Practical Caravan magazine had an article recently concerning one of their staff sitting the B+E towing test. There were a couple of comments in it that I couldn't resist commenting on, so I sent them an email.
Imagine my surprise, and delight at opening the latest edition, June 2017, to discover my email reproduced in full, together with an old photo I had included, was the star letter. It seems I have won a pair of Aero towing mirrors.
This is a scan of the electronic edition page. This may not be readable so I'll reproduce the email here:
Hello Alistair and PC team
I am very much a fan of Practical Caravan (mag and TV shows) as I have a long history of caravanning stretching back to the 1970s and my time in Germany with the British Forces. Europe was on our doorstep and this old (digitised) photo is of my VW Jetta towing a Dethleffs Nomad 4 berth en route to Northern Italy.
However I am writing with regard Bryony's article in the March 17 edition about her successful B+E driving test.
For the 24 years before my retirement, a couple of years ago, I was a driving examiner with the then Driving Standards Agency (DSA) which has since merged with VOSA to become the DVSA, and for the last eight years I was the Chief Instructor and head of all driving examiner training at Cardington in Bedfordshire.
Bryony makes two comments in her otherwise excellent article that could possibly be misunderstood. When she talks about the reversing manoeuvre she says “There is no time limit on performing the manoeuvre so take your time …” and at the end of the piece she talks about setting out on the road after completing the manoeuvres and says, “drive as slowly as you feel comfortable.”
There is no time limit on the reverse exercise it is true but it is expected to be completed in a “reasonable” amount of time and if a test candidate is taking excessive time to complete it the examiner may consider terminating the exercise, and therefore the test. (Proper training and practice is the key here!)
As for the road drive, and this applies to all practical driving tests, an examiner would expect to see “normal" progress made for the conditions at the time and excessive caution and failing to make proper progress regularly features in the most common reasons for test failures. It is especially true in the towing test as following traffic being held up unnecessarily would be faced with the additional challenge of considering overtaking a vehicle with a trailer.
It is clear that this wasn’t a problem for Bryony, who sensible sought expert tuition in addition to her previous experience of towing, but driving really slowly, unnecessarily, to feel comfortable is not recommended.
We are all set for our first trip this year, delayed due to the new arrival in the household. But its off to the Suffolk coast in May. Also booked for a couple weeks in the New Forest in Jun/Jul.
More to follow