Friday, 27 January 2012

Byebye Graham and Good Luck

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-  

A Personal Behaviour Assessment

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.    

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
    Circle  a,
 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 
Section A

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                                                    

Section B

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                                        

Section C

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

Section D

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                                              

Section E

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,

Sample Training and Assessment Material from a Degree Programme in Driver Education