L-Plates are a legal requirement if you are driving a car as a provisional licence holder. There are many cheap ones on Amazon but beware: some of them don’t meet the legal specifications of size and colour. If you want to buy a set of L-Plates that are legal and exceedingly good quality, then click here.
There are times when L-plates might also be used, even when the driver isn’t a learner: If someone is training to be a driving instructor then during role-play sessions, L-plates must also be used. Additionally, if you passed in an automatic car and then learn to drive a manual car, you’ll need L-plates again (but don’t worry: you don’t have to redo your theory test).
Magnetic and very strong: guaranteed not to blow off at high speed.
Keep yourself safe around large vehicles, such as lorries, and help the lorry driver at the same time. (This article was written by Richard Gladman from “IAM RoadSmart”)
Often one of the missing links when teaching people to become drivers is to get them to understand about the larger vehicles which use the road. The important messages will get conveyed to learners providing the opportunity arises and but ideally the skills need to be learned in practical terms.
The driver of a large vehicle will tell you, they sometimes need a bit of extra space to move down the road. Visibility can be restricted, and no number of mirrors will allow all the blind spots to be monitored all of the time. On a roundabout they will often need more than one lane so let them have it; when turning to the left they will almost certainly move out to the right first to create their turning circle so hang back when you see them indicating their intention to turn left; a few seconds delay will be worth it if you prevent a crash. Driving in front of, or even behind, a large lorry can be daunting.
When you’re driving along the motorway, you’ll notice many
lorries with foreign number plates. Bear in mind that the driver will be
sitting on the left-hand side rather than the right, so you may be difficult to
see and the driver may be acclimatising his lane position in the UK. Take extra
care when passing and allow more space if you can.
We have all heard the saying “if you can see their
mirrors, then they can see you.” But an HGV can have up to five mirrors,
and the driver is limited to looking at one at a time so they may not see you.
Hold back and you will eventually be visible in their mirrors.
Identify when there is a likelihood of the HGV changing
lanes. Is there a slip road coming up which will be joining traffic and may
force a lane change? Or if there is an HGV in lane two, are they likely to
change back into lane one? Be accommodating by hanging back and allowing them
to pull into the lane they are looking to move into.
At one point in time, we’ve all experienced heavy spray from
an HGV in front of us. You can control this by extending the distance between
yourself and the lorry. The Highway Code suggests at least four seconds in the rain
but if needed, make it more. Not only will it prevent your wipers working
overtime, it will also improve your vision beyond the HGV.
An articulated lorry will track sideways in a right-hand
bend on the motorway and on a roundabout, so avoid being beside it. A good rule
of thumb is to be safely in front of or safely behind, but never beside an HGV
when entering a roundabout.
If you see a queue of traffic in front of you and have an
HGV behind you, introduce your brake lights early to pre-warn the driver behind
and slow down gradually. This will let the HGV driver extend their braking
distance and stop in plenty of time. On a motorway or dual carriageway, hazard
lights can be used to show drivers behind you of any issues further in front.
(Highway Code rule 116)
Despite being legally limited to 60mph, an HGV can only physically go a maximum of 56mph on the motorway. So, if you do see a HGV in the right hand lane, give them a helping hand by slowing down and letting them into the left lane. Allow them to pass more easily if you can.
The first set of permanently-installed traffic lights were in St Peter’s Square, in my home town of Wolverhampton. Learn all about traffic lights by downloading the Secret Guide to Traffic lights (see below) For a free video, click here.
The secret guide to traffic lights (workbook)
£2.95 – £4.95
20+ page workbook with optional certificate on completion
If you said “stop the car” then you need to read on. If you said “slow” the car then that’s great (but read on anyway).
The brakes are a method of reducing the speed of the car. If you put your foot on the brake, the car will slow down. If you keep your foot on the brake for longer, the car will slow down more. Eventually, if your foot stays on the brake, you will slow down so much that you will stop. Congratulations, you have just discovered how to stop the car smoothly and routinely.
Pressing the brake gently will allow you to lose speed gradually and keep your passengers comfortable at the same time. You’ll need to do this early because it takes a long time.
Pressing the brakes firmly will slow you down in a shorter amount of time. Occasionally, firm braking is unavoidable, but if you find your braking is fierce all the time then it means you weren’t planning ahead properly, and you deserve to spill your coffee.
The £2 magic carpet challenge.
Place a £2 coin on the front shelf. Go for a drive and imagine you a driving a magic carpet. Brake as smoothly as possible. If the coin falls off the dashboard then your passengers get to keep it.
Thus challenge also work if you place a full cup of iced water between your legs.
Feel – Firm – Feather
Feel-firm-feather is a method of ensuring a good, smooth braking technique. When your forward-planning tells you that you need to begin the braking process, press the brake pedal just enough to feel that the car is slowing. Then gradually depress the brake pedal more and more until the rate of slowing is satisfactory. Keep adjusting how firm the pedal is pressed until your desired speed is reached. Finally, if coming to a complete stop,feather the braking by easing off the brake pedal just before the car stops to a complete halt. This prevents the uncomfortable “lurch and recoil” at the give way line, and ensures your coffee stays in its cup.
The accelerator increases the amount of fuel being sent to the engine. Pressing the accelerator pedal increases the engine speed, making the car go faster. Easing off or releasing the accelerator makes the car slow down. The accelerator is sometimes called the throttle (more common amongst motorcyclists).
“Accelerator Sense” is a technique which requires the driver to plan ahead and adjust the car’s speed using only the accelerator pedal; the brakes being used only when a more rapid reduction in speed is required.
Often called the gas pedal, it is the rightmost pedal in most cars and is operated with the right foot. The term “gas” is from gasoline the American word for petrol.
The spring mechanism, which pushes the pedal upwards when the driver removes their foot, is an example of a fail-safe mechanism.
Eco-safe driving suggests that the accelerator is used gently, although when a sudden increase in speed is needed, a “foot to the floor” technique is used.