resources.
As we are becoming more aware of the effects of pollution on the environment, motor manufacturers are researching and developing ways that these effects can be minimised. Smaller and more efficient vehicles for town use are being developed. Engines able to run on unleaded fuel are used more widely. All modern vehicles with a petrol engine are now fitted with a catalytic converter.
A catalytic converter is a honeycombed filter fitted to the exhaust system. The surface area of this honeycomb is coated with precious metals, usually platinum or palladium, which speed up the chemical reaction in the exhaust gases as the engine heats up and remove up to 75% of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide (the toxic and polluting gases) and hydrocarbons (the unburned fuel compounds).
Catalytic Converters reduce the harmful gases given out by the engine, such as exhaust emissions, their function is to act like a filter, removing some of the toxic waste normally given out, from the air around us.
The MOT test now includes a strict emissions test to ensure that car engines are properly tuned so that pollution is reduced.
The responsibility for looking after the environment cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the motor vehicle manufacturers. Drivers themselves can do a lot to reduce the effects of pollution, for example:
- Share a vehicle with someone who makes the same journey.
- Walk or cycle instead of using the car.
- Avoid using the car for very short journeys particularly when the engine is cold.
- Use public transport.
- Make sure your car is properly serviced and the engine is correctly tuned.
- Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure. Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption.
- Travelling at a constant speed will not only reduce your fuel consumption but will also reduce your overall journey time. In fact driving smoothly can reduce fuel consumption by about 15%.
- Avoid rapid acceleration or harsh braking because this leads to increased fuel consumption.
- Slow down as the faster you go the more fuel you will use. At 70mph a vehicle will use up to 30% more fuel than at 50mph.
- Do not carry unnecessary weight in your car.
- Remove your roof rack when not in use.
- Have your vehicle’s engine converted to unleaded fuel.
- Plan well ahead when driving so as to avoid braking hard
- Do not over rev the engine in the lower gears.
- If you service your own car dispose of the old engine oil safely by taking it to a local authority site. Do not pour it down the drain as it is harmful to the environment, illegal and could result in prosecution.
- If in a city use trams where available. They are environmentally friendly because they reduce noise pollution, use electricity and reduce town traffic.
Be careful about the way you dispose of the car battery or the car’s oil as both pose potential hazards to the environment. In both cases take them to a local authority refuse site or garage who will have facilities to dispose of them safely. Remember, this is our world and we must do everything we can to protect it.
Supplementary Note: 3. Tyres
It is vitally important that the tyres on your car are in good condition and inflated to the correct pressure. They are your only contact with the road and will not grip safely if they are in bad condition.
Check the condition of your tyres regularly and replace them if necessary. The walls of the tyres should be free from cuts and bulges.
The tread depth should be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference. This is the minimum legal requirement.
If the tyres are worn unevenly this could be due to the wheels not being aligned or balanced correctly. Alternatively it may be a fault with the suspension or braking systems. Get it checked and put right.
If the wheels are not balanced correctly this can cause a vibration on the steering wheel as you drive.
Tyre pressures should be checked weekly and before any long journey, particularly one which will include motorway driving.
Always try to check pressures when the tyres are cold so as to get a more accurate reading.
Do not forget the spare!
Recommended tyre pressures for each vehicle can be found in the owner’s handbook.
Tyres can be inflated to a higher pressure (but never more than the recommended maximum) when carrying a heavy load or driving at speed for long distances. Under-inflated tyres can reduce stability and cause the car to use more fuel.
It is an offence to drive a car with an incorrectly inflated tyre.
The penalties for using a car with defective tyres or a tread depth below the legal minimum are severe and will apply for every tyre on your vehicle. The most severe penalty of all is DEATH
Supplementary Note: 4. Fuel
Becoming increasingly unpopular because of its high lead content and bad effect on the environment. Used mainly in older cars, it is gradually being phased out. It must not be used in cars fitted with a catalytic converter.
Most common type of petrol used today. When used in a car fitted with a catalytic converter the harmful emissions are greatly reduced.
DieselOnly to be used in engines designed to be fuelled by diesel. Although these engines produce higher levels of some pollutants they are very fuel efficient. To improve emissions further low sulphur diesel could be used.
Spare fuel should be carried in a container specifically designed and approved for that purpose. It is illegal and dangerous to carry fuel in any other type of container.
Supplementary Note: 5. Power Steering
power steering is becoming increasingly common in modern cars. A motor assists the driver when he turns the steering wheel, making it easier to steer as the driver does not need as much strength to turn the wheel. The Steering on a car fitted with power steering seems lighter than on a car fitted with conventional steering. Because of this you need to be particularly careful not to steer while the vehicle is stationary as this may cause damage to the tyres and the steering mechanism.Supplementary Note: 6. Oil and electrics
Oil is a vital component needed to lubricate the engine of your car. It performs at high pressures and temperatures of up to 300oC. It helps to keep the engine cool, resists wear on the moving surfaces and also combats the corrosive acids formed whilst hydrocarbons in the fuel are burnt. It is therefore important that the oil is kept at the level recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Check the oil level weekly, before any long journey and top up as required with the correct grade of oil. The engine oil and filter should be changed at regular intervals (see recommendations in owner’s handbook).
How to check the oil level
Oil should be checked when the engine is cold.
- Park your car on level ground.
- Raise bonnet and locate the dipstick on the engine block.
- Take the dipstick out and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
- Note the markings on the dipstick which indicate the lowest and highest levels.
- Push the dipstick fully back into the engine block.
- Take the dipstick out and see where the oil level has reached.
- If oil is below the minimum then top up as required, being careful not to overfill as this will cause excessive pressure that could damage the engine seals and gaskets and cause oil leaks. It can also result in the vehicle’s exhaust becoming very smoky. If oil is above the minimum then no oil is required.
The distilled water in your battery cells may occasionally need to be topped up. You do this by filling each cell until the distilled water is just above the cell plate.
Supplementary Note: 7. Brakes
The foot brake operates the brakes on all four wheels. Typically, the braking system on a modern front wheel drive car comprises two hydraulic systems. Each is connected to a front and a rear wheel. This ensures that should there be a leak of hydraulic fluid from either system, at least half the braking force will still be available.
Note any variations in the braking efficiency. If the brakes feel spongy or the vehicle pulls to one side when braking, get them checked by a qualified mechanic.
You can check the brake fluid level regularly and keep it topped up by following the instructions in the owner’s handbook.
Excessive use of the foot brake, particularly when travelling down a long steep downhill gradient, will normally cause the brakes to overheat and they are liable to become less effective. This is known a “Brake Fade” which is more likely to happen on cars fitted with drum brakes, but it can still apply to those fitted with disc brakes as well. To assist with the control of the car and avoid brake fade, it is advisable to make use of an appropriate lower gear in accordance with the steepness of gradient.
The handbrake is used to hold the car still after it has stopped. It operates on two wheels only (usually the back) and, unlike the other brakes, it is mechanically operated.
Supplementary Note: 8. Cooling System
Most cars use water to take the heat away from the engine. The water flows through spaces around the cylinders and valves and out of the top of the engine to the radiator. Cooling air takes the heat from the water as it passes through the radiator before returning to the engine. The water is usually mixed with a dual purpose antifreeze/coolant which prevents the water from freezing in winter and so causing serious damage.
The level of water/coolant mix must not be allowed to drop below the minimum level marked on the bottle. Instructions on how to refill and keep it topped up can be found in the owner’s handbook.
Supplementary Note: 9. Distractions
When driving it is important that your attention is concentrated on the task of driving and that there are no unnecessary distractions.
Do not hang anything from the rear view mirror as it will restrict your view as well as distract your attention.
Playing loud music will prevent you from hearing anything else, particularly the sirens of emergency vehicles. You can gain a lot of information about your surroundings by listening as well as looking.
You need a good unrestricted view from all the windows of your car so do not cover them with stickers or block the view to the rear by piling things on the parcel shelf.
If you have a mobile phone do not use it while you are driving, either to make or receive calls. Pull over into a safe and convenient place first. People who use mobile phones while driving are not only now breaking the law they are also 4 times as likely to have an accident.
Do not drive if you are angry or upset as this will seriously affect your concentration. If you are still feeling angry after an argument, you should always give yourself time to Calm Down, before attempting to set out on any journey.
Supplementary Note: 10. Mirrors
There are three main mirrors fitted to your car: an interior mirror and two exterior mirrors. The surface of the exterior mirrors is usually convex which gives a wider field of vision but makes vehicles appear to be further away than they actually are. The surface of the interior mirror is flat, making it easier to judge the speed, distance and position of following vehicles than when looking in the exterior mirrors.
They should be used as part of the basic Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre (MSM) routine and to keep up to date with what is behind and to the sides of your vehicle, thus enabling you to make safe and sensible decisions based on the position and speed of other road users. Always check your mirrors well before signalling, changing speed and changing direction. If you use the mirrors early as part of the MSM routine you can deal with hazards in plenty of time which will help other road users to know your intentions. If you are dazzled by the lights of following vehicles when driving at night set your interior mirror to ‘anti-dazzle’. Just behind the lower edge of the mirror is a small lever pull this forward and you will still be able to see the lights of the vehicles behind but the dazzle will be greatly reduced. Always remember to reset the mirror by pushing the lever towards the windscreen. If you are towing a caravan or a trailer it is difficult to see alongside your vehicle and almost impossible to use the rear view mirror. So, fit an exterior mirror on an extended arm to be able to see past the caravan or trailer.
Remember, a good driver always knows what is happening behind their vehicle as well as what is happening to the front.
Supplementary Note: 11. The Dashboard
Directly in front of the driver is an instrument panel which gives the driver information as they drive along. Two of the main instruments are the speedometer and the fuel gauge.
This tells the driver how fast the car is travelling in both miles per hour and kilometres per hour. It is usually a dial with a needle but it can also be digital. It must not be obscured from the drivers view.
The Fuel Gauge
This indicates the amount of fuel in the tank. Some show a reading all the time, others will only show a reading when the ignition is switched on. Before setting off on a journey always make sure you have enough fuel to reach your destination or to get you to the next petrol station.
There are also several warning lights which come on to warn the driver of any problems or to give information about the functions selected. Details of all the warning lights on your car can be found in the owner’s handbook. They will include the Oil Warning Light, the Brake Warning Light and the Parking Brake Light.
Oil Warning Light
This light with a small oil can warns of low oil pressure which could mean there is little or no oil in the engine. If this light comes on when you are driving, stop as soon as you can and check the oil level. If it stays on after checking and correcting the oil level do not drive your car as serious damage may occur. Have your car checked by a qualified mechanic.
Brake Warning Light
If this light with an exclamation mark in a circle hc-rule comes on when you are driving it could indicate that there is a fault within the braking system. This could be dangerous and so you should stop as soon as you can, trying not to rely on the brakes too much, and get the braking system checked by a qualified mechanic. This light may also come on when the handbrake is applied so make sure you release the handbrake fully and the light goes out.
Parking Brake Light
Some cars have this light with the letter “P” in a circle hc-rule. This light comes on when the handbrake is applied. If the hand-brake is not released properly the light will stay on.
Headlight/Fog light indicator lights
This light with a side view of a headlight with a series of horizontal lines in front indicates that your lights are on full beam.
This light with a side view of a headlight with a series of downward pointing lines in front indicates that your lights are on dipped beam.
This light with a side view of a headlight with a series of short vertical lines and two horizontal wavy lines in front indicates that your fog lights are on.
There are two of these lights, one with an arrow pointing to the right and one with an arrow pointing to the left. When you use the flashing indicators to signal your intentions to other road users, one of these lights will flash and you will hear a clicking noise. Always check that your signal has cancelled when it is no longer required.
Hazard light indicator
This light with a triangle will flash when the hazard warning lights are on.
If you have access to a vehicle owner’s manual read the section on warning lights.
Supplementary Note: 12. Stopping in an Emergency
The cause of most accidents is driver error. When an accident happens it is usually blamed on the weather (fog, rain, bright sunshine etc.), the road surface (ice, snow, gravel, water etc.), the pedestrian who ran out from ‘nowhere’ and numerous other causes, when in fact it was the driver who was not driving appropriately for the road and weather conditions. If they had been then the accident may never have happened.
However there are the rare occasions when even the most alert and careful driver can do little to prevent an accident occurring. The best they can do is know how to stop as quickly and as safely as possible and to try to do so.
If you need to stop in an emergency quick reactions can save vital seconds and even a life. React as soon as you can, while keeping control of the car by retaining both hands on the steering wheel.
The quicker you apply the foot brake the sooner the car will stop. Be careful though. If you press the brake too hard or ‘slam’ the brakes on your car is likely to skid. Always use the brake pedal progressively i.e. pushing the brake pedal harder as the car slows down.
Harsh braking throws the weight of the car forwards rapidly, making it very difficult to keep the vehicle straight, and makes the rear lighter. The wheels may lock (stop turning) but the car will keep going, skidding along the road surface. If this happens release the foot brake so as to allow the wheels to turn again. Then reapply so the brakes can continue to slow the car. Keep both hands on the steering wheel and depress the clutch just before the car comes to a halt. This will allow the engine and the brakes to work together so stopping the car quicker.
Some modern cars are fitted with an anti-locking brake system (ABS) which senses when the wheels are about to lock and very quickly releases the braking pressure such that the wheels are allowed to turn very slowly spreading the frictional force over more of the tyre. This allows optimum braking to be achieved on a normal road surface while allowing the driver to steer the car at the same time. ABS is slightly less effective on icy, wet or loose surfaces and the brakes are only as good as the tyre grip on the road.
So try to avoid having to stop quickly and brake harshly by always driving at a speed that is appropriate for the road and traffic conditions and that allows you to stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. If it is not clear SLOW DOWN.
Supplementary Note: 13. First Aid
It may happen that one day you come across the scene of, or are involved in, an accident so it may be helpful to be familiar with a few basic first aid procedures.
Firstly there is the ABC procedure for dealing with unconscious accident victims. It is essential that you follow this procedure immediately if the casualty is unconscious and permanent injury is to be avoided.
A - Clear the airway of any obstructions including false teeth, chewing gum etc. Breathing should begin and colour improve.
B - Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds to see if the casualty is breathing normally. If breathing does not begin, lift the chin and tilt the head gently backwards. Pinch the casualty’s nose and gently blow into the mouth until the chest rises. Repeat this every four seconds until the casualty can breathe unaided. An unconscious casualty who is on their back breathing normally but has no other life-threatening conditions should be placed in the recovery position. Do not move the person if you suspect that they may have a neck or spine injury, however, ensure the airway remains open.
C - Circulation must be maintained by preventing blood loss. If the casualty is bleeding apply firm pressure over the wound, using clean material if possible, taking care not to press on any foreign body which may be in the wound. If the limb is not broken it should be raised to lessen the bleeding. If the casualty has no pulse then start Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) provided you are properly trained and competent to do so.
CPR for Adults
Give 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths
1. Place heel of your hand in the centre of the chest.
2. Place other hand on top and interlock fingers.
3. Keeping your arms straight and your fingers off the chest, press down by 4-5 CM.
4. Then release the pressure, keeping your hands in place.
Repeat the compressions 30 times, at a rate of 100 per minute.
1. Ensure the airway is open.
2. Pinch nose firmly closed.
3. Take a deep breath and seal your lips around the casualty's mouth.
4. Blow into the mouth until the chest rises.
5. Remove your mouth and allow the chest to fall.
Repeat once more.
Continue resuscitation, 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths until the casualty breaths normally or emergency services can take over.
Any casualty you suspect has a back or neck injury should not be moved unless they are in danger. Movement could add to the injury. Do not remove the safety helmet of an injured motorcyclist unless it is absolutely essential as serious injury could result.
If any casualty is suffering from burns, no matter how severe, it is possible that they could go into immediate nervous shock. This will cause them to go pale, confused, anxious, frightened or they may even faint.
Douse the burns with a cold, clean, non-toxic liquid unless they are very severe, in which case the burn should be lightly covered with a clean cloth and professional medical attention sought immediately. Start cooling the burn immediately under running water for at least 10 minutes
Never try to remove anything which is stuck to the burn. Leave that to the experts.
In the case of a serious accident (and once you have treated any obvious injuries and called an ambulance), watch for signs of shock;
Cold, clammy skin.
Fast, shallow breathing.
Rapid, weak pulse.
In extreme cases, unconsciousness. You should always carry a first aid kit in your car.
You could also learn first aid by attending a course run by the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade or the British Red Cross Society.
Hopefully you will never need to use either, but it might just help to save a life!
Supplementary Note: 14. Hills
When going uphill it is more difficult to maintain or increase speed as the engine has to work harder to make the car go faster. You may find you will need to change to a lower gear to give you more power. This should be done fairly quickly as the car will loose speed when the gas pedal is released and the clutch pedal pressed down. Ideally you should change down before you start to climb the hill.
The brakes will slow the car down quicker when going uphill. Remember to apply the handbrake once you have stopped otherwise the car will roll back.
When going downhill the engine is helped along by the weight of the car and so it will travel faster, making it more difficult to slow down, as the brakes have less effect. Select a lower gear before you start to go down a hill. Using a lower gear in this manner to reduce the speed of the car is known as engine braking. Use the foot brake carefully to keep control of the speed. Try to avoid depressing the clutch as the car will go faster until the clutch is re-engaged. If you need to change gear when going downhill do so with your foot on the foot brake to prevent the car from speeding up.
Always be on the lookout for signs warning you of hills. Assess the gradient early, whether uphill or downhill, and decide on what action, if any, you need to take to negotiate the hill. Then take that action before you start to climb or descend.
Driving downhill or uphill can have an effect on your control of the car.
Supplementary Note: 15. Fuel Spillage
Fuel is a precious commodity and all precautions to avoid wasting it should be taken. If you suspect that the fuel tank of your vehicle is leaking have it checked and, if necessary, replaced. Your leaking fuel tank may result in a fire or an explosion. While leaking diesel might not ignite it will make the road surface extremely slippery. When refuelling make sure you do not overfill the tank and ensure that the filler cap is securely fastened.
Supplementary Note: 16. Manoeuvring
You can legally remove your seat belt when performing any manoeuvre that includes reversing.
This allows you greater freedom to move around and turn your head for better observation.
Always check all around before you start to reverse. If you are not sure whether or not it is clear behind your vehicle, get out and have a look. If you cannot see clearly as you reverse get someone to guide you.
There are many dangers as you reverse, mainly from approaching traffic and pedestrians. Keep your speed down and give yourself time to take good observations. Before you steer check for other road users as the front of your vehicle may swing out into the path of another vehicle.
Always be prepared to give way to other traffic when reversing. It is much easier for other drivers to go round your car when it is stationary than when it is moving.
Remember it is illegal to reverse for longer than necessary so once you have completed the manoeuvre, stop.
Supplementary Note: 17. Vehicle Loading
As a driver it is your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is loaded properly and safely. If you have to carry a load it must be fastened securely and not stick out dangerously. A heavy load on a roof rack will reduce the stability of your vehicle and make it more difficult to handle.
Supplementary Note: 18. Signs and Markings
The majority of road signs and road markings are explained in The Highway Code. However there are a few less common ones which are not included. Some of these are explained below.
This sign with a “P” over a car on a raised verge on a blue background means that you may legally park your car fully on the verge or footpath.
This arrow sign with a “P +” and a silhouette of a bus on a blue background is becoming more common. It indicates an area where a Park and Ride system is in operation. You can park your car in an out-of-town car park and a bus service is provided to take you into the town. This system is successful in keeping traffic out of busy town centres.
You will find this sign with an “R” on a green background at intervals alongside the road, indicating that you are travelling on the Ring Road.
This sign with a silhouette of a man running towards an open door on a green background is found in tunnels, indicating the Emergency Exit For Pedestrians.
This sign with a man walking on a white circle hc-rule with a red band is sometimes seen on dual carriageways, ring roads and places where it would be dangerous for pedestrians to walk. It means No Pedestrians.
On the approach to a concealed railway crossing you might see countdown markings denoting the distance to the stop line. Red diagonal strips on a white background. Each red strip represents one third of the distance to the level crossing, i.e 150 yards, 100 yards, 50 yards or similarly 90 yards, 60 yards, 30 yards.
Drivers sometimes ignore “SCHOOL KEEP CLEAR” road makings that are used to mark where school children cross the road. The markings are there to inform drivers not to wait or park in this area. To do so would cause danger by potentially blocking the view of children crossing the road or drivers driving up or down the road.
Yellow lines are sometimes painted across the road surface on the approach to a hazard, such as a roundabout. Their function is to make the driver aware of his speed and direct them to slow down.
Some road markings, such as the white lines between the motorway carriageway and the hard shoulder, have raised areas at regular intervals which make a noise as you drive over them. These rumble devices are there to alert the driver to a hazard, in this case the edge of the carriageway, or to encourage the driver to slow down as would be the case if the yellow lines illustrated above were slightly raised.
To separate traffic flowing in opposite directions, particularly on bends, you may see an area in the middle of the road painted red enclosed with broken or unbroken white lines with white diagonal strips. This area is designed to discourage drivers from moving too close to the centre of the road and therefore present a hazard to oncoming vehicles that may do the same.
When driving through a tunnel make sure you look out for variable message signs. These signs will provide warnings and orders as necessary.
Supplementary Note: 19. Lane Discipline
Lane discipline is vital when travelling along multi-lane roads. You should always follow the lane markings and road signs. They are there to guide the traffic and make the best use of road space.
When driving in lanes, position yourself in the centre of your lane, keeping to the left hand lane wherever possible.
If you find that you are in the wrong lane do not move across immediately. Carry on in that lane until you can change lanes safely or, if it is not possible to change lanes, continue in your lane and find another way back to your route.
The same applies to a one-way street. If you find yourself travelling down a one-way street but you need to go in the opposite direction, you must not turn round. Continue to the end of the road and then find an alternative route to your destination.
Supplementary Note: 20. Towing
If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 you are allowed to drive a vehicle towing a trailer provided their combined weight is under 8.25 tonnes and you are over 21 years old (7.5 tonnes if you are under 21 years old).
If you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997 then you may have to take a further test if you want to tow a large trailer. Details can be obtained from DVLA leaflet info ‘Towing Trailers in Great Britain’.
When towing a caravan or trailer there are a few basic principles you need to follow. These include:
- Never exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight that can be towed by your car or the maximum nose weight that can be applied to the tow ball (details can be found in owner’s handbook). It is usually safest for the loaded weight of the trailer not to exceed 85% of the kerbside (empty) weight of the towing vehicle.
- Fit exterior mirrors with extending arms so you can see clearly along both sides of the trailer.
- Fit a stabiliser to help reduce the effects of cross winds. It can also help to make the combination (i.e. the towing vehicle and trailer) easier to handle but will not compensate for a poorly loaded combination. Heavy items should be loaded as low as possible, mainly over the axle. Any lighter items should be distributed to give a suitable nose weight at the front. The overall stability of the towing vehicle and the trailer depends on correct weight distribution.
- Passengers must never be allowed to travel in a caravan when it is being towed.
- Before starting on a journey ensure that the trailer is correctly hitched and that the breakaway cable is properly connected. Should the trailer and the towing vehicle become separated this will break and apply the brakes to the trailer. Check that all the lights, indicators and brakes are working properly, that windows, roof light and doors are closed and that the tyre pressures on both the trailer and the towing vehicle are correct.
- Before towing for the first time take professional instruction from one of the larger caravanning organisations. You will then feel more confident in your ability to handle the combination and deal with difficult traffic situations.
Supplementary Note: 21. Automatic Transmission
A car fitted with automatic transmission will change gear automatically as it detects the need for a different gear according to the road speed and the load on the engine. It will change to a higher gear as the road speed increases and to a lower gear as the road speed decreases.
Sometimes the driver may need quick acceleration, for example to overtake. This can be achieved by pressing the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor, causing a quick change to a lower gear, so speed can be increased quickly. A higher gear will then be selected as the pressure on the accelerator is eased off. This technique is known as ‘kick down’.
Supplementary Note: 22. Four Wheel Drive
Most cars are two wheel drive which means that either the front or rear wheels are driven by the engine, the other two are either pushed or pulled along.
However some vehicles are fitted with four wheel drive which means that all four wheels are driven by the engine. One of the main benefits of this system is that road holding is improved.
Supplementary Note: 23. Emergency Vehicles
When driving along always be on the look out for emergency vehicles. You can recognise them by their flashing blue lights and loud sirens. They include police, fire brigade, ambulance, coastguard, blood transfusion service, bomb disposal and mountain rescue vehicles. Check where they are coming from and watch to see where they are going. Keep out of their way and take any action you can to help them get through but do not endanger other road users. If all you need to do is pull in on the left, signal left as you do so. The driver then knows you have seen them and they can drive past safely.
If you see a vehicle with a green flashing light treat it just the same as this is a doctor on an emergency call out.
Supplementary Note: 24. Junctions and bends
Special care must be taken when emerging from a junction (going from the side road into the main road).
Make good, early observations as you approach. This will help you to decide if you can see clearly enough to determine whether it is safe to go or not. This decision will be influenced by your zone of vision (the amount of the new road you can see to either the left or the right as you approach the junction). Your zone of vision can be limited by parked vehicles, buildings, bends, hills, traffic on the main road, trees, hedges, walls and fences.
As you approach the junction your zone of vision usually improves, but it can be blocked by parked cars. In cases where there is reduced visibility you can only decide when it is safe to emerge by edging forward very slowly, looking both ways, into a position where your zone of vision is improved. If you are near shops or other buildings or objects with reflective surfaces you may be able to use this to help you determine if it is safe to emerge.
Do not emerge unless you are absolutely certain it is clear and safe to do so.
Similarly any vehicles turning left into the side road, particularly large vehicles, can hide other vehicles travelling behind or alongside them. Always take extra care at junctions where visibility is reduced.
If parked vehicles obscure your view of the junction continue to creep forward slowly until you can obtain a view as in the example shown.
Emerging at Y junctions
The procedure for approaching and emerging from Y junctions is basically the same as T-junctions. However, the position of the vehicle may need to be slightly different just prior to emerging to make emerging safer and extra observations must be taken as the windscreen pillars of the car may obscure your view and may cause you to miss something small like a motorcycle. Therefore, make sure to look around your windscreen pillars by moving your head backwards and forwards to minimise this risk. The windscreen pillars can also obscure you view when negotiating bends.
Emerging at unmarked crossroads Neither road is the major road and therefore no one has priority. Consequently you must slow down on approach and be prepared to stop. Anticipating other driver’s actions and driving at a speed that enables you to stop is critical. Priority regarding oncoming vehicles is not changed, if you are turning right you would need to give way to oncoming traffic turning left or going straight ahead. If you come across a crossroad where the traffic lights have failed you should treat this as a unmarked crossroad, slow down on approach, look both ways and be prepared to stop.
When you want to pull up on the left just after a junction on the left is very careful not to mislead anyone with your signal. You should indicate left just as you pass the junction and not before it
Supplementary Note: 25. Motorcyclists
Motorcycles and pedal cycles are not as large or as wide as a car and as such are much more difficult to see. Many accidents happen because drivers do not notice them, particularly at junctions. So always be on the look out for them. When driving in slow moving queues of traffic motorcyclists and pedal cyclists sometimes ride between the lanes. Before you change lanes make sure you have checked for motorcyclists and pedal cycles filtering through the traffic.
THINK ONCE, THINK TWICE,
Supplementary Note: 26. Following Other Vehicles
When following any vehicle always leave a safe gap between your vehicle and the one in front.
This gap should not be less than the overall stopping distance for the speed you are travelling. If you are travelling very slowly in heavy urban traffic then this distance can be reduced to no less than your thinking distance. As a rough guide leave a gap equal to 1 metre for every mile per hour you are travelling e.g. a speed of 50mph = a distance of 50 metres.
When following a large vehicle, such as a lorry or double decker bus, always keep well back, even when travelling slowly. This will allow you a better view of what is happening in front of the lorry and you will be able to judge when or if you can overtake it safely. Keeping well back also allows the driver of the lorry to see you in their mirrors. If you cannot see the mirrors on the lorry then the driver cannot see you.
It may be that you find yourself being followed very closely by another vehicle (tailgating). This can make you feel uneasy and pressured into going faster in an effort to get away from it. If this happens try to stay calm and do not speed up as the following driver will only speed up as well. If you can do so safely allow them to overtake. Sometimes this is not possible so the safest thing you can do is to gradually allow the gap between your vehicle and the one in front to increase to double what it should be by gradually slowing down. This will then give you more time to slow down or stop, should the need arise, without putting yourself in too much danger.
When driving in areas where traffic calming measures are in existence, you should reduce your speed particularly on roads which have speed humps on them. You should not attempt to overtake another vehicle within these areas and you are advised when following other vehicles, to slow down and stay behind them.
Supplementary Note: 27. Dead Ground
Dead ground is a section of road that is hidden in a dip. Vehicles in this dip cannot be seen so care must be taken before overtaking to ensure there are no areas of dead ground hiding the oncoming traffic.
Supplementary Note: 28. Humpback Bridge
This type of bridge is found mainly on rural roads where the road goes over a stream or a river. The ‘hump’ can be quite high and will sometimes hide an oncoming vehicle from view. Consider using the horn to warn any other road users of your presence before you start to go over the bridge particularly if the road is narrow. You should slow down. Also listen out for the horns of other vehicles warning you and watch for pedestrians using the bridge.
Supplementary Note: 29. Priorities
The Highway Code says that where there is an obstruction on your side of the road, such as a parked car, you should give way to oncoming traffic. However sometimes common sense and courtesy should prevail and the advice of the Highway Code altered to suit the situation. For example, if you are travelling downhill and a large heavy vehicle is travelling uphill with an obstruction on their side of the road, you should give way to the lorry allowing them to continue up the hill without stopping. It is far easier for you to restart downhill than it is for the lorry going uphill.
Supplementary Note: 30. Bad Weather
If you have to travel in foggy conditions always allow extra time for your journey as you will have to drive slower and so it will take you longer to reach your destination.
Use dipped headlights, even in daytime fog, and if visibility is reduced to less than 100 metres use your fog lamps.
Do not follow the lights of the vehicle in front as you could be too close. Try to leave as large a gap as possible between your vehicle and the one in front.
Give signals earlier than you would do normally to allow other drivers time to see your signal and react accordingly.
Keep a check on your speed; you may be travelling faster than you think.
Use the wipers to keep the windscreen clear.
When driving in clear daylight remember to turn your front and rear fog lamps off when they are no longer needed or they will dazzle other drivers.
If it is foggy and your journey is not essential, stay in.
In deep snow special wheel chains can be fitted to help prevent skidding.
When driving in heavy rain use your dipped headlights so that other drivers will be able to see your car easier. Do not use fog lights as this will dazzle other drivers and give the false impression that you are braking.
Increase the distance between you and the car in front. It should be at least double on a wet than on a dry road surface.
Keep your speed down to reduce the risk of aquaplaning. This is where a build up of water between the tyres and the road surface causes the vehicle to slide as the tyres loose contact with the road. You can tell when this happens as the steering suddenly becomes very light. To correct it ease off the accelerator and try to keep the vehicle in a straight line. Do not try to steer. Once the car has slowed down the tyres will grip again.
Supplementary Note: 31. Security
If possible you should always park your car in the garage if you have one. This is the safest place for it. Failing this you should look to park your car in a secure car park. If you do have to park your car on the street try to look for a prominent position where the car is very visible. At night make sure the area is also well lit.
If you have a local vehicle watch scheme in operation join this so that you can help to protect your car when parked near your home.
If you install a car radio/CD/DVD make sure it is security coded.
Supplementary Note: 32. Pedestrian Crossings
There are four main types of pedestrian crossing. These are the zebra crossing, pelican crossing, puffin crossing and the toucan crossing. Pelican, puffin and toucan crossings are controlled by traffic lights. Even if a traffic light is on green you should always be prepared to stop, particularly, if pedestrians have been waiting for sometime and as a consequence you suspect that the green light may shortly change to red. You should also pay special attention to certain types of pedestrian who are particularly at risk when crossing the road. For example, pedestrians over 60 and those under 15. Pedestrians who have disabilities or who may be deaf and/or blind. If you see a pedestrian with a dog which has a bright yellow coat, collar and lead then this informs you that the pedestrian is deaf. If the person is carrying a white stick they are blind and if they are carrying a white stick with a red band they are blind and deaf.
Types of crossing
Although each of the 4 types of pedestrian crossing are different certain rules and advice apply to them all:
- You must not park on a crossing or in the area within the zigzag lines.
- You must not overtake the vehicle nearest the crossing.
- Never beckon pedestrians to cross; let them decide when they feel it is safe to cross.
- In a queue of traffic keep the crossing clear.
- Do not harass pedestrians when they are crossing by revving the engine or inching forward. Give them plenty of time to cross.
- Some rules and advice apply to certain types of crossing:
1) You must give way to anyone who has stepped onto the crossing, so be on the lookout as you approach for people who are waiting to cross or who are approaching from the side and be prepared to stop.
2) A zebra crossing with a central island is two crossings. If it goes straight across the road with no island it is one crossing.
These are signal controlled crossings. The sequence of the lights is:
Pelican crossings which go straight across the road with an island in the centre are one crossing. If the crossing is staggered it is two crossings.
You must give way to pedestrians who are still crossing even when the signal for traffic changes to green. Remember green means you can proceed only if it is clear and safe to do so.
A puffin crossing is signal controlled. The sequence of the lights is the same as normal traffic lights. They are also operated using a push button. However they also have a sensor which detects when someone is within the crossing area. Once activated the lights will not go back to green until the crossing area is clear of people and they have reached a safe position, which will be detected by the sensor.
A toucan crossing is signal controlled and has the same sequence as traffic lights. This type of crossing is shared by pedestrians and cyclists ( ‘two can cross’). Cyclists can ride across the crossing but at other crossings they should dismount and walk. The signals are push button operated and there is a separate light to indicate when both pedestrians and cyclists can cross.
Supplementary Note: 33. Night-time Driving
At night you will not be able to see as far as you can in daylight and so the way you drive must change to allow for the conditions.
When you first go out into the darkness give your eyes a minute or two to adjust before you start to drive.
Make sure you switch on your vehicle lights so you can see and be seen.
Only use main beam headlights on roads without street lamps. These lights are very bright and can dazzle the drivers of oncoming vehicles or vehicles in front so switch to dipped headlights if another vehicle approaches you or overtakes you. If a vehicle is overtaking (and there is no oncoming traffic) do not dip your headlights until the vehicle passes you. Your main beam will help the overtaking vehicle to see if there are any hazards up ahead that would make the manoeuvre unsafe.
When waiting in a traffic queue at a junction use the handbrake and do not keep your foot on the brake pedal as the lights can dazzle the driver behind.
Beware of bends if you overtake anything. It is difficult to see as far in the dark and it is not easy to judge distances.
Pedestrians are more difficult to see and can seem to appear from ‘nowhere’.
You need to be more alert. Never drive so fast that you cannot stop within the distance you can see to be clear. At night that distance is within the range of your lights.
Supplementary Note: 34. Motorways
Once you have passed your driving test you are allowed to drive on the motorway. The traffic travels faster which means that conditions change rapidly. You need to be alert and have total concentration. Continuous high speeds may increase the risk of your vehicle breaking down so remember to particularly check your vehicle carefully before you embark on a long motorway journey.
As you join the motorway the slip road may be divided into lanes or separated from the main carriageway by chevron road marking. You must not cross the solid white line; it is there to keep the lanes of traffic separate. Stay in your lane.
If you are travelling along the left hand lane of a motorway and you see vehicles ahead joining from a slip road be prepared to move into another lane to help the merging traffic.
You must not stop on the motorway except in an emergency, in which case use the hard shoulder. Emergency telephones are located along the edge of the motorway approximately 1 mile apart. They are connected to police control or the highways agency control centre who can locate you from the number on the box. If you break down use the emergency telephone not a mobile telephone as you may not know exactly where you are. To find the nearest emergency telephone look for the small marker posts which will have an arrow on them pointing in the direction of the closest one. When using an emergency telephone always face the oncoming traffic.
If you see a car on the hard shoulder displaying a HELP pennant this means the driver is disabled and may need assistance in calling for the breakdown services.
If you need to stop for a break to relieve tiredness and fatigue use the closest service area or leave the motorway at the next exit.
Motorways are statistically safer than other roads in so far as the number of accidents which occur is concerned. However when accidents do happen, because the traffic is travelling at high speed, the injuries are usually more serious and there is a greater loss of life.
So if you are a new driver, before you use the motorway make sure you know all the rules and advice as laid down in the Highway Code, ensure you know the meaning of all the road signs and markings, and, most importantly, take further training from an ADI so you are fully prepared and can drive safely on these fast moving roads. Your forward planning and rear observation skills need to be well honed.
Supplementary Note: 35. Active Traffic Management
Active Traffic Management is a new pilot scheme being introduced in an effort to reduce congestion.
When driving in an actively managed area you must obey all signals displayed on the overhead gantries. In addition to the normal signals found on motorways there may also be a single red X which is applicable to the hard shoulder only. This red X does not have flashing beacons and when you see this sign do not use this lane except in an emergency.
If you see a mandatory speed limit sign displayed above the hard shoulder this means the hard shoulder can be used as a running lane.
You may also see Emergency Refuge Areas these are designed to be used in cases of emergency or breakdown. They are wider than the hard shoulder, approximately 100 metres long and located about every 500 metres along the carriageway. Features include
- CCTV – allowing assistance to be sent as needed
- Sensors to alert the control centre when a vehicle has entered
- Additional distance from the main carriageway
- Emergency roadside telephones containing additional support for the hard of hearing and foreign visitors. They can also pinpoint your location.
These officers are working in partnership with the police and are extra eyes and ears on the motorway. They wear a full uniform including a high visibility orange and yellow jacket and drive a high visibility vehicle with yellow and black chequered markings. . In some areas the motorway emergency telephones are connected to an Highways Agency control centre. A traffic officers duties include
- Offering safety advice for motorists
- Helping broken down motorists
- Clearing debris from the carriageway
- Supporting police and emergency services
- Managing diversion routes
- Undertaking high visibility patrols
- Providing mobile/temporary road closures
Supplementary Note: 36. Journey Planning
To help ease and avoid congestion and stress plan your journey so as to avoid busy times of day wherever possible. This will help you to have a shorter and more pleasant journey.
Make sure that you know where you are going by looking on a map or contact one of the major motoring organisations who offer a route planning service. This can also be done on the internet using one of the widely available route planners. You may find it useful to plan an alternative route just in case you encounter road works or an accident.
Supplementary Note: 37. Urban Congestion
A congestion charge scheme was introduced into London to ease congestion in the City. Not all drivers have to pay the charge, some of those who are exempt include
- Residents living within the zone
- Disabled people who hold a blue badge
- Drivers of electrically propelled or alternative fuel vehicles
- Riders of two wheelers
Transport is an essential part of our lives and most of us appreciate this does not come without certain environmental consequences. In particular, the emissions produced by vehicles cause significant air pollution and are a major contributor to global warming. Eco-safe driving is a style of driving that will help to reduce this damage to our planet and the air we breath whilst improving road safety. Transport currently accounts for 20% of all air pollution emissions in the world. Eco-safe driving is not about driving at lower speeds (although this would undoubtedly help to reduce fuel consumption and accidents) it is more about avoiding senseless wastage of fuel through unnecessary acceleration or braking, inefficient use of the gears and speeding (i.e. exceeding permitted limits or driving at speeds unsafe for the prevailing conditions).
When you accelerate quickly or rapidly you disproportionately use more fuel. Accelerating rapidly allows you to gain speed in a shorter space of time, however, that saving in time costs you dearly in fuel. The accelerator can be compared to a tap handle in that it controls the flow of fuel to the engine. The harder you depress the pedal the faster the fuel will flow. If the accelerator can be compared to a tap handle then each gear can be compared to a different tap size. First gear is a very large wide tap and fifth gear is a very small narrow tap. Therefore the more you need to use the big wide taps (i.e. the lower gears) the more fuel you will use when you turn the handle (i.e. depress the accelerator). You particularly use more fuel when you accelerate from a standstill because more energy is needed to move a static object than one that is already moving and has momentum. This is why first gear is required to move a stationary vehicle.
The skills required for hazard perception, defensive driving and progressive driving play a big part in Eco-safe driving as they will help you to avoid inefficient use of the accelerator, brake and gears through better awareness, anticipation and planning. In particular to be Eco friendly you need to:
Minimise harsh or rapid acceleration. Whenever it is safe to do so, gradually increase speed by gently depressing the accelerator. Look well ahead to see what is happening, to ensure that any acceleration now, will not be wasted a little later on because you have to brake. Let gravity aid you so that if you are going down hill you may find you can fully release pressure on the accelerator and still maintain a safe speed. With your foot fully off the accelerator the engine needs very little fuel, so take advantage of engine braking wherever possible. Avoid using acceleration to exceed legal speed limits or driving faster than it is safe for the prevailing road, traffic or weather conditions as this may not only cost you more fuel it may cost you your life. Vehicles travelling at 70 mph use up to 30% more fuel to cover the same distance as those travelling at 50 mph.
Minimise harsh braking or unnecessary stopping. Look well ahead and if you see that you will need to reduce speed, do it gradually using engine braking rather than applying the brake at the last minute. Gradually adjust your speed to time your arrival at meet situations or when turning right such that you can potentially maintain progress and avoid having to stop. Similarly, you can do this when emerging from a give way junction provided you have a good view of the road you intend to emerge into as you approach the junction.
Engage higher gears as soon as possible without labouring the engine. Avoid engaging unnecessary intermediate gear changes so that you can more quickly engage higher gears or delay engaging lower gears. Modern cars are designed to deliver power even when engine revs are quite low and provided you haven’t lost momentum as you slow down you will be surprised how late you can leave a downward gear change without risking an engine stall.
Cold engines use more fuel; therefore avoid manoeuvring whilst the engine is cold if at all possible. Do any manoeuvring before you get out of the vehicle rather then when you return to the vehicle (for example by reversing into parking places or driveways rather than reversing out). Not only does this save fuel, it is also a much safer way to emerge onto a road. Finally, if you need to use a manual choke to start the vehicle, always remember to press it back in once the engine is sufficiently warm.
When driving remember, safety is paramount, so never sacrifice safety for fuel saving.
Other ways you can save fuel include making sure your vehicle is properly maintained, that tyre pressures are correct and that no objects are fastened to the vehicle that will cause drag. Before making any journey carefully plan your route to avoid any known hold ups or road works. This will help you save fuel by avoiding slow moving queuing traffic.
Therefore Eco-safe drivers do not:
- Rev-up the engine whilst waiting to move off.
- Use excessive acceleration to move off at speed as if competing in a race.
- Tailgate vehicles resulting in continual harsh braking and acceleration.
- Wait until the last minute to react to hazards including junctions ahead by braking harshly.
- Peak the revs in each gear to obtain maximum acceleration.
- Rush to overtake at each and every opportunity even on congested roads where little benefit will be gained.
When done properly Eco-safe driving can save up to 15% on your fuel bill while helping road safety. So save money, save lives, save our planet - adopt an Eco-safe style of driving.
Supplementary Note: 39. Tunnels
The following is an extract from the official DSA guide to Driving the essential skills:
“If you break down or have an accident in a tunnel
- Switch on your hazard warning lights
- Switch off the engine
- Leave your vehicle
- Give first aid to any injured people, if you are able
- Call for help from an emergency point.
- Pull over to the side and switch off the engine
- Leave the vehicle immediately
- Put out the fire using the vehicle’s extinguisher or the one available in the tunnel
- Move without delay to an emergency exit if you cannot put out the fire
- Call for help from the nearest emergency point.
Supplementary Note: 40. Drugs and driving
Driving under the influence of drugs
Driving under the influence of drugs - whether prescribed medication or illegal substances - is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. It's also against the law. Drugs can affect your mind and body in a variety of ways that mean you aren't able to drive safely. Not only that, the effects can last for hours or even days. Some substances can effect your driving for up to 72 hours after being taken.
The police can carry out roadside tests of impairment to help them decide whether to arrest you if they think you are unfit to drive through drugs. Their code of practice for testing for impairment is at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk. The penalties are the same as for drink driving. You face a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, and six months jail.
A website - www.drugdrive.com - has been set up to give 17-35 year-olds information on how different drugs can impair their driving.
How drugs affect your driving
- Slower reaction times
- Poor concentration
- Confused thinking
- Distorted perception
- Over confidence, so you take unnecessary risks
- Impaired co-ordination
- Erratic behaviour
- Blurred vision/enlarged pupils
- Panic attacks and paranoia