Driving tips new drivers 1

Driving tips for new drivers 1: Understanding and using the clutch correctly

driving tips for new drivers

Welcome to the series of driving tips for new drivers.

Each week we’ll focus on a common problem that learners experience which can stall their progress.

Someone new to driving can experience a problem early doors which could put them off continuing their driving lessons.

These problems tend to be minor problems with co-ordination, our using the cars controls correctly, but they can have a profound effect on a new driver.

More experienced learners at some point in their driving may feel like they’ve hit a plateau and can’t push beyond it, or they feel like they’re going backwards.

Either way, it’s a negative vibe and can stop these people progressing with learning, often giving up just hours away from being ready to take a test.

We know  how difficult it can be for learners to understand everything that they are being asked to do, and it can be difficult for instructor too, especially if they’ve tried every way they know to explain a situation.

Sometimes you have to see things from a different perspective, so the driving tips for new drivers is designed to help people learn outside the car between lessons.


Today’s driving tips for new drivers is: Understanding the clutch and how to use it correctly.

So’ lets start by explaining the role of the clutch.

Do you know what happens when you press the clutch pedal down?

And, do you know why you have to press the clutch down before changing gears?

Car engines need gears (transmission systems) to help vary the speed of the driving wheels.

Have you ever ridden a push bike with gears? They often have 5, 10 or more cogs on the rear wheel, and well as two or three attached to the pedals.

If you select the lowest gear which is 1st, it’s easy to pedal, your legs will be working quickly and you’ll reach your maximum limit, without gaining much speed.

Change in to 2nd gear and it’s going to be harder to pedal but you’ll be able to go faster.

So, each time you go into higher gears, it’s harder to pedal but your speed will increase.

Which means if you only want to travel slowly, then a lower gear is better than a higher gear because it will be easier to pedal.

Or if you are going uphill a lower gear will be easier to pedal with.

Okay, if you want to change a gear you stop pedaling, this allows the gear mechanism to work freely.

Got it!

Now think of yourself as the engine on the bike, you supply the power to the wheels when you pedal. When you stop pedaling you stop producing power.

Back to the car, when you depress the clutch you are stopping the power from the engine turning the road wheels. When you bring the clutch up you are joining the engine (power) and therefore turning the road wheels.

So, when you move a car from a standstill, you have to push the clutch down to select the gear, then bring the clutch up to engage the engine to drive the car forward, or backwards if reversing.

It’s the action of bringing the clutch up that causes so many new drivers to worry.

Now this is where it becomes challenging for instructors to explain what’s happening, with the clutch and why learners struggle to move a car without stalling.

So, stalling what does it mean? Now there’s many ways to explain the process, some you’ll understand others maybe not.

But the challenge is to explain it in a way that helps you understand the movement of the pedal and the reaction you should expect to get from it.

So, imagine a coiled spring that you have to apply pressure to. Think of a door that works on a spring system, which is designed to close the door after people pass through.

The door requires pressure to open, but closes slowly after.

Now this is the important bit. There’s a system called a servo that controls the speed the door closes by slowly releasing the pressure on the spring taking the tension out of it, otherwise it would slam shut.

With the help of the server slowing the door close you could be quite some distance away from the door by the time it’s fully closed again.

Back to the car, if you put pressure on the clutch pedal to push it down, you have to release that pressure slowly when bringing it back up.

Like the door example, you are releasing the tension on the spring slowly, which means the car might travel some distance before the clutch is fully in the up position.

As the clutch moves in the upwards direction, what catches many learners out is the fact that nothing actually happens. This is because it’s only as you start releasing the tension that the engine starts to partially engage with the driving wheels, this is called biting point.

It’s at this point that the wheels start to turn, but you must still control the tension of the pedal even as the car moves, because any sudden movement will cause a reaction like a stall or jump (leap forward).

If you depress the clutch and then release it quickly the car will stall (stop the engine from turning), which gives you that horrid experience of the car lunging forward.

It’s like being pushed hard in the back by someone sending you tumbling forward out of control.

Okay, now the second part of the clutch explanation.

As you allow the clutch up through the biting point the car will start moving, but it will only creep forward so you need to give the car power by squeezing the gas pedal.

You can do this while you are still bringing the clutch up, it’s  like a see saw, one pedal moves up the other moves down.

The amount of gas you apply should steadily increase as the car starts to move, remember your moving a heavy dead weight.

I hope that explains in an easy to understand language  how the clutch works.

If you’ve found this driving tips for learners topic useful please leave your comment below, thanks.

For a visual look of the role the clutch play between the engine and transmission see this video, it shows the moving parts which is really useful.


Driving tips for new drivers


How the New iPhone 8 is Trying to Save Your Life

Apple recently released the iPhone 8, along with IOS 11, which is trying to save your life whilst driving.

The update allows the phone to sense when you’re driving, meaning that it will automate itself to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, so the notifications don’t distract you whilst driving, meaning that there is a lack of temptation to use your phone.

The software picks up when you’re in a car, so if you’re a passenger, you can turn off the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode in settings, so you can still use your phone in the car.

You can find the original article about the new update here: https://www.carthrottle.com/post/soon-your-iphone-wont-work-while-youre-driving/

Why Learning to Drive at the Age of 17 is Better

It’s quite normal now for the younger generation to learn to drive as soon as they can. It is actually a really good idea. So, if you are 17, or are wanting to get someone driving lessons, here are some reasons why learning to drive when your younger, is easier.

It has been found in recent studies that learning is significantly easier for younger people, rather than in older years. The brain is a lot more capable of learning when younger, meaning that it is learning new things, such as driving is considerable easier and less frustrating.

Because Driving is a new skill, it requires a lot of patience and time and effort, but also a lot of concentration.

Meaning that the younger generation are going to require less concentration, and patience, because their brain is more capable of learning, unlike someone in their late twenties, and thirties and so on.

Obviously, it depends on the person, and their own personal and mental development, but generally it is easier for younger people to absorb information.

This means that passing driving and theory tests can be substantially quicker, and better, which means that more money is saved throughout the process, making it more cost-effective to learn to drive at the age of 17 than a novice at the age of 35.

Moreover, even if you can’t afford to get a car at the age of 17, the skills have been learnt meaning that refreshing your memory later on in life, when you can afford a car, is a lot easier than starting from scratch. It’s very similar to the saying ‘You Never forget how to ride a bike’.

It’s considerably the same thing, as most people to learn to ride a bike at a very young age, meaning that the skills learnt are more likely to stay stored in the brain.

But of course it is never too late to start to learn to drive. The freedom gained at the end of it will not differ, and the experience of lessons will not change.


Driving Test Changes You Need to Know About

If you didn’t know already, the UK driving test is changing from the 4th December 2017 (not a very nice Christmas present, is it?). We are updating you with the most recent changes made by the DVSA.

It was released on the 13th September 2017, that there would be revised changes to the ‘Show me’ ‘Tell me’ portion of the test.

If you don’t know what this is, it is where the examiner will ask you a ‘show me’ question and a ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of your driving test. These questions are given to you by your instructor to prepare you for your test.

The ‘Tell me’ Questions are as follows:

1. Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

Brakes should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side.

Manufacturer’s guide, use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don’t forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.

3. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. Note: Some restraints might not be adjustable.

4. Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

No cuts and bulges, 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.

5. Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

6. Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.

Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.

7. Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

8. Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.

Explain you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.

9. Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

If the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey, 2 simple checks can be made.

Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained while the engine is started, should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.

10. Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. Explain use.

11. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.

Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.

12. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.

Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.

13. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.

Identify high and low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to correct level.

14. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

Identify reservoir, check level against high and low markings.


And the ‘Show me’ questions:

  1. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
  2. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
  3. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?
  4. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?
  5. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?
  6. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?
  7. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?


Now with the changes to the Driving Test, it means that the ‘tell me’ questions will be asked at the beginning of the test, and the ‘show me’ questions will now be asked during the driving test, whilst under their examination.

However, do not fret, the changes are not made until the 4th December, so you have plenty of time to figure how to undertake these ‘show me’s’ in your instructors car.

We hope this helps and we will keep you updated with any more changes to the UK Driving Test on the Elite Blog, so make sure to follow Elite on Social Media, so you can be updated with any Driving Test changes coming your way by December!

The Elite Team

Summer Driving Trips

Summer Driving Trips

The summer months are the perfect time to get away. Whether that be for the weekend or your two week summer holidays.

For many people that can involve long car journeys, and it’s a time to remind ourselves of a few simple rules to keep you safe on the roads.

From Visually.

Summer Driving Trips



The top five tips for Summer Driving Trips are :

  • Don’t drive tired
  • Perform a vehicle check before commencement of your journey
  • Keep your distance
  • Pay attention to the laws and warnings
  • Think Coast – C= Concentration, O = Observation, A = Anticipation, S = Space, T = Time







Summer time means busier than usual on the UK’s roads, which adds to congestion and frustration. But keep calm, keep your distance, don’t block the mouth of junctions, or stop on crossings.

Plan your journey and give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Happy holidays.

Driven to Distraction

Driven to Distraction

How would you deal with distracted driving?

There are hundreds of things trying to get your attention every day that can distract you from your driving, for example something catches your attention on the radio, your mobile rings or you get a text message alert, the kids shouting and screaming, the dog barking and that’s just inside the car.


Eyes on the Road: The Challenges of Safe Driving

From Visually.

Outside of the car is where your concentration should be and in particular you should be planning well ahead, watching the vehicles in front, often checking the mirrors, looking out for hazards such as pedestrians in the road and people pulling out of junctions etc.

For learner drivers this can all be a bit overwhelming but you have to stay focused and be guided by your instructor. It’s easy when you’re new to driving and unsure of the controls to be distracted especially when changing gear.

The temptation can be to look down at the gear lever which means that your eyes can be off the road for a good second or two and before you know it the Instructor has had to take control of the vehicle because you have missed something.

So top tip is, if you have the chance to jump in your parent’s or friends cars and practice changing the gears, whilst the car is stationary of course, you’ll be able to commit to memory the location of the gears so you won’t need to look at them again.

See the chart above for further help and read the five tips to safer driving.


#distracteddriving #saferdriving

Driving In Windy Weather

Driving In Windy Weather

Severe winds can bring a whole new set of problems for both for road users, and pedestrians.

Gusty winds can blow pedestrians towards the roads, and cyclist across the carriageways, even off their bikes.

Drivers of motor vehicles should anticipate these dangers and drive with extreme caution.

Although you may feel the car being battered from all directions, you won’t be fully aware of just how windy it might be outside, so be vigilant.

If you’re overtaking large vehicles, as you get along side them, you will be sheltered from the wind, but as soon as you become clear you will be exposed the the conditions and could be sucked in towards them, so be ready with both hands on the steering wheel, especially on higher speed roads like motorways.

You will be more exposed to high winds in open areas, be especially careful of falling trees, and street furniture.

Here’s a recap of the dangers:

  • Only travel if necessary and plan your trip, listen to the news for road and bridge closures. Exposed areas are more susceptible to gusts, also around tall buildings, try to plan your route to avoid open areas, wherever possible.
  • Drive with both hands on the steering wheel to help keep full control of the vehicle and drive slowly, this will reduce your chances of being blown off course.
  • Always give more room to motorcyclists, cyclists, trucks and busses as they can get blown around more easily by side winds.
  • Keep your distance between the vehicle in front of you to ensure you can see and plan ahead.
  • Be vigilant to your surroundings, debris can be flying around from trees, bins etc.
  • Avoid parking near trees, telegraph or telephone poles and buildings that could be blown down/over in heavy winds.
  • When leaving your car take extra care as the wind could either pull the door away from you or push it into you as you exit.





Driving In Wet Weather Conditions

Driving In Wet Weather Conditions

In wet weather roads will be more slippery after a dry spell and the breaking distance will be at least double the distance of those required for dry roads. It is advisable to keep well back from the vehicle in front of you this will enable you to see and plan accordingly, think of the 2 second rule and turn it into 4 seconds.

Ensure your wipers are working properly and use either your air-con or heaters to stop your windows from misting up. If you are using your windscreen wipers you should also have your lights on to ensure other road users can see you, however don’t use your fog lights as these will dazzle other road users. Keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness.

Watch out for fast moving or large vehicles as they create more spray and reduce visibility. Be more vigilant and look out for road markings and signs.

Driving too fast through standing water can cause damage to your vehicle remember to slow down and if your steering feels light you could be aquaplaning, remain calm, do not brake, ease off the accelerator and reduce your speed to regain control.

Remember to be considerate to other users i.e. motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians and avoid spraying them as you drive through standing water.

When driving through heavy rain keep your speed down and drive with extreme caution, be sensible and don’t try to drive down flooded roads, never cross a ford and wherever possible stick to the main roads.

If you don’t have to travel, stay put, only drive if it’s necessary.

#wetweather #driving

Checking Tyres

Checking Tyres

Checking Tyres

Tyres are probably one of the least thought about safety features of a vehicle. Anytime you drive down a motorway you will see tyre debris on either side of the carriageway. It is advised that you get your tyres checked once a month by an expert although checking them weekly or before going on a long journey yourself will also be useful.


What should you be looking out for?


  1. Damage or cuts to the side wall
  2. Bent wheel rims
  3. Any exposed cord from the tread of the tyre


Checking the tread is more difficult but move the car forward slowly with help someone should be able to check for any nails or foreign objects that could have embedded itself in the tread. If you do find anything don’t take it out immediately seek professional advice.


Also you need to check the tyre depth to make sure that it is legal. The required tread depth is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.


One final thing on tyre safety is to check your tyre pressures weekly using the manufacturer’s handbook as a guide to the correct tyre pressures.


Defective tyres KILL they contribute to more than 1,200 road casualties (Source Tyresafe) link below:




Please remember to check your tyres often.

Driving lesson tips – know your car

Driving Lesson Tips #1 know your car


When you first start out learning to drive, there’s a lot to learn. A top tip is know what the controls in the car are and what they do.


Keeping this fresh in your mind will help you get moving on the first lesson.


Lets start with the foot controls:

Know your car

There are 3 foot pedals in a manual car.


Starting from the right the first pedal is the accelerator or GAS pedal as instructors prefer to refer to it as.

Gas is an American word to abbreviate gasoline, it suggests that this pedal controls the amount of petrol that goes in to the engine, and it’s easier and quicker for instructors to use the word gas on lesson.

You use the gas pedal with your right foot, it’s like turning on a tap in your bathroom, the more water you want the more you turn the tap. In the case of a car, the more petrol you want in the engine the further you press the pedal to the floor, if you want less petrol then just a slight press downwards will be sufficient.

The more petrol you request (squeezing the pedal down) the faster the  car will go.



The centre pedal, second from the right is the brake. This pedal slows the vehicle down and can bring it to a full stop when needed.

If you’ve ever ridden a push bike this pedal acts the same way that the brake lever does.

A brake lever on a bike has slack (free movement before the brakes react and the cycle starts to slow), this is because you have to first grip the wheel before they start working.

Then the harder you squeeze the lever the quicker you will stop. If you only squeeze the lever gentle and hold it in place the cycle will slow down, letting the lever go will release the brakes and allow the cycle to continue moving at the new speed.

It’s exactly the same with a car, except the brakes on a car are much more powerful and a car is a lot heavier, and faster. But the principle is the same except you use your right foot.

When slowing a car down using the foot brake pedal, as the car comes to an almost stop, try to release some of the pressure on the brake pedal by about the width of a £ coin to stop the car from jolting, but be careful not to release the brakes by too much because you’ll keep rolling.

Your right foot has two pedals to control, the gas pedal (accelerator and the brake). The reason is because you don’t speed up and slow down together, it’s one or the other.



The third pedal from the right is the clutch pedal. You only use your left foot on this one.

the clutch pedal

The clutch is designed to connect the power (engine) to the road wheels, and it takes practice to use the clutch smoothly so that you don’t cause the car to stall or leap frog down the road.

It’s every learners worst nightmare stalling a car, but it shouldn’t be. Even the most experienced driver stalls occasionally.

The art is to try and understand whats happening with the cars components when operating the clutch.

Again using the principle of a cycle, when you start from rest you have to put pressure on the pedals to start the wheels turning, well with the clutch the same pressure applies but when releasing it from the floor.

Controlling the pressure you have on the clutch when lifting the pedal will determine how smoothly the car moves away. The quicker you release the pressure the more chance the car will jump forward or stall. The smoother and steadier you release the clutch the smoother you’ll move away.

When depressing the clutch, the quicker you get it down to the floor the better, because this movement takes it out of operation.

The pedal furthest left in the picture, is not a pedal its a foot rest, so that you can rest your left foot when you are not using the clutch.


More tips coming soon.