FAQ’s

Licencing

Q. If a learner has six penalty points on their licence before they take a test and they pass, do they immediately revert to provisional licence status under the New Drivers’ Act?

A. No. The Road Traffic Act (New Drivers) Act 1995 came into affect for all those who passed their driving test on or after 1st June 1997. If a driver reaches six or more penalty points within two years of passing their driving test (i.e. during the probationary period) DVLA will automatically revoke their driving licence when notified by a court or fixed penalty office. To regain a full licence the person must then obtain a provisional licence, drive as a learner, and pass the theory and practical test again.

Penalty points counting towards the total of six include any incurred before passing the test, as long as the offence took place not more than three years before the latest penalty point offence.

Points imposed after the probationary period will also count if the offence was committed during that period. Passing the retest does not remove penalty points from the licence, and if the total reaches 12, licence holders are liable to be disqualified by a court.

Q. I recently applied for my first provisional driving licence and received a sort of credit-card and piece of paper. Which is actually my licence?

A. Your provisional licence is in two parts:

Your Driving Licence Photocard will show your name, date and place of birth, the issuing authority and the date of expiry and Driving Licence number as well as the holder’s permanent UK address and the categories of vehicles for which the licence is valid.

Your Driving Licence Counterpart is an important document and forms part of your driving licence. It must be presented with the photocard whenever you need to produce your driving licence as it lists the provisional entitlements you hold and details of any endorsements you might have. It also has an area for you to notify a change of address and both the photocard and the counterpart would have to be returned. The back of the counterpart shows definitions of driving licence categories and other notes.

Q. I’m applying for my driving tests soon but I can only find the photocard part of the licence. Does this matter?

A.Yes. You must notify the DVLA immediately if you lose either the photocard or the paper counterpart licence or if any of the information on the licence changes e.g. if you change your name or address. You could be fined up to £1,000 if you do not notify the DVLA of these changes.

Q. My brother has offered to sit in with me in my father’s car which is insured for me to drive as a learner. We know that learner drivers must be supervised but we’re not sure what the current regulations are.

A. To supervise a learner driver you must be at least 21 years old and have a current full GB or EC/EEA motor car licence which must have been held for at least three years. Anyone who does not comply with these requirements could be liable to a maximum fine of £1,000, discretionary disqualification or 3-6 penalty points (as could the learner driver).

Q. My family live in Wrexham but I go to university in London. I have lessons when I am at home and also when I am in college. Whilst I’m at home, I have lessons with a Welsh-speaking instructor who only has “D” plates on his car (the Welsh equivalent of “L” plates) and I would be proud to carry this tradition into my college lessons but my English instructor has refused to do this. Can I insist displaying a “D” plate instead of an “L” plate?

A. Learner drivers must carry “L” plates which are clearly visible from the front and back of the vehicle; learner drivers in Wales are allowed to display “D” plates on their vehicles instead of “L” plates. Learner drivers in Wales may also display both plates if they so choose but in other parts of Great Britain all learners must display “L” plates even if they display “D” plates as well.

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Lessons

Q. How many lessons will I need before going for my test?

A. If we could give a reliable answer to this, we’d be very clever indeed! All we can do is give and idea of the amount of practice that has been recommended over the years by the various professional bodies. At one time, it was felt that between one and one-and-a-half lessons for every year of your life was a reasonable target in which to get a learner to test standard. And most parents will know of someone from their day who had 20 lessons or even less. The fact is, the test is far more challenging than ever before and traffic will have quadrupled since your parents day. The latest research from the Driving Standards Agency has shown that, on average, people who take about 45 hours professional instruction combined with plenty of additional practice, stand the best chance of passing their test. Some people will need more lessons and practice than others.

Q. I’m frightened of going out on the roads. Where do you take me for the initial lesson?

A. Instructors face this dilemma every time they meet a new pupil. Apart from a brief idea as to the driving experience of a new pupil given when that pupil books up, the instructor has to rely on his own judgement formed after meeting a new pupil for the first time and influenced by the location that the pupil is being picked up from, as whether to allow the pupil to drive away immediately at the start of their very first lesson. Pupils who have never driven before will almost certainly be driven somewhere quieter for their initial “Controls” lesson. As a result, most first lessons will actually only allow about 30 minutes of driving. Whether the instructor talks the pupil through driving themselves home at the end of the lesson depends on the skill and experience of the instructor, the competence of the pupil, the distance to be travelled and the type of road to be tackled. It is always best to let your instructor know at the start of a lesson how you would like your lesson conducted but, in fairness to your own progress, most instructors will prefer you to take to the roads behind the wheel as soon as is practical during your course of lessons. After all, the vehicle is dual controlled and your instructor has been trained in keeping your car safe during the lessons as well as providing you with clear and confident instruction during the lesson.

Q. What cars do you teach in?

A. We offer a large selection of vehicles to learn to drive in. This is so pupils have a chance to match the vehicle their parents or partners have A bigger selection of vehicles means we can accommodate a bigger number of different pupil sizes, shapes and preferences. Meet our Instructors to see what the different vehicle types are in your area.

A. Do you have lady instructors?

A. Although more than 50% of learners are female, only about 10% of the ADI Register is made up of lady instructors. Although we pride ourselves on retaining instructors under our brand for years at a time, you will have to Meet our Instructors to see whether or not we currently have a lady instructor covering your area and whether or not she has any spaces available for new pupils.

Q. Do you teach in Automatics?

A. You will need to use our online booking and prices page to check if we have a automatic car covering your area or you can call us and we will check for you.

Q. Is it true that you can pass your test quicker in an automatic than a manual? I’m thinking of having lessons for the first time in an automatic and I have tried learning in my husband’s car (manual) but can’t get used to the gear changing. Do you think it would be better for me to learn in an automatic?

A.I don’t think it’s a matter of which is “quicker” to learn in as which type of vehicle would be best for you. If you pass your test in an automatic you will be restricted to driving automatics. Is your husband willing to change the family car to an automatic or are you able to buy your own automatic, separate from your husband? If not, then learning in an automatic would be pointless, no matter how much easier you might find it. You may pass your test, but have no use for the licence! I would recommend that you take about 10 lessons in a manual car with an instructor and then speak to him or her about what might be best for you after those lessons. They won’t be wasted lessons as the background they’ll give you will be equally as important if you then switch to an automatic, but at least you’ll have a professional opinion, based on your instructor’s knowledge of your driving, as to whether you would be better off not having to worry so much about what gear you’re in. Finally, other factors to consider would be whether you have the same selection of automatic tuition in your area (your choice of instructor might be greatly limited) and the cost of lessons will undoubtedly be greater.

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Tests

Q. Do you have to take the theory test for driving a car if you hold a full motorcycle licence?

A. If you have a full B1 entitlement because you have a full motorcycle licence issued before 1st February 2001 you are exempt from the car (B) theory test otherwise you will need to sit a theory (car) test. .

Q .Do you loan out theory books and CD’s to help learners prepare for the theory test?

A.There are so many excellent (and cheap!) books and CD’s on the market that few of our instructors get involved with the theory test other than to offer help and advice on the Hazard Perception part of it. Some instructors used to lend materials but most stopped doing that once they realised what it cost them when they weren’t being returned! Some instructors are now willing to sell the books or CD’s and buy them back at half price then “rent” them on again at half price to the next pupil who asks. That way, if the materials are never returned, at least they’ve been paid for. Check with your instructor when you book lessons but don’t be swayed into going with any instructor purely on the back of what arrangements they might make for the theory test. Alternatively, there is a good selection of reading materials, videos and CDs available on Amazon.co.uk.

Q. I get very nervous with passengers in the car. Can I ask that only the examiner is allowed in the car on the test with me?

A. The DSA is keen to ensure that all examiners conduct tests to a consistent standard throughout the country. Occasionally therefore test candidates will have more than one examiner accompanying them on test. It could be that a Supervising Examiner or Assistant Chief Driving Examiner wishes to check test the driving examiner to see whether tests are being conducted consistently and properly. It could also be that a new examiner or an examiner new to the area is learning the test centre routes. For whatever reason, candidates should not be concerned and should soon forget that there is an additional passenger in the vehicle. A candidate cannot refuse the presence of a second DSA official on test without loss of the test fee.

Q. Can I be accompanied on my test by a friend or member of my family?

A. Provided the examiner is satisfied there is sufficient room you may be accompanied by one other person. The examiner should make clear that they must not say or do anything to interfere with the conduct of the test and, if they do, the test would be terminated immediately.

In addition to friend or family of the test candidate there may be occasions where the supervising examiner or other senior DSA representative will sit in on a test to check that the marking by the examiner is of a uniform standard. In addition, an instructor can sit in on their pupil’s test but only if this is specifically requested by the pupil.

Q. Can I take my test in Welsh?

A.  Yes the theory test can be conducted in Welsh or English. For more information about taking your test in Welsh, click here >>

Q. Can test candidates have an Interpreter in car with them?

A.Yes, interpreter can sit in on the test but must not take an active part in the test. That is, the examiner will give his instructions well in advance and expect the interpreter to simply convey his instructions to the test candidate. If the examiner felt that the interpreter was advising the pupil on how to drive on the test the examiner would be within his or her rights to abandon the test.

Q. I was on test following a car which stopped suddenly. If I had stopped normally I would have ended up in a yellow box junction but I failed for stopping too quickly. My examiner said that a car could have run into the back of me but there wasn’t one there. And if a car had run into the back of me wouldn’t that have been their fault?

A. If you had been reading the road correctly you would have been adjusting your speed accordingly and you would have been able to stop in a progressive fashion before you got to the yellow box. It is one thing to brake as if in an emergency and quite another to brake progressively (but safely) on the approach to hazards or potential hazards. If a driver HAD been behind you, you would have had a Dangerous error marked, but in your case it was a Serious or Potentially Dangerous error marking which failed you the test.

Q. I’ve just failed my test for not making progress by driving at just 60 mph on a dual carriageway instead of 70. I would like to know why this makes me unfit to hold a driving licence. There is no law that compels us to drive at 70 mph although I feel that I am fully capable of driving at 70 mph.

A.ALL drivers – including “L” drivers – can drive up to 70 mph on DUAL CARRIAGEWAYS, although this is a LIMIT not a TARGET. The driving examiner will expect you to show how good and safe a driver you are and you are best advised to drive up to the limit PROVIDING ROAD AND TRAFFIC CONDITIONS ALLOW AND IT IS SAFE TO DO SO. If you do not, you may be suggesting to the examiner that you afraid or not capable of handling the car at those speeds and as your full licence will enable to drive at those speeds AFTER your test the examiner will be reassured if you’ve shown him that you CAN handle those speeds DURING the test. (And that you know whether it’s safe to do those speeds or not. If it is very busy or otherwise unsafe you would not be expected to do such speeds.) The test is all about showing the examiner that you are COMPETENT to drive. You can only prove this by showing him what you can do, otherwise everyone might just as well drive at 30 mph. But if they were to do this when they had a safe opportunity to go faster, they would fail. It IS possible that a test candidate could fail for doing 60 mph where the examiner felt that 70 mph was “do-able” and this is what is reflected in our example. We’re not saying that ALL candidates would fail under these circumstances. That would depend on the examiner.

Q. Where can I find a list of the questions that will be asked to me on my practical in car test?

A. From September 1st 2003, all pupils have been required to answer two questions concerning the operation and maintenance of their vehicle, one explanatory and the other demonstrative. For more information you can click here >>.

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Miscellaneous

Q. Do I need to have held a full driving licence for a given length of time before I can sit an Advanced Test?

A. Unlike applying to become a driving instructor (where you have to have held a full licence for at least 4 years) you can apply to sit an Advanced Test at any time after you have passed your driving test. However, the nature of the Advanced Test is generally such that it may bne better for you to gain some practical experience as a full-licence holder before you think about putting yourself for this extra scrutiny. Newly qualified drivers might be better taking the PassPlus course which takes into account their limited driving experience.

Q. Is the DIAmond Advanced Test more difficult than the Institute of Advanced Motorists or RoSPA tests?

A. The DIA advanced test was originally introduced because it was felt that both the RoSPA and IAM advanced tests did not support and encourage professional driver training. The DIA test requires the signature of an ADI to confirm that the prospective candidate has had additional training. Further, the DIA advanced test mirrors the Driving Standards Agency marking procedure so their test is more easily understandable for both the candidate and the instructor. All three of these advanced tests are now under the scrutiny of the DSA but the RoSPA and IAM tests remain more subjective than the DIA advanced test. Whether this would be more difficult to you as a potential candidate therefore depends on whether you prefer a subjective approach to testing.

Q. I’m considering the possibility of training as a driving instructor as a change of career. Presuming all the necessary qualifications and criteria were met, I would just like to know what my realistic annual earnings could be (on average) to decide whether this career change could be an option financially.

A. This is almost impossible to answer. Many advertisements regularly appear in the national press claiming earnings “in excess of £35,000 per year and a company car” (quoting 2006 figures). It is possible that a small number of well established instructors in some parts of the country could achieve these figures but even then you would have to know their out-goings to decide whether the potential profit is as great as is implied. In reality, most instructors do not earn anything like this some and many instructors work part-time or have a second income and do not rely solely on their driving school income to support their family. When you factor in that you will not be paid when you take time off for holidays and may lose a substantial percentage of your diary if you were to need to take any extended time off sick you can see that working as a driving instructor can be both risky and challenging. Many instructors enter this industry do not just look at the financial picture as the rewards that can be obtained are often vocational and not merely financial.

Q. Do you do motorcycle training?

A. No. We provide car tuition and Instructor Training only.

Q. Where can I find out about LGV training?

Click here >>

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