Category Archives: Lesson help

How to stop stalling!

Many pupils learning to drive for the first time, dread stalling the car! Maybe that’s why some pupils opt to learn on an automatic. There are some simple techniques though, which will help you avoid stalling.

What is stalling?

stallingFirstly, what do we mean by stalling? Simply put, this is when the engine stops running requiring a restart. That’s all very well, but most pupils want to know why and how can they stop it!

To understand why a car stalls though, we need to understand the role of the clutch in all this.

What does the clutch do?

Simply put, the clutch connects and disconnects the engine. Therefore, early on in the first driving-lessons, the pupil soon discovers ‘stalling’: when they forget to de-clutch or depress the clutch when braking to a halt. The stall happens because as the engine is still connected to the now stationary wheels via the clutch plates, the engine always loses the tug or war between them!

Hill starts

stallingAnother situation where a stall is more likely for the novice driver: is the hill start. This is because, a car moving up and away on a hill, requires more power and a good biting point (the point at which the clutch plates connect and the engine begins to be connected to the wheels). Therefore, if the pupil forgets to get a good biting point and put on the necessary extra gas and power, then the car is likely to roll backwards or stall!

Often though, pupils are caught out by the car simply stalling on a very slight incline. Many modern tuition vehicles with small petrol engines are very sensitive; if the pupil forgets to put a bit of gas on before releasing the clutch or brings the clutch up too fast with no gas at all – then the engine just can’t cope and stalls.

Don’t panic!

nervesAgain, stalling may simply take place because the pupil is  worried that they are going to stall! In other words, because they are nervous or apprehensive, they rush and bring the clutch up too fast – and of course they stall! (A bit of a negative feedback loop!)

Another effect, is what I call ‘kangarooing!’ This is when the car nearly stalls: jerking violently backwards and forwards. This effect happens because the pupil’s foot is moving up and down on the clutch pedal in response to the jerking motion.  The answer is to just de-clutch.

How to avoid stalling

To be honest though, one reason most pupils stall is that they don’t use the handbrake enough and ‘move off on the fly’ ( bringing the  clutch up slowly until the car begins to move).

If instead, you use the handbrake to find the biting point accurately, all you need to do to move off,  is release the handbrake and keep your clutch foot still until you are in motion. This is especially useful if you want to move off rapidly say at a busy roundabout because its more reliable and less prone to stalling.

What do I do when I stall?

Lastly though what do you do when you do stall? Firstly, its not the end of the world so don’t panic. Of course, make sure that the car has actually stalled: to do this look at the rev-counter. Is it on zero revs and is the red oil lamp on the dash board on? If so, then you have definitely stalled!

Secondly, make the car safe. In other words, engage the handbrake to stop rolling and restart the engine to restore power.

In conclusion then, to avoid stalling: plan and think about every move off by setting the appropriate gas and biting point and decide whether you are going to move off using the handbrake or on the fly.



Amber passed FIRST time 5 minors 16/06/16

Amber ( a trainee hairdresser) recently passed her driving test with me after around 50 hrs of tuition.

She had not had any previous lessons and passed first time with only 5 minors. This is what she had to say about my lessons:

“I did my lessons with Paul, would highly recommend. Doesn’t just stay local which gives a really good experience to driving different areas”

CALL or text  Paul Noble NOW on 0778 055 3078 or use the contact page

2016 results

Learning to drive

Suffering from anxiety

Highly recommend

Learnt more in two hours

Read Danielle’s testimonial

Jack’s FIRST time pass!

For more testimonials and information

I’ve learned so much I love driving! Keys to passing your driving test Focused lessons     Results since April     A grade check test result     Intensive driving course   Paul improves your driver ability    Navy pupil passes first time    Zero minors    Intensive driving course     First time pass 1 minor!    The AA

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Learning to drive?

Learning to drive – how long does it take?

The first question most people ask when thinking of learning to drive is: how long does it take? This of course largely governs how much its going to cost!

40 hours of tuition

learning to drive

Dean Hooper 5 minors 3/06/2016

The short answer is: learning to drive is a life-time learning process. However, in terms of reaching a sufficient standard to pass a driving test, it’s around 40 hours of lessons with a professional instructor.

Indeed, I find that the breakthrough point is usually around thirty hours. Any less than this, and a pupil, no matter how talented, will lack the experience necessary to handle the pressure of the driving test and additionally, not have the experience necessary to drive safely on Britain’s roads.

My parents passed in 10 hrs!

Of course, this figure is often challenged by the pupil’s parents, as they remember (creatively perhaps) that a few decades ago it only took them 10 hrs  of tuition to pass a driving test. So why can’t my Johnny do the same! In fact, as far as I remember – it was a long time ago – I think I only had seven driving lessons before passing first time! The major difference though, was, that  even though cars were allot harder to drive – without mod-cons such as power steering and such like  – the driving test was far easier to pass because roads were simpler and there was far less traffic on the roads. The majority of drivers on the roads today probably wouldn’t pass a driving test!

Theory test

Now pupils have to pass a comprehensive multi-choice theory test with a syllabus of 1600 questions. In addition, they have to successfully complete a hazard perception test which involves watching short clips of video and clicking a computer mouse in response to viewed hazards. Those who don’t revise for this exam normally fail. Both parts of the exam have to be successfully  passed before a practical driving test can be booked.

Going back to the question!

Going back to the question though, it’s best to plan for forty hours of tuition: which is a time-scale of about 5 months – if you have a 2 hr lesson every week. Of course, if you can afford it, you can speed up the process by doing an intensive course 


Trudy started with me after having lessons for a while in a different area of the country. Unfortunately, she failed her driving test and stopped for a while. As she moved into my area, her friend at work – one of my pupils – recommended me and after completing 12 hours of lessons to prepare for test – passed with only 5 minors!

learning to drive

Trudie 5 minors 8/6/16

“I would like to say a huge than you to my driving instructor Paul all his help and guidance made me feel more confident on the road and he was great in helping me ease my test day nerves, allowing me to pass. than you Paul would highly recommend to go with him.”


CALL or text  Paul Noble NOW on 0778 055 3078 or use the contact page

Highly recommend

Learnt more in two hours

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For more testimonials and information

I’ve learned so much I love driving! Keys to passing your driving test Focused lessons     Results since April     A grade check test result     Intensive driving course   Paul improves your driver ability    Navy pupil passes first time    Zero minors    Intensive driving course     First time pass 1 minor!    The AA



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Driving test tips

Tips to passing your driving test

Before the test

structured and focusedBe well prepared: Most people need at least 40 hrs of experience. The more hours you put in – the more likely you are to pass your driving test.

Have professional lessons with a good instructor. This increases the chances of you passing first time as your instructor should be familiar with modern driving test standards. Note: if you have completed 60 + hrs with the same instructor and have failed at least 3 times – maybe it’s time to change instructor!

hare and tortoiseBe persistent! Remember the parable of the race between the hare and the tortoise. The tortoise won because he just kept going. With determination even the least gifted drivers can pass first time!


The Beginning of the test

portsmouth tcThe test lasts about 40 minutes.

Arrive about ten minutes before your test appointment time. Make sure you have a valid driving license – plastic part only.

Make sure you bring glasses, if needed. Make sure you meet the eye site requirement, as if you fail this at the beginning of the test you will not be allowed to take the test.

Make sure you concentrate  at all times especially just after you have completed the manoeuvre.

Treat the examiners with respect and dress suitably. Be friendly, they do a difficult job.

Ask your instructor to come with you. Normally they will sit behind you but not take any part in the test.  The advantage of this, is if for any reason you don’t pass, then the instructor will know exactly where you need to improve. Of course if you pass they will also see your success in action!

Know your show me tell me questions’ thoroughly! These questions are going to be the first impression the examiner has of you, so make it a positive one!

During the test

During the test the examiner may make notes. Don’t  let this distract you. Remember, they write up a report about the test and so it could be good things they are writing!

Any serious or dangerous fault means you will fail.  A good pass is one without any serious or dangerous faults and six minors or less. If you repeat a minor fault three times or more then it could become a serious fault.


stay focusedMost people seem to fail within 5 minutes of leaving the test centre or 10 minutes or so from the end!The period after completing the manoeuvre is often critical. Roundabouts and junctions are where most people fail.

If you feel really nervous talk to yourself under your breath. Concentrate on what you can see and are doing rather than how you feel!


Anticipate and plan.
Be aware and focused

Independent driving

thinkAs part of the test you will asked to perform 10 minutes of independent driving:  You will either follow a set of instructions, a map, or road signs.

If you are unsure of where to go, ask the examiner. If you do go the wrong way – say at a roundabout – in general it’s better to do that, than in haste change lanes, forget to looking properly and end with a serious fault!

Some pupils find it easier to repeat the examiners instruction: “at the end of the road turn right”. It helps them concentrate.

If the examiner doesn’t give you an instruction then assume its straight ahead.


speedometerKeep to the speed limits and don’t dawdle. If you go everywhere at 20mph in a 30mph limit without reason you will fail if you keep doing it!

Don’t break the speed limits – you will fail!

If you are not sure of the speed limit assume its 30mph.

If you stall remember that is NOT an automatic failure. It’s how you handle it. If you handle it safely then you will be fine. If your keep stalling however then this may be marked as a serious fault.

Town driving

side mirrorAt some point of your test you will probably do some busy town driving. Don’t take risks, go for the low risk solution when meeting other vehicles.

Watch indicators clicking off especially when turning right at a roundabout. 

Use plenty of mirrors – rear mirror when slowing and right mirror when moving past parked cars. Check your mirrors every 10 seconds (helps you concentrate and stay aware)

Moving off and stopping

stop-2Moving off and stopping safely is an important part of the test which will be tested three or four times. Make sure that when the examiner asks you to find a safe place to stop, that your first action is to mirror and signal and THEN start looking! (If you start looking and then mirror and signal then the danger is that you may slow down without being aware of following vehicles.

Avoid stopping opposite junctions, on corners or in front of someones driveway.

After stopping in a safe place the examiner will say something like : “in your own time move off”. Use this as an opportunity to have a micro-break.

When moving off make sure that you check thoroughly (especially the blind-spot). Signal if necessary. Moving off must be prompt and safe.

If your car has ‘start stop technology‘ – use it! It gives you chance to rest your feet and gives you a mini-break.

Don’t be afraid of using the handbrake when stopped. It tends to be safer and less prone to error or stalling.


EL3On the driving test you will be asked to perform one manoeuvre. Don’t stress about them, they only take a couple of minutes and as long as you perform them safely (even if not very elegantly)  you will not fail. They normally take place about half way through the test.

The examiner will choose one of four possible manoeuvres:

  1. Bay Park (either at the beginning or the end of the test in the test centre car park)
  2. The Left Reverse
  3. The Turn in the Road
  4. The Parallel Park

In addition to these, you may be asked to do the emergency stop.

IMG_0773Learn to park forwards into a bay – even though this isn’t part of the test.  This is possibly the last thing you are going to do before switching off and getting your results  – so do it well even though its not accessed!

Lastly good luck and hopefully you’ll get one of these!

© 13/10/2015 Paul Noble

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Anticipation and planning

What is Anticipation?

thinkAnticipation is the amazing and possibly unique human ability to THINK ahead: to imagine possible scenarios in the future – like fast forwarding a film frame by frame.

To anticipate is to conceptualise; to predict; visualise.

Anticipating in a driving context, is basically spotting and expecting possible dangers or hazards before they occur. This then enables the driver to be prepared and stay safe.

Road signs and markings

skidOf course, the ability to anticipate potential hazards is enhanced by taking note of road signs and road markings early.

This is further facilitated by SCANNING and PLANNING. In other words, an alert driver is not only looking directly ahead but scans ahead in the following areas:  far distance; middle distance; near distance; speedometer; rear view mirror.


coastThe acronym COAST  stands for Concentrate, Observe, Anticipate, Speed and Time.

COAST helps us understand, that if Concentration is lacking then this will impact our ability to Observe everything around. This will further impact our ability to Anticipate and of course if we don’t react – we are going to fast and run out of time!

Open your eyes!

awarenessDeveloping Observational skills therefore, is very important, as you can’t anticipate a hazard you haven’t seen –  unless of course you have been pre-warned by a road-sign or road-marking!

How can an instructor help the pupil in this regard? Questions such as: “What can you see?”, “What’s the next hazard?

Use your imagination!

The question: “What if?” is also a good one. “What if that car ahead pulls out?”

Commentary driving ( talking out loud what you can see and are doing) is also a helpful tool and helps concentration. It can also be done even when sitting in the passenger seat!!


Of course, it is important not only to see hazards ahead ( SCAN) but we must also PLAN and make a DECISION of how we are going to react. If we just ‘wing it’ and hope for the best then we are likely to fail at some point – have an accident.

So a good question to ask yourself when you see a hazard ahead is : “What are you planning?”  “What are you going to do?”

“If we fail to plan we plan to fail!”


to doThe first step in a good plan is to prioritise. Imagine for example if you are given five college assignments due in in the next two weeks. What’s the best approach? The sensible solution is to sort, prioritise and order the tasks

Its obvious then, that if we don’t plan we may run out of time!


How do you make a good decision? Firstly, you must have all the relevant information to hand. So for example, when we emerge to turn left, we must look at least twice to the right and once to the left.

Secondly, we need to give ourselves time to make a good decision? If we not sure we should go- then don’t! Don’t rush a decision!

If there are multiple hazards ahead how do you decide which to react and plan for? Generally, this is the one closest at the highest level.

For Example: Ahead you see a pedestrian on the pavement (green hazard), a car coming towards you (green hazard), a cyclist at 6 car lengths away (amber hazard) and a junction on the left with a car waiting to emerge at 12 car lengths (amber hazard).

The cyclist would be the priority but we would also be aware of the car at the junction.

For most hazard situations the following simple plan is all we need:

Hazard Plan M,S,G

Mirrors –  Slow or signal – Gear

Simple Holdback

IMG_0971We’ve dealt with this situation in detail  in Meeting other vehicles . As we don’t have right of way (we’re the AA car), then we must be prepared to stop and we should be going for a low risk solution.

A low risk solution would be to time it so that when we arrive the red car has passed the blue car. This is the preferred solution.

A high risk solution would be to just go through the gap regardless!

The lowest risk solution would be to holdback.

So using MSG, maybe we check mirrors, off the gas to slow , signal by  covering the brake  without braking  and maybe change down a gear.

A negotiation

IMG_0973 (1)In this situation who has right of way? No one really, but say the red car was much further back, you might use MSG in the following way:

Check mirrors, move to the centre to signal intention to go through gap, maybe even use an indicator to further signal and change down gear if further acceleration is required.


Busy Town Driving


As you approach from the south what can you see? What hazards can you spot?

What speed and gear are you going to arrive at?

Is it safe to go?

What if a car comes the other way, which gap are you going to head for?

Look out for buses and bikes!

If you decide to get into the gap what issues are there if you look parked. What could happen and how might you prevent that?

For lessons CALL or text  NOW on 0778 055 3078 or use the contact page

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Driver awareness!

awarenessWhat does being aware mean?

As driver is very important to be aware of what is going on around you: to perceive possible dangers and hazards and concentrate on the job in hand. You must be focused at all times. You must stay alert.

A driver uses all their senses including sight and sound.

Three good questions:

What do you see? What can you hear? How do you feel?

Why is it important to be aware?

Of course, if you are not aware of hazards and risks around you, then you are not only putting yourself at RISK but others also!

Who is responsible for risk on a driving lesson?

crashThe pupil is responsible plus the Driving Instructor shares that risk  and may intervene with questions or use the dual controls or steering if getting into danger.

How do mirrors help us with awareness?

side mirrorObviously it is important to be aware of hazards in front of the car but mirrors enable us to be aware of risks to the side of the vehicle and behind.

How do road signs and road markings helps with awareness

Unknown-1Spotting road signs and road markings early enable us to plan well ahead and deal with fixed hazards.  In addition, we need to make sure we are aware of traffic lights and signal changes..

Where should we be looking? Far distance, middle distance and near. Scan and plan!

How does the way your feel effect awareness?

Texting_while_at_the_wheel_(4351110509)-1Tiredness, dehydration, medication, anxiety, nerves and stressed! These all negatively effect awareness and ability to drive.

In addition, anger/road rage/ impatience can seriously effect judgment.     DONT’  use your mobile phone or drink drive!

Be careful of DISTRACTIONSchildren, CD player, Radio. Drivers behind you!

stay focused

How do you feel while driving?

Red – stressed find a place to stop; Amber – learning; Green – relaxed.

Are you aware of your speed and gears?

speedometerHow does speed effect your awareness?  Are you aware of the speed limits and your own speed?

Gears can be a big distraction on approach to roundabouts. Remember it’s “brakes to slow; gears to go”. Use block changing.

Are you spatially aware of the safety bubble around the vehicle?

Are you spatially aware?  Your position on the road.

How can you increase you awareness?

Talk to yourself; tell yourself what you are about to do. Reticular activating system.

Use commentary driving where you describe your observations and actions – but be careful that your don’t get distracted!

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Meeting other vehicles

At some point early on in learning to drive, the novice driver is going to encounter a parked car on their side of the road and an oncoming vehicle coming through the gap. This is little daunting for the learner but here is a simple method that breaks down the problem to meeting other vehicles and helps the learner make the correct decision.

There are 3 options or solutions to the problem:

meeting other vehiclesIf the parked car is on our side of the road then we must give way to any oncoming vehicles. We can deal with this in three ways:

STOP! – lowest risk – This is the safest and lowest risk option:  aim to come to a complete stop in the holdback position (about 1.5 car lengths away and in the normal driving position – to avoid looking parked) and let the oncoming car through the gap. When the car has passed and it’s clear to go, then we must check interior mirror, right door mirror before moving off.

LOW RISK solution – The second and low risk option (preferred) –  is to time the approach so that we slowed enough so the oncoming car has passed. We will probably change down gear as we slow and check our rear view mirror. I call this kind of controlled smooth driving  Rolls Royce driving.  Of course we must be careful to not get to close to the parked car so this option requires a little more skill and care. As we pass the car we must check our right mirror in case of overtaking vehicles.

meeting other vehiclesMedium/High risk option – is to go through the gap because we believe the gap is large enough for two vehicles. “If you are not sure – then don’t go!“, “If you don’t know then don’t go!”.  In other words, don’t take unnecessary risks. Plus, note, it is not safe if you cannot proceed with at least a metre between your car an the parked car. If you do choose to go through the gap, then you must reduce speed because of the narrowing gap and probably change down to second gear before you arrive.

How do you tell if there is enough gap? Look at this picture and imagine a car in the gap? Does it look safe? My feeling is there is not quite enough space. Remember, the further away you are the more difficult it is to make that judgement.

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How to handle – roundabouts

roundaboutsIn this article I want to explain how teach your students to handle roundabouts a skill that many pupils go round and round in circles over! – sorry a joke!

By the way, if you are learning to drive you can still use this to understand what you should be learning from your instructor and if your not – get them to read this article!

Introduction – essential skills

1.Emerging and approaching

Firstly, make sure that your pupil have a good grasp of emerging and approaching from both junctions and crossroads before they attempt a roundabout, as roundabouts are really a form of open junction in most cases.

2. Rolling exits and edging forward

Additionally, they should be competent at edging forward slowly using the clutch and able to perform safe rolling exits in second or first gear.

3. Moving off without stalling

Moreover, they should be able to move off without stalling using the handbrake or ‘on the fly’. This is important because the handling of roundabouts is often difficult for a novice driver to achieve, as everything they have learnt so far is being used on approach – allot of multi-tasking is going on so don’t distract them with too much talking!

As an idea, maybe revisit the ‘signals’ lesson before attempting roundabouts as signalling correctly is an important part of their roundabout training.

Stage 1 – Easy roundabout

First start with a suitable small roundabout: with little traffic; no sign or no road markings and lanes to deal with; and teach them the basic principles:

Routine on approach

Explain ESSENTIAL approach routineMirrors, Signal, Position (lane) Speed, gear and Look

Begin with the easier first exit left and move around the clock face handling straight ahead and to the right .

Encourage them to ‘talk out’ the routine on approach so they learn it and concentrate – it will also slow them down!

For the first couple of times, suggest they do the mirror and signal in early so they can concentrate on a slow approach: arriving at under ten miles per hour and in first gear – so they have plenty of time to concentrate and look early to the right.  The earlier they look the more prepared they are going to be when they actually arrive.

Emphasise ‘brakes to a slow’ rather than gears as its easy to be distracted by gears – steering, slowing down and looking are far more important for safety!

If it’s open to the right and clear, teach them how when appropriate, to sometimes approach and ‘go’ in second gear.

As they are approach ask the question: “is it safe to go?”

Explain – when and where they should indicate coming off.

When they are competent at this basic roundabout, experiment with a block change on approach – with gear changes from 3 to 1 and 4 to 2.

Stage 2 – Medium roundabout

When they are reasonably competent with a basic roundabout progress to roundabouts with a few more challenges: a little busier, has lanes on approach and some signage. Again, start with a first exit left and move around the clock face ending with right turns. Encourage them to ‘give themselves time’ by approaching slowly until they build up experience. Discourage rash decision making – it’s dangerous!

Which lane?

Make sure they understand the 12 o clock rule: whereby if the exit is past 12 on a clock face then its probably the right-hand lane that they need. Explain that more often is the case, the left hand lane is going to be the correct one.

As they approach ask them: “what lane are you going to be in?”
“Which exit are you going to take?”  Teach them to think and plan ahead.

Again emphasise the M S M, P S g L on approach and start to get them to read lane signs and the roundabout signs for themselves early.

When actually on the roundabout, teach them about the danger of straying across lanes: “keep in your lane, don’t cross the white line unless you have a reason”

Explain how its important to notice any speed limit change signs on the entrance or exit to roundabouts. (Ask them). Its easy to miss these as the pupil is so intent on dealing with the roundabout and the traffic.

What speed and gear?

On approach ask them the question: “What speed and gear are you going to arrive in? “expect a reply!

Make sure they look to the right and ahead early and often.

Entering the roundabout

Explain why they must not emerge into the roundabout if they can’t see too the right (say view blocked by a vehicle in the right-hand lane.

Encourage them to keep the car slightly moving (inching forward) when nearly stopped, if they can, because a moving car accelerates faster. I call this Rolls Royce driving.

Explain when to use the handbrake. For example: once the handbrake is engaged the moving off is going to take longer to execute. On the other hand, if fast and secure ‘take off’ is required then the handbrake/biting point method is often the best as the biting point and gas are set.

Explain how to ‘read’ and gauge what other drivers are going to do.  For example, if someone is already on the roundabout then cars to the right may not be able to move off so are not an issue Etc.

Make sure they know to take off fast if needed! (sometimes if they have not quite judged the speed of the car coming towards them correctly, its better for them to use acceleration to get out of danger. )

Explain the danger of stalling as you emerge when rolling (normally because your in second gear and going too slow) –  the car behind goes into the back of you because they are not looking!

Example 1: One of my pupils, on his test, approached a very easy and open roundabout in second gear. Unfortunately, he slowed down too much (2 mph) because he though a car to the right was coming his way (poor indicator). When he realised he could in fact go, he forgot he was in second gear, didn’t put on any gas and the car stalled in the middle of the roundabout! At this point the pupil panicked and instead of  engaging the handbrake and restarting he continued to roll and failed the test!

Example 2: My pupil stopped at a busy roundabout in gear 2 and engaged the handbrake. She then rushed to move off without setting the gas and forgetting she was in second gear. The car moved forward a few feet and then stalled. Unfortunately, the car behind us didn’t realise we hadn’t in fact moved off and read-ended us! Fortunately, the only thing damaged was a bit of pride – especially the driver behind us who wasn’t paying attention!

Signals and Mirrors

Make sure they deal with any indicators clicking off accidentally (especially when turning right) and why.

Make sure they learn to signal with good timing on exiting the roundabout and understand why.

Make sure they make good use of the left mirror on exiting when turning right and why.

Stage 3 – Harder roundabouts


1. A roundabout with a closed view to the right means approach slowly in a low gear. Ask them the question: “how much can you see to the right?” to hint as to the correct solution.

2. Approaching a roundabout on a hill. Be prepared to use the handbrake and first gear.

3. Approaching a roundabout down a hill. Make sure control the approach as the car will travel faster.

4. Large roundabout with fast moving traffic.

5. Small mini-roundabout with fast traffic

6. Double mini roundabouts.

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Teaching very thorough

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