Interactive communication function

BIG TOM Admin offers some friendly advice to customers about the offence of using a mobile while driving

The actual offence of using a mobile while driving is held within legislation from Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988

Basically, this comes down to not interacting with any device that can transmit/receive data while you are driving.  (It also relates to any supervisor of a learner driver, so make sure your parents know that before they take you out doing private practice).  Pushing buttons when the device eg mobile, sat nav, ipad is NOT in your hand is ok (more on that in a minute), the problem comes in law, when a driver/supervisor is holding the device.  So any device that has an interactive communication function must not be held in the hand.  This includes when stationary at traffic lights or momentarily paused for any reason.  If a driver needs to make a call for a genuine emergency eg 999 then that is an exemption.

By far the best advice to offer BIG TOM customers is to put the device out of sight AND reach.  The temptation to pick it up can be too strong otherwise.  If you need to make a call (or in any way interact with a device), pull over, turn the engine off, take the key out the ignition first.

The offence code is called CU80 and remains on a licence for 4 years.  Do remember that this must be disclosed to insurance providers.  In terms of punishment, a driver may get 3-6 points on their driver’s licence, a fine up to £2500 or a ban.  If a driver accumulates 6 points on the licence within the first 2 years of passing their driving test, then they would need to re-take the driving test and theory test.

Do be aware that not being in full control of the vehicle while driving could be construed in a court of law as an offence regardless of physically handling devices eg pressing buttons on an in-built radio, adjusting car controls such as heating/lights/wipers.  Dealing with distractions, in general, is definitely covered in your BIG TOM intensive driving course.

Here at BIG TOM Admin we do get many enquiries about certain offence codes on driving licences and due to the variety involved there is a handy link provided here.

We know how hard our customers work on their BIG TOM intensive driving courses to get their full driving licence and it would be a great shame to ever hear of anyone losing their licence due to any driving offence.  The proliferation of mobile phones means that it is highly likely that drivers and passengers get into vehicles with a mobile on them and so our advice here is to put them straight into the glovebox.

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9 years gap is no problem

Tommy Spires from Peterborough passed his driving test this morning on his first attempt despite a 9 year gap in driving lessons.

Tommy booked in his intensive driving course with BIG TOM feeling nervous that his previous driving training would be wasted as it was so long ago.

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) who assisted Tommy to get his full driving licence today says:

“It’s not unusual for customers to come on the BIG TOM courses feeling a little apprehensive but this just goes to prove that we really can help people turn things around.  Tommy kind of lost his motivation 9 years ago which is actually not uncommon.  But the BIG TOM resources do help in recalling and reinforcing key driving techniques.  I’m so pleased for Tommy – well done!”

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Life after the driving test

Rhiann Kirby passed her driving test with BIG TOM after an intensive driving course in Grantham. Hear her thoughts 3 years later

“Just to say 3 years after learning and passing with Tom , I realised that your driving teachers voice becomes the voice in your head when you drive. I can still hear him telling me to hold my ground and not be frightened. This voice keeps me calm and collected and there isn’t a better voice than Tom’s! Highly recommended!!”

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) says:

“This is a reflection of the kind of relationships that are built with our customers.  For some it can be quite a journey learning to drive.  It is so good to hear from pupils some time after they pass their driving tests.  I wish Rhiann all the very best and many years of safe driving.”

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Day 5 driving test pass

Scott Dunn from Wilsford near Sleaford passed his driving test today on day 5 of his BIG TOM intensive driving course.

Scott booked his intensive driving course with BIG TOM admin on 14/1/2019 and 11 days later has his full drivers licence is in his hand.  He had done 10 driving lessons with a different driving school over a year ago; in the times of the older driving test.   He had no knowledge of the revised driving test and was a little apprehensive about how much he would remember about driving.

His driving instructor Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) says:

“An 11-day turnaround is something that I’m really proud to be able to offer customers.  It demonstrates how my driving school can respond to people who want to pass their driving test quickly.”

Scott is over the moon at passing his driving test on his first attempt especially as a friend of his who has been learning to drive for a very long time, took a driving test the slot before Scott today, but unfortunately failed and now has to wait before he can take another driving test.

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Intensive driving course options

This blog from the admin at BIG TOM shows the options available for intensive driving courses with BIG TOM

An intensive driving course with BIG TOM is structured around an accelerated learning programme.  It is designed for customers who have a desire to pass their driving test quicker than the average 7 months* just like Scott here who passed on Day 5 of his BIG TOM intensive driving course.

Pupils are encouraged to prepare for this programme with the digital resources that are supplied prior to the in-car driving training.

It is helpful to be open and truthful with our admin prior to purchasing a course about any previous driving experience so that the right solution can be offered to you.  BIG TOM is happy to assist pupils from a wide variety of starting points eg never sat in the driver’s seat before to having had 5 failed test attempts with other driving instructors.

Some customers like to treat the BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course as a foundation for their driving training.  There is no risk with this plan as all customers receive the opportunity of a driving test booking as part of the course.  They may want to go on to train with family members and take their driving test in their own car.  BIG TOM also provides separately purchasable ‘bolt-on sessions’ for customers who complete the foundation course.  These can be booked up from 6am up to 10pm on a weekday so as to allow pupils to also fit in their day to day commitments.

As a general rule, with no previous driving experience, it would be more realistic to purchase the 2 weeks BIG TOM intensive driving course and collect the 17% discount.  If you have plenty of previous driving experience (10 hours+) then it is perfectly possible to take your driving test on Day 5 of your 5 day course with BIG TOM.  This cannot be guaranteed, however, because, with 10 hours of previous experience, some pupils will progress at different speeds than others.  Rest assured that as a driving school BIG TOM has never had a single accident in the 10 years of assisting pupils, so your safety is our priority.

Customers have the right to choose what they do after their course finishes.  It is risk-free.  They can take the end of course assessment, and focus their driving training with others or, as many do, they can stay with BIG TOM.

*7 months statistic as reported by the DVSA in “PPR828”

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Cancelling a driving test

This blog explains the process involved when a driving test is cancelled by the DVSA due to poor weather.

It is a great shame when a driving test is cancelled due to poor weather. No-one wants it to happen, but safety is the paramount consideration of the DVSA when deciding whether to cancel a driving test.

How do they decide?

Typically, it tends to be colder temperatures that cause cancellations. As a rough rule of thumb, once the temperature goes lower than zero degrees, then potentially there is a higher likelihood of ice on the roads.  Soft snow and sleet do not tend to create the same response as the presence of ice on the roads.

Do I get any advance notice?

Here at BIG TOM, we work hard behind the scenes on behalf of our customers. We monitor driving test centre cancellations on the DVSA twitter feed, and we act as a liaison between the DVSA and our customers.  As inconvenient and frustrating as a cancellation is, there is no controlling the weather and it is a case of limiting the impact.

Do I have to pay extra?

Tom Ingram, owner of BIG TOM says:

“Absolutely not!  No-one is to “blame” for poor weather, it is what it is.  In all the years I’ve been doing these intensive courses, cancellations for poor weather crops up a surprisingly small amount.  BIG TOM admin works hard to reserve a suitable alternative booking on behalf of our customers and we reset and go again.  I have to say, I do feel sorry for pupils when it does crop up though.  It is not lost on me how much mental preparation takes place prior to taking driving tests so it is an unfortunate situation but thankfully, does not happen too often. “

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Which BIG TOM intensive driving course?

This blog helps you choose which BIG TOM intensive driving course to pick.

BIG TOM Admin has been receiving a great deal of interest from customers who are trying to decide whether to do the BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course or the 2 week course.  One of the primary considerations will be what previous driving experience has been gained.  Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) explains:

What is best for me?

“Think of this like going to a bank to ask for a mortgage to buy your first home.  You can either go to them having previously put away some money every month for the last 3 years say, so you have a pot of cash that will act as a deposit, or you can speak to them with no savings at all.  The outcome of your meeting with the bank will look entirely different in terms of how they can assist you – it will make very real differences to the repayment amounts.  It is very similar when you start learning to drive.  The outcome of an intensive driving course definitely depends on what previous driving experience you have previously banked up.”

Can you give examples?

“Let’s say a customer comes to BIG TOM for help having done a number of driving tests previously but just can’t pass.  The number of hours training that customer is likely to need will be dramatically less than a customer who has never sat in the drivers seat before.  To give you practical and factual guidance, the DVSA have published figures* for the amount of hours practice people take to pass the driving test.  The average is 40 hours with a driving instructor PLUS 19 hours with friends and family doing private practice.  That is FACT, not opinion.  So you can now see why some customers are choosing to do a 5 day intensive driving course to start, having a short break and then continuing the momentum of their learning by having another 5 day course.  It makes a great deal of sense.”

What if I don’t have the means to do private practice with my family?

“Then you just have to simply add into your calculations these extra 19 hours (on average) that will be required to pass your driving test.  Remember though, these are AVERAGE figures so some will take longer and some will take less time.  This is why BIG TOM also makes use of “bolt-on” sessions whereby customers can supplement just the right amount of hours practice they require rather than having to commit to another 20 hours.  It makes for complete flexibility to BIG TOM customers and encourages them to take responsibility for the outcomes of their learning path which is precisely what the DVSA want driving schools to provide for their customers.”

* Transforming the practical driving test Final Report PPR828

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Chloe smashes her driving test on her first attempt

Chloe Shipley from Long Sutton passes her driving test in Boston with style

She had limited previous driving experience before taking her intensive course and was low in confidence due to the experience she had with 2 other driving schools.

Chloe booked a week course before Christmas and then got a 17% discount for her 2nd week immediately after Christmas.  This is what she says about her course:

“Thank you so much for your help! I really enjoyed my intensive course and am so so happy to have passed first time! You were very calm and reassuring whenever I was unsure of something and allowing me to choose where we went each day was very beneficial to me! This has made me a more confident driver as I am confident in driving in different places! I loved the way the intensive course was layed out and how it was 4 hours driving each day as this meant I was able to stay confident in all areas rather than the usual “pay as you go” lessons where I feel I would have forgot things from the previous week!”

She passed her driving test on Day 5 of the 2nd week on her first attempt.

Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram was delighted with her pass:

“Well done Chloe! This is another great example of the success pupils have with the 2 week intensive course with a break in between.  She drove with me in Sleaford, Grantham, Peterborough, Spalding, Kings Lynn, Boston, Wisbech and Long Sutton.  It just goes to show that even with pupils who suffer with anxiety, they can still turn things around fast with BIG TOM; in Chloe’s case after just 4 weeks and that included the Christmas break!

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Local Boston plumber passes his driving test

Christopher Prescott from Gypsey Bridge in Boston has started 2019 off at full steam!

He passed his driving test today at Boston and says:

“I found that it was a really good idea to do a session yesterday with Tom just around Boston.  It helped me to keep everything fresh in my mind and settled my nerves.”

Christopher had 3 goes at his driving test and is delighted to now have his full drivers licence.

Previous attempts were on Sunday mornings because he is so busy working as a plumber in Boston.  He says:

“I actually found Sunday mornings to be a bit too quiet for me.  I found a weekday test in the afternoon worked better for me as it meant I had to be more alert.  Driving around on a Sunday meant there was hardly any other traffic about!”

Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram was thrilled with his pass:

“It’s great to see Christopher is continuing this run of Christmas and New Year driving test passes for BIG TOM customers.  I’m particularly pleased for him as I know the freedom of driving around in his work vans will make a big difference for his company set up.  Well done Christopher!”

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Lily passes driving test in her brother’s car

Lily Storer from Morton has started 2019 as she means to go on, passing her driving test

She did her BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course in November and loved her week.  After her course she said:

“I really enjoyed the 5 day course with Big Tom. I found it very useful and found that over the 5 days I became more confident and I wasn’t as intimidated by other drivers as I had been at the start of the course. We also worked on what to do at roundabouts which was extremely beneficial as they were something I had struggled with before but now can do them confidently. I would definitely recommend, it was a great week!”

Lily’s confidence increased as she drove more with Tom.

She made use of her brother’s car to take the driving test as her convertible mini was not allowed to be used (DVSA rules).  She sent her driving instructor Tom Ingram a thank you card saying:

“To Tom,  I just wanted to let you know that I passed my driving test this morning (03/01/2019) – I did it in my brother’s car!  I can’t thank you enough for all the help you gave me as there is no way I could’ve passed without you.  Your knowledge and expertise are second to none.  Thank you again!  From Lily Storer – Morton”

Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram was delighted to hear the news and adds to this story:

“This was particularly good news for me to hear over the Christmas period as Lily came to me initially with very little confidence.  She had tried other instructors but without success.  Her Mum came out with us in the car a couple of times and was amazed at how confident and competent Lily was.  I wish Lily many years of safe driving.”

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