Wednesday, 27 June 2007

What's to be done?

Well, driver training in all it's forms are a bit of a mess.

Learners can be taught by ADIs or trainees with very little training, or their mates.

FLH can receive training from anyone.

Companies can receive driving advice from risk assessors (with little or no driving qualifications).

Driving Experience days seem to be above the law, allowing people to drive high powered cars around race tracks or 4x4's over the fells with little or no driver training or instructional experience.

ADIs and PDIs can be trained by ADIs with nothing more than a 3 second wait after passing their part 3.

Police can be trained by police.

Ambulance drivers can be trained by ambulance drivers.

The only regulation seems to be that if you want to earn money, teaching learners, you have to be an ADI.

Now I know the law spreads over the whole of the above, with certain restrictions and allowances, but surely there should be a blanket qualification which ALL driver trainers should reach. So suggestion time:

To train FLH for normal/advanced/business driving:

  • Advanced Test passed (not one of the independent ones - a government approved one, like the part 2)
  • Instructional Techniques Course passed
  • Risk Assessment Course (on road) passed

To train FLH for specific purpose (experience days):

  • Specific purpose driving test passed (specific to the experience)
  • Instructional Techniques Course passed
  • Risk Assessment Course (specific purposes) passed

To train Learners:

  • Advanced Test passed
  • Instructional Techniques Course passed
  • Risk Assessment Course (learners) passed
  • Counselling/coaching techniques Course passed

To train Response drivers:

  • Response driving experience verified/Test passed
  • Instructional Techniques Course passed
  • Risk Assessment Course (response) passed

To train Trainers:

  • Appropriate driving skills courses passed to high standard
  • Instructional Techniques Course Passed
  • Train The Trainer Course passed
  • Risk Assessment (for purpose) passed
  • Counselling/Coaching Course passed

I'm sure we could all think up more, and until then, we can ponder which of the two main systems of car control we should be concentrating on, or whether we should integrate them - MSM/PSL, or IPSGA?

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Reasons for not driving an automatic

Well, it's what the Americans do isn't it? Isn't that a good enough reason? Not really.

There's a lot of anti auto snobbery in Britain (and Europe to some extent), and I'm not sure where it stems from. There seems to be a feeling that you're not a "proper" driver unless you use a stick shift.

Though obviously being able to drive both well is an advantage - how many people do you know who really can drive a manual to a really good standard?

Not many.

Being able to concentrate so much more on the road has to be a safer way of going - maybe we should suggest this in our fleet risk assessments? Lets face it - with all the hybrids being developed, we'll all be driving them within a decade, and it'll only be old colonel Smotherington who's stuck with his outdated slow 2007 Jag who won't change!

Just a thought - and maybe a gap in the market for those who want to keep one step ahead!

....and it takes about half as long to learn - therefore only costs half as much!

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Why worry about Driving Test fraud?

So, around 10,000 people have got driving licences by fraudulent means - should we really be worried?

Well yes, obviously, but isn't it slightly more important that 400,000 people (40 times as many) are driving around with no insurance?

And what about all the people who drive around having never passed a test in the first place?

How many of those new drivers who have been banned under the 6 point scheme are still driving?

Don't look to me for answers though, you wouldn't like the suggestions.

Oh all right then, you twisted my arm!

  • Immediate removal of the vehicle if uninsured or driven illegally - only releaseable on a legal driver turning up with 20% of the cost of the car as a release fee or it gets sold - use the proceeds to pay more police. (I know the problems with this, but don't rightly care - more police please, with more powers to take cars off the road)
  • Insurance disc should be shown on windscreen.
  • Drivers should have to display their driver's licence in the windscreen like Driving Instructors do.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Instructors and mobile phones

Yep, one of the bugbears that really gets me.

Would you want to learn to drive with someone who broke driving law consistently?

Would you want to learn to drive with someone who answered their phone while driving - even though it has been shown to be more dangerous than being over the drink-driving limit?

Well why would you call an instructor who only advertised his mobile number then?

There are 2 guys near me who are consistently on the phone while driving (despite the laws, the warnings and the sheer stupidity of it), and both of them only advertise themselves using their mobile numbers.

Dim or what?

If you want a driving instructor - don't phone one who doesn't have a land line number.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Driving Instructors who only advertise their mobile numbers

Why do they do this? We're not allowed to answer the things while we work, so why not put a landline number down? You can access messages just as well through this as you can on the mobile

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Fleet Driver Training & Driving for Work

Talking to someone who has done the research the other day, I found out that in the public sector alone, 35% of fleet drivers have never received any driver training.

This is slightly worrying - if the public sector has this many un-trained drivers, what the heck is happening in the private sector? We know that the average white van man gets little or no training, in part because many of them work for themselves so have to keep their costs down, but there must be millions of people who drive during the course of their work who simply do not know about their responsibilities.

Are there still fleet managers and company directors who don't know about them? I suspect so. Any other specialist machinery (often with risk factors well below driving) nearly always comes with a requirement to undertake specialist training - and keep this training current. Can you imagine a chainsaw operator trained 25 years ago not having any further training?

In many situations there is a legal requirement that if something is done for a job, the qualification must be "refreshed" in some way every year or five - simply in order to continue working.

So just a suggestion - maybe the driving test should only qualify someone to drive for personal use. If you need to drive at work you should have to gain a new qualification and keep up with new regulations and prove your continued high standard every few years?

Or maybe I'm just saying that coz I'd earn more?!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Driving Instructor Road Rage

As a driving instructor - you're on the road for anything up to 12 hours a day - you see some stupid stuff going on.

So when can you legitimately lose your temper with other drivers?

When they cut you up? When they don't signal? When they beep your pup for taking all of .00006 seconds too long to set off from the traffic lights?

The answer is never.

We all know this, but after a long week when you're struggling and can almost see the skills you're working on sinking in - that w*nker in the 4x4 who honks, overtakes and shouts out his window can just tip you over the edge.

I've seen some pretty silly reactions from instructors too. One instructor forced the tailgater to run into him by braking (I know, I know, but hell I laughed!), one instructor I know has the most imaginative hand gestures for everyone around him, and another one leans around his seat and films them with his mobile and sends it to the police.

All of these are satisfying solutions to the problem, but they all have one thing in common - they all lose customers to me.

Yep - if there's one way of really freaking your pups out it's not staying calm.

Prove to everyone that you're better than they are - rise above it.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

What should the average price of driving lessons be?

Well after another of my straw polls (quick search of the internet, and the forums), I reckon the cheapest you can get a driving lesson for is about £15 an hour. There's a couple of discounts involved in that price, but it's still too low.

And the most expensive? Outside London - £25/hour seems to be the highest I've found that isn't actually specialist training.

Something I've asked about before is why this is so low? We pay more for our kids to learn the guitar - and how high are the overheads on that?

So what has happened? Well the problem has always been that people can teach their own kids to drive - so why should they pay anyone else to? I can't play the guitar, so I can't teach my kids, but I can drive - and how hard can it be?

Well the problem with that logic is that playing the guitar badly can't kill your kids! (It might make you want to kill yourself, but that's another issue)

So what can we do to get the price back in line with reality, well, we could encourage the government to restrict personal freedom even more and insist that everyone goes takes professional lessons with an ADI (not keen personally). We could encourage some of the examiners who want to insist on tests being taken in dual control cars (but people can hire them for about £10 an hour).

Or we could make people aware of what it is we do, and we could encourage the DSA to grade instructors more transparently. We could work to make people understand exactly what they are paying for, and we could encourage people recognise the advantages of choosing an instructor who has experience, qualifications and skills relevant to what they want to learn.

A couple of relevant qualifications might be useful - maybe the DIA could run them as CPD courses, with easily recognisable certification:

Certified Confidence Builder - trained in specific techniques to help nervous learners
Certified Mature Driver Trainer - trained in specific techniques to help mature learners
Certified Aspergers/Dispraxic Trainer etc - trained in techniques specific to certain disabilities which should be no barrier to learning to drive.
Certified Language Trainer - able to train those whose first language is not English eg: Punjabi, Polish or even British Sign Language.

I'm sure some of you will be able to think up your own.

Wouldn't that be better than simply putting Dip DI (great course, but what exactly does it mean to the customers guys?) after your name.