Nothing changes unless behaviour changes.
In this series of 4 articles, I am going to talk about what for all of us in the driver training industry is a crucial part of the training we provide. I will be looking at the industry's goal of achieving safer roads, what the current reality is, what opportunities are there for change and what for us in the driving training industry is the way forward.
I'll be focusing in on the crucial things we must do as driving instructors to establish safe driving principles in the people we teach and help reduce the killed and seriously injured (KSI’s) on our roads each year. That is, how to help drivers of all ages but particularly those in the 17–25-year age category, observe safe driving principles, understand themselves, their decisions and how the choices they make massively impact on their crash risk.
In this first article I talk about our goal of keeping pupils safe on our roads after the driving test.
Part One: The Goal - Keeping Pupils Safe on Britain’s Roads after the driving test.
Today’s approach to training is quite different from my experience of passing a driving test back in the early 1980’s. From what I recall and based on what I now know, I was pretty much taught what I needed to do to pass a test. I found that out the hard way when for the first time I had to reverse or drive forward into a bay, drive in the dark, on a country lane, a 2-lane dual carriageway or a Motorway at 70mph. I was not taught or remember having a discussion with my driving instructor about any of those things. So, after my driving test I learnt from the experience of doing and watching other drivers and family who were not so qualified or necessarily guiding me to do the safest thing as my driving instructor would. The rest in terms of how I should behave, what my crash risk was, what things I did that were risky and what were not, I pretty much had to learn the hard way for myself. I now know that the way I was taught increased my crash risk.
Thankfully, things have changed since the early 80’s, the driving theory test is more comprehensive, and the driving test now reflects more realistic driving scenarios. We can now give learner drivers motorway lessons and with the National Driver and Rider Standards and Learning to Drive syllabus, there is a much stronger focus on the principles of safe driving and what happens after the driving test to keep safe.
However, it is clear we still have a long way to go considering the driving standard, the risks, and behaviours of other drivers we witness every day on today’s roads as we train. Examples of poor and risky driving behaviour are there to see in videos all over YouTube and social media and seen at its worst on specialist TV programmes that show the degree of recklessness there is.
With 1,750 killed in 2019 (DfT Report into road casualties in Britain) the trend in the number of fatalities on our roads has been broadly flat since 2010. As an industry if we are to reduce the numbers of KSI’s published every year in Britain today, then way above all the good things that we do when teaching someone the skills to drive, setting a goal of helping a learner driver understand their personality, their behaviour and how that impacts directly on their safety and the safety of others must be the most important thing that we can do to save lives after the driving test.
If we do not help pupils to understand and address their behaviour (their decisions and actions) as well as the knowledge and understanding of the risk, then in my opinion we are not achieving our industry’s goal of keeping pupils safe on Britain’s roads after the driving test. We are missing a vital opportunity to help pupils after they leave us to ensure they are reducing the risks of injury and death for themselves, their friends, their families, and other road users. Behaviour of drivers is a large part of what determines crash risk, not just knowing some things are risky and some are not. So, how big is the problem and what is the current reality as an industry we must deal with? Find out in part 2.
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ORDIT Grade A Driving Instructor Trainer
Copyright Instructor Training 2021