Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Does the Insurance Industry Care about young drivers?

Doesn't seem like it.

Our lovely Mr Ladyman (no jokes please), has been answering some questions at the house of commons (and not answering others, but hell, he's a politician aint he?!).

One of the points which he was rightly concerned about was the death/serious injury rate of young drivers, including the fact that young men are 4 times more likely to kill themselves and others in their first year of driving than women.

He makes the point that though both sexes take the same test, the lads are nutters. Like we've said here before, it's not a case of passing the test, it's how they view driving - their attitude, that counts.

He also gives an opinion on the 6 points and you're banned scheme which has been running a while, and he feels that this is not effective. Now at first I thought - what? You must be joking - ban 'em and they'll learn their lesson, but of course they don't. Half of them never re-apply for their test - are we to assume that these people give up driving? Or do we reckon that a lot of them go on to drive illegally, without insurance, tax, and breaking the law in any way they feel? I suspect this is often the case, and will concede the point to Mr Ladyman - expect the law to change on this one sometime (don't expect soon though!).

One problem he does have is that just out of reach, he can see a huge quantity of information which could help him to work out the best course of action for making Britain's roads safer. Unfortunately, due to "commercial privacy" he can't get his hands on it. What are the insurance industry thinking? Do they care at all? It seems not.

With the help of this information, we might be able to make sensible, informed decisions on how to improve driver training. Without it - our insurance premiums stay high, young drivers keep on killing themselves and their girlfriends, but heck, at least the insurance companies get to keep their market share.

Read the transcript here:
(if you've got the patience - it's dull, but has some interesting facts in it)

Sunday, 25 March 2007

ORDIT - What does it really mean?

Driving Instructor Training is an interesting business, because to do it all you need is to be an ADI.

Curious eh? Imagine this going down the line - as soon as someone had passed their driving test, they could advertise themselves as driving instructors!!

But surely there's some kind of exam that proves your trainer is good? Well.......ORDIT kinda does this.

The Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers (the full title), is not essential, but the DSA reckon it will give some kind of "accountability" to the business. A business that has suffered a bit through unscrupulous types trying to make a buck out of people who wanna become driving instructors. This accountability largely entails having a clear refund policy ("we don't give refunds" is about as clear as you need to be for this), and some kind of complaints procedure ("write to the DSA at.......if you don't like what you got" is about as procedural as it needs to be).

So you can see why people aren't keen.

But......and it's an important one, the trainer who is on the register will have been assessed by an examiner as being competant at their job. This can be important, in the same way as the difference between being a trainee instructor (PDI) and qualified driving instructor (ADI) is pretty important. It means that at the very least - on the day - for 1 hour - in the eyes of the examiner - the trainer was giving ok instruction.

Does this mean that all trainers on ORDIT are good? No. In the same way that not all ADIs are any good, just that they are CAPABLE of being good.

Does this mean that all trainers who aren't on ORDIT don't have all these policies in place? No. But if they don't you can't complain.

So where do we go next? Well there are rumours that ORDIT will be mandatory soon, which is no bad thing - it will at least get rid of the REALLY shady operators out there, and it will make sure that if there are problems with a trainer then there's someone to complain to. (If you reckon the DSA can or will actually do anything about dodgy trainers.......!)

So if you are thinking of becoming a driving instructor - look around for trainers, and ask them what they are doing about ORDIT. If they aren't on it - find out why not. If they tell you it's rubbish - beware - this is the excuse of the cowboy.

If they ARE on ORDIT, don't relax - this doesn't mean they will be good. Meet your trainer, ask for their qualifications. Don't hand over ANY cash before your first training session, apart from payment for that session. Go to the forums and do the research - it'll pay you back a fortune.

I'm not sure what a legit reason for not being on ORDIT would be - if you can come up with one - comment at the end of this article!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Why don't people take refresher lessons?

There's enough people out there who need to!

But seriously, when talking to people, reading the forums, or simply watching people driving on the roads, you can see people really having trouble driving.


And I don't understand why. Most of the things they have trouble with are simple to fix, like moving off on a hill, or parking in a bay - we could solve this in an hour if you wanted us to - 1 hour to solve that problem that stresses you out every time you get in a car! SO WHY DON'T YOU SOLVE IT!

Even more complex things - solving nerves, driving without stress, even reverse parking! We can help with all of these, but no - you'd rather stress yourself out and risk your own or someone else's death than ask for help. And all because "I've already passed my test". Well I've already had central heating installed - BUT IF IT DOESN'T WORK I'LL CALL A FRICKIN PLUMBER!

I'm not proud.

Is it pride, or selfishness. We get in that steel box and we feel that we are in charge, and admitting that actually we aren't in as much charge as we'd like is hard, but taking the central heating analogy again - i'm in control - I can change the temperature, and I can set it to come on when I want it to, but if it starts leaking water (or worse still Carbon Monoxide), I WILL call that plumber. I won't risk damage to my property or anyone else's, and I WILL NOT RISK MY LIFE OR THOSE OF MY FAMILY. And if I won't risk the life of my family - what gives you the right to.

(Oh yeah, and why is it that nervous drivers buy 4x4's instead of taking a few refresher lessons? Surely an extra £10 grand for a car is taking pride a bit too far. And it just means that they are more likely to kill the child they hit, because the bumper hits their hip and breaks it rather than their leg. Luckily, drivers of 4x4's are slightly more likely to die in an accident than normal car drivers. Maybe we could replace airbags in gas guzzlers (anything with an mpg less than 35, not just 4x4's) with large metal spikes that fire out through people's brains when they crash. Maybe then they'd stop talking on their phones.)

Can you tell I've had a hard week?!

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Borrowing an instructors car for test

This is how the fone call usually goes:

"Hello, my son's got a test booked for tuesday and I was wondering if he could use your car?"

"Well I don't usually just let people use my car, I'd like to know if he can drive first."

"Well he's been with an instructor for months, but he won't let him use his car."

"Why not?

"He says he's not ready, but he's had 20 lessons."

"If he's not ready, then he needs more lessons."

"But he's a good driver, he drives my car all the time."

"He could do the test in your car then."

"But what if he crashes it?"

"If he stands a chance of crashing a car, then he's not ready for his test. And if you have that little confidence in him, why should I let him loose in the most important tool I have, knowing that if he crashes it, I am out of a job until it is fixed?"

"Oh, right. So you won't take him?"


Why do people do this? Why do people think that they can fail a test and not take any more lessons before taking another? Why do people think that proving that you are capable of the MINIMUM SAFE STANDARD OF DRIVING is something you can just have a go at?

Is there any chance we can blindfold these parents then ask them to sit in the car with their kids who are so good at driving for a week before they are allowed their licence? And if their parents don't agree to this, could we tell them they need more lessons?

"But he's had 20 already......."

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Guaranteed or Instant Driving Test Pass

RUBBISH! There are lots of these kind of adverts around for "Pass your test in 5 days" or "guaranteed driving test pass", and you really have to wonder what kind of fool falls for them.

Could you expect anyone to be able to guarantee this? Is anyone actually stupid enough to think that with just 5 days of training they will be able to safely throw a tonne of steel around at speeds up to 70mph?

Why do people want this kind of instant gratification? Why to people want 'guarantees' for something that can so easily lead to the death of yourself, your kids, your loved ones, and innocent bystanders?

Intensive driving courses (from no experience to test) are notoriously unsuccessful (though you have to be very careful when reading the small print for them). There are a few instructors around who run 'semi-intensive' courses, which involve around 10 hours per week for maybe 4 weeks, and these can be very successful. But what makes people think that they can do a residential intensive driving course in Blackpool, when they have never been to the town before, do 40 hours in a car, then take their test (very often nowhere near Blackpool btw, and on roads they may never have seen before), and expect to pass?

Wake up people. Take driving seriously - this is not a game. Invest for the rest of your life, and don't expect it on a plate, or some of these shady operators will take your money, and hand you nothing in return.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Caught on Camera on your Mobile Phone!

This is just a warning to all of those people who think that driving around with a mobile phone clamped to their ear is a sensible thing to do - DRIVING INSTRUCTORS HAVE GOT YOU NICKED!

There's been a little research done into this, and all seems good!

In any one learner car at any one time there are usually 2 people - or shall we call them 'witnesses'.

In many learner cars, there are cameras - we use them for training purposes, and they often have cameras facing forwards, and backwards.

So if you like using your phone while driving, beware next time you are in front of, or behind a learner car, because we have been informed that if we supply video of you doing it, with the 2 witness statements confirming this to the police - you can be nicked!

3 points and a £60 fine coming your way guys - and there's a lot more learner cars around than police cars. And believe me, we WILL be doing this!

Be afraid - be very afraid!

Or just stop being a danger to yourself and everyone around you, you selfish fool.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

The Instructor College Con?

This keeps coming back!!!

Are their adverts intentionally misleading? Possibly.
Are their adverts lies? No.
Is it possible to earn £30k as soon as you qualify? No, but they don't say you can.
Is it possible to earn £30k as a driving instructor? Yes.
Is it possible to earn £30k and work flexibly? Yes, as long as the flexibility you're thinking about is yours towards your customers, not the other way around.

Do The Instructor College TV ads give the wrong impression to people? Yes.

On the forums there are hundreds of accounts of people who feel that they have been misled by these adverts and promises. However, there are other driving instructor training courses who do similar things. Guaranteed placements or franchises sound like guaranteed 'Jobs', but they aren't. There are other careers entirely which seem to offer huge rewards - take sales - we've all seen the adverts that specify 'On Target Earnings of.....', and we take those with a large dose of salt. Why are people so taken in by these adverts tho?

Possibly because it all seems so plausible. People look at how much driving instructors charge (£22/hour say), and then simply multiply that by 40 hours. Unfortunately this simplistic view of things can easily over-ride the reality.

So should we be taken in? No. Should we sue them? No. Are they doing something underhand and sneaky? Possibly. Should we have sympathy for people who are taken in? Probably. Should everything we see and hear on TV adverts be taken as gospel truth? Only if you are really stupid. Sorry guys.

Do the research. Go to the Driving Instructor Forums. Read as much as you can about REAL driving instructor stories. Don't hand over a penny until you know what you are getting. And try to pay as you go. That way you can walk away.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

'ees not worf it!!! leave it, ee's not worf it!

There's been fun on the forums this week (I've been lurking again), and people have been chucking their toys out of the pram.

Problem is, the guys who've left have been the good ones. Well I've got one question:


There's a few people on forums who seem only to be there to make people feel like sh*t. Which kinda says a lot about how they feel about themselves, but it has meant that the forums have lost some great contributors.


There is no other sphere of life where we would let them get away with it, so stand tall, tell it like it is, take the flak, and wait for the weak and stupid to crack and get personal.

As soon as they get personal, the moderators and admin can get rid of them straight away.

Now I don't sign petitions, I don't chuck my views about in the forums, cos I know that they could easily be taken out of context - which is why they're here. But I do feel that there are 2 kinds of people in the world:
Nice people, sometimes mistaken, sometimes misunderstood, but always stood up for.
and W*nkers - who need standing up to.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

To those who've sussed me......

....say nuffin'. (please).

If you wanna complain - feel free. If you want me to remove a link, no problem.


Traffic Police

New York used to have a terrible problem with crime. It is widely believed that Rude old Giuliani fixed this with interesting, novel and intelligent schemes.

Cr*p. It was the fact that the guy who ran the place before him put loads more police on the streets. (Look it up - the economist Steven Levitt goes through all of this in 'Freakonomics')

Now I'm all for good ideas, progress and all that, but there is no frickin substitute for people thinking that if they drive like w*nkers then they'll get caught. Take the mobile fone thing - there is no way in hell this will change until everyone on them starts getting caught, fined and pointed. We have the same problem with speeding - slow down for 50 yards beyond the camera, then back to normal.

Average speed cameras may help. Cameras with technology to recognise whether someone is on the fone may help, but I don't think there are cameras which can recognise the guy who cuts you up, and there are many areas without any cameras at all.

When people know that they can't get away with something, they don't try.

Maybe someone should start counting the cost of poor driving across all factors:
Excess fuel use
Environmental impact
Stress, and stress related illness
Insurance increases
Police and emergency service response to accidents and injuries
Time off work through injury and stress

Then maybe we could weigh all of those up against the preventative costs of having a few more coppers around in brightly coloured cars.