Instructors Tips

Instructors Tips

Mini Drive Instructors

We have a wealth of experience to share with all who are learning to drive. This blog has been setup to give information & advice to help with your lessons and any private practice. You can find more at minidrive.co.uk.

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Benefit from the British weather

General AdvicePosted by Gareth Price Sun, October 14, 2012 20:59:41
Learning to drive during the winter months is probably not the first choice for most people. Dark nights, cold frosty mornings, snow, rain, sleet, hail, wind and low bright sunshine. It's hard enough getting enough enthusiasm to go to work or college let alone learn how to drive. However, it is probably the best time to start learning.

The U.K. weather never changes. By this I mean it is and will always be, unpredictable. Therefore at some point you are going to have to drive in many, if not all the conditions listed above. So why not get professional instruction in the art of driving in the varying weather conditions this country dishes up every year. That way when you're driving to work or college on a cold frosty winters morning you can have the confidence to deal with the road conditions safely.

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How much is your life worth? £155 could save your life...

General AdvicePosted by Gareth Price Sun, February 26, 2012 09:27:15

I recently posted a facebook comment regarding the merits of pass plus, and in response to those people who didn't see the point of it when it didn't reduce their insurance premiums.

"When are people gonna realise that the public road is a very dangerous and life threatening place to be if you are not properly prepared! Passing the test is only a way of showing you have a basic competence behind the wheel. It takes Practice to become a competent driver and that costs money!! Far too many people make cost a higher priority than their own lives! The uk road network, especially the motorways, are some of the busiest and most dangerous roads in europe! You think you can pass a test and then drive the M6 through Brimingham, or M25 round Heathrow at 8:00am the following morning? Think again! Whether insurance comes down or not courses like pass plus, motorway lessons, IAM courses are all priceless when compared to your own lives! This is 2012 people not 1912!!!"

It's a valid point. I mean how much is your life really worth? We see time and time again in local and national press, news stories of road accidents involving young drivers. The statistics are frightening. 2 out of every 3 new drivers will have a road accident in the first 2 years of driving! many of them involving serious injury. Yet we still see teenagers and parents alike pushing to get through their test so they don't have to pay for more lessons.

We appear to live in a society that still believes that 10 hours of lessons should be enough. That you are some kind of freak if it takes more than than this to pass your test. As mentioned above this is 2012 not 1912! Modern day roads are busier than ever. When new roads are built they are wider and have more lanes to cope with the ever increasing traffic levels. The driving test is as hard to pass as it's ever been so again it needs practice to gain the proficiency needed.

So here are the facts...

The roads can Kill....FACT

The roads do kill....FACT

Quality training prevents the roads from Killing....FACT

Quality training cost money...FACT

£155 for a pass plus course from MINI DRIVE could save your life....FACT

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Learning to drive on a budget

General AdvicePosted by Gareth Price Thu, January 05, 2012 23:02:25

Learning to drive has never been a cheap thing to do. So here are some tips to learning to drive on a budget.

First of all make sure you pick a driving instructor that has a good reputation. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. A good driving instructor will generally save you money in the long run as you will require fewer lessons. Cheap doesn't always mean best. 50 hours at £15/hour is almost £100 more expensive than 30 hours at £22/hour.

Second make sure you are prepared for each lesson. If you are too tired or unwell this can affect your ability to learn the necessary skills.

Private practice with parents or relatives will help gain experience. Once you get to a particular skill level with your instructor they will be able to advise what to practice. It’s the same principle as learning a musical instrument. Have a lesson then go home and practice. The more practice the better you get.

Driving is a practical skill so by its very nature it takes practice to get it right.

Click here to see "what you need to learn to drive"


Insuring a car to practice in can be expensive.
Click here for cheap insurance designed specifically for learner drivers doing private practice


When studying for your theory make sure you do enough. It's not as straight forward as some will have you believe, and at £31 (as of jan2012) its again not cheap.

The best way to study is with a CD-ROM or DVD where you can practice the test and get guidance on driving theory. You may have a friend or relative that can lend you one or you can buy one for as little as £5.

Learning to drive properly does cost money but if you're careful and invest your money properly you can significantly reduce the costs.

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Drinking and Driving - The morning after

General AdvicePosted by Gareth Price Wed, December 21, 2011 22:58:45

The time is here for making merry and eating loads. This can also include copious amounts of alcohol. Now we are all well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, and unless you are a resident of the planet "stupidity" you would not drive to the pub, drink alcohol then drive home.

It is worth noting then that a large proportion of the drink drive convictions that happen over the Christmas period are as a consequence of driving the morning after a night on the beer.

You see many people under estimate how long it takes for alcohol to leave the body. There is a popular misconception that when you get home a drink of water and a good night’s sleep will get you back to normal. Sorry to burst the bubble but it takes a little longer than that.

On average it takes around 1 hour for every unit of alcohol that you drink to leave your body. A pint of Stella Artois lager is about 3 units, a double vodka is about 3 units. Therefore a night out consisting of 5 Pints and 3 double vodkas would mean that you would require a 24 hour period to be sure of not being over the limit. Just because you feel fine doesn't mean that the alcohol is no longer in your system.

Being over the drink drive limit can see you with a 6 month driving ban. If you are still inside your 2 year new driver probationary period you will not only lose your licence but will have to re-take your theory and practical test. If you cause an accident and injuring someone while over the limit you could find yourself in prison and with a criminal record. If you need your licence for work then you may lose more than just the ability to drive.

Is it really worth the price? Can you take the risk the morning after or would it be more sensible to call a taxi?

We hope you make the right decision and have a fun but safe Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the whole Mini Drive team.

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Moving Away - How to avoid the hop, Jerk & Stall...

General AdvicePosted by Gareth Price Tue, December 13, 2011 22:50:10

It is probably safe to say that most people expect to stall the car on their first lesson, and any stall is usually accompanied by a number of hops and jerks. In order to prevent this it is important to understand what is going on when we move the clutch pedal.

From the earlier post about clutch control we have learnt the following...

"...Basics of how the clutch works

The clutch is made up of two plates that separate when the clutch pedal is pushed down and come together when the clutch pedal is lifted up. When the clutch plates are separated the engine is not connected to the wheels so it won't drive them. When the clutch plates are together the engine is connected to the wheels and so it makes them turn.


It is important to understand that, in order for the car to respond smoothly, you MUST NOT allow the clutch pedal to come up too quickly so that the plates slam together. Smoothness comes from allowing the clutch pedal to come up slowly and very carefully so the plates join together gently.

The Biting Point


The biting point is the moment when the two clutch plates just start to touch together and the wheels begin to turn. This is the critical point where the term "Clutch Control" gets its name. Being able to control the clutch pedal around the biting point is tricky to learn but once mastered makes driving and controlling the car far easier...
"

PREPARE the car

So, to move off cleanly and smoothly first we need to "set the gas" which means apply a small amount of accelerator and hold it. Next we need to find "the biting point" of the clutch and hold the pedal still.

OBSERVE your surroundings

Before releasing the Hand brake, look in all mirrors and check your blind spots for other road users. If we require a signal to tell someone we are about to move we apply a right signal. If there is no one to benefit then it is not necessary to signal.

MANOUEVRE the car away

When safe release the handbrake.

THE IMPORTANT BIT....

When the handbrake is released hold your feet still! Wait for the car to move and gain a little momentum (usually around 10 - 20 metres) then we can gently bring the clutch pedal all the way up whilst gently increasing the gas. It is this balance between the gas and the clutch that it is crucial to master. If you have worked on the clutch control we talked about in an earlier post then this balance may be easier to grasp.

The reason for holding your feet once you release the hand brake is very simple. In the description above about how the clutch works we mention 2 plates. One plate is connected to the engine the other to the wheels. When we bring the engine plate to the wheel plate we have to allow the wheel plate time to spin up to speed. If we don't do this the pressure of the 2 plates coming together to quickly will drain all the power from the engine and it will make the car jerk and hop as the engine struggles to keep going and then eventually it stalls.

To sum up

Prepare the car, (gear gas bite).
Look around including blind spots.
Release the handbrake and hold your feet allowing the car to move.
Once car has gained a little momentum gently allow the clutch to come all the way up.

Watch a video

It takes practice so don't lose faith.


smiley

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