The pandemic has seen both learner drivers and instructors affected well into the end of the year 2020, as the weather turns colder and the nights draw in. But the good news is that in all tiers in the UK, lessons and tests can continue to take place.
If you’ve been having driving lessons in Birmingham and are expecting to take your test in a West Midlands test centre, then you are likely to have been waiting several weeks to take your final driving test. And if you are still waiting for that special date, you could see your test taken place in the winter months of January and February. So, if you want to make the best use of your time, here are some tops tips for preparing to take a driving test in winter.
Stopping distance, thinking time and braking distance
You may have come across this topic in your theory test, but it’s worth reminding yourself of the difference between stopping, thinking and braking distance, and the various factors that can affect these whilst driving.
The thinking time is the time it takes you to react to the situation when you are driving, with the thinking distance being the amount your car has travelled between reacting to the hazard and pressing the brake pedal (or reacting in the correct manner). It is impossible to apply the brakes at the same time as a car in front of you, so to work out a stopping distance you have to take this thinking time into consideration.
The braking distance is the time it takes your vehicle to stop from the moment you hit the brake pedal, and can be affected by road conditions and conditions of the vehicle – although it is unlikely to be the case for your driving test as the car will be regularly checked for faults, poor tyres and brakes etc.
Stopping distance is the total time it takes for your vehicle to stop from the moment you see a hazard or brake lights ahead of you. The stopping distance can be calculated by adding the thinking time/distance and the braking distance, and changes depending on the speed of the car and the type of weather:
- When driving in rainy and wet conditions, the Highway Code advises the stopping distance to be at least double the distance compared to a dry surface because the road will be more slippery and there can be reduced visibility in heavy rain.
- For icy and snowy conditions, the Highway Code states that your braking distance can be ten times higher than that on a standard road. This means the stopping distance will also be increased. Again, consider the thinking distance due to poor visibility.
Use your time indoors wisely
With the winter weather keeping you inside, and the likely lengthy waiting time you have until you take your driving test, you can use this time to prepare even more for that day.
One of the things you can do at home, is to improve your reflexes and reaction times, as these skills can help you when dealing with other vehicles on the road and any hazards that can appear along the way. It’s been scientifically proven that playing video games, particularly action-themed games, are beneficial as this helps you to make quick decisions in tense situations, or when there’s lot happening at once. Video games can also make your reaction time better as they can make you more aware of your surroundings. All of which are transferable skills for your driving test, as the more alert you are to your surroundings, the less likely you are to make a mistake or have an accident.
You can also use this time stuck indoors to hit the books and revisit your theory test revision. It can only be a benefit to remind yourself of the Highway Code and road signs before getting in a car with an examiner. After all, it is a legal requirement to abide by the rules of the Highway Code, but it can also make you feel more confident and relaxed about taking your test. It’s also a great way to keep up to date with the DVLA standards of driving, as it is possible that there will be some changes by the time you take your driving test. It all helps towards preparing for when you get back behind that wheel again.