Diesel Particle Filters



Do you drive a diesel vehicle?  

If the answer is yes, then it is highly likely that you have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). Did you know that failing to maintain it can lead to severe consequences for your car?

I am going to try and guide you through what it does and why, along with how to maintain it to ensure you get the most out of your vehicle.


What is it? 

A DPF is a filter that captures the soot emitted from your engine. This soot is incredibly hazardous for your respiratory system, so the filter helps stop it get into the air that you breathe.  As the filter fills up, your car will perform a regeneration to safely burn off the soot build up.  Following legislation in 2009, DPF’s became mandatory.


What makes my DPF fill up? 

Typically speaking, it is short journeys and low revs that enable the DPF to fill up. If you are constantly making short journeys which do not enable the engine to kick out extremely hot fumes, then the buildup occurs. This is normal, and not a problem, you just need to listen to your car when it tells you it is initiating a regeneration.


My car is telling me to do a regeneration, now what?

So, the important thing here is to not stop the car and keep driving, try to keep the revs at about 2500, this can be 30mph in 2nd gear. Another way to help the regeneration occur is to go on the motorway.


Types of regeneration

Spontaneous (Passive) – This usually happens when driving long distances at a higher speed, the engine is hot, so the fumes can burn the soot away. This is barely noticeable, although you may notice a bit of a shaky car and reduced performance for a short while.

Dynamic (Active) – This is the one where your car will prompt you to keep driving and not switch the engine off, just keep driving and after about 20 minutes the regeneration should be complete.

Service (Forced) – When the above two regenerations have not managed to be completed, your car will go into limp mode and you’ll be forced to go to a service centre or get the AA out.


My input

Around 39% of all cars in the UK are diesel so there’s a fairly high chance you will come across this problem if you haven’t already. If you are a driving instructor with a diesel engine, you’re even more likely. This is due to your typically low speeds and short journeys. It really shouldn’t be a big deal, so long as you understand the problem when it arises. Most DPF issues come from ignoring the regeneration process and letting your engine fail due to a blocked DPF. On the rare occasion it does become a problem, don’t even think of doing what an estimated 10,000 motorists are doing, and removing the DPF altogether. As of May, 2018 there will be more than a visual inspection and cars will instantly fail should they not have the pollution filter.


Danny Atkin

Transport Director

Surepass Ltd


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Smart Motorways – Part 3

How to Correctly Use Smart Motorways


With Smart Motorways being quite new, there’s still the need for correct education. Highways England spent millions on advertising via TV, Radio and Third-Party apps, yet people still seem to flout the rules. So, what exactly are the rules? Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Don’t ever consider driving in a lane marked with a red “X”
  2. Keep to the speed limit as shown above, the latest gantry passed under is the speed limit to follow.
  3. A solid white line shows the hard shoulder lane, unless told to go into it, stay out.
  4. A line that is broken is a normal running lane.
  5. If your vehicle shows signs of not been healthy, exit the motorway ASAP!
  6. If there’s no hard shoulder, use the refuge areas.
  7. Use your hazards if you break down.
Know your motorways


Red X


When a red “X” is displayed, do not, I repeat, DO NOT travel down it, it indicates the lane is closed.

If you do travel down it you run the risk of getting a fine.

Typical reasons for the lane been closed are: Debris in the road, a person/animal on the road or there may be and accident or breakdown. It may also be used as a way of giving emergency services a lane to travel to an incident further ahead.

You are putting other peoples lives, along with yours at risk by travelling in the closed lane.

Red X

In an Emergency


Prevention is better than the cure, look after your vehicle, if you have a car from Surepass, no matter the age, it’ll have full AA cover including recovery to anywhere in the UK free of charge. If you don’t have a Surepass vehicle, make sure you get your own cover and keep details of the cover close by.

If your car starts to experience difficulties or you are involved in an accident, try to exit the motorway, if that’s not possible, Highways England recommend you “move to the nearest place of relative safety.”

Usually the nearest place of relative safety is the hard shoulder, this may not always be possible as the hard shoulder may be used as a running lane for normal traffic on Smart Motorways. If this is the case, you should move to the nearest ERA (Emergency Refuge Area).

If you make it to an ERA then use the SOS phone to call Highways England, inform your recovery company too. Don’t forget to flick those hazards on.

You may recognise this ad that was played over the air on a national campaign.


Personal Experience


It was 2am, I was half way between Plymouth and my destination, Manchester. I was on the M6 which had no hard shoulder when my cars’ fuel injectors packed in.

I pulled across to lane one, immediately putting on my hazards, gradually stopping. What amazed me as I initially sat there was how close to me lorries were getting before realising there was an obstruction (me).

I got out the nearside front door and got on the other side of the barrier, here’s the tip that you don’t see written anywhere online:

Do not wait on the other side of the barrier ahead of the vehicle. Doing so will potentially be fatal should another vehicle not see yours and smash into it, sending your car flying at you. On the otherside of the barrier, walk towards the traffic to safety and make the phone call.

Due to the danger of being in a live lane I opted to dial 999. I used the GPS on my phone to give an exact location. The police made the decision to inform Highways England, they then got to me in just under 8 minutes from when my initial call ended. They promptly took me to the nearest ERA. They told me it took 2 minutes from them learning about me to get the control centre to place a red X above the lane. It was then I learnt how dangerous it is to ignore the red X.

There were dozens of near misses in just 6 minutes, from lorries not paying attention to people not allowing people to enter lane two in time.




Written by Danny Atkin – Transport Director

Key material from Highways England

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Smart Motorways – Part 2



Managed Motorways, now known as Smart Motorways, are sections of motorway in the UK that uses Active Traffic Management methods to improve journey times and reduce emissions during busy periods. This is primarily done by using variable speed limits and making use of the hard shoulder.

Congestion costs approximately £2 billion a year, a quarter of this coming from incidents. Reducing congestion not only helps counteract the increase in vehicles on our roads but create economic benefits for the local area and country.

The UK’s first Smart Motorway was introduced in the West Midlands on the M42 in 2006. Analysis of the gathered data showed that:

  • Injuries caused by accidents reduced by more than 50%.
  • Planned journey times improved by 22%.
  • The few accidents that did occur consisted of zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.

Success of this, I want to say experiment, meant that plans were announced in 2007 to extend funding to reach two different sections of the M6. Studies into the use of Smart Motorways on the M1, M4, M20 and M25 were launched.

The beginning of 2010 saw a £2 billion contract announced to adapt the M1, M4, M5, M6, M60 and M62 to have Smart Motorway functionality. £11 billion has been funded for projects between 2015 and 2020.


UK map



Post Opening Evaluation of the M62 J25-30 Opened October 2013

The M62 J25-30 reaches 15 miles south of Bradford and Leeds, it has a mixture of Smart Motorway Schemes in operation providing extra capacity in both directions. One year after opening the following observations were made:


Objectives Objective Achieved?
To achieve additional motorway capacity, making best use of existing infrastructure where possible Yes
To reduce the number and severity of accidents per vehicle kilometre Yes, but too soon to assess severity
To minimise the detrimental effects on traffic on the surrounding road network where possible Yes
To improve journey time reliability, as measured by the average delay experienced in the worst 10% of journeys Yes
To improve journey times Improved during peak periods but not between peak times.
To offset the detrimental environmental effects of the scheme through mitigation measures where technically and economically feasible Yes
To improve the quality of information provided to drivers about the state of traffic flow in the motorway Yes



Key Findings:

  • Increase in traffic levels, but not as high as anticipated.
  • Journey times have decreased during peak periods.
  • Journey time variety has decreased.
  • Safety has increased better than expected, with one third less collisions.
  • Unnecessary limits set to 60mph has increased journey times during inter-peak times.
  • Traffic flow is smoother in the peak periods on the busiest sections – demonstrated by the fact all lanes are travelling at similar speeds.

Next Up!

Next, we will take a look at how to correctly use the Smart Motorways, this will include key criticisms, something close to my heart following my own personal experience that the Highways Patrol Officer told me was a “life or death” situation.

Thank you for reading!

Written by – Danny Atkin. Transport Director



Highways England – –

UK Construction Media –

Telegraph –



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Smart Motorways – An Exploration of Purpose, Cost and Reward – Part 1


With the government announcing plans to allow learners onto our motorways never before has learning about the tarmac arteries flowing through our country been more relevant. With 2,173 miles of motorways keeping our country alive, correct usage is vital.

The inspiration behind this series of blogs comes from my own personal experience, I commute from Scunthorpe to Manchester several times a week and spend plenty more time going up and down the country, experiencing the Smart Motorways. It did dawn on me though, at my relatively young age of 25, I’ve never been taught the do’s and do not’s of using the new system. If I’ve not been formally taught, then that means potentially everyone my senior has also not been taught, which means there’s potentially a huge chunk of the driving population that don’t have a clue what’s going on.

I had a scary situation on the M6 Northbound near Birmingham, I broke down on lane one and had traffic swerving around my car, I was left thinking, this doesn’t seem so “Smart.” So, what we’re going to do is explore the purpose of Smart Motorways, i.e. what’s caused the massive investment to take place, and is it really necessary. We’ll take a look at what goes into making a Motorway “Smart.” We’re going to look at the safety protocols, and what to do, if like me, you break down on one. Then we’re going to attempt a cost/benefit analysis. Hopefully from all this we can be filled with eternal optimism for the future, and less frustration at the present with the 50mph stretches.


Background & Facts on Motorways

A motorway is defined as a: “Limited-access dual carriageway road, not crossed on the same level by other traffic lanes, for the exclusive use of certain classes of motor vehicle.”

The Motorway zones run clockwise from the M1

Motorway map













By Nilfanion and Dr Greg. © OpenStreetMap contributors. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2010., CC BY-SA 4.0,


The first motorway was opened in 1958, this was the M6 Preston Bypass. By 1972, 1000 miles of motorway had been built.

The longest motorway in the UK is the M6, stretching 236 miles.

The M25 is the longest two-digit motorway, stretching 117 miles.

My beloved M180 is the longest three-digit motorway stretching 25 miles.

When the M1 was opened in 1959, there was no speed limit, central reservations, lighting or crash barriers.

The widest section of road with multiple carriageways is on the M61, reaching 2.5 miles over 18 lanes.

Source: Sabre Roads


Fatality Facts

25,160 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2016, a rise of 6% on the previous year.

For the same period, motorway traffic levels were up 1.4%.

The casualty rate per mile decreased by 5%.

Motorway fatalities was up 8% to 270 in the third quarter of 2016, compared with the same period the year before.

Source: Department for Transport


Next Up

The next blog post is going to look at Smart Motorways, and how they came to be a part of everyday life for millions of commuters. We will delve into the research that surmised their necessity for a sustainable and safe future.  We will look at the intended goals and objectives of Smart Motorways and see if the initial data we have matches up to justify the incredible investment put into the projects.

Until next time.


Written by: Danny Atkin, Transport Director

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Pupils to be allowed to learn on motorways from 2018

Andrew Jones, our Road Safety Minister, has announced that pupils will be able to learn to drive on our motorways from 2018. Currently, motorway lessons are available for people that have passed their test however, uptake is low. The proposed deregulatory measure will enable pupils to gain professional tuition on motorways with the intention of making our roads safer.


Why are pre-test motorway lessons important?

As it stands qualified drivers can take a pass plus course that includes motorway tuition, drivers can also pay for a motorway lesson once they’ve passed.

However, uptake is incredibly low, in the 2015/2016 year there were just over 21,000 Pass-Plus certificates issued out of nearly 720,000 practical test passes. This suggests that only 3% of newly qualified drivers received professional motorway tuition.

Motorways present different challenges to dual carriageways, with an increased number of lanes, slip road set ups and ‘Smart Motorways.’ 8% of drivers do not comply with the “red X” on sections of smart motorways.


What the government want to implement

The government want to make it so that learner drivers can go on the motorway whilst they’re in a dual controlled car AND with a qualified approved driving instructor.

They want to make it an optional part of learning to drive.

It will not be mandatory, due to there been some areas in the country that are unrealistically far away from motorways. See below picture of motorway network.


motorway network


(Crown copyright and database rights 2016, Ordnance Survey Licence Number 100039241)



  • The Learner gets more practice of driving at higher speeds
  • Correct usage of motorways is learned – Some people have never been told that sitting in the middle lane can cause congestion.
  • Theoretical knowledge can be tested.
  • More people should, as a result, use motorways correctly, henceforth improving the flow of traffic and safety.



  • The stakes may be higher at higher speeds. Potentially, learner drivers could pose as a hazard to other road users.
  • Impatience of other road users around the learners.
  • If more people are learning to drive on motorways, more people could use the motorways, increasing traffic and potential for more collisions.


What others say

Our own Michelle Partington, Customer Account Manager here at Surepass, commented “Slip roads are the scariest element of a motorway to me and also route planning, i.e. which junctions you need to exit etc. These are things I’ve had to learn for myself (after refusing to drive on a motorway for 10 years). This is a positive addition, motorways are scary places!”

James Collier commented on a Conservative Facebook post about the subject, “So the motorways are now gonna be full of incompetent idiots going 40mph. Very safe, just what I need when I’m on my bike.”




What I say

I recall passing my test in Manchester many moons ago, I also had my new car waiting for me in Manchester once I had passed. The only issue I had was I lived in Scunthorpe. From Manchester to my home just outside of Scunthorpe it is exactly 100 miles, 90 of which are on the motorway. I used the skills I learnt on dual carriageways and got on with it. I WAS TERRIFIED. This was my first solo drive, driving under conditions that were intimidating. I made it out alive, mainly because I drove at 60mph the whole way. Back then, I remember thinking this should be a part of pre-test learning. The concept of someone passing their test and instantly been allowed to drive on motorways quite simply left me puzzled. I for one, welcome the change!


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Occupational Health Advice for Driving Instructors – Part One – Back Pain



Back pain

Credit : Getty Images


The following series of blogs is going to look at the health risks involved at being a driving instructor and the steps you can take to not only reverse these but swing the pendulum the other way and feel healthier than ever before.

Whilst not being a driving instructor I still spend my fair share of time behind the wheel. I used to get the back pain, I used to get the claustrophobic feeling after 14 hours in the same vehicle, I used to go into every fast food restaurant that I drove pass. It’s not sustainable for our long-term health to maintain this lifestyle.


Part One – Back Pain


Back pain 2

Credit: Pinterest


The most common physical pain comes from the back. Sitting for a prolonged amount of time can either be the cause of lower back pain or aggravate an existing problem in the back. The sitting posture is static which means there is increased stress in the back which adds pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

There are three main causes for back pain while driving: vibrations from the engine (which can’t be changed), our sitting position, and the length of time we spend in our cars.

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

A reaction to sitting for a long time is a slowed down metabolism, a slower metabolism makes it harder for the body to break down fat and to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.

The link between illness and sitting first emerged in the 50’s, researchers found that London bus conductors had half the chance of having a heart attack as their bus driver colleagues.

The 70’s dawned a burst of research on astronauts, their findings were that whilst living in zero gravity, bone and muscle loss was accelerated causing quicker ageing.

Professor Biddle says, “Sitting for an extended period of time is thought to simulate, albeit to a lesser degree, the effects of weightlessness on astronauts.” (source: NHS)


Have I scared you yet? Yes? Good


Whether you are looking for a career as a driving instructor, just starting out as a PDI or a seasoned veteran; It’s not all doom and gloom.

No matter what your occupation, regular exercise is always advised. I’m not saying you need to go to the gym twice a day 7 days a week, the NHS says to go for 150 minutes of exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity a week, more on this can be read by clicking here. You can also do a fitness self-assessment by clicking here.

There is a good guide that helps “Undo the Damage of Sitting.” Despite the article being aimed at men, the stretches can be done by women too. The whole routine can be done in just 10 minutes and involves very simple exercises, it’ll help to provide relief to your hamstrings, quads, hips, glutes, groin and lower back. Check it out here.


When in the Car


Back pain 3

Credit: Pinterest


The Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust published guidance notes on driving, they recommend taking a break once an hour. This is easily achievable as an instructor and doesn’t have to be a long break. It could be simply taking a couple minutes walking around the car before a lesson. You could take a break to go through some show me tell me questions with a pupil. It could be checking the tyre pressure or tyre tread. It could be parking up and walking inside to get your morning coffee. You get the picture; these actions may seem insignificant for your body but the benefits are well documented.

Another tip they give is to move around, they stress that it shouldn’t be drastic adjustments to your seat position, but to just adjust the height or back position a notch can help vary the pressure going down the spine, they recommend doing this every 30 minutes.

The full document can be read here.


Let’s Draw This to a Close

Alright, so I’m not saying we’re all going to get sick and get diabetes and overweight. The point of this blog is to highlight the stress we put on our bodies when in the same position for extended periods of time. We can all do more to improve our health. I’d be surprised to meet a professional in the driving trade that will claim to never have experienced back pain. Take a peek at the recommendations in the articles, some simple stretches could transform your comfort during your working day, give it a go, the worst that can happen is you feel a little more limber! Next up in this series we’re going to take a look at how McDonalds could be ruining your business.

Happy motoring!


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Basic maintenance tips for your car

As an instructor, your car is your office, it is the place that you earn your living. If you neglect very basic duties it can lead to time spent off the road, which in turn, costs money. Let me walk you through some basics that could save you from the embarrassment of been turned away from a test by the examiner.

Some of this may seem basic, but will only appear if it is a real situation faced over the last year of me working for Surepass.



By law you need to have tread of at least 1.6mm. The easiest check for this is to feel if the tread hump is level with the rest of the tyre. If it is, you are running illegal tyres. Good practice is to phone your local Kwikfit, Halfords or ATS when your tyres are on about 2.5mm of tread and book to have the tyre replaced at your convenience. Don’t forget to check for bulges too!


You must also ensure that your tyres are running with the correct pressure. The information for tyre pressure on your vehicle is either inside the fuel panel or on the inside of the front doors. Correct tyre pressure will ensure you not only get better mileage, but also have evenly worn tyres, giving you more time on the road.
Here is a handy, inexpensive tool I use to check my tyres’ tread and pressure, it even fits on your key ring!






tyres 2

tyres 3












Source: Tyre finders and Dartford Tyres and accessories




Here at Surepass we have service intervals of 20k miles, this maintains the manufacturer’s warranty. Each service your oil and filter will be changed. It is imperative you don’t miss a service as this can lead to various engine problems that equate to more time, for you, spent off the road.

Your oil should also be checked once a week, by you. This should be done on a level surface, whilst the engine is cold, try first thing in the morning before you head out. Cars can develop leaks at any time. Leaks are relatively inexpensive to fix, but a turbo and a timing chain running on no oil is certainly no cheap fix, and are quite time consuming repairs.

Whilst checking your oil, if you notice it to be any colour other than honey brown or black then head to your closest Halfords and get it checked out. It could be nothing, but it could also be a sign of a bigger problem. If you find yourself having to top up frequently it is also advisable to get it checked out. Some oil does burn away but seals can also break, and although your driveway doesn’t have oil on it, there could still be a leak.

Here’s a guide to checking your oil: Here



If you don’t have wipers that create a clear view you could be putting your pupil and yourself in danger, you could also risk been turned away from a test. Check out the below image to give you an indicator as to when wipers should be replaced.












Top tips for getting the most out of your blades:

  • Don’t go too long without using them – especially in dry weather they can crack.
  • When cleaning your vehicle also clean the rubber bits on the blades, removing any trapped dirt or sap from trees.


A Brief Summary

Simple, right? How about creating a weekly checklist? Done at your convenience. Tyres, wipers and oil. Each can save you time compared to ignoring a small sign and letting it develop into, in some cases, a severe problem. We are all busy and time can seem sacred and hard to come by, but every one of these things can be checked in just a few minutes. Let’s be proactive and not reactive!




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Speed awareness

Speed awareness


Speed Awareness


This week we shall take a look and see how speeding affects yourself and those around you and see if the rush is really worth the reward. Provisional figures show that there is a 2% increase [1] in road deaths in 2016, this is despite our cars been ‘safer’ than ever before. The years before this showed a steady decline. [2] Green Flag state there has been a 44% increase in speeding over the last 5 years. [3]

Let’s begin by showing the various speed limits for various vehicles:


speed chart



Naturally, the type of vehicle you drive determines the speed in which you are allowed to go, but just because it’s the speed limit doesn’t mean you have to reach it. For example, if you are driving down a high street, or perhaps a country road with tight bends.

The importance of teaching safe driving to pupils is paramount as the early habits and teachings are usually engraved into their minds. Equally important is to conduct yourself professionally and within the boundaries of the law on the road. If a pupil sees an instructor speeding or ‘cutting corners’ they are more likely to think it’s the norm.


What are the main reasons for speeding?

  • Late? Set off earlier, don’t punish other road users.
  • Went through a bad patch of traffic and need to make up time? Set off earlier, don’t punish other road users.
  • There’s no one else around? How do you know?
  • You know the roads like the back of your hand? Apollo Robins states it’s the things you see every day that you are most blind to. Check this video out.
  • Tired and you just want to get home? Speeding whilst tired?!
  • It’s cool? Steve Coogan at his best.

A wise HGV driver once said that you should “anticipate everything, expect nothing.” You don’t know what’s around that corner, or what’s just down the road. Just the other day the M62 had a 3 mile tailback because a pig escaped a wagon and was running wild along the motorway (you may be pleased to know the pig survived). My point is, circumstances may occur that seem absolutely crazy and unexpected.

Whilst driving you take in millions of bits of information every second, every mile per hour faster you go this reduces. Go ahead and have some fun with this video, you may have seen it already: Click here


What’s the Government’s Role in This?


As of the 24th April this year new laws are coming into place to deter motorists from speeding by implementing heavier fines.

There will be a new band system.

Band A relates to drivers going between 1 and 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Band B relates to drivers going between 11 and 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Band C relates to drivers going 21 miles per hour and over the speed limit.

Drivers can receive 3 points for a band A offence, between 4 and 6 for a band B and 6 points for band C.

A typical charge for a band A offence will be 50% of your weekly income, for band B it is 100% and band C is 150%. The maximum fine has risen from £1000 to £2500.

Moving Forwards

So, next time you find yourself tempted, for any reason, ask yourself, is it worth it? There are social consequences and professional consequences that can have a serious impact on your life. Should you cause an accident, you shouldn’t expect any sympathy and your actions rest solely on your shoulders. Should you acquire too many points, as an ADI, this is your career at stake. How about explaining the fine to your spouse? There goes that summer holiday you were planning. Just stop, think, is it really worth it?






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Changes to the ADI test

In 2014 the DVSA introduced the standards check for already qualified instructors to ensure that their methods were still in line with the national standard. Overall surveys showed this was well received by ADI’s and examiners.Click here for an example of the marking sheet

Two years later in 2016 proposed changes to the ADI part 3 test were put forwards with two surveys been conducted with the aim of seeing how well prepared organisations would be for the changes and their general awareness of the changes. The full survey results can be found here.

The changes aimed to bring the part 3 test in line with the standards check and abolish the restricted rehearsed scenarios that the examiner plays. Allowing the person sitting the test to use a real pupil and therefore show off a much broader spectrum of competencies.

The goal is to improve the standard of training and testing that the trainees receive to, in turn, improve the quality of drivers that occupy our roads, which is in line with the DVSA’s strategic goal.

Here is a part of the press release:

The DVSA will publish the new assessment form and accompanying guidance soon, but main changes that trainers and trainees need to be aware of are:

  • The same criteria as the standards check will be used with a competency-based assessment
  • Trainees will be assessed over a single one-hour lesson on the 3 main competencies of lesson planning, risk management and teaching and learning strategies. They will be assessed using the additional 17 sub-competencies set out in the current standards check assessment form and to the national standards of Driver and Rider training
  • Examiners will no longer be able to role play. Trainees will be required to provide a ‘real’ pupil which could be friends, family members or colleagues, and the lesson will have to reflect their learning goals and needs. This doesn’t have to be a learner, but could be a full licence holder seeking driver development

The full press release can be found here.


Concerns That Need Addressing

On paper the changes may seem great but you don’t have to be an expert to realise that the door could potentially be left open for abuse and a subsequent flood of below par instructors passing their part 3 with little or no training.

With a “real” pupil been used, a rehearsed lesson could take place. There could become a black market of companies providing “real” pupils that enable the trainee instructor to tick all the right boxes. The DVSA’s response to this is that their examiners will easily spot something rehearsed. How can they be so sure?

Let’s say that this becomes an epidemic in the industry, and there are over all more, but fewer well trained instructors on our roads. Been a driving instructor used to be a symbol of integrity, but if the gates are open for anyone to qualify there lies the real chance that, with the increased number of instructors able to teach on the road the cost of lessons will be driven down, the quality of tuition will be driven down and the number of good instructors will be driven down because there lies a tarnished industry.

Click here to read about problems with the new test

Now that was an extreme example. In reality, it has to be assumed that the DVSA has thought about this and will have methods of avoiding the outcomes mentioned. With the changes coming into place on the 2nd of October, it is surely time that more guidance on the exam structure is given. Until then, I, and many others are not wholly convinced.


Danny Atkin

Surepass Ltd

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Use of mobile phones in cars

Mobile Phones in the Car

As of the first of March, using a mobile phone at the wheel brings a much tougher punishment. Previously using a phone would bring a £100 fixed penalty notice. The Conservative government has pushed through changes that now mean using a phone behind the wheel, or while supervising a learner driver will get you a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on your license.

The implications? A new driver using their phone will get disqualified and must re-sit both their tests. A driving instructor will receive the same points and fine, the accumulation of that many points may get your PDI/ADI badge suspended.

Why Have Tougher Laws Been Imposed?

Using a phone whilst driving or supervising reduces your ability to react to hazards.

It has been proven that while using a phone at the wheel, you are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, endangering yourself and others. Further information here.

Scenarios and Whether You Can Use a Mobile Phone

  • At traffic lights – Nope
  • In stationary traffic – Nope
  • To answer a call on speaker phone – Nope
  • To simply skip to the next song – Nope
  • To change your navigation – Nope
  • To call 999 or 112 when it’s not safe or suitable to stop – YES
  • Can you still use your mobile to navigate? Sure, just don’t you dare touch your phone again once the engine is going.

Responsibilities as a Driving Instructor

As an instructor, you have two responsibilities associated with this law.

Firstly, to teach the importance of not using a phone when driving. In your lessons, you must explain the risks involved, the danger it puts people in. The fact that if caught in the first two years they will be revoked back to their provisional license and must sit both tests again. Whilst the punishment, now, is enough to put many off from using their phone behind the wheel, the pupils must understand why the punishment is so severe.

Show them this video. If that doesn’t work, try this one. The latter really puts the message out there, showing a girl texting with her friends in the car, she then crashes into another car and another car crashes into her, multiple people are dead at the scene, a boy is orphaned and the girl that was texting at the wheel is surrounded by her dead friends. Another heart wrenching commercial is from American mobile phone provider AT&T. The message is important, “You’re never alone on the road.” “Distracted driving is never ok.”

The second responsibility is to practice what you preach. As an instructor, you are also in control of the car. While on a lesson, don’t take calls and don’t respond to texts on your phone. It can wait until after the lesson is completed.

Are the New Punishments Fair?

In my opinion, yes, they are. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the new punishment just so happens to be the same number of points learner drivers need to lose their license. Younger generations have been brought up on technology and a mobile phone is usually a surgical extension of their hand, generally speaking (not all teens are like this), statistics show young drivers are more likely to drive distracted.

There’s a huge national campaign aimed at cracking down to immediately get the message across. I’m predicting this will lead to a fall in numbers of people using their phones, and a bigger negative stigma attached to those that do still use their phones while driving, in the same way that driving drunk was clamped down on.

There are other ways to communicate whilst driving, plenty of cars come with steering wheel mounted controls that enable you to take calls. Look back at the blog a couple weeks ago, that explores how manufacturers are changing with the times with infotainment systems such as IntelliLink. Leave your phone alone, it can wait.


Danny Atkin

Surepass Ltd

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