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Monday, 27 February 2012
As the century developed motorcar ownership rapidly extended, and learning to drive became a solitary, occasional and extremely unofficial affair. Car dealers sold cars; and quite often their salesmen (there were very few saleswomen in those days) would take new purchasers out for an hour or two to explain the basic principles of handling their new toy. Most of the training as such was concerned with the complexities of starting the vehicle, and then learning how to steer followed by many miles of trial and error experimentation with gear lever and clutch. No wonder chauffeurs were called ‘warmer uppers’; someone had to do the dirty work.
Learning how to stop was quite easy, if any driver failed to do any of the above things properly the vehicle usually stopped of its own accord. However, on occasions, new owners just relied on the presence of other vehicles or road users, or solid pieces of street furniture, to help them to stop.
On the other hand, learning road procedure was a totally different affair. If boats had a rule that steam must give way to sail; no such rule obtained on the roads. Steam – or its successor – the infernal combustion engine, (please allow this deliberate if Freudian slip)… gave way to nothing unless that something was bigger or more substantial than itself. Once under way nothing would convince a driver to pull up unless it was to his advantage. White lines, Give Way signs, YIELD and “Halt at Major Road Ahead” traffic signs were still only glimmers in the eyes of our parliamentary and civil service masters.
Road procedure was simply summed up as:
“Keep the wheels on the ground and look where you are going”.
Changing gear was more difficult; these new automobile were without the luxuries of synchromesh gears. Automatic gear-changing mechanisms had been introduced in the United States as early as 1904, but had not caught on with British manufacturers. Subsequently new drivers never considered themselves skilled until they had learned how to match their engine speed to that of the vehicle’s rear wheel speed by means of the sheer physical effort of coordinating separate foot operating skills whilst manipulating the gear lever and without losing too much control of the steering wheel. People were usually grateful to acquire a car, and then to play with it until they became sufficiently proficient; during which time they frightened horses, pedestrians and passengers alike. It was on 12th February 1898 that Henry Lindfield of Brighton, gained the distinction of being the first driver to be killed as a consequence of a road crash. Although he only sustained injuries to his leg, the shock sustained by the subsequent amputation of the limb was enough to kill him.
My father often told me the story of when he was a young boy, being taken by his father, to the village of Broadway in Worcestershire; Broadway was so called I assume because of the massive width of its single main street. Granddad knew there was a car owned by one of the local landowners and, surely enough, dad and granddad were lucky to see it huffing and puffing towards them. Heading for it, but coming from the other direction, was a sedate pony and trap with another member of the local gentry at the reins. The street was at least one hundred feet wide and probably two hundred and fifty yards long. Both road users inexorably moved towards each other at a closing speed of about twenty five miles an hour; on the obvious collision course that was apparent even to a four-year old boy. Closer and closer they came, each driver convinced of their own inviolable right of way, and that the other road hog would move out of the way.
Of course neither of them would, each convinced of his own ‘right’ to continue. Not only did my father witness a typical road traffic accident of the early 1900s, he was able to describe so graphically for many years afterwards; and, of course, he was also privy to the “real cause” of most road traffic crashes.
Even a four-year old boy could recognise the cause of most road traffic incidents as stubbornness combined with reluctance to do anything about it. My father called it learning by blundering instead of learning through wondering. I am sure this tempered my father’s attitude towards his fellow road travellers for all of his working driving life, and I know that my own approach has always borne this particular driving lesson in mind too.
Learning was never required to be accompanied by training. Trial and error ruled the day. And, although the number of vehicles, in comparison with today’s massive gridlocks, was very sparse, constant crashes still managed to kill and maim drivers, passengers and any innocent passers-by who were usually too amazed to get out of their way. Mr Toad, of Wind in the Willows fame and driver extra-ordinaire, was certainly based on genuine examples of new car owners and was in no way a figment of Kenneth Grahame’s imagination.
It never occurred to new drivers that there was any skill involved in road procedure. Their cars were big and noisy. Surely cyclists, pedestrians and others could easily hear them coming and should keep out of their way.
With less than a million vehicles on the road in 1927 road deaths peaked at 5,329; more than 4,000 road users were killed on the roads in Britain each and every year between 1930 -1934. A Highway Code, priced one penny, was published in 1930 to help combat the escalating number of road traffic accidents. Most other European countries had introduced driving tests, but the United Kingdom, Eire and Belgium alone in Europe still lagged behind. This disastrous situation was partly remedied in 1934 with the introduction of the Road Traffic Act of 1935, which culminated in the introduction of 30 mph speed limits, pedestrian crossings and car driving tests. The driving force at the Ministry for Transport was Oliver Stanley MP. However, by the time the new Act received royal assent, his replacement as Transport Minister, was Leslie (later Lord) Hore-Belisha, whose eponymous pedestrian crossing beacons looked after the interests of pedestrians for the first time.
Early in 1934, following an open Civil Service competition, Captain R S D Stuart was appointed as the first Chief Driving Examiner. He and his merry band of eleven supervising examiners and 250 putative driving examiners offered free driving tests from 13th March 1935 until 1st June 1935. Provisional driving licences, costing five shillings (25 pence) and lasting for three months, were issued from the 1st April to enable would-be candidates to gain practice whilst accompanied by a full licence holder. In many cases the full licence holder would have bought their licence the week before when no test was required. I knew one of these people very well. Whilst I was waiting to take my own driving test, some fourteen years later, my mother quite often cheerfully accompanied me, although I know that she had never touched a pedal or steering wheel in her life.
Although there is no genuine record of the first person to pass the real test in June 1935; the BSM has always proudly exhibited in their boardroom a certificate number one, number N 0001 (actually one of many, but this was the first from batch N) issued three days after these trial tests had begun on the 16th March 1935, by Mr R J U Brougham driving examiner number 23 of Captain Stuart’s 250 examiners, possibly to a BSM student, a certain Mr Beene, of Kensington.
This is a second extract from a History of Motoring in the UK 1900 – 2000.
By Prof Peter RUSSELL © 2001 SOUTHAMPTON SO18 1JB
Starting this month, Driving Standards Agency statistics are being published alongside other Department for Transport statistics as part of the Government’s transparency policy.
Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said:
“This new statistics bulletin, showing driving test pass rates, will improve the range of information available for learner drivers, trainers, road safety organisations and any other groups with an interest in this area.
“I hope that publishing these statistics regularly and to a pre-announced timetable will make this information easier for everyone to access and understand.”
DSA has for some time published information on its own website in response to requests. The new statistical bulletin will bring this publication of these and a wider range of driving test and instructor data alongside other relevant transport statistics.
The figures issued in February are national figures for car, motorcycle, large goods vehicle and passenger carrying vehicle practical tests. The statistics will cover up to 31 December 2011 and updates, along with additional tables, will be published in accordance with the timetable which has been published at www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/forthcoming-ts-publications/.
The Driving and Rider Test and Instructor statistical bulletin is available at www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/series/driving-tests-and-instructors/.
The Driving Standards Agency will continue to publish data on each test centre at www.dft.gov.uk/publications?s=practical+test+statistics&tag=statistics. These data are not deemed to be official statistics.
Friday, 27 January 2012
I had some interesting news over the weekend. Graham Fryer, MBE, Boss of DIA since the early !970’s has sold his interests in the Largest (in the world - at one stage) Driving Instructors Association. DIA has now been Sold to a couple of non-ADI business family; who may be able to take the industry a few stages forward towards true professionalism. Graham’s role within the industry is unique; and I would be willing to add my ‘tuppennyworth’; if any-one wants to do a DIA history on the grounds that every launch, every idea and almost every fresh innovation in the driving school business was thrashed out in great detail, and with enormous panache; in the two top Porta-kabins at the end of the corridor.
So, a final message to Graham & Jan, as you drive off into the future in your lowest mileage ever Double OO Porsche 911, remember some spare coins for Betty’s BRIDGE. You’ ll ALWAYS remember just why: as well as the DipDI; The DIAmond system; SlideCar; five successive and very successful DRIVEX years: (Not to mention the DRIVEX that cost £400 for each entrant)
May I wish an even better prospects for ADIs and to Jan & Graham, a quiet, expensive, retirement to come.
(Professor) Peter Russell, DIA General Secretary 1974-
Over the past twenty years, I have been commissioned to write more than forty-three books,, all of which relate to driver education in some form or other. Now you know that every delegate at the ADI-NJ- COUNCIL’s Annual Conference is to be given a copy as attend at Walsall on Sunday 2nd October. The Title, to avoid confusion, is the second edition of the USE & ABUSE of Dual Controls - Just like the 2001 version; except it isn’t.
A Personal Behaviour Assessment
Are you really Anxious or Aggressive? Or are you just Average? How can you become well a “Well Above Average” driver instead?
How can you find out? How can you change your attitudes towards other road users to make you safer, and become an ‘Advanced - or better still - Defensive’ Driver?
There are two parallel paths of training to be followed. Initially we need to think in terms of Vehicle Control, which itself has three stages; and also of
Situation Control, which is achieved through the application of Forward Planning to ensure full Hazard Perception.
The three stages of Vehicle Control are:-
· Smoothness of the transmission chain, which is effected through the accelerator to the engine, clutch, gears, transmission to the driving wheels;
· Maintenance of equal grip by all four tyres throughout bends and any change of direction; and
· Correct positioning and adjustment of speed of the vehicle through opening and closing bends.
Situation Control appears to be a little more difficult to pin down in stages. It is really dependent upon your abilities to look as far ahead as possible and take note of all that is happening, is likely to happen and that which might conceivably happen; and at the same time make contingency plans for each option. This can only be done by applying a consistent driving plan. If the plan is used consistently the driver can rely on quick reactions and excellent observational skills to maintain total control over any potential situation change. Skilful drivers often believe their reactions will always get them out of problems created by their lack of observation. Others hope they can rely on excellent observation to make up for weak reactions. Foolish drivers are those who rely on the safe actions of all other road users to keep them from danger. This is what Situation Control is all about - making sure that your own vehicle and its occupants remain perfectly safe regardless of what any other road user may do.
This is why the DSA system of driving test marking is so successful. Dangerous and serious errors are automatic causes of failure at any stage of testing. Minor errors are only acceptable, (to the driving test.DSA), for those drivers who are taking their initial Advanced driving assessments cannot allow even minor errors to be ignored. Uncorrected and repeated, minor errors are the real cause of most road traffic accidents. Advanced and defensive driver training courses are aimed at identifying and removing or reducing all minor errors. Repeated minor errors eventually kill.
Aggressive and anxious drivers consistently make more errors. Minor errors make drivers vulnerable. Repeated minor errors inevitably lead into a confrontation. Unresolved confrontations rapidly turn into a crisis. At this stage vehicle control skills might help; provided everyone involved uses them. Unless the crisis is averted it becomes another road traffic incident. To everyone else it may be a statistic; to those involved it is often a matter of life or death.
INSTRUCTORS NOTES ON THE PERSONAL BEHAVIOUR TEST:
This two part test is obviously more of a fun one than any of the others. All drivers need to show just a little bit of aggression in their driving. Equally they also need to be slightly anxious in other circumstances. So a good score in the first test would be to get 1a, 8 b’s and 1 c. The thing to remember is that most course students will discover that the “b” answer is the one they ought to be putting down half way through the test. For this reason it is essential to remind them, at the end of the training session, that the real benefit of the scoring system depends upon the opinions of their spouses, friend or in the passenger seat. At least it will let them know if other road users think they are too anxious or aggressive.
The real benefit of this particular pair of quizzes lies in the two additional pages between the tests. The first of the two pages explains in detail the principle behind the DSA marking system, and shows how we can demonstrate how it works in our day-to-day driving. It also explains how we use the marking system in our driving assessments too.
The second page draws attention to the need for all drivers to develop full vehicle control before they can think of calling themselves advanced drivers. It also points out the three stages of vehicle control which need to be improved each before the next can be started. Drivers usually need quite a lot of practice before they can achieve the state of coping perfectly with opening and closing bends.
It is by getting them to look for and then cope with opening and closing bends that you can also get them to want to look as far ahead as possible and through this plan their driving effectively.
Remember that most drivers will never reach the standard of being able to cope effectively with every bend. Nor will they be able to drive correctly around every corner; but wanting to do so is the beginning.
At the end of this training session drivers should be convinced that there is so much more to learn about advanced and defensive driving they will never want to stop learning. They will continue to learn long after you have gone.
This is the beginning of being a good safe defensive driver.
Could Psychometric Testing of New Drivers Reduce Car Crash Deaths amongst the Young?
Readers will have seen earlier this summer on the BBC and other media that the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) suggests that all young and new drivers should to be psychometrically tested before being allowed to learn to drive. Incidentally PACTS didn’t ask if anyone at the sharp end of driver training had any knowledge of the subject. As ever!
What PACTS and their allies probably didn’t remember is that until 1980 the German Government Driver Testing system historically included their own versions of psycho-metric and psycho-mechanical testing systems before their new drivers were allowed to commence their training. That ended with the 1980 Treaty of Rome which was the initial European ruling that began the harmonisation route for all drivers in Europe. First of all with driving licences; then by about 2000 driver testing and finally the harmonisation of driver training. This is when our old red licences were sent for re-cycling. Unfortunately in 2002 the Danes, supported by the UK, vetoed the idea of standardised driver training so, for the time being, that has become a non-starter.
The pre-1980 German system was a relatively simple psycho-mechanical test which was very similar to that given to teach co-ordination to young babies: similar to a wooden tray with a series of shaped holes. The critical thing about the test was that if you failed it three times in a row, you were deemed not “suited to driver training”. However Rome, Brussels and the rest of the EU all said that it was much too difficult a requirement for Spaniards, Dutch, Portuguese and Italians etc, and it was dropped in the interests of harmonisation.
In post-war Germany the four occupying powers (France, USA, USSR and Britain) required German driving schools and instructors to be controlled even more precisely than they had been before the war. 1957 had seen the foundation of the International Association for Driver Education (I.V.V.) with membership stretched across the world, and encouraging a first international attempt to standardise driver training systems. The I.V.V. was the result of a joint German and British enterprise, with the Germans having most success, because they had both national and Government support, whereas the British involvement was purely voluntary and sourced from the private sector only. Consequently the German driver training system became one of the most formalised in Europe, even if their crash statistics were not as good as those of the UK. To become a driving school proprietor not only did potential school owners have to qualify through lengthy Technical College courses, but they had to serve a minimum number of three years as an instructor first. No wonder most German driving school proprietors drove the latest Mercedes cars for their own social and pleasure use.
As British instructors strove in vain for any signs of professional educational recognition, I remember well at an I.V.V. Conference having the German system of “Psycho-Mechanical Testing” explained and demonstrated to me. All applicants for a driving licence had to pass a psycho-mechanical coordination test requiring candidates to fit a series of small shaped squares, circles, triangles and other shapes into matching holes correctly against the clock. Anyone who could not pass after three attempts was refused a licence even though they may have been able to demonstrate a safe(ish) practical test. Naturally passing an accredited classroom theory course and test was also a requirement to gain a full driving licence.
So, if we are to believe some of the rumours and buzz words fluttering around Nottingham and from ADI association gatherings, could we soon have to offer psycho-metric and psycho-mechanical training and testing for our own students if they are to pass a much stiffer driving test in the future? I think that much of what is being done is quite effective. Certainly I have found that most efficient trainers are already teaching the psychological approach to driving, without ‘jargon’ taking over from the practical application?
The challenge (we are not even allowed to think of them as problems these days) is that so many killed and serious injuries happening on the roads today are disproportionately caused by new, young and inexperienced drivers. These are the same young drivers who find it so much easier to pass their driving tests than their elders. And more often than not the drivers tend to be boys rather than girls although the death rate is equally spread because quite often the driver is saved from death by an air-bag whereas passengers are often hurled straight through windscreens. So what exactly do these “Road Safety Saviours” want testing? I wonder if they know what good instructors actually do when teaching.
I must admit a bias in my reporting; I find many academics and other theoretical pontificators, naturally assume the sole purpose of driver training is for an instructor to sit in the car teaching how to move off, change gear, steer and stop. They believe that ADIs are merely artisans with no mental capacity to establish safe driving habits for life as an essential part of their students’ behaviour training. I can even quote one “academic” saying that ADIs teach the bones and muscles to work; whilst it takes a qualified psychologist to condition a driver’s brain to cope with the driving task.
Whenever I make presentations at conferences and meetings for “Ed-Psychos”, I often quote that the most proficient Educational Psychologists they will ever meet are ADIs who, instead of having their clients relaxed on a couch, are negotiating Fulham High Street at rush hour dodging oncoming buses and taxis whilst also driving at 25 mph.
Just for interest I have attached three simple behaviour training items as examples of those I have prepared for instructors to use, for more than forty years. I can look back to the days when we trained grammar school girls to drive in school classrooms and practised their controls lessons in the playground before setting out on the road. Of more than 600 students we trained at Winchester County High School and similar establishments I cannot recall any one of them being involved in a fault crash in subsequent years. There is a simple reason for this: we conditioned them, not just to learn to operate a motor vehicle, but to behave on the roads as they did when representing the school in any other capacity. Road Safety Rules are similar to Polite Behaviour in Public rules we taught them throughout the school.
I met one of those former schoolgirl students from those days just a few weeks ago. She is now a mother of teenagers and she only wished her current school could give them the same grounding in attitudinal behaviour on the road that she had received. I reminded her that because of her own safe attitudes fixed in her, I had no doubts that her own children would be as safe as she has always been.
So what sort of tests did we carry out?
For example in one particular test we tried to find out if they would become aggressive, average or anxious drivers.
This quiz is aimed at new and learner drivers
A Personal Assessment (Some personal questions)
Quiz No 4a
What sort of driver are you? Name..................……………….
Please select the answer closest to your normal attitude towards driving
b or c below
1 a I hate large vehicles around me whilst I am driving
b I don’t mind other large vehicles around me at any time
c I enjoy jockeying for position with LGVs and others.
2 a I worry about my route when I’m on strange roads.
b If I get lost it doesn’t matter very much at all
c If I get lost, I will stop anywhere to look at the map.
3 a I often imagine an accident happening whilst I’m driving
b I actively plan my driving to avoid accident and risks
c I know my driving is good; I control my road situation.
4 a If others wish to overtake I slow down immediately
b I am quite happy to allow others vehicles to overtake - always
c I hate being overtaken by other cars similar to my own.
5 a I worry in case my brakes or any part of my car might fail
b I always have an escape route in mind when driving
c I know my car has been well serviced and I trust it.
6 a I usually end a long drive feeling exhausted
b At the end of a long drive I like to relax
c Driving long distances keeps the adrenalin flowing
7 a If I hear a horn sound I get self conscious
b I would wonder who was being hooted
c I sound my horn back at them even louder.
8 a I get nervous when I am following lots of other vehicles
b I am quite happy to stay behind and follow a good driver
c I try to make maximum headway at all times.
9 a I hate driving at night or in very bad weather
b I have to concentrate much harder at night or in bad weather
c I can drive much faster at night in the dark or in the rain.
10 a I try to approach green traffic lights slowing down
b I try to adjust my speed to arrive as the lights change to green
c I know that the amber light always gives you a safety margin.
This is not a competition of course, but giving honest answers enables us to be more aware of ourselves as drivers - and people!
Score ______ As ______ Bs ______ Cs
Am I an Anxious driver? Average ? or Aggressive ?
- A client who scores mostly Bs indicates an average sort of driver.
- Too many As and the driver is probably a nervous person who will need specific coaching in boosting their confidence.
- Too many Cs and you have a potentially “aggressive” driver who may well need coaching to change eagerness and aggression into positive talents.
However there was a slight ‘cheat’ in this particular quiz; in that we also encouraged the students to complete the quiz and then take a similar one home to allow a friend, passenger or colleague to complete it for them: the results were often quite different and telling.
This particular test was aimed at corporate drivers using company vehicles; those on the course were not just Fleet drivers, but included Chairmen and Directors as well.
Driver's Psychometric Personality Test
Quiz No 12
Take this test to see what sort of driver you really are.
Are you suited to the driving lifestyle that you presently have, or would you be happier in different circumstances? The following series of questions requires you to give instinctive answers, and not spend time pondering about what you think is the best answer to give. The more honest you are with your answers, the easier it is to determine exactly what will improve your driving skills.
Place a tick under one of these three options
Agree Not Sure Disagree
1 I am a sociable, outgoing sort of person
2 I enjoy meeting new people
3 I like driving to new towns and places
4 I am normally a happy individual
5 I don't like my own company
6 I enjoy showing off in my car
7 I am nervous when driving alone
8 I hate heavy and strange traffic
9 My moods change when I am driving
10 I worry about breaking down
11 I don't enjoy driving abroad
12 I am not considered very cheerful
13 I hate driving strange or new vehicles
14 I get irritated when I have to queue
15 I get angry with dangerous over-takers
16 I can't relax on long journeys
17 I hate letting other traffic emerge
18 I occasionally crunch the gears
Agree Not Sure Disagree
19 I get bored very easily
20 I get annoyed with slow drivers
21 I think about work when I am driving
22 Driving is not usually much fun
23 I hate change and new things
24 I worry about time when I am driving
25 I am thoughtful of others
26 I prefer to cooperate than compete
27 People like working with me
28 I rarely ever argue a lot at work
29 I hate it when I'm doing nothing
30 I can easily cope with more than
one thing at a time
Agree Not Sure Disagree
Score as under: Agree +1 Not Sure 0 Disagree -1
Scores: A B C D E
What sort of driver are you and what should you do about it?
There are no correct answers, just your own opinions.
Section A Introvert or Extrovert
More than 3 points Take skid and high-performance courses
Between 3 and 0 Take an advanced driving test
Between 0 and -3 Take a defensive driving course
Less than -3 points Take a basic refresher course
Section B Stable or Nervous
More than 3 points Take a basic refresher course
Between +3 and 0 Take a defensive driving course
Between 0 and -3 Take an advanced driving test
Total Scores: A B C D E
Why not try to write a few of these types of “DRIVER PERSONALITY ASSESSMENTS for yourself; when you feel sufficiently comfortable with what is needed?
Professor Peter Russell,
President INSTITUTE OF DRIVER EDUCATION & RESEARCH;
Director OF DRIVER EDUCATION & RESEARCH FOUNDATION
Sample Training and Assessment Material from a Degree Programme in Driver Education