Learn to drive automatic or manual car – which is best? In the UK the majority of learner drivers are taught in a manual car (manual & automatic refer to the type of gear change mechanism). Because the majority of used cars for sale have a manual gearbox and automatic cars are more expensive to buy and maintain. Passing a driving test in an automatic car will only allow the driver to drive automatics. Passing a test in a manual car, enables the driver to drive both type of car – manual and automatic. Those are the facts! Now here are the myths.
Learn to Drive Automatic car
New drivers who are disabled or come from a country where automatic cars are predominant have a reason to learn to drive in an automatic car.
In the UK a new driver is often influenced by others – including their driving instructor into learning to drive in an automatic. I have been teaching for 41 years and never advised a new driver to swap to an automatic car, despite teaching pupils who were disabled.
A professional driving instructor who suggests a new driver should learn to drive in an automatic car, because they are struggling. Is not for the benefit of the student, it’s because it’s hard work for the instructor. An instructor in this situation should find another way of helping this particular student. The instructor should consider the needs of the student first.
Pupils that leave their instructor because they were told they would never learn to drive, specially in a manual car. May have been misinformed. At instructor training college I was taught to teach anyone to drive who wanted to. I’ve never veered from that statement. Perseverance by both instructor and pupil can get excellent results.
Learn to Drive in a shorter time
Learning to drive in a shorter time with an automatic is sometimes the reason a new driver swaps from a manual car. I have come across this question often, “My friend / instructor said I would learn to drive in a shorter time. If I learned in an automatic.” My answer, “What problem are you having with the gears?” student replies “None, I was just told it would save time”.
Passing your driving test is difficult only if you think it is. Become smarter and you can pass your driving test with ease providing you have had enough of the right kind of practice. Why do many people think that it is difficult to pass a driving test? A lack of understanding of the basics is one reason and urban myths another. Lets take look at a basic skill set that needs to be mastered before anything else.
Passing Your Driving Test-Car Control
Starting with basic car control is a fundamental. Never mind traffic lights, roundabouts, lane positions, other drivers. These are important, but not at the early learning stage. You must be confident with your car control, before you can master anything else.
Lets look at clutch control:
The clutch pedal is always operated by your left foot.
Pressing the clutch pedal to the floor will disengage the clutch – this means with the engine switched on the car will no longer drive. Your task to make the car move is to engage the engine onto the wheels so that the car will move. The engine side of the clutch plate (flywheel in the diagram) is moving. Because the car is stationary the other half of the clutch plates are stationary also. If you raise your left foot too quick the two clutch plates will bang together causing the car to stall.
The car stalls because you are placing a moving object (engine side of clutch) onto a stationary clutch plate. The skill you need to master is to find where the two clutch plates just touch. Once found, keep your left foot still until the car moves slowly forward. Once you feel the car moving, you may gently raise your let foot off the pedal. That is you now driving the car. The point at which the clutch plates touch is called ‘the biting point’. Mastering this is essential to become a safe and confident driver. More information can be found here Passing your driving test does not need to be difficult. It must be the only test in the UK that you know the answers before you start.
Car control – stalling an engine
There are two main reasons that you stall a car engine. The first one is when you are moving off from a stationary position. The text above informs you on how to drive away smoothly without a stall. The second reason a car stalls is when stopping. When stopping you press the middle pedal (B) the brake with your right foot, this is also a slowing down pedal. In normal driving you operate the brake pedal to slow down before eventually stopping by pressing it as much or as little as you need to get the result you are after. Within reason, the earlier you press the brake pedal the better, it warns other drivers following you that you might be stopping. It does this by automatically turning the red stop lights on, which are at the rear of the car.
Once the car has stopped it will stall unless you press the clutch pedal down to the floor. The reason for the stall is that the two clutch plates are still operating together and are making the car drive forward. The correct process for stopping would be to slow down using the foot brake and keeping the clutch up. When the car is about a car length or so from the point at which you intend to stop, press the clutch fully to the floor.
To pass your driving test it is essential you master the clutch. It will build your confidence enormously. Be a smarter safer driver for life.
December 4th 2017 Driving Test Changes. This date is a turning point in the history of the British Driving Test. For the first time in its history there will be no testing of the turn in the road manoeuvre [3-point-turn]. Which means there will be a majority of drivers, who have never turned a car around in the road. Ask the question. “When confronted with a blocked road, how would a driver turn around to face the opposite direction?” Never having carried out this type of manoeuvre.
The DVSA have published that the turn-in-the-road manoeuvre will still be taught by driving instructors, even though it’s not going to be tested. Yes, I agree with that, but driving schools are running a commercial business. This means that a learner driver would not normally be happy to pay for learning something that will not be needed on a driving test. The majority of learner drivers only want the ‘bare bones’ of driving lessons to get through their test. The fall in popularity of the Pass Plus training programme is evidence of that.
3. Reversing manoeuvres will be changed The ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres will no longer be tested, but you should still be taught them by your instructor.
You’ll be asked to do one of 3 possible reversing manoeuvres:
parallel park at the side of the road
park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic
As you can see it mentions that you will be asked to carry out one of three manoeuvres. Not strictly accurate since the bay parking exercise is divided into two possible scenarios. To my mind I see this as two manoeuvres, not one, as they require different skill sets.
The parking on the right manoeuvre cannot be legally practised by learner drivers taking evening lessons in the winter. As it would be illegal to park on the right at night except in a one way street. I wonder how many parents (hopefully not professional driving instructors) will park on the right at night with dipped headlights. Blazing away in the face of oncoming traffic and reversing over someone’s driveway?
The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn
while stationary on the road
when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am
except when another road user poses a danger.
This now poses the question “How will a new learner driver view this breach of a Highway Code rule?” Since the sounding of a car horn is not complying with rule 112.
Here is a possible scenario;
The driving examiner checks all around the car whilst it is being driven by the test candidate. And it is considered, by the examiner, that the road is quiet enough to sound the horn. The test candidate should then carry out their checks to see if it is a safe time to operate the horn. The candidate thinks it is safe, just at that moment another road user (including a cyclist or pedestrian or car backing out of a drive) appears as the horn is pressed. In an overzealous moment the test candidate presses the horn too hard (test nerves are usually to blame!!!). A now potential road rage situation could be provoked, between the innocent road user and learner driver.
Learner drivers using horn whilst training
Driving lessons are normally taken by learner drivers prior to taking their driving test (there are a few exceptions). Whilst being trained the learner driver will be shown how the test is conducted and as part of this training will be asked to sound the horn. Imagine now 20 driving schools practicing ‘horn blowing’ throughout the day and early evening lessons? It is very rare for a new driver to get their techniques right first time, so every learner will need to try ‘sounding the horn’ a few times.
The thought of the local residents on a summer evening relaxing in their garden whilst having learner drivers practicing their horn techniques is mind boggling.
New driving test manoeuvres are being introduced on December 4th, 2017. The traditional turn-in-the-road manoeuvre and reverse around the corner exercise are being dropped. The parallel parking exercise is to remain. Only one manoeuvre will be carried out from these three.
Parallel park at the side of the road
Park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will decide).
Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse 2 car lengths and re-join the traffic
Parking on the right of a road
A new and very unusual manoeuvre of parking on the right-hand side of a road is being introduced.
Once parking on the right has been achieved a driving test candidate will then be asked to reverse the car alongside the kerb for two car lengths, before finally moving off. The examiner will not stop you first to explain the exercise, they’ll say it whilst you are driving.
These essential skills will be assessed when parking on the right
Awareness of road users from behind and oncoming
Effective use of mirrors
Accuracy and control
One drawback of having this manoeuvre on a driving test is the lack of time to practice it for learner drivers who can only take evening lessons in the winter. Because it is illegal to park on the right at night!
New driving test manoeuvres
Parking in a bay
A wide variety of car parks for the bay parking exercise, such as hotels, retail parks and supermarkets will be used.
The examiner will ask the pupil to park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or revering in and driving out (the examiner will decide which method to use).
Here is the examiners instruction to drive forward into a parking bay.
“I’d like you to drive forward into a convenient parking bay finishing within the lines, either to the left or the right (if the car park allows it).”
“Now I’d like you to reverse out either to the left or the right (if the car park allows it).”
Learner drivers do not need to park in a bay where there are vehicles in adjacent bays. Driving through a first parking bay, and then parking in a bay directly in front of that bay is not allowed. When reversing out, you will not be allowed to reverse into any bays behind.
A new driving test on the 4th December 2017 is being introduced by the DVSA. All learner drivers will need to pass this test in order to gain their full driving licence.
Drivers will be expected to answer safety questions whilst on the move. The reason is to see if the driver is distracted by either the talking of a passenger (the examiner), or the action of say, operating one of the car controls, such as the heated rear window switch.
The reverse around the corner will be replaced with a parking exercise of entering a parking space whilst reversing, and/or reversing out of a parking space.
Using a sat nav on the new driving test
The 10 minutes of independent driving that is in the present test will be replaced with 20 minutes of independent driving using a sat nav.
The DVSA carried out a public consultation and 71% of the 4,000 people contacted, agreed that asking candidates to follow a route using a sat nav would be a good idea.
88% of those surveyed agreed with increasing the length of the independent section of the test, whilst others agreed to changes in the reversing manoeuvres and show me questions.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said:
“We are very supportive of the revisions DVSA is making to the practical driving test, which will mean candidates undergo a far more realistic assessment of their readiness to take to the road unsupervised. “Much has changed since the first driving test was taken in 1935, and it must be right that the test evolves, just as the cars we drive are themselves changing to incorporate ever more driver assist technology such as inbuilt sat nav systems. “Novice drivers need to demonstrate the right skills and driving style to cope with the new environment.”