Sharing the road with cyclists

When you learn to drive ideally you should want to become a safe and confident driver. You can do this by learning more about defensive driving, but a lot of the technique comes down to being a considerate road user.


One road user you will find yourself sharing a lane with is the cyclist. Cyclists can be very vulnerable when cycling alongside cars. 30% of bike-related accidents are caused by a driver’s failure to yield to the cyclist. There seems to be some animosity between drivers and cyclists, here are some things to consider during your driving lessons in Brighton and Hove as you take your fellow road users into consideration…


Cyclists ignore the Highway Code


Think too many cyclists endanger their own lives and jump the lights? cites a poll that reveals 85% of car drivers “admit to gambling amber lights in an attempt to race through the traffic…38% say they rarely stop if the lights are on amber.” Experienced cyclist Gavin Keir suspects that “It’s a fair bet that most of those red-light-jumping cyclists are also car drivers who most likely do the same when behind the wheel.” Even if you do believe a cyclist is ignoring the Highway Code it doesn’t mean you should too.

Cyclists slow down the traffic!

While driving behind a cyclist waiting for a safe opportunity to overtake them remember that the average speed for motor vehicles in London is reported as varying between 8 mph to 11 mph. A commuting cyclist can reach an average speed of 15 mph and a fit cyclist on a light road bike is capable of getting to an average of 20-25 mph.

All cyclists are experienced


Don’t forget that unlike a car, you don’t need a licence to ride a bike. A cyclist might be a child, a student or someone starting out on a getting fit regime. There’s no telling how experienced a cyclist is or how comfortable they are on the road. Therefore you should give them enough space, (it might seem rather pessimistic but the ideal amount of space is room for the cyclist to fall off without going under your tyres) as you pass in order not to be the cause of any nervous wobbles.

Cyclists don’t need much space on the road


The Highway Code Rule 213 states that: Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make. Cyclists don’t want to fall off their bike or damage their tyres, be aware they might have to modify their path a little in order to do so.

I’ll see their reflective gear!

If you didn’t see the cyclist you probably aren’t looking in your mirrors enough. Because cyclists and motorcyclists are so much smaller than cars it’s easy for them to be concealed by another vehicle and go unnoticed until it is too late. As you approach traffic lights be sure to check your mirrors for any cyclists on either side of your vehicle. Be aware of your blind spots.

Remember, a cyclist is one less car on the road so they are reducing congestion and making your journey that bit smoother and faster!

Defensive driving

Part of learning to drive is learning how to be a safe driver, not endangering anyone on the road or in your car. One method of driving that can reduce the risk of collision or other driving incidents is called defensive driving. Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines it as: “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”

Defensive driving is anticipating possible dangerous scenarios and avoiding them through your driving actions. For example creating a gap between your car and the car in front give you time and space should the car ahead unexpectedly brake suddenly.

There are 10 basic concepts of defensive driving that Road Driver list and they are:
1. Don’t start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, including children and pets. Safety belts save thousands of lives each year.
2. Leave space to escape dangerous situations.
3. Slow down, especially during inclement weather conditions or at night.
4. Always adhere to speed limits.
5. Concentrate on your driving at all times and keep a watchful eye on pedestrians and pets along the roadside.
6. Expect the unexpected and plan for escape routes.
7. Never drive if you are impaired by lack of sleep or being under the influence.
8. Check your mirrors frequently.
9. Assume that drivers will run through stop signs or red lights and be prepared to react.
10. Follow the rules of the road. Don’t contest the right of way or try to race another car. Be respectful of other motorists.
You can become a defensive driver by always checking your mirrors to be sure it is safe to pull away, brake or begin the manoeuvre you want to do. Be aware of what is going on all around you, and keep an eye on the horizon so you can be alerted early to any upcoming obstacles or approaching cars. It is also recommended that you try to establish eye contact with pedestrians and other road users in order to confirm they have seen you. If you notice a car parked on the side of the road has its wheels pointed out to the right check it isn’t about to pull out in front of you. suggests you cut out all distractions so you can focus on the road and your driving. That could be your phone, the radio anything that you know could divert your attention. The site also recommends you separate any risks you have noticed: “When faced with multiple risks, it’s best to manage them one at a time. Your goal is to avoid having to deal with too many risks at the same time.”
Keeping all these tips in mind can help you become a safer driver on the roads once you have passed your test.

Over 70s drivers

If you’re worrying about sharing the roads with boy racers you might be concerning yourself over the wrong road users. According to a recent Transport Research Laboratory report it could be the drivers over 70s we should be worrying about. The report found that 1 in 10 motorists over the age of 70 should give up their their cars.

After drivers who have turned 70 must declare whether or not they are fit to drive. From then on they must do this every 3 years. This is a self-declaration and no formal medical or driving testing is involved.

The Director of the RAC Foundation Professor Stephen Glaister, said: “All drivers should regularly consider their fitness to drive, but matters really come to a head when we reach 70 and have to declare that we are fit to be on the roads. In general older drivers have an enviable safety record but it is clear that faced with this critical yes or no decision many motorists simply do not have a realistic view of their capabilities.”

The report also revealed that whilst 10% of over 70s motorists shouldn’t be driving, around 170,000 are prematurely giving up driving and their cars for fear of being unsafe or feeling too nervous.

Glaister continues: “While this will mean there are drivers who are unfit to be on the roads there will be many others who have prematurely hung up their keys. This will have a huge impact on their ability to live an active life, access essential services and take part in social activities.

In the UK we currently have 3.9 million driving licence holders who are over 70. In an ageing population, of which the Government predicts 10 million will reach the age of 100, this number is only set to rise. Among the elderly licensure is going up, particularly for women. Private cars help older people maintain their autonomy and social lives. Car use among the elderly has increased, replacing walking and public transport.

When driving it is important to take into account that, just like learners, elderly drivers might have slightly slower reactions to changes in traffic on the road.

Driving lessons and road rage

Thirty years ago it was just starting to be recognised in the USA. Now road rage is a growing problem around the world as roads get more congested and cars more powerful. Recently, a survey conducted by ingenie in June 2012 revealed that two thirds of drivers said they had been the victim of road rage at some point within the previous 12 months. 85% of those who took part in the survey admitted to behaviour within this period that could be indicative of road rage.

In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as: “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.” The law in the UK does not have a specific definition for what constitutes a road rage offence.

This means if a driver does succumb to road rage and is arrested the charge can vary depending on the actions taken by the road rager. If they got out of their vehicle and assaulted another driver then they could be charged with assault or bodily harm. Another possible charge against a driver who acted on their road rage could be under the Public Order Act 1986 if it can be demonstrated that they caused harassment, alarm or distress in others due to their rage.

Many accidents, and incidents of ‘road rage’, are the direct result of inappropriate and unsociable attitudes exhibited by some drivers. Learner drivers and new drivers require more patience than other motorists on the road because they have less experience and might be slower to react to changes in traffic. Unfortunately those who have a habit of losing their temper behind the wheel are not known for granting other road users much patience.

If you find yourself a victim of road rage SmartDriving reminds you not to take it personally: “Their actions are not a personal attack on you – it’s just that they can’t cope with their own emotions very well.” Unless the situation escalates and requires hospital and/or court attention, you are unlikely to see the enraged driver again. So whilst the incident might be upsetting it will probably only be momentary.

Try not to allow an aggressive driver to intimidate or upset you and allow them to pull away. By doing this you are taking control of the situation. If you are at fault be sure to apologise by holding up your hand, this can often diffuse a situation. Keep a good amount of space between other cars in order to give yourself room to drive away from a dangerous situation. If you think you are being followed try to drive to a well lit area or police station. Try to get the number plate of the driver that is trying to intimidate you.

During your driving lessons in Brighton and Hove a strong emphasis is put into considering driving as a social activity so if you are the person that is starting to get angry at other road users try to see the situation from their point of view. Almost everyone on the road is in a hurry and has places to get to – that’s why they are there! If it is getting to much find a safe space to pull over until you feel more relaxed and ready to continue your journey.


Having driving lessons in a crowded city like Brighton and Hove can be challenging, with roads busy with cars, motorbikes, cyclists and crossing pedestrians. What can make it even more difficult is some motorist’s habit of tailgating – or driving too closely behind the vehicle in front. It can be intimidating for new drivers to see a car looming up behind them in their mirrors.

In surveys tailgating frequently comes up as one of the most annoying driving habits cited by motorists. In a poll taken by insurance company Admiral of 3000 drivers tailgating topped the most annoying kind of action a driver can take!

Yet according to a poll by the road safety charity Brake over 50% of drivers admit to tailgating. With men as the worst tailgating offenders with 61% admitting to driving closer to a vehicle in front than is deemed safe. Only 46% of women drivers said they had been guilty of tailgating. At 56% young drivers are the most likely to tailgate, compared to 53% of all drivers.

Tailgating is very inconsiderate and, when taking stopping distances into account, potentially dangerous. If you find you are often a victim of tailgating however it might be worth readdressing your own driving habits.

While tailgating is dangerous no matter what the reasons behind it you might find you too are being an inconsiderate driver. suggests you might be going at an unnecessarily slow speed and holding up a queue on an A road. Or perhaps you might find you are often on the outside lane longer than you need to be – in spite of faster traffic behind and a clear left lane. “The advanced driver always keeps out of the way of other vehicles whenever practical.” say there are two types of tailgater, the passive and the aggressive. In order to shake them you need to know what kind is following you.

The aggressive tailgater is easy to spot. They want to get past you in order to drive faster and they use their vehicle to intimidate you either to into speeding up or moving out the way. An aggressive driver is more likely to succumb to road rage. In which case you are safer to just pull over when you find a safe spot and allow them to pass.

The passive tailgater is often not aware of what they are doing. It is a sign they might not be concentrating. Don’t be tempted to just speed up, you will only find yourself tailgating the car in front of you!

A better action to take is to create a wider gap between your car and the vehicle in front as a precaution, ideally extending it from 2 to 3 so as not to create a gap for the alert tailgater to try and use in order to overtake.

Flashing your brake lights might lose impact if you find you have to do it repeatedly. Better to ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually. The tailgater will be forced to follow suit.

When you learn to drive you should use this time to build up good driving habits! When you have you licence hopefully you will remember your time as a learner and make sure you keep to the 2 second rule, particularly when you find yourself behind a new learner!

Laws for flash driving

Whether you are taking driving lessons or not, you should now be used to new 20mph speed limit enforced throughout the Brighton and Hove city centre, and you will have noticed that many drivers are reluctant to comply with. And even when speed traps are put in strategic points drivers always relied upon mutual collaboration by flashing their headlamps each other.Well, a little while ago motorist Michael Thompson was fined £175 with an additional £250 costs plus £15 victim surcharge after being found guilty of “willfully obstructing a police officer in the course of her duties.”

How did the semi-retired motorist of Grimsby manage this? Thompson was caught warning oncoming drivers of a nearby police speed trap by flashing his car head lamps. The presiding magistrate informed Thompson: “We found that the flashing of your headlights was an obstruction, we found that you knew this action would cause vehicles to slow down and cause other motorists to avoid the speed trap and avoid prosecution.”

Thompson told the court that he believed it was his “civic duty” to warn other drivers. One of the solicitors present in court said the prosecution was a waste of taxpayers’ money and that the accused should be praised for his actions.

The prosecution and, according to radio phone ins, many members of the general public disagree. Believing those who regularly exceed the speed limit should not be able to try and cheat any measures used by the police to monitor traffic.

However if the aim of the operation is to get drivers to decrease their speed, then it is arguable that Thompson was co-operating with the law. Commenting on the case Nigel Humphries of the Association of British Drivers said: “If the true aim of speed traps is to get drivers to adhere to the limit, then why object to drivers warning others? Surely this achieves that objective in exactly the same way as signposting a speed camera, long accepted as a positive means of slowing traffic?”

It is not strictly illegal to warn other road users of an oncoming police speed trap, in the 2005 court case DPP vs Glendinning [] The Administrative Court held that no offence of willful obstruction is committed where the defendant warns other motorists of an oncoming speed trap. Unless it can be established that those being warned were already speeding or likely to do so at the speed trap.

The AA president, Edmund King, suggests that cases such as this can be a question of deferring to the police officer at the scene. “Often, in weird and wonderful cases such as this, prosecution can easily be averted if the driver just bites his tongue and accepts a police warning – without giving any lip…Unfortunately some police officers respond adversely to drivers challenging them, as appears to have happened in this case. That’s when they dig in their heels and decide to take action.”

Other acts drivers in the UK have been fined for are eating and even blowing their noses while at the wheel.

Courtesy is advised by the AA when drivers are stopped by the police, citing the statistic that nine times out of 10 no action will be taken.

Eco driving

With fuel costs rising learning more about how to drive in a more environmentally friendly way is of interest to everyone – both financially and ecologically speaking. In order to start driving in a more ecologically sound way you only need to make a few simple changes to your driving habits that can make a big difference to your fuel consumption and car emissions. The development of these good habits should be covered during a course of driving lessons.

Don’t think eco-driving would make much of a difference to the cost of keeping a car? The Energy Saving Trust estimates that you can reduce your annual driving costs by between £300 and £350 and even save your car some wear and tear thanks to eco-driving.

For optimum eco-driving first of all make sure your car is in good condition. Check your tyres at least once a month and before you embark on any long journeys. Under-inflated tyres are dangerous and increase fuel consumption.

Try to keep your car boot free of any unnecessary items, excess weight increases fuel consumption because the car is made to work harder when accelerating. Unless they are required, you should take off roof racks or boxes. Your car has been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. Roof racks or any outer addition to your car increases drag and causes greater fuel consumption – particularly at high speeds.

Modern engines no longer require any ‘warming up’ so there is no need to allow your car to idle before a journey. If you have air conditioning remember using it means the engine has to work harder in order to power it. If you are driving at a low speed consider opening the window. When driving at high speed, anything over 60mph, close the window as this will affect the car’s aerodynamic drag.

Once you are actually on the road shift up to a higher gear as soon as possible. When you drive at lower engine speed less fuel is used. Try to anticipate the road as far ahead as you can in order to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration.

Drive at a slower pace, driving at 85mph isn’t just going over the National Speed Limit, it’s using 25% more fuel than you would at 70mph. When you are stationary for more than a minute it is worth considering turning your engine off. Re-starting you car does not use extra fuel meaning you won’t waste any fuel when you turn the car back on. say that taking these tips on board also: “reduces noise pollution as well as local air pollution. The engine noise of one car driving with 4000 rpm (revolutions per minute) equals the engine noise of 32 cars at 2000 rp.” The site also believes if more people committed to eco-driving there would be a reduction in overtaking, speeding and aggressive driving.

Cheap driving lessons

There are plenty of things you can scrimp on, lots of ways to try to save money and economise. But if you see an offer for driving lessons that seems too good to be true – then it probably is.

When picking your driving school it might be tempting to simply decide on the cheapest. However this might turn out to be a false economy. In order to keep costs down driving instructors offering extremely cheap package deals might employ various money saving tactics that cost you more in the long run.

To keep costs down and lessons so competitively cheap some former driving pupils have reported their instructors offering lessons that are 45 minutes. In order to perfect a new manoeuvre, or indeed to travel from your point of pick up to a good place to practice driving, you will probably need more than 45 minutes.

Most lessons range from an hour to 2 hours in order to obtain a good amount of time on dual carriageways and high speed roads around Brighton, roundabouts or manoeuvres so that the pupil feels confident in their newly learned skill.

Another way to save on fuel costs and wear and tear of the car is to concentrate on the driving theory. You can learn from a driving theory book at your desk, at home, for free just as well as you might sitting in the car, with the engine switched off. While your instructor should be happy to answer any driving theory questions you might have, their presence as you study is not really required!

Go for the extremely cheap option and you might also find yourself driving your instructor to his next appointment! You will then be driven home by the next pupil on your instructor’s roster, a novice driver will probably find driving with an extra passenger distracting and unnerving. It isn’t illegal to do so, but many inexperienced learner drivers might find it uncomfortable.

If you can, find out about driving instructors who your friends and family recommend. Ask them about their lessons, how long it took them to learn and how much it cost. If you don’t know anyone learning to drive you can still look for a driving instructor who comes well recommended and has a good reputation with a little research online. Some driving schools have introductory offers that are both genuine and worth taking advantage of, but it is not a good idea to make your decision based on price alone.

It is worth investing in learning how to become a safe and confident driver rather than rushing to pass the test.

Road users confused by road signs

Having trouble studying for your driving theory test? If it’s road signs you’re struggling to remember then you are not alone. According to a study carried out for the insurance company plenty of road users are “bamboozled” by road signs.

2000 people were polled by on road signs. The top 5 signs that people were confused by was the sign for No vehicles except bikes being pushed, with 93% guessing incorrectly. 83% didn’t recognise the No stopping during times shown except for as long as necessary to pick up passengers sign. A further 67% couldn’t identify the No Waiting sign and 61% weren’t sure of the No motor vehicles allowed sign. Only 49% understood the Appropriate traffic lanes junction ahead sign.

Nearly half of those surveyed reported that in the past they have been distracted by road signs when driving. Confusion over road signs has caused almost 30% of crashes, bumps or near misses among those polled and 81% of those involved in such incidents have spent up to £600 on car repairs.

As well as being confused by signs most of the 2000 motorists polled said they were irritated by road signs used for maintenance. 43% were most aggravated over maintenance signs that were left out for longer than they needed to be. Another 25% felt angry about signs that had been put in the wrong place.

36% of road users would support a revision of road signs because so many don’t make sense. 31% think they would benefit from road signs being revised because they currently find them too distracting and 37% think they simply clutter our roadsides.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of Campaign to Protect Rural England, agrees with the 37%, commenting that: “Individual signs may be added with the best intentions but before long can sprout into a forest of clutter that degrades our countryside and distracts drivers.”

The Department of Transport recently announced that 9000 traffic signs had been removed from the roads in order to clear the streets of Britain. Patrick McLoughlin the Transport Secretary wants to encourage local authorities to take the department’s cue and follow suit, saying: “There are too many unnecessary signs blotting the landscapes of our towns and cities…That is why I have published new guidance, to help encourage local authorities to make old, confusing and ugly signs a thing of the past.”

You can study for your driving theory test online,Brighton Marina Driving Lessons recommends Theory Test Pro [], you can take practise tests that focus on one topic, such as road signs so you needn’t be confused by road signs any more.

Man on a mobility scooter and speed limits

There were reports in Brighton recently that a man had been spotted travelling along the A27 road on a mobility scooter. The police received several calls to report the incident: “A quick hunt located him, heading up the side of the A23 near Pyecombe somewhat cold and confused…He seems to have got lost around Brighton Station and ended up by the side of the dual carriageway past Patcham.”

Mobility scooters can travel at speeds of up to 8mph. You don’t need a license to drive one but you must be over 14 to use one. They are supposed to only be used on pavements at 4mph, but when no pavement is available you can drive at 8mph on the road. However it should go without saying it is inadvisable to venture to A roads where no pavement is available.

It is dangerous to drive on dual carriageways at a low speed, even if you feel unsafe going faster than you usually do during your driving lessons around central Brighton. Transport Department figures show 143 accidents a year are caused directly by slow drivers.

A 2011 report by insurance company shows it is not necessarily the slow speed a driver is travelling at but the reaction driving well below the speed limit for no apparent reason can cause. “In reaction to these slow drivers, almost half (45%) of motorists risk overtaking, thus increasing the chances of an accident. Although minimum speed limits are enforced on some UK motorways, there are few preventative measures that are used widely.”

27% of drivers questioned said they would like a specific slow lane to be introduced in the UK in order to prevent slow drivers taking up lane space. Nearly a third of those questioned reported they had had a ‘near miss’ due to someone driving ahead at a slow speed and 6 out of 10 motorists said a slow driver causes them to feel close to losing their temper. Slow drivers also tempt their fellow motorists to ‘undertake’.

It isn’t illegal to undertake but it is usually unwise and even dangerous to do. When driving on the motorway it is likely most of the drivers have been on a long journey and might not be as alert as they would usually be. Therefore any unexpected manoeuvres could cause alarm.

If you find yourself driving at a low speed in a queue and have no desire to over take any of the drivers ahead, then leave enough space between you and the car ahead so any of the cars behind you can over take safely and work their way up the queue.

Students “driving lessons” in drunk driving

In case all the warnings and graphic educational adverts against drink driving weren’t enough to convince learner drivers against the perils of drink driving, Le Mars High Community High School are allowing their students to drive under drunken conditions.

Of course the students are not actually intoxicated, and the wheel they are getting behind is not that of a real car but a simulator. The drunkenness is also simulated, through goggles that impair the students’ vision.

The class is designed by Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and The goggles are meant to create the blurred vision that alcohol can bring on. The students of Le Mars wore the goggles while they ‘drove’. The simulated car was comprised of a steering wheel, brake and accelerator, which were hooked up to a pair of computer monitors.

The computer monitors displayed a road scene, much like the driving theory test perception test. Much like on the perception test students would see animals suddenly scurrying on to the road, or experience a car suddenly brake sharply ahead or pull in front of them unexpectedly.

Students said the goggles made them feel “dizzy”, not an optimum driving sensation! After having a go driving in the simulated car freshman student Natalie Siebens said: “it was like shaky with the goggles.”

While still wearing the goggles the students were also asked to perform a sobriety test. This involved the deceptively simple sounding ‘walk and turn’ as a police officer looked on.

The students were then asked to try sending a text while driving on the simulator car. It might seem more harmless compared to drunk driving but Denny Becker, impaired driving programs administrator with the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB), pointed out that every second a driver’s eyes leave the road to text count: “One second, two seconds, if they do that enough, it catches up to them…It’s equivalent to a drunk driver.” Travelling at 55 miles an hour, within 5 seconds of looking at your phone you could have travelled 80 or so feet.

In Iowa, where the program is based 360 people died whilst texting and driving in 2012 and 364 in 2011. Across the nation over 6000 people have been killed due to trying to send a text while driving. People most at risk are those in the 16 to 34 age bracket.

In the RAC Report on Motoring 2011, statistics showed that 8% of U.K. drivers admitted to using smart phones for email and social networking while driving. Of this number 24% were 17 – 24 years old.

It might feel silly but the lesson has an important message. The cost of drink driving in Brighton can have a cost on it, in fact drink driving incidents in Sussex cost the taxpayer £197,770,000 in 2011. But you can’t put a price on life, as Mike Mulhern, GTSB youth program coordinator told the students: “We as parents would much rather have you call us than have to bury you.”

Young drivers insurance

In May 2012 as part of the road safety Think! campaign the Department for Transport and insurance providers met in order to investigate methods to reduce the cost of motor insurance for young drivers. The summit included Justine Greening,the former Secretary of State for Transport. The resulting action agreed upon was to engage with young people and their parents in order to gauge their thoughts on a range of policy and marketing interventions designed with the intent of reducing road risk and insurance premiums.

The resulting research from this action has found some interesting attitudes from both young people and parents regarding insurance policy and learning to drive in the report Top line summary of young drivers’ focus group research on attitudes to driving and insurance.

Holding focus groups in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Clacton The Department for Transport and participating insurance providers wanted to understand the attitudes out there towards learning to drive; having a driving licence and towards the insurance market. They also wished to explore the views on black box technology and the possibility of reducing the minimum driving age to 16.

The groups found that young people believed that while driving equalled freedom but they had suspicions that authorities were out to make things difficult for them and didn’t want them on the road. Similar to some of Brighton motorists’ views towards recent changes to road laws by the council!

It was found that practicalities such as cost was a big factor in young people’s attitude towards driving. The groups also divided young people into types with a corresponding attitude towards driving. There was the Pre-Driver (15-16) who felt a “Mixture of excitement and nervousness about learning to drive. Little consideration of practical considerations.” Followed by Learner Drivers (17-18) in this group males were more keen to pass than females and the key concern about driving lessons was the cost. The next type was the Recently Passed “initially elated but practical cost considerations kick in. Also feel young drivers are victimised for being perceived as less able.” There was also still a gender divide, “Freedom/being in control highly valued but can lead to male preening and risky behaviour with peers.”

All of these types were found have experienced disillusionment with the insurance industry and felt frustration and confusion over what they saw to be an “illogical and unfair process.” As the age  advanced the excitement of owning a car or having a licence wanes and the car is seen as “a tool not a toy and costs a weighty concern” There was also a strong sense that it was only after the young people had passed their test that they learned to drive.

Even though using black box technology would possibly reduce insurance costs many young people were suspicious of the technology and felt it could be seen as a punishment before the crime.

The summary found that cost became an increasingly important factor in young people’s decision making process when learning to drive and owning a car. Their parents were more concerned with safety over the various costs behind driving.

AA declares Brighton and Hove anti-driving

Over the last few years there have been many changes made to routes and driving legislation in Brighton and Hove, one way systems put in place, parking permits, police operation Casper and, lately, the lowered 20mph zone scheme. All leading the country’s leading motoring group the AA to brand Brighton and Hove’s new policies as anti-car and a “disgrace”.

The AA made the claims in response to the results of the latest census figures, which revealed Brighton and Hove car ownership has fallen by a large margin, Brighton and Hove now has the lowest number of car owners in the South East. In Brighton fewer than 20% of households own more than one car. The South East is the seventh lowest car ownership levels in England and Wales, with 40% of households owning more than one car.

In comments made the The Argus the AA said that “motorists in Brighton and Hove are being forced to abandon their cars in the face of increasing parking charges, rising fees for resident permits and other schemes targeting drivers.” An AA spokesperson attacked the council’s policies combined with rising fuel costs: “If they [the council] are forcing people out of their cars and reducing mobility and hitting low income people in particular it is a disgrace…It is saying you do not earn enough to enjoy the freedom of mobility to shop, or search for jobs, or leave the city limits.”

In contrast, Brighton and Hove council are delighted with the news of the fall in car ownership. Brighton and Hove Councillor Ian Davey, who chairs the Transport Committee, said: “These figures show that in Brighton and Hove people are choosing to travel by bus, bike or on foot and the council has an important part to play in supporting those making sustainable travel choices by providing improved facilities… Leaving the car at home also saves money, helps keep you fit and reduces carbon emissions.”

The amount of people travelling to work by bus is double in Brighton and Hove than that in the rest of England and Wales on average. 14% of Brightonians travel to work by bus and 21% walk to work – an increase of 4% from 2001. 5% getting on their bikes and cycling to work.

While over a third of Brighton households do not own a car, there has been a rise in membership of the City Car Club. With membership in the region rising to over 3000, Brighton is beaten only by the capital in membership numbers. The club has plans to increase its current fleet of 72 to 100 in 2014.

Speaking to the Argus, Vicky Shipway of the City Car Club noted the high number of commuters to London living in the Brighton and Hove area who travel by train to work as being a factor in the levels of car ownership. Shipway said: “There has been a huge demand for hybrid cars in the city – more than anywhere else. There is something about Brighton and Hove that makes the residents more environmentally aware. It is the mentality of a young, urban city. People might not own their house or flat now and also do not own a car.”

In order to join the local Brighton car share scheme you have to have been in possession of a valid driving licence for 12 months minimum and be over the age of 19 years old.

Drunk learner driver writes off mother’s car

If you have recently booked your driving theory test you might want to out some more practice in than usual. Revising for your driving theory test. If you enjoy book-learning you might be happy to use one of the many theory revision books available. If you are a practical learner you might find you find new driving theory easier to remember as you drive in your lessons.

One learner driver who seems to find putting the theory into practice a great memory aid is 20 year old David Jeffrey of Roxburghshire.  Jeffrey made the unwise and dangerous decision coming home from a night out to take his mother’s car out for a practice run before his theory test.

The learner driver crashed through railings and into a wall after speeding over a roundabout at 3am in the morning. After the car then caught fire Jeffrey fled home where the police found him at 4.25am when they visited to inform his mother her car had been involved in an accident.

It was discovered that not only had Jeffrey been driving while uninsured in a vehicle taken without the owner’s consent and failed to stop and provide details after the accident but his alcohol reading was 48mcgs. 13 mcgs over the limit.

Jeffrey’s defending solicitor Iain Burke explained: “He said he wanted to take the car for a practice as he is a learner and was about to take his theory test…But he took out a fence and hit the wall.”

Jeffrey has been fined a total of £1,065 and disqualified from driving for 18 months. When he is able to take his practical test it has been ordered he take an extended test. At Selkirk Sheriff Court Sheriff Drummond told Jeffrey: “You not only put yourself at risk but the general public as well.”

Rather than taking such extreme and dangerous risks like Jeffrey, at Brighton Marina Driving Lessons we recommend you revise for your theory using Theory Test Pro. The online driving theory site can be found at and is the most comprehensive website for theory test revision. It has an extensive question bank, short and long mock tests, 8 official video clips from the DSA and 31 original video clips to help you prepare for the hazard perception part of the theory test.

All Brighton Marina Driving Lesson pupils have free access to the site to help them revise for their theory in a safe and legal way…

20mph for emergency vehicles

This month the new 20mph speed limit zones in Brighton and Hove came into force. During your driving lessons in central Brighton and Hove you will have noticed the 20mph signs painted on the tarmac and the many road signs alerting drivers to the new, lowered limit. However, according to The Argus and Speedar Radarguns not every road user is adhering to 20mph or lower.

Of 142 vehicles 95.77% were noted to be speeding on various roads that are now 20mph zones; Upper Lewes Road, Edward Street, Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue. Former council leader, Tory councillor Mary Mears opposes the new scheme and is concerned the policy has been rushed in, saying: “I think this is an absolute waste of time because to try and actually do 20mph in some places is very, very difficult…I agree with 20mph around schools because children are going about their business without much road safety awareness.”

Mears also expressed concern for the implementation of the speed limit : “The problem is, it’s only enforceable by the police, who have already said they haven’t got the money – the council have spent all this time and money on trying to cure congestion and pollution, but in all honesty, I think this is only going to make it worse.”

Some road users have also claimed confusion over the timing of the speed limit enforcement due to the council failing to remove the coverings on all the 20mph road signs by the 8th of April. Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “I think the word is out now that it’s not going to be enforced, which really undermines the whole scheme.”

The Council’s Transport Committee chairperson Ian Davey thinks the scheme simply needs more time: “It is early days and it’s premature to be assessing the effectiveness of the new speed limits after just a few hours – particularly as the signs are only just being uncovered…these changes are about reducing accidents and saving lives.”

In another bid to save lives it came apparent on the 21st of April. Emergency vehicles travelling with a blue light are exempt from speed limitations, but a memo was sent to fire stations informing them that their vehicles should try stick to a limit of 40mph when driving in an emergency situation on a 20mph road.

Steve Liszka, a Fire Brigades’ Union representative based at Brighton’s Preston Circus fire station, said: “It may be guidance but it all comes down to what happens if there’s a crash…Is the book going to be thrown at the driver?”

The borough fire commander for Brighton and Hove Mark Matthews, said: “What we do not say is never travel at more than twice the speed limit…We expect our drivers to be professional in their driving. What they must do is judge the conditions and drive accordingly…Public safety is paramount…I do not expect 20mph limits to affect our response time but we will monitor them over the next few years…If there is an impact, then that needs to be addressed.”

Don’t forget, just because other people are breaking the speed limit (and law) doesn’t give you an excuse to do so!

Worthing, Lewes and and Chichester are all running campaigns for 20mph schemes, will you be joining them or do you oppose the measures?

Drink driving

Every year in the UK drink driving causes the deaths of around 250 people and seriously injures 1200 people. Often the driver who is over the limit escapes severe injury and it is bystanders who bears the brunt of the motorist’s alcohol consumption. 120 pedestrians, 20 pedal cyclists and 240 motorcyclists are killed or injured a year as a result of drink drivers, as are 500 car passengers. Annually about 60 children are killed or seriously injured in drink-drive incidents.

According to recent reports between 15-40% of all road accidents are the consequence of excessive alcohol consumption with: “a total of over 3000 people a year making up the death and serious injury statistics.”

According to Brighton and Hove Council over a period of 5 years alcohol related collisions in Sussex have cost society in total £197,770,000. The council also reports that one fifth of fatal collisions in Sussex were alcohol related. Throughout the year Sussex police operate anti drink-drive measures, the police can breathalyse any driver they stop if they suspect they have been drinking.

The legal drink drive limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. It is important to be aware that even the slightest amount of alcohol in your system can have an affect on your brain and impair your judgement. Even at 20-30mg per 100ml of blood you will probably experience an inability to see or locate moving lights accurately, your ability to judge distances will be impaired and a tendency to take risks will be heightened. 50-80mg of alcohol impairs your eyes adaptability to light conditions changing and your sensitivity to red lights is affected. Your ability to react quickly or concentrate is also severely impaired.

Over the limit at 80-120mg per 100ml of blood a euphoria will set in and cause you to over estimate your ability. Peripheral vision will be greatly reduced and perception of obstacles will be impaired. Any more than this and says this is the: “Beginning of complete unfitness to drive.” You will be suffering from a “Serious impairment of concentration and vision. Very delayed and impaired reactions. Major orientation problems.” You are statistically 20 time more likely to have a collision if you drive at double the legal limit.

You should also take in to account that the time it takes for the alcohol in your system to completely metabolise is more than a couple of hours and cannot be hastened with coffee or any other method. It is possible to be over the limit the morning after a bout of heavy drinking.

If you are found to be driving over the limit the minimum penalties you could face is to lose your licence and having the points on your licence for an additional 10 years after a year’s driving ban. You could face 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5000. There is also a penalty for refusing to comply with the police when asked to give a breath, blood or urine sample of £5000, a maximum of 6 months’ imprisonment and a 12 month driving ban.

The only way to be confident you are at the safe limit is to not drink at all prior to driving. Even if you are under the drink drive limit your ability to drive will be slightly affected.

Volvo launches new Cyclist Detector System in cars

The first driving lessons in Brighton city centre can be tough for the learner driver. Looking out for pedestrians crossing while keeping an eye on speed and the traffic are, at first, a bit daunting. On roads without cycle paths the cyclist is another road user it can take time to get used to watching out for. Recent statistics show that in Europe 50% of all cyclists killed in traffic collided with a car.


So new drivers might be interested to know Volvo have revealed new radar technology [] that automatically slams on the brakes when it detects a cyclist is about to wobble or swerve on the road if the driver does not notice them in time.


Due to launch in May, Volvo hopes that this new technology, called Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake, could help save saves and prevent injuries. The system flashes a line of red lights onto the windscreen and makes a sound to give the driver warning of the cyclist before the automatic braking system take effect.


The cyclist detector system features a radar scanner, which is fitted in the car grille. There is a camera that sits in front of the front rear view mirror and a computerised central control unit. The dual-mode radar is able to measure the distance from any suspicious object and the camera uses an electronic visual catalogue of images to identify the object as a push bike, motorbike or pedestrian all in the blink of an eye. It then continuously monitors the object and traffic situation.


If the system thinks the car is on a collision course it uses the warning system of lights and audio to alert the driver. If it deems it necessary it will then apply the brakes. This Volvo technology will also monitor other vehicles driving in the same lane.


Volvo’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Doug Speck said: “As the leader in automotive safety, we have been first in the industry with all detection and auto brake technologies, from the first-generation brake support in 2006 to pedestrian detection with full auto brake in 2010.”


Volvo announced that the PCDwfab system will be made available in its V40, S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 models in May 2013.


Do you think a detector system will create safer roads for cyclists or would more cycle paths have a greater effect on the safety of cyclists?