The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has released 5 safe summer driving tips for Brits heading off on long journeys to their holiday destinations – many of which will be on unfamiliar roads.

The 5 tips for safer summer driving are as follows:

1. Before setting off, ensure that you have enough fuel; switch off your mobile phone and make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing for driving.

2. Stay alert by taking a break of about 15 minutes every two hours at somewhere suitable, such as a service area; get a good night’s sleep before embarking long journeys and avoid driving between midnight and 6 am when natural alertness is at a minimum.

3. The driver is responsible for ensuring that passengers under 14 are properly restrained in a seatbelt; if you are taking the family pet on holiday, don’t forget to ensure it is secured for its own and your safety.

4. If you are towing a caravan for the first time in a number of years then make sure you are familiar with the relevant changes that have taken place before getting in the driver’s seat; anyone who is unsure of the rules which apply to those towing caravans should check the Directgov website for further information.

5. Sat-navs are a useful tool but they are not a substitute for route planning; drivers should be aware of road signs, exercise common sense and use the sat-nav’s estimated time of arrival as a guide, rather than trying to achieve it or better it.

Commenting on the driving tips, the DSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, Trevor Wedge, said: “We all want to enjoy the summer holidays from the moment we leave the house. So, if you have a long drive ahead of you then have a look at our tips for safe summer driving to help get your holiday off to the best possible start”.

Last year 661 people were killed in road crashes between July and September with another 6,704 seriously injured.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has announced that its online practical driving test booking service for learner drivers will be shut for 4 days, starting from tomorrow the 30th July.

The DSA’s Driving Instructor Registrar, Charles Morton, said, “I apologise in advance that there will a short interruption to service next week. For essential IT maintenance and update work to take place we need to close down all of DSA’s operational booking systems”.

Morton continued, “This system closure will last approximately four days from 5.15pm on Thursday 30th July until 8.00am on Tuesday 4th August. All online services to book or amend practical tests and other instructor services including updating your contact details, applying for registration, renewing your certificate and ordering PassPlus packs will be unavailable”.

The DSA’s contact centre on 0300 200 11 22 will only be able to offer a limited service during the closedown period.

Theory tests services are not affected.

A recent survey from the AA has revealed that one in seven drivers avoid going on motorways.

According to the motoring giant, up to five million Brits lack sufficient skills for motorway driving and have spent years doing their best to avoid driving on them.

Commenting on the findings, Simon Douglas from the AA said, “Motorways are Britain’s most feared roads, with a lost generation of drivers avoiding them completely”.

Steve Tattersall from Driving School Lessons, said, “This is a real concern. We encourage people who avoid motorway driving to undertake a course of motorway refesher driving lessons that we and many other UK driving schools provide. These help equip the motorist with the necessary skills and confidence to return to motorway driving”.

The so called motorway phobia means many motorists are driving on more dangerous A-roads.

Tennis ace Andy Murray has passed his driving test at the first time of asking and with only 2 minor faults.

Days after losing his Wimbledon semi-final to Andy Roddick, Murray commenced a 2 week intensive driving lesson course and warned his mates to ‘stay off the road’.

The world number 3 revealed his driving test success on his Twitter site yesterday. He said, “Sorry for passing my driving test first time this morning. Just two minor faults. Thanks to blaine at adi training for the lessons!”

Steve Tattersall, spokesperson for Driving School Lessons, said, “Congratulations Andy. Passing your driving test with only 2 minor faults is a real achievement when you consider that a learner driver can make up to 15 faults in their driving test and still pass”.

Steve continued, “Near perfect driving test performances are pretty rare. Pupils who do pass make on average 9 faults”.

Over 80,000 fans follow Andy Murray on his Twitter site.

The expansion of leading Hampshire driving school, Driving School Lessons, continues today with an announcement from the company that it is to commence the provision of driving lessons in Basingstoke.

In similar fashion to its recent launch in Winchester, the driving school (which also runs this industry news service website) will be offering new pupils in Basingstoke their first 5 lessons for just £55.

Commenting on the company’s latest expansion, Steve Tattersall, spokesperson for Driving School Lessons Ltd said, “Basingstoke is a key town for us in the North East of Hampshire and has a population in excess of 80,000″.

Steve continued, “We are excited to be in a position whereby we can offer our renowned driving lessons to the learner drivers of Basingstoke and look forward to helping them pass their driving test”.

People living in and around Basingstoke can find out more about the company’s new driving lessons in Basingstoke here.

Driving School Lessons, the popular south coast UK driving school and owner of this news service has expanded its coverage by offering driving lessons in Winchester.

To celebrate its arrival in Winchester the company is offering new pupils their first 5 driving lessons for just £55, followed by £20 per hour thereafter.

Steve Tattersall of Driving School Lessons, said, “We are delighted to be able to expand our driving school to cover the historic town of Winchester and look foward to teaching many new pupils to learn to drive”.

Steve continued, “Despite the current UK recession, our business performance has been strong. We remain committed to our goal of expanding the exciting Driving School Lessons franchise concept to new geographical areas across the UK and invite interested instructors to get in touch”.

Prospective pupils in Winchester can find out more about the 5 for £55 driving lessons in Winchester offer here.

A learner driver from Oxfordshire has had his driving test cancelled after the examiner claimed that his VW Golf car was too dirty.

18 year-old Jack Hyde said, “The examiner told me he came to work in suit trousers and expected to sit on a tidy seat”.

Jack contined, “There were a few croissant crumbs on the seat and a dog biscuit in the footwell, but he wouldn’t even give me 5 minutes to clean it”.

The cancellation means the learner driver has lost his £62 driving test fee and now must wait 6 weeks for a retest.
.
Mr Hyde has made a complaint to the Driving Standards Agency who said they would look into it.

A spokesperson for Driving School Lessons, the owners of this news site said, “I feel for Jack as the examiner’s reaction does seem a bit excessive”.

They continued, “I wish Jack all the best for his test in a few weeks time and would encourage all pupils and instructors to make sure their vehicles are thorougly clean and tidy on test day”.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the Department for Transport to change the Highway Code so that it includes guidance for learner drivers on how to handle their vehicle around lorries.

In addition, the FTA also wants learner drivers knowledge and understanding of how to behave around lorries to be included as part of the driving test.

Guidance on how to behave around cyclists, cars and motorcyclists are included in the Highway Code, however, there’s no section on lorries – which is quite alarming when you consider there were nearly 11,000 accidents involving lorries in 2007.

Commenting on this, the FTA’s Policy Director, James Hookham said, “As road users, whether we’re on two, four or even sixteen wheels, we all have a responsibility to act sensibly and within the law”.

“It’s unfair to make lorry drivers the scapegoat. Whenever there is an accident, or even a near miss, involving a lorry, the common assumption is that the lorry driver is at fault. But how many of us are aware of how much clearance we need to give HGVs when we are overtaking or how much distance do we need to keep to enable a lorry driver to see us?”

Hookham continued, “Three years ago, the Driving Standards Agency consulted on changes to the Highway Code, but ended up bottling it. We’re asking them now to rethink that decision and help make our roads safer”.

Steve Tattersall, a spokesperson for Driving School Lessons said, “We support the FTA on this important issue and think the Highway Code should include the necessary guidance on driving behaviour around lorries. We encourage the DSA to open up the consultation on changes to the Highway Code again”.

The FTA, the leading voice on freight transport in the UK also wants all haulage & freight companies to make sure their drivers’ training is up to date and comprehensive.

English actress Sienna Miller has been celebrating after successfully passing her UK driving test.

The 27 year-old BAFTA nominated actress, best known for her roles in Alfie, Factory Girl and The Edge Of Love had already passed a European driving test over 5 months ago.

Miller took her driving test in the West end of London and was reported to have hugged the examiner on hearing that she had passed. She also leapt out of the car and gave a big hug to her instructor.

A source for the Mirror.co.uk said “Sienna had been so nervous before. She’s an accomplished driver but was desperate to be able to drive here”.

The source continued, “When the examiner told her she’d passed she hugged him and leapt out of the car to bear-hug her instructor. She is thrilled to pieces to be on the road”.

Stuart Vaughan of Driving School Lessons, said, “Congratulations to Sienna on passing her driving test. We wish her all the best in her driving and acting career and should she wish to take any Pass Plus driving lessons in Southampton, rather than London we’d be happy to offer them”.

Driving School Lessons is offering new Portsmouth pupils 5 driving lessons in Portsmouth for £55.

The introductory offer, known as ’5 For £55′, applies to the pupils first 5 hours of driving lessons, after which the rate reverts back to the standard £20 per 1 hour lesson.

To qualify for the offer, pupils must pay the £55 on their first lesson and agree to take at least 15 hours of driving lessons with the driving school.

Steve Tattersall of Driving School Lessons, said, “This is a fantastic new offer for those people looking to learn to drive in the Portsmouth area and provides a saving of £45 on our usual prices”.

Steve continued, “Pupils can book their ’5 For £55′ by calling us for free on 0800 612 8983″.

The 5 for £55 driving lessons in Portsmouth offer is scheduled to end on the 15th July 2009, though this may be extended if the offer proves successful.

Driving School Lessons is one of the South coasts fastest growing driving schools. In addition to qualified tuition, the company also offers a specialist driving instructor franchise scheme that supplies new and experienced instructors with new pupils and business support.