Driving School in Bourne – weekly update 15/08/15

Your local Driving School in Bourne gives you all the motoring info around your area…

  • Footpath nr Wherry’s Spinney on Elsea Park estate, Bourne set to close for a year due to new homes being built.
  • 2 people cut free from car after crash at Sutton Bridge in New Road – extent of injuries unknown.
  • Campaign continues for improved road safety measures on St Mary’s Road, Ramsey with local MP also adding weight to the cause of putting safety barriers to prevent vehicles going into the River Nene.
  • Willoughby Rd, Morcott road closure 18,19,20,25,26,27 August.
  • Protests from Sutton Bridge Parish Council representing residents views were successful in opening up a right of way from Petts Lane onto the river Nene’s West Bank.
  • Peterborough City Council staff are being given training and powers to fine cyclists £30 who ignore the cycle ban in Bridge Street, Peterborough.
  • Road closure on Vineyard Road/St John’s Street, Peterborough – Mon-Fri starting 17/8/15.
  • A caravan became detached from a lorry travelling south on A1 near Stamford causing long delays.
  • Morton & Hanthorpe Parish meeting declares that kerbing cannot be installed on the A15 Bourne Road verge opposite Hillview as it would require installation of drainage gullies which is not possible.
  • Very long queues were created near McDonalds on A151 Holbeach Road at Spalding due to hedge cutting by BT workmen.
  • Cambridge Utd player clocked doing 156mph on A1 (M) gets his 2nd ban from driving, this time for 6 months and a £1400 fine. He joins a Nottingham Forest player who was also banned 3 weeks ago after doing 115mph on same stretch of road.
  • Local resident appeals urgent maintenance of eastern side of Little London Bridge and start of Fen End Lane, Spalding.
  • 2 car collision closed the A47 Eye Road near Thorney Road – 1 car ended up in a ditch, no serious injury.
  • Driving Instructor Tom Ingram from BIG TOM Driving School in Bourne raises choices for Bourne residents, and surrounding villages with use of “Marketplace” for driving lessons in Bourne.
  • Residents within Thurlby parish are being encouraged to attend a neighbourhood plan meetings in an effort to raise communications between residents and Thurlby Parish Council. Important matters arising include the so far rejected pedestrian crossing for Thurlby in line with the crossing at Northorpe.
  • Professional advice suggests that pedestrian crossing further north of crossroads on A15 at Morton is not viable, however, councillors resolved by vote of 5:3 NOT to support the alternative 4 way traffic controlled option for the crossroads. Council agreed to consult entire parish by way of questionnaire (wording to be agreed at next meeting). A15 Morton crossing options to be further discussed 8/9/15 at Morton Village Hall preceded by a public forum at 7.15pm.
  • 42 yr old male from Spalding given 6 month suspended prison sentence, with 200 hrs unpaid work, £380 costs and 6 points on licence for driving while disqualified.
  • Firefighters called to a burning car (electrical fault in battery) in Barnack Road, Stamford, a burning tractor in Little Bytham and a caravan in Uffington Road (electrical fault).
  • Over 2000 visitors turned up in beautiful weather to the Boston Classic Car Club at Graves Park in Kirton to see over 450 cars on show.
  • A Court of Appeal has rejected the challenge from Larkfleet Homes for a southern bypass off the A52 in Grantham. The proposal is for a 3Km section of road off the B1174 linking up to the A52.
  • Local resident at Wilsford volunteers to monitor and maintain the newly purchased speed indicator device bought by the Parish Council, currently being used in School Lane with plans to also use it at 2 other locations in village.
  • DHL Supply Chain Logistics providers for Dixons Carphone Group Newark currently seeking LGV C & C+E drivers
  • A middle aged male cyclist was hospitalised after an accident with a car in West Elloe Avenue, Spalding.
  • Leicestershire Police plan a week long campaign starting Monday 17/08/15 specifically tackling speeding cars.
  • 48 yr old female from Stamford was fined £525 and given 6 points on her driving licence for driving with no insurance, insufficient tyre tread and without all lights (reg plates) working.
  • Rutland County Council has decided to reduce cost of parking on market days at Oakham and Uppingham for a 6 month trial period.
  • Lincs Co-op confirm to Morton & Hanthorpe Parish Council no plans for King’s Head site.
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I loved My Intensive Driving Course in Bourne

Rob Parker-Meadows has just completed his intensive driving course in Bourne, and this is what he had to say about it…

Big congratulations go to Rob Parker-Meadows for completing his 5 day intensive driving course in Bourne today. He manage to cover quite some ground on his travels, as you will see below. With BIG TOM Driving School, we like to offer more driving experience than conventional driving lessons in Bourne only, so that you can drive in a variety of driving conditions, and ultimately learn more from the course. Here is Rob’s feedback with quite an important bit of advice for future customers:

“I loved my intensive driving course in Bourne. I managed to drive out to Yaxley, Stamford, Deeping and Grantham and would recommend it to others. My only piece of advice for others is to not plan in too much else in the week. I play football 3 times in the week, as well as doing my normal work, and I found it really tiring with my intensive course as well. It’s not so much physically tiring, as mentally tiring, so I would recommend for anyone considering doing the intensive driving course in Bourne, to not overload yourself too much”.

BIG TOM Driving School offers Intensive Driving Courses in Bourne from £597

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Intensive Driving Courses in Sleaford

BIG TOM Driving School is offering £80 off our very popular Intensive Driving Courses in Sleaford (01529 400 455) in February only!

We have extended the range of our very popular intense driving courses that offer great value intensive driving courses in Sleaford. Residents can take their driving test at the newly located test centre at Grantham on the A52. Rhiann who recently passed her driving test after doing our 30 hour intensive driving course says:

“Highly recommending Tom and BIG TOM Driving School and here’s why…..

Tom would teach me things and I would forget but he didn’t ever get stressed with me or even raise his voice … not once! He stayed calm and patient and yesterday I passed my driving test! Tom was never late to a lesson, never on his phone during a lesson. So many other instructors are late, rude and impatient. If you want a driving teacher who takes his job seriously and does everything he can to make you feel ok, then Tom is your guy 🙂 “

Click HERE and scroll down to go to a full review

For our best value intensive driving courses in Sleaford BOOK NOW 01529 400 455

 

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How to calm nerves for a driving test in Grantham

rhiann pass

Rhiannon Kirby from Grantham who passed her driving test in Grantham today used carbonated drinks to settle her driving test nerves

It really is true! Here is happy Rhiann, who has just passed her driving test with only 5 minors after taking the BIG TOM 30 hour intensive driving course in Grantham (Bookings: 0800 689 4174 ). She knows from other family members that they all suffer with extreme nerves in these high stress situations that occasionally crop up in life. And they have managed to discover a solution that really helps them to reduce nerves. Rhiann discovered a very interesting combination of non-alcoholic carbonated drinks that really helped to manage her stress levels.

“Highly recommending Tom and big Tom Driving School and here’s why…. I was NEVER going to be a driver.. NEVER NEVER! Then I found Tom , the only instructor who’s managed to calm me down enough to get out of 2nd gear. I have severe anxiety and also a condition which affects my memory , Tom would teach me things and I would forget but he didn’t ever get stressed with me or even raise his voice … not once! He stayed calm and patient and yesterday I passed my driving test! Tom was never late to a lesson, never on his phone during a lesson. So many other instructors are late, rude and impatient. If you want a driving teacher who takes his job seriously ad does everything he can to make you feel ok, then Tom is your guy” Rhiannon Kirby from Grantham

Sometimes, certain medical conditions can have adverse effects on the body when put into a stressful situation, and the symptoms can include memory loss, a slightly dizzy feeling, a sense of panic, amongst others.

Today though, Rhiann was very good at managing the stress points on her driving test. When asked to do the reverse parallel park manoeuvre, she asked the Examiner if she could gather her thoughts before continuing, which was allowed, and that couple of minutes proved crucial. After the manoeuvre was completed, she again, asked for a short time to gather herself. Although these might appear to be trivial and not worthy of note, you should not underestimate how important these kind of strategies are to control anxiety, and manage these high stress situations. For Rhiann, she knew that the manoeuvre in particular was a high stress part of the driving test, and she was very successful today in managing to keep calm so as to allow her to show the Examiner that she is perfectly capable of driving safely unsupervised.

Well done Rhiann, big congratulations. If you would like to book yourself on the BIG TOM 30 hour intensive driving course for £899 BOOK NOW on 0800 689 4174 .

 

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Driving School in Bourne – weekly update 09/08/15

Your local Driving School in Bourne gives you all the motoring info around your area…

  • Peterborough police are appealing for witnesses to dangerous driving which involved injury to several people at Orton Southgate industrial estate at 23.30hrs on 08/08/15 https://www.facebook.com/CambsCops/posts/852924528119250?fref=nf
  • 3 yr old boy hit by a car in Oakham at the pelican crossing outside Walkers book shop in the High St.
  • Resident of UAE raises issue of limited pedestrian mobility near Grantham shops after summer visit to town.
  • Resident from Yaxley is jailed for 10 months for ramming a police vehicle at the time of escaping from Police in his vehicle, and drink driving.
  • A 32 yr old female from Holbeach has been charged to appear at Boston Magistrates Court after driving 4 times over the legal drink drive limit.
  • 8 immigrants were arrested after being discovered in the back of a lorry at a Peterborough petrol station.
  • A 25 yr old speedway rider form Norfolk has come out of an induced coma after being critically injured at the East of England Showground in Peterborough. Over £5000 has been raised to support him and his family http://www.gofundme.com/d54vykh9fh9
  • 32 yr old male from March has been jailed for 20 months and banned from driving for 4 years after a dangerous overtake on the A141 near Chatteris left another driver seriously injured.
  • Road closures expected on Double Street and Herring Lane, Spalding for 3 weeks from 16/08/15
  • The brand new road layout for Bourges Boulevard in Peterborough has already been scarred with some graffiti which will cause yet further lane closure and delays to have it removed.
  • 6 vehicle crash near Sawtry on A1(M) northbound left 7 injured, 1 seriously.
  • 71 yr old male driver from Spalding fined £225 and 5 points on licence for failing to stop after an accident, and driving without due care and attention.
  • A vehicle overturned in Bretton on the A47 in Peterborough, leaving 2 females injured.
  • Visitors to Grantham were far from impressed after receiving parking ticket for “not parked within the markings of the bay or space” when it was impossible to see where the lines of the bay were.
  • 2 lorries on A1 southbound near Grantham and Stamford collide and caught fire causing no injuries but road was closed for 24hrs such was the extent of the blaze, causing huge disruption.
  • SKDC has asked employers to check vehicles are displaying proper no smoking signs.
  • Deeping Shopping Centre hosting first ever car boot sale on 16/08/15.
  • Long Sutton resident publicly thanks unknown person for covering car window to prevent her car from rain soaked inside after she mistakenly left it open after receiving a parking ticket.
  • Boston Classic Car Club holds 23rd annual show in Kirton for LIVES charity.
  • Argos in Peterborough are actively seeking 18 new drivers for local deliveries.
  • A stream of accidents on A1 between Colsterworth and Newark is costing £46,000 per day. Police say excessive speed is the cause.
  • 56 yr old driver from Spalding fined £270 for driving without a seatbelt.
  • Revision of 30mph restriction of Station Road in Deeping St James – by 03/09/15
  • Rural Crime Survey 2015 reveals rural crime is costing Lincs £1.8 million. Theft being by far the most costly crime for farmers.
  • Local resident in Spalding raises issue of parking on pavements causing obstruction and problems particularly for vulnerable users of footpaths.
  • Desperate call from Mother in Grantham to Police to help release her trapped baby from inside her car was not acted on. Fire brigade crew eventually arrived to release baby from vehicle.
  • Dower House Hotel in Woodhall Spa is holding a F1 Experience Evening on 11/09/15 for St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice.
  • Bourne hotel manager found guilty of criminal damage to car belonging to partner is fined £750.76 and court costs of £235
  • Local resident in Casterton Road, Stamford appeals for help due to persistent inconsiderate parking causing danger near junction with Perth Road.
  • South Holland Parish Voluntary Car Scheme is appealing for more volunteers to join it’s team of 60 drivers.
  • Elderly people are being warned of a scam where fraudsters are offering to renew driving licences for over 70’s.
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Becka enjoys her Intensive Driving Course in Grantham

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Big Tom Driving School offers options for an Intensive Driving Course in Grantham.

A big well done goes out to Becka after completing her Intensive Driving Course in Grantham today! She is fed up of the daily bus journey from her home in Colsterworth to her workplace at a legal firm in the centre of Grantham. So she booked herself up to the BIG TOM 30 hour intensive driving course (0800 689 4174 ) which is run from Monday to Sunday for a very cool price of just £899.

This is what she had to say after completing her course today:

“Learnt so much in one week, great guy and he makes you feel at ease, would definitely recommend him to other learners!☺”     Becka Skellett

Big Tom Intensive courses offer superb value and a wide range of driving experiences with different driving conditions. Take Becka’s last day of her course today for example. She wanted to do another mock test first thing, which she passed. She then wanted to go for a drive, so she drove from Grantham, to Corby Glen, to Bourne, to Deeping, to Peterborough (yes, she did Eye roundabout!), then after a pit-stop, on to the new bypass up to Spalding, and back up to Grantham on the A52. Lots of driving experience… the BIG TOM Driving School ethos is “Drive more, to experience more, to learn more” – this is what we did for Becka and we can do the same for you too!

We offer residents in Grantham and the surrounding villages a superb alternative for learning to drive. Book your space now, by contacting us here https://www.bigtom.org.uk/ or direct on 0800 689 4174 .

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Driving School in Bourne – weekly update 01/08/15

Your local Driving School in Bourne gives you all the motoring info around your area…

 

  • Bourne Police are appealing to young drivers and motorcyclists in the area to show some consideration for residents after many complaints have been received of excessive exhaust noise while speeding around the town at night and into the early hours. Non-urgent complaints to local Police via http://www.facebook.com/bournenpt
  • A very nasty accident involving a cyclist and a red Peugeot at Norman Cross, Peterborough on 23/7/15 at 20.45hrs – witnesses being sought.
  • A 38 yr old male driver from Bourne was convicted for failing to give driver identification and fined £690 and received 6 points on his driving licence.
  • New LED reactive warning signs are being proposed for Grantham’s low bridges after 27 incidents of lorries hitting the bridges in the last 8 months! The high tech idea works by automatically measuring the height of lorries as they approach and giving the drivers a well advanced warning prior to them even getting near the bridge.
  • At a Morton and Hanthorpe Parish Council meeting Councillors have voted NOT to support the traffic light suggestion at the crossroads junction – as previously reported in this blog https://www.bigtom.org.uk/driving-school-in-bourne-weekly-update-25715/ The financial cost and possible traffic congestion is being given as the reason for the rejection, and instead they are now exploring the possibility of a pedestrian crossing to the north of the crossroads.
  • Brook Street car park in Peterborough will be closed for 2 weeks from 3/8/15.
  • A 67 yr old female driver from Spalding convicted of drink driving received £295 fine and disqualified for 4 years.
  • Further fatalities occurred on A14. The area around Spittals interchange continues to cause many serious problems.
  • Residents of Kedleston Road in Grantham are still suffering with unfinished road surfaces a full 8 years after it was constructed. Complaints have been lodged with the developer concerned Taylor Wimpey for many years. A local councillor who experienced similar issues on the Sunningdale Estate, found that evoking a clause of the S38 agreement under the Highways Act 1980 to the developers concerned (Persimmon Homes) proved to be a very effective means of getting action.
  • Chief Exec of Peterborough based “Marmalade”, an insurance provider specifically for young drivers, has been nominated for an Entrepreneur of the Year award on 10/11/15. He says “We have reduced the risk of our customers being involved in an accident by almost 70% compared to the national average”.
  • Animal welfare charity RSPCA warns that the temperature in a car can rise to 47 degrees even when the outside temperature is as little as 22 degrees; and warn all dog owners to not leave their pets in vehicles.
  • An 86 yr old male driver from Cowbit was convicted of driving without due care and attention and received £180 fines and 6 points on his driving licence.
  • Resurfacing work on the A17 between Holbeach and Long Sutton has caused complaints due to creating very hazardous driving conditions when driving through “fog and mess”. Lincolnshire County Council stated that excessive dust was being created as a result of HGV’s using the newly surfaced road and many of them not keeping to the 20mph speed limit.
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Emergency vehicle on a call

Whether it be police, fire or ambulance, that feeling you get when you are waiting on a red traffic light, and you can see, and/or hear the emergency vehicle on a call approaching from behind – what to do? Are you ALLOWED to go over the STOP line in this situation? This blog will give some practical advice.

 

This situation can potentially affect ALL drivers, not just learners – it is very handy to know NOW what your actual rights are regarding this situation, so that you do not take an action that might either cause serious injury to another, or be illegal.

Lucy who passed with BIG TOM Driving School a few months ago, texted us recently to say that she had driven over 3000 miles in various locations of the UK and thanked us for preparing her properly for real-life driving rather than just for the driving test. But she had a question to do with what to do when an emergency vehicle on a call approaches from behind when you are stationary at a red traffic light. She recently had this situation happen to her, she decided to NOT drive over the stop line at the traffic lights when an ambulance approached from behind, and many people (including some experienced drivers) have since criticised her for not getting out the way. She contacted us, as we did cover EXACTLY this situation in her driving training, and she was now wanting some assurance that, what she was told in her training, was actually correct. It was, and let us now explain why for the benefit of all reading with interest.

This situation is something that crops up regularly, there is a natural, instinctive reaction to quite simply do anything that is required to “get out of the way” of the emergency vehicle. However, you need to take care. The danger created if legislation were to give motorists the impression that it would be acceptable to go through red lights on the sight or sound of an emergency vehicle would be potentially catastrophic. It poses so many questions and points of law, that it would be very difficult to legislate eg how close was the emergency vehicle at the time, did you see that it was behind you, were you aware that it needed to proceed in the direction that you were obstructing and so on. It would be very difficult to the point of impossible in making this a cast iron “defence” in a court of law. Often in these types of situations in law when there is a great degree of subjectivity, the question is asked “Are these the actions of a reasonable person”. But as it stands, there is no legislation in existence that asks this question specifically in regard to a defence for someone driving through a red traffic light.

As such, it still remains to this day, that legally, the only time you are allowed to drive through a STOP line on a red traffic light, is when a Police Officer in uniform actually directs you to do so.

But there is of course more to this dilemma than that. A driver often only feels compelled to drive over a STOP line when at a red light, because s/he feels intimidated, threatened, pressured to do so by other motorists behind, and the noise and lights of the emergency vehicle. Take Lucy’s case of an ambulance for example. That ambulance might well be responding to a life and death situation, and seconds delay could be crucial. We are all brought up to acknowledge and respect that fact, and not to unduly delay or interfere with an ambulance on a call. However, the fact is you have no legal right to go through the red light, not by one inch, one foot, one metre.

When this exact situation happened on a recent driving test in Grantham that I observed from the back seat of a BIG TOM Driving School car, it was interesting to note that the Examiner, without saying a single word, just pointed to the left to the candidate on test. He did not point forwards, but to the left. We were however, the lead car at the traffic lights, the candidate did shuffle the car to the left, but NOT over the STOP line, it would have been illegal to have done so. The driver of the emergency vehicle in this particular example chose to re-position away from the red lights, and no further action was expected from my pupil on the driving test (and no mention was made of it by the examiner in the de-brief of the test). ‘Knowledge is power’ as the saying goes. If you are aware of an emergency vehicle on a call approaching you from behind, remain calm, do not erratically position your vehicle by making sudden swerves eg mounting a kerb or swerving over on to the oncoming lane. Make effective observations around your vehicle, signal to confirm you are pulling aside, and reduce your speed and/or reposition your vehicle in a controlled and calm manner.

So it could be argued instead, why does this situation at red traffic lights even arise then? Why do the drivers of emergency vehicles pressure/bully/intimidate drivers in front to break the law and drive through the red light in order for them to make progress?

Drivers of emergency vehicles are entitled to ‘make progress’ in ways that the public are not. When on a call, they are exempt from laws regarding speed limits, traffic lights, keep left/right bollards, and even sirens in the night time hours. But crucially, they are not permitted to USE the lights and sirens of the vehicle to intimidate other road users to break the law, or endanger other road users. They are not even supposed to drive on an emergency call in a manner that causes a collision. For example, if an ambulance were to approach a red traffic light at such a speed or intensity of progress that results in one vehicle hitting another simply in an attempt to get out the way of the ambulance, (no question of even being near the STOP line), the ambulance driver is in fact, responsible for that collision. The presence of an emergency vehicle at the time and location of a collision has long been a notable and sometimes contributory factor to the situation. The “blame” in these situations is shouldered by the relevant authority representing the emergency vehicle at the time. How they then apportion blame with regards to the driver of the emergency vehicle, is a matter for them (and the Police).

A qualified ERDT Instructor (Emergency Response Driver Training Instructor) confirms to BIG TOM Driving School that whilst being trained approaching red traffic lights, emergency vehicle drivers are taught to consider the viable option of safely positioning the vehicle in the oncoming lane(s) to therefore prevent any drivers who are held on the red light in front from being tempted to drive over the STOP line. On occasion, due to the layout of the road/junction, this option is not always available or chosen. If the situation arises, where the emergency vehicle driver approaches heavy traffic being held at a red traffic light which is unable to assist the emergency vehicle driver in any way other than going through the red light, then the sirens are to be turned off, and the emergency vehicle is to be held 4-6 car lengths BACK from the stationary traffic, wait for the traffic lights to turn green before then attempting to make progress again. This is how they are trained to deal with the scenario given by Lucy in her question.

No matter what the emergency is, even with knowledge of what the emergency is that a driver on a call is responding to, they STILL have to take into account the (possible) actions of other drivers and limitations by law of other road users around them. They are NOT permitted to use the tones and lights of an emergency vehicle to force other road users to drive in a manner that would endanger the life of others.   Not only are members of the public not permitted to drive through red lights in these circumstances, emergency vehicle drivers are not permitted to encourage them to either.

When looked upon in those terms, the law is quite simple, straight forward and logical…. as is often the way, it is only when human emotions get involved, that judgement can sometimes affect the behaviours of all drivers.

If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please add them below.

BIG TOM Driving School     Bookings: 0800 689 4174

 

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Driving School in Bourne – Weekly Update – 25/7/15

Your local Driving School in Bourne gives you all the motoring info around your area…

  • Instant easing of traffic congestion in Peterborough as Bourges Boulevard improvements come to an end. Some very positive feedback of the new design and appearance.
  • Heavy traffic is expected for the Huntingdon Secret Garden Party… ends July 27th
  • Resident from Thurlby (39 yrs) is disqualified from driving for 6 months after admitting to driving without a licence and insurance with fees of £592
  • Lollipop lady at Bourne Westfield Primary School saluted for 15 years of loyal service.
  • A 23 yr old van driver from Hampton in Peterborough died between Guyhirn and Rings End on the A47 after a head on collision with a lorry. This is sadly now the 2nd fatality on the A47 in less than a month.
  • A resident of Bath Close in Bourne was stopped by Police in The Pollards, Elsea Park, Bourne after the boot of his car opened. Arrested, charged and convicted for drink driving with a 20 month ban and fees of £620.
  • Low Rd and Halmergate in Spalding will be closed on 28/07/15
  • Parish Council for Tallington are looking at possibility of speed awareness signage i.e. passive and interactive speed signs for the village
  • A car overturned on Monday (20/7/25) at junction of Nene and Fletton Parkways in Peterborough.
  • Road closure: A1175 nr Brazenose Lane in Stamford 27/7/15 6pm to midnight.
  • Ex-BIG TOM Driving School learner Georgina Ivens from Peterborough wins snr women’s 400m race at E Anglian League meeting.
  • A meeting on Wednesday (22/7/15) at Morton raised the possibility of a traffic light controlled junction at the crossroads with the facility to allow pedestrians to cross. The overwhelming positive response was directed to be fed back to the next parish council meeting.
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When do I use my handbrake?

This blog from BIG TOM Driving School (0800 689 4174 ) explains when is a good time to use the handbrake while driving and why. There is a BIG TOM video to accompany it (for those who want to watch rather than read).

 

 

Not knowing if you should be using the handbrake or when is the correct time to is potentially a big deal when learning to drive. It uses up brain space and most importantly TIME to think it through. Sometimes, in certain situations of driving, time is very precious, you might have a lot of actions to do in a short period of time eg steering to get in the correct position at a junction, looking effectively to see if it is safe to proceed, putting a signal on, selecting the correct gear, assessing what other road users around you are communicating to you. These are not small tasks, and if your brain is taking up time to consider whether you need to apply the handbrake, or not, that is delaying you from doing all those other jobs. Is that a big deal? Certainly can be! Incorrect position might cause another road user hassle, attempting to move off in the wrong gear might create a stall and on it goes, these are not small problems – and all because you didn’t know if setting the handbrake was needed.

The braking system for the handbrake is different to when you put your foot on the footbrake. They are different because they are there for different reasons. We do not use the handbrake to stop the car, we use it to ‘secure’ the car (prevent it from moving once stopped). I wouldn’t recommend you experiment with this, but if you were to abruptly put your handbrake on while driving, there will be a variety of consequences depending on the driving conditions at the time. But it is certainly not advisable to test this out, not only is the stability of the car in jeopardy but it physically would not do the components of the car any good either.

We have 2 correct means of slowing the vehicle and another 2 means that should NOT be used to slow the vehicle:

  1. Come off the gas pedal whilst still in gear (clutch up), known as “engine braking”
  2. Using the middle brake pedal with the right foot – the intensity of the slowing will depend on the degree and speed the foot is pressed downwards on the pedal3 and 4 will very likely damage your car, maybe not immediately, but certainly over time if repeatedly done.
  3. Engaging a gear that is not suited to the speed the vehicle is travelling that makes it abruptly slow eg selecting 2nd gear at 45mph – NOT RECOMMENDED
  4. Applying the handbrake while the vehicle is still rolling – NOT RECOMMENDED

When you are beginning to learn to drive, it pays to ‘become friends’ with the handbrake. You will pretty quickly notice that immediately after a stop/pause, if you put the handbrake on, it will enable you to take the right foot off the brake pedal in order to set the gas, with no possibility of the car rolling in any direction. The reason why that is such a big deal is that with the gas being set, you are making a stall more unlikely to happen (more on “stalling” later in the BIG TOM blog).

As confidence increases, and your ability to recognise when you are paused on a flat road without a hill/gradient of any kind, then the dependence on continually, repeatedly applying the handbrake at every pause will decrease. But to begin with, in the early days, get used to setting the handbrake on a pause, it enables you to “set” your feet and that will prevent the car from rolling, stalling, bunny hopping, wheels screeching, and from you making fast (and inaccurate) gear changes to what you THINK is 1st gear.

One other thing to consider when you apply the handbrake is the mechanics of how it is set and reset. On a traditional “lever” system, when you apply the handbrake (secure the car), you raise the lever until it is tight. The amount of travel will depend on the particular wear and tear on the braking mechanism at the time. Whether you press the ratchet in with your thumb to apply the handbrake is really of little consequence, but ensuring it is raised enough most certainly is. If you do not raise it high enough then the brakes will not grip, and the car will not be held/locked secure in that position. When releasing the handbrake (lowering it), you lift the lever ever so slightly to enable your thumb to press the ratchet, and then you release the lever FULLY downwards (whilst keeping your thumb pressed on the ratchet). Only when the lever is at the very bottom (it cannot go any lower) should you depress the ratchet with your thumb. Take your time with this operation. Rushing it, will inevitably lead to the handbrake not being completely released, which might mean that there is still some level of braking being applied, it may mean that an audible alarm from the dashboard is set off to remind you to lower the lever completely. Beware of these niggly habits forming, because they can be hard to iron out; take your time, remember, if you have correctly set your feet, then there is no need to rush taking the handbrake off, the car will not roll backward on release of the handbrake as the clutch position (left foot) is on “the bite” and preventing the car from going backwards. Technology is rapidly coming to our aid again here, car manufacturers are increasingly using a feature that sets the handbrake by the click of a switch and does not need to be switched off before you move off again.

The frequency with which drivers need to use the handbrake in order to keep control of the vehicle reduces as the driver gets more competent with the necessary foot controls so that the vehicle only moves when they want it to, and in the direction they want it to. However, do try to prevent being stationary with the left foot on the bite, and the right foot setting gas for extended periods of time (whether handbrake is on or not), as eventually you will smell the clutch heating up under the strain. Try to time your actions to anticipate when you need that full control – again this is being kind to your car, a new clutch will cost about £800 to replace.

One other thing, the old rule about “if a pause becomes a wait” still stands as a rough guide to whether you should put the handbrake on. Being paused for a long time at a junction or in a queue with the right foot securing the vehicle via the footbrake is not only giving you, the driver, work for the foot, but also is glaring very bright brake lights into the eyes of the driver behind. Try to get into the habit of anticipating how long you think you will be paused for, any more than 5-10 seconds wait, stick the handbrake on, relax the feet.   It’s surprising how quickly this skill of anticipation develops once you start paying attention to it.

BIG TOM Driving School   Bookings: 0800 689 4174

My thanks go to Nigel Petler from NP Auto’s Bourne Ltd (01778 422 865) for his assistance in the creation of this blog.

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www.bigtom.org.uk

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