Following a successful police career, the majority of which was involved in various aspects of roads policing, protection and police driver training, Pete now offers a variety of driving and riding services to both the private and public sectors.
This is actually a day long course delivered by Wiltshire council and the Police and is used as an alternative to prosecution under Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act; driving without due care and attention.
To deliver these courses, amazingly, there is no requirement for formal qualifications such as a driving licence.
This course is more about the psychology of driving - not about the driving itself. So, presenters tend to be qualified teachers or academics. The day is split into two with the morning spent in the classroom and the afternoon out on the road. The whole concept of such courses goes back to 1991 or so. There is no pass or fail, but there is a certificate of attendance instead and is entirely student led.
Pete sees a lot of elderly drivers who are unfit to drive - for example they have dementia or cannot see very well. Pete cannot stop anyone from driving if he sees they are unfit, but will report to the Police who then report to the DVSA to have that persons licence revoked. Wiltshire Council does offer a Safer Driving with Age course - SAGE but not being discussed here.
There has been no experience on the course of disruptive students. The course expectations and behaviours are laid down very early on - respect and confidentiality.
The course itself follows a series of modules contained in a logbook that each participant has. Each module is precisely timed and shows different scenarios. Discussions ensue and it is not always about apportioning blame, but how to avoid the incident.
Why do people choose a course rather than face a fine or penalty points on their licence? Silly question, but the attendees’ offences amongst others are:
Rear end shunts with minor collisions
Crossing a red light
Parking near a crossing or junction or school gates
Hogging middle lane - careless driving
A quarter of attendees are from car park collisions where speeds of 5mph, 10mph and 15mph are unenforceable.
The course is not a conviction and is not necessary to always inform the insurer - depending on insurer of course.
During the course, discussions take place in groups such as discussing the consequences of your actions.
Some stats from the Police:
5 people per day are killed on our roads, that's 1,793 per year.
24,831 are seriously injured.
144,369 are slightly injured.
There are many reasons mistakes on the road are made, including distraction, the driver thinks they are good, everyone else does it (whatever it is)! Many drivers are unaware of the rules.
On the course, each participant will keep a log book thinking about their actions and reflecting on their behaviours. Often, people cannot read or write and English isn't always their first language. There is a HWC quiz too.
This brought Pete onto the old favourite of double white lines along the centre of the road. Can bikes filter in stationary traffic. There can be a lack of view, so Pete said to only filter if there is plenty of space. Didn't say if it was legal or not though!
The cost of doing this course is £182 and is cheaper to do here in Wiltshire - the cost varies by county so Pete finds people from all round the country attending.
As a point to note, the riding version of this course is not delivered by anyone with a motorcycle licence.
Thanks Pete for an informative talk. Please come back later in the year and tell us more!
See more form Pete Russ here.