If you think your Mum or Dad is a bad driver, here’s your chance to send them back to driving school, courtesy of the new Childen’s BBC TV show, ‘The CBBC Driving Academy’.

The new show, which aims to help make parents better drivers and enable kids to learn first-hand the importance of road safety, is seeking applications from kids aged 11-14 and their parents/guardians to take part.

Under the guidance of approved driving instructors, kids and their parents will take part in a fortnight of master classes where they will learn about all aspects of road safety and safe driving – with the kids themselves also being given driving lessons.

If you’d like take part in the TV show, head on over to the CBBC Driving Academy website and complete the application form by Friday the 11th March.

The UK’s driving test centres may be closed by the DSA with examiners instead being based at local community centres and supermarkets if leaked documents are to be believed.

Such plans could also see the driving test itself being conducted by delegate private firm examiners outside of the public sector.

The news comes from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union which says it has viewed leaked documents which shows that the DSA is looking at ways of reducing its costs.

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS union said: “These new documents shed more light on the plans being hatched behind closed doors by senior managers and ministers”.

Serwotka continued: “Worryingly, it is the latest evidence of the creeping privatisation of the agency’s work, which puts ideology before road safety.”

In reply, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport commented: “We have said many times that we are looking at how we can improve the driver testing and training process, however, no decisions have been taken on future testing provision and we will not comment on leaked documents”.

The AA has acquired its rival BSM (The British School Of Motoring) for a reported nominal fee of £1 following BSM’s move into administration.

The deal, which saw the AA purchase BSM within minutes of BSM going into administration, brings the UK’s 2 largest driving schools under the one roof of parent company Acromas, who also own SAGA.

BSM has been in operation for over 100 years but has struggled in recent years following a £10 million management buyout in November 2009.

BSM has 2,100 fanchised driving instructors and employs around 280 people across the UK, many of which provide instructor support and take learner driver bookings.

Acromas confirmed that it would keep BSM as a seperate company to the AA Driving School, which has around 1,900 driving instructors.

It also confirmed that it would be business as usual for pupils learning to driver with either BSM or the AA.

Driving School Lessons has launched a new training programme that features a first lesson free incentive for learner drivers looking to start their driving lessons in Poole.

Lasting for about an hour, the free lesson is used by the driving instructor to assess the learner driver’s current driving skills which in turn helps the instructor develop clear targets for the pupil’s next set of lessons.

Commenting on the first lesson free initiative in Poole, Steve Tattersall of Driving School Lessons said: “The first lesson free incentive not only enables the driving instructor to assess the learner driver’s current ability, but importantly, gives the learner driver an opportunity to get to know the instructor”.

Tattersall continued: “Upon completion of their first lesson, learner drivers are given a useful Progress Record Card which sets out their proposed training programme with clear targets on what’s to be achieved and when”.

Those who have already taken a driving test and failed with a different driving school can also take advantage of the free assessment lesson worth £20.

Learner drivers in the Poole area can phone Driving School Lessons on 0800 612 8983 to book up their free lesson. Lines are open from 9.15am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

The much talked about new driving test (practical test) has been introduced into the UK this week, with the main change being the inclusion of an independent driving assessment for learner drivers.

The new ‘independent driving’ assessment requires pupils to spend 10 minutes or so demonstrating their ability to drive safely without step-by-step directions from their examiner.

Rather than the examiner giving specific directions during the practical test, the independent driving assessment section requires the pupil to follow traffic signs or a short series of verbal directions, or a combination of the two.

When following verbal directions, the pupil will be shown a diagram from the examiner, while they can also ask the examiner for reminders as they drive.

Commenting on the new driving test, the DSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, Trevor Wedge, said: “The aim of independent driving is to assess the candidate’s ability to drive safely whilst making decisions independently. It’s not a test of navigation and candidates won’t be failed for going off route”.
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Wedge continued: “The test is being improved to help produce safer drivers, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting any harder. We know many instructors are already teaching independent driving”.

The other change to the British car driving test sees pupils only having to complete one of the three reversing manoeuvres, instead of the current two.

Despite the changes, the good news is that the price of the UK driving test remains the same at £62, while its duration also stays the same at circa 35-40 minutes.

Have you completed your driving lessons and taken the new driving test yet? If so, please share your experience and views on it here and let us know how you got on. Thank you.

Learner drivers can now receive 2 free driving lessons in Bournemouth, saving themselves up to £52, following the launch of an exciting new Starter Pack from Driving School Lessons.

In order to qualify for the 2 free lessons, learners in Bournemouth must book the Starter Pack which includes 10 driving lessons, a FREE Pass-It CD-ROM on the Theory & Hazard Perception Test, a Progress Record Card, a keyring and a pen.

The Progress Record Card is given to the learner driver after their free assessment lesson. This innovative card enables the learner and the driving instructor to set and achieve regular goals and monitor improvements week-on-week.

Learners wanting to try before they buy can opt to take their first driving lesson in Bournemouth for free in order to get to know their local instructor.

The instructor will assess the learner’s driving ability and set targets for their next lessons using the Progress Record Card.

Learners requiring driving lessons in Bournemouth can find out more by calling Driving School Lessons on 0800 612 8983.

Driving School Lessons, the driving school franchise specialist and owner of this news service, has confirmed the launch of its driving lessons in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Starting today, the company’s new ADI, Elliott, will be providing learner drivers in the Sutton Coldfield town and surrounding area with a special 5 for £55 driving lesson offer.

Elliott is a fully qualified DSA approved instructor based in the Sutton Coldfield/Great Barr area. He offers patient one-to-one driving tuition and a flexible hours approach.

Steve Tattersall, the founder of Driving School Lessons, said of the launch, “We are thrilled to have Elliott on board and to be able to offer the Driving School Lessons experience to learner drivers in the Sutton Coldfield area”.

Steve added, “Pupils in these areas can book their lessons online with us”.

New lorry drivers will need to pass a new DSA driving test following the launch of a new qualification by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) launches on the 10th September 2009 and will need to be obtained by new lorry drivers in addition to them holding the relevant driving licence for a lorry.

The exams include a new theory test that check and enhance drivers’ understanding. There’s also a new practical test which requires trainee lorry drivers to demonstrate their knowledge of vehicle safety and security.

Rosemary Thew, The Chief Executive of the Driving Standards Agency said: “The new Driver CPC qualification has been developed to raise and maintain the standards of lorry, bus and coach drivers”.

Thew continued, “Lorry driving is a profession with a high level of responsibility. We are confident that the new qualification will help to reduce the human and financial costs of road accidents in the UK”.

In a further move, all lorry drivers, irrespective of experience, will need to complete 35 hours of ‘periodic training’ every five years in order to maintain driving lorries professionally.

Those drivers who hold a full licence to drive a lorry before the 10 September 2009 will not need to take the qualification examinations, though they will need to do the ‘periodic training’.

Readers can find further infomation on the Business Link CPC page.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has provided some advice to pupils who are finding it difficult phoning through to the DSA to book their driving tests.

In order to get your phone call answered by the DSA, they are advising pupils and ADI’s to use the fast track service and callback assist.

The Registrar of Approved Driving Instructors for the DSA, Charles Morton gave the following tips:

1. Call 0300 200 1122 and dial one of these options:

- all theory tests, dial 11.

- practical car test enquiry and booking (including ADIs), dial 25.

2. If we don’t answer your call after 60 seconds, you’ll be offered callback assist. This will save your place in the queue so you can hang up and get on with your day.

3. You’ll just need to confirm the number you want us to call back on. It can be a landline or mobile, and it doesn’t have to be the number you’re calling from at the time.

4. Speak your name and hang up when you’re told to. We’ll do the rest.

As soon as you reach the front of the queue we’ll call you back. Don’t worry if you’re on the phone when we call as we’ll try three times.

5. If your number’s been engaged and you haven’t heard back from us within 30 minutes from the moment you hung up, you’ll need to go back to step one.

Steve Tattersall, a spokesperson for Driving School Lessons said, “This is really useful advice as we’ve had plenty of feedback from pupils who have found it difficult to book their driving test online or over the phone with the DSA over the last few weeks”.

Tattersall continued, “Though the situation has now improved, we’d be interested in hearing from pupils who have phoned the DSA and used the DSA’s fast track service and call back assist to book their driving test. Pupils can leave their feedback on this news site”.

The AA has found that many driving instructors are now re-routing their driving lessons due to the 1.5 million potholes on the UK’s roads.

Crumbling road surfaces and holes are making work extremely difficult for the UK’s driving instructors with tyre blow outs often forcing instructors to grab the wheel from pupils.

AA president, Edmund King, said: “The fabric of our local roads is a major cause for concern with surfaces crumbling and drivers at risk of damage to their vehicles and even themselves. Ultimately we all pay more through patching and mending, and then paying out compensation rather than fixing the underlying poor condition of many of our roads”.

King continued, “All drivers should take care – an innocuous looking puddle may actually be a deep pothole. By training new drivers to anticipate and deal with these obstacles we will make our roads safer, preventing accidents and damage to you and your car”.

The AA driving school are teaching special techniques so learner drivers can deal with the increasing number of potholes.