Category: News

Coronavirus Update

Update: 19.01.2022

The government have announced that face masks will no longer be mandatory in England in indoor spaces from the 26th of January 2022. 

Despite this, we will still be recommending that all pupils and instructors continue to wear face masks for the foreseeable future to help keep everybody safe.

While this news is still fresh, it’s important to note that the DVSA could still mandate face masks in driving tests as they have done since the end of lockdown.

We’ll update this page with more information as we get it.

The law in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is different and can be checked on the gov.uk website.


Update: 10.12.2021

In addition to the update provided at the end of November (see below) that outlined the law change on wearing a face covering during driving lessons, the rules have now changed for theory test centres too.

In England, face coverings are now a legal requirement during the theory test. You will need to let the DVSA know in advance if you are medically exempt from wearing a face mask. You can do this by calling their dedicated theory test face coverings exception phone line on 0115 6713129.

Update: 30.11.2021

The law on wearing a face covering in driving lessons has now changed.

  • You must now legally wear a face covering in your driving lesson unless you are medically exempt.
  • This is legally enforceable with fines ranging from £200 to £6400 for repeat offenders.

As a driving school, we have remained committed to our safety-first approach since the start of the pandemic and will continue to follow the guidance set out by the government as appropriate.

If you have any questions regarding your driving lesson, please contact the office as soon as you can.

For more information on wearing face coverings in public places, visit the government website by clicking here. We will also aim to keep this page updated as the law inevitably changes.

Update: 16.07.2021

New government guidance was published today by the DVSA for the new rules on wearing face coverings in driving lessons and tests in England.

1st 4 Driving recommend all pupils and instructors wear a face covering during lessons if possible, though this is now ultimately the choice of the individual and should be discussed before the lesson with your instructor. In some cases, lessons may not be able to go ahead if a pupil decides not to wear a face covering.

Face coverings help protect yourself and other people from spreading COVID-19 and have been a vital part of helping us continue to offer driving lessons with minimal disruption since reopening in April.

As of the 19th of July 2021:

Practical tests:

  • Face coverings are still required for tests unless a pupil has ‘good reason’ not to. This still needs to be declared in advance.
  • Cars will still need at least one window open on each side during tests
  • Instructors may be allowed to sit in on tests again (no date confirmed for this)
  • Examiners will still end a test early if the pupil makes a dangerous or serious fault to reduce time spent in the vehicle
  • Most test centre waiting rooms that are closed due to social distancing will be reopened

Lessons:

  • DVSA are still “expecting” and “recommending” both instructors and pupils to wear face coverings during lessons
  • Exercise caution
  • DVSA recommend testing twice a week even if you do not have symptoms. Rapid lateral flow tests are free and can be ordered from the government website
  • You still need to self-isolate if you’ve come into contact with a confirmed case. This is likely to change after August 16th if you’ve been double jabbed

Theory tests:

  • Masks “personal choice” but “strongly encouraged”
  • Screens etc will remain in place

Update: 12.04.2021

Driving lessons are now able to resume, with driving tests following on 22/04/2021. We’re expecting unprecedented demand and a big backlog in some areas so please bear with us while we try to take phone calls, contact existing pupils and respond to new enquiries.

We’re looking forward to welcoming everybody back and seeing a big summer of driving test passes!

Update: 05.01.2021

Driver testing and training has been suspended until further notice in line with new government restrictions

Update: 01.07.2020

We’re pleased to announce that we’re able to offer driving lessons in some parts of the country. As availability varies by area, please call us to book or complete our online booking form.

Update: 24.03.2020

In line with new guidance from the government, all lessons have been suspended until further notice.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

Update: 19.03.2020

In response to the ongoing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, 1st 4 Driving offers the following advice in line with the NHS and DVSA for pupils and instructors:

We have emailed all current pupils with up to date information regarding their driving lessons and new procedures. If you did not receive this email, please contact us now.

coronavirus

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms

The NHS are recommending that you stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough

NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need NHS medical help and advises you what to do. If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you could be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).

Have a driving lesson booked?

If you start showing symptoms of coronavirus, please inform your driving instructor as soon as possible. If you don’t have your instructor’s number, you can call the office number on 0330 22 33 123 between Monday-Friday 9-5 or contact us via the other usual channels.

We are asking all pupils to wash their hands thoroughly before their driving lesson to help prevent the spread of the virus.

hand washing

Test booked?

If you have a driving test booked and are showing symptoms:

  • The DVSA have changed their short-notice cancellation policy for driving tests if you think you may have coronavirus.
  • This cannot be done online – you must call 0300 200 1122 between Mon-Fri 8-4

Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us or your instructor if you have any further questions regarding cancellations.

Masks must legally now be worn in driving lessons

From today (Tuesday 30/11/2021), the law around wearing masks in public spaces has changed. We’ll run through why the government have introduced this change, and what it means for your driving lessons.

From this morning, it is now the law that you must wear a face covering in your driving lesson unless you are medically exempt.

Many instructors have been implementing this since the last lot of restrictions were lifted in the summer, though this has previously been down to personal choice. Wearing a mask during a driving test has continued to be compulsory since the end of the national and tiered lockdown restrictions.

Instructors and pupils alike will now need to wear a face covering during driving lessons, with fines for non-compliance ranging from £200 to £6400 for repeat offenders.

Just as it is in shops, hair salons and on public transport, wearing a face covering is your responsibility and you will be asked to wear a mask before you enter the car on your lesson.

The face mask restrictions have come back into force in response to rising cases and the recent spread of the Omicron variant.

If you are medically exempt from wearing a mask, please let us know in advance of the lesson.

How we’re keeping you safe

1st 4 Driving and our instructors continue to work in accordance with government guidance and regulation to continue providing a safe environment for your learning while delivering the same enjoyable, productive driving lessons that you’re already used to.

If you’re an existing pupil and have any questions regarding COVID procedures, please contact the office or your instructor as soon as possible.

Any future updates to our coronavirus policy will be added here: 1st4driving.co.uk/covid-19

You can read the government’s official page on face coverings in public spaces by clicking here.

Well done to our trainees!

Emerging from the debris of the pandemic with a wealth of hope, prospect and ambition, our trainees have done us so proud over the last month.

1st 4 driving trainees

Above: Louise (left), Jo (right) and their trainer Natalie (centre)

As those looking for driving lessons will know, the backlog is unprecedented. More people than ever need driving lessons and finding an instructor with availability (let alone a test) has never been more difficult.

Big things are coming

But through all the doom and gloom, we’re working with an amazing bunch of trainees in some of our busiest areas.

Today saw Louise and Jo pass their ADI part 2 tests in Camborne, Cornwall, opening the door for them to start part 3 training and getting in to start teaching pupils.

But they’re not the only ones! This month we’re also celebrating:

  • Gavin from Plymouth, who passed his part 1 theory test
  • James from Plymouth, who passed his part 2 test with trainer Vito
  • Mark from Portsmouth, who passed his part 2 test. He’s being trained by Steve
  • Aleksandra from Plymouth, who passed her part 2 test last month, also with Vito!

All these people have either had tests postponed by the DVSA due to the pandemic, or have been held up by lockdowns in some way. Their patience, commitment and enthusiasm has shone through and they’re achieving their dreams through hard work and determination.

We also need to mention our amazing trainers; Natalie, Steve and Vito who have been working really hard to squeeze their time to deliver instructor training.

But it doesn’t end there – there are hard training hours ahead and lots to learn. There may be more bumps in the road yet but with more hard work and the most up-to-date instructor training, we’re making more lesson slots available in the areas that need it most.

Here at 1st 4 Driving, we’re building a family of driving instructors we’re so proud of and excited about.

The future is very bright.

Join our waiting list for driving lessons by filling in an online enquiry form. Click here.

Everything you need to know about… New towing rules 2021

The rules on towing trailers and caravans will be changing later on in the year, affecting millions of drivers in the UK. We’ve put together a handy guide on everything you need to know.

new rules for towing

The most important piece of advice we can give you is to seek training from a qualified driver trainer before attempting to tow a trailer or a caravan. The fact of the matter is that this new law change WILL have an impact on road safety. We highly recommend B+E training for anybody looking to tow for the first time.

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The 4-step guide to cutting post-lockdown nerves

In a recent report for ITV’s Westcountry News, figures released showed that more than 1 in 3 drivers (36%) were nervous about getting back behind the wheel after life in lockdown.

I was privileged to be asked to give my thoughts of was featured on their programme. As is the case with TV, my time was limited, so I’m going to to share my 4-step guide here.

nervous driving after lockdown

Above: We’re all adjusting to getting back out on the roads again after 18 months of uncertainty

Theory & practical test fees could be on the rise

The DVSA have announced they are launching a consultation today on raising the test fees for the theory and practical tests for learner drivers.

pass the driving test easier

The test fees could be set to increase

With millions of people struggling to book a practical test since lockdown lifted mid-April, waiting times for tests have racked up for months leaving learners looking for cancellations and using third-party apps.

And now the governing body are suggesting a 1.5% increase to the test fees that could come into effect as early as this year.

As running costs increase, the DVSA are looking to raise the price of a driving test for the first time in over 10 years.

The proposed new test fees

Type of test Current fee Proposed fee for 2021 to 2022
Theory test (car and motorcycle) £23 £23.40
Car driving test (normal hours) £62 £62.90

Source: DVSA.

Under the new plans, the theory test would increase by 40p from £23 to £23.40. The practical test would see the sharpest rise of the regular weekday slots of 90p, bringing it up to £62.90 from £62.

The weekend and evening tests would increase by £1.10 to £76.10 from £75.

The DVSA has said:

Over the last few years we’ve worked on several improvements to our services, to make sure they better meet the needs our customers… The small increase will allow us to continue to make essential improvements to our services.

In 2019, the last full year of ‘normality’, 1,599,566 practical driving tests were taken in the UK (though we will surely see a record bumper year for driving test statistics next year). At that rate, and with the new fees in place, the DVSA could expect to see an increase in revenue of around £1,439,609 from driving tests alone.

The proposals come as the body look to recruit more examiners to tackle the COVID backlog.

The first increase since 2010

The new proposals would mark the first increase to the driving test fee in over a decade. Had it kept up with inflation, the DVSA reports that the driving test would be £75 today, with a theory test setting you back £38.

But this will come as little consolation to learner drivers, who are already contending with massive backlogs for driving lessons, tests and battling expiring theory certificates.

You can read more about the consultation by clicking here. The consultation closes on the 2nd of September with no date given as yet for the proposed changes.

📹 1st 4 Driving on ITV News

Eagle-eyed viewers in the South West with their TV sets tuned in to ITV will have noticed our Managing Director Dave Foster on Tuesday evening’s news.driving school local news

Dave was invited onto ITV’s West Country News to discuss life on the roads since the national lockdowns, with many people observing declining standards and even reporting nervousness having not driven for a while.

Featured in a snippet of a report, Dave offered advice to those feeling nervous or anxious about getting back behind the wheel after 18 months at home.

“[a] very common thing is not planning, putting things off and particularly things like the time aspect.”

dave foster ma dip di

Above: Dave was invited on to ITV news

“I would say to anybody make sure you allow extra time for journey[s] particularly if you’re feeling a bit worried and give yourself time to stop if you need to.”

“If you’re really looking for support, take a friend with you or take a member of your family.”

Later on in the report, the broadcaster quoted a survey that found:

  • 58% of motorists used their cars less than usual during the most recent lockdown
  • 36% of drivers are nervous about their own ability
  • 75% are worried about other road users who are out of practice
  • 16% of car owners didn’t check any aspect of their vehicle during the latest lockdown

driving school on the news

Behind the scenes: We were visited by ITV news last week

As we get society back to normal and the roads begin to fill up again with commuters and holiday-makers, driving standards have never been more important.

The 1st 4 Driving Opinion:

If you’re feeling nervous about getting back out on the road after a long time stuck indoors, give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Make sure your car is well-maintained and bring someone to accompany you on your journey if possible to reassure you.

Some driving schools offer refresher lessons and these can be a great way of getting your confidence back.

Refresher driving lessons

Anyone for a refresher?

For media enquiries, contact info@1st4driving.co.uk

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Introducing… our new(ish) logo

Frequent visitors to our website and social media may this morning have noticed some changes to the look and feel of our company branding.

Here’s our new logo:

driving school new logo

New theory test booking service launched

A new booking system for theory tests was launched today, July 19th, for England Scotland and Wales.

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The new system went live at 8am this morning (Photo: DVSA)

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