Anybody out there been driving for a number of years? Yes? Anybody remember when the driving test wasn’t divided into theory and practical? Yes? Then I bet you probably think you are a pretty competent and experienced driver, if you passed your test at least 25 years ago! Well, some of us got to thinking at the JCB Group, if we had to take our driving test again, how would we do? Have we picked up bad habits over the years and do we ever question our roadcraft skills?
Help was at hand when we approached Drivers Domain UK and asked them if they could create a bespoke Advanced Driving Experience for us in order to check on our Roadcraft skills and gain some hints and tips for our customers which we could publish as blogs on our website. We chose one of the JCB Group’s experienced drivers, Alan, to do the driving, and our Marketing Assistant, Laura, to take notes! (We will also be offering one lucky winner a voucher for their own driving experience. Keep checking our social media and blog feeds*.) Meanwhile, here’s the first blog which is the story of our half-day advanced driving course…
Drivers Domain UK, specialists in roadcraft tuition and advanced driving courses, sent along Chris, a RoSPA Gold Driver Trainer, to our head office at JCB Medway. After greetings and introductions, we were shown a video detailing the typical types of drivers who tend to get it wrong – the over-confident speeder, the company executive distracted by texts and phone calls, the driver who thinks the rules of the road don’t apply to them! All leading to potential accidents and poor ‘Roadcraft’.
Next, Chris checked Alan’s licence and a quick eyesight check. (We have to stress that Alan is considered by our management team to be a very safe and responsible driver!) We then went out to the forecourt to do some routine safety checks on the car which we had chosen for the morning – a Volkswagen Golf automatic.
Alan and Laura had both passed their driving tests in 1984 – that’s 37 years ago! Alan was nervous that he had picked up lots of bad habits and that driving under scrutiny from Chris would be stressful. However, Chris put him at ease very quickly and the first part of the course was underway; that is, for Alan to drive naturally without interjection from Chris and to see his driving style emerge on town, country and motorway roads.
After about half an hour of driving, we pulled over safely into a car park and Chris reported back on what he had observed from Alan’s driving style. Chris had a chart on which he rated use of vehicle controls, driver style, observation and roadcraft. Alan was relieved to find he rated good or very good and even excellent on this initial assessment. But was there room for improvement or anything to learn? There’s always something to learn!
Chris then took over driving and continued on a similar route, commentating on his own driving style, road awareness and offering many hints and tips for effective observation, better anticipation and forward planning for hazard management. It was extremely interesting to see how, with greater anticipation, concentration and observation one could drive more smoothly, fuel efficiently, safely and confidently. Laura was taking notes at speed!
Chris then asked Alan to take over driving again for the last section of the advanced driving course. Taking on board the tricks and tips that Chris had described, Alan drove back to the dealership – a drive of about 30 miles. During this time, Chris re-assessed Alan’s progress. By the time we reached JCB Medway, Alan’s roadcraft scores had all improved to the level of very good and excellent!
Finally, back in the office, Chris set Alan and Laura a quiz on road sign recognition and road marking identification. Not so easy as it sounds! Neither had read a copy of the Highway Code since passing their driving tests - and we all know how long ago that was! Both were presented with the latest copy of the Department for Transport Highway Code as a souvenir of the day. Alan was also presented with a copy of his advanced driving course report, (which will mean he can now get cheaper personal car insurance).
Both Alan and Laura really enjoyed the morning and learned a lot from the experience of driving with an experienced professional advanced driving instructor.
So, what did we learn? Stay tuned to our regular blogs and social media for our Roadcraft series of 3 additional blogs packed with hints and tips for safer driving. We will be posting a competition on our social media too and the winner will receive a voucher for a Drivers Domain UK Driver Experience. You can choose from advanced training, refresher training, building confidence, new car familiarisation, young driver, mature driver, performance car driving or post RTC confidence boosting.
After many of us have been unable to drive for so long during lockdown, we say #hellofreedom.
Watch the video of our Advanced Driving Experience here...
*One lucky winner will be chosen at random from our social media followers who correctly identify a road sign from the Highway Code which we will publish at the end of our roadcraft blog series, this now moved to mid-January 2022, linked via social media. Our social media links can be found at the top border of our website pages.