Keep Calm and Carry On!

Don’t panic!

Taking your driving test seems to be one of those occasions where you can actually get so stressed you can’t think straight and it may seriously affect your performance.

Telling you not to worry and to calm down is easier said than done, so let’s have a look at what happens when you get this stressed and what you can do to control your nerves.


Fight or flight

We know that thousands of years ago our ancestors lived in caves and had to cope with some pretty harsh conditions. Not least of these was the threat of big scary predators and, to meet the basic need of self-preservation, our ancestors developed the ‘fight or flight’ instinct.

Rather than standing around debating what the best course of action would be when faced with the likes of a sabre-toothed tiger, our ancestors began to make very quick and primitive decisions about which would be safer; to fight the threat or run away from it. Those whose brains worked in this way were more likely to survive and this is how the instinct evolved.


Hijack situation

The fight or flight instinct is still with us today. Thankfully in our society we’re rarely faced with tigers or mammoths, but we do still face ‘threatening’ situations which can bring on a bit of a panic – like sitting the driving test. And if we’re put in a situation where the ‘threat’ is serious enough, we go into ‘fight or flight’ mode – also known as blind panic!

This is sometimes called the ‘amygdala hijack’. The amygdala is the part of your brain that deals with emotion and, when a feeling becomes so overwhelming – like fear – all rational thought goes and your amygdala takes over. Your thoughts are ‘hijacked’.

The trick is either to train yourself not to panic in certain situations or to recognise your own panic symptoms and deal with them before they completely take over your brain. In the words of Eminem ‘palms are sweaty, knees are weak, arms are heavy’.  Hopefully there’s no sign of Mom’s spaghetti, but you get the idea.


Pressure vs stress

A certain amount of pressure is good. Without it, most of us probably wouldn’t even bother getting out of bed in the morning. Pressure can motivate us to meet challenges and to achieve the best.  However, pressure can mount and, when it becomes too much, turns into stress. This happens at a different level for everyone so it’s important to know how much you can take, what turns pressure into stress for you and what behaviours you display when that starts to happen.



Once you know what stresses you out, you can start to think about ways to cope with or reduce the stress. You’ll already know some ways to calm yourself down either in the short or long term:

  • Deep breathing techniques
  • Counting to ten
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Practising yoga
  • Meditation

There are also some techniques you may not have considered which could help you master those driving test nerves.


Stand up tall

Recent research has shown that standing or sitting in certain poses can significantly alter your body chemistry and relieve stress. These have been called ‘power poses’. One is to stand with your arms stretched above your head, as in victory, and to look up. This has been proved to reduce the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases the level of testosterone (the assertion or confidence hormone).

Of course, you can’t adopt the full-on Superman stance when you’re taking your driving test, but you’ll feel better if you just sit up tall, put your shoulders back and lift up your chin. Practise at home filling the available space with your body, rather than folding inwards, and you should begin to feel the benefit


Say ‘cheese’

Smiling is good for you. It makes you feel more positive and, weirdly, you don’t need to actually feel happy enough to smile naturally for the benefits to show. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a fake smile and a real one – the reaction in your brain will be the same and you will actually start to feel happier. The saying is ‘fake it ‘til you make it!’


‘Music charms a savage breast’

Different songs and pieces of music produce varied responses in different listeners. Go through your song list and find some that make you feel either calm or motivated – but not too pumped up! Put them in a playlist and listen to it all the way through several times, noting the calm and happy feelings you experience as you hear each song.

This may come as a surprise, but you’re allowed to listen to music during your driving test, so long as it’s quiet and in no way disruptive; you have to be able to hear what the examiner’s saying and to concentrate on your driving. So, you can play your ‘happy’ song list at low volume during the test. With luck, that will start to make you feel as you did when you listened to it under less stressful circumstances.

The best way to control your nerves will be to make sure you’re absolutely ready to take your test. Practise, practise, practise until you’ve reached a good standard and that’ll give you the confidence to perform well. Then, on the day, smile, take some deep breaths, stand tall and take yourself to a happy place!


Inspired by a presentation given by Danielle Brown, double Paralympic gold medallist in archery, three times World Champion and motivational speaker.

Safe Driving for Life – CulleyPaul ,May 11, 2015 – 11:51


DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme

Enhanced Rider Training changes:


The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) enhanced rider scheme lets motorcyclist have their riding skills checked by a DVSA approved trainer to help them:

  • become a safer rider
  • get more from their motorcycling

The syllabus sets out what should be covered during:

Continue reading DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme

Automatic in more ways than one

i30 automatic driving lessons

Learn to drive all over again

Moving from a manual car to an automatic car could on the outside seem easy. Not so, as we have discovered when getting a new automatic car for Devon Driver and Rider Training. We chose the Hyundai i30 from Torbay Hyundai.

The next generation of magical electronics has transformed newer cars in to playgrounds. They now have some very neat gadgets, but that means a manual big enough that you need a wheelbarrow to carry it.

  • Cruise control has been around for some time but cruise control that allows you to pick the distance between you and a vehicle in front (Intelligent cruise control!)
  • Lane Keep Assist. This not only tells you if you stray out of your lane with out indication; but there is a system that then (if switched on) guides you back in to the lane.
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking. This applies the brakes if it thinks it is going to hit something ahead.
  • Blind Spot Detection and Cross Traffic Alert has you covered if things are moving around you.
  • Auto Hold hand-brakes which release when the car is driven under power. You thought Hill Hold Assist is as good as it got!

With some of these gadgets you might ask: is there any room for the driver?

All of these things are just aids. You trust them to help you and guide you, or give you information but… It makes sense you know how to use them.

If you are moving from manual car or even just upgrading your auto, contact us and see how we can help you get to the bottom of the new driving experience.

We can offer help with familiarisation as well as just and introduction to automatic cars.

Give us a call!

Devon Driver and Rider Training

Passing Road Obstructions

Driving Lesson

How learners can do it safely!

A parked vehicle, road side obstruction or even temporary traffic calming measures can all present physical barriers to you whilst driving.

Always follow the MSM/PSL routine when dealing with hazards on the road:

Mirror – Signal – Manoeuvre – (Positions, Speed/Gear and Look)

Is the obstruction your side?

Is there approaching traffic?

What are drivers doing behind you?

Is there room for you?

Approaching traffic will have priority on most occasions if the blockage is on your side of the road. So you will need to give way.

If the blockage is on the other side of the road, normally you would have priority… but don’t assume it. See what other vehicles are doing and you may need to give way if there isn’t room.

Driving Lesson

Don’t Leave it so late that you or the other vehicle has nowhere to go except backwards.

Looking ahead, as with most road situations, is the best way to give yourself time and space to do everything you need to do i.e. Checking how close cars are behind, signalling, moving over, slowing and getting in to a good gear to go, looking to see if it’s safe to go.

Give us a call or text if you want more information about our driver training

WEBSITE         or        Find us on Social Media: Facebook


Have a word with yourself!

Road Junction

Calm down!

We don’t always see eye to eye with other road users. As we are human just like they are.

Wrapped up in cages or dressed up with motorcycle helmet helps to remove some of the human element from our interactions.

Angry driver

We don’t see those other road users as real people


I found myself chuntering away under my breath inside my cosy motorcycle helmet, about another driver. He had done something that must have been the equivalent of slapping me in the face, because I was not happy.

I think all he had done was braked suddenly, realising he was about to miss his turning, indicated and turned quickly. This caused me to brake hard as well.

So was I angry at the other driver or myself for not seeing it coming and being further back? Probably a bit of both.

I realised I was now concentrating on the wrong thing. I was concentrating on the other driver and not the road ahead.

I found myself saying “Have a word with yourself and wind your neck in. Get on with riding”

So a few suggestions to help keep calm when riding or driving:

  • Calm yourself
    • Concentrate on what’s in front of you. Find something to enjoy the drive or ride (even if its only that you aren’t soaked by rain!)
  • Shrug your shoulders or try to physically release tension (I know, not so easy on a bike)
  • Try and think positively (at least that driver has turned of and will no longer bother me)
  • Try singing to yourself! (Proper music might be better but don’t let it distract you from driving or riding.)
  • Don’t dwell on the past but maybe after your journey evaluate your drive / ride.

Smug advanced driver

You could always do some advanced driver or rider training to help you develop your skills?


#driving #learnerdriver #ridertraining #advancedrider #motorcycle



Time & Space

Junction Hazard Procedure


What is a hazard: In driving terms it is something that might make you slow, stop, speed up or adjust your course.

Static, Moving, Environmental (and you the driver!)

Are you safe to drive? Are you safe to drive?

Are you ill, drunk, or on medication that may affect your driving?

Had enough sleep, do you have a good attitude (not upset or angry)?

Are you fed and watered?

Static Hazards

These are obstacles in your path such as junctions, parked cars, road surface or street furniture (i.e. traffic calming)

Static Hazards

Moving Hazards

These are things such as other vehicles, cyclist, motorcycles, horses, Persons directing traffic…

When you recognise these potential hazards you must decide what to do and how this might affect other road users.


Time and Space

Learning to identify hazards early will give you more time use that information, decide what to do and act on it.

  • Scan the road ahead. Don’t just look at your bonnet or front wheel!
  • Check your mirrors regularly to understand what is around and behind you.
  • Watch for visual clues to a potential danger or hazard (Visual Links)

Look around over, under and through objects to get a head start on identifying potential hazards. Observation & Anticipation.

Remember: Speed Limits are just that, limits not targets!

If you can’t give yourself space then give yourself time.

If potential hazards are close by i.e. parked cars on your side of the road, and you are out of your normal road position to pass those cars, with oncoming traffic… assuming you had enough space to start with, slow things down. Give yourself time to react to changing events. If you don’t have enough room then better planning is needed!

Observation & Anticipation –

Time and / or space: If you can’t have one have the other but both is better.

Junction Hazard Procedure

We Will Get You Through It


Roundabouts don’t need to be confusing

Like most things in life, preparation helps. If you are prepared before you get there, it’s mostly plain sailing. PLAN!

I say mostly because not everyone else plans!

Top Tips when approaching a roundabout, especially larger and more complicated ones.

  • Read the signs.
    • They normally give you a big clue as to which way you need to go. At least they tell you how many exits and what the road numbers are. They also give you information on the placed you would be heading towards.


  • Look at the ground.
    • The road, normally on the multi-laned roundabouts, will have markings telling you which lane to go in for your exit or destination.


  • Follow the road.
    • If there are multiple lanes they are normally marked around the round about. Follow your lane. There will be a break at the exit or the lane will guide you off at your exit.
      • Watch for people who realise they are in the wrong lane.


  • Keep on target.
    • Stay in your lane as you go around. Generally you will be in the left lanes for turning left or going straight on. In the right lane for straight on or right. The signs and road marking will tell you.
      • If you find you are coming off at the wrong exit, it may be better to take that exit and turn around one safely off the roundabout.
      • Cutting back in to the roundabout when people think you are leaving could be asking for trouble!

Roundabout animation

If you are making a journey, sometimes within you preparation its worth looking at a map either online, paper-based or on a sat nav. This can give you a better idea of the road numbers and directions. It also can help by telling you what exits you may need.

BEWARE: Satellite Navigation doesn’t always tell you the truth! Use it with caution. It can be a great aid though (assuming your mapping is up to date)

Paper based and online methods can also be out of date if there have been recent changes to a road layout.


Come and have a session with us if you feel you need some practice or tips.

Good luck!

DDRT (Devon Driver and Rider Training)

Tel. 07878 543 413


Hazards ‘Drill’

Junction Hazard Procedure


The term “Hazards” implies a sense of danger and this may well be true in some cases. The Highway Code, however, defines a hazard quite simply as anything that will make you alter your speed, position or direction.

Some hazards are fixed or permanent. Junctions, bends in the roads, traffic lights etc. are permanent fixtures and local knowledge can assist with planning these hazards. Some hazards are temporary, however (parked cars, cyclists, road works), and no amount of local knowledge can prepare you for what is around a blind corner. Only by having a planned approach will you safely deal with these situations.

Hazard Drill (M-S-P-S-G-L)

Each time you are presented with a potential or actual hazard on the road (i.e. anything that may require you to have to change speed, position or direction) you should go through the following hazard drill one or more times. While each step of the drill needs to be considered it need not necessarily be acted upon.



Use your interior mirror and wing (side) mirrors early. Mirrors should always be checked in pairs to provide a complete picture of what is happening to the rear and side of you. Glance into your right and left blind spots as appropriate.



Make sure that you give the correct signal, in good time and so as not to mislead others. People should be able to see your signal, understand it and be able to respond to it.



Determine the best position/course to negotiate the hazard. Think before you change position; be careful not to mislead others. When moving to the right ensure that you will not unnecessarily block the path of oncoming vehicles.



Adjust your speed so that you can negotiate the hazard ahead and stop within the distance you can see to be clear.



Select the gear to match the speed and power you need. Make sure that the gear is selected before the hazard is negotiated and the clutch is raised to avoid coasting. Coasting is particularly dangerous as, because there is no connection between the engine, gears and road wheels when the clutch is pressed, you do not have full control of the vehicle by way of engine-braking or acceleration. The vehicle is also likely to pick up speed when coasting.



Continue to look ahead, assessing the hazard. Although this step is the final stage of the routine you should actually be looking and assessing the situation at all times.

Please note, it is not always possible to carry out the routine in the exact order shown (for instance, when going downhill it may make more sense to adjust speed before giving a signal), but the mirrors should always be checked first.

Assessing – what are your options?

Deciding – depending on what you can see.

Acting – either continue with the manoeuvre or wait.

MSM Hazard Drill
Illustrative image only. Road and traffic conditions dictate when or which parts of the sequence are done at what time. As do other fixed / mobile hazards such as junctions or other road users.

Sorry mate I didn’t see you!

Motorcycle Training

Why do I appear to be invisible?

Is it always the drivers fault? Out and about today in the summer sun it appeared to be.

Several occasions today I had drivers either pull out of junctions making me slow dramatically or cut across my path because they couldn’t see me or judge my speed.

– The best today being a lady not stopping at a roundabout until she was almost blocking the whole thing, again in front of me. She did look confused by car control though.


Why might other drivers not see us?

Mr or Mrs Joe Bloggs don’t go out with the intention of causing an accident or killing a motorcycle rider.

What does a car driver see?

Like most car drivers I am looking at other cars or maybe the spaces between them. Because I ride a bike I look for motorcycles and cyclists. We are not normally in the foremost of their driver’s minds, we are just another obstacle which they must add to their potentially overloaded thoughts.

In general, if you can alert the driver by looking like a motorcycle, that helps.


Lets think of a few things that help camouflage us from other road users.

Continue reading Sorry mate I didn’t see you!