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

Information to help Learner Drivers

Learn to Drive

Taking the First steps in to driving these links may help:

These links can give you some great information and what to expect when you are ready for your test.

Highway code facebook page

Copy of the Highway Code

Practice Theory:

Have a go at a practice theory test

Practical Test:

See other DVSA Information videos

Blue Lights

Emergency Vehicle

What to do when an Emergency Vehicle is behind you.

As a experienced driver you can be unsure what to do when she hear sirens and see blue lights behind you. You know they need to get to their destination quickly. As a learner driver it can be especially worrying.
Blue Light Aware is a short video, produced on behalf of the emergency services. Their crews rely on the help of other road users when they’re on a ‘blue light’ journey.

By watching Blue Light Aware, you will better understand their needs, you will be reducing the risks you face, you will be contributing to a safer road environment and you might also be helping to save a life.

Please note, this video contains flash photography.

Emergency Vehicle what to do

Ride Safe

Motorcycle Safety

How you can avoid the five most common motorcycle accidents!

Riding a motorbike safely requires both skill and judgement.
These are the reasons that many of us ride bikes. The successful use of these abilities  makes us feel good and we are keen to be the best.

Motorcycle safety

According to an in depth study of motorcycle crashes the 5 most common are:

  1. failure to negotiate left hand bend on country A road
  2. failure to negotiate right hand bend on country A road
  3. collision at junctions
  4. collision while overtaking
  5. loss of control.

1 & 2. Bends on Country Roads

Continue reading Ride Safe

Right or Wrong – Good or Bad

Learn to anticipate hazards

I am all over the place!

Written by Andy Phillips

All drivers or riders who have studied advanced driving or riding know that road position can make a difference. It can affect the smoothness of your drive or ride and have an impact on your safety.

We position for several reasons:

  • Safety
  • Stability
  • Vision
  • View

Our position can keep us away from danger or a developing danger.

It can help us gain or maintain grip on the road (as well as not disappearing in to a pothole or sliding on a manhole cover!).

It can help us be seen by other road users, allowing them time to react to our presence.

It allows a better view of the road and any previously hidden dangers, maybe an earlier view of the danger.


Can a ‘good’ position cause a problem for us?

I might argue yes:

Our position, including our bikes lean angle or cars direction provides information to other road users.

We may rely on our position to give us the benefits listed above but; our positional information has to be processed by people who may or may not have been exposed to advanced driving or riding techniques. We may make things even more confusing by over positioning when it may only have a marginal benefit to us.

Maybe this example might help to illustrate my point:

Travelling along a wide road in a built up area where we have oncoming traffic (as well as all the normal road hazards). We might position to allow a vehicle exiting a junction to see us through our movement sideways as well as moving more in to their visual field. But what does that movement tell other road users? Has that movement placed us in to greater danger from following vehicles who might think we are turning? Are we now something that could or needs to be overtaken / undertaken?

Another example is extending our view round a left hand bend by moving either towards the centre road markings or even more towards the offside of the road. This allows us, arguably (in the more extreme position), a better view. How could this be interpreted by oncoming vehicles?


This is only my humble view as the writer of this article, but sometimes we might be too clever for our own good. We might overstate our position. We should be acutely aware of how our position might be interpreted and weigh up the benefits to us.

The last thing we want is a great position to be a bad position!

Please comment and let us know what you think.

Facebook Page

Road Junction

Acceleration Sense

Advanced Driving

Acceleration Sense (AS)

You can use the acceleration of the car or bike to help you negotiate road, traffic conditions and hazards. This doesn’t mean always accelerating or picking up speed.

Ask yourself:

When approaching vehicles moving slower than me, do I always need to brake?

With accurate use of the throttle you can reduce the amount of braking needed, if any, and reduce fuel costs as well as tyre wear.

Acceleration Sense requires several things:

  • Anticipation
  • Observation
  • Judgement of speed and distance
  • Understanding how your vehicle works

Your driving or riding will become smoother with good throttle control.

Try it!

Drive or ride a route you are familiar with and try to anticipate the potential hazards or traffic that would normally make you brake. Try and look so far ahead that you don’t accelerate in to those situations but ease off the throttle; either maintain a good speed or reduce it through normal tyre friction on the road or engine braking.

There is another result to this that makes you safer whilst driving or riding: You are more aware of potential hazards and probably keep a better following distance from vehicles.

Want to know more?

Contact us on Tel. 07878 543 413 or

Learn to anticipate hazards

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