Members present at the September meeting were treated to an interesting and engaging dialogue with Mark Kendrick on the subject of Commentary Driving. Mark will be known to many as the producer of an excellent series of Advanced Driving DVDs, one of
which covers Commentary Driving specifically. He has a long history in the field, dating back some 20 years to the time when he took (and paid for) a Police Advanced Driving course, and was subsequently engaged as a civilian instructor for the West Mercia Force. Since then he formed his own company, Bespoke Driver Training, which provides specialist training to individuals and organisations around the world, including esoteric courses such as VIP protection and armoured vehicle driving. They also welcome enquiries from individual enthusiasts.
Mark started his session with 2 questions about commentary:
- What is it?
- What do we want to learn?
Between Mark and the audience we worked out what commentary is for – it can be a useful
assessment tool, telling your passenger (maybe an examiner) what you see, what you anticipate will happen, and your plan for dealing with it. It can also be a good goal for self-development, reinforcing the simple observation of hazards or features with those consequences as yet unseen, but expected.
At all times, Mark encouraged (indeed demanded) participation from the audience. Bob suggested commentary was a useful way of regaining concentration after a lapse, and Mark agreed he does this too. And for those shrinking violets amongst us, this commentary can be silent, for the driver / rider only.
We moved on to the structure of a commentary, and Gary mentioned his – far, near, and interior (not forgetting rear). Mark suggested the structure might vary according the purpose of the commentary and suggested some types – surveillance, pursuit, instructional or test (not riders). Mark suggested a commentary should have a goal. On test, this is to show off! Vocalising features such as the use of cross-views, thinking beyond a roundabout to what might lie beyond, looking for anticipated hazards and so on.
Mark has also served time as an examiner, and was asked what he expects from an associate? There are many styles, but primarily, any commentary must be “future focussed”, not about what has happened, or is happening, but what is going to happen next. What lies in the distance is the most important, diminishing in importance as it gets nearer (because it should already have been observed and planned for). He’s not keen on “shopping lists”, but likes some supporting detail – e.g. a sign for a junction on the right, but ... “reinforced by a yellow background, may be an accident black spot”. He’s also not keen on book quotes, which he says only serve to demonstrate a good memory. This can all be summed up in the old phrase – “what can be seen, what cannot be seen, and what can be expected to happen”, or OAP (observation, anticipation and planning).
Mark added an interesting adjunct to this, as part of an aside. In addition to verbalising your plan, consider a backup plan if anything goes wrong. Mark’s example involved driving through a hedge, but maybe you don’t need to go that far!
Mark then showed us some clips of experts delivering commentary and invited us to compare them. They were all very instructive, including Mark’s own, illustrating different techniques and objectives. Some were explanatory, others more theoretical, taking a feature of the road (white paint) and expanding it to provide an insight into the reasons for the paint being there, and thence to the anticipated additional hazards that might be present but unseen.
Interwoven through this section was advice on how to prepare and deliver a commentary. You can start with road signs, and build from there. Think out loud. Consider preparing phrases. Sometimes it’s easy to get tongue-tied and have difficulty remembering the words. Practised phrases make this easier. In the case of the contingency plan mentioned above, Mark has the words off pat – “Just in case (X happens), I’m (going to do Y)”. That way, familiarity helps the words trip off the tongue.
As Bob said in his remarks thanking Mark “I never knew commentary could be so interesting”. Hear, hear! Thank you, Mark.
Mark Kendrick from Bespoke Driver Training
has offered a 21% discount on his DVDs
up to 31 Oct - the discount voucher code is posted on the Forum
so please head there to obtain the exclusive offer to RoADAR WIltshire members.
Emergency Services Show
RoDAR Wiltshire had a successful day at the Emergency Services Show on Sunday3. Despite the bad weather, it was a very damp day, there were plenty of people supporting the Emergency Services and we had a steady stream of interested people at our tent; even signing a few up on the day. We were well placed in the centre of the show. Thanks to all who supported us on the day.