Faith or Fear
by Vic Francis (Owner/Manager of Vic’s Driving School)
I’m Vic Francis and I cover Gainsborough Lincolnshire mainly and some surrounding areas as an independent driving school and have been an Instructor/Coach for approximately five and a half years. I spent 6 months as a PDI on pink badge, which helped me gain experience and start getting a reputation so all good from my point of view. My tuition car of choice is the Ford Fiesta Ecoboost 1.0, pupils like it and most pupils except the very tallest find it comfortable and easy to drive.
The reason I came into this profession was a bit odd, but I thought about it when I was a lot younger and my Biker mates were being killed by car drivers, so I thought then “why aren’t car drivers taught to check mirrors properly, it was always car driver fault when I was young”. Have a more balanced view now. Then when my wife started learning to drive, took her out and taught her manoeuvres from the right as she wasn’t taught by her instructor and it worried her (which is why I teach these things now) and she said I would make a good instructor. Before that I did voluntary work for East Midlands Ambulance Service as a volunteer car ambulance driver.
So December fourth 2017 was D-Day for the DVSA’s updated test, ditching one much loved manoeuvre the turn in road and the hated reverse around a corner. Inserted in their place was the forward bay park and the marmite love it or hate it pulling up on the right and reversing two car lengths back.
I am writing this short piece on the marmite manoeuvre pulling up up on right and reversing two car lengths back. It’s polarised the instructor world but surprisingly it also in my experience polarised learners. It has actually been a very easy manoeuvre to teach/coach (maybe due to fact learners are still taught right parallel park and right reverse around corner with myself or simply because it is rather self-explanatory just a left pull up in reverse I don’t know). The first thing with teaching this is also comparing to a right turn, for instance crossing in front of other traffic if safe and trying not to confuse other drivers with indicators. Especially if for instance we are near driveways and it could appear we want to turn into those, rather than pull up to the side.
We obviously discussed the following points about where we should pull up remaining safe legal and convenient with our parking, reasons for and against and what the Highway Code has to say on the matter, looking at the car for the reflectors and allowing pupil to see for themselves how they are only at back etc. Why pulling up on right may be better for disabled drivers, delivery drivers etc but not necessarily appropriate for night time unless on a one way street or bays offset from the road.
The most difficult part for a lot of learners initially seems to be keeping car relatively straight.
Normally the pull up on right is behind a vehicle of some kind giving some context to reversing back although discussion has also centred around need to creep and peep if reversing isn’t an option.
I might just be lucky as I’ve not had any aggressively negative encounters, perhaps the odd stare or slightly too close to my car from others on occasion but mainly drivers just carrying on with their own business. Most pupils now mention that it would be their preferred test day Manoeuvre and least popular still seems to be parallel park.
Overall not had any significant problems finding good roads to use whether 30 or 40 mph roads generally starting off with quieter side roads and when basic skills have improved enough plenty of looking around noticing what is going on around them keeping car as it needs to be then moving onto more challenging areas. After all the majority of our pupils aren’t going to be sticking to nice easy roads all their life so it’s important for all manoeuvres to have good levels of challenge to them