Crossings are very common on the approach to junctions, and immediately after joining a new road, which makes them a hazard, especially when approaching zebra crossings after exiting a roundabout.
One of the reasons is that traffic should be moving slower and therefore drivers will be more aware of hazards.
But what do you do if you can’t see anyone at the crossing?
In busy streets parked vehicles can hide pedestrians from view, especially children. So, if you can’t see both side of the crossings you should assume that someone will be waiting to cross and slow as you approach being prepared to stop.
But what if you can see and the crossing looks clear. We watched a video from one of our vehicle cameras and found that a grown man could be hidden from view by just a black and white post.
Look ate the picture below, at first glance do you see the pedestrian?
No, okay on this picture we’ve highlighted the pedestrian.
Moving a few frames on and now you can clearly see him. But, at first glance drivers would assume it’s clear and start to accelerate.
The hazard can quickly become a danger, how might you react?
A) The pedestrians walks on to the crossing and the driver slams on the brakes, watch out behind if you’re driving too close.
B) The pedestrian walks on the crossing and the driver swerves to avoid him, watch out if you’re the oncoming vehicle.
C) The driver holds back until he has a clearer view of the crossing area to the left and brings the car to a smooth stop to let the pedestrian cross safely.
Out of the 3 choices I know which I would choose.
The next time you approach an uncontrolled zebra crossing double check it’s safe before driving past, if in doubt hold back.
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Driving tips for new drivers 1: Understanding and using the clutch correctly
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.
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.
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/
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…
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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’…
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Damage or cuts to the side wall
Bent wheel rims
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: