Bourne driver proud of his driving test result

Dalton Marsh from Bourne (shown here) passed his driving test at Peterborough on Day 5 of his BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course

He was very proud of his result as he recorded a “clean sheet”; no driving faults committed at all on his driving test.  He needed to pass urgently so that he could drive himself to his workplace in Peterborough in the week, rather than relying on lifts from his Wife who also had to take their 2 very young children. 

 

This is what he said about his experience with BIG TOM:

“I had a great week with Tom, very professional and polite.  I enjoyed his teaching style, calm and patient which suited my learning style.  Overall I feel I’m a much better driver than when I started.  Big thumbs up!  10/10” Dalton Marsh from Bourne

Tom Ingram, his driving instructor and owner of BIG TOM Driving School said:

“Big congratulations go to Dalton.  Another zero fault driving test result is really encouraging to see, that is a good standard of driving.  But perhaps more importantly Dalton is showing once again that the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course is well developed to offer the opportunity for customers to obtain their full driving licence within 5 days.  He is one very happy chap and I am so pleased for him.”

 

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries: Admin@BIGTOM.org.uk  Sales: 07756 071 464

 

 

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Systematic approach to driving

In this blog Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) provides some explanation to the expectation driving examiners have when they observe a driver on a driving test.

 

Until driverless vehicles become the norm and as long as we have humans driving vehicles we have the potential of sporadic driving behaviour; we are not robots and we are prone to allowing our driving behaviours to be affected by our emotions.  Stress, irritability, mood swings, fear, anxiety will all affect how we drive.  The causes for these mixed emotions are varied and a product of day to day living.  Other road users can instantly “push our button”, our environment such as lack of parking at home can make us angry, even the weather eg heavy rain or 30 degree + heat can all affect how we feel.  To try to combat this fact the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) have stated in their Driving Standard under the heading of “Drive the vehicle safely and responsibly” that they expect to see a “systematic” approach from a driver on the driving test.  As you might expect from them, they choose their words carefully.  By using the word ‘systematic’ they are wanting to express the need to see logical, consistent, efficient and planned driving behaviour.  By having this consistency instilled in the driver, s/he is more likely to continue with the same behaviour in differing contexts as mentioned above.  In effect, they are wanting to see evidence that a driver will maintain driving standards in any situation that they happen to be in.  We all use vehicles for so many different reasons, some pleasurable, some a necessity and sometimes, quite frankly, we would rather not be driving at a given time – but, regardless of how they feel, drivers still maintain standards of driving by falling back to a system that ensures safety.  If a driver has no regard to this expectation from the DVSA then it raises the question if they intend to “drive the vehicle safely and responsibly”. 

On the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course, this expectation is raised with our pupils because the DVSA rightly require professional driving instructors to do this in a “meaningful” way for our pupils. 

Some of the key principles include:

Making effective observations prior to changing direction or speed

Acknowledge the consequences of poor driving standards so as to prevent recurrence

Drive in a manner that gives due consideration to the needs of anyone around the vehicle

Assess risk in any given situation so that timely appropriate action is taken to maintain safety

There are a variety of techniques to encourage these principles to be learnt and applied in every day driving.  Our pupils are shown the benefits of developing thoughtful driving actions as opposed to just wanting to pass the driving test.  The reason why this distinction is made is because it is entirely possible to achieve the goal of passing the driving test WITHOUT developing these key principles.  To be coached on driving test routes and through a learning process no more involved than “trial and error”, a pupil would be suitably prepared to pass a driving test but this is not the hallmark of professional driving training.  This might achieve the goal of obtaining a driving licence, but it falls far short of preparing a newly qualified driver for the challenges of safe driving in the years to come.  It effectively is short changing the pupil who then pays dear for the consequences to follow.

This kind of driving training involves pupils performing driving actions that defy any kind of logic or meaning eg checking a mirror every 8 seconds, doing a right blindspot check before moving off to the left, approaching all roundabouts automatically in the same gear and speed. 

Preparing drivers for real life driving situations involves helping them to appreciate that driving on roads is a fluid, evolving process where challenges are presented from road design, behaviours of others, limitations of the vehicle, familiarity of the area and concentration levels of the driver.  The conditions are not sterile like that in a school/college environment.  Our pupils are given the opportunity to appreciate how these factors impact on how it makes them feel whilst driving, and they are encouraged to reflect, and think about their ability to manage these situations.  The emphasis on the training is one of self-development as opposed to strict compliance of instruction.  

 

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries: Admin@BIGTOM.org.uk  Sales: 07756 071 464

 

 

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BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course Content

This blog enables readers who are considering how they want to learn to drive the opportunity to knowingly choose between providers of driving training for their own particular needs.

 

BIG TOM driving training is centred around the thoughts and driving actions of the pupil rather than concentrating on driving faults.  The training concentrates on the fact that human behaviour is motivated by emotion.  What this means from a practical point of view, is that the pupil is encouraged to consider what influences their own driving behaviour as it will be these influences that ultimately control how they drive, rather than the “commands” of a driving instructor who is only in the pupil’s life for a relatively short period of time.

Safety whilst training is essential and this inevitably does involve explicit instruction at times, but just as important is the development of skills so that learning can continue after a learner passes the driving test.  These skills can only be developed if the driving instructor creates an environment within which a pupil has the freedom to learn about how their thoughts and feelings affect their driving behaviour.

Some of the key skills that you will be encouraged to develop include:

Understanding the responsibilities involved in driving a vehicle around safely and efficiently on public roads

Developing learning techniques that will be meaningful and effective in the LONG TERM

Considering how driving behaviour is affected with day to day living

Identifying personal strengths and weaknesses associated with the planning and taking of journeys

Fostering the potential for continued learning by identifying essential thought processes

Being able to identify ‘increased risk’ when driving and appreciating the skills required to manage critical incidents

The ability to recognise the differing phases of effective learning and the differing contexts of driving tests versus real life every day driving

 

In the interests of providing professional driving training that delivers on effective learning rather than coaching pupils how to pass driving tests, BIG TOM Driving School actively complies to the DVSA Driving Standard.  The key to developing safe drivers is by creating “thinking drivers” and those thought processes have to be learnt – it is a skill in itself.  Thought processes have to be practised, refined, evaluated and this takes time and a methodical approach.  As such customers of BIG TOM are given the opportunity to become aware of the need for these thought processes and how to develop them.  In line with the DVSA Driving Standard, this driving school does not instruct pupils how to drive by ‘forced compliance’.    

 

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries: Admin@BIGTOM.org.uk  Sales: 07756 071 464

 

 

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Not all driving instructors are the same

In this blog from Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) he explains why not all driving instructors are the same.  This subject is a common source of confusion for learner pupils and their family/friends.

To be legally entitled to charge for providing driving training in the UK the driving instructor must be registered with the authority called DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency).  Part of the reason for this is to strive for there to be a consistent approach to standards of instruction across the industry.  The DVSA produce “driving standards” which driving instructors are to work to so that there is this uniformity within the industry.  These standards are freely accessible online via the www.GOV.UK website: “National Standard for driving cars and light vans” and “National standard for driver and rider training”.  If a driving instructor knowingly ignores these standards when they go about their daily work, they are providing no more value to a pupil than could potentially be achieved by a willing and enthusiastic parent/friend/grandparent.

The DVSA state the following in the above:

“In the context of learning to drive or ride, the instructor brings to the learning process their hard-earned knowledge, understanding and experience.  If they rely simply on telling the learner what they should do they will probably be able to teach them enough to pass their test.  However, all the evidence suggests that learners in this sort of relationship do not really change the way they think and quickly forget what they have been taught.  There is a better chance of a long-lasting change in understanding and behaviour if the instructor:

Presents their knowledge, understanding and experience clearly and effectively

Listens to the learner’s reactions to that input

Helps the learner to identify any obstacles to understanding and change

Supports the learner to identify strategies for overcoming those obstacles for themselves”

The DVSA monitor the performance of driving instructors approximately once per 4 years by viewing just one driving lesson conducted for an actual pupil.  BIG TOM Driving School is fully committed to adhering to the above DVSA work practices every single day that it assists pupils learning to drive and trainee driving instructors learning to qualify as a driving instructor – it does not comply to the standards on one lesson every 4 years.  The desire is to strive to uphold standards in driving training every single day the driving school is working with pupils.

There is a public perception that all driving instructors are the same, and provide the same service.  There is a wide range of “value” that is provided to pupils across driving instructors and as the standard makes very clear, whilst some driving instructors might be happy to “coach” pupils to pass driving tests by constantly telling them how to drive, all the evidence suggests that in the long term this is providing very little actual value to their customers for achieving driving standards that will improve long lasting road safety.

Ultimately, pupils have a choice as to the quality of training that they receive from driving instructors in the industry, and this is very often reflected in the price that the driving instructors charge for their service.  It is on that basis that the public are provided with such stark differences in driving training prices from driving instructors and I hope this blog takes some of the confusion out of the situation.

 

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Minimising risk when driving

On the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course the subject of minimising risk when driving is introduced to you pre-course within the exclusive “Customer Update Videos” that are made available to you.  One of the reasons why this is an important concept to become familiar with is because it is certainly not a given that this will come naturally to all, and the fact that a pupil can “drive” does not in itself mean that they are minimising risk.  So it is one of these invisible skillsets that relates to a particular mind-set of how one drives.  There are many characteristics involved and in this blog, Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) will expand on 2 of them: driving ‘defensively’ and the identification, assessment and managing of hazards. 

 

Take 10 seconds to empty your mind of the second by second clutter, take a few slow, deep breaths and try hard to concentrate now and literally imagine in your mind the following scenario.

You are driving towards a large multi-laned roundabout, you have read the roundabout signs on the approach and identified which lane you need to be in for your exit.  It is the middle lane of 3 in front of you.  In front of you are a handful of cars across all lanes with 3 of them in your middle lane, about 100 yards ahead of you.  Behind there are vehicles in all 3 lanes, but just one in the middle lane which is a long long way behind you.

You are approaching in 3rd gear at 30 mph.  Can you picture this scene in your mind? 

You notice that this roundabout is controlled by traffic lights, however, you cannot see any lights illuminated.  There are in total 3 traffic lights in front of you on the entry to the roundabout but not one of them is lit with red, amber or green.

You see the 3 cars in front of you in your lane, one by one flowing on the roundabout and not stopping. 

What do you do?

If you have really engaged in this blog, you will now have come to a decision.  Because when you are driving, a decision you WILL need to make as you approach this hazard.  I appreciate that you could have bypassed the decision making when you read this blog, you might now be reading just to ‘cut to the chase’ but in reality, when driving, you have a responsibility to identify this situation in front of you, assess the risk it poses, consider what options you have in dealing with it and make a decision. 

So if you still haven’t made a decision, go back to where I start describing the situation, and really try to imagine being in this situation, driving alone, what would YOU do?

You see when you put yourself in the drivers seat of a vehicle, that action brings with it responsibility, you are responsible for the outcomes of your driving decisions.  This is something that can easily be ignored.  Driving a heavy 4 wheeled vehicle made of metal at speed, will in itself generate risk – risk for you personally in terms of your safety, as well as risk for everyone and everything around you.  One of the key skills of “driving defensively” is your ability to acknowledge your own driving behaviours and appreciate any strengths or weaknesses.  If you FAIL to do that, you are not accepting responsibility for the risk that you pose by sitting in the drivers seat.  Thinking to yourself what aspects of driving do I find challenging and easy is important, because having an awareness of when you are feeling vulnerable, less confident and more wary is the first step towards managing risk.  Paying no attention to how you feel when driving will affect the options that you consider to deal with hazards and even the decision making process.

One of the other concepts of defensive driving that is introduced to you early on the in course is the relationship between the speed you drive at and whether you would be able to stop within the distance that you can see you are able to.  Think about that one for a few seconds while you consider your action at this roundabout.

But a core skill of safe driving is actually identifying a hazard in the first place.  Your eyesight needs to be able to spot them in advance, your mind-set needs to be willing to accept that hazards arise at short notice, so you need to be alert and responsive.  A hazard is anything that forces you to change speed and/or direction.  So accepting that the roundabout ahead represents a hazard is a key skill in itself.  However, you then need to assess it.  Normally with traffic controlled roundabouts, the flows of traffic are being controlled but things are not ‘normal’ here.  The traffic lights are not working.  In terms of assessing a hazard that should now bump this particular hazard right up in priority in your mind – how can you assume for example that with traffic lights not working, that there will NOT be traffic coming from your right?  Does the fact that 3 cars in front of you have all just entered the roundabout not 5 seconds before, mean that it is a given that you can also enter the roundabout?

In terms of risk assessment then, this situation is now ringing alarm bells in your mind; whilst the position of vehicles around your car cannot be ignored, in terms of risk they are incredibly lower risk compared to the roundabout ahead which has the traffic lights out.  What options do you have?  You could decide to do a complete stop at the roundabout and observe what is going on.  You could reduce speed, lower the gears, not take it for granted that it is safe to go, and proceed with caution, now treating it like a normal roundabout without lights.  You could blindly follow the cars in front and decide that for some reason which is not immediately entirely clear to you, copying the car drivers actions in front is the right option to take. It would be entirely understandable (albeit undesirable) if in my example above you decided to continue in the manner of the other 3 cars and entered the roundabout.  It is often a hidden trap to pay too much attention to what others around you are doing, and allow them to influence your own driving behaviour.  

Assessing risk is a skill.  Not everyone automatically picks this up immediately.  Being able to judge the significance to you personally of what you are seeing up ahead (in this case broken traffic lights on a roundabout) is a skill.  Being able to think through your options and imagine the possible consequences for each so that you do a meaningful dynamic risk assessment takes time to develop.  Some people are more able to consider possible consequences than others, this may be due to lack of previous experience, or an inability to appreciate how their presence on the road at a given time can affect other road users. 

So my first piece of advice to my customers is make sure you watch the videos that we have prepared for you before you attend the course.  In doing so, you are coming on to the course already with the awareness of the skills that are going to be developed – this is smart learning, it will make your in-car learning experience more efficient.

Secondly, as can be seen by the above description, there are many skills being developed when you are on your course and no-one is expecting you to instantly be good at these new skills, but I would encourage you to at least attempt to think of driving ability in terms of gaining skills rather than focussing on driving faults committed.  With all new skills that we develop in life, you need to have your awareness raised initially, then have the opportunity to practise them in a methodical way so that safety is not compromised while you learn.  New skills need regular, good quality practise in order to develop.

Lastly, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to drop them on the videos that you are watching – being able to learn outside of the in-car environment is a really smart action to take.     

 

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Life changing driving test pass

Kyle Bennett from March passed his driving test this morning in Peterborough and recognises it is a life changer for him and his family.

Kyle (seen here with his new driving licence) started his BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course on 22/5/17 and turned it all round in just 10 days..  Tom Ingram was his driving instructor and says of Kyle:

“What a great course this was for Kyle.  He really did embrace the idea of personalising his driving training to reflect his work needs (larger vehicles) as well as driving in his family car.  His journeys included Whittlesey, Marholm and Elton. This driving test pass that he has achieved today is a real life changing moment for him – it has massive positive implications in his life and I am so pleased for him.  It was a real pleasure to work with such a conscientious pupil towards road safety.”   

Kyle made particular use of the BIG TOM driving videos on roundabouts and recognised the value of them instantly.  It meant that he was able to be learning about the key skills of forward planning and assessment of hazards outside of the car.  BIG TOM wishes Kyle many years of safe driving at home and at work.

 

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Context of driving

On the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course pupils are invited to make their driving experiences personal to them.  They have the opportunity to drive on journeys that are meaningful to their life, adding an element of context to the process of learning to drive. 

The reason why this is provided for pupils is because it enables them to develop the important skills of planning for journeys, considering risks that are associated with routes and how their own strengths and weaknesses affect the decision making process before they even set off on the journey. 

Being able to drive opens up a range of new opportunities and experiences that go far beyond the goal of “being able to drive”.  If a pupil is not afforded the opportunity to start considering these new options then this can have far reaching consequences once they obtain their driving licence. 

It is not uncommon to hear of qualified drivers taking routes that are very high risk due to their inability to assess risk.  Some people will continue to drive particular routes due to not having confidence in planning and assessing alternative routes.  The same can be said for over reliance on sat navs.  I have heard of drivers who have no concept at all about their direction of travel they are taking, and it is only when they eventually realise that they have put an incorrect location into the sat nav that they see they have gone many miles out of their way.  The planning required to deal with lane selection and safe navigation around accidents or road closures are vital when a sat nav is not aware of these incidents.

To practise considering the options regarding mode of transport, route selection, timing and where and when to rest are vital.  Sometimes in the work place you might be called upon to drive vehicles of different size, power, visibility and in-car technology; factors that can affect your safety (and others) when you come to drive the journey.

Drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are doing all they can to maximise road safety for everyone prior to a journey.  Planning a journey and considering the time to start so that driving conditions (weather, class of road, type of vehicle) are taken into account is a vital skill to develop and this is why you are encouraged to consider these factors on the BIG TOM intensive driving course.

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Intensive Driving Course Availability

 

The next BIG TOM weekday intensive driving course available slot for YOU is:
11/9/2017      £774

The next BIG TOM weekend intensive driving course available slot for YOU is:
1/7/2017     £1097

 

BIG TOM Driving School

Enquiries: Admin@BIGTOM.org.uk

Express Sales Line: 07756 071 464

 

 

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Rural road driving experience

Owner of BIG TOM Driving School, Tom Ingram, takes time out from an intensive driving course in Sleaford with Ben Gibb to highlight one of the key advantages of the BIG TOM intensive driving course.

Ben lives in Ruskington and needs to learn to drive due to his work commitments.  He wanted to work on his roundabouts yesterday and chose to drive over to Peterborough to increase his experience of navigating around a variety of different size roundabouts.  Today though he wanted to transfer the learning from yesterday on to the Boston roundabouts.  Nearing the end of the day, we came to discuss the route home.  Fairly typically the middle of Boston was absolute gridlocked.  Ben then chose a route back home using a route out towards Horncastle.  He wasn’t too familiar with the route so wanted to make use of the on-board sat nav.  After tapping the destination in, he ignored the first few instructions and stayed firm with his plan to head out north of Boston. 

The route took him on a variety of rural roads, out towards Coningsby where we saw the obligatory military aircraft coming in to land.  The speed limits of the roads varied, as did the surface quality.  Ben also had to contend with pouring rain and the associated hazards that brings.  When he got back he was feeling pretty pleased with himself at what he had accomplished – it really was some achievement. 

This experience that Ben is receiving is precisely the opportunity that the BIG TOM intensive driving course offers pupils and it is entirely in line with the desires of the DVSA in their Driving Standard.  He has the freedom to be working on the training that he feels he needs, there is flexibility designed in so that he can choose where he does the training.  He is getting experience of taking the responsibility of planning journeys, he is broadening his driving experience to include all classes of roads. 

Ben is working hard and the experience he is receiving will benefit him greatly.

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Top Marks for Intensive Driving Course in Sleaford

Pete Roberts from Sleaford gives the BIG TOM intensive driving course the thumbs up!

Pete (seen here) passed his driving test in Grantham test centre with just one minor driving fault.  All BIG TOM customers are invited to give their feedback after their 5 day intensive driving course and Pete told us that he “Loved it!”.  Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) said:

Congratulations go to Peter for achieving such a brilliant result.  This is why customers use BIG TOM.  He started his course on 24/4/2017 and passed his driving test on the first attempt just 8 days later.  Part of Peter’s feedback from his customer survey indicated that he made full use of the BIG TOM driving videos, the blogs and also the reflective logs that we provide.  Time and time again, this proves to be the case that when customers embrace our learning techniques that we have incorporated into our courses, they consistently get successful results.  Thank you Peter for taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

Customers from Sleaford and surrounding areas are invited to book up in advance on to our popular 5 day intensive driving course in Sleaford.

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries: Admin@BIGTOM.org.uk  Sales: 07756 071 464

 

 

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