Everyone Blames The Instructor

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Today I saw a very sad news report of a 20-year-old girl who killed a grandmother whilst driving and texting on her mobile. What shocked me more than the initial incident, is the aggression shown by some of the commentators to the girl’s mother, who is an instructor.

The mother was sitting (as a passenger) in the car with her daughter (who was driving) when the daughter read a text message on her mobile. This resulted in the car veering off the road, and crushing the grandmother against a wall. Most of the commentators on the above news article seem to be blaming the mother for not preventing the crash from happening (although some reports say the mother grabbed the steering wheel, but by which time it was too late). They seem to think that as an instructor, she should not have allowed her daughter to use her mobile whilst driving. Why will her being an instructor make that her adult daughter any less likely to use a mobile whilst driving?

Also, some of the commentators are asking for the mother to be “struck off” as an instructor. Why should she be treated any differently to any other adult passenger in a fatal car accident? Using that approach, all adult passengers in a car involved in an accident should also be prosecuted, as they failed to prevent the accident – completely unworkable and unrealistic!

On a few occasions in the past I have been a passenger in a vehicle where the driver has done something I have considered unsafe or not “best practice”. If appropriate, I have had a quiet word with the driver after the journey, but I have certainly never felt it prudent for me to interfere with the driver during the journey. Should I have done something whilst in the car, through fear of being “struck off” if something was to happen?

Right, off my soap box for a while again!

Anyone Got £1 Spare?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Well, it looks like I left BSM at the right time…

After months of decline (including an unpopular tuition car, removal of many instructor benefits, closure of many of the High Street shops, and many other changes to the instructor contracts), BSM has gone into administration, and been purchased by the AA for the grand sum of £1! That is some drop in value from the £10million paid in Nov’09 :shock:

I am pleased to say that Zodiac Driver Training appears to be in good health, and is actually actively seeking new instructors. I currently have 23 active pupils, so things are ticking along nicely! :D

A Great Start To The Year!

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

After finishing 2010 on a high (with Saskia passing), 2011 started in the same vein, with David passing his test on his first attempt today (with 6 faults). Well done David!

David Paine

Test results for January: 1 from 1 (100%) :D


2010 Statistics

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

In 2010, I took a total of 30 tests, of which 18 passed – this gives me a pass rate of 60% – well above the national average of 45% :D

My overall average (well, since the beginning of 2009), is 44.5%, so fractionally below the national average, but rapidly improving ;)


Out With The Old, In With The New

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Today was Saskia’s second attempt at the practical test (well, third if you include the non-starter). A much better drive resulted in Saskia passing her test – well done!

Saskia Greenalgh

When I dropped Saskia off at home, I picked up a new pupil – her sister Izzy, who turned 17 yesterday! :D

Test results for December: 1 from 2 (50%) :|

So Near!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Today I took one of the other Zodiac instructor’s pupil to test, because she was away on a family emergency.

Bobby asked me to join him on test, which I am always pleased to do. Bobby does not have English as his primary language, which caused a few issues on the test, but, nearing the Test Centre, I was quietly optimistic – a handful of minor faults, but nothing serious.

The examiner asked Bobby to take the next right (back in to the Test Centre), which means going through a cut-out in the central reservation of a rural dual carriageway. I knew Bobby was capable of doing this, as we practiced it before his test, so I was quite concerned as we sailed passed the junction without any effort from Bobby to start the junction routine :shock:

Luckily, there is a roundabout shortly after the cut-out, so the examiner asked Bobby to turn right at the roundabout, to get us back on track. As we rounded the roundabout, I could see the examiner looking nervously over his left shoulder. Bobby had drifted wide on the roundabout, and we forced a car in the left lane to take evasive action (Bobby didn’t appear to realise this, or if he did, he was far cooler about it than the examiner or I!).

When we got back to the Test Centre, the examiner gave Bobby the bad news. I’m not sure whether it was the language barrier causing the problem, or that Bobby honestly thought he had passed, because it took the examiner three attempts to tell him he’d failed, and I tried to explain it to him a further two times in the car on the way home!

The most annoying thing is that if Bobby had just gone the correct route, he probably would have passed :roll:

An Early Present

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I got an early Christmas present today :D

After Crispin‘s lesson this morning, his mother (who is my Sign Language tutor) came out of the house and handed me an envelope :cool: It was the result to my first BSL test – a 100% score pass! :D It was a lot earlier than expected, but I’m not complaining! ;)

Now on to the second (of three) module – but that can wait until the New Year.

The Green Light Means?

Friday, December 10th, 2010

This morning was Saskia’s second attempt at the practical test (but only her first actual chance to drive in one!)

After double- and triple-checking Saskia’s paperwork :roll: we headed off for the test centre. This time, the paperwork check went through without incident :D Saskia asked me to accompany her on the test, so I sat in the back of the car.

All was going well on the test until we came across a traffic-light controlled crossroads, where the examiner asked Saskia to turn right. Our light was green, but for some reason Saskia stopped abruptly at the white line, causing the driver behind us to hoot his horn. “The light is green, Saskia!” came the curt prompt from the examiner, and I just sank into my seat, knowing that was the end of the test for her.

The test ended with 1 serious fault (above) and eight minors (mainly around use of mirrors). On the way home from the test centre, I asked Saskia why she stopped at the green light – “I didn’t know what the oncoming car was doing” came the reply – the car was turning right across our path. At least we know what to work on before Saskia’s next attempt!

Saskia is back to Oxford University in the first week of January, so she hopes to get another test in before then. She might be unlucky – most recent tests are coming in mid- to late-February.

Test results for December: 0 from 1 (0%) :(

First Deaf Pupil

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Today Crispin started driving lessons with me. He is the son of my Sign Language tutor, and was born completely deaf. The first real test of my signing abilities! :shock:

Crispin had some driving lessons a few years ago, so he has already got a good grasp of moving off and junctions. It amazes me that his control is as good (if not better) than many of my hearing pupils who have had more lessons. Rather than hearing when the clutch is at the biting point or the engine is ready to change gear, Crispin “feels” the engine speed through the seat, making his clutch control exceptionally good. This bodes well for future lessons!

I managed to make use of some of my sign language skills. It is quite an intensive lesson, as I have to think my route two or three junctions ahead, to ensure I give the instructions when it is safe. Thankfully, Crispin’s lip-reading skills are very good, and combined with my basic signing, we have no problems understanding each other :D

If You Fail To Plan…

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

… you plan to fail.

Last time it snowed (11 months ago), I said that I should “build up a financial reserve before next winter”, to protect myself from the loss of income caused by the bad weather.

Guess what – three and a half days without lessons (due to the snow), and zero financial reserve :oops:

I now know what my New Year’s resolution for 2011 will be! ;)

At least the snow is now melting (to be replaced by more dangerous ice), as the temperatures start to slowly rise towards their typical values for this time of year.