Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Driver Training

We have a new qualified driver training instructor.  After years on traffic duty, Andy became a Police trainer for pursuit drivers.  He told me that six fatalities a year caused by chases isn't best for their PR.  He also did escort training for royal occasions and the like, when to stop is to end up a sitting target, and not good for security.  I don't know which he was offering.  My motorway manners have tamed down over the years; but then again, Sheffield has the slowest average traffic speed (11 mph) of any city outside of London (8 mph).

I've had more than the average share of instructors.  Before the Church signed up for a regular programme, we had various candidates offer us a sample drive.  The first time I sat in apprehension as the instructor systematically demolished Alan, one of our most competent guys.  "I don't know how it is on your side of the windscreen, but it's dry on mine - so turn the wipers off..."   Alan also had a habit of dropping his hand onto the gear lever.  Our man put his hand over it.  "You can hold hands with me if you like, but you're not fiddling with the lever when you're not making changes".  We swapped over and Ed was next.  "Well, Ed that was remarkable.  We've just discussed the procedure for safe overtaking: mirrors, indicate, manoeuvre.  You managed to do that one entirely the wrong way round: manoeuvre, indicate, mirrors."  And then for me: "Is that your rule in life - always accelerate into a hazard?"

One day I got sent out together with my old mate Dave.  He drove first.  We headed away from Skaino via M1 junction 16 to the A508.  There we pulled into a layby for an initial debrief.  The charming instructor turned ferocious about Dave's lack of observation, speed control, etc.  Dave exploded: "You mean that after just 20 minutes you can tell me what sort of driver I am?"  "I could tell that by the time you'd left the car park."  From the back seat, I couldn't resist a smile, too.

"I just want you to drive normally,"  Andy began the half-day session.  "Well, just so you know, I never drive except I'm up against a deadline for a meeting or whatever."  I wasn't making it easy for him.  "There's just enough time to make it up to Sheffield and back, and then you'll get some idea."   "Go on then," he surprised me.  "Let's get to the motorway and see how we do." 

At the junction I got into one of those lose-lose situations: a lorry ahead of me on the sliproad, two cars tucked in behind me, and two lanes of lorries on the motorway.  I'd been giving Andy a running commentary.  "At this point I'd clog it and get rid of the rest of them."  He remained silent.  I picked the wrong gear.  The overtaking lorry was about to pull into the gap as I hit lane 1 at 80mph.  "That wasn't very clever..." I offered.  "I'd have moved straight into lane 2."  Andy surprised me again.  "Foreign waggons: you can't tell what they'll do."

Half way through, we'd picked up a nice bit of sunshine, and were pottering round some unfamiliar A roads in Leicestershire.  "I tend to concentrate more on roads I don't know," I explained.  "The trouble is, I do most of my driving on routes I know too well."  Andy responded, "You just gave me a nice smooth ride for the last five minutes." Then I spoiled it all by failing to note a blue van turning right.

Heading home, back on the outside lane of the motorway, we were in sight of our exit.  I nodded, "There's a nice gap just up there, but I'll need to speed."  "Yes," Andy agreed, "That's a nice gap".  Back at Skaino, and into the training cabin for a debrief.  "Well," he paused, "You're a thinking driver, but have some bad habits.  Speed's the worst".  I couldn't disagree.  "But I'll bet you haven't got any points on your licence."  It was true.  Thinking driver.  Andy wrote on his report: "An enjoyable morning."  I can recommend him.


Dina Hady said...

Awesome post. Absolutely love this training. I have pretty much being doing this. Thank you very much for your nice post.
Driver Training

Mark Bansal said...

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