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Topic 1 - Alertness

This multiple choice section will clarify and teach the pupil what is Alertness on the road.

What is alertness?

The first topic from the theory test is alertness. As you can probably guess, it refers to how alert a driver is whilst behind the wheel. The road can be an unpredictable place, so it’s important that a driver does not get distracted by things like mobile phones and music, is prepared for any potential hazard, and follows road signs and markings correctly.

 

Now, that by itself is pretty broad. So you’re probably wondering, “How am I supposed to revise the theory test topic alertness?” Fortunately for you, we’ve broken it down into bite-sized chunks to help you better understand the key areas you need to focus on.

Avoid Distractions!

Radio

Music, mobiles, laughing and joking. All signs of a good time, but in a car these things all increase the risk of a collision. Inattention is the most common reason for car crashes and one of the biggest problems facing you as a new driver is carrying friends in your car.

Sat Nav

Music, mobiles, laughing and joking. All signs of a good time, but in a car these things all increase the risk of a collision. Inattention is the most common reason for car crashes and one of the biggest problems facing you as a new driver is carrying friends in your car.

Mobile

Music, mobiles, laughing and joking. All signs of a good time, but in a car these things all increase the risk of a collision. Inattention is the most common reason for car crashes and one of the biggest problems facing you as a new driver is carrying friends in your car.

Your Responsibility

Focus is key.

If you’re on the road for a long period of time, you’ll need to take precautions to avoid feeling sleepy—any lapses could be catastrophic. This means either winding your window down to let in a fresh supply of air or taking a breather at the next available rest stop. If you’re taking a road trip or any long journey, plan your route and implement frequent rest stops to make sure you don’t get too fatigued.

 

It’s also your responsibility to avoid things that can affect your concentration and reaction time on the road, such as alcohol and drugs. You should also be aware that some medication can negatively affect your ability to control your vehicle.

Be aware.

You need to be alert to what’s going on around you at all times. This means that you need to check your car mirrors regularly. You also need to be aware of any potential blindspots, e.g., the area near the windscreen pillar. Whenever you intend to make a turn, move off, pull over, or pretty much anything else, you need to use the Mirrors, Signal, and Manoeuvre (MSM) routine.

 

If your view is ever blocked, e.g., if you’re exiting a closed junction, you’ll need to exercise caution and move slowly until you can see properly. Similarly, if you’re attempting a manoeuvre but haven’t got a full view of the area around you, ask someone to guide you.

Be prepared.

Road signs and markings are there for a reason. If you’ve spotted a give way sign, or a warning about changes to the speed limit, you should prepare by slowing down. Don’t leave things to the last second. It’s the same as when you’re approaching a set of traffic lights—if they’ve been on green for some time, you know that they’re likely to switch to red, which means you need to slow down immediately.

 

You’ve also got to prepare for how your ability to act will be affected by changes in road conditions such as bad weather, heavy traffic, and unfamiliar routes.

Overtake with caution!

When it comes to overtaking other vehicles, it’s vital that you look at the road ahead before you do anything—even if you’re just overtaking a stationary vehicle. Make sure that there aren’t any oncoming vehicles, pedestrians or road signs that tell you not to overtake. You need to be sure that you’ll have plenty of time to complete the manoeuvre, and that is legal to do so. Therefore, you will want to avoid overtaking;

 

• When the road starts to narrow, limiting the amount of space you have to overtake.

 

• When you can’t fully see the road ahead, e.g., at a bend or dip in the road.

Using the appropriate lights.

 If you’re driving at night or in bad weather, you’ll need to make sure you’re using your car lights properly. Take care when following large vehicles too—you’ll need to fall back to ensure they’re able to see you in their mirrors properly.

Sidelights

Sidelights, also known as “Parking Lights” serve as an alternative to your dipped beam headlights. Drivers typically turn their sidelights on when it is dark or cloudy and the natural lighting is low but not dark enough to put their dipped beams on.

 

Note: You should use your sidelights if you park at night on a road where the speed limit is greater than 30mph

Dipped Headlights

Dipped lights are the brightest lights your car has that won’t dazzle other road users.

 

Therefore, as a general rule to remember, always use them when visibility is poor.

 

Note: You should use dipped headlights at dusk, nighttime, or in bad weather.

Full-beam

You should only use full-beam headlights on unlit stretches of road at night.

 

Note: When meeting oncoming traffic (including cyclists or pedestrians), following another vehicle, or driving on bends, you must turn off your full-beam headlights as they can often dazzle other road users and cause an accident.

Fog Lights

You should only use your fog lights when your visibility is reduced to 100 meters (328 feet) or less – the equivalent of a football pitch.

 

If you use it when you can see further than the recommended distance, you could put other drivers at risk.

 

Note: You should also be cautious as rear fog light can often be confused with brake lights as they are both red.

Hazard Lights

You may use your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is stationary to warn other road users that it is causing a temporary traffic obstruction. You may have broken down, had an accident, run out of fuel, or been forced to stop by an obstruction in the road.

 

Note: You may also use them on motorways to warn traffic behind you of danger ahead.