Driving after you pass your driving test

 It is challenging when a newly qualified driver discovers the lonely feeling they have when driving unsupervised having passed their driving test. Up until this point a driving instructor has been on hand to give directions, help plan training schedules. It is reassuring.

At BIG TOM we are very aware of this fact and help prepare our pupils for driving post-test. A key advantage of the BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course is the 4-hour structure. It enables pupils to continually practice the transition between different modes of driving, eg coming off a dual-carriageway immediately within residential areas or towns. The duration of traditional pay as you go driving lessons restricts the ability to experience driving between varying conditions.

For example, it is common for pupils on BIG TOM courses to deliberately choose to drive to a town like Grantham via rural, B roads. Once there, practice navigating around on even thinner unclassified roads between villages. Then plan in a well earned BIG TOM pit stop where you can practice real-life parking up in a McDonalds or Costa car park for example, and make use of the free refreshments provided on the course.

Next, you can practice coming on and off the A1 both northbound and southbound or perhaps some town driving.
Transitioning seamlessly between different modes of driving is a skill; practice makes permanent. Keeping things safe, legal and empowering for our pupils. Building confidence in a systematic, methodical manner and allowing our pupils to own the learning process.

 

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Five ways to add happiness to your driving lessons

 According to official DVSA records* it takes on average seven months to learn to drive. Seven months! Here are some of the essential differences in learning to drive on a BIG TOM intensive driving course compared to pay as you go driving lessons:

1. Fewer cancellations from instructors. Pupils get tired of learning to drive when it takes seven months; they lose motivation and focus. They do not need driving instructors cancelling driving lessons. The cancellations of the BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course are virtually zero – this means you can rely on receiving 20 hours of driving training in 5 days….. GUARANTEED.
2. You learn more quickly on an intensive driving course. There is more continuity within the structure, so pupils recall details more efficiently and more frequently. Say goodbye to being told off from your driving instructor for not remembering something you did three months ago.
3. You can travel further in a 4-hour session than 4 x 1-hour sessions. Pupils can experience more varied driving conditions (often over county boundaries). Pupils tell us they enjoy the sessions more than their pay as you go driving lessons because it is more interesting, varied and stimulating.
4. You get to choose better locations to practice particular subjects. As you have more choices where to drive on a BIG TOM intensive course, you find that you are driving in the right places where there are successful outcomes.
5. It is easier to improve because the gaps between training are short. You will find yourself developing more naturally because you get to practice while you still remember what you did last time.

*TRL Published Project Report PPR828 Sec. 5.1

 

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How a driving test can go

 Want to know more about the driving test? Read on…

Ria from Peterborough took her driving test this morning, on a Sunday morning in Boston and passed her driving test first time which is great news! In this blog her driving instructor Tom Ingram explains what happened which will be interesting reading if you have a driving test coming up.

“It was a beautiful sunny morning and Ria had decided she wanted me to observe her driving test from the back. All of the following remarks came up in the discussion we had after she had passed on the way back home. When Ria arrived there were two cars already parked up in the car park (belonging to examiners), in two different areas, therefore, limiting the options of how she could reverse park before her driving test. Being well prepared, Ria had experimented with a couple of ways of reverse parking so this was not a problem for her. She mentioned that literally from the moment the examiner came out to greet her, she found that the examiner was extremely stern and pretty frightening in her mannerism and tone.  She was asked to read the number plate of a vehicle through a wire fence before getting in the car.  Once the examiner set up the sat nav in the car, we were off and all was going well until Ria missed an instruction to turn left from the sat nav.  As the examiner was not based at the test centre and just filling in for a Sunday test, she turned to me and asked what the implication of the error meant in terms of how far out we would go.  After I explained it really was quite some diversion, the examiner asked Ria to pull the car over and use a driveway on a bend to reverse into, to turn the car around which she did.  Back on track again, all went well, and Ria’s manoeuvre was a forward bay park in a local retail park which also was successful.  When we returned to the test centre there were 2 cars already in the car park for the next test slot, one of them still parking up which caused us to wait outside for a couple of minutes.  This meant that now there were in total 4 cars parked up in the small car park, in 3 different areas of the car park plus 3 traffic cones blocking empty bays.  Two people were standing in one of the available bays, and so Ria had very little choice but to forward park in between 2 parked cars positioned sharply over to the left of the car park – which she managed after a little shunting.  Ria handled the situation well, but mentioned it was pretty daunting due to the manner in which the examiner conducted the test.  A good result and another first-time pass even when the test did include not one, not two but three manoeuvres.”

This account of a driving test that occurred today just goes to show how things CAN go on a driving test and how there are many factors to the actual assessment that can affect outcomes if they were to distract the candidate.

 

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BIG TOM Customer Benefits

 Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram, explains one of the customer benefits:

“When my customers go to take their driving test they are given the option of having me observe their test for them, from the rear passenger seat.  I talk through with them the positives and negatives of utilising this additional service that not all driving schools provide.  It is, however, entirely my customer’s decision and I will respect their wishes.

Recently I observed on a driving test my customer being asked to do a reverse parallel park in the location as shown in this image; this is precisely the arrangement that occurred in the driving test.  I knew from my experience of observing dozens of driving tests over the years, that this was not a reasonable demand to make.  The reason I knew that to be the case, is that the DVSA Driving Standard insists that driving instructors encourage pupils to make continual risk assessments while driving and develop this vital skill for safety after the driving test.  As such, it would be entirely inappropriate to then demand a pupil who has got used to making such assessments to then go against their training by forcing them to do in this case a manoeuvre in an entirely unsuitable area.  One only needs to consider how close the driving school car is to the parked car, the kerb on the right and the junction at the end of the road to notice that there are added risk factors being “designed in” to this particular driving test which is not the norm.

My pupil attempted to do the reverse parallel park in the situation demanded and failed her driving test just for that reason (no other serious/dangerous driving faults committed).  Having observed this, I then spoke to the examiner after the driving test as well as my customer, and lodged a complaint on behalf of my customer, supporting it with a few images of the actual situation.

My pupil then took another driving test much to her credit and passed it.  Some 2 weeks later, the DVSA got back to me to say that the Test Centre Manager agrees with the complaint and that it was an unreasonable request, and the test fee will be refunded.  It doesn’t take away the injustice of the original driving test (and the consequences in delayed time and pressure that were then added to my pupil on her second attempt), but at least my customer does receive a refund for the driving test fee.

This is just one example of how driving schools differ in their approach to customer service – as some driving instructors don’t give their customer any option of having their test observed preferring to sit and wait in the test centre for the duration of the test.”

 

 

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Pass with BIG TOM

 Abbie Scott-Brown from Ruskington, Sleaford passes her driving test

She had previously tried to pass the driving test 6 times with other driving schools over a  two year period.  But Abbie who had not driven for over 8 months contacted BIG TOM to book a 5-day intensive driving course and passed on her first attempt on Day 5 of her course at Grantham.

Her driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“Abbie has done so well here. She requested to have a BIG TOM mock test on Day 3 of her course and that gave her really accurate feedback of her driving ability.  I believe this was the missing link with her other experiences. This demonstrates once more the quality of service that customers receive on their course and how BIG TOM can save people so much time and money.”

Abbie works in professional health care in the NHS working shifts and being mobile is very important for her work and to travel to see family.  She took 5 days off work to attend her course and can now get on with living her life how she would like.

Abbie said

“Before starting my 5 day intensive driving course with BIG TOM, I’d previously already had MANY hours of driving experience under my belt and had already gone and failed 6 TESTS. I would say that my confidence in myself and ability to actually drive was shot. I was really nervous about the whole thing, from meeting Tom and actually getting back on the road, as I’d not driven for around 8 months after failing the 6th test. 

Within half an hour of meeting BIG TOM, I felt really at ease and comfortable with him. Midway through the week, I was still having doubts after doing a mock test with Tom, which was truly awful. BIG TOM didn’t let me give up on myself and we had many pep talks which then gave me the confidence to keep going. By the end of the 5 day course, I’d finally PASSED MY TEST! Honestly, without BIG TOM’s supportive and open teaching style I don’t think I would ever have passed my test. Even when you make mistakes, BIG TOM remains very calm, cool and collected, which made the experience very comfortable for me as a pupil. 

I can’t thank BIG TOM enough and for someone like me, who has unpleasant experiences with driving/Instructors over the years, I couldn’t recommend BIG TOM enough!!”

 

 

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Driving test pass for Bourne resident

 Abby from Bourne passed her driving test in Grantham this morning

She really enjoyed her 5 day intensive driving course saying:

“During my week with Tom not only have I learnt about driving, I have grown in confidence and thought about things I have never considered previously.  I would recommend highly for any level of driver whether it’s a complete beginner or experienced”.

Her driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“Abby has done really well this morning.  On her first attempt at the driving test, she was dealt a bad hand where the examiner asked her to do a reverse parallel park in a very awkward location which the test centre manager has since confirmed was unreasonable.  So for Abby to now bounce straight back from that experience with a pass is justice well deserved as the only reason for not passing her first attempt was due to this very odd manoeuvre.  It shows a great deal of character to not let that previous experience affect her and I’ve been very happy to formally complain to the DVSA on her behalf.” 

 

 

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St Neots pupil passes with Big Tom

 

Ramona Malkinska passes her driving test in Peterborough

Big congratulations go to Ramona for her success this morning in Peterborough.  She came up by train each day of her BIG TOM intensive driving course from St Neots.  She made full use of the flexible training session times that BIG TOM offers by doing some 7am starts due to her busy workload.

Her driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“Ramona gave everyone at Peterborough driving test centre a bit of a wake up this morning when she heard she was successful on her driving test, there was lots of happy cheering!  I’m really pleased for her because I know how much this will improve her working life.  It just shows once again how the BIG TOM courses appeal to many customers from around the area. ” 

 

 

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Success from a cancelled driving test

 

Emily Ashcroft from Cranwell passes her driving test in Grantham

Emily has been successful in passing her driving test despite being on the receiving end of a very late cancelled test.  On the morning of her original driving test, Emily was called by the DVSA with just over an hour to go, saying that the examiner was unable to do the driving test.  Her driving instructor Tom Ingram was unimpressed (see below) but all credit to Emily for staying positive.  She now has a full driving licence and freedom to move on with her life.

Her driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“I have to say how impressed I have been with Emily’s positive attitude. I give much credit to the support from her parents too. It was very unkind and bordering on unprofessional for a public service organisation to be cancelling a driving test at such short notice.  I know many pupils who can’t sleep well before a test and get very affected with pre-test nerves.  It seems cruel to me to not have provisions for dealing with such incidents when they occur.  Emily passed on her first attempt with just 2 minors recorded – what a star pupil.” 

Emily says:

” I would definitely recommend this course for anyone, whether that be learning to drive for the first time or practising techniques you’ve already learnt. Amazing experience!”

 

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Theory Test Pass Expiring

 

Stephanie Kwok from Bourne passed her driving test just in time

Steph was getting tight on time with her 2 year period for her theory coming to an end and used her BIG TOM intensive driving course to get her driving test pass in time.  She passed this morning at Peterborough on her first attempt having completed her 5 day course last week.

Her driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“I’m very pleased for Steph.  She has uni coming up in Coventry and wanted to get her driving sorted all ready for her new academic year which she has now comfortably achieved.” 

Steph says of her experience with BIG TOM:

“The course made me realise how much I had forgot after not driving for 2 years.  I think the greatest thing I gained was confidence, because driving had never been something I liked and I usually found it stressful and scary” 

To view her full account of her BIG TOM experience just click HERE

 

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